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February 20th, 2006:

London Evening Standard: Oil prices leap after new attacks on Shell

20 February 2006
OIL prices surged today as investors took fright at the renewed terrorist attacks on Shell's operations in Nigeria. Brent crude jumped $1.51 a barrel to $61.40 after militants claimed to have launched fresh attacks on the company's oil platforms.
The unconfirmed incidents came after nine foreign oil workers were kidnapped at the weekend by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta.
GNI-Man trader Kevin Blemkin said: 'There has definitely been an escalation in Nigeria.'
He added that the closure of US markets for Presidents' Day exacerbated the price volatility as fewer trades were made than normal. Shell has shut operations delivering 455,000 barrels a day due to the unrest. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Business Day (South Africa): Nigeria attacks threaten Shell’s output goal

LONDON – Attacks on Nigerian oil facilities could make Royal Dutch Shell 2006 production goals unattainable, analysts said today.
Shell suspended a total 455,000 barrels a day (bpd) of oil production — 19% of Nigeria’s total output — after a string of militant attacks at the weekend.
It said today it had also evacuated staff from remote locations on the eastern side of the Niger Delta as a precaution.
Shell operates the fields on behalf of a consortium that includes Total of France, with a 10% share, and Italy’s ENI, with 5%.
Shell’s share of the current lost production is equivalent to almost 4% of the firm’s 2005 average daily output.
After its production fell around 7% last year to 3,5 million barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), and with an uncertain pipeline of new projects, the Anglo-Dutch company can ill afford the shortfall, analysts said.
Shell, the world’s third-largest oil and gas firm by market capitalisation, has indicated it expects production at the lower end of a 3,5-3,8 million boepd range in 2006.
But if the Nigerian violence continues, as the militants promise, this target could be lost.
“Their production target this year has had a bad start …
It will be difficult to reach the bottom part (of the target range),” said Jason Kenney, oil analyst at ING.
Although the shut-in barrels will eventually flow, Shell’s first-quarter results will be hit.
One analyst said the cost, in terms of lost revenues, damage repair and extra security costs, was likely to be hundreds of millions of dollars.
One consolation for Shell is that the lost barrels are not its most profitable, because the production-sharing contract which governs its operations means all the benefit of prices above $30 per barrel accrue to the government, a spokesman said.
Last year’s hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico were especially harsh on oil firms’ bottom lines because the region yields such high margins.
Nonetheless, the Nigerian trouble could have a longer impact. Analysts at Eurasia Group said in a report that attacks could worsen before presidential elections in 2007.
Analysts at Citigroup noted that up to 40% of Nigeria’s production was disrupted by militant attacks in the run up to elections in 2003.
The militants seek the release of imprisoned ethnic Ijaw leaders and more local control over oil revenues.
Shell’s output in the eastern side of the delta, totalling 390,000 barrels a day, was not affected by the evacuation of its staff, a Shell official said. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment. From a Shell Insider: “…Malcolm Brinded is certainly lying when he states that he did not know”

Mr Donovan
After reading some contributions to your site of insiders it made me decide to share something with you and your readers. Perhaps you see it fit to publish, I have no other avenue to vent my frustration and very deep anger.
Of late the networks have highlighted the treatment of prisoners by Americans in their prisons for presumed terrorists. At least to me it has become very clear that there has been a fundamental flaw in the command structure of the armed forces. And I am cynical enough to believe this flaw was designed and knowingly created by the 'brass' and top politicians.
They first brainwashed the soldiers (mostly non professionals and reservists who only joined the army to have medical insurance and get an education) via direct messages and via the various media that are under their control to prepare them psychologically to commit acts that most of them would never dream of doing in a normal life, whether or not these acts comply with the Geneva Convention. I am a mere engineer and not a psychologist so I am out of my depth here. But I am convinced that if you repeat messages time and again that your enemies are all evil terrorists, people will start to believe this, especially if they are in an elevated state of stress such as a war in Iraq. Next the brass (from the president down) says that no stone must be left unturned to get the truth out of the prisoners to defend the nation of good citizens and god fearing Americans, and the foundation is laid to get excesses. To top it off you put reserve personnel in charge of these prisons and interrogation and on purpose do not arrange for extra controls to check how things go, and you have disasters in the making.
Praise the interrogators if they come up with some 'confessions' beaten out of prisoners, real or simply made up, remove anyone that wants to say that this is wrong, and the result is very easy to predict. No instructions to do bad things will be on paper so the brass can always blame the little guys at the coalface. They overstepped and need to be punished. And you hand out severe prison sentences to simple soldiers who thought they were merely following orders. I guess this happens in all wars and if you quickly score a victory, it can all be covered up many years, enough to erase the tracks of the real culprits. The winner takes all and is right!
However, in this era of digital cameras and internet, there are fewer secrets. Images can be circulated globally and instantly. And then there is real trouble and on a global scale. It is totally beyond me that the advisors to the president and top brass did not see this coming. I leave that to psychologists to analyze and explain.
Why this long story and what does it have to do with Shell?
The whole reserves problem as well as the extremely poor project management that Shell is experiencing the last few years is almost a carbon copy of what happened to the armed forces. Great changes, such as the large reorganisation started by Herkstroeter in 1994, created great stress in the workforce. These changes were considered unnecessary by Bob Sprague, one of the cleverest people who ever worked for Shell. But initially this was still fairly positive stress and it led to a feeling of freedom and desire to conquer and improve the world. Remember, at that time we were the biggest and the best oil company and had been since the mid 70s! So there was still a lot of latent know-how and professionalism around, which the company cannibalised in creating a 'new Shell' with 'self managing teams', 'Olympic targets', 'unleashing talent' and other trendy nonsense. It even led to record profits in one year, I believe it was 1997.
But by then the company was getting (with the explicit knowledge of the top brass) into the hands of people who were only motivated by personal rewards, and who smelled their chance. None of that 'Enterprise First' stuff. It was 'Me first' and all the snouts were in the trough and nobody wanted to take their snout out of the trough. Anyone complaining or making remarks that things were not right was publicly destroyed and removed. And those with their snouts in the trough started to make promises and ever more ridiculous demands. When Watts came to power (he actually stole that job at the time with his gorilla talk and behaviour) the pigs were truly feeding. Explicit instructions to cook the books or 'err on the high side' were hardly given in written form or were at least well disguised. It was said and whispered in meetings, conferences and workshops and personal discussions during the annual staff evaluation time. There were clear instructions to aim for the impossible with those stretched targets and anyone who said he could go even further or higher was handsomely rewarded with promotions or fat bonuses.

Brinded was a real champion of this, he was #2 and later MD in Shell Expro and I believe they missed their business targets for 7 years in a row under his reign!

So, the foundation was laid and Watts started his circus with new and bigger promises every year. And then it became unsustainable and the truth came out. We have internet, everyone knows what has happened and why it happened.
But to prove that in a court of law will be very difficult. And with the vast profits created by high oil prices, the top brass can buy all the time they need and hire the most expensive lawyers to keep them out of prison. All paid for with the shareholders' money.
To illustrate how difficult it will be to prove, consider the following story. I recently confronted a colleague who works on the Sakhalin project and told him that I had known that the project would be severely over budget in early May 2005. The word was out and a figure of $15.5 billion was being suggested by project managers from Sakhalin. How come, I asked him, that Malcolm Brinded and Jeroen van der Veer claim they did not know? The answer was very simple: Brinded was told there were severe problems and his response was: 'give me a report as soon as you have the exact details and know precisely how much and what'. This led to a further delay and a week after the deal with Gazprom was announced, out came the surprise statement of the $20 billion and enormous time overrun. But there are probably no documents showing that Malcolm Brinded and Jeroen van der Veer knew. They are genuinely clever people. But in my simple world, the boss should know how his most expensive project is progressing, even if it is not exact all the time. So, Malcolm Brinded is certainly lying when he states that he did not know. He means he had no formal report.
And Jeroen van der Veer should step down because he either knew and lied or he did not know and that is just as bad for someone in his position.
I apologise for this longish note but it helped to reduce my anger. I hope others will follow and you will publish this on your great site. I think the top echelons in Shell by now know there are no secrets anymore. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Anchorage Daily News: Shell appoints two lifelong Alaskans to navigate Beaufort Sea fields

