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Posts on ‘March 7th, 2006’

WinkTV.com (South Florida): Texan, Five Others Released in Nigeria

By OSMOND CHIDI Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
WARRI, Nigeria Militants released six foreign oil workers, including a diabetic Texan celebrating his 69th birthday Wednesday, taken captive last month to press fighters' demands for a greater share of oil revenues generated in this restive southern state.
But three other hostages – two Americans and a Briton – were kept by militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. A militant spokesman said all “low-value” hostages taken Feb. 18 had been freed.
Those released Wednesday included Macon Hawkins of Kosciusko, Texas; two Egyptians; two Thais; and a Filipino. They were taken to the offices of James Ibori, governor of the Delta State.
Militants handed Hawkins to surprised journalists visiting the fighters in the creeks and waterways of the oil-rich Niger Delta. The reporters took the calm but bedraggled worker to the Nigerian military.
Hawkins said he celebrated his 69th birthday in captivity with a warm soda and was looking forward to cleaning up.
“I had a warm Sprite this morning but I'm looking forward to a hot shower with some shampoo, some underarm deodorant and a razor,” he said, adding that he bore his captors no ill will.
“I have no animosity toward them at all,” he said. “I've seen their little villages. They're dirt poor _ poor as field mice.”
Hawkins and the other workers were seized Feb. 18 by militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta. They were abducted from a barge owned by their employer, Houston-based oil services company Willbros Group Inc., which was laying pipeline for oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.
The company confirmed Hawkins was released and said it continued to support efforts to free its remaining personnel.
Hawkins was shown to another group of reporters while still in captivity Friday and said then he was diabetic but receiving his medication in captivity.
Messages left with Hawkins' wife and Willbros were not immediately returned.
In an e-mail message sent after Hawkins' release, the militant group's spokesman said leaders were considering releasing some of the other eight remaining hostages _ two Americans, two Egyptians, two Thais, one Briton and one Filipino.
The militants are demanding Nigeria's federal government release two of their region's leaders from prison and are seeking a greater share of proceeds from the oil pumped from their impoverished lands in southern Nigeria. The country is Africa's largest producer of crude oil.
“The release of the hostages from Thailand, Philippines and Egypt is being considered and may be granted shortly,” the group's spokesman said. “They belong to countries without interests in the oil industry.”
The militants took the nine hostages amid a series of assaults on the oil industry that cut production by about 20 percent. Four hostages taken earlier were released unharmed. read more

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FORBES: Van Der Veer's Shell To Plow Another $500M Into China

Chris Noon

London – Chasing the dragon? After splurging a record $800 million in 2004 and $500 million last year, Jeroen van der Veer's oil major Shell Group (nyse: RD – news – people ) said it hopes to invest another half a billion dollars in China in 2006 as it consolidates existing businesses in the country.

“We've got a range of projects underway,” a spokesman for the Shell Companies in China told Xinhua Finance News Asia. Indeed, the Anglo-Dutch multinational announced today that it had inked an agreement to acquire Koch Materials China, which is involved in the manufacture and marketing of bitumen–that black viscous residue taken from the distillation of crude petroleum–in the country. The deal should more than double the size of Shell's bitumen business in the country.
KMC has interests in companies operating six bitumen manufacturing plants in Tianjin, Xi'an, Foshan, Zhenjiang, Ezhou and Luzhou, with a total production capacity of about 4,200 tons per day, two mobile plants and a supporting technical laboratory in Beijing. The executive chairman for Shell Companies in China, Lim Haw Kuang, said, “This is an exciting opportunity for Shell in China and one that underscores a commitment to developing the downstream business portfolio. China is one of Shell's key strategic markets in the world and we are committed to growing our presence where viable opportunities are identified that offer potential for earnings growth.”
BP (nyse: BP – news – people ) and Exxon Mobil (nyse: XOM – news – people ) are two of the other major players in China with stakes in refining and service stations ventures.
CNOOC (nyse: CEO – news – people ) and Shell have built and now operate a $4.3 billion petrochemicals complex in Guangdong. It is one of the largest capital investments for a Sino-foreign joint venture project to date in the People's Republic. The complex produced its first on-specification ethylene and propylene in late January this year. Shell's other projects include a service station partnership with Sinopec in Jiangsu, and an oil shale development in Jilin Province. read more

