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Posts on ‘October 25th, 2006’

The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: October 25, 2006 4:30 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
October 25, 2006 4:30 p.m.

Crude-oil futures surged above $61 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, their highest close since Oct. 9, after the Department of Energy said U.S. crude stockpiles unexpectedly fell and gasoline demand rose amid falling pump prices. Here’s Wednesday’s roundup of oil and energy news:

* * *
RUSSIA EXTENDS SAKHALIN PROBE: Russia extended by a month an environmental audit at a troubled multibillion-dollar energy project led by Royal Dutch Shell. A monthlong inspection of the project uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage to the local environment, the head of the local state environmental watchdog told Mr. Trutnev. Analysts have suggested the Kremlin is seeking to secure better terms for state natural-gas monopoly OAO Gazprom to enter the project and reshape the deal with Shell.

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Reuters: Russia prolongs Shell project probe, may prosecute

Wed Oct 25, 2006 11:31 AM ET
By Mikhail Yenukov

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Russia (Reuters) – Russian Natural Resources Minister Yuri Trutnev heaped more pressure on Shell’s Sakhalin-2 project on Wednesday with an order for a prolonged environmental probe and a threat of prosecution.

At a meeting with environmental inspectors and project operator Sakhalin Energy on Sakhalin Island in the Pacific, Trutnev said he wanted criminal prosecutors to investigate the environmental record of the $22 billion venture.

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New York Times: Shell Could Face Criminal Charges in Russia

Sakhalin II

(Joseph Sywenkyj for The New York Times
Shell’s $22 billion Sakhalin 2 project, under construction on Sakhalin Island, will have about 500 miles of natural gas and oil pipelines.)

October 26, 2006
By ANDREW E. KRAMER

MOSCOW, Oct. 25 — A Russian official threatened criminal prosecutions against employees of Royal Dutch Shell, ratcheting up pressure on the company’s $22 billion oil and gas project on Sakhalin Island on Wednesday.

The remarks suggested a further unraveling of the relationship between Western energy companies and the Russian government, which is intent on gaining control of the energy sector.

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BBC News: Sakhalin operator ‘breaking law’

BBC Sakhalin photo

Russia’s environmental agency has asked for an extra month to probe the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project and has warned it may prosecute its operator.

Natural resources minister Yuri Trutnev said that environmental breaches at the project, led by Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell, broke five criminal codes.

Earlier this week Russia reiterated that it could withdraw Shell’s licence for the $22bn (£11.7bn) project.

But operator Sakhalin Energy insisted the probe would not delay its launch.

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Oil & Gas Journal: Several Sakhalin-2 pipeline work sections halted

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25 — Construction on several sections of the Sakhalin-2 onshore pipeline system has to be halted, according to Russian Natural Resource Minister Yury Trutnev, who said the project continues to violate environmental legislation.

“Here we need to consider halting construction on several parts of the pipeline. I do not think that it will be correct to halt the project entirely, but we have to demand compliance with environmental legislation,” Trutnev told reporters Oct 25.

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Financial Post – Canada: Russia’s focus on environment seen as attempt at control: Energy

Published: Oct 25, 2006

MOSCOW – Russian environmental prosecutors are considering cancelling licences for 17 oil companies, including a subsidiary of state oil firm Rosneft, a top environmental official said yesterday. “Cases have been forwarded to the environmental prosecutor for review regarding 17 companies,” including Rosneft-Purneftegaz and shattered oil major Yukos, news agency ITAR-TASS quoted Sergei Sai, the head of environmental monitoring agency Rosprirodnadzor, as saying. Rosneft-Purneftgaz may lose five licences as a result of the cases, Mr. Sai said.

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Associated Press: Russian President Won’t Seek 3rd Term

EXTRACT: Several Western oil companies that control energy projects in Russia have come under intense environmental scrutiny in recent months, which analysts say reflects a Kremlin drive to increase the state role in the strategic oil and gas sector. Foreign projects facing pressure include Sakhalin-2, a multi-billion-dollar liquefied natural gas development led by Royal Dutch Shell PLC. “Environmental agencies in collaboration with ecological non-governmental organizations will thoroughly monitor compliance with current legislation,” Putin said.

