“Is now the time to buy water?” enquired the email that showed up in my inbox earlier this week. Its authors weren’t worrying about my dehydration levels. Rather, they were urging me to think of water in quite a new way: as a commodity to invest in. Making money from water? Is this what Wall Street wants next? This summer, however, myriad business forces are combining to remind us that fresh water isn’t necessarily or automatically a free resource. It could all too easily end up becoming just another economic commodity.
A Marshall Islands-flagged tanker ‘United Kalavrvta’ carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan is hours away from arriving at a U.S. port in Texas, according to ship tracking satellites, despite Washington’s long-standing concern over independent oil sales from the autonomous region. It would be at least the second time a U.S. company has taken delivery of oil that the Baghdad government says was smuggled from the country. Analysts have said that if there is a buyer for the oil, and no one stops the sale, it would represent a major step toward independence for Kurdistan.
Global conflicts are increasingly fuelled by the desire for oil and natural gas and the funds they generate. Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, South Sudan, Ukraine, the East and South China Seas: wherever you look, the world is aflame with new or intensifying conflicts. At first glance, these upheavals appear to be independent events, driven by their own unique and idiosyncratic circumstances. But look more closely, and they share several key characteristics, notably, a witch’s brew of ethnic, religious, and national antagonisms that has been stirred to the boiling point by a fixation on energy.
Militants from ISIS now control or threaten key facilities on the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, generating fears that the Al-Qaeda splinter group could turn off the taps to the Shiite south of Iraq, sparking a massive humanitarian crisis.Last month’s ISIS-led offensive across Iraq saw it overrun cities and battle for oil refineries as the national army melted away, but it has also been waging a war for water, trying to wrest control over rivers, dams and desalination plants in a bid to solidify its territorial gains.
With the decision by Bulgaria to suspend construction of the South Stream natural gas pipeline, there is more pressure on Serbia, which is balancing its longstanding ties with Russia against its desire to join the European Union. “The Serbian situation is the most difficult because it ‘paid ‘ the entrance to the pipeline by giving to Gazprom low prices for NIS (Naftna Industrija Serbia – Oil Company of Serbia) and Banatski Dvor (and underground gas storage in Vojvodina),” Jelena Milic, director of the Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies for Belgrade, told SETimes.
Mali has awarded four mining permits to Qatar Mining, the mines minister said, as the West African country seeks to boost exploration to offset ageing mines. The International Monetary Fund forecasts a steady decline in gold output in Mali, Africa’s third-largest gold producer, from 2015 as existing mines reach maturity. “Qatar Mining has opened its Mali entity. We will be granting them four mining concessions – greenfield projects – that they will develop in the next few years,” Mines Minister Boubou Cisse said in an email to Reuters.
Afghanistan could become an “energy corridor” in the next two years as the country could part-host a $17 billion pipeline project to transfer Turkmen gas to Pakistan and India, according to a senior Afghan official. The Turkmenistan Afghanistan Pakistan India – TAPI – natural gas pipeline project was first proposed in the early 1990s with the purpose of transporting natural gas from Turkmenistan to India through Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, ongoing security problems and a lack of upstream development opportunities have seen investors’ interest wane in recent years.
Ethiopia hopes to become an African lion. “We have finished with the syndrome of dependence,” says Zadig Abraha, deputy-head of Gerd coordination. “We want to recover our past glory,” he adds. Some neighbouring countries are less upbeat about the project. Citing two treaties, dating from 1929 and 1959, Egypt claims a historic right over the Nile. It fears that the dam will restrict the flow of water. The treaties, signed with the UK and Sudan, allocate two-thirds of the Nile’s water resources to Egypt.
Both Bai Hassan and Kirkuk Oil fields in Kirkuk province are now under Peshmerga control, with the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) having ceased control of one other oil field in the area, from where they smuggle oil to Hamreen Mountains according to a source from North Oil co. who asked to remain anonymous. “Both oil fields have been controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga forces. These two oil fields are important and very beneficial for Kirkuk because it is the place from where oil is exported abroad,” said the source.
Russia will suggest setting up an energy association and a reserve fuel bank during the BRICS summit that takes place in Brazil July 15-16, Yury Uskakov, a Russian presidential aide, told reporters. “Russia intends to suggest several specific subjects for consideration, namely the formation of a BRICS energy association to ensure the energy security of BRICS members,” Ushakov said ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Brazil. “A reserve bank of fuel and BRICS energy policy institute would also be set up in the framework of this association,” he said.
We live in an energy-centric world where control over oil and gas resources (and their means of delivery) translates into geopolitical clout for some and economic vulnerability for others. Because so many countries are dependent on energy imports, nations with surpluses to export — including Iraq, Nigeria, Russia, and South Sudan — often exercise disproportionate influence on the world stage. What happens in these countries sometimes matters as much to the rest of us as to the people living in them, and so the risk of external involvement in their conflicts.
In an effort to reduce dependency on Russian natural gas and position itself as a key player amid rising European energy demands, Turkey recently agreed to increase its energy co-operation with Turkmenistan. After a meeting last month in Ankara between President Abdullah Gul and his Turkmen counterpart Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, Gul told reporters that Turkey is determined to deliver Turkmen gas to European markets. Turkmenistan is the world’s fourth-largest natural gas producing country, with 32 trillion cubic metres of natural gas reserves.
