Archive for ‘Peak oil’

April 24, 2014

Some links on Ukraine

 

Ukraine oil pipelines

China/Russia pipelines: Reuters on the fossil fuel geopolitics behind the Ukraine conflict

MOSCOW/BEIJING, April 23 (Reuters) – Europe’s plans to reduce its dependence on Russian energy as the Ukraine crisis threatens supplies are spurring efforts by Russia’s top producer, Gazprom, to sign a deal next month to pump gas to China, industry sources say.

The elusive deal, slated to be signed next month when Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to visit China and seen as vital if Russia is to be a big player in Asian gas markets, would wrap up a decade of talks in which price has been the main obstacle.

“Judging by the speed of work which is under way in Gazprom, I would say that the possibility that the deal would be signed is 98 percent,” a Gazprom source said, adding agreement on what China would pay for the gas was close. [READ THE REST.]

Cutting off Ukraine: The FT on Russia’s risk of killing its golden goose

Arseniy Yatseniuk, Ukraine’s beleaguered premier, claims his country is facing not just military aggression from neighbouring Russia, but “another kind of aggression – aggression through its gas supplies”.

Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine is all too real. President Vladimir Putin admitted last week that gunmen who helped Moscow annex Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea last month were Russian. Few western leaders doubt that pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine also include Russian soldiers.

Yet while it is difficult to disentangle the gas dispute from the geopolitical crisis, the accusation of “energy aggression” by Russia and its natural gas monopoly, Gazprom, is less clear cut.

By cutting off gas to Ukraine in 2006 and 2009 amid pricing disputes, Gazprom has hardly endeared itself to Kiev, or to European customers further west – which experienced disruptions to Russian supplies through the massive transit pipelines that run across Ukraine.

Now, paradoxically, Russia seems to be putting maximum pressure on its neighbour’s struggling government, while doing its best to avoid cutting off supplies. [READ THE REST]

Send a message to Putin: WSJ on why a trans-Atlantic energy partnership makes geostrategic sense

Energy has always been central to creating a trade and investment bloc through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. If a TTIP agreement can reduce wide differences in energy prices between Europe and the U.S., Europeans will pay less for energy, while American energy producers will finally be able to profit from the recent energy boom by selling at competitive market prices. Trying to artificially hold down prices has heavy costs for domestic producers, encourages consumption, and dampens energy production over…  [READ THE REST]

August 26, 2011

Free Libya

Juan Cole explores ten myths about the Libya war. The tenth myth is that the war was all about oil. Here’s Cole’s response:

That is daft. Libya was already integrated into the international oil markets, and had done billions of deals with BP, ENI, etc., etc. None of those companies would have wanted to endanger their contracts by getting rid of the ruler who had signed them. They had often already had the trauma of having to compete for post-war Iraqi contracts, a process in which many did less well than they would have liked. ENI’s profits were hurt by the Libyan revolution, as were those of Total SA. andRepsol. Moreover, taking Libyan oil off the market through a NATO military intervention could have been foreseen to put up oil prices, which no Western elected leader would have wanted to see, especially Barack Obama, with the danger that a spike in energy prices could prolong the economic doldrums. An economic argument for imperialism is fine if it makes sense, but this one does not, and there is no good evidence for it (that Qaddafi was erratic is not enough), and is therefore just a conspiracy theory.

July 6, 2011

Is OPEC Headed for Collapse?

Opec Organization of the Petroleum Exporting C...

Image via Wikipedia

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi:

In the comments section of one of my previous articles, a reader asked me whether the collapse of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC — responsible for 40% of the world’s petroleum output) is likely in the near future. Fair question, especially in light of the currently dysfunctional state of the Arab League. Are we really about to witness the end of a monopoly on global oil prices?

In short, it is too difficult to predict either way. I discussed earlier how the  Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC ) is starting to replace the Arab League as an inter-Arab political body and Sunni axis against Iran, shifting the onus of decision-making to the Gulf region. However, some of OPEC’s most prominent members — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Kuwait — are also part of the GCC, and it is notable that neither Syria nor Egypt, both of whose states of political turmoil have been responsible for the Arab League’s decline, is a major exporter of petroleum or member of OPEC. Thus, the growing importance of the GCC as opposed to the diminishing relevance of the Arab League is unlikely to have a major impact on OPEC’s future.

