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March 6th, 2006:

Legal Week: Transatlantic reforms: <strong>US courts to remain venue of choice for investor litigation against UK corporations</strong>

US courts to remain venue of choice for investor litigation against UK corporations
By Werner Kranenburg
(Werner Kranenburg is a trustee of Working with Words, a charity for people with learning disabilities, and is reading law at London Metropolitan University.)

The UK’s Company Law Reform Bill has recently been the topic of debate among corporate lawyers — specifically, whether the Bill’s reforms should be considered as a step towards the import of US-style securities litigation to the UK. It has been argued extensively elsewhere that that will not be the case.
However, that debate seems — at least in the UK — to have focused on the influence of the Bill in the UK and on cases brought here. What could equally be of interest is to look at it the other way around: whether or not the Bill, if and when enacted, has any influence in the US.
Many UK-listed companies have a dual listing on a US stock exchange — about 100 as of the end of 2003 (latest official data) — and report to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Some of those have been the subject of US securities and derivate actions. The question asked here is whether the Bill could be a factor in US civil actions (as opposed to criminal or regulatory) where the defendant is a ‘foreign private issuer’ (as defined in the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934) or, specifically, a corporation with its principal location of business and primary stock exchange listing in the UK.
Examples of UK corporations that are currently, or have recently been, defendants in US securities actions are Vodafone Group, Cable and Wireless (C&W) and The Shell Transport and Trading Company. All are listed in both London and New York, the latter listing giving rise to a US jurisdiction claim under the 1934 Act.
In March 2005, Vodafone settled the securities class action (against the company for investors’ damages) pending against it in a New York District Court by agreeing to pay, with its insurers, the sum of $24.5m (£14.1m), including $6.9m (£3.98m) in attorneys’ fees, to create a settlement fund for plaintiff shareholders. In this case though, the class of plaintiffs was defined as purchasers of Vodafone’s American Depository Shares, thereby limiting the class to US investors only.
C&W settled a similar action, pending in a Virginia District Court, in May 2005. It settled for $7m (£4.04m). The definition of the class of plaintiffs who would benefit from this settlement was markedly different: the court had denied C&W’s motion to dismiss claims of non-US purchasers and so the proposed settlement notice specifically noted the fact that all publicly-traded C&W securities — common stock, American Depository Receipts (ADRs) and bonds — were covered, regardless of which exchanges they were listed on.
Shell Transport — more precisely Royal Dutch Petroleum Company, listed in Amsterdam, and Shell Transport, collectively known as Shell in these proceedings, and Royal Dutch Shell since July 2005’s unification — was a defendant in a derivative action (against the directors for corporate governance purposes) which it settled in August 2005. It paid $9.2m (£5.3m) in attorneys’ fees and agreed to make changes to its corporate governance. A current, separate securities class action is still pending in New Jersey, on behalf of purchasers of ordinary shares and ADRs.
The main legal issues in all four actions are the same: alleged violations of certain sections of the 1934 Act and rules promulgated thereunder relating to material misrepresentations that misled the respective class of investors.
The Vodafone action excluded foreign investors, so, though no case was brought in the UK, based on the same facts and allegations, the Bill would not have affected the US action.
The doctrine of res judicata would arguably prevent a US action on behalf of UK investors to proceed against a UK corporation if and when the parties had settled, or the defendant been convicted in an English court. But no group litigation orders or derivative claims were even filed in England against C&W or Shell Transport.
The Bill will arguably not lead to increased litigation in the UK, which in turn means it has negligible influence in the US: it will not lead to a decrease in US actions. US plaintiff firms will continue to enforce the law by way of civil actions in US courts against UK corporations on behalf of US and foreign investors, including those situated in the UK.
This is a copyrighted article first published by Legal Week:
Werner Kranenburg is a trustee of Working with Words, a charity for people with learning disabilities, and is reading law at London Metropolitan University. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment. Shell, ExxonMobil, Chevron, Agip and Total operations and employees all at risk in Nigeria

Every day more news arrives from Nigeria of further threats and violence directed at oil companies and their employees. Hostage taking, threats, sabotage and kidnapping are unfortunately becoming routine.
The poor have been exploited for decades by a succession of corrupt regimes in collaboration with greedy, unscrupulous oil companies. The local populations have been forced to live in a horrifically polluted environment and robbed of basic human dignity and human rights. Now the situation is being exploited by rival gangs of militants determined to grab a share of the oil revenues by using extortionist tactics.
For anyone interested in the background to the Nigerian situation, the link below will take you to dozens of relevant news articles stretching back several years.

