“Venezuela: Petroleum, Politics & Economics in the Post-Chavez Era”–My Columbia U. talk, with Luiz Pinto, 9 October

If you’re in New York:  Luiz Pinto and I speak at Columbia University’s Institute for Latin American Studies (ILAS) on post-Chavez Venezuela, 12-noon, Thursday, 9 October: ilas_venezuela_columbia_talk_09oct14

“Oil & the US-Iran Crisis” – My talk at American University, Washington DC:

If you are in Washington, DC, this historical overview of the US-Iran Crisis and the role of oil might be of interest:
american_u_iran_talk_01oct14JPG

Estoy citado en “Dinero”: La caída en la acción de Ecopetrol de Colombia no se debe únicamente a los ataques guerrilleros

Javier Gutiérrez Presidente de Ecopetrol  - La compañía tiene la meta de alcanzar el millón de barriles diarios de producción en 2015. Es claro que esa cifra está lejos de ser cumplida.

Javier Gutiérrez Presidente de Ecopetrol – La compañía tiene la meta de alcanzar el millón de barriles diarios de producción en 2015. Es claro que esa cifra está lejos de ser cumplida. (Dinero)

English Summary (Resumen en Inglés): I am quoted at length by Dinero  (Publicaciones Semana,  Bogotá) on the steep fall in value of the stocks of Colombia’s national oil company and largest corporation, Ecopetrol.  This had been blamed on FARC and ELN guerrilla attacks on pipelines this year. However, while attacks are up versus 2013, they are significantly below the numbers in several prior years.  Others blame the fall on a failure to expand reserves. Indeed, Ecopetrol has a very low exploration-drilling success rate. However,  I stressed that discovery of new reserves is not so much the problem as is the need to begin employing enhanced oil production (EOP) methods to Ecopetrol’s existing fields.  The percentage of oil Ecopetrol extracts is low.  To get more oil out of existing reserves, Ecopetrol needs to learn how to do EOP.  And, in certain formations, it has to learn how to drill much deeper.  Here is the article …

DINERO | 8/21/2014:   No solo violencia

La caída en la acción de Ecopetrol no se debe únicamente a los ataques guerrilleros. El principal problema de la compañía es operativo: no ha podido encontrar nuevas reservas.

Continue reading

My IP Journal latest: “A firm US-EU partnership on Iran came at great cost, and made a deal possible”

EU and Iranian foreign ministers (foto: Austrian Foreign Ministry)

EU and Iranian foreign ministers in Vienna (Austrian Foreign Ministry)

My latest at the IP Journal of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP)US-EU Cooperate on Iranian Nonproliferation:  Agreement positions Tehran as regional leader — IP Journal 14/08/2014 

Although negotiators failed to reach agreement on Iran’s nuclear program by the late-July deadline set last November, as Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif put it: “We have made enough headway to be able to tell our political bosses that this is a process worth continuing. … I am sure Secretary Kerry will make the same recommendation.” Indeed, Washington, Brussels, and Tehran readily agreed on a four-month extension.

This represents a sea change in tone from the period prior to November 2013, Continue reading

Aside

Last week, I was quoted in the Wall Street Journal on why Petróleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) is looking to sell its Citgo refining affiliate in the USA. The key motivation, in my estimation, is to finance projects critical to PDVSA-president Rafael Ramirez’ plans to rebuild PDVSA. My analysis follows the WSJ  link …

Cash-Poor Venezuela Weighs Sale of Citgo – Wall Street Journal

wsj_chart_MK-CO266_CITGO_G_20140730190004“By closing Citgo they would free up a lot of oil going to the United States and continue to service China,” said Thomas O’Donnell, a visiting Energy …


ANALYSIS:  Raising cash quickly to complete key oil and gas (O&G) projects is critical to PDVSA president Rafael Ramirez’ plan for the company’s recovery.

