Pakistan LNG Import Project Consortium Folds -Hoegh LNG
A consortium behind a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import project in Pakistan, including oil giant Exxon Mobil, France's Total and Qatar Petroleum, has been dissolved, shipping company Hoegh LNG said on Thursday. Hoegh LNG was due to supply the project's ship-based import terminal, a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), where LNG brought in by tanker is converted back to gas to feed into Pakistan's grid. The other six members of the consortium were Japan's Mitsubishi and Turkish developer Global Energy Infrastructure (GEI). "The consortium has spent considerable time and resources on finding [the project's] final form and structure.
Gorgon LNG Export Plant Shuts Third Unit for Maintenance
Chevron's Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in Australia shut down its third production unit on Wednesday for a planned maintenance lasting up to Dec. 25, trade sources said. Chevron declined to comment on operational matters. Several traders said the plant would resume output on Dec. 25 but some sources said the maintenance period could vary, with a potential return after one week. Work seeks to help address what is expected to be a long-term issue related to the plant's heat-exchangers, limiting the project's productive capacity. (Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic, editing by David Evans)
Qatari Energy Minister Sees LNG Oversupply
Qatar's energy minister, Mohammed al-Sada, said on Wednesday he expects oversupply of liquefied natural gas in the coming years due to increased production, but the market should tighten after 2025. Al-Sada, speaking at the Gas Exporting Countries Forum in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, said the country, the world's largest exporter of LNG, is working to increase gas production and LNG exports. Reporting By Marianna Parraga
India's LNG Play Risks Eventual Shortages
India is planning to join the Asian rush to boost the use of natural gas over coal, a further sign that the liquefied natural gas (LNG) market will tighten faster than previously expected. India's state oil refiners Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum aim to raise the contribution of natural gas to between 5 percent and 15 percent of their incomes over the coming years, up from virtually zero currently. This is part of the government's target to boost the natural gas portion of India's primary energy mix to 15 percent by 2030, up from 6.5 percent now.
Ancala Acquires Apache's North Sea Gasline Assets
Independent UK-based infrastructure investment fund Ancala Partners has finalised its acquisition of Apache Corp's interests in two North Sea gas pipeline assets for an undisclosed sum, it said on Monday. Through its North Sea-focused mid-stream oil and gas acquisitions platform, Ancala took Apache's 30.28 percent stake in the Scottish Area Gas Evacuation (SAGE) System and its 60.58 share of the Beryl Gas Pipeline. The SAGE system comprises a 323-kilometre (200 mile) pipeline and gas processing terminal at St. Fergus near Aberdeen in Scotland, where gas from nine offshore fields is treated. (Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic
BW Group, Mitsui Form FSRU Joint Venture
A joint venture agreement between Japan’s Mitsui & Co. and Singapore’s BW Group Limited will see Mitsui purchase a 49 percent share in the floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) BW Integrity, while BW will maintain a 51 percent share. The deal is expected to close as soon following payment for the acquisition. BW Integrity is currently in Port Qasim on a 15-year charter to PGP Consortium Limited (PGPC), to provide LNG regasification services at Pakistan’s second LNG import terminal. BW will continue to provide commercial and technical management services.
LNG Over-Supply Narrative Still Valid?: Russell
Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is supposed to be a deeply over-supplied market, but it doesn't appear to be behaving as such in the major consuming region of Asia with strongly rising prices amid robust demand growth. In fact LNG currently looks much more like an under-supplied market, where spot buyers are forced to bid more for increasingly difficult to source cargoes ahead of the peak winter demand period in the northern hemisphere. It may well be the case that the current increase in the Asian spot price <LNG-AS> is the last hurrah before new supply does indeed swamp demand growth.
Deal for Floating LNG Powerplant in China
As the proliferation of LNG use spreads rapidly in the maritime and energy sectors, word from China is that Wison Offshore & Marine has signed an MoU with Shanghai Electric Power Generation Group, on a joint effrot to develop medium to large-scale floating LNG power generation barges. Wison brings a wealth of experience and integration capability in floating LNG facilities, while Shanghai Electric is a leader in core gas power equipment and EPC services for international power projects. Based on the Floating LNG Storage Regasification and Power Generation (FSRP) solution developed by Wison earlier on…
H-100 Gas Turbine Completes Low NOx Testing
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems, Ltd. (MHPS) and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Compressor Corporation (MCO) have completed testing of MHPS’s 2-shaft 120MW H-100 Gas Turbine. The H-100 utilizes the latest combustor technology and is the industry leader in terms of low NOx (single digit ppm) for full-load operations for thermal power plants as well as mechanical drive liquefied natural gas (LNG) applications, utilizing high-efficiency compressors manufactured by MCO. Following completion of testing…
Trafigura to Develop Another Pakistan LNG Import Project
Swiss commodity trader Trafigura said it plans to develop its second liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminal in Pakistan, alongside an existing project in which it has a minority stake. At a inauguration ceremony for Pakistan's second LNG import project, Pakistan GasPort Ltd (PGPL), in Port Qasim in Karachi, the trader said it would add a jetty, berth and a second floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU) to the existing facility. Trafigura expects to benefit from lower development costs by taking advantage of existing infrastructure at the site. The joint venture with PGPL will sell gas to private sector customers.
Oil Stalls as Bullish Hedge Funds Prompt Caution
Hedge funds increased their bullish position in petroleum futures and options to a new record last week, but the first signs of caution started to emerge. Fund managers raised the number of long positions in the five major futures and options contracts covering Brent, WTI, U.S. gasoline and U.S. heating oil to a record 1.31 billion barrels on Nov. 14. Minus short positions, portfolio managers held a net long position of 1.12 billion barrels in the five main contracts, which was also a new record, according to regulatory and exchange data.
