MonitorsPublished on Jan 05, 2010
Energy News Monitor I Volume I, Issue 29


e are interested in exporting our resources through different routes,” Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev stated during his visit to Bulgaria on November 13 (AZTV). On the same day, he paid a short working visit to Sofia to meet his counterpart Georgi Parvanov and to sign an inter-governmental agreement on the transit of Azeri gas to Europe though the Black Sea. This was the third agreement signed with a foreign country during the past month. Previous agreements were signed with Russia and Iran. Analysts believe that these latest developments hint at Baku’s plans to diversify its export options and reduce its dependence on the so-called “Turkish route” (AZTV, November 13).

For most of the 1990’s, Azerbaijan tied the export of its rich energy resources to the Turkish route. Turkey, Azerbaijan’s strategic partner, was considered to be the most reliable transit country, and thus it could reduce Baku’s dependence on Russia. As a result of this strategic vision, such pipelines as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil and Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum gas pipelines were conceived. Subsequent steps were taken to further strengthen this route by launching the construction of the Baku-Kars railroad and starting negotiations on the transit of Azeri gas from the Shah Deniz field to Europe via Turkey. Unfortunately, this is the point at which progress stopped.

Despite several years of negotiations, Azerbaijan and Turkey have failed to agree on the transit terms for Azeri gas to European markets. This disagreement centers on the transit fees that Ankara demands as well as its proposed purchase price for Azeri gas. Ankara’s price offers have proven unsatisfactory to Baku. During his October 16 cabinet meeting, President Aliyev once again highlighted the remaining disagreements with Turkey and indicated that Azerbaijan would start looking for alternative options to export gas.

Following the agreement with Gazprom to export 500 million cubic meters (mcm) of Azerbaijan gas to Russia on an annual basis, a similar agreement was signed with the Iranian National Gas company on November 11. According to that agreement, Azerbaijan will sell 500 mcm of gas to Iran annually starting from 2010. Both agreements do not exclude later increases in the volume if agreed by the contracting parties (Trend Capital, November 11).

As for Bulgaria, Azerbaijan plans to export its gas through the Black Sea in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The agreement envisages exporting 1 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Azeri gas to Bulgaria. According to Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister Natig Aliyev, special tankers will be needed for that purpose (ANS TV, November 14; EDM, November 16). Baku will also need to agree transit prices with Tbilisi and extend the existing Georgian gas pipeline network to the Black Sea coast. These latest developments send a strong signal from Baku to Ankara that Azerbaijan is unwilling to wait indefinitely for a breakthrough in Turkish-Azerbaijani negotiations on gas prices and transit fees. For Azerbaijan’s government, gas is principally a commercial deal. Those who offer the best price package will most likely receive Azeri gas. This disagreement with Turkey, however, casts doubt on the fate of the Nabucco pipeline.

Azeri gas is essential for the successful implementation of Nabucco. It will not be sufficient to offer only Azeri gas, but once the pipeline is built and operational with the help of Azeri gas, then other countries, such as Turkmenistan, Iran and Iraq could also join this pipeline. Turkey and Iran have signed a deal on the exploration of the Iranian gas field “South Pars” by the Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO). If implemented, despite pressure from Washington, this project increases the chances for Turkey to become an energy hub for Iranian gas to E.U. However, without Azeri gas, Nabucco is unlikely to start and thus the whole E.U. project on the “Southern Corridor” for gas supplies to Europe would be permanently shelved.

In the 1990’s, “diversification of export routes in the South Caucasus” meant building new pipelines that avoided Russia. Now, the reverse is true. Azerbaijan is looking for a Russian option as well as others to resolve its “export” problem for gas from Shah Deniz field. This field is planning to drastically increase its output in the next few years. According to Murad Heydarov, advisor to the president of Azerbaijan’s State Oil Company (SOCAR), over the next decade, Baku plans to increase its gas production to the level of 50 bcm annually (, October 8). Thus, an urgent export route is needed for Azerbaijan.

The small-volume contracts signed with Iran and Russia are insufficient to solve Azerbaijan’s export route problems. But perhaps, they might send the necessary signal to Ankara that Baku does have other export options. It would sour relations between the two fraternal countries if eventually, as a result of the Turkish-Azeri disagreement, Azeri gas reaches Europe via Russia or more realistically via a Russian-Turkish pipeline, but at a much higher price for Turkey than what Azerbaijan currently offers.

Views are those of the author

You can reach the author at [email protected]

Courtesy: Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 212, November 17, 2009


Energy in India’s Future: Insights (part –XIV)

Jacques Lesourne and William C. Ramsay*

Continued from Volume VI, Issue No. 28…


urrently only 44% of Indian households have access to electrical services, with erratic supply (NCAER 2007, Chapter 3). This implies that of all people worldwide who do not have electricity, 35% live in India alone—576 million people (Modi 2005). Poor states of India like Bihar (5%), Jharkhand (9%), Orissa (19%) and the northeastern states have very low access rates for electricity (Appendix B, Table B6). On the other hand many of the poor are denied subsidized kerosene supplies, which is their main source of lighting in rural areas and cooking in urban areas.

Lack of access to modern energy like liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for cooking and electricity for lighting, seriously affects the health and education of children and women. This is due to respiratory diseases (Parikh et al. 2001 and Duflo et al. 2008) caused by burning of biofuel in very inefficient stoves, particularly indoors. Children’s education is hampered due to the time spent in finding fuel for cooking and by lack of illumination from kerosene fueled lamps. Therefore, the absence of modern energy supply to rural areas is at the heart of the economic exclusion of large sections of the population. Access to energy services has never been a fully integrated component of the reforms in the energy sector.

Reforms are mainly focused on market development and privatization so that budgetary deficits can be arrested. One can only expect economic disparities to widen under such a policy regime. Economically well-off families make use of their access to modern energy services for further economic emancipation while families without such services remain locked in a subsistence economy (Figure 12). Thus real access to MES can be seen as an instrument for leveling the playing field between the rich and the poor.


The disparity between rural and urban households’ access to electricity along the socioeconomic class in rural areas corresponds well with income inequality. It is hard to figure out the mechanisms through which overall growth can ensure access to electricity for such households who are largely excluded from the mainstream economic process of the nation in the absence of an explicit policy for access to modern energy services (Figure 12. See also Table B2 through Table B5 in Appendix B for more information). The disparity along the socioeconomic class lines in access to LPG for cooking is quite high in urban areas while in rural areas it is simply absent. Whatever access to LPG exists in rural areas, it exists among the richest classes. The average level of access in rural areas is quite low (8.6% of the households) compared to urban areas (57.1% of the households).

Figure 12. Socioeconomic disparities in access to electricity and LPG



Source: NSSO (2007).

Under the current policy regime it is difficult to see how such a large population can be connected to MES in a sustainable way without a conscious and effective policy mechanism.

In a nutshell, in an economy where there is still scarcity of economic resources there is a tacit alliance between what we could call “new proprietory classes” (as Bardhan, 1984, used to call the equilibrium post independence in his classical piece of analysis). The industrial and new urban elites tolerate the long association of some middlemen with the local structures of the state as long as they have the possibility to tap global resources. For their part, the traditional middlemen have allowed liberalization in as long as their old sources of income are not altered. We wish to underline here that these dimensions are neither the classical “lobbying” forms one would find in any country, nor do they reach the depths of a predatory economy. It is important to realize that they are very much in tune with one characteristic of the national construction of a modern, post-independence India: establishing democracy in a hierarchical society of communities. India has of course changed a lot, but to bridge the gap between a “one person, one vote” system at the head of the country and the “one community, one voice” at its roots, there has been the need for this kind of quid pro quo (the reader may refer to references such as Corbridge and Harriss [2000] for further general outlook and consequences).


These issues are further complicated by interstate disparities. The interstate Gini income inequalities coefficient went from 20.2 in 1980 to 29.2 in 200011 (Quan 2007). This is related to the concentration of investments in a few large states as well as the concentration of remaining large pockets of poverty in only six states. Certainly it is no surprise to find Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan—given their high population growth and endemic poverty—among the six states. But it is more surprising to find among them Western Bengal, which underwent a major agrarian reform under its communist regime and today is starting to attract investors. More surprising still is the state of Maharashtra, which for a long time was the first destination for both FDI and national industrial investment and which still today is among the leading recipients (see Table B1 to Table B5 in Appendix B for disparities in access to electricity). A representation by district would show a high contrast between the very rich western part of Maharashtra and the very poor and isolated northeast, or even the eastern districts of this fairly developed state which is, nevertheless, threatened by an unprecedented economic and social crisis in agriculture (the Indian rural milieu is experiencing a crisis unknown in human history, with 100,000 suicides among peasants in 10 years). This “fracture” in India overlaps a very clear-cut geographic reality between the country’s northeast (except for Punjab, Haryana and Delhi) on the one hand, and the west and south on the other. The former group of states is in a process of demographic growth which, although slowing, remains very high. The fertility rate remains very high (usually about 3.5 and often close to or exceeding 5) as opposed to the south (in most districts, it is lower than 3, and often 2), where the literacy rate is very low, especially among women. In corollary, the capacity to engage in economic development that would “absorb” the demographic transition is very unevenly distributed. This capacity is well measured by the “dependency ratio” (nonworking population—children or elderly—to working population), with variations as high as 100%. A state such as Bihar, already the most densely populated in India, continues to have a dependency ratio of 0.95, which is characteristic of underdevelopment, compared to states such as Kerala or Tamil Nadu, where the ratio holds steady at 0.56, in other words a rate closer to that of developed countries.