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Forbes/AFX News: Statoil, Shell to unveil plans for joint industrial project tomorrow

OSLO (AFX) – Statoil ASA said it and Shell will launch plans for a joint industrial project tomorrow morning.
Statoil would not go into details on the project, but a spokesperson said that at the current stage the project would not involve any investment as the plans were still not definitive.
He also described the project as 'interesting and big.'
[email protected]
bb/hjp

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IndiaTimes: GAIL to hire Shell's Hazira terminal

REUTERS TUESDAY, MARCH 07, 2006

MUMBAI: GAIL is in talks with Royal Dutch Shell Plc to hire Shell's Indian liquified natural gas (LNG) terminal for four years, an official from the firm said.

GAIL wants to use the entire 2.5-mn-tonne capacity of the merchant LNG terminal in Hazira in the western state of Gujarat starting in June, the senior official, who did not wish to be identified, said on Tuesday.
“We will get the gas on our own and pay regasification charges to Shell,” he said.
The deal would represent a first for the Hazira terminal, which has consistently run below capacity since it opened last year.
A Shell official in India declined to comment immediately. read more

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ISN SECURITY WATCH: Shell assesses pipeline attack in Nigeria


ISN SECURITY WATCH (Tuesday, 7 March: 12.08 CET) – Royal Dutch Shell oil company said it was still assessing the damage after militants in the Niger Delta attacked an oil pipeline, news agencies reported.

The attack, which took place on Saturday, did not affect output, as a series of recent attacks had already shut down production on the Shell oil installations.
In recent weeks, Shell has shut down all production in the western Niger River delta and withdrawn hundreds of personal.
Militants are fighting for more control over the region’s oil revenues.
Last weekend, Nigerian militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), vowed to cut Nigeria’s oil production by another one million barrels a day this month through stepped up attacks.
In an email to the local media, MEND said: “We are going to inflict one huge, crippling blow on the Nigerian oil industry and a most embarrassing attack on the Nigerian government.”
MEND is also demanding the release of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa state, who was impeached and arrested on money-laundering charges, and another militant leader jailed on treason charges.
The militants also are demanding that Shell pay compensation to the ethnic Ijaw community of the Niger Delta for alleged environmental damage and destruction of their fishing communities, which is their main source of livelihood.
On 26 February, court in Nigeria has ordered Shell to pay US$1.5 billion in compensation to the Ijaw – a ruling Shell has said it would appeal, saying there was no evidence to support the claims.
On 2 March, MEND released six of nine hostages held for two weeks. The group released one elderly US citizen with health problems, two Egyptians, two Thai nationals, and one Filipino. They continue to hold three captives – two Britons and an American.
According to ISN Security Watch’s Dulue Mbachu, over the past two decades, there has been a build up of anger among local people. The ethnic minorities who inhabit the delta accuse the bigger ethnic groups that dominate government of cornering the oil wealth to their detriment. This resentment has often manifested in angry protests by villagers, sabotage of oil installations, kidnapping of oil workers for ransom, and other forms of disruptive violence by a growing army of heavily armed militants in the region. read more

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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: Shell Aims to Increase Investments in China

