Energy Blast, Feb. 12, 2008

The news yesterday was that Russia would cancel Iraq’s $12bn debtwithout resurrecting earlier demands of preferential access to Iraqi oil fields in exchange”. The news today is that Russia is “counting on” Iraqi joint projects, and is to begin investing in Iraq’s oil and gas sector, with Lukoil seeking to regain its role in developing the West Qurna field. Gazprom has agreed to delay by eight hours a deadline for Ukraine to negotiate a settlement for $1.5 billion in debt before shutting off a quarter of its natural gas supply. Talks have so far been unsuccessful. The company may close a deal to buy the Kovykta natural gas field in the Irkutsk region from TNK-BP this month. Vladimir Putin’s anniversary speech for Gazprom emphasized that the state would retain control over the company. The Natural Resources Ministry’s environmental watchdog has recommended revoking the production rights of a unit of Sibir Energy, the London-listed oil company controlled by billionaire Shalva Chigirinsky, for “serious violations.”

Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov supports broader cooperation between Russia and India in oil and gas. Russian companies have already expressed interest in large-scale projects to build oil and gas pipelines in the country.Russneft, the oil producer Oleg Deripaska is seeking to acquire, has appointed a former official from the billionaire’s aluminum producer as vice president.World EnergyNigeria says oil companies should be obliged to pay compensation for degradation resulting from their exploration and production activities, particularly in the oil-rich Niger Delta region.Group of Seven nations called for an end to the oil subsidies used in China, India and Indonesia to shield domestic consumers from high energy prices.