MonitorsPublished on Jul 29, 2009
Energy News Monitor I Volume VI, Issue 7
The Colour of Oil


ig Oil's reluctance to invest more of its vast resources into the green space is a function of its vision. It is seeking to meet global oil demand while at the same time protecting its shareholders by focusing on the development of fossil fuels. Any evolution in that thinking will only occur if there is a fundamental change in global carbon policies and particularly those of the United States. Even though the Obama administration is aggressively pushing for greater fuel diversity, the oil industry is sticking closely to its core competencies and in some cases, reducing its investment in wind and solar power.

Hydrocarbons are the most plentiful and economic forms of energy that we have, the companies say.  Even if the use of renewable sources doubles or triples over the next 24 years, we will still depend on fossil fuels for more than 80 percent of global energy demand, the oil companies argue. The U.S. Department of Energy projects global oil demand to rise to 118 million barrels a day by 2030. That's compared to the roughly 85 million barrels demanded today by consumers. The oil giants allocate 5 percent or so of their capital budgets on exploration. A tiny fraction of those resources, by contrast, is spent on developing green energy.

Shell Oil Co., for example, has allocated capital to wind and solar but has recently sold off some projects. BP, meanwhile, is cutting back. According to the American Council on Renewable Energy the oil industry has invested about 10 percent of what the venture capital community has in renewable energy since 1995. That equates to about $5 billion of the $50 billion invested by risk takers.

None of this suggests that the oil sector is totally disinterested. ExxonMobil and Chevron have also made notable investments in green technologies. But some critics maintain that their approach is calculated and has more to do with the very real possibility that U.S. lawmakers will require mandatory greenhouse gas emission cuts.

The goal is to motivate companies with the resources to diversify their energy portfolios. Ultimately, the nation must be able to meet its future energy through an amalgam of sources. While oil and natural gas will remain integral, alternative fuels and energy conservation will have a place at the table.

If the goal of corporate boards is to protect the interest of shareholders, then it would be appropriate to ask those officers whether they should diversify away from oil. It's a heated topic, with some saying that they are energy companies that must get ahead of the trends and be prepared for the future. Others, though, are saying that their strategies mirror current realities and that petroleum will remain the dominant fuel source for transportation well into the future.

ExxonMobil, for example, has shelled out about $30 billion developing new oil and gas resources since about 2003. Last year, it spent slightly more buying back its shares, all to help increase the value of the company's outstanding stock. Its board clearly states that fossil fuels provide the company more bang for the buck. Its management, however, is investing in alternative fuels that include a $600 million partnership to develop algae-based bio-fuels.

While that figure represents a small percentage of its overall capital budget, champions of the alternative transportation fuel cause say that it is still more than what the federal government devotes to algae research. Many Democrats and environmental organizations counter that the ExxonMobil's profits have been "absurd" and argue that some of its tax benefits should be reallocated to developers of green energy.

Republicans generally oppose such changes, saying that the demand for energy is rising and that the country needs to do more to encourage oil and gas development. Any tax hike, they add, would deter production, diminish supply and thereby increase prices to consumers. Many Democrats point out that the oil industry recently earned $123 billion in profits and it does not need incentives to drill.

The Democrats control both chambers of Congress as well as the White House. If their leadership is able to unite its party, it can literally mandate a paradigm shift, one that that tries to minimize the nation's carbon footprint by penalizing the fossil fuel sector.

They want to build upon the current foundation. Clean tech industries are now making a strong contribution to the American economy, providing 116,000 jobs and $19 billion in investment in recent times. The U.S. wind industry, for example, expanded by 45 percent in 2007 and contributed about 30 percent of new power generating capacity last year.

"Instead of giving oil executives another way to boost their record profits, I believe we should put in place a windfall profits tax that will help to ease the burden of higher energy costs on working families, and we should invest in the affordable, renewable sources," President Obama said on the campaign trial.  While those comments were made at time when gas prices at the pump were at $4 a gallon and he has since softened his approach, the president has nonetheless stayed true to his theme: The nation must reduce both its dependence on foreign oil as well as its current consumption levels, relying instead on alternative sources of energy to power not just the transport sector but also electric utilities.

It is a lofty goal. But the oil companies are betting for now that things won't change that much despite the party in power.


Courtesy: EnergyBiz Insider

Delhi’s ‘Power’ Struggle


even years ago, more than 50% of the power distributed by North Delhi Power Ltd. wasn't paid for by customers. Today, the company has cut that to 15%, signaling that one of India's biggest infrastructure problems can be solved, if tackled aggressively. Power theft by rich and poor customers as well as businesses has plagued India for decades, hindering foreign and domestic investment that could spark the increase in generating capacity the nation desperately needs. The experience of North Delhi Power, a joint venture between the Delhi government and Mumbai-based Tata Power Co. Ltd., shows that a broad and sustained effort can make a difference. A key challenge for power companies is reducing theft by India's poor. Many have come to view free electricity as a right, something that politicians have done little to counter in a bid to win votes.  In New Seemapuri, an impoverished area of Delhi, people say that the don't pay for power they use at home because it is too expensive. A typical household power bill runs between 600 rupees ($13) and 700 rupees a month, while their household monthly income is between 3,000 rupees and 4,000 rupees. Tapping into the network by attaching wires to power lines, they use the electricity to run water heaters, refrigerators and other appliances. Turning some of these people into paying customers will help North Delhi Power hit its target of reducing losses of power due to theft and other reasons to 12% by the end of March.  In addition to turning power thieves into paying customers, North Delhi Power has to keep an eye out for recidivists.

North Delhi Power trains its staff to coax individuals to expose neighborhood power theft, and doles out rewards to those who report it. For large industrial customers, the utility introduced automated meter-reading, turning to wireless technology in a bid to curb the opportunity for customers to bribe meter readers.  Backed by the Central Industrial Security Force, a government agency that is part of the police, North Delhi Power conducts occasional raids in neighborhoods where its intelligence indicates many residents may be stealing electricity. The company obtains information through individuals' reports of suspected theft as well as spot checks in areas where losses are high. To school its employees in antitheft tactics and other aspects of the business, North Delhi Power runs a training center in northwest Delhi. Employees learn how meters can be manipulated, powerful magnets can deactivate the meter's mechanism, and how to safeguard against the practice. To keep thieves from tapping power directly from overhead lines, employees learn to replace wires with insulated cables.

Utilities across India are sending employees to North Delhi Power's center to learn how to rein in losses.  For India as a whole, those technical and commercial losses, which include power lost through inefficient transmission, as well as power unpaid for due to bills going astray, are running at about 38%.  Funding for a program to rein in the theft was more than doubled to $437 million in the recent budget.


Courtesy: Wall Street Journal

The Case against Government Intervention in Energy Markets (part – X)

by Richard L. Gordon



Continued from Volume VI, Issue No. 6…



he advantage of Coase’s approach is that it leads to a consideration of critical problems that the Samuelson analysis ignores. First, considerable evidence exists that politicians have motivations far different from attaining an efficient supply of public goods.98 Second, the Coase problem of attaining an optimum is formidable. Governments often lack the competence to identify and optimally correct inefficiencies. Both these difficulties are extensively reviewed in the economics literature, but the bad-motivation argument is stressed more than the limited-ability concern.99

The adoption of inappropriate objectives is the subject of a very rich literature that examines the motivations of political actors. The starting point is Schumpeter’s observation that, in a democracy, political actors are primarily engaged in a competition for votes.100 As numerous subsequent observers have noted, one keyway to secure votes is to legislate an (economically) inefficient policy—in which a few beneficiaries each receive gains large enough for them to note—by creating losses for many others that are too small for any to notice.101

Some observers, notably Harvard economist Joseph Kalt, have examined the proposition that, in some cases, action arises only from an ideological preference for intervention by legislators whose constituents lack significant interest in an issue.102 Kalt and collaborators have found statistical support for this proposition.103 A simpler possibility is that politicians instinctively believe that if a problem arises which receives extensive attention, they can—and should—intervene.

The problem of determining and satisfying demands for public goods is more loosely treated in the literature. Economists Ludwig von Mises, F. A. Hayek, and Ronald Coase have all argued that, among other things, governments cannot readily secure the information needed for efficient intervention.104 Coase’s treatment is far less extensive, but also far more general, than those of Mises or Hayek. Their extended writings on socialist calculation, nevertheless, should have made clear the difficulties of optimally devising plans for any kind of government spending. The debate was started by an assertion by Mises that a socialist state could not be efficient because it lacked information about the demands for commodities.105 In the most celebrated response, Oscar Lange106 replied that this problem could be resolved by establishing planning boards to measure demands and set prices appropriate for those demands. Hayek answered Lange by noting that this was a much more cumbersome approach than an unregulated marketplace.107 Mises asserted that the solution would break down for producers’ goods because of concentration of ownership in state monopolies.

In any case, Lange was changing the subject. His system depended upon the competence of the planning board, which, after all, could be imposed on top of any ownership pattern. The planning board as Lange envisioned it, however, is the expansion of the public utility commission concept. Thus, it may be asked why a technique that works badly when it treats a few industries could well treat the whole economy any better. Nevertheless, the literature in this area strangely evades discussion of the full consequences of this knowledge problem.108 In practice, the problem is herculean.

Reviews of specific policies have illustrated the point. Richard Posner’s wide-ranging review of the regulation of natural monopoly, for instance, notes many of the problems related to securing the information needed to attain efficient results.109

In any case, these basics suggest further reasons to treat recommendations for energy intervention by the NPC and others skeptically. Not only are their proposed remedies nth-best means of addressing identified problems, they further assume perfectly informed, hyper-efficient government responses that are implausible in the extreme.


Bad theory, bad history, and bad practice mar energy (and most other public policy) discussions. The shock of 9/11 has badly aggravated these problems. Across an absurdly broad range of issues, panic over remote possibilities of terrorist actions has produced hysteria. The present paper was written in the midst of a political campaign in which these problems seemed particularly severe. As suggested here, energy, as is usually the case, has not been spared. Even a group that should have known better (the NPC), directed by the former head of a company known for its astuteness (Exxon-Mobil), could not refrain from a plunge into this frenzy.

