revista presei pe energie 24 iunie

2010/06/24

Hotnews: Traian Basescu la reuniunea SEECP: Proiecte precum PEOP si Nabucco vor contribui la securitatea energetica a Europei

Importanta economica si strategica a Europei de Sud-Est este in crestere, a declarat, miercuri, presedintele Traian Basescu, prezent la Istanbul, la reuniunea la nivel inalt a Procesului de Cooperare in Europa de Sud-Est (SEECP).

Pe masura ce securitatea energetica devine o prioritate absoluta pentru toate statele europene, insemnatatea Europei de Sud-Est, ca zona de tranzit al fluxurilor de hidrocarburi provenite din regiuni precum Asia Centrala, Marea Caspica sau Orientul Mijlociu, devine tot mai evidenta. Este un avantaj major pe care tarile noastre trebuie sa-l gestioneze cu deschidere, corectitudine si inteligenta. Proiecte precum PEOP sau Nabucco sunt doar cateva exemple ale potentialului acestei regiuni de a contribui la securitatea energetica a Europei“, a aratat Traian Basescu in discursul rostit la Istanbul, postat pe site-ul Presedintiei.

PEOP -Pan-European Oil Pipeline este un oleoduct planificat pentru a fi construit, care urmeaza sa conecteze Constanta cu Trieste (Italia), trecand prin Serbia si Croatia.

“In acelasi timp, cresterea nivelului interconectarii intre retelele noastre nationale este un pas necesar si important, ca si coordonarea in ceea ce priveste dezvoltarea proiectelor ce vor asigura securitatea aprovizionarii cu resurse energetice. Crearea unei piete a energiei care sa fie supusa regulilor economiei de piata constituie un al treilea pas pe care trebuie sa il facem impreuna, pentru a creste securitatea energetica a statelor noastre si a continentului”, se arata in comunicatul Presedintiei.

“Crearea unei piete a energiei care sa fie supusa regulilor economiei de piata constituie un al treilea pas pe care trebuie sa il facem impreuna, pentru a creste securitatea energetica a statelor noastre si a continentului”, a adaugat seful statului.

Traian Basescu a reamintit ca in noiembrie, Romania va gazdui Summit-ul Strategiei Europene pentru Regiunea Dunarii.

El a mai apreciat ca modalitatea cea mai potrivita pentru a pune in valoare potentialul regiunii dunarene este imbinarea actualelor forme de cooperare institutionalizata cu parteneriatele incheiate de comunitatile locale.

“Nu trebuie uitata nici legatura dintre regiunea dunareana si bazinul Marii Negre, o zona de a carei stabilitate, caracter democratic si prosperitate Romania este direct si prioritar interesata”, a adaugat seful statului.

In incheierea discursului sau, Traian Basescu a urat mult succes Muntenegrului in exercitarea Presedintiei SEECP pentru urmatorul an.

“Imi exprim speranta ca viitoarea Presedintie sa stea sub semnul redresarii economice si al prosperitatii atat in plan european, cat si regional”, a mai spus el.

La lucrarile summit-ului au participat presedintii Albaniei, Bosniei si Hertegovinei, Bulgariei, Croatiei, Muntenegrului, Serbiei, Turciei si Sloveniei, premierii Greciei si Macedoniei, precum si vicepremierul si ministrul Afacerilor Externe al Republicii Moldova.

ziare.com: Razboiul gazelor dintre Rusia si Belarus s-a sfarsit

Belarusul va incepe sa primeasca aceeasi cantitate de gaz din partea Rusiei ca si inainte de conflictul din ultimele zile, cand cele doua tari sustineau fiecare ca trebuie sa primeasca bani din partea celeilalte.

Conform BBC, Rusia a primit banii datorati de Belarus dupa ce pretul gazelor a crescut, iar Minskul si-a primit la randul sau banii pentru tranzitul gazelor catre Europa pe teritoriul sau.

Potrivit purtatorului de cuvant al Gazprom, joi urma sa fie reluata furnizarea de gaz la capacitate maxima catre Belarus.

Rusia a redus zilele trecute furnizarea de gaz catre Belarus cu 60%, afectand in primul rand Lituania, sub pretextul ca Belarusul ii datoreaza 192 de milioane de dolari. Dupa calculele Minskului, Belarusul ii datora doar 187 de milioane de dolari, bani transferati Moscovei miercuri.

Presedintele Alexander Lukasenko a declarat insa ca Belarusul trebuie sa primeasca 260 de milioane de dolari din partea Rusiei pentru tranzitul gazului. Joi, oficialitatile belaruse au declarat ca tara a primit de la Gazprom 228 de milioane de dolari.

Se pare ca pentru aplanarea conflictului insusi premierul Vladimir Putin a intervenit, nestiindu-se daca ambele parti sunt satisfacute cu sumele primite.

money.ro: Gazprom a reluat livrările de gaze către Belarus

Gazprom a reluat astăzi livrările de gaz către Belarus, după ce aceasta şi-a plătit datoriile pe care le avea la compania rusă. Anunţul a fost făcut de un purtător de cuvânt al preşedintelui rus Dmitri Medvedev.

cesta a fost informat de directorul Gazprom, Aleksei Miller, că Belarus a achitat în totalitate restanţele, la preţul stipulat în contract. De altfel, prim-vicepremierul belarus Vladimir Semaşko a anunţat aseară că Minskul a transferat 187 de milioane de dolari în contul Gazprom, pentru achitarea datoriilor. Oficialul a declarat că Belarus s-a împrumutat pentru a plăti această sumă.

Adevarul: Gazprom cedează şi acceptă tarife mai mari de tranzit al gazelor prin Belarus

Rusia şi Belarus se acuză reciproc de acumularea unor datorii în contul livrării şi al tranzitului de gaze

Rusia şi Belarus se acuză reciproc de acumularea unor datorii în contul livrării şi al tranzitului de gaze

Gigantul rus Gazprom a trimis companiei de gaze din Belarus, Beltransgaz, un pachet de documente prin care acceptă majorarea tarifelor de tranzit al gazelor prin infrastructura din Belarus, transmite RIA Novosti.

“Am trimis un pachet considerabil de documente care urmează să fie semnate, pentru a legitima cererea de majorare a tarifelor de tranzit al gazelor”, a declarat purtătorul de cuvânt al Gazprom, Serghei Kuprianov.

Anterior, vicepremierul bielorus, Vladimir Semashko, declarase că a primit de la Gazprom 87% din datoria pe care o are compania din Rusia către Belarus, şi a dat un termen de două ore Rusiei pentru plata restului de restanţă.

Ieri, Belarus a anunţat că şi-a plătit datoriile de 187 de milioane de dolari către Gazprom şi a avertizat că, dacă ruşii nu îşi plătesc şi ei restanţa de 260 de milioane de dolari către Minsk, Belarusul va opri tranzitul de gaze către Europa.

Mediafax: Participarea României la South Stream ar putea îmbunătăţi relaţiile cu Rusia

O eventuală participare a României la gazoductul South Stream, dezvoltat de Rusia şi Italia, ar putea îmbunătăţi relaţiile Bucureştiului cu Moscova, între care a apărut o “deschidere”, a declarat, pentru MEDIAFAX, Constantin Tampiza, coordonatorul strategiei de dezvoltare a Lukoil România.

Participarea României la South Stream ar putea îmbunătăţi relaţiile cu Rusia (Imagine: Mediafax Foto/AFP)

“Aş saluta o participare a României la South Stream. Azi, între Rusia şi România relaţiile sunt mai calde, iar orice sursă nouă de energie garantează depăşirea tuturor riscurilor care pot fi. Cred că şi costurile South Stream vor fi mai mici. Sper că relaţiile româno-ruse se vor amplifica. Am văzut o deschidere şi a Rusiei, şi a României”, a afirmat Tampiza.

