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France discussing strategic oil release with UK, U.S. – report

Muriel Boselli, Reuters
France is in contact with Britain and the United States on a possible release of strategic oil stocks “in a matter of weeks” to push fuel prices down, Le Monde daily said on Wednesday, citing presidential sources.

France would join a UK-U.S. cooperation on a release of strategic oil stocks that is expected within months, two British sources said earlier this month, in a bid to prevent fuel prices choking economic growth in a U.S. election year.

The presidential office and the French energy ministry were not immediately available for comments…
(28 March 2012)

Oil Futures Spark Debate on $100 Level

Javier Blas-FT, CNBC
Oil contracts for delivery in three to five years’ time are trading at their biggest ever ­discount to spot prices, prompting a debate about whether the era of triple-digit oil prices will be a short-term phenomenon…
(28 March 2012)

South Sudan oil field “bombed”, Sudan says hopes to avert war

Hereward Holland and Ulf Laessing, Reuters
Sudan and South Sudan accused each other of launching fresh attacks on oil-producing areas either side of their contested border on Tuesday but Sudan said it hoped the conflict would not escalate into war.

South Sudan said its neighbor Sudan launched airstrikes on major oilfields in its Unity state on Tuesday, in one of the most serious reported confrontations since the South declared independence from Sudan in July.

Asian oil group GNPOC – the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, a consortium led by China’s CNPC – confirmed its facilities had been hit.

Sudan denied launching air strikes but said its ground forces had attacked southern artillery positions which had fired at the disputed oil-producing area of Heglig that is partly controlled by Khartoum.

Analysts have long said tensions between the countries could erupt into a full blown war and disrupt the surrounding region, which includes some of Africa’s most promising economies…
(27 March 2012)

Tanker drivers’ dispute: Acas invites oil firms and union to talks

James Meikle and Nicholas Watt, The Guardian
The conciliation service Acas has invited oil firms and trade unions to talks aimed at averting a strike by tanker drivers that threatens to cause fuel shortages.

The planned action by Unite members over pay and health and safety standards may lead to the biggest disruption in supplies since 2000.

The move by Acas follows a request by the energy secretary, Ed Davey, for conciliators to approach all sides to attempt to negotiate a settlement as the government prepares to train military personnel to drive the tankers and maintain deliveries if a strike happens. Davey also urged Unite to get round the table.

David Cameron was expected to chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee Cobra on Wednesday afternoon to discuss contingency plans in the event of a strike.

Workers in five of seven companies involved in the row over terms and conditions and safety standards have voted in favour of strikes, raising the threat of walkouts over the Easter weekend, when millions of families will take to the road for the first major holiday of the year. Other tanker drivers might not cross picket lines. The seven companies are responsible for 90% of supplies to forecourts.

The shadow transport secretary, Maria Eagle, warned against panic fuel-buying after ministers increased pressure on the Unite union by urging motorists to be ready for a strike…
(28 March 2012)

Report: Gulf Oil Spill Killed Life Deep Beneath Sea Level

Jason Koebler, Chicago Tribune
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill may have had a greater impact on the Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystems than previously thought, including damage to life nearly a mile beneath the gulf’s surface, according to a report released Monday.

Researchers say that coral reef seven miles southwest of the spill and nearly a mile beneath water level showed extensive damage about eight months after the spill. Many researchers believed the spill’s ecological damage would be mainly limited to the surface and shallow water, because oil usually floats on the water’s surface…

“We were lulled into a false sense of security,” he says of the other reefs. By the time his team came to the reef seven miles southwest of the spill, “it became apparent within minutes that there was something wrong.”…
(27 March 2012)
Link to report press release
Link to report abstract

Shell Sued in U.K. Over ’Massive’ 2008 Nigerian Oil Spills

Erik Larson, Bloomberg
A unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Europe’s largest oil company, was sued in Britain by 11,000 Nigerians who say their land, rivers and wetlands were spoiled by two “massive” spills in the Niger River delta in 2008.

The lawsuit against Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary was filed in London today by residents of the coastal Bodo community after talks failed to produce a deal, the group’s law firm Leigh Day & Co. said in a statement. While Shell admits liability for the leaks, it claims local people spilled most of the oil.

“The spills have caused extensive and long-lasting devastation to the claimant’s lands and fishing waters and have a profoundly detrimental impact on the life of the community,” the lawyer for the Nigerians, Martyn Day, said in court papers…
(23 March 2012)

World oil import bill heading for record $2 trillion

Muriel Boselli, Reuters
Oil consumer nations are set to pay a record $2 trillion this year for oil imports if crude prices do not fall, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Tuesday, undermining economic recovery.

Crude hit $128 a barrel this month, only $20 short of its 2008 peak, and is up more than 15 percent since January, largely because of sanctions against oil producer Iran.

“For the first time the world will pay $2 trillion of oil import bills,” the IEA’s chief economist Fatih Birol told Reuters.

Birol said the bill for importing nations had risen from $1.8 trillion in 2011 and $1.7 trillion in 2008…
(27 March 2012)