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Mark Lammey

Energy Voice editor
Europe

Ukraine raises gas imports from Slovakia

Ukraine will take about 21 percent more gas from Slovakia to boost deliveries to underground storage after the country suspended imports from Russia over a pricing dispute, transport monopoly Ukrtransgaz said on Friday. Ukraine plans to import 16.5 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas on Friday from Slovakia, up from daily imports of 13.6 mcm so far this month, a spokesman for the company said. He said Ukraine pumped 27 mcm of gas per day from July 1-9 and collected 12.2 billion cubic metres of gas in reserves as of July 10.

Oil & Gas

Shell buys Morgan Stanley’s Europe gas and power trade book

Royal Dutch Shell has acquired Morgan Stanley's European gas and power trading book as the U.S. bank continues its exit from the sector. Shell is set to significantly increase its footprint in the gas market in the coming years if it completes its proposed $70 billion acquisition of smaller British rival BG Group and as part of a growing strategic alliance with Russia's Gazprom, the world's top gas producer. Shell Energy Europe, its supply and trading arm in the region, has signed a binding sales and purchase agreement for Morgan Stanley's portfolio, the Anglo-Dutch company said on Friday, without providing further details.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Scrapping of climate change tax break to cost Infinis £7m

Green-energy giant Infinis suffered a near 8% slide in the value of its shares after it confirmed the chancellor’s decision to scrap climate change tax breaks for renewables generators will cost it £7million by March. In Wednesday’s Budget, Chancellor George Osborne said the Climate Change Levy (CCL) exemption, which allows businesses not to pay the environmental tax levied on energy if it has come from renewable power, would be removed in August. The move continues the UK Government’s “crusade” to scale back financial support for renewables, which has not been perturbed by the approach of United Nations climate change talks in Paris later this year.

Europe

EU energy regulator to get enforcement powers

EU energy regulator ACER, until now largely toothless, will be given legal powers to enforce plans for a single energy market that breaks down national barriers under a proposal from the bloc's executive arm. At a conference on Thursday in Slovenia, where the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators is based, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete laid out their plans to bolster ACER. Already next week in Brussels, the Commission will publish its thoughts on how to improve cross-border power and gas flows to try to bring down energy costs and curb the need for fossil fuels imported from nations such as Russia.

Americas

With options dwindling, BP seized a chance to settle oil spill case

In early May, with its legal options dwindling and investors impatient, BP saw a chance to negotiate what became a $18.7 billion settlement that ended five years of litigation over the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. An unexpected opportunity to secure a global deal that would wipe the slate clean of hundreds of claims and untold billions of dollar in penalties opened up when Chief Executive Bob Dudley met with Patrick Juneau, the lifelong Louisiana litigator who BP had panned for handing out "absurd" sums of money as part of a class settlement in 2012. The British giant was ready to bury the hatchet after years of acrimony over payouts, which had ballooned to more than $10 billion. It had bigger problems: unresolved claims by the federal government, five Gulf of Mexico states and hundreds of local municipalities stemming from Macondo well blowout.

Europe

Russia’s Gazprom cancels Saipem deal on the Black Sea gas pipeline

Russia's Gazprom has cancelled a contract with Italian oil services group Saipem to build the first line of a gas pipeline beneath the Black Sea, the Russian state gas company said in a statement on Wednesday. Gazprom said it will start talks with other potential contractors to build the first line of the Turkish Stream pipeline, which would run beneath the Black Sea to Turkey. The project would consist of four lines, each capable of carrying 15.75 billion cubic metres of gas per year. Saipem said last month it was asked by Gazprom to start work on a pipeline under the Black Sea, which should avoid Ukraine as a transit country for roughly half of Russian gas shipped to Europe.

Europe

Chinese firm invests in East Siberian oilfield

A small Chinese energy firm has signed a deal with a state-controlled Russian oil company to invest in an East Siberian oilfield project. CEFC China Energy signed the deal with Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russia's top natural gas producer, on July 6, according to a statement on the Shanghai-based company's website. The private chemicals and fuel company said it is investing in three blocks holding 1.9 billion barrels of oil in the Baikal project, 90 kilometres away from the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) pipeline that supplies China with Russian oil.

