CHINA: CNPC chief Jiang Jiemin appointed to lead agency overseeing 70-trillion-yuan worth of state assets

(EnergyAsia, March 20 2013, Wednesday) — China has appointed the chairman of its largest oil and gas producer to lead and transform a powerful agency overseeing the country’s non-financial assets worth some 70 trillion yuan. (US$1=6.25 yuan).

Jiang Jiemin, who has been credited with leading  the expansion of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and subsidiary PetroChina, will replace Wang Yong as head of the ministry-level Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (Sasac). The agency owns a wide range of assets including energy and mining.

Mr Wang was promoted to become a state councillor in a high-level reshuffle to coincide with the transition of the new government under President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on March 14.

Mr Jiang became chairman of listed unit PetroChina in 2007 and was made chairman of CNPC four years later. Under him, both companies expanded their oil and gas business, and became major players on the world stage as they aggressively acquired assets abroad.

His appointment to Sasac dovetails Premier Li’s pledge to deepen economic reforms to allow private enterprise a greater role in managing China’s growing wealth while shrinking the government’s involvement.

PetroChina has confirmed Mr Jiang’s resignation from the company and CNPC as chairman and board member on March 18. Former vice chairman Zhou Jiping has been named as his successor in both companies.


CHINA: State firms ready to take on role in Brazil’s deepwater oil reserves

(EnergyAsia, March 20 2013, Wednesday) — China’s state oil and gas companies could be in line for a coveted role in helping Brazil develop its substantial deepwater oil and gas reserves. Brazil’s heavily indebted state energy firm, Petrobras, wants cash-rich China to help fund its plan to develop oil refineries to meet rising fuel demand…

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US: Ethylene producers benefitting from abundant shale energy resources, says IHS study

(EnergyAsia, March 19 2013, Tuesday) — North America’s ethylene producers are expected to add nearly 11 million metric tons (MMT) of capacity through 2017 as a result of the growing supply of cheap feedstock provided by the new abundance of shale resources, said consultant IHS Chemical. As ethylene production in North America becomes more profitable…

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UPSTREAM: Analyst predicts “a decade of growth” for unconventional oil production, adds to growing optimism on supply outlook

(EnergyAsia, March 19 2013, Tuesday) — The upstream bandwagon calling for rising global oil and gas production is getting crowded as more optimists jump on board with forecasts that unconventional sources will play a bigger role in meeting the world’s energy demand. Research and consulting firm GlobalData has released a new report predicting a decade…

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ASIA: More than three quarters of region face water security threat, tilting towards crisis, says ADB

(EnergyAsia, March 19 2013, Tuesday) — More than 75% of 49 Asia Pacific countries are experiencing a serious lack of water security, with many already near crisis level, says a new study prepared jointly by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Asia-Pacific Water Forum (APWF).

The study found that 37 of the developing countries in the region are either suffering from low levels of water security or have barely begun to engage in the essential task of improving water security. Twelve countries are shown to have established water security infrastructure and management systems while no country in the region was found to have reached the highest model level of water security.

According to the bank, ‘Asian Water Development Outlook 2013’ provides the first quantitative and comprehensive analysis of water security on a country-by-country basis in the region. It examines water security from the household level to water-related disasters, and uses indicators and a scaling system to rank the progress of each of the 49 countries under assessment.

The study found that industrial activities and cities account for the fastest increases in Asia’s water consumption.

The energy industry is both a major and fast-growing user of fresh water, as well as contributor to wastewater output. While the study did not provide sufficient data to show the volume of water consumed as well as polluted in energy production, distribution and consumption, it suggests that further expansion of Asia’s energy industry will have a significant impact on the region’s water supply and security.

China, the region’s largest economy, already ranks poorly in various measures of water security has laid out plans to expand domestic oil, gas and coal production that will greatly increase its use as well as pollution of scarce water resources.

“Cities occupy 2% of the world’s land, use 75% of its resources, and generate up to 80% of gross domestic product. More than half the world’s slum dwellers live in Asia,” said the study.

“While the Asia-Pacific region has become an economic powerhouse, it is alarming that no developing country in the region can be considered ‘water-secure’,” said Bindu Lohani, ADB’s Vice President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development.

