COMPANIES: Teekay-Marubeni JV to acquire Maersk’s LNG fleet for US$1.4 billion

(EnergyAsia, October 31 2011, Monday) — Canada’s maritime transport group Teekay LNG and Japanese trading house Marubeni Corp have agreed to jointly buy Danish shipping group AP Moller-Maersk’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipping subsidiary for US$1.402 billion.

In separate statements, the companies said the new joint venture firm will fully acquire six of the subsidiary’s LNG carriers and a 26% stake in two others that have been committed to serve Qatar, with the right to purchase the remaining 74%.

Teekay LNG, which holds a 52% stake in the JV, said that five of the carriers are operating under long-term, fixed-rate time-charter contracts, with an average remaining firm contract period duration of 17 years with extension options. The other three vessels have been committed on short-term fixed-rate time-charters.

The vessels were built by South Korea’s Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd between 2004 and 2010.

To finance the acquisition, the JV will draw upon loan facilities totalling US$1.12 billion and US$280 million in equity contributions from Teekay LNG and Marubeni in a 52/48 share.

Describing this as Teekay LNG’s largest acquisition of on-the-water vessels to date, Peter Evensen, CEO of Teekay GP LLC, said:

“The eight acquired vessel interests will increase the total number of vessels in which we have ownership interests, including committed newbuildings, to 45 vessels, and the time-charter contracts acquired with these vessels will broaden our customer base and add further stable cash flows to our existing large portfolio of long-term fixed-rate contracts.

“With three of the vessels currently employed on short-term time-charters, the partnership should benefit from the strong near-term demand for LNG carriers. With an average age of only four years, we are acquiring a modern, well-maintained fleet that has been operated by one of the leaders in global shipping.”

With this deal, Marubeni will expand its footprint in the LNG business to follow on last year’s acquisition of a 49% stake in a fleet of eight LNG carriers from BW Gas Ltd.

In a statement on May 11 2011, A.P. Moller-Mærsk had declared its intention to divest the LNG fleet to focus on its core businesses.

Stating that Maersk LNG does not have the scale “to significantly influence the overall development of the industry,” the Danish firm said it will not have any LNG vessels in its fleet upon expected completion of the sale later this quarter.

Claus V. Hemmingsen, a member of the A.P.Moller-Maersk board with responsibility for the LNG unit, said:

“Teekay and Marubeni jointly represent an unrivalled owner of Maersk LNG and we are very satisfied that we have been able to transfer the ownership of Maersk LNG to such renowned and reliable owners with clear and strong strategic, long-term interests in the LNG transportation business.”

Teekay LNG Partners LP is a publicly-traded master limited partnership formed by NYSE-listed Teekay Corp as part of its strategy to expand its operations in the LNG and LPG shipping sectors.

Teekay LNG Partners LP provides LNG, LPG and crude oil marine transportation services primarily under long-term, fixed-rate charter contracts with major energy and utility companies through its fleet of 21 LNG carriers (including one LNG regasification unit), five LPG and multigas carriers and 11 conventional tankers.

Teekay LNG Partners holds stakes ranging from 33% to 100% in these vessels. Two of the LNG carriers are newbuildings scheduled for delivery in 2011 and 2012.

Marubeni Corp and the A.P. Moller – Maersk Group are business conglomerates involved in many business sectors and activities across the world.

MIDDLE EAST: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait gained from Arab Spring, Libya, Egypt, Syria lost, says study

(EnergyAsia, October 31 2011, Friday) — It pays to be politically aligned to the West if you’re a major oil and gas producer, according to a study by consultant Geopolicity.Its latest research found that the economies of the region’s most important Western allies, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, benefitted significantly from high oil and…

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JAPAN: MHI to build first “Sayaendo” new-generation LNG carriers

(EnergyAsia, October 31 2011, Monday) — Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd (MHI) said it has secured a deal to build two new-generation liquefied natural gas (LNG) carriers for two leading Japanese shipping firms.MHI said it will deliver the first of the “Sayaendo” series carriers to Osaka Gas Co Ltd’s Osaka Gas International Transport Inc (OGIT)…

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CANADA: Kitimat LNG receive National Energy Board’s export licence

(EnergyAsia, October 31 2011, Monday) — The Kitimat LNG consortium said it has been granted a 20-year licence by Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to international markets.Apache Canada Ltd, a subsidiary of US Apache Corp, EOG Resources Canada Inc and Encana Corporation will build the Kitimat LNG export terminal…

