Russia Claims To Have Invented Alternative To Fracking

Russia

 

Russian scientists and local oil field services companies claim to have created a technology for thermochemical gas fracturing that could be an alternative to hydraulic fracturing and could increase oil production by between 1.7 and 6 times, Russia’s news agency RIA Novosti reports, citing the University of Tyumen’s press service.

In hydraulic fracturing, rocks are fractured with high-pressure injection of fluids, while the new breakthrough technology, as claimed by Russian scientists and media, is creating chemical reactions in the strata that contain oil. Continue reading

Vietnam Bends the Knee to China

Chinese President Xi Jinping accompanies President Tran Dai Quang of The Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to view a guard of honour during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People on May 11, 2017 in Beijing, China. GETTY IMAGES

 

More proof that in the South China Sea, Beijing is king.

In recent decades, Vietnam has distinguished itself several times as a nation not afraid to stand up to its larger and far more powerful neighbor to the North. From the border conflicts of the 1970s and ’80s to the passage in 2012 of the “Law on the Sea” resolution, Hanoi has demonstrated its willingness to resist Beijing. But last month, in a sign of the shifting power balance between China and the United States, Vietnam yielded to Beijing’s intimidation. Continue reading

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Is Slowly Dying

 

Forty years ago, in the wake of the Arab oil embargo that made the United States acutely aware of just how dependent its economy was on imported crude, the government set up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a bid to make sure there were no repeats of the painful shortages the embargo caused.

Now, there are about 700 million barrels in the SPR. The U.S. is producing 9.42 million barrels daily, as of the week ending August 4th, a figure that is set to continue rising as shale producers keep on pumping more. Imports as of last week averaged 7.8 million barrels daily, with the four-week average at 8 million bpd. This means that the SPR holds crude oil equal to 40 days of local production plus imports. Continue reading

Australia Takes On Qatar For Top LNG Producer Status

LNG

 

Australia this week moved a step closer to becoming a real problem for Qatar on the LNG market, after the second floating production, storage, and offloading vessel for the Ichthys gas field reached its destination.

The Ichthys Venturer joins the Ichthys Explorer at the field operated by Japan’s Inpex, with the first LNG shipment from the field scheduled for next spring.

The Venturer has a capacity of 1.12 million barrels of gas condensate and will process, stabilize, and store condensate it will receive from the other FPSO, and then load it on tankers. Continue reading

Russia Eyes Rapid Middle East Energy Expansion

Graph 1. Russian Participation within the framework of the Iran Petroleum Contract.

 

Having battled through the travails of an ever-tightening sanctions regime and a prolonged economic downturn, which in most cases led to a freezing up or lowering of expenditures and the adoption of a very risk-averse investment strategy, Russian companies are now destined to embark upon a new expansion, this time in the Middle East. With the recently imposed U.S. sanctions further impacting Russia’s ability to form partnerships with Western majors, Iran, Iraq and possibly even Syria will become the new hub of Russian oil-related investments. Immensely rich in oil, yet lacking the funds necessary to exploit it, virtually unsanctionable for any potential cooperation with Russian companies (even sanctions vis-à-vis Iraq are implausible given the ongoing fight against the Islamic State) and brought ever closer together politically on the back of recent developments in the region, the Middle East-Russia axis is bound to get stronger with time. Continue reading

U.S. Is A Net Exporter Of Natural Gas For First Time In 59 Years

Source: EIA

 

Exports outweigh imports in February, April, May: EIA

The U.S. has been a net exporter of natural gas for three of the first five months of 2017, according to a note released by the EIA. This is historically significant, as February, April and May are so far, the only months in which the U.S has been a net exporter of natural gas since 1958. Continue reading

One world under China? Beijing rolls out BRI initiative; U.S. can’t agree on renewing its own infrastructure

Screen shot from CCTV News.

 

The Belt and Road Initiative is the vanguard for Beijing’s reach for global power. It may not work, given all the imponderables of a project on this scale, not to mention conflicting interests with nations along its route. But at least the Chinese are showing the kind of social energy necessary to achieve great things. Do Americans still have that trait?

The state-owned press in China was all aglow about President Xi Jinping’s address to the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. Xinhua proclaimed how “Many overseas experts and scholars have praised” it. Towards the end of his remarks, President Xi brought up his pet project; recreating the ancient Silk Road that once linked Imperial China to Europe through Central Asia and the Middle East. He proclaimed, “Commitment of the Belt and Road Forum is highly compatible with the goal of the G20” and should be seen as part of a “new and inclusive globalization.” The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation had been held in Beijing, May 14-15. It attracted 29 heads of state (including Russian President Vladimir Putin) and representatives of 130 other countries (including the U.S.), plus the leaders of 70 international organizations, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Continue reading

Wintershall warns U.S. against playing ‘geopolitical football.’

 

German energy company Wintershall, a European partner with Russia’s Gazprom, said the European energy sector can’t be used for “geopolitical football.”

