revista presei 29 octombrie

2009/10/29

Hotnews: Acord esential pentru Nabucco: Turcia va primi gaze naturale din Iran

In baza unui memorandum de colaborare in domeniul petrolului si gazelor naturale semnat intre Ankara si Teheran, Turcia a obtinut drept de vanzare a 17,5 miliarde metri cubi de gaze pe an, provenite de la unul dintre cele mai zacaminte din lume, Pars South. Potrivit Kommersant, expertii spun ca intelegerea a fost realizata cu acordul Washingtonului si ca acum gazul iranian va fi sursa prioritara de alimentare a conductei Nabucco.

Adevarul: Adriean Videanu: trebuie realizat un program de liberalizare a preţului la gaze

Adriean Videanu, ministrul interimar al Economiei, spune că România este în discuţii cu Romgaz şi Petrom în vederea realizării unui program naţional de liberalizare a preţului la gaze pentru că ministerul a primit o notificare de potenţial infringement, potrivit NewsIn.

Ministrul interimar al Economiei şi al Sănătăţii a mai spus că, pentru perioada iernii, a fost asigurată securitatea resurselor şi că în perioada imediat următoare nu se pune problema exportului de gaze.

Adevarul: A doua centrală nucleară din România

Proiectele de realizare a unităţilor 3 şi 4 de la Cernavodă sunt în discuţie la Comisia Europeană, iar în 2 săptămâni ar putea prezenta amplasamentul celei de-a doua centrale nucleare, potrivit lui Adriean Videanu, ministrul interimar al Economiei şi Sănătăţii, citat de NewsIn.

Videanu spune că nu doar România are proiecte în zona energetică, ci toate statele din Balcani. „Toate proiectele energetice vor fi realizare în parteneriat public-privat cu mari jucători internaţionali. România nu poate rata această oportunitate, mai ales că RWE s-a retras de la Belene (proiectul unei centrale nucleare în Bulgaria, n.r.)‟, a mai spus el.
Faza de pre-proiect pentru reactoarele 3 şi 4 de la Cernavodă, care a demarat în acest an, durează 18 luni. Totodată, el a mai precizat că în acest an, în sistemul energetic s-au investit 1,2 miliarde de euro pentru creşterea randamentului complexelor energetice şi interconectarea la sursele alternative. Unităţile 3 şi 4 ar urma să fie puse în funcţiune după 2016. Costul estimat pentru cele două reactoare este de patru miliarde de euro, iar fiecare unitate va avea o putere instalată de 720 MW.

RIA Novosti: Ukraine to buy some $500 mln of gas from Gazprom for October

KIEV, October 28 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian energy company Naftogaz will pay some $500 million for natural gas from Russian energy giant Gazprom for October, the ex-Soviet state’s acting finance minister said on Wednesday.

Ihor Umanskiy said with four days left until the end of the month, it was too early to announce the exact amount for October but added that it could be “approximately $500 million.”

Naftogaz rejected on Monday reports of gas payment problems, saying it would pay for Russian natural gas supplied in October on time and in full.

A source in Naftogaz earlier on Monday quoted its CEO Oleh Dubyna as saying at a meeting with Gazprom head Alexei Miller on Thursday that it was increasingly difficult for the Ukrainian energy company to make gas payments and it could be problematic for it to pay for natural gas supplied in October.

Naftogaz paid for Russian natural gas deliveries in September on time and in full, largely using borrowed funds.

Russia, which supplies around one fifth of Europe’s gas, briefly shut down supplies via Ukraine’s pipeline system at the start of the year during a dispute with Kiev over unpaid debt.

The conflict was resolved in January, when Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Ukrainian counterpart, Tymoshenko, agreed deals on deliveries to and gas transit through Ukraine for 2009.

russiatoday.com: Gazprom stands behind take or pay on gas contracts

Gazprom says European customers should pay in full for contracted volumes, even if demand is less than that. But market players believe the Russian gas export monopoly will need to change its long term contracts.

Europe depends on Gazprom to satisfy a quarter of its gas needs, but a year of economic downturn now means that consumption has slumped 10%. That means that under the ‘take or pay’ principle, where consumers pay a fine if they don’t take the contracted volumes, European firms currently owe Gazprom about $2.5 billion and rising.

Gazprom is demanding payment in full, with Sergey Chelpanov, Deputy Head of Gazprom Export, arguing that long-term contracts are the key to European energy security.

“There is no reason to think that the new realities we are facing now, will not be incorporated into the structure of these long contracts. But long term contracts, it’s a vital part of the business. If at a wholesale level, at the level of importing large volumes of natural gas into the European Union, there will be no changes in that perspective.”

But experts like Aleksander Nazarov from Metropol say the gas giant has slim chances of receiving the payment in full.

“They can insist on anything but, in reality, these fines or these penalties that Gazprom wants from any European customer, they are likely to be cancelled – at least partially.”