By SHAI OSTER
March 7, 2006 5:57 a.m.
BEIJING—Royal Dutch Shell PLC wants to ramp up its investments in China in its race to snatch a bigger share of the country's enormous energy market.
Shell, the world's third-biggest oil company by market value, behind Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC, is looking at a wide range of projects including expanding oil-refining and gasoline-retailing as well as alternative energies such as wind farms and making synthetic fuels out of coal, said Lim Haw Kuang, executive chairman for Shell companies in China.
Last year, Shell invested about $500 million in China, bringing its total investment in the country so far to $3.5 billion. Shell said it could spend at least that much this year, but if a large project comes through, the figure could easily be bigger.
“We are not investing enough,” Mr. Lim said Tuesday while announcing the acquisition of Koch Materials China (Hong Kong) Ltd. He didn't disclose the value of the acquisition.
The purchase doubles Shell's capacity to make bitumen, which is a tar-like substance derived from oil used to coat roofs and roads, to about 700,000 metric tons a year, or about 7% of China's market. He didn't reveal the price of the deal.
Foreign oil companies are scrambling to increase their toehold ahead of the start of 2007 when China will further open its gasoline retail market as part of its terms of accession to the World Trade Organization.
Write to Shai Oster at [email protected] read more

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Financial Post – Canada: Pipeline needs federal help

Pipeline needs federal help: oil executive: Talks being held: Mackenzie project economically 'thin,' says Imperial V-P
Mar 07, 2006
CALGARY – The $7-billion Mackenzie Gas Project will not move ahead without federal government help to improve its “slim” economics,” a top Imperial Oil Ltd. executive said yesterday.
Senior vice-president Randy Broiles said project proponents and a federal government team are in talks over financial terms, the broad principles of which were established last fall by the last government.
At the time, Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan said Imperial and partners ConocoPhillips, Shell Canada Ltd., ExxonMobil Corp. and the Aboriginal Pipeline Group (APG) asked for $1.2-billion in breaks from Ottawa.
“The fiscal terms are very, very important,” Mr. Broiles told reporters at an Arctic gas conference organized by the Canadian Institute. “The project is slim by any measure, and if we are unable to get the help from the federal government that we are going to have to have … through mutual risk sharing, that would be a deal killer.”
In his speech, Mr. Broiles said the project would have to be competitive with imported liquefied natural gas, which is expected to dominate supply growth in North America.
Mr. Broiles said he hopes to reach a deal with Ottawa in the next three or four months.
“It's very clear that the Mackenzie project is a high priority for the new administration.”
Mr. Broiles confirmed that the Liberal government proposed taking an equity stake in the project, but the idea was rejected.
“It was quickly thrown aside because it doesn't solve the problem,” he said. “We still have a thin project.”
In October, Ms. McLellan, who was defeated in the January federal election, denied a National Post report that Ottawa had made an offer to take an equity stake in the then-stalled project.
Mr. Broiles said the federal government may be a shipper on the pipeline if it agrees to take royalties in kind, instead of cash.
Initially, the federal government would not move a significant amount, since royalty payments tend to be low until a project reaches payout.
“That is one of the alternatives that we are talking to the federal government about in terms of sharing risk, ” he said.
Meanwhile, Bob Reid, president of the APG, the aboriginal organization that has the right to earn a third stake in the pipeline, said the Deh Cho First Nations have until June 30 to join the group — or lose their option of take part.
The APG has reserved a 34% stake for the Deh Cho, which have used their refusal to support the pipeline as a lever in their negotiations for a land claim agreement with the federal government.
Mr. Reid said the APG has imposed the deadline because it needs to get on with negotiations with lenders to pay for its $1.3-billion share of construction costs. read more

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AFX Europe (Focus): Shell China acquires Koch Materials China to expand bitumen business

