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Monday, January 30, 2006

Transneft Warning

01-30-2006 RZD News - Transneft will sue Russia's environmental oversight agency if it rejects a Transneft pipeline project in eastern Siberia, Interfax reported, citing vice president Sergei Grigoryev. Greenpeace is putting "pressure" on government experts to say the $11.5 billion pipeline project to the Pacific coast will hurt the environment, Interfax said, citing Grigoryev. The company will prove in court their concerns are unfounded, the agency said. A pipeline leak around Lake Baikal could send 4,000 tons of crude (29,000 barrels) into the lake within 20 minutes, Greenpeace and other environmental groups said last year. Grigoryev said a pipeline accident is impossible, reports The Moscow Times referring to Bloomberg.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Far East oil pipeline construction delayed over environment

MOSCOW, January 26 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian federal supervisory body failed to reach a final decision January 25 on the first phase of the project to build the Far East oil pipeline, a member of an environmental commission said Thursday. The Federal Service for the Oversight of the Environment, Technology and Nuclear Management did not approve a critical environmental impact report on the Far East oil pipeline, which is expected to cost $11.5 billion. Gennady Chegasov said the report cited 80% of the members of the state environmental commission as saying the pipeline should not be laid close to Lake Baikal, the deepest fresh water lake in the world. According to a feasibility study prepared by Transneft, Russia's state-owned oil pipeline monopoly, the pipeline is to be built within 800 meters of the lake. Transneft presented the feasibility study to the federal service for consideration January 24. The supervisory body was either to approve or reject the document the following day, Chegasov said. He cited seismic hazards (from magnitude 10 on the Richter scale) as reasons behind the commission's negative assessment of the project. Moreover, he said the feasibility study did not mention the possible environmental impact of a fire or any other accident that could affect the pipeline and did not contain any related figures. The pipeline is to transport about 9,000 metric tons of oil an hour, Chegasov said. "This is the amount of oil that would spill into the lake in the event of an accident." Chegasov also said, "The feasibility study does not prove that revenues will account for expenses related to the aftermath of a possible accident." He said a new expert group might be set up. "I am not ruling out that a new commission will be set up to make a favorable report," the expert said. He added that the report was not legally binding unless it was approved by the federal service. Environmentalist Irina Maximova said the study did not feature associated natural gas. "The gas aspect has not been addressed at all, as if it did not exist, but there are huge reserves of [associated] gas there," she said, suggesting that the associated gas might be burned. Chegasov said he thought no decision had been adopted on the matter since certain interest groups did not like the findings. The Far East pipeline, which will be the longest in the world, is of great economic and political importance for Russia. It will stretch as far as the Pacific Ocean and pump oil, primarily, to Japan and China.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Yerevan Denies Agreeing to Sell Russia 45% of Iran-Armenia Gas Pipeline

Vladimir Putin and Robert Kocharian / Photo from www.azator.gr25.01.2006 MosNews - Official Yerevan denied information that during recent negotiations Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharyan agreed that Russian gas monopoly Gazprom would receive 45 percent stake in Iran-Armenia gas pipeline in return for cheap gas. MosNews has reported on this matter on Monday, Jan. 23, citing a report by Russian Kommersant daily. The press secretary of Armenian President Viktor Sogomonyan, quoted by Kommersant, said that these reports "absolutely do not correspond to reality". According to the press attache, during their meeting, which took place on Sunday, Jan. 22, Putin and Kocharyan "agreed to continue negotiations and most likely the final decision will be made in the middle of February". Another source in Armenian government told the Russian paper that "no progress was made during Moscow negotiations and the sides remained at the positions that were stated during the meeting between the two leaders which took place in December in Sochi". During that meeting Moscow demanded that Yerevan either buys Russian natural gas for a new price ($110 per 1,000 cubic meters instead of previous price of $54) or transfers to Russia's ownership all of the republic's gas transportation infrastructure and the fifth energy block of Razdansky TPP. The Armenian side says that this offer is "unacceptable" for Yerevan. At present time Armenia is not buying any Russian gas at all, using reserves it has stocked at the Avobyansk gas storage.

