China Petroleum plans expansion in Canada: China Daily

Energy Link

CNPC plans steady overseas expansion

China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the country’s biggest energy company by production, said on Thursday that its overseas expansion will continue to focus on the upstream division with Canada and Australia as the major targets.

CNPC’s overseas oil and gas output is expected to reach 100 million tons of oil equivalent this year, of which equity-based production will account for 50 percent, according to Jiang Jiemin, the company’s general manager.

In 2010, the energy conglomerate’s overseas oil and gas output stood at 86.73 million tons.

“Our company’s foreign sales and profits will both hit a record high this year,” Jiang said. He added that CNPC plans to continue to rapidly and consistently expand overseas and that it regards Canadian and Australian assets as its top priorities because of the two countries’ abundant natural resources and steady investment environment.

Chinese agri giant tours Kitimat harbour, evaluating facilities


A delegation from the giant Chinese state owned agribusiness, Heilongjiang Beidahuang Nongken Group Co. (Beidahuang Group) toured Kitimat and Kitimat harbour Thursday, to evaluate the harbour for possible expansion beyond the current facilities owned by Rio Tinto Alcan and  the Methanex/ Cenovus Energy terminal purchased Wednesday by Shell Canada.

 Accompanying the delegation from the Beidahuang Group were executives from  Hangfeng Evergeen, one of the world’s major producers of fertilizer, with headquarters in Toronto, but with most of its business in China and Southeast Asia.

Kitimat Mayor Joanne Monaghan said the delegation is on a tour of British Columbia ports looking for the best place to ship  agricultural products to and from China. Monaghan said that when the delegation met with BC premier Christy Clark earlier, Clark suggested that they include Kitimat on their itinerary.

In China, Beidahuang operates 104 state-owned farms, supplying crops to Beijing, Shanghai, and the military, using about 1,400,000 tonnes of fertilizer a year.

 As an exporter, Beidahuang sells kidney beans, green mung beans, small red beans, cow peas, and soybeans to Canada, South America, South Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Europe.

Beidahuang has been aggressively expanding its holdings around the world in the past few years, purchasing or developing agricultural holdings in Canada, Russia, the Philippines, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Zimbabwe and Venezuela. As an importer, Beidahuang deals in wheat, corn, soybeans, fruit and vegetables and wine. The company also has holdings in oil and mining.

In 2010, Hanfeng Evergreen signed a joint venture  agreement with Beidahuang to establish a fertilizer factory in northern Heilongjiang province

Monaghan said the delegation was looking at possibly either new or expanded port facilities in Kitimat to handle the import and export of the agricultural products and fertilizers. It will be some time before any decision is made, since the delegation will return to China and evaluate its tour before making any decision.

Beidahuang’s world wide expansion has been somewhat controversial. 

Bloomberg reported that Beidahuang’s $1.5 billion investment in Argentina’s Patagonia, which would include upgrading unused land and expanding port facilities there, brought objections from local farmers and activists because the agreement with government of Rio Negro province means farmers “will be kept captive by the Chinese for 20 years” since the agreement would force farmers to sell their produce to Beidahuang.

Beidahuang is also heavily investing in palm oil plantations across Southeast Asia, which brings objections from environmental activists who say vulnerable and valuable tropical rainforest is destroyed so the palm oil plantations can be established.

Kitimat LNG on the agenda at Houston conference


The Kitimat LNG projects have been added to a conference on LNG exports in Houston, Texas on December 1.

Zeus Events, the commercial organizer of the conference tweeted this morning  “Kitimat #LNG Export project added to N. American LNG Exports conference.”

The conference agenda describes the presentation this way:

Kitimat LNG Export Project Update
Kitimat LNG Project, Speaker TBA

Apache is developing the most advanced LNG export project in North America at Kitimat, British Columbia. Construction is expected to begin in early 2012, with operations to start in 2015. The representative has been asked to describe the project and provide an update, discussing what it will mean for British Columbia gas producers.

