Blowout week 24

My selection of stories posted by Luis de Sousa At The Edge of Time. Luis writes:

In Normandy most political world leaders were gathered to signal the 70th anniversary of Operation Overlord. In Iraq a large scale military operation lead by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levantin (ISIL) was under way, that in spite of the screaming irony of the date, more resembles Fall Gelb. A highly mobile force of unknown numbers stormed several cities almost simultaneously: Mosul, Baiji, Tikrit, Samarra, Ramadi, to which added bombings in Baghdad and other cities in the south. A front line of almost 400 km was open.

The usual western media branding of “terrorism” or “sectarian violence” no longer applies to the actions of ISIL in Iraq. A force capable of withstanding and win an urban battle in a city of over 1 million inhabitants is not a terrorist group, not even a guerilla, it is an army, fighting a conventional war. In a week it took two entire provinces of the country: Nineveh and Saladin, amounting to an area the size of Latvia and home to almost 2.5 million folk. Although accurate information is scant, ISIL should now be in control of at least 15% of Iraq’s petroleum exports. At the time of this writing ISIL is still expanding its attacks into at least the provinces of Diyala and Sulaymaniyah.

There’s lots more and the usual blowout down the page…..

Mosul: Sunni insurgents seize government buildings in Iraq’s Mosul

Sunni extremists seized government buildings in Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. The fighters of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) overwhelmed the defense of government troops and police and completely controlled the western part of the city on the fourth day of fighting, Egyptian media reported.

Baghdad: Iraq at risk of civil war as al-Qaeda-led uprising pushes to within striking distance of Baghdad

Iraq is facing a return to its darkest days of civil war after al-Qaeda-linked militants seized a vast swathe of the country’s northern region in a lightning advance which took them to within striking distance of Baghdad.

Samara: Militants attack Iraq’s Samarra, sparking heavy fighting

Militants launched a major attack on the Iraqi city of Samarra Thursday and occupied several neighbourhoods, sparking house-to-house fighting and helicopter strikes in which dozens of people were reportedly killed.

Nineveh: Rebels seize control of Iraq’s Nineveh

Armed fighters believed to be part of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant have seized the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh and freed hundreds of prisoners, government officials say.

Overnight, hundreds of fighters launched an assault on the provincial capital Mosul, 350km north of Baghdad, engaging in combat with troops and police, the officials said on Tuesday.

Mosul: Sunni militants push into Iraqi oil refinery town

Militants from an al Qaeda splinter group who seized Iraq’s second biggest city of Mosul this week have advanced into the oil refinery town of Baiji, setting the court house and police station on fire, security sources said on Wednesday.

They said around 250 guards at the refinery had agreed to withdraw to another town after the militants sent a delegation of local tribal chiefs to persuade them to pull out.

Kurds in Kirjuk: Kirkuk Under Kurdish Peshmerga Control

The multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, home to one of Iraq’s largest oil fields, was taken over by Kurdish Peshmerga forces after Iraqi government troops left the city ahead of a possible attack by radical Islamic insurgents who have already seized two major Iraqi cities.

Iran in Bagdhad?!: Iraq Isis Invasion: Iran’s Republican Guards Rushed to Defence of Baghdad

Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards have been deployed to Iraq, to help government troops defend the capital city of Baghdad from the escalating threat of ISIS insurgents, Iranian security sources have confirmed.

Sunni militant group ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams, has already seized several areas in the northern part of the country.

OPEC and the call on Saudi: World Needs Record Saudi Oil Supply as OPEC Convenes

OPEC ministers say they will almost certainly leave their oil-production ceiling unchanged when the group meets this week. What really matters for markets is whether Saudi Arabia will respond to global supply shortfalls by pumping a record amount of crude.

Blackouts in India: North faces heat as power generation trips

States in north India are in the grip of a severe electricity shortage. Angry residents are thronging the streets in protests against the scheduled as well as unscheduled power cuts that last up to 12 hours in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The onset of a scorching summer, coal shortage and financially bleeding power distribution companies, or discoms, are being touted as the reasons behind the plight of these states.


Vanadium to the rescue: Vanadium: The metal that may soon be powering your neighbourhood

Hawaii has a problem, one that the whole world is likely to face in the next 10 years. And the solution could be a metal that you’ve probably never heard of – vanadium.

Hawaii’s problem is too much sunshine – or rather, too much solar power feeding into its electricity grid.

Solar technology improves: Exotic, Highly-Efficient Solar Cells May Soon Get Cheaper

A new way to make the most efficient and powerful types of solar cells could help solar power compete with fossil fuels.

