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Oil & Gas News: IN BRIEF

In Brief
Saudi moves to add capacity
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will decide soon whether to proceed with plans to raise capacity at its oilfields beyond the 2009 target of 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd), a Saudi oil adviser said.
The kingdom is on track to add 2.3 million bpd by August 2009, around 800,000 of which will be used to offset natural declines, said Nawaf Obaid, managing director of Saudi National Security Assessment Project (SNSAP).
‘All of the fields are expected to come on stream around six months earlier than initial projections,' Obaid said.
IEA in investment call
ZURICH: Oil-producing countries must invest more money in the industry to prevent prices from spiralling higher, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency said.
The countries should invest some $23 billion each year – at least 50 per cent more than they are doing now – to prevent rapidly rising demand for oil from outpacing supply, Fatih Birol told a Swiss newspaper.
Kuwait deal sought
LONDON: International companies that have already been waiting around a decade for the opening up of Kuwait’s oil reserves will have to wait at least until the end of the year, a top oil official said.
Farouk Al Zanki, head of the Kuwait Oil Company, stressed the urgency of bringing in foreign firms to help boost output at oilfields torched after the 1990 Iraq invasion. But, realistically, he said a breakthrough was unlikely until late this year.
PTT profit down
BANGKOK: PTT, Thailand's largest energy firm, reported a 16 per cent fall in quarterly earnings, hit by lower refinery and petrochemical margins. PTT posted a fourth-quarter net profit of 17.15 billion baht ($437 million), down from 20.5 billion baht a year earlier and 24 billion baht in the third quarter.
Malaysia raises petrol prices
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has announced an increase in pump prices of petrol and diesel, as part of a long-term plan to trim fuel subsidies and reduce its fiscal deficit.
The price of petroleum products would not rise further this year, the Prime Minister's Department said in a statement, adding that pump prices of both petrol and diesel would rise by 30 Malaysian cents ($0.08) per litre.
Malaysia had raised pump prices of petrol and diesel at least three times since October 2004.
Mitsubishi in Oman
MUSCAT: Oman LNG has signed a deal to supply Japan's Mitsubishi Corp with around 250,000 tonnes a year of natural gas condensates, the ONA news agency said.
Oman LNG would supply Mitsubishi with 21,000 tonnes a month of the material, which can be used as a feedstock for petrochemical plants or to make gasoline or naphtha.
Oman LNG is 51 percent government owned while Royal Dutch Shell holds 30 per cent. Other stake holders include Total, Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Itochu.
LNG cargoes sought
JAKARTA: Indonesia, the world's top LNG exporter, is seeking three liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes from Qatar or Oman to resell to contracted buyers as its own gas output dwindles, a Pertamina official said.
“We are seeking three cargoes because our production cannot fulfil our contract,” Pertamina’s marketing director Ari Soemarno said.
He said Pertamina had reached agreement with buyers from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to reschedule 46 standard cargoes of LNG in 2006.
Transparency vow
JAKARTA: State Enterprises Minister Sugiharto said the operation of the Cepu Block oil fields would be subjected to a seven-tier audit so that the public did not have to worry about its tranparency.
“Whoever will be the operator at the Cepu block oil fields, the audit will be conducted in seven tiers. The people should not worry about ‘overpricing’ or ‘overestimates’,” the minister said after opening a seminar.

BASF hopes for higher sales

FRANKFURT: German chemicals group BASF has posted a 1.6 per cent dip in quarterly earnings as US hurricanes took their toll, but said it was confident about the current year.
BASF, the world's top chemical maker by sales, said that fourth-quarter earnings before interest, tax and special items came in at 1.591 billion euros ($1.90 billion), compared to the 1.515 billion-euro average of 17 forecasts in an analyst poll.
BASF said it aimed to grow faster than the market in 2006.
Kerosene sought
SINGAPORE: Indian Oil Corp (IOC) is seeking by tender 40,000 tonnes of kerosene for April on top of an earlier tender purchase of 105,000-120,000 tonnes for March-May, to cover a domestic shortfall, traders said.
IOC sought the additional cargo of kerosene, widely used as cooking oil and lighting in India, for delivery into Paradip/Haldia during April 11-20, they said.
The state refiner is scouting for foreign supplies to cover shortages on the back of upcoming refinery maintenance works, traders said.