Published: February 19, 2006
Last Modified: February 19, 2006 at 02:24 AM
For oil giant Shell to reach its goal of pumping oil from Beaufort Sea fields, it'll have to deal with two behemoths: the endangered bowhead whale, which North Slope Natives hunt and fervently protect, and the U.S. Department of the Interior, which regulates offshore drilling.
To help, Shell recently made a couple of key hires: a prominent Native whaling captain and the Interior Department's former point man in Alaska.
George Ahmaogak Sr., who until last fall was mayor of the Barrow-based North Slope Borough, joined Shell last month as the company's Alaska community affairs manager. He's taken part in many a hunt for the bowhead, an animal so large its tongue alone can weigh a ton.
Ahmaogak's new boss is Cam Toohey, who is Shell's Alaska government and external affairs manager. Toohey also joined Shell in January after leaving his post as Alaska special assistant to Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
Both men say they want to help Shell achieve its agenda in Alaska while preserving values they believe are important to North Slope whalers and other Alaskans.
“A job like this doesn't come along that often in Alaska,” Toohey said in a recent interview in Shell's office on the 13th floor of the Frontier Building in Midtown Anchorage. “Shell's returning to Alaska with some big plans. They plan to work on creating jobs and put oil in the pipeline and generate some exploration activities on the North Slope that we haven't seen for quite some time.”
Joining an industry player marks a significant departure for Ahmaogak, who as mayor spoke out against the oil and gas industry edging closer and closer to North Slope villages, disrupting subsistence hunts and threatening the bowhead whale migration. He fought the Interior Department's recent decision to expand leasing in the coastal zone north and east of Teshekpuk Lake, one of the state's largest inland water bodies and a vital haven for migratory geese.
For Toohey, this isn't the first time a job change has created controversy. Before Norton tabbed him as her special assistant in Alaska in 2001, Toohey had served for several years as executive director of Arctic Power, a nonprofit organization devoted to opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration.
Toohey's jump from Arctic Power to Interior drew criticism from opponents of ANWR drilling, and a Washington, D.C., government watchdog group contends it's unethical for Toohey to now leave Interior to take a job with an oil company the department regulates.
“I'm not too worried about what people in the Lower 48 or Washington, D.C., think of my move in Alaska,” Toohey said. “But I do value what Alaskans think and what my neighbors think, and they're all excited for me.”
Royal Dutch Shell, based in the Netherlands, is one of the world's largest oil companies, with operations in more than 140 countries.
Shell once was a vigorous oil hunter in Alaska, drilling in such forbidding Arctic waters as the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. But the company never found the elephant oil discoveries it hoped for, and by the late 1990s it completed a slow pullout from Alaska.
Now, with oil running close to $60 a barrel, and as global titans scour the planet for new reserves, Shell has stormed back to the North, last spring bidding $44 million on acreage in the Beaufort Sea. The U.S. Minerals Management Service, an Interior Department agency, conducted the sale and regulates offshore leasing and drilling.
Shell also is pushing for offshore leasing in Bristol Bay, where drilling is now prohibited.
A Shell executive, speaking at a November industry conference in Anchorage, called the Arctic a final frontier his company couldn't ignore, its basins holding perhaps a quarter of the world's remaining undiscovered oil and gas.
Ahmaogak, 56, is a stout man with a ready laugh and a folksy charm that's instantly likable. He wears a black vest emblazoned “George N. Ahmaogak Sr., Mayor Emeritus.”
He delights in telling the story of how, after he got the Shell job, he lit out of Barrow in mid-January in his wife's Hummer H2, bouncing for 17 hours across open, roadless tundra to Deadhorse, then down the highway to Anchorage.
Mention hunting the bowhead and he spouts: “This coming spring I'm going to be beating the band — my adrenaline will be pumping and I want to get out on that ice and harpoon!”
His wife, Maggie, knows something about whaling, too. She's executive director of the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, an agency formed in 1977 to represent subsistence whaling villages before federal and international whaling managers.
As mayor, Ahmaogak said, he worked closely with oil companies on offshore projects, including BP's Northstar oil field.
He said he'll be Shell's man in the villages, explaining the company's work and seeking, for example, “conflict avoidance agreements” specifying in what seasons seismic exploration can safely occur without scaring away the bowheads with noise. If whales are disturbed and move out of their normal migration routes, it can mean longer, riskier and less productive hunts for whalers.
Ahmaogak wouldn't say how much Shell is paying him, though for weeks it was no secret in industry circles what his and Toohey's positions would pay — well into six figures, a salary not uncommon in Alaska's oil industry.
No one, said Ahmaogak, has accused him of being a turncoat for industry. He said he believes he can make a difference with Shell.
“I'm pretty positive they're gonna hear me loud and clear,” he said.
Edward Itta, himself a whaling captain and Ahmaogak's successor as North Slope mayor, said he has no worries about Ahmaogak joining an oil company. Itta held several posts during Ahmaogak's multiple terms as mayor, including public works director.
“I've known George a lot of years, and I really believe I know where his heart is,” he said.
Toohey, 42, is a lanky, lifelong Alaskan who exudes more polish than personality, especially when sat next to Ahmaogak. He studied business administration at the University of Washington, and international business in Denmark.
He said his job will involve lobbying state legislators in Juneau, plus helping Shell workers based in Texas understand Alaska — from its politics to its weather.
As soon as he became interested in the Shell job on a tip from a friend last fall, Toohey said, he informed Shayla Simmons, the Interior Department's designated ethics official.
Simmons wrote back in an e-mail: “You should not participate in any way, including phone calls or meetings on particular matters in which Shell is a party.”
Toohey said he followed that advice and now he's adhering to a yearlong “cooling-off” period before representing Shell on any business with the Interior Department, even though he believes his position and pay grade were not high enough to require him to follow that rule.
Craig Holman, of the watchdog group Public Citizen, said it's wrong for Toohey to jump from Interior to an oil company the agency regulates, even if he does abide by the cooling-off period. He said the job switch is typical of a “revolving door” of people moving into government posts and then “cashing in” on their insider knowledge by joining private industry.
Even though Toohey said he won't lobby his former employer, he's still free to help others within Shell navigate the Interior Department, Holman said.
“The only thing he can't do is pick up the telephone and call Gale Norton for one year,” he said.
Toohey said Holman's point is moot.
“I grew up at a gold mine. My convictions have been pretty consistent throughout my adult life, supporting resource development,” he said. “Believe me, I've got enough work that's unrelated to the Department of the Interior.” read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment. Shell and Sonatrach sign Memorandum of Understanding

Royal Dutch Shell plc (“Shell”) and Sonatrach, the Algerian national energy company, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering multiple business initiatives, both in Algeria and internationally.
Areas of cooperation will include investigating the commercial and technical feasibility for joint developments in Algeria, including upstream development projects, LNG, products and marketing and investigating and evaluating possible asset swap transactions for upstream exploration, development and appraisal projects.
The agreement was signed in the presence of Mohamed Meziane, PDG Sonatrach and on behalf of Shell by Catherine Tanna, Executive Vice President, Africa at a signing ceremony in Algiers.
Ms. Tanna said: “This agreement confirms Shell's interest in investing in Algeria and the growing relationship between our two companies. In this agreement, Shell sees an important opportunity to build on our current activities and relationships in the country by developing new projects and initiatives jointly with Sonatrach, in Algeria and internationally.”
Royal Dutch Shell plc is incorporated in England and Wales, has its headquarters in The Hague and is listed on the London, Amsterdam, and New York stock exchanges. Shell companies have operations in more than 145 countries with businesses including oil and gas exploration and production; production and marketing of Liquefied Natural Gas and Gas to Liquids; manufacturing, marketing and shipping of oil products and chemicals and renewable energy projects including wind and solar power. For further information, visit read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

