For Spanish speakers: below is an article from Tal Cual daily in Venezuela summarizing my blog on Saudi oil minister al-Naimi’s opinons on the “North American tight-oil revolution” and their implications for Venezuela and Iran. The article is by Jose Suarez Nunez.
Para hispano parlantes: Aquí abajo está un artículo en Español publicado en Tal Cual de Caracas, un resumen de mi blog de la última semana que trató en las opiniones del ministro de energía saudita Sr. al-Naimi, y en las implicaciones para Venezuela e Irán. Continue reading
Posted in Aramco, Chavez lagacy, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, Oil prices, Oil supply, PDVSA, Peak Oil, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabit, shale oil, Tight oil, U.S. oil
Tagged Caracas, Iran, Latin America, Naimi, Saudi Arabia, saudi oil, South America, Tight oil, u s energy, Venezuela
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 Aramco, China, Economic Crisis, Energy and Environment, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, international relations, Iran sanctions, Oil prices, Oil supply, OPEC, PDVSA, PDVSA weakness, Peak Oil, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, Sanctions, Saudi Arabit, shale oil, The USA, Tight oil, U.S. oil, Venezuelan weak institutions
Tagged Al-Naimi, Ali Al-Naimi, Brent Scowcroft, Daniel Yergin, Saudi, Saudi Arabia, United States, Washington
Abu Ghaith, arrested by the US March 7, after his release by Iran, shown alongside Bin Laden in October 7, 2001 video after 9/11 attacks (credit: Hurriyet)
Is Tehran serious about nuclear negotiations with the P5+1?
If Tehran wants an agreement, how might they demonstrate good faith to Washington? Consider the following:
In the month before the recent round of negotiations held in Almaty, Kazakhstan on February 26 and 27, Iran released into neighboring Turkey Osama Bin Laden’s brother-in-law, Mr. Suleiman Abu Ghaith. The Islamic Republic of Iran had been detaining him since his capture some 11 years ago, when he entered Iran along with other top Al Qaeda leaders to escape the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. His precise date of release into Turkey is not clear, however, according to the English-language Turkish paper, Hürriyet, he was arrested by Turkish authorities in an Ankara “luxury hotel” on a “tip from the CIA.” Turkey then held him for “33 days” before deporting him to Jordan on March 1, and he was arrested by the U.S. on March 7. Continue reading
Posted in Germany, international relations, Iran nuclear, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, Sanctions, The USA
Tagged 9/11, Abu Ghaith, Al Qaeda, Bin Laden, Iran, John Kerry, Jordan, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Turkey, United States
Oil pumpjacks in Venezuela (TalCual Digital, Caracas)
Recently, I sent off a proposal for a new course, “Problems of the Global Oil System.” The introduction asks rhetorically: “Why Teach About Oil?”
Debates in the U.S. over oil and energy policy often resemble election campaigns, fought out with factoids and unconstrained partisanship. Of course, deciding technical-scientific policy is inherently political. But there are politics and there are politics. In the proposal, I argue that ”Oil’s persistent domestic & global centrality” will extend at least another 25-to-30 years, so teaching about oil is necessary to empower students to participate in forming energy policy democratically.
But, do the facts actually support the conclusion that petroleum’s central role in society–in both domestic and international affairs–will persist for at least 25-30 years hence? Here is the brief argument in the introduction (and the conceptual outline of the course) for your consideration: Continue reading
Posted in Alternative energy, China, Energy and Environment, Euroepen Union, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, international relations, OPEC, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, The USA, Transportation, U.S. oil, Uncategorized
Tagged Oil and Gas, seminar, teaching
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
[Edited Tues 630 EDT] The Negra Hipólita, a tanker operated by an affiliate of PDVSA, should be arriving at the Syrian port of Banias after a 15-17 day voyage from the Venezuelan refinery at Puerto La Cruz (El Universal, 17Feb12).
Syrian tanks are seen in Bab Amro near the city of Homs,12Feb12. Photo Reuters
Puerto La Cruz produces about 187k bbl/day and, the Negra Hipólito, if fully loaded, will deliver 47,000 (47k) tonnes of diesel fuel to alleviate reported widespread shortages of fuel in Syria. That’s about 330k barrels of fuel usable as home heating oil, or as fuel for Assad’s Russian tanks “indiscriminately” shelling neighborhoods, as in the city of Homs. Note:
In Vienna, the U.N. chief demanded the Syrian regime stop using indiscriminate force against civilians caught up in fighting between government troops and Assad’s opponents. ”We see neighborhoods shelled indiscriminately,” Ban told reporters. “Hospitals used as torture centers. Children as young as ten years old jailed and abused. We see almost certain crimes against humanity.” (Time World, Syrian Troops Shell Central City with Tanks. 17Feb12).
What, however, is the geopolitical significance of this shipment? Let’s examine three issues:
- Chavez’ motivations: Why risk sanctions?
- Is this a significant material assistance to Assad’s regime?
- Has Chavez blundered by miscalculation? Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, China, Euroepen Union, European Union, Faja of the Orinoco, Gaddafi, Hugo Chávez, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, Libya, OPEC, PDVSA, Resource conflicts, Sanctions, Syria, The USA, Uncategorized, Venezuela diplomacy
Tagged Assad, Chavez, Hugo Chávez, Iran, Middle East, Puerto La Cruz, Syria, Venezuela
Misinterpretations of China´s Opposition in 2010 and 2012
(Continued from Monday, 13 Feb 2012) The last time the Obama Administration wanted new sanctions on Iran, in 2010, Beijing started out loudly opposed, threatening to block the sanctions at the U.N., something Beijing had never before seriously threatened.
President Obama thanked Vice Premier Xi for China's support on Iran oil sanctions. NYT photo by Doug Mills, 14Feb12.
Posted in Uncategorized, Energy and Environment, The USA, Resource conflicts, China, international relations, Iran sanctions, Persian Gulf, Iran nuclear
Tagged United States, Iran, Beijing, China, Xi Jinping, United Nations Security Council, Sanctions against Iran
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
(Greetings! It’s good to be back blogging.) The common perception is that Chinese oil companies in Venezuela are winning big deals on very favorable terms. However, as I’ve stressed in previous posts, Beijing is actually very frustrated not to be getting the deals it expects for new Faja heavy oil fields, especially considering its big investments in the Bolivarian state. More evidence continues to emerge.
From 21-23 November the “10th Meeting of the China-Venezuela High-Level Committee“ took place in Caracas at the Hotel Gran Meliá, with something like 400 businesses and state representatives coming from China. Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, China, Energy and Environment, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, international relations, PDVSA, Resource conflicts, The USA, Uncategorized, Venezuela diplomacy
Tagged Beijing, Carabobo, Caracas, China, Petróleos de Venezuela, Rafael Ramírez, Sinopec, Venezuela
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