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Posts on ‘February 9th, 2006’

Reuters: Nigerian oil militants fear leaders will be killed

09 Feb 2006 12:16:04 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Tume Ahemba
LAGOS, Feb 9 (Reuters) – A militant Nigerian group which has staged attacks on the oil industry said it believed the government intended to assassinate two jailed leaders of the Ijaw ethnic group and threatened attacks would resume shortly.
The group kidnapped four foreign oil workers for 19 days last month during a campaign of sabotage that crippled a tenth of Nigeria's oil output and pushed world oil prices to a 4-month high. They had demanded the release of the two Ijaw leaders and local control over the delta's oil wealth.
“We believe the Nigerian government intends to poison these individuals and (we) warn of terrible consequences should this plan materialise,” the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said in an email sent to Reuters on Thursday.
“We will resume our attacks on oil installations of our choosing with effect from the second week in February,” said MEND, which is also demanding $1.5 billion in pollution compensation to villages from Royal Dutch Shell .
The jailed Ijaw leaders are former governor of Bayelsa state, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, and militia leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari.
Alamieyeseigha was charged with money laundering in December and is on trial for corruption. He was taken to hospital at the weekend for an unexplained illness, prosecutors said.
Asari, who faces treason charges, was removed from prison in Abuja on Wednesday and taken to an undisclosed location for his own safety, police said.
The militants waged a six-week campaign of violence against the oil industry which forced Royal Dutch Shell to cut 221,000 barrels a day of output. The company later resumed production at its 115,000 barrels-per-day E.A. oilfield where the abduction took place. The rest is expected back shortly, sources said.
NO REPAIR
The militants warned Shell not to repair its damaged pipelines and oil platforms and said contractors caught at previously attacked installations would be summarily executed.
“We will attack these companies and facilities with unimaginable ferocity as we have no intention of taking hostages in future attacks,” the group said.
The militants had warned foreigners in January to leave the delta, which pumps most of Nigeria's 2.4 million barrels of oil a day, and said they aimed to cut exports by 30 percent this month.
The hostages — an American, Briton, Bulgarian and Honduran — were released on Jan. 30, but the government has not disclosed the terms of the deal. One militant source said 100 million naira ($770,000) was paid to the kidnappers, but this was denied by the militants themselves.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had denounced the kidnappers as “rascals who are practising the things they watch on television”, but diplomats fear they may represent a new, more dangerous threat to the oil industry.
Oil industry kidnappings and sabotage are frequent in the Niger Delta, a vast, inaccessible region of mangrove swamps and tidal creeks where poor fishing villages are reluctant hosts to a multi-billion dollar industry.
Many in the region feel cheated out of their resources by the oil firms and central government, and some of the militants' demands have been echoed by local politicians.
Industry officials estimate that about 100,000 barrels a day of crude oil is stolen from pipelines in the delta by criminal syndicates working with international smuggling rings. Much of the money is spent on arms, fuelling a cycle of violence. read more

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Daily Journal (Venezuela): Shell tax charge comes up short

