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Natural Gas Around The World: Construction, Discoveries, Forecasts, Conflicts

Here is what’s going on in the natural industry around the world:

Iran

Iran has started construction on a $10 billion natural gas pipeline to key ally Syria, a news agency reported Monday, in an apparent nod of support to President Bashar Assad’s embattled regime and a further attempt by Tehran to boost energy exports battered by international sanctions.

The 1,500-kilometer (750-mile) project was first announced in July 2011 as Syrian rebels began stepping up the fight to topple Assad. Many analysts predicted the pipeline would remain in the planning stages because of the countless risks involved, but Iran’s decision to start work — even just the beginning sections — is seen a public show of confidence in Assad’s ability to ride out the uprising.

It also reflects Iran’s wider efforts to expand natural gas and oil pipeline to Middle East and Asian markets as Western sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program cut into sales. The United States and its allies accuse Tehran of seeking to develop atomic weapons, an allegation the Iranians deny.

The semiofficial Fars news agency said Iran has already begun construction of the first phase of the project involving a 225-kilometer (140-mile) stretch at an estimated cost of $3 billion. The pipeline will carry gas from the giant South Pars field in the Persian Gulf to Syria via Iraq, whose government has close ties with Iran.

Fars said the entire project is to be completed in the second half of 2013.

Australia

Santos today announced a significant gas discovery at the Crown-1 exploration well in WA-274-P, located in the Browse Basin offshore Western Australia.

The Crown-1 well is located approximately 500 kilometres north of Broome, approximately 60 kilometres west of the Ichthys field and 20 kilometres east of the Poseidon field. The water depth at location is 440 metres.

Wireline logging has to date confirmed 61 metres of net gas pay in the Jurassic-aged Montara, Plover and Malita reservoirs between 4,873 and 4,998 metres, and the well has not intersected a gas-water contact.

Pressure data has been acquired from multiple points indicating that gas would be expected to flow at a high rate. Multiple condensate-bearing gas samples have been recovered to surface.

Drilling will now progress on the Crown-1 well to a proposed total depth of 5,200 metres.

Santos’ Head of Exploration Bill Ovenden described Crown-1 as an important gas discovery for the company.

“The Crown discovery is well positioned, in close proximity to existing and proposed LNG projects in the Browse basin and other material exploration prospects,” Mr Ovenden said.

Santos holds 30% of WA-274-P and is operator. Joint venture partners are Chevron (50%) and INPEX (20%).

In addition, Santos has executed agreements to take a 30% interest in the adjoining exploration permit, WA-408-P, operated by Total (50%), subject to customary conditions. Murphy Oil Corporation has a 20% interest in the permit. The joint venture has committed to an initial drilling programme in the permit, including Dufresne-1 and Bassett West-1. These wells are expected to immediately follow the Crown-1 program.

Santos VP Western Australia and Northern Territory John Anderson said the agreement with Total and Murphy substantially increased the company’s exposure to exploration upside in the Browse Basin.

Scotland

An independent Scotland could face long-term economic problems if North Sea oil and natural gas revenues decline, an audit said.

In September, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing described Scotland as a world leader in oil and natural gas. There may be around 24 billion recoverable barrels of oil and natural gas in the North Sea, he said. The wholesale value estimated by the Scottish government would be around $2.4 trillion.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond this year announced plans for a referendum on independence in 2014. His government maintains it could support itself financially in large part though oil and natural gas developments in the North Sea.

An audit by the Institute of Fiscal Studies in London said that, in the short term, an independent Scotland wouldn’t be much different from the United Kingdom when considering its share of oil and gas revenues generated from North Sea development.

Edinburgh, apart from oil and natural gas reserves, has one of the most ambitious renewable energy strategies in the world. In a statement Monday, the country announced that offshore wind energy company Areva is committed to building a manufacturing site in Scotland.

Ukraine

Ukraine is ready to seek the advice of the courts should disputes arise over its contracts with Russian energy company Gazprom, a minister said.

Gazprom in 2009 cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine following a contractual dispute. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko helped broker the deal that ended the impasse, though she later was convicted on charges she abused her authority when negotiating the agreement.

The Ukrainian government last week said gas purchases from Russia would decline from around 975 billion cubic feet to about 700 billion cubic feet next year. Under a take-or-pay scheme, however, the former Soviet republic is required to pay Gazprom for its full volume.

Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuri Boiko was quoted by Russia’s state-run news agency as saying his government had consulted legal experts on the matter.

 
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