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Posts from ‘March, 2006’

YubaNet.com: Boxer Corrects Oil Industry's Inaccurate Statements for the Record

By: Boxer office
Published: Mar 31, 2006 at 07:54
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today sent a letter to the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association correcting inaccuracies in the document they submitted to the Environment and Public Works Committee regarding the oil industry's use of MTBE.
Following is the text of Senator Boxer's letter to Bob Slaughter, President of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association:
Dear Mr. Slaughter:
I write regarding your March 28, 2006 letter to Chairman Inhofe expressing the views of your members with respect to the oversight hearing on the impact of the elimination of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. This letter was entered into the hearing record by the Chairman.
I supported the Chairman in his efforts to make NPRA's views known to the Committee. However, I disagree strongly with several statements in the letter related to whether the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 mandated the use of MTBE. The letter is not supported by the facts.
The Clean Air Act never required the use of MTBE, and courts have upheld that view. Moreover, in response to direct questioning today, Robert Meyers, Associate Assistant Administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation at the United States Environmental Protection Agency again affirmed that MTBE use was not required by the Clean Air Act. He held this view in 1995 as Counsel to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, when he wrote with respect to the legislative history of the 1990 Clean Air Act:
“A major aspect of the debate on the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments was the issue of 'fuel neutrality.” In essence, since various fuels and fuel constituents compete for the RFG and alternative fuels market, an effort was made to avoid dictating any particular fuel choice.”
In addition, a jury in the Tahoe case found Lyondell, Shell, Texaco, Equilon, and Tosco guilty of irresponsibly manufacturing and distributing a product they knew would contaminate water. The jury found by “clear and convincing evidence” that both Shell Oil Company and Lyondell Chemical Company acted with “malice” by failing to warn customers of the almost certain environmental dangers of MTBE water contamination.
The repeal of the oxygenate standard should not be used as justification for the resurrection of MTBE safe-harbor legislation. I oppose such legislation now, just as I did during the consideration of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and will be actively engaged in opposing its passage should it be reintroduced this session.
Sincerely,
Barbara Boxer
United States Senator

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Forbes/AFX News Limited: Nigerian troops clash with militants in restive oil region

03.31.2006
LAGOS (AFX) – Nigerian troops engaged separatist militants in a fierce gun duel in the swamps of the Niger Delta, leaving some fighters dead, an army spokesman said.
'Our men were attacked during a patrol operation in the area. We fought back and some of the aggressors were killed. The army recorded no casualties,' army spokesman Colonel Mohammed Yussuf said.
The gunfight on Thursday erupted near Shell's Benisede oil flow station, which was destroyed in January by militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in a battle that left 14 soldiers dead.
The fighting around Benisede in Bayelsa State was the latest between ethnic Ijaw militants and soldiers of the Joint Task Force set up to protect oil facilities in the troubled region.
Last week, three soldiers died when their boat capsized during a patrol of oil and gas plants in the region, according to a navy spokesman.
Since the start of the year, attacks by militants have forced Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell and other foreign oil majors to cut Nigerian production by a total of 533,000 barrels per day.
A total of 13 foreign oil workers have been kidnapped and later released after weeks of negotiations with the militants.
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MarketWatch: India government says 72 cos attend Houston oil, gas block roadshow

Last Update: 11:43 AM ET Mar 31, 2006
NEW DELHI (MarketWatch) — As many as 72 international companies, including global energy majors – ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM), Chevron Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell PLC participated in a roadshow at Houston showcasing India's latest oil and natural gas exploration blocks, the Indian government said in a statement Friday.
“Response to the roadshow was upbeat and positive as many companies have already booked data at the Houston data center,” the statement said.
Some 55 oil and gas blocks are being offered by the Indian government for exploration under the sixth round of the government's New Exploration Licensing Policy, or NELP-VI.
The government is offering 24 deepwater blocks, six shallow-water blocks and 25 onshore blocks under NELP-VI. The bidding for NELP-VI blocks will close Sept. 15.
India has awarded 110 blocks through an international competitive bidding process under five previous rounds of NELP, to boost the country's oil and gas production.
India currently imports 76% of the crude oil it processes, as current domestic crude output is stagnating around 33 million metric tons a year.
Natural gas sold in the country is around 90 million cubic meters a day, which only meets around 60% of the local demand.
-Contact: 201-938-5400

