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Posts on ‘October 19th, 2006’

This Day (Lagos): World Bank President says $300 billion oil wealth stolen from Nigeria (*with Shell’s participation)

Headline: Nigeria: Country Has Lost $300 Billion to Corruption – Wolfowitz
 
October 17, 2006
Posted to the web October 17, 2006
By Segun Adeniyi
Oslo

World Bank President, Mr Paul Wolfowitz, has stated that about $300 billion oil wealth has been stolen from Nigeria in the last four decades.

Wolfowitz however, praised President Olusegun Obasanjo for the fight against corruption singling out the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, as a remarkable man fighting to rid Nigeria of coruption.

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RIA Novosti: Environment watchdog seeks to annul Rosneft licenses on Sakhalin

19:03 | 19/ 10/ 2006 

MOSCOW, October 19 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s environmental protection agency has submitted documents on revoking licenses held by the Sakhalin branch of state-controlled oil company Rosneft [RTS: ROSN] to the mineral resources agency, the Natural Resources Ministry said Thursday.

The ministry said serious violations had been revealed during inspections of Sakhalinmorneftegaz’s compliance with environmental protection legislation on the oil-rich island in Russia’s Far East, which is also the site of the controversial Sakhalin II project led by Anglo-Dutch oil major Shell.

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Reuters: UPDATE 1-Russian senators to debate Shell deal on Friday

Thu Oct 19, 2006 9:32am ET 

(Adds confirmation, details)

MOSCOW, Oct 19 (Reuters) – Russia’s upper house of parliament will discuss the Royal Dutch Shell-led (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research) Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project on Friday and will call for government actions over the venture.

Sakhalin-2 has come under pressure over ecological and technical compliance from Russia’s environmental agency. Analysts say this is part of a broader Kremlin strategy to gain control over the lucrative project.

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Bloomberg: Shell Says Oil Sands Expansion Would Remain Viable With $30 Oil

By Sonja Franklin

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) — Shell Canada Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Clive Mather said the company’s planned expansion of its oil-sands operations in northeastern Alberta would remain viable should oil prices fall to $30 a barrel.

Soaring costs for the steel pipe, specialized equipment and labor needed for an oil-sands facility, along with a 27 percent drop in crude prices since July, have raised concern that some projects won’t be profitable. The estimated cost of the Shell project, a 65 percent expansion of the company’s operation, has already tripled.

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energytribune:“Wag the Dog” in Russian

Ecological violations are the new weapons being used by the Putin regime against Russia’s oil and gas industry. In October, Oleg Mitvol, deputy head of Rosprirodnadzor (Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage), flew to Sakhalin to investigate alleged ecological damage at the Sakhalin-2 project. Rumors quickly began to surface that Mitvol was claiming that Shell had caused irreparable ecological damage near Sakhalin, to the tune of some $50 billion.

As we posited earlier in ET and as most observers believe, the ecological claims against Shell at Sakhalin were cooked up to give the Russian government leverage in re-negotiating the production sharing agreement governing Sakhalin. That conclusion gained credence a short time later, when the Rosprirodnadzor tried to divert attention away from Sakhalin and toward Lukoil’s operations in northernmost Russia.

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Bloomberg: Asian Oil Traders Reject Terms of Shell’s 2007 Oman Crude Offer

By Christian Schmollinger

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) — Asian buyers have rejected Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s offer to sell Oman oil cargoes in 2007 because of terms that allow the company to buy back cargoes, stripping customers of supplies and potential profit.

Hyundai Oilbank Ltd., South Korea’s fourth-largest refiner, has rejected Shell’s terms, an official said. Four traders surveyed by Bloomberg said they knew of no company that had accepted Shell’s terms, which included an option to buy back cargoes at a premium of 6 cents over the official selling price 45 days before the loading date.

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Bloomberg: Russia Rattles Asia With Attack on Shell’s Sakhalin-2 (Update1)

By James Brooke

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) — A 700,000-barrel oil tanker slipped away from the end of Russia’s first export pipeline to the Pacific on Monday near Sakhalin Island, culminating a $17 billion project led by Exxon Mobil Corp. and local partner OAO Rosneft.

About 350 miles to the south, at the tip of the island, engineers for a $22 billion venture led by Royal Dutch Shell Plc work under the shadow of a campaign by Russia’s environmental agency to revoke a key pipeline construction permit. The Shell project has no Russian partners.

