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Month: February 2016 (page 1 of 6)

Caspian Overview: Getting Gas to Georgia

February 19th, 2016 5:55am Posted In: Georgia, Azerbaijan, Featured Articles, Turkmenistan, Caspian Focus, Weekly Overviews, Political

As Azerbaijan started increasing gas export to Georgia, at the same time Baku requested Russian giant Gazprom to supply the country with 3-4bn m3/yr of natural gas.

Azerbaijan’s state oil company (Socar) announced that it is in talks with Gazprom as more and more of its associated gas is needed for reinjection to maintain oil output at the Azeri-Chirag?Guneshli oilfields (ACG). Russian gas will go to domestic consumers as its own export commitments to Turkey and Georgia are rising. 

Last October Gazprom started exporting 6mn m³/d to Azerbaijan?s methanol producer AzMeCo, however imports stopped after 20 days as it was too expensive.

At the same time, Azerbaijan started increasing gas deliveries to Georgia. While Turkey has been receiving all contractual amounts delivered from Shah Deniz 1, which is around 6bn m³/yr. With its pipelines working at capacity it no longer has to choose Iranian gas over Azeri. It can now take both but as Iran’s had higher take-or-pay penalties it took that in preference.

Azerbaijan promised to increase delivering further 50mn m3 of gas to Georgia for the balance of this winter, or about 1.5mn m³/d.

Coming to up/downstream projects, the Shah Deniz-2 is reportedly being developed successfully, while Turkish Tekfen won a tender on providing two compressor and four metering stations on Tanap, a rout which should transit 16bn m3/yr of gas from Shah Deniz-2 gas to Turkey and European borders.

Central Asia

Turkmenistan has also started development of an offshore gas block for first time in history domestically. Turkmenneft started drilling in North Goturdepe and Altyguyi fields. The offshore gas reserves of Turkmenistan in Caspian Sea are estimated at 6.5 trillion m3.

Turkmenistan also announced that investments by Dragon Oil in the offshore Cheleken Aria, consisting two oil and gas fields, have reached $5bn.

After stopping imports from Russia in early 2016, Turkmenistan accelerated operations to build a pipeline to export 33 bn m³/yr to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India by 2019, but it seems, the development of fourth branch of Central Asia-China gas pipeline is behind schedule, thanks to Turkmenistan.

On February 18, Kyrgyzstan blamed Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for delaying the building work. The Kyrgyz government said that the construction of Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan-China gas pipeline was planned to start in 2016, but that its neighbours had not finished their internal processes.

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Mediterranean migrant and refugee arrivals top 90 000 in 2016 so far ? IOM

migrants refugees photo jason florio moas eu

International Organization for Migration (IOM) monitors in the eastern Mediterranean said this week that cold weather contributed to a sharp drop in arrivals in Greece from Turkey, although the number topped 3350 on February 17, after many days of slow movement, IOM said on February 19.

During the past week, IOM has learned of a single death on this route, a boy believed to have been travelling with a family from Afghanistan.

IOM unofficial data indicates that 937 241 migrants and refugees arrived between January 1 2015 and Febuary 17 2016 through Greece?s maritime borders, suggesting that the figure will likely reach one million by mid-March.

Separately, on February 19 Bulgaria?s Interior Ministry said that Border Police had taken into custody 37 foreign nationals found to have crossed the border into the country illegally.

The group was found when police from Tsarevo stopped a UK-registered Ford Transit van and found the 37 ? 10 men, 13 women and 14 children.

The driver, a 47-year-old Bulgarian from the village of Branitsa in the Knezha municipality, was arrested and faces fast-track court proceedings on charges of people-trafficking.

The foreign nationals were handed over the regional office of the Migration Directorate in the Black Sea city of Bourgas for their identities to be established.

(Photo: Jason Florio/MOAS EU)



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Bulgarian Parliament calls for EU penalty proceedings against Greece over border blockade


Bulgaria?s National Assembly unanimously adopted a declaration on February 19 2016 condemning the Greek blockade of the two countries? border and calling on the European Commission to initiate penalty proceedings against the government of Greece.

The declaration, approved by all 186 MPs present in Parliament, called on the Greek authorities to take steps to establish order and ensure free movement across the border.

The National Assembly called on Bulgarian authorities to continue their efforts to resolve the crisis bilaterally.

