ASIA: Consultants predict rapidly rising LNG demand to shrink global surplus

(EnergyAsia, July 30 2010, Friday) — As a result of rising liquefied natural gas (LNG) demand in Asia, the world’s surplus production capacity will fall rapidly, according to leading consultants. Sanford C. Bernstein & Co expect the world’s spare LNG capacity will dip below 5% by 2013 from a 30% glut last year, while Wood…

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UAE: Foster Wheeler to help ADCO raise Bida Al Qemzan’s oil production capacity to 20,000 b/d

(EnergyAsia, July 30 2010, Friday) — Switzerland-based engineering giant Foster Wheeler AG said its Global Engineering and Construction Group has won a contract from Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) to provide project management consultancy (PMC) services for the development of the Bida Al Qemzan oilfield in the UAE. ADCO aims to raise…

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IRAQ: Foster Wheeler wins contract to boost Basra crude oil export capacity to 4.5 million b/d

(EnergyAsia, July 30 2010, Friday) — Switzerland’s Foster Wheeler AG said its Global Engineering and Construction Group has won a project management consultancy (PMC) services contract from the Iraqi government to help the country expand its crude oil production and exports. Scheduled for completion by July 2013, the project is expected to boost Iraq’s Basra…

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IRAN: Four killed in oil terminal explosion on Kharq Island

(EnergyAsia, July 30 2010, Friday) — Four people and several others were injured died when a petrochemical plant exploded on Iran’s largest oil terminal last week, according to IRNA, the country’s official news agency. The report attributed the incident to a build-up of pressure inside the plant’s central boiler on Kharq Island in the Persian…

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INDONESIA: Pertamina to start up more fuel storage terminals

(EnergyAsia, July 30 2010, Friday) — Indonesian state oil and gas company PT Pertamina is expected to open a 50,000-kilolitre fuel terminal in Bau-bau in Southeast Sulawesi next year, and a 200,000-kilolitre terminal in Tanjung Uban on Bintan Island in 2012. The company recently started up a 150,000-kilolitre fuel storage terminal in the East Java…

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CHINA: MOU signed with Qatar for cooperation in energy, finance

(EnergyAsia, July 30 2010, Friday) — The governments of China and Qatar will soon be building on their recently signed memorandum of understanding to further cooperate in energy and finance, marking closer ties between China and the Arab world. Qatar is seeking to deepen partnerships with China, in particular the oil and gas business, said…

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CHINA: LNG sellers advised to lock in contracts before unconventional gas supplies increase

(EnergyAsia, July 30 2010, Friday) — Consultant Wood Mackenzie has this advice for those seeking to sell liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China: secure your contracts now before global output of unconventional gas, in particular shale from China, starts surging. In a new study, “Race for Supply – the Future of China’s Gas Market”, Wood…

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CHINA: Dalian reopens two oil berths after massive fire

  (EnergyAsia, July 30 2010, Friday) — Dalian Port (PDA) Co, operator of China’s largest crude-oil and second largest container terminal, said it has reopened two oil berths and may open a third as it continues to battle control a massive oil spill following a pipeline explosion on July 16. The Dalian Xingang oil port…

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TAIWAN: Formosa estimates cost of oil refinery fire at NT$500 million

(EnergyAsia, July 29 2010, Thursday) — Taiwan’s privately owned Formosa Petrochemical Corp (FPCC) said it suffered a loss of just NT500 million from a fire that damaged a residual desulphuriser at its Mailiao oil refinery on July 25. (US$1=NT$32). There were no human casualties and the blaze was quickly brought under control as the company…

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INDIA: IndianOil Corp reports Rs33.9 billion loss in the March-June quarter

(EnergyAsia, July 29 2010, Thursday) — Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, the country’s largest refiner, has largely blamed the high cost of subsidising fuel for its March-June 2010 loss of Rs33.88 billion as compared to a Rs36.83 billion profit for the same quarter last year. (US$1=Rs46). The loss surprised most analysts who had been expecting the…

