Revolutionizing Awareness

helping humanity, make choices, more so through awareness, than ignorance

Posts Tagged ‘Oil’

Iran says oil prices to reach $150 per barrel

Posted by Admin on April 6, 2011

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran

Belligerence and Hypocrisy

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/Iran-says-oil-prices-reach-reuters-728569414.html

On Monday 4 April 2011, 9:22 PM

 

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that oil prices will reach $150 per barrel and the current crude prices were “not real”.

“The price of oil will increase to $150 per barrel in a period of time … the current oil prices are not real,” Ahmadinejad told a news conference.

Oil traded above $119 a barrel for Brent on Monday, just off a two-and-a-half year high touched in February, spurred by political instability in the Middle East and North Africa.

Iran is OPEC ‘s second biggest crude producer after Saudi Arabia .

Disruption of Libyan exports because of violent unrest in the OPEC member country also provided an opportunity for Iran to sell some of the crude that had built up in floating storage.

A popular uprising in Libya has shut down almost all of the country’s 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil production, prompting Saudi Arabia to boost crude output to try to compensate for the loss and rein in oil prices.

(Editing by Jason Neely)

Advertisements

Posted in Economic Upheavals | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Iran says oil prices to reach $150 per barrel

Lebanon-Israel Tensions Rise over Offshore Oil and Gas

Posted by Admin on April 6, 2011

Map showing the Blue Line demarcation line bet...

Black Gold and Crisis Borders

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110406/wl_time/08599206118700

By NICHOLAS BLANFORD / BEIRUT Nicholas Blanford / Beirut 24 mins ago

For most countries, the existence of a massive fossil-fuel deposit within its sovereign territory would be gratefully welcomed as an economic windfall. But the delight in Israel at the recent giant gas discovery off its northern coastline is tempered by the knowledge that it could provide the spark to ignite the next war between the Jewish state and its mortal foe to the north, Lebanon‘s militant Shi’ite Hizballah.

The stakes are enormous. Both Lebanon and Israel currently have little or no oil or gas deposits, and are dependent on neighboring countries for importing fuel and power. Israel presently relies on Egypt for most of its gas, but the durability of that arrangement has been cast into doubt following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak‘s regime. The Egyptian pipeline supplying gas to Israel and Jordan was blown up in January and only began operating again last week. (See TIME’s video “Israel’s Lonesome Doves.”)

Key to the tensions over the potential gas bonanza is that the maritime border between Israel and Lebanon has never been delineated because the two states are still technically at war.

The two gas fields off the northern Israel coast – Tamar and Leviathan – contain an estimated 8.4 trillion cu. ft. (238 billion cu m) and 16 trillion cu. ft. (453 billion cu m), respectively, sufficient to satisfy Israel’s energy needs for the next half-century. What remains unknown is if the fields stretch into Lebanon’s territorial waters. Even if neither of them do, Tamar and Leviathan are part of much bigger potential oil and gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean. Last year, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated that the Levant Basin Province, encompassing parts of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus, could contain as much as 122 trillion cu. ft. (3.4 trillion cu m) of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of recoverable oil. (For comparison, Libya has gas reserves of 53 trillion cu. ft. [1.5 trillion cu m] and oil reserves of 60 billion barrels.)

The Israelis have a head start in the race to extract gas, having awarded the concessions to a joint U.S.-Israeli firm. Tamar is expected to go online in 2012 and Leviathan three years later. (See “Does Libya’s Oil Industry Reflect Its Fate?”)

The upheaval in Egypt has “awakened old fears among Israelis that their power supply rests in the hands of potentially hostile neighbors,” says Gal Luft, the executive director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in Potomac, Md. “This jolt will force Israel to move much more expeditiously toward developing its own newly discovered fields in order to achieve energy independence.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon is moving on its interests as well. Last August, the country’s parliament approved a long-awaited draft bill on gas-and-oil exploration. Lebanon also is pursuing arrangements with neighbors Syria and Cyprus to delineate their respective maritime exclusive economic zones. Representatives of energy companies are already in Beirut lobbying for potentially lucrative oil-and-gas concessions. The prospect of oil and gas beneath Lebanon’s coastal waters could have immense benefits for a country with one of the highest debt rates in the world, around $52 billion, or 147% of gross domestic product. But progress has slowed down because of the collapse of the government in January and the delay in the formation of a new Cabinet due to political bickering.

“Oil exploration is the victim of the current political vacuum,” Nabih Berri, the parliamentary Speaker, said last week, noting that Lebanon’s three neighbors – Israel, Syria and Cyprus – were forging ahead with agreements on oil-and-gas surveys. (See pictures of life under Hamas in Gaza.)

