revista presei pe energie 26 noiembrie – part III

2010/11/26

centralasianewswire.com: Uzbek energy export revenues drop 10%

Energy and oil products generated 25.7 percent of Uzbekistan’s exports revenues during the first nine months of this year but fell from 2009 levels of 35.5 percent, the latest government report showed.

The services sector produced the second highest level of export revenue at 10 percent and increased 24.5 percent over last year, according to the State Statistics Committee of Uzbekistan’s report.

Food products exports nearly doubled from 4.7 percent in January to September 2009 to 8.3 percent in the comparable period of 2010.

Machines and equipment items were the biggest gainers, with a 103.8 percent increase over 2009, although their share of the export pie remained small at just 4.9 percent, the UzDaily news agency on Monday reported the statistics as showing.

While total exports increased by 10.9 percent over last year, imports decreased by 13.3 percent.

The decline in imports was led by machinery and equipment, which dropped by 30.4 percent year-on-year, from 57.6 percent from January to September 2009 to 46.3 percent to September 2010 – a huge amount considering that those items make up around 50 percent of all imports. The government in Tashkent has spent heavily in construction and services as part of its anti-crisis program to minimize the effects of the global downturn.

The strongest increase in imports is seen in chemical-related products, the report said – from 10.9 percent in the 2009 period to 14.9 percent in 2010.

Exports made up $9.6 billion in Jan-Sep 2010, while imports totaled $5.9 billion in the same period.

Foreign trade turnover to September 2010 totaled $15.5 billion, a 0.2 percent year-on-year increase, the report showed.

centralasianewswire.com: Total wants to develop Turkmenistan’s Caspian pipeline

The head of French energy major Total wants to transport Turkmen oil over the Caspian Sea via a pipeline.

Total Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie is willing to work with Turkmenistan to bring the pipeline proposal into reality, the Reuters news agency quoted Turkmen state television as saying on Wednesday.

“We discussed the possibilities for taking Turkmen gas across the Caspian Sea … and spoke about the priority of ecology, Reuters quoted de Margerie as saying.

“Our task is to work these issues out and come up with concrete proposals in a few months’ time. I believe I will meet again with the respected president” Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, he said.

De Margerie met with Berdimuhamedov on Tuesday.

Turkmenistan is actively pursuing foreign direct investment in the energy sector to develop its massive hydrocarbons deposits. British Petroleum (BP) has recently estimated that Turkmenistan holds the fourth largest reserves of natural gas in the world.

At the Turkmenistan Oil & Gas International Conference held last week, Cabinet Chairman Baymyrad Hojumuhamedov said that Turkmenistan has support from its Caspian neighbors to construct an oil and gas pipeline along the sea floor to transport the hydrocarbons to Europe.

jamestown.org: Surgut Neftegaz is Thwarted in Hungary, While Austria Examines OMV-Surgut Deal

By: Vladimir Socor

Vienna’s Prosecutor Office announced on November 17 that it has brought charges against OMV’s oil and gas company CEO, Wolfgang Ruttenstorfer, following the Austrian financial regulators’ investigation into OMV’s sale of a large stake in Hungarian MOL to Russian Surgut Neftegaz (Austria Presseagentur, November 17, 18).

On November 18 in Budapest, the High Court of Appeals upheld the City Court’s earlier ruling against Surgut, which had sought legal registration as a stakeholder in MOL, the national oil and gas company. Technically, Surgut was asking the courts to invalidate MOL’s April 2010 refusal to enter the Russian company’s shares in the Hungarian company’s shareholder register. The High Court of Appeals’ ruling means that Surgut’s acquisition of a 21 percent stake in MOL (the single largest stake by far) continues to lack legal status (MTI, November 19).