BLOOMBERG: Shell, Sinopec Are Paying Record Prices in Rush to Buy Canadian Oil Sands

Shell, Sinopec Rush for Canadian Oil Sands, Send Prices Soaring Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) — Canada's hottest piece of real estate isn't much to look at, a mix of swamp and scattered spruce and pine trees in northern Alberta. Underneath the muskeg lie the oil sands, by some measures the world's largest petroleum reserves outside Saudi Arabia. To tap the deposits, companies such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc are paying record prices for undeveloped land. Already this year, the province of Alberta has raised more money from oil sands leases than the record amount earned in all of 2005. The oil sands have “become the Beverly Hills of the oil patch,'' said Gregg Scott, president of Calgary-based Scott Land & Lease Ltd., Canada's biggest land broker. “This is the most high-profile play I've seen in my 24 years as a broker.'' Producers such as Shell Canada Ltd., the Canadian arm of Royal Dutch Shell, are searching for new sites to develop oil sands as Asian countries buy more fuel and the U.S. seeks supply alternatives to the Middle East. U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow toured the oil sands last year, the first visit by a Treasury secretary to Canada in two decades. Oil companies will spend about C$73 billion ($63 billion) in the next 20 years to boost output in Alberta, according to the province's Energy Ministry. Part of that will be spent on new sites. Synenco Energy Ltd., developing a C$5.3 billion project with China Petrochemical Corp., also known as Sinopec, kicked off the rush last September by paying a then-record C$75.9 million for 9,216 hectares (22,763 acres). Calgary-based Synenco paid 3,298 times the minimum price of C$23,040. `Whooping Sounds' “We were quite nervous about it,'' said Todd Newton, Synenco's 43-year-old president. He found out Synenco got the land after hearing “a loud whooping sound'' from the desks outside his office, where employees were monitoring the government Web site. That exuberance hasn't abated. A record for a land package was set Feb. 8, bringing Alberta's total for oil-sand land sales to C$846.3 million from three auctions this year. That eclipsed the old record of C$433.1 million set in 2005 from 21 auctions, according to provincial government data. Alberta's tar-like reserves cover an area almost as big as the state of Florida. The oil sands, 750 kilometers (466 miles) north of Calgary, are estimated to contain 175 billion barrels of recoverable oil, second only to Saudi Arabia's 259 billion barrels, according to the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. The oil sands have helped Canada become the biggest supplier of oil to the U.S. Prices Double Producers and land agents, used by some companies to disguise their identities, paid C$867 per acre for leases this year, almost double the amount paid last year. Oil sands output in Alberta is forecast to triple to about 3 million barrels a day in the next nine years, according to a report from Calgary brokerage FirstEnergy Capital Corp. in December. That would almost equal the current output from OPEC members Algeria and Libya combined. Compared with multibillion-dollar investments to build a mine and a refinery, land is the cheapest cost for oil-sands projects, said Wilf Gobert, vice chairman of Peters & Co., a Calgary brokerage. “There's a bit of a mentality in the industry that if you don't have the land, then you're short of luck,'' said Gobert, an oil analyst for more than 30 years. Some clients were “blown away'' after losing land auctions to bids triple their offer, land broker Scott said. Some properties sold this year aren't in areas with proven output, so the land rush depends on owners being able to economically produce oil from these leases, he said. Strip Mining If the deposit is less than 75 meters underground, the oil can be extracted through strip mining, which can cost C$25 a barrel, compared with C$12 for traditional pumping. If the reserves are deeper, companies inject steam into the ground to soften the heavy oil, or bitumen, to extract it. Companies are more willing to use the expensive methods because they're confident the projects will be profitable as rising demand boosts prices, Gobert said. Most oil sands deposits are economically feasible as long as oil prices are higher than $30 a barrel, or about half the current price of crude. Even if these projects are never developed, there is one clear winner from the land auctions: the Alberta government and the province's taxpayers. Thanks to surging oil and gas revenue, Alberta has recorded budget surpluses for the past 12 years, making the province the only debt-free region in Canada. Premier Ralph Klein this month sent each man, woman and child in the province a check for C$400 — known as “Ralph Bucks'' — to share the wealth. To contact the reporter on this story: Ian McKinnon in Calgary at [email protected].
This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

BLOOMBERG: Shell's Shares May Decline After Militant Attacks in Nigeria

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) — Shares of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, the world's third-largest oil company, may drop after Nigerian militants reported new attacks against oil installations it operates in the country.
Militants blew up a Shell oil-pipeline manifold at Odidi in Delta state and an abandoned Nigerian army vessel during an attack at 2 a.m. local time, said the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND. Shell has no immediate comment on the MEND statement, Caroline Wittgen, a company spokeswoman, said today by e-mail from London.
The company yesterday said its ventures in Nigeria have shut down all oil production in the western Niger River delta, halting 455,000 barrels of production a day and prompting increases in international oil prices.
“It's bad news for Shell because the Niger Delta is a significant part of their production,'' said Antoine Leurent, an analyst at KBC Securities in France, who may consider downgrading Shell shares from “outperform.'' “The situation is getting worse because the attacks look much more organized than before.''
The closures include the EA offshore field, which has a capacity of 115,000 barrels a day, and the Forcados export terminal. The shutdown affects about 20 percent of daily output in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer.
Brent crude oil for April delivery today jumped as much as 2.2 percent to $61.23 a barrel in electronic trading on London's ICE Futures exchange. The contract traded a $61.10 at 7:20 a.m. London time. That's 31 percent higher than a year ago. The New York Mercantile Exchange, the world's largest energy market, is closed today.
To contact the reporters on this story:
Maher Chmaytelli in Cairo at [email protected];
Karl Maier in Khartoum at [email protected] read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

BLOOMBERG: Crude Oil Jumps as Nigerian Militant Attacks Cut Exports, Hostages Taken

Nigeria Militants Report New Attacks on Shell, Army (Update1)
Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) — Nigerian militants reported new attacks on the army and an oil installation operated by a Royal Dutch Shell Plc venture, two days after taking nine hostages and causing a fire at Forcados offshore export platform.
Militants blew up a Shell oil-pipeline manifold at Odidi in Delta state and an abandoned Nigerian army vessel during an attack at 2 a.m. local time, said the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND.
“We are going to continue with the destruction of oil facilities in Delta state while concluding arrangements for our wider attacks on the entire region,'' Jomo Gbomo, a MEND spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. Bloomberg couldn't immediately confirm the statement's authenticity.
Shell yesterday said its ventures in Nigeria have shut down all oil production in the western Niger River delta, halting 455,000 barrels of production a day and prompting gains in international oil prices. The closures include the EA offshore field, which has a capacity of 115,000 barrels a day, and the Forcados export terminal. The shutdown affects about 20 percent of daily output in Nigeria, Africa's top oil producer.
The venture MEND said it has attacked today, the Shell Petroleum Development Co., pumps about half of Nigeria's output. State-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. holds a 55 percent stake in the SPDC joint venture, Shell 30 percent, Total SA 10 percent and Eni SpA 5 percent.
Shell has no immediate comment on today's statement by MEND, spokeswoman Caroline Wittgen said by phone from London.
Brent crude oil for April delivery rose as much as 2.2 percent, the most this month, to $61.23 a barrel in electronic trading on London's ICE Futures exchange. The contract traded at $61.10 at 2:41 p.m. Singapore time, 31 percent higher than a year ago. The New York Mercantile Exchange, the world's largest energy market, is closed today.
OPEC Producer
Nigeria produced 2.36 million barrels of oil a day last month, making it the sixth-biggest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Nations, according to Bloomberg data.
The fifth-biggest supplier to the U.S., Nigeria produces low-sulfur, or sweet, crude oil, prized by refiners for the proportion of high-value gasoline it yields. Shell, based in The Hague and the world's third-biggest oil company, produces about half of Nigeria's output.
Shell is maintaining a “force majeure'' for both the EA field and Forcados that it declared last month, Wittgen said last night by telephone from London. Shell halted another 106,000 barrels a day of output after a Jan. 11 attack on its Trans-Ramos pipeline.
MEND forces on Feb. 18 also attacked a state-owned pipeline at Escravos that carries petroleum products to the northern city of Kaduna and a Shell-run oil pipeline in the Chanomi Creek area.
Shell Targeted
They said yesterday that all oil workers should evacuate the Niger delta “immediately.''
The militants vowed Jan. 30 to launch attacks to cut the export capacity of Nigeria by 30 percent in February, in an e- mailed statement. The group said it targeted Shell because government military helicopters used an airstrip operated by the company to attack villagers in the delta.
“The attack on helpless civilians by the Nigerian government with the assistance of Shell is unforgivable and as previously stated, Shell will pay a terrible price for this,'' the group said in its statement today.
The hostages, employees of Willbros Group Inc., were taken from a boat near Forcados that was under contract to Shell, Willbros said in a statement.
MEND today said its forces will attack any vessel attempting to load crude at Forcados and “execute everyone on board.''
Among those kidnapped are three U.S. citizens, one from the U.K., two from Egypt, two from Thailand, and one from the Philippines, Willbros said in a Feb. 18 statement.
MEND today also threatened the life of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Obasanjo has set up a committee to work for the hostages' release through dialogue, the Nigerian government said in a statement on Feb. 18.
“We are declaring war on Obasanjo,'' MEND said in its statement. “We will attack and kill him should he venture into the Niger delta for any reason.''
To contact the reporter on this story:
Karl Maier in Khartoum at [email protected]Julie Ziegler in Abuja at [email protected] read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Nigeria Militants Threaten to Fire At Tankers Exporting Nation's Oil

