You’re invited to my lecture at The JFK Institute of North American Studies at Freie Universität in Berlin, Germany, Tuesday 6 PM. Here is the flyer, then the Abstract. Tschüß!
“The Global Barrel”
Today’s globalized market-centered energy system defines Washington’s relations with the EU, Japan and OPEC states Continue reading
Posted in Alternative energy, China, Economic Crisis, Energy and Environment, Euroepen Union, Faja of the Orinoco, Germany, heavy oil, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, Iraq, Iraqi oil, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, Sanctions, Saudi Arabia, The USA, Tight oil, Transportation, U.S. oil
Tagged alternative fuels for transportation, Berlin, China, Energy, freie universität berlin, Japan, jfk institute, Middle East, OPEC, opec cartel, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United States, US oil, Washington
Al-Naimi at CSIS
Last week in Washington, I attended a talk by Saudi Oil Minister and head of Aramco, Ali al-Naimi, at CSIS. Energy and foreign policy veterans from Daniel Yergin to Brent Scowcroft and Dr. James Schlesinge were on hand to hear al-Naimi’s views. You can read the transcript here, or watch the video embedded below.
Al-Naimi’s contrasted his central theme: “the enduring relevance of oil,” to the predictions made for many years by the adherents of “peak oil”–a theory that he said had itself “peaked in 2009” and has now been shown to be “utterly incorrect.”
Bad News for Venezuela and Iran?
Listening to him describe the global impact that the U.S.A. tight-oil “revolution” will have on the market, plus with Alberta’s heavy oil and so many other new sources from around the globe all coming to market, brought to my mind images of the 1980′s. The 1980′s were the “lost decade” in Latin America. It strikes me that, if he’s right about the trajectory of the global oil sector, the consequences for OPEC’s “price hawk” faction would be sobering. Continue reading
Posted in U.S. oil, OPEC, Energy and Environment, The USA, Economic Crisis, Resource conflicts, China, heavy oil, Faja of the Orinoco, PDVSA, international relations, Iran sanctions, Persian Gulf, Sanctions, Venezuelan weak institutions, PDVSA weakness, Saudi Arabit, Aramco, Oil prices, Oil supply, Tight oil, shale oil, Peak Oil
Tagged United States, Saudi Arabia, Ali Al-Naimi, Saudi, Washington, Daniel Yergin, Brent Scowcroft, Al-Naimi
Presidents Chavez and Ahmadinejad met in Caracas in January (here) and June 2012
I was cited a number of times yesterday in a Bloomberg News article by Nathan Crooks in Caracas and Paul Burkhardt in NYC. I reprint it below because the authors’ research further illustrates an issue I’ve often stressed here.
That is: in spite of President Chavez’ rhetoric promising to stand by Presidents Ahmadinejad of Iran (and Assad of Syria, and previously Qaddafi of Libya), he is actually in no position to withstand the U.S. sanctions that could be imposed on Venezuela for aiding Iran. Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, Economic Crisis, Energy and Environment, Faja of the Orinoco, Gaddafi, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, international relations, Iran sanctions, OPEC, PDVSA, Persian Gulf, Sanctions, The USA, U.S. oil, Uncategorized, Venezuela diplomacy
Tagged Chavez, Hugo Chávez, OPEC, Petróleos de Venezuela, Venezuela
What are the factors driving up the price of oil? Some cite fundamentals, others over-active speculation,
Persian Gulf & Middle East (UTex Lib. 2008)
and there are certainly major geopolitical issues in OPEC‘s Mideast and North African (MENA) member states–which is what this post is about.
The Present Saudi Pumping Surge is a Key Element of the US & EU Iran Sanctions Strategy
It is certain that the Iran confrontation will only intensify as the mid-summer sanctions deadline approaches. By July, Washington and the EU hope to significantly curtail Iran’s ability to export oil. In this situation, it is perhaps surprising that prices have not gone higher.
This past week, the normally understated Economist, while noting the Saudis’ extraordinary efforts to pump excess capacity, nevertheless warned that the Iran crisis could trigger a worst-ever oil shock:
Posted in China, Economic Crisis, Euroepen Union, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, OPEC, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, Sanctions, The USA, U.S. oil, Uncategorized
Tagged China, Iran, Middle East, Obama, OPEC, Saudi, Saudi Arabia, United States
President Santos of Colombia recently went to Caracas where he and PresidentChavez signed a letter of commitment for the ”Binational Project on the Venezuela-Colombia Oil Pipeline” to run 3,000 km. from Venezuela’s Faja heavy-oil region, west across Colombia to the Pacific port of Tumaco. (El Universal and El Universal). After many disappointments in recent years in collaborations with PDVSA, Latin American presidents haven’t endorsed many joint projects lately. Nevertheless, Santos was beside himself with enthusiasm after the five-hour meeting on 28 November, declaring ”Wherever we’ve mentioned this, people’s eyes open wide.” (Reuters)
Let’s look at some data to see if Santos and Chavez are really onto somehing here. Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, China, Economic Crisis, Energy and Environment, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, international relations, PDVSA, Resource conflicts, U.S. oil, Uncategorized, Venezuela diplomacy
Tagged China, Colombia, Evo Morales, Latin America, Pacific Ocean, Panama Canal, pipeline, Santos-Chavez, United States
First, here is an outline of this and the next three or four blogs on this topic:
I. Changes on the Venezuelan side that are enhancing the Chinese role:
a. Chavez’ recent interest in increasing national oil production
b. The existential crisis Chavismo faces from the slow collapse of dysfunctional state institutions, civil infrastructure, and nationalized enterprises
II. Changes on China’s side that enhance its role in Venezuela:
a. China has now loaned Venezuela so much money, and Venezuela so badly needs continued Chinese financing (lately it also feels a need for managerial and technical assistance), that Beijing has been able to insist Caracas not only begin to come through on long-awaited heavy-oil contracts, but that it also comply with certain geo-political and fiscal-accountability conditions. A couple of these are pretty amazing.