When Caracas began accusing private oil companies of tax evasion last year, it claimed the 22 companies owed the state a total of $2bn-$3bn in income taxes for the period 2001-2004.
If found guilty, oil companies would have to repay “billions of dollars,” said national assembly president Nicolás Maduro.
Well into the tax battle, the Venezuelan government’s collection figures make recovering billions look unlikely.
Shell has settled its tax feud with the Venezuelan government by only handing over 10 percent of Caracas’ original tax demand, paying $13 million of the original $131 million claim.
With most companies yet to settle their claims, they may be hoping to follow Shell’s lead and pay significantly less than initial demands. The tax agency – known as Seniat – says it does not expect other companies to pay as small a portion of their original claim as Shell did.
Seniat says it made incorrect exchange rate conversions when calculating Shell’s initial claim and that the company challenged the calculations. The payment made was based on the increase in income tax from 34 percent to 50 percent and fines.
“It was just part of the process,” says the tax official. “They had a right to present evidence.”
Some analysts speculate that the gap between the initial claim and final payment is too wide to be merely due to an exchange rate error. But a Shell spokesman has said that he did not know the specifics of why the Seniat reduced the amount owed.
“We’ve closed this chapter now and we’re satisfied with the professional conduct of the Seniat,” he said.
Some in the industry call the move an embarrassment for Seniat, given that Shell was part of the first batch of companies to receive a demand and also received the highest claim.
“This certainly hurts the professionalism of Seniat,” says Venezuelan oil analyst Alberto Quirós Corradi. The tax office has a long way to go to reach $2 billon. It has only collected $54 million of the $651 million in total claims it has leveled on private oil companies.
Brazil’s Petrobras was the first company to settle its claim, and is the only other one besides Shell to have done so. Petrobras paid $23.7 million without challenging Seniat’s claim.
All but three companies that have received claims have made small partial payments to Seniat. They have been given one year to present evidence to challenge the rest of the claims.
U.S. independent Harvest has paid $5.3 million of its $85 million claim, while Venezuela’s Vinccler has paid $1.38million of its $3.3 million claim. Seniat did not give amounts for other companies’ partial payments.
France’s Total, China Na-tional Petroleum and Italy’s Eni did not make partial payments. Seniat expects these companies to submit challenges to the claims.
Seniat says BP, Chevron, Britian’s Hocol and Venezuela’s Open are the only companies that have not received claims. Seniat expects to issue those claims within weeks. Venezuela’s Suelopetrol also says it has not yet received a claim.
In December, Seniat extended its deadline for issuing tax claims to all 22 companies from the end of 2005 to the end of March 2006. Seniat says companies who have not yet presented evidence to challenge their claims may prefer to wait for their negotiations to joint ventures advance further.
The tax agency repeated that the companies cannot sign new joint venture contracts until they settle their tax claims.
Shell says that settling its claim with Seniat will make joint ventures negotiations easier. It adds that it is still negotiating after signing a transitory agreement in December.
The conversion of all Operating Agreements into joint ventures controlled by Petróleos de Venezuela was first announced in April. None of the contracts were due to expire until 2012, at the earliest.
Jens Erik Gould
Daily Journal Staff read more

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Viet Nam News: VN sees investment potential with Shell

(09-02-2006)
President Tran Duc Luong talks with Leslie Van de Walle, the president of Shell Global Retail Business.— VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Khang
HA NOI — President Tran Duc Luong said Vietnamese leaders aimed to foster strategic relationships with international economic groups like Shell to boost industrialisation and modernisation.
He made the statement yesterday while meeting with Leslie Van de Walle, the president of Shell Global Retail Business. Luong welcomed Shell, one of the large international groups to arrive in Viet Nam during the 1980s, and said Viet Nam would create every favourable condition for foreign economic groups to invest in the country on the basis of mutual benefit.
Luong said with 82 million residents, Viet Nam was one of the largest markets in Southeast Asia. The country was being rapidly industrialised, he added, so its demands for technology, products and high-level services from groups like Shell were great.
Shell’s products, such as tar, lubrication oil, anti-absorptive construction materials, and gas were important for Viet Nam, and the group should have a long-term business strategy in the country, he said.
Luong said in the next five years, Viet Nam planned to meet the demands for petro-chemistry. The Government aimed to build a large international transit port in Van Phong Bay in the central province of Khanh Hoa, and to open more commercial and service markets, he added.
Van de Walle commended Viet Nam’s development potential, especially its impressive economic growth rate over the last decade. He said Shell believed in the opportunities for success in Viet Nam, not only in finance but also in raising capacity and environmental protection. He said Shell pledged to invest long-term in Viet Nam as it did in Thailand and Malaysia.
Currently, Shell has invested US$231 million in Viet Nam to produce, lubricants, anti-absorptive construction materials, and gas. — VNS read more

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THE WASHINGTON TIMES: Oil unrest grips Nigeria

WORLD BRIEFINGS
By Xin Li
February 9, 2006
Whenever blood is shed in Nigeria, the global economy feels the pain. On Jan. 11, a militia group calling itself Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) seized four Shell engineers and held them hostage for three weeks.
Armed forces attacked a flow station, killed several workers and cut Nigeria's oil exports by 10 percent. Shell removed more than 500 employees from the region.

