UPI Energy Watch

By ANDREA R. MIHAILESCU, United Press International  |  Dec. 15, 2004 at 5:02 PM
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WASHINGTON, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- According to Viktor Shevaldin, director general of Lithuania's Ignalina nuclear power plant, one of the plant's turbines ceased to function for one week due to technical difficulties. Shevaldin said, "control indicators at the turbine's system of pipelines, which has recently been repaired, showed two faults which are not essential and do not pose a threat." The turbine has a capacity of 350 megawatts. Shevaldin added, "This month, Lithuania's power grid will not receive 58.8 mega kilowatt hours of electric power." Before joining the European Union, Lithuania intends to shut down the No. 1 generating set of the nuclear power plant by Dec. 31, and No. 2 generating set in 2009. Shevaldin said that Lithuania sought to persuade EU experts to extend the work on the plant's No. 1 generating set for another six months because the construction of new thermal power plants in Kaliningrad and Riga would not be completed according to the planned schedule. Lithuanian experts argued that if an accident occurred at the plant's No. 2 generating set during the winter, the entire power grid of the Baltic region would experience a serious power shortage. The entire plant produces 80 percent of all electric power for Lithuania, of which almost half is exported to Russia, Belarus, Poland, Latvia and Estonia.

After a three-year interruption, Israel's Delek Group subsidiary Delek Energy Systems intends to invest $4.6 million in concessions to resume drilling for oil and gas in Vietnam. Delek and its partners have prepared a drilling plan for 2005. Britain's Premier Oil plc intends to make most of the investment in the concession. Delek currently owns 25 percent of the concession; U.S. Samedan Oil Corporation sold its 75 percent share to Premier Oil in June. Drilling in Vietnam ceased because Delek and its partners did not find commercial quantities of oil or gas. The concession covers 2,664 square miles in the South China Sea with a 62-miles depth, 155 miles southeast of Vietnam. The Vietnamese government has the option to purchase 15 percent of the concession rights from U.S. Opeco; the Vietnamese government currently owns 3.8 percent in royalty rights. According to the agreement with the Vietnamese government, Premier Oil will undertake the full cost of the drilling; the Vietnamese government intends to assume an additional 25 percent drilling costs. Delek expects costs for 2005 to amount to $60,000-200,000.

Government Holdings Limited and Oil & Gas Development Company Limited will invest approximately $3.5 million in an offshore drilling project in Pakistan's Indus Delta, located at the offshore edge of the Thar platform. The government of Pakistan granted exploration licenses over block no. 2367-4, known as Indus Delta-A, to Government Holdings Limited and signed a Production Sharing Agreement with Oil & Gas Development Company Limited for offshore exploration. According to the agreement, the total area of the block is 965 square miles. Through the Premier-Kufpec joint venture with Pakistan, Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration will also commence drilling in the Indus Delta by mid-2005 with an investment of $20 million.

On his visit to Yemen, Marc Eyking, parliamentary secretary to the Canadian Ministry of International Trade announced on Dec. 13 that Canada intends to expand the country's cooperation on trade and oil relations with Egypt. Eyking added that Egypt's security environment provides a good atmosphere for Canada's businessmen. Leading a business delegation on a two-day visit as part of a tour to include the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, Eyking visited Cairo later that day and said that Canada seeks to improve educational cooperation in the technological and engineering fields. Eyking also expressed Canada's hope to have a trade exchange with all countries in the Middle East.

Francisco Jose Elorza Cavengt, Spanish ambassador to Russia, announced that Spain intends to participate in the construction of a Moscow-St. Petersburg high-speed railway line and to purchase Russian gas for re-export. Cavengt said, "Spain is ready to finance the Moscow-St. Petersburg high-speed railway project at its designing and development stage. The overall cost of preliminary work amounts to $1.3 million." Spain also seeks to purchase Russia's gas for domestic consumption and for re-export of gas products to North American markets.

Sergei Mironov, speaker of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament, announced on Dec. 12 that Iran has asked Russia to assist the country in constructing another nuclear power plant. Mironov said, "They hope that the next nuclear power plant will also be constructed by Russia." Mironov noted that Iran's President Mohammad Khatami shares his wishes while adding that the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant will continue and its first power generating unit will begin its operations in 2006.

Closing oil prices, Dec. 15, 3 p.m. London

Brent crude oil: $42.22

West Texas intermediate crude oil: $41.82

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