Energy Blast, April 7, 2008

On Friday, BP’s CEO Tony Hayward met with executives of Russian oil major Rosneft this week, including its powerful chairman Igor Sechin. Hayward said it was a regular meeting to discuss joint projects with the Russian company, while others speculated Hayward met with Sechin to make a deal to end the state’s harassment of TNK-BP. Lukoil has announced plans to build its own oil refining tanker to replace the company’s current use of Rosneft’s “Belokamenka” by year 2010, as well as plans to boost oil shipping through the Barents Sea from its new port of Varandey. The Wall Street Journal argues that Gazprom’s move into Libya may be more motivated by commerical desperation than political motives to control European energy sources: “So the Russian company’s push into North Africa makes industrial sense. This is one of the last gas-rich regions in the world to remain open to competing foreign investors. The type of asset swap it is considering with Eni also will enable the Italian group to broaden its Russian presence, so Gazprom isn’t getting into Libya for free. Once again, paranoia won’t be the cleverest way for Europeans to react to the Russian bear’s moves.” Iran has called upon OPEC to stop selling oil in dollars, proposing that OPEC and oil producing nations form a joint bank and common currency for the oil trade. Gazprom’s sale of a giant bond tranche totaling $1.5 billion could signal the start of fund-raising from emerging countries, corporates and quasi-sovereigns that have held off bond issues hoping for an end to recent market turmoil.