Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

the Bear & the Dragon shake hands on $25Bn energy deal

siberianpipeline1Whilst having previously discussed the Byzantine workings of Russia’s energy players in previous articles & also the direction that China has taken recently in securing strategic reserves, it was only a matter of time befiore the Dragon & the Bear came to an accord together. During a visit to China this week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin has succeeded in bringing together a massive deal for Russian oil producers in Siberia.

On Tuesday (17/02/09), Russia and China signed  an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of a branch of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean (ESPO) oil pipeline toward China. Under this agreement, Russia will supply 15 million metric tons (300,000 barrels per day) of crude oil annually for 20 years to China, in return China via state owned China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) will extend a total of $25 billion in loans to Russian state-controlled crude producer Rosneft and pipeline operator Transneft at 6% per annum in exchange for the long-term oil supply. Transneft plans to start building a Chinese leg of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean later this year and to commission it in 2010, Russia’s monopoly pipeline operator said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The construction of the leg should be synchronized with the construction of the first line of the ESPO pipeline,” the statement quoted the company’s vice president, Mikhail Barkov, as saying. Barkov also said that China’s $10 billion loan to Transeft would primarily be invested in the construction of the Chinese leg. “In addition, there are projects that will contribute to the functioning of the entire eastern pipeline and this leg in particular,” the Transneft official said.

The pipeline’s first leg was launched in October 2008 in the reverse direction, running westwards. The construction of the pipeline, designed to bring Russian oil to the lucrative Asia-Pacific market, is due to be completed later this year, which will enable ESPO to pump its first oil eastwards. The terms of the agreement stipulate that China will extend a $15 billion loan to Russian state-run oil giant Rosneft against the guarantee of oil supplies, while Transneft’s $10 billion would be granted with the infrastructure as collateral. Currently Rosneft, which is expected to be the main oil exporter via the pipeline, supplys around 10 million tonnes of oil a year to China by railway under the terms of a deal signed in 2004.

The ESPO was originally conceived in the mid-90’s by now disgraced Yukos Chairman, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, as a private pipeline. Following the “collapse” of Yukos, state owned Transneft picked up the baton & began construction of the first leg in 2006, which completed last year. The pipeline is supplied via spurs from the Tomsk Oblast & Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug oil fields in Western Siberia, Transneft’s existing Omsk-Irkutsk pipeline has also been connected, allowing Rosneft to pump up to 22 million tons of oil annually into the pipeline, whilst smaller competitor Surgutneftegas will contribute around 8 million tons.

Anglo-Russian or Russo-Anglo (depending on which side of the political fence you sit on) TNK-BP is also involved in this project, having began supplying oil to the pipeline in October 2008. TNK-BP in a joint venture with Rosneft has extensive operations in the Verkhnechonskoye field, which has proven reserves of 409 million barrels of oil equivalent.

“The first shipment of VC crude into the ESPO marks an important event for TNK-BP and for the industry.” commented Chief Operating Officer Tim Summers at the launch. ” We are establishing a major new production center in East Siberia. Application of world—class technology and the timely launch of the ESPO pipeline allowed us to begin commercial development of this project, which has been deemed uneconomic for the past 30 years. The beginning of regular commercial shipments from VC to the ESPO marks the emergence of East Siberia as a new and important oil and gas province in Russia”.

So win-win all round? Certainly for the Chinese in the long term, as we have argued in previous articles, China is on a spending spree on commodities, particularly in the energy sector where it seems almost desperate to secure strategic reserves. Russia also gains, in that with the recent devaluation of the rouble, access to funding in capital markets has been harder to come by, especially for Russia’s energy firms. Do we in the West gain from this ? That remains to be seen, from a persoanl viewpoint, this may well help to stabilise geo-political issues in the region whilst also contributing to oil price stability in the long run.

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Qatar to continue double digit growth as LNG buoys economy

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As the financial crisis continues to reach around the globe leaving most economies reeling in its wake, the Gulf state of Qatar is hoping that its substantial natural gas reserves will cushion it from the worst of the fallout. While other gulf economies face slowing growth rates, Qatar hopes that its vast gas reserves will allow it to weather the storm more easily than its regional neighbours.

