Putin And Erdogan Drifting Away From The West

 

Political and economic developments in the European Union, Turkey and Russia are cumulatively aiding Russian President Vladimir Putin to become an ascending star in the international firmament. In an unexpected twist, the supporting actor in this dramatic ascent is Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a former staunch critic of the Kremlin in the Syrian civil war who is now aligned with Putin in hostility towards the EU.

The rise of right-wing populism in the EU – Brexit, improved performance by Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the 15 March Dutch general election, and the lead position of the National Front’s Marine Le Pen in French opinion polls – is a contributory element. Another is the refugee crisis which has widened the base of Europe’s rightwing parties. Though less severe now than in 2015, the present quiescent state of the refugee crisis depends on Erdogan’s good will. By closing Turkish borders with neighboring Greece, he drastically reduced the refugee influx into the EU. Equally, he could reverse his decision and revive the crisis. Continue reading

Trump Mulling Reneging on Another Campaign Pledge, Thanks to Ivanka and Jared Kushner

 

According to Bloomberg, a pro Paris bloc in his administration, which targets greenhouse emissions, is recruiting energy companies to lobby the President to remain in the controversial agreement that he specifically said was a waste of money during the campaign.

“Domestic energy companies are better positioned to compete globally if the United States remains a party to the Paris agreement,” Cheniere wrote. The accord “is a useful instrument for fostering demand for America’s energy resources and supporting the continued growth of American industry.” Continue reading

Fracking Comes to the Arctic in a New Alaska Oil Boom

Alaska’s North Slope region, including the National Petroleum Reserve (NPRA), Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPS). US Geological Survey/Wikipedia

 

Arctic lands and waters hold irresistible allure for global oil companies. Despite opposition from environmental groups and President Obama’s 2016 ban on drilling in federal Arctic waters, exploration in Alaska has revealed massive new volumes of oil. The Conversation

This comes at a time of low oil prices, when many observers felt the Arctic would remain off limits. Alaska has proved precisely the opposite. Although it has gone largely unnoticed outside the industry, foreign firms are partnering with American companies to pursue these new possibilities. I expect this new wave of Arctic development will help increase US oil production and influence in world oil markets for at least the next several decades. Continue reading

World War III nightmare scenario brewing in the East China Sea

Mounting threat: Japanese F-15 jets are intercepting Chinese military planes daily. (Toru Yamanaka | AFP | Getty Images)

 

OKINAWA-While the world watches mounting military tensions in the South China Sea, another, more ominous situation is brewing in the East China Sea that could be the trigger point for a major war between the superpowers. At the heart of tensions are eight uninhabited islands controlled by Japan that are close to important shipping lanes, rich fishing grounds and potential oil and gas reserves. China contests Japan’s claims and is escalating its military activity in Japan airspace. In response, Japan has been doubling its F-15 jet intercepts.

The situation increases the risk of an accidental confrontation — and could draw other countries, like the United States, into a conflict. It’s a topic President Trump will likely bring up with Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate this week. Continue reading

The End Of OPEC Is Near

 

OPEC, which has far exceeded the average life of cartels, is on the brink of failure. Though cracks have been developing in the cartel since the start of the current oil crisis, the group has managed to stay together so far. Nevertheless, the success of the current OPEC deal for production cuts will decide its future as a cartel.

What is a cartel?

A cartel is a group of like-minded producers, who act in concert—or collusion—to achieve a shared goal of increasing their profits by means of restricting supply, fixing prices, or destroying their competition by illegal means. The average life of the 20th Century cartels has been 3.7 to 7.5 years, according to various studies by Margaret Levenstein and Valerie Suslow. In the past two centuries, cartels have been able to influence prices by an average of 25 percent. Continue reading

U.S. carrier confronts two sets of fast boats in Strait of Hormuz

Iranian fast-attack boats. /Getty Images/File

 

A U.S. aircraft carrier on March 21 deployed helicopter gunships to track two sets of Iranian fast-attack vessels during a confrontation in the Strait of Hormuz, the U.S. Navy said.

Navy commanders told Reuters the USS George H.W. Bush confronted the Iranian boats after they approached a U.S.-led, five-vessel flotilla as it entered the Strait, Reuters reported. Continue reading

Vital Oil Shipping Lane Becomes Target In Yemen’s Civil War

 

Yemen’s strategic Red Sea port, through which some 4 million barrels of oil flow daily to Middle Eastern markets, is becoming a focal point in the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and China is the only power with the economic deal-making leverage to keep this from becoming much more than a proxy battle.

The Red Sea port, near the Bab al-Mandab strait, is currently controlled by Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthis, and whoever maintains control of it has a strategic advantage. This port is a pathway connection the Middle East (where the world’s largest proven oil reserves are) and Sub-Saharan Africa (a region expected to see a four-fold increase in energy demand by 2040), making it a coveted geopolitical prize for regional powers, but a livelihood-destroying burden for Yemen’s residents. Continue reading

U.S. Shale Faces A Workforce Shortage

 

A problem for the U.S. shale oil and gas industry that analysts and observers have warned about for a long time has materialized: there is a shortage of workers. According to one service provider for E&Ps, trucker jobs remain vacant even with an annual paycheck of $80,000, which is certainly a big change from a couple of years ago when layoffs were sweeping through the shale patch.

