Tag Archives: Chevron

Russia’s Gazprom ,Barroso,,The Iraqi Kurds and the Moscow Corruption – The Gazprom Cables

BAGHDAD (AP) — A Middle East subsidiary of Russia’s Gazprom Neft has inked two oil deals with Iraq’s self-ruled northern Kurdish region, becoming the fourth major oil company to enter into agreements with Iraqi Kurds that bypass the central government in Baghdad.

The Kurds and the central government are at loggerheads over rights to develop resources. Baghdad wants to manage its energy resources nationwide, but Kurds insist the constitution doesn’t require them to go through Baghdad.

Since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, the Kurds have signed scores of oil deals with small and mid-sized oil companies. But the entry of the oil majors may be a game changer that could lead to de facto policies the Kurds have long sought.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the St. Petersburg-based company said it has acquired a 40 percent share in the 1,780-square-kilometer (687-square-mile) Garmian block. The Canada-based WesternZagros company will also hold a 40 percent share.

In the second deal, the company will hold an 80 percent share in the 474-square-kilometer (183-square-mile) Shakal block. The Kurdish Regional Government will hold a 20 percent share in each contract.

Both blocks are located in the southeastern part of the region and are expected to hold about 3.6 billion barrels of oil reserves. Gazprom’s up-front payment is to be around $260 million.

“Gazprom Neft considers the territory of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq promising for further geological study and consequent production at the fields,” First Deputy CEO, Vadim Yakovlev said.

With its latest deals, Gazprom has joined France’s Total S.A., U.S. oil majors Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. who have already made their own forays into the region.

Iraq’s post-invasion governments have until recently blacklisted energy companies that signed contracts with the Kurdish government to prevent them from working elsewhere in the country or purchase crude oil.

But in the case of Exxon Mobil, the Iraqi government has had a light hand. Baghdad prevented the U.S. company from taking part in Iraq’s fourth energy bidding round in May but has not touched its deal to develop the 8.6 billion West Qurna field near the southern city of Basra along with Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

No moves have been made against Total, which has a share in a consortium led by China’s National Petroleum Corporation to develop the 4.945 billion barrel Halfaya field in the south. Gazprom is developing the 100 million barrel Badra field in central Iraq.

Baghdad has so far only blacklisted Chevron, which has no deals with the government.

There is considerable incentive to work directly with the Kurds — unlike the flat fee the central government pays for each of barrel of oil extracted, the Kurds offer lucrative contracts allowing the developers to claim a share in reserves and the oil produced.

Also Wednesday, the Iraqi Kurds announced that they will resume crude oil exports from their region in the first week of August after they were halted in April over a payment row with Baghdad.

In 2011, the two administrations struck a tentative deal by which the Kurds send oil to Baghdad, which then sells it and each side then takes 50 percent of the revenues. But exports were halted in April by the Kurds who claimed that Baghdad failed to send them the money. In return, Baghdad accused the Kurds of keeping billions of dollars that ought to go to government coffers and also of smuggling oil.

The Kurdish statement said the exports will start at 100,000 barrels a day for a month as a “confidence-building” measure and if payments were forthcoming, they could move swiftly up to 200,000 bpd. If not, the exports will be halted again.

Since 2008, Iraq has awarded 15 oil and gas deals to international energy companies, the first major investments in the country’s energy industry in more than three decades.

The original goal was to boost daily production from about 3 million barrels now to 12 million barrels by 2017. That may be revised downward to fewer than 10 million barrels however, given infrastructure bottlenecks and a possible falloff in demand on international markets [source]

BARROSO AND PUTIN LOCK HORNS ON GAZPROM

Putin has signed a decree giving the government the right to protect natural gas
giant Gazprom from a stupid antitrust probe of Barroso. Galileo muttered the
phrase Eppur si muove, And yet it moves, after being forced
to recant in 1633, before the Inquisition, his belief that the Earth moves
around the Sun. Similarly the new inquisition of regulators forces executives
to admit something they did not do, in order to get smaller penalties. Eppur si
muove!

There is an Antitrust Armageddon in Europe between tiptop companies and Fourth
Reich(EU). Eurokleptocrats are willing to do anything in order to get kickbacks
from industry leaders. The European antitrust laws have the unfortunate
consequence of harming Europeans by chilling innovation and discouraging
competition. Instead of protecting competition, EU laws protect competitors who
give kickbacks to kleptocrats! Kickback is the lubricant that allows a European
industry to run smoothly! No European machinery can run without lubricant! Eppur
si muove!

The new Russian law prohibits companies deemed strategic from disclosing
information, disposing of assets or amending agreements without Russian
authorities’ ratification in the case that the claims are initiated by foreign
states or entities.

European antitrust law is wielded most often by favor-seeking businessmen and
their kleptocrat allies. Instead of focusing on new and better products,
disgruntled rivals try to exploit the law by consorting with kleptocrats. EU
officials routinely direct antitrust regulators to bend the rules in pursuit of
political ends. In reality, the threat of abusive EC power is far larger than
the threat of oligopoly. Eppur si muove!

Gazprom declares it is incorporated beyond EU jurisdiction, and is a company
which under Russian law exercises functions of public importance and has the
status of a strategic organization controlled by the state.

When a company is forward-thinking, proactive, innovative, and productive, it
will produce good products that customers want to buy. As a result, it will win a
large market share. If the company is much better than its competitors, it might
win most, or almost all, of the market. This is the case with Microsoft. It has
earned its market share by producing good products that customers want to buy.

Barroso is investigating whether Gazprom, the world’s largest gas exporter,
resorted to unfair competition and price-fixing in Central and Eastern Europe’s
natural gas markets. The EU, which gets 25% of its gas from Russia, wrongfully
claims that Gazprom has hindered the free flow of gas across its member states,
preventing supply diversification and limiting customer choice in delivery
points. Barroso also suspects Gazprom of imposing unfair costs on its customers
by linking the prices of gas and oil.