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CANADA: Shell and partners advance plans to export LNG to Asia from Kitimat

(EnergyAsia, October 31 2011, Monday) — Royal Dutch Shell and its partners have purchased an abandoned methanol plant site at Kitimat in western Canada as part of their long-term plan to develop and export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia.The consortium comprising Shell, Mitsubishi Corp, Korea Gas Corp and Chinese National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is…

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US: UK’s BG Group signs long-term agreement to purchase LNG from Cheniere Energy

(EnergyAsia, October 28 2011, Friday) — UK’s BG Group said it has signed an agreement with Sabine Pass Liquefaction LLC to purchase 3.5 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) over a 20-year period from the Sabine Pass LNG terminal in Louisiana state in the US. Sabine Pass is a subsidiary of Houston-based Cheniere Energy Partners LP.

BG said this would be the first long-term LNG purchase agreement from a project on the US Gulf Coast. The agreement will enable BG to secure LNG cargoes for export from the US as early as 2015.

Construction of the liquefaction facilities at Sabine Pass is expected to start next year, with the initial phase to consist of two trains capable of producing up to nine million tonnes of LNG a year. BG Group said it is not an investor in the proposed liquefaction facilities.

Cheniere will sell the LNG to BG for 115% of US benchmark Henry Hub prices plus a premium of US$2.25 per million British thermal units.

BG Group chief executive Frank Chapman said:

“This is a ground-breaking agreement for BG Group, giving us first-mover advantage in securing LNG export volumes from the US Gulf Coast. It is the first agreement of its kind in this region and it secures us early access to the rapidly emerging commercial opportunities driven by the recent material increases in US gas reserves.

“We are delighted to have signed this landmark deal for BG Group in a market and a country where we have been intimately involved, throughout the gas chain, for a decade. It adds further diversity to our global LNG supply portfolio and builds upon our proven track record in capturing and developing new opportunities that continue to drive the global growth of our LNG business.”

BG Group said it also is continuing to pursue an expansion of the Lake Charles LNG terminal, located in Louisiana, USA, to provide natural gas liquefaction services. Authorisation has been received from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to export up to 730 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year (approximately 15 mtpa) from the Lake Charles terminal to countries that have a free trade agreement in place with the US.

The DOE is reviewing an application to export natural gas from the Lake Charles terminal to countries that do not have a free trade agreement with the US.

NYSE-listed Cheniere Energy Partners LP is a Delaware master limited partnership that fully owns the Sabine Pass LNG terminal located in western Cameron Parish in Louisiana state on the Sabine Pass Channel. The terminal has sendout capacity of four bcfd and storage capacity of 16.9 Bcfe. The Sabine Pass LNG terminal has been authorised by the US Department of Energy to export up to 803 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year, or 16 mtpa).

THAILAND: Chevron starts producing natural gas from offshore Platong II project

(EnergyAsia, October 28 2011, Friday) — US major Chevron Corp said its Thailand subsidiary has started producing natural gas from the Platong II project in the Gulf of Thailand.

The US$3.1 billion project is expected to raise production of natural gas to 330 million cubic feet per day and of natural gas liquids to 18,000 b/d. The natural gas will feed the country’s growing demand for energy, increasing its domestic production by more than 10%, and boosting Chevron’s net natural gas production from the Gulf of Thailand by more than 20%.

George Kirkland, vice chairman of Chevron Corporation, said:

“Platong II is one of Chevron’s many developments in the region that will allow us to supply safe, reliable and affordable energy to meet (Asia’s energy) need.”

Melody Meyer, president of Chevron Asia Pacific Exploration and Production Company, said:

“From the start-up of the first natural gas field in the Gulf of Thailand 30 years ago, to Platong II, Chevron has worked in close partnership with the Kingdom to develop the energy industry, building a foundation for energy security and long-term economic development.”

Chevron’s Thailand subsidiary is operator and holds a 69.9% interest in Platong II, with the remaining interest held by Mitsui Oil Exploration Co Ltd (27.4%) and PTT Exploration and Production Public Co Ltd (2.7%).

The development, located in shallow water 200 km from Thailand’s southern coastline, is one of Southeast Asia’s largest offshore structures. New facilities, which will be connected to the current processing infrastructure at the Platong Field, include a central processing platform, pipelines, four initial wellhead platforms, and living quarters for 200 people.