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TVNZ: ‘No taboo topics’ at Russia-EU talks

Pres. Putin

Oct 19, 2006

Russian President Vladimir Putin is open to hear European concerns about Russia’s reliability as an energy supplier and any other thorny issues when he meets EU leaders this week, a Kremlin source said on Wednesday.

“There are no taboo subjects,” the source said two days before Putin travels to Finland where he will join EU leaders for a dinner at the end of their summit.

Some EU governments worry that Russia – which supplies a quarter of Europe’s gas needs – uses its energy resources as a political weapon. They also want the Kremlin to open up its jealously-guarded energy sector to European companies.

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Agence France Presse: EU seeks more balanced energy relations with Russia by Aude Genet

19 October 2006

Russia’s recently hard-nosed approach to foreign energy investors has shaken its European partners, who are eager for a more balanced energy cooperation with Moscow, officials and experts said.

EU-Russian energy relations, which are part of a broader partnership framework up for renegotiation, will feature high on the agenda of a lunch meeting of EU leaders Friday in the southern Finnish city of Lahti.

Their discussions will be all the more important because the leaders will later the same day hold a dinner meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose tough approach to foreign investors recently has raised eyebrows in European capitals.

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International Herald Tribune: Russia won’t yield to the EU on energy

By Dan Bilefsky International Herald Tribune

Published: October 18, 2006
 
BRUSSELS Russia’s ambassador to the European Union sent a strong signal that European leaders looking for more cooperation over oil and natural gas supplies would face resistance from President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Finland on Friday.
 
Russia will not yield to key EU energy demands and is increasingly weary of foreign companies’ developing the country’s energy sources, Vladimir Chizhov, Moscow’s ambassador, said in an interview.
 
The meeting between Russia and the EU – the world’s largest country and the world’s biggest trading bloc – will take place in an atmosphere fraught with fear that Moscow is becoming increasingly detached from the West and tinged with Russian suspicions that newer EU members from Eastern Europe are turning the bloc against the Kremlin.
 
“The EU has become a multi-headed monster that many in Russia don’t comprehend – and the number of heads keeps increasing,” Chizhov said.
 
“The EU’s acquisition of the newcomers from the East made things more difficult because it brought in countries with grievances of the past Soviet era – a hangover from the Cold War and one that extends as far back as the 19th century,” he said.
 
Accepting EU demands for Russia to slash gas prices risked destroying the Russian economy, he said. He said the call by Brussels for Russia to sign an energy charter, which the EU hopes would open up more transit lines and more access to independent gas producers in Russia and neighboring former Soviet states, faced stiff resistance.
 
“It is unnatural to subsidize countries and their economies. We have been doing this for 15 years through offering low price energy,” said Chizhov, who is known in Brussels for emanating charm while hammering the Kremlin’s line. “Now, the EU tells us to bring internal domestic prices in line with world prices but that can’t happen overnight or the Russian economy will disappear.”
 
He confirmed – in perhaps the clearest terms of any Kremlin official to date – that Moscow was increasingly skeptical of joint agreements with foreign companies to develop energy resources, and particularly natural gas fields in Russia.
 
“I don’t expect similar deals in the future by which Russia allows foreign consortiums to develop gas and oil fields,” he said. “The trouble is that it takes a long time and as project costs double, the day when profits drop into the Russian budget comes farther and farther away.”
 
The EU’s calls for Russia to sign an energy charter were unlikely to succeed.
 
If Russian officials are skeptical of Europe, the sentiment is mutual – although the degree of skepticism depends on geography, with the Baltic states far more critical of Russia than, say, Portugal or Greece.
 
Capturing the current European mood, the European commission vice president, Siim Kallas, said recently that events in Russia bore “dreadful similarities to the Stalinist era of the 1930s.” According to a recent BBC poll, half of all Britons and 62 per cent per cent of French people have a poor opinion of Russia.
 
The EU and Russia, at once mutually dependent and distrustful of each other, come together as many in Europe believe they are witnessing an authoritarian shift, underscored by Russia’s punishing blockade on Georgia, increasing economic nationalism in the energy sector and the recent murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
 
When they dine with Putin in Finland, EU leaders say they hope to overcome these divisions by finding common ground over energy security, while challenging Russia over Georgia and human rights.
 
