Russian energy giant set to ditch Lundin’s Caspian project

Russian state oil and gas firm Gazprom is set to revoke its option to acquire a majority stake in Swedish firm Lundin Petroleum's Lagansky project in the Caspian Sea, according to a report in Swedish business daily Dagens Industri (DI) on Tuesday.

According to the newspaper’s anonymous sources, intensive discussions are ongoing over the sensitive deal which could be worth up to several billion kronor.

“The option is not yet taken up and discussions are ongoing, that is all I can say,” confirmed Maria Hamilton at Lundin Petroleum.

According to DI’s sources discussions are ongoing with a major Russian oil firm over assuming a majority stake in the Lagansky block in the central Caspian Sea basin.

Gazprom negotiated an option of a 50 percent share plus one in the Lagansky block licence in 2007.

According to media reports at the time, Swedish minnow Lundin Petroleum had been struggling for some time to secure the myriad of licences required to continue prospecting in the Lagansky area.

Once Gazprom came on board, however, the licences were duly approved by Russian authorities without further ado.

Gazprom has not yet taken up its option and DI reports that the firm is instead planning to focus its investments on its larger projects in the wake of the financial crisis.

It is in Lundin Petroleum’s interest to reach agreement as it would see them receive 400 million kronor ($51 million) to cover some of their reported 1 billion kronor in investment costs already incurred.

A deal with an outside partner would also enable Lundin Petroleum to place a price tag on their Lagansky block licence and therefore an estimate of its value.

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Swede leads Greenpeace Arctic oil mission

A 27-year-old former Swedish oil worker is leading a group of activists who remain on board a drill rig being transported across the Pacific Ocean as Shell seeks an injunction against the move.

Swede leads Greenpeace Arctic oil mission
The Crossing activists. Photo: Vincenzo Floramo/Greenpeace
Andreas Widlund, who says he became frustrated witnessing the hunt for Arctic oil, joined Greenpeace soon after quitting the oil industry and is among a team of six taking part in what Greenpeace has dubbed 'The Crossing'.
Widlund's biography on the campaign group's site says he "felt he could not continue to work actively for a business that drives the climate crisis forward".
Originally from Umeå in northern Sweden, he has joined activists from Germany, the USA, Austria and New Zealand for the trip.
On Tuesday, using inflatable boats and climbing gear, the campaigners managed to clamber on board the Polar Pioneer oil rig run by Shell which is heading towards Alaska to drill for oil. 
They then put up a banner in protest of Arctic offshore drilling, but promised not to interfere with the ship's navigation.
In a post on its website, Greenpeace described the crew as "determined to shine a white hot light on Shell’s reckless hunt for extreme Arctic oil. With them in spirit are millions of people from around the world who have joined the call for a global sanctuary in the Arctic".
"We don’t know how this journey will end or whether we'll succeed, but we know that we are not sailing towards this challenge alone," the statement added.
Widlund later tweeted: "I'm just an ordinary guy and I think that if you had the opportunity to do what I do you'd have the courage and strength to do it."
The youngest member of the group, Zoe Buckley Lennox, 21, from Australia posted several further updates on Wednesday. Describing the atmosphere, she said: "The wind is howling and the sound of flapping tarps fills the air". Other posts were about the crew's lack of access to toilets and coffee.


A spokesperson for the US government told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Tuesday that the activists were exposing themselves and the crew to "great risks" and Shell's US spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh sent an email to the UK's Guardian newspaper stating that Greenpeace was deploying "illegal tactics".
“We respect their views and value the dialogue,” she wrote.
“We will not, however, condone the illegal tactics employed by Greenpeace. Nor will we allow these stunts to distract from preparations underway to execute a safe and responsible exploration programme.”
After Shell formally lodged an injunction designed to get the crew removed from the ship, Greenpeace USA's executive director Annie Leonard said: “This injunction is Shell’s latest attempt to keep people from standing up for the Arctic. Shell thinks it can do whatever it wants, but there’s one thing the company still clearly fears — ordinary people standing up to save the Arctic."

“Shell wants activists off its rig. We want Shell out of the Arctic."

The Polar Pioneer set off from Malaysia last month. It is one of two rigs Shell is hoping to use for exploratory drilling later this year, although the company is yet to secure the permits it needs to do so.
The Greenpeace activists say they are prepared to stay on board for "days or weeks" in order to raise awareness of their campaign.
They argue that Shell and other oil giants have failed to demonstrate that they could clear up a major oil spill in icy waters.