Costurile gazoductului sunt estimate la 19-24 miliarde euro.

Vicepreşedintele Gazprom, Aleksandr Medvedev, a declarat miercuri că este posibil ca România să se alăture South Steam, iar acest scenariu nu exclude neapărat participarea Bulgariei la dezvoltarea proiectului, potrivit agenţiei ITAR-TASS, preluată de Novinite.

Declaraţiile vin la o zi după ce preşedintele Gazprom, Alexei Miller, a indicat că gazoductul şi-ar putea schimba traseul, ocolind Bulgaria, stat care a nemulţumit Rusia prin tergiversarea altor proiecte energetice, precum construirea unei centrale nucleare şi a unui oleoduct.

Medvedev a afimat la sfârşitul săptămânii trecute că studiul de fezabilitate privind construcţia South Stream va lua în calcul trecerea conductei prin România în locul Bulgariei.

Tampiza a adăugat că o îmbunătăţire a relaţiilor politice dintre state poate fi generată şi de colaborări economice.

“Dacă nu apar colaborări ample economice, politicienii nu au ce face, sunt împinşi unul către celălalt”, a mai spus Tampiza.

South Stream va aduce gaze naturale din Rusia, pe sub Marea Neagră, către statele est-europene membre ale UE şi apoi spre nordul Italiei. Gazprom a anunţat că este pregătit să înceapă construcţia conductei în 2013.

Bursa: Gazprom: Este posibil ca România să se alăture South Stream, scenariul nu exclude Bulgaria

Vicepreşedintele Gazprom, Aleksandr Medvedev, apreciază că este posibil ca România să se alăture South Stream, iar acest scenariu nu exclude neapărat participarea Bulgariei la dezvoltarea proiectului, potrivit agenţiei ITAR-TASS, preluată de Novinite, anunţă Mediafax.
“Includerea potenţială a Româ niei în proiectul South Stream nu înseamnă renunţarea imediată la versiunea în care conducta trece pe teritoriul Bulgariei. Este posibil ca România să se alăture proiectului, însă asta nu înseamnă neapărat că Bulgaria este exclusă”, a afirmat Medvedev.
El a adăugat că este foarte important pentru România şi Rusia să se analizeze fezabilitatea economică a proiectului.
Declaraţiile vin la o zi după ce preşedintele Gazprom, Alexei Miller, a indicat că gazoductul şi-ar putea schimba traseul, ocolind Bulgaria, stat care a dezamăgit Rusia prin tergiversarea altor proiecte energetice, precum construirea unei centrale nucleare şi a unui oleoduct.
Gazprom şi partenerii lui vor finaliza studiul de fezabilitate în cel mult trei luni, a menţionat Miller, adăugând că România oferă cooperare mai largă în domeniul energiei. Grupul estimează că gazoductul va deveni funcţional în decembrie 2015.
Medvedev a afirmat la sfârşitul săptămânii trecute că studiul de fezabilitate privind construcţia South Stream va lua în calcul trecerea conductei prin România în locul Bulgariei.
Declaraţii recente ale premierului bulgar, potrivit cărora Sofia se retrage din două proiecte energetice importante în care este implicată Rusia, respectiv construirea centralei nucleare Belene şi a oleoductului Burgas-Alexandrupolis, au provocat confuzie şi panică la Moscova, notea ză Novinite.
La începutul săptămânii trecute, Gazprom şi ministrul Economiei, Adriean Videanu, au discutat posibila participare a României în proiectul South Stream.
Publicaţia rusă Kommersant a scris că Gazprom va înlocui, probabil, Bulgaria cu România în proiect, din moment ce Sofia a oprit alte două proiecte energetice derultate împreună cu Rusia.
Macedonia este pregătită să devină parte din coridoarele europene de energie şi, în special, să se alăture South Stream, menţionează Novinite.
South Stream este una dintre soluţiile Gazprom pentru ocolirea Ucrainei ca principală ţară de tranzit a gazului rusesc exportat în Europa, după ce livrările au fost perturbate în mai multe rânduri în ultimii ani de disputele dintre Kiev şi Moscova privind tarifele de tranzit şi datoriile părţii ucrainene către grupul rus.
Gazoductul va aduce gaze naturale din Rusia, pe sub Marea Neagră, către statele est-europene membre ale UE şi apoi spre nordul Italiei. Gazprom a anunţat că este pregătit să înceapă construcţia conductei în 2013.

Hotnews: Bulgaria si Romania nu se afla in competitie pentru proiectul South Stream – Aleksandr Medvedev (Gazprom)

Potentiala includere a Romaniei in proiectul South Stream nu inseamna renuntarea automata la varianta realizarii gazoductului pe teritoriul Bulgariei, a declarat vicepresedintele Gazporm, Aleksandr Medvedev, citat de ITAR-TASS.

“Este posibil ca Romania sa intre in proiectul South Stream, dar aceasta nu inseamna in mod necesar iesirea Bulgariei” din proiect, a spus el.

“La propunerea partii romane, deocamdata nu va fi elaborata documentatia tehnico-economica a intrarii Romaniei in acest proiect, ci o simpla evaluare tehnico-economica”, a explicat Medvedev rezultatul negocierilor dintre seful companiei ruse, Aleksei Miller, si ministrul roman al Economiei, Adriean Videanu.

Potrivit lui Medvedev, acest lucru va oferi raspuns la o intrebare foarte importanta: “din punct de vedere economic, intrarea Romaniei este sau nu eficienta”.

In plus, a spus el, “mai sunt si factori de natura geologica. De aceea, Bulgaria si Romania nu pot fi puse fata in fata”.

Medvedev a amintit ca South Stream presupune constructia a patru conducte interconectate. “Va fi gasita solutia optima, atat din punct de vedere economic, cat si geologic”, a promis oficialul Gazprom.

money.ro: Gazprom s-a răzgândit: România şi Bulgaria pot fi parteneri egali în proiectul South Stream

Rusia a adoptat un ton mai conciliant cu privire la schimbarea traseului conductei South Stream, spunând că Bulgaria şi România pot fi parteneri egali, relatează Sofia News Agency.

“Potenţiala includere a României în South Streamnu înseamnă a renunţa imediat la versiunea în care conducta trece prin teritoriul bulgar”, a spus vicepreşedintele Gazprom, Aleksandr Medvedev, pentru ITAR-Tass.

“Este posibil ca România să se alăture proiectului, dar acest lucru nu înseamnă neapărat că Bulgaruia este exclusă”, a subliniat el, adăugând  că este foarte important pentru România şi Rusia să evalueze fezabilitatea economică a proiectului.

Declaraţia vine la o zi după ce preşedintele Gazprom, Aleksei Miller, a spus că South Stream şi-ar putea schimba traseul pentru a exclude Bulgaria, care, în opinia sa, a dezamăgit Rusia acţionând prea lent în alte proiecte energetice, cum ar fi oleoductul Burgas-Alexandrupolis şi centrala nucleară din Belene. Recentele declaraţii ale premierului bulgar Boiko Borisov că ţara sa s-ar putea retrage din proiectul de oleoduct cu Rusia şi va sista proiectul Belene au provocat nemulţumire în Rusia. Săptămâna trecută se sugera că Gazprom este deja pregătit tehnic să renunţe la Bulgaria şi să aleagă România pentru South Stream.