A local combination of low GDP per capita and high density has made for deforestation and a high ecological footprint, with pressure on remaining forests and biomass and the over-use of traditional energies over modern energies.

Figure 13 summarizes several disparities in terms of income, electricity intensity, and the quality of governance of State Electricity Boards (usually a good proxy for public governance as a whole). It also shows the kind of “fragmentation” the national system is likely to undergo as different states are being reformed through funding and methods of different agencies: the world bank, the Power Finance Corporation of the Government of India, and the Asian Bank of Development.

Disparities in access, environmental unsustainability and underdevelopment: Renewable energy as the way out

Nearly the whole of India (92% of the households) uses cooking sources that are very inefficient, causing significant local and global emissions (refer to Figure 12).

Meeting the energy needs of these rural areas of India through solar energy for lighting and biomass for cooking is a quite attractive proposal, as a good amount of sunlight is available all around the country (Sharma 2007). The current policy regime looks at renewable energy resources as a last resort to provide access to MES in cases where it is not possible to extend the grid. But quantitative estimates of Nouni et al. (2008) show that renewable energy projects become economically viable even if grid extension is required by only 2 km. Cust et al. (2007) provide a detailed review and their own estimates on competitiveness of various renewable energy technology options for rural electrification in India. In our view, the cost effectiveness of grid electricity for villages must be put to test, especially in the context of a lack of metering to monitor the consumption, or lack of competent administration (institutional costs) and often very thin and scattered load patterns (physical costs) in rural areas. Village electrification is in fact not a one-shot investment, but a recurring problem either because electricity distribution network wires and transformers remain dysfunctional for very long periods of time or are stolen after implementation. And when rural electrification works, it becomes a playground of the corrupt employees and consumers (Ruet 2005). This aspect of village electrification is never taken into account. On the other hand, these costs do not exist with locally supplied MES. Thus, dividends from renewable sources are enormous once the technologies are standardized and customized for Indian conditions, and once financing mechanisms are in place. Innovative business and financing models are needed to deal with high upfront cost of installing renewable energy technologies based MES facilities for the poor.12 Peoples’ frustration with current grid supplied electricity has led to the emergence of small shops of solar panels without much government effort in small towns of many states. In addition to this, there are a few civil society and business organizations involved in providing MES to the rural population using these renewable energy technologies, or RETs.13

Figure 13. State distribution income per capita, average electricity consumption and governance of State Electricity Boards Assessing Income Level

Net State Domestic Product and Electric Consumption

Figures © P. Chapelet, J. Ruet, 2004 Made with the help of Philcarto: Figure sources: Net State Domestic Product, source:, Rajya Sabha Unstarred Question No. 2028, dated 11.03.2003; Electricity Consumption, source:, Lok Sabha, Unstarred Question No. 2800, dated 17.8.2004; State-wise Rating Score of State Electricity Boards/Utilities by CRISIL (Credit Rating Information Services of India Ltd.) / ICRA (Investment Information and Credit Rating Agency Ltd.), source:, Lok Sabha Starred Question No. 330, dated 13.03.2003; Funding Agency, source: interviews,,, Power Finance Corporation Ltd.,

Source: Ruet (2005) (© P. Chapelet and J. Ruet), and CRISIL

Figure 13 (continued). State distribution income per capita, average electricity consumption and governance of State Electricity Boards Assessing Governance

SEBs Rating and Funding Agencies for Reforms

We have included cases when state agencies have not been engaged, whether an agreement has been signed or not, and whether agreements have been terminated later or not. Figures © P. Chapelet, J. Ruet, 2004 Made with the help of Philcarto:

Source: Ruet (2005) (© P.Chapelet and J.Ruet), and CRISIL

As far as energy is concerned, there is no straightforward conclusion to be drawn for India. Its problems are complex, but increasing supplies of energy sources will be necessary to provide access to those who need it to improve human development. Access to energy is not only determined by its physical availability, but is also differentiated by power relations inherent in a variety of social constructions including gender (Clancy et al. 2007). Ensuring supply is sufficient for GDP growth is one thing, but that may not improve the human development index (HDI) score of India (Figure 14). Assuming the HDI to be a better indicator of human welfare, its relationship with energy consumption becomes an important question. A handful of scholars (Pasternak [2000], Garcia [2006], Dias et al. [2006], Joyeux and Ripple [2007] and Martinez and Ebenhack [2008]) have addressed it and found a very high degree of positive relationship. The general lessons from these studies are:

1. For the poorest people and countries, small increments in basic energy services have led to dramatic increases in the HDI (UNDP 200414).

2. Once basic needs are met, the relative impact lessens. In other words, little improvement to human welfare can be achieved by greater energy consumption patterns at very high HDI score levels.

3. Impacts will be more profound if the energy is delivered through modern/commercial services like piped gas and electricity instead of traditional bio fuels.

The Government of India’s latest report on integrated energy policy (GoI 2006 p.2–3) also shows a linear relation between electricity/primary energy consumption and GDP, while the relationship between energy/electricity consumption and HDI score is of the kind mentioned above.

It is difficult to justify the massive GDP growth of India if it does not lead to dramatic improvement in HDI score or reduction in poverty and hunger (Table 20). Even if it is not energy efficient, China’s HDI score has accelerated to catch up with Brazil, while India’s HDI score gap with China has widened (Figure 14). The rise of malnourished people in this high growth period is quite contrary to what one would expect (Table 20). These are the real concerns that Indian policy makers and the international community should address.

India is faced with the challenge of simultaneously tackling the one-third of the developing world’s poor living within its borders (456 million, 2005 estimate), limiting its local and global emissions so that it does not adversely affect the sustainability of the earth, and still providing a healthy environment for its own people. This challenge gets more difficult given the massive lack of access to MES: 576 million Indians lack electricity (lighting) and 782 million people lack proper cooking arrangement.15 Providing MES to such a huge population will only increase the environmental challenge until we make greater use of renewable energy technologies.

Figure 14. Comparative human development index in China, India and Brazil

HDI Score Over Time

Source: World Bank.

This relationship conveys an important message for countries with HDI scores like India’s. This means that dramatic improvement in HDI score of India can be achieved through a slight increase in the per capita energy consumption, provided that access to MES is extended to the population at large—in a manner comparable to those of developed countries.       

Pressure to increase its energy supplies and the consequent negative environmental impact of fossil fuels has led India to a conscious policy toward renewable sources. In fact, India is an exception in having a solely dedicated ministry and a financing institution16 for the development of renewable energy. While India has yet to utilize its large potential of renewable energy (Table 21), having these institutions in place will act as catalyst in the process of future development. Total installed capacity for renewables in electricity generation is around 9.5 GW (6.1% of the total installed capacity in the country).

This sector assumes importance because it has the potential to meet household electricity demand for rural India particularly as stand alone systems. This will reduce the massive problems faced by utilities and rural consumers because of the centralized nature of grid based energy supply in rural India. SEBs have not been able to reach 44% of the Indian households more than 60 years after India’s independence. This becomes much more disappointing when we look at such a level of deprivation against the governments of India’s target to electrify all households by the end of the year 2012. On the other hand, rural supply of electricity is the most important contributor to the losses of SEBs. The government is trying to promote renewable sources of energy through various financial incentives in terms of high depreciation rate for capital invested, interest rate discounts for loans and price subsidies at the time equipment is purchased. But all these incentives are so complex and information-intensive that end users hardly have any idea about such incentives schemes17. The main impediments to the progress of these technologies are the common citizen’s lack of knowledge about its proper functioning, and the high upfront cost of these technologies. In addition to this, transmission utilities are directed to give access to their grid to renewable generators at a lower rate for the purpose of transmitting power and third party sales of power. India should make the maximum use of research and development capacities available around the world and domestically in this field so that the upfront costs of implementing these technologies could be reduced. This has been rightly addressed by the National Action Plan on Climate Change prepared by the prime minister’s council on climate change (GoI 2008).

The problem with this industry is that the potential demand lies in a population which is predominantly poor. The problem does not lie in the inability of the poor to pay for the operating costs but due to the lack of innovative financial instrument through which large upfront cost of implementing the technology could be accumulated by potential customers demanders or loaned to them with sufficiently low risk of default. On the other hand the large sums of R&D expenditure in this sector are bound to yield reductions of the upfront costs. Cust et al. (2007) give a detailed survey of literature on the costs of different RETs options and their own estimates. It is claimed that the unit cost of grid based supply electricity increases by one rupee per kilometer. Therefore, as the distance of village to be electrified increases, so does the viability of RET based options. This issue is largely unsolved and is critically at the center of the demo-energetic equation of India. Some new developments occur in this field, such as the role local entrepreneurs play (described later in this chapter), but they still need to be generalized across the economy.