The declaration was adopted as, resulting from the protest by Greek farmers against pension system reforms and a counter-blockade by Bulgarian lorry drivers, all checkpoints at the Bulgarian-Greek border were closed to all types of vehicle traffic.

On February 18, speaking during a visit to Brussels for the European Council meeting, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov expressed support for the counter-blockade by the Bulgarian lorry transport firms and said that Greece was not a functioning state.

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Astronaut and UFO conspiracist Edgar Mitchell dies at 85

mitchell_moon_080725_mnEdgar Mitchell, 6th man on the moon, and paranormal, conspiracy, and aliens advocate, dies at age 85. He had been the last surviving participant of the Apollo 14 mission.

Here is his obituary on the NASA site:

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, lunar module pilot on Apollo 14, passed away Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla., on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing.

The NASA piece does not mention his strange obsession in life with alien visitations and government coverup for which he produced no solid evidence.

Our previous pieces include tabloid fodder where he claimed aliens ??wanted to know about our military capabilities.? And stated, ?My own experience talking to people has made it clear the ETs had been attempting to keep us from going to war and help create peace on Earth.?

It?s very sad, but we labeled Mitchell as ?lost in space? over his bizarre assertions without real evidence except the stories he wove in his mind. We would honor those who devoted so much effort the U.S. space program but are so disheartened that he tarnished his legacy with ridiculous claims and misinformation to the public by using his platform as an astronaut.

Mitchell was the founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (1973) when he turned to mystical and psychic interpretations of the universe. His status provided clout to claims of alien involvement with earthly matters.

Tributes to his efforts are all across the net. Let?s try to remember him for the scientific and technological work he moved forward and not the fringe stuff that we?d rather he?d not helped popularize and which move society backwards.

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Historic building burns down in Plovdiv?s former Jewish quarter

fire orta mezar plovdiv

A building that formerly housed a public baths in what used to be Plovdiv?s Jewish quarter, Orta Mezar, was destroyed in a huge fire on the night of February 18.

Six teams of firefighters and three fire engines failed to extinquish the inferno before the building, used in recent years as a furniture shop, was devastated.

The cause of the fire has not been established and arson has not been ruled out. No one was injured in the fire.

The fire in the building, at the corner of Plovdiv?s Ruski and Shesti Septembri boulevards, was reported soon after 11pm.

The Orta Mezar baths, as the building is commonly referred to, had been declared a cultural monument but there had not yet been a decision whether it was of local or national significance. The building had not been used as a public baths since the 1970s. It dates to the 15th century.

Local media pointed out that the building and the area are important to Bulgarian Jews because it was there that on March 10 1943, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church?s Plovdiv Metropolitan Kiril intervened against the deportation of Bulgarian Jews to the Nazi-run Holocaus death camps in which more than six million Jews were murdered.

Nearby the building is a monument put up by the Plovdiv Jewish community expressing gratitude to Kiril for his intervention. The monument was defaced with red swastikas in 2013. No one was arrested.

(Photo via



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Bulgarian Parliament rejects motion of no confidence over government?s health care policy


The first vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Boiko Borissov?s current government, over health care policy, passed away peacefully on February 19.

Dr Petar Moskov, the Health Minister, was in attendance, as a vote of 130 against the motion, 80 in favour, with five abstentions, was administered.

The motion had been tabled by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and Movement for Rights and Freedoms and caused periodic feverish episodes in debate on February 17.

motion of no conf bulgarian parliament february 19 2016-crop



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The Country of the Blind

In her collection of essays on learning to be blind, Sight Unseen, Georgina Kleege describes realizing that what is for her an expanse of green is something that a sighted person would see as a field of individual blades of grass, perhaps with insects crawling between. Her response, though, was not envy, but perplexed wonder: ?What do sighted people do with all this visual detail?? she marveled. An expanse of green was her reality, against which a riot of sight felt excessive, superfluous. For her, the 90 percent of her vision she lost in adolescence was just one way to describe her visual orientation: ?I would rather go to an art gallery or movie theater than a concert hall,? as she puts it; ?although my eyes are blind, my brain is still sighted ? I know what it means to be sighted, because I live in a sighted world.?

