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Archive for the ‘Oil’ Category

The obvious question that no one asked (Keystone XL)

Posted by Charles II on April 19, 2014

State Dept. Briefing, 4/18:

MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Thank you for joining us. Today [Senior State Department Official One] will provide an update on the application – the presidential permit application review for the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. [The official] will be referred to as Senior State Department Official One from here on out. We are also joined by [Senior State Department Official Two], who will be referred to as Senior State Department Official Number Two.

SENIOR STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL ONE: Thank you very much. All of you have received a Media Note with the basic substance of the issue that we wanted to discuss today, so let me give some clarifying or complementary information.

Regarding the 2.5 million new public comments, they are indeed unprecedented. In response to the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement that the Department published in March of last year, we received 1.5 million comments. Usually on some form of a pipeline application there may be less than 100 comments. We are concentrating our resources to review the public comments that we receive. We are proceeding to ensure that we review those comments and appropriately reflect them in the draft Record of Decision, which will eventually result in recommendations.

As far as I can tell, the State Department did not list how the comments were running. But one can guess: despite the fact that a majority of Americans support the pipeline, almost certainly a majority of Americans who know what bitumen is are opposed. Fiercely. And so when the State Department says that they will “review and incorporate all of those,” they are lying.

And that would explain why two public officials, talking about a matter of public record, are so cowardly that they gave a press conference metaphorically from behind a curtain. A curtain provided for them by our free press.

Shame.

Posted in Oil, environment, State Department | Leave a Comment »

Allegation that BP may be harassing, issuing death threats against critics

Posted by Charles II on November 21, 2013

Dahr Jamail, Al Jazeera (via t/o):

[Through international PR company Ogilvy & Mather,] BP has been accused of hiring internet “trolls” to purposefully attack, harass, and sometimes threaten people who have been critical of how the oil giant has handled its disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

[On the BP America Facebook page,] when people posted comments that were critical of how BP was handling the crisis, they were often attacked, bullied, and sometimes directly threatened.

Threats included identifying where somebody lived, an internet troll making reference to having a shotgun and making use of it, and “others just being more derogatory”, according to [Government Accountability Project investigator Shanna] Devine. “We’ve seen all this documentation and that’s why we thought it was worth bringing to the ombudsman’s office of BP, and we told them we thought some of it even warranted calling the police about.”

One troll using the name “Griffin” makes several allusions to gun violence, while another, named “Ken Smith” also harassed and threatened users, even going so far as to edit a photo of a BP critic’s pet bird into the crosshairs of a gunsight, before posting the photo online – along with photos of an arsenal of semi-automatic weapons.

Another instance occurred involving “Griffin” and an environmentalist who posted a picture of a rendition of Mother Earth saying “Mother Earth Has Been Waiting for Her Day in Court, BP”. “Griffin” posted a comment to the picture that read, “A few rounds from a .50 cal will stop that b**ch”.

According to Marie, Lockman and GAP, BP’s “astroturfing” efforts and use of “trolls” have been reported as pursuing users’ personal information, then tracking and posting IP addresses of users, contacting their employers, threatening to contact family members, and using photos of critics’ family members to create false Facebook profiles, and even threatening to affect the potential outcome of individual compensation claims against BP.

Linda Hooper Bui, an associate professor of entomology at Louisiana State University, experienced a different form of harassment from BP while working on a study about the impact of the oil disaster on spiders and insects.

“BP was desperately trying to control the science, and that was what I ran into,” Bui told Al Jazeera. According to her, BP’s chief science officer “tried to intimidate me”, and the harassment included BP “bullying my people” who were working in the field with her on her study that revealed how “insects and spiders in the oiled areas were completely decimated”.

While collecting data for the study, Bui and her colleagues regularly ran into problems with BP, she said.

“Local sheriffs working under the auspices of BP, as well as personnel with Wildlife and Fisheries, the US Coast Guard – all of these folks working under BP were preventing us from doing our job,” Bui explained. “We were barred from going into areas to collect data where we had previous data.”

Bui said personnel from the USCG, Fish and Wildlife, and even local sheriffs departments, always accompanied by BP staff, worked to prevent her from entering areas to collect data, confiscated her samples, and “if I’d refused to oblige they would have arrested me” – despite her having state permits to carry out her work.