Mar 07, 2006
BEIJING (AFX) – Shell China Holdings said it will acquire Koch Materials China (Hong Kong) in a deal that will more than double its bitumen business in the country.
In a press release, Lim Haw Kuang, executive chairman for Shell Companies in China, said that the purchase of the local bitumen maker and marketer underscores the multinational's commitment to develop its downstream business portfolio. The statement gave no financial details but noted the agreement to buy Koch Materials China was signed on Feb 28.
Shell expects to take control of the Koch Materials China business in the second quarter of this year subject to regulatory approval, it added.
Koch Materials China has interests in companies operating six bitumen manufacturing plants in the mainland cities of Tianjin, Xian, Foshan, Zhenjiang, Ezhou and Luzhou, with a total production capacity of about 4,200 tons per day. It also has interests in two mobile plants and a supporting technical laboratory in Beijing.
Shell bitumen products are currently produced in five plants in the Chinese cities of Zhapu, Tianjin, Nanjing, Mawei and Qinzhou, which have a combined production capacity of 2,400 tons per day.
“China is one of Shell's key strategic markets in the world and we are committed to growing our presence where viable opportunities are identified that offer potential for earnings growth,” Lim Haw Kuang said.
Shell Bitumen's vice president Egbert Veldman said that the acquisition represented a “step change” in the scale of Shell's bitumen business, improving market coverage and allowing the company to offer road surface products across China.
Shell bitumen products are currently produced in five plants in the Chinese cities of Zhapu, Tianjin, Nanjing, Mawei and Qinzhou, which have a combined production capacity of 2,400 tons per day. sr/dk
null read more

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AFX Europe (Focus): Shell says it hopes to invest 500 mln usd in China in 2006

Mar 07, 2006
BEIJING (AFX) – Oil major Shell Group said it hopes to invest half a billion usd in China this year as it further develops existing businesses in the country.
“We've got a range of projects underway,” a spokesman for the Shell Companies in China told XFN-Asia, estimating their combined investment for 2006 at 500 mln usd.
Shell China announced earlier today that it signed last month to acquire bitumen maker and marketer Koch Materials China, but released no financial details for the transaction.
Anglo-Dutch multinational's other projects underway in China include a joint venture petrochemical plant with CNOOC Petrochemicals in Guangdong, a service station partnership with Sinopec in Jiangsu, and an oil shale development in Jilin Province.
Last year, Shell estimated its expenditure in China at 500 mln usd, after spending a record 800 mln usd in 2004.
sr/dk read more

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Philippine Daily Inquirer: Chevron begs off from selling biodiesel

Abigail L. Ho
Mar 07, 2006
LIKE THE COUNTRYS TWO BIGGEST oil firms, Chevron Philippines Inc. (formerly Caltex Philippines Inc.) is not keen on selling pre-blended coco-biodiesel directly from its pumps.
In a position paper submitted to the House of Representatives in late December last year, the company expressed its regret that it can not support pending bills that aims to make mandatory the sale and use of pre-blended coco-biodiesel.
Chevron said more tests had to be conducted on the fuel to make sure that it would not cause damage to the oil firms storage tanks and vehicle engines.
Coco methyl ester (CME), the oil firm said, required special handling procedures to ensure that there would be no bacterial growth in its tanks, which would otherwise affect its products quality.
No tests have been conducted on the long-term effects of CME-blended diesel … on our storage tanks, particularly whether [CME] will increase the rust and corrosion rate of the tanks, Chevron said. Moreover, we are apprehensive that offering CME, a relatively untested product in Philippine conditions, [may] unduly exposes both our retailers and the company to consumer complaints and, worse, legal liability.
The oil firm explained that the long-term effects of CME-blended diesel on vehicles fuel injectors had yet to be determined. Should there be any malfunctions, it had not been made clear who would take the blame: The government, the oil companies or the retailers.
Also, Chevron noted that all the products it sold in its stations had already undergone a battery of tests the world over, allowing the oil firm to guarantee quality and performance.
CME, however, has yet to undergo enough tests to merit an endorsement from the oil firm.
In view of all the foregoing … we regret we cannot support the passage of these measures until our concerns have been addressed, Chevron said.
In an earlier interview, Petron Corp. president and chief executive Khalid Al-Faddagh said the oil firm still had a lot of technical concerns on CME-blended diesel, especially if this would be sold directly from its dispensing pumps.
Also, Pilipinas Shell said that it wanted more tests to be done on CME. One of Shells concerns with regard to selling CME had to do with the stability of the product, according to a company official. read more

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Business Wire: Shell Selects Netifice

