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Hanoi rebuffs China comments on island vote

Iraq asks SKorea firm to develop gas field solo
Baghdad (AFP) May 12, 2011 - Baghdad has asked South Korea's KOGAS to take over the exploitation of a major gas field in western Iraq after its Kazakh partner pulled out, an oil ministry official said Thursday.

State-owned KazMunaiGas said on Wednesday it was pulling out of the project to develop the Akkas natural gas field in Anbar province after a breakdown in talks, but did not specify the nature of the dispute.

"The Iraqi ministry of oil has asked KOGAS (Korea Gas) if it is ready to implement the project on its own after the withdrawal of the Kazakh company," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Akkas gas field, with estimated gas reserves of 5.6 trillion cubic feet, was discovered in 1992 in Iraq's northwestern region, near the border with Syria, in the western province of Anbar.

The Iraqi government awarded the development project in November to a joint bid from KazMunaiGas and KOGAS.

Since then, however, the official signing of the contract to develop Akkaz has been delayed over disputes between federal and local authorities.

Iraq's Oil Minister Abdelkarim al-Luaybi said in February that Anbar provincial officials wanted the two companies to be contractually obliged to build housing and improve public services in exchange for the right to develop the gas field.

by Staff Writers
Hanoi (AFP) May 12, 2011
Vietnam's parliamentary elections are an internal matter, the government said Thursday after Beijing objected to the ballot being held on disputed islands in the South China Sea.

The two countries have a long-standing dispute over sovereignty of the Paracel archipelago and the more southerly Spratlys, both of which are in potentially energy-rich areas and straddle strategic shipping lanes.

"The holding of elections in the Spratlys is the internal affair of Vietnam," and they have been conducted for many years, foreign ministry spokeswoman Nguyen Phuong Nga told reporters.

Vietnam on May 22 holds nationwide elections for its communist-controlled National Assembly but because of logistical difficulties balloting takes place earlier in some remote areas such as the disputed islands.

On Tuesday China called the election an infringement of its sovereignty.

"Any one-side action taken by any country on the Nansha Islands is illegal and invalid," Beijing's foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, according to the state Xinhua news agency, using the Chinese name for the Spratlys.

The Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also claim all or part of the Spratlys, and China's increasingly assertive role in the area has raised tensions, including with the United States.

earlier related report
Russia, China eye gas deal at June investor forum: official
Moscow (AFP) May 12, 2011 - Russia and China are hoping to sign a crucial gas deal that will allow Moscow to diversify energy supplies beyond Europe at an investor forum in June to be attended by the Chinese president, a Kremlin adviser said on Thursday.

Russian gas giant Gazprom and the China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) in 2009 signed a framework agreement which could eventually see 70 billion cubic metres of Russian natural gas sent to China.

"As far as the contract to supply gas to China is concerned, the work on it is ongoing and of course we would like this work to be completed before the forum starts," the Kremlin's top economic adviser Arkady Dvorkovich told reporters.

Russia hosts a top investor forum in the former imperial capital Saint Petersburg on June 16-18 scheduled to be attended by China's Hu Jintao.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono are also expected to be in attendance.

Russia has in recent years sought to align itself more closely with China as it seeks to unlock new energy markets in Asia.

It said last year it hoped to clinch the gas deal with China by mid-2011, with first deliveries to start in 2015.

The talks have been mired in pricing differences however, with Chinese officials saying in November that differences between the two sides were 100 dollars for 1,000 cubic metres.

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Norway's DNO says to finally be paid for Kurdish oil exports
Oslo (AFP) May 11, 2011
Norwegian oil firm DNO, among the first to operate in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein, said Wednesday it would finally receive payment for crude oil exports from the Kurdish area of Iraq. The overdue payment is made possible by a recent agreement between Baghdad and Kurdish authorities. "A first cash advance to DNO of 110 million dollars has now been confirmed by the Kurdistan Regi ... read more

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