A company that wins a large market through its own productive efforts deserves
accolades. This is because justice, morally, tells us that we must reward the
good. However, to the government, a large market share is taken as evidence of
anti-competitive behavior, which makes the company a target for antitrust
action. This seems to be the motive behind the antitrust suits against Microsoft
and Google.

Barroso notes Gazprom’s long-term supply contracts linking gas prices to oil
prices are no longer justified because of the appearance of a spot market for
gas and increased supplies of shale gas. Gazprom may face a
fourteen-billion-euro penalty, according to estimates based on the fact that
companies found to breach EU competition rules can be fined as much as 10% of
annual revenue.

European antitrust laws lead to huge corruption, because government officials
ask for kickbacks in order to erase the alleged violation. The standard kickback
in EU is 10% of the erased penalty! Many Greek officials were caught on tape
asking for the corrupt tithe! Many European political parties make up their
election expenses from kickbacks on antitrust cases! This is the worst possible
blackmail, where tiptop ethical companies are held hostage by European
kleptocrats. Eppur si muove!

Putin warns Barroso that there would be losses on both sides if the thorny issue
isn’t tackled. Putin accuses Barroso of trying to burden Russia with the
subsidizing of formerly communist EU states by forcing Gazprom to reduce prices
for customers in Eastern and Central Europe. Gazprom says the Barroso
investigation is an attempt to reduce gas prices, and it won’t give discounts to
Barroso without the Russian government’s go-ahead. [source]

The Gazprom Cables ‘Not a Competitive Global Company’

Gas giant Gazprom was meant to catapult Russia back into its role as a global superpower. Executives dreamed of the “most valuable company in the world.” But secret cables from the US Embassy in Moscow provide a different picture: The Americans consider the mega firm to be chaotically organized and corrupt.

June 10, 2009, Moscow: “Too many political constraints”
XXXXXX: Redacted by the editors. Important note on the dispatches…

<>

10.06.2009 11:02

09MOSCOW2528

Embassy Moscow

CONFIDENTIAL

09MOSCOW367|09MOSCOW403|09MOSCOW971

VZCZCXYZ0000

PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #2528/01 2791102

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 061102Z OCT 09

FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4993

INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY

TAGS: EPET, ENRG, ECON, PREL, RS

SUBJECT: GAZPROM’S REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, PART ONE

REF: A. MOSCOW 971

C o n f i d e n t i a l moscow 002528

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E.o. 12958: decl: 10/05/2019

Tags: epet, enrg, econ, prel, rs

Subject: gazprom’s reversal of fortune, part one

Ref: a. Moscow 971

b. Moscow 403

c. Moscow 367

Classified By: Econ MC Matthias J. Mitman for Reasons 1.4 (b/d)

1. (U) This is the first of a two-part report on the new

economic realities facing Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas

sector giant.

——-

summary

——-

2. (SBU) Far from reaching its ambitions of becoming “the

most valuable company in the world,” Gazprom’s fortunes have

reversed dramatically in the past year. The company’s market

value, production, and sales have all plummeted since the

onset of the economic crisis. With dramatically reduced

cash-flow, the company has been forced to cut back on capital

expenditures and its ambitions, despite political rhetoric to

the contrary. However, as we will examine in part two of

this report, Gazprom’s problems are likely longer term. End

summary.

————————————

massive reversal in major indicators

————————————

3. (U) Major indicators of Gazprom’s performance have all

reversed course dramatically in the past year. (Note:

Figures in this report are taken from Gazprom reports,

statements, and presentations, unless otherwise indicated.

End note.)

Market capitalization —

4. (U) At its peak in May 2008, Gazprom’s market valuation,

based on the small percentage of its shares that trade

publicly, was over $350 billion, and company president Alexey

Miller declared Gazprom would become “the most valuable

company in the world.” Miller suggested Gazprom’s market

capitalization would reach $1 trillion in the near future.

By May 2009, in the midst of the global economic and

financial crisis, the company’s market capitalization had

dropped to its recent low of approximately $75 billion, but

has since rebounded to approximately $120 billion.

Production —

5. (U) Gazprom’s gas production peaked in 2006, at 556

billion cubic meters (bcm). In 2008, it was 550 bcm. In the

first seven months of 2009, however, Gazprom’s production was

down almost 25% over the same period in 2008. As of

September 2009, Gazprom expects 2009 production to reach just

474 bcm, and many analysts believe that figure to be overly

optimistic. In a September note on Gazprom, investment bank

Troika Dialog predicted Gazprom would have difficulty even

reaching 460 bcm. On the low end, some analysts estimate

Gazprom could produce just 450 bcm or less in 2009 — a 100

bcm or more decline from its peak production. Even this

massive drop in production is masked to some degree by the

halt in gas imports from Turkmenistan since April (ref A).

In 2008, Gazprom imported 42 bcm from Turkmenistan, nearly

all of which was re-exported to Ukraine. Having halted these

imports, Gazprom itself is supplying the Ukrainian market out

of Russian production.

Revenues —

6. (U) The Russian Customs Service reports that Russian gas

export revenues were down 50% in the first 7 months of 2009,

compared to the same period in 2008, a decline of almost $20

billion. While Gazprom’s official results for 2009 will not

be published until well into 2010, a back-of-the-envelope

calculation using Gazprom’s own projections for average price

and volumes of exports to Europe in 2009 (ref C) indicates

the company might receive about $30 billion less from exports

to Europe in 2009 than in 2008. This represents a loss of

about 2% of Russian GDP and is in line with estimates from

various analysts. (Note: Given the relative significance of

export sales to Europe (excluding FSU), the relative

reliability of the figures, and to avoid exchange rate

complications, we focus only on export revenues here.

According to its recent bond prospectus, Gazprom’s exports

are divided into sales to the FSU, and to Europe. Sales to

the FSU and Europe represent 16% and 63%, respectively, of

its sales by revenue — meaning exports represent 79% of

Gazprom’s revenues. End note.)

Domestic sales —

7. (U) Gazprom’s domestic sales are not down as dramatically

as one would expect given the economic crisis, due primarily

to artificially low domestic prices, which prop up demand.