“Selling gas gives a much better outlook for Qatar than the rest of the GCC countries,” says Philippe Dauba-Pantanacce, a senior economist at Standard Chartered Bank. “They have been doing a lot of heavy investments in terms of gas production, and they are yielding the benefits now.”

Qatar boasts the third largest gas reserves in the world after Russia and Iran, and is the world’s largest exporter of liquified natural gas (LNG). Experts predict that Qatar’s economy could grow by more than 10% in 2009, bolstered by projected strong expansion of gas exports and assisted by a potential drop in inflation. Such growth seems particularly remarkable when one considers that GDP growth in the United Arab Emirates,  is projected to dip under 3%.

“Qatar’s economic growth will be the strongest in the region by some margin,” insists Simon Williams, HSBC’s chief Middle East economist. “The industrialisation process in Qatar is advanced, the infrastructure build-out programme has momentum, and financing is secured for many of the key projects.”

This growth is expected to help Qatar push forward with in excess of $222bn worth of projects, as it strives to move away from its dependency on energy and become a ‘knowledge’ economy.

While the oil price collapse has weighed heavily on other Gulf states partially dependant on oil exports for their revenues, economists say the slide will have no impact on Qatar’s gas exports, which are based on long-term, locked-in price contracts. Most of its growing LNG exports are sold on long-term contracts, many linked to a lower reference oil price than currently projected for 2009, and are thus not expected to be adversely affected by the current slump in oil prices, according to analysts. With new LNG facilities scheduled to come on stream from producers RasGas and QatarGas, Qatar’s aim is to more than double its production capacity of 77 million tonnes per year by 2010.

Qatar is expected to print the strongest GCC current account surplus in 2009, above 30% of GDP. The recently completed $5Bn Dolphin Project, a good example of a “cash cow” project for the island nation, has now started pumping gas from Qatar to the UAE via an undersea pipeline.  The UAE has the fastest growing gas demand in the Middle East due to a rapid expansion in power and industrial projects and its gradual switch to gas as a cleaner source of energy. From around 21.2 billion cubic metres in 2000, the UAE’s gas demand surged to 34.1 billion cubic metres in 2005 and is projected to soar to 42.9 billion cubic metres in 2010, to 51.9 billion cubic metres in 2015 and nearly 63.2 billion cubic metres in 2020, according to the Ministry of Energy. Qatar’s North Field is the centrepiece of this project, with the pipeline carrying up to 30 million cubic metres of natural gas per day from Qatar to the UAE for a period of 25 years.

“In terms of top-line economic performance, Qatar is going to be one of the most strongly performing economies around the world next year,” says Robin Bew, editorial director and chief economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit. “But it’s important to point out that doesn’t mean it has dodged the economic bullet.”

“In terms of revenues coming into the economy, they are going to see a relatively more stable revenue base and that should help them going forward,” says Robert McKinnon, managing director of research at Al Mal Capital. “So they should be able to continue a lot of their infrastructure spend, and in terms of the GCC it would be probably the safest place to invest in the coming year.”

While global oil producers are contemplating ways to prop up crude prices, it would seem that gas producers don’t share the same agenda, for now. Gas and LNG are globally traded on 25-year, long-term take-or-pay contracts driven by a formula, wheras oil is traded on spot contracts. Major gas exporters have met informally for several years at the annual Gas Exporting Countries Forum, a group which includes Russia, Iran, Qatar, Venezuela, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia and Libya, as reported by Graham Stack in his East of Europe blog.  However Iran is pressing for a formation of an OPEC-like gas cartel to set global prices, whereas Qatar & Russia seem to be more concerned with “reaching strategic understandings” on export volumes, schedules of deliveries, and the construction of new pipelines. They also plan to jointly explore and develop gas fields and coordinate start-ups and production schedules.