(Two additional motivations have been offered by analysts: To send more oil to China, and to avoid Citgo’s assets being seized to pay compensation that might soon be awarded to companies PDVSA nationalized while Chavez was alive. However, these are not  fundamental reasons, and actually there are various holes in their logic. I elaborate in an upcoming article.)

The driving interest here is to get cash.  And,  right now it’s a seller’s market for Continue reading

My talk on Iran, NYC | After an Iran-USA deal: A Mideast without democracy, run by Iran & Saudi Arabia?

Figure 1.  Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani (R) exchanges greetings with the new Saudi Arabian ambassador to Iran, Abdulrahman Bin Groman Shahri in Tehran, April 22, 2014. (photo by Twitter/ISNA)    Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/04/rafsanjani-saudi-ambassador-kiss-controversy.html#ixzz32ktJuoKR

Kiss between Rafsanjani and Saudi ambassador stirs controversy   Former Iranian President, Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani (R) exchanges greetings with the new Saudi Arabian ambassador to Iran, Abdulrahman Bin Groman Shahri in Tehran, Al Monitor, April 22, 2014. (photo by Twitter/ISNA)

Appreciation: I am honored to again be invited by my Iranian colleagues in New York, Professors Reza Ghorashi, Hamidah Zangeneh and Hamid Sedghi, to join this panel and discuss the geopolitics of US-Iranian relations.  And, my thanks to Prof. Sedghi for reading my paper as I am teaching in Berlin and cannot be with you today. I only ask that those who dislike my message, kindly refrain from shooting the messenger.

Introduction

The US-Iran nuclear confrontation finally appears close to resolution.  This is because both Presidents Obama and Rouhani desire a diplomatic solution, and both countries need to move on. With such an agreement, it is possible that relations will slowly become normalized.

Of particular note—as a direct consequence—are the recent secret negotiations between Iran and Saudi Arabia towards a rapprochement.  These were initially facilitated by Oman (e.g. see reports here, here, and here). Until very recently the Saudis had remained fiercely opposed to any US deal with Iran.  However, the Saudi’s are realists, and know when it is time to adapt.  Figure 1. is a photo of kisses exchanged on 22 April between ex-President Rafsanjani of Iran and King Abdullah’s ambassador to Iran, which caused quite a stir in the region. Agreements reached in these recently revealed negotiations have already significantly affected the presidential-succession crisis in Lebanon, sectarian conflicts in Iraq, and the conflict in Yemen. Next the two sides are expected to negotiate regarding their interests in the Syrian conflict.

In addition, the nature of the US-Saudi relationship is changing, transferring much more responsibility on the Kingdom and its Gulf partners for their own defense–albeit strongly supported with US weapons and logistics. This is part of the US disengagement from direct regional interventions, which will be significantly furthered by a successful US-Iran agreement (e.g., see here and here, and this report on Saudi defense buildup from Balfour at Harvard).

How are these new developments to be understood? Continue reading

USA Oil Seminar 5.0 | USA as Rising Energy Superpower?

us_air_force_jets_oil_buring_iraqNote: These “USA Oil Seminar” posts are extra readings for my students to better understand how US energy policy is developed and to hear the views of US experts.  The seminar is: “The Global Oil System & US Policy” at JFK Institute of FU-Berlin. 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  1. This Friday, watch live (or the recording later on): Is the U.S. a Rising Energy Superpower? Implications for Global Markets and Asia, the Middle East, Russia, and Europe.  CSIS upcoming talk by Fereidun Fesharaki.  FRIDAY, MAY 16, 2014 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM .  Moderated by David Pumphrey.
  2. Read the paper: Fueling a New Order? The New Geopolitical and Security Consequences of Energy |April 15, 2014. By: Bruce Jones, David Steven and Emily O’Brien.  Brookings Institute; Washington, DC.

BACKGROUND:  This week, the class reading assignments are a couple conference papers I wrote a few years ago on the history and structure of today’s global oil system, and how it grew to replace the neo-colonial oil system. Continue reading