UPI Energy Watch

By ANDREA R. MIHAILESCU, UPI Energy Correspondent  |  Dec. 13, 2005 at 3:29 PM
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Sweden seeks oil independence, gets U.S. praise

With the creation of the newly established National Commission on Oil, Sweden -- along with a number of other European nations -- hopes to find an avenue to achieve its independence from oil by 2020.

The government held a hearing Tuesday to address petroleum challenges and use of energy from renewables.

"As the founding co-chairmen of the Peak Oil Caucus of the United States House of Representatives, we are writing to commend you and the government of Sweden for the December 13, 2005 hearing about peak oil by the newly established National Commission on Oil Independence," according to a letter obtain by United Press International from Roscoe Bartlett, R-MD, and Tom Udall, D-NM, to Swedish Prime Minister Goran Persson late Monday.

"The National Commission on Oil Independence appointed by the government of Sweden is creating a model effort for the world in partnership with the private sector," the two congressmen wrote. "These types of partnerships will lead to greater innovation in energy efficiency and alternatives to contribute to achieving the goal of energy independence from oil."

One of the commission members, Volvo Trucks, partnered with American businesses such as Maryland-based Mack Truck, Inc., developer of the gas electric hybrid powertrain and deliverer of a prototype refueler to the U.S. Air Force, Congressman Bartlett's office told UPI.

Sweden is not alone.

Iceland is completely energy independent. Denmark, Austria, and Sweden are generating more than 20 percent of their energy from renewables.

Other nations look to ensure their energy independence.

Germany aims to phase out its nuclear plants by 2020, while a number of nations throughout the world are leading the way by encouraging the use of economical renewable energy sources.

Germany became the first leading economic power to announce officially that it would phase out the use of nuclear energy, UPI first reported in May.

It already shut down a number of nuclear plants. The Obrigheim nuclear power plant in southern Germany came off line in May after 36 years of operation.

Divide in OPEC over extra quota

Following an OPEC members meeting in Kuwait Monday, price hawks and prices doves in the 11-member oil cartel remained split on whether to renew its September decision to meet an extra 2 million barrels of oil per day for another three months.

But it did decide to maintain the current output quote of 28 million bpd.

In September and expiring on December 31, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries created the emergency spare capacity to boost output in light of disruption to U.S. oil production following damage caused by the hurricanes.

The extra 2 million bpd remain available, but unused and OPEC members, therefore, fear over-production could result in an oil prices slipping beyond control.

As OPEC's most influential member, Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali Al Nuaimi said he supported keeping the status quo. Iran agreed, and so did Qatar.

"Most probably there is no need to do anything to the ceiling or to the level of production," he told reporters after arriving in Kuwait City Sunday.

"There is no crisis in the oil supply and the international market has witnessed an excess of oil, a matter which led to an evident drop in oil prices in comparison to the previous period," Qatar's second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Industry Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Ateya said.

But some OPEC members remained over possible drop in oil demand in the second quarter of 2006.

Price hawks fear warmer weather in the industrialized northern hemisphere could create a falling demand with lower prices, affecting OPEC's crucial oil revenue unless the cartel cuts its production quota.

OPEC currently produces near capacity at approximately 30 million bpd -- including production from Iraq, for much of the year.

Kazakhstan diversifies, looks to wind power

Kazakhstan plans to build a 5 megawatt wind power station by 2010 at Dzungarian Gates near the Chinese border, under the program for the development of the electric energy industry.

The Global Environmental Facility approved a fund of $2.5 million, while the government allotted $4 million.

The United Nations Development Program expressed support in the project and intends to provide technical aid to support development of wind power industry in Kazakhstan, according to local reports.

Kazakhstan has the largest potential of wind energy power resources per capita, according to the Kazakh research and development institute Kazselenergoproekt.

Kazakhstan has a unique geographical location in the wind belt of the Northern Hemisphere.

Kazselenergoproekt has identified 15 promising sites to construct large wind power stations.

The move is part of Kazakhstan's efforts to develop alternative energy as it aims to alleviate dependence on oil and gas revenues. Wind, solar, hydropower and biomass power are part of this diversification program.

Shell's delays cost it $130M

Shell recently paid Iran $130 million in compensation for project delays in development and repair costs at the Sorush and Noruz oil fields, according to local reports.

Damages resulted from Shell's delays in developing the projects, Project Manager Mehdi Atrianfar was quoted as saying Sunday. He said costs are expected to increase further.

Shell had recurring delays during the project's implementation.

The British-Dutch venture also admitted last summer that its cost overruns at its liquefied natural gas project in Eastern Siberia at Sakhalin-2 doubled to $20 billion, with construction delays.

Shell blamed increased project costs and the time delay due to the need to cover the rising price of raw materials, especially metals, higher contractor prices and the ruble's strengthening against the dollar.

Shell faced project delays in a number of other projects this year, including its Nigerian LNG project where cost overruns could reach over $1 billion.

Serious cost overruns may have led Shell to be excluded from a few multi-billion dollar projects.

Industry experts told United Press International during the unveiling of shortlist for the giant Gazprom gas field Shtokman that Gazprom's decision not to include Shell might have been attributed to the difficulties Shell encountered in implementing the Sakhalin-2 project.


Closing oil prices, December 13, 3 p.m. London

Brent crude oil: $59.82

West Texas intermediate crude oil: $61.60


(Please send comments to AMihailescu@upi.com)

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