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Energy Blast – Feb 24, 2010

Vladimir Putin has threatened the heads of four energy companies with fines, and said they would not be able to sell power at market prices if they continued to underinvest in Russia’s energy sector, noting that foreign power companies were sticking to their investment obligations.  Putin also noted that electric power consumption in Russia has returned to pre-crisis levels, and announced that the government would allocate $1.76 billion for the construction of new nuclear power plants.  Putin attended the relaunch of the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydropower dam, which had been closed since a fatal accident last August.  Read a summary of the problems supposedly facing Gazprom in the wake of the financial crisis, including new competition from liquefied natural gas and shale gas, lower gas prices and demand, and ‘unwieldy bureaucracy‘.  ‘Linking gas and oil pipelines and electricity grids will not eliminate dependence on Russia, analysts say. But [European] countries in the region will be able to help each other out in the case of shortages or a disruption in energy supplies.‘  The Africa chief of Shell has criticized Nigeria’s handling of its oil industry, saying that the country risks being eclipsed as the continent’s leading oil producer.