A Gentle Disagreement on Turkmen gas

Were we living a couple or three thousand years ago or so, perhaps now might have been the time to go purchase an animal and then get some learned scientist of the time to peer at its entrails. The thought struck me, after reading a comment by Jerome a Paris following my recent post on natural gas supplies, and how Turkmenistan might start favoring gas shipments east rather than west . His credentials in this are much better than mine. However, as you will see, I am not totally convinced.

Jerome pointed out that, with 25% or so of the world's natural gas under it's control, Gazprom is now pretty much calling the shots, and that a lot of the stories hitting the news should be read with that understanding in mind. That if they don't want a pipeline to be built, then it won't be.

He pointed to a 2002 piece that contained the following
In that context, it is very likely that Gazprom itself has invented the tale that it does not have enough money to maintain gas production : this is a strong argument to deliver less gas inside Russia and pay less taxes. Anectodal evidence suggests that Gazprom voluntarily limits its production and could produce more if it wanted - and if it found markets to sell it profitably to. (This shows that Gazprom does not behave only as a old-style Soviet dinosaur and does take into account the profitability of its production if there are incentives, however distorted, to do so...).
Although I preferred:
This control by Gazprom's management over Gazprom's hard currency receipts has been used, for the most part, rationally, in the sense that any misappropriation was done after the vital task of producing and transporting the gas was fulfilled (i.e. after a reasonable level of legitimate expenses were incurred).

I thought about this, and the point that Gazprom has enough gas that talk of shortages are just PR, as I noted that there appears to be no urgency about getting the Shtokman field on line, and that the Kovykta gas field will not now start production until 2015.

Russian natural gas monopoly OAO Gazprom's (GSPBEX.RS) Deputy Chief Executive Alexander Ananenkov said Friday large scale production at East Siberia's massive Kovykta gas field won't begin until 2015.
 The field is quoted as currently being able to generate about 35 bcf/year,  which, along with future growth, is slated for China and Korea. This is not good news for China

In 1996 the PRC's gas-producing capacities exceeded 20 billion m3 and continued to grow steadily. In 2005 they reached the level of 50 billion m3. According to the PRC Department of Statistics, the proportion of the country's consumption of natural gas and crude oil is 0.24:1. However, the need of the industry and the population in gas continues to grow. At present, Russian and Chinese experts are studying the alternative ways of bringing natural gas from Russia to China. This concerns the Kovytkin gas project in the first place.

This project envisages the construction of a 5,000-km export gas pipeline from the Kovytkin condensed gas field (in the Irkutsk region) to China. Currently, the reserves of the field are estimated at 2,130 billion m3. The project also envisages annual deliveries of at least 20 billion m3 of natural gas over a period of 30 years, with 10 billion m3 going to the PRC and the rest - to the Republic of Korea and to Japan.

And this sort of strengthens my case that despite Gazprom's power, China has a strong interest in Turkmenistan.  And in regard to the Turkmenistan pipeline, folks are still interested in investing

According to a press release issued on Friday, he said that the government was actively pursuing trans-border gas pipeline projects of Iran, Turkmenistan and Qatar as well as the import of LNG fuel.
However the machinations of Gazprom, in regard to the access of Turkmen gas to the west continue.  A pipeline known as the Blue Stream has been built between Russia and Turkey, and is currently carrying less gas, due to lower demand, than it was designed for.  As a result it will likely be extended to Italy (where, you may remember, there were shortages earlier this year).
If the agreements are successfully implemented, Gazprom will be able to supply Russian gas directly to Italy, as well as to Spain, Greece and even Israel, while Turkey will acquire the importance of a transit center in the system of energy resources flow in Eurasia.

The Blue Stream has actually reduced to naught the plans for building the Transcaspian pipeline and organizing the export of Turkmenian gas by passing Russia. As a result, in the first place, Russia has got protected itself from a strong competitor on the European market and, in the second, it acquired the opportunity to buy large amounts of Turkmenian gas at an acceptable price. Already in effect is a contract signed by Gazexport and Turkmenneftegaz under which the deliveries of gas from Turkmenistan to Russia are to reach 70-80 billion m3 a year.

And as Jerome pointed out the pipeline also allowed Gazprom to circumvent Ukraine in supplying gas to its Southern regions.

The point, I believe, wherein he and I differ, relates to the influence of the Chinese.  Since, as I noted earlier, they are already in Turkmenistan, and do have a need for the gas, they are motivated toward the pipeline.  And as you may have noticed from this post and the last, it would appear that the Turkmen have yet to get a decent deal from Gazprom, which would motivate them also to find a better, and more lucrative customer.  So I think, in this case, I will stick with my original prediction that the pipeline to China will go forward.