Surgut had acquired that MOL stake surreptitiously from Austrian OMV in March 2009, in a hostile takeover move against the Hungarian company. Surgut instantly sought voting power in MOL shareholders’ meetings and representation on MOL’s board. MOL responded with legal and corporate defenses to forestall a possible takeover. Irrespective of this, however, neither MOL nor the courts could have accepted Surgut’s demands and claims, in the absence of Hungarian regulatory clearance of Surgut’s acquisition of that stake.

Hungarian and Austrian regulatory agencies have separately considered the dubious circumstances of Surgut’s purchase into MOL. In Hungary, the Financial Markets Supervisory Agency has withheld its judgment, while the Energy Office is waiting for Surgut to meet basic legal prerequisites to operating in Hungary. The first requirement is disclosure of the ownership structure and of the ultimate beneficiary owners. In this as in other respects, Surgut is non-transparent even by Russian standards.

Surgut had paid $1.9 billion (1.4 billion Euros) for that stake in March 2009, almost double the share price on the market at that time, for purchasing 21 percent of MOL’s shares from OMV. It never explained that overpayment; and in Russia, Surgut’s undisclosed shareholders never held the management accountable for this. It was the first “investment” in European Union territory by this Kremlin-connected company. On November 2, 2010 in Moscow, Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Igor Sechin, boldly asked the European Energy Commissioner, Guenther Oettinger, to intercede for the legalization of Surgut’s purchase in Hungary (Interfax, November 2). Sechin, a close ally of Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, is concurrently the chairman of Rosneft, which has been considering a merger with Surgut.

In Austria, the Financial Markets Supervisory Agency (FMA) launched an investigation in April 2009, and its conclusions were released with the November 17, 2010 announcement of the Prosecutor’s Office. The FMA’s investigation has established the following chronology:

On March 18, 2009, OMV’s CEO Ruttenstorfer granted an interview to Profil, an influential Vienna weekly, firmly ruling out a sale of OMV’s MOL shares during 2009 at least. On March 23, that statement was published in Profil. On the same day, Ruttenstorfer purchased 620,000 Euros (almost $ 900,000) worth of OMV shares (duly notified, and as part of the company’s executive compensation program). On March 30, OMV stunned the market by selling its stake in MOL to Surgut Neftegaz. The sale, at almost twice the market price (see above), also meant the welcome end of OMV’s losing takeover battle against MOL. The market reacted by lifting OMV’s share price, thus boosting the value of shares that Ruttenstorfer had acquired a few days earlier. Based on FMA’s investigation, the Prosecutor’s Office has now filed insider-trading charges (Wirtschaftsblatt, Der Boersianer, Die Presse, November 17, 18).

Ruttenstorfer’s comments shed a brighter light on that transaction from the standpoint of Russian energy companies’ manipulative tactics in Europe’s open markets. According to the OMV chief, Surgut unexpectedly jump-started the negotiations about the MOL stake, holding a first round of talks with OMV in Moscow on March 26, 2009, and upping the ante on March 28, which led to the deal’s signing during the night of March 29-30. OMV instantly approved the deal as a straight business matter, apparently without regard to the multiple adverse ramifications (for fellow-EU member Hungary, the Nabucco project, and the integrity of the legal and regulatory environment in EU territory). OMV’s board has expressed its full confidence in the CEO in response to the Prosecutor Office’s announcement, without however mentioning those ramifications, or questioning Surgut’s motivations in grossly overpaying for those shares. For his part, Ruttenstorfer explains that he has acted legally throughout (Financial Times, March 18; Wirtschaftsblatt, Der Boersianer, Die Presse, November 17, 18).

Commentators in the Austrian media and the business press tend to regard the charges skeptically (“thin soup”). Indeed, the issue far transcends the realm of individual conduct. Russian state-controlled energy companies have recently started acquiring major oil-industry assets in EU countries, and bidding for more (Netherlands, Germany, Poland), on top of Gazprom’s efforts. Hungary is defending itself successfully from Surgut thus far. The EU overall, needs better defense mechanisms from such predatory takeovers.

upstreamonline.com: Bulgaria gives new pipe team nod

Bulgaria’s government has given the greenlight to a joint venture between Bulgarian Energy Holding and Greek IGI Poseidon to build, own and operate a gas pipeline connecting the two countries.

