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Stanford plans to energize its oil department

Carrie Sturrock, SF Chronicle
The hunger for oil is at the heart of modern life, from foreign policy and debates about terrorism to global warming.

Yet Stanford University’s petroleum engineering department, viewed by many outsiders as the nation’s best, hasn’t been able to draw more than one undergraduate in the last 12 years. This has left professors perplexed over how to lure some of the nation’s brightest students into a field at the fulcrum of public policy and the economy.

Stanford’s solution? Take “petroleum” out of the department name. “Energy” is sexier.

Maybe, they figure, the new “Department of Energy Resources Engineering” will be more attractive.

It probably can’t hurt. Until this semester, the last undergraduate to major in the department was 1993, during the first Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein sought control over Kuwaiti oil fields.
(20 Nov 2006)
The complete goes into more detail about the state of petroleum engineering on campuses.

Feeding frenzy for Africa oil fields gathers pace

James Macharia, Reuters
CAPE TOWN, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Africa accounts for only around 10 percent of world oil reserves but the continent is the focus of a feeding frenzy among energy companies that is just beginning in countries like Libya and Angola.

Crisis in Iraq, concerns about energy nationalism in parts of South America and difficulties investing in Russia have limited exploration in those areas and kept interest in Africa bubbling, speakers said at the Africa Upstream oil conference in Cape Town, which ended on Friday.

China has made a major push to secure oil reserves and production in Africa while national energy companies of African countries, such as gas-to-fuels producer PetroSA of South Africa, are seeking new ground outside their own borders.

“Oil majors do not have unmitigated access to reserves in the world, think Venezuela, think Russia, think Iraq,” said Duncan Clarke, chairman and chief executive officer of Global Pacific and Partners, which organised the three-day conference.
(17 Nov 2006)

Cuban Oil and Ethanol Could Prosper in Havana’s Hunt for Energy Supplies

Danielle Ryan. Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA)
* The pace is now quickening for the Cuban oil industry, whose previous dependence on Moscow for its supplies and operations ended with the demise of the Soviet Union
* Havana is on track for securing energy independence through relationships with foreign investors, including China and Venezuela, among others
* Venezuela proudly flaunts its involvement in the Cuban oil industry, despite the failed efforts of other foreign investors to produce commercially ranked results
* The Cuban oil and ethanol industries have the potential to transform the island into a major player in global energy, which would guarantee its ability to successfully bypass the U.S. embargo
(17 Nov 2006)
Can’t find much onlineabout this news source (COHA). According to a notice at the bottom of the web page:

The Council on Hemispheric Affairs, founded in 1975, is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and information organization. It has been described on the Senate floor as being “one of the nation’s most respected bodies of scholars and policy makers.”


Venezuela Bills Total $17.3 Million in Unpaid Taxes

Venezuela’s tax agency said Thursday that French oil company Total SA owes the country US$17.3 million (euro13.5 million) in unpaid taxes from last year.

The company has 15 days to pay the amount owed plus a 10-percent fine, the agency said in a statement.

The fine comes after Venezuelan tax authorities billed Italian oil company Eni SpA the previous day for US$6 million (euro4.7 million) in 2005 taxes. ..
(17 Nov 2006)

BP next in line as Kremlin targets Western oil companies

Associated Press/International Herald Tribune
BP PLC, which entered the Russian energy market three years ago with the blessing of President Vladimir Putin, has become the latest foreign producer to feel the icy power of the Kremlin as the state increases its control of oil resources.

The company’s joint venture TNK-BP, Russia’s third-biggest oil and gas producer, has been hit with back-tax bills, threatened with license annulments and last week prosecutors opened a criminal investigation against a TNK-BP executive. Its difficulties mirror those seen by Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp. and Total SA in their Russian projects.

The two billionaires who own most of TNK, Pyotr Aven and Viktor Vekselberg, denied this week that they were in talks to sell their shareholdings or were under government pressure to do so. But a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that the Russian shareholders in TNK “are sitting and waiting to be told who to sell to.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because of concern about official reprisals. ..

William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital, the largest investment fund in Russia, said BP and other large oil companies simply couldn’t afford to stay out of Russia with dwindling reserves available to them elsewhere in the world.

“If I was sitting in the board room of Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil and thinking about Russia, I’d be scared,” he said. “But at the moment, Russia doesn’t seem to suffer any real consequences for playing hardball. In a world where there’s no oil, foreign companies are lining up to work regardless of how the Russians treat them.”
(17 Nov 2006)