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ExxonMobil Looks To Exit UK North Sea Oil & Gas

ExxonMobil Looks To Exit UK North Sea Oil & Gas

ExxonMobil

ExxonMobil has recently discussed with operators selling part or all of its assets in the UK North Sea in a move that could raise up to US$2 billion for Exxon and mark another major U.S. exit from the area, Reuters reported on Tuesday, quoting three industry sources familiar with the matter.

Exxon has been a major investor in the UK North Sea since 1964, when the first exploration drilling in the area began. The U.S. major holds interests in 40 producing oil and gas fields and produces around five percent of UK oil and gas production, with an average 80,000 barrels of oil and 441 million cubic feet of gas a day. Exxon’s investment in the North Sea is managed through a 50/50 joint operation with Shell.

If Exxon sells some or part of its assets in the UK North Sea, it will be yet another major U.S. oil and gas firm to divest interests in this mature area to focus on their current key growth areas, which for Exxon right now are the Permian in Texas and conventional oil production offshore Guyana.

While European supermajors Shell, BP, and Total continue to view the North Sea as one of their core assets, U.S. majors have been selling North Sea stakes as many of them are now focused on U.S. shale.

Marathon Oil said in February that it would be exiting the UK North Sea as it continues to focus on high-return U.S. shale oil operations.

In April, ConocoPhillips sold its UK oil and gas business to Chrysaor Holdings for US$2.675 billion in a deal which Wood Mackenzie described as “another story of the changing corporate landscape in the North Sea – for the first time, a non major is the number one producer in the UK.”

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

Understanding the Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Albright Doctrine

Understanding the Failure of U.S. Foreign Policy: The Albright Doctrine

Albright typifies the arrogance and hawkishness of Washington blob.

How to describe U.S. foreign policy over the last couple of decades? Disastrous comes to mind. Arrogant and murderous also seem appropriate.

Since 9/11, Washington has been extraordinarily active militarily—invading two nations, bombing and droning several others, deploying special operations forces in yet more countries, and applying sanctions against many. Tragically, the threat of Islamist violence and terrorism only have metastasized. Although Al Qaeda lost its effectiveness in directly plotting attacks, it continues to inspire national offshoots. Moreover, while losing its physical “caliphate” the Islamic State added further terrorism to its portfolio.

Three successive administrations have ever more deeply ensnared the United States in the Middle East. War with Iran appears to be frighteningly possible. Ever-wealthier allies are ever-more dependent on America. Russia is actively hostile to the United States and Europe. Washington and Beijing appear to be a collision course on far more than trade. Yet the current administration appears convinced that doing more of the same will achieve different results, the best definition of insanity.

Despite his sometimes abusive and incendiary rhetoric, the president has departed little from his predecessors’ policies. For instance, American forces remain deployed in Afghanistan and Syria. Moreover, the Trump administration has increased its military and materiel deployments to Europe. Also, Washington has intensified economic sanctions on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, and even penalized additional countries, namely Venezuela.

U.S. foreign policy suffers from systematic flaws in the thinking of the informal policy collective which former Obama aide Ben Rhodes dismissed as “The Blob.” Perhaps no official better articulated The Blob’s defective precepts than Madeleine Albright, United Nations ambassador and Secretary of State.

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

Lawlessness

Lawlessness

Pablo Picasso Rest (Marie-Thérèse Walter) 1932

With the news that Julian Assange is “wasting away” in Belmarsh prison hospital, and with UN rapporteur Professor Nils Melzer’s report detailing how this happens, I’m once again drawn towards the lawlessness that all “authorities” involved in his case have been displaying, and with impunity. They all apparently think they are literally above the law. Their own laws.

But they can’t be, nowhere, not above their respective national laws nor the international ones their countries have signed up to. They can’t, because that would instantly make any and all laws meaningless. So you tell me where we find ourselves today.