Gazprom, Mitsubishi Corp. in Talks on LNG Cooperation
Gazprom said on Friday it had held talks with Japan's Mitsubishi Corp. on Friday about cooperation at the Russian gas giant's Sakhalin-2 liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant. The talks, in the Russian city of St Petersburg, were between Gazprom head Alexei Miller and Takehiko Kakiuchi, the president and CEO of Mitsubishi Corp, Gazprom said in a statement. It said the talks focussed on the planned construction of a third production train at the Sakhalin-2 LNG plant. (Reporting by Christian Lowe; editing by Alexander Smith)
Wison Signs MOU for Medium Large Floating LNG Power Solution
Wison Offshore & Marine has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) on strategic cooperation with Shanghai Electric Power Generation Group. Two parties will join their efforts in medium to large-scale floating LNG power generation barge, with regards to its product development, global marketing and technical services. Such collaboration aims to promote the commercialization of this new electrification solution while opening up a series of further cooperation in power sector between Wison and Shanghai Electric. The…
Pakistan LNG Passes on Trafigura, Gunvor Cargo Deliveries
Pakistan LNG Ltd has decided against awarding in a tender three liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes due to be delivered by trading house Trafigura and Gunvor between December and January, trade sources said. In a tender seeking four December shipments, Trafigura submitted the lowest bid for the Dec. 1-2 delivery slot, according to a bid evaluation report published by Pakistan LNG. Gunvor and B.B. Energy submitted the lowest bids to supply the remaining three cargoes for the month. In a similar tender for January shipments, Gunvor submitted the lowest bids to supply one cargo on Jan. 16-17 and another on Jan. 21-22, which will not be awarded.
U.S. Stance Complicates Total's Iran Gas Deal
French oil and gas major Total would have to review its Iran gas project if the United States decided to impose unilateral sanctions on Tehran, given the company's assets in the U.S. market, its chief executive told CNN. Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump refused to formally certify that Iran was complying with the nuclear deal, defying both allies and adversaries. He warned that he might ultimately terminate the agreement. The U.S. Congress now has about a month to decide whether to reinstate sanctions. "Either we can do the deal legally if there is a legal framework…
Port Corpus Christi to benefit from LNG partnership with China
Port Corpus Christi officials are confident that the agreement signed between Cheniere Energy of Houston and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) will bring increased traffic to the port, according to the San Antonio Business Journal. Officials from Cheniere accompanies President Trump on his tour to China and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese company. CNPC is the largest gas and oil supplier and producer in China and is also one of the largest providers of oilfied services. The company also has interests in petroleum production…
Delfin Taps China for US FLNG, but Final Investment Decision 'Challenging'
Delfin Midstream, developing the first floating facility to export U.S. natural gas, has sealed a preliminary 15-year sales deal with city gas distributor China Gas Holdings, Delfin founder and Chief Executive Officer Frederick Jones said. But industry veteran Jones told Reuters in an interview that Delfin is also tapping unnamed Chinese banks to fund its ambitious $8 billion as the current global supply overhang in liquefied natural gas (LNG), with bumper exports also expected from Australia and Qatar, makes Delfin’s target of a final investment decision (FID) in 2018 challenging.
Skangas, Titan LNG Sign MoU
Skangas of Norway and Titan LNG based in The Netherlands have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The two companies will cooperate on serving marine Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) customers. For ship operators this agreement will contribute to the overall availability as well as the optimization of LNG deliveries in the wider region. Skangas of Norway and Titan LNG based in The Netherlands have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The two companies will cooperate on serving marine Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) customers.
VT Halter Nabs Deal to Build LNG Bunkering ATB
As the move toward LNG as marine fuel moves foward in earnest, Singapore Technologies Engineering Ltd (ST Engineering) announced that its US shipyard, VT Halter Marine won the contract by Quality Liquefied Natural Gas Transport, LLC (Q-LNG) to build America’s first offshore Liquefied Natural Gas Articulated Tug and Barge (LNG ATB) unit. Q-LNG contracted VT Halter Marine for engineering services to complete the detailed design for the development and construction of one LNG Bunkering ATB unit. The ATB Tug will have 5,100 hp GE 6L250 MDC EPA Tier 4 main engines, with Z-drives, and dimensions of 128 x 42 x 21-ft..
U.S. NatGas Ticks Up as Traders Reassess Market
U.S. natural gas prices have bounced by almost 10 percent since the start of the month as traders reassess their earlier bearish view this winter amid signs sentiment had become far too gloomy. Futures prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange for gas delivered to Henry Hub in January 2018 have risen to almost $3.30 per million British thermal units from $3.00 on Nov. Prices for January, at the height of the winter heating season, now command a premium of almost 32 cents over April, up from just 16 cents at the start of the month.
Wessels Reederei Takes the Lead on LNG Conversions
The move toward LNG as fuel is gaining momentum quickly, driven not only by newbuild installations but now by companies signing on to convert existing ships to the environmentally friendly solution. Germany's Wessels Reederei -- which was the first company in the world to convert a containership to LNG fuel, signed a letter of intent with MAN Diesel & Turbo regarding the conversion of three of its fleet to dual-fuel gas operation. The three ships are sisters to the Wes Amelie, a 1,036-teu feeder container ship with an MAN 8L48/60B main engine that was retrofitted to a multi-fuel, four-stroke MAN 51/60DF unit earlier in 2017.
North West Shelf LNG Export Plant in Partial Outage
Australia's North West Shelf liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant suffered a partial outage on Friday morning after several production units were taken offline, though at least one is in the process of restarting, trade sources said. The outage has the potential to lift Asian spot LNG prices <LNG-AS> in an already tightening market. One trade source said three production units, or trains, may have been affected, but immediate confirmation was not possible. The five-train plant can produce 16.3 million tonnes of LNG a year. Operator Woodside Petroleum did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Trump Signs 43 Billion Dollar LNG Deal with China
On his visit to China, President Trump reaffirmed his commitment to form agreements that reduce the trade deficit with China by signing a deal to help the LNG industry in Alaska with three Chinese companies. The deal, which could be potentially worth $43 billion, involves Sinopec, the largest oil company in China, the sovereign wealth fund and one of China's largest bank. will work together to create 12,000 jobs in Alaska. The deal has the potential to reduce the US-China trade deficit by $10 billion a year. The agreement…
Total Buys Engie's LNG Assets for $1.5B
French oil and gas major Total said on Wednesday it has reached an agreement to buy the liquefied natural gas (LNG) assets of energy group Engie in a deal worth $1.5 billion. Total said the portfolio includes all of Engie's LNG trading and liquefaction assets, which will enable it become one of the world's top LNG players with a 10 percent market share from 6 percent currently, making it second behind rival Shell. Additional payments of up to $550 million could be payable by Total in case of an improvement in the oil markets in the coming years, it said.