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Xinhua, China: CNOOC-Shell petrochemical project goes into production

www.chinaview.cn 2006-03-31 20:30:39
HUIZHOU, Guangdong, March 31 (Xinhua) — China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) announced on Friday that its huge petrochemical project, a joint venture with Royal Dutch Shell, off the South China Sea has begun formal production.
Located in Huizhou city of souch China's Guangdong Province, the project is one of the largest petrochemical projects launched in China in recent years.
CNOOC, Royal Dutch Shell and the Guangdong provincial government invested in the 4.2 billion U.S. dollar project, which is the largest joint venture in China. Royal Dutch Shell owns 50 percent, CNOOC, 45 percent and the Guangdong government, 5 percent.
The project adopted 13 patent technologies through international public bidding, including Shell's world-leading PO/SM technology, said Zhai Hongxing, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of CNOOC and Shell Petrochemicals Company Limited.
According to Zhai, as the largest PO/SM facility in the world, it could produce 550,000 tons of styrene monomer and 250,000 tons of propylene oxide each year.
It will feed the hunger for petrochemical products such as styrene monomer and proplene oxide of China's market, he said.
The core of the project is a set of ethylene cracking facilities.
With an annual production capability of 800,000 tons of ethylene and 430,000 tons of propylene, the facilities could refine not only naphtha, but heavier condensate oil as well as hydrogenation unconverted oil and depression diesel, both by products of petroleum refineries, said Simon Lam, CEO of CNOOC and Shell Petrochemicals Company Limited.
The diversity of raw materials has greatly improved the competitiveness of the project, said Lam.
According to Zhai, after being put into production, the joint venture could produce more than 2.3 million tons of petro chemicals each year mainly for the South and Southeast China markets, the most prosperous regions in the country.
Having focused on oil and natural gas exploration and production offshore, CNOOC has been trying to expand its business in oil industry over recent years and plans to establish an integrated energy company which boasts not only an upper stream business including exploration and production, but also middle and downstream businesses such as oil refining and petrochemicals by 2008.
The launching of the production of the CNOOC-Shell joint venture is another significant step for CNOOC to achieve this goal, said Zhai.
CNOOC announced the establishment of its refining subsidiary last Nov. and laid the cornerstone for its wholly invested oil refining project of an annual oil refining capacity of 12 million tons in Huizhou city, near the CNOOC-Shell project.
The project will also be a great force in enhancing the innovation ability and development level of China's petrochemical industry, said Zhai.
China's rapid economic growth has lead to a huge demand for petrochemical materials. As a result, a series of large-scale ethylene projects was launched in recent years.
Zhai said the production capability of ethylene is an important barometer of the growth of a country's petrochemical industry. But he said the development of China's ethylene industry should be keep in pace with the growth of domestic demand. Enditem
Editor: Ling Zhu

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Seattle Post Intelligencer: Wash. Website owner wins free speech case

By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER
SEATTLE — The state Supreme Court ruled Thursday a trial judge overreached his authority when he restricted a man from posting information on a Web site. Paul Trummel was jailed for more than three months in 2002 in his free-speech standoff with the judge over the Web site he used as a forum for attacking the Council House, a federally subsidized retirement home where he once lived.
Trummel posted the phone numbers and addresses of Council House staff, directors and residents – something that King County Superior Court Judge James Doerty characterized as harassment.
Trummel removed the information after his release from jail, but appealed his case.
His attorney, William Crittenden, called the high court's unanimous ruling a victory for free speech.
In siding with Trummel in the online aspect of the case, the justices added that there was clear evidence of Trummel's predatory behavior toward Council House residents, staff and directors.
That behavior indicated the need to bar him from contacting them in person, by telephone, by writing or through a third person, the court said.
Trummel currently faces six charges of violating the anti-harassment order, said his criminal attorney, Brad Meryhew. Meryhew said he did not know how the justices' ruling would affect those charges.
He said all the charges concern information on Trummel's Web site or communications with relatives of Council House residents or staff.
Trummel was evicted from the home in April 2001, and Crittenden said he did not know his client's location at this time.

