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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Ankara moving ahead on Blue Stream

ANKARA, Turkey, July 6, 2009 - (UPI) -- Ankara has offered its proposal for moving forward on the second leg of the Blue Stream natural gas pipeline to the Middle East, Russian officials say. In 2005 Russia and Turkey proposed a second leg of the route following European moves to develop plans for the Nabucco gas pipeline from Central Asian and Middle Eastern suppliers. Planners are looking to Blue Stream to supply markets in the Middle East, including Israel. Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko said following a meeting with Turkish officials that Ankara was moving forward with Blue Stream developments, Itar-Tass reports. "We have some interesting projects, including Blue Stream-2," he said. Officials expect the 754-mile Blue Stream at full capacity to transport 565 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year by 2010. "This year the Russian-Turkish intergovernmental commission will take place," the minister said. "We have to submit our gas marketing surveys to take a decision on the construction of Blue Stream's second branch." Russia last week secured agreements for gas purchases from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to feed the South Stream gas pipeline to southern Europe. Moscow said it was interested in including Turkey in that project as well.

Concerns remain over Nord Stream

July 6, 2009 - (UPI) - HELSINKI, Finland, The Nord Stream natural gas pipeline received tacit approval from the Finnish government, though a regional consortium has asked for more environmental studies. Nord Stream would travel along a dual route through the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea to Germany. Littoral states in Scandinavia complain about the potential environmental impact of pipeline construction, which is complicated by World War II munitions strewn about the Baltic Sea floor. Nord Stream AG in June concluded a two-day meeting in Germany to vet public and shareholder comments on a transboundary environmental report submitted by the project consortium in March. The Uusimaa Regional Environment Center, a group representing parties along the coast of the Gulf of Finland, called environmental studies conducted by the Nord Stream AG consortium "sufficient" but has requested more information, the New Europe weekly reports. Paul Corcoran, the chief financial officer at Nord Stream AG, said construction should be completed in time for a 2011 launch date. For his part, Sebastian Sass, the head of European relations for the company, said his group would provide "necessary" clarifications after studying the Finnish complaints. Nord Stream would ultimately transport more than 1.9 trillion cubic feet of gas per year to European customers.

Six attacks on natural gas pipelines

July 6, 2009 – (UPI) - DAWSON CREEK, British Columbia, A series of bombings of natural gas pipelines in northeastern British Columbia in Canada are "domestic terrorism," authorities said. The first attack was reported in early October. This past weekend, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed a sixth bombing caused a leak in an EnCana Corp. line south of Dawson Creek, British Columbia. No one has been injured in the bombings, but they have caused leaks that could prove hazardous, authorities said. Safety measures led to a shutting of valves once a pressure drop was noted shortly following the latest attack, an EnCana release said. "These are bombings," RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said. "It's certainly nothing short of domestic terrorism." EnCana in January offered a $500,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of those responsible for bombings of company pipelines near Dawson Creek. "We take the bombings of our facilities very seriously. The safety of our workers and the people who live in the communities where we operate is of paramount importance. That's why we are putting up this reward to help stop these bombings and end the threat that they pose to people in the Dawson Creek area," Mike Graham, EnCana executive vice president, said in a company release. The RCMP said four bombings occurred from last October to January. There have been two attacks reported this month, with the latest occurring between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. Saturday. It wasn't far from the site of a bombing last Wednesday. An EnCana release Saturday said repair crews working the site of the Wednesday damage about 5 miles south of Dawson Creek heard a loud noise. When they investigated they discovered a leak in a 12-inch pipeline. "The pipeline leak also appears to be have been caused by an explosion," the company release stated. "The elements of this incident thus far, are consistent with the previous blast sites and the RCMP considers this latest bombing linked to the others," Moskaluk said in a statement. "This does change the dynamics of the events in certain terms, the main being our heightened concern for public safety, given that this explosion went off in close proximity of working crews and within a couple of kilometers of a populated rural area." Moskaluk said investigators were able to reach the scene of Saturday's blast quickly, allowing for better opportunities for "fresh" evidence gathering. Before Moskaluk used the "terrorism" term, authorities had characterized the attacks as "vandalism." The attacks began about the time an anonymous letter was sent to British Columbia media demanding oil and natural gas operations cease. It referred to the companies working the resources as "terrorists" that were "endangering our families with crazy expansion of deadly gas wells." "Whoever is responsible for these bombings has to be stopped before someone gets hurt. We hope this reward will encourage anyone who has knowledge of those responsible for the bombings to come forward and help put an end to these dangerous attacks that threaten the well-being of our staff, those who work for us and the residents and communities in the Dawson Creek area," Graham said in January. Investigators said they believe the person responsible lives in the area of the attacks and other residents may know who is carrying out the bombings.