Europe

Romanian prosecutors seize Lukoil assets in probe, report says

Romanian prosecutors seized assets of Russian oil firm Lukoil worth up to 2 billion euros ($2.22 billion) in an investigation on suspicion of money laundering, a local court was quoted as saying on Wednesday by state agency Agerpres. In October of last year Romanian prosecutors, police and customs inspectors raided the offices of Lukoil near the city of Ploiesti in an investigation into alleged tax evasion and money laundering concerning an estimated 230 million euros. As a result, Lukoil briefly shut down its local refinery.

Europe

Russia’s Rosneft signs preliminary deal to buy into Essar’s Vadinar refinery

Russia's top oil producer Rosneft has made a significant step in its efforts to expand its global reach by signing a preliminary deal with Essar Group about acquiring up to 49 percent of the Vadinar oil refinery in India. Rosneft, the world's top listed oil producer, has long sought to increase its exposure to the global markets but its efforts have been hampered by Western sanctions over Moscow's role in the Ukraine crisis. State-controlled Rosneft said on Wednesday that it has also finalised a deal to supply 10 million tonnes of oil a year (200,000 barrels per day) to the refinery over 10 years.

Oil & Gas

Brazil gives clearance to Shell’s purchase of BG

Brazil gave the green light to oil major Royal Dutch Shell to buy smaller rival BG, advancing the $70 billion merger, the largest of the past decade, closer to completion in early 2016. Shell is set to become the largest foreign operator offshore Brazil after it buys BG, so the clearance from the country was a crucial step to complete the merger on time. Brazil's competition authority CADE said on Wednesday it had given preliminary approval to the transaction "without restrictions." BG said that if no appeals were lodged or referrals made in the next 15 days, CADE’s clearance would become final. A spokesman for Shell confirmed the approval and the 15-day appeals period.

Europe

In shale-wary France, an attempt to revive former coal region with gas

France could get the equivalent of 10 years of gas consumption by exploiting the methane trapped in the former coal mines of its deprived eastern regions, a French company running a rare domestic exploration programme said on Wednesday. France, which slammed the door on developing shale gas due to environmental concerns and blocked many exploration permits, has discretely supported efforts by Française de l'Energie, based in the Lorraine region, to exploit so-called coalbed methane. "France is completely dependent on imports, so it's rather interested in seeing we can produce a gas which is clean and near existing infrastructure," said Julien Moulin, head of the company formerly known as European Gas.

Australasia

Philippine San Miguel unit seeks $400 mln from banks to build power plant

Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corp's energy subsidiary is borrowing $400 million from banks to finance the construction of a power plant north of the capital, IFR reported on Wednesday. SMC Global Power Holdings Corp mandated DBS Bank, Mizuho Bank and Standard Chartered for a $400 million, seven-year loan for the construction of a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Bataan province, said IFR, a Thomson Reuters publication.

North Sea

Craig Group adds new rescue vessel to fleet

The head of Aberdeen-based Craig Group yesterday swatted away any suggestions the firm may be experiencing buyer’s remorse after its shipping division added a new vessel to its fleet. A number of North Sea oil and gas companies have been forced to the wall this year after their ambitious spending plans failed to reap rewards as orders tailed off amid the oil price slump. But Craig Group’s boss said its outlay on emergency response and recovery vessels would safeguard hundreds of jobs at the privately owned, family-run shipping and energy services company.

Oil & Gas

Ghana Gas Company shuts plant over Tullow gas supply disruption

State-run Ghana Gas Company has shut down its Atuabo gas processing plant due to an unexpected disruption of gas supplies from the offshore Jubilee field operated by Tullow Oil, the plant's director said on Tuesday. George Yankey told Reuters that Tullow had informed the plant of the disruption on its floating production vessel. Gas supplies were cut on July 3 and there was no indication when they would resume, he said.

