Week in Review September 19-25

by Timoty Abraham, Alexander Geysman, Irina Mironova, Elisabeth Nguebana, Patrick Osborne, Glenda Pavon-Suriel, Alberto Perego

China Wants its Nuclear Industry to Grow Dauntingly Fast

Chinese city of Lianyungang saw people protesting last month against the nuclear power plant, already built in the area. China has started its nuclear adventure only in 1994 and since then the nuclear power has never reached more than 2% share of total power generation. With ecological concerns in mind, the Chinese government is eager to increase this number up to 9% in 2030, or 8 times in absolute terms, with 36 plants already running and 20 in construction. After-Fukushima worries replaced by a more pragmatic worldview. Number of deaths related to pollution from fossil fuels (largely coal) is measured in hundreds of thousands in mainland China; Chinese citizens place much more trust in their government in matter of nuclear power than those of western countries – that’s why it generally can only be seen as a positive news. What makes the case for the Lianyungang so peculiar is that it is located on the coast of Yellow Sea, being a large harbour, and sea-air largely countervails the effect of coal pollution, making the necessity of a nuclear power plant no so evident to its citizens.

A glowing future. The Economist. September 24, 2016. http://www.economist.com/news/china/21707576-china-wants-its-nuclear-industry-grow-dauntingly-fast-glowing-future?

China Resources Gas part of bid for UK’s National Grid

China Resources Gas, which is part of a state-owned Chinese conglomerate, has entered into the race for the gas distribution arm of the UK’s National Grid. This is the largest auction featuring UK infrastructure asset recently. National Grid is seeking to sell a 51 percent stake that could be valued at 11 billion pounds including debt. China Resources Gas, Australia’s Hastings Fund Management and Singapore Power, which are the members of the consortium, are being advised by Goldman Sachs and placed their bid recently. The auction is a test for PM Theresa May’s government on how it will look at foreign investment in UK energy infrastructure. This comes after the recently approved 18 billion pound Hinkley Point nuclear power station project, which will be part owned by a Chinese state-owned company. This has to do with energy security for the British energy sectorю Overall, we are seeing the changing landscape of the British energy infrastructure in allowing foreign influence into its strategic sectors.

Arash Massoudi and Yuan Yang: China Resources Gas enters bid battle for National Grid’s gas arm. Financial Times. September 23, 2016. https://www.ft.com/content/8744a146-81a6-11e6-8e50-8ec15fb462f4

Russia’s finance minister warns investors about outcome OPEC meeting

News agencies have been very optimistic concerning the outcomes of the coming OPEC meeting in Algeria next week. Algeria seems to be a magical place when it comes to OPEC meeting, seen the fact that both in 2004 and in 2008 OPEC meetings in Algiers have shocked markets with production cuts. Increasingly decreasing oil prices have motivated OPEC countries to cut production in a bid to stop the decrease, all talks until now have been proven unsuccessful.

Although production cuts might be presented after the coming OPEC meeting in Algiers, Russia’s finance minister Anton Siluanov warns investors that the rise in prices will be temporarily. He suggests that a surge in prices might lead to an increase in production, especially from the shale industry. Russia has budgeted oil barrels for 40$ for the coming 3 years which he calls a conservative estimate.

Katy Barnato and Geoff Cutmore: Don’t bank on oil freeze boosting prices, warns Russian finance minister CNBC, Friday, 23 Sep 2016. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/23/dont-bank-on-oil-freeze-boosting-prices-warns-russian-finance-minister.html

Iran’s Parliament Endorses New Oil Contract

Iran Petroleum Contract (IPC) is the new contracting tool approved on the 17th of September by the Iranian Parliament. Its aim is to lure back foreign investment after sanctions. IPC was locked for some time by political controversies. IPC is set to replace traditional buyback schemes introduced in the 1990s. The purpose of this new contractual tool is that of reconciling two opposing situations: the need for foreign investments, and the Constitution based ban on private and foreign ownership of natural resources in the Islamic Republic of Iran. The IPC is a risk service contract. Iranian and foreign contractors will bear the risk of the operations, and they will be rewarded with a fee per barrel. In case of dramatic oil price fluctuations, the contractors will also be entitled to an increase in profits. Moreover, the IPC model will adopt a 20 to 25 years’ duration, therefore allowing for a much better cost recovery period after first production. Iran aims at taking advantage of foreign companies’ marketing expertise, and at accessing their export markets. Access to export markets will be one of the key for the growth of Iran’s oil business, as in these times of oil oversupply a global network is needed to successfully locate production.