In regard to the Indian one, all one can note at this time, is that China has been winning most of the competitions against India that they have entered into recently.  And given that India also now increasingly needs foreign supplies of gas, perhaps the time for that pipeline is approaching, despite Jerome's fairly strong arguments against it.

Unfortunately this still brings up to conclusion that this does not bode so well for Western Europe, although the presence of the Blue Stream, and its possible extension, may help Italy, and the new Baltic pipeline might, in time help the UK.

And just to keep you posted on what is happening with the Barnett shale developments, the dry weather had caused a ban on welding that has now been lifted.

The counties adopted the welding bans and other fire-control measures in response to a regional drought and lifted them after recent rains. The bans delayed pipeline construction.

 Devon said it had 24 wells awaiting pipeline completion on Mar. 31, 2006. The company said the bans reduced its first quarter 2006 Barnett shale production by an estimated 3 bcf.

Monthly Global Oil Production Jan 2006

This chart is a recreation of the one that Stuart Staniford updates every month on The Oil Drum to track the occurrence of a peak or plateau in oil production. There is one major difference. I have included the data back to 1995, doubling the time frame covered. The production numbers are the revised numbers released by the EIA every month. I have also adopted a more horizontal layout, while Stuart's is compressed into a vertically-oriented shape. I am using a 13-month moving, centered average trendline.

I hope everybody will forgive my use of a new thread to post it.

That is a good chart.
You can see the rise and fall of production very easily.
I think taking it back even further, would give us even more information about future oil events.
And whether the rise and fall is caused more by demand, supply or a combo.
I.E. did the drop in oil production (supply) partly cause the tech bubble to burst, or was demand lowered because of a "peaking" (demand) of the world-wide economy in 1999?

 Interesting. So we have had two prior "false peaks." What occured in 1999 and 2002?
The first one is the Asian currency crisis, and the second is the tech crash.  Prices were not particularly high in either case (according to BP on an annual basis, WTI was $20 in 1997 and $14 in 1998.  In 2000 it reached $30).  It seems clear to me that both events are demand-side related.
Weird, we both look at it and come to 2 completly different conclusions at the same time!

One says supply and one says demand.

I'm no expert so I must assume you are correct.

Well, that's handy.  Calculated Risk  (posting at Angry Bear) has a nice summary of Fed transcripts from May 2000, right as things were about to go South.  Here's US GDP changes:

You can see that GDP slows down really a lot in late 2000, whereas the oil production in OilCEO's graph above doesn't slow down until the end of 2000.  So GDP changes preceded oil production changes.  However, in the current case, oil production growth started to slow down in late 2004, and GDP growth was good until Q4 2005.

Hence it appears that the causality is reversed in the two cases.

We'd have to look at Asian data to see the 1998 events, but I don't have it to hand (nor time to hunt now).

Stuart, I'v been futzing around with price all night trying to somehow add it to this graph. Unsatified at my attempts to somehow relate the two in a chart that shows promise for a correlation. Any thoughts?
In Excel, under the Chart Menu, choose "Chart Type".  Select the "Custom Types" tab, and then choose "Lines on 2 Axes".  

Also, if you've already got a chart you can add another series on a second axis somewhere under the Data menu but I forget where.

Thanks. Excel isn't the problem I'm having, it's conceptualizing the relationship between price and production.  They move percentage-wise in magnitudes that are incompatible, so you have to dampen the price magnitude by several factors.

I've tried indexing them to a "100" number but then how do you choose what month corresponds to "100" for both except for arbitrarily?

Maybe I'll post some of my best aborted attempts later so you can see what I mean.

Maybe there isn't anything relevent we can draw from the two? Maybe there is, I just can't get a graph to show it.

That's why you want two axis - it lets you have both variables on difference scales on the same graph.
Yeah, you're right, I'm gonna try that next.
Oil prices took a nose-dive from the previous year or 2.

From the $20+ range in 97, it lowered until bottoming out at near $9 in Feb of 1999.

In Early 2002 it bottomed out at $16 and was much higher years previous.

I think there was an overshoot by oil companies, at least in these 2 cycles, in which they brought to much oil to market.  And prices fell, so they lowered the amount produced to bring them back up.
This time looks different.

Re: "False Peaks"

We have seen this is in many places, such as Texas.  The production declines that count are the ones at or past 50% of Qt.  