NZ refinery profit up

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Refining, New Zealand’s only oil refinery, has posted a better than-expected 43 per cent rise in annual profit on the back of higher volumes and processing margins.
The company reported a net profit of NZ$139.8 million ($92.6 million) for the 12 months to December 31, compared with its December guidance of around NZ$127 million, and the previous year's actual profit of NZ$97.5 million.
It had pared back its forecast annual profit growth because of high power costs and a strong New Zealand dollar.
Shell-CNOOC move
SINGAPORE: A joint-venture between Royal Dutch Shell and China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) is seeking 75,000 tonnes of naphtha for April, as its condensate splitter is likely to be completed later than scheduled in April, traders said.
The 800,000-tonne-per-year naphtha cracker has been running at about 60-70 per cent of its capacity after it started commercial production successfully last month.
ShawCor unit in Kuwait deal
TORONTO: ShawCor said a subsidiary had won a $44 million (C$50.6 million) contract to provide offshore pipe coating for a large energy project in Kuwait.
Bredero Shaw Middle East will coat offshore pipelines as part of the KOC Crude Oil Export Facilities Project. Among its clients on the pipelines are the Kuwait Oil Company and Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The pipe will be coated at a Bredero Shaw pipe coating facility in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, beginning in June.
Supply unaffected
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's oil minister said the kingdom's oil and gas production was unaffected by an attempt to storm the huge Abqaiq oil facility, adding that exports from the plant were running normally.
“This incident had no impact on oil and gas production in the kingdom,” Ali Al Naimi said in a statement. “The plant continued production at full levels and export operations are as usual.”
Contract review
TEHRAN: Iran’s state audit organisation has drawn up a report on a gas export deal to the UAE so parliament can debate whether the terms are still acceptable, an Iranian legislator said.
The original deal was for Iran to supply gas from the Salman field in the Gulf to the UAE's Crescent Petroleum. Crescent is a shareholder in Dana Gas, which sells gas to utilities and other industrial users.
LNG contracts set
TEHRAN: Iran is set to grant Total, Shell and Repsol upstream development contracts in the giant South Pars gas field in the Gulf, officials said.
Iran intends to use phases 11 and 13 of South Pars to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG). Iran hopes to export its first LNG shipments in 2009.
Total is looking to develop phase 11 of South Pars to produce LNG in a project called Pars LNG.
Quick takes
Cepsa net profit hits $1.21bn
MADRID: Spanish oil and gas company Cepsa has reported a 48 per cent increase in 2005 net profit to 1.01 billion euros ($1.21 billion), the firm said.
The company said the result was driven by strong refining margins, global growth in demand and hurricane-related supply disruptions which hit already-tight refining capacity.
Cepsa extracts most of its oil from the Ourhoud field in Algeria.
UK production rises 6.7pc
LONDON: UK December oil output rose by 6.7 per cent compared with November to 1,581,136 barrels per day (bpd), according to figures released by industry newsletter the Aberdeen Petroleum Report.
Output has recovered from the lowest level for 16 years hit last August due to field maintenance and unplanned outages.
Morecambe Bay yield declines
LONDON: Britain’s biggest energy supplier Centrica said production from its depleting Morecambe Bay gas field will fall by 20 per cent in 2006.
The Morecambe Bay field is located in the East Irish Sea and has provided the British Gas owner with more than a quarter of its annual needs, but is rapidly running down, like many North Sea oil and gas assets.
However, Centrica said overall profitability from its upstream business in 2006 would be ahead of last year, with half of the 20 per cent Morecambe Bay production cut “more than offset by the still-rising gas price and increased production from other fields”.
Nigerian output exceeds quota
LAGOS: Nigerian oil output, including condensates and natural gas liquids rose to 2.47 million barrels per day (mbpd) in December 2005 from a revised figure of 2.33 mbpd in November, the central bank said.
The bank which had reported oil production of 2.50 mbpd in November, said in its latest report that Nigeria’s oil output in December rose to 76.6 million barrels from 69.9 million barrels in the previous month.
Nigeria’s daily output surpassed its 2.3 mbpd Opec quota, though the world’s eighth largest oil exporter produces 100,000 bpd of condensates which are not counted as part of its quota.
ENVIRONMENTAL EYE
Dhaka halts Tullow work on pollution fears
DHAKA: Bangladesh has ordered a halt to gas exploration by Irish-owned firm Tullow Bangladesh in an ecologically fragile island because of fears of environmental damage, a government official said.
“We’ve halted the seismic survey of Tullow in Saint Martin's Island as it is an ecologically critical area,” a senior official in Bangladesh’s environment ministry said.
“They were mistakenly given permission to carry out the survey in the area by a regional environment office. But we’ve cancelled it as it is prohibited to carry out such survey there,” he said.
Situated over 500 km south of Dhaka, Saint Martin's is Bangladesh’s lone coral island and is home to rare species of turtles.
Tullow Bangladesh is part of Tullow Oil International Ltd based in Ireland.
Bangladesh environmental experts had expressed fears drilling could harm the island's ecology and their calls prompted the government to declare it an environmentally critical area.
Tullow was given permission to explore for gas and oil in the island and a large swathe of the coastal district of Cox's Bazar in 1997. It signed a production-sharing agreement with state-owned Petrobangla the same year.
Tullow can carry on with its exploration of the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar.
The company began the seven-million-dollar seismic survey of Saint Martin’s early this month as a prelude to further work in the area after winning environmental clearance December 29, according to the leading Bengali daily Ittefaq.
Preliminary studies by the company indicated that St. Martin’s contains large deposits of oil and natural gas.
The government will now review an environment impact assessment report of Tullow before deciding whether to allow the company to proceed with the seismic survey, the official said.
Bangladesh has proven recoverable gas reserves of 13 trillion cubic feet (390 billion cubic metres), which are expected to last until 2017.

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