Europe

A Push for Diesel Leaves London Gasping Amid Record Pollution

Every winter, as if on cue, the coughing begins. As soon as the weather turns cold, Tara Carey, an international aid worker living in London, ritually places cough syrup on her bedside table because she knows her sleep will be punctuated by hacking coughs. She also coughs at work. And she coughs while cycling to her office, on a road so toxic that for a brief period last month the air pollution there was greater than in infamously smoggy Beijing.

Vladimir Putin: Clear signs of Russian economic growth

18 Feb 2017   Russia

As oil prices stabilize in the wake of an OPEC-led production deal, Russian President Vladimir Putin said signs of economic strength are becoming clear. The president sat with his top economic advisors for the second time this year, saying there are clear signs of positive momentum. By his read , the 0.2 percent decline in gross domestic product last year was better than expected. “The trends are becoming more or less clear, and we have an overall understanding of the ongoing developments,” he said. “Overall, we are seeing positive economic momentum.” The International Monetary Fund said it expected a 0.6 percent contraction for Russia last year, but growth would return at 1.1 percent in 2017. After keeping its key lending rates unchanged […]

Tidal Lagoon Energy in Wales

17 Feb 2017   Tidal, United Kingdom

The report of an independent review of UK tidal lagoon energy was published on 12 January 2017 by a former UK energy Minister Charles Hendry. The report praises the proposed ‘pathfinder’ tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay as a ‘no-regrets option’, and sets out a supportive case for developing the sector. The Hendry Review was commissioned in February 2016 by UK Government to assess the strategic case for tidal lagoon energy as a new industry in the UK. This followed a successful planning proposal by Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) to develop the world’s first tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, as well as a subsequent programme for a ‘fleet’ of five larger projects, including three in Welsh waters (Cardiff, Newport and Colwyn Bay). Despite the Swansea Bay project appearing in the 2015 UK Conservative Party manifesto and receiving development consent in June 2015, uncertainties around cost and subsidy subsequently prompted the […]

Decline of UK’s Rough storage site to raise gas import costs

17 Feb 2017   United Kingdom

The decline of Britain’s biggest gas storage site and the lack of new-build to replace it will increase dependency on imports over the next few years, boosting wholesale market volatility and consumer gas prices. Seasonal gas storage provides security and flexibility of supply. At times of low demand and therefore low gas prices in the summer, gas is injected into storage to be kept for when demand rises in the winter. Rough, the country’s only seasonal gas storage site, can usually meet around 10 percent of Britain’s peak daily gas demand but is currently capable only of handling 5 percent. At over 30 years old, the depleted gas field off England’s east coast has undergone prolonged outages over the past year due to problems with well pressure; six wells have permanently closed and […]

EU gets wake-up call as Gazprom eyes rival TAP pipeline

15 Feb 2017   Europe, Pipelines

A general view shows the headquarters of Gazprom in Moscow, Russia, June 30, 2016. Gazprom’s bid to tap into a pipeline meant to wean Europe off Russian gas threatens to undermine a pillar of European energy policy and slow plans to develop rival deposits in the east Mediterranean. As the European Union struggles against the “iron embrace” of Russian pipelines, it has made opening a new Southern GasCorridor to carry gas from Azerbaijan by 2020 a priority. The 10 billion cubic meter (bcm)-capacity Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is the project’s end piece, joining up with the Trans Anatolian Pipeline at the Turkish border, then crossing Greece and Albania to reach Italy. Construction work on TAP gives EU officials the first non-Russian gas pipeline to supply Europe since Algeria’s Medgaz link nearly a decade ago, paving the way for diluting Gazprom’s large one-third share of Europe’s gas market. That at […]

Norway heralds new North Sea production

15 Feb 2017   Norway

The start of new production in the North Sea is a testament to the enduring strength of Norway’s energy sector, the country’s energy minister said. Norwegian Energy Minister Terje Soviknes was on hand for the official launch of the Ivar Aasen field in the country’s territorial waters in the North Sea. Ivar Aasen, operated by Norwegian group Aker BP, has a total cost framework of $3.3 billion and could be in service for the next 20 years. “The development of Ivar Aasen is an important milestone for the oil industry, and represents significant values for the Norwegian society,” the minister said in a statement . Aker BP started formal production at the Ivar Aasen field in December. The field has a peak production capacity of […]