Putin going soft?: Russia’s Gazprom extends deadline for Ukraine gas payments

Ukraine now has until 0800 UTC on June 16 to pay the billions of US dollars it owes to Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas firm announced Wednesday.
After that deadline, Russian gas would only flow to Ukraine in exchange for prepayment, Gazprom Chief Executive Alexei Miller said.

Demand control: National Grid tenders for supply, demand contracts to guard against capacity crunch

The UK’s National Grid is offering contracts to energy users and generators to act as ‘balancing tools’ for the UK’s electricity system ahead of a looming capacity crunch expected for the coming winters.

Angola to follow North Sea?: Oil exports from Angola fall again in March

Angola’s oil exports fell once again in March to the lowest level in the last three years, according to a report from Portuguese bank BPI on African economies, published on the bank’s website.

Europe slits wrists again: EU-Moscow row over South Stream gas pipeline

Russia has accused the European Union of imposing “creeping” economic sanctions following Bulgaria’s decision to halt construction of a gas pipeline.

The South Stream pipeline, financed by Russia’s state gas giant Gazprom, would ship gas to western Europe via the Balkans, thus avoiding Ukraine.

Gruniad ignores nuclear power: The inevitable demise of the fossil fuel empire

Rocketing production costs, proliferating write-downs, stranded assets pave the way for renewable renaissance

Hot air slashed again: Scotland says it’s well on its way to cut emissions by as much as 80 percent

The Scottish government said Tuesday it’s reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 25 percent since 1990 and is on pace to hit 42 percent by 2020.

Tides batter toys: There Is One Problem With Harnessing Britain’s Tides

If building wind farms at sea is difficult and expensive, installing turbines beneath the waves is far more so. Currents batter them; salt corrodes them. Yet Britain’s coasts have become a playground for engineers and entrepreneurs intent on producing electricity from the tides. Their efforts are beginning to generate a buzz.

The last week on Master Resource:

Territorialism: ‘Energy Independence’: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

As some apparently inexplicable behaviour illustrates (say, being a die-hard fan of the Chicago Cubs), humans are profoundly territorial creatures. According to evolutionary psychologists, this is because for approximately 90% of their time on this planet, modern humans belonged to small groups that were constantly fighting each other over the possession of land and resources. Deep down, most people’s behaviour is not all that different from that observed on Animal Planet’s Meerkat Manor…

Bleeding the many: Wind’s PTC: The Opposition Mounts (117 groups and counting)

Concentrated benefits/diffused costs. The cronies, rent-seeking profits calculated, lobby government in the capitals. Most of the rest of us, just paying a fraction of a penny for their many dollars, stay home. That’s how government grows and bad public-policy rationales get going.

Free markets work: Tom Tanton Interview (Part I)

“I view my 40+ year career as progressions on a common theme; understanding (and promoting) the role of free markets and technology innovation one to the other, both to improve humankind’s’ lot.” – See more at:

Free markets work again: Tom Tanton Interview (Part II)

“Generally, I’d like to be remembered for helping to form a better connection and awareness between innovation and free markets and the tremendous improvements modern energy brings to people. That’s the essence of my progressive nature, so maybe I haven’t strayed to far from my early liberal bent, just on the best ways to achieve good results. Be clear on results versus intentions.”

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14 Responses to Blowout week 24

  1. Euan Mearns says:

    The Abqaiq oil field and process facilities lie to the N of the Ghawar Field in Saudi Arabia. The facilities at Abqaiq process about 5 mbpd of Saudi crude before sending it to the coast for export. In 2006..

    If the trouble in Iraq spreads to or bubbles up in Saudi expect GWIII to begin immediately.

    • Roger Andrews says:

      Euan: Knowing nothing about the Middle East except what I read in the papers, would you care to elaborate on what form you think GWIII would take, who would be fighting whom and for what?

      And would the US and Iran be on the same side?

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Roger, I guess its quite complex. One could argue that GWI of the modern era was between Iran and Iraq – Sadam against islamic fundamentalism. GWII would then be Bush Senior ejecting Sadam from Kuwait. GWIII Bush junior theoretically ejecting terrorists and WMDs from Iraq, neither of which seemed to be present at the time but the former seem to have shown up since. GWIV is then the continuation of “The Arab Spring” – spreading to Iraq, bringing it to The Gulf. At the moment I’m not sure I know who it is between since the warring faction in Iraq has been sold as the same warring faction as in Syria, though my gut feel tells me the Sunni led uprising in Iraq may have Baathist underpinnings – they never did capture Sadam’s no. 2 – though I could be miles off the mark with that suggestion.