Question:  what do these regions/countries have in common:

Texas; Lower 48; Total US; Russia; North Sea.

Answer:  Oil production from these regions has never exceeded the peak they saw in the vicinity of 50% of Qt.

The world, from conventional sources, is at 50% of Qt.

That is why I think it makes sense for Stuart to look at the detailed production numbers.  These small production declines--and small declines in imports (IMO)--are small pebbles falling down the mountain just ahead of a massive landslide.

Re:  Hubbert Linearizaton (HL)

The HL method allows us to estimate the area under the curve on a production versus time graph, which is total estimated recoverable reserves, or what Deffeyes calls Qt.   The assumption is that production peaks at about 50% of Qt, and historical records support this.  

IMO, for HL to really work we need a region with about two mbpd of production for about 20 years.

Unless one produces a field at a high enough rate to damage it, the production rate, within limits, tends not to have a major effect on cumulative production.  Therefore, a region, using a gross simplification, can be compared to a bottle full of water.  You can pour it out a a minimal rate all the way up to the maximum rate.  But the rate that you pour it out has no effect on the volume of water in the bottle.

The two largest discrete regions which have rolled over and gone downhill in the vicinity of 50% of Qt are the Lower 48 and Russia.  Russia had wildly inconsistent production data after the fall of the Soviet Union (in 1989), so Khebab and I just used Lower 48 production data through 1970 and Russian production data through 1984, to predict future production using HL

Using only production data through about 50% of Qt, the HL method was 99% accurate in predicting cumulative Lower 48 production through 2004 and the HL method was 95% accurate in predicting cumulative Russian production through 2004.  In other words, the water was poured out of the bottles at different rates, but the rates had no effect on the volume of water.

First, this suggests that Deffeyes' prediction that we have used 50% of total conventional oil reserves should be given a lot of credibility.

Second, this suggests that Russian oil production, and therefore its exports, and in fact the exports from the top four oil exporters, are going to be falling rapidly.  Thus, my focus on US imports year over year.  

Have we seen very sharp production declines?  Yes,.   Consider Cantarell (the second largest producing oil field in the world), where the remaining oil column is about 850', and it is falling at the rate of about 300' per year.

So given these numbers and thoughts.  Where and when do we see a World shortfall of production?  

If the USA does something with Iran whatever it is in the next year or at most 2 years, at least before the 2008 Presidental Elections.  Where will oil production worldwide go?  Down due to conflict, and stay down for years, and never recover. or what?


I hate being an information junkie with the DOD on my back.  Federal Law is a nasty bedfellow. Growl.

IMHO if Pakistan loses its current leader, They won't own the nukes anymore.  

"Where and when do we see a World shortfall of production?"

I think that we will see a drop off in oil exports before we see a large overall decline in world oil production.

I think that are seeing a drop off in net oil exports right now. I know that the data are noisy, but what is worrisome is the trend.  The drop off in oil imports into the US is widening as time goes forward.  

Ponder the impact on US imports of just the crashing production from Cantarell.  To predict that we will see increasing production and increasing imports is to predict what historically has never happened, based on the HL model.

I expect to see $100 oil this year.  The trillion dollar question is what happens to demand.  

Longer term, I think that Simmons is right, i.e., that we will see sustained prices of $200 or more (in 2005 dollars) in 2010.

Another insight from the chart.  The easiest (if, perhaps, not the best) way to flatten oil demand is to have a recession and/or financial panic.

So the "hidden hand" may constrain oil consumption to what is roughly available, absent any human intervention to reduce demand by other means (whilst keeping our various world economies in decent shape).

A financial panic or recession will indeed shift the whole demand curve for energy products down and to the left, but the problem is that this decrease would be only temporary.

IMO there would be enormous increases in deficit spending and monetization of the U.S. national debt to support such aggressive fiscal policy in case there were to be a severe recession that threatens to turn into a depression.

On the other hand, a mild and prolonged stagflation similar to that of the nineteen seventies and early eighties is another possibilty--and one that would give us perhaps enough breathing space to make a relatively smooth transition to a world of permantently high oil prices, i.e. prices in the range of $150 to $300 per barrel in 2006 dollars.

Your arguments in favor of street cars and electrification of railroads are so strong and so cogent that I think it is only a matter of time before people with big economic and political power read the handwriting on the wall and take appropriate actions. Indeed, high unemployment could turn out to be a well-disguised blessing if it were to provide the impetus for massive public works projects to diminish our dependance on cars and trucks. Also, the impending bankruptcy of GM and the financial weakness of Ford greatly diminish the political power of these huge corporations to use the political process to block changes that would reduce demand for their products.

