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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Europe on energy!

What's new?
  • EU in quest to secure Middle East gas supplies
  • Greece seals pipeline agreement with Russia
  • Oil and gas firms pinned on transparency
  • Oil companies attacked for resisting climate targets
  • EU eyes offshore wind power boost
  • European fund to support post-2012 climate projects
I shortened significantly the articles so I suggest you actually read them as they are very interesting.
I personally recommend the second article, as it's very clear about the actuality of Nabucco and South Stream. They are even almost objective.
And please read the 3d article on Transparency of oil companies. It's very interesting and fun. There is a least of the most and least socially transparent companies.

EU in quest to secure Middle East gas supplies

6 May 2008

The EU is keen to secure gas supplies for its flagship Nabucco pipeline from countries in the Mashreq region, which includes Iraq, Jordan and Syria. Meanwhile Russia's participation in Nabucco, which skirts Russian territory, has effectively been ruled out.

EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs and External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner yesterday (5 May) met with representatives from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to discuss gas pipeline linkages.

While no specific deals were reached in the Mashreq talks, the EU is hoping to link up its gas grid with the Arab Gas Pipeline, which currently brings 10 billion cubic meters (BCM) of gas from Egypt through Jordan to Syria.

The Arab Gas Pipeline is set to be linked up to the Turkish gas grid by 2009, and later with the Nabucco pipeline, which is scheduled for completion by 2013(EurActiv LinksDossier). A total of 7 BCM of gas could then be sourced annually from Mashreq countries, according to the Commission.

The discussions are part of EU efforts to reduce its dependence on Russian gas supplies, and follow hot on the heels of separate talks to secure gas provision from Iraq and Turkmenistan.

Gazprom, the Russian state-owned energy monopoly, currently supplies up to 40% of the EU's natural gas demand, but that figure is set to reach 60% by 2030.

Russia "has shown no interest" in feeding its gas into Nabucco, Piebalgs told journalists in Brussels on 5 May.

Piebalgs comments were made the day after the commissioner visited Moscow for discussions on better EU-Russia energy cooperation in advance of an 8 June meeting of G8 energy ministers in Japan.source

My comment: The key word here is "Some consider South Stream to be a rival to Nabucco". Some! For me, those some are decreasing in numbers every day. Because the situations gets more and more obvious. We're tied with Russia. I'm sick of repeating that and I feel like I'm getting the wrong signal. I love Europe more than anything, but the facts are facts. We have to deal on them, not on ideology. And I find it little strange that Europe prefers Arab gas. Not that I mind it, the gas is gas, but the regions is very insecure, so it's not exactly a move that secure our supply. It's more a bluff in the face of the big R than else. But bluffs are part of the politics :)

Greece seals pipeline agreement with Russia

30 April 2008

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ending his term by sealing a deal on the South Stream gas pipeline, a project perceived as a rival to the EU's flagship Nabucco pipeline aimed at decreasing Europe's dependency on Russian gas.

Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis signed an agreement with Moscow on Tuesday (29 April) to start construction on the South Stream pipeline.

South Stream was launched in 2007 by Italy's Eni and Russia's Gazprom. It is designed to pump 30 billion cubic metres of Russian gas a year to Europe, under the Black Sea via Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Croatia to Italy. Under the plans, one of its branches will go through Hungary, which recently joined the project, and reach Austria.

Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin derided EU efforts on Nabucco. "Realising the South Stream project doesn't mean that we are fighting some other alternative project," he .

Nabucco in the doldrums

By contrast, Nabucco would bring gas from the Middle East and Asia to Europe via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. The project is geopolitically significant because it will bypass Russia, but the project, scheduled to be completed by 2013, has encountered financing problems and a lack of political will from some member states.

Russia attaches importance to the South Stream project, estimated to cost some €10 billion, because it bypasses Ukraine and would probably make Nabucco redundant.

Russian Ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov labeled the resources of Turkmenistan or Azerbaijan countries insufficient. The only way to fill the Nabucco pipeline is with Iranian gas, he said.

Russia reasserting ties with South Eastern Europe

Gazprom is also very close to finalising an energy agreement with Serbia. As part of the deal, Gazpromneft will acquire a 51% stake in Serbia's state-owned oil company, NIS, for €400 million.

Russian friendship with Greece and Serbia has historic roots. Russia's relations with EU members Hungary and Bulgaria have also perceptibly improved.