Members of the Venezuelan army allegedly crossed over to Guyana and assaulted a group of illegal local miners operating by the Yarakita River, near the border between the countries. According to Stabroek News the civilians attacked, which are part of an illicit gold mining and smuggling network, failed to pay the soldiers a periodical fee in exchange for them turning a blind eye to illegal mining on Venezuelan territory.
Militants have reportedly taken control of Iraq’s primary oil refinery in Baiji, north of Baghdad, after 10 days of fierce battles over the station in Salah al-Din province which supplies a third of Iraq’s refined oil. The ongoing battle for the site had already led to rationing of petrol in Iraq and street protests, reports the BBC. According to a spokesperson for the militants, control of the complex will now be handed over to local tribespeople. However, news of the refinery’s capture late on Monday has been slow to trickle out in official media outlets.
There are already companies working on how 3D printing could help build infrastructure on the moon, as well as missions which are beginning to map its surface ahead of bids to drill for its resources. “We do not have decades to come up with answers to these important questions about exploring the moon,” he said. “A fleet of international missions has already started to prospect and map the distribution of mineral resources, and water-ice.”
Afghanistan is keen on opening the Chabahar port in Iran for transit to India, bypassing Pakistan. The Chabahar port in Iran is likely to significantly boost the trade volume between India and Afghanistan by providing a shorter route for transporting goods between the two countries. Besides, the port will help India obtain a direct access to Central Asia and facilitate import of minerals from Afghanistan.
Refinery workers, eyewitnesses and an Iraqi army officer reported the seizure of Iraq’s biggest oil refinery by Sunni extremists after army helicopter gunships failed to repel their attack. But other Iraqi officials, including the commander of the garrison defending the refinery in Baiji, asserted that fighting was still going on inside the huge grounds of the facility, which had been shut down by the violence.
Oil and gas resources in the Arctic are an important resource to guarantee China’s sustained economic growth and the country should actively look at developing it, state media on Wednesday cited a Chinese military think-tank as saying. The Defence Policy Research Centre of the Academy of Military Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army singled out the Arctic as one of the chapters of an annual strategic assessment.
The European Union is looking southwards to develop a “southern gas corridor” for natural gas from Azerbaijan to fuel the European mainland. A key policy that also ties in with the Maltese government’s prospective energy shift to gas, will be the creation of the southern corridor running from the Caspian region and into Italy. The more interesting keyword is the “Mediterranean gas hub” which the EU would like to develop in the south of Europe together with North African and Eastern Mediterranean partners.
Libya is still able to supply its 120,000-bpd Zawiya refinery without drawing on oil from two offshore fields, an oil ministry official said. On Wednesday, a spokesman for state-owned National Oil Corp (NOC) said Libya might have to use oil from offshore fields Al Jurf and Bouri to feed the refinery which supplies western Libya with fuel products.
The offshore oil is one of the last export sources for a government struggling with a wave of protests at oilfields and ports that began last summer.
Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski has ordered a suspension of all activities related to the South Stream gas pipeline project until Bulgaria reaches agreement with the EU on it. Oresharski, as cited by Darik radio, announced the step in a Sunday interview after a meeting with three US senators visiting Bulgaria – John McCain, Chris Murphy, and Ron Johnson. The participants in the meeting discussed Bulgaria-US relations in the spheres of economy and defense, as well as energy independence and the current situation in Ukraine.
Brazil’s efforts to become one of the world’s major oil producers have attracted businesses such as U.S. drilling giants Halliburton and Baker Hughes, gained it partnerships with oil companies from India and China, lured immigrants from idyllic Norway and drawn investment dollars from American pension funds in Florida, South Carolina and California. But the prospects for success have darkened in the seven years since Brazil first identified massive oil deposits in deep water off its coast.
More than 10 million of Yemen’s some 25 million inhabitants are either severely food insecure — meaning they require food assistance because they cannot find enough food for themselves — or teetering on the edge, the World Food Program said. The country has one of the world’s highest levels of malnutrition among children, with nearly half of all kids under the age of five — a full two million of them — stunted, WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs told reporters.
Water Wars: Ankara suspends pumping Euphrates’ water, cutting off the water supply to Syria and Iraq
The Turkish government recently cut off the flow of the Euphrates River, threatening primarily Syria but also Iraq with a major water crisis. Al-Akhbar found out that the water level in Lake Assad has dropped by about six meters, leaving millions of Syrians without drinking water. Two weeks ago, the Turkish government once again intervened in the Syrian crisis. The repercussions of which may bring unprecedented catastrophes onto both Iraq and Syria.
Afghanistan’s first ever domestic refined oil will be introduced in the market. According to Head of Afghanistan’s oil and gas companies Azrakhsh Hafizi, over 5,000 tons of oil obtained from Amu Darya basin were sent to Kam International Oil for refinery. He added about 2,500 tons of refined oil would be supplied in the market. Petroleum companies have invested about USD 3bn and 750mn in the oil and gas sector of Afghanistan. The Afghan government intends to establish a large oil reserve at a cost of USD 1.3mn.