Posted in abuse of power, astroturf, corporatists, Flying Monkey Right, Oil | Comments Off

Brent Pricing: LIBOR Scandal For Oil?

Posted by Charles II on May 18, 2013

Via Jay Ackroyd, an article from The Economist:

IT IS a lesson of the past five years that benchmarks in unregulated markets can fall victim to the incentives they create. Subprime mortgages bundled into securities often won high scores from ratings agencies that stood to profit in a busy market. The London Interbank Offered Rate, LIBOR, was sometimes underestimated by banks which were cast in a healthier light by lower interest rates. Has something similar been going on in energy?

That is the suspicion after a series of raids on May 14th by the European Commission’s competition authorities. The commission declared that it feared oil companies had “colluded” to distort benchmark prices for crude, oil products and biofuels. Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Norway’s Statoil and Italy’s ENI (which was not raided) all said that they were co-operating with the commission.

. At least 200 billion barrels a year, worth in the order of $20 trillion, are priced off the Brent benchmark, the world’s biggest, according to Liz Bossley, chief executive of Consilience, an energy-markets consultancy. The commission has said that even small price distortions could have a “huge impact” on energy prices. Statoil has said that the commission’s interest goes all the way back to 2002. If it is right, then the sums involved could be huge, too.

Posted in corruption, crimes, Oil | Comments Off

The Koch’s coke

Posted by Charles II on May 17, 2013

A belated tip of the hat to Quentin Compson at Eschaton.

What is wrong with this picture? A major American city is becoming a dumping ground for toxic waste. Ian Austen, NYT:

WINDSOR, Ontario — Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.

Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom.

And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.

Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum.

While there is high demand from both those industries, the small grains and high sulfur content of this petroleum coke make it largely unusable for those purposes, said Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, a commodities analysis company based in London.

“It is worse than a byproduct,” Ms. Satterthwaite said.“It’s a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce.”

and coincidentally, Detroit has been deprived of its municipal government by the emergency manager.

Posted in environment, koch brothers, Michigan, Oil | 4 Comments »

Act against the Keystone XL pipeline

Posted by Charles II on April 1, 2013

350.org is trying to get 1 million signatures against Keystone XL. It’s easy. Just click here and customize your own letter to the State Department. They’re going for 1 million signatures by April 22nd.

You can also co-sign a letter to President Obama here.

Posted in John Kerry, Oil, State Department | Comments Off

The future of Venezuela

Posted by Charles II on January 10, 2013

DemocracyNow had an excellent debate between Michael Shifter and Pomona college professor (and Venezuelan emigre) Miguel Tinker Salas.

The essential points are that:
* when Chavez took over, things were in terrible shape
* the price of oil is much higher now than before Chavez took office
* things are not great now

One interpretation (Shifter) is that Chavez got lucky over the price of oil but otherwise squandered his time in office. The other interpretation is that Chavez was lucky in the price of oil, but unlucky in having the opposition he had, that his first few years in office were a loss due to factors outside his control, but that lately he’s done much better. This view is supported by Weisbrot and Johnston (see Fig. 1).

The one interesting issue raised by Shifter is the decline in Venezuelan production of oil (and natural gas). These are issues important to social stability, since natural gas is used for electrical generation (insufficient production = blackouts), and Venezuelans expect cheap gasoline. Euan Mearns at The Oil Drum says

OPEC stalwart and heavy weight Venezuela has had flat production over the decade of between 2 and 2.5 mmbpd. The impact of the 2002/ 03 general strike upon production is clear to see. Production has been hitting near term highs over 2.5 mmbpd and spare capacity is essentially zero.

What seems to be limiting oil production is a shortage of natural gas, as well as a decline in readily-accessible reserves in favor of the Orinoco Basin heavy crude similar to the Canadian tar sands. So, it’s not clear to me that Shifter’s criticism is valid, except insofar as it rests on the endemic corruption in Venezuelan society that makes it harder to do anything. The story of why they are producing more nat gas sounds like an example of that.

Another interesting issue raised in the debate is what the factions within chavismo are. Basically it seems that there are two principal factions, a civil society movement led by Nicolas Maduro, and a military faction led by Diosdado Cabello.