Russia’s Largest Oilfield May Be About to Gush Cash Once Again

15 Feb 2017   Russia

Russia’s largest oil field, so far past its prime that it now pumps almost 20 times more water than crude, could be on the verge of gushing profits again for Rosneft PJSC . Samotlor, the 25 billion-barrel giant that bankrolled the Soviet Union for decades, would be the biggest beneficiary of proposals to encourage investment in some of Russia’s oldest and largest reservoirs, where output is plunging. One idea being debated — cutting the extraction tax in half for fields producing a lot of water with the oil — could add as much as 90 billion rubles ($1.57 billion) a year to Rosneft’s earnings, said Alexander Kornilov, an analyst at Aton LLC in Moscow. “It is a super giant field even today after almost 50 years of production, the elephant of elephant fields,” said Ildar Davletshin, an analyst at Renaissance Capital. “There is still a lot of oil left,” […]

What Oil Crisis? Arctic Drilling Off Norway Set for Record

15 Feb 2017   Norway

Explorers look set to drill a record number of wells in Norway’s Arctic waters this year, undeterred by oil prices apparently stuck below $60 a barrel. After making a discovery of as much as 100 million barrels of oil in the Barents Sea, Lundin Petroleum AB said on Monday that it wants to squeeze two more exploration wells into its program this year, even if it means hiring an additional rig . That could push the total number of wells in the area to 16, two more than the record in 2014, according to forecasts from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the industry regulator, and Rystad Energy AS, an Oslo-based consulting firm. The Norwegian Barents may contain as much as half the country’s unexplored resources, according to the NPD. Yet with crude still trading at half the highs it reached in 2014, the record drilling campaign sounds counter-intuitive. Elsewhere in […]

France’s Total looks further downstream in effort to ease looming supply glut

15 Feb 2017   France

France’s Total is looking to invest in energy projects further downstream than their upstream and LNG production facilities, the company’s President of Gas Laurent Vivier said Tuesday. The strategy is a logical change given the current tough environment for final investment decisions for new greenfield LNG production projects, according to Vivier. What some industry observers are underestimating is the pace that new buyers can enter the market, as Total’s interests in two recently announced LNG import projects in the Ivory Coast and Pakistan would require a combined 9 million mt/year and will start receiving LNG in 2018, Vivier said. Both projects would allow for quick entrance into the market, utilizing FSRUs from Golar LNG and Hoegh LNG respectively, he said. “We are now ready to invest downstream in the value chain,” Vivier added. Last November, a consortium led by Total was awarded the rights to build and operate an […]

Russia to boost Urals exports in first half despite cutting oil output with OPEC

11 Feb 2017   Russia

Russia is set to post higher exports of Urals crude for the first half of this year despite cutting oil production ahead of schedule under a deal with OPEC aimed at boosting prices. After OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed in early December to curtail oil output jointly, market expectations of lower supplies from Russia led to a rise in Baltic Urals prices at the start of the year to their highest in 15 years. But in late January, Urals differentials embarked on a downward trend as traders saw clearly that Moscow, seeking to plug a hole in its budget, had no plan to cut exports that month or in February. And if experience serves as a guide, Russia is likely to continue raising exports through spring as maintenance at its refineries peaks in April-May. Under the arrangement with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries aimed at easing a […]

French government gets renewable energy endorsement

11 Feb 2017   France

A move by the French government to budget for more solar and hydropower projects on its grid was endorsed Friday by the European Commission. The French government said new solar initiatives would receive more than $9 billion in support over the next 20 years, while hydropower schemes are backed by a 20-year $530 million commitment. The European Commission said it endorsed an effort that would help France meet its 2020 goal of producing 23 percent of its energy needs from renewable resources. “These French initiatives will stimulate a greater use of renewable energy sources and provide legal certainty to the sector, while limiting the use of state support to the minimum,” Margrethe Vestager, a commissioner in charge of competition issues, said in a […]

Russia’s economy grows at $40 per barrel oil

11 Feb 2017   Russia

Russia’s Central Bank Gov. Elvira Nabiullina says the economy will grow even if the price of oil moves back toward $40 per barrel. Photo courtesy of the Central Bank of Russia Feb. 9 (UPI) — The Russian economy will be on the positive side of growth even if the price of crude oil falls to $40 per barrel, the Central Bank of Russia said. Central Bank Gov. Elvira Nabiullina said Thursday the Russian economy stands to exhibit growth this year. The number of economic sectors expected to expand this year is not much greater than those in contraction, but losers are outnumbered. Much of the strength depends on the price of crude oil, however. “We will be in the positive zone in any scenario, even with $40 per barrel,” she was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying. A November forecast from the International Monetary Fund found the […]

Italian Prosecutors Request Eni CEO, Shell Stand Trial

9 Feb 2017   Italy, Nigeria

Italian prosecutors are pursuing a criminal trial for Royal Dutch Shell PLC and the chief executive of Italian oil company Eni SpA on charges of corruption tied to a controversial Nigerian deal, according to a person familiar with the matter. The prosecutors’ request—if granted by a judge over the next several months—could lay bare the operations of Shell and the actions of Eni executives in pursuit of a potentially giant…