After this micro look at the nitty-gritty of the local level and the potential for change, we now return to the larger picture.

Appendix B




























Electricity certainly being the sector where the bulk of the reforms are going the slowest, we suggest here some more detailed recommendations for reform.

The box below lists a number of reforms that have been recommended, as a desirable set by a group of experts from CSH (New Delhi), IIMs Ahmedabad and Bangalore, IIT Kanpur, XIM Bhubaneshwar, ASCI and IPE Hyderabad in Ruet (2003). Reforms that have been introduced since then are in parentheses.

Box B1

The proposals are grouped by operational, managerial, and regulatory measures, and provide a self-consistent framework for reform. Most of them are viable in themselves. Together, they provide positive externalities and virtuous circles, and are definitely profitable.

A – Operation/Technical

• Formulate technical standards and norms of specifications of the materials and operation (good progress on this).

• Institutionalize metering for all consumers, and convert billing on average into billing on actuals (completed, officially but slow progress).

• Outsource auxiliary services (very limited experiments).

• Promote demand side management (limited funding schemes).

• Develop benchmarking techniques for evaluation of SEBs efficiency (not really attempted yet).

B – Management

• Develop and clarify implementation of internal audit (very limited progress).

• Establish clear internal guidelines on duties and responsibilities, and develop the commercial function at the divisional level (with few exceptions, very limited progress).

• Develop viable business units based on the concepts of decentralization and profit centers (with few unsustained exceptions, no progress).

• Strengthen and actually implement a delegation of power in the use of resources (with few exceptions, very limited progress).

• Amend the electricity bill to appoint a majority of external and professional directors for the board (not done).

. Appoint a director to represent the consumers (not done).

• If privatization is thought of, prefer management contract with specific legal and financial provisions on hiring external people and commitment of financial resources to optimize revenues (this idea not picked up).

C - Regulation and institutional environment

• Promote open access and wholesale competition on multi-buyer model (many openings toward this).

    • Remove current distortion between NTPC and IPPs in financial returns and guarantees (done),

    • Review guarantees for IPPs, create an environment where IPPs will be glad to take the business risks (done).

    • Encourage Regulatory Commissions to go for price based regulation rather than cost based regulation (or the RPI minus X variety), and explore other market based pricing mechanisms (good progress, though piecemeal).

    • Encourage Regulatory Commissions to give multi-year formula and rules in tariffs fixing (some good initiatives).

    • Assess the feasibility and merits of direct subsidies (still a risky debate).

These measures are designed to offer a specific advantage if seen as a unity. The technical measures aim at ensuring quick visible results for the consumer and the SEBs’ agents, to generate a supportive atmosphere for the reforms, and allow both managerial and regulatory measures. The managerial proposal will give the powers and means to Field agents for implementing these technical and commercial measures in the most targeted manner. Also, a phased delegation of power will ultimately free the boardsof the day to day problems and allow them to concentrate on restructuring issues and evolution of the managerial organization, as well as evaluation of technical schemes. In addition to the structure, sound dialogue on losses reduction and actual competition in a fair environment are promoted. Under a clear and lasting framework, this allows for benchmarking and transparent evaluation of delegation schemes, along with the afferent incentives, for both the board and the field officers.

One sees that, in the 2000s, though the sectoral reform has been seen in a more integrated fashion, from generation to distribution, there is still a bias toward technological and market-oriented solutions without clearly realizing, that, however desirable they might be, they cannot fully develop in the absence of preliminary or complementary managerial reforms in the public companies, or electricity boards.


11. The increase in Chinese interstate Gini income inequalities for the corresponding period was of only one percentage point, from 23.6 to 24.5.



14. 20Energy%20draft%203%20format.doc

15. This number is arrived at after considering LPG and kerosene as MES for cooking.

16. This financial institution is registered as Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) Ltd. Since 1987 and operates under the administrative control of Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE).

17. This is based on the coauthor’s own experience in planning a solar-based lighting system for the school of his home village.


* Editors



to be continued…



Note: Part V of the article on Oil & Gas Discovery & Production in India: Historical Milestones, part XIII of the article on Gas in India – Issues, Opportunities and Challenges and part VIII of the article on Climate and the Clash between the Diversely Developed will be published in Volume VI, Issue 30






Petrobras to exit ONGC’s gas block

January 4, 2010. Brazil’s Petrobras had decided to quit Oil and Natural Gas Corp’s (ONGC) prolific gas discovery block in the Krishna-Godavari basin, a vacancy that Royal Dutch/Shell and BP are keen to fill in. Petrobras, Brazil’s state-controlled oil firm wants to offload its 15% stake in KG-DWN-98/2 to ONGC, as it wants to concentrate on developing massive oil and gas finds back home, a top official said. The vacancy may not last long, as Shell and BP have expressed interest in taking the stake in the block that sits next to Reliance Industries’ giant KG-DWN-98/3 or KG-D6 block off the east coast.  Shell has offered technology to convert natural gas into liquid (liquefied natural gas) at a floating offshore facility at the deepsea and then transporting the fuel in ships to the shore. BP, on the other hand, has offered the conventional technology of producing gas at an offshore platform and then transporting it to land through under-sea pipelines.

Reliance proposes $1.5 bn more investment in KG-D6

January 4, 2010. Reliance Industries has proposed to invest an additional $ 1.5 billion in bringing to production four gas discoveries adjoining its prolific gas fields in Krishna-Godavari basin in the country's east coast.  RIL had in July 2008 proposed to develop nine satellite discoveries in the Krishna Godavari basin block at a cost of $ 5.91 billion, but later narrowed it down to four finds that can be put to production in the next 4-5 years. The company submitted a field development plan (FDP) to the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) for the four discoveries that it estimates hold 0.6 trillion cubic feet of recoverable reserves, government sources said.

ONGC draws a blank in Kerala-Konkan

December 30, 2009. ONGC returns empty handed from its high cost ultra-deepwater drilling campaign in the Kerala-Konkan basin. Though the estimated project cost was pegged at Rs 4 bn, sources say that the actual cost may be higher due to time overrun. The upstream oil major has drilled 12 dry exploratory wells in the shallow and deepwater parts of the basin since 1977.  On August 1, ONGC launched a one well drilling programme in a NELP-IV deepwater block KG-DWN-2002/3. ONGC holds 80 per cent operating stake in the block and its consortium partner, HPCL, has 20 per cent participatory interest. According to ONGC, the drilling was scheduled to be over in 100 days.  Ultra deepwater drill ship DD-KG1 hired at a cost of $510,000 a day was mobilised to carry out the exploration at the well (KK4C-Fan A) located 70 nautical miles from the coasts of Kerala at a water depth of over 2,000 metres. In the exploration parlance water depth of over 1,500 metres is referred as ultra-deepwater.

ONGC hits paydirt at new well in Tripura

December 30, 2009. India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has struck a new gas well at Sundaribari in South Tripura district, official sources said. It is reported that the gas reserve is huge and the discovery would form a considerable reserve base of hydrocarbon which would also cater to the needs of supplying gas to the 740 MW gas-based thermal plant at Palatan in South Tripura district.  The thermal project would be completed by 2012. Tripura Asset of ONGC has set a target of 6 million cubic meters of gas production per day which would be completed by three phases and Rs 19.46 billion (US $417.96 million) has already been sanctioned by ONGC board for the first phase to be completed by 2011-12.


MRPL to invest Rs 86.55 bn more in M'lore

January 5, 2010. Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) will invest Rs. 86.55 bn to set up an oil refinery project at a cost of in Dakshina Kannada. The MRPL has already set up a mega oil refinery plant near Bajpe airport in Mangalore and now it has decided to add one more unit there. The State High-Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC) presided by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa cleared the investment. The SHLCC has also cleared a total of 38 projects with an investment of Rs. 1,383.2271 bn which is the highest ever volume of investments cleared in a single day in the state.

Crude oil imports rise 6.1 pc in Nov

January 4, 2010. Driven by higher demand, the domestic oil product sales in November 2009 rose 3.7 per cent from a year earlier. While crude oil imports rose 6.1 per cent, import of petroleum products fell by 30 per cent during the month under review.  According to the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) industry performance analysis (provisional), the oil product consumption in November stood at 11.32 million tonne (mt), up from 10.92 mt in the corresponding month the previous year. Diesel sales continued to be robust in November, seeing a 5.6 per cent jump year-on-year to 4.715 mt. Petrol sales rose 11 per cent to 1.02 mt. Crude oil imports rose 6.1 per cent to 10.50 mt, as the domestic refiners processed more crude during the month under review.  Oil product imports fell 30 per cent to 913,200 tonne. Exports of oil products fell 23.8 per cent to 2.49 mt. The data does not include imports and exports by Reliance Industries' new 580,000 bpd export-oriented refinery at Jamnagar, Gujarat.

