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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 23rd April 2014, 21:59
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(Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia should step up its presence in the Arctic and challenge other nations in exploring the world's largest untapped natural reserves, days after it started shipping its first oil from the region. Russia's ambitions in the Arctic have for some time been raising eyebrows among other states vying for a presence there, but the Kremlin's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula is likely to put its Arctic plans under greater scrutiny. Russia's Putin wants beefed-up presence in Arctic | Reuters
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Old 26th April 2014, 16:28
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7:18 am ET
Apr 25, 2014
Economy & Business
Macro Horizons: Russia Suffers Pain of Sanctions and Raises Rates

WRAP: Friday’s news flows finds three of the world’s biggest economies facing very different policy dilemmas for very different reasons. Russia is facing big capital outflows, mostly because of concerns among its residents that the sanctions imposed by Western nations in response to the Kremlin’s incursions in Ukraine will hurt the economy. The way out for President Vladimir Putin is to admit Russia’s direct use of special forces in Crimea and eastern Ukraine and pull them out. But do so would no doubt create political risks, which is why he seems prepared to ride out the economic hardship, including allowing the central bank to increase rates. In Japan, the problem is that the policy options running out. After all the aggressive monetary stimulus used to bolster demand, inflation is still far from what the 2% that the Bank of Japan is targeting. What does the BOJ do now? Even more bond-buying? And China’s problems revolve around exports, whose weakness has manifested in the narrowest current-account surplus in three years. In actual fact, the lower surplus, gives it ammunition to fend off Western criticism of its intervention to weaken the yuan, but it also highlights a different sort of dilemma. Beijing needs to wean the economy off an dependence on exports and allow it to become more focused on consumer spending, and to some extent that would be helped by a strong yuan that would make imports cheaper and boost domestic purchasing power. However, the export sector continues to be a massive provider of jobs and the government needs to keep finding employment for millions of young Chinese who reaching working age every year and are migrating from the cities to seek work. (MC)
Macro Horizons: Russia Suffers Pain of Sanctions and Raises Rates - MoneyBeat - WSJ
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Old 26th April 2014, 17:11
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With World Watching Ukraine, Russia Makes Energy Moves in Africa
Moscow is playing with fire in North Africa, and it could leave Europe in the dark.
The moves have prompted international indignation: warnings and economic sanctions against Russian leaders by the U.S. and European Union, a vote last month by the Group of 8 industrialized democracies to expel Russia from the trade group, and – as President Barack Obama warned this week during a visit to Japan – perhaps more sanctions to come.

But more than 1,600 miles away, Russia's been making comparatively quieter moves into the energy sector, and to far less notice.

Over the past decade, and especially in recent months, the country has been ramping up natural gas exploration and production in Algeria and other corners of the African continent, including Nigeria, Egypt and Mozambique. The country is seeking "a stranglehold on Western Europe" that it could tighten – or threaten to tighten – anytime it wishes, says Assis Malaquias, a defense economics expert at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C.
With World Watching Ukraine, Russia Makes Energy Moves in Africa - US News
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Old 28th April 2014, 13:17
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Ukraine’s Naftogaz Ready to Sign Pipeline Deal with Slovakia
BRATISLAVA, Slovakia—Ukraine’s energy independence from Russia came a step closer after Naftogaz, the country’s state-owned oil and gas company, said it was ready to sign an agreement later Monday that will give it access to not only a secondary pipeline from Slovakia but could also enable access to a large-capacity natural-gas pipeline.

Naftogaz said it would sign a memorandum of understanding with Eustream, the Slovak pipeline operator, on Monday. “The parties have agreed that the memorandum should open the way to develop both the small-flow option and the large-flow option,” the state-owned Ukrainian company said in a statement.

Eustream and its Ukrainian counterpart Ukrtransgaz, owned by Naftogaz, said over the weekend they had agreed to allow Ukraine to use an underutilized secondary pipeline between Vojany and Uzhgorod on Slovakia’s eastern border. The deal would provide Ukraine with an initial 3 billion cubic meters of gas annually before being increased to 10 billion cubic meters some time next year.

But Ukraine wouldn’t be able to fill up its storage facilities ahead of the winter season without access to bigger capacities from the West if Russia disrupts supplies amid tensions between Kiev and pro-Russian separatist forces in the south and east of Ukraine.

On Monday, the European Commission said the Vojany-Uzhgorod pipeline would be upgraded by the autumn of this year to allow Ukraine to get 8 billion cubic meters a year. The Commission hailed the memorandum as “a breakthrough” and “a milestone.”

“Gas via Slovakia will bring a considerable addition to the volumes that Ukraine can already import from Hungary and Poland,” Mr. Oettinger was quoted as saying.
Ukraine’s Naftogaz Ready to Sign Pipeline Deal with Slovakia - Wall Street Journal - WSJ.com
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Old 28th April 2014, 13:32
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Russia and Iran Chat, Brussels Bickers
Iran and Russia are talking about electricity. On Sunday, the two powers discussed $10 billion worth of power deals, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Benoit Faucon.

A chat over Sunday tea

Iran and Russia are talking about electricity.

