Energy Blast – March 22, 2011

The Japanese crisis provides Russia with an opportunity to raise its energy profile, says this WSJ blog, noting Russia’s efforts ‘to position itself as a kind of Saudi Arabia of natural gas‘.  In this Telegraph piece, analysts suggest that the Fukushima disaster could have a long-term impact on the global gas market.  The New York Times is not so certain: ‘It is far too early to say for sure whether the calamitous events in Japan may roll back the global nuclear revival and lead to a surge in natural gas demand.‘  In a move praised by Vladimir Putin as ‘a sign of stability‘, Wintershall, a hydrocarbon subsidiary of Germany’s BASF, has joined the South Stream pipeline, taking a 15% stake for €2 billion.  A bill drafted by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is rivaling that of a group of Duma deputies, as both attempt to legislate oil pollution, but environmentalists claim that the former’s bill is ‘simply a series of amendments to current legislation‘.  The new executive director of the IEA, Dutch economic affairs minister Maria van der Hoeven, emphasises the importance of ‘invest[ing] in Russia contacts‘.  Bashkortostan is to receive a Saudi delegation that will explore various energy opportunities including petrochemicals and oil refining.  France’s energy minister is defending nuclear energy as ‘one of the core energies in the 21st century‘ against the current onslaught of critique.