On Dec. 20 the United States and Iraq signed two memorandums of understanding providing on energy cooperation. The first MOU between the Ministry of Oil of the Republic of Iraq and the U.S. Department of Energy covers technical cooperation in energy analysis, technology, training and education. The second MOU, signed between Iraq's Ministry of Oil and the U.S. Department of State covers cooperation in training and increasing the capacity of Iraq's oil sector. According to the MOU the signatories will cooperate in developing training programs in business management, English training and information technology. The programs established by the MOU anticipate private sector firms and professional societies providing intermediate technical training, with longer-term training being available through U.S. and Iraqi universities. The two MOUs are part of broader cooperation between the United States and Iraq being implemented through a Joint Economic Commission
Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said that Azerbaijan along with BP-Azerbaijan is concerned about the rising costs associated with developing the "Stage-1 offshore Caspian Shah Deniz gas-condensate field project. Aliyev said, "Azerbaijan, as a country making investments into the project is concerned rising costs." Despite the economic concerns, Aliyev noted that both side are interested in resolving the issue, commenting, "This is a very large and very important project for the future of Azerbaijan so it must be implemented." Aliyev's comments followed a report by B?-Azerbaijan that Stage-1 expenses for the Shah-Deniz gas-condensate field might rise by as much as 25 percent. The Stage-1 project will produce 232.8 billion cubic yards of natural of gas and 34 million tons of condensate. The Stage-1 project also provides for the construction of the Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum natural gas pipeline for exporting Azeri gas to Turkey.
On Dec. 13 the Bulgarian Stock Exchange announced the results of a tender announced by Russia's Lukoil Europe Holdings B.V., a 100 percent subsidiary of Lukoil, to purchase the shares owned by minority shareholders of LUKoil Neftochim Bourgas AD refinery. Lukoil announced that its shares of LUKoil Europe Holdings B.V. in Bulgaria's Neftochim Bourgas AD refinery is now 93 percent. In Dec. 2004 The Bulgarian Stock Exchange announced the tender to buy 28.89 percent of LUKoil Neftochim Bourgas AD shares; tender terms and conditions were approved by the Financial Supervision Commission of Bulgaria. Raiffeisenbank (Bulgaria) EAD assisted LUKOIL Europe Holdings B.V. in the tender transaction.
Oil export traffic through the Turkish Straits remains bedeviled by adverse weather conditions. Traffic in the Istanbul Strait remains was again halted due to dense fog at 0030 hours local time on Jan. 14. Northbound traffic was due to resume at 1215 hours local time, while southbound traffic was due to resume at 1540 hours with vessels taken pilot under poor visibility. The Turkish maritime authority Turkish Straits Vessel Traffic Service (TSVTS) said that daylight-restricted tankers arriving on Jan. 14 may enter the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) today or on their 2nd day of arrival in case the TSVTS decides arrange passage of 7 vessels per day and in one direction, weather permitting.
In 2004 liquid bulk handling through Ukrainian ports declined by 23.3 percent as opposed to 2003 levels. During the period Jan.-Dec. 28 2004, Ukrainian ports transported 135.4 thousand tons of liquid bulk. Oil exports during the period declined by 33.9 percent. Exports totaled 15. 49 thousand tons, largely as a result of the opening of the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline.
Closing oil prices, January 14, 3 p.m. London
Brent crude oil: $44.99
West Texas intermediate crude oil: $47.67