There’s this paragraph in an article by Jonathan Cook entitled Abuses Show Assange Case Was Never About Law, which lists “17 glaring anomalies in Assange’s legal troubles”, that sums it all up pretty perfectly:

Australia not only refused Assange, a citizen, any help during his long ordeal, but prime minister Julia Gillard even threatened to strip Assange of his citizenship, until it was pointed out that it would be illegal for Australia to do so.

See, Cook is already skipping a step there. Gillard didn’t take Assange’s citizenship away, because that is against Australian law, but it’s just as much against Australian law for a government to let one of its citizens rot in some kind of hell. Still, they did let him rot, but as an Australian citizen. At that point, what difference does anything make anymore?

This is a pattern that runs through the entire Assange “file”, and it does so to pretty astonishing levels. Where you’re forced to think that the countries involved effectively have no laws, and no courts, because if they did, the actions by their governments would surely be whistled back by parliaments or judges or someone, anyone. They’re all essentially lawless.

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

Peter Schiff: This Is the Beginning of a Much Bigger Crisis (Video)

Peter Schiff: This Is the Beginning of a Much Bigger Crisis (Video)

Wall Street has been on a roller coaster ride over the last few months. If you listen to the pundits on the financial networks, you’ll hear the word “volatile” used over and over again. That word certainly seems to describe the current state of US stock markets and in a broader sense the economy. But during a recent interview on RT News with Rick Sanchez, Peter Schiff said it’s not that the economy is volatile. It’s actually a bubble. And we are on the verge of a bigger crisis than the one we went through in 2008.

It’s not a volatile economy, it’s a bubble economy. Thanks to the Federal Reserve, they inflated an even bigger bubble, on purpose, than the one they inflated by accident that popped in 2008. And so the economy is in much worse shape structurally today then it was before it fell apart the last time. So, this is the beginning of a much greater crisis, of a much greater recession than the one that we experienced back in 2008.”

Sanchez asked Peter what exactly the Federal Reserve did wrong. Peter said, basically, everything.

But the biggest things they did wrong were lowering interest rates down to zero, practically, and leaving them there for pretty much the entirety of the Obama presidency. And then they’ve barely raised them. They’re still at 2%, which is very low. They also did all the quantitative easing where they printed a bunch of money and bought US government bonds and mortgage bonds. That enabled the housing bubble to reflate, and that enabled the US government to go much deeper into debt. So, the government didn’t cut spending, which is what we needed. They increased spending. But it also enabled corporations to lever up and buy stocks.

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

Neocons Rage: International (And Domestic) Support for Trump’s Syria Pullout

Neocons Rage: International (And Domestic) Support for Trump’s Syria Pullout

The mainstream press coverage of President Trump’s announcement that he would be removing US troops from Syria has been unanimously apocalyptic. Journos who until a few days ago couldn’t care less about the Kurds (certainly not when US president after US president has used them as a cat’s paw and then abandoned them to their fate), were all of a sudden up in arms warning about an impending slaughter with the blood dripping squarely onto Trump’s hands.

In fact, US weapons, training, and backing had carved out a de facto super-sized Kurd-controlled section of northern Syria which it does not take a geopolitical expert to understand would incense NATO ally Turkey. Why prop up the Kurds and in the process infuriate Erdogan? The US-led regime-change program simply did not have many other boots on the ground to turn to. After years of arming jihadists whose masks slipped quickly thereafter to reveal al-Qaeda or ISIS markings, the game was up for the “Assad must go” crowd and the only move left was to pretend that a proxy Kurd militia was something called the “Syrian Democratic Forces.” When in fact it was nothing of the sort. It was simply the Kurds, rented by Washington.

And the bloodbath the media and neocons warned would come about should Trump dare reconsider another US forever war? More lies and bluster. The Kurds are re-considering their foolish refusal to partner more closely with the Syrian government against foreign-sponsored insurgencies. Just last week, they began negotiations with Damascus to reconcile and forestall a massive Turk incursion.