MARKETS: OPEC expects world oil use to rise by 900,000 b/d in 2011, 1.2 million b/d in 2012

(EnergyAsia, October 28 2011, Friday) — The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) expects world oil demand to increase by 900,000 b/d to 87.81 million in 2011 and 1.19 million b/d to 89.01 million b/d next year. Reflecting the deterioration in the global economic environment, OPEC’s latest monthly forecast represents a downgrade from its previous…

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AUSTRALIA: EFIC supports financing of Wiggins Island coal export terminal

(EnergyAsia, October 28 2011, Friday) — Australia’s Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) said it is providing a US$100 million export finance guarantee to support senior secured loan facilities of A$3 billion for the construction and operation of the Wiggins Island Coal Export Terminal (WICET) in the Port of Gladstone in Queensland state. (US$1=A$0.95). The…

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CONFERENCES: OxfordPrinceton’s upcoming courses for energy professionals in Singapore

(EnergyAsia, October 27 2011, Thursday) — OxfordPrinceton is organising the following courses for energy professionals in Singapore in November.

Front to Back Office: Trading Controls and Best Practices (FTBO) on November 14.

This fascinating and interactive workshop will give delegates a thorough understanding of best practice controls to be applied in commodity trading activities. Delegates are encouraged to think about the controls processes applied in their own operations, through interactive group case studies, in order to minimize the chances of similar expensive trading mistakes. Recent trading “failures” will be analysed.

Value-at-Risk: The Basics and Beyond (VAR) on November 15.

Value-at-Risk is the new benchmark for measuring and controlling market risk. Premier trading and marketing companies around the world use Value-at-Risk to maximise profit opportunities and minimise costly positioning mistakes. This one day programme teaches the important aspects of this risk management tool.

Advanced Technical Analysis and Technical Trading (ATA) on November 16.

This course examines how market participants apply theories of technical analysis to various trading timeframes through the presentation of advanced material and a series of interactive workshops. The timeframes covered include day trading and swing trading through a study of 5, 30, 60-minute and daily charts; also position trading through an examination of daily, weekly and monthly charts.

For details, please contact The Oxford Princeton Programme in Singapore at Tel 65-68378033 and fax: 65-63377691.

VIETNAM: Petrolimex, South Korea’s Daelim continue talks to build country’s third oil refinery

(EnergyAsia, October 27 2011, Thursday) — Vietnam’s state-owned Petrolimex and South Korea’s Daelim Industrial Co Ltd remain in talks to build the Southeast Asian country’s third oil refinery.Petrolimex said it would retain a 60% stake in the proposed 200,000 b/d refinery which it expects to start up by 2015 although Daelim has revealed that these…

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MARKETS: IEA expects world oil demand to rise by one million b/d in 2011, 1.3 million b/d in 2012

(EnergyAsia, October 27 2011, Thursday) — World oil demand will rise by one million b/d to 89.2 million b/d in 2011 and 1.3 million b/d to 90.5 million b/d next year, according to the latest monthly forecast by the International Energy Agency (IEA).Almost all the demand growth will come from the emerging economies led by…

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MARKETS: Oil at three month-high on growing world demand, higher prices ahead on tight supply

(EnergyAsia, October 27 2011, Thursday) — The western economies are in decline, but oil prices surged this week to a three-month high as world demand continues to grow while supply is seen tightening going into 2012.Brent held strong in the US$110-$115 range while US WTI broke through US$90 after being held back at US$80-85 for…

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CHINA: September oil use at lowest level for the year, crude imports down 12.2%

(EnergyAsia, October 27 2011, Thursday) — As a sign of its cooling economy, China’s September oil demand fell to their lowest level for 2011 while its crude imports plunged 12.2% from year-ago levels.According to US energy media Platts, China’s oil demand grew just 3.1% year-on-year to 36.63 million metric tons (mt), or 8.95 million b/d.Separately,…

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SINGAPORE: Greenlots collaborating on EV charging infrastructure with Malaysia’s Proton and research with eHub

(EnergyAsia, October 25 2011, Tuesday) — Greenlots, a Singapore-based global provider of charging solutions for electric vehicles (EVs), said it has begun a landmark electric vehicle trial in collaboration with Malaysian car manufacturer Proton Holdings Berhad.

