Home » Posts tagged 'oil'

Tag Archives: oil

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase

Oil traders have bigger worries than a new Hormuz tanker war

Oil traders have bigger worries than a new Hormuz tanker war

Oil tankers ablaze in the Gulf of Oman and the US pointing the finger at Iran should be enough to send the price of the world’s most vital commodity skyrocketing.

Instead, oil prices have barely budged. Traders are not buying into the theory that Tehran wants a war, but they are worried about demand.

Dated Brent assessed by S&P Global Platts – the world’s most important oil benchmark – spiked by over 4% following the attacks on June 13 and traded briefly just above $62/b. On the face of it, this modest rise doesn’t reflect the risk to almost a fifth of the world’s oil shipped through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow 21-mile-wide channel separating Iran from the Arabian Peninsula.

“I see the limited reaction in the crude oil market as an indication of traders saying ‘hang on a minute’,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank. “If Iran did this it would be an open invitation to the US to step up its involvement and that should have sent the price much higher.”

Supporting Hansen’s point, crude had futures tumbled earlier in the week, with Brent falling below $60/b for the first time since late January, after data showed a larger-than-expected increase in US crude oil inventories.

Demand-side worries

The combination of rising stockpiles, tepid demand growth and fears of a slowing global economy has been enough to wipe $13 off the value of a barrel of Brent crude since May, despite the recent attacks on oil shipping and infrastructure in the Middle East.

Last week’s attacks were described by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as “an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran”.

Infographic on June 13 tanker attack near strait of Hormuz

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will A False Flag Iran War Cause A Financial Crisis?

Will A False Flag Iran War Cause A Financial Crisis?

Just a couple of weeks ago the financial world’s biggest worry was the plunging price of oil. Supply was up, stockpiles were building and speculation was pointing towards $40 a barrel, a price at which the fracking/shale oil “miracle” would evaporate. A trillion dollars of related junk debt would default, taking a big part of the leveraged speculating community along for the ride.

Then it all changed. Someone attacked some ships and oil infrastructure in the Middle East, the US and Saudi Arabia accused Iran, and now the fear is that a major regional war will interrupt the flow of oil, sending its price way up and causing a financial crisis at least as severe as a shale oil debt collapse.

This is a legitimate concern, for two reasons.

First, oil shocks have happened in the past, most notably during the Arab-Israeli war of the 1970s. So we know what they do, and it isn’t pretty. Gas prices jump, workers can’t afford their commute, the economy slows dramatically and pretty much everyone other than domestic energy companies suffers badly.

Second and potentially more serious, the pretext for this war is so blatantly false that it risks destroying what little creditability the US government has left. Think about it: With the US doing everything it can to delegitimize and destabilize Iran while positioning assets for an invasion, Iran’s leaders … start attacking oil tankers in its offshore waters.

Does that make sense? Of course not. Much more likely is that this is yet another false flag – that is, an incident faked to give a pretext for war – and a clumsy one at that.

For readers who aren’t clear on the false flag concept and its ubiquity in geopolitics, here are just a few of the dozens of documented examples:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Did the B-Team Overplay its Hand Against Iran?

Did the B-Team Overplay its Hand Against Iran?

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has a term of endearment for Iran’s enemies, “The B-Team.”

The “B-Team” consists of U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister (nee Dictator) Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed. 

When we look seriously at the attacks on the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week the basic question that comes to mind is, Cui bono? Who benefits?

And it’s easy to see how the B-Team benefits from this attack and subsequent blaming Iran for it. With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tehran opening up a dialogue on behalf of U.S. President Donald Trump the threat of peace was in the air.

And none of the men on the B-Team profit from peace in the Middle East with respect to Iran. Getting Trump to stop hurling lightning bolts from the mountain top the B-Team guided him up would do nothing to help oil prices, which the Saudis and UAE need/want to remain high.

Bin Salman, in particular, cannot afford to see oil prices drop back into the $40’s per barrel. With the world awash in oil and supply tight, even with OPEC production cuts, Bin Salman is currently on very thin ice because of the Saudi Riyal’s peg to the U.S. dollar, which he can’t abandon or the U.S. will abandon them.

Falling oil prices and a rising dollar are a recipe for the death of the Saudi government, folks. Iran knows this. 

Netanyahu and Bolton don’t want peace because the U.S. fighting a war with Iran serves the cause of Greater Israel and opens up the conflict in the hopes of regime change and elimination of Iran.

