domingo, 30 de noviembre de 2014

Norway Is Being So Smart About Oil That Its People Will Be Set For Generations


OSLO, Norway -- Kristian Midtoy is a kindergarten chef in downtown Oslo.
Not a cook but a chef, whose specialties range from salmon sashimi to roasted venison and whose 100 customers range in age from 1 to 6.
His open kitchen area, which forms the center of the daycare, is constantly invaded by happy, hungry, and inquisitive children.
"We have lots of space so they can sit for a long time and enjoy the meal," Midtoy says. "And I try to take in a lot of whole animals with fur and whole fish and live crabs and lobsters, so they see that all the kinds of animals that we eat are not just packs in the stores. [The kids] are so curious and interested to see new things."
Even in Norway, the world's fourth-richest country by gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, a gourmet kindergarten is unusual.
But in a country where 80 percent of the kindergarten cost is subsidized by the state, the additional $116 a month that parents pay for the gourmet cuisine is something just about any parent can afford. Particularly when salaries in Norway, which is not a European Union member, are 50 percent higher than the average in the EU.
That Norway should be so wealthy is no surprise. It is the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, with annual oil revenues of around $40 billion, plus a vibrant and diversified economy that spreads prosperity widely within the society. In surveys of income inequality, Norway always ranks as one of the countries with the least differences of income between its citizens in the world.
And that is what sets it apart from many oil-producing countries, particularly in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. There oil generates revenues that make the governing elites fabulously wealthy, while the rest of the citizens depend on their leaders' handouts or upon trickle-down economics for their share of what is left.
Kristian Midtoy serves up gourmet dishes like salmon sashimi at a kindergarten in Oslo.Charles Recknagel (RFE/RL)Kristian Midtoy serves up gourmet dishes like salmon sashimi at a kindergarten in Oslo.
How Norway manages its oil wealth could offer some valuable lessons for such countries. And to learn how Norway has been so successful is as easy as leaving Oslo and flying 50 minutes west to the North Sea port city of Stavanger, the capital of the country's offshore oil industry.
Lifting The Economy
Until oil was discovered in 1969, Stavanger was a fishing town whose best times had been a decades-long boom in herring fishing that ended suddenly with plunging catches after 1870. The collapse had left the town, like the rest of Norway, with a huge fleet of wooden sailing ships and an agricultural economy that was fast being left behind by its rapidly industrializing neighbors.
But oil changed everything. "In 1960, the standard of living in Norway was about 30 or 40 percent lower than in Sweden or in Denmark," says Bruno Gerard an economist at the Norwegian Business School in Oslo. "Now the standard of living in Norway is substantially higher than in those two countries."
A specially designed ship with a helicopter pad prepares to take supplies from Stavanger harbor to an offshore oil platform.

Charles Recknagel (RFE/RL)
A specially designed ship with a helicopter pad prepares to take supplies from Stavanger harbor to an offshore oil platform.