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Itar-Tass: Russian shipbuilders receive order for Sakhalin shelf work vessels

RUSSIA
31.03.2006, 10.09
YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, March 31 (Itar-Tass) — Russian shipbuilders have received an order for the first time to build vessels for work on the Sakhalin shelf.
Two moorage boats will be built at the Zvezda plant in the Primorsky Territory and two reinforced icebreaking port tugboats at the Admiralteiskiye Verfi shipyard in St. Petersburg, the press service of the Sakhalin Energy company, the Sakhalin-2 project operator, said on Friday.
All the four vessels will work in the south of Sakhalin in the Aniva bay, where the world's biggest gas liquefying plant is being built on the coast. The boats will lead giant tankers to the moorages.
The construction of four vessels in Russia is one of the terms of the 15-year contract concluded by Sakhalin Energy to charter six such boats. Russian crews will work aboard all the six vessels flying the Russian flag.
The cost of the construction contract is about 140 million dollars. The vessels will begin to work in 2007.

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AP Worldstream: Dutch economics minister to visit Libya for oil and gas talks

Mar 30, 2006
Economics Minister Laurens Jan Brinkhorst will go to Libya next week to negotiate gas and oil agreements, in the first high-level visit by a Dutch official since Colonel Moammar Gadhafi took power in 1969, the ministry said Thursday.
During the April 5-6 trip, Brinkhorst hopes to “intensify business and political relations with Libya,” and to lay the groundwork for a long-term energy deal to be signed later, spokesman Jan van Diepen said.
The Dutch determination to diversify gas sources deepened after Russia suspended supplies to Ukraine in January, Van Diepen said. The Netherlands also has its own gas fields, with reserves sufficient for domestic needs through 2030.
Brinkhorst also will visit a trade fair in Tripoli that will be attended by officials from Royal Dutch Shell and from the Dutch air carrier KLM.
Shell announced last year it had concluded a deal to explore and develop areas in Libya's Sirte Basin and expected to start drilling in 2007. Shell was active in Libya from the 1950s until 1974, and it conducted explorations there in the late 1980s.
Libya's relations with the West improved following its agreement in December 2003 to dismantle its chemical, nuclear and biological programs.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press

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Business News Americas: Shell to decide BS-4 fate by year-end – Brazil

(BNamericas.com) – Anglo-Dutch oil company Shell (NYSE: RDS-B) will have to decide this year whether to announce commercial feasibility or hand back to Brazilian authorities the BS-4 offshore block in the Santos basin where it is operator, the company's Brazilian operations E&P VP John Haney told reporters during the Latin Upstream seminar in Rio de Janeiro.
Shell has a 40% interest in the block, Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) has 40% and US oil company Chevron (NYSE: CVX) the remaining 20%.
The partners have been exploring the block since 1998, when Brazil's oil sector was opened up to private investment. The block is located in water depths of 1,500 meters and estimated to contain total reserves of 1.6 million barrels (Mb) of 14-degree API heavy crude, Haney said.
“We consider this a frontier block,” he said. “We want to improve recovery levels there.” Shell also has interests in the BC-10 block in the Campos basin and in 11 exploratory blocks in Brazil.
The company plans to continue development of the BC-10 block, which it operates with a 35% stake. Its partners there are Petrobras with 35% and US oil company Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM) with 30%.
“We should file the development plans for the block at the hydrocarbons regulator by the end of the first half,” Haney said.
The company expects to recover as much as 400Mb of heavy crude there by 2010, he said.
At the same time Shell should drill new appraisal wells this year in the existing productive fields of Bijupira and Salema, where the company is producing some 35,000-40,000 barrels of oil a day.
Shell invested US$200mn in 2005 in its Brazilian operations, of which US$150mn went into E&P. Haney declined to say how much the company would invest in Brazil this year.
Shell also has downstream operations in the country, including interests in natural gas distribution and transport. – (BNamericas.com)

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AP Worldstream: Crude futures fall below US$67 a barrel on slight profit-taking