Gazprom turns off taps on Ukraine’s gas supply (again)

gazpromjsc-header1In what is becoming an all too familiar show of “transparent” hubris, Russian gas giant Gazprom (one of MSV’s favourite corporate bullies) has once again wished Ukraine a Happy New Year by turning off gas supplies to the former Russian sattelite, as reported this morning by BBC News, prompting fears that European supplies will also be affected.

Gazprom had reduced natural gas deliveries to Ukraine by 25%Monday, saying the country has failed to pay $600 million in gas bills for the year. Gazprom also said that Ukraine’s state energy company, Naftogaz Ukrainy, failed to sign contracts for the supply of gas this year. Gazprom has refuted accusations from Naftogaz that the reduction of natural gas supply from Russia was closer to 35%.

“Due to the lack of progress in negotiations and Naftogaz’s failure to sign gas supply contracts – including for January and February – gas supplies to Ukraine will be reduced by an additional 25% at 1700 GMT [12 p.m. EST],” Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kuprianov said in a statement.

About 80% of Russian gas supplies to Europe pass through the Ukraine, which puts Naftogaz in a position to siphon off supplies intended for other customers throughout Europe. In January 2006, Russia cut supplies to Ukraine completely for a period of three days causing gas volumes across Europe to fall, as Ukraine scrambled to satisfy its demand.

In early December 2008, both parties had agreed Ukraine would pay $1.5 billion in debt accrued this year and last. They also agreed that two controversial middlemen – Swiss based RosUkerEnergo and UkGazEnergo – would be replaced by a 50-50 joint venture between Gazprom and Naftogaz. However, Gazprom insists Ukraine owes another $600 million for 19 billion cubic meters of Russian gas it received without a contract. The oil giant also wants Ukraine to approve the creation of the two new companies set to replace RosUkerEnergo. Yulia Tymoshenko, the Ukrainian prime minister, says the Ukraine has fulfilled its obligations and accused RosUkerEnergo of running up debts for $4 billion cubic meters of gas.

Gazprom chief Alexey Miller in an effort to allay Western fears stated that Gazprom would continue full shipments to the European Union,  through pipelines that cross Ukraine. The Ukrainian president’s energy adviser, Bohdan Sokolovsky, also said Ukraine would guarantee the delivery of gas to Europe.

“Whatever Russia ships we will deliver,” he said. “This is what we have committed to.”

For those readers fresh to the scene, there is a considerable political slant to this measure; relations between Russia and the former Soviet republic have steadily disintegrated since 2005 when Viktor Yushchenko took office following the Orange Revolution. Since then, Yushchenko has angered Moscow by seeking to align Ukraine with the West away from the Kremlin’s influence. Particular bugbears have been Ukraine lobbying to join NATO & also their vocal support for Georgia in the recent “civil unrest” in the Caucasus.

Meanwhile, Russia has more than tripled the price it charges Ukraine for gas. Gazprom had offered a contract with gas set at $250 per 1,000 cubic meters for 2009, which Ukrainian officials said was still too high. As a benchmark, faithful Russian ally Belarus is paying $128 per tcm, whilst European customers are being charged an average $418 per tcm, a hefty premium that Gazprom originally tried to impose on Ukraine late last year.

As previously  reported on MSV in Serbian Standoff, Gazprom is looking at a number of intiatives to pump gas to the West without transitting Ukraine, the primary project being the South Stream Pipeline, which will bypass Ukraine via the Black Sea & land in Bulgaria, transitting Greece & Serbia before going offshore again somewhere on the Adriatic to reach European customers.

UPDATE 1 (04/01/09) from Bloomberg :

Gazprom increased natural-gas supplies to Europe via three routes as Russia and Ukraine courted international support amid a deepening price dispute. Russia’s state-owned gas exporter boosted shipments along two routes through Belarus and one to Turkey, Boris Posyagin, head of Gazprom’s dispatch department, said yesterday in comments broadcast on state television

UPDATE 2 (05/01/09) from Reuters

Croatia, which imports 40 percent of its annual gas needs, most of it from Russia, followed the Czech Republic, Turkey, Poland, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria in saying deliveries had been affected by the row.

“Imports of Russian gas have been reduced by 7 percent. However, it does not affect supply to consumers as the situation in the system is stable,” Ivana Markovic, a senior official with Croatian pipeline firm Plinacro, told state television.

