Wojciech's Feed
May 27, 2010

Rich, poor forge partnership on forest aid in Oslo

OSLO, May 27 (Reuters) – Rich and poor countries agreed on Thursday on guidelines for releasing aid to save forests, in the first concrete sign of global action on climate change since Copenhagen.

Norway said aid pledges to save forests rose by $500 million since the U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen last December, less than expected just weeks ago and showing the limits of more state funding amid economic crisis and financial market unrest.

Some say the modest increase in state aid for forests, whose conservation is seen as the cheapest way of lowering carbon emissions, underlines the need for private sector engagement.

The Oslo Climate and Forest Conference, attended by representatives of 52 countries,agreed on a non-binding framework to funnel aid promised by the rich world and set up monitoring standards to ensure money flows are based on solid results.

"The outcome of this meeting could be the first comprehensive component for a future international agreement on climate change (since Copenhagen)," World Bank chief Robert Zoellick said in a televised address from Washington D.C.

In Copenhagen global leaders failed to deliver a legally binding deal on man-made emissions. Rich nations did agree, however, to provide $30 billion from 2010-12 to help poor states combat global warming, rising to $100 billion a year by 2020.

The United States, Australia, France, Japan, Britain and Norway had specifically agreed on $3.5 billion from 2010-12 to save forests, a pool of money which has now grown to $4 billion, according to Norway which chaired the climate conference.

"There is no way to be able to mobilise that much money without mobilising the private sector," Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said, referring to a plan to spend $30 billion on forests and other fast-track green financing until 2012.


Deforestation and forest degradation each year eats away forests equal in size to England and is responsible for 17 percent of global carbon emissions — more than that made by the world’s cars, trains and planes combined, according to UN data.

"Reducing deforestation and forest degradation can provide the largest, fastest and cheapest cuts in carbon emissions," Stoltenberg said, adding that deforestation efforts could achieve "a third in cuts of carbon emissions needed by 2020".

Norway, rich in oil, on Wednesday formally announced $1 billion in aid to Indonesia to help protect forests in the southeast Asian nation, which has been quickly clearing forests for palm oil plantations. It has a similar deal with Brazil.

Growing populations, agriculture and the timber industry have all reduced tropical forests from the Amazon to Indonesia, where it has become more profitable to cut down natural forests.

"Today, the market values forests more destroyed than standing. We must find a way to value forests more alive than dead," said Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Michael Somare.

To push people to protect forests, as well as to attract private sector financing, it is essential to set up a global price for carbon emissions, either via a market or a carbon tax.

"This is a good day, it rebuilds trust in the international community’s ability to confront climate change," Abyd Karmali, global head of carbon markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told Reuters.

"What is needed is a bit more assurance that the carbon price will be there and that the private sector will have input how the system of green financing is set up."

(Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)

May 27, 2010

Eurovision song contest feels the pinch

OSLO (Reuters) – A bit slimmer but still extravagant at 55, Europe’s biggest song contest Eurovision is scaling down its starry ambitions to a harsh new economic reality.

Watched by some 124 million Europeans and staged by public broadcasters, the Eurovision song contest has seen its budget shrink by a quarter in 2010 and four countries have dropped out due to funding woes.

May 21, 2010

Statoil evacuates North Sea platform due “unstable” well

OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian oil and gas producer Statoil said on Friday it had evacuated the Gullfaks C platform in the North Sea after changes in well pressure led to a fault on one of two valves designed to prevent a blowout.

Environmental group Bellona said the situation was “very critical” and highlighted continued risks of offshore oil and gas exploration in the wake of BP’s well blowout and environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

May 17, 2010

Pakistanis suffered most displacement in 2009: report

OSLO (Reuters) – Pakistan suffered the highest number of internally displaced people in 2009 due to the Taliban insurgency and Pakistan’s military response, a United Nations study showed on Monday.

The number of internally displaced people worldwide reached 27.1 million individuals in 2009, the highest number since records began in the mid 1990s, said the report.

May 6, 2010

Norwegian Air says April passenger traffic down 8%

OSLO, May 6 (Reuters) – Budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle
<NWC.OL> said it carried 300,000 fewer passengers than forecast
in April when 21 percent of its flights were cancelled because
of volcanic ash clouds over Europe.

Norwegian Air said on Thursday it carried 791,000
passengers, 8 percent less than April 2009.

May 5, 2010

Statoil sees tough gas markets, shares slip

OSLO, May 5 (Reuters) – Norwegian group Statoil ASA <STL.OL>
said gas markets would stay challenging due to large-scale
development of shale gas and LNG after first-quarter earnings
were boosted by higher oil prices.