Beirut has asked the U.N. to help mark a temporary sea boundary between Lebanon and Israel, a maritime equivalent of the “blue line” established by the U.N. in 2000, which corresponds to Lebanon’s southern land border. The U.N. has agreed to assist and the Israelis are studying the proposal. But the U.N. faces a potentially thankless task. The demarcation of the blue line 11 years ago was mired in mutual distrust and wrangling with neither the Lebanese nor Israelis willing to concede an inch of territory to the other. Without goodwill from both sides, the maritime boundary could be even more difficult to define given the complicated geography of the coastline.

Some have described the dispute over the gas fields along the Lebanon-Israel border as another Shebaa Farms, a reference to a small unpopulated mountainside along Lebanon’s southern border that is occupied by Israel but claimed by Lebanon. The Shebaa Farms has been a periodic flash point between Hizballah and Israel. But a foreign diplomat in Beirut said that parallels between the Shebaa Farms and the offshore gas fields are misplaced. “Forget the Shebaa Farms,” the diplomat says, “That was created as a point of tension between Lebanon and Israel.” The practicalities of energy needs, however, mean that the Lebanese will approach the gas fields practically – not politically. “The Lebanese are not being difficult [over the maritime boundary] because they have real economic interests here,” he says. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a potential for friction. He adds, “Unless there is a pragmatic arrangement, you could have a confrontation.”

It is perhaps no surprise then that the sudden interest in the potential fossil-fuel wealth off the Israeli and Lebanese coastline has turned the Mediterranean into a potential new theater of conflict between the Israelis and Hizballah. The Lebanese group already boasts an amphibious warfare unit trained in underwater sabotage and coastal infiltrations. Hizballah’s ability to target shipping – and possibly offshore oil-and-gas platforms – was demonstrated in the monthlong war with Israel in 2006 when the militants came close to sinking an Israeli naval vessel with an Iranian version of the Chinese C-802 missile. Hizballah fighters have since hinted that they have acquired larger antiship missiles with double the 72-mile (116 km) range of the C-802 variant. Last year, Hizballah chief Sheik Hassan Nasrallah warned that his organization now possesses the ability to target shipping along the entire length of Israel’s coastline. (See pictures of 60 years of Israel.)

In January, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the offshore gas fields as a “strategic objective that Israel’s enemies will try to undermine” and vowed that “Israel will defend its resources.” Last month, the Israeli navy reportedly presented to the government a maritime-security plan costing between $40 million and $70 million to defend the gas fields.

Upping the ante even further, Nasrallah promised last week that if Israel threatens future Lebanese plans to tap its oil and gas reserves, “only the Resistance [Hizballah] would force Israel and the world to respect Lebanon’s right.”

Then there is the recent passage of two Iranian navy vessels in the Mediterranean and the subsequent discovery last week by the Israeli navy of a smuggled consignment of arms and ammunition that included six C-704 antiship missiles believed destined for Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The missiles, though smaller than the C-802, could target Israeli shipping off Gaza as well as Israel’s Yam Tethys oil rig off the coast of Ashkelon. Citing the Iranian vessels and smuggled antiship missiles, security analyst Luft said, “Such activities could present real threats to exploration activities off Israel.” The potential oil and gas fields off the Lebanese and Israeli coasts look set not only to become a potential long-term source of wealth – but also a source of conflict in the years ahead.

Watch a video about the gas shortage in Iraq.

See TIME’s Pictures of the Week.

View this article on Time.com

Most Popular on Time.com:

Posted in Geo-Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Lebanon-Israel Tensions Rise over Offshore Oil and Gas

West moves to help Libya uprising, Gadhafi digs in

Posted by Admin on February 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110228/ap_on_re_af/af_libya

TRIPOLI, Libya – The U.S. military deployed naval and air units near Libya, and the West moved to send its first concrete aid to Libya’s rebellion in the east of the country, hoping to give it the momentum to oust Moammar Gadhafi. But the Libyan leader’s regime clamped down in its stronghold in the capital and appeared to be maneuvering to strike opposition-held cities.

In Washington, Defense Department spokesman Col. Dave Lapan said the naval and air forces were deployed to have flexibility as Pentagon planners worked on contingency plans, but did not elaborate. The U.S. has a regular military presence in the Mediterranean Sea.

The European Union slapped an arms embargo, visa ban and other sanctions on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime, as British Prime Minister David Cameron told British lawmakers Monday he is working with allies on a plan to establish a military no-fly zone over Libya, since “we do not in any way rule out the use of military assets” to deal with Gadhafi’s embattled regime.

In the most direct U.S. demand for Gadhafi to step down, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the Libyan leader must leave power “now, without further violence or delay.”

France was sending two planes with humanitarian aid, including medicine and doctors, to Benghazi, the opposition stronghold in eastern Libya, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said. That would be the first direct Western aid to the uprising that has taken control of the entire eastern half of Libya. Fillon said it was the start of a “massive operation of humanitarian support” for the east and that Paris was studying “all solutions” — including military options.