Norway Expands Slower Than Estimated as Oil Slump Nears End

9 Feb 2017   Norway

Norway’s economic growth picked up slower than anticipated in the fourth quarter as western Europe’s biggest crude producer emerges from a protracted slump in its oil industry. Mainland gross domestic product, which excludes oil, gas and shipping, grew 0.3 percent from the previous quarter, Statistics Norway said Thursday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg had estimated a gain of 0.4 percent. Total gross domestic product jumped 1.1 percent, as petroleum investments rose for the first time in 13 quarters. “It’s too soon to conclude that petroleum investments have turned positive as operators on the continental shelf have signaled they will scale down investments by around 10 percent this year,” Marius Gonsholt Hov, an economist at Handelsbanken in Oslo, said in a note. “Still, this marks a slower contraction compared to 2015 and 2016.” Thanks to massive government spending of its oil wealth, record low interest rates and a weak krone, Norway’s […]

Volvo receives order for 8 all-electric buses in UK; OppCharge opportunity charging

Volvo Buses has received an order for eight electric buses, the Volvo 7900 electric, from Transdev Blazefield, the owner of the Harrogate Bus Company in the UK. Operations start in 2018 in Harrogate, 90 km northeast of Manchester. When the vehicles enter service in 2018, the project will be the first of its kind in the UK introducing full electric vehicles using opportunity charging via the common interface OppCharge, whereby the charging stations can also be used by electrified buses from other vehicle manufacturers. OppCharge is now starting to be used as a common interface in more than 12 countries. ( Earlier post .) Opportunity charging takes place via an overhead mast, which connects to the bus […]

BP may ‘incrementally’ increase U.S. shale portfolio: CEO

BP is looking at ways to incrementally increase its footprint in U.S. shale oil and gas production, its Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley said on Tuesday. Dudley said the company will use “a lot of discipline” in investments in the sector as asset prices are high. Talking to analysts after reporting its 2016 results, Dudley also said the British oil and gas company was considering giving the green light to several projects around the world, including in Oman, Trinidad and Tobago and India. (Reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by Jason Neely)

Putin’s Tough Choice: China Or The West

6 Feb 2017   China, Russia

“With Tillerson’s confirmation, Exxon just annexed the United States,” –anonymous blogger. To many observers, the appointment of Tillerson to the helm the State Dept signaled the Administration’s priority of supporting the oil industry, which in recent years has been under severe pressure from OPEC’s campaign of over-production that forced prices down to a post-recession low. Seen from a different angle, the move also signals Exxon, the oil giant, establishing a strong connection with the Administration. As the former CEO of Exxon, and a member of the Board of Directors of the company that was the core of the original Rockefeller Family’s Standard Oil monopoly, Tillerson also brings direct contact with the Rockefeller Family, whose members remain on the Exxon Board. Former Secretary of State, Condaleeza Rice, who also sits on the BoD, along with Former CIA Director and Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, both listed as an Exxon consultant, also […]

More gas from North Sea for Statoil

4 Feb 2017   Norway

Norwegian energy company Statoil said Friday it found more gas in part of a field it discovered two years ago in the North Sea. Statoil said it made the discovery in what it calls Valemon West, part of the larger fragmented Valemon gas field in the North Sea. The discovery was made in an area not previously known to hold hydrocarbons. Gunnar Nakken, a vice president for regional development at Statoil, said the new discovery boosts the overall potential for Valemon. “These new reserves can be put on stream immediately and will add considerable value,” he said in a statement. “The discovery proves that there are still good opportunities in the North Sea — an area we know well — and its […]

Russia could move quicker on oil production declines

3 Feb 2017   Russia

Russia could move quicker than expected on trimming oil production under the terms of an OPEC-led agreement, the country’s energy minister said Thursday. Russia joined other oil producers in an effort from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to pull markets back into balance after a glut brought crude oil prices to historic lows in early 2016. OPEC agreed to cut a collective 1.2 million barrels per day from its production and non-members agreed to about half that. Russia accounts for the lion’s share of the non-OPEC production cut with 300,000 bpd. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said companies so far have signaled they’ll implement the agreement. “It is possible that they will be [implemented] at a faster pace,” he […]

EU ahead of the curve on climate fight

2 Feb 2017   Climate, Europe

The European Union is taking the lead in the transition to a low-carbon era by meeting many of its stated goals, commissioners said Wednesday. In a report on its progress toward a low-carbon economy, the European Union said it was well on its way to meeting its climate and energy targets for 2020. “Despite the current geopolitical uncertainties, Europe is forging ahead with the clean energy transition,” Climate Action and Clean Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in a statement. “There is no alternative.” Two years ago, greenhouse gas emissions in the European Union were 22 percent below a benchmark set to 1990 levels, beating the bloc’s goal ahead of schedule. The share of renewable energy on the collective […]