SEEING RED by Lina MeruaneDeep Vellum, 170 pp., $14.95

For the sighted, ?blindness? is usually a metaphor, an analogy, and a figure of speech; it?s an idea, something you can talk about, or imagine (or imagine that you can imagine). But one-eyed men in kingdoms of the blind, or none so blind as they who will not see, these idioms that transform blindness into an abstraction prevent us from understanding sight. Sight is not something you can see: it?s the one thing you can?t perceive, in fact. Sight is invisible until it disappears.

Lina Meruane?s autobiographical novel Seeing Red begins with the moment she lost her vision, when a blood vessel burst in her eye and her sight came into focus: a blind spot, a migraine, an absence, and a mist of red descending. In the novel, it?s a moment she has long anticipated. Having been born with a congenital weakness in her eyes, her doctors have laboriously described to her the event that will bring her sight to an end, an event which she has filled in with her imagination. She cannot see it, of course; she can only look forward to its inevitability, struggling to defer its inexorable approach. But this life is hardly living. Burdened by warnings and advice, she waits for the moment when the arteries will break by living in denial: She must not hold her breath; she must not cough; she must not lean over; she must not lift. She must not dance. She must not drink. She must not have sex. To see, she must not live. And so she does not.

By contrast, the moment she sees ?the most shockingly beautiful black blood I?ve ever seen? is when it is suddenly too late to not do anything. The die is cast; she no longer has eyesight to lose, and will see her own blindness from that point on. But even her doctor cannot see what she can see: As he peers into her diluted pupil (?like he was looking into a keyhole?), he can only make out the same ?bloody nothing? that has filled her eyes. And where he sees nothing, she now sees so much, an excessive and overwhelming superfluity that floods the world in red. This is where the novel begins: As her eyes fill up with blood, she begins to see, and live.

Seeing Red was first published in Spanish, in 2012, as Sangre en el ojo (?Blood in the Eye?), winning the Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz prize, among other honors and recognitions. It?s Lina Meruane?s fourth novel. Though she lives in New York, where the novel is set, her voice is new to the Anglophone world, and the book carries the inevitable carte de introducción from Roberto Bolaño on the back cover. (?Lina Meruane?s prose,? he writes, ?has great literary force: it emerges from the hammer blows of conscience, but also from the ungraspable, and from pain ? one of the one or two greats in the new generation of Chilean writers.?) But we shouldn?t mistake her for an ?emerging voice? or anything of the sort; Seeing Red is the triumphant realization of a stunning artistic vision, a novel as black and bitter and bloody (and beautiful) as its central conceit.

Seeing Red is also not?however strange it will sound to say this?a novel about ?blindness.? It certainly is a novel about ?going blind? (or about the kind of visual impairment which those kinds of phrases might flatten into abstraction). But the novel begins with the moment she doesn?t become blind, when the specter of an abstraction is replaced by a very vital reality. When one of her eyes becomes totally opaque, the other fills with a swamp of blood that shifts and sloshes, but allows just enough light in to see. Her ?blindness? is therefore not a negation, but is intensely visual. By the same token, her blindness is not an end but a beginning. The novel begins at this moment because so does her life. A specter of ?blindness? is replaced with the reality of living with blood in her eyes? but living.

Life as a blind woman is saturated with experience, overstuffed with a vivid and vital cacophony. Where we might expect a flat expanse of red, the bloody curtain of her blindness exposes a dense texture of experience, a superfluous excess that can be hard to absorb. Without sight to intercept and organize the world as space, the dam bursts; a flood of sound, feeling, smell, temperature, vibration, and tastes, all jostling for attention. Sight creates distance; her blindness closes the gap, and the tactility of the world is aggressive and overwhelming (?What do un-sighted people do with all this sensory detail?? I found myself wondering). The walls catch her hands, and the furniture moves to trip her; bodies collide in space and everything burns or freezes and cuts.

Seeing Red is a rather short book?well fewer than 200 short pages, divided into paragraph-free mini-chapters?but it took me weeks to finish it. Each moment feels like a world, entire and indivisible; I kept putting the book down after spending long minutes on a single page, like I was full and needed time to digest. It was too much and too messy to absorb; I found myself exhausted, and wanted to step back, put the book down, and rest. In part, this is just the riotous fecundity of the writing (which is imbued with remarkable richness in Megan McDonald?s translation); Meruane?s sentences are knotty and raw, meaty and complex.