Shell Selects Netifice to Securely Connect Retail Sites and Provide Managed IP Services; Service Powers Shell's 'CoolBand' Network Which Enables Retailers to Be More Productive and Better Serve Their Customers
Mar 06, 2006
Netifice Communications, Inc., a leading provider of flexible IP Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions and other managed IP services to businesses worldwide, today announced that Shell has selected Netifice to deliver the Shell “CoolBand” network, connecting and delivering value-added services for up to 10,000 Shell-branded sites throughout North America.
Netifice's managed IP services will provide Shell branded retailers with a secure, PCI compliant infrastructure to support all of their credit card processing requirements. In addition, it can enable Shell retailers to deploy the latest innovative applications to cut costs, increase operating efficiencies, provide greater management controls and provide new services to their customers. These applications include real-time Point-of-Sale (POS) reporting, tank monitoring and inventory management, video surveillance, online music and advertising and IP telephony.
“Netifice's line of fully managed IP services will allow Shell-branded retailers to consider options for increasing the value they provide customers, while reducing overhead costs and enabling tools to manage their operations,” said Paul Stanifer, General Manager Operations Support US. “By powering the Cool Band network, Netifice's high performance, high reliability platform will provide Shell retailers with greater flexibility in their business operations.”
Until now, Shell-branded retailers used separate phone lines to support many of its gas station applications, including ATM, credit card processing, pump monitoring and onsite security. With the flexibility of Netifice's managed MPLS broadband VPN service, retailers can now consolidate all applications over a single network infrastructure that is fully managed by Netifice's expert support staff. This will allow Shell retailers to reduce the costs associated with redundant phone lines, while continuing to deploy new applications that ultimately help them cut costs and increase revenues.
“As today's businesses evolve to address new customer needs and business objectives, they require a flexible infrastructure that enables them to easily and efficiently add applications and capabilities, and that's exactly what Netifice's managed IP services allow our customers to do,” said Greg Davis, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Netifice Communications. “Our suite of innovative communication services, allow customers, like Shell, to consolidate all applications onto a single platform so that they can attain increased operating efficiencies, along with the flexibility to address new business opportunities as they arise.”
Netifice Solutions
Netifice delivers the most flexible IP VPNs available, enabling businesses to integrate all of their mission-critical applications onto a single secure and scalable network platform that spans the entire enterprise. Netifice can tailor a solution that is cost-effective and fits its customers' specific requirements — whether they need to run performance-sensitive applications between the corporate headquarters and branch offices via the Netifice MPLS fiber optic network, or extend their infrastructure to include numerous other carrier networks, increasing their reach to thousands of remote users and retail sites via broadband, wireless, satellite and global dial access.
Netifice Communications, Inc.
Netifice Communications is a global provider of flexible IP VPN solutions that enable businesses to lower costs, increase scalability and expand the deployment of enterprise applications and communication systems. Netifice customizes its clients' IP VPNs using the widest selection of access, security and communication options, combined with advanced systems for managing and monitoring their IP VPN. Customers can easily deploy expansive networks so that their corporate headquarters, regional offices, remote workers, and retail outlets can communicate with each other as if they were in the same location. Netifice is recognized by customers for delivering the highest quality service and support with industry-leading Service Level Agreements that guarantee site-to-site performance and reliability. For more information go to www.netifice.com or call 1-877-NETIFICE.Welz & Weisel Communications Tony Welz, 703-323-6006 [email protected] read more

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Lloyds List: New wells planned for UK Atlantic Margin

Mar 07, 2006
EXPLORATION drilling is returning to the UK Atlantic Margin area this month after a year's absence, with several wells planned to probe for new resources, writes Martyn Wingrove.
Apart from an appraisal well on BP's Clair field there have been no wildcat wells since 2004 to find new oil and gas resources, until this month as Shell gets ready to spud one in Tranche 38.
The Anglo-Dutch oil major is taking the fourth generation semi-submersible rig Transocean Rather to drill a well on block 154'4 in 1,212 m of water.