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MIDDLE EAST: Rising energy demand to shrink oil exports

(EnergyAsia, July 29 2010, Thursday) — The Middle East will have less oil to export in the coming years as its energy demand, led by oil-fired power generation, continues to surge, said consultant Wood Mackenzie. In a special report, it expects the region’s oil demand to surge 114% from 2008 to 2030, due largely to…

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RUSSIA: BP expected to divest stake in Rosneft

(EnergyAsia, July 29 2010, Thursday) — Financially squeezed BP is expected to divest its estimated US$1 billion stake in Russia’s largest oil producer, Rosneft, as part of an attempt to help pay for damages caused by the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Russia’s deputy prime minister, Igor Sechin, said his government would consider…

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SINGAPORE: Gulf of Mexico uncertainties cast shadow over Keppel’s offshore and marine business

(EnergyAsia, July 29 2010, Thursday) — The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster could dent the outlook of Keppel Corporation Limited’s most important business, its offshore and marine segment, which provides the Singapore firm the bulk of its profits and revenue. While second quarter net profits rose 9.4% to S$347.3 million over the same period last…

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CHINA: Engineering consortium, NNPC and local government to build US$8 billion refinery in Nigeria

(EnergyAsia, July 29 2010, Thursday) –-The Lagos state government, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp, and a consortium of Chinese investors known as China State Construction Engineering Corp.  (CSCEC) have signed an agreement to invest US$8 billion in building a new 300,000 b/d oil refinery in the African country. The project, located within the Lekki Free…

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INDONESIA: Bumi Resources, Berau to raise production

(EnergyAsia, July 29 2010, Thursday) — Indonesia is expected to maintain its position as one of the world’s largest coal exporters despite a recent government announcement that it wants to sharply reduce production to curb the country’s greenhouse gas emissions and conserve reserves. Indonesian mines have been kept busy by the rising appetites of large…

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COMPANY: BP estimates Gulf of Mexico cost at over US$32 billion, names Dudley as new CEO

(EnergyAsia, July 29 2010, Thursday) — BP has raised the estimated bill of its Gulf of Mexico oil disaster to US$32.2 billion and named American Robert Dudley to replace its British chief executive Tony Hayward from October 1. In taking a pre-tax charge of $32.2 billion including the $20 billion escrow compensation fund previously announced,…

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INDIA: Fuel price deregulation — A break from the past

(EnergyAsia, July 28 2010, Wednesday) — By Vivek Shankar Mathur, Associate, Energy Security Analysis Inc (ESAI).

Summary: The end of price controls on gasoline and diesel (in phases) in India marks a clear break from previous attempts at price deregulation and indicates a renewed emphasis on domestic energy sector reform. In the short-term, this move will benefit private refiners Reliance and Essar, who now have the incentive to supply fuels in India’s domestic market.

In the longer term, this policy should encourage foreign participation in India’s refining and fuel retail sector and may well signal the first true step towards a liberalised and transparent oil market in the country.

Winds of change

In 2009, India’s oil demand ranked just behind the US, China and Japan. Demand for oil products grew at a robust 6% on average in the last five years. At the same time, India continues to import well over 70% of its demand for crude oil. Although India’s energy requirements certainly reflect the needs of a growing economy, its domestic oil demand has also been encouraged by an inefficient system of fuel subsidies.

This system may well be a thing of the past if the Indian government sticks to its recent commitment to end price controls on gasoline and diesel. The policy effectively permits India’s state refiners the freedom to set retail prices. The price of diesel will also be market-determined, but on a slower reform path.

Isn’t this the same old song?

