Фондовые индексы Азиатско-Тихоокеанского региона сдержанно повышаются в ходе торгов во вторник на фоне восстановления цен на нефть и стабилизации доллара после недавнего роста, пишет Financial Times.
Submitted by Elliot Brennan of The Diplomat, As shale gas fever sweeps through Beijing, analysts are looking at the costs and benefits of extracting what is increasingly a controversial source of energy. But for China, with its growing middle class, the immediate and long-term demand for energy has the potential to spark a revolution in shale gas before sufficient and safe technological know-how and regulations are developed. A very vocal debate continues to rage in the U.S. and Europe as to the environmental consequences of shale gas extraction. Meanwhile, China’s National Oil Companies (NOCs) continue to purchase and buy into North American oil and gas companies with specific expertise in shale gas extraction. For better or worse, China’s shale gas revolution looks set to be thrust into the public spotlight, both at home and abroad. Extracting shale gas is tricky. Shale, a sedimentary rock that is typically highly porous and has low permeability, traps hydrocarbons as it is formed. To remove the gas, shale formations must be stimulated, most commonly using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The technique involves pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into the shale formation, cracking the rock and allowing the gas to be released to the surface. The 1 to 3 million gallons of water that are pumped into the shale formation must then either be recycled or pumped into water disposal wells in subsurface rock formations. In addition to these skill-intensive practices, the extraction process also demands three-dimensional seismic surveying, which evaluates potential subsurface resources, and horizontal drillingtechnology. Both demand expertise and experience, yet the capability of most companies outside of North America, including China’s National Oil Companies (NOCs), to safely and effectively perform such high-tech extraction is limited. The emergence of shale gas is a game changer. Countries that have traditionally relied on hydrocarbon exports for political clout (the Persian Gulf, Russia, Venezuela) will inevitably lose some of their petro power. Europe could become less energy dependent on Russian supply by importing liquid natural gas (LNG) from North America and by exploiting the potentially significant shale gas deposits in Poland and other countries. Australia, which has significant deposits and much of the pre-existing infrastructure to begin extraction, could see its clout in the energy politics of the region increase– forcing a significant redraft of Canberra’s “Australia in the Asian Century” White Paper. In effect, the “shale revolution” signals the end of the peak oil debate. New technology means new resources, which in turn could mean a new geopolitical map. However the mere presence of the resources doesn’t mean that their extraction in the short-term is viable, a problem China knows all too well. China’s oil fields are drying up. The International Energy Agency’s (IAE) World Energy Outlook for 2010predicts China will import 79% of its oil by 2030, a figure that demonstrates the pressing need for China to develop new energy sources. Enter shale gas and the “unconventionals.” Estimates of China’s shale gas resources differ. China’s Ministry of Land and Resources estimates reserves of 886 trillion cubic feet (tcf), while the U.S. Energy Information Administration puts the country’s resources at 1,275 tcf. The upper estimates would mean China sits atop more shale gas than the U.S. and Canada combined. According to China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, by 2015 China should be extracting 6.5 billion cubic meters of shale gas per year, with a view of producing 100 billion cubic meters by 2020. China’s goal is to meet 10 percent of the country’s energy demands from shale gas the same year. To successfully meet the goal, China’s oil and gas industry needs to bridge its large knowledge deficit. Despite some progress, recent successes in domestic extraction technology have been modest. Under the Shale Gas Development Plan for 2011-2015, shale gas has been labeled by the Ministry of Land and Resources as a separate mineral from conventional hydrocarbons. This move frees shale resources from the clutches of “the big three;” Chinese state-owned majors – China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) – allowing Beijing to redistribute exploration contracts. Importantly, the move encourages competition among state-owned majors, local enterprises and foreign companies. China’s NOCs, while not state-run, benefit from state financing. Their capital flows during the global downturn in 2008 gave them the flexibility to expand globally. For China’s NOCs, establishing partnerships with other international oil companies allows them to diversify risks and gain technical know-how through the supply chain. At home and abroad China is making waves. The opening of a recent tender to foreign companies demonstrates the extent to which the often go-it-alone Chinese Communist Party feels it needs to secure a rapid and successful energy boom. Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum are alljointly surveying the key provinces of Sichuan and Guizhou with local companies. As part of the new tender, other joint ventures are expected to follow. Flush with state financing, China’s NOCs have in recent years begun buying up stakes in North American energy companies and their subsidiaries. Some of their recent buy-ins have been the purchase of Nexen and a stake in Devon Energy Corp, one of the founders of shale gas extraction. Such purchases allow China’s NOCs to absorb expertise. While this in itself isn’t enough to meet their energy needs, it is a step toward building capacity for China’s NOCs in shale gas exploration and extraction. China’s NOCs have been known to employ a “market-for-resources strategy,” whereby access to China’s market is granted to a resource holder in exchange for imports of resources from that country. This now looks to be morphing into a “market-for-know-how strategy.” In the early stages of coal bed methane exploration in China, foreign groups contributed 70 percent of the funding. With already significant foreign involvement, the shale gas industry looks set to emulate this model. However, the all-important extraction process of shale gas, hydraulic fracturing, just as its name suggests, needs water – and large amounts of it. So while shale could provide energy, it will require large volumes of water that will be costly both to consume and to recycle. Water scarcity remains a key concern for the Chinese government, while water pollution is an increasing worry for the Chinese public. One recent report noted that already “up to 40 percent of China’s rivers were seriously polluted” and “20 percent were so polluted their water quality was rated too toxic even to come into contact with.” Experts warn that China will face growing water shortages in coming years. Water-intensive industries such as mining are competing for increasingly scarce water sources. Low rainfall in the northwest of the country, where much of the shale is believed to be, means these areas will have to rely on limited and finite groundwater. In the face of these shortages, China established a special 25 million USD fund for a cloud seeding program in 2012 to operate in “areas prone to drought and haze.” Water can be transported into China’s northwest via pipeline but that would be costly and require significant new infrastructure, such as desalination plants and pipelines that would likely need to stretch across the country for thousands of kilometers – a similar feat to the 4,200 km Xijiang to Shanghai gas pipeline. Shale gas has approximately half the carbon content of coal. For China, the replacement of coal for gas in power generation could reduce emissions and pollution. It would kill two birds with one big stone, as criticism grows over the country’s pollution levels both in air and water. However, some warn that shale gas may also reduce investment in renewable energy sources. In the U.S., environmental concerns dominate the debate. Public concern over water contamination and the release of harmful gases during shale gas extraction are gaining increasing media attention. This has been exacerbated by claims that research commissioned by industry-friendly lobby groups in the U.S., such as the American Petroleum Institute and the American Natural Gas Alliance, have muddied the water on the environmental impact of shale gas extraction. However, according to an IAE report, Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas, the environmental risks inherent in the process can be easily mitigated. The report outlines the “golden rules” required to address the environmental and social impact of developments in unconventional gas. It predicts that major risks can be decreased and safety improved if the cost of drilling and completing of a shale gas well is increased by 7 percent. A dozen or more chemicals may be added to the water and sand pumped into a shale-gas well, including radioactive tracers that help assess the formation and relevant fractures. While these tracers are strictly monitored under guidelines handed down by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the U.S., in China the regulations may be less stringent. In addition, other radioactive material may be dislodged in the fracking process and may have to be disposed of from flowback water. If strict regulations are not in place to seal the well from leaching, aquifers and ground water may become contaminated by run-off chemicals, methane or radioactive minerals displaced in the process. A 2011 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report suggests that fracking may have resulted in the contamination of ground water. Recent and successful protests in China to stop the construction of a chemical plant in Ningbo demonstrate growing public concern about some government-backed developments. The October 2012 protests followed other victories to stop the construction of petrochemical plants in Xiamen and Dalian. In Dalian, some 10,000 protesters took to the streets. With a growing middle-class, increasing internet and social media access, and more public involvement and activism in key local concerns, the government and local authorities will likely have to be accommodating of public displeasure in order to maintain stability as China grows. A Tiananmen-style alternative appears unlikely as it could backfire, both at home and abroad. If the current hype proves correct and gas prices remain strong, China’s shale gas could be just the energy boom that Beijing seeks. It could allow China to meet its ambitious growth targets. As many commentators have suggested, however, shale gas may prove less of a blessing and more of a “resource curse,” spelling environmental disaster and nationwide instability. Either way, as Sino-American partnerships are forged and shale gas extraction in China ventures into unchartered waters, one thing is certain: The world will be watching.