Economic analysis shows both the defects of public policy and why these faults are impervious to analytic objection. Interference with international trade, for example, is routinely attacked by economists and adopted by politicians. Ill-advised efforts such as that of the NPC are regrettable but predictable.

Economists periodically debate whether their efforts are justified. Surely, without serious economic analysis, what comprises desirable reform remains unknown. Something must stand against the temptation to seek narrow political gains. Even those economists who are particularly concerned about government failure are divided about whether their efforts are worthwhile. Some stress the many instances in which the advice was ignored; others believe that enough good results arise to provide the encouragement to continue.

Clearly, the analysis here is grounded in the latter view. Enough successes, both big and small, have arisen to inspire hope. Opportunities for improvement periodically but unpredictably arise, and economic analyses that provide guidance can only help assist the response. Moreover, bad policy imposes wastes that the power to tax allows to persist. This ability to err is not unlimited. Intolerable strains do emerge. Thus, economists should continue the onslaught on bad policy to anticipate openings when they occur. Perhaps future study groups can be weaned away from ideas that harm themselves and everyone else.


98. The argument that the provision of public goods is the only valid role of government relies upon recognizing that everything government does supplies a service to its citizens, and that citizens are the best judges of the value of those services.

99. This is particularly true of the works devoted to public choice. They are strongest in treating the tendency to inefficient policies. However, such treatments also have had major contributions from economists who do not specialize in public choice. The public-choice literature is weak on the problems of identifying and satisfying demands for public goods. This literature is surveyed in Dennis C. Mueller, Public Choice III (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). The Liberty Fund has issued multivolume collections of the works of two leading public-choice economists, James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock.

100. Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 3rd ed., (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1950).

101. The germane literature on this matter is vast. For important contributions, see Anthony Downs, An Economic Theory of Democracy (New York: Harper and Row, 1957); Gordon Tullock, “The Welfare Costs of Tariffs, Monopolies and Theft,” Western Economic Journal 5 (1967): 224–32; AnneO. Krueger, “The Political Economy of the Rent-Seeking Society,” AmericanEconomicReview64, no. 3 (June, 1974): 291–303; Jagdish N. Bhagwati, “Directly-Unproductive Profit-Seeking (DUP) Activities,” Journal of Political Economy 90:5 (October, 1982): 988–1002; George J. Stigler, “The Theory of Economic Regulation,” Bell Journal of Economics and Management Science 2, no. 1 (Spring, 1971): 3–21; and Sam Peltzman, “Towards a More General Theory of Regulation,” The Journal of Lawand Economics 19, no. 2 (August, 1976): 211–40.

102. See for example, Joseph P. Kalt and Mark A. Zupan, “Capture and Ideology in the Economic Theory of Politics,” American Economic Review 74, no. 3 (June, 1984): 279–300.

103. I have a cherished personal example of this. When I served on the Interior Department’s coal leasing commission in 1985–86, Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Edward Markey presented an argument for vigorous enforcement of the coal-leasing amendments. I asked him whether he would continue to do so if he realized that this hurt his constituents. He expressed doubts and fled before I could show him that he was clearly wrong. The kind of enforcement that he proposed was likely to produce inefficiently low leasing levels. The amendments mandated higher royalty levels. Both effects reduce supply and thus raise prices to consumers. Massachusetts, of course, consumes but does not produce coal.

104. The most celebrated of his several statements on the limited abilities of government is Ronald H. Coase, “The Problem of Social Cost,” Journal of Law and Economics 3 (October, 1960): 1–44.

105. Mises wrote extensively on the defects of intervention and the virtues of free markets. Ludwig von Mises, Human Action: A Treatise on Economics, 4th rev. ed. (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 2007 [1949, 1966, 1996]); Percy L. Greaves Jr.,MisesMade Easier: A Glossary to Ludwig vonMises’ Human Action, presents both sides of the case; Ludwig von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis (Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1981) is a sweeping critique of intervention that was his earliest comprehensive attack on socialism.

106. Oscar Lange, “On the Economic Theory of Socialism,” Review of Economic Studies 4:53–71 and 4:123–42 (1936–1937).

107.Hayek’s most famous take on this is Fried rich A. Hayek, “The Uses of Knowledge in Society,” American Economic Review35, no. 4 (September, 1945): 519–30.Two complementary articles deserve note. Friedrich A. Hayek, “The New Confusion about ‘Planning’,” Morgan Guaranty Survey (January, 1976): 4–13. Reprinted in Friedrich A. Hayek, New Studies in Philosophy, Politics Economics and the History of Ideas (Chicago, IL.: University of Chicago Press, 1978). Friedrich A. Hayek, “The Pretense of Knowledge,” AmericanEconomicReview79:6(December,1974):3–7.

108. James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock, The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundation of Constitutional Democracy is a critical example (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1962). (Volume 3 of the Liberty Fund Collected Works of Buchanan and volume 2 of the selected works of Tullock.) They start with Wick sell’s suggestion to require unanimous agreement for state intervention. At least tacitly, they conclude that the unmanageably high transaction costs of reaching a unanimous solution require resort to alternatives. Rather than confront the daunting task of defining an optimal alternative, Buchanan and Tullock simply indicate the drawbacks of other approaches such as simple majority voting. A fundamental flaw of this analysis is that it presumes far more citizen input than arises. In practice, we citizens only get to choose a few participants in the decision process. Those decision makers have great latitude in determining what to do. Undertaking exhaustive studies of public demand is not a widely used option. This reliance on instinct should be another major reason for skepticism about the extension of government activities. The demand-revealing approach subsequently endorsed by Tullock has the same drawbacks. See Dennis C. Mueller, Public Choice III, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003): pp. 162–68, for an uncritical review of the concept and its history.

109. Richard A. Posner, “Natural Monopoly and Its Regulation,” Stanford Law Review 21 (February, 1969): 548–643. (Reprinted byThe Cato Institute in 1999 with a new introduction by Posner.) Even this essay, which is often represented as a radical critique of state intervention, understates the true problems. Efficient public-utility regulation would seek to impose efficient prices that eliminate monopoly profits. Such prices are difficult to design. To aggravate matters, an infinite number of efficient pricing schedules exist. Efficient pricing involves selling marginal sales at the marginal cost of production and alleviating the central problem with a decreasing cost industry. If prices on all outputs equal marginal costs, total costs exceed revenues. In response, higher charges for some infra marginal purchases are the solution. Thus, there is the telephone approach of an entry fee to allow unlimited purchase at the marginal cost of efficient output or the electric-power approach of declining block rates when earlier units of consumption are priced higher than later ones. In either case, given a goal of preventing monopoly profits, the required profit cuts can be made in infinitely many ways. The total cut is fixed, but any amount of anything can be split in infinitely many ways. Consider the case of ten consumers sharing a $10 cut. Possibilities such as $10 to one consumer and nothing to the rest; $1 to each consumer; and $2 each to five consumers and nothing to the other five, are all among the infinite possibilities. Richard L. Gordon, “Don’t Restructure Electricity: Deregulate,” Cato Journal 20, no. 3 (Winter, 2001): 327–58.




Courtesy: Cato Institute, Policy Analysis No. 628, December 1. 2008







‘D6 output artificially low’: Anil

August 4, 2009. Anil Ambani claimed that gas production from Reliance Industries Ltd's KG D6 block “is artificially being kept at lower levels" owing to lack of demand at the present exorbitant prices of $4.20 at well-head, resulting in astronomical delivered prices of nearly $7 being charged to customers.  Anil Ambani said he expected the petroleum ministry to limit its role to interpretation of the production sharing contract (PSC) provisions, and protection of its rights.  Anil Ambani requested a reduction in transportation costs of nearly $1.25 per mscmd being charged by RGTIL, a private company co-owned by RIL’s promoters. He also batted for NTPC by claiming that the government company would be able to prevent losses of Rs 30,000 crore if it gets gas at $2.34 instead of $4.20.

Panna-Mukta oil production comes to a halt

August 3, 2009. The joint venture of British firm BG Group, Reliance Industries and Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) has stopped crude oil and natural gas production from the Panna-Mukta fields off the west coast, following a leakage in an under-sea facility.

The field was producing 40,000 barrels of oil per day before July 25 when the leakage in the single buoy mooring (oil evacuation system) was detected and production was stopped.  The fields were shut completely from July 29. Panna-Mukta fields normally produce 5.78 million cubic metres per day which has reduced to almost nil.

ONGC explores another gas field in Tripura

August 3, 2009. The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has found a gas field having estimated 1.5 lakh cubic metres of natural gas (hydrocarbon) at Kalaban in Tripura. The gas field was discovered after drilling 2,500 meters. 

After signing an MoU with the Centre last year for the supply of natural gas to the proposed 1,000 Mw gas-based power project at Palatana in Tripura, ONGC started an exploration gas field drive last year.  The Palatana power project will commence production by 2012. In 2008-09, ONGC has discovered two gas wells at Tulakuna in the south district and Khubal in the north district.

ONGC has drilled 130 wells in Tripura since 1972, of which 70 have been found to be gas-bearing. In Tripura, the ONGC's drilling success rate stands at 2:1, which is better than any state in the country.


Reliance shifts fuel sales to Gulf, Europe

August 4, 2009. Reliance Industries' fuel exports shifted sharply in the second quarter after it doubled the size of its facilities to become the world's biggest, diverting fuel sales from Asia to the Gulf and Europe.  According to an analysis of detailed shipping data, the 1.24 million barrel per day (bpd) refinery complex -- which has gradually commissioned almost all of its major units since late last year -- shipped one-third less petrol and diesel to Asia in April-June this year versus a year ago.  

IOC denies closing Hyderabad depot

July 30, 2009. Indian Oil Corporation has denied reports that it is closing down its depot in Hyderabad. The oil major had decided to shift the operations to Charlapally as the 40-year-old facility at Sanathnagar might not address the future needs. As it is, a few industries procure furnace oil either from Visakhapatnam directly or from Chennai. 

One advantage of the new facility is that it could now send aviation fuel to the Rajiv Gandhi International (Hyderabad) airport via the highway, reducing the traffic congestion in the city. About 250 oil tankers used to ply from the Sanathnagar facility every day to reach oil to different pumps in the twin cities.  While the old facility used to get oil through railway wagons, the new facility would get piped oil.