Iran Petroleum Contract approved by Iranian Parliament, September 17th, 2016. http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/The-Start-Of-Something-Big-Iran-Changes-Oil-Contracts.html and http://english.almanar.com.lb/32778

 German and Iran Energy Agreement

Six months after the energy agreement with the Iran’s generator constructors, the German company Siemens delivered a F- class turbine to Iran. The industrial Siemens re-enter the race it activity with the Iranian company Mapna in the gas turbines and generators for power plants. Siemens is the first company that accept to deal and to help Iran, after the sanctions. The plan is to deliver to Iran over the next four or five years more than 20 gas turbines and that Iran gain the technology skills to be able to produce themselves these gas turbines. This agreement will actually increase the Iran electricity, which is 70% feed by natural gas.

Azerbaijan Desk: Siemens delivers first F-Class turbine to Iran. Natural Gas Word. September 20th, 2016. http://www.naturalgaseurope.com/siemens-delivers-first-f-class-turbine-to-iran-31692

 Nigeria Sues Several Oil Majors Over “Stolen Oil”

The Nigerian government is suing oil majors Chevron, Eni, Total, Shell, Petrobras, and may later add Exxon to the list. The lawsuit is over illegal exports of oil worth $12.7 billion between 2011 and 2014. According to Nigerian officials those companies only declared 57 million barrels of crude oil exports during that period. However, officials state that there were differences in the amounts claimed and departure and arrival, and that some quantities were not claimed at all at departure. The lawsuit shows efforts on the part of the Nigerian government to clean up its image as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It may also be an attempt to appease militant rebel groups and local communities located in the Niger Delta. The region is clashing with oil companies doing work in the area over pollution, and lack of jobs. These issues are contributing to local poverty and displacement of fishermen. Corruption by the oil industry doing business in the Niger Delta, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, is one of the main targets of the lawsuit. NNPC was recently found to have paid the Nigerian government billions of dollars in revenues.

Irina Slav. Nigeria Sues Oil Majors Over $12.7 Billion in ‘Stolen Oil’. Oilprice.com. September 21, 2016. http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Nigeria-Sues-Oil-Majors-Over-127-Billion-In-Stolen-Oil.html

The Montreal Protocol : Able to Slow Global Warming ?

The Montreal Protocol, now ratified by 197 countries, was signed in 1987 and aimed at phasing out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs are chemicals used in refrigeration and as propellants in products such as hairsprays ; they are powerful greenhouse gases ; also, they release chlorine as they decompose, and deplete the ozon layer. The Montreal Protocol implementation, according to the Economist, has prevented the equivalent of more than 135 billion tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions. The agreement can be extended in order to benefit the environment and solve the problems that appeared after the original measures implemented (e.g. replacement of CFCs with man-made hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) which also have serious impact on climate). The leading actors that promote the idea of using Montreal Protocol to solve the HFC problem are the US and China.

The Montreal Protocol : Too Coldly to Go. The Economist. September 24, 2016. http://www.economist.com/news/international/21707531-extending-old-treaty-saved-ozone-layer-could-improve-cooling-technologyand-slow?cid1=cust/ednew/n/bl/n/20160922n/owned/n/n/nwl/n/n/E/n

Paris Agreement : Russia Will Not Accelerate the Ratification Process

The Paris Agreement has been ratified by US, China and a number of other countries. The documents of accession to or ratification pf the Treaty were to be submitted to the UN Secretary General on September 21. According to the TASS report published on that very same day, Russia’s Advisor to the President and Special Presidential Representative on Climate Issues Alexander Bedritsky has stated that Russia will not accelerate the ratification process. In order to proceed with ratification, Russia needs to complete all the steps provided for in the national legislation. Some of the steps include the evaluation of social and political consequences of ratification, as well as introducing the strategy of low-carbon development and the plan for adaptation to climate change. Bedritsky added : « All economic estimates and legal documents have to be prepared before the ratification process begins ».

Advisor to the President: the Russian Federation will not artificially speed up the ratification of the Paris Agreement [Советник президента: РФ не будет искусственно ускорять ратификацию Парижского соглашения]. ТАСС. http://tass.ru/obschestvo/3639933

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