Saudi Arabia plans to set up a $10 billion oil refinery in Pakistan’s deepwater port of Gwadar, the Saudi energy minister said on Saturday, speaking at the Indian Ocean port that is being developed with the help of China. – Reuters
Iran turns to India to bypass US sanctions
Iran’s foreign minister said during a visit to India today that cooperation with the European Union to circumvent US sanctions is moving slower than expected. “We continue to work with the Europeans for the special purpose vehicle, but we are not waiting for them,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters. “We are working with our traditional partners like India, like China, like Russia so that we continue to work in the interest of our people." Zarif hopes to drum up business with India and work out a mechanism to conduct trade without using the US dollar even as New Delhi has received a sanctions waiver from Washington to continue importing Iranian oil. Read More
On Geopolitics: Looking Back at 2018
From Stratfor Worldview: “ ... from the technological battle between the West and China to questions about the development of artificial intelligence, the militarization of space and U.S. President Donald Trump's intentions on the global scene. "
5 Big National Security Predictions for 2019
By James Holmes, The National Interest: “Winston Churchill once wisecracked that the politician’s job is to predict what will happen—then explain why it didn’t. More to the point, George Orwell mocked “the unsinkable Military Expert” who keeps venturing strong predictions about martial affairs, keeps getting forecasts wrong, and keeps drawing “fat salaries” despite repeated failures as a soothsayer. Be humble when prophesying—lest the ghosts of wars past appear before you and terrify you!”
Iran to sell 3 million barrels of oil to private buyers to sidestep US sanctions
Iran announced Wednesday that it will allow private companies to buy 3 million more barrels of oil as it seeks to sidestep sweeping US sanctions. Tehran hopes to diversify its export channels as US sanctions take aim directly at its petroleum sales. Oil Minister Bijan Zangeneh said 700,000 barrels of oil have so far been sold to private buyers since the United States reimposed sanctions in November. Read More
Jane Nakano writes: Energy has emerged as a key element in the economic agenda under the Trump administration’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy, which essentially seeks to marshal a counteroffensive to China-led multi-billion-dollar energy and energy infrastructure outreach in the region. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Iraq’s stability rests on revitalizing its energy sector and weaning itself off natural gas imports, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday during a rare visit by a member of President Trump’s Cabinet as Washington seeks to weaken Iraq’s ties to Iran. – Washington Post
Libya’s National Oil Company (NOC) on Monday declared force majeure on exports from the El Sharara oilfield, which was seized at the weekend by a local militia group. – Reuters
Farzin Nadimi writes: On November 5, the U.S. Treasury Department published an expanded set of sanctions against Iran with the intention of bringing the country’s oil export activity—and, by extension, its oil-dependent economy—to a standstill. As with previous sanctions, Tehran is expected to push back against these measures by exploiting its geographical advantages and relations with neighboring countries, and by drawing on its long experience at running a “resilient economy.” – Washington Institute
Qatar to withdraw from OPEC
Qatar announced today that it is leaving the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to focus on its gas industry. Qatar, which joined the oil cartel in 1961, is one of the smallest oil producers but the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. “Qatar has decided to withdraw its membership form OPEC effective January 2019 and this decision was communicated to OPEC this morning,” Qatari Energy Minister Saad al-Kaabi said at a press conference. Despite the decision, Qatar will attend this week's ministerial meeting in Vienna amid calls from Saudi Arabia to cut production to stop prices from falling. Saudi Arabia, one of OPEC’s founding members, has been leading a boycott against the tiny Gulf country since June 2017. Read More
Qatar quits OPEC ahead of meeting
BY ASIA TIMES STAFF
Gulf producer says it will focus on natural gas amid tensions with Saudi Arabia
Riyadh ‘not confident’ OPEC members can agree on cuts
BY ASIA TIMES STAFF
Output reduction needed to address recent sharp drop in price of crude
The Skills Gap and the Future of Oil
Mark Mills, E21
When it comes to the future of work, we’re constantly told that automation and algorithms are destined to eliminate huge swaths of the workforce. But the reality is both more complicated and more optimistic.A major problem for the U.S. economy is a shortage of skilled workers. A recent Deloitte report estimates that there will be over 2.5 million skilled job openings unfilled in America over the coming decade. Read more here....