It was just one among numerous attacks in Nigeria, the fifth-largest exporter of crude oil to the United States. In 1998, a military group from the Ijaw, the largest ethnic tribe in the southern oil-producing Niger Delta, stormed Shell pipelines and platforms, cutting off one-third of the country's oil exports.
Before Nigerian elections in 2003, an ethnic uprising shut off 40 percent of the country's oil exports.
More frequent are the daily incidents of sabotage of pipelines and platforms. From January to September 2004, there were 581 cases of pipeline vandalism in Nigeria, according to the Energy Information Administration, a U.S. agency that provides official statistics.
“We don't see an end to conflicts in the near future,” said Taylor B. Seybolt, an analyst at the U.S. Institute of Peace. “There is a host of problems entangled together, and we expect to see more violence coming.”
International oil companies, however, increase their investments despite the instability, and new players storm in. The China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) struck a $2.27 billion deal with Nigeria in mid-January. Last year, companies controlled by South Korea won the auction of Nigeria's most promising oil and gas field.
The Nigerian government aims to increase oil output from 2.5 million barrels per day to 3 million by the end of the year and to 4 million in 2010. Its efforts are joined by the world's oil giants, most of which have operated in the country for decades — Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total, and Shell Group, which generates nearly 50 percent of the nation's oil exports.
“There is too much profit for those companies to pull out,” Mr. Seybolt said.

Damage control

The previously unknown MEND has adopted tactics different from the old pattern. It asked Shell to pay $1.5 billion to Bayelsa state, stop all oil exports and expel all foreign workers from the delta. It also demanded that the government release Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, a Niger Delta militia leader arrested in 2003.
“Usually, the oil companies end the attack by hiring several hundred local young people,” said Chris Albin-Lackey, a researcher on Nigeria at Human Rights Watch. “They don't really need these people to do any actual work, just hire the angry youth and pay them.”
Nigeria's government doesn't plan to increase its military presence in the turbulent delta because of its limited capabilities, Brig. Gen. Elias Zamani, commander of a task force charged with security in the region, told Britain's Financial Times newspaper.
Mr. Albin-Lackey, however, said the government is reluctant to push the militias too hard. “It is afraid that cracking down on the militias would ignite bigger conflicts, which would disrupt the country's oil production,” he said.
Nigeria's oil revenue accounts for 40 percent of the nation's gross domestic product and 76 percent of the federal government's revenue. Major violence would not only jeopardize the country's economy, but also shake the international energy market. A civil war in Nigeria could send the global oil price to $98 a barrel, said an investment consultant at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month.
Politics and fast cash
Rampant corruption at all levels also prevents the government from imposing order. Most military units enjoy close relations with federal and state government officials.
“Oil can be stolen on such a large scale that they have to use oil tankers to carry the oil out without people being caught,” Mr. Albin-Lackey said. “They must be connected with people in a position of influence.”
“You don't need to investigate too far to find corruption,” said Dimieari Von Kemedi, a Nigerian and the head of a nongovernmental organization called Our Niger Delta. “After only two or three months in power, officials have already begun their lives of luxury.”
Political figures use the armed forces as a lever of power. The connection provides immunity from punishment to most military leaders, except those criticized by the regime.
Vast proceeds from oil thefts enable militias to buy weapons. Sometimes the guns come from the police, who report such “losses” to the government to obtain replacements.
Additional weapons come from smuggling. Nigeria has become one of the world's busiest weapon-trafficking hubs. The seeds of revolt have been sowed in the public across the oil-producing delta, where resentment over poverty and degradation of the environment has been growing for years.
'Legitimate' grievances
“Leaders of the militias are those able to motivate the angry youth,” Mr. Albin-Lackey said. “There has long been grievance, and it's totally legitimate.”
“The place can't be described by any word other than beautiful,” said Mr. Von Kemedi, describing Bayelsa, his home state. “It has islands, mango forest, rain forest, natural beaches. But, unfortunately, it has been negatively affected by the oil industry.”
The nine oil-containing states of southern Nigeria have been plagued for years by oil spills and air pollution. After a half-century of drilling, many pipes are leaky. Explosions occur now and then, and the frequent sabotage adds to the spills. Acid rain and toxic water damage fishing and farming, and pose great threats to the health of residents.
“There are high levels of skin rashes, allergies, abscesses and infections,” said George Ayittey, an economics professor at American University.