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RIA Novosti: Operator, govt. to draw joint plan to undo Sakhalin II eco-damage

15:30 | 25/ 10/ 2006   
 
YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, October 25 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s natural resources minister and the company operating the vast Sakhalin II energy project in the country’s Far East agreed Wednesday to draw up a joint action plan to repair the environmental damage it has caused.

Sakhalin Energy CEO Ian Craig, who has admitted that his Shell-controlled company committed grave violations in developing the project, told reporters following a face-to-face meeting with Yury Trutnev that the two of them have agreed to work in close cooperation to repair the damage inflicted on the country’s largest island, off the Pacific coast.

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Calgary Sun, Canada: Shell Canada Q3 profit jumps

Wed, October 25, 2006

CALGARY (CP) – Shell Canada Ltd. (TSX:SHC) powered its way to a third-quarter profit of $581 million, up from a year-earlier $457 million, as higher crude oil prices and refining income more than compensated for a slump in natural gas prices.

The Canadian oil and gas major, which received a $7.7-billion buyout offer from parent Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE:RDS) this week, said Wednesday it continues to lay the foundation for more growth in its oilsands and unconventional gas businesses.

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BBC News: Attack on Nigeria oil facilities

A group of protesters have invaded three Shell oil stations in the Niger Delta, forcing the facilities to be shut down, the company said.

The demonstrators are accusing the oil giant of failing to fulfil an agreement to provide them with aid.

Shell refused to say how much oil had been cut off following the attack.

Militant groups have stepped up attacks on oil facilities in the region in recent months, demanding more local control of oil wealth for residents.

Shell said members of the Kula community living near the company’s Ekulama 1, Ekulama 2 and Belema oil pumping stations had invaded the facilities.

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Associated Press: Nigeria villagers seize 3 oil platforms

By DULUE MBACHU, Associated Press Writer
12 minutes ago 

LAGOS, Nigeria – Angry villagers in Nigeria stormed and seized three Shell oil platforms Wednesday in the volatile Niger Delta, forcing oil production to be shut down at each one, a spokesman for the oil company said.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC officials declined to say how much oil had been cut off after the platforms were attacked.

Shell said in statement that members of the Kula community living near Shell’s Ekulama 1, Ekulama 2 and Belema oil pumping stations invaded the facilities Wednesday, accusing the oil giant of failing to meet the terms of an agreement to provide them aid.”We had to shut the facilities,” the statement said, giving no other details.

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International Herald Tribune: Russia raises pressure on Sakhalin-2

Bloomberg News, Reuters
Published: October 25, 2006
 
YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Russia Russia has prolonged the environmental inspection of the $22 billion Sakhalin-2 project by Royal Dutch Shell, the Russian natural resources minister said Wednesday, adding that the oil and natural gas enterprise could face prosecution for transgressions.
 
“The breaches at Sakhalin-2 fall under five articles of the criminal code,” the minister, Yuriy Trutnev, said at a meeting with environmental inspectors and officials from Sakhalin Energy, the company that operates Sakhalin-2.
 
“This falls under criminal law, and we think it’s necessary to apply it,” Trutnev said. “All the relevant documents should be sent to the prosecutor general within two weeks.”
 
Trutnev said the inspection of the vast project on the Russian island of Sakhalin would continue for a month longer than originally planned and cited illegal felling of trees as one of the violations.
 
Contractors should stop construction work at several sites along oil and natural gas pipelines, he said.
 
The pipelines are scheduled to ship oil year-round to an export terminal and to a plant that will liquefy gas for shipment to Japanese and South Korean customers. Nearly all of the liquefied natural gas output, which is scheduled to start in 2008, has already been sold.
 
The regional authorities may ask for the Sakhalin-2 water-use license to be revoked, which would halt work, Trutnev said. The project, led by Shell, has caused an estimated $100 million of pollution and damage to water resources on the island, according to Dmitry Belanovich, the acting chief of the Sakhalin environmental inspectorate.
 
Analysts have said the environmental agency’s activities are designed to put pressure on Sakhalin-2 and increase Kremlin control over the Russian energy sector.
 
Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and Total face demands from Russia to cede some control of oil and natural gas fields to state- aligned companies like Gazprom. European and Japanese leaders have raised concern that the determination by President Vladimir Putin to bolster control on those industries could undermine the reliability of Russian energy supplies.
 
Ian Craig, chief executive of Sakhalin Energy, of which Shell is the majority owner, said the company was committed to resolving any breaches.
 
“We are bound by our commitments, and we will hold to our obligation to guarantee that all works are carried out to the highest environmental standards,” Craig said.
 
Inspectors from RosPrirodNadzor, the Russian environmental regulator, had been expected to release a list of alleged environmental violations at the meeting but said they needed another month, which Trutnev granted.
 
Belanovich, the acting chief of the environmental inspectors, said the execution of the project had changed so much since the feasibility study that further investigations were needed.
 
“There are so many changes and additions to the project plan that they are no longer conforming to the agreed plan and the state environmental review,” Belanovich said. $@
 
 YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Russia Russia has prolonged the environmental inspection of the $22 billion Sakhalin-2 project by Royal Dutch Shell, the Russian natural resources minister said Wednesday, adding that the oil and natural gas enterprise could face prosecution for transgressions.
 
“The breaches at Sakhalin-2 fall under five articles of the criminal code,” the minister, Yuriy Trutnev, said at a meeting with environmental inspectors and officials from Sakhalin Energy, the company that operates Sakhalin-2.
 
“This falls under criminal law, and we think it’s necessary to apply it,” Trutnev said. “All the relevant documents should be sent to the prosecutor general within two weeks.”
 
Trutnev said the inspection of the vast project on the Russian island of Sakhalin would continue for a month longer than originally planned and cited illegal felling of trees as one of the violations.
 
Contractors should stop construction work at several sites along oil and natural gas pipelines, he said.
 
The pipelines are scheduled to ship oil year-round to an export terminal and to a plant that will liquefy gas for shipment to Japanese and South Korean customers. Nearly all of the liquefied natural gas output, which is scheduled to start in 2008, has already been sold.
 
The regional authorities may ask for the Sakhalin-2 water-use license to be revoked, which would halt work, Trutnev said. The project, led by Shell, has caused an estimated $100 million of pollution and damage to water resources on the island, according to Dmitry Belanovich, the acting chief of the Sakhalin environmental inspectorate.
 
Analysts have said the environmental agency’s activities are designed to put pressure on Sakhalin-2 and increase Kremlin control over the Russian energy sector.
 
Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and Total face demands from Russia to cede some control of oil and natural gas fields to state- aligned companies like Gazprom. European and Japanese leaders have raised concern that the determination by President Vladimir Putin to bolster control on those industries could undermine the reliability of Russian energy supplies.
 
Ian Craig, chief executive of Sakhalin Energy, of which Shell is the majority owner, said the company was committed to resolving any breaches.
 
“We are bound by our commitments, and we will hold to our obligation to guarantee that all works are carried out to the highest environmental standards,” Craig said.
 
Inspectors from RosPrirodNadzor, the Russian environmental regulator, had been expected to release a list of alleged environmental violations at the meeting but said they needed another month, which Trutnev granted.
 
Belanovich, the acting chief of the environmental inspectors, said the execution of the project had changed so much since the feasibility study that further investigations were needed.
 
“There are so many changes and additions to the project plan that they are no longer conforming to the agreed plan and the state environmental review,” Belanovich said.
 

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RIA Novosti: Russian govt. orders full report on Sakhalin II damage

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, October 25 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s natural resources minister said Wednesday he has ordered that a comprehensive review of damage caused by the Sakhalin II oil and gas project in Russia’s Far East must be completed in a month, and for a full report to be drawn up within four months.

Yury Trutnev also said that all findings of earlier probes into the project, led by oil major Royal Dutch Shell, are to be submitted to the Prosecutor General’s Office within the next two weeks.

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Bloomberg: Shell’s Sakhalin-2 May Face Russian Criminal Charges

By Lucian Kim and Torrey Clark

Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) — Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s $22 billion Sakhalin-2 venture, Russia’s biggest foreign investment, may face criminal charges as President Vladimir Putin’s government seeks a stake in the oil and gas development.