As China Faces Winter Gas Crunch, LNG Prices Soar
In unusual move, LNG spot prices jump above oil-linked prices. China is hoovering up liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes worldwide, pushing spot prices for the fuel above those for oil-indexed cargoes, as energy providers scramble to avoid a looming winter supply crunch. China has moved millions of households from burning dirty coal to natural gas this year, pushing up import demand amid an already tightening overall Asian market. Most Asian LNG supplies are delivered under long-term contracts with prices linked to crude oil.
Wison, KBR Team up for FLNG Project
Wison Offshore & Marine said it has signed a memorandum with KBR, Inc. for cooperation on a 1.5 MPTA floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) liquefaction unit (FLNG) in Southeast Asia. The companies will collaborate on a mutually exclusive basis for Kumul Petroleum Holdings Limited's FLNG project in Papua New Guinea.
Greek Firm Inks Gas Deals with Iraeli Companies
Greek energy firm Energean said on Tuesday it signed three new deals to sell natural gas from the Karish and Tanin offshore fields to Israeli companies. The deals were signed with Dorad Energy Ltd and two subsidiaries of the Edeltech Group, Ashdod Energy and Ramat Negev Energy. Energean's deal with Dorad is for the supply of up to 6.75 billion cubic metres (BCM) of gas over at least 14 years, while Ashdod and Ramat Negev will get up to 2.65 billion cubic metres together. Financial details for the deals were not included. The Karish and Tanin fields, located off the coast of Israel, are expected to go online in 2020.
PetroChina's Q3 net profit leaps
China's largest oil and gas producer PetroChina reported on Monday a leap in third-quarter net profit on rebounding crude prices and deleveraging. Net profit surged to 4.69 billion yuan ($706 million), up 290 percent from a year earlier, as the company cut debt and interest expenses. Revenues rose to 481.8 billion yuan, up 17 percent from the same period last year, PetroChina said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange. The state giant's share price, however, has been hovering near the lowest since 2005, weighed down by still weak global oil prices while refining margins are under pressure from competition from independent refineries.
Speculators Cut U.S. NatGas Net Longs for 4th Week in Five
U.S. natural gas speculators cut their net long positions for the fourth out of the past five weeks on expectations supplies will be adequate this winter with storage near normal levels, output at record highs and forecasts for another warm winter. Speculators in four major New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) markets reduced bullish bets by 17,232 contracts to 225,644 in the week to Oct. 24, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Friday. Reporting by Scott DiSavino
Indian Oil Aims for LNG Import Capacity of 13.5 Mln T in 5 Years
State-owned Indian Oil Corp Ltd aims to have capacity to import about 13.5 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in five years, its head of business development said on Friday, helping India to gradually move to a gas-based economy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government wants to raise the share of natural gas in India's energy mix to 15 percent in the next few years from about 6.5 percent now. "We hope to have 13-13.5 million tonnes in a phased manner in about five years," G.K. Satish said. Indian Oil Corp (IOC)…
Exxon Mobil's Profit Jumps 50 Percent
Exxon Mobil Corp, the world's largest publicly-traded oil producer, said on Friday its quarterly profit jumped 50 percent on higher crude and natural gas prices. The company posted net income of $3.97 billion, or 93 cents per share, in the third quarter, compared to $2.65 billion, or 63 cents per share, in the year-ago period. Exxon said Hurricane Harvey, which tore through the U.S. Gulf Coast region in August, dented quarterly earnings by 4 cents per share. Production rose about 2 percent to 3.9 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. Reporting by Ernest Scheyder
Exmar in Talks to Supply FLNG Vessel for Iran Project
Belgium's Exmar is in negotiations for the use of its floating liquefied natural gas vessel Caribbean FLNG (CFLNG) for an Iranian export project, the company told Reuters on Thursday. The barge-based liquefaction facility, delivered to Exmar earlier this year, was initially destined to go to Colombia, but remains unemployed after its contract was terminated. The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) said in a statement on its website it would supply natural gas for the project, led by Norway's IFLNG, and that it expected to use the Caribbean FLNG vessel. The chairman of IFLNG, Gerhard Ludvigsen, confirmed the plans in an email to Reuters.
GTT Wins Prelude FLNG Work
France's GTT has won a contract to provide membrane cargo containment system services to Shell's Prelude floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) facility in the Browse basin off western Australia. The contract will provide support for the engineering, inspection, maintenance as well as testing of the containment system. The Prelude FLNG facility recently arrived at its location 475 km northeast of Broome where the hook-up and commissioning phase of the project is underway. Prelude FLNG has a liquefied gas storage capacity of 326,000 m3.
WER 2018 Floating Production Systems Forecast
World Energy Reports’ (WER) 2018 Forecast Report, the 21st in a series of forecasts dating from 1998, presents projection of floating production system orders over the next five years. The 102-page report provides market intelligence and insights useful to business planners and others involved in deepwater development. First we present our assessment of the underlying deepwater market conditions likely to prevail over the 2018/22 time frame. Then we provide our forecast of orders for FPSOs, FPUs, FLNGs, FSRUs and FSOs under three market scenarios.
BP’s LNG Carrier Fleet is Growing
BP said it will take delivery of six new, state-of-the-art liquefied natural gas (LNG) tankers in 2018 and 2019 to support its expanding global LNG portfolio. BP’s finance partners KMarin and ICBC Leasing are investing more than $1 billion in the tankers. The vessels will join BP’s exixting fleet to help service a 20-year liquefaction contract with the Freeport LNG facility in Texas, as well as other international LNG projects in BP’s global portfolio. “These vessels will significantly increase BP’s ability to safely transport LNG to anywhere in the world, directly supporting BP’s global natural gas strategy,” said BP Shipping CEO Susan Dio.