Russia Claims Global Oil Output Down By 1.4M Bpd

2 Feb 2017   OPEC, Russia

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak has announced that global oil output was cut by 1.4 million barrels per day last month, in the aftermath of the deal between OPEC and non-OPEC countries to rebalance the market. Novak made his announcement during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, referring to preliminary data without explaining the sources of the data. If Novak’s figures are correct, it would mean that OPEC and non-OPEC countries are close to meeting their goal of cutting a combined 1.8 million barrels per day by the first half of this year. At a compliance meeting in Vienna earlier in January, Novak said that Russia had reduced its oil production by some 100,000 barrels a day. Russia intends to cut its oil production by 200,000 barrels per day by the end of the first quarter and afterwards 300,000 barrels per day. “Some countries have cut more than […]

Why Is This Private Equity Fund Scooping Up Billions In North Sea Assets

2 Feb 2017   United Kingdom

I’ve been discussing the return of big oil and gas M&A the last several weeks. And yesterday we got more confirmation it’s “money on” right now in the global petroleum sector — with one of the biggest single deals in years coming down in an unexpected place. From a virtually unknown acquirer — which has instantly become the largest independent producer in the neighborhood. That’s a London-based firm called Chrysaor Holdings. Which yesterday unveiled a $3.8 billion purchase of North Sea assets from Shell. Under the deal, Chrysaor is buying Shell’s working interest in seven North Sea projects. Coming with a current 115,000 b/d of oil equivalent production — plus another 13,000 b/d production in the Shetland Islands, which is expected to be onstream soon. In total, Chrysaor will acquire 350 million barrels of proven and probable reserves — making the firm the largest U.K. independent producer focused on […]

Is The Kremlin Funding A Campaign That Undermines U.S. Fracking?

2 Feb 2017   Russia, Shale Oil

The recent National Intelligence Council report assessing the involvement of Russia in last year’s U.S. presidential elections spurred a flurry of media reports suggesting that Russia is heavily involved in anti-fracking campaigning. Some authors interpreted this involvement as a “ propaganda effort ”, while others claimed the Kremlin was financially backing anti-fracking groups in the U.S., without, however, providing any evidence for this claim. The basis for all these reports is part of the report, in which the authors discuss the agenda of RT, a state-funded TV channel and website that is widely seen as the Kremlin’s chief megaphone abroad. They quote shows and reports that led them to conclude that RT aimed at fueling discontent in the U.S. and influence interior politics. Anti-fracking rhetoric was identified in the report as a major element of RT’s agenda and interpreted by the report’s authors as reflecting Russia’s concern about the […]

Arctic oil production more than doubled, Russia says

31 Jan 2017   Russia

Russian oil company Gazprom Neft said its production from a field in Arctic waters more than doubled from levels reported in 2015. The company said total production from the Prirazlomnaya oil field in the Russian waters above the Arctic Circle totaled 15.7 million barrels for full-year 2016, an increase from the 5.8 million recorded the previous year. Prirazlomnoye is the first and only field in production in the Russian Arctic. Commercial oil production started in late 2013 and the first batch of oil for delivery was sent in April 2014. Advocacy groups like Greenpeace have been critical about oil operations in the extreme climates of the Arctic north, saying an oil spill in the region would be catastrophic and difficult […]

Shell Sells $4.7 Billion of Fields as Disposal Push Accelerated

31 Jan 2017   United Kingdom

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, looking to pare debt swollen by last year’s acquisition of BG Group Plc, accelerated its drive to shed assets on Tuesday by agreeing to the sale of fields in the North Sea and Thailand for as much as $4.7 billion. The disposals include the sale of about half the company’s North Sea oil and gas assets for as much as $3.8 billion to Chrysaor Holdings Ltd., Shell said. Earlier Tuesday, the company agreed to sell its stake in an offshore Thai gas field to a unit of Kuwait Petroleum Corp. for $900 million. Shell piled up borrowings following its biggest-ever acquisition, the $54 billion purchase of BG, and needs to hit disposal targets to stave off credit rating reviews and maintain dividend payouts. While Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden has made debt reduction a top priority, Shell missed its target for asset sales last […]