But perhaps it was also a kind of blindness that this book makes visible: A sighted person can close their eyes to the world in a way a blind person cannot, because they can step back, can watch from a distance. But the protagonist of Seeing Red can never stop moving, can never stop pushing forward, reaching out, and bruising her body on the world. It can be exhausting.

Seeing Red began as a memoir of Meruane?s own experience, and much of it is taken directly from her own life. When I emailed her in early February, she explained that she began by emulating memoirs like William Styron?s Darkness Visible or Sylvia Plath?s The Bell Jar, and tried to stick to the facts. But she couldn?t do it, she said, she could barely even get started; ?On page three, I realized that the writing needed to go somewhere else and already was ? so I liberated myself from the pains of autobiography.?

Instead, she found herself writing about what happens when we promise unconditional love. I?ll do anything for you, we might say, in a moment of flourishing rhetorical generosity. But what if that promise was taken literally? What if the loved one said ?yes??

?What if the ill were not powerless, but powerful? Those questions were much more interesting to me than the truthful account. Fiction allowed me to take the situation to an extreme and to look into these situations with a raw eye ? we romantically blind ourselves with the promise of unconditional love. So I went in that direction at the risk of having readers believe, as they often have, that I am a monster.?

Something monstrous happens when those questions become literal, and as the novel touches the cruelty of being cared for, and the predatory nature of those who are in need. Forced to rely on her partner?s (freely-given) care, the novel?s protagonist ?sees red? in an idiomatic, almost carnivorous sense. The blood in her eyes is the need she converts into power over her caretaker, victimizing her boyfriend, the willing victim, Ignacio: His love makes him her willing prisoner, as does his fear that she might leave him if she recovers. But who is the real victim? Who the victimizer?

Seeing Red offers no answers, or judgement, of course; only an unblinking gaze into the abyss. But her exploration of what dependence does to love is harrowing. And as the novel winds to an increasingly torturous conclusion?dead-ending onto a twist I hadn?t anticipated until I was literally reading the words?her blindness becomes a metaphor, at last, for the tyranny of human frailty and need, the strangling hunger of bodies that break and fail, and the whirlpool of our shared mortality. 

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?Migrant-bashing has dangerously become the norm? in Europe ? UN rights expert

the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants

As the European Union summit started in Brussels on February 18, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants said that it had become impossible in Europe to have a meaningful discussion about migrants? rights, diversity, and integration.

?Europe has always been a strong advocate of human rights in Europe and elsewhere,? François Crépeau said.

?In its struggle to maintain control of its borders however, it is being tested on its adherence to human rights. Through slowly stripping away the rights of asylum-seekers and migrants, Europe is creating a scary new ?normal,?? he said, as quoted by the UN News Centre.

Crépeau called on the leaders of the 28-nation bloc gathering on February 18 and 19 to halt the continuous regression of the human rights of migrants as Europe struggles to deal with its migrant crisis.

He reiterated the key messages of his 2015 report on the management of the external borders of the EU and its impact on the human rights of migrants.

?European countries must offer safe and regular channels for mobility. It is the only way that European countries will regain full control of their borders,? he said, noting that the operationalisation of the Nato military operation recently announced by European leaders raises many questions.

?What will Nato do that Frontex didn?t do? When intercepting a migrant boat, what will the procedure be? Will they embark migrants on their navy ships as the Italians did in Mare Nostrum? If they do, where will they disembark them? To what authority will they transfer them? How will simple pushbacks be prevented? How will they treat the migrants on board? How will they identify protection needs? And how will we know what Nato forces are doing? What civilian oversight mechanisms will be in place to ensure the protection of the rights of the migrants during the operation?? he asked.

Crépeau said that fighting the smugglers is a red herring: ?as long as persons in need of mobility are not provided with official mobility solutions, unofficial channels will be provided by opportunistic smuggling rings?.

He said that he had repeatedly insisted that over-reliance on securitisation of borders will not work, as people will continue to come because they need to survive, and smugglers will continue to adapt, prosper and exploit the migrants as long as their business model is not effectively destroyed.

?The only way to actually eliminate smuggling is to take over their market by offering regular, safe and cheap mobility solutions, with all the identity and security checks that efficient visa procedures can provide,? he said.

?It is appalling to see how the discussion concerning migrants has been lowered to the smallest common dominator, feeding off fear and xenophobia and making migrants fair game for all types of verbal or physical abuse. Migrant-bashing has dangerously become the norm and the standard is so low now that to have a meaningful and serene discussion about rights, diversity and integration is often impossible,? Crépeau said.