While Gazprom has not yet reported official results for the

first half of 2009 (1H09), various analysts predict a drop of

about 10% in gas volumes to the domestic market.

Export volumes —

8. (U) Gazprom’s overall exports peaked in 2008 at 281 bcm.

Gazprom’s sales to the FSU peaked in 2007, at 101 bcm,

dropping slightly to 97 bcm in 2008. Sales to the rest of

Europe peaked in 2008, at 184 bcm. (Note: Interim

statements regarding 2009 sales often do not coincide in

definition with audited annual reports. Thus 1H09 sales

estimates only give an indication of the trend and are not an

exact comparison with 2008 figures. Gazprom has not yet

released official results for 1H09 and only released first

quarter (1Q09) results on August 26. End note.) Through

1H09, Gazprom has said it shipped about 33% less gas to

European customers than in 1H08. In a recent statement, the

company said its exports to the FSU in 1H09 dropped 54%

compared to 1H08. A weighted average of those estimates

indicates overall exports shrunk by about 40% 1H09.

9. (U) As Gazprom and many analysts point out, however, 2H09

should be much better for Gazprom exports as many European

customers restrained purchases in 1H09, knowing that prices

— which are tied to oil prices with a six to nine month lag

— would drop dramatically in 3Q09. Furthermore, export

volumes in 2H08 were already dropping rapidly due to the

economic crisis and high gas prices that were reaching their

peak in 4Q08. Results for 1H09 were also significantly

affected by the 21 day gas cutoff to Ukraine and 10 day

cutoff to Europe in January. That said, 2009 will still be a

dismal year for Gazprom export volumes.

—————

forced cutbacks

—————

10. (C) Facing financial realities, Gazprom recently cut its

capital expenditure budget by $7.5 billion, or about 25%,

including cuts to Shtokman and Yamal development. However,

Gazprom and GOR leadership continue to take the tack that

“everything is fine” (ref B). One attendee at the recent

gathering of the “Valdai” group of international Russia

experts told us that Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller told the group

that the company’s plans for the Nord Stream and South Stream

gas pipelines, and for the development of the Shtokman and

Yamal gas fields are “all on track.”

11. (C)xxxxxxxxxxxx told us recently that

Miller’s and other GOR leaders’ public statements on Gazprom

should be ignored. xxxxxxxxxxxx said these leaders understand well

that Gazprom is in trouble but they just don’t know what to

do about it.

12. (C) According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, Gazprom simply doesn’t have the

money to move forward on all its so-called “priorities,” and

it will need to choose which are most important, while facing

insatiable political demands on its revenue streams. xxxxxxxxxxxx, told us

recently that he believes Gazprom has “a heck of a lot of

cost-cutting capacity” still available, but that the company

has too many political constraints preventing it from taking

the most necessary and painful measures. Furthermore, he

figures the company needs to spend about $5 to $8 billion a

year just to maintain its aging system and that these costs

will rise in the future. xxxxxxxxxxxx is thus also very

skeptical of Gazprom’s other major commitments such as South

Stream and Shtokman.

——-

comment

——-

13. (C) Gazprom’s capital expenditure cuts reflect an

understanding that, public rhetoric aside, the company can’t

spend money it doesn’t have. However, Gazprom’s longer-run

problems are largely beyond its control and require

fundamental reforms that will be difficult to achieve. In

part two of this report, we examine the constraints to

Gazprom’s return to dominance.

Beyrle

Gazprom headquarters in Moscow: “Private bank accounts and dirty deals”

Gas giant Gazprom was meant to catapult Russia back into its role as a global superpower. Executives dreamed of the “most valuable company in the world.” But secret cables from the US Embassy in Moscow provide a different picture: The Americans consider the mega firm to be chaotically organized and corrupt.
Info

High-ranking representatives of Russian gas giant Gazprom are hard to pin down for appointments. So when American diplomats finally got the chance, they cut right to the chase: What are the giant energy company’s actual business aims?

The Gazprom man was candid. The first priority, he said according to US diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and shared with SPIEGEL and other partners, is to provide reliable and affordable gas to the domestic population. The second, he said is to “fulfill its social obligations,” including charitable projects all across Russia.

The American envoys persisted in their questioning. Was it not also the goal of the company to maximize its shareholder value and its market share? Yes, of course. The cable cites the official also adding a third priority to his company’s goal: to maximize “control over global energy resources.”

A “Gazprom official describes the company as a socialist rent-seeking monopolist,” the US envoys reported after a September 2008 meeting in a dispatch cabled to Washington.

‘Huge Wealth, but Inefficient’

That’s the tenor of a number of secret US Embassy reports about the model Russian company, cables that are filled with critical American assessments about a bureaucracy that has gone overboard and a mafia-like political system in Russia.

But the assessments are particularly pointed when it comes to Gazprom, the company the Russians themselves most like to celebrate and to deploy in their battle to regain lost power in the world. Even as recently as May 2008, Chairman Alexei Miller was pledging that Gazprom would soon be “the most valuable company in the world,” with market capitalization that would reach $1 trillion in the near future. But around one year later, in the midst of the global economic and financial crisis, the company’s market capitalization had dropped to $75 billion.

“Gazprom is,” the Americans summed up in one cable, “what one would expect of a state-owned monopoly sitting atop huge wealth — inefficient, politically driven, and corrupt.” The American diplomats also painstakingly detailed the sectors in which the energy giant is engaged in and in which falling gas prices are creating problems for it.

Falling Demand for Gas

Their results are sobering. One 2009 cable states: “Far from reaching its ambitions of becoming ‘the most valuable company in the world,’ Gazprom’s fortunes have reversed dramatically this year. The company’s market value, production, and sales have all plummeted since the onset of the economic crisis.” With dramatically reduced cash-flow, the cable reads, the company has been forced to cut back on capital expenditures and its ambitions, despite political rhetoric to the contrary.

The US diplomats described Gazprom’s problems as likely being “longer term,” and not just a by-product of the crisis. That’s because demand for gas in Germany and Europe is in decline because industrial production there and across Europe has become more efficient.