Transportation / Trade

ONGC refuses to shift pipeline near Vansi Borsi port

August 4, 2009. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has refused shifting of a portion of the Bassien pipeline near Surat, forcing Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB)-the state’s port regulator to hunt for a new location to shift the Rs 3,000 crore project. Chennai based Creative Ltd, an infrastructure firm, had already been awarded the letter of intent to start work on developing this port last year. Vansiborsi, which lies about 30 kms south of Surat, has been envisaged as a petroleum port having facilities like single buoy mooring to import and export crude oil. 

‘Gas supply from GAIL down by 40 pc’: Gujarat Gas

August 3, 2009. Gujarat Gas Co. Ltd. announced that the volume of gas being supplied by GAIL to the company has been reduced by about 40% till further notice. This is consequent to the intimation dated July 31, from GAIL regarding the notification of a Force Majeure (FM) event at the oil evacuation system of the Panna and Mukta fields with effect from 1600 hours on July 25, Gujarat Gas said.  Supplies from GAIL from the PMT fields account for more than 75% of the company's total gas supply, Gujarat Gas said. This has impacted the company's sale of gas mainly to industrial customers, it added.

Policy / Performance

Nothing to do with Ambanis' dispute: Govt

August 3, 2009. Asserting that it had no role in the Ambani family dispute, the government declared in Parliament that it will do everything to protect its legal right to regulate usage of gas.  Making a statement in response to allegations by Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Mulayam Singh Yadav that Uttar Pradesh was being discriminated against, Deora said Anil Ambani group's proposed Dadri power plant would be considered for gas along with other such projects. Anil Ambani group firm RNRL's Dadri power plant "is neither installed nor functional," he said, adding that it would treated "on the same footing as other similar plants."  Deora said that the MoU between Mukesh and Anil Ambani not only stipulated sharing of gas between companies run by them from KG-D6 fields, but also from other fields that RIL may explore and operate in the future, thus necessitating government's petition in Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court decision.

L&T bags order worth Rs 53 bn

August 3, 2009. L&T has won two major offshore platform contracts from the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation aggregating over Rs53bn (US$1.18bn).  The company secured a turnkey order for the Mumhai High North (MHN) process platform and living quarters project, with an additional order for supply of three process gas compression modules to be installed in the same complex.

GAIL's JVs to retail CNG don't need PNGRB authorisation: Govt

August 3, 2009. The government told Parliament that state-run gas utility GAIL India Ltd's 8 joint ventures for retailing CNG to automobiles and piped gas to industries have been authorised by the Centre and do not need fresh authorisation from sector regulator, PNGRB.  

The joint ventures include Indraprastha Gas Ltd for Delhi, Mahanagar Gas Ltd for Mumbai, Bhagyanagar Gas Ltd for Andhra Pradesh, Central UP Gas Ltd for Kanpur, Green Gas Ltd for Lucknow and Agra, Maharasthra Natural Gas Ltd for Pune and Avantika Gas Ltd for Indore, Petroleum Minister Murli Deora stated. In a written reply to a question, he said the JVs were authorised by the Central government before the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB) came into being on October 1, 2007, and need no fresh authorisation.

PNGRB had declared all these companies illegal and only after much persuasion accorded authorisation to some of these like IGL and MGL. The Centre said the city gas projects in Gujarat, most of which started after October 2007, would require authorisation from PNGRB.

ONGC begins exploration in Kerala offshore

August 3, 2009. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation has begun an ambitious exploration programme in the Kerala–Konkan basin, engaging an ultra-deepwater drill ship. With a Rs 400-crore investment outlay, the company has charted an exploration programme to be completed within 100 days. 

The ship, DDKG-1, will rig a well in the New Exploration Licensing Policy (Nelp) block offshore here, exploring an area of around 55 sq km. A target of a draft of 3,000 metre will be achieved within 15-20 days. The rig has been hired from Reliance.  The probing area was located about 70 nautical miles from the western coast.

Govt’s first priority is to allot gas to existing power plants: Murli Deora

August 3, 2009. Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said that the first priority for the Government is to allot KG-D6 natural gas to existing power plants. As far as power sector is concerned, 18 mmscmd has been allocated to various existing plants to improve their Plant Load Factor (PLF), the minister said. It may be noted that no gas has been allocated to any plant, which is not existing or functional, he added.

 As far as NTPC is concerned, the Government has allocated gas to it. Out of 18 mmscmd for the power sector, 2.67 mmscmd gas has been allocated to NTPC plants, Deora said. Another 2.7 mmscmd has been allocated to RGPPL in which NTPC has 28% stake, he added. Out of a total of 15 existing gas-based urea plants in the whole country, five plants happen to be in Uttar Pradesh, namely, Aonla, Phulpur, Shahjahanpur, Babrala and Jagdishpur. All of them have been given gas.

India to auction 70 oil and gas blocks next month

July 30, 2009. India intends to offer up to 70 oil and gas exploration blocks next month as per the Minister of State for Petroleum & Natural Gas.  Since the New Exploration and Licensing Policy came into force, 203 new blocks have been given for exploration, and now in the next month, 70 more blocks will come up for bidding.

Cairn India concludes negotiation on pricing of crude oil

July 30, 2009. Cairn India Ltd. has concluded negotiations on the pricing and commercial terms of crude oil to be sold to Indian Oil Corp. (IOC) and Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Ltd. (MRPL), according to reports. The price represents a discount of 10% to 15% of Brent LCOc1 crude oil on the basis of prices prevailing in the six months to June and is subject to the Government approval. Cairn said that it will pump its first crude from Rajasthan fields in August. The facilities at train one of the Mangala Processing Terminal are complete and ready to start production, the company said, adding that crude will be initially evacuated via trucking in August. Cairn India holds a 70% stake in RJ-ON-90/1 block in Rajasthan and Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) holds the balance.



Needed: 8 lakh MW power for 9 pc growth

August 3, 2009. To sustain a growth rate of 8 to 9 percent over next 25 years, the country will have to augment power generation to 8 lakh Mw from about 150,000 Mw at present.  Though the contribution of the hydro power sector can more than treble during this period, coal based generation will continue to play the major role in achieving the target.  While the hydro-power generation in the country can increase up to 1,50,000 Mw from 35,000Mw at present, the wind power generation can go up to 45,000 Mw from about 10,000 Mw.  The total power generation in China was 2300 Mw in 1950 compared to 1500 Mw in India. This increased to 750,000 Mw there compared to 150,000 Mw in India.

Essar ties up funds for power project

July 31, 2009. Essar Power, the utility arm of the Essar group, said it has tied up the debt required for the Rs 4,860 crore, 1200 megawatt thermal power plant that Essar is building in Mahan, Madhya Pradesh. The thermal power project has a debt-equity ratio of 3:1 with the debt funded by a consortium of lenders including ICICI, Power Finance Corp, REC and PNB.  Essar Power would be building four power plants at a total cost of Rs 20,000 crore.

Reliance Power to raise Rs 20k cr more this year

July 29, 2009. After having raised Rs 20,000 crore from banks and financial institutions, Reliance Power is planning to mobilise similar amount of debt this year to finance its ongoing power projects. Reliance Power has recently announced financial closure for the 4,000-mw Sasan UMPP, 600 -mw Rosa phase II and 300-mw Butiburi project.  It targets to commission about 3,000 mw power-generation capacity by 2012.  Reliance Power holds around 2 billion tonne of coal reserves to be utilised for its upcoming thermal power projects. It has bagged three UMPPs of capacity 4,000 mw each at Sasan (MP), Krishnapatnam (AP) and Tilaiya in Jharkhand. 

Transmission / Distribution / Trade

Adani Power IPO price fixed at Rs 100 per equity share

August 4, 2009. Adani Power has fixed the price at Rs 100 per equity share for its initial public offering, which has garnered over Rs 3,000 crore.  The price band of the IPO was Rs 90-Rs 100 per equity share. On offer were 301,652,031 equity shares of Rs 10 each for cash.

Karnataka BJP executive resolves against load-shedding

August 3, 2009. The State executive of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has opposed the load-shedding enforced in the State by its party Government and has resolved against it. A resolution in this regard was adopted by the two-day State executive in the presence of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and party national general secretary H.N. Ananth Kumar before the culmination of the meeting.  

AP Discoms trips on promise to farm sector

August 3, 2009. The AP government’s promise that it would supply power for nine hours to the agricultural sector is becoming hard to keep as the power distributing companies (Discoms) are finding it much difficult to procure additional power. The distribution companies are already failing to supply power to the industrial and domestic sectors, and are imposing cuts to them. With no opportunity to buy power from other States, they have already expressed their inability to augment the supply for two more hours to the agricultural sector. In case they are compelled to increase power supply to the farm sector, more cuts will have to be imposed on the domestic and industrial sectors.

Bengal power distribution utility expects cost push of Rs 800-900 cr

August 2, 2009. The West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL) expects a net cost push of Rs 800-900 crore in 2009-10 due to the latest tariff announcements by the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission.  The cost push far exceeds last year’s net profit of Rs 61 crore and is nearly a third of the Rs 2,400-crore net worth of the company.

UP Power Corp proposes 20 pc hike in electricity tariffs

August 1, 2009. Reeling under heavy losses, the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd has proposed an average hike of 20 per cent in the power tariffs for different categories of consumers.  The Corporation in its Annual Revenue Requirement (ARR), submitted with the UP State Electricity Regulatory Commission yesterday, has proposed an average hike of 20 per cent in the power tariff, they said.  In its ARR, the UPPCL has proposed to link tariff with number of supply hours. While no hike had been proposed for agriculture and rural domestic consumers, it has been proposed to link the tariff charged from the urban domestic consumers with the hours of supply they get.  

Policy / Performance

NEEPCO to add 800 MW power in NE in 4 yrs

August 4, 2009. The North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) said it was hopeful of adding another 800 MW of power to the North East by 2013.  Work on the Pare Hydroelectric Project in Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura Gas-Based Project (100 MW each) is expected to start within a month's time, while the 600 MW Kameng project in Arunachal, which is under construction, is scheduled to be completed by December 2012.  Currently the power company, dedicated to the North East, has a production capacity of 1130 MW through its projects in the region, but the drought-like condition has hit the generation in the hydro-electric plants.