The construction of the stretch was mooted in early 2008, when Russian gas deliveries through Ukraine to the EU were suspended, with Bulgaria suffering the most severe gas shortages due to the lack of alternative routes.

For that reason, Brussels agreed to grant Bulgaria €45 million under the European Energy Recovery Programme to build the link.

The 168.5-kilometre gas route linking Dimitrovgrad, Haskovo and Komotini is valued at a total €117 million, with Sofia and Athens to provide €36 million each for the project.

The pipeline, expected to ensure alternative gas deliveries to Bulgaria from the Caspian area and the Middle East, should enter investment phase by the end of 2011.

The country also considers building inter-connectors with other neighbouring countries, including Romania, Turkey and Serbia.

upstreamonline.com: Russia to negotiate new gas price with Ukraine

The Kremlin hopes to secure a compromise on the pricing of Russia’s gas shipments to Ukraine, a senior official said before a trip to Kiev by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev today.

Ukraine, after undergoing the worst economic contraction in Europe last year, wants to renegotiate its current gas deal with Moscow under which it is paying $253 per 1000 cubic metres this quarter.

Medvedev will negotiate with Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich the price for Russian gas supplied by state-owned company Gazprom, a senior Kremlin source told journalists.

“It is clear that they (Ukrainians) want to lower the price… but Gazprom would not like that,” he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“We should find the golden mean, (realise) to which extent their demands or requests are justified by the changes on the world markets… and internal processes.”

Ukraine is hoping that Russia will agree to lower its price for gas shipments to between $210 or $220 per 1000 cubic metres by the end of the year, the Ukrainian prime minister Mykola Azarov told Reuters earlier this month.

In January last year, a pricing row between Moscow and Kiev resulted in a stoppage of Russian gas flows to Europe for about two weeks, tarnishing Russia’s image as a reliable exporter and spurring a European quest for new suppliers.

Ukraine imports about 60% of its domestic gas needs from Russia and has repeatedly said the gas price is too high to allow Ukrainian goods to compete on world markets.

Moscow insists that Gazprom must get a stake in Ukraine’s gas pipeline network, a concession Kiev has been unwilling to make.

energybulletin.net: How sustainable is renewable energy?

by Roger Adair

The success, to date, of fossil fuels being able to meet energy demand any time required has led to a feeling of society wide unrealistic entitlement. This translates into a belief that whatever we want we can always have whenever we want it. This of course is leading to problems as it patently can no longer be maintained. It also has lead to the development of quite unrealistic expectations as to how far renewables can replace fossil fuels.

Renewable energy is being tagged on to a massive existing demand led fossil fuelled energy system that has historically grown and grown. Attempts at demand reduction and increased efficiency seem to deliver slim savings and these are often cancelled, for example, by people choosing higher comfort levels or just doing higher milage in their more efficient cars.

For a number of years I worked for a company supplying small (20 – 100 kW) wind energy systems. The company failed and went bankrupt mainly because of a lack of investment and a very low profit margin on sales, certainly not for want of potential customers. Apart from that it was great fun and a hugely important part in the development of my understanding of the practical limits of renewable energy.

I spent a lot of time travelling to sites ranging from Shetland and the Western Isles in Scotland to the south coast of England, commissioning and servicing wind turbines. It was amazingly easy to run up huge mileage and fuel consumption moving tools equipment components and myself, even in an economic diesel estate car. This was what first gave me the clue as to the limits that would apply to renewable energy trying to replace fossil fuels and to the dependence of renewable energy on a continuing fossil fuel platform to operate.

It is natural to attach much importance to an area in which you have devoted a significant proportion of your working life and hopes for the future. It is hard to admit fulsomely that, on mature reflection, a lot of it does not stack up or really be sustainable in a future minus easy oil and the abundant easy availability of raw materials. Let us consider Ireland as an example.

