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Mar 14, 2012
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China has much to gain from rare earths fight

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By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

A challenge before the World Trade Organization may put China on the defensive over rare earth minerals, used to make essential components in everything from iPads to military gyroscopes. But the case could drag on for years, and Beijing’s policy should play well at home in the meantime.

Mar 13, 2012
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Glencore faces fight to land $5.5 bln Viterra deal

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By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Ivan Glasenberg seems to like difficult deals. The chief executive of commodity trader Glencore is still trying to win over shareholders in Xstrata to a proposed $90 billion merger with the miner. But he is potentially also in the market for a smaller but no less challenging acquisition, of Canadian grain handler Viterra.

Feb 29, 2012

Shell can afford to let Cove Energy go

By Kevin Allison

LONDON, Feb 29 (Reuters Breakingviews) – Gas-hungry Asian
rivals are complicating the oil major’s attempt to buy 8.5
percent of a giant African gas field. Shell can probably justify
paying more, but has no need to get into a bidding war. Even if
Cove gets away, there should be other opportunities to
participate in the field.

Full view will be published shortly.

CONTEXT NEWS

– India’s ONGC and GAIL this week became the latest energy
groups to say they are considering an offer for Cove Energy, an
Africa-focused oil and gas explorer. The state-owned gas
companies have yet to decide whether they will make an offer,
according to a regulatory filing published on Feb. 28.

Feb 28, 2012
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Browne’s North Sea idea is more than nostalgic

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By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Buying into Fairfield Energy, the North Sea-focused UK oil producer, would be a fitting move for John Browne. In the 1980s, when some of Fairfield’s most attractive assets were first being developed, the ex-BP boss was managing the Forties oil field off the coast of Aberdeen. But Browne’s interest in Fairfield, reported by the Sunday Times on Feb. 26, is likely to be more than just nostalgic. Fairfield specialises in mature oil fields that no longer interest the big majors. With oil prices likely to remain high for some time, and opportunities to buy unwanted acreage increasing, the deal has sound commercial appeal.

Feb 23, 2012
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Shell pays up for a foothold in Mozambique gas

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By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Shell is paying a full price to gain exposure to promising natural gas prospects off the Eastern coast of Africa. The oil group’s $1.6 billion offer for Cove Energy represents a 70 percent premium to the AIM-listed energy explorer’s undisturbed share price. Cove may be tiny, but its assets are attractive. With more than $11 billion of cash on hand, Shell can easily afford it. If Asian gas prices stay high or Cove’s exploration projects deliver, this small but highly priced deal may be worth the bother.

Feb 21, 2012
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Higher oil price should burn itself out

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By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

If $120 a barrel Brent crude is a threat to the global economy, someone had better tell the stock market. The MSCI World Index has largely kept pace with the rising price of oil this year. For now, stronger-than-expected economic growth appears to be overshadowing equity investors’ concerns about tight supplies of oil. Worries about Iran may keep trading volatile. But absent a serious flare-up in the Persian Gulf, any spike in crude prices should be mostly self-correcting.

Feb 10, 2012
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New Petrobras CEO needs to flex political muscle

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By Kevin Allison and Christopher Swann

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

So much for the honeymoon in Rio. Maria das Graças Foster’s confirmation as the new chief executive of Brazil’s Petrobras on Thursday was followed almost immediately by a dismal set of fourth-quarter results. Foster, a company veteran, has her work cut out to get the state-controlled energy behemoth back on track. Petrobras’ biggest problems are more political than operational, and her engineering skills alone won’t solve them.

Jan 9, 2012
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Iran sanctions’ impact could prove slippery

By Kevin Allison
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Iran’s rulers are feeling the heat. The Islamic Republic was forced to prop up its currency on Jan. 4, just days after the U.S. imposed tough new sanctions to goad it into abandoning its nuclear weapons programme. A European curb on Iranian crude imports would add to pressure on Tehran ahead of elections in March.

Jan 3, 2012
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Refiner’s credit crunch augurs wider pains

By Kevin Allison
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Lenders have frozen a $1 billion credit line at Petroplus, Europe’s biggest independent oil refiner, which speaks for 4.4 percent of the region’s total capacity. The loss-making Swiss group relies on the borrowing facility to buy crude, and may be forced to close production within days if it can’t find a new source of funds.