But the bloc’s desire to balance talk tough with an outstretched hand will not be easy. The EU is reluctant to alienate Moscow, which supplies a quarter of Europe’s oil and gas. EU leaders say they fear that the EU’s lack of a united front over Russia will play into the hands of Putin, who has proven adept at exploiting the bloc’s internal divisions. Even efforts this week to issue a common statement on Georgia nearly fell apart as the EU tried to balance Baltic states’ demand for strong action with French calls for restraint.
 
“This is a question not only of solidarity but also credibility for the EU,” the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, said Wednesday. “We must address all issues with a common voice and not a discordant chorus.”
 
EU energy security remains by far the EU’s biggest concern. Russia’s decision to cut off the flow of natural gas to Ukraine in January, resulting in a temporary cuts of gas in other parts of Europe, raised alarms while intensifying calls for the EU to offset its dependence on Russian energy.
 
At the same time, last week’s decision by Gazprom, Russia’s powerful state monopoly, to develop the huge Shtokman gas field without foreign partners and a recent clash between Royal Dutch Shell over the company’s alleged environmental breaches in the Sakhalin field aroused EU fears that the Kremlin was tightening its hold over the energy sector.
 
But Chizhov argued that it was Europe – not Russia – that had protectionist impulses. He said many in Britain reacted with horror when rumors recently circulated that Gazprom was preparing to bid for Centrica, the owner of British Gas. Meanwhile, he said many in Russia viewed the €26.8 billion, or $33.6 billion, takeover in June of the European steel maker Arcelor by Mittal of India as a plot to thwart a rival Russian bidder, Severstal.
 
“Whenever a Russian company expresses interest in Europe, all hell breaks loose and there’s a fear that the Russians are coming,” he said.
 
The Lahti meeting was initially intended to focus almost exclusively on energy policy. But the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said this week it would be hard to avoid raising concerns over human rights, including the murder of Politkovskaya.
 
Katinka Barysch, a Russia expert at the London-based Center for European Reform, argued that the only way for Russia and the EU to overcome their mutual disillusionment was for Europe to accept that an increasingly self-confident Russia is no longer eager to align itself with European standards and values – as it did when it was politically weak and economically unstable after the fall of communism.
 
Moscow, meanwhile, must recognize that an inward, autocratic-sounding Russia is not in its economic or strategic interests.
 
“The EU has looked on helplessly as Putin has exiled his critics, renationalized the countries biggest oil firm and abolished regional elections,” she said. “No amount of upbeat statements after summits can hide the fact that two sides do not agree on what their partnership should look like.”
 
Chizhov said the EU did not have the moral high ground to criticize Russia over human rights, given the way it treated its minorities, in particular ethnic Russians who he said were treated like second class citizens in Baltic states like Latvia.
 
“EU countries are facing great problems with their minorities,” he said, “As a multiethnic country with a thousand years of coexistence, we can help share our knowledge with the EU. We can teach them something.”
 
 BRUSSELS Russia’s ambassador to the European Union sent a strong signal that European leaders looking for more cooperation over oil and natural gas supplies would face resistance from President Vladimir Putin at a meeting in Finland on Friday.
 
Russia will not yield to key EU energy demands and is increasingly weary of foreign companies’ developing the country’s energy sources, Vladimir Chizhov, Moscow’s ambassador, said in an interview.
 
The meeting between Russia and the EU – the world’s largest country and the world’s biggest trading bloc – will take place in an atmosphere fraught with fear that Moscow is becoming increasingly detached from the West and tinged with Russian suspicions that newer EU members from Eastern Europe are turning the bloc against the Kremlin.
 
“The EU has become a multi-headed monster that many in Russia don’t comprehend – and the number of heads keeps increasing,” Chizhov said.
 
“The EU’s acquisition of the newcomers from the East made things more difficult because it brought in countries with grievances of the past Soviet era – a hangover from the Cold War and one that extends as far back as the 19th century,” he said.
 
Accepting EU demands for Russia to slash gas prices risked destroying the Russian economy, he said. He said the call by Brussels for Russia to sign an energy charter, which the EU hopes would open up more transit lines and more access to independent gas producers in Russia and neighboring former Soviet states, faced stiff resistance.
 
“It is unnatural to subsidize countries and their economies. We have been doing this for 15 years through offering low price energy,” said Chizhov, who is known in Brussels for emanating charm while hammering the Kremlin’s line. “Now, the EU tells us to bring internal domestic prices in line with world prices but that can’t happen overnight or the Russian economy will disappear.”
 