South Asia and parts of Central and West Asia have the worst water experiences, with rivers under immense strain, while many Pacific Islands suffer from a lack of access to safe piped water and decent sanitation and are highly vulnerable to increasingly severe natural disasters.

East Asia, which has the highest frequency of hazards in the region, has a better water management record due to higher levels of investment in disaster defences, but urban water security remains poor in many cities and towns.

The study also found two major problems: sharply rising inequality in access to water and sanitation, and the increasingly precarious state of rivers. It presents options for measures that can be adopted to improve water security to mitigate the growing pressure from booming populations, urbanisation, pollution, over-extraction of groundwater, climate change and other threats.

“Water supports health and livelihoods, grows our food, powers our industry, and cools our generating plants, and these different uses can no longer be seen in isolation from each other,” said Ravi Narayanan, vice-chair of the APWF Governing Council.

“Unless these competing needs are balanced, water security will remain elusive, undermining development gains and the quality of life for billions of people in the region, especially the poor.”

Current levels of investment, coupled with outdated policies and institutions, have failed to deliver water security. The study highlights the importance of a more productive use of water, including greater recycling of ‘used water’.

Corporatising water utilities to improve their efficiency, increasing sanitation investment, encouraging more productive water use by food and energy producers, imposing more regulations on groundwater use, upgrading irrigation services, strengthening management of river basins, mobilising more private sector investment to clean up rivers, and improving disaster risk management are all essential for a more secure water future.



RUSSIA: Energy minister wants natural gas producers to focus on fast-growing lucrative Asian markets

(EnergyAsia, March 19 2013, Tuesday) — Russia should focus on exporting its future liquefied natural gas (LNG) production to Asia and leave Europe to existing supplier Gazprom, said the country’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak. Briefing reporters in Moscow last week, he cited the pull of Asia’s large and fast-growing markets along with the region’s willingness…

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JAPAN: Dependence on fossil fuels to generate electricity surged 21% last year, says EIA

(EnergyAsia, March 18 2013, Monday) — Japan’s dependence on oil, gas and coal to generate electricity surged 21% last year as almost all its nuclear power capacity remained offline as a result of the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami tragedy, said the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) giant Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was destroyed by the 9-richter quake and a resultant tsunami that together killed more than 20,000 people.

per day greater than levels in early 2011Source: EIA

All reactors in Japan were required to perform computer-simulated stress tests to confirm their continued ability to operate safely in the event of a natural disaster. On May 5, 2012, the last of the country’s 54 nuclear generating reactors was shut down for scheduled maintenance and stress tests. Only two reactors, Ohi Units 3 and 4, have since restarted, but they will also be shutdown again later this year.

Last September, the government established the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) as an administrative part of the Cabinet to ensure the safe operation of the country’s nuclear power plants. Any attempts to restart of Japan’s nuclear power plants will require the approval of the NRA and the Natural Resources and Energy Agency within the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Against the backdrop of increased thermal generation and trade deficits, in January 2013, the NRA announced that final nuclear safety regulations will be issued six months later, said the EIA.

“The new regulations are expected to address severe accidents and direct attacks, emergency preparedness and response, and seismic conditions near existing nuclear power plants. All nuclear power plants must meet these new regulations and pass seismic inspections in order to restart,” said the EIA.

“The economic effects on Japan’s electric power utilities of implementing the new regulations are unclear at this time, although some estimates exceed US$11 billion, and Japan’s national policy on nuclear power as a component of its future energy mix is evolving. These two circumstances result in uncertainty about the future of nuclear power in Japan.”

Between 1987 and 2011, nuclear generation accounted for an average of 30% of Japan’s total generation, said the EIA.

As a result of the nuclear outages, fossil fuels provided 90% of the country’s total electricity output in 2012, with hydro generating 8% and nuclear only 2%.

Since March 2011, Japan’s electric power utilities have been consuming more natural gas (largely imported as liquefied natural gas) and petroleum to make up for the shortfall in nuclear output, with a smaller increase in the consumption of coal.

In 2012, Japan’s consumption of natural gas to produce electricity was up 15%. Its LNG use set a record in January 2012, nearing nine billion cubic feet per day, about two billion cubic feet per day greater than levels in early 2011.


