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Posts on ‘February 19th, 2006’

The Moscow Times.com: Mitsubishi and Mitsui have begun feasibility studies on gas projects at Sakhalin Island

TOKYO — Mitsubishi and Mitsui have begun feasibility studies on gas projects at Sakhalin Island, the Nihon Keizai newspaper said.
The study includes three possible sites for production facilities for ammonia and methanol from natural gas pumped off the island, the newspaper reported, without saying where it got the information.
Mitsui and Mitsubishi seek to ensure their role in developing the Royal Dutch Shell-led, $20 billion Sakhalin-2 oil and liquefied natural gas project. Mitsui had a 25 percent stake and Mitsubishi owned 20 percent of the Sakhalin Energy project. (Bloomberg) read more

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Fnancial Times: Nigerian militants threaten to attack oil tankers

By Dino Mahtani in Lagos and Carola Hoyos in London
Published: February 19 2006
Nigerian militants on Sunday threatened to extend their disruption of the country’s oil industry to attacks on oil tankers, after violence and abductions at the weekend led to the closure of an entire oilfield and forced Royal Dutch Shell to abandon loadings at one of its export terminals.
Militant attacks, including the kidnapping of nine oil workers on Saturday, have led to a 25 per cent cut in oil exports from the world’s eighth biggest crude exporter, a reduction likely to put upward pressure on prices when markets reopen today.
Though Nigeria’s supply problems come while markets are fairly well supplied with oil, the disruption could reduce the likelihood that the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will cut production when it next meets on March 8.
Nigeria, an Opec member, had been pumping about 2.4m barrels per day of its light, sweet crude oil, which is highly sought after because it is easier to refine into petrol. Nigeria’s geographical location means it is well placed to serve the US and Europe.
Inventories in the US are swelling and in the past week Opec members Venezuela and Qatar have suggested the market is oversupplied.
Nigerian militant groups said they had destroyed the loading facility at the Forcados export terminal in attacks over the weekend. Shell said it was assessing the damage at Forcados, which produces 380,000 bpd, and had shut its nearby EA offshore field as a precautionary measure.
The militants have threatened to keep up the attacks, saying in an e-mail to Reuters, that they will extend them to oil tankers. A representative of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the group claiming responsibility for the attacks, was quoted as saying: “There is no shortage of things to destroy.” read more

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The Business Online: China’s appetite for African oil

By VIVIENNE WALT of Fortune Magazine
19 February 2006
China, the world’s second-largest energy consumer, now imports about 28% of its oil and gas from sub-Saharan Africa, compared with about 15% for the United States.
In the past few years, China’s leading energy companies – Sinopec, China National Petroleum, and CNOOC – have inked oil contracts from Equatorial Guinea to Algeria to Angola. Chinese President Hu Jintao’s African trips have included pocket-sized Gabon, whose 1.4m people could fit into a corner of Shanghai but which has more than 2bn barrels of oil reserves. When China’s Foreign Minister, Li Zhaoxing, toured the region in January, he spent several days in Nigeria.
“We haven’t been totally invaded by China yet, but it will come,” says Iheanyi Ohiaeri, head of business development for Nigeria’s National Petroleum. “I get calls and e-mails daily from Beijing, from people looking to buy oil.”
The calls are being answered, in part because African governments view China as a more co-operative partner than the West. China has refused to back regular Western rebukes of African corruption and human-rights abuses and last year used its permanent seat on the UN Security Council to block genocide charges against Sudan – source of about 7% of China’s oil – for the massacres in Darfur.
“The US will talk to you about governance, about efficiency, about security, about the environment,” says Mustafa Bello, head of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, who has visited China seven times. “The Chinese just ask, “How do we procure this licence?’”
China has become the biggest foreign investor in Zimbabwe, where President Robert Mugabe’s policies have impoverished the country and left millions homeless. Zimbabwe doesn’t have oil, but it is the world’s second-largest exporter of platinum, a key import for China’s auto industry.
Chinese radio-jamming devices block Zimbabwe’s dissident broadcasts and Chinese workers built Mugabe’s new $9m (£5.2m, E7.6m) home, featuring a blue-tiled roof donated by the Chinese government. While Western politicians railed against Mugabe last year for flattening entire shanty towns, China was supplying him with fighter jets and troop carriers worth about $240m, in exchange for imports of gold and tobacco.
China has also agreed to sell armaments to Nigeria – $251m worth of Chinese fighter jets, financed by China’s Exim Bank – and satellite technology provided by defence contractor Norinco. “If China wanted to go out and develop Europe, it would be impossible,” says Dai Adi, a Chinese journalist in Lagos who moved from Beijing in 2001. “But here they can.”
The next hot spot may be Angola, where offshore oil could transform the country from one of Africa’s poorest to one of its richest. In late 2004, while International Monetary Fund officials were berating Angola for corrupt oil dealings, China gave the government $2bn in credit to repair railway tracks bombed in the country’s long civil war and to construct new office buildings in the capital – all using Chinese contractors. The timing was flawless: When French oil company Total applied to renew its licence on a large oil-production block, Angola refused, handing it instead to Sinopec, with which it then formed a joint venture to bid on other oilfields.
China faces its own challenges in Africa. Tony Chukweke, head of Nigeria’s department of petroleum resources, admits that he often finds it difficult to negotiate with Chinese companies, since each detail requires approval from officials in Beijing. “It is very, very slow,” he says. “They go back and forth. And when they come back, sometimes you find it is not what you agreed to.” Chukweke, who worked for years as a Shell geophysicist in London, prefers negotiating with Western oil companies: “Exxon comes in with clear mandates,” he says. “We can negotiate within those mandates.”
Still, China’s intense energy needs make it an alluring partner. Nigeria’s oil-business development manager Ohiaeri points out that his government can pressure China far more than it can western governments. “They are desperate for our resources,” he notes. That symbiotic relationship continues to grow, and with each passing day – and each new deal – China’s role in the region deepens. read more

