Energy Blast, Jan. 16, 2008

Novatek, Russia’s largest independent gas producer, plans to raise up to $1 billion via a syndicated loan to fund organic growth and acquisitions. Bulgaria and Russia are to sign a €4 billion ($5.95 billion) contract to build a nuclear plant in northern Bulgaria. Building will commence later this year. Gazprom has raised its offer for 51% of NIS, the state-run Serbian oil and gas company, by €100 million in an attempt to reach an agreement by the end of the week, ahead of Serbia’s presidential elections.

Bulgaria may delay signing an agreement to operate a pipeline for carrying Russian natural gas under the Black Sea to European Union nations, due to ownership disputes with Russia.From February 1, Russia will raise oil export duties by $58.4 to a record $333.8 per metric ton.The chairman of Imperial Energy, the Russia-focused oil exploration company, has sold $50m worth of his shares, sending the share price down and sparking speculation about the company’s outlook.World EnergyWhite House Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has accused President George W. Bush of “begging” for cuts in oil prices in “pathetic” encounters with Gulf leaders.Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says his country will leave oil exports to the US untouched, and blamed high energy consumption in the US for the latest surge in oil prices.An Iranian oil official says he does not expect a big fall in oil prices because OPEC states and other producers have less spare capacity, and because speculation is helping to keep prices high.