Senior EU statesman sought to head South Stream

Gazprom is also obviously looking for a senior EU statesman to head the South Stream project. Italy's outgoing prime minister, Romano Prodi, has declined Putin's offer, an Italian cabinet source recently disclosed. Such an appointment would mirror German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's appointment to Gazprom's Nord Stream pipeline.The position is still open. source

My comment: I like especially the last paragraph. I mean obviously Gazprom is not so self-obsessed as they like us to believe. It could be just a political stunt, but then, what isn't? I like this article because it's very revealing and almost objective. Especially in its Iranian part...

Oil and gas firms pinned on transparency

29 April 2008

Leading oil and gas companies do not report sufficiently about their activities in host countries, particularly on payments made to governments for resource extraction rights, leaving the door open to corruption, said Transparency International (TI) in a new report.

The 2008 Report on Revenue Transparency of Oil and Gas Companies, published on 28 April, evaluated 42 leading oil and gas firms operating in 21 countries based on publicly-available reports.

"The tragic paradox, that many resource-rich countries remain poor, stems from a lack of data on oil and gas revenues and how they are managed. Companies must do more to increase transparency," said Huguette Labelle, the chair of TI.

Foggy data has also frequently been singled out as a cause of uncertainties about future oil availability, with companies often blamed for inflating reserves. In April, the European Commission launched a public consultation on whether changes should be made to the management of emergency oil stock by EU member states (EurActiv 23/04/08).

"When companies and governments are fully transparent everyone can track revenue flows, holding public officials to account and discouraging corruption," TI said.

Companies were rated according to their reporting standards in three categories: high, middle and low.

A list of some of the state-controlled and international oil companies that were rated:

  • High: Shell, StatoilHydro, Petrobras.
  • Middle: BP, Chevron, Conoco-Phillips, Eni, Gazprom, Repsol, Sonatrach, Total.
  • Low: China National Petroleum Corportation, Exxon-Mobil, Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Lukoil, Petronas, Petroleos de Venezuela, Saudi Aramco.

According to TI, the question of transparency has never been more critical as oil prices reach record highs and industry revenues in OPEC countries alone are expected to reach nearly US$1 trillion in 2008. source

My comment: I'm kind of surprised Gazprom made it to the middle, but oh well. I can't comment that-it's too utopic. We all know what money are in the oil industries, we can't expect them to just reveal themselves. At best, they'll throw some dust in our eyes. But it's a good idea to track them. At least to know what we're dealing with. And as for the low performers, notice Lukoil :) What a surprise. Or the Saudi Aramco.

Oil companies attacked for resisting climate targets

30 April 2008

Claims made by oil companies that an EU target to slash greenhouse gases emitted during the production, transport and use of fuels by 10% by 2020 is unachievable are false, according to a new report published by green NGO Friends of the Earth.

The Commission has proposed revising its 1998 Fuel Quality Directiveexternal defining EU-wide specifications for petrol, diesel and gas oil used in transport, so as to better reflect the latest developments in fuel and engine technology and to step up the fight against climate change (EurActiv 01/02/07).

The proposed amendments would permit higher volumes of biofuels to be used in petrol and that would oblige fuel suppliers to ensure that greenhouse gases produced by their fuels throughout their life cycle (i.e. production, transport and use) are cut by 1% per year between 2011 and 2020 (Article 7a) (see LinksDossier on the Fuel Quality Directive).

The NGO insists that oil companies have the means to achieve the target, which the Commission is proposing to include in a review of its 1998 Fuel Quality Directive, even without having to resort to "harmful" biofuels.

In its report, published on 29 April, it calculates that oil companies, which have been resisting the proposal, could in fact achieve cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of between 10.5% and 15.5% through reduced gas flaring and venting, energy efficiency improvements and fuel switching in refineries. And this "without the need for agrofuels which can have negative environmental and socials impacts and have not been proven to reduce emissions overall".

"The oil industry is saying that it lacks the financial and technological resources to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions, but according to our research it has the potential to meet, and even exceed, the 10% CO2 reduction target of the directive," said Darek Urbaniak, extractive industries campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe.

Pointing to the "record profits" of over $125 billion announced by oil companies in 2007, Paul de Clerck, corporates campaigner for Friends of the Earth Europe, added: "Despite their sky-high profits oil companies are not willing to bear the costs of reducing emissions. It seems that since these investments are not profitable, companies will not make them unless they are forced by a regulatory body.""

The European oil industry association Europia has not commented directly on the report's conclusions, but it insists that the industry's efficiency record is "very good".