MET International Plans to Boost LNG Trades
Switzerland-based MET International AG plans to boost its liquefied natural gas (LNG) trades in Europe by 50 to 100 percent next year, the company's chief executive said on Tuesday. Gyorgy Vargha said that while the company had traded one cargo, or 60,000 tonnes of LNG, per month this year, this is expected to rise to between 1.5 and two cargoes per month in 2018 as MET seeks to increase its role in that segment. MET International was established in 2010 as the natural gas trading arm of parent MET Group, whose activities include gas, oil and power generation in Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, among others.
Where's the Money? Oil Traders Ask as Peak Demand Looms
Traders still see opportunities in oil trading as Mercuria bets on power markets in U.S., China. For major trading houses that ship millions of barrels of oil every day, the prospect of diminishing fuel demand and a shift to renewable power poses a brain-racking challenge with few obvious solutions. "It is a very fair question - what the hell are we going to do?" said Ian Taylor, chief executive of the world's top oil trader Vitol, which trades seven percent of the world's oil. "It's not obvious. We will still have a business, I'm sure, but it may well be a very different business," he told the Reuters Commodities Summit.
Gastrade Signs LNG Deal with State-owned DEPA
Greece's state controlled natural gas firm DEPA signed a cooperation agreement on Thursday with natural gas company Gastrade to participate in the development of a liquified natural gas terminal in northern Greece, DEPA said. Greece currently has one LNG terminal on an islet off Athens. Gastrade, part of Greek energy group Copelouzos, is planning a second LNG terminal near the northern city of Alexandroupolis. The project has been described as a 'project of common interest' by the European Union. Gastrade will hold at least 20 percent stake in the scheme, a source close to the matter said, with LNG carrier operator GasLog another 20 percent.
Petronas' Canadian Unit to Look at other LNG Opportunities
Progress Energy, a wholly-owned unit of Malaysia's Petronas, will look at other liquefied natural gas opportunities as a way to monetize its Canadian gas assets after Petronas scrapped a $29 billion LNG project this year, a company executive said on Wednesday. Petronas, the Malaysian state-owned energy company, abandoned plans to build the Pacific Northwest LNG plant in northern British Columbia in July due to weak prices, leaving Progress with 800,000 acres of land rights in the Montney shale play and 50 trillion cubic feet a day of reserves.
Yamal LNG to Ship Two LNG Cargoes in November
The Russian Yamal LNG project will ship the first two cargoes of liquefied natural gas in November, followed by another four in December, Russia's customs service said on Tuesday. The Yamal LNG project is co-owned by local Russian gas producer Novatek, as well as France's Total, China's CNPC and the Silk Road Fund. Reporting by Oksana Kobzeva
Keyera, Chevron Ink NGL Transport, Storage Deal
Canadian pipeline operator Keyera Corp said on Tuesday it signed a 20-year agreement with Chevron's Canadian unit to transport and store natural gas liquids (NGL). Under the deal, Chevron will deliver about 50 percent of its NGL from its Kaybob Duvernay operations near Fox Creek, Alberta to Keyera for storage and terminal services. Keyera said it might expand its facilities in the future, depending on the success and scale of Chevron's Duvernay program. Reporting by John Benny
Buyers Eye Sinopec's Argentina Oil Assets
Sinopec's Argentine assets worth about $750 mln-$1 bln; Sonangol, Rosneft among potential suitors. Advisers to China's Sinopec have offered its oil assets in Argentina to about a dozen potential suitors, three sources familiar with the matter said, as losses and labour headaches prompt Asia's largest refiner to pull out. The Argentine oil and gas assets, mainly in the southern province of Santa Cruz, could be worth $750 million to $1 billion, one of the sources said. That would be less than half the $2.45 billion Sinopec paid in 2010 to buy the Argentine assets from U.S.-based Occidental Petroleum Corp…
Chevron Starts LNG Output at Wheatstone Project
Chevron Corporation announced it has started producing liquefied natural gas (LNG) at the Wheatstone Project in Western Australia. The first cargo is on track to be shipped in the coming weeks. “First LNG production is a significant milestone and is a credit to our partners, contractors and the many thousands of people who collaborated to deliver this legacy asset,” said Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson. At full capacity, the Wheatstone Project’s two train LNG facility will supply 8.9 million metric tons per year of LNG for export to customers in Asia.
Speculators Cut U.S. NatGas Net Longs Again - CFTC
U.S. natural gas speculators cut their net long positions for a second week in a row on less cold winter forecasts and an increase in production to record levels. Speculators in four major New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) markets reduced their bullish bets by 28,839 contracts to 225,886 in the week to Oct. 3, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Friday. Reporting by Scott DiSavino
IEnova Ups Stake in Mexican Natural Gas Pipeline
Mexico's Infraestructura Energetica Nova (IEnova) said Friday it had acquired state oil firm Pemex's stake in the joint venture Ductos y Energeticos del Norte, increasing its participation in the second phase of a key natural gas pipeline. As a result of the transaction, IEnova's indirect stake in the project known as Ramones II North, will increase to 50 percent from 25 percent, said IEnova, a unit of U.S.-based Sempra Energy. The value of the operation is approximately $520 million, the company said. Reporting by Julia Love and Veronica Gomez
Ketelaars Takes the Lead for DNV GL - Oil & Gas in the Americas
Frank Ketelaars took up the position of Director of Region Americas in DNV GL – Oil & Gas on 1 October, as North America’s energy system undergoes a transition. DNV GL’s recently published Energy Transition Outlook shows significant shifts in US federal energy and climate change policies. Reducing dependence on imports is a key driver for the energy transition in North America. Large shale gas reserves have enhanced energy security, enabling the substitution of coal-fired power plants with gas-fired capacities and complementing the shift to renewables. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals will diversify sources of import and boost exports.