'Flaming' off the gas

Even as gasoline prices increase in the United States, Nigeria burns oil by-products 24 hours a day. The country lacks the facilities and the market to commercialize its natural gas. The “flaming,” which has lit up the sky for years, is the biggest source of the greenhouse effect in Africa.
The environmental mess comes with an absence of public services from the government. Sitting atop the world's ninth-largest concentration of oil, many ordinary Nigerians don't have basic necessities such as running water, electricity, health clinics and schools. The wealth from oil does not return to the land that produced it.
In Nigeria, which exports oil worth $30 million to $40 million per day, average personal income per year is $390. Poverty is on display alongside lavish spending. On one side of a city, one can't find much infrastructure, while the other side has rows of mansions and the luxury cars of corrupt officials.
The federal government has promised that 13 percent of oil revenues would be returned to the oil states, but most of the money seeps away through various level of officialdom.
“People don't expect the government to change,” Mr. Albin-Lackey said. “The oil companies are closer, easier to target and a more visible symbol of the problems.”
Mr. Ayittey said the government is too powerful for the militias to fight. So they pick the international oil companies as softer targets, which, having to pay royalties, shouldn't be held responsible for the slow local development and the lack of public services.
Shell began drilling in Nigeria in 1956, when it was still a British colony. Over the past 50 years, the company has become an icon of oil wealth to many Nigerians, and for most of the time, a quasi-governmental institution.
Dr. Mobolaji Aluko, an activist from Nigeria, said the oil companies fail to obey international standards of environmental protection and community development.
In 1993, after a massive spill in Ogoni state, local poet and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa began the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni people and demanded $10 billion from Shell for environmental damage. On Nov. 10, 1995, he and eight Ogoni colleagues were executed by the Nigerian government for campaigning against the devastation of the delta by oil companies, prompting international condemnation.
The crisis prompted Shell to increase compensation and deliver more public services. But lacking any government follow-up, many of the projects fell apart.
“Shell built hospitals, but the government didn't provide doctors. It built schools, but there are no teachers,” Mr. Von Kemedi said.
What the oil companies can do, he said, is provide more employment in the Niger Delta to young people, who are qualified to work in the oil industry but see the jobs taken by people from outside.
“Young people simply want to find a place to work. The Nigerian government didn't invest in other sectors in the region, so jobs are not good in other industries. It's an equation of lack of jobs,” Mr. Von Kemedi said. “That creates an opening for young people to go [stealing oil] and creates the anger that challenges the oil industry.” read more

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Business Times: Plenty of oil, gas to meet demand: Shell

Business Times (Malaysia)
February 9 2006
LONDON, Wed: Royal Dutch Shell plc chief executive officer Jeroen van der Veer said the world has plenty of oil and gas to meet demand, with future supplies aided by development of so-called unconventional reserves such as heavy-oil projects.
“The world is not running out of energy,” van der Veer said today at an energy conference in Houston sponsored by Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
“If you take unconventional fossil reserves into account, then we are a long way away from defeat.”
Unconventional oil and gas projects include heavy oil, oil produced from shale and natural gas drawn from the seams of coal beds.
Van der Veer’s comments addressed growing concerns that the world’s oil production has peaked, just as US oil output did in the early 1970s, and that growing demand from emerging economies like China and India will put pressure on existing supplies.
Concerns over whether oil output has peaked combined with Asian demand helped drive oil futures to a record high in August of US$70.85 (US$1 = RM3.74) a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Dan Yergin, head of the Cambridge Energy Research Associates, has discounted peak-oil concerns, arguing that new oil projects already will meet growing demand.
Yergin won a Pulitzer Prize for the book titled “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power”.
Prices that have average US$65.33 a barrel this year on the New York Mercantile Exchange will slip back into the US$40 range over the coming three to four years, Yergin’s group said in a report in June.
They estimated that supply could exceed demand by as much as 7.5 million barrels a day within five years.
Shell has said it will boost capital spending this year by 27 per cent, to US$19 billion, to try to boost production. — Bloomberg read more