What should we do with tens of thousands of unemployed auto workers? Put them to work laying track and making street cars.

"Your arguments in favor of street cars and electrification of railroads are so strong and so cogent that I think it is only a matter of time before people with big economic and political power read the handwriting on the wall and take appropriate actions."


I agree with you 100%, and I am spreading Alan's writings as widely as I can.  We are kicking around the idea of a Fall conference focused on the issue.  

I would have preferred to act proactively, and provided non-oil transportation alternatives before post-Peak Oil.

However, even if RR is right, we are likely to see a 1 million b/day drop (annual average) before anything significant can be built (that is, before 2011).

A policy change after the November 2006 election could start the process.  A significant amount can be completed and operating between 2011 and 2016 (still more later), but relatively little beyond works already in progress can be completed by 2010 without wholesale changes in design & building patterns*.

IMVHO, the problem is not so much Peak Oil, but post-Peak Oil.  A moderate recession can stall consumption at current levels and close to current prices.  Reducing demand to meet available supplies is where the "agony meets the road" :-(

* I could sketch out a variety of ways to speed things up AND lower costs.  Less than 24 months from ground breaking to operation and with lower costs.  Planning & design can be standardized, waivers for certain federal requirements (Endangered Species Act, Art in Transit, urban archeology , near absolute prohibition against routing rail through parks** top my list) and so forth.

In the 1930s, the Presidents of various streetcar lines jointly designed a standard streetcar, known as the PCC.  The most successful streetcar in history, out of production just recently in the Czech Republic & Russia.  The trucks of our new Canal New Orleans streetcars (in service in 2004) were "improved PCC" design although the bodies were improved Perley Thomas.

In a crash program, standardization might not be optimal, but it may be required for speed.

** One route option in New Orleans was blocked because it crossed a 6 or 8 foot wide "park" on the edge of St. John's Bayou.  One cannot move a monument to one side on a neutral ground, etc.

I think we need a new political party to implement what will be needed to make the transition past Peak Oil. IMO both Republican and Democrat leaders are as Gulliver was when tied down by Lilliputions--vested interest groups have so many ties binding the existing politicians to the status quo, and the money chase for campaign contributions is so intense that it is almost certain that neither party can go beyond incremental change.

I hereby nominate you as leader of the new Freedom America party and withdraw my opposition to spending $20 billion dollars (or possibly much more) to save New Orleans from Cat 5 hurricanes and global warming. BTW, as a public works project, saving New Orleans makes more sense than building pyramids. One of the main points that I admire about you, Alan, is that you do not let excessive rationality displace passion, and without passionate commitment we get nowhere.

Now, write that platform. First convention in N.O., right?

I have learned that ego gratification and publicity are the legitimate "coins of the realm" in politics (special interest $ are the illegitimate coins).  I prefer to spend these coins on others to push forward worthwhile goals.

The minority Green Party has never been the majority party or even the largest party in any EU gov't, but they have influenced policy none-the-less.

I wrote the following ROUGH DRAFT in an hour, more to follow.

Policy Goals

The Freedom (Common Sense, Sustainability) Party supports pro-actively taking common sense actions in ways that sustain a decent level of economic activity and quality of life for Americans.

Any railroad that electrifies its track shall not pay any property taxes on that track and related infrastructure.  The US Congress will act under its authority deriving from the Interstate Commerce Clause of the US Constitution.  Any local taxing authority that loses more than 2 % of it's property tax revenue shall have the excess above 2% compensated by the US Gov't.  Said compensation to be reduced annually to zero over 25 years.

The various states will be authorized to create Electrification Authorities that can issue tax free Municipal Bonds to help pay, via pass through loans or otherwise, for any railroad improvements.  The US Gov't will guarantee 90% of the principal but no interest on said municipal bonds.

This support of Railroad Electrification will equalize past support for trucking via the Interstate highways et al.

All gasoline and diesel fuel, over the road and otherwise, will be taxed with a new Conservation tax.  Said tax will start 6 months after enactment and will increase by 1.5 cents/gallon each month for a minimum of 20 years, with quarterly inflation adjustments to the existing tax and the 1.5¢ monthly increase.  These modest tax increases will allow time for people to adjust and plan for the future.  Unfortunately, world oil price increases may dwarf these revenue steps.  Corn based ethanol will be taxed at 60% of the rate for other fuels.