The conference website describes it as:

Proposals to liquefy and export North American gas as LNG have grown more numerous and controversial since our 2010 conference. At last count, ten liquefaction and export projects have been proposed on both coasts of North America. Analysts warn, however, that the United States is preparing to export its clean, abundant natural gas to countries like China, where it will be used for transportation fuel, while the U.S. will continue to import high-cost crude for its transportation.

This year’s conference will expand on our 2010 meeting to address political issues such as FERC’s willingness to approve export plant construction permits as well as examine new proposals. Costs, political hurdles and regulatory issues will be discussed.

The Oregon projects, seen by analysts at the June National Energy Board hearings as Kitimat’s chief rival are also on the agenda at the conference.

China biggest customer for Kitimat LNG: Encana


564-ecanalogo75.jpgChina is probably the largest long
term customer for liquified natural gas that will be shipped through
the port of Kitimat, executives from Encana, one of the three
partners in the KM LNG project said in an investor conference call
Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011.

India could also be big customer for
LNG shipped from the Horn River in northeastern BC through Kitimat,
Encana said.

Although Japan will be increasing its
purchases of liquified natural gas in the coming years, the immediate
situation with Japan is less certain. While the March 2011
earthquake and tsunami knocked out the Fukishima nuclear plant and
prompted Japan to scale back other nuclear plants and increase LNG
purchases, Encana says the country has still not come up with any
definite policies

559-chinalng.jpgDave Thorn, Encana vice president of
Canadian marketing, who also oversees the Encana’s role in the
Kitimat project, said that China’s overseas imports now account for
eight per cent of its purchases of natural gas. That is expected to
rise to 10 per cent in the next few years. Thorn said there is a big
gap between current LNG contracts and what Encana says is long term
demand from China. He speculated that there could be increasing
demand from China during the 20 years or so the Kitimat LNG project
is exporting LNG. ( As well as projected population and
manufacturing growth, even in a weak economy, China is now heavily
dependent on coal, but is also investing in “green” projects
which means there could eventually be a switch from coal to natural

The fact that one giant Chinese
customer, PetroChina, pulled out of a deal with Encana earlier this
year doesn’t seem to be a setback. Thorn said that there is strong
interest from at least six unnamed major customers for LNG to be
shipped through Kitimat. “The expression of interest ranged from
simply LNG supply to existing or planned regasification facilities
through to participation all along the value chain from shipping,
equity interest in the Kitimat facility as well as upstream
participation,” Thorn said.

561-kitimatlngmarket.jpgThe Kitimat project is currently
undergoing a front end engineering evaluation by KBR. There is a
similar study under way on the Pacific Trails Pipeline that could
carry the natural gas to the terminal. Both studies are expected to
be complete by the end of 2011. Encana expects the National Energy
Board to approve KM LNG’s application for an export licence in
December. Encana and its partners, Apache Corporation and EOG
Resources, expect to make a final investment decision in January

If all goes as planned the Kitimat
terminal would be shipping 700 million cubic feet of natural gas a
day to Asia when the terminal begins operations in 2015. Encana and
its partners are already optimistic, talking about plans to double
capacity to to 1.5 billion cubic feet a day in the coming years.

What’s driving much of this is the
high price of natural gas in Asia, which is pegged to the price of
oil, compared to North America where natural gas prices are
determined by the marketplace. With shale gas increasingly abundant
the price on this continent has been dropping and that has affected
the bottom lines and stock prices of Encana and other natural gas
producers. Encana is also bolstering its bottom line by tapping
“liquid-rich reserves” (oil and natural gas) that may be found
in the areas where they are currently pumping natural gas.

The Horn River Basin area in
northeastern BC was a surprise discovery by an Encana crew in 2003,
said Kevin Smith, Encana Vice President of New Ventures. The company
then began to quietly acquire assets, either by buying land or by
leasing in the region. “The Horn River resource base is enormous,
highly accessible and will certainly play a large role in North
American and even global gas supply in the years to come,” Smith
told the conference call.

