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In brief.

Taqa ranked top UAE energy firm ABU DHABI: The Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa), the global diversified energy company, was ranked the top UAE energy firm by Forbes magazine.

It was also ranked second out of energy companies ranked as part of Forbes Middle East magazine's Top 500 Companies in the Arab World.

Chevron agrees to YPF accord BUENOS AIRES: Argentine energy company YPF signed an agreement with US oil major Chevron to define the terms and conditions of Chevron's investment of up to $1.5 billion in Argentina's vast Vaca Muerta shale field. The joint pilot project will include the drilling of more than 100 non-conventional wells over the next 12 months, YPF said in a statement.

Call for 'diversified energy mix' ABU DHABI: While oil and gas shall continue to play a major role in future energy markets, it is also crucial to build a diversified energy mix that includes nuclear and renewable energy, said the CEO of Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber was addressing the Brookings Institution, the Washington, DC-based non-profit organisation, considered one of the world's leading think tanks.

Japan-Taiwan JV wins contract DOHA: Qatar has awarded a contract to build the $1.5 billion Laffan 2 refinery to a joint venture of Japan's Chiyoda and Taiwan's CTCI, state-run Qatargas said. The contract to build and commission the light oil refinery was signed by Qatari energy minister Mohammed Al Sada and the heads of the two east Asian engineering companies in Doha.

QPI to extend Centrica deal DOHA: Qatar Petroleum International (QPI) hopes to extend its new deal with Britain's Centrica by acquiring more gas or tight oil resources across North America, the chief executive said.

Centrica and QPI said in April they would buy Suncor Energy's gas business in Canada for C$1 billion ($986.73 million) in their first acquisition since agreeing in 2011 to hunt for assets around the world together.

YPF stands by targets BUENOS AIRES: Argentine state-controlled energy company YPF is standing by its targets for increased oil and natural gas production in 2013, a top executive said, a day after the company reported output drops in both segments in the first quarter.

YPF was seized by the government last year after it accused former parent company, Spain's Repsol, of under-investing in the South American country. "On total production, what we are expecting for the year it is a 1 pct increase in natural gas and a 4 pct increase in crude oil production," YPF chief financial officer Daniel Gonzalez said during a conference call with industry analysts.

HRT's founder, CEO resigns SAO PAULO: The chief executive and founder of Brazil's HRT ParticipacaAes em PetraAleo has resigned just as the firm begins drilling off Namibia's coast in the hope of making a major oil discovery, according to a securities filing.

Marcio Mello, a distinguished geologist and one of the architects behind the subsalt oil finds in Brazil's offshore Campos Basin, will remain on HRT's board of directors, the filing said. HRT spokesmen had no further comment his resignation.

In an April 22 interview with Reuters, Mello said he was baffled by investors' readiness to sell the company's shares, which had lost 90 per cent since reaching an all-time high in 2011.

Motiva refinery hit HOUSTON: Motiva Enterprises 235,500 barrel-per-day (bpd) Norco, Louisiana, refinery sustained an equipment failure, according to a notice filed with federal pollution regulators.

The equipment failure triggered the safety flare at the refinery, which is 25 miles (40 kilometres) west of New Orleans, according to the notice filed with the US National Response Center. The notice did not say what unit or units were involved in the equipment failure.

Pascagoula work on track NEW YORK: Destin Pipeline said it had received notice from the operator of the Pascagoula natural gas processing plant in Mississippi that maintenance, begun on May 3, was expected to be completed as planned in about five weeks.

BP reports emissions, snag NEW YORK: BP reported excess sulphur dioxide emissions from the sulphur plant at its 225,000 barrel-per-day Cherry Point refinery in Blaine, Washington, as its in-line heater went down, according to a filing with Northwest Clean Air Agency.

Exxon warns of flaring NEW YORK: ExxonMobil warned of planned flaring at its 149,500-barrel-per-day (bpd) refinery in Torrance, California, according to a filing with state pollution regulators. A refinery uses its safety flare when hydrocarbons cannot be processed normally due to a malfunction or planned work.

Pemex opens Ramones bids MEXICO CITY: Mexico's state oil and gas monopoly Pemex announced a call for bids on the second phase of the country's flagship cross-border Ramones natural gas pipeline project.

In a statement, the company said the second phase of Ramones will cover 740 km spanning five northern-central Mexican states, and help the country satisfy growing demand by tapping cheap gas imports from the US. Alejandro Martinez, the director of Pemex's gas and basic petrochemicals subsidiary, put the contract's price at $1.8 billion during a local radio interview.

Sunoco to launch open season HOUSTON: Sunoco Logistics Partners will launch an open season on its proposed Eaglebine Express project to reverse an underused refined products pipeline and convert it to move crude oil from Texas shale oil plays to the US Gulf Coast market, the company said. Sunoco said if the open season solicits enough shipper interest, the company will convert part of its MagTex pipeline to move crude and reverse it to flow from Hearne, Texas, to Nederland, Texas. Sunoco announced the project.

Transocean chairman to step down NEW YORK: Transocean said that chairman Michael Talbert will step down later this year, in a move that comes just days before the culmination of a fight between the offshore driller and investor Carl Icahn in which Talbert was a target.