Sahara gas pipeline gets go-ahead

Map3 July 2009 - BBC - Nigeria, Niger and Algeria have signed an agreement to build a multi-billion dollar pipeline to take Nigerian gas across the Sahara to the Mediterranean. The giant project, which will cost an estimated $13bn (£8bn), aims to deliver up to 30 billion cubic metres of gas per year for the European market. France's Total, Anglo-Dutch firm Shell, and Russia's Gazprom have all expressed an interest in investing in the scheme. The pipeline will run for 2,580 miles (4,128km) through the three countries. BBC Africa analyst Richard Hamilton says that when built, it will be one of the great feats of engineering in the world and dwarf several existing pipelines, such as the one beneath the North Sea. He says one concern is security, as a pipeline could be a target for Tuareg rebels or al-Qaeda in North Africa, both of whom are active among the unpatrolled expanses and porous borders of the Sahara.
Russian concerns: Energy analysts say there has been interest in this project for many years, but lack of investment and an unclear regulatory environment in Nigeria meant that the plans stayed firmly on the drawing board. European Union nations now hope it will enable them to diversify their gas supplies - and most pressingly, reduce their reliance upon Russian gas - but many analysts say Gazprom may have a head start in participating in the scheme. This is because only last week, Gazprom signed a separate $2.5bn deal with Nigeria's state-owned gas firm NNPC to build new gas refineries, pipelines and power stations in Nigeria. European Union states are keen to reduce their reliance upon Russian gas because of Gazprom's numerous price disputes in recent years with Ukraine. These rows have seen Gazprom temporarily cut supplies to Ukraine, which in turn has reduced Russian gas deliveries to western Europe that are piped through Russia's neighbour. "We have the expertise and I don't think there is a problem with finance in this project," said Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil. Nigeria has estimated natural gas reserves of 180 trillion cubic feet, the seventh-largest in the world.

$10 billion plan signed for pipeline that would ship gas from Africa to Europe

07–03–2009 – ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria, Algeria and Niger have signed an agreement to create a $10 billion pipeline that would ship gas across the Saharan desert to Europe, Nigeria's state oil company said Friday. The plan comes as Europe seeks new sources of gas imports as it currently depends on Russia for much of its needs. The project was approved by energy ministers from all three governments, said Mohammed Barkindo, the managing director of Nigeria state oil company, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation. It is expected to come on line in 2015. "The inter-governmental agreement that has been signed today between the government of Algeria, Niger and Nigeria gives this project official stamp of approval," Barkindo said. "So it is a significant milestone." Nigeria's energy minister, Rilwanu Lukmanu, said the countries are now looking for partners for the project. "We will be talking to prospective partners who might be interested," Lukmanu said. Last month, Russia's state natural gas supplier Gazprom and Nigeria's main oil company agreed to create a joint venture to explore and produce oil and gas in Africa's most populous country. Gazprom's chief in Nigeria has said the Russian firm would invest $2.5 billion in the new venture. If Gazprom should gain control over Nigeria's gas resources, that could strip European consumers of a possible alternative to Russian gas supplies. It has been a difficult time for Gazprom as production is declining and the severe financial crisis is forcing it to delay the launch of major new gas fields that would supply Europe with energy.

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