What is more interesting, however, is the conflict within OPEC between a bloc of states led by Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members, led chiefly by Iran and Venezuela, on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) decision to tap into “strategic” (or “excess”) stockpiles of petroleum in an attempt to boost output, provide relief for high oil prices, and to stabilize the global economy. The IEA hopes to increase production by around 2 million barrels per day. Following a meeting that resulted in a deadlock at OPEC’s headquarters in Vienna on June 8, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait parted ways with other OPEC members and promised to raise production levels by 1.5 million barrels per day. Indeed, over the past month the Saudis have already increased output by approximately 500,000 barrels per day.

Now, ostensibly, Saudi Arabia is complying with the IEA’s initiative, but John Shimkus plausibly argues for another motive behind the Saudis’ behavior: namely, fear of Iran’s nuclear program, which is probably striving to develop nuclear weapons. As pointed out before, Iran has been at the head of an effort to block release of excess oil reserves. Hence, we should not be surprised if Saudi Arabia and its allies in OPEC might wish to flood the market with their own petroleum in the hope of bringing Iran’s government to the point of bankruptcy and thereby halting the Islamic Republic’s goals for its nuclear program. [READ THE REST]

 

June 12, 2011

Scramble for Arctic oil and gas puts pristine ecosystem at risk

From the Ecologist, via The Free:

Mark Jansen // 6th June, 2011

The Arctic is becoming a battleground as Russia, Norway, Canada and the US vie for access to oil, gas and minerals – campaigners fear safety and the environment will be the losers

one cannot exclude that in the future there will be…armed intervention

The Arctic covers 30 million square km, has 24 time zones and is home to just four million people. It also has vast reserves of oil and gas, not to mention diamonds, platinum, nickel and iron.

Those reserves have been known about for centuries, yet a combination of new extraction technology and rising demand means that the human race is ready to start ripping them out – raising the threat of devastating pollution to a uniquely clean environment and worsening the problem of global warming, even as the ice caps are melting.

Greenpeace claims they could even cause a war in the region, with releases this month by Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing website, showing how the scramble for oil and gas in the Arctic is sparking military tension. Norway’s foreign minister is quoted as saying regular military flights by the Russians up and down Norway’s coast had helped to justify the purchase of four new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter combat aircraft to the Norwegian public. Meanwhile, the head of the Russian navy is quoted as saying ‘one cannot exclude that in the future there will be a redistribution of power [in the region], up to armed intervention.’

Instead of seeing the melting of the Arctic ice cap as a spur to action on climate change, point out campaigners, Arctic nations are preferring to invest in military hardware to fight for the oil beneath it.

Read more HERE

April 12, 2011

Sheffield families vs the super rich: who flies more often?

Belle leaves a chauffeur driven Rolls-Royce an...

From David Osler:

MILLIONAIRE Tory Oliver Letwin has come out against building new airports because he doesn’t want ‘morepeople from Sheffield flying away on cheap holidays’. However, I suspect that he has missed the primary sources of additional demand for aviation services.

One of the many interesting findings of the 2011 Wealth Report, produced by property consultant Knight Frank in conjunction with Citi Private Bank, is that all Russians worth $100m or more have increased spending on private jets and yachts over the last five years. The same can be said of 93% of super rich Indians, and 70% of high net worth individuals in the Middle East.

Indeed, the private jet market probably has further to rise, according to Tara Loader Wilkinson in Financial News, who quotes the opinions of a leading jet broker:

[T]he Russian & CIS private jet fleet is forecast to triple by 2019, with 650 deliveries scheduled from 2010 – 2019. Similar high demand is also identified in China where deliveries are expected to grow six fold, from 110 to 700 by 2019.

