Monthly Archives: May 2011

Workers fix wires on a wire pole along a road on March 31, 2006 in Beijing, China.Try as it might to outrun market forces, China’s decision to hike electricity prices from June 1 shows that even the mighty mandarins in Beijing cannot ignore basic laws of supply and demand. They finally flinched late on Monday, announcing a roughly 3 percent increase in power prices for non-residential users in a move to combat looming blackouts by stimulating more electricity production and discouraging consumption.

Sylvia Pfeifer

I am in “Gas City” or Doha, the capital of the state of Qatar. Located halfway along the Western coast of the Gulf, Qatar has been enjoying a construction boom fuelled by its hydrocarbon riches, in particular the world’s largest single gas field, the North Field. The field contains more than 900 trillion cubic feet of gas, equivalent to 150bn barrels of oil, or more than 10 per cent of worldwide gas resources.

The field was first discovered in the early 1970s by what is now Royal Dutch Shell and in just a few week’s time the Anglo-Dutch oil and gas giant will make history when it starts up its Pearl Gas-To-Liquids (GTL) plant. Via pipelines feeding from two offshore platforms 60km off the Qatar coast, the plant will take gas from the North Field and turn it into valuable liquids such as cleaner-burning diesel and aviation fuel, oils for advanced lubricants and naptha used to make plastics.

In the corridors of Brussels’ elegant Stanhope Hotel on Wednesday afternoon, the well-turned-out movers-and-shakers of the European energy world were marvelling at the sizeable budget and high-profile guest list for the event they were attending.

Soon to share a dais were Günther Oettinger, the European energy commissioner; his Russian counterpart, Sergey Shmatko; Alexei Miller, the chairman of Russia’s Gazprom; and Paolo Scaroni, the chief executive of Italy’s Eni. The ballroom was appointed with flat-screen video monitors and rows of chairs with corporate gift boxes.

The event was a sort of a Brussels coming-out party (and charm offensive) for South Stream, a Gazprom-backed pipeline project that aims to carry Russian and Caspian gas under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, where it would then fork off to Italy and Austria. South Stream’s backers, which include Eni, and now BASF, are due to decide next year whether or not to push ahead with the €15.5bn investment necessary to complete the sprawling project.

FT Energy Source

- Tullow pays $305m for Jubilee stake – FT

- Tullow bails out Ghana pioneers – The Telegraph

- Oil prices boost Lukoil profit – WSJ

Sinochem ignores China-Norway spat – FT

- US and China pull oil market in opposite directions – WSJ

- Economies of MENA oil importers hurting, says IMF – Argus

- Eurotunnel to link France and UK electricity – FT

- Huge solar farm opens in France – The Guardian

- Germans attack BP, Shell for overcharging – The Telegraph

- Total seeks dismissal of Russian case – WSJ

- Tunisia tensions focus on British Gas plant – FT

- Coal India in talks to buy stake in Indonesian mines – WSJ

- Now Rothschild turns his attention to oil – The Times

- Japan seeks lea role in nuclear safety – WSJ

- G8 leaders want tougher nuclear safety rule – Reuters

- ACS soap opera set to turn heads at Iberdrola – FT

- Groups turn to carbon pricing to reduce US deficit – Argus

- Green groups take EU to court over biofuels – The Guardian

Sylvia Pfeifer

George RoseThe board of Tony Hayward’s new energy fund, Vallares, which will see the former head of BP return to British corporate life, is taking shape. George Rose, the former finance director at BAE Systems, the defence contractor, is in talks to take up the position of chair of the audit committee.

If he agrees, it would be a good catch for Hayward. Rose, who stepped down from the board of BAE in March this year, was well-respected during his time at the defence company. He is currently also a non-executive director at National Grid, a position he has held since 2002, and where he chairs the audit committee, and was until recently a candidate for its chairmanship.