Policy / Performance

Cabinet likely to decide new price of ethanol this month

January 5, 2010. The union cabinet is likely to fix the new price of ethanol, required for blending with petrol to cut down on emissions, later this month.  The Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah said that the proposal for paying Rs.26-27 per litre of ethanol will be discussed in the next cabinet meeting (later this month).  According to him, the government will increase the blending level of ethanol with petrol from 5 percent to 10 percent by next year to cut down emission levels. The minister said the use of bio-energy and renewable energy such as solar power, hydel power and hydro power would help the country come out of its energy crisis.

Pay a premium to get LPG cylinders at odd hours

January 2, 2010. Oil companies will soon launch a premium cooking gas delivery service for working couples in metros and major cities that will ensure supply of refills even at odd hours. Gas agencies such as Indane and Bharatgas are gearing up to serve cooking gas refills even at 9 pm. The premium service may cost Rs 25-50 per cylinder, and could be launched as early as this month in certain localities. The service will save valuable time of working couples and save them from unnecessary anxiety. Gas agencies say that according to consumer feedback, one of the working couple has to take a half-day off to take the delivery of refills.  At present oil companies are serving about 11 crore cooking gas customers across the country. About 83% of cooking gas connections are in urban areas. The government plans to raise the consumer base to 15 crore customers in the next five years with major emphasis on rural areas. 

Plan to set up 1000 gas filling stations across India in 3 yrs

January 1, 2010. The Indian Auto Gas company, engaged in distributing LPG for automobiles, plans to set up 1,000 gas filling stations across the country over a three year period at a cost of Rs 7 bn.  The company, which now has 30 outlets on the outskirts of Chennai, would add the remaining 970 outlets by the year 2013.  90 per cent of these outlets would be franchise based and the remaining, company owned. Agreements had already been signed with 13 companies in this regard.

Oil & gas regulator slaps notice on Centre, PSUs on fuel pricing

January 1, 2010. The oil & gas sector regulator has sent notices to the government and state-run oil companies IOC, BPCL and HPCL for selling petrol and diesel below the cost following the directions of an appellate tribunal. The notice is served on the basis of Section 11(a) of the Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) Act that says the board shall protect the interests of consumers by fostering fair trade and competition among the entities. Under-pricing of auto fuels by public sector oil marketing companies (OMCs) has put private oil companies Reliance Industries (RIL), Shell India and Essar Oil out of fuel retail business. The government is taking the opinion of legal experts and may approach an appropriate court, the oil ministry official said.

FIPB rejects Southern CNG proposal

December 31, 2009. The Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) has rejected Southern CNG Automobiles India’s proposal to set up compressed natural gas (CNG) or Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) conversion workshop and refuelling stations in West Bengal.  FIPB, the nodal government body that clears foreign investment proposals into the country, rejected the proposal on recommendation of Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas who was of the view that unavailability of gas in the region has rendered the project technically unviable.  Southern CNG Automobiles India was set up in August 2008 to set up gas filling stations in West Bengal. Bangladesh-based Southern Automobiles, which operates CNG filling stations in major cities across Bangladesh, holds 70% stake in the company. The balance 30% stake is held by Indian residents — Sotunu Mukherjee and Mainak Nath.



Bharat Forge to invest Rs 15 bn in non-auto biz

January 4, 2010. Bharat Forge Ltd plans to invest Rs 15 bn to expand its non-automotive business.  Mr Baba N. Kalyani, Chairman and Managing Director of Bharat Forge, said the investments will be made over the next three years. He said that the fund will be raised partly through internal accruals and the balance through debt and equity. For Bharat Forge, which had a turnover of Rs 48.50 bn in last fiscal, about 80 per cent of the revenue comes from its supply of equipment to automotive manufacturers and engine makers while the rest comes from non-automotive sectors. Bharat Forge is now setting up a power equipment manufacturing plant jointly with French company Alstom at Mundra in Gujarat to manufacture turbines and generators up to 800 MW capacity. The Mundra facility targets business from the nuclear power sector as the country is gearing up to set up many more nuclear power plants.

GVK to take up expansion at two power projects

January 1, 2010. GVK Power and Infrastructure Ltd will take up a 400-MW expansion project at Jegurupadu and an 800-MW scheme at Gauthami, both in Andhra Pradesh. Gas-based projects at Jegurupadu and Gauthami are functioning at full capacity from the gas supplied for the KG Basin fields.

Jindals to plug into power-packed plan

January 1, 2010. Jindal Power Ltd, which plans to raise Rs 72 bn through an initial public offering, wants to be an integrated energy player, offering transmission, distribution and trading services, apart from generation, captive fuel supplies and mining. Jindal Power — a subsidiary of Jindal Steel & Power Ltd — has been engaged in the generation business since December 2007. The company runs a 1,000 mega watt (MW) thermal power project near Raigarh in Chhattisgarh. This is the country’s first mega power project. It is now implementing another 2,400 MW project at an adjacent site.  While work on the 4x600 MW coal-based project is progressing well, the company is gearing up to commission two more thermal power projects and three hydroelectric ones with an aggregate installed generation capacity of 8,080 MW.  The two thermal power projects, in Jharkhand, are the 1,320 MW project at Dumka and a 660 MW project at Godda.

Coal shortage continues to haunt thermal power projects

December 31, 2009. Coal shortage continued to hit the power sector as 11 electricity generation projects received less dry fuel in November. Power projects in the western and the eastern belt were the worst sufferers of insufficient supply of the fuel leading to critical coal stock position at the generating stations, as per the data by the Central Electricity Authority. The 1,200 MW Pathadi project in Chhattisgarh, the 1,470 MW Wanakbori project (Gujarat), the 1,980 MW Koradi Dhanu project (Maharashtra) and Amarkantak (MP) in the western region witnessed critical coal stocks (reserves for less than seven days) in November, the data said.  Patratu (840 MW), Tenughat (420 MW) in Jharkhand, Bandel (530 MW), DPL, Kolaghat (420 MW) in West Bengal and Obra (UP) in north India had less than a week’s stock of coal last month.

Suryachakra bid to raise funds

December 31, 2009. Suryachakra Power Corporation Ltd has informed the BSE that a meeting of the company's board of directors will be held to consider and approve the issue of Foreign Currency Convertible Bonds (FCCBs) for an aggregate sum not exceeding $100 million to the foreign investors. The company has embarked on major expansion plan for its solar business and is also finalising work for coal-based power project.

NTPC starts generation at new north India power plant

December 30, 2009. NTPC Ltd., India’s biggest power utility, said its new coal-fired unit at Dadri in northern India started generating electricity on Dec. 25, helping ease power shortages in the nation’s capital New Delhi. The new unit, which has a capacity of 490 megawatts, is the fifth at the company’s plant at Dadri, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the capital. It will supply power to New Delhi ahead of the Commonwealth Games next year, NTPC said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange. Reliance Power started producing power at its first plant at Rosa, 350 kilometers east of New Delhi on Dec. 29.

GAIL to give letters assuring gas supply to power projects

December 30, 2009. In a significant development, the government has asked state-run gas utility GAIL India Ltd to extend 'comfort letters' assuring fuel supplies to upcoming gas-based power projects so that the projects get financing. As per the new dispensation, GAIL would assure gas supplies when the projects become operational but the price would be the prevalent market rates, top sources said. Some developers had said they could not begin work on projects in the absence of a bankable gas supply contract and the new arrangement would help them get finances from banks and financial institutions. Upon completion of the power plants, the government will allocate fuel to them from domestic fields like those of Reliance Industries' eastern offshore KG-D6. In case domestic gas was not available, GAIL would import liquefied natural gas (LNG) and supply it to them at market rates.

Transmission / Distribution / Trade

Long wait to plug into open access system

January 1, 2010. A large part of the electricity produced in the country is wasted because of the fragmented transmission and distribution network. To date, applications seeking open access for over 17,000 mw have been submitted, but implementation has been as low as 1,600 mw. These too have been largely for captive power, according to the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission.

Policy / Performance

Power cos may be told to tread green path

January 4, 2010. The government is likely to make the energy-efficient supercritical technology mandatory for all future power projects as part of its efforts to contribute significantly towards global efforts to contain emission of greenhouse gases. The government wants all power plants coming up from 13th Five-Year Plan (2017-22) onwards to be based on supercritical technology. A new policy in this regard may be announced soon to make advance preparations for new power projects that are being proposed by the Centre, states and the private sector. Coal-fired power plants based on supercritical technology are less polluting than conventional plants. These plants have energy efficiency as high as 45 per cent as opposed to 30-32 per cent for conventional plants. This helps reduce coal consumption and thereby the release of harmful gases into the atmosphere.

JSW Energy plans Rs 400 bn investment to develop 8 GW

January 4, 2010. JSW Energy Ltd, the first company to list on the bourses in 2010, plans to invest nearly Rs 400 bn to develop 8,000 MW of power projects. The company is implementing projects worth 3,200 MW in Maharashtra, 1,320 MW in Chhattisgarh and 1,600 MW in West Bengal. It plans to become an over 11,000 MW company by 2015.  JSW Energy, which raised about Rs 27 bn through an Initial Public Offer (IPO) held last month, will utilise the issue proceeds to fund expansion, repay debt and for general corporate purposes.  JSW Energy, which has an installed capacity of 995 MW, is setting up a 860 MW plant in Vijaynagar (Karnataka) and 130 MW plant in Barmer (Rajasthan).  The company has 2,790 MW capacity of projects under construction and implementation stage.