Posted in Latin America, Oil, Venezuela | 1 Comment »

Getting gaslighted on gas

Posted by Charles II on May 14, 2012

The American people are being propagandized that high gas prices are due to Obama Administration drilling policies. If we had a functioning press, people would know that the price of gasoline is determined by (a) the current cost of oil production, (b) the cost of refining, (c) expectations about future supply, and (d) miscellaneous factors such as distribution costs and taxes (regulations can be thought of as a cost of production, refining, or distribution).

So now Javier Bias of Financial Times reports that in January, refineries were shut down to remove 1.6 million barrels per day of gasoline from production. Not so coincidentally, RBOB gasoline futures leapt from $2.70 to $3.40. Now refineries are being put back on line to add 1.3 million barrels per day. Industry analysts say that over the longer term refineries will be closed to “rebalance supply and demand.”

In other words, to gouge consumers.

If people don’t want to vote for Obama, that’s their business. But they shouldn’t do so because of a lie. Neither the Keystone pipeline nor regulations nor taxes are driving gas prices. What’s driving them is speculation, market manipulation, and the rising cost of recovering oil from deep wells and unconventional sources.

Posted in Oil, The Plunderbund | 6 Comments »

Long-rumored, now at hand

Posted by Charles II on January 26, 2012

“A bravado performance.” –Eliot Spitzer talking about the State of the Union, accidentally speaking truth on Countdown

Robert Fisk, London Independent:

In the most profound financial change in recent Middle East history, Gulf Arabs are planning – along with China, Russia, Japan and France – to end dollar dealings for oil, moving instead to a basket of currencies including the Japanese yen and Chinese yuan, the euro, gold and a new, unified currency planned for nations in the Gulf Co-operation Council, including Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and Qatar.

I think this is less important a development than Fisk does. But it’s a sign that Obama’s statement that America is not in decline is pure bravado.

Posted in economy, Oil | Comments Off

Macondo continues to blow out

Posted by Charles II on November 14, 2011

Via Ritholtz, an extensive report by Geri Miller at Forbes says that the remnants of the Deepwater Horizon rig at the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf continue to leak large amounts of oil:

“Lives are devastated by this environmental crime for which no one has been indicted,” said attorney Stuart Smith, who represents more than 1,000 individuals and businesses in the Gulf and appears in the film. Citing the thousands of dolphins, turtles, shellfish and other marine creatures that have died, “The impact is bad enough, but what’s even more frightening is the oil is still leaking and bubbling up at the site where the rig once stood,” he said.

Actually, what’s even more frightening are the chemical vesication and other reactions reported by the Tim Robbins documentary this article talks about.

Posted in environment, Oil | 1 Comment »

FrackQuake-Wracked Oklahoma In Keystone XL’s Path

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 6, 2011

Life’s little ironies:

The Keystone XL pipeline, the one that TransCanada really, really wants and climate experts like NASA’s James Hansen really, really fear would trigger runaway, irreversible warming and a “game over” scenario for humanity, runs through the part of Oklahoma most heavily visited by earthquakes of late.

And (drum roll, please) the USGS has linked these quakes to the use of a mining and oil and natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. (In fact, Cuadrilla Resources, the company doing shale fracking in Blackpool, England, has admitted that its fracking caused the earthquakes that rocked that part of England.)

Oh, and did I mention that the pipeline sits right on top of the Ogallala Aquifer, which sits under the soil in places like Oklahoma and Nebraska?

Of course, there will those oil-company execs that will claim that we really don’t what’s causing the fracking. But that makes it even worse: If fracking’s to blame, we stop the the fracking and thus the quakes. But if fracking’s not to blame, and we don’t know what really is to blame, then how can we risk a pipeline running over the water supply of the nation’s farmers when there are earthquakes we can’t predict, much less prevent, in the area?

If Big Energy actually consistently admits that fracking’s triggering the quakes, it’s going to set up one hell of a Hobson’s Choice for them: stop fracking, or stop the pipeline. Take yer pick.
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Added by Charles as a technical visualization aid for our Transcanada spokesman:

NYT photo of ruptured pipeline

(Image from NYT of Silvertip pipeline rupture in the Yellowstone River). Recent news:

Exxon crews spent three months cleaning thousands of acres of land along the river. The rupture happened while the Yellowstone was in flood stage and deposited globs of oil in fields hundreds of feet from the riverbank and left a bathtub ring of oily grime around buildings caught in the flooding.

Posted in koch brothers, Occam's Razor, Oil | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

 
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