Energy Blast – April 9, 2010

President Dmitry Medvedev and the new European Union energy commissioner will attend a ceremony at Portovaya Bay on the Baltic Sea today to mark the start of construction on the Nord Stream pipeline.  The New York Times anticipates that the project ‘probably will not unfold as its promoters had hoped‘, due to the many protests raised against it all over Europe, and the financial challenges posed by the economic climate.  Voestalpine, Austria’s largest steel company, says it will make a pitch to supply underwater pipes for the project, and refrain from bidding for a role in the competing Nabucco link, partly because, as a land pipeline, it is ‘less interesting‘.  Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko says Austria will join the South Stream project this month, the last country to join before construction begins later this year.  Shmatko also says it is ‘not possible‘ for Russia to follow Algeria’s suggestion that the Gas Exporting Countries Forum should seek to limit supply to boost prices.  Gazprom deputy chief Alexander Medvedev’s comment that shale gas projects are ‘dangerous‘ is evidence that Russia is ‘unnerved‘ by the new trend, says the BBC.  Ukraine’s national energy company Naftogaz has agreed with Gazprom to increase natural gas deliveries to Ukraine this year.  A British court has lifted the freeze on £425 million of Rosneft’s UK bank account assets after an agreement was reached over unpaid debt obligations between the company and managers of former oil giant Yukos, although Rosneft still maintains its innocence.  TNK-BP is marking the production of its 150 millionth ton of crude oil.  New Hope is the latest coal producer to join the takeover battle for Australia’s Macarthur Coal with a A$3.7 billion bid – and also the latest to be rejected.