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
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
Petrodelta,SA rig in the south of Monagas state, Venezuela (PDVSA 2011 Annual Rept)
In March, U.S.-based Harvest Natural Resources (HNR) had disclosed to shareholders it was in exclusive confidential negotiations with a national oil company (NOC) to sell its 32% stake in Petrodelta SA–a lucrative, mature, medium-heavy Faja oil field in the south of Monagas state, in which PDVSA holds a 60% share. Thursday evening, Harvest surprised observers by announcing they had signed an agreement with the Indonesian National Oil company, Pertamina.
The big question immediately being asked was: “Indonesia? Why not China?” I was quoted at length Friday morning on this question by Bloomberg’s Nathan Crooks in Caracas (See:
Posted in Chavez, China, Faja of the Orinoco, Gaddafi, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, international relations, Iran sanctions, Libya, Maracaibo, PDVSA, Syria, The USA, U.S. oil, Uncategorized, Venezuela diplomacy
For those who read Spanish: Today Tal Cual in Caracas carried a detailed summary in Spanish by Jose Suárez Núñez of my study, “Bolivarian Venezuela’s Oil Policy & Iran: A Failed Energy Alliance” (which appeared in Middle East Economic Survey’s [MEES] Energy and Geopolitical Risk for May 2012).
Suárez Núñez is the Tal Cual oil columnist, and one of Venezuela´s most senior oil journalists. Here are the links: Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, Hugo Chávez, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, PDVSA, Sanctions, The USA, U.S. oil, Uncategorized, Venezuela diplomacy
My study of Iran in Bolivarian Venezuela’s oil sector is just out in the May 2012 edition of Energy and Geopolitical Risk-published by MEES: Middle East Economic Survey. You can read it … Continue reading
Posted in Chavez, Faja of the Orinoco, heavy oil, Hugo Chávez, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, PDVSA, Persian Gulf, Sanctions, The USA, Venezuela diplomacy
Tagged Hugo Chávez, Iran, Middle East Economic Survey, oil sector, undefined, 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
[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 China, Energy and Environment, international relations, Iran nuclear, Iran sanctions, Persian Gulf, Resource conflicts, The USA, Uncategorized
Tagged Beijing, China, Iran, Sanctions against Iran, United Nations Security Council, United States, Xi Jinping