Archive for April 2009

Russian Navy Captures Suspected Pirate Vessel   Leave a comment

russian_naval_insignia28.04.09: Russia’s Admiral Panteleyev anti-submarine ship captured a suspected pirate vessel with 29 people on board 15 miles off the coast of Somalia.

Kalashnikov rifles, several pistols, ammunition, an aluminum ladder, and satellite navigation equipment were seized.

Russia is among several naval powers with warships in the area to protect one of the world’s busiest sea lanes from hijackings by Somali pirates.

Putin Lays Out Aggressive Lending Plans   Leave a comment

sberbankRussian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin laid out aggressive measures to encourage more lending to companies and shore up the troubled Russian banking sector.

Putin urged the Central Bank to lower interest rates now that the threat of inflation has receded.

He has also called on officials to make it easier for banks to recover money from the state in cases where state guarantees back the loans of struggling enterprises.

Plummeting oil prices and a rapid slowdown in demand for its exports has driven Russia to the brink of a recession for the first time in a decade. Unemployment has soared, factories have scaled back production and many companies are locked in sensitive restructuring talks with their lenders.

Responding to calls for lower interest rates, Putin stated no lender that has received state aid should charge interest of more than 16 percent – based on a refinancing rate of 13 percent plus 3 percent. Russian borrowers, who have nearly no access to overseas credit, have often complained that banks are offering loans at exorbitant rates. Many foreign lenders are conducting enhanced due diligence on Russian firms seeking loans.

The government’s efforts to restart lending come as warning signs emerge of growing problems in the banking system.

German Gref, who served n Putin’s cabinet and is now the head of Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, warned earlier this month that Russia’s banking crisis is only just beginning. He said that bad loans were probably much higher than official figures suggested, and said the state should not encourage banks to increase lending when they still have bad assets on their books.

Exxon Mobil Invests in Sakhalin   2 comments

exxonmobil_logoThe Sakhalin regional government announced that a group led by U.S. ExxonMobil will invest about $2 billion into Russia’s Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project this year.

Gazprom has long said it needs the gas produced at Sakahlin-1 to cover domestic needs, while Exxon plans to export the fuel to China.

Exxon operates the $12 billion project along with Russian state oil firm Rosneft, Japan’s Itochu, Marubeni Japan National Oil and India’s ONGC.

Sakhalin-1 works under a production sharing agreement (PSA), which gives investors tax stability but makes it subject to special regulations. Any increase in spending delays and reduces the government’s income from the project.

The project has been producing oil for several years and reached peak production of 11.2 million tonnes in 2007.

It has been producing gas since 2005 and shipping small volumes to continental Russia. It signed a separate deal to supply China with 8 billion cubic metres of gas a year and hoped to start supplies next decade.

Gazprom, the world’s largest gas producer, itself has a rival plan to supply China from East Siberia via two links. It wants to buy gas from Sakhalin-1 at market prices but talks have been stalled for over a year due to a price disagreement.

Gazprom co-leads Sakhalin-2, a neighbouring project from Sakhalin-1, and liquefies all of the gas produced there.

Happy Pascha 2009   Leave a comment

pascha_2009_greetings_web

Happy Pascha 2009!

Your friends at RADA

Turkmenistan Demands Compensation from Gazprom   Leave a comment

ASHGABAT: Turkmenistan’s president blamed Russia’s state gas monopoly, Gazprom, for a pipeline blast that shut off the Central Asian country’s exports.

President gazprom Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov accused Russia’s Gazprom of “technological errors” causing Wednesday’s blast, and demanded payment repairs and compensate Turkmenistan for damages.

The Foreign Ministry said last week the explosion occurred after the Russian gas monopoly decided, on short notice, to reduce the amount of gas it takes from Turkmenistan without giving enough time to reduce its flow into the pipeline network.

Gazprom has not commented on the incident, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday sought to downplay the incident describing it as “purely technical.”

Moscow has sought to strengthen its domination on gas supplies to Europe by striking a deal with Turkmenistan last year to purchase most of its natural gas. The contract was signed before the global financial crisis, and the dwindling energy prices resulted in Russia now paying Turkmenistan more than it could charge its European customers.

Russian Robots Respond to Piracy   Leave a comment

robotThe Centre of Firefighting Robotechnics in Petrozavodsk, a city in northern Russia, has modified device for extinguishing fires on seagoing vessels and in ports. The new device still fights fires, but is also useful for repelling pirate attacks.

This is a response to the alarming number of pirate attacks in the Gulf of Aden off the African shore. Twelve robots are needed to protect the average size vessel and the system involves monitored motion sensors, which when in automatic mode, shoot a water cannon at any approaching boat if danger is perceived. The water cannon not only has enough power to wash away boarding pirates, it can even sink their motorboats! The robots can also be operated from the bridge via remote control.

The manufacturer of these robots told the press that one freighter company in Murmansk, Russia, has already ordered a number of them for testing.

The idea for these pirate-fighting robots emanated from an existing prototype of a robot designed to fight fires. Each robot was originally meant to extinguish fires onboard ships and in ports, but Russian engineers later came up with a plan to have a dozen such robots protecting ships against pirates. The power from the water cannon, whether operated automatically or manually, is more than sufficient to wash the pirates overboard and out to sea.

Focus on Azerbaijan   Leave a comment

azerbaijan1Azerbaijan may be the oldest petroleum producing region in the world, going back to the third and fourth centuries. Many Arabic and Persian authors refer to the production of oil on the Apsheron Peninsula.

Marco Polo also saw the oil. He commented that it was not good to eat, but understood that it could be used as a fuel or medicine.

There are also many 18th and 19th century accounts of the Zoroastrian Fire Temple at Surakhany, where the fire was fed by natural gas from a cavern.

Azeri oil “boomed” beginning in the 1870s. The ancient site of Surakhany retained its importance. Even though Russian capital predominated, foreign interests began to participate as well. British firms, in particular, were able to commence operations as a result of their purchase of operations from Hajji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev.

Production increased after the Revolution, and offshore exploration began. During the war, oil fields were staffed largely by women and veterans. The entire Caucasus region, particularly Baku, was of key strategic importance throughout the war.

After gaining its independence, Azerbaijan has sought-and been successful in obtaining-significant foreign investment not only for petroleum but other industries as well.

For example, the Shah Deniz field was discovered in 1999. A gas plant was built at Sangachal Termanal in 2007, and is now a leading gas producer.