UPI Energy Watch

By ANDREA R. MIHAILESCU, UPI Energy Correspondent  |  Feb. 8, 2008 at 10:52 PM
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Iran awards drilling rig contract to local firm

The National Iranian Drilling Co. and Iranian Offshore Engineering and Construction Co. secured an agreement to build three onshore drilling derricks.

NIDC Managing Director Heydar Bahmani and the IOEC Managing Director Mas'ud Soltanpur in the Central Building of Petroleum Ministry, central Tehran, signed the contract.

Under the deal, IOEC will to construct the three derricks in 18 months.

Bahmani said 288,831 meters of onshore and offshore oil and gas wells had been drilled in 10 months starting March 21, 2007.

He told Petroenergy Information Network the drilling operations had been carried out on 124 wells, showing a 19,133-meter growth when compared to the figure of the corresponding period in its preceding year.

He said the National Iranian South Oil Co. and the National Iranian Central Oil Co. had drilled 10 and four development wells more than last year's respectively, while the National Iranian Oil Co. had drilled two exploration wells more than its previous year.

Bahmani added that phases 9 and 10 of South Pans field had undergone 19,546 meters of drilling operations, i.e. 3,477 meters beyond the targeted figure.

The drilling operations in phases 9 and 10 of South Pars field started in late March 2007.

Russia to use project to pay off debt to Macedonia

Macedonia is considering letting Gazprom use its gasification project, which Gazprom could use to clear its debt toward the country.

Deputy Prime Minister Zoran Stavreski told Radio Free Europe that a Gazprom delegation would visit Skopje at the government's invitation in the course of this month to discuss the terms and conditions for the gasification project would be specified.

"We have agreed on the contents of the agreement with Russia for settling the debt through investment projects, above all, through the gasification project," Stavreski said, adding that the signing of the agreement is being prolonged over personnel changes on the Russian negotiating side.

Stavreski did not answer Dnevnik's question to specify Gazprom's role in the project and the conditions under which the company would enter the market.

The negotiations on the compensation of the debt were kept secret and no details were announced, which left room for suspicion that perhaps Gazprom was offered special terms and conditions.

In an interview for Dnevnik last October, Stavreski explained the general framework.

"We have managed to ensure that all $60 million are paid off and used to start the project. The gasification will be carried out in a number of phases and will cover the entire territory of Macedonia. The project will last around three years and will cost much more than the originally-planned $60 million, which is the sum that Russia owes Macedonia. We expect to see the gasification completed by 2010 at the latest, with some towns receiving gas earlier," Stavreski said at the time.

Gazprom could cut off gas supplies to Ukraine

Gazprom and Neftegaz Ukrainy failed to come to an agreement because the Ukrainian company was not ready to discuss the debts, Itar-Tass reported.

Gazprom said it will stop supplying Russian gas to Ukraine at 10:00 a.m. Moscow time on February 12 if the debts are not paid, Gazprom spokesman Sergei Kupriyanov told Itar-Tass.

"The meeting showed that the Ukrainian side was totally unprepared to discuss the essence of the problem. Igor Didenko was fully informed about the Gazprom position, and that was the end of the negotiations," he said.

"We give them time until Monday. If the problem is not resolved, Russian gas will not be supplied to Ukraine starting from 10:00 a.m. Moscow time on Tuesday, February 12," he said.

He added that the Ukrainian debt for Russian gas delivered since January 1, 2008, is nearing $500 million, while the total debt stands at $1.5 billion. Ukraine has received 1.5 billion cubic meters of Russian gas this year, Kupriyanov said.

"Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine are not included in the Gazprom balance of gas for 2008. Thus, Ukraine must immediately legalize the deliveries with relevant contracts and acts and fully repay its debt," Kupriyanov said.


Closing oil prices, Feb. 8, 3 p.m. London

Brent crude oil: $89.12

West Texas Intermediate crude oil: $88.58


(e-mail: energy@upi.com)

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