It includes the leaked Shell top secret internal document entitled “PEACE AND SECURITY IN THE NIGER DELTA”. Documents/nopodds/nigeria.htm read more

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

Interactive Investor/AFX News: Shell pipeline damaged in latest attacks in Nigeria

LAGOS (AFX) – One of the energy giant Royal Dutch Shell's major oil pipelines has been badly damaged in the swamps of the Niger Delta, the firm said, in what is apparently the latest in a series of militant attacks.
A Shell spokesman said that two manifolds on a pipeline crossing the Ramos river near the fishing villages of Agge and Agoro, 350 kilometres (200 miles) southeast of Lagos, had been ruptured.
The pipeline would normally carry crude oil from wells in Bayelsa State in the western delta to Shell's Forcados export terminal, but the firm's output from the area had already been shut down over security concerns.
“The manifolds were attacked on Friday night to Saturday morning,” the official said, under Shell Nigeria's policy of having anonymous spokesmen.
The extent of the damage is not yet known, as an inspection has only been carried out by a helicopter overflight, he added.
Last month, Shell suspended crude loading at the Forcados terminal and evacuated the nearby EA offshore field, slashing Nigeria's 2.6 mln barrel per day output by almost 20 pct and pushing world oil prices higher.
The shutdown followed the latest in a series of violent attacks by armed separatist militants fighting for a control of the delta's oil revenues.
On Feb 18, nine foreign workers from a Shell subcontractor were kidnapped after a brief gunbattle with Nigerian security forces. Six of them were later freed, but a Briton and two Americans are still being held hostage.
Since Forcados suspended loading, several oil flow stations and pipelines have been dynamited by the militants, and it is not clear how long it will take the company to restore production if the security situation improves. [email protected] afp/bam read more

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

BLOOMBERG: Shell Says Nigerian Pipeline Attacked, Production Unaffected

March 6 (Bloomberg) — An oil pipeline run by Royal Dutch Shell Plc's venture in Nigeria was damaged in two attacks on March 3 that didn't affect output because production from the area has already been shut down, the company said. Two manifolds on a pipeline run by the Shell Petroleum Development Co. (SPDC) venture that normally carries crude to the Forcados export platform were damaged in the assault, Caroline Wittgen, a spokeswoman in London, said in an e-mailed statement today. “There were two new attacks by some unknown persons on SPDC's Agge and Agoro manifolds on the Trans-Forcados trunkline in Bayelsa State,'' Wittgen said. “These are areas from where we previously have evacuated staff and stopped production because of the security situation.'' Kidnappings and attacks last month on a Shell pipeline and Forcados forced the company to halt output of 455,000 barrels a day, about a fifth of Nigeria's daily production. Shell shut down all production in the western Niger River delta. Nigerian militants yesterday vowed to cut the West African nation's oil production by another 1 million barrels a day this month. The militants failed to carry out their threat of a 30 percent shutdown in February. Nigerian Oil Minister Edmund Daukoru said in an interview in London today that Shell probably will be able to fix the damage to Forcados in two weeks. He said he is concerned that the attacks may hinder Nigeria's ability to develop spare production capacity. `Not Responsible' The group behind last month's kidnappings and attacks, known as the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, said that it wasn't responsible for the March 3 damage to the pipeline and that local villagers may have done it. “We know nothing about this, which may have been done by communities,'' Jomo Gbomo, a MEND spokesman, said in an e-mailed response to questions. Nigeria produced 2.36 million barrels of oil a day in January, 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. The militants on March 1 released six of the nine foreign hostages, including an American, two Egyptians, two citizens of Thailand and one from the Philippines, whom they kidnapped from a Willbros Inc. boat on Feb. 18. They are still holding two U.S. citizens and one Briton. Release Demands The Shell venture pumps about half of Nigeria's total oil production. Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA also have ventures with the Nigerian state-oil company. MEND is demanding that the government release Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa state, who was impeached and arrested on money-laundering charges, and Mujahid Dokubo Asari, a militia leader who is in jail on treason charges. Asari is in and out of trial. The governor, who has said he's innocent, is awaiting a court appearance. The militants also want Shell to pay $1.5 billion to the Ijaw people, the biggest ethnic group in the Niger delta, as compensation for alleged environmental damage. “SPDC is concerned about the likely effects on the environment of the oil spills resulting from the recent attacks on its pipelines and manifolds,'' Wittgen said. “In the current security situation our teams cannot go to those areas to assess the impact of the spills, effect repairs and begin the clean up of spills.'' Karl Maier in Khartoum at [email protected]
This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment.

