Bush urges Opec to up output

It would be a “mistake” for Opec ministers meeting in Vienna to ignore the pain record-high oil prices were inflicting on the United States, President George W Bush said yesterday.

In some of his strongest language to date, Bush turned up the heat on the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, source of about a third of the globe’s oil supply.

Oil prices set new highs above US$100 ($125) a barrel this week and average US petrol prices crept nearer to their record of US$3.22 a gallon set last May.

“I think it’s a mistake to have your biggest customer’s economy slow down … as a result of high energy prices,” Bush said.

In real terms, the US oil price of US$103.95 a barrel set on Tuesday is the highest on record, including the price shocks of 1978-1980.

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Venezuela: The Spectre of Big Oil

by Paul Kellogg

Global Research, March 4, 2008
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“Never again will they rob us — the ExxonMobil bandits. They are imperial, American bandits, white-collared thieves. They turn governments corrupt, they oust governments. They supported the invasion of Iraq.”

This was the response from Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez to the successful lawsuit by the world’s biggest corporation (ExxonMobil), freezing $12 billion in assets of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA — a serious escalation in Big Oil’s long running dispute with Chávez and the movement he represents.

ExxonMobil isn’t suing PDVSA because it needs the money. The world’s largest publicly traded corporation recorded profits of $40.6-billion (U.S.) in 2007, up three per cent from 2006′s record of $39.6-billion. “If Exxon were a country, its 2007 profit would exceed output of two-thirds of the world’s nations. Its 2007 revenue of $404-billion (U.S.) would place it among the 30 largest countries, ahead of such middle powers as Sweden and Venezuela.”

ExxonMobil claims it is suing PDVSA because of a June 2007 deadline given by Chávez to Exxon and other Big Oil corporations operating in Venezuela, demanding they cede majority control in their heavy-crude upgrading projects in the country. ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips filed arbitration requests with the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes, and ExxonMobil simultaneously took legal action in courts in the U.S. and Britain, which on February 7 agreed with their claim, and ordered the freeze of PDVSA assets.

But there is much more at stake than a simple legal disagreement. First — many other Big Oil companies have agreed to Chávez’ terms and not gone to court — among them, Chevron Corp., Norway’s Statoil ASA, Britain’s BP PLC and France’s Total SA. Second, Venezuela is not the only country to confront Big Oil and demand that old contracts be renegotiated. Here in Canada, Newfoundland’s Danny Williams demanded and won an ownership share in the multi-billion-dollar Hebron offshore oil deal. Even the Tories in Alberta are forcing Big Oil to pay higher royalties. And in Russia, “both BP PLC and Royal Dutch Shell PLC have ceded control in big, lucrative Siberian projects to Russian gas monopoly OAO Gazprom.”

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Chavez warns of “war” if Colombia strikes Venezuela

CARACAS (Reuters) – President Hugo Chavez warned Colombia on Saturday it would be a “cause for war” if its forces struck inside Venezuelan territory as they did in Ecuador killing a top Colombian rebel commander there.

“Don’t be thinking that you can do that here … because it would be extremely serious and would be a causa belli, a cause for war, (if there is) a military incursion in Venezuelan territory. There’s no excuse,” Chavez said in his most belligerent comments to date in a diplomatic dispute with Bogota.

Colombia’s military said troops killed Raul Reyes, a leader of Marxist FARC rebels, during an attack on a jungle camp in Ecuador in a severe blow to Latin America’s oldest guerrilla insurgency. The operation included air strikes and fighting with rebels across the border.

Chavez has been at odds with U.S.-backed Colombian President Alvaro Uribe over the Venezuelan’s mediation with the FARC, or the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, over the release of hostages held by the rebels.

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The grand oil theft has begun: Oil giants poised to move into Basra

Western oil giants are poised to enter southern Iraq to tap the country’s vast reserves, despite the ongoing threat of violence, according to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s business emissary to the country.

Michael Wareing, who heads the new Basra Development Commission, acknowledged that there would be concerns among Iraqis about multinationals exploiting natural resources.

Basra, where 4 000 British troops are based, has been described as “the lung” of Iraq by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The region accounts for 90% of government revenue and 70% of Iraq’s proven oil reserves. It has access to the Persian Gulf and is potentially one of the richest areas in the Middle East, but continues to be plagued by rival militias.

