Posts tagged ‘Oil’

September 8, 2011

War for oil?

TERRY MACALISTER: So, was this a war for oil?

OIL POLITICS: Smoke rises from an oil terminal in the town of Brega, Libya, on August 15. Most of the town has been liberated from Qadhafi's forces.

The dust in Libya has not yet settled, but already the struggle has begun over who gets what.

The Libyan conflict has been a war about oil if not “for” oil. The country’s economy is almost totally dependent on hydrocarbons and a key objective for the transitional government will be to get the wells up and running again as soon as possible. [READ THE REST]

Jaffar Al-Rikabi: In Arab Protests, Oil Role Defies Simple Explanations

Oil is perhaps the most commonly cited factor in explaining the course of the various Arab revolutions in train since the Spring, but compared across countries its influence proves less decisive than generally suggested, argues Jaffar Al-Rikabi.

With the European Union announcing last Friday an oil embargo on Syria, denounced by some as ‘ too little too late,’ and by others as leading to ‘ nothing good,’ the impact of oil on the fate of the Arab protests has come to the fore of public attention.

In Libya, The National Transitional Council is scrambling to revive oil production, with new oil minister  Ali Tarhouni declaring last Saturday that production at the Misla and Sarir oil fields would be restarting in ten days time. During the preceding months of fighting between Gaddafi and rebel forces, Qatar had come to the rescue of the opposition, providing towns in eastern Libya with petrol, diesel and cooking gas to stave off a fuel crisis in rebel areas.  [READ THE REST]

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July 6, 2011

Is OPEC Headed for Collapse?

Opec Organization of the Petroleum Exporting C...

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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]

 

February 17, 2011

News from other parts of the Middle East

This post focuses on the ever-growing power of Chinese economic imperialism in the Middle East, but also the rising soft power of South Korea. It looks at the impact of the unrest in the region on the big oil countries, showing how oil has sustained authoritarian governments, which are fearing the changes. Labour conflict remains rife in the region, including the growing militancy of the hyper-exploited migrant workers from South Asia. Even Israel is seeing an upswing in labour militancy, with  a general strike a real possibility. 

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December 4, 2010

Blood for oil

Human rights groups have been critical of Chin...

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Christopher Hitchens, in a recent interview, said the following: “Darfur, Zimbabwe, Burma, North Korea, anywhere that the concept of human rights doesn’t exist, it’s always the Chinese at backstop. And always for reasons that you could write down in three words: blood for oil.”

In today’s world, the neo-conservatives talk the talk of human rights and democracy, but fail to take on the big offenders, while liberals have a selective standard that highlights Israel but ignores Zimbabwe. Britain’s new rulers actively appease Chinese totalitarianism; Obama vacillates and tries to please everyone; human rights organisations are compromised by their support for Jihadi terrorists; and the Wikileaks revelations show the extent to which American interests are entangled with those of the Gulf oil robber-barons.

In this post, I am highlighting just a few of the human rights issues from around the world, that seem to fall beneath the radar of the liberal conscience.

One of the most neglected of conflicts is the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, 35 years old and displacing a whole people into refugee camps in the desert. Unlike Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, there are no proposals for boycott, divestment or sanctions against the Moroccan state, which unlike the Israeli state is an absolute monarchy. This post examines liberal complacency about this outrage.

This post focuses on a more well-known conflict situation, Darfur in Sudan, but focuses on a neglected aspect of it: China’s role in fuelling the conflict. The blogger links to a Reuters article which shows China’s obstruction of the UN’s attempts to dis-arm the conflict, obstruction motivated by the fact that China is breaching the arms embargo, arming the massacres. The blogger rightly comments:

The craven nature of Western powers complying with, or not wishing to offend their most beloved trading partners, China is shameful, but not unexpected. As with David Cameron’s trip, Western leaders will occasionally raise, very carefully, a few questions about human rights in China. But it is all for the benefit of the media and “face”.

Western leaders won’t let the inconvenient issue of human rights get in the way of doing lucrative contracts with China. Business comes first in the West, that’s how they see it, and it is the Darfurians and Tibetans that lose out as a result.

The post also links to Eric Reeves, who highlights the failure of the Obama administration to make a difference.

The human rights situation in Burma is also much on the public mind in the West, with the recent release of Aung San Suu Ki, but again not the role of big business in general and Chinese capitalism ion particular in sustaining it. Modernity reports (via the Sydney Morning Herald) that:

According to Mizzima (a dissident Burmese newsagency based in India), from 1988 to early 2009, Burma attracted foreign investments worth $US15 billion. According to Irrawady, another dissident newsagency, it sharply fell in 2009-10 to $US315 million. But in 2010-11, the Burmese junta expects foreign investors will commit to projects worth about $US16 billion (mostly in oil and gas, and electricity generation). China and Thailand continue to be the biggest investors followed by the UK (about $US2 billion) and Singapore.

More than 30 companies from Australia, China, France, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand are now engaged in oil and gas exploration and production. Mining, manufacturing and tourism are also attracting investment. The number of tourists visiting Burma is also on the rise. In past five years, Burma’s economy grew an average by about 6.5 to 7 per cent.

Burma has China to thank for providing a model of economic development. China’s massive economic growth has been a potent force counteracting the dissemination of such democratic values as rule of law, freedom of speech and independent judiciary.

To repeat Hitchens’ point: blood for oil.

China is also involved good old-fashioned military aggression from Burmese soil, the kind of gunboat geopolitics that used to be called imperialism, but for some reason that term these days seems only to be used for the actions of the fading Western powers.

Burma has allowed China to build naval and electronic reconnaissance facilities on its Great Coco Island (18 kilometres from India’s major naval and satellite launching facilities in Nicobar Islands). Burma’s ports offer China’s emerging blue water navy a multi-directional access to both the Pacific and the Indian Oceans.

Blood for oil, too, although rather less dramatically, in Ghana.

The discovery of oil and gas in commercial quantities at the West Cape Three Points in the Western Region of Ghana in 2007 has triggered the high cost of liv ing in Sekondi-Takoradi and its immediate environs in recent times.

Since the oil-find 3 years ago, the cost of living in Sekondi-Tako radi and surrounding communi ties has been on the ascendancy. The discovery of oil has brought in its wake an upward review of prices of all items, goods and services being pro vided in the city.

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July 28, 2010

The Middle East in the new global power cartography


Iran and Saudi Arabia fight for Pakistan; British Conservatism, Libya and the oil lobby; Egypt, the crescent North and other emerging regional power hubs.

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April 11, 2010

NEWS: Police assault BP oil workers in colombia

Workers at the BP processing plant at Tauramena, part of the Cusiana oil field in Casanare, Colombia went on strike on 22 January 2010 for improved wages. It was the first such labour stoppage in 18 years. On 15 February the notorious ESMAD ‘anti-mutiny’ police brutally attacked the workers picket line and the local community with teargas and beatings, three workers were hospitalised. The workers are members of the national Oil Workers Union USO that has only been able to organise in BP plants in the last year.

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March 19, 2010

Film Review: Dirty Oil [Mule]

On Monday 15 March, the world premiere of Leslie Lwerk’s new film Dirty Oil screened simultaneously at 24 cinema’s across the United Kingdom. The venues were connected via satellite connection so that viewers could participate in an interactive panel discussion by sending in text messages to the director and activists involved in the campaign. The Manchester audience was on top form, dazzling the compare with the lion’s share of pertinent questions.

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