I. Changes on the Venezuelan side enhancing the Chinese role: a. Chavez’ new interest in increasing national oil production
One reason for China’s deepening influence in Venezuela is that PDVSA‘s president and energy minister, Rafael Ramirez, is no longer alone in insisting that PDVSA’s level of production has to rise. President Chavez now seems to have gotten behind the need to increase national production. If the price of oil falls significantly (many feel six months at an average of $60/barrel would be ruinous) and PDVSA’s exports per day have not risen to compensate, Venezuela will be in real trouble. Venezuela is extraordinarily dependent on imported goods, from food to machinery for which dollars are needed; and it also must keep up payments to foreign bond holders, for which a steady stream of dollars are also needed. Chavez and Ramirez have every reason to expect that the world’s economic woes will lead to a decrease in oil demand over the next year or two, and this of course can lead to significantly lower prices. These fears were not apparent in the recent past. It has been more or less a tenent of Chavista faith at elite-and-professional levels that the price of oil will never again fall significantly. I have been told this many times. Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, China, corruption, Economic Crisis, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, international relations, PDVSA, Resource conflicts, The USA, Venezuela diplomacy, Venezuela update
Tagged Bolivarianism, Caracas, Chavismo, China, Energy, Eni, Heavy crude oil, Hugo Chávez, La Campiña, peak oil, Petróleos de Venezuela, Rafael Ramírez, States of Venezuela, United States, Venezuela
Major Chinese Faja heavy-oil-production contracts had not materialized till now. Why not?
(This is continued from Part I) On the one hand, technical reasons would be given against closing deals with the Chinese. For example, it was thought by some in PDVSA that Chinese companies lacked the technology to efficiently implement the refineries needed to upgrade Venezuela‘s extra-heavy oil to a grade light enough to enable it to be accepted by foreign refineries. On this excuse, some top PDVSA executives had pressed Chinese firms to focus on making joint proposals together with, say, Total of France. This was because Total had already proven the quality of its upgrader-refinery technology in one of the four proof-of-principle projects foreign companies had implemented during the previous government’s apertura period. (The apertura was the liberal “opening” of the oil sector to significant Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, China, corruption, Economic Crisis, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, Institutions and rule of law, international relations, PDVSA, Resource conflicts, The USA, Venezuela diplomacy, Venezuela update
Tagged Chavismo, China, Heavy crude oil, Hugo Chávez, Petróleos de Venezuela, States of Venezuela, United States, Venezuela
In my travels and interviews in Venezuela this summer, it became clear that there has been a major advance in the relationship between China and the Bolivarian administration of President Chavez. China’s dogged persistence and large state-sponsored investments in Venezuela – apparently the largest they’ve made to date in any country - are finally beginning to bear fruit. The new Chinese influence is being simultaneously extended to both oil and non-oil sectors.
Partly this development is due to the many crises affecting the Bolivarian state, and decisions it has been forced to take to make increasing national oil production a priority. To advance this program, President Chavez’ administration has made initial moves to grant Beijing access to Venezuelan oil in major ways it had not previously.
However, there are two sides to this story: on the other side, increasing Chinese participation is also a product of China having step-by-step put some quite sharp demands on PDVSA and the Venezuelan Bolivarian state for financial transparency and accountability, for geopolitical stabilization, and in particular, for Chinese firms being granted large-scale access to new heavy-oil fields in the Faja of the Orinoco River. The key ingredient here is that Continue reading
Posted in China, Economic Crisis, Oil subsidies, Resource conflicts, The USA, Uncategorized, Venezuela update
Tagged Beijing, Bolivarianism, China, Heavy crude oil, Orinoco, PDVSA, People's Republic of China, Petróleos de Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, States of Venezuela, United States, Venezuela
Why did President Chavez last week order that Venezuela‘s gold reserves held abroad be repatriated and that international reserve funds held in banks in the U.S., Switzerland, Britain–the global north–be moved to banks in Brazil, Russia and China–to BRIC countries? The move is being hailed by Chavistas; but, the generalized anti-imperialist and nationalist rationals being cited are not useful as far as a specific geopolitical analysis. That is , they do not explain why this takes place right now as opposed to having been done at any given time during the last 12 years of his presidency.
So, why is this being done now? The idea is obviously to keep these funds in places where they cannot be seized or frozen. But, WHAT might trigger seizures or freezing of these funds NOW as they lay in U.S., British or Swiss banks? Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, Economic Crisis, Gaddafi, Libya, Venezuela update
Tagged BRIC, ConocoPhillips, Hugo Chávez, Libya, PDVSA, Petróleos de Venezuela, United States, Venezuela
It would NOT TAKE ROCKET SCIENCE to make huge increases in energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gasses in the USA. Here is an interview I gave, from Caracas in late 2009, to Erica Dingmann., on what needs to be done in transportation infrastructure and energy to REALLY make some big, practical gains in the USA. It does NOT require big breakthroughs in technology.
Tell me what you think.
Posted in Alternative energy, Economic Crisis, Euroepen Union, The USA, Transportation
Tagged Alternative Energy, Caracas, Efficient energy use, Energy, Energy and Environment, Greenhouse gas, Technology, Transport, United States, USA