Nuclear Liability Bill not discriminatory, says Kakodkar

January 4, 2010. The Nuclear Liability Bill, which is expected to be taken up by Parliament shortly, is not discriminatory and is in line with international practice, says Dr Anil Kakodkar, former Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission. Dr Kakodkar noted that companies that put up nuclear power projects would naturally want to limit their liability. He said that India is in the process of joining the Convention for Supplementary Compensation (CSC).  Under this Convention, in case a nuclear accident happens, liabilities beyond a certain limit would be shared by all the members of the Convention – a kind of an insurance policy. Dr Kakodkar said that the Liability Act in conjunction with membership of the Convention would adequately protect India's interests.

UDP treads warily on hydel power projects

January 3, 2010. The United Democratic Party, the second major coalition partner in the Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government, has adopted a cautious approach on the cabinet’s decision to hand over two major power projects to private companies. On December 21, the cabinet decided to hand over Kynshi Stage I and Kynshi Stage II hydel power projects, both above 100MW capacity, to private companies Athena Private Ltd and Jaypee Group. The leader of the Opposition and NCP legislator Conrad Sangma said the government should not take a hasty decision on handing over these projects to private companies.

DVC may mop up Rs 6.4 bn thru bond issue

January 3, 2010. After nearly seven years, Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) will enter the domestic debt market with a bond issue shortly, mostly probably this month. The seven-year bond issue is expected to mop up Rs 6.4 bn through book building method to part fund a number of generation and transmission and distribution projects already on stream.  According to sources, though the actual issue size is Rs 5 bn, the corporation is hopeful of mopping up another Rs 1.4 bn by exercising the green-shoe option.

Programme to provide 24-hour power to rural areas in Karnataka

January 2, 2010. A programme aimed at providing 24 hours' power supply to rural areas would be formally launched in July, Karnataka energy minister KS Eswarappa said. The state government would invest Rs21 bn for the Niranthara Jyothi programme in two phases. In the first phase, Rs12.02 bn would be spent for 76 talukas, while for the second phase, Rs9.2 bn would be spent for 56 talukas.  During 2010, the state would add 2000-mw additional power, out of which 600 mw would come from Nagarjuna Power Project in Udupi, 250 mw from Raichur Thermal Power Station and 500 mw from non-conventional sources, the minister said. The state would also make efforts to procure more power from the central grid. Currently, out of the 1534 mw allocated, the state received only 1000 mw, he said.

Court stays revocation of Chenab hydro project to L&T

January 1, 2010. The Himachal Pradesh High Court has restrained the state government from taking any further action on its move to revoke the award of the 420-MW Reoli Dugli Hydro Electric Project to Larsen and Toubro and call for fresh bids. The court said no further steps be taken by the state government till further orders, based on the writ petition filed by L and T Power Development Ltd that was named winner of the project in October.  The large project has been proposed on a build, own, operate and transfer basis in the Chenab Valley, for which several firms had tendered their bids. These included Moser Baer, Jindal Steel, Tata Power, Essar Power and Piramal Healthcare.  Among them, Moser Baer had emerged the original winner, based on its offer of 14.41 percent additional free power to the state, over and above the royalty rates of 12 percent, 18 percent and 30 percent over three time bands.

Coal India to start importing directly

January 1, 2009. Coal India Ltd will start its innings in international trade in coal this year, according to its Chairman, Mr Partha S. Bhattacharyya. The coal major has already finalised tender document to import four million tonnes thermal grade coal for supplies to NTPC. The total import (for power sector) is expected to touch 8 mt in 2010-11. It may be mentioned that the New Coal Distribution Policy requires Coal India to import coal to bridge the demand-supply gap of thermal coal in the country beginning 2008-09.  However, in the absence of adequate infrastructure and expertise in international trade, CIL had nominated MMTC Ltd for importing on its behalf.  If everything goes according to plan, CIL may replace MMTC as India's largest coal importer in the next couple of years. The initiative will receive a shot-in-the-arm if CIL's recent efforts to strike “strategic alliances” with major producers across the world becomes a reality.

NHPC signs pact with Bhutan Govt

December 31, 2009. NHPC Ltd informed BSE that the agreement for the preparation of detailed project projects for Chamkharchhu-I (670MW) and Kuri-Gongri (1800 MW) hydro-electric projects in Bhutan with a cost of Rs 220 mn and Rs 270 mn, respectively were signed on December 22, between the company and the Royal Government of Bhutan at New Delhi.

NTPC set to get nod to sell 10 pc power at market price

December 31, 2009. The government plans to allow NTPC to sell around 10% capacity at market-determined prices, a move expected to boost the power utility’s profit by up to 40% and spiff up its valuation as it braces for disinvestment. Under the present setup, 85% capacity of power generators like NTPC is sold to state electricity boards (SEBs) via long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs). But the fixed rates here are lower than market-set prices.  The Centre is free to give the remaining 15% to power-deficit states. It is part of this capacity that NTPC will be permitted to sell in the open market to bulk consumers like sugar mills, chemicals manufacturers and steel plants, said another official familiar with the government move.  NTPC will be able to sell about 50% of the government’s unallocated quota in new plants and 25% unallocated generation capacity in existing ones at market rates known as merchant power, to open access consumers, said this official, a senior power ministry figure, requesting anonymity.

Kerala CPI (M) Secretary granted bail in Lavalin case

December 30, 2009. Kerala CPI (M) Secretary Pinarayi Vijayan was granted bail by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in connection with the state's financial fraud controversy- the SNC Lavalin case. Vijayan was the State Electricity Minister when the SNC Lavalin scam broke out. SNC Lavalin power scandal is one of the biggest financial scams to rock Kerala. The Comptroller and Auditor General of India report indicted a CPI (M)-led government of the mid-1990s for a Rs 3.7450 bn loss to the exchequer. Three hydel power stations had to be upgraded at Pallivasal, Sengulam and Panniar. Tenders were invited and was finalised to an Indian consortium and a Canadian MNC. The foreign company quoted Rs 2.4.2 mn per MW, the Indian consortium - BHEL and LandT - sought Rs 1.25 per MW. The contract went to the higher bidder, contrary to normal practice.

Punjab invites bids for 10 mini hydel projects

December 30, 2009. he Punjab Energy Development Agency (PEDA) invited bids for development of 10 mini hydel projects on the upper Bari Doab canal system (UBDC) on the build, operate and own (BOO) basis, under NRSE Policy-2006 of the state government. Bids have been invited for seven mini hydel plants to be set up on Sabraon branch canal and three projects on main branch (upper) with collective generation capacity of 84.25 mw. Sites offered for Sabraon branch canal include Sathiali, Tugalwala, Harchowal, Sukhwal, Ladha Munda Attwal, Buttar and Ghaggar Bhana. The sites offered on main branch upper include Dhariwal, Kunjar and Aliwal.

Indigenous power generation is govt’s priority: CM

December 30, 2009. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said that the indigenous power generation was the priority of his government and on his arrival at Srinagar this afternoon directed the Power Development Department (PDD) to immediately operationalize all three units of Pampore Gas Turbine to help mitigate the difficulties on account of power shortage due to shutdown of Upper Sindh Hydro-electric project and renovation of Lower Jhleum Hydro-electric project. The chief minister was informed that the requirement of power in Kashmir valley at present was 1050 MW whereas the supply from Northern Grid to the valley is 720 MW and the generation available from local hydel power station is 55 MW making the total availability to 775 MW.

Tamil Nadu increasing power generation capacity

December 30, 2009. The Tamil Nadu Government has initiated several measures to ramp up power generation capacity and in the next 1 to 2 years an additional generation capacity of 7000 MW would be added in the State. According to Mr MK Stalin deputy chief minister of Tamil Nadu said that the Government is also addressing the problem of infrastructure bottlenecks plaguing the Coimbatore region, which apart from being famous for its engineering prowess is now proving its mettle in electronics and IT sectors too. Mr Stalin said that hydel power generation, which was 6455 million units during 2007-08, shrunk to 5386 MUs during 2008-09. The generation of wind power and power from the thermal power plants at Neyveli and nuclear plants at Kalpakkam and Kaiga also fell. But while at the all India level, generation fell by 13.8% in Tamil Nadu, it was only by 5.5%.




Orchid-1 blossoms for Dana in Egypt

January 5, 2010. Dana Gas PJSC announced the ninth gas discovery from the Orchid-1 well. This new discovery follows its eight gas discoveries in Egypt announced throughout 2009. The preliminary estimated recoverable reserves of the Orchid discovery range between 10 - 50 billion cubic feet (bcf) of dry gas, pending further appraisal.  Dana Gas is the sixth highest natural gas producer in Egypt.

Cramped on land, Big Oil bets at sea

January 5, 2010. Big Oil never wanted to be here, in 4,300 feet of water far out in the Gulf of Mexico, drilling through nearly five miles of rock.  It is an expensive way to look for oil. Chevron Corp. is paying nearly $500,000 a day to the owner of the Discoverer Clear Leader, one of the world's newest and most powerful drilling rigs. The new well off the coast of Louisiana will connect to a huge platform floating nearby, which cost Chevron $650 million to build.