Last month, Proton’s group managing director, Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir, handed over to the Malaysian government eight Exora Range Extender Electric Vehicles (REEV) and Saga Electric Vehicles (EV) along with the first batch of Greenlots charging stations at Malaysia’s administrative capital, Putrajaya.

The charging stations are networked via Greenlots’ online web platform and have been installed at the premises of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Transport (MOT), the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA). Proton plans to continue adding charging infrastructure at locations in Putrajaya and Cyberjaya over the next 18 months.

“Proton will be able to collect data and manage their charging stations remotely with a networked charging system. This gives valuable information not only on the technical performance of the car, but insight to user behaviour as well,” said Ron Mahabir, director of Greenlots. Proton plans to use this test to prepare for a commercial rollout of electric vehicles in 2013.

Established in 1985 as part of an ambitious national industrialisation plan, Proton is Malaysia’s leading car manufacturer.

Established in 2008, Greenlots is a leading provider of charging solutions in Asia and has installed systems in Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. Greenlots provides the enabling platform for utilities, municipalities, EV manufacturers and distributors and other private businesses to install, own and operate their own EV charging network.

In July, Greenlots announced that it had started a cooperation agreement with evHUB, a Singapore-based researcher, innovator and integrator of electric vehicles and electric vehicle technology. evHUB’s focus on electric vehicle conversions for commercial fleets is synergistic with Greenlots’ focus on charging hardware and software modules specially designed for commercial applications.

Established in 2009, evHUB is a collaborative research centre of excellence for electric vehicles (EV). The company serves as a hotbed for innovative research on green sustainable transport solutions, consumer response, environmental impact, and electric vehicle technology.

By conducting research and technology development and participating in relevant policy guidance to the state and institutions of higher learning, evHUB strives to help solve research questions and address commercialisation issues for electric vehicles. The company has converted the first state-approved electric vehicles for the Singapore market and is in the process of launching commercial vehicles for corporate fleets this year.

“Greenlots is a natural fit for our developments in the commercial fleet sector,” said David Chou, founder and managing director of evHUB. “We are deploying convenient, affordable and clean solutions for fleets and Greenlots has a similar mindset in its product offering.”

Greenlots managing director, Oliver Risse, said: “As pioneers in the electric vehicle sector, we have known evHUB for several years now and this solidifies are cooperation.”

CHINA: MTM Metalizing coating China Power Station plant in Hong Kong

(EnergyAsia, October 25 2011, Tuesday) — MTM Metalizing, a world leading US-based thermal spray coating provider, said it will be carrying out thermal spray aluminium (TSA) coating works for China Power Station in Hong Kong on a sub-contract awarded by Leighton Contractors (Asia).

MTM Metalizing will provide TSA coating on three pipelines and fittings to replace three 15-year old pipelines that form the main feed lines to three of the turbines running the generators at the power plant. The initial phase of the project is expected to last from August 2011 until next February.

Stress corrosion cracking is difficult to detect but is well known to occur when stainless steel is in the presence of chlorides (e.g. from seawater) – and this is not visible to the naked eye or easily detectable with common non-destructive testing (NDT) methods.

Metal parts with severe stress corrosion cracking can appear bright and shiny, while being filled with microscopic cracks. Corrosion cracking often progresses rapidly, and is more common among alloys than pure metals.

Bill Jordan, general manager of MTM Metalizing, said:

“The TSA coating is being applied onto the stainless steel pipeline to prevent stress corrosion cracking (SCC) which can be prevalent on stainless steel pipelines. As the line being coated is a gas pipeline, failure could potentially be catastrophic.”

MTM Metalizing will apply TSA coating on three sets of stainless steel pipes and fittings.

According to Mr Jordan, the standard six-metre long pipe and fittings will be coated in Singapore and then shipped to Hong Kong where they will be fabricated to the desired configuration. After fabrication and final installation and testing, the weld joints will be TSA coated on site in Hong Kong.

For this project, a challenge arose in the form of the coating thickness measurement as the stainless steel in non magnetic, and both the stainless steel metal and the aluminium coating are conductive. This means using a standard coating thickness gauge to measure the coating thickness is not possible.

Mr Jordan said that one of the few ways to measure the coating thickness is to use a comparator plate.