Oil & Gas News: IN BRIEF

In Brief
Saudi moves to add capacity
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will decide soon whether to proceed with plans to raise capacity at its oilfields beyond the 2009 target of 12.5 million barrels per day (bpd), a Saudi oil adviser said.
The kingdom is on track to add 2.3 million bpd by August 2009, around 800,000 of which will be used to offset natural declines, said Nawaf Obaid, managing director of Saudi National Security Assessment Project (SNSAP).
‘All of the fields are expected to come on stream around six months earlier than initial projections,' Obaid said.
IEA in investment call
ZURICH: Oil-producing countries must invest more money in the industry to prevent prices from spiralling higher, the chief economist of the International Energy Agency said.
The countries should invest some $23 billion each year – at least 50 per cent more than they are doing now – to prevent rapidly rising demand for oil from outpacing supply, Fatih Birol told a Swiss newspaper.
Kuwait deal sought
LONDON: International companies that have already been waiting around a decade for the opening up of Kuwait’s oil reserves will have to wait at least until the end of the year, a top oil official said.
Farouk Al Zanki, head of the Kuwait Oil Company, stressed the urgency of bringing in foreign firms to help boost output at oilfields torched after the 1990 Iraq invasion. But, realistically, he said a breakthrough was unlikely until late this year.
PTT profit down
BANGKOK: PTT, Thailand's largest energy firm, reported a 16 per cent fall in quarterly earnings, hit by lower refinery and petrochemical margins. PTT posted a fourth-quarter net profit of 17.15 billion baht ($437 million), down from 20.5 billion baht a year earlier and 24 billion baht in the third quarter.
Malaysia raises petrol prices
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has announced an increase in pump prices of petrol and diesel, as part of a long-term plan to trim fuel subsidies and reduce its fiscal deficit.
The price of petroleum products would not rise further this year, the Prime Minister's Department said in a statement, adding that pump prices of both petrol and diesel would rise by 30 Malaysian cents ($0.08) per litre.
Malaysia had raised pump prices of petrol and diesel at least three times since October 2004.
Mitsubishi in Oman
MUSCAT: Oman LNG has signed a deal to supply Japan's Mitsubishi Corp with around 250,000 tonnes a year of natural gas condensates, the ONA news agency said.
Oman LNG would supply Mitsubishi with 21,000 tonnes a month of the material, which can be used as a feedstock for petrochemical plants or to make gasoline or naphtha.
Oman LNG is 51 percent government owned while Royal Dutch Shell holds 30 per cent. Other stake holders include Total, Mitsui, Mitsubishi and Itochu.
LNG cargoes sought
JAKARTA: Indonesia, the world's top LNG exporter, is seeking three liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes from Qatar or Oman to resell to contracted buyers as its own gas output dwindles, a Pertamina official said.
“We are seeking three cargoes because our production cannot fulfil our contract,” Pertamina’s marketing director Ari Soemarno said.
He said Pertamina had reached agreement with buyers from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to reschedule 46 standard cargoes of LNG in 2006.
Transparency vow
JAKARTA: State Enterprises Minister Sugiharto said the operation of the Cepu Block oil fields would be subjected to a seven-tier audit so that the public did not have to worry about its tranparency.
“Whoever will be the operator at the Cepu block oil fields, the audit will be conducted in seven tiers. The people should not worry about ‘overpricing’ or ‘overestimates’,” the minister said after opening a seminar.

BASF hopes for higher sales

FRANKFURT: German chemicals group BASF has posted a 1.6 per cent dip in quarterly earnings as US hurricanes took their toll, but said it was confident about the current year.
BASF, the world's top chemical maker by sales, said that fourth-quarter earnings before interest, tax and special items came in at 1.591 billion euros ($1.90 billion), compared to the 1.515 billion-euro average of 17 forecasts in an analyst poll.
BASF said it aimed to grow faster than the market in 2006.
Kerosene sought
SINGAPORE: Indian Oil Corp (IOC) is seeking by tender 40,000 tonnes of kerosene for April on top of an earlier tender purchase of 105,000-120,000 tonnes for March-May, to cover a domestic shortfall, traders said.
IOC sought the additional cargo of kerosene, widely used as cooking oil and lighting in India, for delivery into Paradip/Haldia during April 11-20, they said.
The state refiner is scouting for foreign supplies to cover shortages on the back of upcoming refinery maintenance works, traders said.

