Saturday, January 29, 2011

Selected Eurasia energy news this week

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with Lukoil President Vagit Alekperov on January 20th. Alekperov disclosed that Lukoil has spent over $6 billion in the Central Asia state's oil production sector. According to the press office, this year Lukoil will launch a gas refining complex in Aktyubinskaya Region. Lukoil President also highly appraised the reliable protection for foreign investment provided in Kazakhstan as well as the development of the republic in last 20 years in general, attributing all these to the personal achievement of Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Meanwhile, triggered by increasing competition from China and Russia to access the resources of the region, the European Parliament has given its initial green light to a partnership agreement with gas-rich Turkmenistan, aimed at bringing the Central Asian country closer to the European Union, though the draft agreement has been criticized for risking legitimatizing a repressive regime. "If we don't open up the Southern Corridor then Turkmenistan will have no other option but to turn to the east. This will have very serious consequences for Europe," former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned. Both Europe and Turkmenistan are eager to reduce their reliance on Russia, which currently acts as middleman through Soviet-era gas pipeline networks. Turkmenistan has expressed willingness to supply Europe directly, rather than sell to Russia, which in turn pumps its own gas to Europe at a higher price. The Ashgabat government already sells gas to Iran and China and plans to further diversify its export markets.

Looking toward the east, National Energy Administration of China published the country's 2010 Energy Economy Review and 2011 Outlook on Jan. 28th. According to the report, China's energy demand will continue to increase in 2011, but in a lower speed in general. Noticeably, China's natural gas demand will rise 20 percent in 2011 to 130 billion cubic meters (cu m) and production will increase 16 percent to 110 billion cu m. China will focus on offshore oil and gas exploitation during the 12th Five-year Plan (2011-2015). China imported 17 billion cu m natural gas in 2010, 16% of the country's total consumption. CNPC estimated that the amount of natural gas imports in 2011 will surpass 30 billion cu m, but its high price is still a disadvantage, compared to coal, the country's biggest energy source.

Articles referred to in this post:

"Новые проекты планирует реализовать «Лукойл» в Казахстане"
(Lukoil plans to implement new projects in Kazakhstan)

"European Parliament Moves Bloc A Step Closer To Turkmenistan"

"EU risks losing Central Asian energy to Eastern countries, says EU advisor"

(National Energy Administration of China published the 2010 Energy Economy Review and 2011 Outlook)

(CNPC predicts China's natural gas demand in 2011)

This Week in the News

New legislation was signed into place this week regarding the Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations by President Yanukovich. Of the changes made to the law--which were many--of particular note are the recognition of religious organizations as legal persons and a change in the process of registering religious organizations (the original text in Ukrainian can be found here; the amended law is here). A letter from Patriarch Filaret (UOC-KP), who has recently been outspoken against the Yanukovich administration's alleged cooperation with Moscow to dissolve the UOC-KP, stated his disapproval of the legislation, stating that these new measures will only increase interconfessional conflict. He also noted that previously, all proposed changes to this law were first presented to the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches, yet these measures never were. There has of yet been no official response to the amended law by the All-Ukrainian Council of Churches. The updated law is written to go into effect on February 1, 2011.

Meanwhile, in Crimea, Vasil' Dzharty, head of the autonomous republic, drafted a letter to Mejlis leader Mustafa Dzhemil'ov requesting that he use his influence in the Tatar community to encourage Tatar squatters to vacate their homes. Dzharty stated in the letter that the situation these squatters have created is a major roadblock to the economical and social development of the peninsula. He also stated that if Dzhemil'ov did not exert his influence, the matter would be turned over to security forces. Dzhemil'ov, on official business in Turkey, responded that such questions are not solved in that manner. The Tatar leader then expressed his disappointment in the government, stating that the administration "is not interested in stability in Crimea." Five days later, while still in Turkey, Dzhemil'ov asked the President of Turkey Abdullah Gül for assistance in mitigating the conflict between the Mejlis and the Crimean government. In his letter to President Gül, Dzhemil'ov asked for Turkey to adopt a program of building apartments, schools, houses, and hostels for immigrants and Tatars in addition to laying out the Tatar community's major grievances with the Dzarty and Yanukovich administrations. Dzhimil'ov also spoke with President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Mevlut Cavusoglu in Turkey on the same topic. Cavusoglu said that he and his deputies would see to it that Ukraine fulfill its obligations to the Council of Europe in regards to the treatment of the Tatar minority in Crimea.

Articles referred to in this post:

"Київський Патріархат закликає керівництво держави не порушувати міжконфесійний мир через прагнення змінити законодавство" (Kyiv Patriarchate calls on government leaders to not break the interconfessional peace by changing legislation)
"Звернення Архієрейського Собору УПЦ Київського Патріархату до Президента України" (Address of the Council of Archbishops of the UOC Kyiv Patriarchate to the President of Ukraine)

"М.Джемільов: На частку кримських татар припадає тільки 17% самозахоплень землі в Криму" (M. Dzhemil'ov: Crimean Tatars account for only 17% of squatted-upon land in Crimea)
"Кримських татар попросили піти" (Crimean Tatars are asked to leave)
"ПАРЄ спробує розібратися в конфлікті кримських татар і керівництва автономії" (PACE [Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe] will try to mediate conflict between Crimean Tatars and the autonomous republic's leadership)