Bolton, as well, is finally feeling the heat of his incompetence and disloyalty to Trump, according to John Kirakau at Consortium News

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Waiting For The Black Swan

Waiting For The Black Swan

War with Iran would be the beginning of the end

Two more tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday morning  (6/13/19) in the Gulf of Oman, and if hostilities advance we could be facing a ‘black swan’ event. One that changes everything, and divides the world into ‘before’ and ‘after’ periods.

A lot of us are waiting for ‘something’ to happen. We know that there are too many unsustainable trends and practices running and we fall into the “let’s just rip the Band-Aid off” camp.   Some, like myself, have lost faith in the political leadership and institutions and doubt they retain any capacity to attend to anything more than their own selfish interests, let alone manage the difficult tasks ahead rooted as they are in systems theory and managing complexity.

So, let’s get on with it already.  Bring it on.  Black swans are welcome to those who feel a swift kick to the behind is sometimes needed to begin setting things straight.

Like many, I am also conflicted because I also know that getting onto a new path will be disruptive and probably quite economically and financially painful for everyone, myself included.  Hoping for ‘something to break’ and hoping nothing breaks hang in an uneasy balance.

Luckily, my hopes and wishes have nothing to do with what’s going to happen, or when.  I might as well be performing a secret hand ritual before the TV in my living room to ensure that my team’s basketball free-throw goes in.  The dry tinder of the next bonfire was laid down over many years and decades and it will catch fire when it does, no matter how much denial or how many superstitious practices we employ.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

False Flag? Iran Has Little To Gain From Oman Tanker Attacks

False Flag? Iran Has Little To Gain From Oman Tanker Attacks

Gulf of Tonkin 2.0? Regardless of whether Iran is responsible for damage to vessels in the Sea of Oman, Bloomberg’s Julian Lee explainsit will still get the blame – and suffer the fallout.

Two ships with one stone:
Saudis get i) higher oil price ii) US to attack Iran

Two oil tankers have been damaged in a suspected attack in the waters between the United Arab Emirates and Iran as they were leaving the Persian Gulf. This is the second incident in four weeks, and raises the question of who gains what from them.

Fingers will certainly be pointed at Iran as the mastermind behind these events. But the potential benefits to the Persian Gulf nation are outweighed by the risks. And even if Tehran isn’t responsible, it will still suffer the consequences.

The first tanker to report a problem was the Front Altair. It was reported to be carrying 75,000 tons of naphtha, loaded in Abu Dhabi, to Japan, although it was signaling a destination of Kaosiung in Taiwan when it was damaged. The second vessel was the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, which was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a cargo of methanol.

A person who’s heard local radio transmissions between ships in the region told Bloomberg that a torpedo attack is suspected to have caused an explosion and fire on the Front Altair. The managers of the Kokuka Courageous said in a statement that “the 21 crew of the vessel abandoned ship after the incident on board which resulted in damage to the ship’s hull starboard side.”

Choke Point

The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important oil choke point, with about 40% of seaborne trade passing through it.

Source: bne IntelliNews

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

2 Tankers Damaged After Torpedo Attack Near Strait Of Hormuz; Oil Soars

2 Tankers Damaged After Torpedo Attack Near Strait Of Hormuz; Oil Soars

Update 3: Managers at the companies that own the tankers have weighed in on Thursday’s attacks. The manager of the Kokuka Courageous described the incident as a “hostile attack,” and DHT Holdings and Heidmar, the owners of the two tankers, have suspended new bookings to the Gulf.

* * *

Update 2: It appears earlier reports that the Front Altair had sunk were, in fact, incorrect. The ship’s captain has said that it is still afloat. VHF radio traffic confirmed that it is damaged but still afloat.

Hours have passed since the suspected attacks, and still nobody has claimed responsibility. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has noted how suspicious it is that a Japanese owned vessel would be attacked while Iranian leaders were meeting with the Japanese prime minister in Tehran.

Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks.

Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.

Iran’s proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative.

And as one BBG analyst pointed out: “Fingers will certainly be pointed at Iran as the mastermind behind these events. But the potential benefits to the Persian Gulf nation are outweighed by the risks. And even if Tehran isn’t responsible, it will still suffer the consequences.”

Several American warships were nearby when the attack unfolded, per radio traffic, which also showed some signs of tensions with Iranian vessels: “American warship identifying itself as ‘Coalition Warship’ stating they have multiple vessels and aircraft in the vicinity. Iranian Navy calling vessels asking their intention in the area.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A ‘’Gusher Of Red Ink’’ For U.S. Shale

A ‘’Gusher Of Red Ink’’ For U.S. Shale

shale

Oil prices are off more about 20 percent in the last two weeks on growing fears of a brewing economic recession. Commodities of all types have been hammered by the pessimism.

