revista presei 25 septembrie

2009/09/25

Hotnews.ro: Gazprom a achizitionat 51% din compania SeverEnergia

Companiile Eni si Enel au vandut catre Gazprom participatia de 51% din SeverEnergia, contra sumei de 1,6 miliarde de dolari. In urma vanzarii, participatia Enel la SeverEnergia a scazut de la 40% la 19,6%, iar cea a Eni s-a diminuat de la 60% la 29,4%. In urma tranzactiei, Gazprom va obtine dreptul de exploatare peste importante rezerve de gaze si petrol din Siberia, estimate la 5 miliarde barili echivalent petrol. SeverEnergia este actionarul unic al Arcticgaz, Urengoil si Neftegaztechnologia, care detin licente de exploatare si productie de hidrocarburi la patru campuri din Siberia, cu rezerve sigure si probabile de gaze si petrol.

Gazprom a platit deja prima transa, de 384 milioane de dolari (dintre care Enel a primit 153,5 milioane de dolari) si o va plati pe cea de-a doua si ultima pana in martie 2010.

SeverEnergia devine astfel prima companie italiano-rusa cu operatiuni in regiunea Yamal Nenets din vestul Siberiei, in prezent sursa pentru 90% din gazul rusesc. Partile si-au confirmat intentia de a incepe productia de gaze si condensate la campul Yamal Nenets pana in iunie 2011 si de a obtine o productie de gaze de cel putin 150.000 bep pe zi, in 2 ani de la inceperea productiei.

De indata ce devin complet operationale, campurile SeverEnergia vor furniza catre Enel resurse de gaz in-house, suficiente pentru a acoperi jumatate din gazele necesare pentru generarea de electricitate de catre subsidiara rusa a Enel, OGK-5.

EVZ: Producătorii caspici de petrol se

aliază

STRATEGIE. Companiile petroliere de stat KazMunaiGaz, din Kazahstan, proprietarul

Rompetrol, şi Socar, din Azerbaidjan, au încheiat ieri un acord pentru înfiinţarea unei reţele de transport

pe Marea Caspică a ţiţeiului către un oleoduct care alimentează Europa, ocolind Rusia, potrivit Mediafax.

Cele două companii vor să creeze o grup comun pentru construirea unei reţele transcaspice, a declarat preşedintele KazMunaiGaz, Kairgeldy Kabyldin. Noua structură va permite transportarea ţiţeiului cu ajutorul

vapoarelor de la câmpul petrolier kazah Kachagan spre Baku, capitala Azerbaidjanului şi punctul de plecare a oleoductului Baku – Tbilisi – Ceyhan (Turcia). Proiectul necesită trei miliarde de dolari şi va fi finanţat de investitori străini. Compania azeră Socar şi-a manifestat interesul şi pentru viitoarea conductă de petrol Constanţa – Trieste (Italia), de care a fost interesat şi Dinu Patriciu, dar proiectul este blocat.

Ziua: Vladimir Putin invita marile companii straine sa se implice in megaproiectul gazier din Iamal

Premierul rus Vladimir Putin a invitat joi circa 12 companii straine sa se implice in megaproiectul gazier din peninsula Iamal, regiune din Marele Nord rus, promitandu-le “deschidere” si “transparenta”, transmite Agerpres. Omul forte al Rusiei s-a adresat patronilor straini si mai multor membri ai guvernului care s-au deplasat in orasul Salehard (la circa 2.000 km nord-est de Moscova), invitandu-i la o cooperare mai intensa cu Rusia in domeniul gazelor naturale. “Suntem gata pentru un larg parteneriat si de aceea noi v-am invitat aici la Salehard. Dorim ca dumneavoastra sa va simtiti membri ai echipei noastre si participanti la acest proces”, a declarat Vladimir Putin in fata reprezentantilor straini, reuniti in jurul unei lungi mese.

“Dorim ca dumneavoastra sa observati ca Rusia lucreaza cu deschidere si transparenta. Daca sunt lucruri care nu sunt clare, aveti ocazia de a le clarifica in cursul reuniunilor de acest gen”, a adaugat el. Grupurile straine reprezentate la Salehard, majoritatea la nivel inalt, au fost, potrivit ITAR-TASS: Total, StatoilHydro, Shell, Mitsui, Mitsubishi, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, EON, GDF-Suez, Kogas, ENI si Sancor Energy.