Dominique Fach, from Enel points out the rapidly changing nature of the global gas market will leave Gazprom no choice but to become more flexible in its pricing and volume policies.

“The gas market is not only going to be a pipe market. Its also an LNG market. Its also today in the US we have the emergence of shale gas which is very important, it is changing the market in 5 years. So I think the take or pay incident is a small part of the global negotiation which is going to take place on the gas market.”

In a surprise move, Gazprom said this week it plans to increase gas prices for Europe by 20 to 30 dollars in 2010, which is likely to further strain its relations with consumers in the West.

Eurasia Daily Monitor: Gazprom, Gazpromneft, in Serbia’s Oil and Gas Sector

By: Vladimir Socor

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s October 20 visit to Belgrade (EDM October 27) helped accelerate Serbia’s orientation toward Russia’s economic orbit. The Serbian government is handing additional energy assets over to Russian companies and is eagerly seeking Russian involvement in infrastructure projects and joint enterprises in Serbia. If some of these intentions seem unrealistic at this stage, it is not for want of enthusiasm in Belgrade.

In Medvedev’s and Serbian President Boris Tadic’s presence, CEO’s Aleksei Miller of Gazprom and Dusan Bajatovic of Serbian Gas signed a protocol on the South Stream pipeline project. Under the protocol, the sides will within the ensuing 30 days establish a project company to design, build, and operate South Stream’s section on Serbian territory. Gazprom will hold 51 percent and Serbian Gas 49 percent of the shares in the project company.

The pipeline is planned to cross from Serbia into Hungary. The route’s configuration and costs, however, cannot be determined while Russia discusses with Croatia and Slovenia the possibility of including these countries in South Stream. According to Miller at the signing ceremony, the technical and economic feasibility studies are to be completed by the end of 2010 for South Stream’s Serbian section. Gazprom has postponed to 2015 the target date for completing the South Stream project overall. However, the Russian side was unable to identify even hypothetically the gas sources for South Stream while signing the protocol in Belgrade. An apparently undeterred Medvedev declared at the signing, “On these projects depends Europe’s energy security, for the sake of which we are so tirelessly laboring” (Interfax, October 20).

Along with that document, Miller and Bajatovic signed an agreement on the construction and operation of the natural gas underground storage site at Banatski Dvor. The agreement envisages modernizing and expanding the existing site and turning it from Serbian into joint ownership. Gazprom will hold 51 percent and Serbian Gas 49 percent of the shares. In addition, Gazprom will own the site’s full capacity. Located in a former natural deposit of gas, the site is projected to hold an active volume of 450 million cubic meters. Located in Serbia’s Northern Province of Vojvodina near the Hungarian and Romanian borders, Banatski Dvor is well situated for targeting the three national markets (Interfax, October 20).

Meanwhile, Serbian Gas seeks a concession to build a pipeline link from the putative South Stream main line into Bosnia-Herzegovina. Serbian Gas proposes to connect both of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s components –the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation– to South Stream, for a combined volume of 1.2 billion cubic meters (bcm) through this line. It hopes to finance this project by using part of a loan that the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is said to be considering for Serbian Gas.

Belgrade has already handed the control over Serbia’s Oil Industry (Naftna Industrija Srbje – NIS) to Russia in late 2007-early 2008 (EDM, January 8, 2008). In that transaction, GazpromNeft acquired a 51 percent stake in NIS while the Serbian state retained 49 percent, with diminished managerial authority. GazpromNeft’s total purchase price –comprising $400 million in cash and $500 million in investment commitments– was deeply undervalued, considering the NIS refining monopoly and its dominance of Serbia’s fuel market. The Serbian government had selected GazpromNeft without holding an international tender, although several companies in Central Europe had expressed an interest in privatizing NIS. Belgrade’s handover of control over NIS signified the first major reward to Russia for supporting Serbia on the Kosovo issue. Dmitry Medvedev finalized that transaction in Belgrade in February 2008 in his then-capacity as first deputy prime minister and Gazprom chairman. On the same occasion Serbia joined the South Stream project.

The Serbian government presented a massive wish list to Medvedev during his October 20 visit as president. Belgrade called for Russian companies to build or upgrade railroads and Danube ports in Serbia, construct a metro system and a ring road for the capital city, and build gas-fueled electricity and heating plants, apparently in anticipation of South Stream materializing (ITAR-TASS, October 20).

Belgrade may, however, have overestimated Russia’s capacity to invest in Serbian priority projects at this stage. Russian Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin had earlier held out the possibility of a $1 billion credit, including $350 million to cover Serbia’s budget gaps in 2009 and another $650 million for infrastructure projects to be carried out by Russian companies in Serbia. This credit line, however, did not materialize during Medvedev’s visit. Instead, the Moscow Bank agreed to provide a $100 million credit. The projects as such remain under Russian consideration.