Adevarul: Energias de Portugal a primit autorizaţia de la ANRE pentru un parc eolian în Vutcani, judeţul Vaslui

Potenţialul eolian al României este de 14.000 de MW

Potenţialul eolian al României este de 14.000 de MW

EDP Renewables România, divizia locală a companiei Energias de Portugal, a primit de la ANRE autorizaţia de înfiinţare a unui parc eolian de 24 de MW în extravilanul comunei Vutcani, judeţul Vaslui.

Ferma eoliană va fi formată din 12 turbine de câte 2 MW fiecare, produse de compania daneză Vestas.

Turnul turbinei va avea o înălţime de 105 metri, iar diametrul rotorului va fi de 90 de metri.

De regulă, instalarea unui MW eolian necesită costuri totale de circa 1,5 milioane de euro, astfel că investiţia în parcul de la Vutcani s-ar putea ridica la 35 de milioane de euro.

EDP are în dezvoltare alte două parcuri eoliene în judeţul Constanţa, de circa 230 de MW în total, pentru care va investi aproximativ 300 de milioane de euro.

RIA Novosti: Russia’s Gazprom notifies EC gas dispute with Belarus over – EU official

Russian gas giant Gazprom has verbally notified the European commission that the gas conflict between Russia and Belarus has been resolved, EU spokeswoman Marlene Holzner said on Thursday.

She also told reporters that the EU had received no official notification from Gazprom.

RIA Novosti: Russia’s Gazprom sent Minsk documents authorizing higher gas transit fees – Gazprom spokesman

Russia’s gas giant Gazprom has sent documents authorizing higher transit payments via Belarusian territory on condition of higher local gas prices to Belarus’s pipeline company Beltransgaz, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said on Thursday.

“We have sent a large package of documents to Belarus to be signed in order to make their demands for higher transit fees legitimate,” Kupriyanov said.

tr.com: Gazprom pays Belarus $228 million transit debt

Gazprom says it has paid $228 million it says is owed to Beltranzgas, and resumed gas deliveries to Belarus. But Belarus says it is owed more.

Belarus First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said on Thursday that the country would cut Russian gas deliveries to Europe via its territory if Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom pays less than $260 million in transit fees. He added that Belarus considered the $228 million that Gazprom paid as an advance payment and gave Moscow two hours to officially notify the Belarusian authorities of the payment.

Gazprom spokesman Sergey Kupriyanov says that the difference between the sum being asked for and the sum paid by the Russian monopoly gas exporter, reflects higher transit prices being charged by Beltranzgas, the Belarus state gas company, since last year, which aren’t reflected in existing contracts.

“There are still some open questions between Gazprom and Beltranzgas. The problem has its roots last year when it became clear that our partners charging us more than agreed. We’ve now paid for transit in accordance with existing contracts. In the event we reach a new agreement and sign additional contracts specifying a higher transit fee – we will be ready to pay a higher tariff.”

Gazprom has also added that it has sent to Belarus documentation to enable the higher prices to be charged.  Kupriyanov explained that the contract stipulates that the base transit rate is $1.45 for a thousand cubic meters per 100 kilometers. Upon creation of a joint enterprise on the basis of Beltranzgas it was specified that the rate can be increased to $1.74 in 2009 and $1.88 in 2010. However this issue is connected to the increase of wholesale extra charge for the gas, sold by Beltranzgas on the domestic market by $10.47 for a thousand cubic meters in 2009 and $11.08 in 2010. But this increase was not carried out.

RIA Novosti: Russia’s Arctic region to auction 7 oil and gas deposits – official

Russia’s energy-rich Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous region plans to put up seven oil and gas deposits for auction soon, a deputy head of the regional administration said on Thursday.

The regional government plans to offer five gas deposits of the South Tambeisky block on June 28 and two oil and gas deposits of the Novoportovskoye block in July, Vladimir Vladimirov said.

Vladimirov said the regional government had received bids for the deposits of the South Tambeisky block from gas giant Gazprom and Russia’s largest independent gas producer Novatek, adding that bids for the other two deposits were likely to be submitted by Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Gazprom, and oil and gas company Surgutneftegaz.

The South Tambeisky group of deposits, which was discovered in 1974, is located in the northwest of the Yamal Peninsula. As of early 2008, its category C1+C2 gas reserves stood at 1.256 trillion cubic meters.

The Novoportovskoye oil and gas condensate deposit is located in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous region. Its recoverable reserves comprise about 265 billion cubic meters of natural gas, about 238 million metric tons (1.7 billion barrels) of oil and about 13 million metric tons of gas condensate.

apa.az: Russia pays Belarus for Europe gas transit

Russian energy giant Gazprom has paid Belarus $228 million for delivering natural gas to Europe, the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti said Thursday, CNN reported.

The payment falls short of the $260 million demanded by Belarus for transit fees, but Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller reported to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that the company had cleared its debts to Belarus, Medvedev’s press secretary said in a news release.

Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov said the payment resolved the issue.

“There are no problems that could hamper gas supplies or transit,” Kupriyanov told the news agency.

The spokeswoman for the Belarus Energy Ministry, Lyudmila Zenkovich, told CNN, however, that her ministry didn’t have official confirmation that the money transfer had reached Belarus.

Gazprom said this week that Belarus was behind on its payments for natural gas and the company reduced the amount of gas it supplied to the former Soviet republic by a total of 60 percent.

Belarus then threatened to cut the delivery of gas going through its pipelines to Europe to make up for the losses it was suffering. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Gazprom also owed it money for transporting the Russian gas to Europe.

Wednesday, Belarus said it had cleared its debt with Gazprom, and Miller confirmed that Thursday. Gazprom also resumed full gas deliveries to Belarus, Medvedev’s spokeswoman, Natalya Timakova, told RIA-Novosti.

If unresolved, the payment dispute could have threatened Europe’s energy supplies.

trend.az: Consortium Head: Europe’s major commercial banks interested in financing Nabucco

Partners on the European Nabucco pipeline, designed to diversify sources of gas supplies to the EU hold talks with international financial institutions to attract financing for construction of the pipeline worth 7.9 billion euros.

“We are negotiating with banks like European Investment Bank and EBRD. We started to negotiate with export credit agencies in April 2010,” Reinhard Mitschek, managing director of theNabucco Gas Pipeline said.

The final investment decision on the project will be adopted in late 2010, and consortium plans to complete all financial issues by mid-2011.

“Commercial banks are more actively involved  [in the negotiations on financing the Nabucco.] Financial market recovers, and major commercial banks in Europe are interested in financing the project. We plan to complete the financial issues in mid-2011, including agreements to allocate land, the structure of guarantee,” Mitschek said.

First gas via Nabucco will be supplied in 2014. According to Mitschek, the Consortium has sent out invitations for pre-qualification for potential suppliers for pipelines, bents, compressors and other material needed for the construction of the pipeline that is scheduled for late 2011.

“We see enormous interest from the suppliers market to participate by material supply for the project. It means that project development is on schedule and now it’s of course a very important topic – the gas supply,” Mitschek stressed.

Azerbaijani and Turkmen gas

According to Mitschek,  the shareholders of Nabucco – OMV, RWE, Bulgargaz, Transgaz, Botas and RWE, which have equal shares in the project – 16.67 percent each, hold negotiations independently.

“They are interested to buy gas from the region. We have promising statements received from Turkmenistan and Iraq and also from Azerbaijan. That underlines that we are on a very good way with Nabucco to develop it as a multi-source project. We consider Azerbaijan as one of the first sources,” Mitschek said noting that they expect gas from Azerbaijani project Shah Deniz-2, and other fields of the country.

It’s necessary to lay Trans-Caspian pipeline on the bottom of the Caspian Sea to deliver gas from Turkmenistan to the Nabucco, idea of which was announced more than 10 years ago.

