Posts Tagged ‘Caspian’

Oil pipeline threats add to pressure on Azerbaijan

Oil-rich Azerbaijan is being rattled by disruption and attacks on pipelines, highlighting its tough geopolitical position and adding to worries about falling oil prices.

Having been courted by previous US governments, international interest in Azerbaijan and fellow Caspian producer Kazakhstan has waned in recent years, not least because of the increase in US shale oil production. Azerbaijan’s oil production is, in any case, thought to have peaked.

But with 848,000 b/d of output last year, Azeri production still matters.

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For a Europe that hasn’t embraced shale gas, other options are multiplying

European shale gas: who needs it?

Europe, it is true, has made no real progress with shale gas so far. But its security of gas supply has seldom looked healthier following a series of major discoveries. The timing of that is perfect as the continent moves toward liberalized markets.

This is extremely good luck for consumers and the European Commission, which is railroading through the gas and power market opening rules.

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The Nabucco natural gas pipeline is dead. Long live Nabucco!

Nabucco is dead; Long Live Nabucco!

It sometimes seems as if the whole saga of the EU’s pet project to develop a Southern Gas Corridor is contained in that paradox.  As a result of Nabucco’s prominence, not least in the minds of European politicians, it is as if everything to do with carrying Caspian gas to Europe is seen through the prism of the ten-year-old effort to develop the Nabucco pipeline.

So when two of the principal parties involved, Azerbaijan and Turkey, announce they are going to build a different line, the cry goes up: ‘Nabucco is dead!’

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The new E.ON Rurhgas is operating in a very different European natural gas world

The $4 billion sale of Germany’s Open Grid Europe pipeline system to banks and financial institutions in late May is a watershed moment in Europe’s gas market.

The company that owned it, E.ON Ruhrgas, was one of the giants of the gas establishment, starting off in the middle of the last century to develop a formidable battery of pipelines, production assets and natural gas purchase and supply contracts.

How the 12,000 kilometer network develops in the future — dislocated from the former parent company’s gas procurement and supply business — will be watched with close interest by those involved with Europe’s energy markets.

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AN UPDATE: Storing oil in the Med and the crisis in Europe’s refining sector: a discussion

(With some additional comments from Mark Lewis, toward the bottom).

Wrapping up day 1 of the Platts European Oil Storage Conference in Amsterdam was a panel of several of that day’s speakers. Two subjects stood out in the discussion: the sad situation of European refineries, beset by closures and poor margins, and the opportunities to build storage in the Mediterranean. Here are a few of the key points made by some of the panelists, mostly paraphrased, but with some direct quotes.

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At the Wellhead: Turkmenistan stays the same, which might open up opportunities

In this week’s At the Wellhead column from Platts Oilgram News, Stuart Elliott reviews the new government–same as the old government, basically–and what it means for the development of the country’s massive natural gas reserves.

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New market focus for Southern Corridor natural gas pipeline options

What is the purpose of the EU’s much vaunted Southern Gas Corridor and of this week’s Azerbaijan-Turkey agreements in particular?

There was a time just a few years ago, when the answer to the broader question was simple: the Southern Corridor was intended to get gas to a European Union where demand was soaring, domestic production was falling and there was a fear of enforced over-reliance on Russian imports. But today the emphasis is far more on getting gas into one particular corner of Europe: the South East.

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New Frontiers: while oil tankers line up at the Bosporus, talks drag on about a solution

Everybody has long known that the backup of tankers trying to get through Turkey’s Bosporus is an oil spill waiting to happen, and just plain inefficient. Yet fixes to this problem have been difficult to agree upon. Stuart Elliott discusses the quandry in this week’s Platts Oilgram News column, “New Frontiers.”

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A tricky question for Kazakh oilmen

What kind of a speech do you give when you’re invited to a party and you want to get a difficult message across without upsetting your hosts?

That was the dilemma confronting two very senior executives from Chevron and ExxonMobil when they addressed the Kazenergy Forum in the glittering Kazakh capital of Astana last week. They had some serious points to make about the conditions for foreign companies in general, and their own in particular, but they would have been way out of line had they been too blunt in their comments.

So how do you go about getting your points across? Naturally you start by praising Nursultan Nazarbayev, the country’s president. But for what do you praise him? For presiding over the quadrupling of oil production from 20 mt in 1991 to 79.7 mt in 2010? For the giant pipelines and shipping routes that mean his country now exports around 1.5 million b/d to markets as far afield as the United States, China and Western Europe? Or for overseeing the country’s emergence as the world’s leading producer of uranium?

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Azerbaijan’s nightmare choice on what to do with its natural gas: pipelines and problems

By October 1, the three rival groups wanting to develop pipelines to carry Azerbaijani gas to Europe must make their final submissions.

It must be a nightmare, preparing the documentation for their bids. They each know the strengths and weaknesses of their rivals; they each know that none of their bids will perfectly suit Azerbaijan’s requirements. How do they know this? They know it because for years they’ve taken part in countless panels to consider the merits-and faults-of each proposal. If any one of them had even come close to developing a clearly superior system, they would have already secured Azerbaijani agreement for a new export line.

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