Farmers will be entitled to a refund of 85% of these taxes paid.

All fuel taxes not used to support sustainability will be rebated to the people via Social Security and Medicare.  85% of the prior fiscal years tax collections (net of Sustainability expenditures) will be rebated via lower employee tax rates the following calender year.  The other 15% will be used to support the fiscal soundness of Social Security and Medicare via investments in US equities.  The trustees will be advised to preferentially and responsibly invest in sustainable industries such as wind farms, railroads, biotech and so forth.

This 15% will provide a sound support for the fiscal soundness of Social Security & Medicare as well a source of capital for growing industries.

There will be no more federal funding of highways except for case by case review of car pool lanes and bus rapid transit.

All Urban Rail projects that pass minimum viability standards shall get 90% federal funding.  Those that fail these standards will get 75% federal funding.

Congress shall ask the American Society of Civil Engineers for suggestions on streamlining and speeding the design and construction of Urban Rail and trolley buses.  They will also ask the FRA to set standards, in consultation with the affected railroads, for electrification of North American railroads.  Both reports are requested within 6 months, but sooner if possible.

In addition, the Switzerland Confederation will be respectfully requested to provide technical assistance

Local transit authorities will get 70% federal funding to buy new diesel or other fossil fuel buses and 90% funding for electric trolley buses and their associated infrastructure.  They will get a 97% rebate on fuel taxes paid.  They will also get a federal subsidy of 3¢ per passenger-mile carried in addition to existing support.

Federally controlled mortgage agencies will establish a sustainability premium to offset risks associated with Peak Oil.  This premium with increase by 1/16 of 1% per year.  Those areas judged most sustainable will not be assessed this premium, and graduations in these premiums will increase to the maximum.


Now find somebody to carry the banner.

Everything you recommend is logical, moderate, based on proven technology and virtually certain to work as advertised.

How could any honest and intelligent politician oppose any part of this platform? (Alas, the answer is that the lobbyist/lawyer/fat-cat/special-interest groups would force most sitting legislators to water-down your program to useless thin gruel. THAT is why we need a new party.)

Excellent chart.
Still there is a difference between first two peaks/plateau and the last one.
You need to plot two other charts on the same page - price of oil and excess capacity.
You will see that previous peaks happened with low price and probably increase of excess capacity.
The last plateau is different - the prices are high and there is almost no reserve capacity. So I think the reason for the plateau is different.

Folks, we may have another problem soon, and I will simply throw it on the table to bridge two ongoing discussions together.

If we see an invasion or attack on Iran by the U.S. as in the cards, we better work on some contigentcy plans concerning natural gas.

In case no one has noticed, the two largest reserves behind Russia are Iran, and a 100 mile skip across the Persian Gulf, Qatar, both of which could soon become a war zone.

If China and India do not have gas on the way from Gasprom in Russia, we have to assume they will ratchet pressure up for the a pipeline to Iran.  The situation for the big LNG importers, Korea and Japan, must be very worrisome.

On another related front, the U.S. has poured money into Qatar for natural gas production, LNG facilities, and even GTL (Gas to Liquids) plants, and we don't even want to think about a Silkworm or Cruise type missile attack on that investment, given how close to the line we are already running on investment money and equipment for energy production....but with Central Command right there, it would make a juicy target and would be expected to be in the line of fire.

This is a very involved chess game, and we know how far out on the edge we are getting.  The problem is, so does our adversary.

A cautionary tale from an Australian reporter on the reliability of politicians. We all know it but it spells it out. Whatever their publicly stated reason it's something else!
Thanks for front paging my comments. I'd like to point out that there are several arguments intertwined relative to Turkmen gas:

  • one is its use by Gazprom to pretend that it cannot produce enough gas anymore and needs to buy Turkmen gas to fulfill all its obligations. This is more a gut feeling than anything on my part, but I am convinced it is a stunt by Gazprom management in their negotiations with the Kremlin to lobby for lower taxes and higher domestic prices;

  • one is its use in the Russia-Ukraine gas disputes. Turkmen gas is brought forward to pretend that it's not Gazprom gas being shipped to Ukraine, thus that "Turkmen" gas can be cut off by the shipper if the Ukrainians do not pay without the Ukrainians retaliating against Gazprom transit gas to Europe (Gazprom not being involved in that comemrcial dispute). Of course, as all the pipes come from Russia, all deliveries are fully controlled by people within Gazprom, and this is just a way to get the Ukrainians to pay up - and an easy way for the money not to get back to Gazprom, but to shady "trading companies"

  • one is the debate on alternate pipelines. As I pointed in a late comment in the previous thread, it will not be economic to build any new pipeline from Turkmenistan for so long as the Russians can undercut it by buying the gas from Turkmenistan at a slightly better price than the alternative offers - and as any alternative has to pay for the gas PLUS for the cost of the pipeline, and the Russians only have to pay for the gas, they can easily do that.