On Sunday, the two powers discussed $10 billion worth of power deals, writes The Wall Street Journal’s Benoit Faucon.

The talks on electricity follow other plans to cooperate on food, oil and other goods. And it’s seen by some as part of a Russian plan to flex its international muscles at a time when tension with Western powers is mounting.

Iran has been subject to international sanctions that have crippled its oil export industry, and which the international community hopes will curb its nuclear ambitions. Talks continue intermittently in Vienna.

Pro-Russian separatists have taken control of government buildings in at least 10 cities in Ukraine in recent weeks. Ukraine has accused Russia of fomenting unrest. Global markets have been rattled, with prices of oil pushed higher since the crisis began near the beginning of the year.

Power struggle
In Brussels, rules designed to make some markets more transparent are causing protest. Again.

This time, it’s electricity firms worrying they will be subject to the same capital requirements as banks and other financial institutions.

Three organizations, including the European Federation of Energy Traders, sent a letter to the European Commission saying changes to rules would increase the cost of trading for energy businesses, and reduce the incentives for companies to hedge their positions.

Power companies will, under new 2016 rules, need to have liquid assets to back trade in power derivatives, explains The Wall Street Journal’s Tom Fairless. Under the current law, they can use bank guarantees.

Markets
Global crude futures were higher Monday, mainly on the back of intensifying Ukraine tension.
Russia and Iran Chat, Brussels Bickers - Wall Street Journal - WSJ.com
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Old 3rd May 2014, 02:54
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The new European hub... Will Ukraine be a part of it?
“Pipeline Ivasevychi-Dolyna will give the EU access to our underground gas storage facilities”

Natalia Bilousova 23 April, 2014 - 18:16
Poland’s head of government Donald Tusk called on EU member states to create an energy union to reduce their dependence on gas supplies from Russia. “Regardless of how the Ukrainian story develops, one lesson is clear: excessive dependence on Russian energy makes Europe weak. And Russia does not sell its resources cheap – at least, not to everyone,” he wrote in an article published in Financial Times.

According to Tusk, the new energy union should be based on the principles of solidarity and mutual economic interest, and built along the lines of the existing banking union, or the earlier Euratom, which monitors trade in uranium. “Europe should confront Russia’s monopolistic position with a single European body charged with buying its gas. Once this has been achieved, Europe should undertake the lengthier task of breaking up the Russian gas monopoly and restoring free market competition,” Polish prime minister stressed. Meanwhile, according to Tusk, the new entity is to expand the use of fossil fuels (coal and shale gas) and intensify efforts to attract new suppliers (primarily the US and Australia) to the European market.

How will this initiative impact energy security of Ukraine, and what role can our nation play in creating the European gas hub or exchange? The Day posed these questions to president of the Kyiv International Energy Club Q-club Oleksandr TODIICHUK:

“Europe can replace Russian gas with Norwegian gas or LNG coming from Algeria or Qatar. The US has intensified their efforts, including by promoting their shale gas. Thus, the EU does not lack sources of gas imports.

“Ukraine must certainly join this energy community. Our country has emerged between two geopolitical entities: the EU and Russia. However, despite our proximity to the EU, we have not yet managed to integrate into its single energy space, even though such plans were announced earlier. It is one of the reasons why the EU, despite its declared desire to protect the Ukrainian gas interests, has not moved further to ensure its energy security by securing transit routes.

“Ukraine should be integrated into the new unified European energy system. It is the only way for us to get the EU’s protection from Russia’s attempts to put pressure on our economy by using its gas weapon.
The new European hub... Will Ukraine be a part of it? | The Day newspaper
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Old 5th May 2014, 03:31
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Germany's RWE first EU company to deliver gas to Ukraine
German utility company RWE has started delivering gas to Ukraine under a contract signed a couple of years ago. The alternative supply comes at a time when Kyiv has been facing hefty price hikes for Russian gas.
Germany's RWE first EU company to deliver gas to Ukraine | Business | DW.DE | 15.04.2014
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Opinion: Japan, Russia walk energy tightrope over Ukraine
It is difficult for Japan to ignore Russia's relevance in its search for a diversified set of oil and gas suppliers. But the spat between Moscow and the West about Ukraine puts Tokyo in a geopolitical quandary.

Ukraine is a remote battleground for Japan, but geopolitical interconnections in the 21st century ultimately shorten geographic distances, plunging Tokyo in a dilemma over how to handle relations with a Russia swallowing the Crimean peninsula to the detriment of Kiev's sovereignty and in breach of the (increasingly ethereal) international law.

Japan is the world's biggest consumer of liquefied natural gas (LNG), second largest coal importer and third largest oil purchaser. As it is trying to diversify its supply sources to alleviate dependence on the Middle Eastern oil and gas producers, the Japanese cabinet led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe finds itself in the unenviable position to balance pressures from the United States to beef up sanctions against Moscow's seizure of Crimea and permanent military threat to the mostly Russophone Eastern Ukraine with its need to manage growing energy ties with the Russian supplier.
Opinion: Japan, Russia walk energy tightrope over Ukraine | Asia | DW.DE | 29.04.2014
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