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Fiji Times: Switch that phone off, Shell warns

Thursday, February 09, 2006
GLOBAL energy group Shell Oil has issued a worldwide warning against the use of mobile phones at service stations after three incidents were reported where ringing mobile phones ignited fumes during fuelling operations.
The three incidents, which happened overseas, all occurred at fuel bowsers.
One happened after a mobile phone rang while on a car's trunk lid during re-fuelling and the ensuing fire destroyed the car and the gasoline pump while another person suffered burns to his face when fumes ignited as he answered a call while re-fuelling his car.
In the third incident, a man suffered burns to the thigh and groin as fumes ignited when the phone, which was in his pocket, rang during re-fuelling at a bowsers.
Shell Fiji chief executive officer Peter Walsh said his company had spent time to educate its customers about the dangers of both mobile phone use and other safety issues surrounding the safe handling of fuel.
“Shell service station sites carry signage prohibiting the use of mobile phone and other hazards and pump attendants are required and trained to monitor this and other safety hazards such as smoking and ensuring vehicle engines are switched off during refuelling,” Mr Walsh said.
His field staff undertakes regular safety audits on their sites to ensure dealers and their staff are vigilant in enforcing these safety requirements.
Mr Walsh said Shell undertook a major safety campaign targeting the mobile phone use at service stations last year.
“It is sometimes difficult for the public to understand that it takes only the slightest spark to ignite petrol fumes and that any source of ignition be it a cigarette or spark from a mobile phone is all that is needed to cause serious injury,” Mr Walsh said.
Mobile phones that light up when switched on or when they ring release enough energy to provide a spark for ignition.
Part of the Shell warning is that mobile phones should not be used in filling stations or when fuelling lawn mowers, boats and other machineries. read more

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Daily Ireland: Shell to Sea campaigners plan public meeting in city

By Connla Young
The ongoing struggle against the Shell oil corporation by the people of Co Mayo will be the focus of a public meeting in Belfast next week.
The What’s up with Shell event will bring together people directly involved in the Shell to Sea campaign and supporters in Belfast.
Last June, the Rossport Five were jailed after being accused of breaching a High Court order prohibiting them from interfering with pipe-laying work on their own land.
Shell and their partners, Statoil and Marathon, want to pipe unrefined gas past residential properties in the Rossport district of Co Mayo. Locals say the pipeline is too dangerous to be put near homes and a refinery should be constructed at sea.
Event organiser, Steve McConville, encouraged people to get along to the public meeting that will feature members of the Shell to Sea campaign.
“The latest community movement against a multi-national giant is happening on our doorstep. Last summer, controversy kicked off when five Co Mayo residents were imprisoned indefinitely. They had been required by court order to allow contractors hired by Shell access to their farms and those of their neighbours; they refused. Their struggle has won a significant victory in securing their release, and in successfully preventing Shell continuing the destruction of the bay.
“The Rossport Five are free and work on the Corrib gas pipeline has stopped for the winter but the battle is far from over. Their supporters are currently touring the UK to explain the background to the campaign and what they plan for the coming spring,” he said.
The What’s up With Shell talk will take place on February 16 in the Peace House, 224 Lisburn Road, Belfast. The talk starts at 6.30pm and is free of charge. read more

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Asia Pulse: PHILS MALAMPAYA GENERATES $422 MLN FROM CONDENSATE EXPORT

Feb 09, 2006
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb 9 Asia Pulse – The Malampaya consortium has generated a whopping US$422.2 million in revenues from its 62 export shipments of Malampaya condensate since the start of its commercialization in 2002.
Ariston Sandoval, Bureau of Customs-Puerto Princesa City administration officer, disclosed that the Shell Philippines Exploration B. V. (SPEX) and joint venture partners Chevron Texaco Malampaya LLC and Philippine National Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) generated such income from 739.802 condensate oil from 2002 to 2005 exportation.

