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Subject: Peoples Republic of China Increase Fuel Prices By 15%
(Posted on Jul 12, 2013 at 10:42AM by Media Manager)


China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has announced that, effective July 10, citygate gas prices will increase by an average of 15 percent across the country. The increase will be borne by the industrial and other sectors, according to Far East Energy Corporation, a coalbed methane company operating in Shanxi Province, China, which stands to benefit from the increases.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, “citygate” is a point or measuring station at which a distributing gas utility receives gas from a natural gas pipeline company or transmission system.

The NDRC is introducing a two-tier pricing structure that will base new, incremental, gas supply on the pricing formula that has already been tested in provinces such as Guangdong.

These reforms apply to citygate pricing, but analysis in the market indicate that the 15 percent increase in citygate prices should equate to a near 25 percent increase in well-head prices. This probably will provide an incentive for increased exploration and production of China’s domestic gas resources, as opposed to the options of importing more liquid natural gas (LNG) and/or piping gas into China.

According to Far East Energy, the changes to China’s gas price policy underline the determination by the country’s leadership that gas play a major role in the country’s energy mix moving forward. Higher gas prices are needed to stimulate more domestic production and compensate for high LNG import prices.

In other energy news from China, a representative of the Natural Resources Defense Council signed an agreement with Beijing Energy Conservation and Environmental Protection Center to collaborate on an energy efficiency program for Beijing that would cut demand for electricity by 800 MW by 2015. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which has been working in China for nearly 20 years, will provide expertise and experience in US best practices to help improve demand side management for Beijing, a city of 20 million whose population has been growing by 600,000 persons annually.

Subject: Planned Detroil River Rail Tunnel between US and Canada
(Posted on Mar 26, 2013 at 04:28PM by Media Manager)

Plan for New Detroit to Windsor Rail Tunnel
under Detroit River



March 26, 2013 Detroit — A long-delayed second rail tunnel under the Detroit River to Windsor may finally break ground early next year, supporters say, creating jobs and bolstering international trade.

But the project to replace an old double train tunnel between the two cities still has some hurdles, including securing half the amount needed for the $400 million project from the U.S. and Canadian governments.

The Detroit-Windsor Crossing tunnel's proponents said the project will increase trade with Canada, link Detroit through to other high-volume ports and help make the city into a transportation center. The proposed tunnel along with the new bridge Gov. Rick Snyder wants to build to Canada will give the Detroit area a boost to compete with other markets, advocates said.

At least $200 million has been pledged by Continental Rail Gateway — a coalition of two private organizations and the Windsor Port Authority, said county and rail officials, adding they hope the remaining $200 million will be pledged by year's end.

The project has a big backer in Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, who has touted it would create nearly 2,000 jobs and transform the region into a transportation hub for rail and truck commerce.

Ficano, who mentioned the tunnel project in his recent state of the county address, said it will be a boon for the region because it will allow double-stacked rail cars to move between the two countries. The tunnel the trains use today is not tall enough to accommodate double-stacked container cars.

"We're hoping that there can be some real fruition that's ultimately going to result in a new tunnel," he said.

Ficano said creating a tunnel to accommodate double-stacking trains is key. "You'll find that whether it'd be shipping by sea or even by truck and most rail, double stacking is now standard procedure for how they move rail," he said.

The project hinges on funding from the United States and Canada but advocates of the project say the $200 million put on the table by Canadian Pacific and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System should send a message to the two countries that the effort is serious.

Officials said they expect environmental approvals to come soon, perhaps as early as the next few months, from both governments, which would keep the project moving.

"They are putting a lot of private skin on the table, which is always enticing to the government," said Cindy Dingell, the deputy chief operating officer for Wayne County. "But the other thing, too, is we have to get the environmental clearances done before it proceeds to the next level."

Existing tunnel too small

The Jobs Tunnel, as it was called when it was proposed in 2003, was opposed by some because it would have included converting the old tunnels for use by trucks. But, when it was determined there was not enough space in the tunnel to put in lanes for trucks, the plan became rail only.

Officials have estimated the new 1.6-mile tunnel would take up to two years to complete and would be built about 150 feet to the west of the one that opened in 1909.

The idea for the new tunnel emerged after it was determined the existing one couldn't be made any larger. That tunnel was heightened in 1993, but to go any higher makes the structure vulnerable to taking in water from the river.

Mickey Blashfield, a spokesman for Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel "Matty" Moroun, who strongly opposes the construction of a government-backed bridge to Canada, said given that the truck option is out of the project, Moroun is good with a new rail tunnel if it can be built.

"We're certainly not opposed to it," Blashfield said.

"The concept of a rail tunnel is certainly desirable for the region."

Boost to both communities

Marge Byington, corporate affairs director for Continental Rail Gateway, said land for the project has been acquired.

Byington said the Michigan Department of Transportation is helping to fight for the federal dollars, but there are "multiple options" such as grants and loans her company can get to push the project to the finish line.

"We feel very secure that this project is going forward," she said.

County and rail officials said discussions are under way to use the old tunnel, which is just south of the Michigan Train Depot, for creating a passenger rail some day because it is still in very good condition.

County officials estimated with the building of the tunnel, Canadian ports in Montreal and Halifax will double their shipping by the year 2020 while bringing more volume through the region.

"It takes away the hassle that some of the shipping companies have of going into Norfolk, going into Baltimore, going into New York or even going to Philly," said Ray Byers, Wayne County's chief economic development officer, "because it's a straighter shot."

David Cree, the president and CEO of the Windsor Port Authority, said he expects "we will be shovel-ready by early next year."