Govt mulls 10 pc stake sale in SJVN

August 4, 2009. To carry forward its disinvestment drive in public sector undertakings (PSUs), the government is considering a 10 per cent stake sale in Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Ltd (SJVN), the state-owned hydropower producer.  The company, with an authorised share capital of Rs 4,500 crore, plans to offer 310 million shares of Rs 10 face value each to fetch over Rs 1,200 crore from the capital market in its maiden public issue. 

June power output up on K-G gas

August 4, 2009. Electricity generation in the country increased by 7.02 per cent in the month of June, mainly powered by availability of natural gas from Reliance Industries’ Krishna Godavari (KG) basin, which helped gas turbine-based power production improve by about 36 per cent, as compared to June last year. KG gas helped overall thermal power generation to improve by over 12 per cent. Nuclear and hydro power generation had a decline of over 9 per cent during the month, according to data from the Central Electricity Authority. CEA said gas turbine-based actual power generation in June was 7,165 million units, which was 35.9 per cent more than the 5,271 MU in June 2008.

Agitation against Lower Subansiri hydel project 

August 3, 2009. The All Assam Students’ Union and the Takam Missing Porin Kebang, an apex body of Mising students, announced a joint movement against Dispur and the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation for ignoring the interim report of a five-member expert committee on the Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project. The project is being executed by the power corporation at Gerukamukh village in Dhemaji along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border to generate 2,000MW electricity.

Environmental clearance to power projects in Maharashtra

August 3, 2009.  Six proposals for grant of Environment Clearance (EC) to thermal power projects have been received from Maharashtra. These are 1600 MW Thermal Power Plant(TPP) at Dhopave, 3x660 MW expansion of Koradi TPP at Koradi, 405 MW TPP at Alibag, Raigad, 1600 MW TPP at Dherand, Raigad, 2x300 MW TPP at Tadali, Chandrapur and 1x300 MW TPP at Buttibori, Nagpur. The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) in its July meeting has recommended grant of Environmental Clearance to the project at Alibag, Raigad. The projects at Dhopave and Dherand could not be considered for grant of EC due to non-submission of requisite information by the project proponents. The projects at Tadali, Chandrapur and Buttibori, Nagpur have been delisted due to non-availability of water allocation/coal linkage. The proposal for expansion of units at Koradi Thermal Power Project will be considered in the next meeting of EAC to be held in August, 09.

Haryana aims to add 500 MW

August 3, 2009. Haryana Government aims to add 500 MW renewable energy based power generation by the year 2012. A policy on Generation of Electricity through renewable Energy sources had also been notified to attract private sector investors.  The State Government had approved Detailed Project Reports for setting up of 20 biomass power projects of 183 MW capacity, 4 small hydro projects of 10.8 MW capacity and one Solar Power Project of 3 MW capacity with private sector investment of about Rs 803 crore.

India to build four more nuclear power reactors

August 3, 2009. Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar here said that India would build four 700-megawatt nuclear power units shortly.  Major nuclear powers -- including Russia, European states and the United Sates -- are expressing willingness to sell nuclear services to India, which is trying to build new generation capacity to cope with a projected increase in demand for energy.  Russia has signed more than 700 million dollars in deals to supply India's nuclear reactors with fuel pellets, since the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group last September lifted a ban on nuclear trade with India.

CERC tariff norms likely to cut revenues, claims NHPC

August 3, 2009. State-run NHPC, has asserted that the implementation of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (CERC) tariff regulations for the period from April 1, 2009 to March 31, 2014 may adversely affect its cash flow and results of operations.  The tariff is determined by reference to annual fixed charges (AFC) which consists of energy and capacity charges. Changes to how capacity charges are calculated may have a negative impact on the amount NHPC recovers as capacity charges.  NHPC, which is implementing the projects for capacity addition of 4,342 mw with an investment of Rs 21,600 crore and additional Rs 30,000 crore being lined up, said if the capacity charges were to decrease for any reason, including because of insufficient water supply, its ability to recover payments due to it for hydropower may be limited, which could have an adverse impact on its results of operations and cash flow from operations.

Puducherry upbeat on ‘power’ investments

August 2, 2009. The Puducherry Government is expecting Rs 2,500-crore investments in the power sector in the Union Territory. Ten companies have expressed interest in setting up power plants at Karaikal to generate 500 MW of power. The Government expects only 20 per cent of the power generated by these plants to be sold to the Union Territory, and “the companies can sell the rest to other States”. The Government has also sought 3 million cubic feet of gas allotment from the Yanam gas find.

Future of power in Orissa discussed

August 2, 2009. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) often provides a very misleading signal, remarked former energy secretary, Government of India, Mr RV Shahi, while noting that Orissa, with all its resources, had signed MoUs to the tune of 40,000MW but most of these were yet to take off.  He cited an example to drive home his point, saying in 1991 MoUs proposing to add 60,000MW had been signed across the country but not even 5000MW came up in five years time. Even on the power sector reforms front, in Orissa reforms have failed in the rural sector he said.

Govt to spend over Rs 4000 cr to strengthen power network

August 1, 2009. An ambitious plan has been formulated to strengthen the power transmission network in Haryana for which Rs 4,322 crore would be spent during the next three years.  Government also plans to cover some construction and augmentation schemes with the financial assistance/funding from World Bank, Japan International Co-operation Agency and Public Private Partnership (PPP). Construction of 106 new sub-stations, augmentation of 83 existing sub-stations and having 3,473 km long new transmission lines has been approved to ensure transmission of qualitative and uninterrupted electricity supply for the consumers.

Hinduja power project revival move triggers a row in Vizag

July 31, 2009. The move by the State Government and the Hindujas to revive the 1,000-MW thermal power plant proposed in Visakhapatnam district has come in for widespread condemnation by the Opposition parties, NGOs and environmental groups. The jinxed project was first proposed in the early nineties as one of the first few fast-track private power projects and it was awarded to the Hindujas. More than a thousand acres of land was granted to it and the then Prime Minister, Mr P.V Narasimha Rao, himself laid the foundation stone for it. The Union Government then provided a counter-guarantee for it. But since then it has been in hibernation for various reasons and of late, it is learnt, the State Government and the Hindujas are trying to revive it.

Railways to set up 1000 MW power plant in Nabinagar

July 31, 2009. Railways would set up a 1000 MW capacity power plant at Nabinagar in Bihar to meet its power requirements.  The plant will be set up under a joint venture with NTPC, Minister of State for Railways E Ahamed told the Rajya Sabha.  Railways have already formed 'Bharatiya Bijlee Company Limited' for initiating power projects for it.  In a written reply in the House, Ahamed said the upcoming plant will feed 164 traction sub-stations located in Eastern and Western region of the country.  Railways consumed more than 14,096 million Kwh in 2007-08 for operational (traction) and non operational (non traction) purposes.  Its power needs are also fulfilled by different state utilities and companies like Tata Electric, Damodar Valley Corporation and NTPC. Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced setting up of another 1000 MW power plant at Adra in her Budget speech this year, which will feed power required for the tractions at economical tariff.

‘High power prices to hit Indian utilities’: Fitch

July 31, 2009. Fitch Ratings said in a report that significant increases in short-term power prices, especially those of peak load power, have started to affect the credit profiles of Indian power utilities. The distribution companies (DISCOMs), in deficit scenarios or otherwise, have sourced their peak demand power on the open market to achieve flexibility in power purchase operations. Both the quantum and price of short-term power traded have exhibited a significant upward trend during the past two years. The spot price of short-term power contracts on India's two power exchanges has touched highs of Rs14 per kilowatt hour (Kwh) in recent months.

Countries keen to sell N-reactors to India

July 30, 2009. While several countries are keen to sell nuclear reactors to India, any deal in this direction would be struck only on terms set down by the government. After signing the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, India has sourced uranium for its existing reactors from France and Russia which would meet the country's requirements. India is in talks with companies from Russia, France and the US for importing nuclear reactors.

Coal India looks to launch forward e-auction in Aug

July 29, 2009. Coal India Ltd plans to launch forward e-auction of coal — open for participation of only end users — in August. CIL had planned to launch the forward auction last year but aborted the plan due to inadequate participation. Plans are also afoot to float tenders for a 50:50 joint venture participation to re-open 18 abandoned mines in August. The company would offer coal from its loss-making mines for forward auction.  Considering that a majority of such mines are under two financially weak subsidiaries — Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) and Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL) — the auction should improve their profitability.  BCCL has the country’s only prime coking coal reserves. ECL has import quality thermal coal reserves as well as some coking coal reserves. Since both the companies depend on underground mining for extraction of such reserves, the cost of production are higher than the notified prices.




Total files commerciality for Itau Gas Field in Bolivia

August 4, 2009. Margarita and Itau Gas Fields Total has filed a declaration of commerciality with the Bolivian authorities for the Itau gas field. Itau was discovered in 1999 in Block XX Tarija West and is operated by Total with 75% equity.  The production from this field will be transported using existing infrastructure on the neighbouring San Alberto gas field, operated by Petrobras. Itau is scheduled to start up mid-2010 and its expected production will be 50 million standard cubic feet per day (1.4 million cubic metres per day).

Saxon Oil accelerates E&P plans onshore Italy

August 4, 2009. Saxon Oil announced that AleAnna Resources, of which Saxon owns a 20% membership interest, received formal approval and published decrees from the Italian Ministry of Economic Development granting exclusive exploration permits for six (6) years to AleAnna for both the Ponte Del Diavolo and the Ponte Dei Grilli applications located in the province of Ferrara, Emilia Romagna Region in northeastern Italy. The tracts lie in the Ferrara-Romagna Arc-NW Peri-Apenninic Foredeep. Italy has been a major gas producing region in Europe since the late 1940s.

Shell, BP delay projects, anticipate lower costs

August 4, 2009.  Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc, Europe’s biggest oil companies, are putting some final investment decisions on hold in anticipation that project costs will drop, said Moody’s Investors Service Ltd.  Shell and BP said their cost saving are limited because they signed contracts to deliver projects. Still, if oil prices fall to $60 a barrel, industry costs should continue to decline, said Moody’s. 

The oil industry scrapped or delayed $170 billion worth of projects between October and mid-April as crude futures have fallen by more than half since peaking at $147.27 a barrel last July, according to the International Energy Agency.