February 20, 2006
WARRI, Nigeria — Militants responsible for a string of attacks and kidnappings that have cut Nigerian oil exports by 20% threatened for the first time yesterday to target international oil tankers coming into this West African nation's waters to load crude oil.
The country's military responded by giving assurances that tankers were safe.
The country was already reeling from violence a day earlier that saw nine foreigners abducted and oil installations destroyed across the volatile southern Niger Delta region.
A self-declared commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said by telephone his group was poised to escalate the violence by firing rockets at crude-oil tankers offshore.
“We'll use our rockets on the ships to stop them from taking our oil,” said the man, who gave his name as Efie Alari. His identity couldn't be independently verified, but the call came from a number used by the group before.
The military said it would do whatever is necessary to ensure tankers remain safe.
“I don't know their capabilities, but we're not leaving anything to chance,” said Maj. Said Hammed, spokesman of the military task force in the Niger Delta in Warri. “The assurance has been given at the highest level of government that oil tankers are safe in Nigerian waters. That assurance remains.”
Maj. Hammed said no soldiers were killed in Saturday's attacks, contrary to some local newspaper reports that five were killed. He also said there had been no further violence yesterday.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which claims to be fighting for a greater local share of Nigeria's oil wealth, said Saturday's attacks were in retaliation for assaults this week by military helicopters. The militants threatened more violence on “a grander scale.”
In an email to the Associated Press, the group claimed responsibility for the raids, including one in which militants abducted three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, one Briton and one Filipino.
The attacks began before dawn, when more than 40 militants overpowered military guards and seized the foreigners from a barge on the Forcados estuary belonging to Willbros Group Inc., which was laying pipeline for Royal Dutch Shell PLC.
In Houston, Willbros spokesman Michael Collier confirmed that nine employees had been taken.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Noel Clay called for the hostages' unconditional release. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