Cree said the Canadian government will soon begin reviewing its 2014 budget that includes infrastructure projects, and the private money pledged should help shake his government's commitment loose.

"This is going to give the Detroit-Windsor area all the pieces with the new bridge, the new double-stacked rail tunnel, to build a really significant multi-modal center, which is going to bring in a lot of jobs and a lot of benefits to the two communities," Cree said.

From The Detroit News

Subject: Russian Bailout for Cyprus
(Posted on Mar 24, 2013 at 02:09PM by Media Manager)



How Will the Crisis in Cyprus Threaten EU Role and Legitimacy

By rejecting an EU bailout and turning to Russia for help, Cyprus has exposed the growing frustration and dwindling solidarity within the European Union, a bloc meant to bring the continent closer together after World War II.
While talks about a Russian rescue appeared stalled Friday, experts noted that the idea of seeking Russian money alone raised doubts about the legitimacy of the European project _ notably over perceived German dominance and threats to national sovereignty. The extraordinary spectacle of an EU member seeking salvation from the old Cold War enemy has raised deep questions about how far Europe can or will go to take care of its own.
"It will raise many issues about the legitimacy of the European Union," said Vassilis Monastiriotis, an expert on southeastern Europe at the London School of Economics. "(Other) countries may seek financial help from China or Arab states and this may disintegrate the European Union, making it less relevant as an institution."
Ever since the financial crisis five years ago put pressure on heavily indebted countries _ from Greece to Portugal to Ireland _ the bailouts have become as much a political as an economic issue, with wealthy Germany taking on the role of bogeyman because of its insistence on strict austerity measures as a condition for help.
The proposed bailout for Cyprus ratcheted up the potential pain by demanding for the first time that depositors help pay for the rescue with their own savings.
Senior European lawmakers raised the alarm Thursday at the possibility of letting Russia ride to the rescue of a nation that represents _ with a mere 0.2 percent _ a tiny part of the eurozone economy. Many Russians have business interests and hefty bank deposits on the island, and Moscow _ flush with oil and gas rubles _ could easily afford to extend a 2.5 billion euro loan that it gave Cyprus in 2011 and lower repayment rates.
In return for provide fresh cash or taking over one of the island's ailing banks, analysts have suggested that Russia might demand an interest in natural gas fields that Cyprus has discovered in the Mediterranean.
But Russia's finance minister, Anton Siluanov, told Russian news agencies that investors weren't interested and a Russian loan would push Cyprus over the debt limit demanded by the EU.
"We need a European solution to the Cyprus problem, not an external one," European Parliament lawmakers from across the political spectrum said in a statement.
The biggest hurdle to a quick deal is without doubt Germany.
Government officials from Chancellor Angela Merkel down know that it would be difficult to sell her countrymen on the idea of bailing out Cyprus, because unlike with Greece, Italy or Spain, there is little sympathy for a country seen as a haven for tax evasion and the ill-gotten gains of shady Russian oligarchs.
That leaves little room for Merkel to maneuver at home, especially as she is seeking re-election this year.
Germany's opposition Social Democrats, too, have insisted that Cyprus needs to change its business model but warned of the risk of letting the Cyprus problem drag on.
"The crisis is causing serious collateral damage," said Michael Roth, the party's spokesman on Europe. "There's a crisis of faith and solidarity in Europe and at a time when more solidarity would be necessary it's the bean counters who are calling the shots."
Roth said much of the problem lay in mistaken perceptions on both sides. Germans needed to be reminded that they have profited from the overall European economic crisis that has produced low interest rates; Greeks, Irish and Cypriots needed to accept that the bailout packages weren't all about austerity but contained a good deal of financial aid, too, he said.
In Cyprus, much of the fury arose over a proposal to tap the bank accounts of all savers, breaking a taboo in Europe where deposits of up to 100,000 euros ($129,000) are meant to be protected by law. The plan was backed by Cyprus itself before street protests prompted a U-turn in parliament Tuesday.
Some experts say resentment toward Cyprus has compounded the problem.
"I think patience with Cyprus was running out also on other issues, such as its intransigence over the (Turkish) north and its history of encouraging tax evasion," said Josef Janning, a political scientist at the German Council on Foreign Relations, an independent think tank in Berlin.
Cyprus has refused to budge in long-running negotiations to find a political solution for the breakaway Turkish north of the island, which Nicosia refuses to recognize.
Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, a conservative paper widely read in government and business circles, accused Cyprus on Thursday of trying to blackmail the European Union and warned that if it succeeded, other countries such as Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland might follow suit.
"If this strategy of blackmail in Cyprus works then there would indeed be a domino effect," the paper said in an op-ed. "The basis of the entire rescue policy, which can be summed up in the idea that solidarity entails (economic) solidity, would lose credibility."
In Spain, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy didn't mention Merkel or Germany but criticized the plan for Cyprus in comments to reporters, saying he was "opposed to people losing their savings, because they are not in any way responsible in this matter."
Experts said Spanish politicians are nervous about the impact of the Cyprus deal, but not in panic mode at this point.
"Due to the numerous economic differences between the two countries, we have not yet seen serious spillovers in Spain due to this deal. However, the fear is that this deal could lead to an overall loss of confidence in Spanish banks, which in turn could lead to future political problems," said Morten Olsen, an economics professor at the IESE Business School in Madrid.
Germany's Foreign Minister warned Friday that Cyprus was revealing Europe's inability to make decisions.
"We all need to work hard to overcome this challenge," he told ARD public television, before insisting, once again, that German money comes with strings attached. "We are ready to show solidarity but in return those countries that are asking for solidarity need to be prepared to do their homework. If that doesn't happen, then it (solidarity) can't be granted. "

Source: Associated Press

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