Blowout week 32

by Roger Andrews

Business Week: Ukraine threatens oil and gas cutoff

Ukraine threatened to block Russian oil and gas supplies to Europe in new sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s government. Ukraine, which no longer receives any gas from Russia but acts as a conduit for its neighbor’s European customers, is considering a “complete or partial ban on the transit of all resources” across its territory, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters today in Kiev.

Twenty-plus more stories below the fold:

Moscow Times: Russia bans US food plus EU fruit and veg

Russia has escalated an economic battle set off by the crisis in Ukraine with a ban on all food imports from the U.S. and on fruit and vegetables from the European Union. The import ban, reported by state news agency RIA Novosti on Wednesday, comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered retaliation for Western sanctions against Moscow.

Forbes: Russia threatens to ban overflights

Russia is threatening the next step in the tit for tat series of trade sanctions over the Ukraine and Crimea. Now they’re suggesting that the country might restrict overflight rights, something that’s likely to cost airlines substantial sums in extra fuel costs.

Sydney Morning Herald: Australia threatens Russia with uranium embargo

Further Russian intervention in Ukraine would invite Australian sanctions including on the sale of uranium says Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who has declared “everything’s on the table” if Moscow fails to accept responsibility for downed Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Telegraph: Putin signs $20bn oil deal with Iran to bypass Western sanctions

Vladimir Putin has agreed a $20bn (£11.8bn) trade deal with Iran that will see Russia sidestep Western sanctions on its energy sector. Under the terms of a five-year accord, Russia will help Iran organise oil sales as well as “cooperate in the oil-gas industry, construction of power plants, grids, supply of machinery, consumer goods and agriculture products”, according to a statement by the Energy Ministry in Moscow.

Telegraph: White House seriously concerned about Russia-Iran oil deal

Reports that Russia and Iran were negotiating a multi-billion dollar backdoor trade deal that could undermine upcoming nuclear negotiations with Tehran is a matter of “serious concern”, the White House admitted last night. The $1.5 billion-a-month oil-for-goods deal was first revealed in news reports last week and threatens to undermine the credibility of White House claims that Iran would receive only $7bn in phased and reversible sanctions relief in exchange for nuclear concessions, experts said.

Business Week: Putin praises Exxon

President Vladimir Putin lauded Russia’s “old and reliable partner” Exxon Mobil Corp as he gave the command for the U.S. energy company and ally OAO Rosneft to begin drilling a $700 million Arctic Ocean oil well. “Despite current political difficulties, pragmatism and common sense prevails,” Putin said

Hindustan Times: India to import Russian gas

In a move aimed at ensuring India’s energy security, the Narendra Modi-led government plans to import huge volumes of natural gas from Russia. The Centre is working out the contours of a $40-billion mega onland pipeline project carrying gas from Russia to India, in one of India’s biggest energy projects (to) date.

NYT: Mexican congress approves new rules for oil industry

Mexico’s Congress approved on Tuesday a sweeping overhaul of the energy industry that cleared the way for international giants to tap Mexico’s rich reserves of oil and gas. The new legislation is the centerpiece of President Enrique Peña Nieto’s plan to jump-start economic growth by allowing competition in one of Mexico’s most stagnant sectors. The overhaul also aims to remake Mexico’s two sclerotic state energy companies, the oil monopoly Pemex and the Federal Electricity Commission.

O&G Journal: Statoil comes up dry in the Arctic

Statoil ASA has wrapped up its 2014 exploration program in the Hoop area of the Norwegian Barents Sea, northeast of Johan Castberg, without making any commercial discoveries. Three exploration wells—the Atlantis and Apollo in PL615 and Mercury in PL614—were drilled during the summer, with Atlantis and Mercury resulting in two small gas discoveries.

Business News: Libyan oil production recovering, OPEC says

Libyan oil production is at its highest level since the beginning of the year, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said Friday. Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni told U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington his government “has managed to solve” the oil crisis plaguing what was once one of North Africa’s top oil producers. OPEC said in its market report Libyan crude oil production has doubled since June. “Libyan production rose past 500,000 barrels per day for the first time since January,” the report said.

Nasdaq: Chevron’s earnings up

Chevron’s second quarter earnings rose higher on better price realizations and gains on asset disposition. Higher global benchmark crude oil prices and the spike in natural gas demand in the U.S. this winter drove the company’s average price realization per barrel of oil equivalent more than 6% higher over the previous year’s quarter.

