Thursday, March 31, 2011

World Watch [BP-Rosneft Alliance?]

by Jim Washer, London, EI
BP’s proposed alliance with Russia’s state Rosneft is running into trouble. Alfa Access Renova (AAR), BP’s [Russian] partners in the TNK-BP joint venture, have succeeded in halting the deal, at least in its current form, by convincing an arbitration tribunal in Sweden that the pact did violate the TNK-BP shareholder agreement [please see remarks below -- D.R.]. BP has said the deal is worth fighting for and is not giving up, but the longer the uncertainty goes on, the greater the risk that Rosneft and its Russian government owners will lose patience, cut their losses and look for another partner – Shell is already being mentioned as a possible replacement for BP in Rosneft’s proposed Arctic exploration venture. BP might still be able to proceed with its cross-shareholding with Rosneft, but to what purpose? What BP had really wanted from the Rosneft alliance was to show investors that, despite the Macondo disaster, it was still a desirable upstream partner and could still secure attractive upstream opportunities. Those twin objectives are now in serious jeopardy.

(The AAR partners had accused BP of violating their shareholder agreement which, they claimed obliges both parties to pursue new projects in Russia through the 50-50 TNK-BP venture. For information on BP-Rosneft alliance, unveiled in January, please see my post, here. For the Macondo disaster, please see my post here. -- D.R.)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Is There Any Alternative to Nuclear Power?

The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant has shaken the foundation of Japan's energy policy.

No alternative source of energy to nuclear power generation appears to be on the horizon, and the power cuts that Tokyo Electric Power Co. is resorting to in the capital and other cities are likely to continue for sometime to come.

The power shortage is not only disrupting the daily lives of the people, it will probably seriously affect the entire economy as many businesses are struggling to cope with the situation.

The government must come up with plans to find the power needed to grease the wheels of the country.

It is now forced to choose between two courses of action: Restore public confidence in nuclear power generation or find alternative energy sources.

Japan depends on other countries for most of its fuel, such as oil and liquefied natural gas. Crude oil and LNG are used for thermal power generation.

However, Japan will be in a bind if countries exporting fuel to this country are destabilized politically.

To ensure energy security, this country has to increase, even gradually, its sources of energy without relying too much on other countries.

Before the earthquake and tsunami disaster, the government came up with a plan to double the ratio of energy sources by nuclear power stations and renewable energy, including solar power, from about 35 percent in fiscal 2007 to 70 percent in fiscal 2030.

The government placed its hopes on nuclear power as a "semi-domestic energy source" because of its efficiency and because the amount of fuel required is small.

However, the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which stretches over the borders of Okumamachi and Futabamachi in Fukushima Prefecture, has forced the government to think twice about allowing construction of new nuclear power stations.

Already there are moves to suspend construction of nuclear power plants, such as Chugoku Electric Power Co.'s Kaminoseki plant in Kaminosekicho in Yamaguchi Prefecture and TEPCO's reactors at the Higashidori power plant in Higashidorimura in Aomori Prefecture.

The Higashidori plant is shared by [Sendai-based] Tohoku Electric Power Co. and TEPCO. Tohoku Electric has already started operating its No. 1 reactor and another is in the works, while TEPCO started construction of its No. 1 reactor in January and plans to build a second one.

Operations at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station in Kashiwazaki and Kariwamura in Niigata Prefecture stopped in 2007 following the Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake.

The company has had great difficulty trying to win the understanding of local residents and governments toward fully restarting it. The plant is partially operating now.

As a stopgap measure, TEPCO plans to increase the operation rates of thermal power plants, but fuel costs for these power plants have increased sharply.

The political situations in Middle Eastern countries, which supply 90 percent of Japan's oil imports, are unstable and fuel imports therefore are unreliable.

Renewable energy sources, on which great expectations rest, still provide a relatively small amount of energy.

In addition, many technological problems must be solved before supplies can be increased in this field.

When Japan was adversely affected by two energy crises in the 1970s, the government and the private sector cooperated to make this country an "energy-saving society."

There is no other way to cope with the current situation than to conserve energy as much as possible.

However, a ranking Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry official issued a warning about summer shortages.

"Even if we engage in energy conservation, there'll be a shortage of electricity in the middle of summer. We need a plan to fundamentally solve the situation," the official said.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda said Friday that his ministry would compile as early as the end of the month guidelines to restart operations at nuclear power stations after inspections are completed.