The Natural Resources Ministry will ask the Prosecutor General’s Office to open a criminal investigation within two weeks into violations by Shell-led Sakhalin Energy Investment Co., the project operator, Resources Minister Yury Trutnev said today in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, the biggest city on Sakhalin Island.

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The Wall Street Journal: Japan Hits Big Setbacks In Push to Expand Its Access to Energy Projects in Russia and Iran

 WSJ

October 25, 2006 

Japan Hits Big Setbacks
In Push to Expand
Its Access to Energy
Projects in Russia and Iran
Fall Through, Suggesting
Stable Supplies Are Elusive
By YUKA HAYASHI
October 25, 2006; Page A6

Tokyo — Just five months after its unveiling, Japan’s ambitious 25-year plan to sharply increase oil and gas development is hitting snags, suggesting Tokyo may find it even harder than expected to stabilize the nation’s future energy supply.

On Monday, Exxon Mobil Corp. said it reached a preliminary agreement to sell natural gas from a giant project off Russia’s Sakhalin Island to China, instead of to Japan as originally planned. This came several weeks after Russia ratcheted up regulatory pressure that could jeopardize another Sakhalin gas project in which the bulk of the planned output of nearly 10 million tons a year — about a fifth of Japan’s current natural-gas imports — was destined for Japan.

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The Wall Street Journal: Oil News Roundup: October 24, 2006 5:23 p.m.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE

Crude-oil futures rose to more than $59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange as traders moved their focus from OPEC’s planned cuts to the weekly U.S. inventory report, which is expected to show a fall in distillate stockpiles heading into winter. Here’s Tuesday’s roundup of oil and energy news:

* * *
LEASE SUIT SETTLED: The state of Louisiana and the U.S. Department of the Interior have agreed to settle a lawsuit over oil and natural-gas leasing in federal waters off Louisiana’s coast, with the agency agreeing to delay future offshore lease sales pending a complete environmental analysis. Louisiana, in turn, won’t object to the department issuing leases under Lease Sale 200, development of which could result in as much as 252 million barrels of oil and 1.44 trillion cubic feet of gas.

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The Wall Street Journal: Big Worries for Big Oil As Crude Prices Slip, Profits May Follow; More Mergers Ahead?

WSJ

By CHIP CUMMINS
October 24, 2006; Page A2

With crude prices falling and oil-field costs on the rise, major oil companies have a big problem: sustaining their phenomenal profit growth.

Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP PLC have all relied on big oil-price jumps to fuel a streak of handsome earnings gains and, in many cases, record quarterly profits in recent years. The three companies reported combined earnings of about $25 billion in the second quarter; in the third quarter of last year, they earned about $25.4 billion.

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The Independent: BP: not drowning, only waving: ‘Would he ever be allowed to merge with Shell?’

Jeremy Warner’s Outlook
WEdnesday 25 October 2006

We have become so used to the spectacle of ever-more eye popping profits from the oil majors that it comes as quite a shock to see BP report that in underlying terms they actually fell in the third quarter, the first time this has happened in ages.

This column warned a couple of months back that the party for oil profits had already reached its drunken end game, and that thereafter it was likely to be all down hill. Lord Browne, BP’s chief executive, echoed these sentiments yesterday by saying that the trading environment is now notably weaker than it has been for the past five quarters.

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The Guardian: ‘Lord Browne did nothing to dampen speculation that he could engineer a mega-merger with Shell’

Guardian Headline: High taxes and low crude prices push down BP profits

· Hurricanes, fire and leaks contribute to poor results
· Industry faces bleaker outlook, says Lord Browne

Terry Macalister
Wednesday October 25, 2006
The Guardian

BP signalled an end to record oil company profits yesterday with lower underlying third-quarter results and warnings about a “more difficult trading environment” as crude prices fell and taxes went up.

Lord Browne, BP’s chief executive, also said production had been hit by high-profile problems in the US but dismissed any concerns about his legacy being tarnished before he stood down in 2008.

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The Guardian: : So did Browne choose to quash market chat about a mega-merger between BP and Shell? No he did not.