O&G journal: Marcellus shale now accounts for 40% of US shale gas production

Natural gas production from the Marcellus shale has surpassed 15 bcfd through July and now represents 40% of US shale gas production, making it the largest producing shale gas basin in the country, according to the US Energy Information Administration’s Drilling Productivity Report. While the region’s rig count has leveled off at around 100 rigs over the past 10 months, improvements in drilling productivity have enabled operators to more efficiently support new wells. EIA expects wells coming online in August to add more than 600 MMcfd to existing production, more than offsetting a drop in production due to existing well decline rates, thus increasing the production rate by 247 MMcfd.

NZ Herald: Fracking goes deep water

Energy companies are taking their controversial fracking operations from the land to the sea – to deep waters off the United States, South American and African coasts. (T)he big play is in the Gulf of Mexico, where wells more than 100 miles from the coastline must traverse water depths of a mile or more and can cost almost $100 million to drill.

Bloomberg: EPA mandate threatens shutdown of unit at US’s largest coal plant

Owners of the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant near the Grand Canyon, have proposed shuttering a unit by 2020 to avoid an Environmental Protection Agency mandate to install pollution-control devices. The proposal was submitted to the EPA today in response to the agency’s plan set out earlier this year that would force the plant to install equipment on smokestacks to eliminate nitrogen oxide emissions.

FirstPost: Re-start of Japanese nuclear plants delayed – utilities struggling

The long-awaited restart of Japan’s nuclear power plants is facing yet another setback and may be delayed until 2015, Japanese media said on Wednesday, piling pressure on struggling utilities to push for fresh price hikes. Japan’s electric utilities have racked up more than $34 billion in losses in the three years since (Fukushima).

FT: Europe’s big energy groups stop complaining about green subsidies

Not that long ago barely a month passed without someone from France’s GDF Suez or Germany’s Eon grumbling that unaffordable support for green energy was eating into the profits of their fossil fuel plants – or increasing the risk of the lights going out. However, the companies themselves have been far less vocal in their complaints of late – which may reflect their successful lobbying for cuts to renewables subsidies. Several countries have implemented cuts and, in January, Brussels went one better by abandoning legally binding renewable energy targets for individual countries, in favour of a looser EU-wide goal. More help is on the way for the traditional generators. After years of subsidising wind and solar plants, at least five EU countries – including Germany, France and the UK, the three largest economies – have drawn up plans to support conventional generators in order to secure electricity supplies.

Euractiv: EU to review impact assessment guidelines

The European Commission is reviewing its impact assessment guidelines amid accusations that science is becoming increasingly politicised and scientists manipulated by policymakers and powerful interest groups. A big challenge for the incoming European Commission will be to disconnect its evidence gathering processes from the “political imperative” that’s driving policy proposals, said Anne Glover, the EU’s chief scientific advisor.

Renewable Energy Focus: Tidal power at Islay

The initial phase of the project is located in an area of seabed of approximately 2sq km with water depths of around 30metres. Ultimately it is hoped that the site will have an installed capacity of many hundreds of MWs but the initial phase and the current consent application lodged with Marine Scotland for consideration In September 2013 is for a project of up to 30MWs.

Renewable Energy Focus: And tidal power at Pembroke

Tidal Energy Ltd’s DeltaStream 400kW demonstration device, which weighs 150 tonnes and with a frame 16m long by 20m high, also includes a number of design features to minimise any potential impact on the surrounding environment. Following a 12 month testing period, Tidal Energy Limited will join forces with Eco2 Ltd to install up to nine DeltaStream devices off St Davids Head in Pembrokeshire. These installations will form a 10MW DeltaStream commercial array,

NOAA: An El Niño now looks less likely

The chance of El Niño has decreased to about 65% during the Northern Hemisphere fall and early winter.

WLTX: Climate change causes fewer, and more, tornadoes

Climate change may be playing a role in the strength and frequency of tornadoes, a new study suggests. The number of tornado days in a year — days in which at least one tornado occurred — have declined since the 1970s, with a high of 187 in 1971 and a low of 79 tornado days in 2013. But at the same time, the number of days with multiple tornadoes has risen sharply

National Journal: Teach global warming in schools, says EPA head

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy wants schools to include climate science in their curricula. “I think part of the challenge of explaining climate change is that it requires a level of science and a level of forward thinking and you’ve got to teach that to kids. People didn’t have a sense of how dramatic climate change really is, and what it means for all of us.”

Breitbart: Danish professor fired for criticizing wind turbines?

A Danish university has fired one of its professors who was critical of wind farms. Acoustics expert Henrik Møller, who is internationally recognised in his field, was ostensibly sacked because he did not generate enough revenue for the university, although some are questioning this explanation. Igrid Stage, vice president of the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations, told the newspaper Information: “It looks quite peculiar. One can easily get the idea that the lack of resources is a convenient justification.” Tone F. Brix Hansen, chair of the National Association Neighbours of Giant Wind Turbines (NANGWT), agrees. “The entire dismissal looks very mysterious.”