President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed a bill into law that sanctions Iran, North Korea and Russia. The Russian measure in particular is significant given the election issue clouding the Trump administration. Continue reading

Historic Shift in Geopolitical Alignments: India and Pakistan Join Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)

 

On June 9, both India and Pakistan became simultaneously members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian economic, political and mutual security organization largely dominated by China and Russia. 

While the SCO with headquarters in Beijing is not officially a “military alliance”, it nonetheless serves as a geopolitical and strategic “counterweight” to US-NATO and its allies. It also plays a significant role in the development of  Eurasian trade, e.g. in support of China’s Belt and Road initiative, oil and gas pipeline corridors linking SCO member states, etc.

In the course of the last few years, the SCO has extended its cooperation in military affairs and intelligence. War games were held under the auspices of the SCO.

The members of  the SCO include China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Pakistan and India are now full members since June 9, 2017. Iran is an Observer Member slated to shortly become a full member.

The SCO now encompasses an extensive region which now comprises approximately half of the World’s population. Continue reading

“Pushing Back” Iran

 

On both the left and the right, there is a consensus in Washington that the United States needs to “push back” against the Islamic Republic’s nefarious actions in the Levant, Iraq, and Yemen. The clerical regime largely controls the ground war in Syria: Tehran’s foreign Shiite militias, imported from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and Iranian-directed native forces lead the battle against the Sunni insurrection. In Iraq, the Islamic Republic has energetically encouraged sectarian conflict, aiding politicians and militias that have taken a hardline toward political compromise with Sunnis. Iraqi members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have become senior officials in the government. And in Yemen, Iran has backed the Shiite Houthis in their campaign to dominate the country. What once would have seemed far-fetched—Tehran trying to develop a Lebanese Hezbollah-like movement among Yemen’s “Fiver” Zaydi Shiites, who have never been close to the “Twelver” Jafaris of Iran—is now conceivable. If such Shiite militancy becomes anchored in the south of the peninsula, Tehran will surely try to aim it northward toward the badly oppressed Shiites of Bahrain and the oil-rich Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. Continue reading

Russia’s Real Endgame

 

Russia’s Putin has never taken his eye off the ball. His ambition is not global hegemony or European conquest. Putin seeks what Russia has always sought: regional hegemony and a set of buffer states in eastern Europe and central Asia that can add to Russia’s strategic depth.

It is strategic depth — the capacity to suffer massive invasions and still survive due to an ability to retreat to a core position and stretch enemy supply lines — that enabled Russia to defeat both Napoleon and Hitler. Putin also wants the modicum of respect that would normally accompany that geostrategic goal.

Understanding Putin is not much more complicated than that. Continue reading

EU “Sounds Alarm” Over New US Sanctions On Russia; Germany Threatens Retaliation

Late on Friday, Congressional negotiators reached a deal to advance a bill that would punish Russia for its interference in the 2016 election and restrict the president’s power to remove sanctions on Moscow, according to the WSJ. The measure, if signed into law, will also give Congress veto powers to block any easing of Russian sanctions by the president. And while it remained unclear if President Donald Trump would sign the bill if it reaches his desk, which is now likely, the loudest complaint about the bill to date has emerged noe from the Oval Office, but from Brussels, after the EU once again urged (and warned, and threatened) US lawmakers to coordinate their anti-Russia actions with European partners, or else. Continue reading

U.S., Russia Vie For European Gas Dominance

Trump

 

WASHINGTON: U.S. legislation renewing and tightening sanctions on Russia, stalled in the House of Representatives, was not passed before the U.S. and Russian presidents met at the G20 summit in Hamburg. The proposed bill had already received criticism not only from Russia but also from Germany and Austria about the impact sanctions may have on Europe’s gas supply.

Europe and the United States need not worry: Energy markets have undergone significant transformation in favor of importers, and Russia’s tough talk warning against sanctions is little more than posturing. Russia needs Europe as a market for its oil and gas. Continue reading

U.S. To Be A Top-Ten Oil Exporter In Three Years

US

 

PIRA Energy has predicted that U.S. crude oil exports will top 2 million barrels by 2020, reaching 2.25 million bpd. That’s more than what most OPEC members export, the FT notes, citing the research company’s figures. As of 2016, the U.S. average daily export rate was just 520,000 bpd, although in May, the average daily was 1.02 million barrels, after the 1-million-bpd mark was passed early in the year. Continue reading

The World’s Most Dangerous Man

 

On June 19, Saudi Arabia reportedly captured three members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. A newsworthy story in its own right.

But what the Saudis allege the three were doing is much bigger news.

When captured, these three men were on-board one of three boats that were approaching the offshore Saudi oil field Marjan.1

They were not there for sightseeing.

The vessels (again this is according to the Saudis) were loaded to the brim with the types of materials that made the intent of the Iranians very clear… Continue reading