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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Nigerian Militants Hit In Oil-Producing Region

Associated Press
WARRI, Nigeria — Militants launched a wave of attacks across Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta Saturday, blowing up oil installations and seizing nine foreign oil workers, including three Americans, officials said. A Royal Dutch Shell Plc official said the company was forced to shut down a facility that moves 400,000 barrels of oil a day — 16% of the West Africa nation's output.
About 40 militants overpowered military guards and seized the foreigners before dawn from a barge belonging to Willbros, a Houston-based oil services firm that was laying pipeline for Royal Dutch Shell, a Willbros official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The militants provided the names of the kidnapped workers — three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, one Briton and one Filipino — in an email Saturday to the Associated Press.
State Department spokesman Noel Clay said he had no information about the workers, including their identities. The British Foreign Office identified the kidnapped Briton as John Hudspith, of southern England. Officials of the other hostages' home countries either could not immediately be reached or did not provide confirmation.
Shell official Donald Boham said militants attacked the Forcados oil-loading platform in the western delta, which moves out 400,000 barrels of oil daily. Nigeria normally produces 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in the email that the attacks were a response to military helicopter assaults this week on ethnic minority communities in the region. The militants threatened more attacks would follow on “a grander scale.”
Oil prices Friday jumped more than $1 and settled near $60 a barrel on supply concerns sparked by the militant group's threat to wage war on foreign oil interests.
In apparently coordinated violence, militants attacked a tanker berth at Shell's Forcados export terminal and blew up a major Shell crude oil pipeline near a facility by the western delta's Chanomi Creek, Mr. Boham said. The militants said that they also damaged equipment linking the pipeline to several smaller lines.
Militants also claimed they had destroyed a state-run pipeline feeding natural gas from the delta's Escravos plant to the country's commercial capital, Lagos. That attack could not be independently confirmed.
The military said its helicopters on Wednesday and Friday targeted barges used by criminal gangs to steal crude oil from pipelines for sale, a thriving illegal trade that sometimes diverts up to 10% of the region's daily exports.
The militants say they are fighting for more autonomy, a greater share of oil wealth and compensation for environmental degradation for the impoverished region's estimated eight million Ijaw people. The area's largest tribe accuses the government and oil companies of cheating it of wealth produced on its land.
The group said the helicopter attacks this week were on minority communities and that militants would now target all helicopters in the delta, including civilian aircraft. The group has accused foreign oil companies of providing their helicopters and air strips for military operations. The group has claimed responsibility for attacking two pipelines and abducting four foreign oil workers, including an American, who were released last month after 19 days in captivity.
The militants Saturday reiterated warnings for foreign oil workers to leave the Niger Delta. “Expatriates must realize that they have been caught up in a war, and the Nigerian government can do nothing to guarantee the security of anyone,” the group said. “They are warned again to leave while the doors are still open.”
On Friday, Shell shut down an oil facility pumping 37,800 barrels of crude daily in Nigeria's southern oil-rich delta, following an unexplained blaze at a nearby oil well. read more

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Sunday Telegraph: British oil worker among nine abducted in Nigeria

(Filed: 19/02/2006)