The two sides in Libya’s crisis appeared entrenched in their positions, and the direction the uprising takes next could depend on which can hold out longest. Gadhafi is dug in in Tripoli and nearby cities, backed by security forces and militiamen who are generally better armed than the military. His opponents, holding the east and much of the country’s oil infrastructure, also have pockets in western Libya near Tripoli. They are backed by mutinous army units, but those forces appear to have limited supplies of ammunition and weapons.

In the two opposition-held cities closest to Tripoli — Zawiya and Misrata — rebel forces were locked in standoffs with Gadhafi loyalists.

An Associated Press reporter saw a large pro-Gadhafi force massed on the western edge of Zawiya, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Tripoli, with about a dozen armored vehicles and tanks and jeeps mounted with anti-aircraft guns. An officer said they were from the elite Khamis Brigade, named after the Gadhafi son who commands it. U.S. diplomats have said the brigade is the best equipped force in Libya.

Residents inside the city said they were anticipating a possible attack.

“Our people are waiting for them to come and, God willing, we will defeat them,” one resident who only wanted to be quoted by his first name, Alaa, told AP in Cairo by telephone.

In Misrata, Libya’s third largest city 125 miles (200 kilometers) east of Tripoli, Gadhafi troops who control part of an air base on the city’s outskirts tried to advance Monday. But they were repelled by opposition forces, who include residents armed with automatic weapons and army unites allied with them, one of the opposition fighters said.

He said there were no casualties reported in the clashes and claimed that his side had captured eight soldiers, including a senior officer.

The opposition controls most of the air base, and the fighter said dozens of anti-Gadhafi gunmen have arrived from further east in recent days as reinforcements.

Several residents of the eastern city of Ajdabiya said Gadhafi’s air force also bombed an ammunition depot nearby held by the opposition. One, 17-year-old Abdel-Bari Zwei, reported intermittent explosions and a fire, and another, Faraj al-Maghrabi, said the facility was partially damaged. The site contains bombs, missiles and ammunition — key for the undersupplied opposition military forces.

State TV carried a statement by Libya’s Defense Ministry denying any attempt to bomb the depot. Ajdabiya lies about 450 miles (750 kilometers) east of Tripoli along the Mediterranean coast.

Gadhafi opponents have moved to consolidate their hold in the east, centered on Benghazi — Libya’s second largest city, where the uprising began. Politicians there on Sunday set up their first leadership council to manage day-to-day affairs, taking a step toward forming what could be an alternative to Gadhafi’s regime.

The opposition is backed by numerous units of the military in the east that joined the uprising, and they hold several bases and Benghazi’s airport. But so far, the units do not appear to have melded into a unified fighting force. Gadhafi long kept the military weak, fearing a challenge to his rule, so many units are plagued by shortages of supplies and ammunition.

Gadhafi supporters said Monday that they were in control of the city of Sabratha, west of Tripoli, which has seemed to go back and forth between the two camps the past week. Several residents told The Associated Press that protesters set fire to a police station, but then were dispersed. Anti-Gadhafi graffiti — “Down with the enemy of freedom” and “Libya is free, Gadhafi must leave” — were scrawled on some walls, but residents were painting them over.

In the capital, several hundred protesters started a march in the eastern district of Tajoura, which has been the scene of frequent clashes. After the burial of a person killed in gunfire last week, mourners began to march down a main street, chanting against the Libyan leader and waving the flag of Libya’s pre-Gadhafi monarchy, which has become a symbol of the uprising, a witness said.

But they quickly dispersed once a brigade of pro-Gadhafi fighters rushed to the scene, scattering before the gunmen could fire a shot, the witness said. He and other residents in the capital spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

There were attempts to restore aspects of normalcy in the capital, residents said. Many stores downtown reopened, and traffic in the streets increased.

Tripoli was in turmoil on Friday, when residents said gunmen opened fire indiscriminately on protesters holding new marches. But since then, the capital has been quiet — especially since foreign journalists invited by Gadhafi’s regime to view the situation arrived Friday.

Long lines formed outside banks in the capital by Libyans wanting to receive the equivalent of $400 per family that Gadhafi pledged in a bid to shore up public loyalty.

One resident said pro-Gadhafi security forces man checkpoints around the city of 2 million and prowl the city for any sign of unrest. She told The Associated Press that the price of rice, a main staple, has gone up 500 percent amid the crisis, reaching the equivalent of $40 for a five-kilogram (10-pound) bag.

Bakeries are limited to selling five loaves of bread per family, and most butcher shops are closed, she said.

Some schools reopened, but only for a half day and attendance was low. “My kids are too afraid to leave home and they even sleep next to me at night,” said Sidiq al-Damjah, 41 and father of three. “I feel like I’m living a nightmare.”