“At present, the possibility of the Trans-Caspian pipeline is being studied. We could expect 10 bln cubic meters from Turkmenistan to Europe,” Mitschek noted.

He said Turkmen gas can be brought to Europe through Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. Then further one South Caucasus pipeline, which now serves for the Azerbaijani gas transport to Georgia and Turkey from the Shah Deniz field.

Project profitability

The head of the Nabucco believes that the project is technically and commercially competitive. “We plan to start working with 10-15 billion cubic meters of gas per year, we are optimistic to start with that quantity,” Mitschek said. The total maximum capacity of Nabucco is 31 bln cubic meters of gas a year. “We know that this is an unrealistic amount for the beginning [of work of the pipe],” he noted.

Mitschek said share-holders of Nabucco will negotiate the gas fees with SOCAR within Shakh Deniz project. SOCAR has 10 per cent equity in this gas-condensate project.

“Definitely the next step is to negotiate the conclude gas deals. That is the basis for all the investments: for Shakh Deniz-2, for the extention of the South Caucasus pipeline, for the offshore pipeline from the Shakh Deniz-2 to the land line of Azerbaijan and also for Nabucco,” he stressed.

Iran‘s participation in the project

At this stage, Nabucco doubts in the transportation of the Iranian gas via the pipeline to the European consumers. European oil and gas market participants have repeatedly stated that without a positive solution of the Iranian nuclear issue gas export from this country to the EU is hardly possible.

“Now, Iran’s participation in the Nabucco project is not the topic of discussions. There are no offers from Iran. We have very close contact to Azerbaijan, Iraq and Turkmenistan. And European gas buyers will decide where to buy the gas. At the moment we receive the signals that European buyers want to buy gas here in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Iraq, Egypt,” Mitschek said.

trend.az: Economy Minister: Austria hopes to sign gas contracts in Caspian Sea

Austria hopes to sign contracts to purchase gas from the Caspian region, which will allow the EU to diversify sources of power supply. The issues on construction of new pipelines within the “Southern Corridor” are being actively considered for this purpose.

“The region is rich in gas, which Europe needs. And we hope for early signing of contracts,” – said Trend located in Baku, the Austrian Federal Minister for Economy, Sport and Family Affairs Raynhold Mitterlehner, who is on visit to Baku, said.

He said a delegation led by him has discussed the possibility to boost contacts and cooperation in other fields of economic, like health, tourism, and infrastructure.

“We see enormous potential in this region. The most prospective is energy sector,” the minister said.

The Austrian company OMV is the operator of the Nabucco gas pipeline project, designed to transport natural gas, in particular from the Caspian region and Central Asia to Europe.

“We hope that negotiations on the prospects of the Nabucco project will soon finish,” Mitterlehner said.

According to the minister, however, Austria has no plans to limit itself to the real sector.

“We are interested in cooperation in the field of renewable sources, as well as in non-oil sector,” the minister said.

today.az: Austrian companies keen on cooperation with SOCAR

The SOCAR leadership met with the delegation of Austria, led by Reinhold Mitterlehner, Minister for Economic Affairs and Labor of Austria.

Speaking at the meeting, Elshad Nasirov, SOCAR Investment and Marketing Vice-President emphasized that business ties between Austrian companies and SOCAR have enhanced for the last years contributing to the development of interstate relations.

The SOCAR official also briefed the guests on major regional oil and gas projects, including export oil and gas pipeline systems. Mitterlehner noted, that his country supports Nabucco pipeline project. Austrian delegation included representatives of OMV, Mbh CIS, AG CIS, Herz Armaturen GesmbH, BHDT and other companies. During the meeting, parties discussed a wide range of issues of bilateral interest.

news.az: Gazprom Germania working at Oil Rocks

Russian energy giant Gazprom’s German subsidiary, Gazprom Germania, is working on the collection of associated gas at Azerbaijan’s Oil Rocks.

The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and Gazprom Germania GmbH signed agreements “On confidentiality” and “On services” as part of a project to collect and transport associated gas at the Oil Rocks offshore oil and gas production department.

The collection and transportation of the associated gas fall within the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), set up under the Kyoto Protocol.

The CDM allows projects to reduce or eliminate emissions of greenhouse gases in developing countries to earn certified emission reduction (CER) credits, each equivalent to one tonne of CO2. These CERs can be traded and sold and used by industrialized countries to a meet a part of their emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol.

SOCAR said in a statement yesterday that, “Eighty percent of work on the construction and installation of compressors and pipelines to collect low pressure gas has been carried out as part of the project at Oil Rocks. The work is continuing. Preliminary estimates put the annual volume of collected associated gas at 203.6m cubic metres as a result of the project at Oil Rocks.”

As well as reducing emissions of harmful gases, the project will help prevent environmental pollution, save energy and provide jobs. The collected gas will be used to meet domestic demand for gas in Azerbaijan.

Representatives of the UN Clean Development Mechanism’s executive board and of Gazprom Germania will visit Baku on 19-23 July to inspect the compressors and pipelines intended for the collection of associated gas.

gazeta.kz: Will Kazakhstan’s oil reach Europe?

During the meeting of presidents of Kazakhstan and Romania in Astana at the beginning of March, N.Nazarbayev said that the Kazakh oil should be delivered by the new pipeline via Azerbaijan andGeorgia toward the Black Sea, further – by tankers to Romania (this demonstrates that after the Russian-Georgian war in 2008, Kazakhstan regained trust in the routes viaSouth Caucasus). In 2012 it is envisaged to start operations of the huge Kashganoilfield; besides, the country needs new export routes. Most probably that‘s why the national Kazakhstan’s oil company KazMunaiGaz has acquired the Romanian oil company Rompetrol.

But the Kazakh oil is already running toward Europe, i.e. through the southern branch of the oil pipeline Druzhba via Ukraine. Every year about 5,5 million tons of the Kazakh oil are delivered via the above branch. Although this route was not very reliable and cheap, during the visit of the Ukrainian president V.Yanukovich to Astana, the agreement was reached to revise the Kazakh oil transit tariffs. Ukraine received promises to have a possibility to negotiate the development of certain hydrocarbon fields in Kazakhstan.

It is important to note, that Kazakhstan’s foreign policy is quite transparent and predictable, although the country is balancing between the major global powers in the region. Europe is only one of the strategic vectors of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. The remaining three are: Russia,China and the United States.

Russia seeks to control oil export of Kazakhstan with a view to becoming the single oil exporter in the region. Kazakhstan applies all possible diplomatic means in order to get rid of Moscow‘s control, and, by means of diversifying oil export routes, retains constructive relations with Russia. These relations are quite pragmatic and the country manages to reach agreement on nearly all disputable matters. Moscow also supports major international initiatives of Kazakhstan.

China has always been a priority of Kazakhstan’s foreign policy. One of the reasons is that political passiveness towards China might determine major political and economic expansion of this state. Together these countries pursue several infrastructure projects, among them Atasu-Alashankou oil pipeline project. China obtained anotherKazakhstan’s oil company PetroKazachstan and acquired the right to the Kumkol field with about 42 million tons of oil; together with KazMunaiGaz it manages the Chimkentoil processing plant, and also purchased the Karazhanbas oilfield with 46 million tons of oil. But China‘s active involvement in Kazakhstan irritates the West.

The U.S. pursues its policy in Kazakhstan according to the document referred to by the White House as the main Central Asia’s strategy. Its main goals are: to reduce Russia‘s possibilities to control Kazakhstan’s oil and gas transit to the global market, to prevent China from gaining power in the region and to support oil and gas transport projects bypassing Iran.