Mar 31, 2006
Crude oil prices retreated Friday as traders took profits following continuous gains over the last three sessions due to strong demand for fuel and falling U.S. gasoline inventories.
Light, sweet crude for May delivery fell 27 cents to US$66.88 a barrel in Asian electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange midmorning in Singapore. The contract on Thursday gained 70 cents to settle at US$67.15 a barrel _ a two-month high.
Gasoline lost 2.57 cents to US$1.9700 a gallon (3.8 liters) while heating oil fell 0.73 cent to US$1.8770 a gallon. Natural gas declined 8.7 cents to US$7.400 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Analysts said concerns over falling U.S. gasoline stocks would continue to keep a firm floor under prices.
“Oil prices have been moving up so quickly in the past few days, so traders are just taking a slight profit now ahead of the weekend,” said Tetsu Emori, chief commodities strategist at Mitsui Bussan Futures in Tokyo. “But gasoline demand is strong and inventories have gone down, so I think prices will keep moving strongly up.”
Gasoline futures on Thursday jumped more than 4 cents a gallon on top of a gain of nearly 7 cents in the previous session after midweek data showed U.S. gasoline stocks fell by a surprisingly large draw of 5.4 million barrels last week, their biggest weekly draw since August 2003.
After climbing to their highest level in seven years last month, U.S. gasoline stocks have fallen nearly 10 million barrels in just the past four weeks, a trend analysts expect to continue for several more weeks as refiners undergo heavy seasonal maintenance work.
Prices also were supported by persistent supply disruptions in the Gulf of Mexico and Nigeria, and a U.N. standoff with Iran over its nuclear program.
On Thursday, top officials of the five permanent U.N. Security Council nations plus Germany urged Tehran to freeze uranium enrichment, but a senior Iranian envoy defiantly rejected the call, saying his country's activities were “not reversible.”
Iran, the No. 2 oil producer in OPEC, has been referred to the U.N. Security Council over fears it may want to misuse its nuclear program to make weapons.
In the Gulf of Mexico, oil output is still down by 343,000 barrels per day because of damage that occurred during last summer's hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That is roughly 23 percent below pre-storm output levels.
Nigerian oil output also remains a concern. Royal Dutch Shell PLC, the largest foreign oil company operating in the country, has shut in nearly half of its Nigerian production and says it won't resume operations until the country is safe enough for its workers. Some 550,000 barrels per day of Nigerian production has been shut in, analysts said.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press

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AP Worldstream: Venezuela takes on Exxon Mobil as it squeezes oil industry

NATALIE OBIKO PEARSON
Mar 31, 2006
Venezuela had a blunt message this week for Exxon Mobil Corp., one of the world's most powerful oil companies: get off my crude-rich turf.
Venezuela is tightening its squeeze on the oil industry, telling oil companies to give the state a greater share of profits – or get out.
Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez on Wednesday said Exxon Mobil was one of the companies that would “prefer to leave … rather than adjust” to recent policy changes.
“We said we don't want them to be here then,” Ramirez told the state TV broadcaster Venezolana de Television, adding if “we need them, we'll call them.”
Exxon Mobil indicated Thursday it had no plans to pull out.
“Exxon Mobil de Venezuela continues to have a long-term perspective of its activities in Venezuela,” it said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
The flap helped push the price of oil above US$67 (A55.39) a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Thursday as the market reacted to the latest sign of tighter state-control of energy around the globe.
Venezuela is taking on Big Oil at a time when rising oil prices, political instability in the Mideast and Nigeria and new buyers in Asia have put the world's fifth-largest oil exporter in a winning position.
After snubbing Exxon Mobil, Ramirez said Venezuela has other eager partners, including state companies from Russia, Iran, China, India, as well as traditional oil companies.
Speaking to supporters about the nation's oil industry on Thursday, President Hugo Chavez said his leftist government was “recovering sovereignty in the management of our oil business.”
Without specifically referring to Exxon Mobil, Chavez added, “Whoever doesn't like this business, then go somewhere else. They didn't like it? Go somewhere else.”
The new climate in the oil market has given Venezuela the flexibility to diversify “away from Western investors and incorporate state-owned companies from allied countries … more willing to abide by new, tighter terms,” said Patrick Esteruelas, analyst at the Washington-based Eurasia Group.
The government has increasingly sought projects with state-controlled oil companies in friendly countries. Last year, Venezuela granted exclusive licensing rights to certify and quantify reserves in blocks in the Orinoco tar belt to seven companies, including China's CNPC, India's ONGC and Iran's Petropars. The only western oil major included was Spanish-Argentine company Repsol YPF.
The trend is driven by Chavez's distaste for corporate multinationals, which he accuses of looting his country's oil wealth over the years. He enjoys strong support for his efforts to take more industry profits for use in social programs for the nation's poor.
Since taking office in 1999, his government has passed legislation requiring a majority government stake in all oil production projects, hiked taxes and royalties on oil companies, and begun to collect millions of dollars (euros) in what it claims are unpaid taxes from them.
On Thursday, Congress approved new guidelines to turn 32 privately run oil fields over to state-controlled joint ventures.
Among the terms faced by companies like Royal Dutch Shell PLC and France's Total SA: a minimum 60 percent stake for the state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) in each field, PDVSA controlling the boards of the new joint ventures and a jump in income tax rates from 34 percent to 50 percent and royalties from 16.6 percent to 33.3 percent. They will also see their potential drilling acreage slashed by almost two-thirds.
Experts say, however, that fears that Chavez, a close ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro, is seeking to drive out private investment are exaggerated because Venezuela needs the technological expertise of Western oil majors to develop its vast deposits in the Orinoco belt.
Few state oil companies have the expertise to upgrade the extra-heavy oil and tar-like bitumen found in the Orinoco into lighter, marketable oils.
Notably, Exxon Mobil continues to hold a 41.7 percent stake in the 120,000-barrel-day Cerro Negro heavy oil upgrading project in the Orinoco along with partners British Petroleum PLC and PDVSA.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press