Gadhafi has launched by far the bloodiest crackdown in a wave of anti-government uprisings sweeping the Arab world, the most serious challenge to his four decades in power. The United States, Britain and the U.N. Security Council all slapped sanctions on Libya this weekend.

In Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was meeting Monday with foreign ministers from Britain, France, Germany and Italy, pressing for tough sanctions on the Libyan government. A day earlier, Clinton kept up pressure for Gadhafi to step down and “call off the mercenaries” and other troops that remain loyal to him.

“We’ve been reaching out to many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well,” Clinton said. “I think it’s way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we’re going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.”

Two U.S. senators said Washington should recognize and arm a provisional government in rebel-held areas of eastern Libya and impose a no-fly zone over the area — enforced by U.S. warplanes — to stop attacks by the regime. But Fillon said a no-fly zone needed U.N. support “which is far from being obtained today.”

Sabratha, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Tripoli — a city known for nearby Roman ruins — showed signs of the tug-of-war between the two camps. On Monday, when the journalists invited to Libya by the government visited, many people were lined up at banks to collect their $400. When they saw journalists, they chanted, “God, Moammar and Libya.”

Ali Mohammed, a leader from the Alalqa tribe, the main tribe in the area, said in previous days Gadhafi opponents burned the main police station, an Internal Security office and the People’s Hall, where the local administration meets. “I then held a meeting with the protesters to stop these acts the people said they will control their children and since then there has been no problems,” he said.

“The thugs and rats were roaming the streets and they attacked the police station and then they disappeared,” said resident Taher Ali, who was collecting his $400. “They are rats and thugs. We are all with Moammar.”

An anti-Gadhafi activist in Sabratha told The Associated Press in Cairo by telephone that the opposition raided the police station and security offices last week for weapons, and had dominated parts of city. But then on Sunday, a large force of pro-Gadhafi troops deployed in the city, “so we withdrew,” he said.

“The city is not controlled by us or them. There are still skirmishes going on,” he said.

In Tripoli, a government spokesman blamed the West and Islamic militants for the upheaval, saying they had hijacked and escalated what he said began as “genuine” but small protests demanding “legitimate aand much needed political improvements.”

“On one hand, Islamists love to see chaos … this is paradise for them,” he said. “The West wants chaos to give them reason to intervene militarily to control the oil.”

“The Islamists want Libya to be their Afghanistan … to complete their crescent of terror,” he said. “This is not the first time the Islamic militants and the west find common cause.”

___

AP correspondents Hamza Hendawi, Bassem Mroue and Ben Hubbard in Cairo, and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.

 

Posted in Economic Upheavals | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on West moves to help Libya uprising, Gadhafi digs in

Highlights of measures announced to control prices

Posted by Admin on January 16, 2011

Cut onion

Most widely used vegetable in the World

http://in.finance.yahoo.com/news/Highlights-measures-announced-ians-2445394061.html

Indo Asian News Service, On Friday 14 January 2011, 2:59 AM

New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) The government Thursday announced a slew of measures to control prices of essential commodities. Following are the highlights:

— State-run National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation (NAFED) and apex federation of consumer cooperatives, NCCF, to sell onions at Rs.35 per kg

— Stringent action against hoarders and black marketers. Cartelisation by large traders to be dealt with strictly dealt

Import and export of all essential commodities to be reviewed on a regular basis

— State units to intensify purchases of essential commodities, particularly edible oils and pulses, for distribution through their retail network

— Existing schemes for subsidised distribution of edible oils and pulses to be continued

Exports of edible oils and pulses, as well as non-basmati rice to remain banned

— Committee of Secretaries under the Cabinet Secretary to review the prices situation with individual states

— An inter-ministerial Group set up under the Chief Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance to review the overall inflation situation

— State Governments to be urged to consider waiving mandi tax, octroi and other local levies to bring down prices further

— A scheme to support the state governments in the setting up of farmers’ mandis and mobile bazaars and to improve the functioning of civil supplies corporations and cooperatives

— Awareness campaigns to make people aware of cheaper alternatives to pulses like yellow peas with a view to influence consumption pattern in favour of such alternatives

— Involve Residents’ Welfare Associations and self-help groups in distribution of essential commodities to address local shortages and ensure that supplies reach the households with least intermediation cost

— Investments to be encouraged in supply chains including provisions for cold storages

— Storage capacities to be increased to stock last years bumper Kharif crop

Posted in India Forgotten | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Highlights of measures announced to control prices

Oily Politics Led to Environmental Disaster

Posted by Admin on June 2, 2010

by: Walter Brasch, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-La.) had a good idea to slow or stop the Gulf Coast oil spill from reaching shore. Build artificial barrier islands, he told the federal government. He wanted the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River to strengthen and connect the existing barrier islands. The $350 million plan, which Jindal demanded be paid for by BP Oil, would establish an 80–85 mile barrier, about 200 feet wide and six feet high. The barriers would also protect the marshlands, the federal wildlife preserves, and a fragile ecosystem.