Ireland’s total energy use in 2008 amounted to about 16 Million Tonnes of Oil Equivalent (TOE). In 2008 renewables produced about 0.6 Million TOE which is only about 4% of total energy use. This is another way of saying that all the renewable technology presently installed has only made us 96% fossil fuel dependent rather than 100%! This should give us a worrying clue as to the very extreme degree of energy descent that may be experienced as we move further into post peak oil. Achieving any really significant percentage of renewable energy contribution to current consumption levels appears to be next to impossible. Current efforts to try and achieve this impossible target require ever more massive and complex machinery and higher and higher inputs of, increasingly scarcer materials and fossil energy to achieve.

The point is very simply that an enormous amount of fossil energy is required to manufacture, install and operate all forms of renewable energy systems. Without the input of fossil fuel the existing renewable energy projects could never have been built and could not be maintained in operation.

All these systems are manufactured in largely fossil-fuelled factories employing tools, equipment and components produced in other fossil fuelled factories. The raw materials and components used require energy intensive extraction and fabrication techniques to produce, and along with the finished products, also have to be transported substantial distances, often by road.

The workforce probably largely travels to work by car and also frequently flies around the world to the sites where their products are utilised. I would be very surprised if the managers in these companies do not drive large, shiny, status enhancing motor cars, live in large houses on car accessed exclusive executive estates and drive and fly to lots of meetings, conferences and exotic overseas holidays.

A trip to any site where, for example, a wind farm is being installed, demonstrates this clearly. There you will find an abundant selection of fossil-fuelled giant earthmovers, cranes, cars and trucks in use. In addition enormous low loaders will be coming and going delivering massive mechanical parts, towers, nacelles, generators, gearboxes, transformers, power cables and blades from hundreds or thousands of miles away.

I have even seen cases of parts and a personnel being transported to remote wind energy sites by that most ridiculously fossil fuel hungry means of transport, the helicopter.

After the wind farm is installed and commissioned, and all the factory personnel have finally flown home, there is then the not so small matter of the continuous operation and maintenance (O&M) required throughout the life of the project to keep the show on the road. Here the fossil fuel energy intensity is reduced but there are still interminable attendance’s on site required to test, tweak, adjust, replace, repair and reset along with the transporting and supply of consumables and spare parts. Once in a while there will be a major spike in fossil fuel intensity when there is a failure of a major component such as a gearbox, generator or a damaged blade needing repaired or replaced.

In addition wind farms are now recognised as mostly having a negative effect on local resilience other than financially benefiting a very small group of people. By siphoning capital out of the area, and often out of the country where they are installed and, by hogging existing grid capacity they preclude the development of other more labour intensive renewable energy generation technologies such as bio-mass and anaerobic digestion fuelled systems. The main benefit local inhabitants get is merely the very dubious feel good privilege of looking at the wind turbines with no enhancement whatsoever of local resilience.

Conclusion

I was very sceptical indeed when I first read the pessimistic assessment of the very small prospects of renewable energy in an oil scarce future portrayed by Jim Kunstler in “The Long Emergency”. It is one of those things apparently so obvious when you think about it but hard to accept at first. However the inescapable conclusion is that the sum total of renewable energy capacity will never be much greater than that installed during this one shot age of oil.

It will rapidly become very difficult to keep operational as we move more into the post peak oil period. What can be made remain operational will be chiefly at a very local small scale and probably require much scavenging of parts and improvisation. A huge amount of thought needs to go in to how this might be achieved and to date this matter has received virtually no attention at all from an industry fundamentally locked into the hubris of gigantism and business as usual.

Systems like solar water heating and PV, with no or few moving parts, should be more long lived until they too become unrepairable. However large and complex systems, particularly in remote and environmentally challenging environments such as wind farms, especially off shore, will probably be early renewable energy casualties of the decline in oil supply.

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