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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