He said that Europe must reclaim its role ?as a moral and political leader of human rights in this debate of fear, stereotyping, racism and xenophobia.?

?I continue to urge European political leaders to show moral and political leadership in fighting much more vigorously racism, xenophobia and hate crime, by consolidating our common human rights culture and strengthening its institutions at all levels, and in celebrating the diversity of cultures and religions as an enrichment for everyone, citizens and foreigners alike.?

(Refugees and migrants protest border restrictions near the Greek town of Idomeni, close to the border with the Republic of Macedonia. Photo: UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson)



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Broad City: Are You an Abbi or an Ilana?

The second season of Broad City ended last spring with Abbi and Ilana snuggled together on a Manhattan sidewalk, eating pizza and discussing their goals for the next year. The highwire comedy returns Wednesday night with a wordless sequence that picks up right where that episode ended, catching us up with the duo?s last twelve months of adventures. It?s 90 seconds of unbridled, irrepressible joy, cataloguing life in New York as seen from each girl?s apartment bathroom: Halloween costumes and New Year?s celebrations, party dresses and pregnancy tests, dancing alone and dancing with each other. Watch it now, and then watch it again?the anarchic and intricately constructed montage is filled with tiny jokes and character moments that reward repeat viewing. (Keep an eye out for Hillary Clinton?s memoir!)

Sitcoms?and despite its adventurous spirit, Broad City has settled comfortably into the sitcom form, with episode plots usually driven by Seinfeld-ian misunderstandings and hijinks?are rarely so aware of time?s passage. Yet Broad City doesn?t veer so far from the status quo in the third season. It?s a year later, and Abbi and Ilana are largely unchanged: The season premiere takes the BFFs on another quest narrative across New York City, stumbling through its urban obstacle course and surviving deranged encounters with pop-up shops and trendy brunch restaurants.

But the confident new season sharpens the dynamic between its two leads. In its earliest episodes, Broad City was a buddy comedy between two familiar archetypes: the zany free-spirited slacker gliding through life with oblivious narcissism and the neurotic straight man whose dreams are repeatedly dashed. The innovation was that they were women, inhabiting these roles without apology or reservation. In a review of Broad City?s first season, Slate?s Willa Paskin described Ilana as a ?female Bill Murray character,? something she hadn?t seen before. In an essay celebrating Abbi?s character last year, Laura Miller labeled Abbi the Buster Keaton to Ilana?s Harpo Marx.

Just look at the last time the two Broad City gals? bathroom activities were juxtaposed. In an early season one cold open, we are shown Abbi and Ilana?s workdays side by side: Ilana smokes a bowl in her office bathroom and naps, while Abbi resigns herself to cleaning up vomit in the toilets of Soulstice, the Equinox-style gym where she scrubs floors. This was the relationship in a nutshell?Abbi had unrequited crushes and unfulfilled ambitions, while Ilana flouted rules and emerged untouched. Ilana has sex and gets stoned without anxieties; Abbi does the same, but is a bundle of nerves the whole time. Abbi is anxious to be liked, while Ilana assumes everyone loves her as much as she loves herself. You might say that for many women, Ilana was the dream and Abbi the reality.

These are the sort of familiar dynamics that many close friendships fall into over time: the one who instigates and the one who yields, the one who holds back and the one who pushes them both forward. But those roles can?t tell the whole story about a person?you can be the Ilana of one relationship and the Abbi of another?and Broad City, to its credit, continues to deepen its characters. In its second season, Broad City showed us sides of Abbi that Ilana had never seen: the Abbi who has secret handshakes with Bed Bath and Beyond employees and the Abbi who drunkenly transforms into Val, a surreal nighttime alter ego who charms the elderly with cabaret songs. Ilana may be the flashier role, but actress Abbi Jacobson invests her character Abbi with a pathos that the show needs. Broad City?s third season reveals Abbi?s aggressive side, which emerges during times of competition??all-caps Abbi,? in Ilana?s words. The new season?which includes, in a classic sitcom plot, an identity swap episode?goes farther in playing with the idea of Abbi and Ilana as types.