Headline: Macho ado about Anglo’s choice of a woman CEO

Extract headline: Oil and airspace
Published: Oct 25, 2006
Nils Pratley

So, did Lord Browne choose to quash the market chat, written up here yesterday, about a mega-merger between BP and Shell? No he did not. “Looking at it from 50,000 feet, there are an awful lot of players here dealing with a lot of small pieces,” he said.

It wasn’t a comment about Shell or BP, just about the oil industry in general, but as a way of encouraging gossip it could hardly be bettered.

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The Independent: BP warns boom times over for oil: BP Shell mega-merger?

By: Saeed Shah, 
Published: Oct 25, 2006

BP warned that the boom times for the oil industry were over yesterday as it revealed profits and production growth had stalled in the past three months.

The oil giant also reported that the impact of an explosion at its Texas refinery last year had cost the company $1.4bn (pounds 747m) so far in lost profits – in addition to the $1.6bn it is putting aside to settle legal claims over the blast, which killed 15 workers.

Reporting quarterly profits, BP’s chief executive, Lord Browne, said: “Overall the trading environment is now weaker than it has been for the last five quarters. Of particular note is the significant reduction of global gas prices in the face of significant supplies, along with weak demand.

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Irish Times: Protest over Shell pipeline

Oct 25, 2006

Madam, – The Irish Times is the only national newspaper providing a detailed chronicle of the unfolding and complex Corrib gas controversy. This is an indictment of Irish print media. It is also a reflection of the fourth estate’s lazy response to corporate spin.

Moreover, it clearly exposes the damning depoliticisation of our nation. People should be screaming for answers regarding the disgraceful sell-off of natural resources by successive Fianna Fáil ministers – despite Terry Nolan’s efforts to absolve government responsibilities (Opinion, October 21st.)

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Irish Times: Decision to locate gas terminal at Bellanaboy a mistake

Oct 25, 2006

Consultants should be appointed to re-examine the location of the controversial Corrib gas terminal, argue Leo Corcoran and Brian Coyle

Sometime before October 2000, Enterpise Energy Ireland (EEI) and the minister for the Marine and Natural Resources agreed to locate the gas processing terminal for the Corrib gas project in Bellanaboy. It is on a site surrounded by blanket bog, within the catchment of the primary water supply for the entire Erris region, located directly across from an established community. This resulted in a production pipeline carrying unprocessed gas running 9km (5.6 miles) inland parallel to another established community, and traversing the Broadhaven Bay Special Area of Conservation, all in breach of the code of practice.

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MarketWatch: Russian minister calls for clear deadlines in oil licenses

Last Update: 12:42 AM ET Oct 25, 2006

SURGUT, Russia (MarketWatch) — Russia’s Minister for Natural Resources Tuesday called for amendments to existing oil and gas field development licenses that would bring clear development terms and timeframes for exploration and production.

In a meeting with state environmental regulators and prosecutors, Yuri Trutnev called for more coordination in monitoring and enforcing compliance with licensing agreements by oil and gas companies. “We will ask the companies for changes in their licenses,” Trutnev said.

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Irish Times: Greens approve call for new report on Corrib terminal site

Oct 25, 2006
Lorna Siggins, Marine Correspondent

A compromise solution to the Corrib gas dispute which might involve relocating the gas terminal has been endorsed by Green Party leader Trevor Sargent and Fianna Fail Mayo councillor Frank Chambers.

Both public representatives have criticised last week’s comments by Minister for the Marine Noel Dempsey about the Shell to Sea campaign, which they have described as “very unhelpful”.

The Green Party leader was speaking after a fact-finding visit to north Mayo over the last 48 hours, during which he met representatives of Shell E&P Ireland, Shell to Sea and Mayo County Council.

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BBC Monitoring Service: Summary of Russian press for Wednesday 25 Oct 06

EXTRACTS RELEVANT TO ROYAL DUTCH SHELL

Nezavisimaya Gazeta

5. Sergey Kulikov article says that Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to take part in the development of the Shtokman gas field as a contractor. Experts believe that Gazprom will sign a contract with Royal Dutch Shell in return for its concessions in the Sakhalin-2 project, p 4.