The European Commission has published a revised and extended list of Critical Raw Materials, based on threatened supply coupled with economic importance. The 2014 list includes 13 of the 14 materials identified in the previous list of 2011, with only tantalum moving out of the list due to a lower supply risk. Six new materials appear on the list: borates, chromium, coking coal, magnesite, phosphate rock and silicon metal bringing the number up to 20 raw materials which are now considered critical by the European Commission.
Russia’s strategy of buying up oil refineries in Europe could compromise the bloc’s energy security, EU officials said in a draft report prepared for the region’s leaders. Europe’s refining sector has been weakened by a combination of high oil prices, slack demand and poor profit margins, prompting many companies to sell off refining units, which Russia has been buying. Russia’s Lukoil, for instance, owns refining operations in Italy, the Netherlands, Bulgaria and Romania. Gazprom through its oil arm Gazprom Neft also owns refineries.
“It is simply natural that the state intends to take over the property on Svalbard that has been put up for sale”, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries says in a press release. The 217 square kilometers large plot is one of two privately owned properties on the Arctic archipelago. It has its own mountain and is estimated to hold over 20 million tons of coal. Several experts has warned Norway against selling the property on Svalbard to China, claiming that the bid is more connected to international high politics and the possibility to get a foothold in the Arctic.
A week after coming up with espionage claims towards Russian Gazprom that it has been transferring sensitive information about Iran’s joint Azer oil field to Iraq, some Iranian media outlets recently claimed that the Chinese CNPC handed over the secret data about Iran’s other oil field – Azadegan, to Iraq. Those are the rumors that Iran’s Foreign Ministry has refused to reject completely, saying that the case is under investigation.
The Czech Republic opposes a Polish proposal to create a single body to buy gas for the European Union but could support private groups voluntarily joining up for purchases, according to a position document approved by the government on Wednesday. Central European countries are vulnerable to any interruption in supplies because they take most of their natural gas from Russia, mainly via Ukraine. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has called for the EU to create an energy union.
Russian and Chinese officials are due to strike a deal on Tuesday allowing China to receive Russian gas worth USD 400 B over the next 30 years, a Russian daily reports. Citing sources from the energy company Gazprom, Russia’s Izvestiya argues that the forthcoming agreement envisages that 38 bcm of gas a year be supplied to China. The three-decade span of the contract means the quantity might reach 1140 bcm.
China is stockpiling oil for its strategic petroleum reserve at a record pace, intervening on a scale large enough to send a powerful pulse through the world crude market. The move comes as tensions mount in the South China Sea, and the West prepares possible oil sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Eastern Ukraine. Analysts believe China is quietly building up buffers against a possible spike in oil prices or disruptions in supply.
Today in Mexico, Latin America’s second largest economy, 10.5 million people — 9.1 percent of its 118 million people — have no direct access to drinking water, according to government figures. President Enrique Pena Nieto said recently that 35 million Mexicans have limited access in terms of quantity and quality. He said resolving this basic problem was a “national priority.” There is only one small river, and 73% of the city’s water comes from underground.
Pakistan’s natural resources, particularly reserves of gas and oil, are dwindling by 2-3 percent every day which is an alarming development, though the incumbent government has increased its focus on indigenous exploration and production of resources. This has been disclosed by OGDCL Managing Director Riaz Khan here on Wednesday in a meeting of the subcommittee of the Senate Committee on petroleum and natural resources.
Russia, Iran and Qatar declared that they were going to form an OPEC-style gas cartel. Gazprom’s chairman, Alexey Miller, announced the formation of a “Big Gas Troika.” You can probably guess that they didn’t exactly test that name with focus groups. Big Gas Troika sounds like some oppressive Soviet pact — and really, that was the vision for it: a world-dominating bully that could intimidate the West using its control of the majority of global natural gas as a weapon.
Mongolia and North Korea are two countries on the sub-Arctic’s periphery that could play a role in connecting the Arctic region to the economic powerhouses of East Asia, albeit decades down the line. The two peripheral countries are closer to the Arctic than China, Japan, and South Korea. These three countries are observers in the Arctic Council, but North Korea and Mongolia are not, though the latter has supposedly applied for observer status. As the Wall Street Journal notes, Rajin “has big potential as a port for landlocked east Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.”
MIT has received a major gift from alumnus Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel ’78 aimed at ensuring the world’s food and water supply for the 21st century. The gift establishes the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS), named in honor of Mohammed’s late father, to spearhead research that will help humankind adapt to a rapidly changing planet and combat worldwide water and food-supply scarcity.
NATO experts have visited Ukraine, in order to advise the government on improving the safety of nuclear power plants, gas pipelines and other critical infrastructure amid growing violence and fears of conflict with Russia, officials said. Ukrainian Ambassador to NATO, Ihor Dolhov, said that NATO civilian experts had visited Ukraine last month, to assess critical infrastructure such as nuclear plants, pumping stations for gas pipelines and hydro-electric plants.
Asia’s growing dependence on Middle Eastern oil has amplified the risks it faces if the Strait of Hormuz is suddenly shut, making it more vulnerable to such a disruption than other regions, UK think-tank Chatham House said on Wednesday. Asia is more at risk than Europe and the United States to a cut in Middle Eastern supplies as it buys 75 percent of the region’s oil exports, said Chatham House energy security expert John Mitchell in a report – Asia’s Oil Supply: Risks and Pragmatic Remedies.