NZ refinery profit up

WELLINGTON: New Zealand Refining, New Zealand’s only oil refinery, has posted a better than-expected 43 per cent rise in annual profit on the back of higher volumes and processing margins.
The company reported a net profit of NZ$139.8 million ($92.6 million) for the 12 months to December 31, compared with its December guidance of around NZ$127 million, and the previous year's actual profit of NZ$97.5 million.
It had pared back its forecast annual profit growth because of high power costs and a strong New Zealand dollar.
Shell-CNOOC move
SINGAPORE: A joint-venture between Royal Dutch Shell and China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) is seeking 75,000 tonnes of naphtha for April, as its condensate splitter is likely to be completed later than scheduled in April, traders said.
The 800,000-tonne-per-year naphtha cracker has been running at about 60-70 per cent of its capacity after it started commercial production successfully last month.
ShawCor unit in Kuwait deal
TORONTO: ShawCor said a subsidiary had won a $44 million (C$50.6 million) contract to provide offshore pipe coating for a large energy project in Kuwait.
Bredero Shaw Middle East will coat offshore pipelines as part of the KOC Crude Oil Export Facilities Project. Among its clients on the pipelines are the Kuwait Oil Company and Hyundai Heavy Industries.
The pipe will be coated at a Bredero Shaw pipe coating facility in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, beginning in June.
Supply unaffected
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's oil minister said the kingdom's oil and gas production was unaffected by an attempt to storm the huge Abqaiq oil facility, adding that exports from the plant were running normally.
“This incident had no impact on oil and gas production in the kingdom,” Ali Al Naimi said in a statement. “The plant continued production at full levels and export operations are as usual.”
Contract review
TEHRAN: Iran’s state audit organisation has drawn up a report on a gas export deal to the UAE so parliament can debate whether the terms are still acceptable, an Iranian legislator said.
The original deal was for Iran to supply gas from the Salman field in the Gulf to the UAE's Crescent Petroleum. Crescent is a shareholder in Dana Gas, which sells gas to utilities and other industrial users.
LNG contracts set
TEHRAN: Iran is set to grant Total, Shell and Repsol upstream development contracts in the giant South Pars gas field in the Gulf, officials said.
Iran intends to use phases 11 and 13 of South Pars to produce liquefied natural gas (LNG). Iran hopes to export its first LNG shipments in 2009.
Total is looking to develop phase 11 of South Pars to produce LNG in a project called Pars LNG.
Quick takes
Cepsa net profit hits $1.21bn
MADRID: Spanish oil and gas company Cepsa has reported a 48 per cent increase in 2005 net profit to 1.01 billion euros ($1.21 billion), the firm said.
The company said the result was driven by strong refining margins, global growth in demand and hurricane-related supply disruptions which hit already-tight refining capacity.
Cepsa extracts most of its oil from the Ourhoud field in Algeria.
UK production rises 6.7pc
LONDON: UK December oil output rose by 6.7 per cent compared with November to 1,581,136 barrels per day (bpd), according to figures released by industry newsletter the Aberdeen Petroleum Report.
Output has recovered from the lowest level for 16 years hit last August due to field maintenance and unplanned outages.
Morecambe Bay yield declines
LONDON: Britain’s biggest energy supplier Centrica said production from its depleting Morecambe Bay gas field will fall by 20 per cent in 2006.
The Morecambe Bay field is located in the East Irish Sea and has provided the British Gas owner with more than a quarter of its annual needs, but is rapidly running down, like many North Sea oil and gas assets.
However, Centrica said overall profitability from its upstream business in 2006 would be ahead of last year, with half of the 20 per cent Morecambe Bay production cut “more than offset by the still-rising gas price and increased production from other fields”.
Nigerian output exceeds quota
LAGOS: Nigerian oil output, including condensates and natural gas liquids rose to 2.47 million barrels per day (mbpd) in December 2005 from a revised figure of 2.33 mbpd in November, the central bank said.
The bank which had reported oil production of 2.50 mbpd in November, said in its latest report that Nigeria’s oil output in December rose to 76.6 million barrels from 69.9 million barrels in the previous month.
Nigeria’s daily output surpassed its 2.3 mbpd Opec quota, though the world’s eighth largest oil exporter produces 100,000 bpd of condensates which are not counted as part of its quota.
Dhaka halts Tullow work on pollution fears
DHAKA: Bangladesh has ordered a halt to gas exploration by Irish-owned firm Tullow Bangladesh in an ecologically fragile island because of fears of environmental damage, a government official said.
“We’ve halted the seismic survey of Tullow in Saint Martin's Island as it is an ecologically critical area,” a senior official in Bangladesh’s environment ministry said.
“They were mistakenly given permission to carry out the survey in the area by a regional environment office. But we’ve cancelled it as it is prohibited to carry out such survey there,” he said.
Situated over 500 km south of Dhaka, Saint Martin's is Bangladesh’s lone coral island and is home to rare species of turtles.
Tullow Bangladesh is part of Tullow Oil International Ltd based in Ireland.
Bangladesh environmental experts had expressed fears drilling could harm the island's ecology and their calls prompted the government to declare it an environmentally critical area.
Tullow was given permission to explore for gas and oil in the island and a large swathe of the coastal district of Cox's Bazar in 1997. It signed a production-sharing agreement with state-owned Petrobangla the same year.
Tullow can carry on with its exploration of the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar.
The company began the seven-million-dollar seismic survey of Saint Martin’s early this month as a prelude to further work in the area after winning environmental clearance December 29, according to the leading Bengali daily Ittefaq.
Preliminary studies by the company indicated that St. Martin’s contains large deposits of oil and natural gas.
The government will now review an environment impact assessment report of Tullow before deciding whether to allow the company to proceed with the seismic survey, the official said.
Bangladesh has proven recoverable gas reserves of 13 trillion cubic feet (390 billion cubic metres), which are expected to last until 2017. read more