For the record: I lost on this one. See SEC filing... Fushi Copperweld - a small cap Chinese stock specializing in bimetallic wire - is going private - purchased by "Green Dynasty" - a vehicle funded by Abax Capital and China Development Bank. The deal was supposed to close in the week of 11 December 2012 according to a press release filed with the SEC. It never closed. The following Monday (before market) Fushi released an update regarding the merger. The press release has so far not been filed with the SEC. To quote: "[b]ased on information provided by Green Dynasty, the Company anticipates closing of the transaction by or on Monday, December 24, 2012." If the deal closes it will be a nice Christmas present from the Chinese to various arb funds because this deal has had a fat spread for much of its existence.History of this transaction This transaction has history. It was first proposed by the chairman in November 2010 at $11.50 - but later withdrawn. The Chairman came back with a $9.25 offer and revised that offer to $9.50 which was accepted. The stock is not without controversy. Muddy Waters (of Sino Forest fame) has alleged Fushi is a fraud. Bronte was short a small amount well before the Muddy Waters announcement (and shorted the original $11.50 offer) because the accounts were a little unusual. This was a stock on which we won-some, we lost some. Even if the company is a fraud that does not mean the deal will not close. There were credible allegations of fraud against Harbin Electric and the accounts were decidedly funky - but the deal did close and many shorts (including Bronte) received a nastier than usual flogging. Moreover Harbin was taken private by Abax Capital backed by China Development Bank. The same combination taking Fushi private. That I am short again (and in this time in quantity) indicates that I am some kind of masochistic sucker for punishment.Why fraudulent Chinese companies were taken private There is a theory as to why some Chinese companies with fraudulent accounts were taken private. About a decade ago you could not buy industrial land around Shanghai and other cities unless you had a business to put on that land. So people invented fictional businesses to buy real land. Later they reverse merged those fictional businesses into the US and sold shares in the fictional businesses. In some cases the land appreciated enough to make the stock worthwhile even though the accounts are fictional. I know this to be true in at least one case (a case on which I lost money). I am not sure whether it is true of Harbin but Harbin Electric did own lots of land. There is another reason why Chinese companies are taken private. And that is the operation was originally the children of Chinese elites ripping off Western stock markets (by selling fraudulent stocks). When that no longer worked they had no shame. Now they ripped off Chinese banks by getting them to finance LBOs. I know of at least one fraud run by a child of a central committee member that received a bid from a well connected Chinese private equity fund.Back to Fushi Copperweld. The Fushi Copperweld saga is long running. Now it is a simple question of whether the deal will close and today is the day of truth. It is likely to close. It is not over until the fat-lady sings - but she is clearing her throat. But imagine it does not close. Then it will likely be because the fraud allegations are substantially correct and the stock should eventually trade at pennies. There will be a few arb funds with some 'splaining to do. (See this disclosure from Centaurus Capital for an example.)Boiler plate When examining situations like this its best to read the boiler plate. The boiler plate in various disclosures has changed recently. A press release dated 28 June 2012 and filed with the SEC says categorically: There is no financing condition to completion of the merger. Mr. Fu and Abax have secured fully committed debt financing from China Development Bank Corporation Hong Kong Branch to finance the transaction. The press release of 11 December 2012 says that the deal will close "this week" (a week now well and truly past). However it introduces a new paragraph into the boiler-plate forward looking statements. A number of the matters discussed herein that are not historical or current facts deal with potential future circumstances and developments, in particular, whether and when the transactions contemplated by the Merger Agreement will be consummated. The discussion of such matters is qualified by the inherent risks and uncertainties surrounding future expectations generally and also may materially differ from actual future experience involving any one or more of such matters. Such risks and uncertainties include: any conditions imposed on the parties in connection with consummation of the transactions described herein; satisfaction of various other conditions to the closing of the transactions described herein; and the risks that are described from time to time in the Company's reports filed with the SEC. The press release of 17 December 2012 - the one not filed with the SEC - but which postpones closing until 24 December says: "As previously announced, on December 11, 2012, the Company's stockholders approved the Merger Agreement. Green Dynasty has advised the Company that it is in the process of effecting the satisfaction of all conditions to draw all necessary funds pursuant to the facility agreement with the China Development Bank in order to consummate the proposed merger. Based on information provided by Green Dynasty, the Company anticipates closing of the transaction by or on Monday, December 24, 2012." "Effecting the satisfaction of all conditions necessary to draw all necessary funds" is a somewhat weaker statement than "there is no financing condition to completion of the merger". All I can say for the arb funds involved. This better close. Or you are holding a very weak hand indeed. But then I have never seen a deal fail so near the line. It should close and by close of business today the stock will have disappeared and shareholders will be entitled to receive $9.50 per share from the clearing corporation. And I will have lost a few pennies on my short (just in time for Christmas). Whatever happens - I hope you all have a merry and safe Christmas (or festive season if Christmas is not your thing). John PS. After market now. So far the fat lady has not sung... PPS: On Friday - just before closing - the market got a little jittery about this. Check out the one-day chart. Someone panicked. (I was shorting earlier in the week.)