2005 a good year for Russian pipe industry

MOSCOW. Jan 25 (Interfax) - Russia's leading pipe industry lobbysaid 2005 was a good year for the country's pipe producers. "The tendency for steady growth in the industry resulting fromstrategic innovative modernization programs and re-equipping productionlines was reinforced," the Russian Pipe Industry Development Foundationsaid. "The Russian pipe industry is now capable of meeting allrequirements of Russian oil, gas and machine-building companies both interms of the range and volume of pipe production. In addition, exportsexpanded geographically, from 16 countries in 2000 to 60 in 2005," theFoundation said. Output of many types of pipe rose in 2005: welded general purposepipes increased 7.4%, oil pipeline tubes 6.7% and shaped pipes 20%. Butproduction continued to fall for others: by 19.5% for seamless stainlesssteel tubes, 23.1% for ball-bearing tubes and 3.9% for general pipes. Ukrainian pipe shipments to Russia increased more than 10% overallin 2005, the Foundation said. "Growth was more than 30% for stainlesspipes and oil-well tubing and 200%-300% for water and gas mains pipingand oil pipeline tubes. Ukrainian exports of large-diameter pipes toRussia also increased significantly, by more than 20% in the year," thestatement reads. There was no control over Ukrainian pipe imports, which Ukrainianmanufacturers are selling at dumping prices in Russia, in 2005, theFoundation said. "But today there is every sign that the terms of competition areevening out, at least for small-and medium-diameter pipes. On January31, 2006, the government's Resolution [No. 824 of December 28, 2005] onMeasures to Safeguard the Economic Interests of Russian Manufacturers ofSelected Types of Steel Pipe enters into effect. This imposes five-yearanti-dumping duties on imports of five types of pipe originating inUkraine," the statement reads. The Pipe Industry Development Foundation regards the resolution onanti-dumping measures to be the first step towards achieving equal termsof competition with foreign pipe manufacturers on the domestic Russianmarket, the statement said. It said the next step ought to be a government resolution on quotasfor large-diameter pipe imports. A decision on this will be made uponcompletion on February 3 of an investigation into these imports.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Armenian president agrees to give 45% stake in Iran-Armenia pipeline to Russia

24.01.2006 IntelliNews Today - According to the official source close to the president of Armenia Robert Kocharian, the head of state agreed on the Moscow ’s request to give a 45% stake in still being built Iran-Armenia gas pipeline. In exchange, the South Caucasus republic hopes to be offered an old price of USD 54 for 1,000 m 3 of natural gas imported from Russia . As earlier reported, gas major Gazprom called for increase of the price for Armenia to USD 110 per 1,000 m 3 of gas beginning from Jan 1, 2006 . The country currently experiences gas supply break caused by the explosions on Mozdok-Tbilisi gas pipeline. The project of importing natural gas from Iran is supposed to at least partially decrease the dependence on gas supplies from Russia. By giving away part of the control over Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, Armenia may lose its only potential instrument of defense against the gas price increases and opportunity to diversify the supplies.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Caucasus Militants Freeze All Georgia