This shortage could dampen the prospects of not just shale producers, who are eager to ramp up production as quickly as possible and take advantage of higher international oil prices, but it will also seriously hamper the recovery of the oilfield services segment, which has been hit harder than E&Ps by the price crash. Continue reading

U.S. Shale Production Growing At An Unprecedented Pace

 

The oil markets have long expected that U.S. shale production would rebound once oil prices started to rise. But the comeback of shale could be much faster and stronger than many once anticipated.

There are a few reasons for this. First, the industry is leaner than it once was, with some of the least efficient companies forced out of the market and the consolidated sector is now moving quickly with oil prices stabilized in the $50s per barrel range. Second, oil drillers have a lot more experience in shale than they did years ago. Improved drilling techniques, which include longer laterals, more wells per wellpad and stronger fracking processes are yielding more oil per rig and per well. Third, instead of drilling everywhere, companies are focusing on the best spots this time around. Finally, it isn’t just the small companies drilling in U.S. shale – the oil majors are increasingly getting into the shale game. Continue reading

Saudi King Goes East In Search Of Friends And Cash

 

The Saudi King kicked off a month-long tour of Asia this week, as the oil kingdom looks to bolster ties in the east as it loses confidence in the U.S. as a stable ally.

The trip began in Malaysia where King Salman inked a $7 billion deal, promising to invest in a Malaysian petrochemical complex run by state-owned oil company Petronas. From there, he will tour Indonesia, Brunei, Japan, China and the Maldives. Continue reading

Iran Renews Destructive Cyber Attacks on Saudi Arabia

AP

Tehran strategy seeks takeover of oil-rich U.S. ally

After a four-year hiatus, Iran recently resumed destructive cyber attacks against Saudi Arabia in what U.S. officials say is part of a long-term strategy by Tehran to take over the oil-rich kingdom and regional U.S. ally.

Late last month, the Saudi government warned in a notice to telecommunications companies that an Iranian-origin malicious software called Shamoon had resurfaced in cyber attacks against some 15 Saudi organizations, including government networks. Continue reading

U.S. Says It Won’t ‘Take’ Iraq’s Oil As Russia Expands Influence

Oil Engineer

 

Less than a day after U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis contradicted Trump’s oft-repeated maxim that we should have taken Iraq’s oil, Russia has moved to expand its footprint in the region with a new oil deal in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Russian state-owned Rosneft PJSC has announced that not only will it purchase Kurdish crude until 2019, but it is also studying exploration and production opportunities there. The deal was announced at the same time that Russia moved to expand its footprint in Libya in a second deal designed to gain more control in the Middle East. Continue reading

Iran Announces 2 Billion Barrel Shale Oil Find

 

The western province of Lorestan will be getting new attention from the Iranian oil ministry following the discovery of major shale oil reserves in the region, according to new reports emerging from the area.

The resources, found in the Ghali Koh field, totaled two billion barrels, Bahman Soleimani, the National Iranian Oil Company’s Soleimani said on Monday, citing a recent study. “The oil is light,” he described.

Other research on the area’s shale gas reserves will be completed by October 2017, the official added. Continue reading

Russia Gains Upper Hand In Asian Oil War

The Saudi-led OPEC cuts may have supported oil prices and reduced market volatility, but they have also opened the door wide to rival crude grades flowing into the most prized market for the Middle Eastern producers: Asia.

Reduced supplies by OPEC resulted in higher prices for Middle Eastern crude benchmark Dubai and a narrower Brent/Dubai spread, which made the shipment of Brent-price-linked crude grades to Asia profitable. Continue reading

A President’s Policy

BERLIN (Own report) – Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President-elect of the Federal Republic of Germany is the epitome of the past two decades of Berlin’s expansionist policy – from the war over Kosovo to intervention in the Syrian war. As State Secretary in the Federal Chancellery, Steinmeier was implicated in the aggression against Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999, with which Germany, in violation of international law, entered its first war of aggression since 1945. As head of the Federal Chancellery, he had participated in the struggle to obtain access to Russia’s vast natural gas reserves. As Foreign Minister, he was massively striving to roll back Russia’s political influence by associating Ukraine with the EU, even condoning a coup – with fascist participation – in Kiev. Steinmeier’s activities had also been influenced by the so-called war on terror. In the Chancellery, he played a leading role in cooperation with the CIA’s torture program. In the fall of 2002, he helped to prevent an innocent native of Bremen from being released to Germany from the US Guantanamo torture camp. He was complicit in the interrogation of German suspects in Syrian and Lebanese torture chambers. Just recently, Steinmeier provided political support to a jihadist militia, classified a terror organization by the German judiciary. Continue reading