revista presei pe energie 15 decembrie – part III

2010/12/15

centralasianewswire.com: Gazprom begins new gas exploration near Dushanbe

Russian energy giant Gazprom began drilling a test hole at the Sariqamish gas field near the Tajik capital Dushanbe on Tuesday.

Gazprom estimates the gas field holds 60 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas that can power Tajikistan for the next 50 years, the Tajik news service AsiaPlus reported on Tuesday.

The well is estimated to reach a depth of 20,669 feet, the Tajik news agency Avesta.tj reported Gazprom Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Alexei Miller as saying on Tuesday.

“To date, Gazprom has invested dozens of million dollars in improvement of work in Tajikistan and we intend to increase financing in the future,” AsiaPlus reported Miller as saying.

Gazprom is currently exploring the Tajik gas fields of Roudaki, Danghara and Hissar districts for development.

Miller says that the development of the gas field can help impoverished Tajikistan put an end to its perennial energy shortages that plunge portions of the country into darkness every winter.

“In Tajikistan, (we have) delivered the most modern equipment, with no equals in the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States),” Avesta.tj reported Miller as saying. “We are aware of the importance of energy resources in Tajikistan, and that the republic needs them.”

centralasianewswire.com: Report details Kazakh oil pipeline systems

The following is the second of a three-part series looking at oil in the region.

Landlocked Kazakhstan cannot directly access the super-tankers and very large crude carriers (VLCCs) to transport its oil and natural gas to hungry customers around the world. But this geographical weakness has been transformed into a strength as it has spurred the development of a vast and expanding pipeline network.

That network and its potential for growth over the next decade were recently detailed in a report by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy.

The November EIA report acknowledged that Kazakhstan’s “lack of access to a seaport makes the country dependent mainly on pipelines to transport its hydrocarbons to world markets.”

But the report noted that Kazakhstan has turned that limitation into an asset because Kazakhstan’s 1 million square mile size and its location have made it “a transit state for pipeline exports from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.”

The report also acknowledged that Kazakhstan’s dependence on pipelines to export its hydrocarbon wealth means it must retain close ties with Russia to the north and China to the east. Those relationships must be maintained not only to retain those countries as customers, but also as giant powers on the Eurasian land mass whose cooperation and good will is vital to export Caspian oil and gas through their own vast territories.

“Neighbors China and Russia are key economic partners, providing sources of export demand and government project financing,” the report said.

In terms of Kazakhstan’s existing pipeline system, the report provided details of Kazakhstan’s oil pipeline to China which runs 1,384 miles from the Atyrau port in northwestern Kazakhstan to Alashankou in China’s northwest Xinjiang region. The line has a capacity of and currently transports 200,000 bbl/d (barrels per day) of crude, according to the report.

The Kazakhstan-to-China pipeline is a joint venture between CNPC (the China National Petroleum Corporation) and KMG (KazMunaiGas).

According to the report, the line accounted for 4 percent of China’s crude imports, or 61 million bbl/d, in 2009.

The line was built in stages with Phase 1 being the first pipeline built in Kazakhstan after independence, according to the report.

“The most recently completed segment, the 492-mile Kenkiyak-Kumkol (Phase 3) started commercial operations on October 6, 2009, and connects the Kenkiyak-Atyrau pipeline (Phase 1) to the Atasu-Alashankou pipeline (Phase 2), online since 2006,” it said.

The line is supplied by the Aktobe and Kumkol fields and the cross-border section connects to CNPC/PetroChina’s crude oil pipeline system in northwest China.

The EIA report also noted that China and Kazakhstan plan to expand the line.

“In October 2009, CNPC and KMG signed a framework agreement to double the pipeline capacity to 400,000 bbl/d by 2013 under a second phase of development. Upon future expansion, it will also carry oil from the Kashagan field,” it continued.

The report also provided details of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) oil pipeline which was commissioned in 2001 and runs 940 miles from the Tengiz oil field to Russia’s Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

The consortium’s four largest shareholders are Transneft (24 percent), KMG (19 percent), Chevron (15 percent) and LukArco (12.5 percent), according to the report.