But will the government throw itself wholeheartedly behind the nuclear option? [Full story]

(Japan is the world's third biggest nuclear-electricity producer, after the United States and France--please see bar chart below, sorry for the blurriness. For information on Japan's nuclear crisis and its impact, please see my posts under the category/label "Japan." Clearer signals on incremental LNG demand are emerging from the two heaviest-hit Japanese power utilities: Together, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) and Tohoku Electric will need roughly 485,000 tons per month of extra LNG to offset nuclear and thermal capacity lost as a result of the Mar. 11 earthquake and tsunami. Other Japaneses utilities may also need more LNG, as safety concerns have led them to delay restarting nuclear reactors closed for maintenance---please see: "Tepco, Tohoku Outline Summer LNG Needs," World Gas Intelligence, Mar 30, 2011, here. -- D.R.)
             [Click on bar chart to enlarge]
                                           Source: World Nuclear Association via The Economist, here

Monday, March 28, 2011

Global Demand Pumps Up Australia's LNG Production

by Sarah-Jane Tasker, The Australian, Mar 9, 2011
AUSTRALIA'S liquefied natural gas production jumped 6.1 per cent [sic] last year, on the back of increasing global demand, which saw the value of exports hit a record $9.5 billion.

LNG production reached 19.8 million tonnes a year, compared with the previous year's 18.6 million tonnes, and the export value rose 24 per cent from $7.6bn, a report by energy economics group EnergyQuest revealed.

"The LNG momentum looks set to continue in 2011," EnergyQuest chief executive Graeme Bethune said.

"So far this year we have already seen another Gladstone LNG project, GLNG, in central Queensland, reaching sanction and the ConocoPhillips/Origin Energy APLNG project, also situated at Gladstone, reaching major milestones.

"Altogether, there are seven Australasian LNG projects aiming for final investment decisions in 2011, with combined capacity of around 40 million tonnes per annum." [...]

The report revealed that Australian natural gas production reached a record 1999 petajoules [some 1.8 tcf] last year [2010], up 5.1 per cent from the previous year's 1902PJ [1.7 tcf -- D.R.].

Australian domestic gas production increased 2.7 per cent to a record 1060PJ [nearly 1 tcf]. Despite the increases in production, the government's carbon tax proposal is set to have an impact on gas-fired electricity generation projects, with the uncertainty stalling the final go-ahead on plans. [...]

The results from last year also saw a turnaround in the nation's oil production, which reach 116 million barrels for the year [This was primarily owing to production from the Pyrenees, Van Gogh and Vincent oil fields, all situated off the northwest Western Australian coast -- D.R]. [Read more]

(Please see the latest EnergyQuest report here. Australia is the world's biggest coal exporter, and black coal is Australia's largest export, worth more than $A50 billion in 2008-09/year ending Jun 30. Also, Australia was the world’s fourth largest exporter of liquefied natural gas---LNG---in 2009, after Qatar, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Australia's LNG exports are expected to more than double by 2015-16, with the start-up of several major LNG projects, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences/ABARES, said in a report on Mar 1. Higher demand from consuming countries, especially China and India, in addition to Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asian countries will also boost Australia's LNG export growth. Australia plans to export more than 60 million mt of LNG by 2020, to become the world's second-biggest LNG supplier behind Qatar. On Mar 29, 2011, Australian coal seam and shale gas explorer Icon Energy signed a binding agreement to supply China's Shantou Sinogas Energy Co., Ltd with 40 million mt of LNG over 20 years from mid-2016. Australia, with its 110 trillion cubic feet---tcf---of proved gas reserves, is the twelfth largest holder of natural gas reserves in the world, as of Jan 1, 2011---please see my post "World's Top 22 Natural Gas Proven Reserve Holders, Jan 1, 2011 -- OGJ," here. Moreover, according to The Oil and Gas Journal, Australia had 110 tcf of proven natural gas reserves as of Jan 1, 2010, triple OGJ's 2009 reserves estimate of 30 tcf. The upgrade is largely a result of increased exploration and development of its unconventional as well as conventional gas sources. It has been reported that unconventional gas deposits, i.e., coal seam and shale gas deposits, have become an increasingly larger component of gas reserves due to technological advances---please see EIA's analysis here. Japan is the primary destination of Australia's LNG. Japan accounted for 65% of Australian LNG exports in 2009. Fitch Ratings says the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant could lead to a boost in Japanese demand for Australian thermal coal. An international credit-reporting agency also says increased Japanese demand for LNG could support additional LNG trains at the Browse and Pluto Basins, both offshore from northwest Western Australia. Australia was Japan's second-largest LNG supplier in 2010, after Malaysia---please see bar chart and pie chart below. Australian LNG shipments accounted for 19% of Japan's total LNG imports in 2010. For Japan's LNG imports in 2010, please see my posts here and here -- D.R.)
             [Click on bar chart to enlarge]
Source: Flower LNG via Reuters -- Reuters graphic/Stephen Culp, here. Notes: Obviously, Malaysia also includes East Malaysia/Malaysian Borneo (not indicated above). Also, the Musandam peninsula is an exclave of Oman (not indicated). Furthermore, publication date is incorrect. -- D.R. 
Source: U.S. EIA, Japan Country Analysis Brief, March 2011, here

