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On Energy Source:
Shell may seek euros 800m for LPG unit (Bloomberg)
Algae as fuel defended (NYT Green Inc)
Avatar had already succeeded beyond Hollywood’s wildest fantasies last month, becoming the highest-grossing film of all time and winning nine Oscar nominations including “best feature film”. Since then it has taken on an impressive afterlife, inspiring oppressed peoples and their supporters to draw links between the blue-faced aliens and the real world.
James Cameron was working with old formulas. But he may not have appreciated how effectively the story would stir so many popular beliefs and prejudices. One belief: resources companies are up to no good.
Iraqi Kurdistan, a siren song of a place with its 40bn+ barrels of untapped oil, continues to push smart people away even as it pulls them closer. For oil investors there, the tune goes something like, “Forget all the licensing disputes and political mess of today and yesterday … It will be sorted out tomorrow … The market demands it, political necessity demands it … And then there will be 40 billion barrels of oil and everyone will get rich”. This tune is starting to sound pathetic.
Heritage Oil today confirmed it plans to sell its Ugandan oil stakes to Eni for $1.5bn – it was applauded as a smart move for one of the best E&Ps in the business. But Uganda was less a part of the equation than Kurdistan.
On Energy Source:
A technology agreement between Rio Tinto and Codelco – two of the world’s biggest copper mining companies – raises the prospect that large resource companies might pool tech R&D, jointly funding and jointly benefiting from new ways of uncovering more geologically difficult deposits.
Rio and Codelco’s “Rio de Cobre” alliance, announced last week, allows both companies absolute rights to ‘peer over the fence’ at each other’s copper-extracting technologies, said John McGagh, head of innovation at Rio, when talking to the FT yesterday. Rio has a greater expertise in surface mining technology. Codelco, experienced in Chile’s mature mines, has unrivalled expertise in underground copper mining. It is expertise Rio can use if it is to go underground at new projects like Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia.
The idea would have been unheard-of not long ago, with proprietary mining technology a target more for industrial espionage than cooperation. After all, these are two of the world’s biggest companies and both have large R&D and tech budgets. The idea made sense, said Mr McGagh, because of the increasing complexity of prospective mineral deposits and the clear advantage of extracting metal as soon as possible from these complex deposits.
Mongolia is quickly becoming the next great frontier for the world’s supply of coal, copper, uranium, and gold. The country is as undeveloped as the Democratic Republic of Congo, though somewhat more stable, politically — although that is not saying much.
After three years of political and corporate wrangling the government last month signed the Oyu Tolgoi Invesment Agreement, which allows Ivanhoe Mines and Rio Tinto to develop the vast copper-gold deposits in the south Gobi desert. That agreement — including the 34 per cent stake in the project awarded to the government — could be the breakthrough that allows the government to accelerate development of other resources – namely the enormous coal deposits known collectively as Tavan Tolgoi.
On Energy Source:
Enough was enough this week for DNO, the small Norwegian oil company much-watched as a gauge of whether foreign investment in Iraqi Kurdistan will work.
It responded to the Kurdistan government’s outrage over a minor media controversy in Norway in the only way it could: by pointing out the real issue at hand and acting on it. However disappointed Kurdistan was about slander it had suffered at the hands of Norwegian journalists, DNO was equally disappointed by the failure to receive any payment for the Kurdish oil it has been exporting for four months.
This week is offered a grovelling apology to oil grandees in Kurdistan followed by an icy postscript: until you figure out how to pay us, we will not export your oil internationally, it said. DNO added that it will focus on domestic oil sales until Baghdad and Erbil settled their long-running dispute once and for all.