Oil & Gas

Libya lifts force majeure at Ras Lanuf oil terminal

Libya has lifted force majeure at the major Ras Lanuf oil terminal, though restarting exports would take at least two days depending on available crude, a spokesman for the National Oil Corporation said on Tuesday. Restarting Ras Lanuf would be a major boost for Libya's crippled oil industry. The terminal, along with another major eastern oil port Es Sider, has been under force majeure since December last year due to fighting between rival factions,

Oil & Gas

Statoil to decide on Scottish floating wind farm in September

Norway's oil and gas firm Statoil plans to take the final investment decision in September on building a floating wind farm off the coast of Scotland, set to be the first of its kind in the world, a spokesman for the company said on Tuesday. Statoil, which has run a single floating offshore turbine for several years in Norway, is now planning to build five floating turbines, each with 6 megawatt capacity, off Aberdeen in an area where the water depth is around 100 metres. With development areas for foundation-fixed offshore turbines limited to shallow seas with depths up to 50 metres, and with some countries experiencing strong opposition against the visual impact of turbines on the land, floating offshore is seen as the next major growth area for the wind industry.

Oil & Gas

Tullow Oil finds ways to explore despite withered budget

Africa-focused Tullow Oil is turning to low-cost technology in its search for new oil reserves after the collapse in the price of crude and a poor run of discoveries forced the company to slash its exploration budget by 80 percent. Energy companies worldwide, from wildcatters to international behemoths, cut spending in an effort to keep their books balanced after the near-halving of oil prices since last June as a result of sharp growth in global supplies. British-based Tullow slashed its exploration budget for this year to $200 million from a target of $1 billion in 2014. Its reduced programme includes wells in Gabon, Kenya, the Netherlands, Suriname and Pakistan.

Oil & Gas

China gives independent Shandong Dongming crude oil import quota

The Chinese government has given independent refinery Shandong Dongming Petrochemical Group approval to import 7.5 million tonnes of crude oil a year, or 150,000 barrels per day (bpd), the state economic planner said on Tuesday. It is the first independent plant to win crude oil quotas since the introduction of new regulations allowing more private participation in a sector long dominated by state oil giants.

Oil & Gas

Egypt signs energy import deals with Russia’s Rosneft

Egypt and Russia's top oil producer Rosneft have signed two initial deals for the supply of petroleum products and liquefied natural gas to Cairo, the two sides said on Tuesday. The oil ministry said in a statement the deals include the supply of benzine and bitumen, as well as 24 LNG cargoes for state gas company EGAS over two years starting from the fourth quarter of 2015.

Oil & Gas

Chancellor told tackle North Sea “recession in confidence”

Chancellor urged to tackle "recession in confidence" as North Sea downturn affects tens of thousands in north east Chancellor George Osborne was urged last night to use his first all-Tory Budget to tackle a “recession in confidence” in the North Sea sector which is hitting the north-east economy and tens of thousands of people who depend on the industry for a living. Mr Osborne will deliver his Budget on Wednesday – and north-east businesses have called on him not to stand still after pledges made to the industry during the run-up to the general election. They expect him to build on the £1.3billion oil and gas support package he introduced in March.

Oil & Gas

UAE’s Dana Gas wins favourable ruling in Kurdistan dispute

Dana Gas, one of the largest oil and gas investors in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, said on Sunday that it had obtained a favourable ruling from a London arbitration tribunal in its dispute with Kurdistan authorities. The Abu Dhabi-listed firm, which leads a consortium of investors, had filed an arbitration case in London in October 2013 against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), seeking to confirm its contract rights and to obtain payments for products which it had delivered.

Oil & Gas

Egypt raises gas price paid to Italy’s Eni and Edison

Egypt has raised the prices it pays Eni and Edison for the natural gas they produce in the country, an official with state-owned gas company EGAS said on Sunday. The agreements mark the latest move by Egyptian authorities to improve terms for foreign oil and gas businesses in the hope that more competitive pricing will encourage investment in the energy-hungry country.

Oil & Gas

Aberdeen-based energy firm GOT goes bust, 19 jobs lost

A strong order book could not prevent Aberdeen-based procurement services firm Gas and Oil Technology (GOT) going bust, with 19 jobs lost amid the oil price downturn. Work ground to a halt at GOT because the firm did not have enough stock to fulfil its orders, despite investing heavily in infrastructure in recent years, administrators from KPMG said yesterday. Nineteen of GOT’s 23 employees have been let go with immediate effect, with the remaining four staying on temporarily to help wind down the company.