Sylvia Pfeifer

Life-sized polar bear outside Cairn's office

Photo by Felix Clay / Greenpeace

It’s not often that you meet a life size polar bear on your way into work but that is what greeted staff at Cairn Energy in Edinburgh this morning. The Scottish oil and explorer is being targeted by Greenpeace as part of an ongoing campaign to stop the company from exploring in the waters of the Arctic off Greenland.

Several activists – along with the bear – blockaded the entrance to Cairn’s office. Earlier in the day, Geenpeace along with other environment organisations WWF and Friends of the Earth wrote to Sir Bill Gammell, Cairn’s CEO, demanding he publishes the company’s emergency response plan to any incident or accident in the Arctic. Activists from the group scaled one of the rigs Cairn was using last year in Greenland and managed to stop work there for a bit.

Kiran Stacey

I’m sad to say that after eight months of running Energy Source, I’m moving onto pastures new, to take up a position in Westminster as political correspondent. You can continue to read my posts (some may even be energy-related) in the FT and on the Westminster blog.

From Tuesday, May 31, Energy Source will be run by the FT’s energy team, led by Sylvia Pfeifer (there will be no headlines or post on Monday 30th because of public holidays in the US and UK). Please keep emailing with your great ideas and comments.

Many thanks to all our readers, especially anyone who has contributed in any way to our coverage and comments.

Hugo Chávez must be distraught. There’s nothing he loves more than to launch into spirited tirades against the “empire” (a.k.a. the USA), and now he has the perfect excuse: it slapped sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company PDVSA for selling fuel to Iran.

But with the firebrand currently convalescing from problems with his knee, more than a day has gone by and he has still held his tongue (barring a few comments on Twitter), leaving that pleasure to his flunkies. And indeed, they haven’t held back, using the kind of nationalist rhetoric others would reserve for a full-blown land invasion.

The fact is, the impact of the sanctions will be minimal. They won’t affect Citgo, PDVSA’s US subsidiary, nor will they stop Venezuelan oil exports to the US – as if either party wanted that to happen anyway. All they will do is prevent PDVSA from doing things it has little to no interest in doing anyway: competing for US government contracts, obtaining export licenses or receiving financing from the Export-Import Bank.

Sheila McNulty

A shale gas wellAs questions about hydraulic fracturing – fracking as it is known in the industry – continue to build, the oil and gas industry is finding investors asking for more transparency as to how companies are going to face the growing risks to production.

France has banned fracking, and US federal regulators are investigating the safety of the process.

But the real risk to the industry at this point is how some US states and cities have taken the issue into their own hands: Pittsburgh has banned such drilling, and the New York State Assembly approved a temporary moratorium. There are other efforts under way in pockets across the US to further control or bar the process.

FT Energy Source

- Shell chief Voser in Russian talks – FT

- Shell talks leave BP in shadows – The Times

- BP should return to gulf within a year, says Oppenheimer – Argus

- Arcadia denies oil manipulation- FT

- Chevron chiefs face shareholders after $18bn Ecuador fine – The Guardian

- Resource stock lead global rebound – FT

- Cairn India profit soars – WSJ

- Iran says Opec will try to fill crude gap – FT

- China luring crude from US – Bloomberg

- Investors urged to note opportunities in Iraq – FT

- Exxon says fracking is safe – WSJ

- Investors demand clarity on shale gas – FT

- Chevron shareholders defeat proposal on fracking disclosure – WSJ

- Second largest gas field found in Turkmenistan – The Telegraph

- North Sea tax rise will cost £12bn, industry warns – FT

- Bill allows US military to use high-carbon ‘liquid coal’ – NY Times Green blog

- Wind forecast upgrade should mean drop in fossil fuel use – The Guardian

- Total extends offer for SunPower – Reuters

- UK nuclear plants to undergo EU stress tests – The Telegraph

- Swiss propose an end to nuclear power – FT

- Europe divided over nuclear power – The Guardian

- Japan PM vows to boost renewable energy – Reuters

Energy Source is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

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