Tullow unlocks oil in Uganda's Block 2

August 4, 2009. Tullow Oil announced that the Ngara-1 exploration well, which is located in the Butiaba region of Uganda Block 2, has encountered over 8 meters of net oil pay.  Located approximately one kilometer from the crest of the structure, the well was drilled to a total depth of 741 meters and has been successfully logged and sampled.

Saudi Aramco preps 400-plus wells at Khurais mega project

August 4, 2009. Saudi Aramco's FieldsAs the Khurais mega project added 1.2 million bpd of oil to the Kingdom's energy stream, the Southern Area Production Engineering and Production Services Departments (SAPED and SAPSD) have prepared more than 400 wells required to bring the project on line. The two departments were responsible for 232 oil-producer, 119 water-injector and 58 observation wells and were in charge of the massive stimulation campaign, and the installation and testing of the electrical submersible pumps.

Petrom registers first exploration success in Russia

August 3, 2009. Petrom, the largest oil and gas producer in South-Eastern Europe, confirms both oil and gas discoveries in the exploration well Lugovaya-1. The well is located in the Kamenski license in the Saratov Region (Russia).

China's offshore oil reserve estimated at 24 billion tons

August 3, 2009. China's offshore crude oil and natural gas reserves are estimated at about 24 billion tons and 14 trillion cubic meters respectively. China also acquired some 75,000 square kilometers of exclusive natural resources exploration and development blocks in international sea-bed areas.

China's coastal line extends 18,000 kilometers, while about 6500 islands larger than 500 square meters are located within Chinese territorial sea, which covers 380,000 square kilometers. Meanwhile, in accordance with UN's Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), another 3 million square kilometers of waters are currently under Chinese jurisdiction.

Petrobras says ‘09 oil output target hard to reach

August 3, 2009.  Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil’s state-run oil company, will struggle to meet its 2009 domestic oil production target and spend the next three years wringing output from mature wells before new fields come on line.  The company recorded average output in the first six months of 1.958 million barrels a day after maintenance shutdowns, and Credit Suisse said on July 20 the full-year target is “virtually unachievable.” Petrobras is relying on fields that have been in production for as long as 60 years to maintain output before new projects start in 2013.

Petrobras Spies traces of oil in BM-S-7 block

August 3, 2009. Brazil's National Petroleum Agency was notified that Petrobras discovered traces of oil at a recently drilled well in the offshore Santos Basin. Drilled by the Pride South Atlantic semisub and located in the BM-S-7 block, the 9BRSA741SPS reached a target depth of 4,625 meters and has tested positive for oil. The BM-S-7 block already contains Petrobras and Repsol's Piracuca discovery, which is estimated to contain light oil and natural gas reserves of some 550 million barrels of oil equivalent and has been deemed commercially viable.

Taiwan, China oil firms to seek undersea reserves

August 1, 2009.  Flagship oil firms from China and Taiwan will explore again for oil and gas in the Taiwan Strait, an ocean channel that separates the two political rivals, from September.

Taiwan's state-run CPC Corp and China's CNOOC Ltd plan to drill on a tract covering 15,000 square km of the Strait. Under a 6-year-old deal between the two sides followed by a fruitless exploration effort five years ago, both firms will send new resources to the site with an eye on natural gas.

Total output falls to nine-year low amid recession

July 31, 2009. Total SA, Europe’s third-largest oil producer, reported output fell to the lowest in at least nine years as the global recession eroded energy demand, offsetting gains from new projects in Nigeria and the Gulf of Mexico. Output fell 7.3 percent in the second quarter to 2.18 million barrels of oil equivalent a day, Total said in today’s earnings statement. Production last fell to below this level in 2000 when the company, which completed a takeover that year of Elf Aquitaine SA, reported 2.12 million barrels of oil equivalent of output.

Oman's O&G production higher in first 5 months

July 31, 2009. Oman's total exports of crude oil stood at 97.764,5 million barrels during the first five months of 2009, against 90.728,3 million barrels during the same period of 2008, constituting a 7.8 percent rise. 

The average daily production stood at 789,8 barrels by the end of May 2009 against 738,7 barrels during the same period of 2008, constituting a 6.9 percent rise. China topped the countries importing Omani Oil as it imported 31.501,6 million barrels during the first five months of 2009, against 45.564,2 million barrels during the same period of 2008, constituting a 30.9 percent decline.

Pemex output goal ‘uphill battle,’ forces borrowing

July 31, 2009. Petroleos Mexicanos, Latin America’s largest oil company, is likely to miss its 2009 output goal even after lowering its production forecast, forcing the company to seek other sources of financing to pay for its largest-ever capital spending plan. Pemex, which hasn’t increased production in 3 years, needs to raise output by at least 1.6 percent in the final six months of 2009 to reach a goal of 2.65 million barrels a day.

Exxon Mobil to start Cepu production

July 29, 2009. Exxon Mobil Corp's huge Cepu oil field in Indonesia is expected to start initial production in August nearly a decade after it was discovered and following a sharp slide in crude output in Southeast Asia's biggest economy. Cepu, which ranks among the U.S. major's top 10 projects worldwide and is Southeast Asia's biggest new field, has faced multiple obstacles, from land issues to the path of pipelines and the share of revenue and control with state oil firm Pertamina.


PetroChina, Qatar, Shell JV Refinery to be in Taizhou

August 4, 2009. PetroChina Co., Qatar Petroleum International, and Royal Dutch Shell PLC have decided to locate their $80 billion refinery and petrochemical complex in Taizhou city in China's eastern Zhejiang province, China Chemical Industry News said.  Work has been completed on planning and an preliminary environment assessment. The project has been submitted to China's top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission for approval, it said.

China refiners boost diesel output on fishing season

August 4, 2009.  China Petrochemical Corp. and China National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s biggest refiners, will increase oil processing volumes at their plants this month from July levels to meet seasonal diesel demand from fishermen. Supplying fuel for fishing boats in coastal regions will drive up diesel use, while stable auto sales should support gasoline consumption, China Petrochemical, also known as Sinopec Group, said in its company newsletter.

U.S. refiners see shakeout under climate change bill

August 3, 2009. Ailing U.S. oil refiners could face a crippling period of contraction under a House-approved climate change bill, making the country more dependent on imported refined products. The so-called cap-and-trade bill narrowly passed by the House of Representatives in June would limit greenhouse gas emissions by requiring polluters to acquire permits for the carbon dioxide they spew into the atmosphere. To soften the blow, industry would initially be granted free permits covering 85 percent of emissions.

S.Korea SK to build $150 mn Thai diesel facility

August 3, 2009. South Korea's SK Engineering & Construction said that it has won a $150 million order to build a diesel desulphurisining facility at a refinery of Thailand's PTT Aromatics and Refining Co Ltd. The facility, located in Map Ta Phut, 250 km southeast of Bangkok, would produce 85,700 barrels per day (bpd) of diesel with sulphur below 10 ppm, when construction is completed by December 2011.

Petrovietnam to build $10 bn petchem complex

August 3, 2009. Petrovietnam, the state-owned oil company, has decided to build what will be this country's largest petrochemical facility. The total cost for the complex, which will consist of a refinery and a chemical plant, is estimated at over $10 billion. Construction is expected to start as early as 2011, and operations could begin in 2014.  Around this fall, Petrovietnam will select foreign business partners for a joint venture to run the refinery.

China relocates Sinopec plant on environmental protests

July 31, 2009. China relocated a planned $5 billion petrochemicals plant in Guangdong province after environmental protests. It is not clear where China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and partner Kuwait Petroleum Corp. will now build the plant.

Venezuela accuses US of blocking Dominican refinery buy

July 31, 2009. Venezuela accused the United States of blocking the country's negotiations with the Dominican Republic on buying a refinery company from the country. State-owned Petroleum of Venezuela (PDVSA) was interested in buying the Refidomsa Company from the Dominican Republic. Dominican right-wing legislators are said to have asked the U.S. Department of State to take measures against Venezuela for its plan to buy 49 percent of Refidomsa's shares. The Venezuelan government's intention to buy part of Refidomsa's share aims to strengthen the energy infrastructure of the country.

Three companies to build refinery in West Java

July 31, 2009. Three companies signed a document for the establishment of a joint venture company, PT Banten Bay Refinery, that will build an oil refinery in Bojanegara, Banten, West Java.  The construction of the project with an investment of US$4 billion was aimed at helping the government ensure domestic fuel oil supply resilience.  Banten Bay Refinery is a joint venture company of three countries Indonesia (Pertamina), Iran (National Iranian Oil Refining and Distribution Company-NIORDC), and Malaysia (Petrofield).

ExxonMobil: First Rasgas LNG 'imminent'

July 30, 2009. Exxon Mobil Corp. still plans to carry forward its ambitious capital spending program, although it may spend less than the $29 billion it originally estimated due to cost savings. ExxonMobil still sees its production increasing 2% to 3% annually on average over the next five years, despite a 3% drop reported in the second quarter.  Train no. 6 in its Rasgas liquefied natural gas project in Qatar has achieved mechanical completion.

Bechtel wins Wheatstone FEED contract from Chevron

July 30, 2009. Chevron Corp. announced the award of a major front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract for the first phase of the Wheatstone natural gas development in northwest Australia.  Chevron awarded the contract for the first phase of the project -- which consists of two liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing trains each with a capacity of about 4.3 million tons per year and a domestic gas plant -- to Bechtel Oil, Gas & Chemicals, Inc. The facility will be supplied initially from Chevron's 100 percent interest in the Wheatstone Field and the Chevron-operated Iago Field.

Iran opens credit line for refinery project

July 29, 2009. A 700-million-euro (991m dollars) credit line has been opened to speed up the construction of Bidboland II gas refinery. The refinery would come on-stream by the next three years, boosting the country's gas refining capacity by 57m cubic meters per day.  The Bidboland II gas refinery in Khuzestan Province is also home to installations and pipelines to transfer daily amount of 45m cubic meters of sweet gas to Mahshahr port in the province.