A British oil worker is reported to be among nine foreigners abducted by militants in southern Nigeria yesterday.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed responsibility for kidnapping the workers, who were seized when 40 armed militants overpowered military guards on a boat near the oil port city of Warri.
Three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais and a Filipino were also taken from the vessel, which belonged to the United States company, Wilbros. The British worker was named as John Hudspith, originally from northern England, and now living in the South-East.
The boat he was travelling in was contracted to Shell. A spokesman for the oil group confirmed that the barge was attacked in the Forcados estuary, but refused to say if the workers were employed by Shell or another company.
It is the latest in a series of kidnappings carried out by rebels demanding greater local control of oil wealth in the impoverished region.
read more

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THE NEW YORK TIMES: Alternative Fuel Loses Another Alternative

By DAVID SCHARFENBERG
Published: February 19, 2006
TARRYTOWN
THE nation may be addicted to oil, as President Bush warned in his State of the Union address last month, but at least some American consumers seem willing to break the habit.
Numbers of Toyota Prius owners and other hybrid-vehicle enthusiasts are slowly weaning themselves off the crude. And a small sliver of drivers have gone cold turkey — swearing off gasoline altogether to fuel up on compressed natural gas, French fry grease and all manner of animal fats.
So there was considerable excitement here when General Motors recently announced plans to bring a slice of its own oil-busting experiment — a billion-dollar gamble on hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles — to this riverside village.
G.M. already operates pilot programs in suburban Washington and near Irvine, Calif. In Tarrytown, the company envisioned a third test market for the vehicles, which combine hydrogen and oxygen inside fuel cells to create electric current to propel the vehicle, emitting only water vapor and a little heat.
The plan was to bring a handful of futuristic prototypes to the company's 51-year-old training center on Route 9, build a small hydrogen fueling station at the plant and, perhaps most tantalizing, give a few local businesses and families a chance to try out the vehicles.
The buzz only grew when officials with Shell, G.M.'s partner in the fuel cell initiative, said they hoped to add a hydrogen pump and a visitors' center to an existing gasoline station on Central Park Avenue in Greenburgh.
But two weeks ago, Tarrytown officials opened a letter from G.M. announcing that it was dropping its hydrogen plans for the village. The company, it seemed, had run into an opposition more powerful than Honda, more intimidating than Toyota: the suburban mom.
The General Motors Training Center is next to the Jewish Community Center on the Hudson, a squat, boxy building overflowing with exercise equipment, musical classes and children. Visions of a hydrogen-fueled explosion did not sit well with parents at the center or with other residents in the area.
Proponents say that risk is minimal, and note that American industry has a strong safety record with hydrogen, a nontoxic, lighter-than-air element. With children in the picture, parents said, the experiment should go elsewhere. Besides, said Jackie Reich, a Jewish Community Center board member with a 2-year-old child in the day care program, “G.M.'s going to have a lot of space — a lot of empty factories.”
G.M., as Ms. Reich wryly suggested, is in the midst of a crisis. The company reported an $8.6 billion loss for 2005 and watched its market share slip to its lowest level since 1925. In November, executives said the company would cut 30,000 jobs and close all or part of 12 factories.
The company has pledged to find another test market in affluent Westchester for its fuel cell vehicles in its effort to build a commercially viable hydrogen-powered car sometime in the next 10 years. But Joseph J. Romm, a former Clinton administration official and author of “The Hype About Hydrogen” (Island Press, 2004), says an affordable fuel cell vehicle is decades away.