Open Gallery...01–23–2006 Kommersant – Yesterday's explosions knocked out two branches of Mozdok-Tbilisi gas pipeline in North Ossetia and power transmission towers in Karachayevo-Cherkesia. As a result, Georgia and Armenia have been left with no gas of Russia and Georgia faces material decline in supplied power. In the wake of explosions, Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili lashed out at Russia, blaming it for having engineered the energy crisis in his country. Armenia has not attacked yet on hopes, perhaps, that President Robert Kocharyan will be able to find a way out in Moscow, where he rushed Sunday. The main gas pipeline that exports Russia's gas to Georgia and onward to Armenia was knocked out by two explosions near the mountain village of Nizhny Lars, some 30 kilometers to the south of Vladikavkaz. The first explosion happened at 2:52 a.m.; the second one followed in 20 minutes. After a while, gas operators registered the sudden drop in pressure and closed gas control valves. Emergency officers arrived in no time. The check showed the pipes were blown up by two homemade bombs with explosion yield of between 700 grams and 800 grams in TNT equivalent. According to the experts, it will take at least two days to repair North Caucasus-Transcaucasia gas pipeline provided the work is carried out in emergency mode. Power transmission towers in Karachayevo-Cherkesia exploded yesterday midday, close to town of Karachayev, having hit the high-voltage line that transmits up to 500 MW to Georgia. Investigators spotted bombs with explosion force of 6 kilograms of TNT. Currently Russia delivers to Georgia 100 MW via Salkhino high-voltage line, Abkhazia. Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili didn’t waste time, actually blaming Russia for cutting gas supplies to his country and triggering an energy crisis there. Meanwhile, all heating power plants stopped in Georgia and the country is short of around 500 MW, i.e. a third of required volume.

Gas pipelines to Georgia to be repaired Monday

STAVROPOL, January 23 (RIA Novosti) - The gas pipelines leading from southern Russia to Georgia that were wrecked by blasts Sunday will be repaired during the day, the president's envoy to the region said Monday. Dmitry Kozak said the electricity transmission lines in the North Caucasus republic of Karachai-Cherkessia that were put out of action in different explosions were also being repaired. He did not specify when electricity supplies to Georgia would resume. According to Kozak, an investigation is proceeding but no information was yet available. "I think that it is premature to jump to conclusions, as some have, including leaders of our neighboring countries, before the investigation is over," Kozak said. He was apparently referring to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's earlier remarks that the incident had been politically motivated and caused by Russia. Kozak said Russia wanted an objective investigation that would identify what exactly happened and would bring the culprits to justice. "I would like to say that Russia suffered no less damage than its neighbors," he said.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Kazakh-China oil pipeline opens

01-15-2006 By Ian MacWilliam BBC News –  AlmatyKazakhstan and China have inaugurated a 1,000km-long (620-mile) oil pipeline to supply Kazakh oil to energy-hungry western China. It is the first major export pipeline from the landlocked Central Asian republic which does not cross Russia. It will eventually export oil to feed China's booming economy from huge reserves around the Caspian Sea. Kazakhstan wants to become one of the world's top oil exporters in the next decade or two.
Huge oilfields
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev pushed a ceremonial button to start filling the new pipeline with Kazakh crude, marking a new stage in his country's emergence as an oil exporter. Construction began last year on the pipeline from Atasu in central Kazakhstan to Alashankou on the Chinese border. It should be fully operational by the middle of next year, providing a new source of oil for China to develop its western Xinjiang region. Eventually another pipeline will link up with this one from the Caspian region in west Kazakhstan, where the huge new Kashagan oilfield is being developed. With the help of Western oil companies, Kazakhstan has doubled its production to more than a million barrels a day since the collapse of the Soviet Union. That puts it among the world's top 20 oil producers now, but Kazakhstan has ambitions to triple this amount in the next decade or two.
Growing leverage
Until now the country has had to export most of its oil through two pipelines on Russian territory. This meant that ultimately it was Moscow's hand on the tap and Russian policy has been to use its control over oil and gas pipelines to pursue its own interests in Central Asia. Kazakhstan will gain significant leverage in future deals once it has an alternative export route and a thirsty new market. Kazakhstan is also in talks about exporting its oil through the new Baku-Ceyhan pipeline from the Caspian to the Mediterranean which opened earlier this year. Oil pundits say the more export routes there are from this once inaccessible region, the better for customers and for the oil producers themselves