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

Gulf Times (Qatar): UAE eyes global firms to develop its gas fields

Published: Monday, 6 March, 2006, 09:50 AM Doha Time
Dubai: The United Arab Emirates, holder of the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves, plans to hire international energy companies to develop Abu Dhabi’s high-sulphur gas fields that were previously too expensive to harvest, an official said.
“We are talking to several international oil companies about producing these reservoirs,’’ Ismail al-Ramahi, manager of gas processing at the state-owned Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, said in an interview yesterday in the UAE capital. “Market forces in the region have changed dramatically, and major expansions are required to meet rising demand in Abu Dhabi.’’
The second-largest Arab economy, the UAE has plans to import gas from Qatar because two-thirds of its own stocks are re-injected into its oil fields to maintain pressure levels to sustain crude output.
Demand for gas in the Gulf state may quadruple to 13.5bn cu ft a day over the next 25 years as the country builds more gas-fuelled power plants to cope with economic growth.
Gas demand among Arabian Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman, is growing at an annual rate of about 7%, at least twice as fast as in Europe, according Wood MacKenzie’s Lothian. High-sulphur gas is an environmental hazard, and disposing of sulphur extracted from natural gas is expensive and difficult, officials said.
“I am scared of the demand numbers with power growth rising by 10% each year,’’ Ahmed al-Sayegh, chief executive of the UAE’s Dolphin Energy Ltd, said yesterday in Abu Dhabi. “It’s clear there will be a deficit if we don’t utilise our own gas,’’ he said.
Dolphin Energy, 51% owned by Abu Dhabi’s government, wants to raise its planned gas imports from Qatar by 50% to over 3bn cu ft a day, al-Sayegh said in a February 8 interview.
ExxonMobil Corp was chosen last year to help develop Abu Dhabi’s Upper Zakum oil field, the fourth-largest in the world. ExxonMobil, BP Plc and Royal Dutch/Shell Group had been competing for more than three years for the contract, the best opportunity for foreign companies to gain access to Middle East oil.
BP’s chief executive John Browne visited Abu Dhabi on February 18, though the company’s spokesman, Toby Odone, declined at the time to comment on his meetings.
The UAE pumped 2.53mn bpd in January, according to Bloomberg data. – Bloomberg read more

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

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Natural-gas imports rise with U.S. needs

The Associated Press
Pipelines run from the offshore docking station to tanks at the Dominion Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Cove Point, Md. As North American supplies dwindle, the energy industry is investing billions to ship the fuel across oceans as liquefied natural gas, or LNG.
WASHINGTON — The United States is increasingly going overseas to meet its natural-gas needs, setting in motion a significant shift with a familiar, if unpleasant, side effect for the world's largest energy user.
As the U.S. becomes a bigger player in the global natural-gas trade, its vulnerability to distant production snags and price gyrations will rise, as will its dependence on the Mideast and other volatile regions.
Unlike oil, natural gas has had the advantage of being a local energy source. It either came from within the United States or by pipeline from Canada.
But as North American supplies dwindle, the energy industry is investing billions to ship the fuel across oceans as liquefied natural gas, or LNG.
Use of LNG is still relatively small in the U.S.
But imports are expected to rise fivefold over the next decade, intensifying competition with Europe and Asia for natural gas coming primarily from the Middle East, West Africa and parts of the former Soviet Union.
Factor similar to oil
“There's a geopolitical overlay that's going to look similar to oil,” said Michael Zenker, managing director of the global natural-gas team at Cambridge Energy Research Associates.
Which means the price that American homeowners, manufacturers and power plants pay for natural gas will increasingly be linked to the weather in Europe and the pace of economic growth in Asia, not to mention the political stability of countries such as Russia, Iran and Qatar, which combined hold more than half of the world's natural-gas reserves.
The reverse is also true. “A surge in U.S. demand could effectively raise the price for spot LNG cargoes, affecting the price in Japan and other countries,” said George Beranek, a manager in the global gas group at PFC Energy in Washington.
Fuel-hungry America is already the third-largest LNG importer behind South Korea and Japan, according to Energy Department statistics.
Until recently, the North American natural-gas market was an island unto itself with an abundant resource, and prices were relatively cheap.
The fact that natural gas is cleaner-burning than heating oil and coal only burnished its public image, and demand grew rapidly during the 1990s as it became the fuel of choice for new homes and new power plants.
Gradually, though, U.S. and Canadian output began to taper off.
Producers drilled many more wells, but they still could not offset the depletion of existing wells while satisfying rising demand.
To bridge the gap, LNG imports tripled in the '90s, rising to 226 billion cubic feet per year by 2000.
They nearly tripled again by 2004, climbing to 652 billion cubic feet, or 3 percent of the country's total natural-gas consumption.
But there is still not much of a supply cushion in the U.S. natural-gas market, which is a major reason why prices climbed steadily in recent years, and then skyrocketed after Hurricane Katrina disrupted output in the Gulf of Mexico.
Meeting the country's anticipated demand by 2015 could require the U.S. to import more than 10 billion cubic feet per day of LNG, according to government and industry statistics.
That's greater than the amount of gas it will get from Canada via pipeline.
The competition for LNG will be most pronounced in the spot market, a small piece of the global trade in which tankers are directed on short notice to wherever the price is highest.
But analysts said it could also affect long-term supply contracts because those deals are benchmarked to futures prices, which rise and fall based on short-term events.
The U.S. buys LNG primarily on the spot market.
The industry prefers to sell at least a portion of its LNG through long-term agreements to help pay for the large capital investments needed to build critical infrastructure, including plants to liquefy the natural gas, refrigerated double-hulled ships to transport it and terminals on the receiving end to regasify the fuel.
Companies such as Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and BG Group are making multibillion-dollar investments up and down the LNG supply chain.
The U.S. has five LNG import terminals today, with four more under construction and dozens more proposed.
Some analysts say the U.S. is already feeling the impact of global events that a decade ago would not have registered the slightest ripple in its natural-gas market.
“When things go bad, the U.S. is currently the one that suffers worst because it's mostly a spot market. It's the market of last resort,” said Gavin Law, head of the global LNG practice at consultant Wood Mackenzie in Houston.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company read more