The Times: Shell veteran leads Rio to new frontiers

By Angela Jameson
After a career as an oilman, Paul Skinner is helping a miner to alter its style and extend its reach.
WHEN things are going well, it can be tempting to sit back. In mining right now, that temptation is obvious. Mining companies are making record profits and their shares are attracting a new generation of investors.
However, Paul Skinner, chairman of Rio Tinto, is all too aware of how a carefully nurtured reputation can be damaged. After all, Skinner joined Rio Tinto as non-executive chairman in 2003 after 40 years with Shell. He was a member of Shell’s senior executive committee when the oil reserves scandal broke in January 2003 and in October of that year, when he joined Rio Tinto, the fallout still had a long way to run.
Rio, too, has had its problems. For years it was pilloried by environmental groups. One of the biggest skeletons in its closet was a copper mine in Papua New Guinea, where local people complained that fishing waters were being polluted — a contributing factor to a ten-year civil war. Rio Tinto has since worked hard to carve a reputation of environmental responsibility, with considerable success. The work began under Sir Robert Wilson, Skinner’s predecessor, but the current chairman takes it seriously.
“We are in a cyclical business and markets will not always be so kind to us,” he says. “Our job is to make sure that when they turn, we’re in a strong competitive position. The hate word is ‘complacency’.”
Skinner is just back from Madagascar, where Rio Tinto will begin mining ilmenite in 2008 in a £336 million joint venture with the Madagascan Government. However, Madagascar’s treasures are not just metals. Most of its 200,000 species of plants and animals are found nowhere else on earth.
Rio Tinto has been preparing for its ilmenite mine for years, engaging the local community and developing conservation areas, aided by experts from Kew Gardens.
The company has even managed to convince the WWF, the environmental charity, which opposed the project, that it is worth supporting. Skinner says: “Madagascar has been controversial. But having seen it, I am very reassured about the way that we are going about it.”
The project is based near Fort-Dauphin at the southern tip of Madagascar, the eleventh-poorest country in the world. Before Rio even began exploratory work, the area was threatened by deforestation, as local people relied on forest wood for fuel. Rio will cut trees down, too, but is beginning replanting and is putting precious seedlings in store for reintroduction. Conservationists brought in by the company have already discovered 25 new species.
“What we have done is put in place a very well thought through reafforestation plan,” Skinner says. “I would like to think that in 30 to 40 years’ time, this part of Madagascar will look much better and have much better prospects.
“We will be mining in a sand dune environment and as the dredge advances we will reafforest the dunes. This is a tremendous opportunity not only to execute a successful business project, but to show how to undertake a world-class mining operation in one of the poorest parts of the world and to leave something sustainable.”
It was a wish to work around the world that led Skinner, at 18, to Shell. His first day at Cambridge was effectively his first with the oil giant, since it sponsored his undergraduate studies, which he began by pursuing natural sciences and concluded with exams in law. He certainly saw the world with Shell, taking his wife and family to New Zealand, Greece, Nigeria and Norway. Greece, Skinner’s first posting overseas, saw him in “one of the sharpest commercial environments” he had experienced. “It certainly removed any naivety I may have had,” he says.
In his last job with Shell, running the downstream business, he was chief executive of an operation with 80,000 workers, spread across 140 countries.
Rio Tinto, despite its £30.5 billion market capitalisation, is actually a smaller business. “When I joined I had to think pretty carefully about the way I was going to play a very different kind of role,” Skinner says. “My focus is on managing the governance of the company and maintaining the quality of our board; working with the executive team on strategy, maintaining external stakeholder relationships with host governments, primary investors and NGOs; and making sure there are good succession planning processes.”
When Skinner joined Rio, the experienced Leigh Clifford, who had been Sir Robert’s chief operating officer, stepped up to chief executive. To get to know the business, Skinner spent much of his first two years travelling. More than half of Rio Tinto’s asset base is in Australia and New Zealand, and significant parts are in North America. Rio’s aim is to invest in large, long-life ore assets. The business has grown at an annual 6 to 7 per cent in recent years. At the end of the 1990s, it was involved in an acquisition spree to create sources of growth. Historically, its assets — copper, iron ore, aluminium, diamond, coal and gold mines — have been concentrated in the OECD area. Now Rio is using the cashflow from those assets to enter countries such as Madagascar and Russia, where it recently signed a joint venture deal with Norilsk Nickel, Russia’s largest mining group.
Another responsibility of Skinner’s is to exploit Rio’s lateral links. He wants its mines to share best practice. “Our operational experience across the world can be compared and leveraged to bring our weaker performers up to the standard of our best,” he says. “There is significant value to be created from that.”
Arguably, the new business locations carry greater political and investment risks, making it even more essential for Rio to be aware of its environmental and social responsibilities.
Skinner says: “We have worked hard to understand what those risks are and, in the case of Russia, have equipped ourselves with the best partners we could possibly have.”
China — whose hunger for metals has aided Rio’s performance of late — is another new area where the group may one day dig. At present it is investing to supply China with iron ore from Australia, but there is scope, potentially, to mine in China. Skinner says: “We are doing some interesting exploration in areas of China, but our primary involvement is as a supplier from outside. I wouldn’t exclude becoming an investor on a significant scale in China at some point, but I expect it would happen with partners.”
As Rio’s assets become farther flung, motivating a workforce made up of many diverse cultures becomes even harder. “It is a challenge here and for any global business,” Skinner says. “What is important is that the strategy of the business is clearly articulated.”
Respect for local cultures is critical, Skinner adds. “ ‘Think global, act local’ is a hackneyed phrase, but it does reflect our aim,” he says. “A mining company is very much about the way we relate to communities in which we operate. Perhaps the best example from Rio is the way that we have learnt to work with native tribes and aboriginal people in Australia, Canada and the US. It’s something we attach a lot of importance to.”
After running such a huge business at Shell, one might think it tempting for Skinner to walk away from the watchdog role of chairman of Rio. However, he says: “Every day that I go to work, I learn something new about the business around the world. It’s very satisfying. The day that I wake up and have a negative thought about going to work is the day I stop.”
There must have been plenty of negative thoughts, however, in those last few months with Shell. Skinner had been tipped for its top job, but lost out to Sir Philip Watts, the chairman on whose watch the oil reserves scandal occurred. Some observers have suggested that if Skinner had been chairman, the problem might not have arisen. Others argue that, as a board member at the time, Skinner was culpable by omission.
Asked what went wrong at Shell, Skinner says: “That’s a difficult question to answer because of the legal cases still running. My own prime involvement was in running the downstream business, I take a lot of satisfaction out of seeing that business doing so well now.”
Any regrets that he never got the top job at the company that dominated his working life? “I don’t think I ever laid awake at night thinking about that too deeply,” he says. My philosophy has always been very simply to play the hand the fates deal. To have arrived here in this great company, in the role I have, is all the satisfaction that I ever wanted.”
Name: Paul Skinner
Age: 61
Education: Pembroke College, Cambridge; Manchester Business School
Home: Winchester
Job: chairman, Rio Tinto, since 2003
Previous career: with Shell from 1966, including posts in Nigeria, Norway and New Zealand. President, Shell International Trading Company from 1991 to 1995; chief executive, oil products, Royal Dutch/Shell from 1999 to 2003; group managing director, Royal Dutch/Shell from 2000 to 2003. On Shell’s executive committee of five managing directors
Other positions: non-executive director of Standard Chartered and Tetra Laval. Chairman of ICC UK, which promotes trade. Board member of Insead, the French business school
Family: married, two sons
Hobbies: skiing, outdoor sports, opera and history
Q Who is or was your mentor?
A It would require an Oscar-type speech to list them all. Peter Holmes, former chairman at Shell, is one. We first met in Nigeria in the 1970s. He taught me a lot about managing governmental relations for a global company. More recently, Dick Giordano, who was the senior independent director when I arrived here at Rio Tinto. He’s an individual of huge experience who really helped me in understanding what chairing a global company is all about.
Q Which businessman or woman do you most admire?
A It’s difficult to pick an individual but certainly Dick Giordano for his strategic vision. At BG Group he was responsible for one of the great value creation stories of modern times. I would also say Willie Purves, who was chairman of HSBC. He was really the person who took HSBC from a localised Asian bank to a major force in global banking.
Q Do you read books on management? If so, which has influenced you the most?
A I tend not to but I am a member of the board of Insead business school in France and Singapore so I try to follow the work that the faculty of the school publish. The book that’s impressed me the most in the last year is Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne, which is a tremendous framework for thinking about developing strategy and strong competitive positions.
Q Which is more important: what you know or who you know, and why?
A What you know is more important. What you know is having a very clear theory of the business that you are in and what drives value in that business. The era of who you know, defined in terms of someone who can do you a favour, is long gone. But who you know in terms of a network of people who can be helpful advisers can be hugely powerful support.
Q What does leadership mean to you?
A Creating a winning vision and then inspiring people at all levels in the business to understand and deliver it. But the really important word is winning. My experience over many years is that people love to work for a winner, which means being the best in your business.
Q If you could change one thing about the business, financial and commercial environment, what would it be?
A I’m a great believer in free and fair trade. If I could choose one thing to change it would be something that would really help deliver the Doha development agenda. That would require a major restructuring of the agricultural subsidies that seem so embedded in the US, Europe and Japan.
Q What is the most important business event, good or bad, to occur in your working life?
A The oil supply upheaval in 1978-79, after the Iranian revolution. At that time I was responsible for Shell’s crude oil supply from the Middle East. Oil was in short supply and I spent two to three years running around the Middle East trying to ensure that Shell was adequately supplied.
Q Does money motivate you?
A It’s nice to have enough money to do the things that you enjoy doing in life but wealth accumulation comes trailing behind good health and family life.
Q What gadget/piece of technology can you not do without?
A I try to look at everything that comes along but in the last few years the words BlackBerry and iPod have begun to feature in my life.
Q How do you relax?
A Skiing and outdoor sports. I have only done three hours this year but I have more planned. Listening to opera on my iPod and reading. I’ve just finished a biography of Mao Tse Tung. read more

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Daily Telegraph: British oil contractor kidnapped by gunmen in Nigeria

By Charles Pym in Lagos
(Filed: 20/02/2006)
A Briton was among nine oil workers kidnapped in Nigeria at the weekend in a series of attacks that threatens to destabilise the lucrative industry.
Shell shut down more than one-fifth of Nigeria's oil exports – stoking fears of a rise in fuel prices – after a team of its contractors were kidnapped by militiamen who also blew up petroleum pipelines and an oil platform. Mend is demanding US$1.5bn in environmental compensation from Shell for gas flaring and oil leak.
The team – one Briton, three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais and a Filipino – were abducted from a ship by dozens of gunmen from a group called the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) in a pre-dawn raid on Saturday.
The Foreign Office said the kidnapped Briton was John Hudspith, from the south of England. No further details were given.
The kidnappers said last night that they would decide the fate of their hostages “in the next few days”.
In an e-mailed response to rumours that they planned to execute the captives Mend said: “They are being moved around with our units and may likely only be killed in a crossfire [with government forces].”
Mend is demanding the release of two jailed leaders of local secessionist militias and US$1.5 billion (almost £1 billion) in environmental compensation from Shell for gas flaring and oil leaks.
The militiamen fired rocket-propelled grenades at police guarding Shell's key Forcados export terminal, which handles 380,000 barrels per day, blowing up an oil platform and two pipelines.
Shell produces more than 2.4 million barrels per day and has in the past born the brunt of violent campaigns by ethnic Ijaw militias angry that desperately poor local communities lack basic health care while foreign companies make millions out of the delta's rich natural resources.
In 2003, an ethnic Ijaw revolt shut down 40 per cent of Nigeria's crude production, much of which remains cut off. Some of the same individuals are behind the current wave of violence and this time they are better armed and even more militant.
More attacks “will take place on a grander scale”, the group said in an e-mail to journalists that warned Shell it would “pay a terrible price” for allowing one of its airstrips to be used by the Nigerian air force as a launch pad for attacks on Ijaw villages.
Kidnappings of foreign oil workers have increased since two figureheads of the Ijaw group were arrested as part of a crackdown on secessionist violence and corruption. One was the delta's most prominent militia leader, pro-secessionist Mujahid Dokubo Asari, who was arrested in September on treason charges.
Last week, Nigerian air force helicopters attacked militia strongholds. The military said the operation successfully destroyed barges involved in “oil bunkering”, a phrase that in Nigeria means stealing oil by tapping into pipelines.
Local residents told a different story, saying helicopters fired rockets at their villages. read more

