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07 December 2013

Pess review 07-12-2013

Iran and Iraq continue to be the source of the most interesting that has been happening in the energy world. The countries face complete opposite paths at the moment. Iran is readying its full return to internal markets with haste, with most of its previous suppliers and partners happy to join along. On its hand Iraq continues to dive on a spiral of violence that at some point may come to threaten its very existence.

Ironically, a successfull ending to the process around Iran's Nuclear programme may actually invest further pressure on the internal conflicts in Iraq, by bolstering the Shiite community in that country. The future map of the region may feature a smaller Shiite Iraq at the east, a central Sunni state embracing western Iraq and eastern Syria and another small Shiite state in western Syria. None of it will happen fast, and unlikely without war.

Reuters
European firms size up Iran's post-deal potential
Alexandra Hudson, 29-11-2013

The phone hasn't stopped ringing at the German-Iranian Chamber of Commerce since six world powers reached a deal with Tehran to curb its nuclear program, opening the prospect that Iran can begin to shake off its economic isolation.

A strategically located country with massive oil and gas reserves, an urgent need to overhaul its creaking infrastructure, and a young population of 76 million is of particular interest to export champion Germany, once Iran's largest trade partner.

"We are speaking to companies interested in doing business with Iran all day," said Michael Tockuss, director of the chamber of commerce.
The loss of Iran as client was an important blow to French car makers, some of whom were forced to reduce their workforce as a direct consequence. They naturally hope to seize the opportunity of rebuilding those ties.
Reuters
French carmakers poised for scramble to reclaim Iran
Laurence Frost and Marcus George, 29-11-2013

Peugeot (PEUP.PA) and Renault (RENA.PA) are among Western firms sending executives to an automotive conference that opens in Iran on Saturday - firing the starting gun on a more overt race for post-sanctions business.

The French carmakers are poised to resume vehicle sales in Iran, using a six-month easing of trade restrictions to reclaim their market position before the mass arrival of competitors behind any permanent detente that could follow.

Production by Iran's domestic car industry, unusually developed for the Middle East, peaked at 1.6 million cars in 2011, the year crippling new sanctions were introduced. Leading manufacturer Iran Khodro accounted for about half of that output.
The violence in Iraq is not only intensifying, but also taking a different shape, with quasi-guerilla operations and chirurgical targets.
Russia Today
Black, black Friday in Iraq: 50+ people dead in cross-country attacks and kidnappings
29-11-2013

At least 51 people were killed in Iraq on Friday as the country continues to slip into sectarian violence while the year’s death toll, already in the thousands, continues to spiral upwards.

The majority of the victims came from a series of kidnappings in Baghdad and nearby towns, which saw people taken from their homes and executed, with their corpses later abandoned, authorities told AFP.

Police discovered the bodies of 18 males in the early morning, including two tribal chiefs, four policemen and an army major, dumped in farmland near the Sunni Arab town of Tarmiyah, just north of the capital.

Another similar incident took place in Salaheddin province where seven men, who were employed as maintenance workers at a local football pitch, were found dead with their throats cut.

Three more female corpses were discovered in the capital -- the women were apparently tortured before being shot in the head.
Soon after the USA declared the end of the war, the Iraqi government set an overall petroleum output target of 12 Mb/d for the country by 2017. This target was never taken seriously and after a few years was dropped down to 9 Mb/d. The government is being once again forced to revise this goal, adjusting targets previously agreed with international companies. The new target seems now to be closer to half the initial goal, but even that will require a definitive end to bellicose action in the country.
NASDAQ.com
Iraq Nears Deal on Oil Output Targets
02-12-2013

Iraq's oil minister said Tuesday the country is close to agreeing to sharp cuts with major Western oil companies in production targets set out for them at some of its largest oil fields, casting doubts over Iraq's ambitious oil output targets.

When Iraq signed up a number of big Western companies to help it reverse declining output in some of the world's most promising fields, government officials set lofty--many experts said unrealistic--production targets for these companies. Giants like Exxon Mobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP PLC agreed to service contracts to help Iraq boost production, but were subject to steep output targets to qualify for added revenue.

Those goals have long been taken with a grain of salt in the oil industry, with many analysts long expecting Iraq to lower them to more realistic levels. Analysts still think Iraq is on the road to dramatically boosting its output, and even at reduced levels, Iraq's recent gains have added significantly more crude to global markets.
Norway has also been under scrutiny in recent weeks. Bit by bit the industry is informing the world that the days of Norway as a petroleum exporter are numbered. This time Statoil largely dismisses petroleum extraction in the Arctic, present day prices seem nowhere near what would justify such operations.
OilPrice.com
Statoil Explains why Arctic Oil Production is Decades Away
Charles Kennedy, 29-11-2013

Environmentalists that are worried by Arctic oil exploration and the apparent eagerness that most countries and oil companies show in tapping into the regions 90 billion barrels of oil reserves, according to the US Geological Survey, may breathe a little easier in the knowledge that such activity in the Arctic is not likely to be realised for decades to come.