Halfway through the season three premiere, Ilana and Abbi have a conversation that should be familiar by osmosis to any woman who lived through the 2000s: Are you a Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, or Samantha? Abbi identifies as a Miranda/Carrie??with like, a little bit of Charlotte, even though she really annoys me,? she adds. In terms of Sex and the City characters, Ilana, the polysexual hedonist, is a Samantha. Hannibal Buress?s even-keeled Lincoln?Ilana?s quasi-boyfriend and the show?s most reasonable character?speaks earnestly of ?the Carrie in me? and ?the Miranda in me.? (Of course the most fervent SatC fan on Broad City is a dude.)

Broad City?s freewheeling comedy shares little DNA with Sex and the City, but like that earlier ode to female friendship, its sharply divergent characters stand in as personality blueprints for young women?and men?looking for easy labels. Are you an Abbi or an Ilana? The new season makes the answer a little more complicated. 

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Austrian OMV Plans to Bounce Back after Dismal 2015

February 18th, 2016 11:30am Posted In: News, News By Country, Austria, Romania, Norway, Nord Stream 2, Corporate, Mergers & Acquisitions, Exploration & Production

Austria?s integrated monopoly OMV took a battering in 2015, with profits from the downstream sector unable to offset the 47% drop in the crude price. The company reported a net loss of ?1.255bn, compared with a profit of ?527mn in 2014. It wrote off ?3bn in asset impairments as it changed its view of oil prices. Its production and exploration assets accounted for ?2.5bn of the writedown, of which producing assets owned by OMV Petrom accounted for ?600mn.

The other ?512mn came from write-downs of the Dutch Gate LNG and associated transportation capacity contracts; the Etzel gas storage facility; and the Samsun power plant.

It was not all bad. In upstream, it achieved a 20% cut in operating expenses per dollar of barrel of oil equivalent. It started production at the Norwegian Edvard Grieg field in the fourth quarter. And this year has begun with encouraging results from the offshore Neptune field, Romania. The second exploration drilling campaign was completed in January 2016 and the company will now do more detailed work to see if the gas reserves are commercially viable.

Total gas production was stable at about 310bn ft³, as more from Norway offset the decline in Pakistan, New Zealand and Austria. Total sales volumes decreased by 5%, driven by lower volumes in Libya and Yemen partly offset by higher volumes in Norway. Natural gas sales volumes declined to 110.12 TWh in 2015 compared with 114.35 TWh in 2014.

Looking ahead…

With the results statement, the company also announced a new strategy aimed at producing more profitable barrels with more, low-cost hydrocarbons to come from Russia following an asset swap with Gazprom giving it access to the Urengoi field by 2020. It expects to add a further 600mn boe to its reserves base, or five times its 2015 production. Iran is also on the radar.

Investments will further fall to ?2.4bn marking an anticipated reduction of around 40% this year compared with 2014, the most recent year of high oil prices. Upstream spending will fall by 60% from 2014 20 2017, from ?600mn to ?300mn. In addition there will be further cost-cutting measures which are set to yield around ?300mn by 2017 compared with 2014.

By 2020, 90-95% of upstream investment will go to maintaining production at around 300,000 boe/d and should the political situation allow, in reviving production in Libya and Yemen.

The remaining 5-10% has been earmarked for the investment project Achimov IV and V in Russia. ?Our goal is to make OMV?s upstream portfolio sustainable; this means that we replace in full the reserves that we produce,? OMV said. The core regions are Austria and Romania, the North Sea as well as Middle East and Africa.

OMV has announced the sale of a minority stake of up to 49% in the regulated pipeline business Gas Connect Austria and the transaction is expected to signed in 2016. It has also signed an agreement with its partners to take over the remaining stake of 35.75% in EconGas, for which regulatory approval is expected this year. 

The company also expects a final investment decision in Nord Stream 2 this year. It is a 10% shareholder in the Gazprom-led export project. CEO Rainer Seele commented: ?With Nord Stream 2 we are investing in a project with an attractive, non-regulated return, which increases security of supply to Europe.” 

This is also linked to strengthening Gas Connect Austria, as a large share of the gas which comes via Nord Stream 2 to Europe will be distributed via the Baumgarten gas hub. “These measures to restructure the business will position Downstream Gas for a successful future,” OMV said. It expects the Brent oil price to average around $40/b and sees a challenging gas market this year.

William Powell

Natural Gas Europe welcomes all viewpoints. Should you wish to provide an alternative perspective on the above article, please contact  

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