Rusia incearca sa faca din Iamal unul din principalele sale centre de productie a gazului natural lichefiat (GNL) si dezvoltarea acestuia este unul din proiectele importante ale gigantului rus Gazprom.

RIA Novosti: GDF Suez could join Nord Stream gas project by year-end – Miller

SALEKHARD, September 24 (RIA Novosti) – Gaz de France Suez could by the end of this year become a shareholder in a project to build a gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea to Europe, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said on Thursday.

The 1,220 km (758 mile)-long Nord Stream pipeline will eventually pump 55 billion cubic meters of gas per year to Western Europe, bypassing traditional transit nations. It is due to go on stream in 2010.

Gazprom currently holds a 51% stake in Nord Stream AG, the project operator. Germany’s Wintershall Holding and E.ON Ruhrgas control 20% each, and the remaining 9% belongs to Holland’s Gasunie.

The Shtokman gas condensate field in the Russian sector of the Barents Sea, with estimated reserves of 3.8 trillion cubic meters, is to supply natural gas for the Nord Stream project.

RIA Novosti: Russia could take quarter of world LNG market – Gazprom CEO

SALEKHARD, September 24 (RIA Novosti) – Russia could increase its share on the world liquefied natural gas market to 25%, the CEO of Russian energy giant Gazprom said on Thursday.

“Russia could take a leading position on the world LNG market and get 25% of the global market,” Alexei Miller said at a meeting on the development of gas deposits.

The global market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) will double by 2020, Miller said.

“The [LNG] market has grown 70% since 2000, and according to our forecasts it will double by 2020,” Miller said.

The Gazprom CEO said that the project for the construction of a liquefied natural gas plant on Yamal Peninsula in West Siberia would be ready by 2015-2017.

“Currently we are at the pre-project stage; I don’t believe this will happen earlier than 2015-2017,” Miller said in response to the question about when the project would be ready and Gazprom would start selecting foreign partners for its implementation.

Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said earlier in the day that the potential of natural gas production at explored fields alone on Yamal Peninsula was estimated at 360 billion cubic meters a year for many years to come, with the peninsula’s reserves estimated at over 50 trillion cubic meters.

Novinite: Bulgaria Natural Gas Prices to Increase by 20% in January

Bulgaria Bulgaria Natural Gas Prices to Increase by 20% in January: Bulgaria Natural Gas Prices to Increase by 20% in January
“It is improper to talk about penalties at this moment, until the year is not over”, Gogov said. Photo by BGNES

The prices of the natural gas in Bulgaria are expected to increase by 20% in January 2010 if the oil remains around USD 70 per barrel, and mazut stays at USD 400-420 per ton.

The forecast has been made by Dimitar Gogov, head of the state owned gas distributing company “Bulgargaz”.

Bulgargaz also entered a proposal Wednesday in the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR) for a 2,49% increase in natural gas prices from October 2009. The decision of the DKEVR is expected to become clear on September 28.

In Gogov’s words, the decrease in the natural gas consumption over the global financial crisis will result in the end of 2009 in Bulgargaz having to pay penalties to the suppliers Overgas Inc and Gaspromexport.

According to the current gas supply contracts Bulgargas pays the whole amount of gas initially ordered. However, in case the consumption is less, a “take-pay” clause comes to action.

So far, Bulgaria has never paid such penalties, despite the fact that two years ago the Russian side demanded such.

“It is improper to talk about penalties at this moment, until the year is not over”, Gogov said.

In the end of 2010 the contract with Gaspromexport expires and Bulgaria wants to prolongate it with at least five years, until Nabucco and South Stream gas pipelines.

La Stampa:  A Russian pipedream for Europe

Is Moscow taking advantage of American distraction with Afghanistan and Iraq to reach out for the old Continent?

BEIJING — While America is engrossed in Afghanistan and planning a new military surge to bring peace and stability to the country, a new bigger strategic risk looms in a much more sensitive area—Europe and Russia. The challenge is about the global issue of energy and about influence in the old continent, still the richest industrial area in the world. But to look at it, one must take a few steps back.