Among the hurdles, say Mr. Romm and other experts, are bringing down the cost of a vehicle that can cost $1 million or more to build, and increasing the range of a fuel cell car to the 300 miles consumers have come to expect. Then there is the “chicken or the egg” dilemma: automakers will have a hard time creating a market for fuel cell vehicles without a vast network of hydrogen fueling stations in place; but energy companies will be hesitant to build the necessary stations without an established market for the cars.
For now, Mr. Romm said, the hybrid, which combines a gas engine and an emissions-free electric motor, is the most viable alternative to the internal combustion engine. James P. Womack, an author and industry expert, shares some of Mr. Romm's skepticism about fuel cell technology but says G.M. has little choice but to look at alternatives to what is on the road now.
“Really, nobody has the answer,” Mr. Womack said. “There are a lot of people placing bets who have to place bets. The race is starting and you have to put your money down somewhere.”
But William L. Shepard Jr., field manager for G.M.'s fuel cell program, is bullish on fuel cell technology, which dates back 165 years and has been used by astronauts and bus drivers alike. He said G.M. has shrunk the cost of the vehicle considerably and will clear any remaining technical hurdles in the near future. The payoff, he said, could be enormous. “We're all wary about what's happening with the price of oil,” he said, “foreign petroleum dependency, on and on.”
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Under a March 2005 agreement, G.M. and the Department of Energy are pouring $44 million each into a demonstration project, with the automaker pledging to put 40 fuel cell vehicles on the road in New York, Washington, California and Michigan by 2009. The department also signed fuel cell development agreements with Ford, DaimlerChrysler and Hyundai as part of a broader, five-year, $1.2 billion hydrogen initiative announced by President Bush in his 2003 State of the Union address.
Shell already operates a hydrogen fueling station in Washington, which sells gaseous hydrogen and a liquid, cryogenically chilled version. Tim O'Leary, a spokesman for Shell Renewables & Hydrogen, said the Greenburgh station would offer only the gaseous form, stored at 5,000 pounds per square inch of pressure.
Mr. O'Leary said the company hopes to build one or two fueling stations between the Washington outfit and the Westchester station, starting what he called a “New England corridor.” But first, Shell needs to win support for an overhaul of the Greenburgh station, an unremarkable piece of property at the corner of Central Park Avenue and Clifton Road with two gas pumps and four drooping American flags out front.
So far, Shell is faring better than G.M. in its public relations battle. Environmentalists have been generally supportive, though they note that hydrogen production can create emissions that offset some of the benefits of clean-running fuel cell cars. Paul J. Feiner, the Greenburgh supervisor, says he is open to the hydrogen pump, as long as the neighbors' safety concerns are met. Mr. O'Leary said that a poll conducted by the company found area residents in favor of the idea by a four-to-one ratio.
The positive response is not exactly a surprise. Greenburgh has three small electric vehicles in its municipal fleet and plans to erect a series of solar panels at its town hall in the coming weeks. But hydrogen, however safe, can still spook a nervous neighbor.
The gas is odorless and tasteless and burns invisibly. And there is always the shadow of the hydrogen-fueled disaster that took place nearly 70 years ago, not so far from here. Robert Bernstein, a lawyer from the Edgemont section of town, said he could not help thinking of it when Shell's polling firm called to ask him about hydrogen some two months ago.
“'What's the first thing that came into my mind?' they said,” Mr. Bernstein recalled, “and I said, 'the Hindenburg, of course.' “ read more