Sunday, March 27, 2011

World Watch [Brazil as a Role Model]

by Jim Washer, London, EI
Petrobras Chief Executive José Sergio Gabrielli de Azevedo has been named by Energy Intelligence as its 2011 Petroleum Executive of the Year. The award reflects Gabrielli’s stewardship of the state-controlled Brazilian firm through a period of unprecedented growth, encompassing the discovery of huge [deep water] subsalt oil and gas reserves [in the South Atlantic]. Gabrielli’s triumph comes at an intriguing time. Political unrest in North Africa and the Middle East has left the world contemplating an oil price shock reminiscent of those of the 1970s. The price spikes of that decade prompted a radical energy policy response from some consuming countries, most notably Brazil. The government sought to protect the country from future price shocks by promoting the extensive use of sugar cane-derived ethanol in transport fuels and by making Petrobras a pioneer in deepwater exploration. If the disruption to Libyan oil and gas exports spreads to other producers in the region, the impact on energy prices may encourage other oil and gas importing nations to follow the Brazilian example.

(Under Gabrielli’s leadership, Petrobras made discoveries expected to more than double its oil reserves and production in the years to come. The company has established itself as a leader in deepwater exploration and production technology with among the highest safety and efficiency standards in the business. He also raised huge amounts of capital to fund these upstream developments and allow the state company to remain very much the dominant force in the development of Brazil’s oil industry. The Petroleum Executive of the Year selection process begins with Energy Intelligence eliciting nominations from the heads of the 100 largest oil companies determined by The Energy Intelligence Top 100: Ranking The World’s Oil Companies, an EI publication. These nominations are then voted on by a committee of previous award winners and former senior oil executives. Past winners of the Petroleum Executive of the Year Award include Andrew Gould of Schlumberger (2010), Christophe de Margerie of Total (2009), Paolo Scaroni of Eni (2008), Abdulla al-Attiyah of Qatar (2007), Dr. Shokri Ghanem of Libya (2006), Abdallah Jum'ah of Saudi Aramco (2005), David O'Reilly of Chevron (2004), Lee Raymond of ExxonMobil (2003), James J. Mulva of ConocoPhillips (2002), Sir Mark Moody-Stuart of Royal Dutch Shell (2001), Thierry Desmarest of Total (2000), Lucio A. Noto of ExxonMobil (1999), Luis Giusti of PDVSA (1998) and Lord John Browne of BP (1997)---please see EON: Enhanced Online News, here. Brazil has become a net oil exporter in the last decade. Petrobras has been ranked fourth in the Platts Top 250 Global Energy Companies Rankings 2010, behind ExxonMobil, BP and Gazprom Oao---please see my post, here. Petrobras with a market capitalization of $229 billion, ranked at No. 3 in the PFC Energy 50 Ranking of World's Top Energy Companies, Jan 2011 reflecting 2010 Rank, after ExxonMobil and PetroChina---please see my post here. Also, Petrobras retained its spot as the No. 15, in the 2011 Petroleum Intelligence Weekly's/PIW's ranking for 2009---please see my blog stand-alone page "Companies" > Petrobras. -- D.R.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

World's Top 22 Natural Gas Proven Reserve Holders, Jan 1, 2011 -- OGJ

by Aaron and David Rachovich

Estimated Proved Reserves of Natural Gas

Proved reserves
(billion cubic feet), Jan 1, 2011
Proved reserves (billion cubic feet), Jan 1, 2010
Share of  total, Jan 1, 2011
Saudi Arabia*
United States
United Arab Emirates*
Top 22 countries
Rest of world
World total
Total OPEC**

* OPEC member. Data for Kuwait and Saudi Arabia exclude one-half of the reserves in the Kuwait-Saudi Arabia Neutral Zone. Neutral Zone contains 1,000 bcf, i.e. 1 tcf, of gas reserves.
**Including also Angola, Ecuador and the Neutral Zone.
Source: "Special Report – Worldwide Look at Reserves and Production," Oil & Gas Journal, Dec 6, 2010.

(For the world's technically recoverable gas resources figure/estimate, including shale gas resources, please see my post "World Shale Gas Resources Outside US Assessed," here. Also, please see Aaron and David Rachovich, "World's Top 21 Natural Gas Producers, 2005-2010 -- BP," here and our post "World's Top 22 Proven Oil Reserves Holders, Jan 1, 2011 -- OGJ," here. Furthermore, please see "World's Top 23 Proven Oil Reserves Holders, Jan 1, 2012 -- OGJ" and "World's Top 15 Natural Gas Proven Reserve Holders, Jan 1, 2012 -- OGJ." -- D.R.)