Russia’s penetration of Serbia’s economy has advanced massively during the last two years, although perhaps not as much as Belgrade may currently wish. Its calculations seem analogous to Yerevan’s, which has basically handed over the energy sector and other assets, in return for Russian support to Armenia’s occupation of Azerbaijani territories over the years. Similarly, Belgrade seems willing to allow Russia to capture decisive positions in the national economy as a quid-pro-quo for Russian support to Serbia on the Kosovo issue.

Eurasia Daily Monitor: Russia and China Clinch Gas Supply Deal

By: Sergei Blagov

Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin (L) with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao

Moscow and Beijing claim that their long-awaited gas supply deal is proof of what they describe as their bilateral strategic partnership, but the Russian and Chinese state-controlled energy giants apparently remain divided on the sensitive issue of gas prices. On October 13, the Russian gas giant Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) signed a framework agreement on gas supplies, including the construction of a gas pipeline. It reportedly did not involve any “gas for loans” schemes used in the agreement between Russia’s state-run oil company Rosneft and CNPC concluded in April (Interfax, RIA-Novosti, ITAR-TASS, October 13).

The announcement was yet another twist in the long running saga of Russian gas maneuverings. In March 2006, in his previous capacity as president, Vladimir Putin promised to export up to 40 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Russian gas to China via a 6,700-kilometer $10 billion Altai pipeline. Also in March 2006, Gazprom and CNPC signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the delivery of Russian natural gas to China from 2011, as a follow-up to the partnership deal signed in October 2004. Subsequently, in the past three years both sides have struggled to turn the MOU into a viable and binding contract. Gazprom reportedly offered to supply gas at European prices, while CNPC insisted on significantly lower gas prices.

However, earlier this month the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin traveled to Beijing to witness the inking of the framework agreement between Gazprom and CNPC. On October 14, Putin said both sides, Gazprom and CNPC, agreed that gas prices would be connected with what he described as an “Asian oil basket.” He argued that Russia would have no trouble in supplying gas to China as its East Siberian gas reserves exceed 65 trillion cubic meters. Putin also said that Russia could consider Chinese payments for gas in rubles (Interfax, RIA-Novosti, ITAR-TASS, October 14).

Moscow’s pledges to accept payments for natural gas supplies in its own currency came as a continuation of the Kremlin’s repeated efforts to prop up the ruble at the expense of the U.S. dollar. Russian officials have repeatedly suggested an increased reliance on the national currency. In June, President Dmitry Medvedev advocated using national currencies in bilateral transactions, notably in energy trade with China. In October 2008, Putin at a meeting in Moscow with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao urged the use of the Russian and Chinese currencies in bilateral trade in order to gradually replace transactions in U.S. dollars.

Putin’s statement that Gazprom accepted gas export prices connected with the “Asian oil basket” may be viewed as an indication that Moscow is prepared to supply gas to China at lower prices than its European exports. However, Russian officials also made clear that any final agreement on gas prices remains some time away. The Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said that gas export prices are due to be agreed in early 2010 and a final contract could be signed next June. Actual gas supplies might start in 2014-2015, he said (Interfax, RIA-Novosti, October 13). In other words, despite the optimism contained in official pronouncements, Russia and China only managed to clinch yet another “preliminary” agreement on October 13, while a “real deal” still requires at least several months of further talks.

During its earlier negotiations, Gazprom reportedly offered to export gas to China at formula prices based on international oil prices, while China was understood to remain reluctant to accept that offer. Subsequently, Russian gas executives conceded that the gas deal remained elusive. On October 12, Gazprom Deputy CEO Alexander Ananenkov said Gazprom and Chinese negotiators were yet to agree on prices of Russian gas supplies to China. He also claimed that actual gas supplies could start in three years following a final bilateral agreement on gas prices (Interfax, October 12).

Meanwhile, Russian gas executives also appeared reluctant to commit any particular project or deposit to supply gas to China. The agreement between Gazprom and CNPC stipulates that Russia would supply gas from its gas network, and not from any particular deposit, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller noted. Gas export prices would be calculated according to a formula based on the oil basket, he further explained (Interfax, RIA-Novosti, ITAR-TASS, October 14).

During talks in Beijing with his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao on October 13, Putin hailed the bilateral “strategic partnership” and economic cooperation. However, he conceded that trade between Russia and China was down this year, affected by the global economic crisis (Interfax, RIA-Novosti, October 13). During a meeting in Moscow in October 2008, Putin urged Wen Jiabao to raise bilateral trade up to $80 billion annually. Since then, however, bilateral trade has declined. Although Russia has refrained from disclosing the statistics on its trade with China, in 2009 bilateral trade is expected to fall to around $30 billion from $56.8 billion in 2008.

Therefore, despite optimistic official pronouncements, including pledges of bilateral energy cooperation, actual large-scale deals between Russia and China are once again proving painfully slow to materialize.

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