CHINA: Oil flows and investments could be impacted by Chavez’s death, says IEA

(EnergyAsia, March 18 2013, Monday) — China’s growing stake in Venezuela’s oil and gas industry could be impacted by the recent death of former President Hugo Chavez, said the International Energy Agency (IEA). Under Chavez’s 14-year presidency, China became Venezuela’s second biggest trading partner after the US. As part of last year’s record US$250 billion…

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CHINA: CNPC buys 20% stake in Mozambique gas field for US$4.21 billion

(EnergyAsia, March 18 2013, Monday) — China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) will pay US$4.21 billion for a 20% stake in a giant Mozambique gas field from Italian oil and gas company ENI, the two companies have announced.

ENI will still hold a 50% stake in the field, described as one of the world’s largest discoveries in recent years, once the deal is approved by the government of the East African country. Located in the Ruvuma Basin, the offshore Area 4 has proven gas reserves of 75 trillion cubic feet or 2.12 trillion cubic metres (tcm), sufficient to meet the combined demand of German, Britain, France and Italy for more than seven years.

Area 4’s remaining shares are held by state-owned Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos de Mocambique (ENH, 10%), South Korea’s Kogas (10%) and Portugal’s Galp Energia (10%).

The sale will enable ENI to reduce its risk exposure while boosting the viability of a world-class project and speeding up its commercial development with guaranteed market access to Asia’s major consuming countries.

The agreement was one of two signed by ENI CEO Paolo Scaroni and CNPC Chairman Jiang Jiemin in Beijing on March 13.

The two companies have also agreed to collaborate to study the shale gas potential of the 2,000-sq km Rongchang block in China’s Sichuan Basin. They have begun discussion over a production sharing agreement if the block is proven to be technically and commercially feasible for shale gas development.

ENI, which is looking to set up a terminal in Mozambique to liquefy the natural gas for export to Asia, is reported to be open to cooperating with the consortium developing the nearby Area 1 operated by US upstream company Anadarko Petroleum Corp. By unitising the two fields, the two consortia would boost the viability of their respective ventures.


JAPAN: Godzilla-sized greenhouse gas deposits lurk in natural gas buried in the ocean

(EnergyAsia, March 18 2013, Monday) — One of modern Japan’s most iconic symbols is a mythical fire-breathing monster that emerges from the deep waters off its east coast to destroy the country and threaten the planet. In their quest for cheap abundant energy supplies, Japanese scientists and corporations are on course to unleash their own…

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MARKETS: ESAI expects Brent-WTI spread to stay but weaken in 2013

(EnergyAsia, March 15 2013, Friday) — Brent crude’s premium over US WTI will weaken over the course of 2013 but stay above US$10 a barrel, predicts US energy consultant ESAI.

WTI will strengthen as “long-awaited pipeline and rail takeaway capacity in the US midcontinent promises to reduce crude oil inventories in Cushing at some point in 2013,” said ESAI in its latest Monthly Global Crude Oil Outlook.

Nevertheless, the Brent-WTI spread will remain above US$10 on account of supply disruptions in Libya, production outages in Sudan, Yemen, and Syria that have kept the North Sea crude well-supported on the international markets.

ESAI said Brent commands an additional US$5 premium as a result of the on-going Western sanctions on Iranian exports and the scramble by countries all over the world to find substitute barrels.

“Finally, there is what one might call a trading variable that encompasses factors such as very high stocks in Cushing, changes to pipeline plans and the further shift in open interest from WTI to Brent. This last premium is the least durable,” it said.

“The Brent premium will come down by the end of 2013 first as the trading variable dissolves with more takeaway capacity and lower stocks, and then as the disruption and embargo premiums conflate, depending on world events.”


INDONESIA: LNG import to begin from 2018 amid rising domestic demand and uncertain production outlook

(EnergyAsia, March 15 2013, Friday) — Faced with rising domestic demand and an uncertain outlook on production, Indonesia, the world’s third largest liquefied natural gas exporter, is planning to import the fuel later this decade. It has started work on building terminals to import LNG as well planning for new ones as it faces the…

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UPSTREAM: Exxon sees greater role for unconventional fuel supplies in meeting future world energy demand

(EnergyAsia, March 15 2013, Friday) — Unconventional hydrocarbon sources will play an increased role in meeting the world’s growing energy demand which is expected to reach 113 million b/d of oil equivalent (boed) by 2040, a 30% increase over 2010 levels, said Exxon Mobil in its latest annual outlook for the sector.