        Andrew McKillop makes the point that Iraq was always imaginary and his view is that the Sunni uprising will be confined to northern Sunni areas. It may stay like that. The main worry for oil supplies will be Saudi Arabia. If Arab Spring spreads to or bubbles up there then the USA + Europe may get involved.To help try and protect vital oil infrastructure. However, while there are a few pressure points – Abqaiq, Ras Tanura, Hormuz – a lot of the production infrastructure is spread out all over the place and extremely difficult to defend.

        And so in answer to your question, GWIII (actually IV) will be a continuation of Arab Spring and it will effectively be civil war ± sporadic interventions from The West.

        • Roger Andrews says:

          Thanks Euan:

          Seems to me that the bottom line is this. If you want to import oil, don’t export democracy.

      • Luís says:

        One of the things that has been interesting about these recent developments is that so far the Obama administration has been pro-Sunni. Obama supported al-Qaida, and the Sunni, in Tunisia, Lybia, Egypt and Syria. In contrast the Bush administration was consistently pro-Shiia. Although W had a rethoric against Iran, he never took action against the Islamic Republic like Obama did.

        Are the US and Iran on the same side? For sure they were during W’s term in office; these days this is not so clear. Obama apparently wants the Sunni to take power in Syria but remain ostracised in Iraq – not going to happen. If Obama completes the U-turn and goes back to W’s policy then they must cooperate with Iran.

        • Euan Mearns says:

          Luis, one thing I’m a bit confused about is the denomination of “al-Qaida”. You say there they are Sunni, I’d always assumed they were Islamic fundamentalist – Shia. I believe that al-Qaida has become a useful bucket term for rebel Islamic groups – there are so many of them. A simple perspective might be that one side you have groups of poor folk who feel disenfranchised – easy to blame Western interference – rising up against the incumbent governments. Is it possible this is as much a fight between “us” and “them”? Tony Blair, who is a UK special envoy to The Middle East, sounds like a latter day Crusader.

          • Craig W. Crosby, Sr. says:

            Looking back at al-Qaida over the years, it’s most notorious leader, Osama bin-Laden has most of his roots in the Wahabi Saudi sect in KSA, if my recollection is correct. That is a militant Sunni sect. However, while in Afghanistan, they were associated with the Shias, and became more closely aligned with Iran. Of course, our CIA were responsible for raising them to their leading status in the Islamic Jihad, having armed them to assist in defeating Soviet interests there, in Afghanistan.

            Today, it seems that there are Islamic militants in many locations who identify as al-Qaida. The main branch may be in Somalia, though I doubt that is certain, and as you said it has become a handy bucket into which to position your local terrorist band if you want some notoriety. Perhaps al-Qaida no longer exists as such today.

            Of course, all should realize that the many countries of the middle east are simply imaginary kingdoms awarded to various friends of the French and English following WW-I, and largely set up to accommodate existing railroads and oil fields in order to divvy up the Turkish Empire and guaranty division of the spoils.

            The real division amongst the Islamic groups has more to do with who gets to rule (one group says the heirs of Mohammad, the other groups say, “Nay, nay.”) than any real difference in doctrine. Just like the fights between various Christian sects of the centuries of the middle ages, that leads to bloody fights over small differences. It is all about power.

            And, it is the height of hubris to get involved in these fights and expect a good outcome. If there was no oil there, we would certainly never have become involved. It is time go away and leave them alone to “fight in peace.:”

  2. Glen Mcmillian says:

    I can’t see any reason to think that oil and natural gas won’t continue to go up in price in real terms. Delivered coal will go up too. I haven’t any knowledge of the Hawaiin utilities’ energy mix for sure but I think it is mostly oil and coal.Electricity prices in Hawail are about triple the US average.

    So- The world has hard choices to make. We can do without,eventually, we can go nuclear, or we can go to renewables.

    My gut opinion is that in most places with reasonably good solar and wind renewables are going to be the cheapest option before another decade, or maybe two decades, is out.Wind and solar are not going to allow use to continue living as we do now with plentiful cheap around the clock around the calendar electricity but they will allow us to stretch ever depleting supplies of fossil fuels out for a considerable period of time. After that we will have to make some more choices. We may still be able to go nuclear.If it is too late for that then we will just have to adapt ourselves to living with intermittent electricity and a hell of a lot less of it barring some miraculous breakthroughs in storage technologies.

    There IS one bright spot in these dark energy clouds that we mostly tend to overlook and that is the potential and actually realized gains that can be and have been made in energy efficiency.I just bought my first half dozen LED lights for our old house and as my current CFL’s burn out each one will be replaced with an LED.My next truck- if my old one cannot be kept running – will get at least fifty percent better fuel economy.