“Fear of global economic growth slowing,” said Peter Kiernan, lead energy analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), according to Reuters, “afflicting the entire energy complex with worries that demand growth will be bearish this year.” Prices for coal, natural gas and LNG, and crude oil have plunged.

“The continued escalation in trade tensions and broad-based fall in manufacturing…suggest that the downside risks to growth are becoming more prominent,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note.

Yet another downturn could not come at a worse time for U.S. shale drillers, who have struggled to turn a profit. Time and again, shale executives have promised that profitability is right around the corner. Years of budget-busting drilling has succeeded in bringing a tidal wave of oil online, but a corresponding wave of profits has never materialized.

Heading into 2019, the industry promised to stake out a renewed focus on capital discipline and shareholder returns. But that vow is now in danger of becoming yet another in a long line of unmet goals.

“Another quarter, another gusher of red ink,” the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, along with the Sightline Institute, wrote in a joint report on the first quarter earnings of the shale industry.

The report studied 29 North American shale companies and found a combined $2.5 billion in negative free cash flow in the first quarter. That was a deterioration from the $2.1 billion in negative cash flow from the fourth quarter of 2018. “This dismal cash flow performance came despite a 16 percent quarter-over-quarter decline in capital expenditures,” the report’s authors concluded.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Most Crucial Pipeline Of The Middle East?

The Most Crucial Pipeline Of The Middle East?

Pipeline

Contemporary Middle Eastern history is strongly influenced by energy politics. Besides providing revenue for the state’s coffers, oil is also a potent geopolitical tool in the hands of resource-rich countries. Recently, officials from Lebanon, Syria and Iraq have engaged in talks to restart the dysfunctional pipeline that once connected oilfields near Kirkuk in Iraq with the coastal city of Tripoli in Lebanon. Restarting the pipeline could have long-term political, economic, and strategic consequences for the involved states and the wider region.

The original infrastructure was constructed during the 30s of the previous century when two 12-inch pipes transported oil from Kirkuk to Haifa in British mandated Palestine and Tripoli in French-mandated Lebanon. The Tripoli line was supplemented by a 30-inch pipeline in the 50s which could transport approximately 400,000 barrels/day. The Kirkuk-Tripoli pipeline was suspended by Syria during the Iraq-Iran war in an attempt to support Tehran in its struggle against Baghdad.

(Click to enlarge)

Paving the way

The current political climate, which has enabled cooperation between Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, is the consequence of one country’s foreign policy. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, Iranian influence has grown considerably across the Middle East. Tehran’s support for proxies in neighboring countries has strongly influenced regional politics and made Saudi Arabia nervous of what it sees as “Persian encroachment”.

The Iranian support for Syria’s President Assad provided a lifeline to the regime during the country’s civil war. Tehran has invested significantly in maintaining the position of its ally in Damascus. In neighboring Iraq, the democratization process installed a Shia-dominated parliament which is supported by powerful paramilitary groups funded and organized by the Quds force, the branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard responsible for extraterritorial activities. Despite significant military and political gains, consolidation is required to cement the ties between Iran’s Arab partners, which would also benefit Tehran.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Oil Defeated The Nazis

How Oil Defeated The Nazis

Kraftstoff

General Erwin Rommel, “the Desert Fox,” was reputedly the best tactician in the entire German Army. For years, he led his panzers across multiple campaigns in North Africa.

But what was a German army doing zipping across the deserts of Libya?

Simple: Rommel was trying to capture the Suez Canal, and with it the route to the precious, untapped oil fields of the Middle East.

From the deserts of North Africa to the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the jungles of the South Pacific and the skies above Romania, World War II was defined by a struggle over a single resource – petroleum.

Without oil, modern mechanized warfare was impossible. It fueled the war effort of each major power, and battles over access and control of petroleum resources marked the war’s most important episodes—from the Battle of Stalingrad to the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Hitler’s Dilemma

German fuhrer Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1930s in the wake of the Great Depression – a cataclysmic economic crisis that affected the entire world, but which hit Germany especially hard. Amidst spiraling inflation and mass unemployment, Hitler preached a return to national greatness through conquest. Germany would dominate Europe, and in so doing capture all the resources it would need to become a self-sustaining, self-sufficient economic power.