European oil companies entered Kazakhstan only after the audacious Americans have prepared the road for them. Today the following companies operate in Kazakhstan: Agip/Eni, Shell Development B. V., British Petroleum and Total Fina Elf. They take part in Karachaganak and Kashgan oilfield projects.

Perspectives of oil delivery to Europe will depend on how the above situation would develop in the future. The term of president N.Nazarbayev expires in 2012. If his successor is in favor of Moscow, the Russian vector in Kazakhstan’s foreign policy might prevail. Such forecasts are often related to Timur Kulibayev, vice president ofKazMunaiGaz and one of the sons-in-law of N. Nazarbayev. It is assumed that Timur Kulibayev has arranged an adventure, after which Lukoil acquired part of the oilfield in South Kumkol, and China suffered heavily from this. Thus, as soon as Timur Kulibayev comes to power, Russia might start dictating conditions for selling the Kazakh oil not only to the West, but also to China.

Kazakhstan’s refusal to pursue a balanced foreign policy would derange global influences, and all global policy actors would probably try to avoid that. Thus, the above development of events is hardly possible.

inform.kz: Astana, Beijing to sign agr’t on construction of 2nd section of Beineu-Bozoi-Shymkent pipeline

Kanat Kulshmanov/ Agreement on construction of the second section of the gas pipeline Beineu-Bozoi-Shymkent and extension of Central Asia-China pipeline is planned to be signed within the framework of the state visit of Chinese President Hu Jintao to Kazakhstan on Saturday.Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev made it public at the enlarged meeting with his China’s counterpart. The Head of the State noted that the volume of Kazakh oil supplies increased by 28% and made 8 million tons last year.

Turmenistan The Golden Age: New evidence of gas riches of Turkmen land

New gas deposit explored in Bagtyyarlyk field

Testing the deep prospect well in the Agayry gas-bearing structure in Hojambaz Etrap, Lebap Velayat resulted in discovering a new gas pool. The gas-bearing structure that produced this commercial gas inflow is located in the Bagtyyarlyk contractual territory on the right bank of the Amu Darya River developed by the specialists of the Chinese National Oil and Gas Corporation International (Turkmenistan) under the Production Sharing Agreement signed with the State Agency on Hydrocarbon Management and Use under the President of Turkmenistan.

According to the State Agency on Hydrocarbon Management and Use under the President of Turkmenistan, the first prospect well 21 in the Agayry gas-bearing structure was drilled at a depth of over 4,000 metres. A thick commercial gas inflow with the daily flow rate of over 130,000 cubic metres was received at a depth of 3,731-3,703 and 3,646 – 3,578 metres in the connecting pipe 17 mm in diameter.

According to the evaluations, the estimated total gas reserves in the Agayry gas-bearing structure makes up makes up over 73 billion cubic metres that allows ranking it as one of the largest gas deposits. This vividly proves that the territory on the right bank of the Amu Darya River is rich in hydrocarbon reserves.

At the first stage of this investment project dozens of large-scale facilities ensuring uninterrupted supply of natural gas to the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline have been built in close collaboration between Turkmen and Chinese specialists. In particular, the large Samandepe deposit was developed and put into production, the first gas processing plant with the capacity of 5 billion cubic metres of tank gas a year was constructed.

The second gas processing plant with the capacity of 8 billion cubic metres a year will be constructed in the Bagtyyarlyk contractual territory in the near future. After the plant is put into operation, it will supply gas extracted in newly developed fields on the right

It is planned to extract 13 billion cubic metres a year from gas natural fields located in the contractual territory. Along with drilling new production wells in the developed fields the Chinese contractors explore the contractual territory by using the advanced technology of volumetric prospecting seismology. According to the prospecting results, prospect and test drilling in gas bearing structures of the contractual territory is accelerated.

The large-scale mutually advantageous project on gas prospecting and extraction in the Bagtyyarlyk contractual territory and construction of Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline that will facilitate implementing the energy strategy of the Turkmen state that substantially contributes to building the global architecture of energy security is a bright illustration of effective and fruitful international cooperation between Turkmenistan and other countries.

Testing the deep prospect well in the Agayry gas-bearing structure in Hojambaz Etrap, Lebap Velayat resulted in discovering a new gas pool. The gas-bearing structure that produced this commercial gas inflow is located in the Bagtyyarlyk contractual territory on the right bank of the Amu Darya River developed by the specialists of the Chinese National Oil and Gas Corporation International (Turkmenistan) under the Production Sharing Agreement signed with the State Agency on Hydrocarbon Management and Use under the President of Turkmenistan.

According to the State Agency on Hydrocarbon Management and Use under the President of Turkmenistan, the first prospect well 21 in the Agayry gas-bearing structure was drilled at a depth of over 4,000 metres. A thick commercial gas inflow with the daily flow rate of over 130,000 cubic metres was received at a depth of 3,731-3,703 and 3,646 – 3,578 metres in the connecting pipe 17 mm in diameter.

According to the evaluations, the estimated total gas reserves in the Agayry gas-bearing structure makes up makes up over 73 billion cubic metres that allows ranking it as one of the largest gas deposits. This vividly proves that the territory on the right bank of the Amu Darya River is rich in hydrocarbon reserves.

At the first stage of this investment project dozens of large-scale facilities ensuring uninterrupted supply of natural gas to the Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline have been built in close collaboration between Turkmen and Chinese specialists. In particular, the large Samandepe deposit was developed and put into production, the first gas processing plant with the capacity of 5 billion cubic metres of tank gas a year was constructed.

The second gas processing plant with the capacity of 8 billion cubic metres a year will be constructed in the Bagtyyarlyk contractual territory in the near future. After the plant is put into operation, it will supply gas extracted in newly developed fields on the right

It is planned to extract 13 billion cubic metres a year from gas natural fields located in the contractual territory. Along with drilling new production wells in the developed fields the Chinese contractors explore the contractual territory by using the advanced technology of volumetric prospecting seismology. According to the prospecting results, prospect and test drilling in gas bearing structures of the contractual territory is accelerated.

The large-scale mutually advantageous project on gas prospecting and extraction in the Bagtyyarlyk contractual territory and construction of Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline that will facilitate implementing the energy strategy of the Turkmen state that substantially contributes to building the global architecture of energy security is a bright illustration of effective and fruitful international cooperation between Turkmenistan and other countries.

energia.gr: Czechs say Russian Spies Targeting Energy Sector

Russian spies are increasingly active in the Czech Republic and turning their attention to the energy sector, including nuclear power, the Czech counter-intelligence agency BIS said on Wednesday.

Over the past few years the agency has highlighted steady activity of Russian spies in the central European NATO and European Union country but the report for the first time identified an uptick in the scientific and energy sector.

“Russian intelligence services do not have competition on the Czech territory when it comes to breadth, intensity, aggressiveness and the number of operations,” the BIS report said.

While many joint projects between the two countries are legitimate, the presence of Russian intelligence operatives among academics and students poses a potential problem for the former Soviet satellite state, the report said.

“The Russian intelligence capacity and activity increased mainly in the science-technology and economic sector, including energy,” the report said.

“These projects are themselves legitimate, but they get tainted by the presence of Russian intelligence operatives.”

Moscow itself frequently complains of increased espionage activity by foreign intelligence agencies against Russia.

Czech counter-intelligence had previously warned of Russian spying activity increased in connection with plans to build a U.S. missile defense radar in the country.

The scheme was canceled by the Barack Obama administration, but Russian interest remained.

Czechs remain wary of Russia following decades of Soviet domination under communism and more recently due to the winter 2009 gas row between Russia and Ukraine that cut off gas supplies to countries in central and southeastern Europe.