He confirmed – in perhaps the clearest terms of any Kremlin official to date – that Moscow was increasingly skeptical of joint agreements with foreign companies to develop energy resources, and particularly natural gas fields in Russia.
 
“I don’t expect similar deals in the future by which Russia allows foreign consortiums to develop gas and oil fields,” he said. “The trouble is that it takes a long time and as project costs double, the day when profits drop into the Russian budget comes farther and farther away.”
 
The EU’s calls for Russia to sign an energy charter were unlikely to succeed.
 
If Russian officials are skeptical of Europe, the sentiment is mutual – although the degree of skepticism depends on geography, with the Baltic states far more critical of Russia than, say, Portugal or Greece.
 
Capturing the current European mood, the European commission vice president, Siim Kallas, said recently that events in Russia bore “dreadful similarities to the Stalinist era of the 1930s.” According to a recent BBC poll, half of all Britons and 62 per cent per cent of French people have a poor opinion of Russia.
 
The EU and Russia, at once mutually dependent and distrustful of each other, come together as many in Europe believe they are witnessing an authoritarian shift, underscored by Russia’s punishing blockade on Georgia, increasing economic nationalism in the energy sector and the recent murder of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya.
 
When they dine with Putin in Finland, EU leaders say they hope to overcome these divisions by finding common ground over energy security, while challenging Russia over Georgia and human rights.
 
But the bloc’s desire to balance talk tough with an outstretched hand will not be easy. The EU is reluctant to alienate Moscow, which supplies a quarter of Europe’s oil and gas. EU leaders say they fear that the EU’s lack of a united front over Russia will play into the hands of Putin, who has proven adept at exploiting the bloc’s internal divisions. Even efforts this week to issue a common statement on Georgia nearly fell apart as the EU tried to balance Baltic states’ demand for strong action with French calls for restraint.
 
“This is a question not only of solidarity but also credibility for the EU,” the European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso, said Wednesday. “We must address all issues with a common voice and not a discordant chorus.”
 
EU energy security remains by far the EU’s biggest concern. Russia’s decision to cut off the flow of natural gas to Ukraine in January, resulting in a temporary cuts of gas in other parts of Europe, raised alarms while intensifying calls for the EU to offset its dependence on Russian energy.
 
At the same time, last week’s decision by Gazprom, Russia’s powerful state monopoly, to develop the huge Shtokman gas field without foreign partners and a recent clash between Royal Dutch Shell over the company’s alleged environmental breaches in the Sakhalin field aroused EU fears that the Kremlin was tightening its hold over the energy sector.
 
But Chizhov argued that it was Europe – not Russia – that had protectionist impulses. He said many in Britain reacted with horror when rumors recently circulated that Gazprom was preparing to bid for Centrica, the owner of British Gas. Meanwhile, he said many in Russia viewed the €26.8 billion, or $33.6 billion, takeover in June of the European steel maker Arcelor by Mittal of India as a plot to thwart a rival Russian bidder, Severstal.
 
“Whenever a Russian company expresses interest in Europe, all hell breaks loose and there’s a fear that the Russians are coming,” he said.
 
The Lahti meeting was initially intended to focus almost exclusively on energy policy. But the EU foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said this week it would be hard to avoid raising concerns over human rights, including the murder of Politkovskaya.
 
Katinka Barysch, a Russia expert at the London-based Center for European Reform, argued that the only way for Russia and the EU to overcome their mutual disillusionment was for Europe to accept that an increasingly self-confident Russia is no longer eager to align itself with European standards and values – as it did when it was politically weak and economically unstable after the fall of communism.
 
Moscow, meanwhile, must recognize that an inward, autocratic-sounding Russia is not in its economic or strategic interests.
 
“The EU has looked on helplessly as Putin has exiled his critics, renationalized the countries biggest oil firm and abolished regional elections,” she said. “No amount of upbeat statements after summits can hide the fact that two sides do not agree on what their partnership should look like.”
 
Chizhov said the EU did not have the moral high ground to criticize Russia over human rights, given the way it treated its minorities, in particular ethnic Russians who he said were treated like second class citizens in Baltic states like Latvia.
 