“As we are coating the pipes for this project, which is a more complicated geometry than plate, we had to further verify and test by coating 8” diameter steel sample pipes and then measure those pipes after TSA coating to ensure the sprayers could replicate the same speed and rhythm in coating, i.e. coat to the required thickness. All sprayers passed this test witnessed by the customer,” he said.

“The primary advantages of a TSA coating are the long life durability, cost-competitiveness compared to ‘high-quality’ paint schemes, enhanced protection courtesy of the oxide layers formed by the TSA coating, cathodic and surface protection, excellent resistance to marine environments, low-life cycle cost, minimal maintenance and exceptional competitiveness when compared to the options of changing base materials.”

The three sets of pipes and fittings in Singapore have been coated and witnessed by the QC representative from the customer, who commented “It was great working with professionals” after the coating was completed.

MTM Metalizing, a world leader in thermal spray coating applications, specialises in manual twin wire electric arc and manual flame spray application. Its metalizing machines are manufactured by IMC in New Jersey, US and registered with the US Patent Office and the Paris Convention of Countries. The IMC-patented technology used by MTM Metalizing is the current state of the art system for corrosion prevention.

In Singapore, the company has provided thermal spray coating services for an ExxonMobil plant on Jurong Island, The Sail at Marina Bay and Bluewater Energy Services at Sembawang Shipyard.

RUSSIA: Oil exports continue to decline despite increase in production

(EnergyAsia, October 25 2011, Tuesday) — While rising Russian oil production has been capturing headlines, the more important statistic for world markets is that exports have been declining.For the first nine months of 2011, Russian oil exports have fallen by 2.13% to around 180.4 million metric tons or 4.858 million b/d as a result of…

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INDIA: State oil refiners seek 140 billion rupees in subsidy for July-Sept quarter

(EnergyAsia, October 25 2011, Tuesday) — India’s state oil refining companies have applied to the government to be reimbursed for a total of 140 billion rupees in fuel subsidies for the July-September quarter. (US$1=49 rupees).As part of the Indian government’s attempts to control inflation, the refiners have been selling liquefied petroleum gas, diesel and kerosene…

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SAUDI ARABIA: Export surplus dwindles in the face of rising domestic demand

(EnergyAsia, October 24 2011, Monday) — Saudi Arabia’s role as the world’s largest oil exporter will shrink over the coming years on sharply rising domestic consumption even as it promises to raise production.Recently, Riyadh-based Jadwa Investment issued a study projecting the kingdom’s crude oil exports to fall to 6.3 million b/d in 2015 and six…

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SAUDI ARABIA: Renewed fears over political stability on internal power struggles, tensions with Iran

(EnergyAsia, October 24 2011, Monday) — The political stability of the world’s largest oil exporter and critical US ally are once again in focus following last week’s death of the heir to the Saudi throne to follow on reports of growing bilateral tensions with long-time Middle East rival Iran. Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al…

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MARKETS: Wood Mackenzie sees further growth, bright future for global oil and gas sector

(EnergyAsia, October 24 2011, Monday) — Consultant Wood Mackenzie sees “strong, prospective” growth for the global upstream oil and gas sector, forecasting its value to rise by 23% over last year. In a recent report titled “The changing face of upstream value”, Wood Mackenzie valued the sector at approximately US$3.2 trillion, not including exploration acreage or…

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OMAN: State-owned companies aim to raise refining capacity to 500,000 b/d by 2017

(EnergyAsia, October 24 2011, Monday) — Oman could more than double its existing 222,000 b/d of refining capacity to 500,000 b/d later this decade if two state-owned companies follow through on their plans. Oman Oil Company and Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) are planning to jointly invest US$6 billion in building a 230,000 b/d…

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CONFERENCE: O.W. Bunker’s free Oct 31 seminar to help shipowners and operators manage regulation transition

(EnergyAsia, October 24 2011, Monday) — OW Bunker, one of the world’s leading suppliers and traders of bunker fuel, is inviting shipowners and operators to its October 31 seminar focusing on the challenges posed by the start of sulphur emission regulations in Emissions Control Areas (ECAs) around the world in 2015.

Experts will share their findings and opinions at the two-hour event at the Pan-Pacific Hotel in Singapore. OW Bunker will provide insight on potential issues that companies face and the solutions that can be adopted to mitigate the impact of regulation.

