Energy Blast – Jan 25, 2010

A third round of Russian-Belarusian talks on electricity transit to the Baltic states and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad have supposedly resumed.  Apparently Belarus has accused Russia of illegally levying export duties on crude oil deliveries into the former Soviet state.  Nord Stream has reportedly stated that it has awarded Russia’s OMK, Japan’s Sumitomo and Germany’s Europipe a $1.42 billion contract to provide pipes for the second part of the pipeline.  According to the Moscow Times, the Finance Ministry is contemplating a change from the current duties on crude exports and mineral extraction to a system of profit-based tax instead, as oil companies warn that high taxes may jeopardise output.  The chairman of British utility Centrica, which owns British Gas, is urging the government to protect the company from the advances of ‘foreign predators’.  Italy’s Eni may offer the Ugandan government a ‘cash sweetener’ of up to $300 million to entice it away from awarding a $1.5 billion stake in the country’s main oil prospects to rival bidder, British explorer Tullow Oil.