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Thursday, January 3, 2013
Excerpts: Syria,Iran, Iraq: Islamic gas pipeline. Russia worlds biggest oil producer in 2012. Pan-Arab news giant buys US cable channel, January 03, 2013

Excerpts: Syria,Iran, Iraq: Islamic gas pipeline. Russia world's biggest oil
producer in 2012. Pan-Arab news giant buys US cable channel, January 03,
2013

+++SOURCE: The Syria Report 3 Jan,’13:”Meeting on Islamic Pipeline to Be
Held in Baghdad”

SUBJECT: Syria, Iran, Iraq: Islamic gas pipeline

TEXT:A tripartite meeting between the ministers of energy of Syria, Iran and
Iraq will be held this month in Baghdad to follow up works on the Islamic
gas pipeline linking the three countries, the Iranian Minister of Oil said.

+++SOURCE: Saudi Gazette 3 Jan.’13:”Russia emerges as world’s biggest oil
producer ib ‘12”, Reuters

SUBJECT: Russia world’s biggest oil producer in 2012

FULL TEXT: MOSCOW – More crude from state-owned top producer Rosneft kept
Russian oil output the highest in the world last year, ahead of Saudi
Arabia, Energy Ministry data showed Wednesday[2 Jan.].

Crude output edged up almost 1 percent to a new post-Soviet high of 10.37
million barrels per day (bpd), but the increase could halt this year due to
depleted oil fields in West Siberia.

Russia, whose proceeds from oil gas constitute around half of budget
revenues, aims to keep its crude production at no less than 10 million bpd
until 2020.

The Kremlin has increased its share in the oil industry to over 50 percent
after top oil producer Rosneft clinched an agreement to acquire
Anglo-Russian TNK-BP for around $55 billion in a cash-and-stock deal.

After the acquisition, expected to be completed in the first half of this
year, Rosneft will become the world’s largest listed oil producer with
hydrocarbon output of some 4.6 million barrels of oil equivalent per day.

In tons, Russia’s crude production was 518.018 million last year, the
ministry said, up from 511.432 million tons in 2011, which was one day
shorter than 2012.

In December, Russia’s oil production edged down to 10.48 million bpd from
10.50 million in November, a post-Soviet high.

Rosneft reported one of the largest rises in crude output among the Russian
oil majors last year, with an increase of 2.3 percent to 117.473 million
tons (2.4 million bpd) on a daily basis thanks to increased production at
its East Siberia’s Vankor field to 367,000 bpd.

LUKOIL, Russia’s second-largest oil producer, saw a 1 percent decline in
domestic output, to 84.620 million tons.

LUKOIL has tried to increase its exposure to overseas oil deposits as it has
been unable to offset a production decline at its mature West Siberian
oilfields. It owns 75 percent of Iraq’s huge West Qurna-2 deposit.

Brent crude averaged over $111 a barrel in 2012, the highest on record. The
international benchmark gained 3.5 percent for the year, after rising 13.3
percent in 2011.

However Russia has yet to follow the United States in deploying advanced
horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies, which is known as
fracking, on a commercial scale. Last month, Rosneft has agreed with
ExxonMobil to tap the shale oil in West Siberia.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects non-OPEC supplies to grow by
900,000 bpd to 54.17 million bpd in 2013, taking total consumption up to an
average of 90.52 million bpd, while production in Russia will decline.

Brownfield, or established, oil production in Russia accounts for over 80
percent of total output.

The oil resources at Russia’s offshore fields - estimated at 100 billion
tons of oil equivalent - are also seen as the next source of domestic oil
production. Most are in the Arctic where only state-owned companies, such as
Rosneft, have access.

Daily gas production jumped 10.4 percent, month-on-month, to 2.12 billion
cubic metres (bcm) in December thanks to a rise in seasonal demand. –
Reuters

+++SOURCE: Naharnet (Lebanon) 3 Jan.’13:Al-Jazeera Buys Current TV, Launches
Push into US”,Agence France Press
SUBJECT: Pan-Arab news giant buys US cable channel
QUOTE:Al-Jazeera bought ‘Current TV’ … aimed at giving the Qatar-based
broadcaster the scope to challenge major American TV networks”
FULL TEXT:The pan-Arab news giant Al-Jazeera bought Current TV, a struggling
U.S. cable channel, Wednesday[2 Jan.] in a deal aimed at giving the
Qatar-based broadcaster the scope to challenge major American TV networks.

Current, co-founded by former U.S. vice president Al Gore, announced the
sale in a statement that was later confirmed by Al-Jazeera. The acquisition
will allow the latter to reach millions more U.S. homes than it does at
present.

The financial terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed, but Forbes
reported that a possible value of $400 million could net Gore $100 million.

The purchase of Current will coincide with Al-Jazeera launching a U.S.-based
channel, heralding a push for vastly broader visibility in American homes,
on the back of strong U.S. use of its existing English service on the
Internet.

And it will put the broadcaster, which is financed by the Qatari government,
into closer competition with CNN and other U.S. news channels, as Al-Jazeera
is offered only by a handful of American cable and satellite distributors.

Although Current TV has been struggling for ratings, it nonetheless reaches
60 million American households, according to its own figures.

"We are proud and pleased that Al-Jazeera, the award-winning international
news organization, has bought Current TV," said Gore, the San
Francisco-based channel's chairman, and Joel Hyatt, co-founder and CEO, in a
statement.

Al-Jazeera, in a separate statement, said its new channel would be based in
New York and will provide both domestic and foreign news for American
viewers when it is launched this year, and increase its existing U.S.
staffing levels to more than 300.

In addition to existing Al-Jazeera news bureaus in New York, Washington, Los
Angeles, Miami and Chicago, Al-Jazeera will open additional bureaus in key
locations across the United States, the company said.

"By acquiring Current TV, Al-Jazeera will significantly expand our existing
distribution footprint in the U.S., as well as increase our newsgathering
and reporting," said Al-Jazeera Director General Ahmed bin Jassim Al Thani.

Al Jazeera's decision to create a U.S.-based news channel was based in part
on the fact that Americans have already shown a great demand for its news
and programs, the company said.

"Almost 40 percent of all online viewing of Al-Jazeera English comes from
the United States," it added in the statement.

The New York Times reported that Al-Jazeera was expected to name the new
channel "Al-Jazeera America," instead of using its existing English-language
vehicle Al-Jazeera English, capitalizing on Current's U.S. audience reach.

Hyatt told staff in an email that he and Gore would serve on the advisory
board of Al-Jazeera America. "We look forward to helping build an important
news network," Hyatt added, according to the Times report.

Current Media, founded in 2005, operates Current TV, and reaches households
in Britain, as well as the United States. It also operates a youth-focused
website Current.com, where users can submit their own content.

The channel has won two Emmy Awards and other honors. It reaches 71 million
households worldwide.

But The Times said a sale was considered because of low ratings, with an
average of just 42,000 people watching Current TV last year.

SourceAgence France Presse

==========
Sue Lerner - Associate, IMRA

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