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War pimp alert: US funding militia to destabilize Iran

The United States is clandestinely funding militant groups within Iran’s borders to destabilize the country, The Daily Telegraph says.

According to the daily, CIA officials are secretly funding militias among the numerous ethnic minorities clustered in Iran’s border regions in order to mount pressure on the country to give up its nuclear program.

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Russian energy ties with Iran send US a message

With European and US companies out of the competition, Russia’s Gazprom has an edge as it bids for a bigger role in developing the world’s second-largest gas reserves

AS the United States warns the world away from business with Tehran, Moscow’s tightening ties to Iran’s energy sector underline Russia’s differences with Washington over Iranian nuclear plans and Kosovo’s independence.

While the timing of Moscow’s announcement on Tuesday may have been political, the deal for Russian state-controlled energy giant Gazprom to take on big new Iranian oil and gas projects was a long time in the making and dovetails with Gazprom’s strategic ambitions, analysts said. Gazprom, the world’s biggest gas producer, will play a larger role in developing Iran’s giant South Pars gas field and will also drill for oil.

“The Russian government and the United States are at loggerheads over how to engage with Iran, with Russia actively favouring a more open relationship,” said Ronald Smith, chief strategist at Alfa Bank. “This makes Gazprom rather indifferent to American policy wishes.” The US accuses Iran of using uranium enrichment to develop weapons, while Tehran says it needs nuclear power. Russia has been reluctant to impose more UN sanctions on Iran.

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Large Potential Albanian Oil and Gas Discovery Underscores Kosovo’s Importance

Just in case you were wondering why the US was so quick in accepting Kosovo’s independency. ANd why in fact it has worked so hard to make it independent.

by Stephen Lendman

Global Research, February 19, 2008
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On January 10, Swiss-based Manas Petroleum Corporation broke the news. Gustavson Associates LLC’s Resource Evaluation identified large prospects of oil and gas reserves in Albania, close to Kosovo. They are in areas called blocks A, B, C, D and E, encompassing about 780,000 acres along the northwest to southeast “trending (geological) fold belt of northwestern Albania.”

Assigned estimates of the find (so far unproved) are up to 2.987 billion barrels of oil and 3.014 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. However, because of their depth, oil deposits may be capped with a layer of gas. If so, Gustavson calculates the potential to be 1.4 billion barrels of light oil and up to 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Further, if only gas is present, the discovery may be as much as 28 trillion cubic feet. In any case, if estimates prove out, it’s a sizable find.

In its statement, Gustavson reported: “The probability of success for a wildcat well in a structurally complex area such as this is relatively high (because) it is in a structurally favorable area (and) proven hydrocarbon source and analogous production exists only 20 to 30 kilometers away.”

Currently, the Balkans region has small proved oil reserves of about 345 million barrels, of which an estimated 198 million barrels are in Albania. Proved natural gas reserves are much larger at around 2.7 trillion cubic feet.

In December 2007, Albania’s Council of Ministers allowed DWM Petroleum, AG, a Manas subsidiary, to assist in the exploration, development and production of Albania’s oil and gas reserves in conjunction with the government’s Agency of Natural Resources.

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Connecting The Many Undersea Cut Cable Dots

by Richard Sauder

Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

4 February 2008

The last week has seen a spate of unexplained, cut,  undersea communications cables that has severely disrupted communications in many countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. As I shall show, the total numbers of cut cables remain in question, but likely number as many as eight, and maybe nine or more.

The trouble began on 30 January 2008 with CNN reports that two cables were  cut off the Egyptian Mediterranean coast, initially severely disrupting Internet and telephone traffic from Egypt to India and many points in between. According to CNN the two cut cables “account for as much as three-quarters of the international communications between Europe and the Middle East.“ CNN reported that the two cut cables off the Egyptian coast were “FLAG Telecom’s FLAG Europe-Asia cable and SeaMeWe-4, a cable owned by a consortium of more than a dozen telecommunications companies”.(10) Other reports placed one of the cut cables, SeaMeWe-4, off the coast of France, near Marseille.(9)(12) However, many news organizations reported two cables cut off the Egyptian coast, including the SeaMeWe-4 cable connecting Europe with the Middle East.  The possibilities are thus three, based on the reporting in the news media: 1) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the coast of France, and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of Egypt, because it runs from France to Egypt; 2) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut off the Egyptian coast and mistakenly reported as being cut off the coast of France, because it runs from France to Egypt; or  3) the SeaMeWe-4 cable was cut both off the Egyptian and the French coasts, nearly simultaneously, leading to confusion in the reporting. I am not sure what to think, because most reports, such as this one from the International Herald Tribune, refer to two cut cables off the Egyptian coast, one of the two being the SeaMeWe4 cable,(11) while other reports also refer to a cut cable off the coast of France.(9)(12)  It thus appears that the same cable may have suffered two cuts, both off the French and the Egyptian coasts. So there were likely actually three undersea cables cut in the Mediterranean on 30 January 2008.

