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Energy Blast – May 27, 2008

Vladimir Putin’s new Presidium, a scaled-down Cabinet, approved long-sought tax benefits at its first meeting, aiming to ward off a production slump by promoting exploration and greenfield development. TNK-BP disagreements “could damage oil production,” and may force Robert Dudley, the venture’s chief executive, to leave his post. It is being reported that Russian shareholders in TNK-BP want to oust Dudley and replace him with tycoon Viktor Vekselberg. Private Russian oil pipeline KTK is having trouble expanding its oil flow due to complaints from shareholders over debt. United Company Rusal could raise $2 billion in loans or by selling bonds this year to help refinance a loan taken out to buy into Norilsk Nickel. Russia’s state-run MRSK Holding, which operates local power distribution networks, is prepared to sell controlling stakes to private investors in the next three years. “A fevered scramble for control of the world’s seabed is going on – mostly in secret – at a little known office of the United Nations in New York.