“EU countries are facing great problems with their minorities,” he said, “As a multiethnic country with a thousand years of coexistence, we can help share our knowledge with the EU. We can teach them something.”

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REGNUM: We are not going to yield to foreign investors on Sakhalin

Far-East Plenipotentiary Representative: We are not going to yield to foreign investors on Sakhalin

Russia is not going to yield to foreign investors working on the Sakhalin Island. Plenipotentiary presidential representative in the Far-East federal district Kamil Iskhakov is quoted by his press office as stating on October 17, stressing: “We are not going to make any concessions to foreign companies, especially when the matter concerns regional ecology,” REGNUM correspondent reports.

The presidential representative announced intent to further strengthen requirements to foreign companies that develop projects in Sakhalin. “We are inclined to protect our region and not to let the situation deteriorate,” he said.

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Regum (Russia): Arrest of Rosprirodnadzor documents completed

Arrest of Rosprirodnadzor documents has been completed. According to the agency head Oleg Mitvol, the operation of the Internal Ministry’s criminal investigation office was in no way related to the scandal and yesterday’s court session on the Sakhalin-2 project.

As Mitvol informed the press, the police have arrested documents containing information on business trip expenses of some of the agency’s employees. He says he hopes the documents will help law enforcement solve some fraud case.

Neither police nor military police forces normally employed in such operations were used in the Rosprirodnadzor operation.

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AFX Europe (Focus): Australia’s Woodside Q3 production and revenue jump to record levels

Published: Oct 19, 2006

SYDNEY (XFN-ASIA) – Woodside Petroluem Ltd said production and revenue rose to record levels over the three months to September due to first production from some fields and still high world oil prices.

Australia’s largest independent gas and oil producer, which is 34 pct owned by the Royal Dutch Shell group, said production in the September quarter rose to a record 19.1 mln barrel of oil equivalent (boe).

The company’s output in the third quarter was 22.3 pct higher than production in the June quarter and was up 27.7 pct year-on-year.

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Irish Times: Protests over Shell pipeline

Published: Oct 19, 2006

A Chara, – T Gerrard Bennett (October 18th) describes the protest by local residents in Mayo against the imposition of Shell’s high-pressure gas pipeline as GUBU-like.

And he is right.

It is indeed grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented that members of an isolated Gaeltacht community are vilified for exercising their right to protect their families.

It is grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented for hundreds of gardaI to be shuffled round the country at the whim of a wealthy multinational.

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Irish Times: Two held over alleged intimidation at Corrib site

By: Lorna Siggins,
Published: Oct 19, 2006

GardaI in north Mayo were last night detaining two people for questioning in relation to alleged intimidation over the Corrib gas project.

The two people were arrested yesterday afternoon in the Erris area and were detained at Belmullet Garda station under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. Last Friday, a man and woman were arrested in relation to the investigation and were later released.

In a separate development, the Shell to Sea campaign says it has written to Mayo County Council in relation to “serious issues regarding the validity of Shell’s planning permission for the Bellanaboy processing plant”.

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Irish Times: Mood is ‘akin to the Civil War’

By: Lorna Siggins,
Published: Oct 19, 2006

Community impact: Just over a year after much of Mayo united to support the release of the Rossport Five from jail, the atmosphere in north Mayo is “akin to the Civil War”, according to several local politicians.

GardaI in Castlebar are currently investigating two allegations of intimidation, while a separate allegation involving death threats has been lodged with gardaI in Dublin by Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey. The Shell to Sea protest group has condemned any such behaviour, which is “the antithesis of our campaign”, according to Mayo TD Dr Jerry Cowley (Ind) and Dr Mark Garavan.

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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: October 18, 2006 4:26 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
October 18, 2006 4:26 p.m.

Crude-oil futures fell below $58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange after U.S. crude stockpiles rose and speculation increased that OPEC wouldn’t reach consensus on a production cut. Here is Wednesday’s roundup of oil and energy news:

* * *
OPEC’S DILEMMA: The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries faces a double challenge when it meets Thursday night in Qatar in its latest effort to bolster sagging oil prices. Members must hammer out a tricky agreement about how to share the pain of any cut in crude-oil output that they announce at the meeting. At the same time, they must smooth over internal divisions that could threaten the cartel’s longer-term credibility as a price enforcer over the world’s oil markets.

