energy

Although the violence in Iraq has so far had a muted impact on global oil markets, if prices continue to rise there could be some nasty consequences in store for the more fragile of emerging market economies (see chart below).

And while a spike would hurt countries that rely on energy imports, it won’t necessarily translate into quick and easy economic gains for EM hydrocarbon exporters, say analysts. Continue reading »

For Ghana, which is battling a massive fiscal crisis, the answer is football. The government has ordered one of the country’s biggest industries to reduce production to guarantee enough electricity for television coverage of the World Cup.

The West African country, which is expected to suffer a double-digit fiscal deficit in 2014 for the third year in a row, told the Volta Aluminium Company (Valco), to “reduce energy consumption during periods when Ghana would be playing”. Aluminium smelters are among the biggest consumers of power and, with limited supplies, the country was facing rolling blackouts during the next few weeks when millions of television sets will turn on simultaneously for the football matches. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

It’s not often a country’s president flies more than 1,000 miles to inaugurate a gas storage tank – more of a job for the local mayor, you might think. But that’s what Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s president, has just done: in a country as energetically-challenged as Chile, a new gas tank is a big deal.

This one, the biggest in Latin America, represents one more step in Chile’s efforts to solve its chronic energy shortfall once and for all. Continue reading »

Is Pemex, the Mexican state oil company, close to dumping its 9 per cent stake in Spain’s Repsol petroleum company? It certainly looks like D-day is getting closer.

Here is what Mexico’s energy minister, Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, has to say on the subject:

“Selling the Repsol stake? Well, that’s a decision that is in the hands of the management and hasn’t been put before the board yet. But I have to say that the incentives for Pemex to remain in Repsol are very low.”

Pemex, Repsol’s third-largest shareholder, with a stake valued at just over $3bn, hinted last week that news could emerge this week – which certainly sounds like a sale is brewing. So far, though, nada official. Continue reading »

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. Continue reading »

Energy-hungry importers across Asia complain about an “Asian premium” in gas prices. India and Japan are even mulling clubbing together to cut costs.

But could such moves stymie major investment plans to move new gas supplies from west to east? Canada worries that they just might. Continue reading »

Kenya is already the world’s ninth largest geothermal power producer. It plans to do better by following an ambitious geothermal development plan. The east African state’s installed geothermal capacity is set to more than double by the end of the year after 280MW capacity is added to its existing Olkaria plant. Kenya’s government wants to keep the momentum going. State-owned Geothermal Development Company has kicked off the new year with a tender for another 300MW of geothermal capacity at Suswa, about 55 kilometres from Nairobi. Continue reading »

Kuwait has long grappled with its electricity supply. Every summer offers a reminder that the gap between power generation capacity and demand is woefully tight. In 2010, the working day stopped at midday to save power during the hottest months when Kuwaitis crank up their air conditioning. For the world’s ninth largest oil producer, this was pretty embarrassing. Continue reading »

When it comes to energy in Latin America, all eyes have been on Mexico’s plans to open its oil industry to private investment. But Peruvian officials stole some of that thunder at the weekend by saying the government planned to sell up to 49 per cent of state-run PetroPeru. Continue reading »

Martin Roman (pictured), the skilled political player who helped turn the Czech Republic’s CEZ into one of central Europe’s largest utilities, announced Friday that he was resigning as the company’s supervisory board chairman.

Making the announcement on the first day of the country’s two-day parliamentary elections, Roman said in a statement “I did not choose to exit by accident,” and made it clear that the political environment was key in his decision. Continue reading »

Some say it took millions of years, others say it took seven days, for the Amazon rainforest to be shaped. But it took just ten hours for Ecuador’s government-dominated assembly to authorise on Thursday “responsible” drilling in a pristine area of the jungle that is estimated to hold some 900m barrels of crude. Continue reading »

Mol, the Hungarian oil and gas group, offered what appears to be an olive branch to Croatia on Thursday in the ongoing row over the control of Ina, the Zagreb-based refiner in which Mol owns just short of 50 per cent. Continue reading »

The revolving door at Venezuela’s oil sector continued to spin on Wednesday after Lukoil, Russia’s second largest oil producer, said it was withdrawing from a multi-billion dollar oil project in the country’s heavy oil rich Orinoco basin.

The news comes just a month after Malaysia’s Petronas pulled out of another big project. Continue reading »

It’s not all grim news in Argentina’s energy sector, where entrenched problems have caused fuel imports to double over the last year, sapping the country’s precious foreign exchange reserves.

Despite serious reservations about Argentina among many foreign investors, both Germany’s Wintershall and the local subsidiary of the US’s Dow Chemical have announced investments this week to explore possibilities in the giant shale formation, Vaca Muerta. Continue reading »