Turkmenistan Prepares for Pipeline Construction Project with China

17/01/2006 RZD News - Turkmenistan has been preparing a raw material base for the Turkmenistani-Chinese gas pipeline construction project."Gas will be pumped to China from the right bank of the Amudarya River. We need to speed up its development," Turkmenistani President Saparmurat Niyazov said at a meeting with the country’s oil and gas leaders on Monday. Niyazov is expected to focus on the gas pipeline construction project during his visit to China in April, the Vatan TV news reported. At present, Turkmenistan has two gas pipelines that have access to foreign markets. One is the Soviet-era pipeline Central Asia-Centre (Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Kazakhstan-Russia-Ukraine) and another one - the Turmenistani-Iranian pipeline Korpedzhe-Kurt-Kui. In 2005, Turkmenistan exported 45.2 billion cubic meters of gas. In 2006, it is expected to export 78 billion cubic meters. The Turmenistani-Chinese pipeline will have a throughput of 30 billion cubic meters, reports ITAR-TASS.

Russia's Gazprom to Increase Gas Supplies to Europe via Belarus

09.01.2006 MosNews - Russia and Belarus have agreed to increase gas transit levels to Europe. During negotiations between Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and deputy head of Russia's gas giant Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev, the two countries agreed to set up a working group to discuss joint projects, which include underground gas storage facilities in Belarus and expanding its transit capacity for Russian gas supplies to Europe, ITAR-TASS news agency reported. The storage facilities area could be expanded by up to one billion cubic meters. Gazprom provides about half the gas consumed in the European Union and 80 percent of that amount is sent through pipelines that cross Ukraine. The announcement of the agreement came four days after Russia and Ukraine ended a bitter, months-long dispute over gas supply. While the price of Russian gas for Ukraine has increased, Belarus will receive Russian gas at the same price as in 2005. Russia and Belarus have outlined plans to unite into one state and already make use of common economic and finance standards. Gazprom also owns the Belarussian part of the pipeline from the Russian deposit at the Yamal peninsula to Europe that transports over 50 percent of Russian gas exports through Belarus. In 2005 the two countries resumed negotiations to establish a joint enterprise on the basis of Belarus' Beltransgaz to direct the Belarussian gas transport system.

Friday, December 30, 2005

IEA Against German-Russian Gas Pipeline

30.12.2005 [Neftegaz.ru]
IEA Against German-Russian Gas Pipeline 30.12.2005 12:57 The International Energy Agency (IEA) has taken Poland's side and reinforced its arguments against the construction of gas pipeline that will link Russia and Germany under the Baltic Sea, Mosnews.com reported. "We entirely understand Poland's position on this issue. From the Polish point of view it would be more favorable to remain a transit country. We dismiss the argument that thanks to the new gas line Poland's gas supplies will be more secure," said Faith Birol, chief economist at the IEA, quoted by the Polish News Bulletin. In addition, the Northern Pipeline will make Germany even more dependent on Russia in terms of gas supplies. "Gas covers nearly 25 percent of Germany's energy needs, which is too much by far as the country is becoming more dependent on energy imports," stressed Birol. He also pointed to the fact that Russia is currently satisfying 30 percent of the demand for gas in Germany. "This is worrying and puts Germany’s energy safety at risk," said Birol. MosNews has reported on several occasions about the North European Gas Pipeline that has been proposed by Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom. The pipeline will take gas to Germany across the Baltic from Vyborg, a port near St. Petersburg and the Finnish border. Spurs from the main pipeline could also feed gas networks in Finland, Sweden and Great Britain. The undersea portion of the pipeline is expected to cost $2 billion, and is intended to bypass transit countries such as Ukraine, Poland and Baltic states. Official construction of the 1,200 kilometer (744 miles) pipeline was begun on Dec. 9. The North European Gas Pipeline has already stirred a lot of controversy in transit countries, such as Poland and Ukraine, prompting concern that Russia's neighbors will eventually be cut off from Russia's gas supplies. MosNews has reported on previous occasions that Poland has called the pipeline plan a "conspiracy" against its interests, while the Baltic states offered their own pipeline project and cited environmental concerns trying to prevent Gazprom's project from starting.

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