Indisputably, India’s track record of fuel price deregulation has been poor. There have been instances of oil product decontrol in the past, notably in 2002, when state-owned refiners were permitted to set retail prices twice a month. However, that policy ended in 2003 after a controversial decision by the then Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led-government to stop the fortnightly revision of auto fuel prices before the May 2004 elections. Since then (as well as in 2002) all retail price revisions of auto fuels have been determined by oil marketing companies under advice from incumbent governments. The announced plans certainly signal a strong break from the past.

There is also a greater degree of political commitment towards energy reform. India’s policy makers are much more serious about tackling India’s yawning fiscal deficit (now estimated to be over 5.5% of India’s GDP), and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition government (the UPA) has been slowly taking important steps towards energy price reform in India:

In May 2010, for example, the Cabinet issued a price hike for the natural gas produced by ONGC and OIL and brought it to par with the prevailing private market rate of the gas produced and marketed from Reliance’s offshore KG-D6 fields in east India. This was a much needed reform for the public sector’s upstream companies whose marketed gas prices had not been revised since 2002.

The momentum for reform also stems from the current coalition government’s increased confidence in its political mandate – it won a second five-year term in office last year, and more recently survived a no-confidence vote (over a proposed increase in fuel prices in this year’s Budget) in Parliament in April 2010. In a worst-case scenario, if there is a roll-back, ESAI believes it will be delayed until 2014—after the next general elections.

The need for diesel price deregulation

The impact on India’s oil demand at this point in time is limited. Gasoline remains the rich man’s fuel in India, and a moderate price hike will not reduce demand for the product significantly. For oil demand to fall, it is more important to deregulate diesel prices fully—as diesel constitutes the largest piece (almost 40% or 1 million b/d) of India’s oil demand. In contrast, gasoline demand accounts for only 10% (300,000 b/d).

India’s diesel demand growth has averaged a healthy 6.6% (60,000 b/d) in the last five years, led by rising demand in transport, agriculture and off-grid power generation. India’s diesel demand is currently forecast to rise to almost 1.5 million b/d by 2015. At these rates of growth, India’s policy makers have certainly taken an important step to move away from subsidising diesel.

While diesel price deregulation will remain a more politically sensitive issue than gasoline, we do expect the pace of diesel price deregulation to quicken by the middle of 2011—after some of the UPA government’s coalition allies will have undergone regional and state elections.

If diesel prices are fully deregulated, higher prices could make India’s subsidised consumers take efforts at conserving fuel use. Diesel consumption may also be managed more efficiently: a policy currently being discussed is how to divert diesel use more in the rail freight sector than in trucking, for example. 

Reliance and Essar and the domestic market

The immediate impact of this deregulation of gasoline (and eventually diesel) prices will be an increased focus on India’s domestic oil market by private refiners Reliance and Essar. Both refiners have until now focused on external markets because they were not part of the government’s subsidy-sharing mechanism, making it uneconomical for them to sell in the domestic market while state-owned refiners sold subsidised fuels.

A more competitive domestic retail market provides both Reliance and Essar the incentive to expand their retail presence and supply gasoline and diesel in India.

A nation-wide fuel spec switch to Euro-3 gasoline and diesel (Euro-4 in select cities) this year also means these refiners have an outlet for their clean fuels in the high-growth Indian domestic market. As the phased policy of diesel deregulation becomes clearer, ESAI believes it is likely that these private refiners will export lower volumes of gasoline (and subsequently, diesel) in the coming months—some much needed bullish support for Singapore refining margins.

The enhanced presence of Reliance and Essar in the domestic market will also pressure state-owned refiners in the fuel retail sector. They may not necessarily lower refinery utilisations, however. They will utilise their advantage of being more geographically dispersed in the country, and an already-present system of distribution and retail networks. They are also likely to increase fuel sales outside metropolitan areas as well.