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

The Daily Herald (Utah): Handyman convicted in killing of Utah couple

Monday, March 06, 2006
The Associated Press
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — A handyman has been convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing an American couple bludgeoned to death in bed, authorities said Sunday.
Jossiel Conceicao dos Santos, 22, was convicted on Friday of killing a Shell oil executive and his wife in 2003, said Luis Carlos Puglialli, a spokesman with Rio's justice department.
Defense attorneys planned to appeal, Puglialli said.
The couple — Todd and Michelle Staheli — were beaten to death in bed at home in an exclusive Rio de Janeiro neighborhood on Nov. 30, 2003. The couple from Spanish Fork, who left behind four young children, had been in Brazil for three months.
With nothing robbed and no signs of forced entry, the case stumped police for months before dos Santos was arrested in April 2004, after allegedly trying to break into another home in the area.
Dos Santos confessed to the killings but later recanted, and a judge at one point released him without charges, citing a lack of physical evidence.
Initial DNA tests failed to link dos Santos to the crime, but further tests on clothing turned up traces of blood from both victims.
This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A1. read more

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

Yahoo! News: NZ PRESS: Shell, Todd Energy Dismiss New Maui Well Talk

Monday March 6, 2006, 9:05 am
DJ NZ PRESS: Shell, Todd Energy Dismiss New Maui Well Talk
WELLINGTON (Dow Jones)–The New Zealand unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) and privately owned Todd Energy are dismissing speculation they may get 20 years of gas from further drilling of the Maui oil and gas field, the Dominion Post newspaper reported on its Web site Monday.
The newspaper said two appraisal wells are being drilled from the existing Maui A platform off the west coast of New Zealand's North Island.
There has been speculation that a big quantity of gas may be produced from the wells, the newspaper said, but a Shell New Zealand spokeswoman said talk of 20 years of gas isn't correct.
The newspaper also quoted Todd Energy Chief Executive Richard Tweedie as saying it is definitely not the case that the wells will have a life of 20 years.
Newspaper Web site:
-Wellington Bureau, Dow Jones Newswires; 64-4-471-5990; [email protected] read more

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

IrelandOn-Line: Nigerian militants threaten more oil sabotage

06/03/2006 – 07:37:01
Armed militants in Nigeria vowed yesterday to cut daily oil exports from this West African nation’s troubled delta region by another one million barrels by the end of March, as OPEC nations prepared for a strategy meeting in Vienna this week.
A wave of militant assaults on pipelines and oil facilities has already cut production by 455,000 barrels per day in Nigeria, which normally exports 2.5 million barrels of crude daily.
In recent days, militants have repeatedly threatened to escalate the conflict with new attacks and rocket assaults on international oil tankers in Nigerian waters. There have been no new attacks since militants destroyed Shell-operated pipeline on February 20.
In an e-mail to the press, the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said “we are going to inflict one huge, crippling blow on the Nigerian oil industry and a most embarrassing attack on the Nigerian government.”
“Our target for the month of March is a further cut of one million barrels.” Nigerian normally exports 2.5 million barrels of oil daily,” the group said. They gave no details, but said they were planning “one huge, crippling blow” to the oil industry.
The militant group claims to be fighting for the interests of the people of the Niger Delta region, which has remained poor despite the fact that most of Nigeria’s oil is being pumped from it.
Attacks since January have caused severe disruptions to oil exports by Nigeria, one of OPEC’s leading producers. The attacks have helped push edgy oil prices higher on international markets.
The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, meets on Wednesday in Vienna to map out strategies for spring and early summer.
Ethnic Ijaw militants took nine foreign oil workers hostages February 18 and released six of them last week. Yesterday, the militants said they had no plans to release the remaining three – two Americans and one Briton.
The militant group wants President Olusegun Obasanjo’s federal government to release two prominent, jailed Ijaws – one militant leader accused of treason and a former regional governor held on corruption charges after he fled money laundering charges in Britain. They also want the federal government to increase the region’s share of oil wealth.
The Ijaws, who number between 8-12 million people, are the dominant tribe in the Niger Delta. read more

This website and sisters,,,, and, are owned by John Donovan. There is also a Wikipedia segment. Shell,Total receiving higher return on SP 11-13

Monday, March 06, 2006

LONDON, March 6 (IranMania) – Shell and Total are receiving higher rate of capital return on LNG deal from SP phases 11 and 13 nowadays, thanks to steep growth of oil and gas prices worldwide.

