Energy Blast – May 3, 2012

Russian oil production crept down 0.3% to 10.33 million barrels per day in April, its lowest this year, due to a refinery closure.   The Kremlin has introduced higher taxes on gas firms, which is expected to hit export monopoly Gazprom hard.  Rosneft has reported a first quarter loss of 7.4% due to lost tax benefits.  Novatek, Russia’s second-largest natural-gas producer, has also suffered from the government’s plan to quadruple the mineral-extraction tax.  Surgutneftegas has, equally, had its problems.    Blackstone Group senior Byron Wien has forecast an annual drop in oil prices for the first time in his career as increasing production pumps up global inventories.  Talks between European Commission leaders and visiting Chinese officials, led by Vice Premier Li Keqiang, have seen energy security at the top of the agenda.  The shale energy boom creates yet another environmental problem, according to this report.  The US has warned Bolivia, which has followed Argentine President Cristina de Kirchner’s example and announced plans for the nationalization of Spain’s Red Electrica company, that the strategy will hurt the investment climate.