The event, ‘Rising to the Challenges of an Industry in Transition’, will specifically address the impact of impending sulphur dioxide (SOx) regulations, the challenges of operating in ECAs, the potential for using LNG as a bunkering fuel, and the supply and demand outlook for low-sulphur fuel oil and distillates.

Søren Christian Meyer, OW Bunker’s global sales director, said:

“The 2015 ECA rulings present ship owners and operators with serious challenges. It is a potential minefield from the cost of distillates, and concerns over supply and demand to the technical and operational issues when switching from heavy fuel oils. There is confusion in the market on the solutions to these problems, such as distillate use, LNG or scrubbers.

“We want to provide the market with clarity. Our seminar will give owners and operators real insight and intelligence, based on the latest research and analysis, on how to meet this regulatory challenge head on and get a step on the rest of the market.”

WORLD: Earth Policy calls for steps to “voluntarily stabilise” human population to check poverty, hunger, environmental destruction

(EnergyAsia, October 21 2011, Friday) — The following is an edited version of an essay by Brigid Fitzgerald Reading of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington DC, USA.

The number of people in the world is expected to reach seven billion by the end of this month. Our rate of increase continues to slow from the high point of over 2% in 1968. Still, this year’s 1.1% increase means a net increase of 78 million people in 2011.

The human population did not reach one billion until the early nineteenth century, and it took more than 100 years to reach two billion. After that, the intervals between billions grew even shorter: we added the third billion in 33 years, the fourth in 14 years, the fifth in 13 years, and the sixth and seventh in 12 years each.

Anyone born by 1940 has seen our numbers triple. The UN projects the world population to reach eight billion in 2025 and 10 billion before the end of this century.

Almost all population growth in the near future is expected to occur in developing countries. Of the 2.3 billion people to be added by 2050, more than a billion will live in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Indian subcontinent will add some 630 million.

Differences in population growth rates are largely due to varying fertility levels. Global fertility has dropped from close to five births per woman in the 1950s to 2.5 births per woman today.

Over 40% of the world lives in countries where fertility is below replacement level. But fertility varies widely across countries. In Niger, women have more than seven children on average; in the US the average is close to two, and in Japan it is less than 1.5.

Evidence suggests that many women in poor, fast-growing countries would have fewer children if they had the resources and freedom to plan the number and timing of their births. An estimated 215 million women in the developing world do not have access to the family planning resources they need. Worldwide, 40% of pregnancies are unintended.

A Futures Group study and calculations by population expert Robert Engelman indicate that if all women were able to become pregnant only when they chose to, global fertility would drop close to or even below replacement level, greatly reducing population growth.

Voluntary family planning programmes have proved effective in lowering fertility rates. In Mexico, a national family planning programme started in the mid-1970s has helped raise contraceptive use from less than one fourth to two thirds of women. Fertility has fallen from roughly 7 to 2.2 births per woman.

Across societies, women with more education tend to have fewer, healthier children. Yet many women around the world still lack access to education.

In 1994, delegates from 179 countries at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo, Egypt, recognised reproductive health and family planning as fundamental human rights.

Participating countries agreed on the goal of universal, voluntary access to reproductive health and family planning services by 2015, pledging to invest US$17 billion per year by 2000 and US$22 billion per year by 2015.

But contributions have fallen far short of pledges, and US$20 billion per year is still needed. This investment could prevent 53 million unwanted pregnancies each year, improve infant and maternal health, and reduce associated health care costs.

Access to reproductive health care brings far-reaching benefits to individuals, families, and whole societies. When a woman can time her pregnancies, her education is less likely to be cut short by early motherhood. Female education and family planning reduce risks to child and maternal health and boost women’s chances of economic advancement. Smaller family sizes help raise families out of poverty.

When fertility declines quickly, reducing the number of young dependents relative to working-age adults, countries can experience what is known as the demographic bonus.

Governments can spend more per person on public services, families can spend more on each child, and more money is available to invest in economic development. This ‘bonus’ can kick-start a nation’s economy as seen, for instance, in the rapid development of Asian countries including South Korea and Taiwan in the 1970s and 1980s.

Some industrial countries are becoming concerned about aging populations. Japan has nearly doubled its share of the population aged 65 and over in the past 20 years. In industrial countries as a group, the share of the population aged 65 and over is expected to increase from 16% to 26% between now and 2050.

