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Natural gas - June 18

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Russian move raises supply crunch fears

Ed Crooks, Financial Times
Alexei Miller, Gazprom's chief executive, warned in a speech in Italy last week of a looming "supply crunch" in the oil market after 2012, caused by under-investment today, which could send oil and gas prices soaring.

A few days later, he drove that warning home in the most vivid way possible, with Gazprom's investment cuts and production delays raising the spectre of a gas supply crunch in Europe.

The decision to defer the flow of gas from Gazprom's first development of the huge reserves in the Yamal peninsula, in northern Russia, makes perfect sense in the short term.

All the talk in the industry is of a global "gas glut", fostered by a surge in supplies of liquefied natural gas, particularly from the mega-projects in Qatar now coming on stream...
(17 June 2009)

Reject Russia’s Energy ‘Blackmail’, Vaclav Havel Urges Europe

Peter S. Green, Andrea Dudikova and Francis Harris, Bloomberg
Vaclav Havel, the dissident playwright who led his countrymen in revolt against their Soviet-backed regime, said Central Europe should reject Russian energy supplies rather than be “blackmailed” by the government in Moscow.

The nations that threw off Soviet rule in 1989 mustn’t yield to efforts by Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and its President Dmitry Medvedev to extend Moscow’s influence in central and eastern Europe by turning off the gas to their countries, Havel said in a Bloomberg interview in Prague yesterday.

“It is necessary to say politely and with a friendly smile that we are free and we will do what we want,” said Havel, 72, who was Czech president from 1993 until 2003. “We will not be manipulated or blackmailed, and if you threaten that you will not deliver gas to us, well then, keep it.”
(17 June 2009)

EU executive demands new powers in gas crises

Pete Harrison, Reuters
European Union countries should hand the European Commission powers to coordinate gas flows in the 27-member bloc in the event of a gas crisis, according to a draft Commission report.

The proposal is the EU's main policy response to the supply disruption that occurred in January following a pricing dispute between Russia and transit country Ukraine.

Tension between Moscow and Kiev has mounted in recent weeks and many energy experts forecast a repeat in coming months.

..."In a European emergency, the Commission may require member states ... to release gas from strategic gas storage," said the draft report, seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

EU states would also have to seek Commission approval before slowing gas flows to their neighbours during a crisis, as some countries were suspected of doing in January.

"The competent authority shall not introduce any measure restricting the flow of gas within the EU market at any time unless duly justified and authorised by the Commission," the draft said. The proposal, which will be fine-tuned and then put before member states and the European Parliament for approval in coming weeks, would also establish a permanent gas monitoring force composed of industry and Commission experts.

EU states would have to prepare national emergency plans, outlining the potential for cooperating with neighbouring countries and detailing different levels of alert.
(17 June 2009)

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