The group further highlights the inconsistency between promoting higher quality fuels and biofuels on the one hand and introducing a lifecycle approach on the other. Such an approach puts highly-upgraded refineries, capable of more complex conversion techniques, at a disadvantage because they are often more energy-intensive, it explains.

Europia therefore concludes that fossil fuels should, at present, be excluded from the emission reduction targets until these unresolved issues have been addressed. source

My comment:Funny, huh? If it wasn't sad. I still think EU and EC should take the hard road and make the caps obligatory for everyone and then sponsor the industry to IMPROVE(or give back the money for the improvements to the companies) the emissions of its factories. It's gonna be rough and tough, but it'll get there and everyone will end up happy. I mean if we're gonna pay the industries , because that's what we're doing one way or another, it better be for what we want and not what they want.

EU eyes offshore wind power boost

28 April 2008

The European Commission has launched a public consultation to identify key barriers to the large-scale uptake of offshore wind energy and help draw up an action plan later this year.

According to the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), offshore wind "will be one of the key components" of the delivery of the EU target to source 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The potential for offshore wind energy is considered huge, especially in the North Sea and the Atlantic where the winds are strongest and most stable. A recent Norwegian study estimated that a potential 14,000 TWh could be harvested in the waters off the Norwegian coast alone.

According to EWEA, 50 GW of offshore wind could be installed by 2020 if offshore was to grow at the same rate as onshore wind has done in the past fourteen years. However, it said this is unlikely to happen due "lead times for planning, lack of physical infrastructure, long project development times and short-term supply chain bottlenecks".

Challenges already widely known

According to De Keulenaer, the technology to build offshore wind farms is already widely available. "The issue is how you make the constructions stay where they should," he said.

Ferran Tarradellas, a spokesperson on energy at the European Commission, says there are still "many unknowns" which the consultation should help identify. Among those, he says there are still "many questions" regarding conditions of access to the power grid for renewable electricity produced from offshore wind farms.

He also says there are "many differences between EU member states" on legislation relating to environmental impact studies prior to the approval of large offshore wind projects.

At a recent conference in Norway, Hans Vestergaard, sales director at Vestas (a Danish company leading the world market for wind turbines), said permitting procedures should be made "more uniform and less time consuming within the EU". It also pleaded for "a European grid and tariff" to be applied to wind power.

Other bottlenecks identified by Vestas include the limited availability of vessels equipped with the massive cranes needed to erect the ever-larger wind turbines and the corresponding harbour facilities that are needed to equip the ships.

EWEA has long called for the EU to develop a specific policy for offshore wind. In a report published in December 2007, it said the technology was still facing "many uncertainties", including:

  • Technological development and deployment;
  • Planning and authorisation to allow large-scale wind farms to be built;
  • Developing the necessary electricity grid infrastructure, and;
  • Better integrating large-scale production of renewable electricity into the power exchange mechanisms between member states.

"If barriers are timely and adequately removed, up to 40 GW of offshore wind energy could be operating in the European Union by 2020," Blanchard said. This, he added, could supply up to 4% of Europe's electricity, "an essential contribution for the EU to reach the 20% target by 2020".source

My comment: I'm waiting to see this European Energy Grid. It sounds so cool! As for technologies-obviously they are existing, we just need the money and the will to build them.

European fund to support post-2012 climate projects

29 April 2008

The European Investment Bank (EIB) and four other public financing institutions have launched a 125 million euro fund to boost investment in clean energy projects that are to generate 'carbon credits' after 2012.

The 'Post-2012 Carbon Credit Fund', which is the first of its kind, will exclusively purchase and trade 'carbon credits' generated after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. The aim is to support the market value of environmentally worthwhile projects amid uncertainty over the actual form that the carbon credit trading regime will take after 2012.

"By assuming the inherent regulatory risk, the Fund will give a clear signal to the market of the EIB and its partners' confidence in the development of a post-Kyoto regime while directly supporting environmental projects," the group said in a statement on 28 April.

The Fund will contract credits from projects, for delivery as far away as 2022, under the Kyoto Protocol's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI) schemes, which allow industrialised nations to offset carbon emissions at home by funding "clean" projects in the developing world.

EIB President Philippe Maystadt said the fund would help the EU to remain "at the forefront of international efforts to combat climate change".

"As the EU's financing arm, our role is to support these efforts by promoting environmental lending and developing carbon markets. This fund, combined with other EIB carbon and climate change initiatives, positions the Bank as a significant contributor to global climate change efforts," he added. source

My comment: A step forward, I'd say. Although the mechanism of financing is still somewhat unclear to me. But guys-that's the making of history!

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