Lukoil Seeks Middle East Oil Projects for Growth as Iran Opens

30 Jan 2017   Iran, Russia

Lukoil PJSC is seeking opportunities for growth in the Middle East as Iran opens more of its oil fields to international partners, according to the Russian energy company’s regional head. The Moscow-based company plans to add output from the region to existing operations in Iraq and Egypt as long as it finds projects with production costs as low as those in Russia, Gati Al-Jebouri, Lukoil’s head of upstream for the Middle East, told reporters in Dubai. “Iran is our target area at the moment,” Al-Jebouri said. Lukoil is in talks with National Iranian Oil Co. , the Persian Gulf country’s state producer, about the Ab Teymour and Mansouri oil fields in western Iran, he said. Al-Jebouri said he hoped the companies could agree on a common development program for the fields in the first half of the year before proceeding to commercial negotiations and a partnership. Iran has outlined […]

Russia’s Lukoil hopes for Iran oilfield development decision this year

30 Jan 2017   Iran, Russia

Lukoil, Russia’s No.2 oil producer, hopes to reach a decision on developing two new oilfields in Iran and wants to expand its operations further in the Middle East this year, a senior executive said on Sunday. Lukoil is talking with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) on taking part in development of the Abe Timur and Mansuri fields in central-western Iran, said Gati al-Jebouri, vice president and head of upstream operations in the Middle East. “We are in active discussions with them with respect to budget cost structure, and subsequently we will start negotiations on contractual terms if the development plans that we proposed are accepted and agreed by the Iranian party,” Jebouri told reporters on Sunday. […]

Potential impacts of US lifting sanctions on Russian oil sector

30 Jan 2017   Russia

US President Donald Trump said Friday ahead of his first conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin since taking office that it was too soon to know whether to continue US sanctions against Moscow. Trump has promised to take a softer approach to Russian relations than his predecessor, fueling speculation that he could lift the sanctions. “We’ll see what happens,” Trump said during a joint press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May. “As far as the sanctions, [it’s] very early to be talking about that.” Trump and Putin are scheduled to speak Saturday. Article continues below… Platts London Oil & Energy Forum February 20, 2017 | May Fair Hotel, London With sessions on the global outlook for crude oil, middle distillates and the light ends markets of gasoline, naphtha and LPG, alongside updates on the evolution of our key benchmark price assessments, the Platts London Oil and Energy Forum […]

U.S. Shale Won’t Pilfer OPEC, Russian Markets, Former Energy Minister Says

28 Jan 2017   Russia, Shale Oil

A former Russian energy minister on Friday dismissed concerns U.S. shale oil companies may try to use production cuts by Russia and nations in the Middle East to swoop in and steal market share, saying the Americans know there are some no-go zones. Igor Yusufov, Russia’s energy minister from 2001 to 2004, said U.S. shale producers wouldn’t attempt to enter core OPEC and Russia markets where prices are too low for them to compete….

Russia Makes A Move On Asian Oil Markets As OPEC Cuts

27 Jan 2017   OPEC, Russia

Oil prices have been struggling to rise beyond the low $50s per barrel. Not helped by news this week that Libya’s production has hit a 3-year high at 715,000 barrels per day — and is expected to rise to 1.25 million b/d by end-2017. And the crude market may have an even bigger problem looming. Russia. New data Monday showed that Russian oil producers achieved a major milestone in 2016. Becoming the largest supplier of crude to energy-hungry China. That came as Russian oil shipments to China rose 24% as compared to 2015 levels — to an average 1.05 million barrels per day for the year. Inching Russia ahead of go-to supplier Saudi Arabia, which saw its exports to China average 1.02 million b/d in 2016. That shift is happening as Saudi producers reportedly reigned in output under the OPEC production cuts agreed in late 2016. A move that […]

Europe Chomps Most Iran Oil in Years With Supertankers Due in Days

26 Jan 2017   Europe, Iran

Europe is poised to receive the most Iranian crude in about five years this month in a sign that the Persian Gulf nation may be regaining its share of a market it had lost to sanctions. Arrivals on supertankers will reach 622,581 barrels a day in January, the biggest flows for a single month since at least November 2011, according to ship-tracking and European Union data compiled by Bloomberg. Two Iranian supertankers — Huge and Snow — are en route, bringing about 4 million barrels between them. Sanctions halted all deliveries back in 2012 and they only restarted early last year as the measures were eased. “Iran’s been trying to regain their traditional clients — in countries like Greece and Italy — as a priority,” said Robin Mills, chief executive officer of Dubai-based consultant Qamar Energy, who tracks the nation’s oil trade. “Beyond that, it’s an opportunistic push to […]

Italian Olive Groves vs Multi-Billion Dollar Pipeline

26 Jan 2017   Italy, Pipelines

The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline is a key element of Azerbaijan’s efforts to export its greatest source of wealth, its Caspian Sea natural gas deposits, to European markets. It is also a cornerstone of the European Union’s strategy to weaken Russia’s hold on European gas markets. The pipeline’s route, however, passes through ancient olive groves and over pristine beaches in the Italian region of Puglia, which relies on that bucolic landscape for its major industry, tourism. That has set up a standoff between global energy interests and local environmental activists. And with a December referendum in Italy that reinforced local governments’ autonomy, the anti-pipeline activists have – if only temporarily – gained the upper hand. The pipeline is currently under construction by a consortium of companies, with Azerbaijan’s state energy company SOCAR holding a 20 percent share. The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development is considering a EUR 2 billion loan […]