Asian Spot LNG at Highest Level Since January
Spot LNG prices hit $8.5/mmBtu as market tightens, but market outlook remains weak due to rising output. Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) edged to their highest level since January this week, as the market gradually tightened ahead of the peak-demand winter heating season and as consumption in China soars amid its huge gasification programme. Spot prices Asian LNG <LNG-AS> rose 10 cents to $8.50 per million British thermal units (mmBtu), their highest since January this year. Climbing Chinese demand amid…
Statoil Says Ireland's Corrib Gas Outage Extended
An outage in the output of Ireland's Corrib gas field has been extended by 24 hours to Oct. 7 at 0600 CET (0400 GMT), Norway's Statoil said in a statement on Thursday. The Corrib field's output will be reduced by 9.9 million cubic metres per day. Statoil did not say why the outage was extended. Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
Australia Ramps Up LNG Exports
Australia LNG exports tipped to rise to 74 mt in 2018-19; Australia's share of Japan, Korea LNG imports seen growing. Australia expects to increase exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by 16 percent from mid-2018 as $180 billion in new projects hit their stride, nearly catching up with Qatar, the world's top supplier. Rising LNG exports coupled with higher prices for steel-making commodities and thermal coal should see Australia's overall resource and energy export earnings increase 2 percent in the year to end-June 2018, to a record A$211 billion ($165 billion), the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science said on Friday.
Saudi Aramco IPO on Track for 2018
A plan to list Saudi Aramco in 2018 is on track, senior Saudi officials said in Moscow on Thursday, as Saudi Arabia gears up to sign a string of investment agreements with Russia. The plan to float around 5 percent of Aramco in an initial public offering (IPO) is a centrepiece of Vision 2030, a wide-ranging reform plan to diversify the Saudi economy beyond oil which is being championed by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. "Work is ongoing to list Saudi Aramco in 2018," Aramco's Chief Executive Amin Nasser said at an energy forum in Moscow.
Future of LNG's Asian Rally Uncertain
The spot price of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in Asia is enjoying its traditional surge ahead of peak winter demand, and the near 40 percent rally over the past six weeks probably has further to go. While exporters of the super-chilled fuel will no doubt be trying to maximise the number of spot cargoes they offer, of more interest to them may be how steep the post-winter drop is likely to be. Much of the current boost to prices is due to stronger-than-expected Chinese demand, as Beijing expands use of the cleaner-burning fuel in place of coal for winter heating.
Vitol Returns for $8 Bln Loan Refinancing
Geneva-headquartered energy and commodities trader Vitol has signed an US$8bn loan refinancing of credit facilities agreed in October 2016, the company announced on Wednesday. The revolving credit facility, which is used for working capital and general corporate purposes, comprises a three-year tranche and a 364-day tranche. The three-year tranche totals over US$7bn. ABN AMRO Bank, Commerzbank, Credit Agricole CIB, HSBC Bank and ING Bank were active bookrunners on the transaction. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, MUFG, BNP Paribas…
H-Energy to Start West Coast LNG Terminal in May 2018
India's H-Energy Pvt Ltd, a unit of real estate group Hiranandani, will start operations at its liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the western Maharashtra state by May 2018, its chief executive said on Wednesday. India plans to raise the share of natural gas in its energy mix to 15 percent in three years from the current 6.5 percent, according to a plan set out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government. H-Energy has invested 17 billion rupees ($261 million) to build its 4 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) regassification terminal near the Jaigarh port in the state, Darshan Hiranandani told Reuters.
Turkey to Increase Gas Imports
Iran will pump more natural gas to Turkey as part Tehran's plans to expand its economic ties with its neighbour, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a joint news conference with his Turkish counterpart in Tehran, state TV reported on Wednesday. "During our meeting today, we agreed to widen our economic ties ...Turkey will import more gas from Iran ...meetings will be held next week to discuss the details," Rouhani said after his meeting with President Tayyip Erdogan. (Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Jason Neely)
Chinese Demand Ensures Asian LNG Rally Has Legs
Unexpectedly strong demand from China, along with rising oil and coal prices, should keep Asian liquefied natural gas (LNG) spot levels buoyant this winter. Despite rising supplies from new plants, spot prices have risen by 55 percent from their 2017 lows to $8.40 per million British thermal units (mmBtu) as Asian buyers also refilled summer stocks. With the peak demand October-March winter gas season almost underway, further price gains are expected. Nuclear outages in Taiwan and rising demand from Thailand, as well as new buyers like Pakistan, are absorbing oversupply of LNG faster than expected, traders and analysts said.
Wison Launches Buoyant Tower Solutions with Storage
Wison Offshore & Marine has developed a new Buoyant Tower solution with condensate or oil storage, adopting Wison’s proprietary Buoyant Tower technology. This floating concept provides a new economic and reliable option for the oil and gas development in the shallow to medium-depth waters. Originally invented by Ed Horton and Lyle Finn, the Buoyant Tower technology was first applied to BPZ CX-15 project offshore Peru when both Ed and Lyle worked for Horton Wison Deepwater Inc. (HWD), now renamed as Wison Offshore Technology Inc. with 130+ patents originated by Ed Horton and his fellows transferred from HWD.
Edison to Buy US LNG from Venture Global
Edison, the Italian utility owned by France's EDF, has agreed to buy 1 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) per year from Venture Global LNG, the companies said on Wednesday. The LNG will come from the Calcasieu Pass LNG export facility Venture Global is developing in the United States, a joint statement by the two companies said. Under the deal Edison will buy the gas on a free-on-board basis for a period of 20 years starting from when the facility begins commercial operations in 2021. Reporting by Stephen Jewkes
Chesapeake Energy Expects Q3 15 pct Output Drop
Chesapeake Energy Corp said it expects a 15 percent drop in third-quarter production due to disruptions in weather, asset sales and changes in capital allocation. The natural gas producer said it expects current-quarter production to be about 542,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day(boepd), lower than the 638,100 boepd a year earlier. The company also said it now expects its adjusted production forecast for the full-year to range between a drop of 1 percent and an increase of 1 percent, compared with its previous view of flat to 4 percent growth. Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan
Australian Supply Crunch Squeezes LNG Exporters
Spot LNG exports in government's cross-hairs; ConocoPhillips, Origin, Shell now in the firing line. The Australian government on Monday warned that the country's east faced a worse-than-expected natural gas shortfall in 2018, but the competition watchdog said the gap could easily be filled by diverting uncontracted exports to the local market. It is now up to the government to decide by Nov. 1 whether to pull the trigger on its Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism, which allows it to curb liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from the nation's east coast if it determines there will be a shortfall in any year.