Italy could increase gas imports from Algeria, Libya and the Netherlands to counter any disruption of supplies from Russia, Deputy Industry Minister Claudio De Vincenti said on Monday as G7 energy ministers gathered in Rome. “We are capable of rapidly increasing imports from the supplier countries … Libya, Algeria and the Netherlands,” De Vincenti told Reuters. Italy, which generates more than 40% of its electricity from gas.
WHILE officials in Brussels call for Europe to reduce its dependency on Russian natural gas and negotiate with Moscow as a bloc, Austria was quietly bypassing the European Commission to cut its own bilateral deal on building a pipeline. The deal on the South Stream pipeline, which will be built under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and on to central Europe, shows the European Union’s difficulty in creating a unified energy policy on Moscow during the Ukraine crisis.
China is thought to be among those interested in buying Austre Adventfjord, a 217-square kilometre area of Norway’s Svalbard Islands, in the Arctic Ocean. A large area of the Svalbard Islands in the Artic has been put up for sale and is expected to attract investors from around the world – including the Chinese government. Austre Adventfjord, a 217-square kilometre area of Norway’s Svalbard Islands, is one of only two privately-owned plots of land in the Arctic archipelago, halfway between the North Pole and Norway.
A stable supply of water is critical for regional stability. South Asia is a region of multiple crises where water is connected to many of its challenges, its development, security and economic growth. The region occupies about five per cent of the world’s land mass and has about four per cent of its annual renewable water resources, flowing through several basins. Almost 90 per cent of water is consumed by the agricultural sector.
The EU would extend the route for supplies through the Southern Gas Corridor and its pipes will make their way further into Europe’s mainland, according to reports. The Corridor envisages that a pipeline system called TANAP-TAP should be built from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz deposits to Georgia and Turkey and further to Greece, Albania and Italy.
About 6 B cubic meters of gas could be thus pumped into Turkey every year, while Europe could receive up to 10 B cubic meters.
Turkey has a good chance to become an energy hub if it keeps the historical achievements it made in the last decade, Martin Raiser, country director for Turkey of the World Bank. Turkey is in a strategic geographical location “between major markets in Europe and major supply sources in further east,” said Raiser. He said this geostrategic advantage increases Turkey’s chances to become a global energy hub, adding that Turkey’s geopolitical context require resolving some of the political issues around energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean basin and Iraq.
In addition to being a major market for energy supplies, Turkey’s role as an energy transit hub is increasingly important. Turkey is a key part of oil and natural gas supplies movement from Russia, the Caspian region, and the Middle East to Europe. The country has been a major transit point for seaborne-traded oil and is becoming more important for pipeline-traded oil and natural gas. Growing volumes of Russian and Caspian oil are being sent by tanker via the Turkish Straits to Western markets.
Much to the chagrin of the United States, China has the innate ability to negotiate major energy deals in the midst of conflict. PetroChina’s state-run parent company, China National Petroleum, or CNPC, was the first oil company to secure a contract in the Iraqi oil fields following the fall of Saddam Hussein, and today both it and CNOOC are two of the most active oil comapnies there. With Russia and the West at a standstill over the recent events in Ukraine, it appears that CNPC is about to seal another energy coup.
“Egypt plans to take actions to escalate the situation against Ethiopia,” said a western diplomat in Cairo, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “But the exact implications of these actions [are] still unclear.” Egypt’s main concern is water security, as the country faces a future of increasing scarcity. Nearly all of Egypt’s water comes from the Nile, and its population of 83 million is growing at nearly two percent annually.
Turkey hopes to take a first step this year towards long-held ambitions to be a supplier of fresh water across the Middle East. The first phase of a project to pump fresh water from the Anamur River in southern Turkey to the drought-stricken northern part of Cyprus is slated to be completed this year, according to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and the Turkish government in Ankara.
U.S. producers have signed contracts to supply Asian LNG buyers, including GAIL India Ltd., Korea Gas Corp. and Tokyo Electric Power Co., at prices that undercut what Qatar is being paid. Canada, Mozambique, Russia and Tanzania also plan new LNG export plants, according to Bloomberg Industries data. “The global LNG market is going to loosen, and that has a big impact for the Qataris,” says Trevor Sikorski, a gas, coal and carbon analyst at consulting firm Energy Aspects Ltd. in London.
The project involves building a wall running perpendicular from the coast and then branching off into a T, extending around 20 miles and studded with turbines that would channel and concentrate the power of tidal water. Beijing provided $3.3 million for feasibility studies that are under way in China. Construction is at least a decade away, though initial findings suggest that shallow waters on the Chinese, Korean and European coasts could be suitable.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Saturday the European Union should form an energy union to bolster its energy security and lessen its dependence on key gas supplier Russia whose annexation of Crimea has caused a tense stand-off with the West. Russia, which provides around one third of the EU’s oil and gas, sent shockwaves through the international community with its military intervention and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula two weeks ago.
Maybe God has a soft spot for pirates. That would explain the Strait of Malacca, a natural paradise for seafaring bandits. Imagine an aquatic highway flowing between two marshy coasts. One shoreline belongs to Malaysia, the other to Indonesia. Each offers a maze of jungly hideaways: inlets and coves that favor pirates’ stealth vessels over slow, hulking ships. It’s a narrow route running 550 miles, roughly the distance between Miami and Jamaica.
