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Maritime Piracy Strikes Iraq

File photo of the U.S. Coast Guard Island-class cutter Maui (WPB 1304) conducting a patrol near the Al Basra Iraqi Oil Terminal (ABOT) in the Northern Arabian Gulf. Courtesy:
Washington (UPI) June 2, 2005
Pirates struck Basra oil terminal Tuesday, apparently approaching the vessel in a rubber boat, using hooks to get onboard and stealing money from a tanker. Local authorities urged vessels in the area to use extreme caution.

Under current International Maritime Organization regulations firearms for self-protection are forbidden on vessels. Maritime pirates are, however, better armed, more technologically advanced and well-trained.

Maritime experts are increasingly concerned pirates may collaborate with terrorists; those involved in Tuesday's attack have yet to be identified.

Russia, Iran hold energy talks

Russia and Iran held their first working-group meeting Wednesday in Moscow in a bid to increase cooperation in the energy sector.

Officials discussed how the two countries could strengthen cooperation in the oil and gas industry, said Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian, Iran's deputy oil minister. The two countries were to sign a protocol to expand cooperation.

Issues such as Iran and Russian joint cooperation in exploration, exploitation, production and transportation of hydrocarbons were the main topics discussed. Officials also exchanged views on the swap of Russian crude oil produced in the Caspian with Iran's oil in the south as well as mutual cooperation on the European gas market.

Oil ministry officials and representatives of companies active in the oil industry were present at the talks.

Explosion in Tatarstan

A high-voltage power-line support was blown up Wednesday in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, some 500 miles from Moscow.

The power-line support made of reinforced concrete had collapsed, said Ildar Mukhametzyanov, a senior aide to the republic's prosecutor. Police found remains of an explosive near the site.

The prosecutor's office said criminal proceedings on charges of terrorism under Article 205 of the Russian Criminal Code will be enforced.

"This is a rather serious crime, and we are using our best specialists to solve it," said Mukhametzyanov.

Repairs are currently under way. The surrounding area had not seen power outages as a result of the explosion. Damages are estimated at $18 million.

Germany looks to Iran for gas supplies

German E.ON AG expressed an interest in investing in the Iranian gas market in an effort to alleviate dependence on Russian gas supplies.

Officials from Ruhrgas subsidiary E.ON met with Iranian government representatives and visited several Iranian gas fields.

Ruhrgas officials noted Iran was attractive primarily for its liquefied natural gas as well as its gas pipelines.

E.ON's gas plans with Iran are at their initial phase, a manager from the company said. The company is looking for potential cooperation partners, including France's Total and Austria's OMV.

A deal with Iran would certainly improve E.ON's bargaining position with Russia's Gazprom.

Germany imports 35 percent of its oil and 40 percent of its gas from Russia, more than any other Western European country.

U.S., India hold energy talks

The United States and India launched a new bilateral dialogue Tuesday on energy issues to establish working groups that would focus on clean coal technology.

"The establishment of the dialogue reflects the transformed strategic relationship between the United States and India as called for by the U.S. president, George W. Bush, and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh," said a joint statement following the meeting. "Secretary (Samuel) Bodman and Dr. (Montek Singh) Ahluwalia agreed that it was important to show progress in the energy dialogue before the U.S. visit of Prime Minister Singh."

Singh, deputy chairman of the Indian Planning Commission, and Bodman met in Washington Tuesday to discuss the issue. The two countries also plan to create a working group to deal with civilian uses of nuclear power and its control, the statement said.

Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran and David Garman, the U.S. assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, will co-chair the steering committee supervising the five working groups.

Together they will promote increased trade and investment in the energy sector to strengthen mutual energy security and promote stable energy markets to ensure adequate supplies, the statement said.

The first meetings of the working groups are expected to take place before Singh's visit to the United States.

Hong Kong's largest power utility begins power-plant construction

Hong Kong's CLP Holdings invested $628 million to construct a power plant in South China.

"We held the ceremony yesterday (Sunday)," said Marcella Chui, a spokeswoman for CLP, "and the construction has started today or will commence in the coming few days."

After getting approval from the National Development and Reform Commission in March, the independent power company will construct two 600-megawatt coal-fired generators in Fangchenggang, a port city in the Guangxi autonomous region of south China.

The first generator is scheduled to come online by the third quarter of 2007; the second will be supplying power by the end of March 2008.

CLP and the Guangxi Electric Power Company set up a joint venture for the project. CLP holds 70 percent of the stakes; Guangxi has the remaining 30 percent.

The power plant will initially target local electricity users in the autonomous region, Chui said.

Closing oil prices, 3 p.m., June 2, London

Brent crude oil: $51.59

West Texas intermediate crude oil: $52.95

All rights reserved. 2005 United Press International. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by United Press International.. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of United Press International.

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US Spy Agencies Launch Review Of Iran Data
Washington (AFP) Feb 13, 2005
The US intelligence community, chastened by its fiasco in Iraq, has launched a broad review of its classified data on Iran to assess its suspected drive to manufacture nuclear weapons, US officials have said.

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