For three centuries, Russia has attempted to gain access to the Mediterranean Sea, and all this time the traditional European powers, France and Britain, have prevented it. The United States, becoming effectively a European power after World War II and loaded with ideological anti-communist intentions, inherited this strategic vision and fought hard against the Soviet Union, which had taken over the Russian historical legacy.

Today, 17 years after the U.S. won over the Soviet Union and after a brief honeymoon with the then newly reborn Russia, Moscow is in political limbo with Washington. Many American pundits, although not all of them, blame Russia for several reasons. Some ambiguities in Moscow’s international stand leave more room for strategic problems in places such as Iran. With the war in Iraq and rising energy prices, Russia became again haughty and was putting pressure on ex-Soviet Ukraine and Caucasian republics. Then there has been the Russian opposition to American missile installations in Poland, and Moscow’s opposition to American-supported “color revolutions” in former Soviet countries. All of this de facto asserts a sphere of influence, almost as if Moscow were trying to reestablish the boundaries of the former USSR.

Furthermore, domestically there has been an autocratic turn against internal dissent.

These actions, both external and internal, can find many justifications and can be seen as a rightful answer to the process of gradual disintegration of the former Soviet empire after the Cold War. Russia has the right to exist and defend its borders and interests without being subjected to a slow or fast process of political erosion.

However, this political defense can be translated or considered as assertive policies by a country that is still the only one in the world possessing the nuclear capabilities to destroy the United States and all its allies. Moreover, when the U.S. had great difficulties in Iraq and there was a steep rise in energy prices, Moscow sought to use its energy supplies almost as a “strategic weapon” in Europe, wooing friends among the states and also in different political camps within each state. In this way, Moscow has helped to crack NATO unity and European consensus on the war in Iraq, although that consensus was not very strong to begin with. Moreover, the European Union and its expansion to the east were first conceived as part of an anti-Soviet and then as an anti-Russian containment strategy. But Moscow has cleverly used its new foreign policy in the past decade to break the European front by reaching out for support in Germany, France, Italy, and other smaller European countries.

Again, all these moves can be seen as legitimate friendly and neighborly moves or as legitimate opposition to a dubious American Middle Eastern policy. In any case, they form the backdrop to the Russian-sponsored South Stream pipeline project, which was conceived after and in competition with the U.S.-sponsored Nabucco pipeline project. Nabucco would carry gas and oil from Central Asia (former Soviet republics) and directly from the Caucasus to Europe via Turkey—bypassing Russia. The project can be seen as a further effort to contain Russia because it provides a direct “escape route” for new markets to former Soviet republics, freeing them of the umbilical cord with Moscow. Nabucco creates a major new source of access to supplies for Europe, which would then receive energy from 1) African and Middle Eastern OPEC countries, 2) Russia, and 3) Central Asia and the Caucasus. With three lines of supplies, European countries (all consumer countries) can expect to negotiate better prices for their fuels.

The strategic implications of Nabucco are very serious. This pipeline could cause a further split between Moscow and ex-Soviet countries, which still supply Russia at a cheap rate. Moscow then sells its energy in Europe at market prices. Nabucco would put an end to this. Moreover, Nabucco could become operational in about a decade—just when Russian domestic energy consumption threatens to exceed its production. Then Russia would become a net energy importer, and it would have greater need for cheap energy.

Faced with the strategic challenge of Nabucco, which is in line with some broad American and European interests, Russia in a nutshell has two choices. The most difficult choice is to change its “development model,” gradually abandoning its current system in which over 80% of its exports are of raw materials and creating a modern export industry. The other choice, the easier one, is to try to defend its current economic model based on large exports of energy and hence its area of influence, which also broadens the pool of raw materials to sell.

The first choice could also entail a possibly humiliating negotiation with the United States, a fundamental reorganization of the Russian internal political balance (which is now heavily dependent on energy tycoons), and the creation of a class of small and medium businesses (which today is practically nonexistent). The second option is easier because it involves internal reorganization of present industrial interests, the consolidation of relations in areas of former Soviet influence, and the projection of influence in neighboring Europe.