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The Guardian: Sinn Féin moves to bury past

· Leadership wins crucial vote on policing board
· Adams warns dissident republican groups
Owen Bowcott in Dublin
Monday February 20, 2006
Sinn Féin signalled yesterday that it was closer to joining Northern Ireland's policing board when hardline proposals to reject a deal were defeated at its annual conference.
The vote on one of the most sensitive political issues facing the republican movement exposed tensions within the party over closer involvement with a force that was its enemy throughout the Troubles.
The British government regards Sinn Féin's ability to overcome its distrust as necessary for the restoration of devolution. The party discussion came before a fresh round of political talks starting in Belfast today to revive the Stormont assembly. The prime minister had been due to attend, but Downing Street cancelled the trip, a sign that it recognised further groundwork was required.
Article continues
In Sinn Féin's policing debate one motion – which was lost – had opposed the party joining the policing board until “a timetable for British withdrawal” had been agreed. “Republicans should not be enforcing the armed wing of British rule in this country,” said a delegate.
Gerry Kelly, on the party executive, condemned the decision to hand over to MI5 responsibility for national security in Northern Ireland, including threats from republicans.
“The police force has been a partisan, political, protestant and paramilitary force,” he said. “Republicans will not be badgered or forced into accepting less than the new beginning to policing promised in the Good Friday agreement.”
Party leaders won the vote to delay a decision on the issue until a special delegate conference. Last week the government published a Northern Ireland bill which proposes devolving policing and justice to a new assembly.
Around 1,000 delegates were at the party's first conference since the IRA announced it had destroyed its weapons. The only recently released prisoner to win a standing ovation was Michael O'Seighin, a community activist jailed for preventing the oil company Shell building a pipeline across his land in County Mayo.
The Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, reminded republicans there was no going back to violence. “The decisions by the IRA were undoubtedly deeply difficult for many,” he said. “There are republicans still trying to come to terms with it many months later.
“Indeed, there are some who believe that the IRA has made a mistake. They are entitled to their opinion but to no more than that. No one should harbour the notion that the republican struggle can be advanced any further by armed campaign. The leadership is firmly opposed to such a departure.”
He warned dissident republican groups to “look objectively at the political situation” and “carefully consider your options”.
The conference was focused, however, on the electoral advances the party is confident of making at the next Irish general election. Sinn Féin holds five seats – mainly won since the IRA's ceasefire – in the Dáil, the republic's parliament.
Ireland's system of proportional representation could put Sinn Féin in a future coalition government. “Kingmakers” was the headline in one newspaper, accompanying a picture of Gerry Adams and the party chairman, Mitchel McLaughlin.
Several motions from branches in the republic attempted to rule out deals with “rightwing parties” or a Fianna Fáil-led government. But the party's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness MP, warned against tying the leadership's hand before a campaign.
“I have the advantage of having been in coalition,” he said, “with unionists [in the power-sharing executive at Stormont]. As minister of education I abolished the 11-plus exam. The future of our children would have been pretty dismal without that reform.”
Attempts to block deals with specific parties were defeated, although one motion, requiring Sinn Féin to “insist upon the repeal of the Offences Against the State Act as a condition to entering any coalition government” scraped through.
The decision by the Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahern, to deny elected representatives from Northern Ireland the right to speak in the Dáil was condemned by Mr Adams as “nothing less than bad faith”. read more

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The Guardian: Threat to oil tankers after Nigerian rebels kidnap foreigners

Rory Carroll , Africa correspondent
Monday February 20, 2006
Militants in the Niger delta threatened to escalate their campaign against oil exports yesterday by firing rockets at international tankers. The warning came a day after nine foreign oil workers were abducted in a series of raids which forced the closure of an oil platform and halted the flow of at least 500,000 barrels of crude.
A leader of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, a group hostile to Nigeria's government and multinational oil corporations, told the Associated Press that tankers would be targeted. “We'll use our rockets on the ships to stop them from taking our oil,” said the man, who gave his name as Efie Alari.
Dozens of militants were involved in Saturday's attacks, which started with a pre-dawn raid on a barge on the Forcados estuary operated by Willbros, a Houston-based oil services company laying a pipeline for Royal Dutch Shell. Three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, one Briton and one Filipino were abducted. The Briton was named as John Hudspith.
Most previous abductions have ended with hostages being released unharmed within a few days or weeks. Recently the militants have hardened rhetoric against oil companies, accusing them of collaborating with a corrupt government.
In addition to closing the Forcados oil loading platform, which usually moves out 400,000 barrels a day, Shell evacuated an oil platform off the Atlantic coast, shutting off an additional 115,000 barrels a day.
The militants' spokesman said the attacks were retaliation for assaults last week by Nigerian army helicopters.
The president, Olusegun Obasanjo, held an emergency meeting with security chiefs and Shell executives. read more

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THE NEW YORK TIMES: Nigerian Militants Say Strike More Oil Targets

Published: February 20, 2006
Filed at 2:35 a.m. ET
LAGOS (Reuters) – Nigerian militants said they blew up a military houseboat and an oil pipeline on Monday, extending a campaign of sabotage in the world's eighth largest exporter which has already cut supplies by a fifth.

The militants, who are holding nine foreign hostages, vowed to prevent Royal Dutch Shell from using the damaged Forcados export loading platform, which accounts for 15 percent of Nigerian output, and threatened an even more devastating series of attacks on the whole region.

“Patrol units … carried out attacks on one houseboat belonging to the Nigerian army and the Shell Ughelli Odidi-Escravos manifold. Both were destroyed with explosives,'' the militants said in an e-mail, adding that the soldiers in the houseboat fled before it was destroyed.
It was not immediately possible to confirm the information independently, but the militants have provided accurate details of their attacks in the past.
Royal Dutch Shell said it had suspended 455,000 barrels a day of oil production, 19 percent of the OPEC member's output, after a series of pre-dawn raids on installations in Delta state, in the western side of the vast river delta, on Saturday.
“We are going to continue with the destruction of oil facilities in Delta state while concluding arrangements for our wider attacks on the entire region,'' the militants said.
Shell said it closed 340,000 barrels a day of production from fields feeding its Forcados tanker platform, which was bombed on Saturday, and it shut another 115,000 barrels daily by closing the offshore EA field as a precaution.
The Forcados closure includes 106,000 barrels a day from a pipeline which has been shut since an earlier attack in January.
North Sea Brent crude oil futures rose $1.26 to $61.15 a barrel on Monday morning.
The militants snatched the hostages — three Americans, a Briton, two Egyptians, two Thais and one Filipino — from a barge operated by U.S. services company Willbros.
The campaign of violence mirrors attacks in December and January which hit 10 percent of Nigerian exports at one point and saw four oil workers kidnapped for 19 days.
The militants said that Shell was planning to use one manifold on the Forcados loading platform, which was not damaged in Saturday's attack, to export oil.
“Regardless of whatever security arrangements they depend on and time of the day, we will attack this vessel and execute everyone on board. It is needless to say what will happen to the surviving manifold in the next few hours,'' they said.
The government says the militant movement is a cover for thieves siphoning crude oil on a commercial scale from pipelines across the vast wetlands region of southern Nigeria.
The militants accused Nigerian military and security commanders in the area of being responsible for the theft.
“Oil is not like diamonds and requires ships to come in unhindered. This is facilitated by the heads of these security organisations who are paid a standard fee for every vessel loaded,'' they said.
The militants have demanded the release of two ethnic Ijaw leaders — an impeached state governor on trial for money laundering and a militia leader charged with treason — and more local control over the Niger Delta's vast oil resources.
Analysts at Eurasia Group said the markets should expect a prolonged period of disruptions in Nigeria this year, as tension between rival factions of the ruling party mounts toward elections in early 2007.
“The security situation in the Niger Delta will remain largely unstable for the rest of the year, with intermittent attacks, regularly disrupting about 10 to 20 percent of Nigerian crude production,'' they said in a report on Sunday.
The situation could get even worse if President Olusegun Obasanjo tries to run for a third — and unconstitutional — third term, or if one of the two imprisoned Ijaw leaders is sentenced to death or dies in custody, they added. read more