During the June NEB hearings in
Kitimat, witnesses described the Horn River formation as special but
were reluctant to go into detail. Smith said the shale in the Horn River
is “all the attributes for high productivity,” including large
reserves and “overpressured system” which helps extraction. “It
keeps getting better and better.”

As well as going west to Asia, natural
gas from Encana’s Horn River assets will go east to Alberta to fuel
bitumen sands production which Smith said will require an additional
1.3 billion cubic feet a day by 2020, This is likely to be
controversial with the environmental groups and bitumen sands
opponents who have always taken issue with the idea that clean
natural gas would be burned to help get crude of the dirtier bitumen

563-lnghub.jpgEncana says it has developed a “hub”
system in the Horn River where a central well site can use horizontal
drilling to tap areas where once many wells would have been needed.

“Fracking” or fracturing shale gas
requires large amounts of water. As was pointed out in the June
hearings in Kitimat, Encana has tapped an ancient, underground alt
water reservoir called Debolt which allows it to reuse the water from
the formation and minimizing use of local fresh water.

British Columbia is helping the shale
gas industry with favourable royalties in the northeast including
royalty credits for building infrastructure in the region.

Encana, however, is under pressure
from inflation. It faces rising costs from steel, labour and all
kinds of services. While it supplies the bitumen sands with natural
gas, it is also in competition with the Fort MacMurray area for
supplies and labour.

Related links

Dow Jones (via Fox) Encana Eyes Asia As Key Market For B.C. Natural Gas

CP (via Canadian Business) Encana says costs of labour, steel, services rising in energy sector

International backing for Northern Gateway pipeline grows: new Chinese investment, more Joint Review intervenors

Energy Northern Gateway Links

The Globe and Mail and Reuters are reporting that Enbridge has more Chinese support for the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline project. One large Chinese group, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec), is already backing Enbridge’s efforts to build the Northern Gateway.

In Enbridge’s push to the Pacific wins support from China .

the Globe’s Nathan Vanderklippe says:

Sources have now told The Globe and Mail that the list of funders also includes MEG Energy Corp., which is partly owned by CNOOC Ltd., another Chinese state-owned energy company. Each funder gains the right to discounted shipping rates and an option to buy an equity stake at a later date…MEG spokesman Brad Bellows said the company is “not commenting on speculation.” But, he added, MEG is “interested in expanded market access, absolutely.”

On its website, MEG describes itself as “part of the next generation of oil sands development. We are an Alberta-based company that uses Steam Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD) technology to recover drillable (in situ) oil from the oil sands.”

Reuters reports

Enbridge declined to disclose any of the Northern Gateway partners. However, Gina Jordan, spokeswoman for the pipeline company, said they include a mix of oil sands producers and Asian refiners.

Several Chinese companies have invested in the oil sands over the past decade to tap what is currently ranked as the world’s third-largest crude deposit as a way to help fuel their booming economy at home.

Last week, Enbridge said it and would-be shippers had agreed on terms for moving oil on Northern Gateway… before regulatory hearings scheduled to start in January.

The Globe and Mail is also reporting that a growing list of international companies are filing as intervenors for the Joint Review Panel hearings slated for January.

Nearly two dozen companies have asked to be “intervenors” … including small Canadian companies, major multinationals like Exxon Mobil Corp. and foreign companies like South Korean conglomerate Daewoo International.

Companies typically intervene when they want to closely follow a project, are interested in using it – by sending crude through Gateway, for example – or have a financial interest in it.

[T]he project holds the promise of dramatically altering Canada’s energy geography, providing for the first time access to a major new – and growing – export market. That has made it an increasing object of global interest.

South Korean trading and construction firm Daewoo International, for example, is hopeful it can provide steel or engineering to the Gateway pipeline. That’s just one part of its Canadian strategy.

Encana, PetroChina shale gas deal collapses

A  $5.4 billion deal between Canadian exploration giant Encana, one of the partners in the KM LNG project, and PetroChina collapsed Tuesday, sending shocks through both the financial markets and the energy exploration and production sector.