The two pipeline projects, North and South Stream, can help this second choice. North Stream would be a pipeline skipping Ukraine to get to Germany via the Baltic Sea, along the routes taken by ancient ships of the Hanseatic League. South Stream would be a new pipeline crossing the Black Sea and the Balkans to reach Europe via Italy or Hungary. North Stream is chaired by former German Chancellor Schroeder. South Stream has the support of the Italian energy company ENI and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

With these two projects, Russia could have three channels to bring its energy to European countries, including the present pipeline running through Ukraine. With three pipelines, Russia could be able to divide and rule at will Europe, which is not a political unit but a varied collage of some thirty states often with no or very confused strategies.

It is theoretically true, as observed by some advocates of the Russian project, that Europeans supply cash to Russia as Russia supplies Europe with gas—there is a symbiotic relationship in which no one can live without the other. Without Europe’s money, Russia dies a minute after the death of Europe for lack of Russian energy. In reality, this would be true if Europe was politically united: then it could deal on equal terms with Russia. In fact, Europe is disunited, and there could be three Russian pipelines, meaning that Moscow can calibrate its supply and pressure on various states while minimizing the risk of running out of money. That is, for example, Russia can cut gas supplies to an unfriendly country without affecting supplies to friendly ones—and especially without depriving itself of all of the money flow, which would be political suicide.

In other words, South Stream becomes a strategic weapon by which Russia can get the upper hand in Europe. As with the best chess players, for Russia, a situation of defense because of Nabucco can become a position of attack. It can reestablish the former Soviet influence, attempt to reach the Mediterranean after three centuries of failures, and take on a dominant position in Europe.

South Stream is supported by the Russian state and therefore has no funding problems, in contrast to Nabucco, which is a commercial project and needs to find funding in the market. Then the simple political and media push for South Stream could derail Nabucco, which by itself has many political and technical problems for its implementation. For example, there is the big question of how to cross the Caspian SeaRussia or Iran. Once Nabucco is shipwrecked, South Stream may gain steam and look even more viable. without clear agreements from bordering countries such as

With South Stream, Russia has one more instrument to negotiate from a point of strength: Other oil and gas producing countries could agree to tag along in Europe. It could become the glue for a new kind of OPEC centered on Russia. Pipelines are strategically important because they are a long-term pact between states, they are very expensive, and completing them takes many years. They can’t be changed easily, unlike shipping lines, which in theory can be diverted to another port at will.

This could then have global consequences. If Russia corners the European gas market, it gains a strong hand in also determining overall prices for oil to America and Asia. The latter is the fastest growing consumer of energy and strategically interested in gaining a supply of gas in Central Asia that is independent from Russia.

In Europe, Russia is not any other European country, even forgetting its history. Its territorial dimensions (Russia is larger than the rest of Europe) and demographics (there are twice as many Russian native speakers in Europe as German native speakers—the second most widely spoken European language) make it a giant when compared with other European countries. However, its average wealth is lower than in rich Europe, and Russians feel a sense of alienation from fellow Europeans: Russia feels bigger and stronger than other European countries, while it remains poorer. South Stream could help to change that perception.

In this situation, ENI has seized a business opportunity—to be part of an attempt to corner the European market for oil and to join Gazprom in a potential world monopoly. There is nothing strange in the moves by ENI and Gazprom. The history of oil is one of monopolies. There were the “seven sisters,” the Anglo-American oil companies that dominated the market from World War II to the 1970s; in the 1970s, OPEC came along. But both attempts were monopoly alliances comprised of many actors—there were at least seven major oil companies in the seven sisters and dozens of states are OPEC producers. Moreover, OPEC—which was also born of the anti-colonial third-world movement of the 1960s but lacked strong political and military support—de facto sank in a few years. The seven sisters instead lasted for nearly three decades on the shoulders of the Anglo-American political and military power.

The ENI-Gazprom alliance would then need strong political support. But does RussiaRussia willing to do if someone stands in the way? have it? And if it doesn’t, then what is it willing to do to get it? What is

Furthermore, the seven sisters were seven—not just two—companies and were based on the two victorious powers of World War II (the U.S. and the U.K.)—not on the defeated power of the Cold War (Russia) and on a medium-sized power (like Italy, France, or Germany). What then is the interest of Italy—or of Germany or France? In an alliance with Russia, each of them would be a junior partner, largely unable to leverage the senior partner and subjected to any changes in its political mood. The interest of each European country is conversely to have energy at the lowest possible price, which is obtained by putting several suppliers in competition with each other. This could drive European oil-consuming industrial strengths rather than living off the oil annuities.