If you have followed the BTC saga, you know how incredibly complex a crossborder pipeline is. It took BP 10 years of non stop negotiations, international diplomacy and several hundred million dollars of costs (legal bills alone reached close to $100 million) to get that pipeline done. And BP is wealthy, has the know-how, had massive support form the US (including financial, via USEXIM loans), and had a ready market for the oil (@Mediterranean spot price). 10 years - and the countries included a strong ally of the West, with strong geopolitical motivations of its own).

Now imagine Turkmenistan, and the countries that need to be crossed from it, and imagine the markets it can reach : will you bet $3 billion on a Pakistani promise to buy yout gas for the next 10-15 years (because that's what you need to pay off the initial investment)? Or will you bet $6 billion on a Kazakh promise not to interrupt the gas flow to China (which is further off). Or will you bet any sum on the Turkmens agreeing to deliver gas to you at, say $150/tcm for the next 20 years - starting in 3 years time, when the Russians offer them $180/tcl - starting TODAY?

Not even India or China will bet that kind of money on such uncertain bets.
That's my job - to assess whether big oil&gas projects are financeable, and I am telling you that NOBODY will ever finance such a pipeline for so long as the pipeline to Russia is not full, and it's far from being full.

No pipeline from Turkmenistan will be built for a long time, quite simply.

It iseems to be a common belief that the Russians have a lot of gas and oil and the problem is only government ownership, lack of investments and the absence of foreign oil companies. In fact the oil production growth in Russia has stalled, coal is badly depleted and the Russian economy needs a lot of energy to reach its growth goals. Gas is is the main energy source here.

The Russians say that they are not going to increase their gas export significantly in the future. We have a reason to believe them.

The Chinese really need more gas. The share of gas in their energy mix is very low and natural gas is very important for their energy strategy. They have the money and will to build pipelines to Central Asia and beyond to the Persian Gulf. And they won't wait 10 years for that. Central Asia is not Turkey...

oil has been in decline since the mid-80s. Gas is totally different. Russia's reserves are truly staggering, and they are still plentiful and will be for a while. The main constraint for them is infrastructure, and thankfully it mostly exists.

I really don't buy any structural decline of gas production in Russia - whereas I fully believe the decline on the oil side.

Jerome, you are saying that there is plenty of Russian gas at present.  And, supposedly the Persian Gulf has vast gas fields that they are only recently beginning to export, for lack of easy markets.

But the American continent seems to have real gas depletion problems.  Can Russian/Turkmen/Middle East gas solve the USA's gas depletion problems?  Clearly the gas will have to arrive by tanker, which is far more expensive than pipline delivery.

As I've written previously, gas is an infrastructure business, and the transport bit is fundamentally more important than on the oil side. This means that, aside from a little bit of arbitrage on some destinations via LNG (mostly on the Atlantic market for now), you have essentially 3 separate markets:

  • the North American market, which is almost purely pipeline driven (with Canada), and is slowly moving to increase LNG imports;

  • the Asian market, which is mostly LNG driven;

  • the European market, which is a mix of pipelines (a majority of them coming from Russia) and LNG imports.

The thing to remember is that a typical LNG "chain" costs upwards of $10 billion, all considered, for 15 bcm/y, and is cheaper than pipeline gas only for distances of less than 3-4,000 km (2,000 miles), give or take. With insufficient domestic gas, LNG prices (for distances upwards of 5,000 miles like Egypt, Nigeria or Qatar) are effectively going to put a floor on North American prices in the future, but will have less of an impact on European ones, which are still driven by the oil-indexed long term contracts with Russia, Norway and Algeria.

In terms of available volumes, I am much more worried about the US than about Europe, and LNG is unlikely to be providing sufficient volumes for a number of years, at times when depletion rates appear to be worrisome (but you guys know probably more about that bit than me).

It is worth noting, regarding LNG transportation, (which is MUCH more expensive than oil transportation) that the US is not the closest market for any producer except the small source of Trinidad & Tobago.  Even if we pay the same price FOB for LNG in Qatar or Nigeria, our landed price will be higher.