The signs of how much prosperity oil has created are all around Stavanger, which has grown from a town of 90,000 people in the 1960s to a municipal region with a population of nearly 204,000 today.
Moored in Stavanger's harbor are huge ships, built in the region's shipyards, which carry supplies to the oil platforms offshore. Within the city limits are a new 10,000-student university, a new concert hall, and several museums. Outside the city there is a vast greenhouse, growing fresh tomatoes even during the darkest winter days by using artificial light.
There are similar scenes up and down Norway's west coast, where a total of 70 oil platforms are in operation from the southern tip to the polar north. The platforms themselves, which belong to Norway's majority state-owned oil companies or foreign concessionaires, employ only a small number of people. But the drilling and production requires supporting activities that involves virtually every other sector and lifts the rest of the economy like a rising tide.
Dutch Disease
But if Norway's oil industry has made the country's population of 5 million people rich, it was not guaranteed from the start to do so. Many other countries have discovered that oil can wreck havoc on their economies by creating a wealthy energy-export sector while disrupting or even bankrupting other export sectors. The phenomenon is known as "Dutch disease" after what happened when Netherlands discovered huge natural-gas deposits in the North Sea in the 1960s and it almost happened to Norway as well.
Living in Stavanger is a man who has witnessed Norway's oil history from its very start.
He is Iraqi-born Farouk al-Kasim, who began his career as a petroleum geologist in Basra but moved to Norway around the age of 30 with his Norwegian wife in order to get sustained medical treatment their son.
When he came to Norway in 1968, the country's first oil strike was still a year away. But he soon got a temporary job with the country's fledgling Oil Ministry because the foreign companies it had licensed to look for oil were sending in reams of promising reports and there were very few people in the government who could evaluate them. The job became permanent and from 1973 to 1991 he managed Norway's petroleum resources before retiring to become an international oil consultant.
When the first oil began to flow, Kasim remembers, the Norwegians' reaction was the same as that of any country that suddenly strikes black gold. People viewed the sudden windfall of oil revenues as an unqualified blessing. The money poured straight into the government budget, and public spending rose. But by 1972, it was clear the economy was in deep trouble.
"Norway had four years of Dutch disease, where wages went up, factories lost their top people to the oil industry, and foreigners coming in to invest in the oil boom drove up the value of the currency so high that customers in other countries could no longer afford Norway's other export products," he says. "Initially, the government reacted by handing out subsidies and we went deeper into the mire."
By 1976, Kasim says, the damage had put the fear of being hit by a tsunami of oil money deep into Norwegian hearts. The country decided to do what Iraq and many other oil-producing states never do: deliberately limit how much oil revenue enters the economy.
Initially, the government decided to take all the profits generated by its state-owned oil companies and reinvest them in searching for and producing more oil.
But by 1995, the flood of income had grown beyond what this could absorb. So, Norway created a special buffer fund to keep the oil profits out of the economy by declaring them the property of future generations of Norwegians. The government forbid itself from using more than 4 percent of the money for current infrastructure and other public projects and invested the rest in financial markets abroad, effectively sending it into exile.
Staying Afloat
One of the landmarks of Stavanger's port is a low modern building with a tower on one side which, on closer inspection, turns out to be a partial replica of an oil platform. The building is the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, built in the late 1990s to tell the public about the country's most important resource. Some 10,000 to 12,000 students visit it a year in school groups.
The museum has many interesting exhibits about underwater drilling technology. But one of its most memorable sights is an oversized digital counter whose rapidly spinning numbers resemble a clock in overdrive. It counts in real time how much oil money has been accumulating in Norway's buffer fund since 1995 instead of going into the current economy.
The clock today shows more than $890 billion. That is the equivalent ofsome $170,000 for every one of the country's citizens.
Officially, the money is earmarked for paying state pensions as Norway faces a balloon of retirements among aging baby boomers. But it's more immediate purpose is assure that Norway does not become too dependent upon its oil industry for its wealth that it loses its ability to compete later when the oil money runs out.
So far, the theory seems to be working well.
A net shaped like a fish bowl contains more than 200,000 salmon being raised for market. Food pellets are provided through hoses.Charles Recknagel (RFE/RL)A net shaped like a fish bowl contains more than 200,000 salmon being raised for market. Food pellets are provided through hoses.
Just 45 minutes by ferry from Stavanger is a salmon farm of the kind that helps make Norway the second-largest seafood exporter in the world. It consists of a wooden houseboat floating in the mouth of a fjord where five men tend three enormous nets floating like fish bowls in the icy water.
Inside each net, which is 20 meters across and 35 meters deep, are 207,000 fish constantly circling and searching for food. During every eight-hour shift, the men dump 21 tons of food pellets into the nets until, after two years, the fish have grown large enough for market.
