Next month’s Opec meeting will take place against a background of dissension between two power blocs in an organisation that controls the lifeblood of the global economy, reports Andrew Critchelow.
A secretive group of the world’s most powerful oil ministers will soon gather in Vienna to take arguably one of the most important decisions that could affect the still fragile world economy: whether to cut production of crude to defend prices at US$100 per barrel, or keep open the spigots as winter looms among the biggest energy-consuming nations.
A sudden slump in the price of crude has exposed deep divisions within the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) ahead of its final scheduled meeting of the year next month to decide on how much oil to pump.
Some members, led by Iran, have called for immediate action to stem the drop in oil prices, while the Arab sheikhdoms of the Gulf have so far argued that it could be another three months before it becomes clear whether the group should cut production for the first time since December 2008. Whatever they decide, oil remains the lifeblood of the global economic system due to its direct impact on inflation and input prices. Continue reading
Climate opinions and controversy aside, what we see here are the foundational building blocks for a stronger European economy and another tool to be used in shifting away from the Russian bear and its energy strong-arm tactics. Berlin has come to the conclusion that environmental restrictions stifle its fourth rise.
The EU’s reputation as a model of environmental responsibility may soon be history. The European Commission wants to forgo ambitious climate protection goals and pave the way for fracking — jeopardizing Germany’s touted energy revolution in the process.
The climate between Brussels and Berlin is polluted, something European Commission officials attribute, among other things, to the “reckless” way German Chancellor Angela Merkel blocked stricter exhaust emissions during her re-election campaign to placate domestic automotive manufacturers like Daimler and BMW. This kind of blatant self-interest, officials complained at the time, is poisoning the climate. Continue reading
NIAMEY, Niger – In Niger, government officials have fought a Chinese oil giant step by step, painfully undoing parts of a contract they call ruinous. In neighboring Chad, they have been even more forceful, shutting down the Chinese and accusing them of gross environmental negligence. In Gabon, they have seized major oil tracts from China, handing them over to the state company.
China wants Africa’s oil as much as ever. But instead of accepting the old terms, which many African officials call unconditional surrender, some cash-starved African states are pushing back, showing an assertiveness unthinkable until recently and suggesting that the days of unbridled influence by the African continent’s mega-investor may be waning. Continue reading