Nor are these people willing to fly on crap aeroplanes, it seems:

But the newly-monied do not want just any old private jets and yachts. Private bankers say the wave of emerging markets consumers have a competitive streak and when it comes to executive transport, big is beautiful.

“The (emerging markets buyers) are buying the newer, bigger, better jets. These, of course, have a higher ticket price.” said Mary Schwartz, head of Aircraft Finance at Citi Private Bank.

April 8, 2011

The oil lobby and dirty energy

Modernity writes:

There is often talk about “the Lobby”, and those words have a certain resonance and conjure up an unpleasant mental picture for most of us, however, I am going to argue that the real lobby in the world is hardly ever discussed, in any meaningful way.

That is the extent of its power.

Clearly, we hear bits about it, in a broad sense, yet it is rarely analysed for its component parts, wider geopolitical influence and negative effect on human rights.

It spans the globe.

Nevertheless, much of the discussion relating to it comes across in a rather crude materialistic fashion, lacking subtlety and depth

There is seldom any piercing critique of the countries involved, the powerful players, the governments, the vested interests, the paid lobbyists, the various parliamentarians on the payroll, etc and above all, the oil companies.

Yes, that is the Lobby I am talking about, the oil lobby.

Dan Froomkin at HuffPost has a good article, which touches upon some of the issues.

The Froomkin piece, “How The Oil Lobby Greases Washington’s Wheels“, is quite hard-hitting.

Clout in Washington isn’t about winning legislative battles — it’s about making sure that they never happen at all. The oil and gas industry has that kind of clout.

Despite astronomical profits during what have been lean years for most everyone else, the oil and gas industry continues to benefit from massive, multi-billion dollar taxpayer subsidies. Opinion polling shows the American public overwhelmingly wants those subsidies eliminated. Meanwhile, both parties are hunting feverishly for ways to reduce the deficit.

But when President Obama called on Congress to eliminate about $4 billion a year in tax breaks for Big Oil earlier this year, the response on the Hill was little more than a knowing chuckle. Even Obama’s closest congressional allies don’t think the president’s proposal has a shot.

At an angle to this, read Ellen Cantarow on dirty energy. TomDispatch sets the context:

If BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster was the elephant in the room, Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station was a blue whale.  “Now, in light of the ongoing events in Japan, I want to just take a minute to talk about nuclear power,” the president began, before extolling its supposed virtues as a clean energy source.  “So those of us who are concerned about climate change, we’ve got to recognize that nuclear power, if it’s safe, can make a significant contribution to the climate change question.”  By the end, he left no room for debate about the future of atomic power in the United States, telling the audience: “[W]e can’t simply take it off the table.”

Ongoing events.  It was a curious and entirely disingenuous way to describe the ever-worsening disaster at Fukushima when, just the day before, Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, told his Parliament, “The earthquake, tsunami and the ensuing nuclear accident may be Japan’s largest-ever crisis.”  He said this, it’s worth reminding ourselves, about a country that, within living memory, saw more than 60 of its cities reduced to ashes through systematic firebombing and two metropolises obliterated by atomic bombs, losing hundreds of thousands of its citizens in one of the most devastating wars of a conflict-filled century.  In fact, the very morning that Obama gave his speech, the New York Times quoted Tetsuo Iguchi, a professor in the department of quantum engineering at Nagoya University, about a subject that only a few outside observers had dared to previously broach: the prospect of a swath of Japan becoming an irradiated dead zone.  “The worst-case scenario is that a meltdown makes the plant’s site a permanent grave,” Iguchi said.

Between his soft-peddling of ecological and humanitarian catastrophes resulting from dirty energy and his advocacy of a variety of dubious strategies for freeing America from the chains of foreign petroleum, the president admitted that the U.S. would continue to import oil for the foreseeable future. “It will remain an important part of our energy portfolio for quite some time until we’ve gotten alternative energy strategies fully in force,” Obama told the crowd.  “And when it comes to the oil we import from other nations, obviously we’ve got to look at neighbors like Canada and Mexico that are stable and steady and reliable sources.”