Nearby, on the island of Jutaberg, is Martin Steiness, a biologist with a company that supplies services to Norway's aquaculture sector. Swimming in tanks in a large, wet hall are some of his research subjects. They include a cute green creature called a lumpfish, which today has good commercial prospects because it eats sea lice off of captive salmon.
Steiness knows all about how too much oil money can skew an economy and drive sectors like his out of business. That's because even with the buffer fund, some symptoms of Dutch disease remain in the economy.
He says the seafood industry cannot afford to pay the high wages that oil companies can, making it tough for other sectors to get the top talent they need. "In the aquaculture industry, most people working on sea farms don't need higher education," he says. "But in management you would need higher education and it is on that level that the competition is apparent."
Research biologist Martin Steiness studies lumpfish, a useful creature that eats sea lice off of captive salmon.Charles Recknagel (RFE/RL)Research biologist Martin Steiness studies lumpfish, a useful creature that eats sea lice off of captive salmon.
Still, so long as Dutch disease is contained, the seafood sector can thrive and perhaps even emerge stronger from the pressure. Entrepreneurs are forced to be creative in seeking out high-end markets that can offset Norway's high wages and everybody seems to be on the lookout for new opportunities.
Steiness takes a visitor into a backroom to show off what he believes could be one of those opportunities: farm-raised sea urchins, whose eggs are popular as caviar in sushi restaurants. He hopes to unlock the secret of how to mass breed them.
When The Oil Runs Dry
But if today Norway's buffer fund allows the country to maintain a highly diversified economy, it also prepares for a future when, inevitably, the oil will run dry.
Bjorn Vidar Loeren of the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association has an office in a business park on the edge of Stavanger that is entirely filled by oil companies and supporting firms. Here, they are well aware that the output from Norway's oil fields has been declining since 2000, even with the discovery of a massive new field in 2011.
Loeren says the oil could run out in another 50 years but that natural-gas reserves should last longer: another 100 years at least. But no one knows for sure. Some other oil experts, like Kasim, estimate the oil could run out in as little as 30 years and gas in 50.
Still, like other Norwegians, Loeren is not unduly worried that one day the energy bonanza will end. So much money keeps pouring into the country's pension fund that in the future it will do far more than just cover retirements, it will also provide the country capital for developing new industries when the oil runs dry.
"Norwegian politicians have been very clever, very disciplined, so the day the oil age will end there will be money that can be converted into something else," Loeren says. "I think it is a fair concept to share the revenues from oil over a number of generations rather than spending everything up front."
Few other oil-rich states will be in as enviable a position. Several, including Russia, also have buffer funds to reduce the effects of Dutch disease in their economies. But the difference is that Norway treats its fund as sacred while Moscow readily dips into its own when it needs extra cash.
According to Norway's central bank, the net oil revenues of both Norway and Russia averaged around 15 percent of GDP during that time between 1998 and 2013. However, while the total Norway had accumulated in its fund by 2013 amounted to about 200 percent of its annual GDP, the total in Russia's fund equaled just 20 percent of annual GDP.
How did Norway become so effective at managing its oil wealth?
Some of the answer lies in Norway's history as a small nation with egalitarian traditions that go back as far as the Viking age, when groups of free men banded together under a charismatic leader to take part in sea trading and raiding expeditions and then share the profits.
Knud Knudsen, a sociologist at Stavanger University, says that such traditions, reinforced by laws during the industrial age to assure the sharing of natural resources, like waterfalls, helped give rise to today's society, which puts much emphasis on social programs that equally benefit all citizens. But he says that it is all made possible by the fact that Norwegians have a high level of trust in their fellow citizens and those they elect to hold office.
Norway routinely tops surveys ranking the world's countries in citizens' trust in their government and institutions as well as for general contentment with their lives.
That could mean that the Norwegian model would not work as well in many countries where there is a less strong sense of social contract. But Norway's experience could still provide some valuable lessons.
Kasim, the international oil consultant, says the trick for other countries, particularly emerging economies, is not to try to save as much oil income as Norway does. Instead, many countries need to invest in infrastructure if they are to grow. They may also need to create stabilization funds to protect their still undiversified economies from wild swings in the price of oil.
But, he says, they will have to learn to save, not spend, much of their oil wealth if they are to protect themselves against Dutch disease and give other nonoil sectors the chance to grow and employ more people.
What happens when they do not, he notes, is called the "oil curse." Countries become so full dependent upon their oil income that all other business dies and their rulers stay in power through handouts to loyalists and crackdowns on opponents.
In the worst case, the oil finally simply becomes a prize for one powerful group to try to wrest from another, until the once oil-rich state becomes a failed state and there are no winners, only losers.
Via: Business Insider