When the federal government didn’t respond, he threatened to have Louisiana do the job itself, and had his attorney general notify the Corps of Engineers that under the 10th Amendment the state had a right to protect itself during an emergency. After two weeks of discussion and analysis by the Corps, President Obama ordered the first of six islands to be built. Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen, the on-scene commander, said the first island would be a prototype; if it worked, five more would be built. Jindal wants 24 islands, but believes the first six are a good start.

The oil spill, more than 200,000 gallons a day and entering its sixth week, is now the size of Delaware and Maryland combined. Eleven workers are dead, 17 are injured, from the explosion of BP’s Deep Water Horizon, April 20. Several hundred thousand marine mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles have been killed by the spill. Even those oil-soaked birds and mammals that hundreds of volunteers have helped clean may be only days from death. About 34,000 Brown Pelicans, recently taken off the endangered species list, and seagulls continue to dive through the oil-soaked ocean to get to the food supply.

Thousands of migratory birds, during a two to three week rest in the Gulf Coast barrier islands on their flight north from South America, are dying. Sea Turtles, manatees, and dolphins still need to come up through the oil slick for air; eye irritations are the least of the problems they encounter. For about 5,000 dolphins, this is also their birthing season; mothers who survive may have oil on their teats; their calves may die from lack of nutrition or from ingesting the oil. The affected areas of the Gulf are also the spawning grounds for tuna, marlin, and swordfish. Even the fish, which may survive by staying below the spill, are affected by the oil. The coral reefs are being destroyed by the oil and what is needed to be done to break up that oil. More than 700,000 gallons of chemical dispersants, used to help break up the oil, add to the destruction of the balance of nature. Its toxicity may affect sea life for at least a decade.

The $2.5 billion fishing industry, a major part of the life of the Gulf, has been devastated. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has closed about 46,000 square miles of fishing fields, about one-fourth of all fishing waters in the Gulf. The lucrative shrimp, oyster, and clam industries are not only closed, but the effects will last for more than one season. Boat captains and their crews are idle. Tourism at the beginning of what is normally a lucrative summer season is almost non-existent.

Had the barrier islands been in place several years ago, the effects of the spill would have been significantly less. Erosion, combined with deep water oil drilling long before the Horizon explosion, had destroyed natural barrier islands and wetlands. A $14 billion proposal by the Corps of Engineers, supported by Louisiana, environmentalists and the oil industry to restore the area levees, wetlands, and barrier islands was rejected by President George W. Bush. Both he and Vice-President Dick Cheney, former oil company executives, were more concerned about protecting the oil industry than the people who would be affected by Big Oil. Besides, they had a war to wage in Iraq, and $14 billion was too much to spend on domestic protections.

Much of the $100 billion damage from Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm, was not from the wind and rain but from the failure to provide adequate protection.

It is that same protection, those same barrier islands that were destroyed by the oil industry years ago, that would have significantly slowed or stopped the nation’s worst environmental disaster, one caused not by nature but the incompetence of mankind.

“Drill, Baby, Drill” was once an in-our-face slogan of certain politicians and the oil industry that feeds them. It is now but a reminder that when mankind destroys the environment, there will be tragic consequences.

Walter Brasch is author of the critically-acclaimed book, “Unacceptable”: The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina.

All republished content that appears on Truthout has been obtained by permission or license.

Support Truthout’s work with a $10/month tax-deductible donation today!

Posted in Truthout Articles | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Oily Politics Led to Environmental Disaster

Was the Gulf Oil Spill an Act of War? You Betcha

Posted by Admin on May 8, 2010

Was the Gulf Oil Spill an Act of War? You Betcha

Friday 07 May 2010

by: Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., t r u t h o u t | News Analysis

Speculation has been running rampant among certain sectors of the web world lately about the true origins of the massive oil spill that has engulfed the Gulf and threatens marine, plant, animal and human health in a region already beset by natural disasters and toxic industries. Unwilling to accept the mainstream media version of the story (namely that it was the result of offshore drilling activities) and suspicious of the timing of the calamity (namely that it occurred right on the cusp of Earth Day and during a period of political contentiousness over drilling), this faction has surmised that the “trigger event” in this instance may have been (choose your favorite): an attack by the North Koreans; an act of homegrown eco-terrorism by left-wing environmentalists; or something to do with Venezuela, China, and/or other Communist (machi)nations. With little more than a hint from an online Russian source, the theory of a North Korean attack in particular has been gaining virulence among certain fox trotters.