Nevertheless, the initial contract signed with National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) had stipulated revaluation of the project in accordance with certain economic assessments and had left the room open for revision if profitable to all sides, deputy oil minister in International Affairs Seyyed Mohammad Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian told the Persian service of ISNA.
?The probable offshoots of the bid and having a say in final decision making were referred to the Economic Council back then, and a clause stipulated earlier in the contract by SP allowed the NIOC?s board of directors to whether offer its final nod,? he elaborated.
The return of profit will be calculated on current prices and the three sides are very likely going to put the seal of approval on it, he said in conclusion. read more

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AP Worldstream: Brazilian judge convicts handyman in killing of US couple

A 22-year-old handyman has been convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 2003 killing of an American couple, authorities said Sunday.
Jossiel Conceicao dos Santos was found guilty of killing Shell oil executive Todd Staheli, 39, and his wife Michelle, 36, in a ruling late Friday night, said Luis Carlos Puglialli, a spokesman with Rio's justice department.
The Stahelis, originally from Spanish Fork, Utah, were bludgeoned to death in bed at home in an exclusive Rio de Janeiro neighborhood on Nov. 30, 2003. The couple, survived by four young children, had been in Brazil for three months.
With nothing robbed and no signs of forced entry, the case stumped police for months before Dos Santos was arrested in April 2004, after allegedly trying to break into another home in the complex where the Stahelis lived.
Dos Santos confessed to the killings but later recanted, and a judge released him without charges, citing a lack of physical evidence.
Initial DNA tests failed to link Santos to the crime, but further tests on clothing turned up traces of blood belonging to both victims.
In his confession, Santos said he killed Todd Staheli first, hitting him in the head with a crowbar. He then hit Michelle Staheli with the crowbar when he realized she was awake. She died in a hospital four days later. read more

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

Financial Times: Natural gas offers hope to oil companies

By Thomas Catan in London
A novel way to create an ultra-clean fuel for cars that uses natural gas instead of oil is on the verge of rapid growth, analysts say, driven by soaring oil prices and a thirst for alternative fuels.
Oil companies are investing billions of dollars in the nascent technology, called “gas-to- liquids” or GTL, which can be used to produce quality diesel and a range of other products normally derived from crude.
The process was developed in Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa but is about to be tested on a commercial scale for the first time in a few weeks’ time, when the largest plant so far opens in Qatar.
The Oryx GTL plant, a joint venture between South Africa’s Sasol and Qatar Petroleum, is being closely watched by competitors and investors looking for the next big thing in energy.
Audi: Gas-to-liquids technology or GTL represents a way to turn remote natural gas fields into highly valuable products.
“For a variety of reasons, it would appear that the GTL industry is at an inflection point,” said Frank Harris, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie, the Scotland-based international oil consultancy. “If Oryx is successful combined with some of the other projects in the works, and this new paradigm for the oil price, it could be a huge catalyst for GTL.” Wood Mackenzie believes the next ten years will see more than $40bn invested in GTL plants – with the majority going to the tiny Arab emirate of Qatar. It sees around 600,000 barrels a day of GTL products being manufactured by 2015.
“This would very much be a niche compared to the demand for oil products, but we would expect that there could be rapid growth thereafter,” said Alan Gelder, GTL analyst at Wood Mackenzie. Other consultancies, such as Cambridge Energy Re-search Associates, see 1m b/d by 2015 of GTL production. The potential market is huge. Japan reportedly wants one-fifth of its transport fuel to come from GTL or bio-fuels by 2030.
Carmakers are also interested. Royal Dutch Shell is working with Toyota, Volkswagen and DaimlerChrysler to create vehicles that run on pure GTL diesel, which combines high-power with extremely low emissions.
If you want more info on GTL, CTL and BTL you can read: – read more

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

Financial Times: 'Designer fuel' fires oil companies' optimism

By Thomas Catan
Published: March 6 2006 02:00 | Last updated: March 6 2006 02:00
Audi will field a new car at the 12-hour American Le Mans race in a fortnight, a machine that in tests has already broken track records.
Its secret: the R10 will run on a special fuel with asynthetic diesel component produced by Shell from natural gas using “gas-to-liquids” technology. “Particularly for petrol heads, this is exciting stuff,” says Jack Jacometti, Shell's vice-president of gas-to-liquids development. “Never before has a diesel-powered engine been a serious contender.”
For Audi, GTL offers a “designer fuel” capable of delivering greater engine power, fuel economy and even a quieter ride. For oil companies, the process represents a way to turn remote natural gas fields into highly valuable products. And for energy-hungry nations like the US and Japan, the nascent technology is seen as a way to cut their dependence on crude oil from unstable parts of the world.
Because it is clean-burning, large cities are also becoming interested in using GTL to power buses and delivery fleets.
After decades in which it largely languished in laboratories, GTL technology appears poised for a period of explosive growth at a time when many are actively searching for alternativesto oil.
The world's first large-scale GTL plant is due to open in Qatar in the coming weeks, an event being closely watched by others in the industry.
The Oryx GTL plant, a joint venture between South Africa's Sasol and Qatar Petroleum, “is almost a test case”, says Alan Gelder, GTL analyst at WoodMackenzie, the oil consultants. “Also, it's project financed, so there's a lot of banks that are interested in the outcome.”

Oil companies are making big bets on the future of GTL. Shell and ExxonMobil are both planning large plants in Qatar, at a combined cost of at least $13bn. Sasol and Chevron are building a $3bn plant in Nigeria.

