Energy Blast – March 17, 2010

Venezuela has agreed to supply crude to Belarussian refineries for joint sale on the European market – possibly spelling bad news for Russia’s income from export duty.  Newly elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is hoping to negotiate a ‘just’ price for Russian gas, and will send a delegation to Moscow next week.  An article on RFE/RL suggests that the precarious Nabucco pipeline project has gained new momentum.  Higher administrative costs, amongst other factors, mean that Nord Stream will reportedly cost €8.8 billion, more than previous estimate of €5 billion.  Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has apparently assured Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that Russia will receive all the gas it requires.  Shell has announced 1,000 job cuts in addition to the 6,000 already made in an attempt to ‘sharpen up’ the company after losses last year.  The Anglo-Dutch giant will spend more than $100 billion by 2014 in resuscitating production growth.  Rosneft is facing an ‘export deadlock’ after British and US court rulings granted injunctions to Yukos, which affect any payment to Rosneft in dollars.  OPEC has refuted the idea that increased Russian exports to Asia via the Pacific Ocean pose any threat to its predominance as supplier to the region.