Oil Hits Eight-Month High as Inventories Drop
Brent hits highest since January; major producers confirm global inventories falling. Oil prices rose on Monday to their highest in eight months after major producers said at a meeting in Vienna the global market was well on its way towards rebalancing. The November Brent crude futures contract was up 79 cents at $57.65 a barrel by 1134 GMT, its highest since January 3. U.S. crude for November delivery was up 41 cents at $51.07 a barrel, close to recent four-month highs. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries…
Statoil Output to Rise by 15.5 mcm/day
Statoil's said on Monday its gas output would increase by 15.5 million cubic metres per day from Sept. 26 at 0600 CET (0400 GMT) until Sept. 27 at 0600 CET (0400 GMT) due to maintenance ending early at an unnamed site. "Increased avalibility due to maintenance ending early," the firm said in a message on its website. Reporting by Lefteris Karagiannopoulos
Mission Accomplished? OPEC Banishes Contango
“There is no doubt that the oil market is moving in the right direction,” the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries noted with satisfaction in its most recent bulletin published on Wednesday. “The rebalancing process was never going to happen overnight; it was never going to happen in a linear fashion; and it was always going to require a concerted effort,” OPEC observed. “Patience and perseverance are still required”, the bulletin warned, but the organisation is well on the way to achieving the objectives it set when announcing output cuts in November 2016.
Statoil to Reduce Gas Output Sept 24-25
Statoil's gas output will be reduced by 6.5 million standard cubic metres per day from September 24 at 0600 CET (0400 GMT) until September 25 at 0600 CET (0400 GMT), the firm said on Wednesday. "Decreased field availability moved by one day to the 24th September," the firm said in a message. Reporting by Henrik Stolen
Glencore Inks Angolan LNG Purchase Deal
Trading house Glencore is to buy liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies from Angola LNG over a multi-year period, adding to similar recent deals between the producer and traders including Vitol. Angola LNG on Wednesday said the deal was another step toward building its sales book with the most important players in the LNG market. Last month it sold LNG to Vitol over a multi-year period and also entered a sales deal with the trading arm of Germany's RWE . Until recently, Angola has been selling all of its LNG via competitive tenders in the spot market, partly because a previous plan to ship LNG to the United States fell through because of the U.S.
Oil Nears Five-Month Highs
Saudi crude exports fell to three-year low in July, as U.S. shale output seen rising for 10th month in October. Oil prices traded close to five-month highs on Tuesday after key Middle Eastern producers showed they continued to comply with output cuts under an OPEC-led deal that Iraq's oil minister said could be extended or deepened. A weaker U.S. dollar also lent support to dollar-denominated commodities such as oil, traders said. Benchmark Brent crude futures were up 20 cents at $55.68 a barrel by 1200 GMT, not far off a five-month high of $55.99. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 35 cents at $50.26.
Saipem CEO: Nord Stream II on Track if 'conditions right'
The Nord Stream II pipeline project will go ahead if conditions are right but sanctions may impact on work, the chief executive of Italian oil services group Saipem said on Tuesday. Nord Stream II, led by Russian gas giant Gazprom, aims to increase Russian natural gas exports to Europe by doubling the amount of gas Russia sends to Germany under the Baltic Sea. Saipem in August was awarded a contract to build the last section of the pipeline. "There are discussions ongoing; for now we've been given a piece of the project and will go through with it if the conditions are right," Cao told journalists on the sidelines of an event in Milan.
Mitsui OSK Targets 26% Stake in Swan's Indian LNG Unit
Japan's leading shipper Mitsui OSK Lines aims to buy at least a 26 percent stake in a floating storage regassification unit (FSRU) in India, a company official said, to boost its exposure in the west coast project of Swan Energy. Swan Energy is building a 5 million tonnes a year FSRU and floating storage unit (FSU) at Jafrabad in western Gujarat state, with Mitsui awarded a long-term contract for operation and maintenance services. "We have until end-2019, by when the project will be completed, to buy at least 26 percent in Triumph Offshore…
GTT to Design LNG Tanks for FSRU Newbuild
GTT said it has received an order from the South Korean Shipyard Hyundai Heavy Industries concerning a new Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) which has been contracted by Triumph Offshore, a subsidiary of the Indian ship-owner Swan Energy. GTT will design the LNG integrated tanks which represent a total capacity of 180,000 m3. These tanks will be equipped with the membrane containment system Mark III, a sea-proven technology developed by GTT. This insulation system benefits from an unparalleled track record: it has been already used to equip more than 140 vessels which are still in service today.
Gazprom Signs LNG Supply Deal with Ghana
Russian gas giant Gazprom has signed a 12-year deal to supply Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) with liquefied natural gas, a subsidiary of Gazprom Marketing & Trading Group said on Monday. Gazprom Global LNG Limited (GGLNG) said LNG supplies were due to start in 2019. The agreement is the first stage in a planned series of partnerships between GGLNG and GNPC, with both companies working to develop the infrastructure and services required to manage and market the projected gas flows from the region, Gazprom said. It did not disclose further details. (Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; editing by Susan Thomas)
Oil Nears Five-Month Highs
Brent, WTI on track for biggest weekly gains in two months; U.S. refineries restarting after hurricane shutdowns. Brent oil prices held steady near five-month highs, and were on track for the highest weekly rise since the end of July on higher demand forecasts and the restart of oil-hungry refineries in the United States. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries this week forecast higher demand for its oil in 2018 and pointed to signs of a tighter global market, indicating its deal with non-OPEC states to cut output is helping tackle a glut.