On top of the additional supply, economic woes have also
crippled industrial demand for natural gas, forcing Statoil to
signal that it might slow gas production if prices remain low.

May 2, 2010

Hydro secures bauxite supply in $4.9 billion Vale deal

OSLO (Reuters) – Norwegian aluminum producer Norsk Hydro <NHY.OL> is buying for $4.9 billion including debt the aluminum business of Brazilian mining giant Vale’s <VALE5.SA> to secure access to bauxite and alumina, it said on Sunday.

The deal, seen as Norway’s biggest ever foreign acquisition, will give Hydro a leading Brazilian bauxite mine and the world’s biggest alumina refinery among other “upstream” assets.

Apr 30, 2010

Arctic border deal may extend Norway’s oil boom

OSLO (Reuters) – A major Arctic border deal between Norway and Russia this week gives Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg a chance to extend Norway’s oil boom without splitting the ruling government coalition.

The surprise agreement by Stoltenberg and visiting Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to end a border dispute opened the way to exploring an area of the Barents Sea seen rich with oil and gas.

Apr 26, 2010

Russia seeks closer energy ties with Norway

OSLO, April 26 (Reuters) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged on Monday closer cooperation on energy issues with Norway and to end a decades-old dispute over their Barents Sea border which has prevented access to oil and gas resources.

The Arctic maritime border dispute has meant that Europe’s two top energy suppliers have not tapped deposits in an area which is half the size of Germany and tantalisingly located between proven oil and gas deposits off Norway and Russia.

"We count upon further deepening of strategic partnership between Russia and Norway in energy," Medvedev told a business audience in the Norwegian capital.

Earlier, Medvedev told a Norwegian newspaper that it was "absolutely possible" to reach a deal on the Barents Sea border off Europe’s northern tip, although both sides have played down the prospects for an accord during this trip. [ID:nLDE63L0XP]

A Kremlin aide told reporters that only some 7,000 sq km out of a total of 560,000 sq km in the "southern part" of the zone remained to be agreed upon. In 2007 the two sides decided on the border across a fjord inlet at the southern tip of the region.

The Barents Sea dispute is part of a wider global debate about territorial claims in the Arctic, a region increasingly accessible to industry due to global warming and new technology.

The race for the Arctic, symbolised in a Russian submarine planting a flag on the North Pole seabed in 2007, threatens to raise international tensions and worries greens that environmental issues could take a back seat to energy interests.


The so-called Barents Sea gray zone is located between the huge Shtokman gas discovery on the Russian side, a reservoir which holds enough gas to meet global demand for a year, and two oil and gas fields off Norway.

Norway’s energy champion Statoil <STL.OL>, as well as fellow minority partner Total <TOTF.PA> of France, are helping develop the Gazprom-run <GAZP.MM> Shtokman project due to supply gas to Europe and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to the United States.

"We are glad to see Statoil among our partners in Shtokman (and) we plan to cooperate with them on other big projects," Medvedev said, mentioning the development of Prirazlomnoye oil field. He also sought Norwegian expertise in energy efficiency.

Earlier, Medvedev told a Norwegian newspaper that the Shtokman project could begin in 2010 or 2011.

The exploitation of shale gas resources in the United States in past years has lowered energy prices and limited need for LNG imports, putting a question mark over the need to rapidly start the technically challenging and costly Shtokman project.

Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said the two sides were close to agreeing a regional cooperation deal for their 180 km (112 mile) land border region, including visa-free travel for local residents and less red tape for business.

A small group of environmentalists picketed Medvedev’s arrival at the Royal Castle, where he was greeted by Norwegian head of state King Harald V. They waved a banner about what they saw as poor environmental norms in Russia’s Kola Peninsula.

"Accelerating oil and gas exploration is raising the prospects of Exxon Valdez scenarios — spills in highly susceptible environments in the absence of clean-up rules and infrastructure," the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement on Monday, referring to the 1989 oil tanker spill in Alaska. (Additional reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Richard Solem in Oslo, Writing by Wojciech Moskwa; Editing by Myra MacDonald)

Apr 23, 2010

Yara says late spring hits sales, shares slip

OSLO, April 23 (Reuters) – Norway’s Yara International ASA
<YAR.OL>, one of the world’s biggest makers of fertiliser, said
a late spring is delaying and curbing sales, sending its shares
down even after high prices boosted its first quarter.

Yara said fertiliser markets have improved substantially
from the downturn witnessed in late 2008 and 2009, but the
outlook is clouded by weaker grain prices following a strong
harvest last year and higher energy costs.