LNG as it warms up and boils off in transit, is feed into the ship engines.  Fine & good, less low grade bunker fuel oil needed.  I have heard claims that for long voyages, the rate of boil off exceeds engine requirements.  If true (I have my doubts), this raises the cost per landed unit even more.

In addition, the LNG market has gone from a buyer's market to a seller's market.  Japan et al have a large number of long term LNG contracts at lower prices, the US does not.

Bottom line, the US will pay more for LNG than anyone else.

And (via The Energy Bulletin ) there is this from the The Khaleej Times in the UAE. They also note that this is a "Great Game" and
It has been a generation since Big Oil discovered the epic gushers, the massive elephant fields that obsess my trike of energy dealmakers -- Burgan, Ghawar, Maracaibo Basin, Umm Zakum, Gulf of Compeche, Alaska's North Slope.  But the world's greatest gas fields still remain undiscovered. Western Siberia boasts more than one third of world's global gas reserves and Grazprom, the Kremlin's trillion dollar cash cow, alone supplies a fourth of Europe's gas with the epic fields that dwarf even Qatar's Ras Laffan. In a cosmic geological joke on human civilization, in fact that the world's gas constellations are as concentrated in remote, unstable places as crude oil. This mean that the time scale for gas pipelines and LNG tankers is calculated in decades and tens of billions of dollars. Hence, the consortia and joint ventures that have emerged everywhere from Kazakhstan Siberia to Dolphin to South Pars in Iran.
In a cosmic geological joke on human civilization, in fact that the world's gas constellations are as concentrated in remote, unstable places as crude oil.

Interesting assertion. If someone makes a map of the original oil and gas in place it would become obvious that the mother nature was not too unfair. US for example had much vaster oil and NG reserves than Saudi Arabia. Obviously the more developed countries were first to drain down their own reserves - thus it is hardly a surprise that what is left is in distant and hard to access places.

No, because when the US was much the largest producer, much less was produced than during the Saudi era.
Saudi Arabia had a big advantage in original oil in place, though just how big depends not least on how much they really still have ...

gives (for 1995) commulative production + remaining reserves:
For Saudi Arabia: 71.5 + 261.2 = 332.7 GB
For USA:          165.8 + 50.7 = 215.5 GB
For Russia:       92.6 + 100.0 = 192.6 GB

This accepting the questionable 261.2 GB Saudi Arabia reserves figure. If you ask me these three countries had roughly equal oil reserves originally, they just differ in their oil production history.

I could not find the similar figures for natural gas.   

If you believe the HL model--and I do--Saudi Arabia's (total) recoverable reserves are 180 Gb, versus about 230 Gb for the US.
That's because you aren't accounting for externalities that a company doesn't get paid for and a country does. So the Chinese can just build the pipeline and give it to Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan for free, as a bribe to curry favor. Or just across Kazahkstan, again for free, as another bribe.
A company has to pay back a bond from one revenue source, and a country can pay back a bond from another. Think how much money that China can save on a navy if the gas is sold at a lower price because of a pipeline and they don't have to pay for Persian Gulf LNG protection.
That, incidentally, is why some people want to build a pipeline from the Mackenzie delta to the US, because then we don't have to defend the Qatari LNG facilities.
I agree that this would be a potential solution, but somehow these things don't happen.

Do you want to be the bureaucrat that blew $3 billion on a pipeline without even a commitment to have gas delivered to you in return?

The fact is, no country blows $3 billion on such an uncertain outcome.

(Plus, the price tag for China is not $3 billion like for Pakistan, but a lot more, and you need to find an agreement with Kazakhstan anyway, and that requires the whole rigmarole of commitments, international treaties, negotiations, etc...)

Not gonna happen.

Um, you do understand that ONE carrier costs three billion dollars all by itself, not counting the cruiser escort, port facilities, or even the air arm? Do you have any idea what it costs to run a carrier group?
Three billion dollars is chicken feed. It's not even close. Build the pipeline, glue on a big green bow tie, and wish them happy Eid El Fitra.
This is not a joke.
Jerome and HeadingOut, thanks for a nice discussion on Turkmen natural gas.

While talking about alternative pipelines, what do you think about the Nabucco pipeline that is supposed to link Austria to Turkey in a few years (up to 30bcm/year, maybe finished by 2011). This would seem to open a whole new market to Turkmenistan if they can link to Turkey with a relatively shorter pipeline. What do you think?

For what its worth, HO, I agree with you and not Jerome, as I said here and here on your last thread about this subject.