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Irish Independent: Gas plant works 'not harming water quality'

Feb 20, 2006
MAYO Co Council has issued an assurance that preparatory works on the site for the Corrib gas terminal have not affected the quality of the water source for thousands of homes in the Erris area.
Concern had been expressed to the authority about the level of aluminium in Carrowmore Lake, which is situated only a few miles from the proposed terminal site at Bellanaboy.
Mayo county manager Des Mahon stressed that the council, in consultation with the North West Regional Fisheries Board, was monitoring the quality of water discharging from the terminal site and the quality of water in the lake.
Shell E&P Ireland had constructed a dedicated treatment unit. But this unit had not been functioning satisfactorily since Christmas. Mr Mahon said the developer had promised to rectify this urgently.
However, samples of treated water were tested daily by the council and they conform to EU limits.
“Mayo County Council wishes to assure the public in the Erris region that their water supply is up to the required standard. The public will be advised of any changes in the situation.” read more

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Feb 20, 2006
Soaring oil and natural gas prices have inflated energy companies' net profits to a record level both in the global and domestic fronts.
For the year ended December, Exxon Mobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, racked up net profit worth US$36.13 billion – an all-time record for any publicly-traded company – or some 4.26 trillion yen, up 42.6 per cent year-on-year. This is followed by a 36.5 per cent surge in net profit to US$25.31 billion at Royal Dutch Sell Plc and a 30.8 per cent jump to US$22.34 billion at BP Plc.
Japanese oil refiners also enjoyed a substantial rise in profit under ever climbing product prices.
Japan's largest Nippon Oil Corp. has lifted its group pretax profit projection for the year through March by 70 billion yen (US$592 million) to 300 billion yen, up 41 per cent from a year earlier.
Cosmo Oil Co. has also raised its group pretax profit forecast by 24 billion yen to 117 billion yen, an 85.2 per cent increase from the preceding year. Cosmo's net profit prediction has been revised upward by 16 billion yen to 60 billion yen, a 130 per cent rise from fiscal 2004.
But over half of this substantial increase in profits at these Japanese oil companies is attributable to the weighted average inventory valuation method, which tends to overestimate the value of ending inventories thus underestimating cost of goods sold, and overestimating profit at the time of fast product price increases.
In the case of Nippon Oil, its ending inventory valuation method is estimated to have inflated group pretax profit by as much as 155.5 billion yen. If the accounting bias in inventory valuation were removed, group pretax profit would be 145 billion yen, which is smaller than that of the previous year's 151.7 billion yen.
The overestimated ending inventories, however, will become the overvalued beginning inventories in fiscal 2006, which will lead to a greater cost of goods sold and the underestimation of profit, as the rise in crude oil prices seems to have passed its peak. In fact, Nippon Oil forecasts its fiscal 2006 pretax profit to drop 50 per cent from the projected fiscal 2005 level to around 150 billion yen. Cosmo Oil also anticipates a profit decline of 30 per cent.
The vulnerability in earnings capability of Japan's oil companies has been blamed on the fact that their operations are not vertically integrated. Most of these firms buy crude oil from the oil field development firms, trading companies or major global players and sell refined products to their affiliated retailers.
Some Japanese oil companies explore and develop overseas oil fields, but their exploration capability and financial strength to take risks involved in the oil field development projects are still limited.
Unlike these Japanese firms, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and Total S.A. are fully integrated concerns with operations that encompass oil field exploration, development, transportation, refining, production of petrochemical products and marketing of these products.
An answer to more stable managerial basis and greater risk taking capability for Japanese oil companies is an industry-wide restructuring. Even the giant oil firms of the U.S. and Europe are survivors of numerous mergers and acquisitions (M&As).
The August 1998, the takeover of American Oil Company (Amoco) by British Petroleum as well as the November 1999 merger of Exxon Corp. and Mobil Corp. altered the landscape of the global oil industry.
Back in November 2005, Japan's largest oil development firm Inpex Corp. and the third largest Teikoku Oil Co. signed a merger agreement for the unification of their operations in April.
Like other oil companies, Inpex has reported a record pretax profit of 180.5 billion yen for the fist half of fiscal 2005 through September, a 63 per cent increase owing to high oil prices. The company's merger with Teikoku will bring its annual revenue to 650 billion yen. But still the annual revenue of the unified entity is only about 2 per cent that of Exxon Mobil.
With most of the existing large oil fields staying in the hands of the major global players, Japanese oil concerns such as Inpex have no choice but to explore new fields in Africa, Latin America and central Asia, but the exploration costs are soaring because of increasing geopolitical risks and environmental concerns.
Furthermore, energy thirsty emerging economies such as China and India are eager to outbid their competitors for securing new oil fields overseas.
********************* Date Price ********************* July 2001 100 yen July 2002 100 yen July 2003 101 yen July 2004 114 yen July 2005 125 yen Jan 2006 128 yen *********************
The Inpex-Teikoku merger, therefore, should be seen as a first step toward the industry-wide restructuring, through which a fully integrated oil firm that can withstand the toughing international competition against big players should emerge.
*********************************************************** Company Sales Operating Net Profit Profit *********************************************************** Nippon Oil 2,701.03(19.6%) 145.48(61.3%) 81.88(41.2%) Idemitsu 1,484.5 (10.3%) 29.3 (6.2%) 44.4 (–) Kosan Cosmo Oil 1,203.20(21.4%) 50.68(132.5%) 29.56(614.3%) Showa Shell 1,059.58(20.7%) 50.25(132.5%) 28.61(136.8%) Sekiu ***********************************************************
Average retail price of regular gasoline in Japan (per liter)
Group half-year earnings for FY2005 (billions of yen)
Note: Figures in parentheses show year-on-year change.
Japan Energy Corp. is now part of the Nippon Mining Holdings Inc. group and no consolidated earnings figures comparable with other refiners are available.
Nippon Oil Corp.
1-3-12 Nishi-Shinbashi
Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-8412
Tel: 03-3502-1131
Idemitsu Kosan Co.
3-1-1 Marunouchi
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0005
Tel: 03-3212-3114
Japan Energy Corp.
2-10-1 Toranomon
Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-8407
Tel: 03-5573-6085
Cosmo Oil Co.
Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-8528
Tel: 03-3798-3211
Showa Shell Sekiyu KK
2-3-2 Daiba
Minato-ku, Tokyo 104-8581
Oil Information Center Japan
1-13-1 Kachidoki
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 104-8581
Tel: 03-3534-7411
(Nikkei) read more

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promoting the projects, Mitsui and Mitsubishi are also
Feb 20, 2006
TOKYO, Feb 20 Asia Pulse – Japanese firms Mitsui & Co. (TSE:8031) and Mitsubishi Corp. (TSE:8058) have launched a joint feasibility study on natural gas-based projects, such as petrochemical production and power generation, on the Russian island of Sakhalin, it has been learned.
Currently on the drawing board are plans to build a factory to produce ammonia and methanol from natural gas pumped off the island. The local government has already presented the companies three possible factory sites.
The parties involved also envision a project to use natural gas instead of coal as the island's major fuel for generating power.
Late last year, the companies sent a group of delegates to Sakhalin for an initial survey. The local government asked them to present a report on the feasibility study by the end of this year.
These projects are part of industrial promotion measures agreed upon last year between the two firms and the Sakhalin government.
Seeking to help ensure that the huge “Sakhalin 2” plan to export liquefied natural gas to Japan and South Korea, which also involves Royal Dutch/Shell Group, goes smoothly.
(Nikkei) read more

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AP Worldstream: Nigeria militants threaten to target international oil tankers

Feb 20, 2006

Militants who kidnapped nine foreign oil workers and forced a 20 percent cut in Nigerian crude exports have vowed to escalate the violence, threatening for the first time to fire rockets at international oil tankers. The military said tankers in Nigerian waters were safe.