CNOOC Ends Feasibility Study for Western Canadian LNG Terminal
China's CNOOC Ltd said on Thursday it will end the feasibility study for its (LNG) export terminal on British Columbia's coast due to low global commodity prices, in the latest setback for Canada's energy industry. Nexen Energy, a unit of CNOOC, said in a statement the current macro-economic environment does not currently support developing a large LNG business. The project, a joint venture with Japan's Inpex Corp , would have had the capacity to export 24 million tonnes of LNG per year, granting Canadian gas producers access to the Asian market.
Netherlands to Receive LNG from Sabine Pass Plant
The Netherlands will receive its second-ever liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipment from Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass export facility in the United States on Oct. 6, according to shipping data. The vessel, with a capacity of 166,031 cubic metres, is currently berthed at Sabine Pass, live ship-tracking data shows. The first delivery from Sabine Pass to the Gate terminal in Rotterdam arrived on June 8 aboard the Arctic Discoverer, a Thomson Reuters analyst said. Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic
Eni Inks Cooperation Deal with CNPC
Eni signed a cooperation agreement with China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) on Wednesday in a move that could give the Italian oil major greater access to the Chinese market. Eni said in a statement it had agreed to work with state-owned CNPC in the fields of exploration and production, liquefied natural gas (LNG), trading and refining-petrochemicals. The deal will cover operations in China and abroad, it said, without giving further details. "It could allow Eni to tap Chinese resources while allowing CNPC to use Eni skills to develop its assets round the world," one London-based oil analyst said, asking not to be named.
Shell to Shed Iraqi Oil Assets
Royal Dutch Shell is set to end a century of oil production in Iraq by withdrawing from two of the Arab state's flagship fields to focus on more profitable gas development. Shell's retreat highlights the challenges foreign operators face with low-margin oil contracts in Iraq, an OPEC member that sits on some of the world's biggest oil reserves and wants to boost production after years of conflict hindered development. The Anglo-Dutch firm said on Wednesday it had agreed with Iraq's oil ministry to relinquish operations at Majnoon field to the government after unfavourable changes to fiscal terms.
Bangladesh, Qatar to Ink 15-year LNG Import Deal
Bangladesh to take 1.8 mln T a year first 5 years, along with more spot cargoes. Bangladesh will sign a 15-year deal with Qatar's RasGas Co to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) starting in 2018 as the South Asian country turns to the supercooled fuel to fill a domestic supply gap for power generation, two officials told Reuters. The deal will be signed on Sept. 25 in Qatar, said Mohammad Quamruzzaman, managing director of the Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Co, a unit of state-owned oil firm Petrobangla. Under the deal, RasGas will supply 1.8 million tonnes a year of LNG for the first five years and 2.5 million tonnes a year for the next 10 after that…
Oil Rises on IEA Optimism
IEA raises 2017 global oil demand growth; says investors sees tighter market, higher oil prices. Oil prices rose on Wednesday after the International Energy Agency (IEA) said the global oil surplus was starting to shrink due to robust global demand and an output drop from OPEC and other producers. By 1021 GMT, international benchmark Brent crude was up 27 cents, or 0.5 percent, at $54.54 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was up 38 cents, or 0.8 percent, at $48.61 a barrel. "Based on recent bets made by investors…
CFE Awards 9-Cargo LNG Tender for Q4 Delivery
Mexico's state-run power utility CFE has picked Royal Dutch Shell and most likely Cheniere Energy to deliver nine liquefied natural gas (LNG) cargoes in the fourth-quarter, trade sources said. Traders said Shell won most of the tender, which was awarded on Tuesday, with shipments to be spread across October, November and December into the Altamira terminal on Mexico's Atlantic coast, traders said. Some traders said Cheniere took a share of CFE's requirement. Reporting by Oleg Vukmanovic
Swiss Traders Grab $10 Billion Slice of LNG Market
Traders mopping up LNG glut, finding new emerging market buyers. Swiss trading houses are muscling in on the global market for liquefied natural gas, until now the preserve of energy giants, and expect to grab a $10 billion share of the rapidly growing business this year. Trafigura, Gunvor, Vitol and Glencore are all shaking up a decades-old system dominated by Western oil majors and state energy producers which sell LNG directly to large consumers on long-term contracts. They plan 2017 shipments that will be more than triple the 2015 level, according to Reuters calculations based on figures for the four traders provided by trade sources.
ABS Awards AIP for HHI FLNG Hull Design
ABS has granted Approval in Principle (AIP) to Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI) floating liquefied natural gas (FLNG) hull design. ABS and HHI collaborated with the objective of developing a technically feasible and class compliant FLNG hull design, using the latest industry trends while maintaining high safety standards. The ABS AIP demonstrates the design substantially complies with Class and Regulatory requirements and minimizes risk to project schedules and safe operations, giving regulatory agencies and other key stakeholders confidence in the design.
Bangladesh shortlists Trafigura, Gunvor for LNG Terminals
Bangladesh has shortlisted global commodity traders Trafigura and Gunvor to arrange the installation of two floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals in 2018 as the country transforms into a major LNG consumer. "Trafigura and Gunvor have been shortlisted out of 13 companies for two 200 million cubic feet/day LNG import terminals," a director at state-run energy firm Petrobangla's LNG division told Reuters. Petrobangla will hold talks with the companies and deals will then be finalised, he added. Industry sources say Bangladesh wants the terminals, also known as Floating Storage and Regasification Units (FSRU), in place in 2018.
Wood Group Wins Ichthys Subsea Deal
Wood Group has secured a new, five-year contract with INPEX Operations Australia Pty Ltd (INPEX Australia) to provide subsea engineering services for the integrity of the INPEX-operated Ichthys LNG Project, offshore Western Australia. The operations of all subsea assets and the gas export pipeline will be supported under the contract which includes two, one-year extension options and is effective immediately. It continues Wood Group’s 12-year support of the Ichthys LNG Project development; providing subsea engineering and project management services during the concept, front-end, and detailed engineering phases of the project.