At the same time, a cable noted, few new markets are opening up in the former Soviet states. Ukraine, for example, indicated it was considering halving its gas purchases. Gazprom Chairman Miller has for some time now been longing to establish a new market in the US but, as a cable states, the country is “looking more and more saturated every day with ever larger estimates for domestic production.”

According to the assessment by the US diplomats, Gazprom’s greatest problem is the company’s own Byzantine structures. “Gazprom is not a competitive global company,” the assessment reads, despite sitting on the world’s largest gas reserves. “Gazprom is the legacy of the old Soviet Ministry of Gas and still operates much the same way.”

A Top Executive with a Love for Hockey

There were many indications that this was the case. The Americans learned from an informant that a senior partner in an international accountancy firm needed two years just to unravel Gazprom’s holdings. The empire included one of Russia’s largest banks, an important Russian media company and a major construction firm.

Originals: Key Gazprom Cables

July 10, 2009, Moscow: “Huge wealth … corrupt’
XXXXXX: Redacted by the editors. Important note on the dispatches…

<>

10.07.2009 13:42

09MOSCOW2541

Embassy Moscow

CONFIDENTIAL

09MOSCOW2528|09MOSCOW854|09VLADIVOSTOK110

VZCZCXRO4339

PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHNP RUEHROV RUEHSL RUEHSR

DE RUEHMO #2541/01 2801342

ZNY CCCCC ZZH

P 071342Z OCT 09

FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5023

INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

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RHMFISS/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC PRIORITY

TAGS: EPET, ENRG, ECON, PREL, RS

SUBJECT: GAZPROM’S REVERSAL OF FORTUNE, PART TWO; COMEBACK

REF: A. MOSCOW 2528

C o n f i d e n t i a l section 01 of 04 moscow 002541

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E.o. 12958: decl: 10/06/2019

Tags: epet, enrg, econ, prel, rs

Subject: gazprom’s reversal of fortune, part two; comeback

unlikely

Ref: a. Moscow 2528

b. Vladivostok 110

c. Moscow 854

Classified By: Ambassador John R. Beyrle for Reasons 1.4 (b/d)

1. (U) This is part two of a two-part cable on the new

economic realities facing Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned gas

sector giant.

——-

Summary

——-

2. (C) Gazprom faces many external and internal constraints

to renewed growth, following a dismal year in which all main

indicators of its performance deteriorated dramatically. The

globalizing gas market, a gas glut that shows no signs of

reversal, and politicized management likely mean that Gazprom

will not reach the heights of revenues and power achieved at

its peak in 2008. Unfortunately, the types of reforms (e.g.

privatization) that would result in a more valuable and

productive gas industry are stymied by the GOR’s seemingly

firm belief in a state-controlled sector. While Gazprom will

remain a major economic force, its influence on GOR policy

and its relative role in the Russian economy likely will

diminish in the short- and medium-term. End summary.

———————————

external constraints to a rebound

———————————

3. (SBU) Gazprom’s current problems (ref A) are not solely

the result of one-off contractions in demand due to the

economic crisis. Gazprom faces a fundamental shift in the

gas demand picture at a time of increasing competition.

Demand stabilization and decline —

4. (SBU) xxxxxxxxxxxx told us recently that Gazprom was simply unprepared

for the inevitable leveling off and current decline in

European gas demand. He explained that Gazprom’s management

has only known rapidly rising European demand for Russian gas

as most European countries “gassified” their economies over

the past two decades. He noted that anyone looking at the

trend could have been excused for thinking it would continue

perpetually; but now the period of gassification is over.

According to xxxxxxxxxxxx demand for gas in Germany is

actually in decline, as industrial production in Germany (and

across Europe) has become more efficient and as much of it

has been outsourced.

Competition —

5. (SBU) Gazprom not only faces a demand problem, but also

competition from an increasingly globalized gas market —

“for the next 5 to 10 years, gas will clearly be a buyers

market,” said xxxxxxxxxxxx has calculated (using data

from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy) that

Gazprom’s share of EU 27 gas imports has dropped steadily

from about 50% in the mid-90s (when gassification increased

demand) to just 34% in 2009. xxxxxxxxxxxx expects Gazprom’s share to

decline to about 30% and stabilize at that level. xxxxxxxxxxxx also

calculated that LNG’s contribution to EU imports over the

last decade has increased from about 10% to about 20%, a

figure he projected to continue to grow. In addition,

Gazprom will have to cope with massive new volumes of LNG on

the global market from projects already underway in Qatar and

elsewhere (ref C).

No help from other markets —

6. (C) Gazprom is unlikely to get any relief from its former

Soviet Union(FSU) customers either. Despite the likely rise

to “market prices” for gas sales to the FSU, lower demand

will continue to hurt Gazprom. Ukraine, Gazprom’s major

export market outside of non-FSU Europe, earlier signed a

take-or-pay contract which outlines a minimum amount of gas

which Ukraine is obliged to purchase from Russia. Ukraine

Moscow 00002541 002 of 004

has recently indicated it might take as little as 50% of the

52 bcm of gas it had earlier agreed to buy in 2010. Russian

government officials remain concerned over Ukraine’s ability

to pay for gas this winter and are already signaling they are

prepared to shut off exports to Ukraine in the event of

non-payment.

7. (SBU) Global markets will also offer little hope for

Gazprom, at least in the medium-term. Gazprom executives

have often expressed the expectation that the company would

become a global gas supplier, perhaps through newly expanded

LNG capacity. However, their preferred future export

destination, the U.S., is looking more and more saturated

every day with ever larger estimates for domestic production.

In a recent meeting with Embassy officials in Sakhalin,

Shell oil representatives stated that no LNG had been shipped

from the Sakhalin II facility to the U.S. due to soft prices

in that market. Much of this LNG has been shipped to Japan

instead.

Domestic market —

8. (SBU) Gazprom often touts future revenue gains from

domestic market price liberalization. However, it neglects

to account for demand elasticity in the wake of sharp

proposed increases in prices. With one of the most energy

intensive economies in the world, future hikes in domestic

gas prices would likely cut domestic demand substantially, as

evidenced in other countries that have implemented rational

pricing. Thus Gazprom’s revenue gains from higher domestic

prices would be at least partly offset by lower sales volumes.