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THE NEW YORK TIMES: How States Are Aiming to Keep Dollars Out of Sudan

Lynsey Addario for The New York TimesThe civil war in Sudan has forced many residents, like these who were helped by relief workers last October, to flee their villages.
By CARLA FRIED
Published: February 19, 2006
THE latest American initiatives to put pressure on the government of Sudan are centered many thousands of miles away from its capital, Khartoum. A handful of state legislatures in the United States have passed laws that bar their public pension funds from investing in companies with ties to Sudan, which has been accused of extensive human rights abuses in a long-running civil war.
The United States State Department has also labeled Sudan a state sponsor of terrorism.
While a 1997 executive order by President Bill Clinton bars American companies from conducting business in Sudan — except for a few technical exceptions, like a humanitarian mission — foreign businesses do not fall under that restriction. But in this age of global asset allocation, it is not uncommon for investors in the United States to have a link to Sudan through foreign stock holdings. Such foreign holdings would be the most affected by the recent state legislation.
The New Jersey Legislature passed a law in August that requires its public pension funds to divest itself of holdings in businesses that have equity stakes, including investments, facilities or employees, in Sudan. A similar law went into effect in Illinois last month, requiring its pension funds to be fully divested of any company with a Sudan tie by July. Oregon has also passed such a law for its public investment funds, while Louisiana has approved legislation that permits, but does not require, its public funds to shed investments linked to Sudan.
In December, the biggest public pension hammer, the California Public Employees Retirement Plan, or Calpers, took aim at three companies in which it has invested. The Calpers board voted 9 to 2 to call for the companies, ABB, Alcatel and Siemens, to cease business operations in Sudan.
A Calpers spokesman said that “our board believes that an engagement process with the companies is the best avenue if we are going to effect some change.” Last week, Calpers reported that the three companies would not sever their Sudan ties; Calpers is considering its next step.
Phil Angelides, the California state treasurer and a Calpers board member, says he is prepared to pursue divestment if those companies do not pull out of Sudan. “The U.S. government has told Americans to have no business in Sudan,” he said, “so why should California invest in companies that are supporting the regime?”
Spokesmen for the three companies say that leaving Sudan would do more harm than good. Ron Popper, a spokesman for ABB, for example, said the company had sought comment from many individuals and organizations within Sudan. “We have unanimously heard one message: do not withdraw because the country needs international investment,” Mr. Popper said.
The states have left it to their money managers to figure out who belongs on the divestment list. Money managers have relied on private research firms that scour publicly available documents, trade journals and news accounts, and that conduct independent research to compile databases of companies involved in Sudan. Among the firms providing this research are KLD Research and Analytics, Institutional Shareholder Services and the Conflict Securities Advisory Group.
For example, KLD started its Sudan Compliance Service last November. Noel Friedman, managing director of KLD, said that 124 companies were currently on its Sudan list, including eight American businesses that he declined to name.
The lists, however, are far from definitive. Some companies that appear on them declare that they do no business in Sudan, and for at least one, 3M, the involvement was described by the company as aiding the United Nations. A spokesman at 3M said the United Nations bought 3M's Scotchshield Ultra Safety and Security Film, used to protect windows.
Steven Schoenfeld, chief investment strategist for quantitative investments at Northern Trust, is responsible for determining the companies his firm will exclude from the six “Sudan free” index funds it has started for institutional clients, including the State of Illinois. More than $8 billion of Illinois pension money has already moved into the six portfolios.
Mr. Schoenfeld's goal is to track closely the performance of traditional indexes even after he has removed stocks with ties to Sudan. He says his fund that tracks the MSCI EAFE index, a popular benchmark for developed countries across Europe and Asia, as well as Australia, will pose his biggest challenge. He said that more than 25 companies, representing more than 9 percent of the index's market capitalization, could be booted from the fund.
Among the big names that could be dropped from the portfolio are Royal Dutch Shell, which represents more than 2 percent of the EAFE index; Total, the French energy giant, about 1.5 percent; Toyota, about 1 percent; and Siemens of Germany and Ericsson of Sweden, both about 0.5 percent.
The six Northern Trust funds are to complete Sudan divestment by the summer.
While Sudan has been in a two-decades-long civil war that has claimed thousands of lives through fighting and famine, the state initiatives picked up momentum after Colin L. Powell, then the secretary of state, said in late 2004 that the United States viewed violence in the Darfur region of western Sudan as genocide.
Agreement over the gravity of the situation in Sudan has not meant a united push for divestiture. It stalled in the Arizona Legislature and didn't get far in Maryland. William C. Thompson, the New York City comptroller, has identified 24 stocks in the city pension system's holdings in which the parent company has some operations in Sudan. A spokesman for Mr. Thompson said his preferred course — echoing the stance of Calpers and others — was discussion with those companies, not divestment.
Mutual funds that call themselves socially responsible routinely screen out companies that they regard as having poor records on humanitarian issues and thus have generally avoided investing in companies with Sudan ties. But Julie Gorte, director of social research at Calvert Investments, which specializes in socially responsible funds, says she can still appreciate the complexity of the issue.
“You have to ask yourself what your goal is with divestment,” she said. “What's there if the government falls? Is there a government there that will take over and be better? If the companies that pull out provide money, goods and services, is there an understanding that will make the people poorer in the short run?”
Before the states' recent push, there were other moves to exert pressure. In 2002, Talisman Energy of Canada decided to end its Sudan investment after American investors steeply discounted its stock. In 2000, many college endowments and public pension funds, including Calpers, did not participate in the initial public offering of PetroChina, a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Company, because of PetroChina's involvement in oil extraction from Sudan.
THE nation's largest mutual fund companies have remained on the sidelines so far. A spokesman for Vanguard said it was “taking an 'analyze and see' approach before making any broad policy changes to either our internally or externally managed funds,” while a spokesman for Fidelity said the Sudan issue was not currently a concern.
The $9 million Bull Moose Growth fund, which calls itself a “terror free” fund, is an exception. The investment manager relies on a database, maintained by the Conflict Securities Advisory Group, that tracks public companies with business ties to countries designated as state sponsors of terrorism; about 450 companies are listed in Conflict Securities' global security risk monitor, including about 120 with ties to Sudan. The fund's gain of 12.8 percent in 2005 was more than double that of the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

THE NEW YORK TIMES: Nigerian Militants Assault Oil Industry, Abducting 9 Foreigners