Here’s a great overview of the argument from the self-avowedly conservative Dakota Voice:

“Rush Limbaugh pointed out that the explosion occurred on April 21st, the day before ‘Earth Day.’ He also reminded us that Al Gore had previously encouraged environmental nut jobs to engage in civil disobedience against the construction of coal plants that don’t have carbon capture technology. ‘Eco-terrorists’ exist and have done millions of dollars worth of criminal damage. Fire is one of the main tools of their evil trade. I’m not claiming the Deep Horizon was bombed by eco-terrorists, although I don’t believe it’s out of the realm of possibility. But, it would take some serious money and ability to pull off an attack like that, so I would tend to think much bigger than college hippie eco-wackos with some money-backing – a foreign government, perhaps. Of course, before I could finish writing my thoughts here, I just heard Michael Savage posing the same questions. He also said there is a theory on a Russian website that claims North Korea is behind this. The article claims that North Korea torpedoed the Deepwater Horizon, which was apparently built and financed by South Korea. Torpedoes would make sense for the results we see…. There are a number of international ‘suspects’ who might want to do something like this. They range from Muslim terrorists to the Red Chinese, Venezuela and beyond. Remember that China and Russia are drilling out there, as well and they would benefit from America cutting back on our own drilling.”

The article at the root of this savagery appears on the site WhatDoesItMean.com and is titled “US Orders Media Blackout Over North Korean Torpedoing of Gulf of Mexico Oil Rig” – which pretty much eliminates any suspense about the gist of it. The piece is attributed to one “Sorcha Faal,” who either exists or does not depending upon whether you believe the link arguing a bit too strenuously that she in fact does. The article cites as its source, without further attribution, “a grim report circulating in the Kremlin today written by Russia’s Northern Fleet,” and argues, “the reason for North Korea attacking the Deepwater Horizon, these reports say, was to present US President Obama with an ‘impossible dilemma‘ prior to the opening of the United Nations Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons set to begin May 3rd in New York. This ‘impossible dilemma’ facing Obama is indeed real as the decision he is faced with is either to allow the continuation of this massive oil leak catastrophe to continue for months, or immediately stop it by the only known and proven means possible, the detonation of a

thermonuclear device.”

In other words, all of this was designed to force Obama to use a nuclear device to seal the leak ahead of an upcoming conference on nonproliferation. Ingenious! James Bond is alive and well, apparently. Missing from the calculus (along with good sense, credibility and verifiability) is any explanation of why the logic of this scenario will automatically result in Obama deploying a nuke and what exactly would be gained by him doing so except (by implication) making the US look like hypocrites at the negotiating table. Those dastardly cowards! Everyone knows that we don’t need any help from foreign entities to hypocritically attempt to force others to hold to international standards that we will ourselves proceed to flagrantly ignore. I mean, duh.

Hey, I’m all for a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy/gal. We certainly ought to question the “consensus reality” version of any major event communicated back to us by the corporate media. And we can logically surmise that the government keeps us on a “need to know” basis under the rubric of a closely-held “national security” ethos. So, there’s always reason to dig deeper, ask hard questions, check with non-US sources and formulate one’s opinion independent of the herd. But in this case, the impetus for the tale is so vague and thinly rendered that it strains the limits of credulity, yet, it still seems to be gaining traction each day. In fact, there are even more solid reasons to suspect that this miserable episode – which will inflict more suffering on an already battered region – was contributed to by the activities of a certain homegrown corporation and not any eco-nuts or commies. While the premise is thus wholly wrong, the conclusion that this was a putative act of war might actually hold water. To wit:

Oil and War: Are there any two concepts in the realm of geopolitics more closely associated than resources and warfare? Oil in particular, as the primary lubricant of the global economy, earns special status as a sine qua non of our profligate lifestyles and simultaneously as an overt security interest that triggers our military mobilizations. We know about Iraq of course and Afghanistan to a lesser extent for its strategic pipelining location, but don’t overlook places such as Venezuela, Central Africa and the Caribbean shelf around countries like Haiti as potential sites of future conflict over Black Gold. Indeed, it might be said that wherever there’s oil, there’s war – or at least the seeds of conflict over a dwindling commodity that draws the interest of governments and corporations alike. The past decade has shown and our national security documents reflect, that the US will essentially do anything in its power to control as much of the world’s remaining oil supplies as it possibly can, either through direct intervention or by proxy. There’s nothing light or sweet about any of this; it is almost wholly crude.