External politics —

9. (SBU) In addition to the headwinds from market forces,

Gazprom faces the political and PR difficulties in external

markets that it has largely brought on itself through the gas

cutoffs of 2009 and 2006. Despite some pain in certain

Central and Eastern European countries, Ovchinnikov

explained, the 2009 gas cutoff showed that Europe could get

by without Russian gas. This should bolster EU determination

to minimize its dependence on Russian gas, and to explore new

options to diversify energy supplies.

——————————

internal constraints to growth

——————————

The Ministry of Gas —

10. (SBU) A Gazprom that behaved more like a competitive

global company would probably find a new path to growth more

quickly. But Gazprom is not a competitive global company,

despite sitting on the world’s largest gas reserves. Gazprom

is a legacy of the old Soviet Ministry of Gas and it still

operates much the same way. As a Gazprom executive himself

admitted to us, the company’s first two priorities are to

provide reliable and affordable gas to the domestic

population, to “fulfill its social obligations.” One contact

with direct information told us it took a senior partner from

a major accounting firm two years of full-time investigation

just to unravel Gazprom’s holdings, which include one of

Russia’s largest banks, one of Russia’s major media

companies, and a major construction company.

Technologically backward —

11. (SBU) Gazprom’s legacy and the government’s ownership of

the company also mean that it must act in the interests of

its political masters, even at the expense of sound economic

decision-making. From building unneeded pipelines (ref B) to

maintaining employment at some unneeded facilities, Gazprom

declines to solely act on financial and economic grounds. As

a state-controlled monopoly during the flush times of the

past decade, Gazprom had little incentive to develop new

technologies and capabilities long enjoyed by other global

oil and gas companies. Despite management’s interest in

expanding Gazprom’s LNG capacity, the company has only one

LNG export terminal, which it took over by forcibly becoming

the majority owner in a Shell-led consortium. Rapid

Moscow 00002541 003 of 004

expansion of LNG export capacity is unlikely without the help

of international oil companies (IOCs), who are still trying

to find an acceptable future working model in Russia.

Inability to adapt —

12. (SBU) Gazprom’s inability to meet competitive pressures

is apparent in the current European gas market. According to

xxxxxxxxxxxx Gazprom is the only major European supplier that

has had to cut production. xxxxxxxxxxxx blames Gazprom’s “self

inflicting wound” of tying gas prices to oil prices. He said

this convention dates back to when gas was a substitute for

fuel oil for heating. xxxxxxxxxxxx explained that this oil

price link has made Gazprom the high-price supplier in

Europe, a situation that is likely to continue into the near

future. xxxxxxxxxxxx said that with European gas demand unlikely to

recover to pre-crisis levels until 2013 and Europe facing

“excess supply” for at least the next decade, Gazprom will

have a very tough time just maintaining market share. A

major oil company senior executive echoed this analysis in a

recent meeting with us, noting “if you are a European

consumer, the last molecule of gas you want to buy is from

Gazprom.”

—————————————

possible tensions, but reforms unlikely

—————————————

13. (SBU) The tough times may be creating (or exacerbating)

tensions within Gazprom and the GOR over the company’s

future. Several contacts have told us they have heard of

such tensions. One Russian company executive said he has

heard that xxxxxxxxxxxx has been pushing for dismantling

Gazprom, to at least take away its control over the domestic

gas pipeline system. An executive at a Western company told

us recently that there are two camps within the upper levels

of the GOR on the issue of Gazprom’s direction. One camp

favors the current “one national company” approach, while the

other favors competition to spur a more efficient and modern

gas sector. Unfortunately, this executive explained, “the

number one factor” in managing Gazprom from the GOR

perspective is “how to increase government revenues from the

company.”

14. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx, brushed off rumors of infighting

at Gazprom as nothing new. xxxxxxxxxxxx said there has always been

infighting at the company because it is such a bureaucratic

behemoth. “Everyone is always looking to make others look

bad in order to move ahead themselves,” xxxxxxxxxxxx said. While

xxxxxxxxxxxx acknowledged Gazprom’s substantial problems, xxxxxxxxxxxx did

not think any major reforms would be forthcoming.

15. (SBU) Rumors aside, nobody with whom we have talked

believes Gazprom is in any danger of losing its monopoly on

exports or its preferred status within the Russian economy.

Nor is the government likely to give up control of the

company anytime soon. Without such fundamental reforms, it

is difficult to see how Gazprom can transform itself into a

modern corporation in the current environment.

——-

comment

——-

16. (C) Gazprom is what one would expect of a state-owned

monopoly sitting atop huge wealth — inefficient, politically

driven, and corrupt. For years, with its exports and export

prices rising rapidly, it could easily pretend that all was

well and that the future was bright. That pretense may now

be giving way to the new reality of declining sales, lost

market share, and an inability to maneuver adeptly in the

face of global competition. Although Gazprom will likely

muddle along as a major corporation and major contributor of

jobs and budget funds, its economic contribution will likely

be diminished. While Gazprom can still shut off gas to

Ukraine or to other parts of Europe, each such threat further

undermines the company’s credibility as a reliable energy

supplier, and underscores the fact that Gazprom is

Moscow 00002541 004 of 004

politically subordinate to the Kremlin. Gazprom’s influence,

both domestic and international, has been directly tied to

its cash flow — money that funds employment, suppliers,

budgets, charities, foreign ventures, and, surely, many

private bank accounts and dirty deals. Unfortunately for

Gazprom and for the GOR, the massive revenues and profits

that the company produced in 2008 are unlikely to return

anytime soon. End comment.

Beyrle

Experts estimated that the company had to also spend between $5 billion and $8 billion on keeping its aging infrastructure in good working order — costs that will only increase in the future. A prominent Western oil executive told the US diplomats that while drilling a borehole in Canada only took 10 days in Russia it took twice as long.