The Turkish Petroleum Corporation (TPAO) has earned 12 billion dollars from the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) crude oil pipeline since 2005 when oil from Baku was first pumped, Turkish Minister of Energy Taner Yildiz said on Monday.
During his speech in the Turkish province of Adana, Yildiz underlined the importance of BTC pipeline for the region and stated that TPAO has 6.5 percent of the shares in the BTC crude oil pipeline.
Libyan troops fought with rebels occupying oil ports on Saturday after fighters attacked an army base where military reinforcements were preparing for an offensive to break the blockade, local residents said. The central government in Tripoli gave Jathran a two-week deadline on March 12 to end a blockade of three oil ports or face a military assault.
Last Sunday, US forces stormed a tanker that had made it as far as the eastern Mediterranean after loading crude at one of three ports Jahtran’s men have occupied.
Relations between Egypt and Ethiopia have soured since Ethiopia began construction on the 4.2 billion dollar Grand Renaissance Dam in 2011. Egypt fears the new dam, slated to begin operation in 2017, will reduce the downstream flow of the Nile, which 85 million Egyptians rely on for almost all of their water needs. Officials in the Ministry of Irrigation claim Egypt will lose 20 to 30 percent of its share of Nile water and nearly a third of the electricity generated by its Aswan High Dam
The Siberian land mass is officially 52,000 square kilometres bigger after an enclave in the Sea of Okhotsk was recognised as part of Russia’s continental shelf. The decision comes from the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf. The treasure trove includes hydrocarbon resources exceeding one billion tonnes, believes Donskoy.
As political violence in Venezuela rolls on, Cubans say they are hearing reports that Havana is making energy or military preparations for a possible disruption of its tight alliance with the South American nation. Cuba’s stagnant economy depends overwhelmingly on Venezuelan subsidies estimated at well over $6 billion a year — even more than the former Soviet Union once provided to the Caribbean island.
There is a tongue-in-cheek saying in America — attributed to Mark Twain, who lived through the early phase of the California water wars — that “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting over.” Sanaa in Yemen risks becoming the first capital city to run out of water. If Bangladesh bears the main impact of China’s damming of River Brahmaputra, the resulting exodus of thirsty refugees will compound India’s security challenges.
Australia has committed to purchasing the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft, its prime minister said on Thursday, continuing a trend amongst Asia-Pacific nations to protect commercial maritime interests amid rising regional tensions. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that Australia will acquire an undisclosed number of the surveillance aircraft once they become available. The U.S. Navy is still testing the Triton and has plans to buy 68, with the first due in service in 2017.
Its location on the Han River helped give Danjiangkou the seeming good fortune to be chosen as a keystone in China’s solution to a worsening water crisis. Starting next year, about 9.5 billion cubic meters (335.5 billion cubic feet) of water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir will travel from here to over 100 cities—including Beijing—in northern China, where water is scarcer than in the south. Signs in the town proclaim it to be the “fount head” of the central route of the South-North Water Diversion Project (SNWDP).
India is contemplating energy pipelines from the Gulf again — this time running under the sea, rather than traversing Pakistan. With international sanctions on Iran fading as a result of a nuclear agreement, an energy pipeline may be the most positive regional consequence. The new plan proposes to transport oil and natural gas through deep sea pipelines via Oman in a process where Iran, and even Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan energy can feed the pipeline for an ever-growing Indian market. Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, Oman’s foreign minister, raised the possibility with Salman Khurshid during their meeting on Friday.
“Military officials in Zimbabwe said details of the airbase plan were sketchy and mostly classified due to the veil of secrecy around President Robert Mugabe’s relationship with China’s Red Army. A sizeable number of Chinese troops are reported to have their boots on the ground in the Marange diamond fields, which have since been cordoned off as a high level security zone,” said the publication. It added that a senior Air Force of Zimbabwe (AFZ) officer based in Harare confirmed that there were rumours of the impending establishment of the airstrip as a “follow up to a military treaty signed between China and Zimbabwe in July 2005”.
Recent news Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank were planning to sell off their raw uranium supplies has put a spotlight on Russian nuclear deals that went relatively unnoticed in the West. An investment strategist observed recent Russian nuclear deals including a pact with Sri Lanka are part of a greater geopolitical game to lockup the market for nuclear fuel, which may increase global uranium prices. Marin Katusa, Chief Investment Strategist at Casey Research says Russian nuclear pacts with Sri Lanka, Hungary, Belarus and the Middle East go beyond nuclear fuel sales.
The military build-up in the Arctic is underway. In 2014 Russia will create a new military structure, which will be called the Northern Fleet – United Strategic Command (NF-USC). General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces informed that the mission of the new unit would be the protection of Russian national interests in the Arctic. The active work in this direction started last year, after President Putin’s televised appeal to the Minister of Defense “to pay special attention to deploying infrastructure and military units in the Arctic.”
Russian energy giant Gazprom provided a record share of 29.9% of gas supplies to the European and Turkish markets in 2013. Gazprom broke a record set in 2011 of 150 billion cubic meters of gas, or a share of 27%, according to reports of Interfax, as cited by dnevnik.bg. The data is provided in a prospectus published due to a new Eurobond issue by Gazprom. The document cites an official evaluation of Gazprom of the European gas market in 2013, which amounted to 451 bcm, of which Gazprom supplied 161.5 bcm.
