revista presei pe energie 30 noiembrie – part V

2010/11/30 Hungary sees Russian MOL deal

Hungary expects to resolve outstanding issues over a Russian stake in oil and gas group MOL when Prime Minister Viktor Orban visits Moscow next month, Hungarian Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said today.

“(Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s) next visit will be Moscow, he will meet Prime Minister Putin to discuss all the outstanding economic issues- we have quite a number, I would say,” Reuters quoted Martonyi as telling a meeting with foreign journalists.

The issue of MOL has tainted relations since Surgutneftegas bought a 21% stake in MOL in a 1.4 billion ($1.9 billion) deal last year, which both MOL and the then Hungarian government considered an unfriendly approach.

Surgut has said it wished to be a strategic investor, but MOL has said that having the 21% MOL stake in Hungarian hands would create what they called a more stable situation.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin said today Surgutneftgaz must co-operate with Hungary’s MOL in line with European legislation.

“We would like to see co-operation according to the interest of all investors in MOL,” Sechin told reporters.

Martonyi expressed optimism today that the two sides were now nearing an agreement on MOL as well as on other issues including financial issues concerning Hungary’s renationalisation of ailing airline Malev.

“The approach is a package approach,” Martonyi said.

“I’m optimistic … I believe that at the end of the day we can settle all outstanding issues, be it MOL, be it the Hungarian airlines or any other things.”

Hungary’s Development Minister Tamas Fellegi met Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov in Moscow on Wednesday for talks involving MOL, co-operation in nuclear energy as well as issues of natural gas and oil trade and infrastructure. US noses into Russia’s gas domain

The US may play a role this winter in loosening Russia’s grip on the European market for natural gas by shipping liquefied natural gas across the Atlantic.

Awash with domestic shale gas and with little need to import extra fuel, the US has started re-exporting LNG cargoes, which companies had previously imported under contract, to countries where gas prices are much higher.

Such shipments could contribute to a growing pool of cheaper LNG going to Russia’s biggest export market this winter. In the longer term, US plans to build plants to liquefy shale gas could create another rival to Russian pipelines.

The first re-export cargo from the US to the UK – a key access point for LNG into northern Europe via an Interconnector pipeline to Belgium – is set to sail over the weekend.

“It is a landmark shipment,” said Zach Allen at NATS LNG analysts in Raleigh North Carolina.

“LNG has, through the Interconnector, played a major role in reducing intake of Russian gas into Western Europe.”

US shale gas has already forced many LNG producers that had hoped to supply the North American market to find alternative buyers, with many cargoes ending up in Europe and driving spot gas prices below the price of oil-indexed Russian gas.

US re-exports to Europe are the latest sign that increases in shale gas production have transformed the global gas market. The International Energy Agency said yesterday that a decade-long period of oversupply was likely to push oil-indexed gas sellers to accept lower prices.

In February, Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom postponed it’s Shtokman LNG project because the US, its target market, did not need more imports.

Major European pipeline gas supplier Statoil has been forced to find alternative markets for LNG it had hoped to send to the US, often selling it into Europe.

Qatar, the world’s largest producer and exporter of LNG, has also pushed into both Norwegian and Russian markets by making large deliveries of cheap LNG into the UK and Belgium.

US LNG imports have fallen to contractual minimums as gas prices have sagged, forcing importers whose terminals are sitting idle to change strategy and re-export to make the most of higher prices overseas.

US gas at $4.1 per million British thermal units was about $3.3 per mmbtu below UK prices yesterday and just under half the price of Russian gas in Europe in October, according to International Monetary Fund data.

About 20 billion cubic feet of gas has already been re-exported from the US this year, with some sent to Asia, where buyers have paid nearly $10 per mmbtu, and some to Latin America and the Middle East.

More of those US loaded cargoes could head to the UK over coming months, given that winter price increases are sharper in northern Europe than in the US and that imports by South American and Middle Eastern buyers are usually confined to summer.

“US exports to Europe will remain rather exotic, but they underline once again the big risks for Russia of focusing some of its future projects on US markets,” said Valery Nesterov, energy analyst at Moscow-based Troika Dialog brokerage.

“The first US LNG cargo for Europe is of course a symbolic event, but I would not overestimate it.”

