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30 November 2013

Press review 30-11-2013

The international agreement on Iran's Nuclear programme has been making the news world go round this past week. It is a geo-political game changer for the region, leaving many happy and some unhappy. Speculation is rife on what may be behind this historical approach between the Persian power and the West, especially after it became public the secret negotiation between Tehran and Washington started right after prime-minister Rohuani took office.

What happens to petroleum prices then? Not much. For starters because the block on investments from international petroleum companies will remain in place for at least six more months (the period of trial of the agreement). And secondly because Iran is unlikely to displace on its own all the non-conventional petroleum presently feeding the market. Not even in the long term.

But Iran's resources are certainly cheaper than market prices and the country is wasting no time in reaping the profits from international trade that this agreement makes available.

27 November 2013

Help! My blog was plagiarised

Have you ever experienced that feeling when you reach for you briefcase and something is missing? Or arriving at home and understanding someone had been there before you? That feeling of being burglarised was what I felt when I accidentally bumped on an article with the breif title: The real problem with Solar: Panel Prices in Free Fall, and the Fuel is Free: Corporations don’t Know how to Make Money Here (Oprisko). It is published by an Australian web site named The Zero Room and its authorship attributed to George Oprisko, Executive Director of the Public Research Institute in the US.

As it happens, about one third of this article reproduces ipsis verbis parts of The Price of Solar Power post, one of the most popular in this blog, that was also published by the EuropeanTribune and TheOilDrum. Even section titles were copied, but I'm nowhere acknowledged as author. This is in clear breach of the EUPL v1.1 licence under which the contents of this blog are published.

23 November 2013

Press review 23-11-2013

The Iraq war started over a decade ago. The date of its terminus is debatable, some were bold enough to declare an end, but the killing and sectarianism have prevailed. For a few years it seemed the country was finding some sort of normality and the Petroleum industry seemed set for a fresh restart. But religious and ethnic tensions that the war only deepened are putting all at stake one more time. The civil war in neighbouring Syria has not only further contributed to the rift between Shia and Sunni, it threatens to overflow into Iraq on a large scale.

In spite of all the fuss around tight oil, Iraq is effectively the home to the most important Petroleum resource in the planet at this moment. If the Golden Horseshoe theory by the late Dr. Ali Bakhtiari is correct, the country could delay the decline of world Petroleum extraction for a good while, providing a smoother transition to a new economic paradygm. But peace in Iraq is not in everyone's agenda.

16 November 2013

Press review 16-11-2013

There are several pressing topics to cover in this edition of the press review, but I will start with one that has been almost absent from the Western media: Iraq. The country was invaded by a coalition leaded by the US and the UK more than 10 years ago and violence hasn't stopped since. So far 2013 is already one of the deadliest years since the invasion, flagging a clear degradation of the conflict. Obviously, this escalation is not unrelated to the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

Up to 2008 the US government, leaded by George Bush, backed up the Shia, in detriment of the Sunni, eventually leading them to power in Iraq. But ever since Barak Obama took office the US government has clearly shifted support to the Sunni and Al Qaeda. This shift in policy is behind most conflicts in the Near East and North Africa: Lybia, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria; Iraq is simple collateral damage.

09 November 2013

Press review 09-11-2013

The post where I detail the address on Raw Materials at the scenario workshop held by INTESA has been getting some attention and is becoming one of the most visited ever in this blog. Thanks to Ugo Bardi and all the other folk that have linked to it. One of the points I made there is that beyond reserves, understanding the supply curve of a raw material can be far more important to identify limits to extraction growth. In recent days there have been a few notes in the press that point in the same way. While it is true that world petroleum production is at its highest, it is requiring increasingly higher expenditures from international petroleum companies. Although dealing with record cash flows, the profits these companies are able to pass on to shareholders are actually declining. This naturally means that these companies are exploring resources with lower returns on investment; the low hanging fruit is now mostly in the hands of state owned corporations.

I do not see this as the sign of a bleak future for the Petroleum Industry. Much to the contrary, these harder-to-get resources will require far more engineering and technology to be brought online. But these recent disappointing results show that the Industry must be careful not tap resources out of demand reach.