BP has plans for a project in Colombia and companies are vying to build another in Algeria. Australia, Iran, Trinidad and Egypt are all considering GTL projects.
All told, the next 10 years could see more than $40bn invested in GTL, according to Wood Mackenzie.
GTL is hardly new. In the 1920s, two German scientists, Franz Fischer and Hans Tropsch, invented the basic process that can be used to turn gas, coal or even biomass into products traditionally derived from oil. Because Germany lacked oil during the Second World War, the Nazis used the method to create aviation fuel from coal.
South Africa further developed the technology when it faced trade sanctions during the apartheid era. Oil companies like Shell were spurred to develop their ownversions of the technology during the crises of the 1970s, when consuming nations first began to worry about the security of their supply.
But the technology has been given new life by the huge rise in oil prices over the past year. Until now, countries with gas too distant from markets to transport by pipeline have had only one option: liquefied natural gas.
LNG involves supercooling gas into liquid form, shipping it on special tankers and turning it back into gas at its destination.
Since its inception four decades ago, LNG has matured into a thriving global industry. But when the price of crude rises above $30 a barrel or so, it becomes more profitable to turn the natural gas into products normally refined from oil using GTL. And oil prices have been double that level for much of the past year.
“The game-changer here has been the oil price,” says Frank Harris, an analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “These companies have laboured away with GTL for years, but given where we are now, to say the oil price might remain in the 30s on a sustained basis doesn't sound ridiculous any more.”
High oil prices and a tight supply have also made energy-consuming nations receptive to technologies that offer an alternative.
The Japanese government reportedly wants 20 per cent of its transport fuel to come from GTL or biodiesel by 2030. The US Department of Energy has been sponsoring the development of GTL-ready engines by Detroit Diesel. Carmakers like Toyota, DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi and VW have also been designing engines to get the full benefits of the fuel.
Analysts see between 600,000 and 1m barrels a day of GTL products by 2015. That still represents a small proportion of the 80m b/d of oil production today and proponents say it has a good deal further to grow.
“I like to compare it with LNG, say, 35 years ago,” says Mr Jacometti. “You can grow the GTL market along similar lines to the way the LNG market grew.” read more

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BLOOMBERG: Explorers to Tackle Tougher Fields, Shell's Bannister Says

March 6 (Bloomberg) — Oil and gas explorers are tackling more difficult projects to meet surging global demand for energy, said Gaurdie Banister, an exploration executive at Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe's No. 2 oil company.
World energy demand may increase as much as 60 percent by 2030, requiring an investment of $16 trillion in power stations, oil platforms and gas pipelines, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency. To meet demand, oil companies are contemplating more costly and challenging terrain and undersea areas, Banister said in an interview from Auckland yesterday.
“That's what the future holds: difficult, large, complex projects,'' said Banister, technical vice president for Shell's Asia Pacific exploration activities. “Unless you want to go there, it's going to be tough to be in this business in the future.''
Shell will spend $15 billion this year looking for new large oil and gas fields, or extracting more fuel from its present projects, the company said in December. Among possible exploration sites is New Zealand's Great Southern Basin, which government scientists say may hold the country's largest gas reserves, in deep water south of the country.
Great Southern has the potential to deliver gas finds of five trillion cubic feet, the New Zealand Herald reported in December, citing officials of New Zealand's Crown Minerals unit. Maui has delivered more than 3 trillion cubic feet of gas.
“All I can say about the Great South is that its under evaluation right now for us, so we're going to examine it and try and make a decision later about it,'' Banister said.
By 2009, Shell aims worldwide to have developed projects for an investment decision with the potential to deliver the equivalent of 5 billion of barrels of oil.
Shell and its partners in the $20 billion Sakhalin-2 project in Russia aim to be producing 9.6 million tons of liquefied natural gas a year by 2008. Shell began production from its $3.6 billion Bonga deepwater oil field off Nigeria in November.
Developing those so-called “big cat'' projects, which aim to deliver Shell at least the equivalent of 100 million barrels of oil, depends on new technology to be viable, Banister said.
Still, that technology can be used worldwide and can be used to extract more fuel from existing fields, he said. It is also key to meeting the company's goal of keeping its projects among the cheapest quarter of fields operating.
In the Pohokura field off New Zealand's Taranaki coast, Shell has drilled a 7 kilometer well, the nation's longest, from on shore. Not only did that save the cost of as many as three offshore gas wells, it will also lower the ongoing cost of running the field.
“It's the difference between being economic and not being economic,'' said Banister, who is in New Zealand for the nation's biennial petroleum conference.
Shell, the biggest oil and gas producer in New Zealand, is developing Pohokura to replace output from the dwindling Maui field, the country's biggest gas resource.
The run down of Maui, and a lack of new finds, has prompted New Zealand power generators Contact Energy Ltd. and Genesis Power Ltd. to consider importing LNG from 2011 when the country's rising energy demand is expected to outstrip gas deliveries from domestic fields.
Short-term measures Shell is taking to fill that gap include two new wells it is drilling in Maui to extend the life of the 25-year-old field beyond 2009.
It will also look at using techniques it developed in North America and at Changbei in China to speed up the flow of gas from New Zealand's onshore Kapuni field, Banister said.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Gavin Evans in Wellington at [email protected]. read more

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