Thursday, February 26, 2009

P43. Pick Points

Half-a-dozen or so stories of interest:

I wrote earlier today about the pickup in gasoline demand that EIA had reported, and this was also noted by other folk, and the resurgence has led to a rise in the price of crude to $42 a barrel. . EIA aren’t the only ones trying to explain the situation, the Canadians also have some words on gas prices. Then there is the Rolling Stone interpretation. But rather that the technical explanation others are just blaming the rise on inflation.
U.S. production of crude has slightly increased in the recent past, and industry are urging Congress and the Obama administration to expand drilling offshore, because although renewable energy sources will provide some future volume, at present we still need to grow basic oil production to meet the existing need. However that argument is not strong enough to stop Interior Secretary Ken Salazar from withdrawing leases for oil shale production on federal land, while he works out a plan for higher royalty rates. The Administration is however offering a second round of leases but there is opposition from local mayors near the operations. The techniques used in getting gas out of shale in the US has proved quite successful in generating production from shales that were thought impractical, and so now the Europeans are considering using them over there . Gas from shale is still only 5% of production in the USA though it is expected to reach levels of up to 50% before too long. The Canadians are now trying it, and proving along the way that just because the technique works doesn’t means it will make money. On the other side of the country, however, shale production is already making money .

It does appear that the Shotkman field is finally going to start development, with the initial engineering work being awarded to Aker Solutions who with Technip France and SBM Offshore been awarded a 25 million EUR contract on the development of a concept definition and engineering design for the project floating production unit. Recognizing that a business opportunity lies out there Russian authorities are now ready to elaborate a new EU-Russia energy agreement, to regulate relations and help speed up progress in projects like Shtokman, the Russians say. Royal Dutch Shell however remain to be convinced. They need to be sure that they will receive production rights after exploration and development, and in Russia this is no safe bet even with a local partner.

One example of potential problem comes from the Karachaganak field, where Gazprom and the Kazakhstan Government are thinking of suspending the joint venture Of course not all projects fail for political reasons Chevron has just pulled out of Northern Taiga Neftegaz a venture with Gazprom Neft after reserves in the Pyakutinsky and Aikhettinsky fields in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area, did not meet the original projections of some 45 million tons of oil.

The latest scheme is for Total to join with Gazprom and fund a pipeline to carry Nigerian gas through the Sahara to Europe, some 2,580 miles away.

As the planting season starts in South Asia the Bangladesh Prime Minister has directed authorities to ensure power to agriculture to protect food production.
The ministry of power, energy and mineral resources has stated that 130 MW of additional electricity has been added to the national grid and 700 MW more will be added by June. However the demand from the people of Bangladesh is that the government should cut the price of fuel oils.
 This year the price is 10% up on the last Boro season when the price was Tk 40. Bangladesh is still trying to find ways to economically exploit its high quality coal reserve . The proven gas resource are widely believed to soon be exhausted. In the absence of a decision the energy deficit is widening. This summer will witness massive load shedding.

Iranian and Russian technicians are conducting a test run of Iran’s first nuclear plant, a major step toward full operations. Work on Bushehr started 34 years ago, during the reign of the shah with the help of the German contractor Siemens but was suspended after the 1979 revolution. Pilot operations at the 1,000-megawatt light-water reactor, built with Russian assistance under a $1 billion contract, have long been delayed and it's unclear when the reactor could be switched on. Wednesday's tests were a computer run to ensure that the reactor's processes work properly. For the tests, technicians loaded a "virtual fuel" of lead into the reactor to imitate the density of enriched uranium, said Iranian nuclear spokesman Mohsen Shirazi.

There is an interest to form strong bilateral relations between Bulgaria and Italy to move forward with the South Stream gas pipeline.

More stories can be found at The Energy Bulletin and Drumbeat at The Oil Drum.

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