Transportation / Trade

CNOOC, MISC to form LNG carrier fleet

August 4, 2009. China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) and an energy subsidiary of China Merchants Group plan to create a fleet of six LNG carriers together with Malaysia International Shipping Corporation Berhad (MISC).  They will entrust the construction of the LNG carriers to Hudong-Zhonghua Shipbuilding (Group) Co., Ltd., which is under the wing of China Shipbuilding Group Corporation (CSSC) as the only shipbuilder in Mainland China that can build LNG carriers.

US Coast Guard clears LNG tanker hurdle

August 3, 2009. The US Coast Guard gave its coveted blessing, with conditions, to a proposal to build a liquefied natural gas offloading terminal in Mt. Hope Bay, removing a major stumbling block in a plan to bring LNG supertankers up Narragansett Bay and park them in the middle one of the Rhode Island's major waterways. It was the Coast Guard that essentially killed off an earlier incarnation of the plan by Weaver's Cove Energy, ruling that the massive tankers would be unable to safely make the hairpin turns between bridges as they traveled up the Taunton River to unload the highly volatile fuel in Fall River.

Delek, Isramco to bid for Israel LNG terminal

July 31, 2009. Delek Group Ltd. subsidiary Delek Energy Systems Ltd. and Isramco Ltd. want to participate in the tender for a $400 million liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal. The two companies have purchased the tender documents for the prequalification stage of the tender.

The terminal is due to be completed by 2015. The terminal is aimed at creating an independent strategic source of natural gas and reducing Israel's dependence on gas from Egypt's East Mediterranean Gas Co. (EMG) and the Tamar reserves.

Dolphin Energy raises $4.1 bn to fund pipeline project

July 31, 2009. Abu Dhabi-based Dolphin Energy Ltd., which imports natural gas to the United Arab Emirates via a pipeline from Qatar, said it has raised $4.1 billion to refinance debt, fund the construction of its Taweelah-Fujairah pipeline project and pay for refinancing-related fees.  Dolphin raised $3 billion from 25 financial institutions in late April, and $1.25 billion from a debut project bond issue late July, which it used to scale back the other facilities, it said in an emailed statement.

Tokyo Gas to buy stake in Australian LNG project

July 31, 2009. Tokyo Gas Co. said that it will purchase an equity interest in a large-scale liquefied natural gas project that major U.S. and European energy firms have been undertaking in Australia.

The Gorgon project entails the development of natural gas fields off the northwestern coast of the state of Western Australia, as well as the establishment of an onshore LNG plant. The project is slated to start producing 15 million tons of LNG a year in 2014, or roughly 20 percent of Japan's current annual LNG imports.

Australia Origin Energy: Progressing on LNG talks

July 31, 2009.   Australia's Origin Energy, a partner with U.S. ConocoPhillips in a gas export project, said the venture was progressing in gas sales talks but did not give a timeframe on when it expected to sign customers.

The ConocoPhillips-Origin gas export project, known as Australia Pacific LNG, is one of five projects in Australia's northeastern state of Queensland that plans to use coal seam gas as a feedstock for its LNG plants.

Gazprom starts building far East gas pipeline

July 31, 2009. Russia started construction of a major gas pipeline supplying its Pacific Ocean port city of Vladivostok, which could eventually be used to feed exports of gas to Japan. The pipeline is due to be completed before Vladivostok hosts the summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, or APEC, group in 2012, state-controlled gas giant OAO Gazprom said in a statement announcing the start of construction.

Sempra: Cameron LNG begins commercial ops

July 30, 2009. Sempra LNG, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy announced that its Cameron LNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) receipt terminal near Lake Charles, La., has successfully completed performance testing and has begun commercial operations. Over the past month, start-up and commissioning activities have been completed, including the arrival of the facility's first two LNG commissioning cargoes and obtaining the approval to commence operations from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Enbridge may expand central Gulf pipeline system

July 29, 2009. Enbridge Inc. announced it has entered into Letters of Intent with Chevron USA, Inc. which could result in the expansion of its central Gulf of Mexico offshore pipeline system.  Under the terms of the LOI, Enbridge proposes to construct, own and operate the Walker Ridge Gathering System (WRGS) to provide natural gas gathering services to the potential Jack, St. Malo and Big Foot ultra deepwater developments. The estimated cost of the WRGS is approximately US $500 million, subject to finalization of scope and definitive cost estimates.

Woodside in talks with companies for Pluto gas

July 29, 2009. Woodside Petroleum Ltd. said that it is in talks with at least two companies on third-party gas supplies for its Pluto II liquefied natural gas terminal expansion in Western Australia. Woodside expects to finalize a gas supply deal soon, enabling the start of front-end engineering and design, for the A$5 billion expansion.

CNG Provider, CNPC complete JV cooperation deal

July 29, 2009. China Natural Gas, Inc., a leading provider of compressed natural gas (CNG) for vehicular fuel and pipeline natural gas for industrial, commercial and residential use in Xi'an, China, announced that the Company's variable interest entity Xi'an Xilan Natural Gas Co., Ltd. has completed a Joint-Venture Cooperation Agreement (the "JV Agreement") with China National Petroleum Corporation Kunlun Natural Gas Co., Ltd. ("CNPC Kunlun"), a wholly owned subsidiary of China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) and the largest supplier of compressed natural gas in China.

Policy / Performance

US oil industry refinery safety talks break down

August 4, 2009. Negotiations broke down between the largest labor organization of U.S. refinery workers and oil industry representatives over plant safety standards.  The talks, aimed at reducing worker fatigue and improving the reporting of safety indicators, were initiated in the aftermath of the 2005 fatal explosion at BP PLC (BP)'s Texas City, Texas refinery.

FERC plans hearings for Blue Bridge Pipeline project

August 3, 2009. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will hold public meetings on a proposed 119-mile natural gas pipeline that would run mostly parallel to an existing pipeline along the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. The applicant, Williams Northwest Pipeline, says the Blue Bridge Pipeline is needed to meet increased demand for natural gas in western Washington markets.

Obama considers Iran gasoline cut-off

August 3, 2009. The United States is considering a move in cooperation with allied countries to cut off Iran's gasoline imports. The Obama administration has broached the idea of cutting off Tehran's supplies of gasoline and other refined oil products if it refuses to negotiate on its nuclear program.  The move is said to be meant to buttress President Barack Obama's efforts to get Israeli officials to stop dropping hints about a possible military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities if no progress is made this year.

US gasoline tax loses momentum

August 3, 2009.  Since the 1930s the US federal government has been collecting taxpayer money for highway and bridge repairs via a by-the-gallon gas excise. Now that cars are becoming more fuel-efficient, bureaucrats are crafting new ways of raising funds.  

In a February 2009 report, the National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission suggested a 10-cent increase in the federal gasoline tax. The proposed increase works out to about half a cent per mile and $5 a month per vehicle. A funding system based on more direct charges in the shape of a by-the-mile fuel tax is being field tested by the University of Iowa. The charges are commonly referred to as a vehicle miles traveled or VMT fee system.

China to keep fuel-pricing system started last year

August 3, 2009.  China, the world’s second-biggest energy user, said it will maintain a fuel-pricing system introduced last year, after a report the nation’s two largest oil companies asked for changes to the mechanism.  The system has helped to ensure supplies in the first half of this year, the Beijing-based National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top planner, said in a statement.  China may adjust fuel prices when crude-oil costs change more than 4 percent over 22 working days under the current formula. China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petrochemical Corp. said the method is “too simple and transparent,” enabling speculators to predict changes before price adjustments.

Speculation in oil market: UK regulator calls market players

July 31, 2009. Britain's financial-markets regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has summoned major UK oil companies, banks, hedge funds and oil brokers for a meeting, to review regulation in the commodity markets. The FSA apparently intends to curb financial flows into the oil and other commodity markets. The meeting follows an episode of rogue trading earlier this month at PVM, the London-based oil brokerage, which triggered losses of US$10mn for the company and pushed oil prices to their highest level this year at US$73.50 a barrel.

U.S. Senate votes to punish companies selling gasoline to Iran

July 31, 2009.   The U.S. Senate voted to punish companies that sell gasoline to Iran by prohibiting them from supplying the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The measure passed as an amendment to the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. Iran, holder of the world’s second-largest oil reserves, must import gasoline because it lacks sufficient refining capacity to supply motorists. The country is under three sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.

North West Shelf venture celebrates 25 years of operations

July 31, 2009. Australia's greatest resource project is celebrating a major birthday, with this month marking 25 years since the Woodside-operated North West Shelf Venture began processing natural gas. This year also marks the 20th anniversary of liquefied natural gas exports from the North West Shelf Venture, with more than 2700 cargoes delivered to the Asia Pacific region and other parts of the world since 1989. The Venture is now one of the world's largest producers of LNG.

Sudan records jump in oil revenue for June

July 30, 2009. The crude oil exports for Sudan last June edged higher compared to May reflecting improved prices for the crude in world markets.  Total oil revenue for June was $168.19 million compared to $147.83 in May. The share of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) in oil revenues increased in June to $70.43 million from $63.43 million in May.

Oil majors profit falls to 5-year low as fuel demand slows

July 30, 2009. Exxon Mobil Corp., the largest U.S. oil company, reported its lowest profit in more than five years and fell short of analyst estimates after the recession sapped demand for diesel, gasoline and natural gas. Second-quarter net income dropped 66 percent to $3.95 billion, or 81 cents a share, from $11.7 billion, or $2.22, a year earlier.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s largest oil company, reported a 67 percent decline in second-quarter profit, to $3.8 billion. London-based BP Plc said July 28 that its net income dropped 53 percent to $4.39 billion.  Houston-based ConocoPhillips, the third-largest U.S. oil company, said that its profit declined 76 percent to $1.3 billion.

Nymex Ignores market speculation warning signs, Gensler says

July 29, 2009.   The main U.S. market for energy trading has repeatedly let investors exceed levels meant to keep one firm from amassing too much control, underscoring the need for stricter limits, the top commodities regulator said.

 Traders in the past 12 months sometimes held two to three times the so-called accountability levels set by the New York Mercantile Exchange for crude oil, natural gas, heating oil and gasoline contracts, according to a report by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. About 70 traders exceeded the levels. Nymex often failed to intervene, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler said.

The CFTC, which oversees $5 trillion in daily trading on futures including oil, farm goods and currencies, is holding the second of three hearings on the influence speculators have on prices. Gensler is weighing the idea of position limits or strict caps on how many contracts a trader can hold.