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

Trump Walks Back Syria Pullout As Noose Tightens

Trump Walks Back Syria Pullout As Noose Tightens

If anyone still thinks that Donald Trump has some master plan to kill off his Deep State adversaries they should check themselves into therapy. I know withdrawal is hard, but admitting you have a problem is the first step to curing it.

He doesn’t have a plan. He may fight them but it won’t be with any kind of master plan to trap them in some beautiful bit of political judo.

Frankly, Vladimir Putin he is not.

No, Trump is winging things at this point. While he still has the office he’s trying to do some of the things he promised. Doing that may keep him in power for a few more months.

But with his walking back the timetable for pulling troops out of Syria after a visit from Lindsay Graham (R-MIC/AIPAC) should tell you all you need to know about Trump’s willingness to stand up to the pressure he’s under.

Add to that the opening salvo from Mitt Romney (R-Wall St.) and it becomes pretty clear that Trump was told what the score really is. When, not if, the Democrats push for impeachment or a 25th Amendment proceeding against him Graham and Romney will lead a GOP revolt against him, siding with Senate Democrats to get rid of him.

That’s been the point of this from the beginning. Pat Buchanan and I both talked about this from the moment he was elected. Pat reminding us of what happened to Nixon who was hounded out of office because he did the unthinkable — ending the Vietnam War.

I’ve been simply looking at this from the standard libertarian perspective that “War is the health of the state” and Trump’s opposition to our Middle East follies would net him nothing but contempt.

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

Putin Confirms No New Oil Production Cuts; Hopes For US, UK Detente

Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Trump, pummeled Poroshenko, and poured cold water on oil market bulls’ hopes in a statement following the G-20 meetings.

Putin began by confirming what White House Press Secretary Sanders noted earlier – he and Trump had spoken broefly on the sidelines of the G-20 and discussed the Ukraine incident. Putin added that “Trump is not afraid of [him]” and expressed “pity that he could not have a full format meeting with President Trump” pointing out that “Russian needs to maintain dialog with US,” and “hopes to meet [Trump] when US is ready.”

Putin also mentioned Russia’s relationship with the United Kingdom, noting that “UK is an important partner for Russia” adding that he “hopes to overcome differences, to normalize relations with UK in the near future.”

But perhaps the most important aspect of Putin’s comments – related to markets – was his statement on crude production cuts.

Russian news service RIA noted earlier that Putin and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) discussed oil, haven’t taken concrete decisions yet, including production cuts, Kremlin’s foreign police aide Yuri Ushakov said.

And Putin just confirmed that there are no additional cuts over and above the OPEC+ Vienna Accord levels currently in place:

  • *PUTIN SAYS THEY AGREED TO EXTEND OPEC+ AGREEMENT
  • *PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA, SAUDI AGREES TO CONTINUE AGREEMENT
  • *PUTIN: EXACT VOLUME TO BE AGREED W SAUDI ARABIA BASED ON MARKET

Confirming Lavrov’s comments earlier in the week that there was no need for additional deals or cuts. The two producers will monitor market to adjust policy accordingly.

Finally Putin raised the topic of the Kerch Strait crisis, explaining that “Poroshenko was dividing Ukraine through the use of mertial law,” adding that it “was much too early to talk about the release/swap of Ukraine sailors.

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

EU, UK, Russia and China Join Together to Dodge US Sanctions on Iran

EU, UK, Russia and China Join Together to Dodge US Sanctions on Iran

EU, UK, Russia and China Join Together to Dodge US Sanctions on Iran

The UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York is a place where world leaders are able to hold important meetings behind closed doors. Russia, China, the UK, Germany, France, and the EU seized that opportunity on Sept. 24 to achieve a real milestone.

The EU, Russia, China, and Iran will create a special purpose vehicle (SPV), a “financially independent sovereign channel,” to bypass US sanctions against Tehran and breathe life into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which is in jeopardy. “Mindful of the urgency and the need for tangible results, the participants welcomed practical proposals to maintain and develop payment channels, notably the initiative to establish a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to facilitate payments related to Iran’s exports, including oil,” they announced in a joint statement. The countries are still working out the technical details. If their plan succeeds, this will deliver a blow to the dollar and a boost to the euro.