By REUTERS
Published: February 19, 2006
LAGOS, Nigeria, Feb. 18 (Reuters) — Nigerian militants began a string of attacks on the country's oil industry on Saturday, abducting nine foreign workers, bombing a major tanker loading platform and sabotaging two pipelines.
Royal Dutch Shell suspended exports from the 380,000-barrel-a-day Forcados tanker terminal, and shut down the 115,000-barrel-a-day EA oilfield as a precaution. That cut 21 percent of the 2.4 million barrels of daily supply to world markets by Nigeria, the eighth-largest oil exporter. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said the attacks were a response to military air raids in Delta State earlier this week and would be followed by another wave of violence “on a grander scale.”
“These hostages are human shields,” the militants said, calling on all oil workers to leave the delta. “Subsequent attacks on other installations will be drastic as we have no intentions of taking hostages.”
The militants said they wanted more local control over the Niger Delta's vast oil wealth and the release of two ethnic Ijaw leaders, including a militia leader who is on trial for treason.
In military-style predawn raids, militants in speed boats stormed an offshore barge operated by the American oil services company Willbros and abducted nine workers — three Americans, one Briton, two Thais, two Egyptians and a Filipino.
The rebels caused an explosion and fire on the Forcados loading platform, which delivers crude oil through pipes to large buoys where tankers load. The fire was later extinguished.
They also blew up a major Shell crude oil pipeline nearby, and a natural gas pipeline operated by state-run Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, militant and oil industry sources said.
Shell began to close oil fields feeding the Forcados terminal, as well as the offshore EA field. It had already cut 106,000 barrels a day of output from the Forcados area because of an attack in January.
On Saturday night, a militant source said soldiers in 14 boats with air cover had engaged the militants in a three-hour firefight. Another pipeline, carrying gasoline, exploded in the nearby Escravos area, a security source said.
The militants warned Shell not to try to repair the offshore loading platform.
The United States confirmed that three Americans were among the hostages and called for their unconditional release.
Militants said the attacks had focused on Delta State in response to air raids on Wednesday and Friday. Delta state is on the western side of the Niger Delta and accounts for about a quarter of Nigerian output.
They accused Shell of allowing the military to use an airstrip operated by the company to initiate its attacks, and threatened to attack any aircraft, including civilian planes, using it. The Osubi airport was closed as a precaution, a security source said.
The military said their aerial bombardment this week had been aimed at gangs stealing crude oil from pipelines. But community leaders said the targets were villages suspected of harbouring militants, who had staged a series of attacks on the oil industry in December and January.
Militancy in the delta, a vast region of mangrove swamps and creeks that accounts for almost all of Nigeria's output, is rooted in the extreme poverty of the majority who live there. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

AP Worldstream: Nigeria militants launch wave of attacks, seize nine foreign oil workers

OSMOND CHIDI
Feb 19, 2006
Armed militants launched a wave of attacks across Nigeria's troubled southern delta region, blowing up oil installations and seizing nine foreigners in violence that cut crude exports in the West African nation by 20 percent. Royal Dutch Shell official Donald Boham said militants attacked the Forcados oil loading platform Saturday, forcing the company to shut down a facility that moves out 400,000 barrels of oil daily.
Shell also said in a statement it had evacuated its nearby shallow water EA field as a precautionary measure, shutting off another 115,000 barrels a day.
Nigeria is Africa's leading exporter, normally producing 2.5 million barrels of oil a day.
In an e-mail to The Associated Press, the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed responsibility for the attacks as well as a raid in which militants abducted three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, one Briton and one Filipino.
The group, which claims to be fighting for a greater local share of the country's oil wealth, said the attacks were carried out in retaliation for military helicopter assaults in the area this week. The militants threatened more violence would follow on “a grander scale.”
A day earlier, oil prices jumped more than US$1 and settled near US$60 a barrel on supply concerns sparked by the group's threat to wage war on foreign oil interests. Nigeria is the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports.
A similar wave of attacks and hostage takings in January cut exports by nearly 10 percent, or 221,000 barrels daily. About 106,000 of that lost output has yet to be restored because of a previous attack on a major pipeline supplying the Forcados terminal.
After Saturday's attack at Forcados, Boham said a fire at was quickly put out, but loading operations were suspended. “We can't load because there is some damage to the loading platform,” he said. There was no word on casualties.
Forcados serves as a berth for oil tankers and accounts for all oil the company loads in the western delta. Shell is the leading exporter in Nigeria, accounting for just under half of total exports.
The foreigners were seized before dawn by more than 40 militants who overpowered guards on a barge belonging to the U.S. company Wilbros, which was working on a contract to lay pipelines for Shell, a Wilbros official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Boham said the incident occurred in the Forcados estuary near the oil port city of Warri.
Militants identified each of the foreigners by name. Britain's Foreign Office said the British man kidnapped was John Hudspith of southern England. U.S. State Department spokesman Noel Clay confirmed three American oil workers were among those taken hostage.
“We're working with the Nigerian government and talking with them about this,” Clay said. “We call for their unconditional release.”
In Houston, Texas, Wilbros' vice president of investor relations, Michael Collier, confirmed the nationalities of those seized.
Associated Press writers Dulue Mbachu in Lagos and Chris Duncan in Houston, Texas contributed to this report. read more

royaldutchshellplc.com and its sister websites royaldutchshellgroup.com, shellenergy.website, shellnazihistory.com, royaldutchshell.website, johndonovan.website, shellnews.net and shell2004.com are all owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia article.