    We can and will adapt to higher energy prices a lot faster than most people think we will- but adaptation still takes time. If fossil fuel supplies decline so fast that the prices rise sharply over just a few years we won’t have time to change our collective ways to the extent we must to avoid a collapse of life as we know it.

    Personally I am gravely worried that such rapid declines in supply and consequent increases in price are already baked in.IFI am right about this then we are in for some very tough times within the next decade or two.

    Rust, depletion,and inflation never sleep and history isn’t over. Energy related wars are just now about ready to get started on a serious basis.

    Another doubling of the price of jet fuel could just about destroy the international tourism industry for instance and the undesirable positive feedbacks of this industry , and a few other fuel intensive industries,failing would spread thru the world economy like a fast moving contagious disease.

    If oil prices go up steadily but slowly doubling over say the next decade then by2024 or so we will by then have changed our car buying habits for the better.BUT if oil prices remain mostly stagnant and then rise suddenly and sharply, we are going to be stuck with a fleet that is way to expensive to run.

    Personally I don’t believe we will get a whole lot of new nukes permitted and financed and built in time to matter in either the US or Western Europe due to the politics of nuclear power.

    So we should in my estimation keep the pedal to the metal on conservation,efficiency,energy storage and renewables.

    We should be building long distance HVDC transmission capacity where it is possible to make good use of it such as between the American high plains where the wind resource is superb and our big eastern cities.Such transmission lines are extremely expensive no doubt but once built they will last almost forever with some repairs and refurbishment at long intervals.What ever natural gas we get out of the ground will be desperately needed as an industrial feedstock within a few more decades.Synthetic nitrate fertilizers are much more important in the grand scheme of things than air conditioned offices.

    The cost of renewable electricity will continue to fall for a long time yet and we can learn to live with intermittent power a lot easier than we can without power at all which will be the dire reality faced by some countries without the necessary means of paying for imported energy.

    For the rest of us renewable power will stretch out our ever more expensive supplies of fossil fuels and give us a little more breathing room in terms of time to change our ways.Fossil fuel depletion cannot be finessed or ignored too much longer.

  3. Luís says:

    Thanks for the links Euan. It really was a crazy week.

  4. Craig W. Crosby, Sr. says:

    Consider for a moment the import of the name, “the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levantin (ISIL).” This army claims the entire Levant, including Syria, ISRAEL, Jordan and Iraq are its providence. Considering the geographic position of Iran, it is little wonder they are helping traditional enemy, Iraq.

    As to the post down the line, politics and economics both make for strange bedfellows. It is not inconceivable that we ally with Iran in GWIII.

  5. Roger Andrews says:

    Anyone remember the Ukraine? Well, the Russians have finally turned the gas off:

    “Russia said Kiev had missed a Monday morning deadline to repay $1.95 billion owed for previous purchases and announced Ukraine would now only get gas it has paid for in advance.

    “At the same time, Moscow insisted that Ukraine must let Russian gas flow across the country through international pipelines to Russia’s clients in the European Union – noting a temptation for Kiev to tap into those supplies in transit.”

    This could get interesting 😉

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Roger, all eyes are on Brazil where Iran got a point last night, that could be the most important thing for ordinary Iranians today. A few eyes are on MENA. The world has forgotten about Russia and Ukraine. Cutting only Ukrainian gas and allowing European gas to pass is of course a nightmare – especially for Europe, who will shortly be reminded that Russia was building them the South Stream pipeline to circumvent this problem, but the Europeans just halted work on that project aimed at providing them (us) with security.

  6. Syndroma says:

    Flood of Russian diesel inflicts pain on European refiners

    Europe’s hard-hit refiners are about to suffer further pain. A sharp rise in Russian refining volumes has sent exports of diesel fuel to fresh highs, creating a supply glut that threatens to inflict heavy losses on European plants.

    The tens of billions of dollars spent in recent years to overhaul Soviet era-built refineries have boosted production of higher grade fuels. Now, a surplus of better-quality diesel stands on Europe’s doorstep. Refinery run cuts and even plant closures and job losses could follow across the continent.

    Overall, total Russian diesel exports rose by 7 per cent year-on-year in 2013 to just under 900,000 b/d capacity at some of the country’s key ports. One-third of these shipments were of ULSD, with the bulk moving out of the Baltic port of Primorsk into northern Europe.

    From the comments section: “Is this behavior on the part of Russia “pro-Europe” or “anti-Europe”?”

  7. Syndroma says:

    Russian Sberbank will provide a loan of €870 million to Slovakia’s dominant power producer Slovenské Elektrárne (SE), for 7.5 years. The money would go for the purchase of nuclear fuel and the completion of two 440 MW reactors at the Mochovce nuclear power plant.

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