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From the breitbart.com article:
Russia would come under crippling financial pressure and may need to raise money externally if oil languishes at an average of $30 a barrel over the next two years, the World Bank predicted Friday.

The bleak scenario would mark a rapid unraveling of Russia’s oil-fueled economic gains over the past eight years, during which time the government has paid down most of its foreign debt and built up a vast stockpile of international reserves.

The World Bank currently forecasts an average oil price of $75 a barrel over the next two years, said Bogetic.

Among emerging markets, Russia has been one of the hardest hit by the global financial crisis and plunging oil prices, the mainstay of the Russian economy. These factors have put the national currency under intense strain and triggered massive stock market losses and capital outflows from the country.

Russia, which grew at over 8 percent last year, is facing a severe slowdown in growth, and possibly even recession next year, analysts say. Torrid figures released earlier this week showed that industrial output had plunged 10.8 percent in November from the previous month, signaling a dramatic slowdown in the final quarter.

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From the telegraph.co.uk article:
“We must finalise and adopt a federal law on the southern border of Russia’s Arctic zone,” Mr Medvedev told a meeting of the Security Council, in remarks carried by Interfax news agency.

“This is our responsibility, and simply our direct duty, to our descendents,” he said. “We must surely, and for the long-term future, secure Russia’s interests in the Arctic.”

Global warming has stepped up the fight for the disputed Arctic, believed to be laden with vast reserves of oil and gas. Russia has pitted itself against Canada, Denmark, Norway and the United States to fight for a greater part of the region, arguing that most of it is Russian territory since an underwater ridge links Siberia to the North Pole’s seabed.

Under international law, each of the five countries that lay claim to the Arctic own a 320-kilometre zone that extends north from their shores. That arrangement is up for UN review in May next year.

Medvedev’s statements on the heated Arctic issue came one day after Putin said that Russia’s defence spending would rise 27 per cent next year to nearly $100 billion (£30 million).

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From theamericanthinker.com article:
The more things change, the more they stay the same. In a replay of classic Soviet interventions from the cold war, using the flimsiest of contrived pretexts, Russia came to the rescue of a supposedly beleaguered minority in South Ossetia, a sparsely populated mountainous region and unimportant to Russian national security. Unimportant, but for the fact that Georgia, in which this afflicted minority resides, is a West-leaning democratic nation and US ally with aspirations of joining NATO. It is also a strategic conduit for oil from the surrounding region to the Black Sea and Europe.

In this larger context, we can surmise what Russia actually intends by its actions. This crisis was carefully choreographed by Moscow with Ossetia militia members firing on Georgian forces with weapons provided by Russian “peacekeepers,” until they provoked a reaction, providing the excuse for an invasion.

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From the bloomberg.com article:
Now that Russia has humiliated Georgia with a punishing military offensive, it may shift its attention to reining in pro-Western Ukraine, another American ally in the former Soviet Union.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s first order of business likely will be to try to thwart Ukraine’s bid to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“The Moscow authorities will use this opportunity to remind Ukraine of the damages of allying itself with NATO,” said Geoffrey Smith at Renaissance Capital investment bank in Kiev.

The U.S. has long seen Georgia and Ukraine as counterweights to Russia’s influence in the region. Opposition leaders in the two countries came to power after U.S.-backed popular protests in 2003 and 2004. Their ascension advanced an American strategy of expanding NATO to include both countries and securing energy routes from the Caspian Sea that bypass Russia. The BP Plc-led Baku- Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline to Turkey runs through Georgia.

The future effectiveness of that policy is now in doubt, with Georgia’s U.S.-educated President Mikheil Saakashvili, 40, weakened by a five-day blitz that his American patrons were powerless to halt.

Medvedev, 42, and Putin, 56, say Russia began the offensive in response to a drive by Georgia to restore control over the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Now Russia has ousted Georgian forces from there and from Abkhazia, another separatist region, and destroyed much of the central government’s military.

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From the reuters.com article:
A U.S. Coast Guard cutter will embark on an Arctic voyage this week to determine the extent of the continental shelf north of Alaska and map the ocean floor, data that could be used for oil and natural gas exploration.

U.S. and University of New Hampshire scientists on the Coast Guard Cutter Healy will leave Barrow, Alaska, on Thursday on a three-week journey. They will create a three-dimensional map of the Arctic Ocean floor in a relatively unexplored area known as the Chukchi borderland.

The Healy will launch again on September 6, when it will be joined by Canadian scientists aboard an icebreaker, who will help collect data to determine the thickness of sediment in the region. That is one factor a country can use to define its extended continental shelf.

With oil at $114 a barrel, after hitting a record $147 in July, and sea ice melting fast, countries like Russia and the United States are looking north for possible energy riches.

This will be the fourth year that the United States has collected data to define the limits of its continental shelf in the Arctic.

Russia, which has claimed 460,000 square miles of Arctic waters, last summer planted its flag on the ocean floor of the North Pole.