UPDATE 3 (12.01.09) from BBC News

A statement from the Russian energy giant said Ukraine had signed a deal on the transit of Russian gas to the EU “without any conditions whatsoever”Experts say it will take up to three days for Russian gas to reach some parts of Europe even if Russia agrees in the next few hours to turn the taps back on.

 

Russia had said it could not implement an agreement with Ukraine to resume gas flows to Europe, accusing Ukraine of adding “unacceptable” conditions.

Moscow alleged that Ukraine had added a clause denying it owed Russia for past supplies of gas

UPDATE 4 : (20/01/09) from Bloomberg

Russia’s rouble and the Ukrainian hryvnia strengthened as OAO Gazprom resumed shipments of natural gas to Europe after a two-week shutdown.The ruble snapped a four-day decline against the euro and the hryvnia appreciated to its highest level versus the dollar in six days after Russia’s gas exporter said it will ship about 430 billion cubic meters of gas today. Currencies in eastern Europe pared declines.

“The lack of gas was creating a negative dimension for industry,” said Roderick Ngotho, an emerging markets currency strategist in London at UBS AG. “The resumption of gas means industry can do the best it can given the current downturn in external demand without the added negative of disruptions to energy flow.”

Serbian standoff

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As previously discussed in Russian Energy Bears, state owned Gazprom is on the prowl for new acquisition targets near to home, the latest potential suitor is Serbian state energy company NIS (Naftna Industrija Srbije). As reported in early December by news agency Novosti, Gazprom is looking to acquire 51% of the Russian sattelites energy reserves & control of its refining & retail operations, for $400M. In return, Gazprom offers to invest up to $500M in developing & building new gas storage infrastructure & also construction of a distributions spur for the South Stream Pipeline.

“An agreement was reached today (5th Dec 08) to sign three deals by the end of the year,” CEO Alexei Miller said, referring to Gazprom Neft’s acquisition of state-owned Naftna Industrija Srbije, Gazprom’s $500 million investment in a gas storage facility in Serbia, and the construction of the Serbian segment of the South Stream pipeline.

The South Stream Pipeline is set to provide a distribution network across SE Europe, allowing Gazprom to distribute up to 30Bln cubic meteres of gas via Greece, Bulgaria & Serbia. The pipeline has attracted some controversy, mainly from the US, as it is seen as being a further attempt by Gazprom to put a stranglehold on EU energy supplies. Russia contends that this is purely diversification, an understandable premise, as soured relations with Ukraine on transit deals & domestic prices caused Gazprom to turn off the Ukrainian supply in 2006. More on the myriad of pipeline deals can be sourced here at The Bridge.

Meanwhile, although the deal is done from a Gazprom point of view, it is causing ructions within the Serbian government itself. Serbia’s Economy Minister Mladjan Dinkic said Serbia should sell its state energy company, NIS, only if Russia signs firm guarantees that the South Stream natural gas pipeline will indeed be built. But Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic said Serbia should sell the company even without Moscow’s guarantees, or risk losing the support of its “strategic” political ally.

Dinkic and other pro-Western ministers in the government fear that Russia’s takeover of the country’s energy sector would dramatically increase Moscow’s political influence in the Balkan country.

Dinkic said that Russia insists on maintaining a monopoly over the sale of oil products in Serbia until 2014, is reneging on its promise to invest €500 million in modernising NIS, and has offered no guarantees that the European Union’s pollution protection standards would be implemented.

so capitalism Russian style.

UPDATE 1 10/02/09 : From OilVoice : Gazprom completes acquisition of 51% in NIS

JSC Gazprom Neft completed the acquisition of 51% of shares in Serbia’s NIS at a price of 400 million euros. The acquisition was made in accordance with the purchase agreement between Gazprom Neft and the Serbian government.

The agreement also provides for the reconstruction and upgrade of NIS process facilities by 2012; investment will amount to at least 500 million euros. As part of the upgrade, measures will be taken to improve the quality of oil products so that they meet European standards (Euro-5).