Energy Blast – January 4, 2012

Crude prices are mounting as Iran’s threat to curtail access to the Strait of Hormuz provokes an ‘angry rebuke from the US’, in the words of the Telegraph.  In a slight increase on last year, South Korea apparently plans to purchase around 10% of its crude from Iran in 2012, as the country seeks a waiver from stricter U.S. sanctions that could disrupt Iranian oil shipments.  A Turkish energy ministry official has told Reuters that Ankara will also apparently seek a waiver from the United States to exempt its biggest refiner, Tupras, from the sanctions on institutions that engage with Iran’s central bank.  Despite heavy reliance on Iranian oil, Greece will apparently remain in solidarity with the EU should it decide to impose an oil embargo on the Islamic Republic.  According to French bank Societe Generale, European gas demand will remain below 2008 levels until 2017 and the weak outlook could force a slash in prices from Russia’s Gazprom and Norway’s Statoil.  Exxon Mobil is reportedly negotiating the selling back of most of its 50% stake in TonenGeneral Sekiyu KK to its Japanese refining partner and other assets in Japan in a deal that could be worth as much as $5 billion.  Al-Jazeera has an in-depth analysis of Russia’s entrenched Arctic presence.  BP wishes Halliburton an expensive new year.