Drilling and the “War on Terra”: Without overly editorializing the point, since at least the advent of industrialization, it appears that humanity has made a Faustian bargain that renders us the enemies of the earth in order to survive. Notions of complementarity and sustainability have been supplanted by consumption and separation instead. The cruel joke is that our willingness to continually flout nature’s laws leaves us in a perpetual state of scarcity and requires a regular doubling-down on the very same logic that made things scarce in the first place. Thus, in order to extend the life of the petroleum economy and provide the massive energy inputs that we rely upon, we have to drill deeper and deeper to procure the substance at ever-increasing energy costs in the process. This literal sense of “diminishing returns” is compounded by the attendant toll exacted on our collective health via fossil fuels, as well as the concomitant stratification of wealth and power that subverts any pretense we still hold of democracy. Massive spills and other calamities are part and parcel of this normalization of a warlike attitude toward nature (and, thus, ourselves) and are blithely considered little more than business as usual by the ruling elites, as intimated in anarticle on care2.com: “All this is the result of dangerous and unnecessary offshore drilling, yet, in a statement Friday, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the explosion was no reason to give up plans to expand offshore drilling. ‘In all honesty I doubt this is the first accident that has happened and I doubt it will be the last,’ Gibbs told reporters.”

Halliburton IS the War Machine: Finally, we come to the most likely culprit in all of this, and a sure sign that indeed this is an act of war. Wherever Halliburton goes, so goes the war machine and vice versa. From no-bid and no-account contracts in Iraq (and post-Katrina New Orleans, by the way) to a massive corporate presence in the Gulf region, these folks seem to have an acute capacity for making a buck on cataclysms of all sorts. Perhaps more to the point, they appear to be at the nexus of most disaster zones, including the erstwhile Bush presidency and now the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. As a recent article in The Huffington Post noted:

“Giant oil-services provider Halliburton may be a primary suspect in the investigation into the oil rig explosion that has devastated the Gulf Coast, The Wall Street Journal reports. Though the investigation into the explosion that sank the Deepwater Horizon site is still in its early stages, drilling experts agree that blame probably lies with flaws in the ‘cementing’ process – that is, plugging holes in the pipeline seal by pumping cement into it from the rig. Halliburton was in charge of cementing for Deepwater Horizon.”

The Los Angeles Times subsequently reported that members of Congress have called on Halliburton “to provide all documents relating to ‘the possibility or risk of an explosion or blowout at the Deepwater Horizon rig and the status, adequacy, quality, monitoring and inspection of the cementing work’ by May 7.” A YouTube video (which is actually mostly audio) more bluntly asserts that “Halliburton Caused Oil Spill,” and noted the fact – confirmed by Halliburton’s own press release – that its employees had worked on the final cementing “approximately 20 hours prior to the incident.” Interestingly, one commenter on the YouTube video noted how “that would conveniently explain the North Korean story; [Halliburton] may have leaked this story to the press to divert attention away from alleged negligence.” Wouldn’t that just be the ultimate? Halliburton spawns the calamity, but pins it on North Korea and then the nation goes to war whereby Halliburton “cleans up” through billions in war-servicing contracts. It’s almost too perfect and might be funny if it didn’t seem so plausible. (The only thing funnier is picturing Dick Cheney in the role of Exxon Valdez fall guy Joseph Hazelwood.)

But, hey, there’s no need to get conspiratorial about all of this. And what’s happening in the Gulf – now spreading into the Atlantic – isn’t funny at all. Indeed, war hardly ever is and that’s what we’ve got on our collective hands here, in one form or another. As Isaac Asimov once said, “It is not only the living who are killed in war.” Cherished ideals, future generations, hopefulness, the earth itself – all are among war’s many casualties. The sooner we recognize the sense of pervasive warfare in our midst, embedded in the flow of our everyday lives, the sooner we can intentionally turn that essential corner toward peace, as Martin Luther King Jr. alluded to in his Nobel speech:

“I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”

Waking up to war may in fact be the first genuine step toward peace, both among ourselves and with the environment.

Creative Commons License
This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Posted in Truthout Articles | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Was the Gulf Oil Spill an Act of War? You Betcha

This Volcano Is About More Than Flights

Posted by Admin on April 20, 2010

While it is early in the morning in Europe the following picture shows the impact of the volcano in Iceland on European air traffic (as of Thursday), if you compare Northern (none) and Southern (60) European flights. The blue crosses are airports. The volcano has already had a stunning impact on Europe, although articles about it are already dropping below the lead headlines.

There is a thought that the plume may last another five days, and even though the cloud is largely invisible to those who are being impacted by it, the damage by neglecting these precautions could be severe. And given that the British election is on May 6th, the impact of a sustained eruption on the debates in the UK, and the result may go beyond just limiting the travel of those who would campaign, to become more dominant with the length of the flight curtailments and the responses to help resolve what are likely to be growing transportation problems.

