On Valentine’s Day 2011, a court in Ecuador ordered Chevron, the US oil major, to pay $19bn to indigenous peoples and villagers to compensate for pollution caused between 1964 and 1990 by Texaco, which Chevron had bought in 2001. It was the biggest award ever against a corporation outside the US and was hailed by environmental and other campaigners worldwide as a landmark victory for usually voiceless and defenceless peoples over the usually all-powerful Big Oil.
But Chevron felt it had been treated unfairly and counter-sued in the US. On March 4 this year, Judge Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court in New York found Steven Donziger, the US lawyer who represented the Ecuadorian plaintiffs, liable for leading a multifaceted racketeering conspiracy. Read more
European advocates of shale gas – and they do exist – have been hoping that the Ukraine crisis might galvanise governments into dropping objections to controversial fracking. But despite a growing and belated recognition that Europe must do more to diversify its energy sources, in Bulgaria at least the unpopular shale movement is going backwards.
Last month, US energy giant Chevron quietly closed its Sofia office, three years after it was awarded a licence for shale exploration that was scrapped months later. The company did not publicise its withdrawal and it has gone largely unreported. But the move is indicative both of the political challenges that frackers still face and of Bulgaria’s frustratingly inconsistent treatment of energy investors. Read more
The Kremlin, and Russian gas giant Gazprom, must be watching events in Ukraine with a bit of concern.
Not only is Kiev calmly defying Russia’s bullying, steadily moving closer to breaking free of its eastwards geopolitical pull by looking to sign historic free trade and association agreements with the EU in late November, but it is also pushing two new energy deals which could cut sharply the reliance on imports of Gazprom’s gas. Read more
Chevron, the US oil major, has decided to pull out at the final stage of a tender for shale gas exploration and production rights in Lithuania, in what is a big blow to the country’s efforts to reduce its dependence on energy imports from Russia,
The decision was hardly a surprise. But it may prompt Lithuania to revise new regulations that contributed to Chevron’s decision. Read more
Will Ecuador’s long-running dispute with Chevron sour its relations with Argentina? After all, Argentina’s state-run YPF signed a $1.24bn deal with the US oil giant to develop vast shale reserves despite calls from Rafael Correa, Ecuador’s president, to boycott the company.
But friendship between leftwing leaders appears to be unconditional. Read more
Shale gas and oil have more than usual appeal for Lithuania, where the government is eager to reduce its dependence on imports from Russia.
But a combination of environmental protests and government plans to hike royalties to the highest level in the world are creating daunting obstacles to investment. Chevron, the US oil major, could be the first to baulk at the new barriers. Read more
YPF CEO, Miguel Galuccio (L), with Ali Moshiri, Chevron's CEO for Latin America and Africa
So it finally happened. Chevron finally signed on the dotted line to become Argentine oil company YPF’s first international partner. Will it be the first of many? Time will tell.
In the end, there were few surprises amid the details cautiously released to the media via a press release. Chevron had initially talked of investing $1bn; YPF then talked up expectations to $1.25bn. In the end, it came in at $1.24bn. Read more
When KazMunaiGas muscled into the Karachaganak oil and gas field in 2011, international oil majors had no choice but to dilute their shares in the hugely profitable project to make way for Kazakhstan’s state oil company. At the time it was understood that KMG’s participation would clear the way for Kazakhstan to sanction the third phase of Karachaganak’s development and allow production to surge at the field. That now appears to be have been optimistic: in a surprise move this week, KMG said the expansion plan had been put on ice. Read more
Californian oil major Chevron has given the go-ahead to a $5.6bn development project of an Angolan offshore oil field which will be the company’s second largest investment in African crude to date after its Agbami field in Nigeria.
The Mafumeira Sul project, run through Chevron’s subsidiary Cabinda Gulf Oil Company, is scheduled to begin production in 2015, and will eventually pump 110,000 barrels of crude oil per day from five new platforms, Chevron said. Read more
Just when New York Judge Thomas Griesa must have been relaxing at having got Argentina’s holdout saga out of his court, another suit involving the country goes and plops into his in-tray.
This case this time? Repsol v. Chevron. The Spanish oil company followed up on its threat to sue any companies that sought to join forces with its expropriated former unit, YPF, to develop shale assets, and filed a complaint against the US major. Read more
When one of the world’s biggest oil companies takes out a full-page local newspaper advert accusing the attorney general’s office of committing an “abuse of power” and a “human rights violation,” it is clear that something has gone badly wrong.
The unusual step taken by Chevron on Monday after four of its employees were jailed in September by Indonesia’s AGO on suspicion of corruption does not seem to have done the company any harm yet. Read more
Could Chevron be the one? YPF, Argentina’s nationalised energy company, has been hunting for partners to help it develop its vast shale reserves, and invest the $7bn a year it says it needs to boost production. Until now, many potential partners have been mooted, but none has even seemed close to wanting to do a deal. Read more
Reliance Industries on Friday posted its third successive drop in net profit, only narrowly beating market expectations. Those hoping the new fiscal year would bring a turnaround for the oil and gas company after two gloomy quarters were left disappointed by a 21 per cent fall in net profit to $808m, compared with the same quarter last year. Read more
While many inhabitants of Venezuela’s north-western state of Zulia are screaming blue murder about the onset of petrol rationing, US oil major Chevron has quietly just agreed to invest $2bn to ramp up production in the region.
Chevron’s announcement is good news for Zulians. Oil production in and around the state’s Lake Maracaibo, once the jewel in the crown of Venezuela’s vast oil reserves, has been declining for years. Read more
There is always a danger in using the word “inevitable”. Take the development of shale gas in central and eastern Europe.
It’s all very well KPMG describing it in such terms. Of course almost all of the countries in the region want affordable energy, but that’s not how some of the locals see it. The ‘Nimby’* contingent, aided by modern technology, are very active in the region. And politicians are taking note. Read more
It’s a busy week for Big Oil in Buenos Aires. The Argentine government, which has seized control of YPF from Repsol of Spain and is in the process of nationalising it, has been calling international oil executives in to hear their investment plans. It wants big ticket announcements, fast.
The government doubtless wants to portray any alliances as love matches, with the private oil majors embracing the new-look YPF and endorsing government control. In reality though, any deals are more likely to be more coldly calculated marriages of convenience. Read more
Following the discovery of an oil leak in a field controlled by Petrobras, beyondbrics has taken the liberty of preparing a press release for federal prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira.
Readers will recall that a Brazilian court has ordered 17 Chevron executives to hand in their passports at the behest of Santos de Oliveira, who is pursuing a R$22bn ($12bn) civil case against the US oil major and criminal charges against its bosses, demanding a 31 year prison term for George Buck, Chevron’s Brazil head. Read more
Hopes that Poland could turn into an energy exporting potentate like Norway are looking fragile. The country may be sitting on Europe’s biggest shale gas deposits but it is becoming increasingly clear that early estimates of their size were much too large. Read more