Iran and China resume oil trade
Iran announced Wednesday that oil transactions with China are set to proceed next week. The head of the Iran-China Chamber of Commerce Asadollah Asgaroladi said Wednesday that the two countries have resolved issues relating to Beijing’s payments for Iranian oil imports by designating a Chinese bank to facilitate the exchanges. The United States has granted China a waiver to temporarily continue Iranian oil imports. Read More
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Senior officials in the Trump administration have indicated that the sanctions recently imposed on the Islamic Republic were intended to significantly change its behavior. This declaration is inconsistent with its granting of an exemption to the eight countries – particularly China and India – that make up the bulk of Iranian oil exports. The administration’s decision reflects, among other things, the desire to avoid a shake-up in global oil prices and a pragmatic approach that allows room for maneuver for countries that are not ready to immediately halt their purchases of Iranian oil. However, the decision is being interpreted by Tehran as a sign of weakness and an achievement for Iranian foreign policy.
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Russian banks are finding ways to cope with Western sanctions, as a renewed focus on retail banking and greater reliance on state-backed investments fuels a profit boom. Andrey Kostin, chief executive of state-owned VTB, says Russian banks are being forced to rely on funding and projects from the state to maintain revenue streams in the face of the measures. – Wall Street Journal
Russia balks at Saudi efforts to slash oil supply
Russia seeks to avoid OPEC oil production cuts sought by Saudi Arabia and other members of the oil cartel, Reuters reported Thursday. The Saudis are concerned about the fall in oil prices as a result of decreased demand and high supply. Russian President Vladimir Putin dodged questions on whether OPEC should limit supply, but said he had discussed the situation with US President Donald Trump. Trump wants OPEC to keep the oil flowing following the resumption of energy sanctions on Iran. Saudi Arabia increased its oil supply following the sanctions but does not wish to make the increase permanent. Read More
World Leaders Come Together For Inaugural Global Energy Forum
quoting Condoleezza Rice, George P. Shultz via The Stanford Daily
Bill Gates, Condoleezza Rice, Jerry Brown. CEOs, politicians, representatives and scientists. World leaders convened Thursday and Friday at the Hoover Institution for the inaugural Global Energy Forum to discuss the future of energy worldwide as the field continues to undergo major changes.
Pakistan in the middle of Saudi, Iran and rival pipeline plans
BY PEPE ESCOBAR
As US sanctions on Iran come into force, the government of Imran Khan is carefully negotiating its position with neighbors and regional powers, each with their favored pipeline plans
The Gulf region’s future: Beyond oil and gas
Karen E. Young | Internationale Politik
Economic diversification has been a goal of all six Gulf Cooperation Council states for over a decade. The realization that the state can’t do everything is now central to government efforts at fiscal consolidation and planning for the future. But the old ways are not entirely in the past.
Ahmad Majidyar writes: While the new sanctions are even broader in scope than those imposed on Iran during the Obama administration, there is a lack of international support to enforce the U.S. sanctions to their fullest potential. The Islamic Republic will most likely continue to defy U.S. pressure, in the hope that it can weather the impact of sanctions and outlast the Trump presidency. – Middle East Institute
Firas Elias writes: The powerful interconnections between Iran’s different media and intelligence agencies has been weaponized by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei who is engaged in an ongoing publicity war with the outside world: the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance provides the lexicon for speeches and revolutionary discourse, then the media disseminates this material in the form of news and media content, and finally, the Ministry of Intelligence mobilizes the material and social resources in order to bring this effort full circle. – Washington Institute
Why Wind Power Isn’t the Answer
As a new study confirms, turbines would have to be stacked across state-sized swaths of the American landscape.