With increased use of improved technology, hydrocarbons from deepwater sources, tight shale formations and Canada’s oilsands will provide the new barrels to offset an expected decline of supply from conventional crude oil production in both OPEC and non-OPEC countries.

The US major predicts that by 2040, conventional sources will account for only 55% of the world’s liquid supply, with the rest supplied by deepwater, tight oil and natural gas liquids (NGLs) as well as oil sands and biofuels. Until the last decade, deepwater sources and tight formations did not figure prominently on the world’s oil supply picture.

The development and application of improved technology has enabled companies to find, develop and deliver previously unavailable new supplies of oil and gas in unconventional terrains, said the US major which is among a few of the world’s top energy companies helping to tap the new resources.

“The world continues to hold significant oil resources. Even by 2040, ExxonMobil estimates that less than half of the world’s recoverable crude and condensate will have been produced. Even with production, the resource base continues to grow due to the ability of the industry to find and develop new types of resources through improved science and technical innovations,” it said.

North America will provide a “dramatic rise” in supply, thanks to a projected combined 40% growth from tight oil flows from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, deepwater developments in the Gulf of Mexico and Canada’s oil sands.

Total Latin American liquids production will almost double as a result of projects in Brazil’s deepwater acreages and Venezuelan oil sands.

The Middle East will see a 45% supply boost from continued growth in conventional liquids along with NGLs and tight oil developments, while Africa’s output will be boosted by large deepwater developments in Angola and Nigeria.

“Unconventional resources found in shale and other tight rock formations were once considered uneconomic to produce. Today, technology is helping unlock these resources in North America, with growing opportunities around the world,” said the Exxon outlook report.

“In recent years, a combination of two technologies in use for decades – horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing – has enabled the energy industry to economically access and produce natural gas and oil found in shale and tight rock.

“Horizontal drilling allows a well to be drilled horizontally underground for thousands of feet, providing greater access to reservoirs to enhance and maximise productivity and economic resource recovery. This drilling practice also reduces the environmental footprint by enabling the drilling of multiple wells from a single location.

“In hydraulic fracturing, a solution – primarily water and sand, mixed with a small amount of chemicals – is injected into the rock thousands of feet underground to open very thin cracks, allowing trapped natural gas and oil to migrate to the well.

This technology has been used safely in more than one million wells worldwide for the past six decades.

“Together these two technologies have unlocked vast new supplies of natural gas and oil, which otherwise would not have been commercially viable.”


COMPANIES: Sri Lanka, UAE airports conclude fuel storage deals

(EnergyAsia, March 15 2013, Friday) — Sri Lanka and the UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah have concluded separate agreements for aviation fuel storage and supplies to two of their airports. State Ceylon Petroleum Corp (CPC) has built an aviation fuel terminal to serve Sri Lanka’s second international airport in Mattala which opens on March 18. CPC…

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US: Coal consumption to surge 5.8% this year, and 1.5% in 2014, predicts EIA

(EnergyAsia, March 14 2013, Thursday) — US coal consumption will surge 5.8% to 941 million short tons (mmst) this year and rise by another 1.4% to 955 mmst in 2014, predicts the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The Department of Energy agency expects power companies to increase their use of coal to partly displace natural gas which has become more costly over the past year. An improving economy has also led to growing power demand, which, in turn, has led to increased coal use.

EIA said US coal consumption fell sharply by 11.6% to 889 mmst last year from 1,003 mmst in 2011.

In response to better demand conditions, domestic miners are expected to increase production by 1% in 2013 and by 1.3% in 2014.

The EIA said US coal miners will cut back exports over the next two years after selling a record 126 mmst to overseas buyers last year.

The agency expects US coal exports to average just below 110 mmst in both 2013 and 2014 on continuing economic weakness in the main market of Europe along with weak international prices and increasing competition from other coal-producing countries.