A meeting with top Gazprom executives, such as Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev, were also sobering. In a discussion with US diplomats, the hockey fan complained that there was still no cooperation between the Russian and American hockey leagues — and fulminated against Ukraine, which he claimed had orchestrated the gas dispute with Russia.

The Americans’ conclusion is devastating: “Gazprom’s legacy and the government’s ownership of the company … mean that it must act in the interests of its political masters, even at the expense of sound economic decision-making.” The company had made funds available for many “private bank accounts and dirty deals,” one cable wrote, though it lacked any concrete proof for this claim. Gazprom itself has consistently defended itself against accusations of corruption.

In any case, the Gazprom money was not flowing as much as previously, the US diplomats wrote. “Unfortunately for Gazprom and for the Russian government, the massive revenues and profits that the company produced in 2008 are unlikely to return anytime soon,” one cable reported. Although Gazprom would remain a major company, its economic contribution was likely to be diminished, the US diplomats concluded.
[read the full article]

 

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Residents flood Bay area hospitals after fire

 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A fire at one of the country’s largest refineries spewed thick black smoke over cities in the San Francisco Bay area, sending scores of residents to hospitals complaining of breathing problems early Tuesday.

Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo, a town near the Chevron refinery in Richmond, said about 200 people had sought help and more patients were arriving. Kaiser’s Richmond Medical Center also said several dozen people came to the emergency room complaining of shortness of breath, but none was seriously ill.

Residents said they heard loud blasts around 6:15 p.m., when the fire broke out, although Chevron officials could not confirm those reports.

Daniela Rodriguez told the Contra Costa Times that she heard a “big boom” about the time the fire started. The 23-year-old resident said about an hour passed before she received an automated call from Contra Costa County to remain indoors.

“I was feeling kind of nauseous and light-headed (from the smell),” she told the newspaper.

The Chevron Richmond Refinery makes high-quality products that include gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel and lubricants, as well as chemicals used to manufacture many other useful products. The blaze started Monday evening when a diesel leak ignited at the refinery’s No. 4 Crude Unit, Nigel Hearne, manager of the refinery, told The San Francisco Chronicle.

Randy Sawyer, the chief environmental and hazardous materials officer for the county’s health services agency, said any kind of smoke can be toxic, but added: “In this smoke, there can also be all kind of byproducts that can be toxic.”

The agency had four teams of inspectors testing air quality, Sawyer said.

The blaze at the plant in Richmond, about 10 miles northeast of San Francisco, was contained by late Monday although it was not immediately known when the flames would be extinguished, said company spokeswoman Heather Kulp.

One employee suffered a minor injury and was receiving first aid, Chevron officials said.

County health officials used automated calls to warn residents of Richmond, San Pablo and the unincorporated community of North Richmond to “shelter in place,” meaning they should not only stay inside, but should also turn off heaters, air conditioners and fans, and to cover cracks around doors with tape or damp towels.

To the south, Oakland police issued a community advisory suggesting that residents of the North Oakland Hills area close all windows and doors and turn off air conditioners.

A fire at the refinery in January 2007 injured two workers and spewed low levels of sulfur dioxide and other toxins into the air. County officials said then that it was not enough to harm the health of nearby residents.

During an evening news conference, Hearne apologized “to the community for the fire and smoke this evening at the Richmond refinery.”

The refinery is the largest producer of base oils on the West Coast, processing up to 240,000 barrels of crude oil a day, according to the company’s website.

The company said Monday it did not know yet whether production would be affected. The 2007 fire shut down the refinery for most of that year’s first quarter.
Associated Press

 


The True Cost Of Chevron: An Alternative Report

 

CEO JOHN WATSON
opens Chevron’s 2010 Annual Repor by telling the corporation’s stockholders that “2010 was a noutstanding year or Chevron.”
1
We do not agree. We, the communities who bear the costs of Chevron’s op-erations, have witnessed a year in which Chevron’s perormancewas anything but exceptional. As we have documented in this third installment of the

:
An Alternative Annual Report
, Chevron continues its long history o ravaging natural environments, violating human rights, ignoring the longstanding decisions of Indigenous communities, destroying traditional livelihoods, and converting its dollars into unjust political influence in the United States and around the world.This report is a record of egregious corporate behavior that—in locations as diverse as California, Burma, Colombia,Ecuador, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, the Philippines and the U.S.Gulf Coast—has spanned decades and carries on today.In the year that saw the world’s largest unintentional oil spill, intensifying global concerns about the safety of the hydro-carbon industry, Chevron has failed to change its behavior.In 2010, Chevron pursued ever-riskier and ever-deeper off-shore projects in the South China Sea, the North Sea, the U.S.Gulf Coast, and the Canadian Arctic.

 


The Chevron Richmond Refinery And The November 14th Incident

 

Chevron Corp. (CVX) said it contained a fire that broke out in the crude unit at its Richmond refinery, the largest in Northern California.

The company was bringing down units after a blaze at the No. 4 crude unit started yesterday around 6:15 p.m. local time, according to a person with direct knowledge of the operation who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public.
Enlarge image Chevron Said to Be Shutting California Refinery on Fire

 

Built on a peninsula of low hills rising from San Francisco Bay, the refinery became the West Coast’s largest and most advanced plant upon its completion in July 1902, according to the website. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Flames were brought under control as of 10:30 p.m. local time, and all employees at the refinery have been accounted for, said Melissa Ritchie, a Chevron spokeswoman at the plant. One person was being treated for minor burns on the wrist, she said. The plant reported an evacuation after the fire broke out, a filing with the California Emergency Management Agency shows.

Crews determined there was a diesel leak from a line in the crude unit that may have started the fire, Ritchie said. She declined to confirm the definite cause of the incident.

The Contra Costa County health-services department issued a shelter-in-place advisory for Richmond, North Richmond and San Pablo because of the fire. The agency recommended that residents stay inside their homes or the nearest buildings, bring pets indoors, close doors and windows, and make sure vents and fireplaces are closed.