Talbert, a director since 1994 who was also chief executive from 1994 to 2002, told the board that if re-elected at the upcoming shareholder meeting, he will step down as chairman by November and leave the board no later than the 2014 annual meeting, Transocean said.

Vitol not to buy Sterling GENEVA: Swiss trading house Vitol has dropped plans to bid for Canada-listed oil and gas producer Sterling Resources, Sterling said, after talks stalled over price. Vitol, which is also a Sterling shareholder, said in February it would offer C$192 million ($190 million) for Sterling, giving it a foothold in the North Sea oil and gas sector.

"Vitol never made a final bid. The fact that they did not leaves it in abeyance," Sterling chief executive Mike Azancot told Reuters via telephone.

Novatek Q1 profit up 7pc MOSCOW: Russia's largest independent gas producer, Novatek said its first-quarter net profit rose 7 per cent, year-on-year, beating market expectations. The company made first-quarter net profit of 22.7 billion roubles ($722.53 million), above the average forecast of 21.7 billion roubles in a Reuters poll. Revenues grew 49 per cent to 80.6 billion roubles, the company said in a statement. Analysts had expected rising gas and condensate sales to drive revenues 45 per cent higher to 79 billion roubles.

Phillips refinery releases SO2 NEW YORK: Phillips 66 reported release of sulphur dioxide (SO2) due to a planned flaring at its 139,000 barrel-per-day Los Angeles-area refinery in Wilmington, California, according to a filing with California pollution regulators. Flaring usually indicates refinery operations are interrupted by planned maintenance or an unplanned breakdown.

Tesoro reports startup issue NEW YORK: Tesoro reported an equipment startup at its 120,000 barrel-per-day refinery in Anacortes, Washington, according to a filing with the Northwest Clean Air Agency. The company also reported an equipment shutdown, the filing said.

Valero units at McKee back NEW YORK: Valero Energy said all production units at its 156,000 barrel-per-day McKee refinery in Sunray, Texas, are back in operation, either at planned rates or approaching planned rates.

The crude distillation unit (CDU) at the refinery had restarted and was moving to planned production levels after completing a five-week overhaul, company spokesman Bill Day had said earlier.

Transco investigating leak NEW YORK: Williams Co's Transcontinental Gas Pipeline (Transco) said it was investigating and would be conducting unplanned maintenance to repair a leak on its Southeast Louisiana Lateral in Terrebonne Parish Louisiana.

Gas at the Ship Shoal 28 D would not be available for flow to the Transco system until further notice, a website posting said. Further information was not immediately available. Transco is a major provider of natural gas to the US Northeast.

BP withdraws Libya staff TRIPOLI: British oil company BP said it is withdrawing some non-essential staff from Libya after Britain's government warned about deteriorating security in the capital Tripoli.

"We are taking some non-Libyan staff out of the office in Tripoli following advice by the foreign office," the spokesman said. The foreign office advises against all travel to parts of Libya.

The British embassy said it was cutting staff due to growing unrest in the capital, where armed groups seized two government ministries in late April to press demands on parliament, heightening fears clashes could break out in Tripoli.

Rak Petro to restructure DUBAI: Rak Petroleum, which owns 42.8 per cent of Norwegian oil firm DNO International, said it would transfer all its assets to a newly created company as part of a restructuring plan, and seek an international bourse listing for the new firm's parent.

The company, which is based in the Ras Al Khaimah, part of the UAE, will transfer its assets to a new Dutch company that will in turn be owned by a new British-based firm as part of a proposal approved by the shareholders, Rak Petroleum said in a statement. It did not name the new companies in the statement.

Cleaner Yanbu back online AL KHOBAR: Saudi Aramco's 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) Yanbu refinery has come back online after nearly two-month long maintenance, trading sources said.

Saudi Aramco Mobil Refinery Company (Samref), an equal joint venture between Aramco and US oil major ExxonMobil had shut the refinery in early March to bring a new cleaner fuel project online.

Most of the units were back online, traders said.

"The secondary units will take a few more days to come back online. It's been a long turnaround and it's normal for the refinery to eventually come back up," said one trader.

The company's spokesman could not be reached for comment.

IOC appoints MTI NEW DELHI: India's largest company, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) via Lanka IOC (Lioc), has retained the services of Bahrain-based MTI Consulting to carry out a study of the fast emerging Myanmar and Indonesian markets.

Subodh Dakwale, managing director of Lioc, said: "One of our strategic pursuits is develop exports, given our international capabilities in the lube business. We see emerging markets in the Mekong Valley and South East Asia as prime prospects. We look forward to the benefits of working with MTI who have impressive credentials across emerging markets."

RRC ensures safety MANAMA: Bahrain-based RRC Middle East, a provider of specialist safety training and consultancy, recently helped manage health and safety during the turnaround of a major oil refinery in Oman.

RRCME was called in last month by Oman Oil Refineries and Petroleum Industries Company (Orpic) to ensure health and safety during the 46-day total turnaround of its Sohar refinery and petrochemical plant for major essential maintenance.

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Publication:Oil & Gas News
Geographic Code:1U7TX
Date:May 20, 2013
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