In the case of the cables cut off the Egyptian coast, the news media initially advanced the explanation that the cables had been cut by ships’ anchors.(10)(13) But on 3 February the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology said that a review of video footage of the coastal waters where the two cables passed revealed that the area had been devoid of ship traffic for the 12 hours preceding and the 12 hours following the time of the cable cuts.(5)(11) So the cable cuts cannot have been caused by ship anchors, in view of the fact that there were no ships there.

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Update: Ships did not cause Internet cable damage

CAIRO – Damage to undersea Internet cables in the Mediterranean that hit business across the Middle East and South Asia was not caused by ships, Egypt’s communications ministry said on Sunday, ruling out earlier reports.
The transport ministry added that footage recorded by onshore video cameras of the location of the cables showed no maritime traffic in the area when the cables were damaged.

‘The ministry’s maritime transport committee reviewed footage covering the period of 12 hours before and 12 hours after the cables were cut and no ships sailed the area,’ a statement said.
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Chevron 4th-Quarter Profit Rises on Record Oil Prices

Feb. 1 (Bloomberg) — Chevron Corp., the second-largest U.S. oil company, said fourth-quarter profit rose 29 percent as crude prices climbed to a record on their way to topping $100 a barrel last month.

Net income increased to $4.88 billion, or $2.32 a share, from $3.77 billion, or $1.74, a year earlier, San Ramon, California-based Chevron said today in a statement. The company was expected to earn $2.29 a share, the average of 17 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chevron had its biggest fourth-quarter profit gain in three years as global crude demand expanded faster than output from new wells. Chief Executive Officer David O’Reilly plans to spend almost $50 million a day on the search for untapped reserves this year, a 31 percent increase from 2007.

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ExxonMobil posts record 40.6-bln-dlr profit in 2007

ExxonMobil reported Friday the largest US corporate annual profit in history at 40.6 billion dollars, benefiting from surging crude oil prices on strong demand, particularly in China and India.

The net profit was three percent higher than a year ago when the biggest US oil and gas firm reported a 2006 annual profit of 39.5 billion dollars, which had prompted ire over US policies said to favor big oil firms.

The multinational behemoth also posted a record fourth-quarter net profit, at 11.6 billion dollars, up 14 percent from the same period in 2006 as gains in crude.

Fourth-quarter profit per share rose to 2.13 dollars, beating analysts’ forecasts of 1.95 dollars.

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Shell’s record profits branded ‘obscene’

  • guardian.co.uk,
  • Thursday January 31 2008
  • Shell petrol pump

    Shell petrol pump. Photograph: David Sillitoe

    Shell was today accused of making “obscene” profits at a time when pensioners, motorists and industry are struggling with higher energy prices when it unveiled annual earnings of $27.6bn (£13.9bn).

    The oil major has made British corporate history with the record figures, which are equivalent to more than £1.5m an hour and come at the end of a three month period when crude prices have averaged over $90 a barrel.

    Jeroen van der Veer, chief executive of Royal Dutch Shell, described the performance as “satisfactory” and admitted that overall production for the year had actually dropped 2%.

    He said the company had benefited from launching new oil and gas projects but had suffered in the last quarter from weak refining margins.

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    Michale Parenti on the motivation of leaders and the harmful consequences

    WH e-mails missing on key days in court battle over Cheney’s energy task force

    Although the Supreme Court eventually sided with the White House in its quest to keep secret the proceedings of Dick Cheney’s energy task force, a new report released this weekend shows some dates on which staff members in the vice president’s office allegedly destroyed internal communications correlate with court decisions regarding the task force.Historical archives of White House e-mails are missing for at least 473 days of Bush’s presidency. A report compiled this weekend by a group suing the administration shows Cheney’s underlings apparently deleted their e-mails on days that the courts contradicted their quests to keep internal proceedings private.