INDIA: Coal power plants kill 120,000 people a year, cause 20 million asthma cases, says Greenpeace

(EnergyAsia, March 14 2013, Thursday) — India’s heavy reliance on coal to fuel 111 of its largest power plants is causing between 80,000 and 120,000 premature deaths and as many as 20 million asthma cases each year, said Greenpeace.

In a new report researched by a former World Bank official, the environmental group blamed coal use for making the Delhi and Kolkata regions the country’s most polluted. India’s other major urban centres are also increasingly blanketed by smog as the Indian government has failed to tighten environmental regulations and step up inspection of its power sector.

India relies on its coal to fire the bulk of its 210MW of power capacity to produce more than 70% of its electricity.

“Thousands of lives can be saved every year if India tightens its emissions standards, introduces limits for pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury and institutes mandatory monitoring of emissions at plant stacks,” said author Sarath Guttikunda, a former head of the World Bank’s pollution division.

“Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved, and millions of asthma attacks, heart attacks, hospitalisations, lost workdays and associated costs to society could be avoided, with stricter emission standards and the installation and use of the technologies required to achieve substantial reductions in these pollutants.”


COMPANY: ExxonMobil to invest US$190 billion to raise output by 14% by 2017

(EnergyAsia, March 14 2013, Thursday) — US major ExxonMobil said it plans to invest a total of US$190 billion to raise production from 4.24 million b/d of oil equivalent in 2012 to 4.8 million boed in 2017.

For this year, the major said production could fall by 1% this year as it cuts back on natural gas production by 5% to focus on higher-priced oil and other liquids. The decline will follow on the 5.9% drop in the company’s oil and gas production last year.

In a statement, ExxonMobil said its production of crude oil and other liquids is expected to increase by an average of four percent per year between 2013 and 2017 as it starts production at 28 major projects around the world, 24 of which are liquids or liquids-linked projects.

“Twenty two major projects will start production over the next three years, including an expansion of the Kearl oil sands project in Alberta, Canada, and a liquefied natural gas export project in Papua New Guinea,” it said.

Despite last year’s reduced production, Exxon said profits rose 9% from the previous year to US$44.9 billion.



CHINA: Oil imports on the way to becoming world’s largest

(EnergyAsia, March 14 2013, Thursday) — Twenty years after losing its status as a net oil exporter, China is on course to displace the US as the world’s leading oil importer and addict. While China’s record average import of 5.77 million b/d of crude and oil products last year were nearly 1.8 million b/d below…

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MALAYSIA: Another announcement of a major Abu Dhabi investment including an oil storage project

(EnergyAsia, March 13 2013, Wednesday) — Abu Dhabi plans to invest a total of RM39 billion to develop a financial centre and an oil storage facility in Malaysia, according to a Malaysian state-owned agency. (US$1=RM3.1). This is the second time in three years that the Malaysian government under Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, which faces…

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INDIA: CIL wants to do away with annual production targets

(EnergyAsia, March 13 2013, Wednesday) — Embarrassed by its repeat failure to meet production targets, Coal India Limited (CIL) has proposed that the government consider measuring its performance against sales volume and distribution figures. India’s largest coal miner is expected to produce just over 450 million metric tonnes (MT) in the current financial year ending…

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INDIA: CIL unit submits plan to build 1,600MW coal-fired power plant

(EnergyAsia, March 13 2013, Wednesday) — A subsidiary of state-owned Coal India Ltd (CIL) plans to invest 90 billion rupees in a 1,600MW coal-fired power plant in the northeastern state of Odisha, previously named Orissa. (US$1=55 rupees). If approved by the Coal Ministry and the CIL board, the project would represent its first venture into…

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AUSTRALIA: Aurizon and GVK Hancock to jointly develop rail and port infrastructure to open up Galilee Basin coal reserves

(EnergyAsia, March 13 2013, Wednesday) — Australian freight operator Aurizon and India’s GVK Group have agreed to jointly develop rail and port infrastructure to open up the massive coal reserves in Queensland state’s Galilee Basin.

GVK Coal Infrastructure (Singapore) Pte Ltd signed on behalf of the group whose Australian subsidiary, GVK Hancock, owns the Alpha, Kevin’s Corner and Alpha West coal mines, and a process to support the next phase of coal growth in the Bowen Basin.

