• Russia’s oil production fell by around one percent in 2008, the country’s first annual decline in a decade and possibly a sign of things to come. The decline is expected to continue because of aging reserves and plunging oil prices, which combine with heavy taxation to leave producers with limited cash to invest in maintaining production and opening new fields. (1/4, #13)
  • Russian crude oil exports increased 10 percent in December after the government lowered duties. (1/2, #12)
  • Faced with falling oil prices and a weakening economy, Iran‘s President Ahmadinejad presented a plan to Parliament that would scrap energy subsidies, a major change in a country where gasoline is sold for 36 cents/gal. (1/1, #7)
  • The Chinese National Petroleum Company started work on a $3 billion oil project in Iraq, the first foreign firm to undertake such work since Saddam Hussein nationalized the industry decades ago. (1/3, #8)
  • Iraq has opened nearly 90 percent of its reserves to international oil companies for development in two major bidding rounds this year.  The government plans to add 4 to 4.5 million barrels a day to its current 2.4 million b/d of production over the next four to six years. (1/2, #3) (Editor’s note: consider us highly skeptical, for a host of reasons.)
  • The number of drilling rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the US dropped by 98 this week to 1,623.  A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,774. (1/3, #13)
  • More Gulf oil and gas projects may go the way of Kuwait‘s aborted $17.4 billion deal with Dow Chemical or be renegotiated as states take a hard look at spending amid the global financial crisis and an oil price slump. (1/1, #6)
  • Crude oil output in China’s Daqing oilfield, China’s largest, fell 3.6 percent during 2008 to 804,000 barrels per day. Annual oil output at Daqing has been on the decline for several years after decades of production. Its crude output in 2007 was down 3.7 percent, down 3 percent in 2006. (12/31, #10)
  • Vietnam’s crude output dropped 5.7 percent –the fourth straight year of declines-because of aging fields, technical problems and bad weather, and 2009 is forecast to be a “very difficult” year.  Crude exports account for 20 percent of the country’s GDP. (12/30, #11)
  • Preliminary figures from Venezuela‘s Energy Ministry suggest their December oil prices will average $32.66/barrel – nearly half the $60 average used in Venezuela’s 2009 budget plan. (1/2, #9)
  •          The world’s most inexpensive gasoline – around 15 cents a gallon -is sold in Venezuela, through a longstanding subsidy program that subsidizes car owners $3,000 each while depriving the oil industry of a large source of funds for reinvesting. (12/30, #9)
  • A 50 percent increase in US gasoline and diesel fuel taxes is being urged by a federal commission to finance highway construction and repair until the government devises another way for motorists to pay for using public roads. (1/2, #11)
  • The Bush administration resumed buying oil for the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve seeking to fill the reserve to the maximum by year’s end. (1/3, #10)
  • Early in 2008, Mexico locked in contracts to sell its oil for $70 per barrel. By the end of 2009, its fixed-rate contracts to sell oil at $70 will have expired.  (1/1, #10)
  •  A new rule from the US Securities and Exchange Commission will let oil and natural-gas producers declare probable and possible reserves, a break with a decades-old rule that allowed them only to identify proven reserves. (12/31, #12; 12/30, #13)
  • China Datang Corp., the nation’s second-biggest power producer, received state permission to build a $659 million wind farm as the government expedites project approvals to spur economic growth.  (12/31, #19)
  • US oil demand in October was 598,000 barrels per day more than previously estimated and down 833,000 bpd from a year earlier, the Energy Information Administration said on Monday. US oil demand in October was revised up by 3.14 percent from the EIA’s early estimate. (12/30, #12)
  • A year ago, Gazprom, the Russian natural gas monopoly, aspired to be the largest corporation in the world. Today, Gazprom is deep in debt and negotiating a government bailout. The total value of all the company’s shares fell 76 percent during 2008. Instead of becoming the world’s largest company, it has tumbled to 35th place. (12/30, #16)
  • The outlook for the 2009 hurricane season is not a good one for the Gulf coast from Louisiana to Alabama, according to Weather Research Center in Houston. (1/1, #12)