Offshore exploration areas patrolled by the IAF are located within the Israeli Economical Exclusion Zone (EEZ) spanning up to 200 miles from the israeli coastline and adjacent to the Cypriot EEZ. Aircraft patrolling these areas could benefit from a landing base in Cyprus in case of emergency, or when required to maintain persistent surveillance over remote areas. Israel is operating on maritime patrol missions the Sea-Scan maritime patrol aircraft, S-365 Dolphin helicopters helicopters and Heron-I unmanned aerial vehicles.
A host of Ethiopian army commanders have voiced their readiness to protect the country’s multibillion-dollar hydroelectric dam project, currently at the heart of a major row with Cairo due to Egyptian fears the dam could threaten its traditional share of Nile water. State-run television reported that military commanders had visited the project site, during which they had voiced their readiness to “pay the price” to protect the dam, which they described as a “national project.” According to state television, the visit – the first by military commanders to the site – came as part of activities marking Ethiopia’s Army Day.
Syria’s new 25-year energy deal with Russia, a key ally of embattled President Bashar Assad, could open the way for Moscow’s eventual move into the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean. The Dec. 25 agreement gives Russia’s state-controlled Soyuzneftegas exclusive exploration, development and production rights over 850 square miles of Syria’s Exclusive Economic Zone in an area known as Block 2 roughly between the coastal cities of Banias and Tartous. The deal gives the Russians, one of the world’s leading energy producers, their first real foothold in the Levant Basin, considered to be rich in natural gas.
Western militaries may lose access to critical materials needed for weapons and other systems, because of the growing demand for new technologies, questionable supply lines and production in unfriendly or dangerous countries, NATO documents show. “Key strategic materials are those that are crucial in the manufacture of sophisticated military hardware or components such as airframes, gas turbines, rocket motors, munitions, armor and electronics,” according to a newly released NATO request for information. “These materials are becoming increasingly scarce.”
China appears to be buying an expensive insurance policy for natural gas imports from Central Asia with its plans to build a pipeline through Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Since 2006, China has invested heavily in developing gas imports from Turkmenistan, opening its Central Asia Gas Pipeline (CAGP) across Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan at the end of 2009. So far, state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) has built two strands of the CAGP and plans to complete a third on the 2,000-kilometer (1,242-mile) route to Xinjiang this year.
Iran, China and Russia are apparently one force against the US and its allies and want Pakistan to strengthen its ties with Tehran whereas Washington is pressing Islamabad to purchase gas from Qatar and Turkmenistan to meet domestic needs. In this scenario, two blocs are in the process of making – one comprising Russia, Iran, Pakistan and China if the Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project gets under way. Russia and China are in favour of Pakistan opt for this project According to experts, the US wants to strengthen ties among Pakistan, Afghanistan and India by pushing them to work on the Turkmenistan-Pakistan-Afghanistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline.
Iran and Iraq – at least theoretically – hold considerable reserves of crude oil and jointly have the potential to match Riyadh’s crude output capacity. The US’ EIA says that Saudi Arabia has a proven oil reserve of about 267 billion barrels, far ahead of Iran’s 151 billion barrels worth of reserves and Iraq’s 143 billion barrels of proven reserves. But combined, Iran and Iraq would have the capacity to possibly shift the balance of power, as this could challenge Riyadh’s capacity to stabilize the markets. And this carries ominous consequences too – for the global crude markets – some are now arguing.
A bill being debated in Brussels would force UK citizens to disclose ‘reams’ of private, financial information on a public register New legislation planned in Brussels is set to heap fresh costs and paperwork on families’ financial planning, as well as leaving their affairs open to unwanted public scrutiny. A European law is being drafted whose original aim was to prevent corporate money-laundering. The objective, supported by the UK, was to force companies to disclose on a register the money and other assets held inside trusts or equivalent legal arrangements.
Oman, which faces Iran across the Strait of Hormuz, said it’s poised to start raising cash for a $3 billion rail line offering an alternative route for oil and freight shipments that funnel through the 21 mile-wide channel. By circumventing the Strait of Hormuz the railway would dilute the impact of further closure threats to a waterway through which some 20 percent of crude supplies pass to reach global markets, equal to 35 percent of seaborne traded oil, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Turkish Naval Forces directed a warship to intervene in the seismic exploration being carried out by a Norwegian ship that had entered a Turkish naval authorization zone off the southern part of Cyprus on Saturday.The Norwegian ship was operating on behalf of Greek Cyprus in its search for oil and gas in the east Mediterranean. Turkey does not recognize Greek Cyprus as a sovereign country and insists that the Greek Cypriot search for oil and gas flouts the rights of Turkish Cypriots to any gas-generated wealth while undermining negotiations to reunify the island.
After running one of the world’s biggest and most controversial private military groups, Blackwater founder Erik Prince is starting a new venture providing logistics for oil and mining companies in remote and dangerous parts of Africa. China is increasingly looking to Africa to meet its ever growing demand for natural resources. Trade between the two reached an estimated $200 billion (121 billion pounds) this year. With 85 percent of Chinese imports from the continent being oil or minerals, Prince sees an opportunity.