The Richmond plant can process 240,000 barrels a day of feedstock, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The plant is about 110 years old, according to the company’s website. Built on a peninsula of low hills rising from San Francisco Bay, the refinery became the West Coast’s largest and most-advanced plant upon its completion in July 1902, according to the website.
Hazardous Materials

The county’s hazardous materials division was at the refinery to test air quality, according to a notice from the health department. The plant released sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, hydrogen oxide, sulfuric acid and nitrogen dioxide because of the fire, the state filing shows.

BART, the regional transit system, halted service between the Richmond station and El Cerrito Plaza, a notice on the agency’s website shows.

The refinery produces gasoline, jet fuel, diesel, lubricants and other oil products, according to the company’s website. The plant is one of six refineries that make up more than 75 percent of Chevron’s total refining capacity, the website shows.

Nov. 14 Incident

The refinery shut a crude unit on Nov. 14 after vacuum residuum, made up of heavy hydrocarbons, leaked from a bleeder on a filter and “auto ignited,” Chevron said in a filing to county regulators following that fire. The unit was returned to service later that same month, two people with direct knowledge of the plant’s operations said Nov. 29.

Chevron’s oil refineries and filling stations earned $1.88 billion as U.S. processing margins climbed to a second-quarter record average of $28.98 a barrel when crude costs fell faster than gasoline prices.

Chevron’s net income fell to $7.21 billion, or $3.66 a share, from $7.73 billion, or $3.85, a year earlier, the San Ramon, California-based company said in a statement July 27. The result was 35 cents more than the average of four analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg, which ranged from $3.10 to $3.47.

 

Bloomberg

 


Piping profits: the secret world of oil, gas and mining giants : the documentation

Ten of the world’s most powerful oil, gas and mining companies own 6,038 subsidiaries and over a third of them are based in secrecy jurisdictions, a new Publish What You Pay (PWYP) Norway report today reveals.

Secrecy jurisdictions facilitate illicit financial flows, to which the developing world loses US$1 trillion a year. The financial opacity created by the use of secrecy jurisdictions also undermines trust in markets and damages market efficiency.

Examining companies’ annual reports and stock exchange filings, PWYP Norway identified and located all of these companies’ subsidiaries. The report, Piping Profits found that:

2,083 (34.5%) of the 6,038 subsidiaries belonging to the 10 of the world’s most powerful Extractive Industry companies are incorporated in secrecy jurisdictions.

The global Extractive Industry’s favourite place to incorporate is by far the US state of Delaware with 15.2% of the subsidiaries located there.

The second favourite Extractive Industry Company (EIC) Secrecy Jurisdiction is the Netherlands, where 358 subsidiaries belonging to EI giants are based.

Chevron is the most opaque EIC major in this study. 62% of Chevron’s 77 subsidiaries are located in Secrecy Jurisdictions. ConocoPhillips is the second most opaque oil and gas major in this report with 57% of its 536 subsidiaries incorporated in Secrecy Jurisdictions.

Chevron, Conoco and Exxon are the three US EI major companies surveyed in this report. Combined, 439 (56.1%) of those three North American oil majors’ 783 subsidiaries are incorporated in Secrecy Jurisdictions.

Glencore International AG is the most opaque mining company in the Piping Profits survey with 46% of its 46 subsidiaries incorporated in Secrecy Jurisdictions.

These findings are of critical concern as natural resources offer the largest financial potential to improve economic and social opportunities for hundreds of millions of people living in least developed and emerging countries. By incorporating over a third of their subsidiaries in secrecy jurisdictions, the extractive industry is potentially complicit in suppressing these opportunities.

This is why, in order to combat this veil of secrecy, PWYP Norway believes every company should publish their full revenues, costs, profits, tax and the amount of natural resources it has used, written off and acquired in any given year in every country it operates. This is known as country-by-country reporting (CBCR).

The enormous scale of the Extractive Industry’s reliance on secrecy jurisdictions, which have the potential to be used by companies in complicated ownership structures to shroud revenues and profits, comes as pressure mounts on US and EU policymakers to come up with measures that could counter corruption and aggressive tax avoidance by forcing companies to reveal key financial information in every country where they do business.
Mona Thowsen, national co-ordinator of Publish What You Pay Norway, said: “What this study shows is that the extractive industry ownership structure and its huge use of secrecy jurisdictions may work against the urgent need to reduce corruption and aggressive tax avoidance in this sector.

“This is why there is a large and growing body of opinion throughout the world now demanding the introduction of CBCR because it is a vital tool to reduce corruption, secrecy and aggressive tax avoidance that particularly harms people in developing and emerging economies.”

The Piping Profit report also involved journalists from Bolivia and Ecuador attempting to establish key financial and operational performance information from strategically important natural resource companies in their countries. However a month-long concerted attempt to gain information from companies yielded nothing, reflecting the veil of secrecy which citizens face in the campaign to find out what is happening to their resources.

“I always heard it was very complex – and sometimes even dangerous – to obtain financial information about Extractive Industry activities,” said Bolivian Marco Escalera, co-ordinator for major Southern Hemisphere campaign group Somos Sur, after spending six weeks attempting to draw out key financial information from EICs operating in his country. “Whether it is the extractive industries or the state itself, they close ranks against the common enemy: civil society questions. The story is repeated over and over again: Access to timely and reliable information is not good enough.”

Notes to Editors

1) The 10 Extractive Industry Companies featured in Piping Profits are BP, Chevron, ConoccoPhillips, Exxon, Royal Dutch Shell plus Anglo-American, Barrick Gold Corporation, BHP Billiton, Glencore International AG and Rio Tinto.

2) All data was based on these companies’ subsidiaries and taken from Annual Returns filed at Companies House in the UK and Stock Exchange filings made at the US Securities Exchange Commission and the Toronto Stock Exchange in Canada.

3) Secrecy Jurisdictions are defined using an Opacity Score benchmark which was devised as part of the 2009 Financial Secrecy Index. All jurisdictions which scored over 50% are defined as Secrecy Jurisdictions. Our study, Piping Profits also scored companies against Tax Haven Lists created by the IMF and the US Internal Revenue Service. Please see the attached report.