WLBZ Bangor: Shell Cuts Back Production After Kidnappings

WARRI, Nigeria (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell is cutting back on oil production in Nigeria after a wave of attacks by militants across Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta. Three Americans were among nine foreign oil workers kidnapped.
Royal Dutch Shell says it is shutting down a facility that moves 400-thousand barrels of oil a day. That's 16 percent of the West African nation's output.
The foreigners were working on a barge belonging to a Houston-based oil services firm (Willbros) that was laying pipeline for Shell.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta says the attacks are a response to military helicopter assaults this week on ethnic minority communities in the region. The militants threatened more attacks would follow on “a grander scale.” read more

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(AFX UK Focus): Shell suspends loading at Nigerian export terminal

2006-02-19 08:18 GMT:
LAGOS (AFX) – Energy giant Shell has suspended loading at an export terminal which handles an average of 380,000 barrels per day following an attack by militants, a company spokesman said Saturday.
The company also said that, following an attack on its Forcados export terminal in southern Nigeria in which nine foreign workers were kidnapped and an oil loading platform set ablaze, it was halting production in its EA field.
This will lead to a loss in production of 115,000 thousand barrels of oil per day, the firm said. Shell is already losing 106,000 barrels per day due to the closure of four plants following similar attacks last month.
Meanwhile, it has suspended loading at Forcados terminal, which handles around 380,000 barrels per day — depending on the arrival of supertankers to load — and has a capacity of 4 mln barrels.
A Shell spokesman said that no tankers were due to arrive at the offshore crude loading platform until next week, and it was not yet known whether the damage to the facility could be quickly repaired.
The firm also confirmed that there had been an explosion on an oil pipeline leading into the terminal from the delta creeks.
Nigeria is Africa's largest oil exporter, producing a total of around 2.6 mln barrels per day, but the wells and flow stations of the Niger Delta are vulnerable to attack from pirates and separatist militants.
dc/jmy/mas read more

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TMCnet: Sakhalin-2 participants to meet with Gazprom on Feb 21

(Interfax News Agency Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)MOSCOW. Feb 17 (Interfax) – Participants in the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project – Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell and Japan's Mitsui and Mitsubishi – are to meet with Russian gas giant OAO Gazprom on February 21, a source close to preparations for the meeting told Interfax.
The source said that on the same day a meeting is planned between management from Mitsubishi and Gazprom to discuss trade in liquefied natural gas.
Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) and Royal Dutch Shell, which owns a 55% stake in Sakhalin-2, agreed to exchange shares in Sakhalin-2 and theZapolyarnoye-Neocomian project which is being developed by the Russian company. As a result of the deal Gazprom will receive 25% plus one share in Sakhalin-2 and Shell – a 50% stake in the Zapolyarnoye-Neocomian project. However, after Shell announced an almost 100% increase in expenditure on the second stage of the project, Gazprom announced that this would lead to a reduction in the value of the Shell assets in the Sakhalin-2 project.
If it sells 25% plus one share in the project to Gazprom, Shell will retain less than 30%. The Japanese companies own a total of 45%. At the end of January this year they announced that they are discussing the possibility of selling part of their stake to Shell. Mitsubishi CFO Ichiro Mizuno said that the sale is connected with the planned deal between Shell and Gazprom, but he did not give any details.
Shell is not commenting on the possibility of increasing its stake in the project.
Gazprom plans to wind up talks on exchanging the assets by August 2006.
The Sakhalin-2 project involves the development of the Piltun- Astokhsky and Lunskoye fields off the Sakhalin coast. Total reserves of oil and gas at these deposits amount to 150 million tonnes and 500 billion cubic meters respectively. rd read more

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Free Internet Press: Shell Suspends Exports Of 380,000 Barrels A Day Of Nigerian Oil

