Energy Blast – Jan 16th, 2009

Europe’s energy crisis has started to hit UK gas prices.  Gazprom and Italy’s ENI have agreed to step up work on the South Stream pipeline project.  A 60-member delegation of US firms is lobbying in India this week for a share in the country’s nuclear market, but issues of liability are stalling progress.  Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder – a favourite with the Russians and in particular with Vladimir Putin – is to join the board of British-Russian oil major TNK-BP as an independent director.  Russia’s budget deficit could top 4 trillion rubles ($124 billion) this year – more than 10% of its GDP – if oil prices stay below $40 a barrel, and low prices have caused the government to cut oil export taxes by 15%.  Iraq’s oil ministry will hold a workshop for international oil companies interested in bidding for a stake in its largest oil and gas fields, but one analyst suggested that ‘investing in an environment like Iraq isn’t very tempting for international oil companies’ due to the current price slump.  Venezuela’s PdVSA is struggling to pay its bills, says this report.  Lukoil’s planned purchase of a 20% stake in Spain’s Repsol is on hold.