Energy is also a crucial issue for a country boasting a large nuclear capacity and which is one of the biggest electricity exporters in Europe.

“The Russian side focuses on the intellectual elites, current and prospective ones,” the report found. “The Russian side is ready to press hard in order to get its operatives to diplomatic posts in the Czech Republic.”

The report comes after the Czech government on Monday appointed a special envoy for a tender to expand the Temelin nuclear power plant — a project which will have Russian bidders.

The two-year appointment thrusts Vaclav Bartuska — a student leader during the 1989 revolution that ended communist rule — into state-owned CEZ’s search for a supplier for the expansion of Temelin and other nuclear units.

Toshiba Corp unit Westinghouse, a group of Russia’s Atomstroyexport and Czech Skoda JS, and France’s Areva are bidding to build the 2 new units at Temelin, near the Austrian border, and possibly two other units in Slovakia and one at CEZ’s eastern Czech Dukovany station.

In May, Bartuska, who has long made public his wariness of Russian involvement in the Czech energy sector, told Reuters the Temelin decision would determine whether his country looks east to Russia or west toward the European Union.

upstreamonline.com: EU gives green light to Poland storage

The European Commission gave the go-ahead today for Poland to grant €390 million ($198 million) in state aid to the country’s natural gas company PGNiG to increase gas storage capacity.

“This project will allow Poland to increase security of gas supply to the benefit of its citizens, without unduly distorting competition as the gas storage capacity will be made available to all competitors on the Polish market,” Reuter quoted EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia as saying.

The project is expected to be completed in 2015, increasing Poland’s storage capacities to 1.6 billion cubic metres from the current 1 billion presently.

This will bring Poland closer to the current EU reserve capacity average of 14% of annual demand, the Commission said.

Gas supply security has been sensitive in Poland after Russian gas delivery was disrupted twice over recent years due to payment conflicts between Moscow and Ukraine cut supplies.

Russia cut gas supplies to Belarus over unpaid bills this week, which may threaten the fuel’s delivery to Poland.

jamestown.org: Gazprom Play Map Games in the Balkans With South Stream

By: Vladimir Socor

Romania’s economy ministry announced on June 16 that it had persuaded Gazprom to include Romania, instead of Bulgaria, in South Stream and other gas projects on Romanian territory. The Romanian ministry sounded self-congratulatory about replacing Bulgaria, following Sofia’s suspension of South Stream and other Russian projects involving Bulgaria (EDM, June 14, 18).

Moscow, however, is merely playing Romania, Bulgaria, and other Balkan countries off against each other, constantly changing South Stream’s geography while delaying its implementation. As always in these negotiations, the Russian side does not identify any gas resources or investment funding behind the South Stream project.

Just two days after Gazprom’s nod to Bucharest, Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, winked back to Sofia during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum. Meeting with international oil and gas company executives, Medvedev urged Bulgaria to move quickly and complete the negotiations with Gazprom for the South Stream project on Bulgarian territory. Medvedev cited a verbal agreement just reached with Macedonia to include that country in South Stream via Bulgaria (Interfax, June 18).

Indeed, on June 17-18, Macedonia’s President, Gjorge Ivanov, and Deputy Prime Minister, Zoran Stavreski, held talks with President Medvedev and Gazprom CEO, Aleksei Miller, on the possible construction of a South Stream branch from Bulgaria into Macedonia. The sides agreed to create a working group for preparation of a feasibility study and a follow-up project agreement. Gazprom will send an expert team to start mapping out a pipeline route across Macedonia from Bulgaria. Gasification of Macedonia’s localities is included in the proposed package deal. There is no word on Gazprom financing, however. Macedonia has just recovered $60 million in Soviet-legacy Russian debt, and is now supposed to invest this sum (plus another $15 million it is barely scraping) into Gazprom’s $300 million project (Interfax, June 17, 18; MIA, June 17, 18, 19).

Also during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Gazprom promised to Serbia Gas CEO, Dusan Bajatovic, to complete the feasibility study for South Stream’s Serbian section by September (Dnevni Avaz, June 21). This can only make sense, however, if the starting premise remains a pipeline into Serbia from Bulgaria. All planning work since early 2009 (assuming that it has actually been conducted) proceeded from the premise. Feasibility of South Stream entering Serbia from Romania cannot be discussed without determining a Romanian route first, but that is nowhere in sight.

During the St. Petersburg event, Gazprom Vice-President, Aleksandr Medvedev, discussed with Bosnian Serb Prime Minister, Milorad Dodik, the proposed construction of a South Stream branch into Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Serb Republic (Bosnian Serb TV, June 18; Oslobodenje, June 21). This proposal has all along been linked to South Stream’s main line entering Serbia from Bulgaria.

On June 18 in Moscow, Prime Ministers, Vladimir Putin and Jadranka Kosor, conferred on Russian oil and gas projects in Croatia, including a branch line from the main South Stream pipeline. A range of options exist for South Stream to enter Croatia, but no feasibility study is known to have been initiated. Nevertheless, Kosor promised that the Croatian parliament would soon pass a law authorizing the South Stream project on Croatia’s territory; and that the country’s pipeline operator, Plinacro, will soon form a joint project company with Gazprom (Jutarnji List, June 21).

As a net result, all these Russian statements regarding Bulgaria (not taking Sofia’s “no” for an answer), Macedonia, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Serb Republic are incompatible with the promise (if it was such) to re-direct South Stream via Romania, instead of Bulgaria.

Furthermore, Russia is adding to the ranks of South Stream’s putative customers for Russian gas, despite Russian production facing stagnation and shortfalls in the years ahead. Stung by Bulgaria’s repudiation of South Stream (and two other Russian projects), Moscow is also concerned that an insolvent Greece may be disabled from participating in South Stream (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 17). This consideration may partly explain Gazprom’s June 16 proposal to bypass Bulgaria altogether, and thus Greece, re-redirecting South Stream via Romania to Central Europe.

Moscow also plays on Bucharest’s unrequited dream of a Constanta-Trieste oil pipeline across Romania. To feed those unrealistic hopes, Gazprom suggests a possibility of laying South Stream’s Romanian section along the would-be oil route from Constanta to the Romanian-Serbian border (Kommersant, June 17).

Manipulation of South Stream’s economics and geography is turning this Russian project into a shell game. These tactics aim mainly to forestall progress on the EU-backed Nabucco project. Moscow hopes to derail EU funding decisions that are due before the year’s end for Nabucco. Artificial publicity around South Stream can inhibit private-sector investment commitments to Nabucco or even (in Gazprom’s ideal scenario) erode EU funding to the Nabucco project.

Orchestrating high-level discussions around South Stream also serves to threaten Ukraine with this bypass project. Vastly overestimating South Stream’s viability, Kyiv (and Donetsk) fear that South Stream could doom Ukraine’s gas transit system to redundancy. To forestall that imagined threat, the Ukrainian government would cede control of its gas transit system to Gazprom.

Variations on South Stream’s geography and supply volumes can be discussed indefinitely. They serve to play off Balkan countries against each other, foster artificial interest in the project, intimidate Ukraine, justify at the same time the postponement of construction, and thus cover up Russia’s inability to commit gas and funding to this project.

jamestown.org:Gazprom Enlists More Western Allies in South Stream

On June 19, at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Gazprom announced the appointment of Marcel Kramer as chairman of the board and CEO of South Stream AG, the company designated to build and operate the pipeline in the Black Sea (the overland sections are separate joint projects of Gazprom with each participant country). Kramer is completing his service as Chairman and CEO of Nederlands Gasunie, which is a minority stakeholder in another Gazprom-led project, Nord Stream (where Kramer also sits on the board). With dwindling gas reserves in the North Sea, Gasunie seeks to reinforce its positions in gas trading, transportation and storage by arrangements with Gazprom.