New EU Energy Strategy To Create Up To 900,000 Jobs

26 Jan 2017   Europe

On 30 November 2016, the European Commission officially released its “Clean Energy for All Europeans” package, also known as “Winter Package” i.e., moving the EU to meet its climate change target with numerous legislative proposals to reform the EU energy market. This legislation will have an important impact on the electricity market and the development of renewable-energy going forward. The European Commission wants the EU to be ahead on the global clean energy transition. For this reason the EU has committed to cut C02 emissions by at least 40 percent by 2030, while modernizing the EU’s economy, delivering jobs and growth for all European citizens. The legislative proposals include a new target for energy efficiency, achieving global leadership in renewable energies and proving a fair deal for consumers. The Winter Package proposes an increase in the share of renewables in the energy generation mix to 27 percent, with half […]

Trump Oil Policies Are Bad for Planet, French Minister Says

25 Jan 2017   France, USA

U.S. President Donald Trump’s decisions to get two stalled pipeline projects moving again, to promote shale oil and gas and to remove references to climate change on the White House’s website are bad for the world, a leading French minister said. “These are very bad decisions for the future of the planet,” Environment and Energy Minister Segolene Royal said Wednesday on RMC radio. “I hope they aren’t definitive. If the production of fossil energies gain in the U.S., it will contribute to global warming.” Trump took steps to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, while stopping short of green lighting either. He put a deadline on the government’s review of TransCanada Corp. ’s proposed Keystone XL to transport Alberta oil sands crude to U.S. refineries. The moves, taken on Trump’s fourth full day in office, are a major departure from Barack Obama’s administration, which […]

How Russia sold its oil jewel – without saying who bought it

25 Jan 2017   Russia

More than a month after Russia announced one of its biggest privatizations since the 1990s, selling a 19.5 percent stake in its giant oil company Rosneft, it still isn’t possible to determine from public records the full identities of those who bought it. The stake was sold for 10.2 billion euros to a Singapore investment vehicle that Rosneft said was a 50/50 joint venture between Qatar and the Swiss oil trading firm Glencore. Unveiling the deal at a televised meeting with Rosneft’s boss Igor Sechin on Dec. 7, President Vladimir Putin called it a sign of international faith in Russia, despite U.S. and EU financial sanctions on Russian firms including Rosneft. “It is the largest privatization deal, the largest sale […]

Europe to take up climate investment mantle

25 Jan 2017   Climate, Europe

European lenders will be among the world leaders in supporting efforts to address the impact of climate change in an era of naysayers, the EIB president said. The World Meteorological Organization reported last week that global average temperatures in 2016 hit records highs for the third consecutive year. Werner Hoyer, the president of the European Investment Bank, told delegates in Brussels the lender was doing its part by hitting its lending targets for climate action every year since 2010. “Over the next five years we’re determined to deliver $100 billion of climate-action finance, the largest contribution to climate action of any single multilateral institution,” he said. His speech comes during the first full week in office for […]

Russia in full-court press over European gas pipeline

25 Jan 2017   Europe, Pipelines, Russia

European regulators may be standing in the way of their own regional energy security with their stance against a gas pipeline, Russia’s Gazprom said. Viktor Zubkov , the chairman of the board at Russian gas giant Gazprom, said European regulators were needlessly standing in the way of access to the OPAL gas pipeline. “Its capacities had been groundlessly blocked for several years,” he was quoted as saying by Russian news agency Tass. “The relevance of the decision is demonstrated by the fact that already at the beginning of this year Nord Stream was utilized to the greatest possible extent, though previously experts said a pipeline via the Baltics was not needed.” Access to OPAL is necessary if the Russian natural gas company is to […]

Gazprom’s Medvedev dismisses role of US LNG in European natural gas market

25 Jan 2017   LNG, Russia

Russia is the gas supplier of choice for European markets and will remain the most cost-effective and reliable source of gas in Europe, Alexander Medvedev, Gazprom’s deputy CEO, said Tuesday. Speaking at the European Gas Conference in Vienna, Medvedev said US LNG had been a “big hope” for Europe, but that the record flows of Russian gas to Europe in 2016 — almost 180 Bcm — were evidence of Russia’s position as the leading gas supplier to its European partners. “Russia is the only gas supplier that can reliably and flexibly supply gas in any amount. We can supply whatever Europe wants — we have the capacity to supply an additional 150 Bcm/year,” he said. In an apparent reference to US LNG exports starting up in February last year, Medvedev said Europe had chosen Russian gas despite there being newer supply options. “Our clients have a variety of diversification […]