Members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum discussed setting up a common bank to finance joint investment projects, the new head of the group said. The bank was discussed at an earlier meeting of the 13-nation group and “has not been followed up recently,” Iran’s Mohammad Hossein Adeli said in interview today from the group’s headquarters in Qatar’s capital Doha. “The idea of helping each other in investment, in financing projects, and in long-term plans for investment is something that has already come up,” he said.
Hard to believe that our mundane social media banter could have an impact on the civil war raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo for more than a decade. The problem isn’t the content of these messages, it’s the devices used to send them. Smartphones, tablets, PCs and other devices often have electrical components made from so-called “conflict minerals”—gold, tantalum, tin and tungsten—taken from mines in the DRC, where armed groups take a cut of the profits to fund their violent campaigns.
Argentina will seek legal punishment, including prison sentences, for anyone who drills for oil in the Falklands and the surrounding waters it claims as its territories, the country’s newly created Malvinas secretary has told the Guardian. “We will go to the international courts. It must be known that Argentina will defend its claim,” Filmus told the Guardian at his office in the ministry of foreign affairs. “Whoever doesn’t obtain authorisation will not only face administrative consequences but will also face prison sentences.”
There is a breakout of new rebel petro-states, but the mother countries are fighting back: Baghdad says it will sue anyone who buys unauthorized oil from Iraqi Kurdistan, and Libya has threatened to sink any tanker attempting to load crude from its insurgent east. The brinksmanship challenges a more or less iron-clad rule of energy—regardless of the obstacles thrown in its way, oil almost always finds its way to market. To the degree the trouble goes on, oil prices are likely to continue to gyrate because of the loss of crude supplies to the market. But the local hunger for oil revenue may lead to compromise.
Militias in eastern Libya said this week they would sell oil from seized facilities to foreign companies and protect arriving tankers, leaving government officials scrambling to keep the country unified as multiple groups demand autonomy and threaten to pull the country apart. As Tripoli has steadily lost ground in certain quadrants of the country’s east, rebels have put the nation at risk economically. Libyan oil revenue is already down because of the capture of three port terminals in August. The insecurity in the east and the disruptions in Libyan oil exportation are putting the government in a precarious position.
When a Chinese businessman first approached Malagasy farmer Jean Manantsoa, 47, in April last year with an offer to lease his family rice fields, Manantsoa had no idea of the untapped pockets of potential natural wealth beneath. The Chinese lied to the villagers. Feeling pressured by the representative of the company, Madagascar Southern Petroleum Company (MSPC), Jean signed an open-ended lease for five million Malagasy ariary a year (£1,420). He received the first year’s payment but nothing this year even eight months after the 1 April deadline.
The stakes could not be higher for China, the largest investor in South Sudan’s oil sector, as fierce fighting continues between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those of his former deputy. Some of the largest oil fields China operates are in areas controlled by fighters backing Riek Machar, the country’s vice-president until he was sacked in July. Oil production has already dropped by 20% since the onset of the conflict three weeks ago and more than 300 Chinese workers have been evacuated. The spectre of their Libyan experience also weighs heavily on the Chinese minds.
Although the garments are destined for the US, Europe and Japan, South Korean companies reap much of the financial gain, playing the role of middleman between laborers and Western brands. Korean-owned factories employ legions of low-wage workers, churning out clothing for fashion-hungry markets. Now, South Korea has emerged as a behind-the-scenes actor in the crackdown. The embassy admits that in recent weeks it has been running a backdoor campaign to protect Korean business interests. This campaign has included turning to the brutal and battle-hardened Cambodian military to implement security measures.
The west’s drive to reduce its carbon footprint cheaply is fuelling a dirty war in Honduras, where US-backed security forces are implicated in the murder, disappearance and intimidation of peasant farmers involved in land disputes with local palm oil magnates. More than 100 people have been killed in the past four years, many assassinated by death squads operating with near impunity in the heavily militarised Bajo Aguán region, where 8,000 Honduran troops are deployed, according to activists. Farmers’ leader Antonio Martínez, 28, is the latest victim of this conflict. His corpse was discovered, strangled, in November.
Sudan and South Sudan have begun talks to deploy a joint force to protect oilfields in the South threatened by rebels, Sudan’s foreign minister says. The news comes after Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir flew to South Sudan to discuss the unrest there with his counterpart, Salva Kiir. At least 1,000 people have been killed since violence erupted on December 15. Nearly 200,000 people have been displaced in the conflict, which has taken on ethnic undertones. President Kiir is from the majority Dinka community while his rival Dr Riek Machar is from the Nuer group.
Somaliland:A Special Paramilitary Unit known as the “oil protection unit” Formed to Guard oil installations
“The introduction of the special trained and equipped units whose mission is to guard and protect oil installations and Genel personnel in order to fulfill our shared aims”, stated the Energy minister. We shall work with our partners we shall embark on a major public awareness and engagement with the community and to establish a security protective force known (oil protection unit) as the to protect to ensure the safety of Genel employees while performing their job before any major operation begins.
China stepped up its engagement with South Sudan this year, pledging $43 million (€31.5 million) to conduct a geological study to help the Juba government allocate mining licences in its efforts to map the country’s mineral resources. South Sudanese officials believe the oil-rich new nation also has unexplored deposits of gold, diamonds, copper, uranium, manganese and iron ore. Earlier this year, South Sudan introduced a mining law aimed at drawing foreign investment but it will take time to develop the sector because of the absence of almost any infrastructure or geological surveys.