Also during the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, and his French counterpart, Nicolas Sarkozy, witnessed the signing of a trilateral agreement of intent by the heads of Gazprom, Italy’s ENI, and Electricite de France (EDF). The agreement envisages EDF joining the South Stream AG company before the end of 2010, with a stake of at least 10 percent. EDF’s stake would come out of ENI’s present stake of 50 percent, leaving Gazprom’s 50 percent intact. The agreement also governs the project’s joint implementation (Gazprom press release, June 19). ENI had unsuccessfully sought a symmetrical cut in Gazprom’s stake, which would have added to EDF’s stake while preserving Gazprom-ENI parity.

Sarkozy had discussed EDF’s entry into South Stream with Medvedev and Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, during their recent visits to France (November 2009, March and June 2010). They also negotiated EDF’s participation in Russian nuclear energy projects; as well as the accession of another French champion company, Gaz de France, to the Gazprom-led Nord Stream pipeline project on the Baltic seabed.

EDF, a major producer of nuclear-generated electricity, seeks to become a significant international player in the gas business. Apart from supplying its own gas-fired electricity production plants, EDF also plans to sell natural gas from South Stream to its European customers (Dow Jones, June 20).

Thus, EDF joins the ranks of gas-poor companies that become gas traders by special arrangements with Gazprom; or maintain their gas-trading positions by partnering with Gazprom in Europe. The Italian ENI did so many years before EDF. Indeed, ENI provided its niche- technology and investment funding to lay Gazprom’s Blue Stream pipeline across the Black Sea, from Russia to Turkey, in 2000-2002. Gazprom, cash-poor at that time, repaid ENI with natural gas that ENI then marketed in Italy. Closely connected with Silvio Berlusconi’s government, ENI has opened a wide door for Gazprom to the Italian gas market.

These appointments and accessions illustrate the expansion of Gazprom’s business and political networks in Western Europe –a process conducted from the Kremlin via Gazprom. The gas deals as such would probably not suffice to advance this process. With the gas projects, however, the Kremlin offers package deals to key interest groups in Europe. For example, German and Italian steel producers receive the lion’s share of steel pipe orders for Gazprom’s European projects, generating political support regardless of adverse implications for energy security or EU common policies. Cross-lobbying by South Stream partners for Nord Stream, and vice-versa, also strengthens Russia’s positions in Europe.

Italy has been urging the European Union to declare South Stream a Trans-European Network (TEN) project –a status that would facilitate access to credits for South Stream. The TEN status has opened access to multibillion-dollar credits for Nord Stream. The French entry into South Stream is partly intended to push for TEN status for this project (Gazprom Again Reconfigures the South Stream Project, EDM, June 22).

Russian sources generally cite Gazprom’s 2009 cost estimates at $25 billion to $30 billion for the South Stream project overall, including $9 billion for the seabed section. Such costs seem to explode any known frame of reference for gas transportation projects. Moscow expects project financing both from Western Europe and impoverished East European countries along South Stream’s multiple branch lines. These countries would have to borrow heavily for financing their side of the joint ventures with Gazprom in each country. In that case, they would go into debt only for moving away from supply diversification and sharing control of infrastructure on their territories with Gazprom.

jamestown.org: Gazprom Again Reconfigures the South Stream Project

Bulgaria’s suspension of the South Stream project on its territory is forcing Gazprom to reconfigure South Stream’s overall geography, with uncertain options and prospects (EDM, June 14, 18, 22). Gazprom is also reconfiguring the project’s technical and economic features. Moscow is enlisting influential allies in Western Europe, to lobby for South Stream with governments and banks. However, Gazprom is still not identifying any gas resources to supply South Stream, if and when the pipeline routes to Europe are finalized.

Gazprom’s CEO, Aleksei Miller, and Vice-President, Aleksandr Medvedev, announced the changes on June 19, to St. Petersburg Economic Forum participants. The pipeline section on the seabed of the Black Sea, projected in 2009 for an annual capacity of 63 billion cubic meters (bcm), is now planned to be built in stages, starting in 2013. It would consist of four parallel strings, to be laid one after the other across the seabed during an unspecified period of time. The first gas flow is promised for December 2015. While Italian ENI’s technology would build the seabed section, Gazprom would own it (Interfax, June 19).

As recently as June 9, a special meeting chaired by Miller had decided that South Stream’s seabed section would consist of one string at 31 bcm in annual capacity; with a second string of equal capacity possible later, contingent upon European market demand. The same June 9 meeting approved the seabed section’s feasibility study, just “completed” by a Gazprom working group. That study was still premised on a route to Bulgaria (Interfax, RIA Novosti, June 9).

On June 19, however, Miller and Medvedev practically invalidated their own June 9 planning decisions. They shifted from a Bulgarian to a Romanian route and announced the four-string concept for the seabed section. In this concept, the timing and sequence of laying the four strings would only depend on technical, not marketing considerations.

Gazprom’s top management professes to expect high demand in Europe for South Stream-delivered gas after 2013. Gazprom would “guarantee” to deliver the projected annual volume in full at 63 bcm per year, once the four-string seabed section and the overland pipelines in Europe are completed (no time-table being mentioned). Presumably this implies that each string would, once built, operate at full capacity. To back up the “guarantees” of delivery, Gazprom declares its intention to sign “ship-or-pay” contracts (pay the monetary value of any gas volumes not shipped as contracted to customers).

Gazprom intends to prepare a cost estimate for the overall project before the end of this year. It counts on receiving European credits “on favorable terms,” based on Gazprom’s purported creditworthiness; and it wants the EU to confer the status of a Trans-European Network (TEN) project to South Stream. Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, requested TEN status for South Stream during the recent EU-Russia summit in Rostov-on-Don (ITAR-TASS, June 2).

South Stream’s Black Sea route from Russia to Europe, and the overland routes to Austria, and to Italy, are more questionable now than they seemed previously. The seabed pipeline had been planned to reach Bulgaria and branch out into those two European routes. Bulgaria, the indispensable land nexus for South Stream, has practically shelved the project on its territory, however (Ognyan Minchev, “Bulgarian Energy Policy: Tilting toward National Interest,” GMF Blog, June 16).

In their St.Petersburg briefing, Miller and Medvedev chided Bulgaria for shelving the project agreements, which the previous government had signed with Russia. By contrast, they highlighted Romania’s apparent willingness to offer a landfall point on the Black Sea shore for South Stream and a mainland nexus for the branch-off pipelines into Europe. They cited agreements reached with Romania’s economy ministry on June 16 in Moscow toward that goal, as well as interest in building electricity-generation plants with Gazprom on Romanian territory (Interfax, June 19).

Accordingly, Gazprom now proposes to lay the seabed pipeline from Russia to Romania, with a continuation route through Serbia and Macedonia, thus reaching to Greece and the originally planned route toward southern Italy. Thanks to Romania, in that case, Russia would circumvent a disobedient Bulgaria. However, the long circuitous route would further increase South Stream’s already exorbitant construction costs.

As recently as June 7, Gazprom and the Greek pipeline operating company DESFA had signed the founding documents of South Stream Greece, a joint venture to build and operate South Stream’s section on Greek territory. This is premised on the pipeline entering Greece from Bulgaria, however (Athens News Agency, RIA Novosti, June 7).

A northward route into Central Europe would be shorter from Romania, but clearly not by enough to offset the added costs of a southern route that circumvents Bulgaria.