Vedomosti

3. Vera Surzhenko report says Royal Dutch Shell is trying to repair relations with Gazprom spoiled in the Sakhalin-2 row. Shell has agreed to become a contractor in developing the Shtockman gas field, p B3.

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RosBusinessConsulting: Minister to hold Sakhalin-2 ecological safety meeting

RBC, 25.10.2006, Moscow 09:27:52.Russian Natural Resources Minister Yury Trutnev will hold a meeting in Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on ecological and environmental safety issues during the implementation of the Sakhalin-2 project. As expected, the meeting will be attended by representatives of federal agencies for environmental, subsurface resources and technical regulation, and the General Prosecutor’s Office.

It is also expected that the preliminary results of environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor’s comprehensive inspection for observance of environmental legislation under the Sakhalin-2 project launched on September 26 will be drawn up at this time.
 

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Financial Times: Oil price drop ‘will force consolidation’: ‘Browne refused to comment on speculation about a merger between BP and Royal Dutch Shell’

By Ed Crooks, Energy Editor: Published: October 25 2006 03:00 | Last updated: October 25 2006 03:00

A falling oil price is likely to set off further consolidation of the oil and gas industry, Lord Browne, BP’s chief executive, said yesterday, as he warned of a “more difficult trading environment” ahead.

He was speaking asBP reported third-quarter results showing a decline of about 11 per cent in underlying replacement cost profit.

Lord Browne also confirmed that he expected this year’s production to be about 3.95m barrels of oil equivalent per day, down from last year’s 4.014m.

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Financial Times: Women are rising to the top of heavy industry

By Alison Maitland: Published: October 25 2006 03:00 | Last updated: October 25 2006 03:00

It is just like the proverbial London bus.

You wait ages for the next female FTSE chief executive to come along and then suddenly there are three of them.

For nine long years, Dame Marjorie Scardino of Pearson, owner of the FT, was the solitary woman heading a FTSE 100 company until the promotion of Drax, the electricity generator headed by Dorothy Thompson, to the blue chip index in June this year.

Cynthia Carroll’s appointment yesterday as head of Anglo American means that two of the three women now running FTSE 100 businesses are American – and that two of the three are at the topof traditionally male-dominated heavy industrial companies.

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IrelandOn-Line: Greens: Trust needed between Shell and Corrib protestors

24/10/2006 – 18:27:04

Trust needs to be built between giant oil company Shell and protestors in Co Mayo, Green Party leader Trevor Sargent said tonight.

Calling for fresh talks to try to resolve the ongoing controversy over the Corrib gas terminal, he said a lot of issues had to be discussed.

Over the last two days Mr Sargent has held talks with representatives from both Shell and campaign group Shell to Sea, who want work on the €200m terminal stopped.

He said campaigners were concerned that they had no evidence Shell were implementing a new route for the 9km high-pressure pipeline that would run to the terminal.

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Indymedia: Shell Oil slams Irish People

by James A. Leach

Shell Oil is trying to steal local peoples land.

Shell dumping Toxic Waste into ocean. Other unsafe and dangerous practices.

Shell Oil and Statoil are planning to:

Take land from local residents and build a high pressure gas pipeline that will go past their houses:

The pressure inside the pipeline will be up to four times greater than that of the biggest Bord Gais pipelines. The pipeline will be going through boggy land with a history of landslides.

CONSTRUCT A GAS REFINERY ON UNSTABLE BOG:

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Sydney Morning Herald: Shell one step closer to $570b BP merger

October 25, 2006

SHELL is at the centre of buyout moves and merger speculation after unveiling plans to spend $C7.7 billion ($9 billion) simplifying its North American business.

This was seen by some as a step towards a £230 billion ($570 billion) mega-merger with BP.

The Anglo-Dutch oil group has also had its name linked with Premier Oil, although most industry experts rule out Shell being the unnamed company in takeover talks with the exploration firm.

Shell said on Monday it would buy the 22 per cent it did not own in Shell Canada, which is independently managed. It is quoted on the Toronto stock exchange and heavily involved with oil sands production in Alberta.

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