Russia beats Saudi Arabia as China’s top crude oil supplier in 2016

24 Jan 2017   China, Russia

Russia overtook Saudi Arabia in 2016 to became China’s biggest crude oil supplier for the first year ever, customs data showed on Monday, boosted by robust demand from independent Chinese “teapot” refineries. Russian shipments surged nearly a quarter over 2015 to about 1.05 million barrels per day (bpd), the data showed, with Saudi Arabia coming in a close second with 1.02 million bpd, up 0.9 percent in 2016 versus the previous year. China is the world’s second-largest oil buyer and the fastest-growing major importer. While Saudi Arabia counts China’s state oil firms as backbone clients over long-term supply contracts, China’s independent refineries – nicknamed “teapots” due to their smaller processing capacity – saw Russia as a more flexible supplier. For the teapot plants, authorized to import crude oil importers for the first time in late 2015, shipments from Russia’s eastern ports are easier to process, coming in smaller cargo […]

Gazprom Mulls $6 Billion Asset Sales, Dividend Freeze

24 Jan 2017   Russia

Gazprom PJSC, the world’s biggest natural gas producer, is considering asset sales, freezing dividends and increasing its borrowing as export earnings wane, according to its three-year budget. The state-controlled company aims to raise 350 billion rubles (around $6 billion) from asset sales this year, while borrowing may climb to 288 billion rubles and more than double from that level next year, a copy of the document obtained by Bloomberg News show. Dividend payments are forecast at the 2016 level through 2019, according to the plan, approved by the board in December. Despite a rebound in crude oil, which dictates the price for most of Gazprom’s export contracts, the proposed budget shows the company remains under financial pressure as it tries to finance new pipelines to Europe and Asia. Gazprom needs to increase borrowing to “ensure liquidity and cover obligations” at oil prices close to current levels, according to the […]

Russia Locks In on What’s Wrong With Ruble During Oil Frenzy

24 Jan 2017   Russia

Untethering the ruble helped Russia ride out the biggest oil downturn in a generation. But it’s left the world’s biggest energy exporter vulnerable to greater volatility in crude prices as OPEC pushes output cuts . To address that, the Bank of Russia is preparing to wade back into the currency market after an 18-month absence and soak up foreign revenue earned in excess of the $40 oil price assumed in the budget. First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said in an interview last week that currency purchases are possible already at current oil prices. The exchange rate needs to be more “predictable,” Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said on Saturday. “At this stage of economic recovery, Russia would benefit from a stable ruble rather than further potentially excessive appreciation, which could undermine the competitiveness of Russian exporters at the time when the global trade pie seems to be shrinking ,” […]

Why Russia Beat Saudi Arabia As China’s No.1 Oil Supplier

24 Jan 2017   China, Russia

Russia last year overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s biggest supplier of crude oil thanks in large part to increased demand from independent refineries, popularly called teapots. This is what statistics data released today by Beijing’s customs authority show. The average daily amount that Russian companies exported to China in 2016 stood at 1.05 million barrels, up by 25 percent from 2015. Saudi Arabia’s average daily shipments to the world’s second-largest oil consumer were 1.02 million barrels daily in the period, an amount representing a slight 0.9-percent uptick on 2015. Russia is likely to keep its place as top exporter to China this year as well, as long as demand from teapots remains intense: while China’s state oil companies are bound by long-term contracts with Saudi Arabia, the small refineries have taken advantage of more flexible export conditions offered by Russian exporters as well as from the proximity of Russia’s […]

Russia Wrests Crown of Top China Oil Supplier From Saudi Arabia

23 Jan 2017   China, Russia

Russia overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s top oil supplier last year for the first time ever amid the ongoing battle for market share in the world’s biggest energy market. Russia boosted crude supply to the Asian nation by 24 percent from 2015 to 52.5 million metric tons, or 1.05 million barrels per day, according to data released Monday by the General Administration of Customs. The Middle Eastern kingdom became the second-biggest supplier, shipping 51 million tons, or 1.02 million barrels per day, little changed from a year earlier. Russia has been tussling with Saudi Arabia for dominance in the Asian nation amid efforts by oil producers to defend market share during a worldwide glut. Chinese demand has been seen as a key to a sustainable recovery in prices, while benchmark rates are climbing from the worst crash in a generation amid output cuts by major producing nations. China last […]

