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Venezuela Announces Sale of $5 Billion in PDVSA Bonds

Chris Carlson, Venezuelanalysis
On his radio program Aló Presidente Thursday night, President Hugo Chávez announced the launch of $5 billion in PDVSA bonds. The state-owned oil company, PDVSA, will sell these to the domestic market starting on Monday. Such bond issues have been met with strong demand and are meant to soak up excess cash in the economy and lower inflation.

“The bond is extremely solid because it is backed by of one of the most solid companies in the world, PDVSA,” said Chávez last night, encouraging Venezuelans to invest. PDVSA will offer the bonds for 10, 20 and 30-year periods to all Venezuelan investors, but they will only be open for sale from Monday, March 26th to Thursday, March 29th.

“That’s just four days for you to make your offer,” said Chávez, alluding to the high demand that previous bonds have been met with. The recently issued Bonds of the South were quickly bought up by investors and didn’t meet the high demand.

Venezuela, with inflation at 17% for 2006, had the highest inflation in the region last year, mostly due to near-record social spending by the Chávez government, say analysts. The extra liquidity in the market has forced prices up and caused inflation.

Other analysts, such as Mark Weisbrot from the Center for Economic Policy Research, argue that another reason for the high inflation rate is the tremendous economic growth Venezuela has been undergoing for the past three years, at over 10% per year. “This rapid growth is the main cause of the inflation,” said Weisbrot in a letter to the New York Times today. ..
(26 Mar 2007)

Chronology-Nigerian kidnappings of foreigners in oil delta

Two hostages, one Lebanese and the other Indian, were released on Sunday after they were abducted last Friday in Nigeria’s oil producing delta region, local authorities said. A wave of recent attacks led to a 20 percent cut in Nigeria’s oil production. Output has yet to recover.

Following is a chronology of some major attacks and kidnappings involving the Nigerian oil industry this year.

Jan. 12, 2007 – Nine South Korean workers and one Nigerian are freed after being kidnapped when gunmen attacked a base operated by South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering and Construction in the Bayelsa state capital, Yenagoa, on Jan. 10.

Jan. 16 – Three people, including a Dutch oil worker, are killed when their boat, operated by South Korean firm Hyundai, is attacked on the way to Bonny Island terminal.

Jan. 18 – Gunmen free five Chinese telecom workers, kidnapped on Jan. 5 in Rivers State. One Italian is released in Bayelsa state. Three foreigners remain in captivity. ..
(26 Mar 2007)

China starts drilling Asia’s deepest well

Staff, Xinhua
Chengdu – China has started to drill an 8,875-meter-deep well in southwestern Sichuan Province to explore an untapped underground oil and gas field, sources with Sinopec Corp. said on Saturday.

With an estimated investment of 300 million yuan (38.8 million U.S. dollars), the drilling of the well, named “Chuanke No.1 Well”, started in Mianzhu City in western Sichuan on March 20 and is expected to take 676 days to finish. “We have made a smooth start by drilling 100 meters in the first four working days,”said Zhang Xiaopeng, deputy chief engineer of Sinopec’s Southwest China oil and gas company. ..

In July, 2006, China completed drilling of the “Tashen No. 1 well”, which is 8,408 meters deep, in Tahe oilfield in northwest China’s Tarim Basin and used to be Asia’s deepest, but did not discover gas. “The drilling rig we are using this time is the first China-made rig that can go as deep as 12,000 meters” Zhang said.
(24 Mar 2007)

Total Confusion in Iran

David Lee Smith, Motley Fool
The proverbial plot thickens with regard to Iran and its relationships to both Western energy companies and the governments of other nations.
First, according to a spokesman for French energy operator Total SA the company’s new CEO Christophe de Margerie is being investigated for alleged corruption in Iran. Reuters has also disclosed that the company’s CFO, Robert Castaigne, and the head of its gas and power business, Philippe Boisseau, are similarly being questioned.

de Margerie, who was elevated to the company’s top post last month, has also been under investigation by French judges regarding allegations tied to the United Nations’ corrupt oil-for-food program in Iraq. In October, he was apparently put under formal investigation by a French judge regarding oil purchases made under the program. ..

Indeed, Total might take a lesson from Russia, which is reportedly pulling back its citizens who had been working on building an Iranian nuclear reactor site. If you listen to officials of Iran’s regime, the Russians are leaving the nearly-complete site as a result of the U.S.-led drive for U.N. Security Council sanctions against their nation. Russian authorities claim, however, that their departure is tied to poor payment practices on Iran’s part.
(22 Mar 2007)
See alsoIran ex-president’s son denies French oil giant Total bribed him.

CERA lists 15 countries it believes will expand production

Ashok Dutta, CanWest News
..Called Oil-15, or O-15, the new order put together by Daniel Yergin, chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, includes all OPEC states — barring Indonesia — and includes five others that have the highest potential to increase supplies by 2015. Besides Canada, they are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Brazil and Russia. The group is projected to produce 72.7 million barrels per day, or 69 per cent of total global oil output.

“It is a straight forward grouping of producers that are planning major investments and do not necessarily have a political agenda,” Guy Caruso, administrator of Washington-based watchdog Energy Information Administration, said in an interview.

Saudi Arabia was ranked No. 1. Its output was forecast by Cambridge to grow to 14.3 million barrels per day from 2005 output of 12.7 million bpd. Russia was in the No. 2 spot, and was forecasted to see production grow to 11.5 million bpd from 9.6 million. Iran was No. 3, with output forecast to grow to 4.3 million bpd from 5.7 million bpd, and Iraq No. 4, with output forecast to grow to 5.5 million from 2.6 million. ..
(23 Mar 2007)