Petro-dictators are in even more trouble than we thought a few days ago

On Oct. 9, we said the outlook for the world’s petrocrats looked bad. It just got worse: Saudi Arabia has been hoping that producers of American shale oil will be forced to begin cutting back given the plunge of oil prices, but the International Energy Agency (IEA) said today that prices can fall a good deal more.

What does that mean for geo-politics? Admittedly long-shot nuclear talks with Iran that resumed today in Vienna may stand a better chance of resulting in a deal. And Russian leader Vladimir Putin may be more conciliatory with Ukraine in gas-price discussions that begin next week. Continue reading

China reportedly just bought 5% of Ukraine (but the Ukrainian partner denies it)

Update (9:21 a.m. ET): Ukraine’s KSG Agro released a statement today, Sept. 24, denying reports that it had reached an agreement to sell 3 million hectares to a Chinese firm. Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post had reported a deal between KSG Agro and China’s Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, (XPCC) in which China would be able to farm the area for up to 50 years. The paper cited a statement from XPCC as the source of its report. Quartz and other media also reported on the story.

In its statement, the Warsaw-listed agricultural firm said that it is only working with its Chinese partners on a project to install drip-irrigation systems over an area of 3,000 hectares in Ukraine next year. “KSG Agro does not intend or have any right to sell land to foreigners, including the Chinese,” the statement posted on their website said. China’s XPCC could not be immediately reached for comment.

Original (September 23): China has inked a deal to farm three million hectares (paywall), or about 11, 583 square miles of Ukrainian land over the span of half a century—which means the eastern European country will give up about 5% of its total land, or 9% of its arable farmland to feed China’s burgeoning population. Continue reading