THE RAVEN (Debts No More) (Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven) WilliamBanzai7Once upon a midnight dreary, while insolvent weak and weary,Over a balance sheet covered in a cloud of debts galore,While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -Only this, and nothing more.'Ah, distinctly I remember it was bleak as Lehman's September,And each despicable creditor wrought its ghost upon the floor.Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I sought more to borrowFrom my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the abundant days of yore -And the rare and hidden debts of toxic bailout whores -Nameless here for evermore.And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each indentured debt justThrilled me - thrilled me with fantastic plastic Sino-crap never bought before;So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating'Tis some banksta entreating entrance at my chamber door -My late payments entreating his entrance at my chamber door; -This it is, and nothing more,'Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your debt forgiveness I implore;But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -Darkness there, and nothing more.Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,Doubting, dreaming dreams no debt bloated mortal ever dared to dream before;But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Debts No More!'This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Debts No More!'Merely this and nothing more.Back into the chamber turning, my bankrupt soul within me burning,Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -'Tis the wind of regretted debts and nothing more!'Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly solvent days of yore.Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -Perched upon a bust of Subprime Croesus just above my chamber door -Perched, and sat, and nothing more.Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,By the grave and stern decorum of the counterclaim it wore,`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no Wall Street schemer.Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering in my open chamber -Tell me what unlordly crime now comes from those Wall Street whores!'Quoth the raven, `Debts No More!'Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;For we cannot help agreeing that no insolvent human beingEver yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,With such name as `Debts No More.'But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,Those simple words, as if his soul in that one phrase he did outpour.Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have drowned in debt before -On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'Then again the bird said, `Debts No More.'Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,Caught from some unhappy master whom financial disasterFollowed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden boreOf "Debts No More."'But the raven still beguiling all my bankrupt soul to smiling,Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linkingFancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yoreMeant in croaking `Debts No More.'Thus I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressingTo the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bankrupt core;This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease recliningOn the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,He shall press, ah, Debts No More!Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censerSwung by the House of Greenspans's sacred liens whose foot-falls tinkled on the subprime floor.`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent theeRespite - respite and nepenthe from thy proposition of Debts No More!Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this silliness of Debts No More!'Quoth the raven, `Debts No More.'`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,Desolate yet all undaunted, on this debt spoiled land all fraudclosure haunted -On this subprime home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -Is there - is there a cancer in the Bernanks brain? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'Quoth the raven, `Debts No More.'`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -Tell this lost soul with unpaid debts laden if, within the distant Eden,It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Debts No More -Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Debts No More?'Quoth the raven, `Debts No More.'`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -`Get thee back into the tempest and the usurious shore!Leave fraudclosure doom as a token of the words thy soul hath spoken!Leave my credit score unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!Take thy beak from out my wallet, and take thy form from off my door!'Quoth the raven, `Debts No More.'And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sittingOn the pallid bust of Subprime Croesus just above my chamber door;And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is screaming,And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;And my net worth from out that debtless shadow that lies floating on the floorShall be lifted, nevermore!
CHINA'S second tender of shale gas blocks has lured 152 qualified bids from 83 companies, including from the private-sector and Sino-foreign joint ventures, the land ministry said yesterday.