Despite being one of the most powerful industrial nations on earth, Germany had no oil reserves. Furthermore, it lacked an empire – like the British – that would give it access to oil overseas.

In fact, in the 1930s oil production was dominated by a handful of countries—the United States, which accounted for 50% of global oil production, as well as the Soviet Union, Venezuela, Iran, Indonesia, and Romania.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why it (sort of) makes sense for the US to impose tariffs

Why it (sort of) makes sense for the US to impose tariffs

Nearly everyone wonders, “Why is Donald Trump crazy enough to impose tariffs on imports from other countries? How could this possibly make sense?”

As long as the world economy is growing rapidly, it makes sense for countries to cooperate with each other. With the use of cooperation, scarce resources can become part of supply lines that allow the production of complex goods, such as computers, requiring materials from around the world. The downsides of cooperation include:

(a) The use of more oil to transport goods around the world;

(b) The more rapid exhaustion of resources of all kinds around the world; and

(c) Growing wage disparity as workers from high-wage countries compete more directly with workers from low-wages countries.

These issues can be tolerated as long as the world economy is growing fast enough. As the saying goes, “A rising tide raises all boats.”

In this post, I will explain what is going wrong and how Donald Trump’s actions fit in with the situation we are facing. Strangely enough, there is a physics aspect to what is happening, even though it is likely that Donald Trump and the voters who elected him would probably not recognize this. In fact, the world economy seems to be on the cusp of a shrinking-back event, with or without the tariffs. Adding tariffs is an indirect way of allowing the US to obtain a better position in the new, shrunken economy, if this is really possible.

The upcoming shrinking-back event is the result of too little energy consumption in relation to total world population. Most researchers have completely missed the possibility that energy limits could manifest themselves as excessive wage disparity. In fact, they have tended to assume that energy limits would manifest themselves as high energy prices, especially for oil.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Visualizing How Much Oil Is In An Electric Vehicle?

Visualizing How Much Oil Is In An Electric Vehicle?

When most people think about oil and natural gas, the first thing that comes to mind is the gas in the tank of their car. But, as Visual Capitalist’s Nicholas LePan notes, there is actually much more to oil’s role, than meets the eye…

Oil, along with natural gas, has hundreds of different uses in a modern vehicle through petrochemicals.

Today’s infographic comes to us from American Fuel & Petrochemicals Manufacturers, and covers why oil is a critical material in making the EV revolution possible.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire

Iran, Venezuela and the Throes of Empire

Illustration by Nathaniel St. Clair

With the Trump administration threatening war against Iran and Venezuela, the question of how the U.S. was brought to this point needs to be considered. To argue that current circumstances are particular to this administration is to overlook U.S. history vis-a-vis both Iran and Venezuela and that between them they possess a material proportion of the world’s proved oil reserves (graph below). In 2019, the pretense that local provocations explain anything beyond domestic political posturing is absurd.

However, domestic political considerations do explain threats of war to a greater degree than should rationally be the case. Removing Americans from the risks of wars the U.S. starts has produced a form of technological nihilism. Just because technology can be used to kill large numbers of people without risk to self doesn’t mean that it should be. Combined with economic motives for launching wars, death, destruction and misery have become just another business opportunity. At this point in history, war is what America does.

More insidiously, and admitted into evidence that the national Democrats just aren’t very politically astute, two- and one-half years into a soft coup staged by key members of the surveillance and warfare states and national Democrats against his administration, Donald Trump now apparently undertsands the domestic political benefits of unhinged militarism. Through a sycophant press predisposed to support any manner of unprovoked slaughter and the myriad business interests that see their stocks rise with the same, war is apparently a good business to be in.

Graph: the American defense industry, in this case aerospace, generally gives more in campaign contributions to Republicans than to Democrats. However, the contributions appear to be tactical. When Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were running for the presidency, the balance of contributions shifted to Democrats. This tactic keeps Democrats ‘competing’ for contributions from people that profit from war. Source: https://www.opensecrets.org.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why it (sort of) makes sense for the US to impose tariffs

Why it (sort of) makes sense for the US to impose tariffs

Nearly everyone wonders, “Why is Donald Trump crazy enough to impose tariffs on imports from other countries? How could this possibly make sense?”

As long as the world economy is growing rapidly, it makes sense for countries to cooperate with each other. With the use of cooperation, scarce resources can become part of supply lines that allow the production of complex goods, such as computers, requiring materials from around the world. The downsides of cooperation include:

(a) The use of more oil to transport goods around the world;

(b) The more rapid exhaustion of resources of all kinds around the world; and

(c) Growing wage disparity as workers from high-wage countries compete more directly with workers from low-wages countries.