Flight Map

The presence of sulphur dioxide is already obvious to local residents, though there don’t appear to be any concerns over its toxicity. This is the toxicity information given by gasdetection.com:

WITH ACUTE EXPOSURE, 5 PPM CAUSES DRYNESS OF NOSE & THROAT AND A MEASUREABLE INCR IN RESISTANCE TO BRONCHIAL AIR FLOW; 6 TO 8 PPM CAUSES A DECR IN TIDAL RESP VOLUME. SNEEZING, COUGH & EYE IRRITATION OCCUR AT 10 PPM; 20 PPM CAUSED BRONCHOSPASM; 50 PPM CAUSES EXTREME DISCOMFORT BUT NO INJURY IN LESS THAN A 30-MIN EXPOSURE … 1000 PPM CAUSES DEATH IN FROM 10 MIN TO SEVERAL HR BY RESP DEPRESSION.

The larger eruptions of Katla, have ejected up to 1.5 x 10^9 cu m of material with a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of up to 5. For comparison Mt Pinatubo in 1991 ejected 1.1 x 10^10 cu m with a VEI of 6.

The Times has an interesting graphic that shows some of the concerns and I am going to use a bit of it to show that the problem may be a little bigger than even the article suggests.

To begin with recognize that Iceland is at the intersection of different plates that together form the shell of the planet. Whereas in some parts of the world these plates are pushing together and riding over each other, in this part of the world they are tending more to separate, so that the magma, on which the plates ride, can make its way up along the joint planes and erupt at the surface.

Volcano Map

Map of Iceland showing major volcanoes (The Times of London)

Now what the picture is concerned about is that generally when Eyjaflallajokull erupts so does Kalta, which is right next door. But Katla is a larger system and the eruption is generally much more severe.

Unfortunately what has also to be considered is that there are a whole line of craters, not shown on this map, between Katla and Vatnajokull, which are also a worry. Laki, an even greater threat than Katla, lies along this line.

Iceland’s Laki volcano erupted in 1783, freeing gases that turned into smog. The smog floated across the Jet Stream, changing weather patterns. Many died from gas poisoning in the British Isles. Crop production fell in western Europe. Famine spread. . . . . . .

The winter of 1784 was also one of the longest and coldest on record in North America. New England reported a record stretch of below-zero temperatures and New Jersey reported record snow accumulation. The Mississippi River also reportedly froze in New Orleans.

It is at the orange flag in this picture.

Volcano Map

(Google Earth)

There is a line of eruption calderas from Katla up to Laki, which is up around Skaftareldar.
The 3.5 earthquake I wrote about on Bit Tooth Energy lies beyond Laki on the line from Eyjaflallajokull, and was centered further north in the Vatnajokull. Some have blamed the weather created by the eight-month eruption of Laki as a possible contributory cause to the French Revolution.

An eruption of that length, ejecting as much material as it may into the atmosphere, would have consequences that go beyond just the ability to survive the noxious gaseous clouds.

The impact of the dust is shown in this picture from the British Met Office, which shows that plume reaching down past Scotland:

Volcano Map

Dust cloud passing Scotland (Met Office)

And the consequent distribution at different levels of the atmosphere.

Volcano Map

High and low level ash distribution (Met Office via the Guardian)

The agriculture of Europe would be damaged by a prolonged eruption with this distribution, and with it the possible production of biodiesel. Consider that the growth of rapeseed (canola) around the world has been steadily rising over the past few years.

Rapeseed Production

With European countries sitting just behind the leaders.

Rapeseed Production

Somewhere over 4 million metric tons of the crop currently goes to producing biodiesel, mainly in Europe. (Heading up towards 100,000 bd). Losing a year of that crop (and large scale volcanic activity can have an impact for over four years on the climate and the ground chemistry), particularly given the current possible approach of the peaking of conventional oil production, could have an unanticipated impact on overall liquid fuel availability and price.

Unfortunately rapeseed is only one of the crops that will be affected, and the significant drop in crop yields does not appear to be getting much attention yet.

Beyond that, there should be a little concern for the wind turbines that are now dotted over the horizon. The concern is with the speed at which the tips travel through the air. The air, that looks clean, will contain small particles of very sharp glass and other volcanic ejecta, that are the primary cause for the grounding of aircraft across Europe. While the aircraft can see very sudden loss in engine power, because of the high speeds with which they encounter the clouds, and the volumes of debris sucked into engines that then fail. (There are also video explanations.)

Wind wing tip speeds have been projected to be in the range from 264 ft/sec to 326 ft/sec. At impact speeds over 120 ft/sec the particles from the eruption will start to erode the blades of the turbine. If the eruption continues for weeks, and the turbines rotate in that atmosphere (which looks clear to normal vision) then they will lose surface quality, and perhaps the particles will enter into the generators (as they do on aircraft) doing significant damage.

Thus, beyond the initial inconvenience of the loss of a way to fly (bearing in mind I am supposed to fly to Europe myself soon), there are the longer concerns over both the crops this summer and for the next four, and for the longer term health of the turbines. All in all it is a reminder that there is never a time that Nature, with a little nudge, cannot remind us of the risks of complacency.

Posted in Press Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , | Comments Off on This Volcano Is About More Than Flights