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The Times: Stop Press: Checks on Gazprom’s green credentials

The Russian environmental agency added the oil unit of Gazprom to the list of companies that it monitors. The agency, and its parent, the Ministry of Natural Resources, said that no large oil group will be spared inspections. Analysts said that the move may be an attempt to disguise targeting of the Sakhalin 2 oil and gas project, led by Royal Dutch Shell. The ministry will begin its inspection of Gazprom on November 21.

The Times: Image of the day

Seal

(“I spotted a seal breathing-hole and saw stirrings. I waited motionlessly”
PHOTOGRAPHER BAARD NAESS)

October 19, 2006

An Arctic seal coming up for air: runner-up in the animal portraits category of the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. An exhibition of the winning entries opens on Saturday at the Natural History Museum in London

Daily Telegraph: Russian police raid watchdog

By Russell Hotten, Industry Editor (Filed: 19/10/2006)

The offices of the Russian government agency that cracked down on Royal Dutch Shell’s Sakhalin-2 development have been raided by criminal investigators. Members of the Interior Ministry’s organised crime department went unannounced to RosPrirodNadzor (RPN), the environment watchdog, yesterday and removed documents.

Russian officials said the raid was unrelated to the agency’s investigations into foreign firms operating at Sakhalin. But the news sparked speculation that it was part of the power-politics being played by Moscow over the Sakhalin venture.

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The Irish Times: Going to work in Mayo with a Garda convoy

October 19, 2006] 

The Workers: The alarm clocks sound early and the Corrib gas terminal workers rise in the dark, knowing there will be no “good morning” in Bellanaboy, north Mayo. As they congregate near the chapel in Bangor, several reinforced Garda vehicles and a bus full of gardaI are waiting for them on a bend several miles north of Carrowmore lake.

Travelling in a convoy of jeeps, some of them shield their faces, others wear fixed grey expressions of determination as they pass the group of more than 100 men and women picketing the terminal site in protest.

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Vedomosti: Gazprom warns foreign investors against judicial corruption in Russia

Gazprom has warned that Russian courts may favour national companies, and that foreign investors might face corruption and “political resistance” to the execution of judgments awarded to them by international arbitration, the Russian energy giant said in an investment memorandum. This is a formality, but a very prejudicial one to national justice, say experts.

In its memo on the issue of Eurobonds, worth $15 billion, Gazprom spoke a well-known truism, confirms MDM-Bank analyst Mikhail Galkin.

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Kommersant: Moscow district court refuses to consider lawsuit

The Presnensky District Court in Moscow has refused to consider a lawsuit filed by the Federal Service for the Oversight of Natural Resources against the Natural Resources Ministry to enforce the annulment of a 2003 environmental review for the Sakhalin II project.

The Natural Resources Ministry, which has promised to decide the project’s future October 25, is therefore firmly in control.

Dmitry Kolosov, head of the service’s legal department, said the court has turned down the lawsuit because it believes the agency had no right to file it.

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PlanetArk: Russia Environment Watchdog Adds Gazprom to Targets

RUSSIA: October 19, 2006

MOSCOW – Russia’s environmental agency has added gas monopoly Gazprom’s oil unit to the list of companies to be checked for ecological and technical compliance, the watchdog said on Wednesday.

The agency and its parent, the ministry of natural resources, have said no big oil firm in Russia will be spared from inspections, a move analysts said may be designed to disguise specific targeting of the Royal Dutch Shell-led Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project.
“Gazprom Neft is currently not fulfilling licensing agreements in the following areas: exploration drilling, exploration seismology, oil and gas production,” the agency, RosPrirodNadzor, said in a statement.

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UPI: Outside View: Shtokman more expensive?

By IGOR TOMBERG
UPI Outside View Commentator

MOSCOW, Oct. 18 (UPI) — Speaking on Russia Today TV channel Oct. 9, the head of the Russian gas monopoly Gazprom Alexei Miller said his company would develop the Shtokman gas deposit without foreign partners, and would remain its sole user and owner.

The company’s priority will be to supply gas via the Nord Stream (the new title for the North European Gas Pipeline) to Europe rather than deliver liquefied natural gas to the United States. In the past, Gazprom planned to develop the deposit on the terms of the Production Sharing Agreement, and give 49 percent of its shares to foreign companies. The short list, announced in September 2005, included the Norwegian Statoil and Hydro, U.S. ConocoPhillips and Chevron, and the French Total.

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