The move is being made in order to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. According to Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the SPV will facilitate payments for Iran’s exports, such as oil, and imports so that companies can do business with Tehran as usual. The vehicle will be available not just to EU firms but to others as well. A round of US sanctions aimed at ending Iranian oil exports is to take effect on November 5. Iran is the world’s seventh-largest oil producer. Its oil sector accounts for 70% of the country’s exports. Tehran has warned the EU that it should find new ways of trading with Iran prior to that date, in order to preserve the JCPOA.

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

Interview Raúl Ilargi Meijer about Julian Assange

Charles Burchfield Bluebird and Cottonwoods (The Birches) 1917


My Australian friend Wayne Hall, who‘s lived in Athens for many many years, is doing a video project on fellow Aussie Julian Assange. This is an interview with me, recorded 3 weeks or so ago, that’s part of the project. I would have done 1000 things differently, but it’s not my baby, it’s Wayne’s world. At least some snippets of information come through.

Note: it was 100º, and it shows. Very sweaty, very uncomfortable. Still, while I’m not wild about doing videos -we had Nicole for that, right?!- maybe I should be doing more of this. Not that I watched this one, mind you. But you can.

Wayne Hall: Good afternoon Raúl Ilargi Meijer. You have a blog called “Automatic Earth” and you are very active with it. Can you say something about “Automatic Earth”? When was it founded? What is its aim?

Ilargi: It was founded almost eleven years ago. Nicole Foss and I founded it because we wanted to write about finance whereas the people we were writing for before that, “The Oil Drum”, didn’t want us to do that and we thought it was too important not to.

WH: And what are you doing here in Athens?

Ilargi: I’m supporting a group of people who feed the homeless and refugees. I’ve written a bunch of articles at “Automatic Earth” about that.

WH: Now even though you have written articles that show clearly how important you think it is to try to defend Julian Assange (I read one that you published today [17/8/2018] that was very much on that subject and it was a powerful article), you really don’t agree with Julian Assange on the importance of defending the European integration project or citizens’ Europe.

Ilargi: I have no idea what either of these things are.

NATO is a Con Game

Marc Riboud Forbidden City under the snow, Beijing 1957

Okay, well, Trump did it again. Antagonizing allies. This time it was Germany that took the main hit, over the fact that it pays Russia billions of dollars for oil and gas while relying on the US for its defense … against Russia. And yes, that is a strange situation. But it’s by no means the only angle to the story. There are many more.

For one thing, The US has by far the largest military industry. So it makes a lot of money off the billions already spent by NATO partners on weaponry. Of course Raytheon, Boeing et al would like to see them spend more. But once they would have done that, they would clamor for even more after.

At some point one must ask how much should really be spent. How much is enough, how much is necessary. The military-industrial complex (MIC) has every reason to make the threat posed by ‘enemies’ as big as they possibly can. So knowing that, we must take media reports on this threat with tons of salt.

And that is not easy. Because the MIC has great influence in politics and the media. But we can turn to some numbers. According to GlobalFirePower, the US in 2018 will spend $647 billion on its military, while Russia is to spend a full $600 billion less, at $47 billion. And the US Senate has already voted in a $82 billion boost recently.

There are other numbers out there that suggest Russia spends $60 billion, but even then. If Moscow spends just 10% of the US, and much less than that once all NATO members’ expenditure is included, how much of a threat can Russia realistically be to NATO?

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

Who Needs Enemies?


Vittorio Matteo Corcos Conversation in the Jardin du Luxembourg 1892

Obviously, there are tensions between Europe and the US. Just as obviously, these tensions are blamed on, who else, Donald Trump. European Council President Donald Tusk recently said: “With friends like Trump, who needs enemies?” EU Commission chair Jean-Claude Juncker even proclaimed that “Europe must take America’s place as global leader”.