This article originally appeared at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Reprinted with the permission of RFE/RL, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036. Copyright 2014. Follow Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on Twitter.

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La siembra del petroleo.

domingo, 9 de noviembre de 2014

Ahora Es El Turno Del Gas Natural

Por: Nelson Hernández

·         Para el 2015 Estados Unidos pasa de importador a exportador neto de gas natural, modificando la geoenergìa mundial.
·         Esta abundancia de gas natural a nivel mundial, hace cuesta arriba la concreción de los proyectos gasíferos costa afuera de Venezuela.

El petróleo, en los últimos 30 días, ha estado en primera plana en los medios de comunicación  debido a la baja en su  precio como consecuencia de una sobreoferta de 2 millones de barriles, en  la cual tiene mucho que ver los Estados Unidos con su aumento de producción de petróleo proveniente de yacimientos lutíticos (shale). Algo igual ya está sucediendo con el gas natural provenientes de tales yacimientos.

El aumento de la producción de gas no convencional (shale) de Estados Unidos en los
últimos cinco años lo ha transformado desde un importador de Gas Natural Licuado (GNL), en una nueva frontera para las exportaciones de gas natural licuado. Mientras la demanda mundial de GNL sigue creciendo, especialmente en Asia - Pacífico, las importaciones de Estados Unidos han disminuido precipitadamente, dando como resultado la subutilización de la mayoría de los terminales de regasificación en dicho país.

La grafica anterior, muestra una proyección al año 2040 sobre la producción y consumo de gas natural, así como los volúmenes destinados a exportación, bien por vía de gasoductos o como GNL. La primera principalmente a México y Canadá, con altas posibilidades de suministro a Centro América. Obsérvese que es a partir del 2015, cuando Estados Unidos se convierte en un exportador neto de gas.

Para el 2040, la producción de gas alcanza 37,6 Tera pies cúbicos (TPC)  y el consumo es de 31,6 TPC, lo que da un volumen para exportación de 6 TPC, equivalente a 16450 MPCD. De estos, el 56,2 %  (9250 MPCD) sería como GNL y 43,8 % (7200 MPCD) seria vía gasoductos.

Para el 2013, Estados Unidos importo 3600 millones de pies cúbicos diarios de gas natural (MPCD)  (7,3 % como GNL y 92,7 % vía gasoducto). Esto correspondió al 3,6 % del total mundial 
comercializado vía exportación/importación que alcanzo los 100300 MPCD. Para ese mismo año el gran exportador de gas fue Rusia con 19130 MPCD, equivalente al 19 % del total. De estos, el 93 % fue vía gasoducto con 15715 MPCD suministrados a Europa, correspondiente al 29 % del consumo total de esta región.

Por otra parte, los países OPEP (Qatar, Arabia Saudita, Emiratos Árabes, Argelia, Angola y Nigeria) son los otros grandes exportadores de gas con 21750 MPCD. De estos el 72 % como GNL. 10400 (48 % del total) MPCD son dirigidos a la región Asia – Pacifico.

Para el 2013, la región Centro y Sur América (Trinidad y Tobago, Perú, Bolivia) comercializo vía exportación/importación  4260 MPCD. De estos, el 58 % fue como GNL. El 41% es comercializado en Estados Unidos e intraregión.  Cabe destacar que Estados Unidos no importara más GNL de Trinidad y Tobago a partir del 2015. Igualmente, la exportación de gas de Bolivia se ha visto  afectada por la entrada del GNL a Chile, Argentina y Brasil.