As part of the deal, Aurizon would acquire a 51% interest in Hancock Coal Infrastructure Pty Ltd (HCI), which owns GVK Hancock’s rail and port projects, and would invest through upfront consideration at completion of the transaction and deferred consideration at financial close of each phase of the projects.

Aurizon and GVK Hancock are developing the A$6 billion rail, Abbot Point coal terminal and port infrastructure to handle 60 million tonnes of coal a year to underpin the opening up of the Galilee Basin reserves and the continued development of the Bowen Basin. (US$1=A$0.96).

G.V. Krishna Reddy, GVK’s chairman, said:

“This is one of the most significant deals in Queensland’s coal history. The development of the rail and port infrastructure will unlock the Galilee Basin and see the development of Alpha, Kevin’s Corner and Alpha West, creating one of the largest integrated coal development projects globally. I am sure it will be a win-win relationship leveraging on each other’s strengths in project development and operation.

“The proposed relationship with Aurizon would allow us to jointly develop the most cost and time efficient rail and port solution for the Galilee Basin.

Vice-chairman G. V. Sanjay Reddy, said:

“At capacity, the proposed arrangement is intended to provide sufficient equity and debt funding for the projects to reach financial close. The parties jointly will leverage the work already completed by GVK, the significant potential for ECA financing and Aurizon’s experience and capacity to undertake major projects and capability in heavy haul rail and infrastructure.”

Lance Hockridge, Aurizon’s managing director and CEO, said:

“The proposed arrangement is a significant milestone because it brings together two advanced, large-scale players in the mine-rail-port space for the Galilee. Aurizon has always believed that realising Galilee Basin coal exports would require a consolidated rail and port solution that delivers a staged, commercially-sensible solution for producers. This solution could also provide significant opportunity for new and existing Bowen Basin producers to utilise elements of this infrastructure.”

Aurizon is Australia’s largest rail freight company with services operating across five states. In the last financial year, Aurizon transported more than 250 million tonnes of freight, including coal, iron ore, other minerals, agricultural products and general freight.

GVK is one of India’s leading business conglomerate with experience and expertise spanning diverse sectors including energy, resources, airports, transportation, hospitality and life sciences.


AUSTRALIA: Aurizon secures contract to haul up to 65 million tonnes/year of coal in Queensland state

(EnergyAsia, March 12 2013, Tuesday) — Australian freight operator Aurizon said it has secured a new long-term, performance-based contract with BM Alliance Coal Operations Pty Limited (BMA) and BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal Pty Limited (BMC) to haul up to 65 million tonnes per year (t/y) of coal from their combined mine operations in Queensland state.

The contract represents the entire volume put up for tender by the two companies for coal delivery to the ports of RG Tanna in Gladstone, and Hay Point and Dalrymple Bay near Mackay. The renewal for the Blackwater system starts from July 1 2015, while the Goonyella system contract starts from July 1 2016.

The new contract replaces the existing 2005/6 legacy contract with up to a 12-year term, new-form contract. It provides improved commercial returns for Aurizon based on a flexible, performance-based contract for BMA and BMC.

With this renewal, Aurizon said its conversion of old-form contracts into new-form performance-based contracts for customers will increase from 38% for FY2012 to approximately 95% of the company’s expected railed tonnages from FY2017.

Aurizon managing director and CEO Lance Hockridge said:

“BMA/BMC is a highly-valued Aurizon customer. We’re committed to delivering superior service to them today, tomorrow and well into the next decade.

“This is the largest contestable haulage contract in the Australian coal market in a decade. It represents about a quarter of the entire Queensland coal haulage market.

“We’ve worked extremely hard to deliver a service package that is large-scale, flexible and performance-based.”

Aurizon executive VP (Commercial and Marketing), Paul Scurrah, said the agreement included supply chain performance monitoring and productivity sharing initiatives. The contract includes the haulage of coal from the mining operations in Blackwater, Gregory, South Walker Creek, Poitrel, Riverside, Goonyella, Saraji, Peak Downs and Daunia.

Aurizon is Australia’s largest rail freight company with services operating across five states. Last year, the company transported more than 250 million tonnes of freight, including coal, iron ore, other minerals, agricultural products and general freight.

Previously known as QR National, Aurizon also operates and manages the 2,670-km Central Queensland network that links mines to coal ports at Bowen, Mackay and Gladstone.