These European ‘leaders’ love the big words. They think they make them look good, strong. In reality, they are merely messenger boys for Berlin and Paris. Who have infinitely more say than Brussels. Problem is, Berlin and Paris are not united at all. Macron wants more Europe, especially in finance, but Merkel knows she can’t sell that at home.

So what are those big words worth when the whip comes down? It’s amusing to see how different people reach wholly different conclusions about that. Instructive and entertaining. First, Alex Gorka at The Strategic Culture Foundation, who likes the big words too: “..a landmark event that will go down in history as the day Europe united to openly defy the US.”and “May 17 is the day the revolt started and there is no going back. Europe has said goodbye to trans-Atlantic unity. It looks like it has had enough.

Brussels Rises In Revolt Against Washington: A Turning Point In US-European Relations

The May 16-17 EU-Western Balkans summit did address the problems of integration, but it was eclipsed by another issue. The meeting turned out to be a landmark event that will go down in history as the day Europe united to openly defy the US. The EU will neither review the Iran nuclear deal (JPCOA) nor join the sanctions against Tehran that have been reintroduced and even intensified by America.

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

That Collapse You Ordered…?


I had a fellow on my latest podcast, released Sunday, who insists that the world population will crash 90-plus percent from the current 7.6 billion to 600 million by the end of this century. Jack Alpert heads an outfit called the Stanford Knowledge Integration Lab (SKIL) which he started at Stanford University in 1978 and now runs as a private research foundation. Alpert is primarily an engineer.

At 600 million, the living standard in the USA would be on a level with the post-Roman peasantry of Fifth century Europe, but without the charm, since many of the planet’s linked systems — soils, oceans, climate, mineral resources — will be in much greater disarray than was the case 1,500 years ago. Anyway, that state-of-life may be a way-station to something more dire. Alpert’s optimal case would be a world human population of 50 million, deployed in three “city-states,” in the Pacific Northwest, the Uruguay / Paraguay border region, and China, that could support something close to today’s living standards for a tiny population, along with science and advanced technology, run on hydropower. The rest of world, he says, would just go back to nature, or what’s left of it. Alpert’s project aims to engineer a path to that optimal outcome.

I hadn’t encountered quite such an extreme view of the future before, except for some fictional exercises like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. (Alpert, too, sees cannibalism as one likely byproduct of the journey ahead.) Obviously, my own venture into the fictionalized future of the World Made by Hand books depicted a much kinder and gentler re-set to life at the circa-1800 level of living, at least in the USA. Apparently, I’m a sentimental softie.

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

Americans Trust ‘Our’ Intelligence Agencies. Should We?

Americans Trust ‘Our’ Intelligence Agencies. Should We?

Americans Trust ‘Our’ Intelligence Agencies. Should We?

The record is clear that ‘our’ (that is, the ruling Establishment’s) intelligence agencies, such as the CIA, have lied to the public many times, actually lie routinely — but these lies are always revealed only decades later, by historians, which is too late, because the damage was already done. Think, for example, of just two of the now-famous cases, Iran 1953, and Chile 1973, in both of which instances the US Government ended a democracy abroad, and established a brutal dictatorship there (the Shah in Iran, and Pinochet in Chile) — but what good can a historian do, when the Government and its ‘news’-media were persistently lying, and they had fooled the US public, at the time — which is all that really counted (and ever will count)? Can a historian undo the damage that the Government and its propaganda-agencies had perpetrated, by means of their lies, and coups, and invasions? Never. But this Government, and its propaganda-agents, claim to defend democracies, not to end them. Can it actually be a democracy, if it’s doing such things, and doing it time after time?

Something’s deeply wrong here. Government by deceit, cannot be a democracy. And, yet, the public still don’t get the message, even after it has been delivered to us in history-books. By then, it’s no longer in the news, and so only few people really care about it. The message of history is not learned. The public still accepts the ongoing lies — the new lies, in the new ‘news’, for the new atrocities.