These pipelines will be built. The economic drivers in place are very strong and the necessity of breaking the Gazprom monopoly is obvious to all the players.

I'm happy to take any bet you'll want to put up.
Define the pipeline and the timeframe, and I'll bet that they won't be built in that time.
I'm not a betting man, Jerome. Perhaps I should have said will likely be built. I think you underestimate increasing Chinese and Indian demand in Asia. Time frames will depend on the degree of desperation due to supply shortfalls and increasing demand in both countries (and also Pakistan). Every Asian country would like to see a Pakistani LNG export facility that makes Turkmen gas available on the world market. LNG is obviously the longer term trend. The Chinese are able and willing to pay for both the pipelines and the gas. Their attempt to buy Unocal is a case in point. I'm less confident about India, but they do have a compelling need for the natural gas.

It is also true that geopolitical events could intervene and sour these planned pipelines. I'm not Nostradamus. I appreciate your posts on these subjects and consider them carefully.

best, Dave

I would bet on the one thru kazakhstan to china. These two countries are getting along well because of common anti terror concerns along their common border, china is already building a pipeline for kazahk oil, the building effort provides jobs to kazakhs, china has the cash, need, and, as noted, desire to diversify energy sources, already driving them to deals much farther away than turkmenistan. BOth countries are authoritarian, no need for agreement by diverse groups/regions. Meanwhile, cheap price vs russian gas will easily pay for the pipeline. I bet an agreement is signed by the three countries, or some other combination that accommodates a line from turkmenistan to china, by end 2010. How about $100, even money?

I would not bet on anything to India. In addition to geographic difficulties, they will always be waiting for a better deal and/or lower prices.

You mean this one .
Chinese President Hu Jintao signed agreements Monday with the visiting president of Turkmenistan for the Central Asian nation to sell China natural gas to fuel its energy-hungry economy and to build a pipeline to deliver it.
(It was down at the bottom of the earlier post).
The main determinative factor in this situation is that those Central Asian countries are landlocked. To get access to the world market they need to ally themselves with some of their neighbours. So, to build or not to build will depend on the answer to the question with whom they choose to ally themselves.
Though I'm Russian and therefore preconceived, I bet they will choose Russia, not China. Kazakh president together with Putin are the main driving force of a new political and economic alliance on the post-Soviet soil. Uzbeks, Tajiks and Kyrgyz's stand in a queue. And one of the principal conditions to enter the alliance is NEVER NEVER NEVER to bypass Russia. For Turkmenistan the only way to bypass Russia is to build the pipeline completely beyond the pale of post-Soviet states i.e. through Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India.
It's not Russia <or> China, it's Russia <and> China. Provider and customer, it's a marriage made in heaven.
The alternative, as you say, is the US/India. That's a less attractive alternative.
Modest suggestion to TOD webmasters:

I think TOD overall is doing an excellent job, but I was thinking about DuncanK in NZ, and other overseas TODers, who have to pay by the download.  Perhaps if you tweaked the software to automatically create an 'OPEN DISCUSSION' at midnight every day, many posts could go there.  Then, the excellent technical threads [like this one], specifically created by the webmasters, could retain the more quantitative posts; a more tightly focused discussion; so that it reduces overseas download costs and extraneous posts that tend to wander into other topics. I think the other TODers would quickly adapt to this new webcultural norm.

Of course, you guys may have an even better idea.

Bob Shaw in Phx,AZ  Are Humans Smarter than Yeast?

Bob, the problem with 'bloat' on this site is not fixable with any changes that SuperG could make to the site.  The problem is the small subset of people who post comments that:
  1. Are completely off-topic in anything other than an "open thread"
  2. Offer nothing more than "we are all f*cked" (paraphrasing), or worse, snide comments like "two hundred angels on the head of a pin"
  3. Contain huge cut and paste sections from an article that is already linked to in the comment
  4. Use the TOD Comments as a place to float large quantities of 'brain fart' ideas that should really belong in their own blogs.

Where this site excels is as a central place to bring up oil-related news and issues (Leanan is great at ferretting out some amazing articles), and have them discussed rationally and intelligently.

Unfortunately, the pundit to expert ratio has risen sharply in the last couple of months and this has added to the 'noise' level considerably.

Where have 'Jack' and 'Engineer Poet' gone?  They were really good at keeping the BS levels down by insisting that posters at least offered some evidence of the opinions they espoused.

Is it really that expensive when a few people posts some texts?  Images and graphs, I can see.