The SPEX is the developer and operator of the US$4.5-billion Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power project, considered the largest and most significant industrial investment in the history of the Philippines.

It heralds the birth of the country's natural gas industry through the supply of clean, environment-friendly fuel slated to provide 2,700 megawatts of power to Luzon for a period of 20 years starting January 2002.
This meets 30 percent of Luzon's power generation requirements.
Malampaya paves the way for high economic benefits for the country, providing a considerable long-term revenue stream of approximately US$8-10 to the government over the life of the project.
Sandoval said the BoC, together with Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) and Health and Quarantine personnel who personally inspected before shipments, got the figures.
Their group boarded tanker which retrieves through the Catenary Anchored Leg Mooring (CALM) bouy, a component through which condensate is retrieved, he added.
The condensate products were shipped to Singapore, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, China and Thailand, he said.
Meanwhile, Sandoval said the dried gas is being transported via a 504-kilometer subsea pipeline to the onshore gas plant in Batangas.
The onshore gas plant at Tabangao, Batangas is the concluding stage of the process for Malampaya's dry gas before it is delivered to the power plants.
(PNA) read more

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Asia Pulse: PHILS MALAMPAYA GENERATES $422 MLN FROM CONDENSATE EXPORT

Feb 09, 2006
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Feb 9 Asia Pulse – The Malampaya consortium has generated a whopping US$422.2 million in revenues from its 62 export shipments of Malampaya condensate since the start of its commercialization in 2002.
Ariston Sandoval, Bureau of Customs-Puerto Princesa City administration officer, disclosed that the Shell Philippines Exploration B. V. (SPEX) and joint venture partners Chevron Texaco Malampaya LLC and Philippine National Company-Exploration Corporation (PNOC-EC) generated such income from 739.802 condensate oil from 2002 to 2005 exportation.

The SPEX is the developer and operator of the US$4.5-billion Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power project, considered the largest and most significant industrial investment in the history of the Philippines.

It heralds the birth of the country's natural gas industry through the supply of clean, environment-friendly fuel slated to provide 2,700 megawatts of power to Luzon for a period of 20 years starting January 2002.
This meets 30 percent of Luzon's power generation requirements.
Malampaya paves the way for high economic benefits for the country, providing a considerable long-term revenue stream of approximately US$8-10 to the government over the life of the project.
Sandoval said the BoC, together with Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID) and Health and Quarantine personnel who personally inspected before shipments, got the figures.
Their group boarded tanker which retrieves through the Catenary Anchored Leg Mooring (CALM) bouy, a component through which condensate is retrieved, he added.
The condensate products were shipped to Singapore, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, China and Thailand, he said.
Meanwhile, Sandoval said the dried gas is being transported via a 504-kilometer subsea pipeline to the onshore gas plant in Batangas.
The onshore gas plant at Tabangao, Batangas is the concluding stage of the process for Malampaya's dry gas before it is delivered to the power plants.
(PNA) read more

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Irish Independent: Growing scarcity of resources is focusing the minds of the main players, as they turn their attention to more lucrative sectors