The number of cargoes redirected from the US to Europe this winter will be limited, because most shipments will probably head directly from producing countries, but the ongoing shale gas boom could lead to the export of American gas by tanker. Cheniere Energy, operator of the Sabine Pass import terminal in Louisiana, announced plans in June to build a liquefaction plant at the terminal. It said yesterday that US bank Morgan Stanley hoped to secure some of its export capacity. Pending approval, the plant would export US-produced shale gas to markets all over the globe from 2015.

It would be the first US LNG export plant in 40 years – following the old Kenai facility which supplies Asia from Alaska – and would be well placed to supply Europe.

“LNG supplies from the US can help lower gas prices in Europe and Asia and ultimately help lift prices in the States,” said Mikhail Korchemkin from Pennsylvania-based East European Gas Analysis, reported Reuters. Gas tops Qatar emir’s Moscow agenda

Qatar’s emir will discuss closer co-operation between the emirate and Russian gas players during his two-day visit to Moscow this week, the Kremlin said.

Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani began an official visit today, a Kremlin spokesman told Reuters.

Qatar is interested in Russian independent gas producer Novatek’s liquefied natural gas project in Arctic Russia, while export monopoly Gazprom has been invited to tender for oil and gas projects in the Gulf state, the Kremlin said. Bulgaria and Qatar make LNG pact

Bulgaria and Qatar have signed a confidentiality deal paving the way for talks on liquefied natural gas deliveries from the Arab country, state gas company Bulgargaz said today, as Sofia seeks to cut dependence on Russian gas.

Qatar is the world’s largest LNG producer.

“There is a confidentiality agreement signed so that talks can start,” Bulgargaz chief executive Dimitar Gogov told Reuters.

“These talks will define what the quantity will be and when the deliveries will start.”

Bulgaria, the poorest EU member, has stepped up efforts to reduce its almost complete reliance on Russian gas by diversifying routes and supplies after a dispute between Russia and Ukraine in 2009 left it – and much of the region – without gas for weeks in freezing temperatures.

A lack of separate gas links with neighbours and the inability to reverse gas flows in pipelines that bring Russian gas to Greece and Turkey, worsened the crisis for the Balkan country.

Since then, Sofia has announced plans to link its gas network with those of Greece, Romania, Serbia and Turkey and has signed a memorandum of understanding for gas deliveries from Azerbaijan.

Under a project between Azeri state oil company Socar and Bulgaria’s Bulgartransgaz, Azeri gas would be transported via a pipeline to Georgia to be compressed and shipped by tankers to Bulgaria’s Black Sea port of Varna.

Last week, Russia and Bulgaria signed accords to push ahead with the South Stream natural gas pipeline to deliver gas to central and south Europe, bypassing Ukraine, which is expected to cement Moscow’s hold on European energy supplies.

Sofia is also supporting the EU-backed Nabucco pipeline which is planned to run through its territory and has expressed concerns over delays in its development. Gazprom 2011 spending drops

Gazprom’s board of directors has approved a investment programme of 816.36 billion roubles ($26.02 billion) for next year, down 10% from its revised budget for this year, the Russian gas monopoly said today.

The board also approved a budget for next year that foresees revenues for the year at 3.9 trillion roubles, a statement said, slightly above the 3.8 trillion roubles the board approved during its equivalent meeting last year.

Analysts are closely watching costs at the world’s largest gas driller and have criticised the company for spending too much in the past.

Capital expenditures make up the lion’s share of the new investment programme at 729.86 billion roubles, while 86.5 billion roubles will go toward long-term financial investments, including the development of the Arctic Shtokman and Prirazlomnoye fields and the North and South Stream pipelines.

The budget also sees liabilities, expenditures and investments at 3.98 trillion roubles and borrowings at 90 billion roubles.

In September, Gazprom increased its investment programme for this year by 13% to 905.2 billion roubles from the orginally agreed 802.4 billion roubles

Gazprom’s investment programme is usually revised several times during the year to reflect market conditions.

Major capital investment projects for next year include the construction of Bovanenkovo-Ukhta and Ukhta-Torzhok gas trunklines and the Gryazovets-Vyborg, Pochinki-Gryazovets and the Northern Tyumen Regions Torzhok gas pipelines.

“Funds will be allocated to implement projects in Russia’s East … to construct the Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok GTS, the gas pipeline conveying gas from the Kirinskoye field to the main compressor station of Sakhalin,” the statement said, according to a Reuters report.

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