PetroChina shares fall on fuel price cut

July 29, 2009. China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and PetroChina Co., the country’s biggest oil refiners, fell in Hong Kong trading after China unexpectedly cut fuel prices. China, the world’s second-biggest energy user, cut gasoline and diesel prices by at least 3.3 percent after three increases since March sparked public concern that fuel costs are too high. The Chinese government controls prices under a mechanism that takes into account crude-oil costs, taxes and a profit for refiners. Oil has gained 50 percent this year.

Goldman says curbing speculators may disrupt markets

July 29, 2009.   Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the bank that makes the most money from commodities, fixed-income and currency trading, said attempts to curb speculation may be “disruptive” to energy markets.  The testimony was part of the hearings on excessive market speculation and how to respond. New York-based JPMorgan Chase & Co., said the CFTC should set “a speculative position limit” that looks at individual entities’ net positions, instead of regulating the banks that facilitate trading.

Australian Minister determines appeals for Chevron's Gorgon project

July 29, 2009. Environment Minister Donna Faragher has determined appeals against the Environmental Protection Authority's (EPA) report on the revised and expanded proposed Gorgon gas development on Barrow Island.  In determining appeals, Faragher agreed that there was a need for better protection of high value coral adjacent to the project.

Enbridge proposes walker ridge gathering system for GOM

July 29, 2009. Enbridge has entered into Letters of Intent with Chevron USA, Inc. which could result in the expansion of its central Gulf of Mexico offshore pipeline system. Under the terms of the LOI, Enbridge proposes to construct, own and operate the Walker Ridge Gathering System (WRGS) to provide natural gas gathering services to the potential Jack, St. Malo and Big Foot ultra-deepwater developments. The estimated cost of the WRGS is approximately US $500 million, subject to finalization of scope and definitive cost estimates.



Rs 1.25 bn for Lower Modi hydel project in Nepal

August 4, 2009. Eight banks and financial institutions agreed to provide Rs 1.25 billion for the construction of the 10-MW Lower Modi hydropower project at Modikhola of Parbat district. The banks -- Citizen Bank International, NIC Bank, Global Bank, Kist Bank, Clean Energy Development Bank, Nepal Development and Employment Promotion Bank, Vibor Bank and Nepal Share Market and Finance- signed an agreement to this effect. Once completed, the project will generate 61 giga watt electricity per hour.

Vattenfall posts profit drop, seeks to restore trust after nuclear incident

July 30, 2009. Swedish energy group Vattenfall posted a 36 percent drop in second-quarter earnings and said it needs to restore trust after a short circuit at a nuclear power plant in Germany raised concerns about safety there. Vattenfall said net profit plunged to 2.5 billion kronor ($333 million) in the three-month period, down from 3.8 billion kronor in the same quarter a year ago. Although sales rose nearly 20 percent to 42.1 billion kronor, Vattenfall said higher costs, mainly due to higher interest rates on its loans, weighed heavily on the earnings.

Saudi burns more crude for power, halts fuel oil import

July 29, 2009.   Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, is burning more crude in domestic power plants to keep new wells pumping and produce cleaner electricity, likely eliminating demand for imported fuel this summer. The use of even more crude oil to generate electricity allows the kingdom to put to use fresh output from a major new oilfield while holding firm to its OPEC commitment to curb exports. It also helps the kingdom meet stricter environmental rules. Estimates on how much crude it is burning differ, but the kingdom's own data show it has risen in recent years, and it could be as high as 470,000 bpd of crude this year, up 62 percent from 2008, consultancy FACTS Global Energy says.

Transmission / Distribution / Trade

Enel and EdF create joint venture to develop nuclear energy in Italy

August 3, 2009. The Italian energy company Enel has formed a joint venture with France's EdF to develop nuclear energy in Italy.  The companies billed the move "as the first substantial step" toward establishing nuclear plants in Italy following the approval of an Italian law last month allowing a return to nuclear energy more than two decades after voters shut down the country's reactors. The new Enel/EdF joint venture, called Italy Nuclear Development, will run feasibility studies for the construction of at least four nuclear reactors in Italy, which individual companies would then build and operate.

Low spot-market electricity rates seen in Philippines

August 1, 2009. Prices at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) will remain at their present low levels for the rest of the year because of the privatization of a number of state-owned power plants, the market’s operator said. WESM prices may continue to average below the rates of state-owned National Power Corp. (Napocor) because of the latter’s ongoing privatization.  PEMC is the state-administered agency operating the country’s first electricity trading market.

UK's Ofgem calls for power grid efficiency

July 31, 2009. Britain's regional electricity network companies should deliver their 2010-15 investments for much less than they have proposed to minimize the impact on customer bills of grid modernization, UK energy regulator Ofgem said. Britain's 14 distribution network operators (DNOs) are regional monopolies regulated by Ofgem which sets what they can spend and the revenue they collect every five years.

Taiwan ships last of spent nuclear fuel to US

July 30, 2009. Taiwan has shipped to the United States the last spent fuel kept at two long-suspended nuclear reactors. The fuel, which contained highly enriched uranium, was placed in two special containers aboard a US transport vessel that sailed on July 19, said Shao Yao-chu of Taiwan's Atomic Energy Council.

Hitachi Power Systems America bags contract

July 29, 2009. Hitachi Power Systems America, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi America, Ltd., announced that it has been awarded a contract for the design and supply of a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) System from East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Inc. for their John Sherman Cooper Power Station, Unit 2, located near Somerset, Kentucky on the banks of Lake Cumberland. Terms were not disclosed.

Policy / Performance

Mozambique: Minister calls for productive use of electricity

August 4, 2009. Mozambique's Minister of Energy, Salvador Namburete, called for the productive use of electricity in order to produce a return on the enormous investments made in electrification.  Productive use of electricity, he added, would enable the consumers to pay a fair price for it. "The arrival of electricity in itself does not generate productive use", continued the Minister. "The population needs to be educated to use electricity to generate income and fight against poverty".

Ghana plans to be major electricity exporter to Nigeria

August 4, 2009. Ghana has said that arrangements are now in place for it to be "a major exporter" of electricity to Nigeria, which was hitherto supplying gas to it for electricity supply through the West Africa Gas Pipeline arrangement.  Ghana generates just 2, 062 mega watts (MW) against the peak demand of just 1, 350 MW unlike the over 10, 000 MW electricity demand in Nigeria.

US Energy bill will spur 20 pc electricity-price hike by ’30 

August 4, 2009. The average U.S. electricity customer would face a 20 percent price increase in 20 years under climate legislation passed by the House last month, according to a draft analysis by the Energy Information Administration. The House bill by Democrats Henry Waxman (Calif.) and Ed Markey (Mass.) would force electricity prices to climb to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2030, 20 percent above EIA's 2009 projections, under a scenario in which low-emission technology is developed on schedule and offsets are not constrained, the Energy Department agency says in the draft. Electricity prices will vary from 11 to 17.6 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2030 under six different scenarios EIA analyzed.

UK Power upgrades will put £3.76 on average bill

August 3, 2009. Upgrades to the regional electricity network will add an average of £3.76 a year to bills over the next five years, the UK regulator said. Around £6.5 billion will be invested between 2010 and 2015 but Ofgem has told the companies responsible for the network that they must deliver their plans for 17 per cent less than they originally forecast. The regulator said its proposals aimed to protect consumers from "unnecessary price rises in today's difficult economic environment".

U.S. needs to add 45 nuclear reactors, emissions study finds

August 3, 2009. The U.S. needs to build 45 nuclear reactors and reduce power consumption by 8 percent by 2030 to meet greenhouse-gas emission reductions called for by Congress, a report funded by the electric industry says. 

The Electric Power Research Institute, whose members produce and deliver more than 90 percent of U.S. power, issued the report. It also calls for building 100 million plug-in electric vehicles and retrofitting about 18 percent of U.S. coal-power plants to capture emissions. 

Duke Energy Elbows Co-ops for carbon permits in climate measure

August 3, 2009. Some of the largest U.S. electricity companies, including Duke Energy Corp. and American Electric Power Co., are fighting what may be a $100 billion battle with smaller cooperatives, community providers and state regulators over the right to pollute. As the Senate writes a bill to control greenhouse gases, the groups are swarming over a pot of free permits that cap carbon emissions and create a trading system of pollution rights. Lawmakers want to broker peace the way they did two decades ago when they gave AEP and other coal-plant operators license to pollute as part of a deal to curb acid rain. Critics decried the decision as a giveaway to the “big dirties.”

Cost of nuclear demo plant in South Africa soars

August 3, 2009. The cost of Pebble Bed Modular Reactor's (PBMR's) demonstration plant and pilot fuel plant had almost doubled to R31-billion as a result of inflation and higher materials costs. The demonstration reactor, which would generate 200 megawatts of heat and 80MW of electricity, was now expected to be commissioned by 2018 - four years later than previously expected.  The plant has yet to receive environmental clearance.  The pebble bed modular nuclear reactor project, which was started in 1999, has spent R8bn of its R9bn budget, which runs to March next year.

Angola: Electricity supply improvement requires more investments

August 2, 2009. The minister of Energy, Emanuela Vieira Lopes, defended more investments for the energy sector in northern Uíge province so as to improve the supply of electricity to the population.  To overturn the situation, the government official said that the ministry is carrying out various actions, with highlight to the transportation of the Kapanda line and the conclusion of the second phase of the Luquixe dam construction works.

UAE to adhere to nuclear safety 

July 31, 2009. The Permanent mission of the UAE to the International Atomic Energy Agency has communicated that the UAE Government's decision to join a number of additional international conventions related to Nuclear Safety and Security.  The UAE's decision was communicated by Ambassador Hamad Al Kaabi, UAE Permanent Representative to the IAEA, who delivered the related accession letters from Shaikh Abdulla Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Foreign Minister, to the IAEA Director general.

Libya and Canada sign nuclear deal

Jul 30, 2009. Libya and Canada have signed a memorandum of intent on nuclear power, the fourth signed by Tripoli in the past two years. The memorandum foresees cooperation between the two countries in research and the mining, processing and transport of uranium, as well as its use in medicine and desalination projects. Since July 2007, Libya has signed another three similar agreements with France, Russia and Ukraine.