    On Sept. 11, 2003, a federal appeals court rejected the administration’s argument that Cheney’s Energy Task Force documents should remain secret. The next day, records show there are missing e-mails from Cheney’s office, according to the report from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

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    A soldiers perspective on the war in Iraq

    Analysis: Big Oil to sign Iraq deals soon

    Big Oil’s big dreams are close to coming true as Iraq’s Oil Ministry prepares deals for the country’s largest oil fields with terms that aren’t necessarily what companies were hoping for but considered a foot in the door of the world’s most promising oil sector.Iraq’s proven oil reserves are only smaller than those in Saudi Arabia and Iran — and the country is only about 30 percent explored.

    Iraq produces about 2.4 million barrels per day, a recent increase from the 2 million bpd post-invasion average, but far below what its reserves could handle. Its oil sector is suffering from decades of Saddam Hussein-era mismanagement, U.N. sanctions and the effects of the current war.

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    Blackwater probe narrows focus to guards

    WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors investigating the shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians have narrowed their focus on as few as three Blackwater Worldwide bodyguards and have given others immunity for cooperating in the case, The Associated Press has learned.

    New information about the deadly Sept. 16 incident, which has strained relations between the United States and Iraq, reflects progress by the government to prosecute Blackwater guards for the shooting in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square.

    A final decision on whether to prosecute the guards – and how many – may still be months away. But two weeks into a federal grand jury investigation, people close to the case told AP that authorities have focused the number who could face charges to about three of the dozen or more guards on the security detail.

    Despite the progress, the people who discussed the case noted concerns about testimony given by the four Blackwater guards who have so far appeared in front of the secret panel. Details were discussed on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.

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    Houston to Dubai: A Nonstop Flow of Money

    cheney-white-sheikh399.jpg

    Great news for the war profiteers of Cheney’s Halliburton

    While you’re financing the trillion-dollar Iraq debacle, the execs at Halliburton got some good news today from the United Arab Emirates: The UAE’s airline, Emirates, is now offering nonstop service to Houston, Dubai’s news service reports.

    New York already has three flights daily to Dubai. But why now Houston? Halliburton is moving its headquarters to Dubai. And with that move, huge bundles of taxpayer cash are exiting the U.S.

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    War pimp allert: Like Iraq, US intel on Iran faulty

    WASHINGTON – First Iraq, now Iran. The United States has operated under a cloud of faulty intelligence in both countries.In a bombshell intelligence assessment, the United States has backed away from its once-ironclad assertion that Tehran is intent on building nuclear bombs.

    Where there once was certainty, there now is doubt. “We do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons,” the new estimate said Monday.

    Compare that with what then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte told Congress in January. “Our assessment is that Tehran is determined to develop nuclear weapons.”

    Just last month, President Bush, at a news conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, said, “We talked about Iran and the desire to work jointly to convince the Iranian regime to give up their nuclear weapons ambitions, for the sake of peace.”

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    “Operation Iraqi Freedom” Exposed: Bush Negotiates Permanent Military Presence in Iraq

    Yup, it was all about democracy.

    The revelation that Bush will sign an agreement for a permanent U.S. military presence in Iraq before his term is up confirms the real reason he invaded Iraq and changed its regime.

    It was never about weapons of mass destruction.  It was never about ties between Saddam and al Qaeda.  And it was never about bringing democracy to the Iraqi people.  These claims were lies to cover up the real motive for Operation Iraqi Freedom: to create a permanent American presence in Iraq .  With Bush’s November 26, 2007 announcement that the United States and Iraq were negotiating a permanent “security relationship,” his lies have been exposed.

     

    Bush declared, Iraqi leaders “understand that their success will require U.S. political, economic, and security engagement that extends beyond my presidency.”  His outline for the permanent U.S.-Iraqi “Economic” relationship is “to encourage the flow of foreign investments to Iraq .”  Two senior Iraqi officials told the Associated Press that Bush is negotiating preferential treatment for U.S. investments.

     

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