During the period after the Soviet Union, and its communism, and its Warsaw Pact military alliance, all ended in 1991, the US-and-allied historical record (all now after the Cold War has supposedly been over) is even worse, and is even more clearly evil, because the ideological excuse that had formerly existed (and which was only the excuse, and not the reason, in most cases, such as in Iran, and in Chile) is gone.

Iraq in 2003 was a particularly blatant demonstration of the US-Government’s psychopathy regarding foreign affairs. So: let’s consider this example (hopefully, to learn a lesson from it — which still hasn’t yet been learnt):

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

You Know The U.S. is Losing, We’re Willing to Talk

You Know The U.S. is Losing, We’re Willing to Talk

How do you know when a politician is lying?

Their lips move and words come out.

How do you know when the United States is at a disadvantage in a geopolitical quagmire?

Our diplomats and Presidents want to ‘open up talks.’

Multiple times in the past four years the U.S. has used negotiating ceasefires in Syria and Ukraine to rearm and regroup those we’re backing or get our opposition (the Syrian Arab Army, the Russians) to let their guard down and then attack within 24 hours.

We’ve used the U.N. Security Council as a bludgeon to brazenly lie about on the ground facts in Syria to attempt to save our pet jihadists in places like Aleppo and now eastern Ghouta.

And in each of these instances the Russian counterparts have documented the U.S.’s mendacity, patiently building up an international file of such incidents for future use.  As I’ve pointed out so many times, the Russians rightly feel we are “Not Agreement Capable” either from a short-term or long-term perspective.

Winning Looks like Losing

So, why do I think the U.S. is in a losing position right now, despite the pronouncements from President Trump and his most ardent supporters that he’s winning on everything?

Because on the two most important issues of 2018, Korean denuclearization and strategic arms control, Trump is ready to sit down and talk.  And we have not been willing to do that on either of these issues at the Head of State level for most of this century, if not longer.

I wrote recently that the Neoconservative cabal in D.C. is in its final push for war with Russia.  The catalyst, for me, was President Putin’s state of the union address on March 1st where he unveiled new weapons that conjured up images from the finale of Dr. Strangelove.

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

Russian Ambassador Speaks Out: “Relations With The US Are The Worst I Can Remember”

The Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, told NBC’s Today that he can’t remember a period when relations between Washington and Moscow were worse, after both countries expelled dozens of each other’s diplomats following the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

“It seems to me that atmosphere in Washington is poisoned — it’s a toxic atmosphere,” he said. “It depends upon us to decide whether we are in Cold War or not. But … I don’t remember such [a] bad shape of our relations.”

Pointing out that “there is great mistrust between the United States and Russia” at present, Antonov said that “today Russia’s responsible for everything, even for bad weather.”

“It’s high time for us to stop blaming each other. It’s high time for us to start a real conversation about real problems.”

Then again, with the wave of anti-Russia hysteria sweeping the US today at levels not seen since the days of Joe McCarthy, that is unlikely. It is even more unlikely considering Trump’s two recent neocon cabinet picks: Mike Pompeo as secretary of state and John Bolton as national security adviser.

In the interview, Antonov echoed Putin’s denial that Russia is behind the Skripal poisoning, saying there was “no evidence” Russia was responsible, even suggesting a conspiracy by noting that the attack happened “very close to U.K. military chemical laboratory.” He asked: “Do we have a motive to kill [Skripal] on the eve of [the] Russian presidential election? … Where is the motive?”

Skripal spent five years in Russian jail. So it was enough time for us to know everything that he knew. Why we should make revenge? You see that he was in our jail. And you’ll see that he was in our hands. And for us, it’s clear that he’s empty. He knows nothing.”

Antonov also repeated Russia’s denials that it meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, saying it was “impossible to imagine” that the Kremlin was responsible, and said that the recent indictment by Robert Mueller of 13 Russian nationals on suspicion of interfering in the vote was “not a proof” of responsibility.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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