Shell is going to test the North Benbecula prospect, which lies 6 km north of a gas discovery drilled by Enterprise Oil in 2000.
The block lies in a very remote part of the UK margin, 93 km from the Isle of Lewis and 85 km from the Faroe-UK median line, so any discovery would be miles from any land or infrastructure.
BP is using the Transocean Rather to complete its Clair appraisal well, which could help the British major to decide on developing another part of the Clair field with production platform.
US major Chevron is also looking to use the semi-submersible rig to drill an appraisal well this June to probe its Rosebank-Lochnagar discoveries in blocks 213'26 and 27 near the Faroes border.
The US oil major will be taking the rig until October, so it could be looking to drill more than one well in the West of Shetlands area this year.
Its first focus will be to firm up more than 250m barrels of oil reserves on Rosebank-Lochnagar before any evaluation of the fields' development.
London-listed explorer Faroes Petroleum and Norwegian oil group Statoil have a wildcat well planned for this region in licence 006 in the Faroes sector.
The well will be used to test the Brugdan prospect in the licence, which lies more than 50 km west of BP's Foinavon and Schiehallion oil fields.
This well will be the first to probe below the basalt layer that is widespread in this area and makes drilling high risk.
The physical properties of basalt make seismic interpretation a difficult process for looking at sub-basalt formations and for hydrocarbon prospects. read more

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Irish Independent: 1m bill for protecting Rossport pipeline, says McDowell

Mar 07, 2006
THE Garda operation to protect the Shell pipeline at Rossport in Co Mayo has cost close to 1m already.
Justice Minister Michael McDowell has revealed that up until December 31, the cost was 932,964. He told Kerry Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris in a written Dail reply he had been informed by the Garda authorities that to provide the required level of security, a number of gardai were temporarily transferred to Belmullet last July. The total cost of the security operation, including basic salaries, travelling expenses and other “ancillary costs”, amounted to 932,964.
Mr Ferris last night criticised the “huge cost” to the taxpayer incurred protecting a facility “which is both unpopular and partly installed without proper authorisation”.
This again demonstrated “the manner in which Shell are taking the Irish people for a ride” on the issue, he said. “Ironically, the cost of this is likely – under the current terms available to Shell – to vastly outweigh any foreseeable benefit to the Exchequer.” read more

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Reuters: Chevron pulls out of $5 bln Nigerian Brass LNG project

Tue Mar 7, 2006 8:32 AM GMT
LAGOS (Reuters) – U.S. energy giant Chevron has pulled out of a $5 billion liquefied natural gas project in Nigeria because the government wants to use its gas for a competing project, oil industry officials said on Monday.
Chevron, ConocoPhillips and ENI each have a 17 percent interest in the $5 billion Brass LNG project, along with state-run Nigeria National Petroleum Corp (NNPC) with 49 percent.
But the California-based company also has an interest in a competing LNG project, the $6 billion Olokola plant, which is being fast-tracked by the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Chevron have many other projects in Nigeria and the government has told them to supply their gas to another project,” said an oil industry source familiar with Brass LNG.
A Chevron source confirmed the company had pulled out but referred questions to NNPC. An NNPC spokesman declined to comment. Brass LNG officials were also unavailable for comment.
Chevron had planned to bring offshore gas to the Brass project, and the remaining Brass LNG investors are now in talks with other potential shareholders and gas suppliers, including France's Total, the industry source said.
NNPC has fast-tracked the 20 million tonne-per year Olokola project, where Chevron and NNPC have Royal Dutch Shell and BG as partners, and NNPC recently said it expects a final investment decision in the third quarter of this year.
The final decision on 10 million tonne-per-year Brass LNG is not expected until three months later.
Ethnic Ijaw activists from the southern Niger Delta, which is the origin of the country's oil and gas, have threatened to interrupt gas supply to Olokola unless Brass also goes ahead.
Olokola is located on the border of Ondo and Ogun states — where Obasanjo's native Yoruba tribe are dominant — while Brass is in the Ijaw-dominated delta.
Ijaw groups see the location of the Olokola project outside the delta as a challenge to their tribe's dominance of the energy sector in the OPEC member nation. read more

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