These issues can be tolerated as long as the world economy is growing fast enough. As the saying goes, “A rising tide raises all boats.”

In this post, I will explain what is going wrong and how Donald Trump’s actions fit in with the situation we are facing. Strangely enough, there is a physics aspect to what is happening, even though it is likely that Donald Trump and the voters who elected him would probably not recognize this. In fact, the world economy seems to be on the cusp of a shrinking-back event, with or without the tariffs. Adding tariffs is an indirect way of allowing the US to obtain a better position in the new, shrunken economy, if this is really possible.

The upcoming shrinking-back event is the result of too little energy consumption in relation to total world population. Most researchers have completely missed the possibility that energy limits could manifest themselves as excessive wage disparity. In fact, they have tended to assume that energy limits would manifest themselves as high energy prices, especially for oil.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Trend is Not Your Friend

The Trend is Not Your Friend


The be-Muellered, bothered, and bewildered American public may find US-China trade talks about as interesting as a rain delay in an Orioles-Chisox game, but the Friday collapse of negotiations may be marked by historians as the day that the global economy died. The Big Box blue-light-special orgy of bargain shopping ran about thirty years, with China exuberantly pumping out cheap consumer goods to feed the US beast-of-Mammon. Americans happily payed for it all with IOUs based on long daisy chains of previous IOUs. Tom Friedman of The New York Times said it would last forever. Alas….

The paradigm kicked off for one simple reason: energy flows dictated capital flows. By the mid-1980s, the non-OPEC world was once again swimming in oil from the last great bonanzas of the oil age: The Alaska North Slope and the North Sea. Twenty years later, they were running down. Meanwhile, the USA had fecklessly “offshored” its factories in the mistaken belief that we had entered a shimmering new digital economy of virtual business were nobody had to make real stuff. China became the world’s workshop and the USA became the world’s financial bucket-shop, churning out endless swindles and frauds. The predictable result was the financial crisis of 2008, which coincided with oil prices rising to over $140-a-barrel (and six months later they crashed, with the economy, to under $30-a-barrel).

The “recovery” from that was based on Wall Street’s premier swindle: the shale oil “miracle,” based on high-risk lending to companies that couldn’t make a red cent even while accomplishing the majestic stunt of exceeding America’s old 1970 oil production peak of around 10 million barrels-a-day (now at around 12 million). Notice, too, that the final push to 12-million barrels occurred during the last two years: thus, Mr. Trump’s miracle economy. All that, to paraphrase the immortal words of Mr. Dylan, balances like a mattress on a bottle of wine.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Jumps After Saudis Admit Two Tankers Attacked As Iran Tensions Soar

Oil Jumps After Saudis Admit Two Tankers Attacked As Iran Tensions Soar

The bizarre and mysterious explosions that rocked the UAE port of Fujairah on Sunday just got even more strange after Saudi Arabia admitted overnight that two of its oil tankers were attacked while sailing toward the Persian Gulf possibly as part of the incident.

Crude prices quickly jumped as much as 2% on the news. Throughout Sunday as what was being reported in international press as multiple oil tankers exploding at port, local UAE officials had vehemently denied any explosion, much less that any sabotage incident, took place. 

But even more interesting is that it was primarily Iran-linked media, beginning with Lebanon’s Al Mayadeen, which first reported and pushed the story into mainstream coverage. But later in the day, we reported that the UAE finally acknowledged an incident, saying four commercial cargo ships were targeted by “sabotage operations” off its eastern coast, near the Gulf of Oman. And now, a full 24 hours later, this bombshell admission which is fast sending oil prices higher: 

Saudi Arabia said on Monday that two of its oil tankers had been sabotaged off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, in attacks it described as posing a threat to the security of global oil supplies.

Via AFP/Haaretz: Saudi cargo ship Bahri Yanbu next to British crude oil tanker Nordic Space (L) waiting in the port of Le Havre, May 9, 2019

The state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said Monday that one of the vessels was due to be loaded with Saudi crude oil from the port of Ras Tanura, after which it would eventually supply customers in the United States. International shipping monitors identified the Saudi vessels as Bahri-owned crude carrier Amjad and crude tanker Al Marzoqah

No casualties or oil spills were reported as part of the “sabotage” incident, but the statement acknowledged “significant damage to the structures of the two vessels.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Cataclysm
Click on image to purchase