The first phase of this oil-exploration project took more than 10 years and cost $2.7 billion -- with no guarantee it would pay off.  Chevron came here, an hour-long helicopter ride south of New Orleans, because so many of the places it would rather be -- big, easily tapped oil fields close to shore -- have become off-limits. Western oil companies have been kicked out of much of the Middle East in recent decades, had assets seized in Venezuela and seen much of the U.S. roped off because of environmental regulations. Their access in Iran is limited by sanctions, in Russia by curbs on foreign investment, in Iraq by violence.

Signature set to begin Koliba drilling

January 4, 2010. Signature Exploration and Production Corp. announced plans to begin drilling operations in the Company's Victoria County, Texas "Koliba" prospect in early 2010. The prospect has proven, but undeveloped, reserves that are located in the North McFaddin Field, which, according to Texas Railroad Commission maps and records, hosts 87 productive oil and gas zones. This low risk prospect targets 3 Frio Sand target zones.

Oil rally may falter at $82, MF Global says: Technical analysis

January 4, 2010. Crude oil’s rally to a two-month high may sputter around $82 a barrel as the commodity’s relative strength index signals that gains have been excessive, according to technical analysis by MF Global Ltd.

The relative strength index for crude-oil indicates that prices may have overshot, according to the brokerage. An asset’s RSI is a ratio based on daily closing prices that measures how far prices have advanced or dropped during a specified period. An RSI reading of 70 or above typically suggests an asset has risen too far, too fast. The last 14-day reading for crude was 67.8, the highest since October.  Further gains for oil are also likely to be checked by the strengthening of the U.S. dollar as the country’s economy mends. A weaker dollar supported crude last year as funds sought alternative investments to hedge against inflation.

Production from Danish field set to resume this month

January 4, 2010. Due to rough weather conditions in the North Sea, production from the Siri-field in the Danish part of the North Sea is not expected to be resumed until sometime in January 2010. On 31 August 2009, the operator of the Siri field, DONG Energy, decided to stop production from the field following a routine inspection revealing cracks in a subsea structure connected to the oil storage tank underneath the Siri platform.

Oil ends 2009 78 pc above year-ago level

December 31, 2009. Oil finished the year above $79 a barrel climbing a whopping 78 percent in 2009 and notching the biggest annual gain in a decade. The market roared back from depressed levels seen at the end of 2008 that came as the global economic crisis sapped demand.  U.S. crude for February delivery settled up 8 cents at $79.36 a barrel, compared with a close of $44.60 on December 31, 2008.

London Brent crude fell 10 cents to settle at $77.93.  This year's rise in U.S. oil futures is the sharpest annual percentage gain since 1999, when output cuts by producers helped revive prices from lows near $10 a barrel.  After sliding to a five-year low under $33 at the end of 2008, oil prices staged a steady climb to a high of $82 in October this year. The annual average 2009 price was $62, broadly in line with analysts' predictions at the end of 2008 of $58.48.

EPA questions New York state plan to drill for shale gas

December 31, 2009. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has "serious reservations" about allowing shale gas drilling in New York City's watershed, warning of a threat to the drinking water for 9 million people. An EPA report on the divisive issue is the latest potential roadblock for energy companies seeking to exploit the Marcellus Shale formation, which state officials say may contain enough natural gas to satisfy U.S. demand for more than a decade. At issue is the controversial process of shale gas extraction known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in which a combination of chemicals, sand and water are blasted through rock to free trapped gas. Fracking is exempted from regulation under the U.S. Clean Water Act. The natural gas industry argues that drilling poses no risk to drinking water, saying the chemicals are injected through layers of steel and concrete thousands of feet below aquifers.

Tatneft exits 2009 with 16 discovered fields

December 30, 2009. Tatneft has discovered sixteen fields in 2009, including ten fields in the Republic of Tatarstan; three fields in the Samara District; two fields in the Orenburg District; and one deposit discovered abroad in Syria.  Increase of A + B + C1 + C2 categories recoverable reserves of crude oil and condensate for the Tatneft Group of companies amounted to more than 62.7 million tons with more than 44.5 million tons located within the territory of Tatarstan.


CNPC says fuel spill ‘effectively’ blocked from Yellow River

January 5, 2010. China National Petroleum Corp. said that a diesel oil spill has been “effectively” blocked from the Yellow River and is being contained behind a barrier. CNPC is working to ensure the safety of drinking water.

Australian Workers Union appeals for deal to save Lube Plant

January 4, 2010. The Australian Workers Union says it would be a mistake for Australia to lose its only lubricating oil refining station. It has appealed to Caltex and the federal government to work out a deal to save the Kurnell Lubricating Oil Refinery, in Sydney's south, whose planned closure was announced early last month. Caltex, forecasting a relatively flat profit for 2009, said the plant was too costly and no longer viable given it manufactures outmoded products.

Russia halts oil flow to Belarus refineries - traders

January 3, 2010. Russia has suspended oil flows to Belarussian refineries after failing to agree pricing terms for 2010 but the transit of Russian oil to Germany and Poland via Belarus is continuing as usual, traders said. Two traders from major Russian oil producers said crude had not been flowing since Jan. 1 but added that two Belarussian refineries - Naftan and Mozyr - had enough stockpiled crude to continue operations for around a week. They said Belarus had threatened to raise transit fees on Russian oil supplies to Poland and Germany by a factor of 10 to $45 per tonne in retaliation to Russian demands on Belarus to pay full export duties on some crude supplies to its refineries.

Transportation / Trade

Crosstex acquires La. NGL pipeline from Chevron

January 5, 2010. The Crosstex Energy companies, Crosstex Energy, L.P. (the Partnership) and Crosstex Energy, Inc. (the Corporation), announced that the Partnership has acquired the Intracoastal Pipeline, an approximately 60-mile natural gas liquids (NGL) pipeline, from Chevron Midstream Pipelines, a subsidiary of Chevron Corp. for approximately $10 million.

China eyes LNG import deals, private oil stockpiles

January 4, 2010. China hopes to clinch more deals on liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports and speed up construction of LNG receiving terminals, gas pipeline and storage facilities this year, the country's energy head said.  The country will take advantage of excess supply in the international LNG market now to speed up negotiations of overseas gas purchases.  China will further develop major gas fields in central and western China as well as offshore gas resources to maintain fast increases in domestic gas output. China will approve a third gas pipeline linking Shaanxi and Beijing and a new pipe connecting Qinghuangdao city in Hebei province to Shenyang, capital of northeastern Liaoning province.  China would expand oil reserves by developing private storage capacity, in addition to the second phase of state oil stockpiles.

Columbia Gas wins Ohio line repair case

December 31, 2009. Columbia Gas of Ohio has both the exclusive right and the responsibility to maintain the parts of its service lines that extend onto customers' properties, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled.  In a unanimous ruling, the court elbowed aside a Pennsylvania company that had sold warranties to a small number of Columbia's Ohio customers to repair gas lines at their homes.  Since 2008, Columbia Gas has charged its 1.4 million customers about 5 cents per month extra to repair service lines from the underground gas pipe to just past their service meters. The company serves 61 of Ohio's 88 counties.

Policy / Performance

Turkish Energy Minister promotes energy independence

January 5, 2010. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said that Turkey, which was an importer country in terms of energy, should be able to meet its needs from its own resources.  Noting that the cooperation between TPAO and Petrobras started nearly 4 years ago, Yildiz said TPAO would become a company that drilled oil and reached natural gas by the year 2020.

Australia Pacific LNG awards key contracts

January 5, 2010. Australia Pacific LNG announced it had signed two key upstream design, engineering and construction contracts for its coal seam gas (CSG) to liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, progressing towards a final investment decision at the end of 2010. These contracts were awarded to McConnell Dowell Constructors (Aust) Pty Ltd and Consolidated Contractors Australia Pty Ltd Joint Venture (MCJV) for the pipeline, and Baulderstone Bilfinger Berger Services (Australia) Pty Limited Joint Venture (BBBJV) for the upstream facilities contract.

CNX Budgets $400 mn for Shale Gas, CBM

January 5, 2010. CONSOL Energy Inc.'s Board of Directors has approved a 2010 Capital Budget of $1.0 billion. Included in the budget is $400 million for CNX Gas Corporation, which was approved separately by its Board of Directors.  The $400 million Capital Budget for CNX Gas is about evenly split between shale programs and coalbed methane programs, with the largest single program consisting of $160 million for the Marcellus Shale. CNX Gas will be signing a contract for a second horizontal rig to drill in the Marcellus Shale effective March 1, 2010. This rig will be a flex rig that will allow for greater efficiencies when drilling multiple wells from the same pad.

Southern Chinese province to accelerate LNG terminal construction

January 5, 2010. China's cabinet, the State Council, announced that it encourages the southernmost island province of Hainan to boost its economic development by establishing a national strategic oil reserve base and commercial reserve bases. According to the announcement, Hainan will accelerate the construction of the liquefied natural gas terminal project in its Yangpu Economic Development Zone and the Changjiang nuclear power project.  Beyond that, Hainan will also be propped up as a development and service base for oil and natural gas resources in the South China Sea area, though no further details were disclosed.