The seabed pipeline route from the Russian coast to that of Romania seems far from clear; and the Miller-Medvedev briefing was vague again on this matter. Laying the pipeline through Turkey’s exclusive economic zone to Romania would involve a long detour and ultra-deep seabed portions, adding substantially to the construction costs. Russia expects Turkish consent by November 2010 for subsequent construction work in the Turkish zone.

Ukraine’s exclusive economic zone would provide a direct, and relatively shallower, pipeline route from the Russian to the Romanian coast. However, Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych’s, government regards South Stream as an existential threat to Ukraine’s own gas transit system and the state’s revenue base. This is a matter of cross-party consensus and not even the present government would willingly agree to South Stream crossing Ukraine’s economic zone. Kyiv (and Donetsk) would, however, negotiate to share control of Ukraine’s transit system with Gazprom, if Russia abandons the South Stream project, or otherwise guarantees full utilization of Ukraine’s gas transit system.

Moscow exploits Ukraine’s fear of South Stream (along with other vulnerabilities) to increase its pressure on Ukraine. During their St. Petersburg briefing, Miller and Medvedev insisted that South Stream would go ahead even if Ukraine agrees to “merge” its transit system with Gazprom’s. In the event of a “merger,” they said, Naftohaz Ukrainy would “automatically” become a shareholder in Gazprom’s South Stream and Nord Stream projects. Apparently this alludes to the role of Naftohaz as minority shareholder in Gazprom after a takeover (by general reckoning of their market capitalization, Naftohaz would hold a single-digit percentage stake in Gazprom after a takeover).

Even Gazprom’s long-time allies in Ukraine, such as Fuel and Energy Minister, Yuriy Boyko, are aghast at the prospect of South Stream circumventing Ukraine, and seek publicly to discredit that project. Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Kostyantyn Hrishchenko, flew to Italy on June 22 to make the case against South Stream in front of the Italian government and ENI. His message is that South Stream is redundant as well as exorbitantly expensive, while Ukraine can provide fully reliable transit through its pipelines (Interfax-Ukraine, June 22).

Gazprom holds the necessary data on the Bulgarian seabed (from that country’s previous government); but this is of questionable relevance since Sofia suspended its participation in the project. Turkey promised in August 2009 to deliver its seabed data to Gazprom during 2010. Romania apparently promised to deliver the data for both the seabed and the overland route by October this year (EDM, June 18). Ukraine, however, is not known to have delivered recent data on its seabed to Gazprom.

Moscow does not sound conclusive about writing off Bulgaria from South Stream. According to Miller and Aleksandr Medvedev at their briefing, Russia would welcome Bulgaria rejoining the project, if it does so quickly; otherwise, Gazprom’s decision in favor of Romania would become “final and not subject to revision” (Interfax, June 19). Unable to identify gas resources for South Stream or to finance the project, Moscow uses these manipulative games to stall for time while at the same time hopes to slow down the EU’s Nabucco project.

businessneweurope.eu: MOSCOW BLOG: Belarus backs down on gas bill as Russia gets its energy PR right

That was quick. Russia’s state-owned gas monopoly began to cut off Belarus’ gas supplies at 10:00am on the morning of June 21 over $200m in unpaid energy bills, but by 4:00pm that same day Minsk had backed down and promised to cough up “within two weeks.”

Not that Moscow was even going to accept this promise and actually went through with a 15% reduction in gas deliveries, saying it wasn’t prepared to wait even two weeks.

And on Tuesday Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko lashed out at the Kremlin calling the row over unpaid bills that saw Russia reduce gas deliveries as the start of a “gas war” and ordered a halt to gas transit through the republic to Europe — not that anyone in Europe reported any change in volumes arriving through there pipes. Clearly there is going to be some haggling before this dispute is over.

Still, as the news broke about the gas cut-off, journalists scrambled to cover the latest instalment of Russia’s so-called “gas wars.” However, the thing that sticks out from this story – apart from Minsk totally misjudging the situation – is that Russia finally appears to “get it” when it comes to international PR over energy issues.

On the face of it, Moscow has acted very aggressively in order to force Belarus to pay. This seems to jibe with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s promise in a leaked policy paper that Russia was putting its foreign policy on a pragmatic basis where there would be no more “gnashing of teeth.”

There was gnashing aplenty on June 21, but the key is that Moscow forced the issue now when the minimum damage would be done, rather than in the middle of winter, as in previous episodes, when the maximum damage would happen. I suspect it’s no coincidence that the deadline for the payment was set for June 21 – which happens to be the official first day of summer. In other words, the demand for gas in Europe is at its absolute nadir for the year and so even if Moscow followed through on its threat to cut 85% of Belarus’ supplies, it would make no noticeable difference to Gazprom’s clients in Western Europe. TV station Russia Today interviewed the head of one of Germany’s gas company who said the gas in storage was more than enough to cover any shortfall.

And then there was the amount cut. In the energy showdowns with Ukraine in 2006 and Belarus in 2007, Gazprom simply turned off the taps completely from one minute to the next. This time, from the very start the maximum that would be cut was 85%. Moreover, the plan was to cut gas progressively in chunks of 15% over a period of weeks. Even more surprising was how careful the Kremlin was to flag the cut-offs in advance as the tension built over several weeks and went as far as informing its western partners before the gas volumes were reduced – something it pointedly forgot to do in previous rows.

Taken all together, this is the clearest demonstration yet of the President Dmitry Medvedev-sponsored “business orientated foreign policy” and is a major improvement in the Kremlin’s efforts to bolster its reputation as a reliable energy partner.

If you were going to characterise the issue in terms of personalities, then this gas showdown is marked by Medvedev’s liberal outward-looking, sophisticated approach to dealing with foreign investors, as opposed to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s inward-looking, strong-arm tactics typical of his “vertical power” way of doing things – not that it’s likely policy is actually driven by either man in isolation of the other. But still, this is another piece of evidence of the “new look” that Medvedev was trying to sell at the St Petersburg investment forum at the weekend.

Not-so-special relationships

Finally, the gas issue highlights another trend that has been in place since Putin was president: Russia has conceded any attempt at forging “special relationships” with its former Soviet vassal states.

There is no reason – economically speaking – why Russia should subsidise the Belarusian economy (or any other country’s economy for that matter) and it is remarkable that Gazprom has increased the prices for all its customers.

Having said that, there are still marked differences in the price that Gazprom asks for its gas, which is presumably based on the customer’s ability to pay. Belarus has the cash to pay off its $200m bill – Minsk reported this week that it has just under $6bn in foreign currency reserves – however, it needs to spend heavily on investment and with presidential elections looming this winter, the government clearly wants to keep as much in reserve as it can to lavish on voters before they go to the polls.

If Gazprom insisted on the roughly $380 per 1,000 cubic meters (cm) it currently charges Western European countries, then it would precipitate a financial crisis in Belarus. The same is true in Ukraine where former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko did a deal in January 2009 to pay over $300 per 1’000 cm for gas, which very nearly did precipitate a crisis – the state had to be bailed out by the IMF and the government started drawing down its special drawing rights to meet the monthly bill, only just squeaking through the year.

Indeed, the new gas deal that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych cut with Gazprom a few months ago is highly significant, as he managed to get a discount – the same discount Minsk is asking for – and reduced the price to about $250 per 1,000 cm. In this sense, Ukraine is now the only former Soviet state where the Kremlin has entered into a “special relationship” where it is prepared to subsidise a foreign economy with lower gas prices. Yanukovych clearly would prefer to have a special relationship with the EU, but Brussels, despite the friendly rhetoric, has failed to come up with any practical support whatsoever, driving Yanukovych into Putin’s arms as a result.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

September 2017
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  

Site Metter