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AFX Europe (Focus): Australia's Woodside resolves dispute with Mauritanian govt

Mar 31, 2006
SYDNEY (AFX) – Woodside Petroleum Ltd said it has resolved a dispute with the Mauritanian government over amendments to four offshore production contracts operated by the company's wholly-owned subsidiary Woodside Mauritania Pty Ltd.
The company, 34 pct owned by the Royal Dutch Shell group, said an agreement in principle to settle the dispute has been reached without the need for formal arbitration.
Woodside chief executive Don Voelte said in a statement that the agreement laid the foundation for good relations between the company and the Mauritanian government.
“The Mauritanian government has worked constructively with Woodside to resolve differences between the parties,” he said.
“We are happy with this agreement and look forward to building a productive and cooperative relationship with the Mauritanian government.”
[email protected]
blh/tr
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Financial Times: Nokia raises outlook for global sales

By Päivi Munter in Stockholm and Mark Odell in London
Published: March 31 2006 03:00 | Last updated: March 31 2006 03:00
Nokia yesterday significantly raised its outlook for the global mobile market, saying it would grow by 15 per cent or more this year, which would mean shipments of about 914m handsets.
The Finnish market leader's previous forecast was for growth of 10 per cent or more from about 795m handsets in 2005. Motorola, the world's number two handset maker, does not produce overall forecasts but was thought to be in line with Nokia's original numbers.
Speaking at his last annual general meeting as Nokia's chief executive yesterday, Jorma Ollila said about 80 per cent of the world's next 1bn mobile subscribers would come from emerging market countries.
In Chongqing, China, Nokia yesterday launched three new entry-level phones, aimed at customers in developing countries. First shipments of the N1112, N2310 and N2610 models are expected in the second quarter. Soren Petersen, senior vice-president, said at the launch in China: “In 2008, Nokia expects that 3bn people will be owning a mobile phone, with much of this growth coming from markets like China, India, south-east Asia and Africa, where penetration levels are still relatively low.”
Nokia has this month highlighted the growing importance of emerging markets. Yesterday's launch of the new models, all priced at below €100 ($120), followed the opening of Nokia's new plant in Chennai, India, this month, which will produce both handsets and networks.
Nokia shares surged 4.8 per cent to €17.49 in Helsinki as Mr Ollila's upgrade of Nokia's market outlook raised hopes of strong first-quarter earnings.
The acceleration of growth in the global handset market was seen to mainly benefit Nokia, the world's biggest mobile supplier.
“Nokia is the main beneficiary as it has the greatest share of the segment that is growing fastest,” said Richard Windsor, analyst at Nomura.
“It also makes a far higher return on every handset sold compared with competitors.” Confidence in Nokia's ability to tap the growth yesterday outweighed concerns about the pressure the increasing emphasis on emerging markets puts on the company's profit margins.
In the fourth quarter of last year, the average price of Nokia's handsets fell below €100 for the first time. Mr Windsor said Nokia was “clearly brimming with confidence”.
Mr Ollila's comments came as he prepares to step down as chief executive, a position he has held since 1992, when Nokia was alittle-known Finnish industrial company. Mr Ollila, who will become chairman of Royal Dutch Shell, is set to be replaced in June by Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, currently Nokia's chief operating officer.

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