QATAR: Discovery of large easy-to-produce gas field underlines challenge to unconventional gas developers

(EnergyAsia, March 12 2013, Tuesday) — In a reminder to those challenging its crown with their unproven “tight” gas potential, Qatar said it has found a large natural gas field to add to its already massive 900 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves, the world’s third largest. The recent find of a reservoir containing 2.5…

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JAPAN: Anti-nuclear sentiments remain strong as economy continues to slide on energy crisis

(EnergyAsia, March 12 2013, Tuesday) — Two years after the earthquake-tsunami disaster that shut down its vital nuclear energy sector, Japan is forced into a worsening dilemma over whether to revive its dormant reactors for the sake of the energy-hobbled economy or bow to widespread public fears that the country cannot risk another meltdown as the government has conceded it is unable to effectively shut down radiation from the stricken Fukushima plant.

On March 11 2011, a 9-richter quake struck off the coast of northeastern Japan, sending a tsunami deep into low-lying parts of the country destroying much of everything in its path including the Fukushima nuclear plant, one of the world’s largest.

Two years on, the normally docile Japanese public has shown unwavering opposition to nuclear energy, angered by persistent reports of cover-ups of the plant’s poor safety record and failure to deal with the disaster clean up by government officials and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that owns the Fukushima complex.

Until the disaster that officially killed 15,881 people with another 2,668 missing, nuclear energy supplied 29% of Japan’s electricity. With the shutdown of almost all its installed nuclear capacity of 48.96 gigawatts, Japan has had to enforce energy austerity as well as pay persistently high prices for extra imports of oil, liquefied natural gas and coal. These measures have further weakened the once mighty Japanese economy.

On the second anniversary of the disaster, protesters across the country demanded the pro-business Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was elected to office late December partly on the platform to revive the economy and gradually re-introduce nuclear energy, to dismantle all of Japan’s 54 reactor complexes including the two that are currently operating to overcome peak power shortages.

A recent survey found that 70% of Japanese want to phase out nuclear energy amid growing evidence that the Fukushima disaster has permanently destroyed farmland and caused widespread radiation in Japan and the Pacific Ocean.

Environmental groups have stepped up their campaign to shut down nuclear energy.

Green Cross International (GCI) has issued a call for countries to phase out of the use of nuclear energy and move towards producing and using more environmentally-friendly, sustainable power solutions, which in turn can also enhance prospects for nuclear weapons free world.

Describing Fukushima as equal having the impact of 168 Hiroshima atom bombs, GCI criticised TEPCO for ignoring well-documented warnings by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization of the threats of tsunami-inflicted meltdowns.

Since its founding in 1993, GCI has been campaigning to end nuclear-powered energy, citing its enormous investment costs and risks.

“The 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine was a catalyst for GCI’s actions, and today, Green Cross supports communities in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus who are still feeling the impacts of that nuclear mishap,” it said.

Despite being hailed as a source of cheap clean energy, it is instead “exorbitantly expensive” during the construction, maintenance and decommissioning phases.

“Despite claims by nuclear energy advocates that just two major accidents have occurred, at least 100 nuclear accidents involving loss of life or significant property damage were recorded between 1952 and 2009, totaling over US$20.5 billion in damages: or more than one incident and US$330 million in damage per year,” said GCI.

In protest rallies in Asia, Europe, the US and the Middle East last week, Greenpeace activists demanded that reactor operators and their suppliers including GE, Hitachi and Toshiba be held fully responsible for the Fukushima disaster as well as potential nuclear accidents.

In criticising what it calls the industry’s lack of accountability, Greenpeace International said:

“It is shocking that big companies like GE, Hitachi and Toshiba, don’t feel they have a moral responsibility to help people who have suffered from the radioactive contamination caused by their products. They should be made accountable for the risks they create.”

Greenpeace said plant operator TEPCO is only required to pay a fraction of the estimated US$250-billion Fukushima disaster costs while supplier companies are not required to pay anything, effectively putting the burden on the tax payer.

“The unfair system means hundreds of thousands of victims are still waiting for reasonable compensation for their pain, suffering and losses. They aren’t getting the help they need to rebuild their lives,” it said.