International analysts are already saying that China may be pulling back in its strategy to get a foothold in key resource areas and perhaps the Canadian energy sector was too optimistic.  Perhaps.

If the analysts are correct,  that means that some of the grand plans to export natural gas, at least to China, may still go ahead, but won’t immediately  turn British Columbia back into the fabled Golden  Mountain that brought the labourers from China more than a century ago to build the railways. Nor does this mean a major threat, at this point, to plans to export gas through Kitimat as there are plenty of buyers in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Malaysia looking at northeast BC shale gas.

    The Wall Street Journal Heard on the Street blog says

E&P executives across North America should also be nervous. While some speculate Canadian-resource nationalism has spread from potash to energy, there is little evidence of this, given other similar deals haven’t been blocked. The alternative explanation is that foreign buyers of North American gas assets may actually care about such quaint notions as return on investment.

That isn’t good news for an E&P sector that consistently lives beyond its means.

London’s Financial Times says

Although China has gained a reputation for buying up resources around the world at any cost, a string of recent failed deals suggests the country’s resources companies are starting to drive harder bargains and are becoming more selective. In April, China’s Minmetals withdrew a $6.5bn offer for Equinox, an Australian-Canadian copper miner, rather than raise its bid after a higher offer emerged from Barrick Gold.

Chinese oil companies have also recently walked away from, or missed out on, prized oil and gas assets in Brazil …

The failure of the Encana-PetroChina deal is a surprise to the industry because Chinese companies have recently been investing aggressively in shale gas assets to gain the expertise needed to develop China’s own reserves.

Reuters reported from Edmonton that it was Encana who walked away from the deal:

Encana, Canada’s No. 1 natural gas producer, said the two companies could not find common ground, despite a year of negotiations, and walked away from a deal that would have seen PetroChina take a one-half stake in Encana’s massive Cutbank Ridge field in northern British Columbia.

“We just reached the point where we determined we just couldn’t go forward” said Alan Boras, a spokesman for Encana.

The deal would have been the largest in a string of investments by Asian companies in North America’s prolific shale gas discoveries, while Encana investors were counting on the cash to shore up a balance sheet battered by more than two years of weak natural gas prices…

The CBC report had analysts disagreeing on Encana’s role:

John Stephenson, portfolio manager with First Asset Investment Management in Toronto, called the scuttled deal “a complete and utter failure.”

“I think they just couldn’t agree on anything and I think they were premature maybe in announcing this before they had an operating agreement in place,” he said….

But Lanny Pendill, an energy analyst with Edward Jones in St. Louis, commended Encana for its discipline….Its willingness to walk away from a deal after a year of work shows “if push comes to shove, they’re going to make the decision that’s in the best interest of Encana and Encana shareholders.

The Globe and Mail says Encana has plenty of assets in shale gas, especially the Horn River developments which were often mentioned as the main source for shale based natural gas that could be shipped through Kitimat:

With the PetroChina joint venture out of the picture, Encana still has lots of potential. For starters, back in April, the company said it was looking to start discussions on joint venture proposals for its Horn River and Greater Sierra assets. On the heels of Tuesday’s announcement, Encana said that the prospects for these projects are looking up, and raised its 2011 expected proceeds from them to between $1-billion and $2-billion, up from $500-million and $1-billion

Encana news release (on Encana site)

Encana news release 0621-petrochina-jv-negoiations-end.pdf

Canada firms may miss Chinese market   Enbridge VP warns energy sector must act: Calgary Herald

Calgary Herald

Canada firms may miss Chinese market  Enbridge VP warns energy sector must act

If Canada’s energy firms don’t start exporting to China now, others might beat them to it, according to an Enbridge Inc. vice-president. 

 The warning by Byron Neiles, who heads up major projects for the Calgary-based company, was one of several made by industry voices to delegates at a national forum in Calgary on doing business with Hong Kong, hosted by the Hong Kong Canada Business Association. 

They argued the window of opportunity to sell to China won’t always be open largely due to competition and the chance the world’s second largest economy may cease growing at its current staggering pace – reducing the money its investors can spend.