WASHINGTON, March 16 (UPI) -- Azeri Deputy Prime Minister Abid Sarifov, also chairman of the state commission for emergencies, called on Mar. 15 for tougher measures to prevent possible terror attacks against the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC), Baku-Novorossiysk and Baku-Supsa pipelines. Sarifov also emphasized that the Azeri government currently has neither the logistics nor the resources to eliminate possible acts of sabotage. As manager of the BTC, British Petroleum Press Secretary Tamam Bayatli meanwhile stated: "Special security measures to protect the BTC pipeline were devised well before the implementation of the project and they are being carried out now. One of the basic elements of the security of the BTC, which stretches some 1,099 miles, is that it is buried underground, except some terminals on the ground such as: Ceyhan, Sanqacal, Nasosni (Tagiyev settlement outside Baku) etc. where special security measures are also arranged. The thickness of the pipes, the quality of steel, cementing, and the alarm system - all this is in conformity with advanced international standards for building pipelines. Moreover, the population in the nearby areas also acts as a sort of guard together with constant BP supervision. We regularly conduct appropriate training with those people and are planning to make them highly qualified security staff after the BTC is commissioned." Rasim Musabayov, regional political analyst, has stated that he ruled out any possible acts of sabotage by Armenia. Musabayov added that anything could occur given that the Nogorno-Karabakh situation has yet to be resolved. Sarifov meanwhile made his statement to obtain extra funds while also looking for the BTC consortium to carry out increased security measures. Musabayov emphasized: "I think that Sarifov expresses his concern on the one hand and wants to draw additional money to resolve the tasks that have been assigned to him on the other."
According to Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) Central Committee Member Haji Mahfuz Haji Omar, Malaysia and Indonesia need to remove their troops from waters surrounding the borders of two oil and gas blocks in Batu Unarang. Omar stressed on Mar. 12: "The Malaysian and Indonesian Governments must order the withdrawal of their troops respectively to avoid incidents. On the other hand, they should hold proper talks in the interest of the ASEAN region." Omar also noted that Malaysia's high ranking official Datuk Sri Najib needs to shorten his visit to the United Kingdom in order to give new orders to the troops. Omar said: "Najib must come back immediately because the situation will intensify if the military continues to remain in the area." Omar noted that once the military withdraws, the two countries can begin diplomatic discussions but if deadlocks continue, the international tribunal will need to take the matter. If tensions continue, negotiations between Petronas and Pertamina would run smoothly. Omar added: "I am certain if all of this can be dealt with well, even Petronas and Pertamina can reestablish a relationship." The issue of rights over Batu Unarang, which covers the Ambalat and East Ambalat blocks, arose following Petronas's decision to give oil and gas concessions to Shell. Indonesia meanwhile has claimed the two blocks, located near the Sipadan and Ligatan islands. Putrajaya, on the other hand, claimed two blocks -- ND6 and ND7 -- which belong to Malaysia, as reported in the World Continental Shelf and Territorial Waters of Malaysia 1979.
Russian Federation Council International Affairs Committee Vice Chairman Umar Dzhabrailov announced that Russia is looking for methods to protect the country's interests in Iraq. Dzhabrailov said: "Russia has multifaceted interests in Iraq. But cooperation in the development of the country's oil sector is certainly a priority. And why not? Recently the Russian president advised ministers to organize work in such a way that all efforts were geared to the protection of our interests in Iraq. Recently Yuriy Shafrik, head of the Russian-Iraqi business council, confirmed that Russia has a steady interest in the oil and gas sector throughout the Near East. So if we cannot implement business projects in Iraq for the moment, we are doing it as close as possible to its borders. In particular, we have two contracts with Syria to develop oil and gas fields there, in the Iraqi border area. Russian oil interests in Iraq are predominately private with the support and protection of the state. Of course, when you are talking about Iraqi oil for Russia, Lukoil comes to mind. Incidentally, its head, Vagit Alekperov, recently expressed the hope that after the election the new Iraqi government would authorize his company to develop the West Qurna-2 field. The reason for the Lukoil head's optimism is clear: Russia is the only country training local oil specialists (the training is taking place in Russia, of course)."
According to a statement made by Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar at a meeting with former diplomats in New Delhi on Mar. 10, India and Iran do not intend to cease economic cooperation between the two countries despite U.S. concerns. Aiyar said: "We hope they (US) can resolve issues with Iran by the time we are able to resolve our contractual issues (of gas imports). I can confirm that U.S. Ambassador to India David Mulford did meet me exactly a month ago ... we have noted what U.S. concerns are and I think U.S. is well aware of what our energy requirements are. We are sensitive to each other's requirement." Iran has agreed to supply India with 7.5 million tons of liquefied natural gas annually beginning in 2010 and is currently negotiating imports of natural gas through an on-land pipeline through Pakistan. Aiyar said: "We need 131 million standard cubic yards per day of natural gas by 2025. Can America supply us that? I am only looking at securing energy security for the country."
Two young Algerians penetrated the Belgium highly guarded liquefied natural gas terminal in Zeebrugge on the night of Mar. 11. While the two Algerians passed two high barbed wire perimeter fences unnoticed, they were caught on security cameras. Although the cameras indicated the two men carried backpacks, when they were caught they no longer had the backpacks. Authorities searched the premises for the backpacks but found nothing. The two men refused to speak when interrogated. According to authorities the LNG terminal is designed to be protected against terrorist attack. Belgium's Bruges Public Prosecutor's Office has reported that it is keeping the two men in custody in a juvenile prison in Everberg. According to Interpol reports, one of them is an illegal 17-year old immigrant, who was previously expelled from Germany. The identity of the other young man remains unknown. The natural gas ship Methania had just left for Algeria at the time the two penetrated the terminal.
As of early March, China has resumed the country's gas development project in the East China Sea. Chinese vessels have moved into the oil and natural gas fields in Chun Xiao and in Tian Wai Tian to begin development despite repeated requests from Japan to cease Chinese activities in the area. According to Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp Engineer Keita Kanda, China began development on the eastern side of the Japan-China median line that demarcates the limit of the exclusive economic zone claimed by Japan in Oct. 2004 with the 10,000-ton research vessel, which was used to explore for fossil fuel prospects in the area. The demarcation line between Japan and China in the East China Sea has yet to be determined. Kanda further emphasized that China refuses to acknowledge Japan's contention that the median line should be the border, claiming instead that the Chinese continental shelf naturally extends to the Okinawa trough.
Closing oil prices, Mar. 16, 3 p.m. London
Brent crude oil: $53.72
West Texas intermediate crude oil: $54.85