CFACT: Scientists lose power in record Antarctic cold

Thirteen members of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) were trapped and in danger of freezing to death when their base, Halley VI, lost power.  Power went down on July 30th and is now partially restored.  The BAS waited to report the incident until power came back up, however now reports that the incident was so serious that all science activities have been suspended and emergency contingency plans to abandon some of Halley’s eight modules and attempt to shelter in a remaining few have been prepared. The incident is particularly serious, as the station is likely completely cut off from rescue for months.

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5 Responses to Blowout week 32

  1. Euan Mearns says:

    Roger, Many thanks for this splendid compilation. There is much to discuss. I have just spent 7 days in Germany; Munich and Southern Bavaria which is probably one of the most prosperous places on Earth and it has been easy to become disconnected from the real world. And on returning it is very hard to make sense of what is going on.

    Let me begin with ISAL, Iraq and Kurdistan. ISAL grew out of the “freedom fighters” fighting al-Assad in Syria – right? In Syria “ISAL” are the good guys that Turkey (a staunch NATO ally) allegedly lent some mustard gas to try and frame al-Assad as a War Criminal. Now they have crossed into Iraq and are fighting the puppet regime set up by the USA they are the bad guys, especially since they have targeted the Kurds and Kurdistan where many international oil companies, including Exxon and Total have interests. The west really needs this oil, hence it is time to bomb ISAL. But curiously, the USA has been doing all it can to prevent Kurdish crude reaching the market. Confused? I am! If anyone has more light to cast on the bizarre behaviour Obama and the USA then please fire away.

    Turning northwards to Ukraine – what on earth is going on? Raúl Ilargi Meijer at The Automatic Earth has this analysis, suitably couched, that raises serious doubts and uncertainties about who shot down flight MH17:

    In particular, Raul cites this article from the Malaysian New Straight Times:

    KUALA LUMPUR: INTELLIGENCE analysts in the United States had already concluded that Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by an air-to-air missile, and that the Ukrainian government had had something to do with it.

    This corroborates an emerging theory postulated by local investigators that the Boeing 777-200 was crippled by an air-to-air missile and finished off with cannon fire from a fighter that had been shadowing it as it plummeted to earth.

    In a damning report dated Aug 3, headlined “Flight 17 Shoot-Down Scenario Shifts”, Associated Press reporter Robert Parry said “some US intelligence sources had concluded that the rebels and Russia were likely not at fault and that it appears Ukrainian government forces were to blame”.

    If this is true, then “the west” are picking a fight with Putin for an act that their own ally (west Ukraine) may have perpetrated. The EU puppets and the USA need to present hard evidence for what happened to flight MH17 post haste.

    • Welcome back Euan;

      In the Middle East there’s one obvious black hat – ISAL, or ISIL, or ISIS or whatever the acronym du jour happens to be, no white hats and a lot of hats of varying shades of gray. Which to support? And to what end? Are we still trying to spread democracy? A little late for that. Or should the goal be to secure oil supplies? Or should we prioritize the defeat of ISAL?

      It seems obvious that we have to defeat ISAL before we can do anything else. But how to do it? Well, ISAL is the closest thing we’ve seen yet to an Islamic field army (now liberally supplied with American weapons captured from the Iraqis) and the way you normally defeat an enemy’s field army is with your own field army. That’s what armies are for. So who’s going to send in the army? Not the US of A. Been there, done that, says Obama. Ain’t going to do it again. The EU? Forget it. Iran? Are they wearing black hats or white hats today?

      But what about the large country immediately to the north that has over 400,000 men under arms, more than 12,000 tanks and armored fighting vehicles and close to 1,000 combat aircraft? Everyone seems to have forgotten about Turkey. And ISAL has just threatened to “liberate Istanbul”:

      • Euan Mearns says:

        Turkey is a member of NATO, and so if Turkey is attacked we are “all in”.

        • NATO is a good lead-in for what I was going to say about the Ukraine crisis, because if NATO hadn’t swallowed all those former East Bloc states after the breakup of the Sovier Union in the early 1990s Russia would not now feel threatened by encirclement and there wouldn’t be one. (Does NATO really threaten Russia with encirclement? Doesn’t matter. The fact that Russia thinks it does is all that counts.)

          And the sanctions squabble has finally and predictably degenerated into comic opera (You embargo our slotted-head screws, eh? OK, we embargo your turnips.)

          Time for a policy change. As Steingart said: “Russia should be integrated, not isolated. Small steps in that direction are better than the great nonsense of exclusionary politics.” A friendly Russia as a counterpoise to an expansionist China might not be a bad idea either.

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