It said this line is the victim of aging infrastructure and “consists of refurbished Soviet-era pipeline links along the Caspian and newly constructed components along the line.”

The EIA cited Chevron as reporting that the CPC pipeline “transported an average of 743,000 bbl/d of crude in 2009, which included 597,000 bbl/d of Kazakh oil, mainly from the Tengiz and Karachaganak fields, and 146,000 bbl/d f Russian oil.

“In addition, approximately 9,000 bbl/d was discharged at Atyrau for loading into rail cars,” it said.

CPC members agreed in 2008 to expand the line’s capacity to 1.34 million bbl/d by 2013, but investment decision delays have pushed the completion date to mid-2014, the report said.

Once completed, the expansion will include 10 new pumping stations, pipeline section replacements and six additional oil storage tanks at Novorossiysk, according to the report.

The report also discussed the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline. The pipeline in Azerbaijan came online in 2006 and has a 1 million bbl/d capacity. Kazakhstan has a contract with Azerbaijan and the BTC Pipeline Company to supply 500,000 bbl/d of oil per day via the BTC pipeline, the report said.

“Currently, Kazakhstan ships oil by tanker to Baku and from there it goes either into the BTC pipeline or by rail to Batumi, Georgia. Reportedly, 100,000 bbl/d (barrels per day) of oil was being shipped across the Caspian in 2009,” the report added.

The report noted that the current Kazakh-Azebaijani oil relationship will increase in the future.

“Trans-Caspian shipments to Baku are to eventually reach 500,000 bbl/d in accordance with the October 2009 agreement between Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan,” it projected.

The report also noted the effects of the expected production at the Kashagan super-field in the northern Caspian Sea.

“To facilitate exports of oil from the Kashagan oil field during the next decade, Kazakhstan is currently developing the Kazakhstan Caspian Transportation System (KCTS), which includes the construction of a 454-mile, 500,000 bbl/d capacity onshore pipeline from Eskene in western Kazakhstan to Kuryk on the Caspian near Aqtau, where a new 760,000-bbl/d (barrel per day) oil terminal is to be built,” it said.

This system will also have a maritime link to Baku, Azerbaijan and it will require “the creation of a new fleet of tankers; new port facilities, and a transfer station in Baku, where the crude oil will be put into an expanded BTC pipeline to Turkey,” the EIA said.

“Under current plans, KMG will hold 51 percent of the pipeline while the international companies developing Kashagan will hold 49 percent,” the EIA report said. “The maritime link will be held by a joint venture between KMG and Azerbaijan’s SOCAR (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic),” it added.

The report also noted that in October 2010, it was announced that the KCTS system would be “postponed as it will not be needed until 2018-2019, which is now when Kashagan’s second phase is expected.”

centralasianewswire.com: TAPI partners have the will but may not have the way

The good news is that TAPI — the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline — took some huge steps this weekend towards actually being built.

The bad news is that it has taken these steps without substantively addressing three extremely powerful obstacles to its construction, any one of which would be enough to prevent the pipeline from being completed, or successfully operated.

At face value, TAPI – an ambitious 1,075-mile construction project — made the crucial step from vision to construction project on Saturday when the four nations through which it would pass signed a landmark agreement in the Turkmen capital Ashgabat.

TAPI will cost up to $7.5 billion — four times as expensive as the highly successful Turkmenistan-to-China natural gas pipeline. Work on the project is to start in 2012.

The four governments also set a deadline – which appears to many experts to be highly optimistic – that the project should be completed and in operation by the end of 2015.

When completed, TAPI is projected to pump 33 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Turkmen natural gas per year to the nations of South Asia, primarily India and Pakistan.

The Russian business newspaper Kommersant reported Monday that more than 80 percent of that colossal output would be shared evenly between Pakistan and India – with 14 billion cubic meters going to each of them.

As part of the weekend of agreements, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan pledged that he would devote 7,000 troops to safeguard the construction and eventual operation of the project.

