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Middle East and Russia - Jan 10

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage


Cleric Calls for Energy Saving in Iran

Fars News Agency
TEHRAN (FNA)- Tehran's interim Friday Prayers leader Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani called on Iranians to watch out for any wasteful use of the country's heavily subsidized energy supplies, cautioning that Iranians are the only world nation consuming cheap energy supplies extravagantly.

Addressing a large congregation of worshippers on Tehran University Campus here on Friday, Ayatollah Kashani demanded the government and parliament to devise more plans and make the needed arrangements to boost Iran's energy exports.

He further complained that Iranian people are using energy resources wastefully.

"Energy, (drinking) water, electricity and bread are sold at an actual price in the world (countries), but this is not the case in our country, we are consuming them wastefully," the cleric said.

He noted the shortage of gas supplies in certain northern Iranian cities in recent days, and said although both the parliament and government are responsible for supplying energy to the people, "the ignorance shown in energy consumption in Iran is not happening in any other part of the world."
(4 January 2008)
"Fars News Agency (FNA) is Iran's leading independent news agency..."


Shell and Total Square Up Over Gasfield in Iraq’s Sunni Heartland

Robin Pagnamenta, UK Times
Shell and Total are vying to develop a huge gasfield in what was Iraq’s most violent province as a source for exports to Europe. The Iraqi Government held talks with a number of potential companies last week regarding development of the Akkas field in Anbar province, northwest of Baghdad.

Akkas, close to the border with Syria, is thought to contain up to seven trillion cubic feet of gas - up to 6 per cent of Iraq’s estimated total of 112 trillion cubic feet. The field is capable of producing up to 50 million cubic feet a day, but this could be raised to 450 million cubic feet per day if developed further.

The Iraqi Government is keen to get the field operational as quickly as possible, using nearby Syria as an export route to Europe to restore revenues. A statement from Shell said that the Iraqi Oil Ministry had asked Shell to undertake “a long-term production test”. Total was unavailable for comment, but is also understood to be interested.

In the longer term, both Western oil giants hope to win an equity stake in the project, which would also provide a toehold for further long-term exploration and development in Iraq, which has the world’s third-largest oil reserves.
(9 January 2008)
Also at Common Dreams.


Russia scaremongering cranked up again

Jerome a Paris, European Tribune
The Financial Times (the main paper of the City of London, and one of the main European "highbrow" papers) really overdoes it this morning with its main headline, Gazprom plans Africa gas grab. (for a shot of the front page of the paper, go see the European Tribune version of this diary)

A gas "grab"? Are they sending the Russian military to invade Nigeria and take over Nigerian gas fields? Are they starting a naval blockade to prevent Nigeria from exporting its gas? Worse, apparently:

A senior Nigerian oil industry official, who declined to be named, said the company was offering to invest in energy infrastructure in return for the chance to develop some of the biggest gas deposits in the world.

Wow. Investing? Now that's scary! So what should we do exactly? How can we force Russia not to control the gas on their territory, and not to invest in other countries? Should we invade them preemptively? Should we stop selling them armor-plated Mercedes cars? Not give visas to Russian leaders' girlfriends?

What exactly is the point of these headlines? Given that the Russians will just either shrug and ignore it, or ratchet up their own anti-Western rhetoric, what's the real purpose?
(5 January 2008)
Also posted at Daily Kos.

Related from Steve LeVine, a specialist on Russia and Central Asia:

Putin's KGB background does affect Kremlin policy. The thrust of it is -- anything goes. In other words, set the goal, and use whatever means necessary to achieve it, which is a worrying approach to domestic and foreign policy.

But Putin is going to be around a long time, and the U.S. is going to have to find a common language with him. Rather than offering a serious approach, Clinton and McCain dived quite happily into the muck in a craven effort to capture the base.


Russia's New Abbott and Costello Defense

Steve LeVine, The Oil and the Glory
Vladimir Putin -- listen up.

You now have an airtight defense against those who have savaged you ever since you temporarily cut off natural gas shipments to Europe a couple of years ago in a pricing dispute with Ukraine. It would make Abbott and Costello proud.

Last week, Turkmenistan made news by cutting off natural gas supplies to Iran. The Central Asian nation, the runt forever being picked on by neighborhood bullies, had been shipping 23 million cubic meters a day to Iran, but is tired of being short-changed by Russia and Iran for its natural gas and wants more money. Russia is now paying $130 a thousand cubic meters (versus $350 it plans to charge Europe); Turkmenistan presumably wants at least that much from Iran.

Here's where the story gets wind. You see, even though Iran buys natural gas, it also sells it. But this is an incredibly cold winter, and Iranians are freezing. The country needed those Turkmen imports. So it has cut off Turkey, which was supposed to receive 30 million cubic meters a day from Iran but is only getting about 5 million.

Except it's also mighty cold in Turkey. So it has cut off Greece.

The poetic coda? The rescue squad is from Russia. Gazprom, the lightning rod for things that go wrong across Eurasia, is shipping an extra 8 million cubic meters of natural gas a day to Turkey and 1.5 million cubic meters a day to Greece.
(9 January 2008)
Other recent posts:
Pickering is Out; What about Zbig?
Question: Who's As Seductive As Gazprom? Answer: Schlumberger

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