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Doha conference: talking about an OPEC for gas

Wendy Braanker, Radio Netherlands
Will there be a new cartel of gas producers along the lines of OPEC – the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries – or not? That’s a key issue at the annual meeting of 15 gas-producing nations being held on 9 and 10 April in Doha, capital of Qatar.

“Gas importers can do nothing but try to reduce their dependency on gas…”
Observers say it’s too early for such a move, but some gas-importing countries, including the United States, fear that closer cooperation between the producing countries could push up the price of natural gas.

“We are here to support the idea of a gas OPEC,” were the words spoken by Venezuela’s Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez at the opening of the Doha conference. Venezuela and Iran are both backing the idea of a gas cartel. These two countries – both already members of OPEC and of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) which was created in 2001 – want to put their growing influence to use.

…Rembrandt Koppelaar is from the Stichting Peakoil Nederland (Netherlands Peak-oil foundation), the Dutch branch of an international non-profit network of energy experts known as ASPO (Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas), and he says that Russia will also take into account it’s need to avoid gaining a reputation among its (gas) customers for being unreliable.
(9 April 2007)
Rembrandt Koppelaar from ASPO is quoted several times in the article.
Related articles:Officials deny plans to form gas cartel (AP)
Will there be a gas OPEC? (Novosti – Russia)
Who profits from a gas OPEC? (Asia Times)

Russia’s oil and gas reserves shrinking

Reuters/Moscow Times (subscription required)
The country’s oil reserves shrank by 7.3 billion barrels from 1994 to 2005 as the country failed to replace dwindling West Siberian reserves with new discoveries in East Siberia and other regions, an official said Friday.

“The proportion of reserves that can be extracted has fallen from 42 percent at the start of the 1990s to 27 percent,” Sergei Fyodorov, head of subsoil policy at the Natural Resources Ministry, told a conference.

Russia’s energy reserves are classified information, but BP’s statistical review of world energy has put them at 74.4 billion barrels.

“At the current rate of growth in oil production, there won’t be enough reserves to keep up,” Fyodorov said.

Industry experts say that in Soviet times, state-run oil producers rushed to pump as much oil from each field as possible, damaging the chances of making the most of the available reserves in the long term. Many fields that were harvested hastily now produce much more water than oil.
(9 Apr 2007)
Contributor Jeffrey J. Brown comments: Based on our mathematical models, the recent rebound in Russian production was primarily making up for what was not produced immediately following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and mature Russian basins are in an advanced stage of depletion–roughly comparable to the US Lower 48.

Chavez Guarantees Latin American Energy Supply for 100 Years

Theresa Bradley, Bloomberg
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for the creation of a Latin American energy system to prioritize local markets in a “true energy revolution,” guaranteeing oil and gas supply to the region for 100 years.

“All the oil and energy that Latin America needs is here in Venezuela,” Chavez said tonight at a graduation ceremony in Caracas. “That resource, once in the hands of the empire, is now in Venezuelan hands, and we have it to share with the people of Cuba and the Caribbean, Nicaragua and Central America, Brazil and South America, at least for 100 years.”

Chavez called proposals by U.S. President George W. Bush to substitute gasoline with ethanol in a bid to reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil, “true craziness” that “go against nature” and threaten the region’s poorest inhabitants.

“To produce the ethanol necessary to replace the gasoline that the U.S. alone consumes, we’d have to plant almost all the land on this continent with corn or sugar cane — not to feed people, but to feed the cars of the U.S. empire,” he said. “That’s craziness.”

Chavez said the U.S. proposal would never sabotage relations between Venezuela and its ethanol-producing neighbor, Brazil, as Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has offered “serious” bio-fuel plans that are in fact different from what Bush has led the world to believe.
(10 April 2007)

High Stakes: Chávez Plays the Oil Card

Simon Romero and Clifford Krauss, NY Times
CARACAS, Venezuela – With President Hugo Chávez setting a May 1 deadline for an ambitious plan to wrest control of several major oil projects from American and European companies, a showdown is looming here over access to some of the most coveted energy resources outside the Middle East.
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Moving beyond empty threats to cut off all oil exports to the United States, officials have recently stepped up the pressure on the oil companies operating here, warning that they might sell American refineries meant to process Venezuelan crude oil even as they seek new outlets in China and elsewhere around the world.

“Chávez is playing a game of chicken with the largest oil companies in the world,” said Pietro Pitts, an oil analyst who publishes LatinPetroleum, an industry magazine based here. “And for the moment he is winning.”

But this confrontation could easily end up with everyone losing.

The biggest energy companies could be squeezed out of the most promising oil patch in the Western Hemisphere. But Venezuela risks undermining the engine behind Mr. Chávez’s socialist-inspired revolution by hampering its ability to transform the nation’s newly valuable heavy oil into riches for years to come.
(9 April 2007)