Bulgarian nuclear project in doubt

July 30, 2009. The future of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant is in serious doubt after a powerful parliamentary committee chair insisted that the project is now frozen.  The 2,000MW Belene NPP project was too expensive and could cost the country its financial stability at a time of economic crisis.  The Bulgarian government has a majority 51 percent stake in the project through the National Electric Company, with Germany's RWE holding the remaining 49 per cent. Nuclear plant projects worldwide are invariably blighted by massive cost overruns and build delays. It is unlikely that private investors would be attracted to a nuclear project that is not underwritten by the state.

Renewable Energy Trends


Emami Biotech to set up biofuel project in Ethiopia

August 4, 2009. Emami Biotech, a part of the Rs 2,000-crore Emami Group, will invest Rs 400 crore in a plantation project over five years in Oromia in Ethiopia. The company will engage in plantation of biofuel crops (jatropha) and other edible and non-edible oil seeds on 100,000 acres allotted to Emami Biotech by the Oromia Investment Commission. Emami had already taken possession of 27,500 acres and work had begun, involving a capital outlay of about Rs 120 crore. The project also envisages setting up an extraction plant. Once completed, the project will be able to churn out 100,000 tonnes of crude biofuel or edible oil per annum. While the biofuel will be exported to India for producing biodiesel, the edible oil produced in Ethiopia will be used for local consumption. The commercial plantation work has already begun on the land, which has been offered to Emami Biotech on a 45-year renewable lease.

NTPC to diversify into renewables, hydro

August 4, 2009. National Thermal Power Corp (NTPC), the country’s largest power producer announced a decision to diversify beyond fossil fuels. The company, which accounts for 31,000 megawatt (Mw), around one-fifth of India’s total power generation capacity, has set itself a target of raising its total capacity to 75,000 MW by 2017. Currently, around 88 per cent of its capacity is coal-based and 18 per cent is based on natural gas. This will be gradually changed to include hydro, nuclear and renewable sources. In three years, the company plans to increase its coal-based capacity from the current 25,000 Mw to 40,000 Mw, and further to 53,000 Mw by 2017. Its gas capacity is also estimated to increase from the current 5,400 Mw to 8,000 Mw by 2012, and 10,000 Mw in 2017, according to the blueprint. Among non-fossil plants, hydropower will be the first to take off. NTPC intends to achieve a capacity of 2,000 Mw by 2012, which will be further raised to 9,000 Mw by 2017. Out of the remaining 3,000 Mw, nuclear power will account for two-thirds and renewables such as biogas will account for the remaining 1,000 Mw capacity by 2017.

PM's council deliberates on Rs 91,684 Cr solar energy plan

August 3, 2009. Firming up a national strategy to fight global warming, the Prime Minister's council on climate change discussed an ambitious Rs 91,684 crore mega-plan proposing to make India a global leader in solar power in the next few decades.  The Solar Mission is one of the seven missions proposed under the National Action Plan on Climate Change which was unveiled by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last year promising efforts to tackle climate change at the domestic level.  The council members are understood to have deliberated issues such paying a subsidy of Rs 82,000 crore to produce an ambitious 200,000 MW of solar power by 2050.  Various fiscal incentives have been proposed under mission document to the manufacturers as well end-consumers to propagate solar plants and technology and to displace diesel generators and UPS and invertor system with solar-based systems, sources said.  As per the mission document, it plans to achieve parity with coal-based thermal power generation by 2030 after which expansion of solar-generated power, it hopes, would face no technical or cost constraints. 

Solar cooked meals to be served at Shirdi shrine

July 31, 2009. Gujarat-based Gadhia Solar Energy Systems Pvt Ltd, which has installed a solar energy cooking system at Shirdi to cook 50,000 meals a day for the devotees of the Sai Baba Temple in the Maharashtra town, plans to invest Rs 300 crore in a year. The Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Resources, Dr Farooq Abdullah, formally inaugurated the Rs 5-crore facility at Shirdi. It took the company seven months to manufacture and commission the facility on a 4,000-sq. ft area. It would have a life of 25 years and expected payback period of three to four years. The manufacturer of the “world’s largest solar parabolic concentrated technology systems,” with technical support from HTT GmbH, Germany, is also planning to invest around Rs 300 crore on increasing production capacity at its Valsad-based plant in Gujarat and making equipment for 1,000 MW of solar energy in the next one year.

Astonfield may drop plans for solid waste plant

July 29, 2009. Astonfield Renewable Resources Ltd may drop its plan to put up a solid waste based 54 MW power plant in the city if the Kolkata Municipal Corporation fails to provide within next three months 30 acres of land to be required for the project.  The proposed power plant, to be implemented on BOT basis, is estimated to cost Rs 600 crore and to bring a long-term solid waste management solution for the city currently producing a little over 3200 tonnes of wastes daily.  


Ore. launches B2 biodiesel requirement

August 4, 2009. Oregon's 2 percent biodiesel (B2) requirement went into effect making it the third state supporting increased reliance on the fuel. Oregon's biodiesel production capacity has reached five million gallons, which triggered the requirement. Established as part of renewable energy legislation passed in 2007, nine counties in northwest Oregon will lead the adoption on August 5. The rest of the state will join by October 1.

UK company protests as it misses out on wind-farm subsidy

August 3, 2009. One of Britain’s biggest energy companies will miss out on renewable energy subsidies worth more than half a billion pounds because it placed an order to buy equipment for a huge offshore wind farm too early. Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) said that it was “unfair” that its £1.3 billion Greater Gabbard wind farm, off Suffolk, would be excluded from fresh incentives designed to kick-start stalled investment in the industry.

Nissan unveils zero-emission hatchback "Leaf"

August 3, 2009.  Nissan Motor Co took the wraps off its much-awaited electric naming the hatchback "Leaf" and taking a step toward its goal of leading the industry in the zero-emissions field. Japan's No.3 automaker and its French partner, Renault SA, have been the most aggressive proponents of pure electric vehicles in the auto industry, announcing plans to mass-market the clean but expensive cars globally in 2012. Nissan will begin selling the first Leaf cars in the United States, Japan and Europe toward the end of 2010, adding two more models soon after. It expects production to start with around 200,000 units a year at the global roll-out in 2012.

Geo-engineering risks weigh on hopes to reverse global warming

August 3, 2009.  Geo-engineering by seeding the upper atmosphere with particles to reflect solar radiation, which may help reverse global warming, carries extraordinary risks to life on Earth without further research, a group of scientists said. Researchers and policy makers would need at least a decade to test geo-engineering techniques that could alter Earth’s climate to mitigate against warming weather, the Laxemburg, Austria-based International Institute of Applied Systems Analysis said. The study was funded by the Novim Group, a California non-profit research organization.

API: No basis for EPA's proposed NO2 standard

August 3, 2009. The American Petroleum Institute told the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that there is no scientific basis for its proposed short-term nitrogen oxide (NO2) national ambient air quality standard. API supports maintaining the current annual NO2 NAAQS of 53 parts per billion because it fully meets the requirement to protect public health.  

Owens Corning expands in Asia’s wind energy market

August 3, 2009. Owens Corning, a world leader in glass fiber reinforcements and residential and commercial building materials, announced that the company is supporting its wind blade fabrication customers in Asia by expanding capacity to produce technical fabrics at its manufacturing facilities in Chanzhou and Doudian, China and Taloja, near Mumbai in India. The investment adds about one-third more knitting capacity to the three plants’ existing fabrics operations, to supply technical fabrics for the region’s growing wind energy market, which includes the fast-growing China market. The expansion is already underway and will be completed during the third quarter this year.

China's installed wind power capacity doubles in H1

August 2, 2009. China's installed wind power capacity that transmits power into the national electricity grid rose 11.81 million kilowatts in the first half of this year, doubling the figure of a year earlier.  The installed wind power capacity soared 101 percent year on year by the end of June, showing the country's strengthened efforts on using renewable energy.

China's wind power sector gained momentum in recent years due to the government's supportive policies. Figures showed that the country's installed wind power capacity reached 12 million kilowatts by the end of 2008, ranking the fourth globally trailing the United States, France and Spain.

Bangladesh wins World Bank solar power loan

August 1, 2009. The World Bank said it will loan Bangladesh $130 million to install solar energy panels to power 300,000 households. Only around 40 percent of Bangladeshis have access to electricity. A part of the financing will also be used to purchase and install about 10 million energy efficient compact fluorescent lamps in densely populated areas, replacing an equivalent number of incandescent lamps.

CR Power seeks slice of nuclear ventures

July 31, 2009. China Resources Power Holdings plans to take a 25 percent stake in a 25 billion yuan nuclear project in Hunan. The mainland's fourth-largest power firm by market value said it also aimed to invest 10 billion yuan in renewable energy by 2011.

The economic stimulus funds flowing into China's renewable energy sector is luring an increasing number of companies to boost investment in the sector. Beijing aims to generate up to 15 percent of its total electricity output from clean sources of power such as nuclear by 2020.

BP-Verenium cellulosic ethanol JV moving HQ to Sunshine State

July 30, 2009. BP and Verenium Corp. announced that its 50-50 joint venture company will operate under the name Vercipia Biofuels, and plan to relocate its corporate headquarters to Florida.  Vercipia continues to focus on the development of one of the nation's first commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities, located in Highlands County, Florida. The company is also developing a second commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol site in the Gulf Coast region.

Neste commissions second renewable diesel plant

July 29, 2009. Neste Oil has increased its capacity to produce NExBTL renewable diesel following the start-up of a second dedicated NExBTL plant at the company's main refinery at Porvoo, Finland. The new plant will be capable of producing 170,000 t/a of NExBTL renewable diesel. The start-up of the plant in June went well, and it has been producing the advanced fuel for a couple of weeks. The plant operates now on full capacity.

Terrabon to build 'green gasoline' plant in SE Texas

July 29, 2009. Terrabon, L.L.C., announced that it has produced high-octane "green gasoline" made from non-food biomass. The gasoline was produced using Terrabon's licensed MixAlco technology to pre-treat and ferment biomass at the Company's advanced biofuels research facility, Energy Independence I, located in Bryan, Texas. This process reportedly yielded organic salts, which were converted to ketones and then to high-octane gasoline.

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