Posted on Sunday, February 19 2006 00:16:49 PST by Intellpuke
Guerillas launched multiple attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta on Saturday, kidnapping nine foreign workers and forcing Shell to suspend exports from a major terminal.
Heavily-armed rebels stormed a pipeline laying barge working off the energy giant's 380,000-barrel-a-day Forcados terminal, abducted expatriate staff and set fire to an offshore platform used to load crude onto tankers.
The firm said that it had been forced to suspend exports from Forcados – which could cut Nigeria's supply of crude to the world market by 15 per cent – and confirmed that one of its pipelines had also been blown up.
Captain Obiara Medani, spokesman for the Nigerian navy, said there was an exchange of fire between government security forces and the militants.
In a statement, Shell said: “A barge belonging to an SPDC contractor in the Forcados Estuary was attacked this morning. We understand that nine expatriates have been taken hostage but are unable to make further comments.”
U.S. oil services contractor Willbros Group confirmed that nine employees, including three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais and one Filipino, were kidnapped.
Willbros “has not, at this time, been contacted by the group which has claimed responsibility,” it said. The company said it had a crisis management team “working closely with the appropriate parties and authorities to seek an early and safe resolution of the situation.”
A U.S. State Department spokesman called for the “unconditional release” of the U.S. citizens.
The kidnappers said they also had abducted a Briton. The British Foreign Office confirmed that one of its nationals, John Hudspith, was among those kidnapped.
The kidnappers warned that they planned to step up their war on the oil industry in retaliation for government airstrikes.
The hostages were seized from a barge operated by their employer, at around 5 a.m. (0600 GMT).
“There was shooting on the barge and there have been some casualties. At the moment this appears to be a couple of navy personnel, one badly injured,” said an internal oil industry security report that was passed to the Agence France Presse. “Four speedboats attacked Forcados Crude Loading Platform and set it on fire,” the report said, adding “there is a large hole in the CLP export line”.
Nigeria's Information Minister Frank Nweke, speaking on behalf of President Olusegun Obasanjo, condemned the hostage taking and said that the government would seek to release the hostages through negotiation.
“There can be absolutely no justification for what amounts to a criminal attempt to prevent people from going about their lawful business … and create further room for some persons to criminally enrich themselves,” he said.
The crude loading platform which was attacked lies 20 kilometers (10 miles) offshore and is used to supply super-tankers with crude oil for export.

Shell said that the fire had been put out but that it was not clear when exports would resume. Following the attack, the firm evacuated its EA offshore field, slashing production by 115,000 barrels per day.

The militants quickly claimed responsibility for the attacks and kidnapping.
“These individuals and facilities were well guarded by a large number of soldiers who resisted for an embarrassingly short period before escaping to ensure their personal safeties,” the militants' statement said.
Saturday's attack followed a week in which the Nigerian military carried out two helicopter gunship strikes against barges used by the militants to smuggle crude stolen from illegally trapped pipelines to tankers lying offshore.
Last month, the same gang kidnapped four foreign oil workers and held them for 19 days, demanding that two ethnic Ijaw leaders be released from jail and that Shell pay US$1.5 billion to the tribe.
“Our demands have not changed,” the militants' statement said.
The hostages were eventually released unharmed, but in the meantime the group and its allies also attacked a number of oil facilities, killing at least 22 soldiers and police in two assaults, and blew up a major pipeline.
Shell's production was already down by 106,000 barrels per day when the latest violence broke out and the company has closed four of its oil flow stations in the western delta because of security fears.
The Niger Delta – a 70,000 square kilometer swathe of swampland and mangrove forest – is home to Africa's biggest oil industry and to the 14-million-strong Ijaw tribe, many of whom dream of independence.
Intellpuke: “I sincerely hope the hostages are released unharmed. And look for the price of oil to go up when the markets open on Monday. You can read this Agence France Presse article in context here.
http://freeinternetpress.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=5953 read more

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Xtvworld (press release), India: Jorma Ollila Receives GSMA Chairman's Award

(ShellNews.net comment: Jorma Ollila becomes non-executive Chairman of Royal Dutch Shell Plc on 1st June 2006)
webitpr writes ”

The individual who built Nokia into one of the world's best-known brands was honoured at the GSM Association's annual industry Awards ceremony in Barcelona. Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila accepted the GSM Association's Chairman's Award, given in recognition of his leadership skills in creating a world-leading mobile communications company.

3GSM World Congress, Barcelona, Spain, February 16, 2006 (XTVWorld.Com) — Presenting the Award, GSM Association chairman Craig Ehrlich said: “This Award is in recognition of the career of a man whose company’s achievements and growth have mirrored those of GSM – a vision of communications without borders whether those barriers are physical, national, economic or social.”
“Nokia is now one of the world’s best known brands – a household name that has come to signify quality, ingenuity – and credibility.”
Jorma Ollila joined Nokia in 1985. He became its CEO in 1992 as the first GSM networks launched commercial services in Europe, as Telstra became the first non-European signatory to the fledgling GSM community and as Vodafone and Telecom Finland signed the first roaming agreement.
Throughout the 1990s, under Jorma's leadership, Nokia led the industry in producing lightweight, affordable and fashionable handsets that turned mobile phones into mass-market products. As a result, the company became the world's biggest mobile phone maker in 1998 – a position it has held ever since.
Sponsored by Fortune magazine, The GSM Association Chairman’s Award was established in 1995 to recognise outstanding personal or company-wide contributions that spectacularly support the growth and vitality of the GSM mobile community.
Previous winners include Sir Christopher Gent, former Chief Executive of the Vodafone Group and Zhang Li Gui, former President of China Mobile; and companies such as NTTDoCoMo of Japan and Entel PCS of Chile.
Contact:
http://www.webitpr.com read more

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