Unlike offshore drilling and nuclear power, reliance on neighboring countries for a particularly dirty form of energy didn’t prompt any excuses or handwringing from the president, as if petroleum from Mexico (a place his secretary of state likened to insurgent-embattled Colombia of the 1990s) and Canada posed no problems.  If you believe that, then I’ve got an electric power company in Japan to sell you.

And here’s an extract from Ellen:

read more »

April 2, 2011

Biofuels: reports on a global disaster

Excel Graph showing the Carbon Intensity of di...

Following on from this and this

Annie Bird: Biofuels, Mass Evictions and Violence Build on the Legacy of the 1978 Panzos Massacre in Guatemala: Internationally-funded Guatemalan bio-fuel interests evict Mayan Qeqchi families from their historic lands, destroying homes and crops, killing one, injuring more, while thousands are without food or shelter.

Climate and Capitalism: Jatropha Biofuel Project: Emissions Up to Six Times Greater Than Fossil FuelsA new study from Kenya shows that jatropha, which has been promoted as a “wonder fuel,” is a disaster for the environment and for the people the plantations displaced. A biofuel currently considered a green, renewable alternative to oil could cause up to six times more carbon emissions than fossil fuels, a study by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, ActionAid and Nature Kenyahas revealed. The report comes as petroleum once again climbs above $100 a barrel, pushing the demand for biofuel sky high.

BBC: Former workers at a biofuels plant near Hull are holding their biggest protest so far against the cancellation of their contracts. Redhall Engineering Solutions (RES) employees lost their jobs at Saltend Chemicals near Hull earlier this month after the project fell behind schedule.

Wales Today: Agency responsible for regulating biofuels entering the UK market and encouraging their sustainability is to close on March 31. The Renewable Fuels Agency (RFA) is to be dissolved as part of a wider review of arms-length government bodies

Tags: ,
April 1, 2011

Wisdom

Reserves-petroles-dispo-sel

A confluence of recent events – nuclear crisis in Japan, the struggle in Libya, the downgrading of Saudi Arabia’s oil capacity and the tragi-comic attempt to introduce ‘bio-fuel’ has created the perfect opportunity for a fundamental, worldwide debate on energy use and the creation of sustainable societies. Will that debate take place? That’s another question.

March 17, 2011

The UK: oilier than ever

Daniel Elton writes:

The Cameron administration has a firm aspiration to be the ‘greenest government ever‘, but the reality is turning out to be quite different. Alongside having a transport secretary who advocates gas-guzzling changes to public policy, and continuing to encourage road-building in a time of austerity, it turns out that the person almost certain to head up the coalition’s environment and energy policy is a former BP policy advisor.

Deep-sea-oil-drilling

Ben Moxham is currently working at the Riverstone private equity group which focuses on energy investment. In line with civil service practice, he has been put forward on a short list of one by civil servants for approval by the prime minister and Nick Clegg.

Moxham was previously director of policy of BP’s alternative energy department and part of the team pledged to move BP  ‘Beyond Petroleum’. However, the initiative concerned environmental campaigners as ineffective. [READ THE REST]

March 16, 2011

Libya and the politics of oil

Gene, in an aptly titled post ,”The anti-imperialism of boneheads“, writes:

At his 21stcenturymanifesto blog, the Communist Party of Britain’s Nick Wright has posted this devastating graphic argument against a no-fly zone in Libya.

A classic example of boneheaded anti-imperialism in purest form: Companies like BP lust after Libyan oil; therefore they must be pushing to overthrow the government which is supposedly blocking their access to it.

In fact, reports BloggingStocks:

The political turmoil in Libya must be chilling for BP as it could bring into limbo the future of the $900 million exploration and production agreement BP had signed with the Libya’s National Oil Company in 2007. The deal was BP’s single biggest exploration commitment at that time and gave BP the rights to explore 21,000 square miles onshore and offshore of Libya.

That is to say: the last damn thing BP wanted was a rebellion against a regime with which it signed a $900 million deal. And now that the rebellion is underway, the last damn thing BP wants is for it to succeed.

It would be bad for business.