Daily Archives: July 23, 2009

Kate Mackenzie

From 'save vestas' blogThere have been some unpleasant allegations over the occupation of the wind turbine factory on the UK’s Isle of Wight, and most of them concern the protesters’ access to food.  Almost 20 workers are continuing to occupy the factory, owned by Vestas, to protest its closure, and the protestors say that a big fence has been erected, reportedly to try and prevent supporters passing food to the protestors.

The protesters and their supporters said the company was trying to do this by erecting a seven-foot gate around the building. A total of five people have been arrested at the site, and there were reports that they were trying to get food to the protesters. The police have stated that they are not stopping protestors getting food: that was a matter for the company. But where is Vestas in all of this?

Kate Mackenzie

As if agreeing to halve its per-barrel revenue at the auction weren’t enough, the joint CNPC/BP bid to develop the Rumaila oil field still faces a potentially difficult pathway through Iraqi politics to have the contract signed.

Just ask Shell, which in September agreed a deal to produce gas, also in Basra, but is yet to sign contracts on the arrangement. The contract signing is reportedly getting close, but it was hampered by accusations that the company didn’t compete for the contract, and that it would be given a monopoly on gas production on the area. This did nothing to abate the wariness in Iraq about foreign companies taking profits from resources out of the country.

Kate Mackenzie

A moral question is at the heart of many of the international talks that are gathering pace in the lead-up to the Copenhagen meeting in December. How should the cost of reducing carbon emissions be divided up? It plays out in discussions of caps versus curbs and also in the arena of manufacturing and trade. Two recurring themes are whether emissions should be counted towards the manufacturing country’s allowance, or the consuming country.

Then there is the question of ‘leakage’, or losing jobs and industry to those countries who do introduce carbon caps. Proposed US legislation seeks to avoid this by making a ‘border adjustment’ on some imported goods from 2020, but that again raises the question of whether poorer countries should bear as much of the costs of greenhouse gas emissions as richer nations. At the same time, developing countries are expected to contribute almost all of the increase in carbon emissions to 2030.

The IPCC’s chair Rajendra Pachauri has been critical of the developed world in the past couple of days.

Kate Mackenzie

IOCs in Russia: How times have changed

Markets: Oil extends slide on demand concerns

Natural gas industry to build up its lobbying

Further reading:

What next for the world’s newest supermajor? (BNet)

Senators push for a military angle on US climate change bill (Platts)

IPCC boss slams US plans for carbon tariffs (Environmental Capital/WSJ)

California uses more gasoline than any country in the world (except the US, obviously) (Wired)

Do sunspots and solar flares affect climate change? (Christian Science Monitor)

Total looks for bigger bite in Angola (UpstreamOnline)

Iberdrola results good news for US wind (Forbes)

Kate Mackenzie

Oil production in Russia is not what it used to be for foreign oil companies. From Reuters:

Ministers will discuss today setting a zero rate for the mineral extraction tax in the initial stages of development of fields in the Black Sea and Sea of Okhotsk, the government said in a statement posted on its Web site late yesterday.

The tax breaks will apply until accumulative output reaches 20 million metric tons at Black Sea fields and 30 million metric tons in the Sea of Okhotsk, off Russia’s Pacific Coast. Alternatively, the zero rate may be applicable for 10 years or 15 years for fields being developed under combined exploration and production licenses, according to the statement.

There has been quite a turnround in Russia’s attitude to foreign oil companies in recent months.  A few weeks ago Putin told Shell it could participate in the Sakhalin 3 and 4 blocks off the island in Russia’s far east. It was a curiously warm welcome, considering that three years ago Shell, under pressure from the Russian government, was forced to halve its 55 per cent stake in the Sakhalin 2 block, allowing state-controlled Gazprom to take a majority share. Sakhalin, incidentally, is in the Sea of Okhotsk, of the regions suggested for tax breaks.

Shell is not alone in having had problems in Russia. For BP’s TNK-BP joint venture, things got so bad the then-chief executive backed by BP, left the country amid visa problems and a ruling that he could not serve as chief executive for two years – which he claimed was the result of bias. Meanwhile US companies were shut out of developing the massive Shtokman gas field in 2006.

But times have changed for Russia and for Gazprom, which is having difficulty maintaining its planned investments. Its output fell 34 per cent year on year to its lowest level in a decade in May due to the drop in worldwide. Last month it warned it may postpone the launch of the Bovanenkovo field in Siberia until the third quarter of 2012 because of lower gas demand, a pipeline to China was delayed, and some analysts predict more announcements like this ahead.

Related links:

Gazprom says demand is recovering (FT Energy Source, 29/06/09)
Gazprom delays China pipeline (FT Energy Source, 17/06/09)
Russia: From rags to riches to rags (FT Alphaville, 02/04/09)

Oil prices dropped on Thursday, extending their retreat from the previous session, while base metals sector were mixed and gold retained its hold above the $950 an ounce level.

Nymex September West Texas Intermediate fell 45 cents to $64.95 a barrel while ICE September Brent lost 31 cents at $66.90 a barrel.

WTI has been trading at a discount to Brent for much of July, reflecting weak US demand conditions, which were a feature again in US inventories data, released on Wednesday.

Kate Mackenzie

As a US climate change bill draws nearer (well, maybe), a few more voices are piping up that natural gas should be the easiest, quickest way to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions without touching too many sensitive issues of rising electricity bills, fossil fuel jobs, and the American way of life.

Prolific blogger and former Democrat official Joe Romm, as we’ve noted before, is a big booster for a rapid conversion to natural gas, saying it’s a ‘game changer‘ and would make it cheap and easy to reach the targets set by Waxman-Markey.

Earlier this week Robert F. Kennedy Jnr in the FT’s comment page argued that a straightforward legislative change could dramatically increase the use of natural gas for electricity.

Benefits of GdF Suez’s bitter tie-up clear to see
Pre-merger battles have given way to harmony (FT)

Adani races to fill gap in India’s power generation
Ambitious building programmes accompany plans for $600m flotation (FT)

California counties vow to sue over cuts
Budget deal backs offshore drilling (FT)

Iberdrola hit by slump in domestic demand
Spain’s biggest electricity group notes weakness across all markets (FT)

Solar Integrated Technology agrees ECD deal
ECD prepares for upturn in US (FT)

Atkins likens climate change to industrial revolution
Engineering consultant says construction companies unprepared (FT)

Occidental announces big find
Major new oil field in California discovered (WSJ)

Santos sales drop 35%
Oil prices and output fall for Australian oil and gas producer (Bloomberg)

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