Argentina okays 'Gas Plus' sales for Oxy

January 4, 2010. Argentina's government authorized Occidental Petroleum Corp to sell natural gas at higher-than-normal rates under the "Gas Plus" program, according to the official gazette. The authorization applies to Occidental's Sur Piedra Clavada gas field at the San Jorge basin in the southern province of Santa Cruz. The Gas Plus program aims to give companies a financial incentive to explore for gas by allowing them to charge higher rates for gas from new discoveries.

S. Korean refiners ordered to pay $168 mn for price fixing

December 31, 2009. A South Korean appellate court ordered four oil refiners to pay 196 billion won (US$168.5 million) in compensation to the government for damages caused by their price collusion for military procurement.

The lawsuit against SK Energy Co., GS Caltex Corp., Hyundai Oilbank Co. and S-Oil Corp. was filed by the Ministry of Defense in 2001 after the nation's fair trade regulators found that they had fixed high prices for military procurement from 1998-2000.

Indonesia's 2009 oil production misses target - BP Migas

December 31, 2009. The Indonesian Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Agency (BP Migas) said that oil production in 2009 reached only 949,000 barrels per day, or 99 percent of the 960,000-b/d goal set in the 2009 Revised State Budget.  

Without facing an obstacle to new oil field development, this year`s oil production may reach 972,000 barrels per day, and without a temporary halt of operation oil production may reach 971,000 barrels per day. BP Migas will exercise tighter control of maintenance operations to prevent the oil fields from too frequent operational disruptions. This year, unscheduled operational disruptions reached 197 cases with an oil loss of 22,000 barrels per day.

Mackenzie gas pipeline plan clears hurdle

December 31, 2009. A Canadian panel assessing the socioeconomic and environmental impact of a proposed C$16.2 billion natural gas pipeline in northern Canada conditionally recommended approval of the project.

The opinion of the joint federal and provincial panel, which comes after more than two years of deliberations, is crucial to a decision by the country's National Energy Board as to whether the 1,200-kilometer pipeline project can go ahead.

The pipeline is expected to carry up to 1.9 billion cubic feet a day of natural gas from the Mackenzie Delta in the Canadian Arctic to southern markets in Canada and the U.S.

RasGas wins US Construction Industry Safety Award

December 30, 2009. RasGas Company Limited's (RasGas') robust commitment to workplace health and safety has been recognized with a Construction Industry Safety Excellence (CISE) award from the Construction Users Roundtable (CURT). CURT is an association of leading United States and Canadian corporations and government organizations that is committed to promoting construction industry safety around the world.

NPRA files comments opposing PSD, GHG Tailoring Rule

December 30, 2009. NPRA, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, submitted comments December 23 to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opposing its proposed rulemaking on "Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Title V Greenhouse Gas Tailoring Rule.  "The path to [Clean Air Act (CAA) greenhouse gas (GHG)] regulation that EPA has chosen is difficult, uncertain, and unnecessarily risky in these troubling economic times," the Association states in its comments. "The Tailoring Rule that is the subject of these comments is doomed to failure.



Shanxi coal mergers on track, output yet to rise

January 5, 2010. Ninety-eight percent of merger and acquisition contracts have been signed between small mines and bigger mining companies, and more than 80 percent of mining licences have changed ownership, a statement on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission said on. The number of coal mine shafts has been cut down to 1,053 from 2,600 and more than 70 percent of the shafts have annual production capacity over 900,000 tonnes, the statement said.  Small mines with annual capacity lower than 300,000 tonnes have all been phased out, it said. Shanxi aims to cut down the number of mines to 1,000 by end of 2010 and to 800 by 2015. It also plans to increase annual production capacity of individual shafts to 900,000 tonnes by 2010, and to 1.2 million tonnes by 2015. 

Washington Gas to build power plant for Department of Homeland Security

January 5, 2010. Washington Gas is one of two contractors selected to jointly build a mini-power plant on the planned Department of Homeland Security site at St. Elizabeths campus in D.C. The General Services Administration has selected the local natural gas utility, along with Morris Township, N.J.-based Honeywell International Inc., to design, construct and maintain a plant that will generate 25 megawatts of electricity and supply as much as 30 percent of the agency’s peak energy needs.  The effort, designed to make DHS less reliant on the local electrical grid, will provide the agency thermal utilities chilled and hot water, electrical services, and routine and emergency power for the department and its onsite agencies by 2016.

Metso to supply biomass power plant to Belgium

January 5, 2010.  Metso will supply 4HamCogen S.A., a subsidiary of 4Energy Invest S.A., with a biomass power plant for combined heat and power production (CHP) in the municipality of Ham in the Belgian province of Limburg. The power plant will be delivered by the Metso-Wärtsilä joint venture MW Power. The plant automation system will be delivered by Metso's Automation business line. The total value of MetsoZs share of the investment is approximately EUR 30 million. The start-up of the plant is scheduled for Q2 in 2011. The order is included in Energy and Environmental Technology's Q4 orders received.

Nuclear power plant shut down due to ice

January 5, 2010. A Salem County nuclear power plant was shut down and another was put on reduced power because of ice in the Delaware River. The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Salem Unit 2 was shut down around 8 a.m. Sunday because it was taking ice into its cooling mechanism. Salem Unit 1 was reduced to 80 percent power for the same reason. It's not clear when the two plants will return to full power.  Hope Creek, a third nuclear power plant in the same complex, was not powered down because of the ice.

Marubeni Corp lowest bidder for $3.2 bn power plant

January 5, 2010. A Japanese consortium has emerged as the lowest bidder for the $3.2 billion contract to construct, own and operate a power plant in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with a capacity of 2,000 megawatt (MW). Out of the five consortia to bid, the group led by Marubeni Corp and including Kansai Electric and Saudi Masader Co for Power, Water and Gas submitted the lowest bid to Saudi Electricity Co. A consortium led by Japan's Marubeni Corp has proposed the lowest tariff to build a 2,000 megawatt power plant in Riyadh for Saudi Electricity Co (SEC). SEC issued a statement saying that all of the bids would be scrutinized before signing a deal by the end of March. The state-owned company received the bids for a combined cycle plant called PP11 which is to be built in the Saudi capital as part of the KSA’s plan to spend $20 billion on adding at 10,000 MW of extra power to the electricity grid.

S Korea sells nuclear technology to UAE

December 30, 2009. South Korea is celebrating the sale of its nuclear power expertise to the United Arab Emirates, with KEPCO's $40-billion contract to build and operate nuclear power plants there. This is more than just another ‘sale’ or business ‘export’ because it is a reflection of the present state of Korean nuclear science and technology ― it has a competitive edge over the United States, France, Canada, Russia, Japan and Britain. The Gori nuclear power plant, the first nuclear power plant in Korea, constructed in 1978, was a turnkey project.  

Transmission / Distribution / Trade

URA in row with power supplier over tax arrears

January 5, 2010. A row has ensued between power supplier Jacobsen Power Plant and the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) over non remittance of taxes. The tax body is demanding that the Norwegian power company pays sh17b in arrears accumulated since 2008.  Jacobsen Power Plant built and operates the 50MW Namanve thermal power station.  The tax body is also planning legal action against Stanbic Bank for failing to effect payments from the account of Jacobsen to URA as required by law.

Transmission line to switch from coal to wind

January 5, 2010. MN Power has increased its rates due in part to try and meet a state mandate. Minnesota energy producers must generate 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2025. So, MN power purchased a $70 million dollar transmission line that will eventually switch from coal to wind energy.  The existing transmission line carries coal-based electricity from North Dakota to Hermantown. Eventually the coal-based line will be phased out as they implement wind based power. One Northland mans feels that given the economy, going green isn't the best option at the moment.

Policy / Performance

Competition in German retail energy

January 5, 2010. Some 184 out of over 700 power distribution companies are raising prices in the first few months of 2010 by up to 16 percent, in some cases in Jan.  At the same time, some 54 firms will be able to charge less as lower procurement prices are filtered through the system from the wholesale market into the end consumer segment.  Around 88 regional gas firms will raise their prices in Jan. or Feb. by up to 12 percent, its research shows, adding 53 gas firms are able to cut prices in Jan. and Feb. This shows that a trend to lower gas prices is generally petering out.  E.ON AG's German retail gas customers will pay unchanged prices to the end of March 2010 although crude oil prices have been going up again for months. This benefits about one million households and small businesses.  The average price increase in the year was 6.8 percent and the additional bill to all households compared with the previous year amounted to 2.1 billion euros ($3.04 billion).

Iran, Georgia sign power plant agreement

January 5, 2010. Iranian Energy Minister Majid Namjoo and his Georgian counterpart Alexander Khetaguri agreed that a contract be signed by an Iranian company for the construction of two hydro-electric power plants with a total capacity of 36 megawatts in Georgia. The Mehr News Agency reported that Sanir Company from Iran and G.I.G. from Georgia will complete the project in a time frame of about 54 months. The project will be built in the west of Georgia at an estimated cost of 68 million euros.  The Export Development Bank of Iran will finance the project. This project is one of the biggest industrial development plans between the two countries.