“On this very important occasion, let me once again highlight our vision for regional cooperation, which is to contribute to regional stability and prosperity,” the Afghan president announced in a statement to celebrate the TAPI agreements.

Karzai has always supported TAPI in the hope that it would bring billions of dollars to his destitute country.

For President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, TAPI is a giant stepping stone towards making Turkmenistan a natural gas supplier to every point of the compass.

Turkmenistan sits on the fourth-largest proven reserves of natural gas in the world. And that sector is now booming since its first major export pipeline not controlled by Russia opened to China a year ago on Dec. 15, 2009.

The government of India is also enthusiastic about TAPI. India, with the second-largest population in the world of more than 1.2 billion people, and a faster population growth than China, is ravenous for new energy sources.

However, Indian policymakers have a habit of fooling themselves and confusing their dreams about projecting strategic power in Asia with far more humbling and limited realities. The construction of the TAPI pipeline is a classic case in point.

One of the three opposition realities facing TAPI is that the line will have to be built and operated through two existing war zones. And those areas are in some of the most inhospitable and impossible-to-govern terrain on earth.

Some 50,000 American and NATO troops have been waging an intense and largely unsuccessful campaign to prop up President Karzai’s corrupt and weak government against resurgent Taliban forces. And TAPI would have to run through the city of Kandahar, where the Taliban movement was born.

Karzai’s pledge to devote 7,000 troops to protect TAPI construction crews is undermined by the fact that 7,000 men would be inadequate even if Afghanistan’s national army were able to operate independently from the U.S. But there has been no serious evidence that it can.

The government of neighboring Pakistan is almost equally ineffectual at fighting the Taliban and their Islamist allies in its northwest frontier province. And TAPI would also have to run through the city of Quetta where Taliban leaders have securely been based in the past.

WikiLeaks this month published confidential U.S. diplomatic cables revealing that senior U.S. diplomats privately have been convinced that the Pakistani intelligence services were secretly supporting Taliban and Taliban allies in Afghanistan and operating against U.S. forces in their own northwestern region.

For TAPI to succeed, either the current governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan, backed by the United States, must win their related wars against the Taliban and their Islamist allies, or come to terms with them and then cut them in on TAPI operations. But there are no signs yet of either of those things happening.

Even as the preparations were being made to sign the TAPI deal on Friday and Saturday, at least 26 people were killed by Taliban-related attacks in Afghanistan. The spike in violence confirmed how superficial the control of Karzai’s government remains.

Even if such peace deals were negotiated, TAPI has two other immensely powerful obstacles to completion.

The main one is Russia. In October, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin while visiting Ashgabat with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev offered the Turkmens a compromise deal. Russia would support the construction and operation of TAPI if the Turkmen government agreed to cut Gazprom, Russia’s giant energy company, in on the construction, operation and profits of the project.

The Turkmens so far have been steadfast in their opposition to do so.

To fully please Moscow,  the Turkmens would also have to agree to drop their support for Nabucco – a natural gas pipeline that would run outside Russian control through pro-Western Azerbaijan and Georgia in the Caucasus and then across Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea. The Russians are implacably opposed to this project.

Turkmenistan has also so far been unwilling to appease the Russians on Nabucco.

The other enemy to the project is Iran. Despite otherwise excellent relations with Turkmenistan, Iran wants the Turkmens to have to export natural gas to the south through Iran rather than other countries.

If TAPI is built and if it operates successfully, that will be a huge setback for Iranian influence in both Central Asia and South Asia, and it will also lose a lot of leverage in its own Middle East region.

Karzai in his statement Saturday claimed that TAPI would allow “Afghanistan to resume its central role as a land bridge in this region.”

But historically Afghanistan has never been a land bridge for anyone or anything, except for invading armies to pour into the Indian sub-continent.

Karzai’s comments therefore unintentionally revealed the continuing fatal flaw among the supporters of TAPI: their inability to acknowledge the intractable conflicts that still block their vision from being realized.

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