4) Delaware is an acknowledged headquarters of global corporate secrecy where among other things details of trusts on public record are not available; international regulatory requirements are not sufficiently complied with; company accounts are not available on public record; beneficial ownership of companies is not recorded on public record and company ownership details are not maintained in official records.

5) The Netherlands is the largest host of conduit companies worldwide and is an important jurisdiction for corporate internal debt shifting.

6) The 2010 Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Act (Dodd-Frank) requires all American firms to report to the SEC the detailed payments made to any state in which it operates. The SEC is finalising how those rules will be applied. In addition, the European Commission is expected to present proposals for country-by-country financial reporting for extractive companies to the European Parliament and EU member states in October 2011 Source


Chevron- An Alternative Report

In April 2010 Chevron released its 2009 Annual Report. It would not take long for the cover design – Chevron’s Gulf of Mexico ultra-deepwater drillship, the Discoverer Clear Leader – to seem a terribly poor choice.

Just days prior to publication, 18,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from a Chevron operated pipeline in the Delta National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Louisiana.

A far worse disaster struck less than two weeks later. The largest blowout of an oil and gas well in the Gulf of Mexico in 30 years killed eleven people and saturated the surrounding areas in a blanket of oily destruction. The rig was owned and operated by Transocean, the same company with which Chevron has a five-year contract to operate the Discoverer Clear Leader, among other Chevron offshore rigs.

While the cover image of Chevron’s Annual Report shows a pristine rig, perhaps the more appropriate photo for Chevron will prove to be the image on page two: the sun setting on Chevron’s Way.

Chevron’s 2009 Annual Report celebrates 130 years of Chevron operations. In it, the company declares that the “values of The Chevron Way” include operating “with the highest standards of integrity and respect for human rights,” a deep commitment “to safe and efficient operations and to conducting our business in an environmentally sound manner,” and the building of “strong partnerships to produce energy and support communities.”

We, the communities and our allies who bear the consequences of Chevron’s offshore drilling rigs, oil and natural gas production, coal fields, refineries, depots, pipelines, exploration, chemical plants, political control, consumer abuse, false promises, and much more, have a very different account to offer. Thus, we have once again prepared an Alternative Annual Report for Chevron.

Written by dozens of community leaders from sixteen countries and ten states across the United States where Chevron operates, the 60-page report encompasses the full range of Chevron’s activities, from coal to chemicals, offshore to onshore production, pipelines to refineries, natural gas to toxic waste, and lobbying and campaign contributions to greenwashing. CorpWatch is proud to be a contributor to this important collaborative report.

On May 25, forty report authors will appear in Houston at a press conference to address the true cost of Chevron’s operations in their communities. On May 26, they will deliver the report directly to Chevron inside the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) while supporters rally outside.Source


Brazil oil spill :The dual scent of oil and money

What happens when you mix a cocktail of scandal, professional ambition, raw emotion, bungled public relations, and the dual scents of oil and money? In Brazil, you get 17 oil executives and rig hands from American companies under threat of decades of imprisonment.

In Rio de Janeiro, a federal prosecutor yesterday indicted the men — from Chevron and the oil services company Transocean — for their involvement in a small November oil spill off the Brazilian coast. This is showmanship — Chevron will probably have to pay a large fine, but these men are unlikely actually to sit in prison. Similarly, notwithstanding suggestions to the contrary by Chevron CEO John Watson, the company will take its lumps and continue working in Brazil, if it is permitted to, and most probably anywhere else it can obtain access to billion-barrel oilfields.

Yet the set of events highlights both a new world in which “any small spill is a big spill,” as an oilman told me yesterday, and why the flurry of announcements of fresh discoveries around the world are only the beginning. After the find comes local politics, whether it is Russia, Mozambique or the United States.

In the case of Brazil, Chevron has been producing oil from a field called Frade since 2009. The spill occurred in November, and was largely repaired after four days with the reported spillage of about 2,400 barrels of oil (Chevron released this statement, which includes video of the well).

Two factors set the atmosphere for what happened next. The first was BP’s 2010 spill of 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, which alerted observers around the world not to trust oil company assurances of complete and utter control of deepwater drilling and its risks.

The second was Chevron’s initial public relations response to the Frade spill. Rather than learning from BP’s misery, Chevron elected to revert to the industry’s old ways. First it defensively said its drilling was not responsible for the spill before conceding that it was. Then it underestimated the extent of the spill, creating more local distrust. Source

An original version of this post stated that SkyTruth’s image was taken Nov. 25, of the oil slick on the ocean floor. It was actually taken Nov. 12, of the oil slick on the ocean surface. This version has been corrected.

An oil leak at a Chevron Corp. deep-water well off the coast of Rio de Janeiro this month is not going away. Not for Chevron, which has been met with outrage locally for its mistake, and not for the ocean, which still has an oil slick after two weeks, a byproduct of the 2,400 to 3,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into the sea.

 

An aerial view of vessels in the clean up of an oil spill in an offshore field operated by Chevron at the Bacia de Campos, in Rio de Janeiro state, Brazil. (Rogerio Santana – AP) Brazilian authorities say the corporation failed to initially provide accurate information to authorities about the extent of the spill. They “tried to make the accident less than it was,” says Magda Chambriard, director of Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency.

Regulators are also skeptical of Chevron’s current estimates on how much oil is still leaking from the ocean floor — “infrequent droplets,” according to a company spokesperson. Chambriard scoffs at that. “We are still far from the good end” of resolving the problem, she says. At its height, the leak released 200 to 330 barrels per day.

“The oil slick may be smaller, but it’s still there,” confirms John Amos of SkyTruth, a group that promotes environmental awareness and protection with remote sensing and digital mapping technology. “And I expect we will see it there for a long time.”

SkyTruth has this image of the oil slick at the ocean surface from satellite imagery taken Nov. 12, before Chevron started plugging the well:

Regulators suspended all of Chevron’s operations in the country this week and plan to fine the oil giant more than $80 million. Rio de Janeiro’s environment minister, Carlos Minc, has said Chevron might be banned from Brazil altogether.Source


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