Statoil, the state-owned oil company of Norway, has declared that large-scale drilling and exploration will not occur in the Arctic for a few decades due to the massive challenges of working in one of the most inhospitable environments in the world.

Tim Dodson, the Exploration Chief at Statoil speaking at a conference in London on the Arctic and climate change, admitted that the astronomical pries involved with exploration in the region, combined with the strict regulations that must be followed, and the harsh weather conditions, mean that expansion in the Arctic is likely to progress at a much slower pace than previously thought.

“We don't envisage production from several of these areas before 2030 at the earliest; more likely 2040, probably not until 2050.
Another quiet piece points to an interesting development: light crudes seem to be in short supply at the moment. If this is a real problem, it comes only from the refining side, to which the industry can certainly adapt. But it is one more reminder that unconventional petroleums are a completely different game.
OilPrice.com
Is Oil in These Out-of-The-Way Places The Next Big Play?
Dave Forest, 02-12-2013

Very odd news in the international crude markets this week.

Reports confirm a first-of-a-kind event in this space. Oil consumers in India buying crude from a far-away place: Eastern Canada.

Indian Oil Corp. reportedly purchased a cargo of White Rose crude. Coming all the way from offshore Newfoundland.

The buy seems to suggest structural changes afoot in the global oil markets. Never before have Indian users gone so far afield to secure supply.

The question is: why?
Back in the day when Shale Gas was known as Stranded Gas, folks at TheOilDrum envisioned its coming online in the USA in liquid form, converted by plants strategically located close to sweet spots. The logic seemed stout: liquids would certainly fetch higher prices in face of swelling petroleum products prices. Tough the price difference is indeed there, gas-to-liquids is yet to become a reality in the USA. Something is amiss.
RigZone
Shell Cancels US Gas-To-Liquids Plant As Costs Rise
Julia Edwards & Edward McAllister, 05-12-2013

Royal Dutch Shell said on Thursday it has canceled a proposed gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant in Louisiana less than two years after the plan surfaced as costs rose and the company reins in spending.

The project, which would have converted natural gas to diesel, jet fuel and other refined products, was expected to cost more than $20 billion, a Shell spokeswoman said, up from the minimum $12.5 billion price tag estimated in September.

Converting natural gas to diesel looked like an attractive option last year when record high production pushed natural gas prices to decade lows. Expected increases in natural gas demand for power generation and for export overseas has since helped bolster prices.

Shell said it was now unclear if such a project, which has proved a success in other parts of the world, would be feasible in North America.
In more technological news the successful testing of a novel solar cell fabrication technology. I'm always wary of flagging technologies at such an early stage of development, but this time I'd like to note two important points. First that Photo-Voltaics is still well into its efficiency gains process, and may not hit a final barrier any time soon. Secondly that if this improvement ever comes to hit the market, that cost slash will end up all in manufacturers' pockets, thanks to the price fixing set in place by the European Commission.
SolarDaily
Natcore Technology Moves Toward Low-Temperature Production Of Solar Cells
03-12-2013

Two weeks after an independent study concluded that Natcore Technology's black silicon technology could reduce silicon solar cell production costs by up to 23.5%, the company has taken additional steps that could further reduce production costs and hazardous effluents.

Black silicon technology can eliminate the plasma enhanced chemical vapor deposition (PECVD) of silicon nitride currently in solar cell production lines. Now Natcore scientists are developing laser processing to replace the high-temperature diffusion furnace in the solar cell production process, thus significantly reducing energy and chemical costs associated with the furnace.

They have identified a versatile laser that the company plans to acquire for its R and D Center in Rochester, NY.
More tehcnology, just to note that the computing world has definitely took a path away from PCs; likely towards something similar to the Ubuntu Phone concept.
BBC
PC shipments to see 'most severe yearly fall on record'
03-12-2013

Global shipments of personal computers (PCs) are expected to see their "most severe yearly contraction on record" in 2013, according to research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).

The firm said sales of PCs would fall by 10.1% this year, worse than the previous estimate of 9.7%.

PC sales have fallen for the last six quarters, the longest historical drop.

Global shipments of PCs have been hurt by the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones.

"Perhaps the chief concern for future PC demand is a lack of reasons to replace an older system, " Jay Chou, a senior research analyst with IDC, said in a statement.
And to end on a positive note great news about bikes. Luxembourg is actually the only member state that is not following the trend (Belgium already has more bikes than folk). I will have a post about biking in Luxembourg one of these days.
France 24
Southern Europe joins north in bike revolution
03-12-2013

Pedals versus horsepower, two wheels against four: cycling has the upper hand in Europe with bike sales now outpedalling car sales across the Old Continent, from Rome to Copenhagen.

More bicycles were sold than cars last year in 26 of the European Union's 28 members, the exceptions being Belgium and Luxembourg, according to data from the cycle industry body Coliped and the auto industry association ACEA.

Car sales have been slumping since the start of Europe's economic crisis, in what the head of FIAT Sergio Marchionne has gloomily dubbed a "Carmageddon", settling at 12 million units for the EU excluding Malta last year.
Have a nice weekend and keep away from the cold.