Iberian spot power hovers near all-time lows

December 31, 2009. Iberian spot power prices recovered slightly from prior all-time lows after strong winds abated, but were still unusually low due to weak demand and a surge in hydroelectric output, dealers said.  Apart from historic minimum, the day-ahead price was the lowest fixed by Spanish-based Omel exchange since it published a rate of 5.47 euros per megawatt-hour for December 31, 2002.  A year ago, Omel set the day-ahead price for Spain at 47.23 euros/MWh.  Wind power in Spain -- the world's third-largest producer -- was providing 28.2 percent of Spain's electricity needs, down from a record level of 54.1 percent according to grid operator REE.  But hydroelectricity accounted for 21.9 percent of the generating mix, far above an average of 9 percent for the year, as utilities drained reservoirs which are brim-full after two weeks of heavy rainfall.

GDF Suez to appeal 2009 nuclear levy

December 31, 2009. French utilities group GDF Suez plans to ask Belgium's top court to annul the Belgian government's 2009 levy on nuclear power station operators in the country. The group said in a statement that it had just paid its contribution of 213 million euros ($305.5 million), part of a 250 million euro payment demanded from all nuclear operators in Belgium for 2009.  GDF Suez, which operates as Electrabel in Belgium, said it considered the principle of such a contribution "contestable" and "discriminatory" because it just hit the nuclear power producers in Belgium.  GDF Suez agreed in October to pay Belgium over the next five years to operate nuclear power plants there for an annual contribution of 215-245 million euros.  The charges are the result of Belgium extending the lifetime of its three oldest reactors by 10 years.  However, there remains disagreement over proposed 250 million euro payments for this year and last. GDF Suez has also paid its part of an additional 250 million euros in 2009 to a renewable energy fund.

Poland raises Enea energy distribution tariffs

December 30, 2009. Poland's energy market regulator URE increased 2010 distribution tariff for Poland's listed utility Enea by 3.7 percent, a regulator said.  The end-user tariff set by the regulator is a combination of the wholesale price and the distribution fee charged by power companies. The regulator has to yet approve the wholesale prices for Enea and other producers.  In January-September a third of Enea's 5.2 billion zloty ($1.80 billion) revenues came from distribution fees.

Jamaica opposition not satisfied with taxes on gasolene, electricity

December 30, 2009. Despite the announcement of a revision of the tax measures announced by the Government, the opposition People's National Party (PNP) is still not satisfied with the increase in the ad valorem tax on gasolene and the general consumption tax (GCT) on electricity. 

Prime Minister Bruce Golding on December 23 announced a revised tax package after measures announced on December 17 caused widespread uproar.  In his revised package, Golding lowered the 17.5 per cent GCT on electricity that exceeds 200 KWH for residential customers to 10 per cent. However, the proposed ad valorem tax of 15 per cent on petroleum remained unchanged.

Renewable Energy / Climate Change Trends


Climate claim falls foul of advertising regulator

January 5, 2010. The Times has withdrawn an advert that aimed to boost its environmental credentials after complaints to the UK Advertising Standards Agency. The advert claimed "climate change has allowed the Northeast Passage to be used as a commercial shipping route for the first time," according to The Register. The Northeast Passage - a trade route linking North European and Siberian ports to Asia in summer months - has been open since 1934, according to The Register, and was made available as a route for international traffic after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Delhi Govt plans charging booths for electric cars

January 5, 2010. If vehicle manufacturers have introduced green cars at the Delhi Auto Expo, the city-state’s administration has decided to do its bit to reduce carbon footprint: provide electric charge stations.

The Delhi government is also planning incentives like base price discount, lower VAT, and road tax and registration charge refund to boost the sale of environment-friendly electric cars. The government is already providing a 15% subsidy on the base price of the Reva, the first Indian-made electric car, along with 12.5% VAT exemption, and road tax and registration charge refund.

Suzlon bags wind power order from ITC

January 4, 2010. Wind turbines manufacturer Suzlon Energy said it has bagged an order from conglomerate ITC for supplying 27 MW of wind power turbines to projects in Karnataka and Maharashtra for an undisclosed amount.

The Karnataka project would add 21 MW of capacity from 10 units of Suzlon’s S88 2.1-MW turbines, while the Maharashtra project would add 6 MW of capacity from four units of Suzlon’s S-82 1.5-MW turbine, the company said.  These orders follow earlier wind projects commissioned by the company in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra for ITC. With these orders, ITC Ltd’s wind portfolio increases to 47.1 MW.

Haryana to set up big biogas plants

January 1, 2010. Haryana is going to set up a large-sized biogas plants with facility of bottling gas into cylinders for use in cooking. Power and Renewable Energy Minister Mahender Partap Singh said Option Energy India Private Limited would set up 1000 cu.m. biogas fertiliser plant at Shri Haryana Goshala at Hansi in Hisar district at a cost of Rs 183.43 lakh. The plant would have a high rate bio-methanation digester fitted with special patented technology called induced Blanket Reactor (IBR) developed by the Utah State University, US.  The plant would generate 1000 cubic metre biogas and 3.96 tonnes of bio fertiliser per day. The biogas generated would further be purified into 96 per cent methane out of which 200 cubic metres would be used for power generation and remaining would be bottled in bio-CNG cylinders to be sold at the rate of Rs 25 per kg by the entrepreneurs.

CLP India plans Rs 36 bn investment in wind power

December 31, 2009. CLP Power India plans to invest about Rs 36 bn to set up 600 MW of wind power capacity in five States. The investment would be done over the next 18 months. CLP India is a part of CLP Group based in Hong Kong and listed on their local exchange. The group has an $18-billion market cap and operates power plants in China, Thailand, Taiwan and Australia. It was established in 1901 as China Light & Power Company Syndicate.

In India, CLP India's first venture was in 2002 when it acquired a majority stake in Gujarat Paguthan Energy Corporation. GPEC is a subsidiary and owns a 655 MW combined cycle plant in Paguthan, Gujarat. Since 2006, the company has also set up 450 MW of wind power capacity.

NTPC to set up 300 MW solar capacity

December 30, 2009. The country's largest utility, NTPC Ltd, said its board has approved setting up 301 megawatts of solar power generation capacity by March 2014. The state run firm currently operates a majority of its installed capacity of over 30,000 MW through coal-fired power plants.  NTPC also said it would spend 5.64 billion rupees ($120 million) to modernise two units at the Badarpur thermal power station. 


EU carbon climbs 5 pc at start of 2010 trade

January 4, 2010. European Union carbon emissions futures climbed five percent at the start of 2010 trade, after closing 21 percent lower at the end of 2009 versus the previous year. However, traders and analysts widely expect EUAs to fall in early 2010 due to industrial selling, adding to losses made in December after a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen failed to agree a legally binding successor to the Kyoto Protocol. Industrial firms should now have calculated their emissions output for 2009 and will have a better idea now of how many surplus EUAs they can dispose of this year, traders said.

France tries to thrash out new carbon tax formula

January 4, 2010. France's government is trying to piece together new carbon tax legislation that would cover big polluters without double-charging them, after a previous attempt to tax emissions was scrapped at the last minute.

French ministers have been scrambling to come up with a workable system for compensating companies that are already part of a European Union emissions trading scheme, while closing the many loopholes that led to the failure of the first proposal. Set at 17 euros per tonne of carbon dioxide and promoted by President Nicolas Sarkozy as a crucial weapon in the fight against climate change, the tax has been criticized by some as hurting big emitters and by others as giving them an easy ride.

Sun, wind and wave-powered: Europe unites to build renewable energy 'supergrid'

January 3, 2010. Europe’s smart grid would connect turbines off the wind-lashed north coast of Scotland with Germany's vast arrays of solar panels, and join the power of waves crashing on to the Belgian and Danish coasts with the hydro-electric dams nestled in Norway's fjords: Europe's first electricity grid dedicated to renewable power will become a political reality this month, as nine countries formally draw up plans to link their clean energy projects around the North Sea.  The network, made up of thousands of kilometres of highly efficient undersea cables that could cost up to €30bn (£26.5bn), would solve one of the biggest criticisms faced by renewable power – that unpredictable weather means it is unreliable.

Climate change: Developing world to benefit from online scheme

December 31, 2009. As part of a project to promote scientific knowledge in the developing world in the face of climate change, the United National environmental agency this month extended its online programme to Yemen, offering it a chance to gain greater access to leading scientific journals. Yemen is now one of 108 developing countries which have free access to the latest in scientific literature through the Online Access to Research in the Environment (OARE) project of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

Vestas gets 48 MW wind turbine order from Spain

December 30, 2009. Denmark's Vestas the world's biggest manufacturer of wind turbines, said it won an order for 24 turbines for the Andalusia region in Spain. The order is for Vestas' V90-2.0 MW wind turbine, so the total capacity of the order is 48 megawatts. Vestas said the customer had asked to remain anonymous. Earlier on Vestas said it won a 96 MW wind turbine order from a German company for installations in Poland.

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