Sources told The Express Tribune that a Pakistani delegation recently attended a meeting of the SCO in Moscow that formed the energy club. Under this forum, Pakistan is expected to get financing for gas import projects like the Iran-Pakistan pipeline, Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline and LNG supplies to overcome the energy crisis. According to sources, all member countries of the energy club would give their inputs, which would be picked by donor nations for financial support.
The Israeli navy is getting two German-built frigates under a $1.37 billion contract that will build up its maritime firepower, officials said. Their primary mission is expected to be protecting the Jewish state’s rich natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean. The warships, which the Israelis are expected to pack with their own weapons and electronic systems, such as the Barak 8 medium-range air defense system produced by Israel Aerospace Industries, will be the most advanced surface vessels in the Israeli navy. The frigates will reinforce three advanced Super Dvora Mark III missile corvettes, known as Sa’ar 5s, currently on order from state-run IAI’s shipyards in Haifa.
The story of Western Sahara is one riddled with injustice and cruelty, but its latest chapter is particularly shameful. On Tuesday, International Human Rights Day, the European Parliament voted to approve an agreement that not only provides moral cover for the Moroccan occupation of Western Sahara, it provides material support for it. The EU agreement grants access to Moroccan waters for European fishing companies, the majority of them Spanish, in return for payments of around $55m. It also provides access, in direct contravention of a UN legal counsel statement from 2002, to Western Sahara’s waters.
The former Soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan has approved a deal to sell the country’s debt-ridden natural gas monopoly to Russia’s state energy company Gazprom for $1. The decision, backed by 78 deputies in the 120-seat parliament, hands Moscow control over a strategic asset in the Central Asian state in exchange for a guaranteed supply of fuel. Under the agreement, Gazprom will gain control over pipelines, gas distribution stations and underground storage facilities owned by Kyrgyzgaz.
Canada intends to lay claim to the North Pole as part of a bid to assert control over a large part of the resource-rich Arctic, Foreign Minister John Baird said on Monday. Baird said Canada had filed a preliminary submission to a special United Nations commission collecting competing claims and would be submitting more data later. The move could raise tensions with Denmark and Russia, both of which also look set to lay claim to the North Pole on the grounds it lies on a continental shelf they control.
Earlier in October, Putin stated strongly that Russia would never “surrender” its Arctic area. Indeed, Temp airfield located on Kotelny Island, the largest of Russian islands in Novosiberian region, is being reactivated. The airfield has been operational beginning in 1949 then, 20 years ago, its activity was suspended, and the infrastructures preserved for future use. Since then, Russian policy towards Arctic has become more aggressive and one of the elements of that policy is to reinstate the aforementioned airfield for Russian Air Force planes.
Yemen is looking to become the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) latest member, adding that Sana’a has widely benefited from taking part on the sidelines of Gulf summits for the past seven years. The foreign minister also said that Yemen has laid out a number of risks and security concerns facing the country, which include the flow of refugees from the Horn of Africa and al-Qaeda’s infiltration in the country, pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported. Kurbi also said that his country needs assistance to secure an important corridor that links the East and the West in the Gulf of Aden and Bab el-Mandeb.
The Trans-Anatolian gas pipeline (TANAP) will have a huge impact on Europe if Turkmenistan and Iraq also become suppliers, energy expert and vice director of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies Paolo Magri told AA. When asked whether the recent deal between Iranians and the UN Security Council’s permanent members and Germany (P5+1 countries) will lead to Iran also becoming a TANAP supplier, Magri expressed it is too early to make assessments on the matter.“Iranian oil was extremely relevant to Europe. Sanctions are preventing us from importing. If Iran comes to back to the market, it will be a big support to these corridors,” he said.
Gulf oil producers expect the resurgence in Iraqi exports to cause fierce competition to sell to Asian markets, which may put pressure on prices in the coming months especially with oil production rising in the U.S. and possibly more Iranian crude on the world markets if sanctions are eased, OPEC officials said Tuesday. “Everyone is looking at Asia at the moment to secure deals because demand for our crude in the U.S. will drop sooner or later and Asian markets are our safe haven. Iraq is already trying to undercut Gulf producers there,” said a Gulf delegate at the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The Chinese, investing heavily in Africa to secure its oil and other raw materials for their expanding economy, are spearheading a new era of railroad building to unlock the continent’s interior. This is an echo of the long-gone colonial empires when a century ago British and French engineers first opened up Africa to plunder its riches. The railroad frenzy is being accompanied by a massive push to build several major ports along the coast of East Africa to accelerate exports across the Indian Ocean, mostly to China, India and Japan, as well as lay down a network of oil and gas pipelines to these ports.
An uncomfortable prospect for global exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) will unfold in India this week — buyers from countries that import 70 percent of the world’s LNG will meet to discuss how to get a better deal. …The meetings may herald the early stages of an Asian buyers’ club for natural gas in supercooled form transported on ships. Should such a grouping gain traction, a historical precedent would be the formation of the International Energy Agency, which was set up by western economies to counter OPEC after the first oil shock in the 1970s.