Finally, there is a basic market rule: Since the beginning of capitalism, theorists noticed the perverting influence of monopolies, which drug prices, create inefficiencies for the consumers, and lead to an unhealthy business atmosphere. In other words, monopolies try to restore the old feudal economy and move away from modern capitalism.

Then, there are many reasons militating against South Stream. Those reasons were brilliantly presented and discussed about a year ago by Zeyno Baran in a report on the security of South Stream prepared for the European Parliament and commissioned by the Hudson Institute in Washington. But so far, the U.S. and European countries have not pushed strongly against it. WashingtonRussia, instead it wants to engage with Russia and build a positive relationship, as among other things, the U.S. needs Russian support to solve problems in Afghanistan and Iran. does not want a confrontation with

America is willing to help Russia find solutions for the problems of its pipeline through Ukraine. The Obama administration is also willing to shelve its missile program in Poland, and it has toned down its support for anti-Russian Georgia in the Caucasus. Many of these previous policies could be viewed as unnecessary provocations when there is no reason to confront Russia. Yet, this engagement can never turn into the U.S.Europe and the Mediterranean to Moscow. On the other hand, South Stream seems unrealistic, riddled with political and technical difficulties. It may well never take off, and if so, then it would simply not be necessary to confront it—the project will drag on for years and eventually peter out and disappear. This might be a possibility, but in the meantime, the simple idea of South Stream could kill the even more difficult Nabucco project. And without Nabucco, South Stream could emerge as the only practical solution to European energy quandaries. giving away

In all of this, there is a timeframe. At the end of September, there will be elections in Germany. Schroeder’s SPD is expected to lose and get out of government. If that happens, Germany could cool down on South Stream, and Italy may remain the largest supporter of this project among the major European countries.

Here the European strategy also meets the plans of the Holy See.

Moscow has revamped relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, and the Holy See is working hard to improve relations with the Russian Orthodox believers, who have no huge theological difference with Rome. Rome would like to bring the Russian Orthodox to the Catholic riverbed. With a different stress, and even with different purposes, there is a parallel between U.S. and the Holy See action vis-à-vis Russia—both are aimed at avoiding confrontation with Moscow and take Russia back to the fold. Washington is more cautious and Rome more enthusiastic, but certainly the Holy See does not want to give the Catholic Church to the Moscow Patriarch. Italy’s political “subjugation” to RussiaMoscow’s political leaders. with South Stream could however strengthen the hand of the Moscow Patriarch, who is linked to

Nor are relations between the Holy See and Washington free of difficulties. The old accusations of gay priests and pedophilia are ruining the Catholic Church in America, and therefore hold the Vatican under threat. In the U.S., there is a now dormant bill that proposes dropping time limits on pedophilia suits. That is, one could sue a priest because of molestations 30 or 40 years ago. This means threatening the U.S. Church with bankruptcy as parishes and dioceses always agree to settle out of court to avoid trials that could tarnish the whole Church. President Barack Obama had proposed passing the bill, but now it is in the icebox. But if a new campaign of accusations of homosexuality in the Church makes its way to Italy, the cradle of the Catholics, one puts salt in an open wound. It might open a Pandora’s box for the whole world—with effects in France, Spain, Germany, Latin America, et cetera. One may risk endangering the universal Church.

In the past few weeks, this took place in Italy as the Berlusconi family newspaper, il Giornale, attacked on sexual charges Dino Boffo, editor of Avvenire, the daily belonging to the Italian Conference of Bishops. This was done entirely for domestic reasons; however, its drawbacks may be international, and if the situation continues, it could spin out of control, as Berlusconi’s Italian enemies could also bait him with new provocations hoping for excessive reactions from him or his men.

The best course of actions should be to take a step back, wait for a few months until things are improving in Afghanistan, and meanwhile cool down with the South Stream, Russia, the pipelines, and the gay issues. But rational responses are often hard to come by and crises may occur when and where we would least like them.

(I am grateful to conversations with Claudio Landi and Lao Xi for this article)

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