By Joseph Dobbs, European Leadership Network
Russian aggression towards Ukraine this past year has seen Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, lambasted by Western leaders. China has desisted from such criticism and instead signed two major gas deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars, co-operated in establishing a new development bank, and conducted joint military exercises. For some, Russia and China’s co-operation demonstrates their potential to challenge the global order. But in reality Russia’s pivot east faces too many hurdles to represent a viable alternative to working with the West.
Russia and China have much in common. Both states are increasingly nationalistic and share a common perceived threat of Western containment. In Russia’s case this threat comes primarily from the potential expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato). China’s perception of US containment strategies derives mainly from the American military presence in East Asia. Leaders in Moscow and Beijing have both watched with unease as the West supported the Arab Spring and the so-called “colour revolutions” that rocked the likes of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. Read more
By Melissa Stark, Accenture
A lot has been written about the shale gas and oil boom in the US and why that model cannot be replicated in other countries with plentiful potential resources. In fact, this does not have to be the case.
We have done extensive analysis on the potential for shale development outside of the US, from Western to Eastern Europe, across Asia Pacific, Latin America and even South Africa. The biggest advantage that countries like Argentina, Saudi Arabia and China have over the others is a strong, government-backed national oil company (NOC). Read more
By Rajeev Mantri, Navam Capital
Energy and clean technology investing has proven to be disastrous for venture capitalists. Capital allocated to clean tech fell to less than half in 2013 from the $3.7 billion invested in 2012, and new clean tech-focused funds were able to raise less than $1 billion last year, compared to $4.5 billion raised in 2012.
High-profile flameouts like Solyndra, A123 Systems, Konarka, Miasole, Better Place and Fisker Automotive have, appropriately enough, made investors very wary. Billions of dollars of equity has evaporated. Successes, such as Tesla Motors and Nest Labs, have been extremely rare. Read more
Xi Jinping of China and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan in Astana, Sept 7, 2013.
By Usen Suleimen of the Kazakh foreign ministry and Xiaojiang Yu of Hong Kong Baptist University
The visit of Xi Jinping, China’s president, to Kazakhstan last weekend and the signing of $30bn of new agreements is another symbol of the growing closeness between two of the world’s largest countries. It is a relationship built on mutual challenges, geographic proximity and energy, as China increasingly looks to central Asia to power its growing economy.
But these links have also raised alarm bells in the west. Read more
Monday marks a new stage in the supply – and politics – of China’s energy, as a pipline through Myanmar has started operations. Read more
The fact that the axis of world energy consumption is moving east isn’t exactly new – but the International Energy Agency is finally responding to the inevitable.
As the FT reported on Thursday, the agency is seeking an association with emerging economies, including the four Bric states. So beyondbrics has put together a couple of charts that show the change in energy consumption – and where it could go in the next two decades. Read more
China’s state-owned enterprises this week got a new boss. Former oil chief Jiang Jiemin (pictured), who was president and later chairman of CNPC for the past seven years, will be the new head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (or Sasac for short).
Jiang’s change of sides, from oil chief to top regulator, follows a long line of top oil bosses who have gone on to prominent political roles. With reform of state-owned enterprises being one a top task facing the new government, the chairmanship of Sasac should be an important – and very political – position. Read more
China’s statistics are notoriously unreliable, and oil demand is no exception.
In its Oil Market Report for February, the International Energy Agency admits that measuring it is more of an art than a science, and has announced a new methodology. While this may sound a little on the wonkish side, there is an important point: China counts for around 10 per cent of the world’s oil consumption and 40 per cent of global oil demand growth. Getting this bit right (or less wrong) is crucial. Read more
Who's going to burn that?
Thermal coal is not having a good month. With eurozone concerns and slowing growth in China already dragging on commodities prices globally, coal inventories in China – the world’s biggest consumer – are near record highs. Last week, thermal coal prices hit a two-year low in Newcastle, the Australian port.
A few days ago, a US utility company took the very unusual step of declaring force majeur on coal contracts because its coal piles were full – a sign of slack demand.
Add to all this gloomy news one more item: more analysts are joining the camp that believes China might not be a long-term structural importer of thermal coal. This could mark a very important shift. Read more
The trouble with being the world’s biggest energy user and sprawling across 9m square kilometers is that it is often hard to get the power where you need it.
In China, the trials and travails of the national electrical grid usually go unnoticed. The utility companies that produce China’s power and run the grid include some of the biggest companies in the world by asset size but they often fall below the radar screen since they are state-owned and primarily domestic. Read more
Central Asia is mainly known for its abundant hydrocarbon reserves – but some countries in the region are already turning their attention to wind resources to produce cleaner, renewable energy.
Mongolia has set an ambitious goal to become central Asia’s renewable energy champion even as foreign investors compete for access to its huge coal mines. Strong winds gusting across the empty steppe could eventually be harnessed to produce about one quarter of the country’s energy needs. Read more