US Seeks Faster Approval of Small-scale Natural Gas Export
The United States is proposing to speed up approval of small-scale exports of natural gas, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), the U.S. Department of Energy said in a statement released on Friday. The department said the proposed rule would "expedite the review and approval of applications to export small amounts of natural gas in the emerging small-scale LNG export market," which it said includes the Caribbean, Central America and South America. To date, most applications for export approval have been for larger-scale natural gas exports, but Central and South American markets require smaller volumes, the Energy Department said.
Harvey Interrupts Asia LPG Exports from Gulf Coast
Harvey delays at least 300,000 T of U.S. LPG shipments. Shipments of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from the United States have been held up by the havoc wrought by tropical storm Harvey since last Friday, but Asian buyers are betting the situation will improve before supplies are critically squeezed. At least 300,000 tonnes in LPG shipments to Asia have been delayed after U.S. Gulf ports were shut, based on the estimates from four sources who buy mainly U.S. cargoes. Asia is short of LPG, which in the form of butane or propane is used for transportation, heating, cooking and petrochemical production.
Gazprom Doesn't Rule Out More Rival LNG to Europe
Russian gas giant Gazprom did not rule out an increase in liquefied natural gas flows to Europe from its rivals, though Asian markets are more attractive for the fuel due to higher prices, a company official said on Wednesday. "There is possibility that there will be more LNG supplies to Europe... however because of more interesting pricing, LNG goes to other markets, to Asian markets," Mikhail Malgin from Gazprom Export said. "There is a potential on the market, there is place for us and our rivals," he added. Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin
Trelleborg Suite Supplied to Prelude FLNG
Trelleborg’s marine systems operation has supplied a suite of products to Shell’s Prelude FLNG facility, the largest offshore facility ever constructed. Prelude, which is 488 meters long, 74 meters wide, and made with more than 260,000 tons of steel, will extract and liquefy natural gas from a site in North West Australia. Trelleborg supplied its gas transfer technology and SafePilot navigational and piloting systems for Prelude. “Our SafePilot solution, SSL, ESL and radio ESD for tandem condensate offload have been used on Shell’s Prelude FLNG,” said Richard Hepworth, President of Trelleborg’s marine systems operation.
Kinder Morgan Shutting Down Pipelines, Gas Facilities due Harvey
Kinder Morgan has started shutting down parts of its KMCC pipeline system for crude and condensate, its Double Eagle pipeline, several gas storage facilities and compressor stations due to Hurricane Harvey, the firm said on Friday. The pipeline operating firm said the measures have been taken in preparation for high winds and heavy rain, which could affect portions of its Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP), Texas Interstate system and its Natural Gas Pipeline Company of America (NGPL), the largest transporter of gas into Chicago. Reporting by Marianna Parraga
S-Oil, Petronas Ink Long-term LNG Deal
South Korea's third-largest refiner S-Oil Corp signed a long-term liquefied natural gas (LNG) supply contract with Malaysia's Petronas for 15 years starting from next year, the North Asia company said on Friday. S-Oil expects to buy 700,000 tonnes of LNG per year from state-owned Petronas from March 2018 through March 2033, it said in a stock filing exchange. "We have inked the deal on good terms for our company amid the current favourable LNG market conditions," said the refiner in the filing. S-Oil, whose main shareholder is Saudi Aramco, declined to provide price details for the deal.
North American Exodus at PetroChina Sparks Speculation
A flurry of departures across the U.S. and Canadian units of Chinese state energy firm PetroChina Co Ltd have sparked speculation that the oil trader is reducing its presence in North America, even though the company says it is committed to the region. More than 30 people in its Houston and Calgary offices have left PetroChina since 2016, including heads of desks in crude, financial, natural gas and chemical trading, the company confirmed to Reuters. Sources say that PetroChina had approximately 150 to 200 people at its peak two to three years ago, and now has between 100 and 150.
Oil Search Profit Soars, Now Focusing on Gas Projects
Oil Search sees PNG LNG expansion agreement by late 2017. Australia's Oil Search Ltd reported a five-fold jump in half-year profit on higher oil and gas prices and lower costs, and said it expects its partners to agree by year-end on how to coordinate development of their Papua New Guinea gas projects. Net profit surged to $129.1 million for the six months to June, in line with three analysts' estimates, while the oil and gas explorer boosted its dividend by a cent to 4 cents a share. Oil Search is a partner in the PNG LNG project and P'nyang field…
Ghana, Equatorial Guinea to Sign LNG Deal
Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo plans to sign an agreement to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Equatorial Guinea during his three-day visit to the Gulf of Guinea petroleum producer due to begin on Monday, his office said. Though an oil and gas producer in its own right since its flagship Jubilee field came on stream in 2010, Ghana has in the past struggled to ensure reliable power production for a growing domestic market. Equatorial Guinea, meanwhile, is exploring the possibility of selling a portion of its LNG cargos to its African neighbours.
Gunvor Awarded Fortuna FLNG Offtake
The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons (MMH), Ophir Equatorial Guinea (Block R) Ltd, OneLNG SA and La Compania Nacional De Petroleos De Guinea Ecuatorial (GEPetrol) have nominated Gunvor Group Ltd (Gunvor) as its preferred LNG Buyer for offtake from the Fortuna FLNG project. All parties have agreed the principal commercial terms subject to finalizing a Sale and Purchase Agreement (SPA) for the offtake ahead of the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the Fortuna FLNG project. Gunvor will take the full contract capacity of the Gandria FLNG vessel of 2.2 MMTPA which will be purchased on a Brent-linked, Free on Board (FOB) basis for a 10 year term.
Lithuania Receives First U.S. LNG Cargo
Lithuania received its first spot shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States on Monday, the result of a deal aimed at reducing dependence on Russia and consolidating relations with Washington amid increased tension in the region. Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 has spooked the Baltic states, once ruled from Moscow but now members of both NATO and the European Union. "This is crucially important for the whole region," said Lithuania's Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevicius. "We want to cement…