Feb 09, 2006
IRISH investors like Maxol, Topaz, Campus, Top and DCC are to become more and more involved in petrol and diesel retailing in the 32 counties as the oil giants such as Shell, Statoil and Esso cut back on their exposure to downstream activities and switch retailing to more lucrative markets. That is, unless Tesco beats them to it.
Super profits from record oil prices are diverting the attention of the international oil giants towards exploration/development and capital investment, where potentially heavy returns can be achieved. With oil prices now expected to remain high for the forseeable future, the oil majors can no longer stave off hefty capital investment in infrastructure and exploration and development in harsh territories.
Growing scarcity of petrol and diesel is expected to concentrate the majors' attention on refining infrastructure, where there has been little new capital investment and where bottlenecks currently exist. The oil majors can now justify expensive exploration and development spending in hitherto marginal new territories because of the possibility of a big payback (in today's oil and gas prices) from a commercial find.
It will come as no surprise, then, that Statoil has put its petrol and diesel distribution network in Ireland on the auction block for up to 250m, not long after hefty marketing investment of 80m in its Fare Play convenience stores.
The company is offering 69 company-owned and almost 170 franchised outlets for sale to the highest bidder.
However, it is determined that its stake in the troubled Corrib gasfield (where Shell is the operator) is not for sale.
The impending sale of Statoil's large business is surprising, given that it has the lion's share of the 3bn-plus Irish petrol retailing market – as high as 25pc, according to some industry insiders. For the year ended December 31, 2003, Statoil had an after-tax profit of read more

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Asia Pulse: ONGC, SHELL SIGN MOU TO STUDY INDIAN BITUMEN MARKET

Asia Pulse; Feb 09, 2006
MUMBAI, Feb 9 Asia Pulse – The state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation on Wednesday joined hands with Shell Bitumen India Private Ltd to carry out a joint market research to study India's Bitumen and Value Added Bitumen market potential over the next 10 years.
The MoU was signed by ONGC chairman and managing director Subir Raha and Shell India chairman Vikram Singh Mehta.
Under the terms of the MoU, the companies will jointly conduct an economic valuation on investing in a standalone refinery in India, to be established on the east or west coasts.
“In terms of the MoU, any future project or joint ventures, ONGC, MRPL and Shell Bitumen India will jointly formulate commercialisation policies,” a company release said here on Wednesday.
(PTI) read more

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Financial Times: Energy leaders seek to diversify resources

By Sheila McNulty in Houston
Published: February 9 2006
Steam injection and cellulose ethanol are the buzz­words at this week's world oil and gas meeting in Houston, where leaders in the energy sector are emphasising the need to diversify resources and improve access through technology.
Among those stressing alternatives to fossil fuels yesterday was the US Dep­art­ment of Energy, which said it was increasing its biofuels budget by 70 per cent in 2007, from $90m (€75m, £52m) this year to $160m, to focus on a breakthrough in using all parts of the corn plant to make processing ethanol cheaper and more efficient.
“Diversity of supplies, which we seek to pursue, is not just good for the United States but for the world economy,'' Clay Sell, the department's deputy secretary, told the Cambridge Energy Research Associates (Cera) meeting.
It was a point upon which there was widespread consensus. On energy security, however, there was little common ground.
Daniel Yergin, the chairman of Cera, said countries could not even agree on how to define “energy security''.
In Russia, for example, energy security meant reasserting state control over strategic resources, Mr Yergin said, whereas in Europe the debate centred on how to manage dependence on imported natural gas. In the US it was about how to cope with the growing reality that its goal of energy independence was increasingly at odds with reality.
There is greater optimism regarding technological advances in the industry.
“The power of technology is sometimes not given proper consideration,'' said Ali Naimi, Saudi Arabia's minister of petroleum and mineral resources. He told of visiting the divided zone between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to witness an experimental method to extract more oil from heavy petroleum fields. Such steam injection will increase the recovery rate of heavy oil fields from about 6 per cent to more than 40 per cent.
Such innovation is not new to the industry. Mr Yergin said that while frontier deep-water drilling in 1978 was at 600 feet (183m), it is now at 11,000 feet. In the past five years alone, oil sands had moved from the “fringe'' to a “major component'' of the energy equation.
“I've never seen such a bubbling of energy technology along the spectrum,'' Mr Yergin said.

Jeroen van der Veer, the chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, said such advances gave him confidence that the world's worries about energy security would be alleviated by the industry. “I have no doubt that this industry can offer solutions,” he said. “They will come from our ability to deliver technology, developing and applying new tools to produce the energy people need, while reducing its impact on the environment we all share.''
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