The West African nation is reeling from a spate of attacks a day earlier in which militants blasted oil and gas pipelines and sabotaged a key oil loading terminal belonging to Royal Dutch Shell, forcing the company to halt the flow of more than 500,000 barrels a day.
Efie Alari, a self-declared commander of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, told The Associated Press by telephone Sunday that his group was poised to attack foreign crude oil tankers offshore.
“We'll use our rockets on the ships to stop them from taking our oil,” Alari said. His identity could not be independently verified, but the call came from a number used by the group before.
The military said it would do whatever necessary to ensure tankers remain safe in Nigerian waters.
“I don't know their capabilities, but we're not leaving anything to chance,” Maj. Said Hammed, spokesman of the military task force in the Niger Delta, said of militant forces. “The assurance has been given at the highest level of government that oil tankers are safe in Nigerian waters. That assurance remains.”
Violence and sabotage of oil operations have been common in the oil-rich Niger Delta for the past 15 years amid demands by the region's impoverished communities for a greater share of the oil revenue flowing from their land.
The militants, who say they are fighting for the same cause and the freedom of imprisoned ethnic Ijaw leaders, launched a series of pre-dawn attacks Saturday that shook the nation's volatile oil industry.
In one assault in the swampy delta's Forcados estuary, dozens of armed militants seized nine foreigners after storming a barge belonging to the Houston-based oil services company Willbros, which was laying pipeline for Shell.
The hostages include three Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, one Briton and one Filipino, militants and Willbros officials said.
Responding to local rumors they planned to execute the hostages, militants said in an e-mail to AP they had not decided what to do with them.
Nigeria is Africa's leading oil exporter and the United States' fifth-largest supplier, usually exporting 2.5 million barrels daily.
Hostage takings are also a common occurrence in the volatile delta, but most are released unharmed. Last month, militants held four foreigners for 19 days before releasing them unscathed.
Associated Press writer Dulue Mbachu in Lagos, Nigeria contributed to this report. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Enter Stage Right (Canada): Scaring people about energy

By Alan Caruba
web posted February 20, 2006
There’s a new book, A Thousand Barrels A Second by Peter Tertazkian, that paints a very scary scenario about the oil industry and energy options in the future. When I read such books or the daily headlines in newspapers or in news magazines, I keep reminding myself that bad news sells.
Tertazkian’s book is actually quite interesting and appears to have been well researched from open sources. The author is the chief energy economist and director at ARC Financial Corporation, identified as “one of the world’s leading energy investment firms.” His book is devoted to the concept of “peak oil”, that indeterminate day when the world’s known reserves of oil begin to decrease and the view that there will be few others to replace them.
That is a fallacy. On at least five occasions in the past, the world has been informed that it was running out of oil. Tartazkian’s book asserts that, “We’re on the verge of a tipping point in oil…a break point.” However, the author does say, “”We’re not running out of oil, but the oil we need is getting harder to find.” This is true.
A case in point is a new field near Sakhalin, a remote island off Russia’s east coast. American, Japanese, Indian, and Russian oil companies funded the project which now taps a field that will yield some 250,000 barrels of oil a day by the end of this year along with some 60 million cubic feet of natural gas. Additional fields in the pipeline include Chayvo, Odoptu, and Akutun-Dagli. Overall, more than five billion oil-equivalent barrels of energy are anticipated.
Here’s what most people still don’t understand. It took some ten years to make this happen and involved “slant-drilling” for 20 miles to tap the Sakhalin field. This is an extraordinary technological achievement and a very expensive one. If we began today to drill in Alaska’s ANWR, it would take about the same time frame before Americans could benefit from their own oil. So far, the U.S. Congress has managed to stymie this effort for decades!
Civilization has gone through various stages of dependency on different forms of energy. Domesticating animals like oxen and horses was the first breakthrough. People burned wood for a very long time, then coal. The British Empire was built on the availability of coal. They were, for a relatively short time, “energy independent.” Then in 1859 came oil. Middle Eastern oil discoveries in the early part of the last century transformed whole economies and launched an effort by Western nations to secure control of it.
The President, in his State of the Union speech, said America was “addicted to oil” and urged that we undertake more research to achieve “energy independence.” What he didn’t mention is that America imports oil from sixty different nations, not just the Middle East. His solutions, too, left me less than thrilled. Can you imagine how many acres of land we’d have to plant to produce enough corn to make ethanol as a gasoline additive? This is a boon to farmers, but does little to address the need for oil.
It is true that Americans and the West send billions of dollars to the Middle East, enriching a few despotic governments who use that money to finance a global jihad. Getting control over a crazed and volatile Middle East might account for why U.S. troops are in Iraq. If you want to gas up your car, you might want to think about the benefits of having some influence over a nation with the second largest reserves of oil in the region.
The concept of “peak oil” has been around since the 1950s when it was first proposed by a Shell Oil geologist. New oil fields have been found since then and the effort to find others continues in order to meet the anticipated world demand of 120 million barrels per day in 2025.
As noted, bad news sells. Americans need to keep in mind that (1) all the oil that exists around the planet has not been found, (2) that new technologies will make its extraction possible, and (3) will greatly improve the use of what exists. Our national energy concern should be focused on oil in terms of the essential role it plays in transportation. Failure to keep our cars and trucks on the road would imperil our economy. Ultimately, all goods move on wheels.
The world is filled with some really unpleasant people; some of them are in charge of nations like Iran, Venezuela, and Nigeria, where the government controls production. However, the minute they stop exporting to us and other nations, they are in big trouble. They need us as much as we need them. And governments change.
The largest supplier of oil to the United States is none other than Canada. The discovery and development of oil-tar fields has enabled this. While the U.S. is home to vast shale-oil reserves, the cost of its development and extraction is still too high for the large oil companies to contemplate. That day, however, is coming and, when it does, trillions of barrels of oil trapped in that rock will continue to fuel our energy needs.
It doesn’t help when President George W. Bush, an oilman and son of an oilman, says during his State of the Union speech that America is “addicted to oil.” We are not addicted, but we are dependent. So is the rest of the world. And, remember, it’s an election year. The President’s advisors study the polls.
James K. Glassman, writing for Tech Central Daily on February 2 called the President’s statement “dangerous.” I agree. Telling Americans that solar or wind technologies can take up the slack in our need for energy is nonsense. These heavily subsidized technologies represent about one percent of all the energy we use. That’s because they are astonishingly ineffective.
Telling Americans we can “conserve” our way out of our dependency on oil is absurd. The President’s suggestion that hydrogen will magically become an energy source has no basis whatever in reality and is little more than a cruel hoax. Hydrogen is not an energy source; it is an energy carrier, and a very costly one at that. It may, at some point, however, become useful for hybrid car production on a larger scale, thus reducing the use of gasoline as their only fuel source.
The scary news purveyors are having a field day. In the March edition of The American Enterprise magazine, Robert Zubrin says that the only way to “liberate ourselves from the threat of foreign economic domination, undercut the financiers of terror, and give ourselves the free hand to deal with Middle Eastern extremists” is to devalue their oil resources. “We can do this by taking the world off the petroleum standard and putting it on an alcohol standard.” An essential step says Zubrin is to “simply pass a law stating that all new cars sold in the U.S.A. must be flexible-fuel vehicles capable of burning any combination of gasoline and alcohol” in the form of either ethanol or methanol.”
Ethanol is made from agricultural products. They have to be grown somewhere in the world and are subject to all kinds of problems such as drought, grasshoppers, weeds, and plant diseases. Methanol can also be made from biomass, as well as from natural gas or coal. This is the kind of beguiling notion that sounds great on paper but doesn’t work in the real world.
Whoever becomes the next President of the United States is going to have to make some major decisions to insure that this nation remains the superpower it is, economically and militarily. Insuring that America has enough energy for the foreseeable future, however, is going to be the single, most important decision of all.
Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs”, posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center. © 2006, Alan Caruba read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.