In contrast, the youthfulness of populations remains a challenge for developing countries as a group with almost 40% under the age of 20. Countries with large populations of young people and poor employment prospects are more prone to violence.

As the world’s population grows, less land and water are available for each person. Poor people, who often depend more immediately on natural resources and are less able to compete for dwindling supplies, bear the heaviest burden.

Rapidly growing populations stress their own local environments. In fast-growing Yemen, the population has increased four-fold over the last 40 years while the overpumping of aquifers has helped shrink the country’s grain harvest by one third. In Pakistan, the pressures of a large and fast-growing population have contributed to widespread deforestation and soil degradation, making the historic flooding events of the last two years even more destructive.

The UN population projections do not consider how the environmental problems we create, such as water scarcity and climate change, may limit our ability to grow. Whether we are able to sustain human civilisation depends on not only our numbers, but also the rate at which we consume the earth’s resources and create waste.

At the global level, we are already far overshooting the earth’s capacity to support us, even as some 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty.

Another two billion people may be added to the world population by mid-century, many of them in places where hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation are already taking a high toll.

Supporting the human population will mean eliminating poverty, transitioning to an economy that is in sync with the earth, and securing every person’s health, education, and reproductive choice.

If we do not voluntarily stabilise population, we risk a much less humane end to growth as the ongoing destruction of the earth’s natural systems catches up with us.

WORLD: Asian boy likely to be seven-billionth human being, says UN ESCAP

(EnergyAsia, October 21 2011, Friday) — The world’s population will reach seven billion sometime this month, the child likely to be born in Asia, according to the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) unit.

“There is a good chance that this birth will take place in our region, home to 61% of the World’s population,” said Noeleen Heyzer, Under-Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ESCAP, at the launch of its flagship statistics publication.

According to the Statistical Yearbook for Asia and the Pacific 2011, among children below the age of five last year, there were 110 boys for every 100 girls, which is much higher than the natural sex ratio, and higher than any other region of the world.

East and Northeast Asia has the highest ratio of 119, followed by South and South-West Asia with a ratio of 108.

Dr Heyzer said: “Prevailing family structures, culture, policy incentives and the available technology combine to make parents in some countries prefer boys over girls and act on that preference. This is an alarming trend that reflects existing social practices of gender discrimination and neglect, and has serious consequences for the demographics of the future.”

Gender inequalities in the Asia-Pacific region are also evident in education, employment, property ownership and decision-making.

Women account for 65% of the 518 million illiterate people in the region, and only eight girls are enrolled in secondary school for every 10 boys.

Female participation in the labour force in the region has remained unchanged for almost 20 years with 65 employed women per 100 employed men.

Women have very limited access to land ownership in at least eight Asia-Pacific countries. In all but two countries in the region, women hold less than 30% of national level political positions.

The report also reveals for the first time in recorded history, the Asia-Pacific fertility rate was equal to the replacement rate of 2.1 (live births per woman). Replacement level fertility means that women give birth to the exact number of babies that would be needed to replace themselves. This means that this generation is not producing enough children to replace itself which will lead to reductions in population in the future.

ESCAP estimates published in its online database along with the yearbook also project the regional fertility rate to drop below the replacement level by 2015 if current trends continue.

Thus, without immigration, the next generation of people in the Asia Pacific region will decline in number, implying a reduced population in future.

The low Asia-Pacific birth rate, together with increased life expectancies, also mean a greying population with a 34% increase in the proportion of elderly in the last two decades, a more drastic increase than all other regions except Latin America and the Caribbean. An ageing population changes the relative burden on different generations and has implications for social welfare demands, including healthcare.

While the Asia-Pacific region has recorded high economic growth over the last few decades, this has had adverse environmental impacts. According to the Yearbook, despite reductions in the carbon intensiveness of production, in 2008, Asia-Pacific countries accounted for almost half the world’s carbon dioxide emissions compared to 40% a decade ago.

The proportion of primary forests in the region over this period has declined by more than 10%.

There have been improvements in health and living conditions in the region including a reduction in extreme poverty, increased access to water and sanitation, a decrease in maternal and child mortality as well as a decline in new infections of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.

Socio-economic progress, however, has been mixed. The  Yearbook  notes  that   “total expenditure  on  health  as  a  percentage of GDP in the region declined in recent  years  (in  contrast  to  all other regions) demonstrating that per capita  [health] expenditure in the region has not kept pace with economic growth”.