oil & gas

Lukoil has agreed to sell its stake in several oil projects in Kazakhstan to Sinopec for $1.2bn, in the latest of a string of Chinese investments in the country’s energy sector. The Russian company – the country’s largest private-sector oil producer – said the purpose of the sale was to “optimize Lukoil’s overseas hydrocarbon asset portfolio”.

But the deal is also symbolic of China’s rapid expansion in Central Asia, part of Russia’s traditional “sphere of influence”. Continue reading »

Namibia has until recently been largely overlooked by the oil majors. A spate of farm-in agreements over the last six months suggests that this is changing. International oil companies are keen to secure a stake in the southern African country’s oil boom, should one materialise.

Austria’s OMV and Murphy Oil Corporation from Arkansas are the latest companies to make their first foray into the Namibian oil and gas sector, buying 25 and 40 per cent, respectively, of Cowan Petroleum’s licence to explore two blocks off the Namibian coast. Continue reading »

By Edward Robinson, Culmer Raphael

Events in Algeria could be about to complicate the European Union’s response to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.

As part of a second possible package of sanctions, the European Commission is drawing up options for “reducing energy dependence on Russia”, to be debated by EU heads of government at the June summit. The obvious options include substituting some Russian gas imports with supplies from Europe’s second and third largest gas suppliers: Norway and Algeria. The CEO of ENI crystallised it last week when he said that he expected a ‘gigantic’ effort to diversify gas imports in the absence of any agreement with Russia over Crimea. Continue reading »

The thick smog that blankets many Chinese cities represents a vast commercial opportunity for emerging market suppliers of gas, a clean-burning fuel.

As pollution levels approached choking point this winter, China’s imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) surged 38 per cent – partly because of a deepening environmental consciousness and partly because temperatures plumbed 28-year lows, analysts said. Continue reading »

Miguel Galuccio has three principal objectives for 2014: “to produce, produce and produce.”

To help achieve that aim, Galuccio, who has run the Argentine energy company YPF since the government expropriated a 51 per cent share from Spain’s Repsol in 2012, is looking for partners. Continue reading »

Never mind all that “three amigos” stuff. A potential energy pipeline from Canada to the US could help those two Nafta members, but not the other, Mexico.

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline could spell bad news for Mexican oil company Pemex, which is losing its monopoly at home and is currently the third biggest crude exporter to the US. Continue reading »

Oil companies hoping that by March 21 they might have clues as to which oil and gasfields may be up for grabs in Mexico should not get their hopes up too high.

Pemex, the state company which is having its 75-year-old monopoly opened up to private competition in a historic reform, will face a new competitive environment. And that means learning to keep corporate secrets, it says. Continue reading »

Russia is pushing ahead with a $4.9bn project to expand the East Siberian Pacific Ocean oil export pipeline as surging oil demand from China and other east Asian consumers attracts oil sales at the expense of Europe.

Transneft, Russia’s state pipeline monopoly, won government approval for its investment program on Tuesday clearing the way for Espo’s capacity to more than double by 2020. Continue reading »

Uganda’s government has been locked in a long-standing battle with companies over the development of its 3.5bn barrels of oil, mostly located around the Albertine Graben.

So it is with some relief that last week a memorandum of understanding was finally signed with UK-based Tullow Oil, Total of France and China National Offshore Oil Corporation, providing a framework for commercial production which builds on an April agreement. Continue reading »

By Leslie Palti-Guzman of Eurasia Group and Tatiana Mitrova of the Russian Academy of Sciences

As the global market for natural gas is transformed, Russia and its national champion Gazprom have found their long-term export strategy challenged. No longer able to rely on their core European market, the Russians are looking eastwards, where they have long been seeking a strategic gas deal between Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) that would provide an easily accessible market for gas from new fields in eastern Siberia. Continue reading »

Ecopetrol's Gutierrez. Will he stay or will he go?

“What’s going on at Ecopetrol?” It’s an often-heard question about Colombia’s state-controlled oil company, producer of most of the country’s 1m barrels per day output.

Ecopetrol’s shares have fallen by 42 per cent in New York over the past year and have come under renewed pressure over the past month. With rumours that its chief executive is on the way out, all eyes are on an extraordinary shareholder meeting set for January 23. Continue reading »

Gazprom boosted gas exports to Europe to record levels last year, as customers negotiated price discounts and competition from rival international gas producers fell away.

But the rebound in sales to Europe was not matched in the domestic market where Russia’s natural gas monopoly continued to lose ground to local independent gas producers. Continue reading »

Ukraine’s cash-strapped government may have secured short-term relief for its ailing economy by landing a 30 per cent discount on Russian natural gas imports prices late last month through a broader $20bn bailout agreement.

But recognising that Russia’s leadership could hike prices up again in the future, the administration of President Viktor Yanukovich does not appear to be dropping long-term plans to diversify gas supplies, crucial in breaking the energy inefficient economy’s longstanding heavy dependence on Russian fuel. Continue reading »

To date, South Africa has done little to explore its offshore oil. Geological data is old and out of date, existing oilfields are ageing, and few new ones are being discovered. Even the Orange Basin, near Namibia, is believed to hold substantial reserves, but there has been little drilling since Shell acquired rights in 2009.

But technological innovations in deepwater drilling and seismic imaging, and general optimism following the discovery of hydrocarbons in the Karoo and along the southern African coastline, are prompting a growing number energy players to look again, despite the odds. Cairn India, Anadarko, Sunbird, Total, Sasol, ExxonMobil and Chevron are among those signing deals, bidding for exploration licenses and planning drilling activity this year. Continue reading »

With the ink only a month old on Mexico’s landmark energy reform – and the fine print of how to apply it yet to be approved – Vicente Fox, a former president, is already eyeing an opportunity.

He has announced the creation of a $500m fund – indeed, most of the money has already been raised, says the former Coca-Cola executive – to drive investment into the energy sector as it shakes off the shackles of three quarters of a century bound to the state. Continue reading »