Russia’s Novak says sees oil price at $50-$60 in 2017: TASS

23 Jan 2017   Russia

Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak addresses a news conference after a meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna, Austria, December 10, 2016. Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak sees global oil prices at between $50 and $60 per barrel in 2017, TASS news agency quoted him as saying on Sunday. According to Interfax news agency, Novak also said that countries involved in a deal between OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers could reduce their output by more than 1.7 million barrels per day by the end of January. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; editing by Jason Neely)

Fracking gets conditional endorsement from Church of England advisers: Kemp

20 Jan 2017   United Kingdom

Two groups of Church of England advisers have cautiously endorsed fracking for shale gas in the United Kingdom provided it does not conflict with climate change policy and robust regulations are put in place. If the Church’s advisory panel had come out against fracking, the decision would have been widely cited by lobbying groups active on climate issues as well as local issues to oppose further drilling and fracturing. Instead its cautious endorsement, subject to conditions, is in line with an evolving consensus that does not oppose fracking in principle but is likely to remain wary in practice for the time being. “Shale gas is a potentially useful element in achieving a transition to a much lower carbon economy,” church advisers wrote in a briefing paper […]

Will The Global Puppet Masters Destroy Ukraine’s Gas Transit Business

20 Jan 2017   Ukraine

Ukraine is about to lose its precious gas-transit business as its state-run gas giant struggles to function as the puppet of multiple geopolitical players and agendas, and it’s not likely to get any more help from Washington—nor Europe. New pipelines could mean the end of Ukraine’s lucrative gas transit business, warns Ukrainian state-run Naftogaz head Andriy Kobolev, and the country stands to lose between US$800 million and US$1 billion in annual revenues, with the company’s profits for the last year coming in at $805 million. The existing agreement between Russia and Ukraine for gas transit expires in 2019, but the Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipeline projects may ensure that Russia gives up on Ukraine entirely, and hedges its bets with new European partners. The Pipeline Threat The Turkish Stream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines will bypass Ukraine to bring Russian gas to Europe. Russian state-run Gazprom is […]

UK Is Europe’s Last Hope For A Fracking Success

19 Jan 2017   United Kingdom

Following poor success across Europe, including Poland, Ukraine, France, the Netherlands, and Denmark, the UK now remains the last candidate province for European shale gas and oil in the near term. And a fracking moratorium in Scotland has further reduced that to England & Wales. The British government is in favour of developing the resource and has opened up significant acreage in the 14th Onshore Round. Nonetheless, some resistance remains. Meanwhile, North Sea production has been waning and the current deficit amounts to around 1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) per annum, with the figure set to double over the next 20 years. 1/3 of gas imports come from either Russian fields or LNG supplies of mixed provenance. And with ‘Brexit’ looming, it will be vital for the UK economy to secure long term, reliable energy. (Click to enlarge) Figure 1. Falling North Sea gas production could create a huge […]

No Ruble Tripwire Seen for Russia as Currency Strains Mount

19 Jan 2017   Russia

The ruble is settling in a range where the Bank of Russia purchased foreign currency in 2015, but this time policy makers are looking the other way. The central bank would probably consider currency interventions only after it resumes interest-rate cuts early this year, according to Bank of America Corp. The ruble remains “broadly in line with oil prices” and other measures of its fair value, “arguing against an imminent intervention,” Citigroup Inc. analysts said. The Russian currency traded below 60 against the dollar for a sixth day on Wednesday, the strongest since July 2015. “Despite the significant ruble appreciation, all the statistics that we look at strongly suggest that the currency is broadly where it should be,” Citigroup economists Ivan Tchakarov and Ekaterina Vlasova said in a report. “Therefore, we think it is hard to make a strong case for the central bank to stem further ruble advance […]

Church of England weighs in on shale

19 Jan 2017   United Kingdom

The Church of England said Wednesday it added its voice to the chorus of those taking a stand on the fledgling shale natural gas industry in the country. “As more applications for test drilling and fracking are granted, some affected communities are looking to the Church of England for leadership and perspective on the many issues concerned,” it said in a briefing paper. Last year, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace delivered a petition with 186,000 signatures to the British government expressing solidarity with a move by the Lancashire County Council to prohibit drilling in the area. Advocacy groups say there are indications the government aims to develop a commercial shale industry under the terms of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Planning mechanism, a mechanism criticized […]

Russia hints at economic stimulus

18 Jan 2017   Russia

After hinting at a new tax policy on the oil industry, the Russian government said nearly $2 billion will be set aside to help the economy. Russia’s currency lost considerable value at the start of last year and the broader economy faced dual strains from lower crude oil prices and economic sanctions imposed after the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said as much as $1.8 billion, or 107.5 billion rubles under the current exchange rate, in stimulus was on the agenda for 2017. “The funds will be earmarked for transport machine building, production of locomotives and cars, machine building in agriculture, construction, highway and public service, as well as machine building in food and manufacturing industry […]