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The South Ossetia conflict has been simmering since March, but it had taken the form of the controlled instability that had governed Russian-Georgian relations ever since the standstill agreement of June 24, 1992. The Georgian attack on the South Ossetia capital of Tskhinvali on Aug. 8 turned this “frozen conflict,” as diplomats call it, into a hot proxy war. At present its potential for escalation seems virtually unlimited and has direct consequences for Europe’s security.

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From the timesonline.co.uk article:
Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, is to raise plans for a tunnel to link his country with America when he meets his US counterpart, George W Bush, next Sunday.

The 64-mile tunnel would run under the Bering Strait between Chukotka, in the Russian far east, and Alaska; the cost is estimated at £33 billion.

Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club and governor of Chukotka, has invested £80m in the world’s largest drill but has denied that it is linked with the development.

Proposals for such a tunnel were approved by Tsar Nicholas II in the early 20th century but were abandoned during the Soviet era. If finally built, the tunnel would allow rail connections between London and New York.

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From the washingtonpost.com article:
China announced Tuesday that it will again sharply increase its military spending this year, budgeting a 17.6 percent rise that is roughly equal to last year’s increase.

Disclosure of plans for a $59 billion outlay in 2008 followed a Pentagon report Monday that raised questions about China’s rapidly increasing military budget, and came less than three weeks before a presidential election in Taiwan, the self-governed island over which China claims sovereignty.

A Chinese government spokesman said the country’s decade-long military buildup does “not pose a threat to any country,” but he warned that relations with Taiwan were at a “crucial stage” and that the island would “surely pay a dear price” if it were to take steps that China viewed as a declaration of independence.

At the same time Taiwanese choose a president, they also will vote on a referendum issue asking whether the island should apply for U.N. membership under the name Taiwan.

China’s reported $59 billion budget is still a fraction of what the United States spends each year on its armed forces. President Bush last month requested $515 billion to fund the Pentagon in fiscal 2009, a 7.5 percent increase, plus $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The United States has pressed China to be more open about its intentions as the scope of its military capabilities and pace of spending increase. At a Pentagon briefing Monday, David Sedney, deputy assistant defense secretary for East Asia, reiterated the U.S. view that China’s defense establishment still severely underreports total spending and has not been clear about its intentions.

“China’s military buildup has been characterized by opacity,” Sedney told reporters, and “by the inability of people in the region and around the world to really know what ties together the capabilities that China’s acquiring with the intentions it has.”

The Pentagon report said China’s near-term focus remains on preparations for potential problems in the Taiwan Strait. But China’s nuclear force modernization, its growing arsenal of advanced missiles and its development of space and cyberspace technologies are changing military balances in Asia and beyond, the report concluded.

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From the article:
The United States is worried that Russia, China and OPEC oil-producing countries could use their growing financial clout to advance political goals, the top U.S. spy chief told Congress on Tuesday.

Such economic matters joined terrorism, nuclear proliferation and computer-network vulnerabilities as top U.S. security threats described by National Director of Intelligence Michael McConnell in an annual assessment.

McConnell said U.S. intelligence agencies had “concerns about the financial capabilities of Russia, China and OPEC countries and the potential use of their market access to exert financial leverage to political ends.”

Russia, bolstered in part by oil revenues, was positioning itself to control an energy supply and transportation network from Europe to East Asia, and the Russian military had begun to reverse a long decline, he told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

China has pursued a policy of global engagement out of a desire to expand its growing economy and obtain access markets, resources, technology and expertise, McConnell said.

It seeks a constructive relationship with the United States and other countries, but as its influence grows “Beijing probably will increasingly expect its interests to be respected by other countries,” he said.

Russia and China have long been able to target U.S. computer systems to collect intelligence, he said. “The worrisome part is, today, they also could target information infrastructure systems for degradation or destruction.”

In the energy sector, a weak U.S. dollar had prompted some oil suppliers, including Iran, Syria and Libya, to ask for payment in other currencies, or to delink their currencies from the dollar, McConnell said. “Continued concerns about dollar depreciation could tempt other producers to follow suit.”

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From the 10/26/05 article:
Russia and China could take a step closer to forming a Eurasian military confederacy to rival NATO at a Moscow meeting of the six-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Wednesday, experts say.

The group, which started in 2001 with limited goals of promoting cooperation in former Soviet Central Asia, has evolved rapidly toward a regional security bloc and could soon induct new members such as India, Pakistan, and Iran.

One initiative that core members Russia and China agree on, experts say, is to squeeze US influence – which peaked after 9/11 – out of the SCO’s neighborhood. “Four years ago, when the SCO was formed, official Washington pooh-poohed it and declared it was no cause for concern,” says Ariel Cohen, senior researcher at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “Now they’re proven wrong.”

Wednesday’s meeting is expected to review security cooperation, including a spate of upcoming joint military exercises between SCO members’ armed forces. It may also sign off on a new “Contact Group” for Afghanistan. That would help Russia and China – both concerned about increased opium flows and the rise of Islamism – develop direct relations between SCO and the Afghan government. While this will be highly controversial given the presence of NATO troops and Afghans’ bitter memories of fighting Russian occupation throughout the 1980s, the Russians have an “in” because they still have longstanding allies in the country.

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Diplomacide Mothballed

Diplomacide has been mothballed.
August 2017
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