A nivel de países, el mayor  importador de gas es Japón, y lo hace en forma de GNL,  con 11515 MPCD, correspondiente al 50 % del total de Asia – Pacifico y 37 % del total mundial, ambos como GNL.
Esta geoenergìa descrita, es con la cual tiene que enfrentarse Estados Unidos para poder colocar sus excedentes de producción de gas natural. No será fácil… pero no imposible!.  La disponibilidad de exportación de gas desde Estados Unidos como GNL  es de: 5300 (39,7 millones de TM anuales de GNL); 9250 y 9250 MPCD,  para el 2020, 2030 y 2040, respectivamente.  

Es de señalar que los 5300 MPCD a ser exportados por Estados Unidos en el 2020, equivalen al 48,2 % del volumen total que Venezuela estima producir en el 2019, incluyendo el gas costa afuera. Esta situación, aunada a la no exportación a Estados Unidos por Trinidad y Tobago (que tiene que buscar nuevos mercados),  hace cuesta arriba la concreción de los proyectos de gas costa afuera (Plataforma Deltana, Mariscal Sucre y Rafael Urdaneta) con fines de exportación.

Europa está dispuesta a quitarse parte de “el yugo” ruso, para lo cual planean la construcción de hasta 15 plantas de regasificación. Japón ha iniciado conversaciones con Estados Unidos con el objeto de diversificar su suministro de GNL, hasta tanto desarrolle sus “hidratos de metano” (lo anuncian para el 2019), con lo cual se convertiría en autosuficiente energéticamente.

A raíz del accidente nuclear de Fukushima,  Japón ha iniciado un conjunto de acciones para cambiar paulatinamente a gas su parque de generación eléctrica con base nuclear, con lo cual es necesario incrementar en el mediano plazo en un 25 % sus importaciones de GNL.
Por otra parte, el mercado de GNL aun no es un “mercado SPOT”, por lo cual su precio[1] está regido por contratos a mediano y largo plazo con formulas escalatorias, y mucho de ellos referenciados al precio del crudo. En los Estados Unidos el precio del GNL, está actualmente regido por el precio del gas natural del índice Henry Hub. El GNL con un mismo origen y diferentes destinos tendrá básicamente una variación en precio por efecto del transporte.   Para el 2025 el precio proyectado promedio a nivel mundial del GNL a $2012 es de 8,33 $/MBTU  (2,74 de producción +  3,23 de licuefacción +  1,64 de transporte + 0,72 de regasificación). Este precio de 8,33 $/MBTU, es equivalente energéticamente a un barril de petróleo de 50 $.

Cuando los Estados Unidos inicien,  masivamente, sus exportaciones de GNL, los mercados de gas natural de todo el mundo se verán afectados de la siguiente manera:

·         Los suministros adicionales de las exportaciones de gas natural licuado estadounidenses causaran una caída en los precios internos de gas en las regiones de importación;
·         Los precios más bajos conducen a un mayor consumo de gas natural en las regiones de importación;
·         Se desplazaran otros suministros de GNL, lo que lleva a reducir los niveles de producción en muchos de los otros exportadores;
·         Exportaciones de GNL desplazara exportaciones de Rusia (gasoductos) a Europa y China, lo que conduce a una producción inferior de gas en Rusia;
·         Reducción de los mercados producirán una caída del precio de gas a boca de pozo, con una reducción en el precio de GNL

Finalmente,  Estados Unidos modificara nuevamente la geoenergìa mundial (ya lo hizo con el petróleo) con su incremento en la producción de gas natural provenientes de las lutitas (shale),  y convertirse en exportador neto de gas el próximo año.

[1] El precio del GNL está compuesto por: El precio de producción del gas natural a boca de pozo, más el costo de licuefacción en el sitio de producción, más el costo del flete de transporte, más el costo de regasificación en el puerto de destino.