Investment in the downstream sector

In the long-term, ESAI also expects this move to make India’s downstream oil sector more attractive to foreign partners. India’s past attempts at wooing foreign investment in the downstream sector has met with failure–both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have either pulled out, or have been disinterested in taking stakes in various refinery projects recently. A deregulated market with fuel retailing rights could provide these companies the incentive to access India’s rapidly growing domestic oil market whilst providing additional funding, and secure crude supplies for various downstream projects to their Indian partners.

In sum, while India’s road to complete deregulation of auto-fuels is fraught with challenges, the new policy is a clear break from the past. If India’s policy makers remain true to their commitments, ESAI believes this policy could mark the first true step towards a liberalised and transparent domestic oil product market in India.   

The author is an analyst with Energy Security Analysis (ESAI). He can be contacted at +1781-245-2036 x 27.

COAL: BP chief economist says world demand did not grow in 2009

(EnergyAsia, July 28 2010, Wednesday) — Global coal consumption did not grow in 2009, as strong demand increases in China and India were offset by a steep decline in the developed economies and the former Soviet Union (FSU) states, said BP. In presenting BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy 2010, chief economist Christof Ruhl said…

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IRAN: Russia providing crucial support through oil deals, political backing

(EnergyAsia, July 28 2010, Wednesday) — With a few oil deals and a high-profile meeting of their energy leaders in Moscow, Russia has thrown a timely lifeline at Iran’s increasingly isolated regime sinking under the weight of economic sanctions and fears of Western military attacks. As speculation grew that US and Israeli forces were preparing…

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CHINA: Xinjiang region to have 13 million cubic metres of oil storage capacity

(EnergyAsia, July 28 2010, Wednesday) — State and private investors are expected to develop a total of 13 million cubic metres of oil storage capacity in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region over the next few years. This includes the second phase construction of national strategic storage bases in Dushanzi and Shanshan which is expected…

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RUSSIA: Gazprom, Shell Sakhalin gas venture make surprise profit of US$582 million in 2009

(EnergyAsia, July 28 2010, Wednesday) — Buoyed by higher-than-planned oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments, Sakhalin Energy, operator of Russia’s only LNG plant, said it made an unexpected profit of US$582 million last year. The company, a joint venture between OAO Gazprom, Royal Dutch Shell and two Japanese firms, said in a presentation to…

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CHINA: Platts says first half oil demand up 13% to hit new high, exports surged 35%

(EnergyAsia, July 28 2010, Wednesay) — China’s apparent oil demand in June rose 10% to another record high of 36.74 million metric tons (mt) or about 8.98 million b/d, according to an analysis of official data by said energy media Platts. The June demand figure eclipsed the previous high of 36.48 million mt established in…

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COMPANIES: Oiltanking and Dupre Logistics establish joint venture in Houston, Texas

(EnergyAsia, July 28 2010, Wednesday) —German’s Oiltanking and Dupré Logistics of the US said they have established an equal joint venture company, Oiltanking-Dupré, in Houston, Texas, to serve the petroleum coke industry. The new company to be headed by vice president Rick Adams will combine Oiltanking’s worldwide network with Dupré’s experience in dry bulk handling….

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CHINA: Andatee to pay RMB3.64 million for 52% stake in Hailong Petrochemical

(EnergyAsia, July 28 2010, Wednesday) — Andatee China Marine Fuel Services has agreed to pay RMB3.64 million in cash for a 52% stake in Hailong Petrochemical, a China-based company engaged in retail and wholesale of fuel oil and petrochemical products.(US$1=RMB6.77). Andatee, an independent company which produces, stores, distributes, purchases and sells blended marine fuel oil…

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VIETNAM: Japan’s JX Holdings may invest in two refinery projects

(EnergyAsia, July 27 2010, Tuesday) – JX Holdings Inc, Japan’s largest oil company, is considering teaming up with state PetroVietnam to invest a combined 800 billion yen in two oil refinery projects in Vietnam. (US$1=88 yen). JX Holdings is looking to participate in the proposed 100-billion yen expansion of PetroVietnam’s refinery in Dung Quat to…

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