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The Proxy War in Syria

When Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson rather undiplomatically criticised key British ally, Saudi Arabia, for being amongst those 'puppeteering' in Syria, he blurted out the truth. What has been going on in Syria for the past five or so years has been much more than a civil war. Rival regional powers, as well as the West and Russia, have been intervening both directly and via groups on the ground which they finance and arm.

 What started as a bid to spread the so-called Arab Spring to Syria, with the aim of transforming a secular classic dictatorship (one party state, secret police, torture chambers) into a secular political democracy (which would have been a welcome development) was soon hijacked by Islamists of one degree of extremism or another with a quite different agenda. They won the support of the Islamic states, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and of Erdogan in Turkey who would like to turn his country into one too.

 With Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey usin…

It's Scotland's Oil

Umm...not quite..

 China may soon get control of a large slice of UK North Sea oil supply, which is key to determining global oil prices, if bids by its state firms for assets of Canadian oil companies Nexen and Talisman are cleared by the regulators.

 The Chinese state-controlled energy giant CNOOC last Monday unveiled a $15.1bn (£9.7bn) bid for Canada’s Nexen, the second biggest oil producer in the North Sea. If successful, the takeover will be China’s largest ever foreign investment. If approved, the Chinese would take control of the UK's largest producing oil field - Buzzard - and the Golden Eagle development, which includes both the Golden Eagle and Peregrine reservoirs in the North Sea, about 43 miles off Aberdeen.

Oil from Buzzard, although only 0.2 percent of global supply, plays a crucial role in setting prices because it is the largest contributor to the Forties oil blend, one of four North Sea crude streams making up the Brent oil benchmark. Forties usually sets the va…

Who owns the North Pole - Part 50

We have now reached a land-mark half-century of posts titled Who Owns the North Pole. Why bother? Because it raises questions of national sovereignty over a previously ecologically vulnerable region that will become increasingly exploited for its natural resources as a consequence of climate change. The issue of the arctic reveals the nature of capitalist expansion.

Dan Sullivan, a former state attorney general, is the commissioner of Alaska's Department of Natural Resources says that Alaska has about 40 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil and more than 200 trillion cubic feet of conventional gas.with some experts predicting that the United States could become the largest hydrocarbon producer in the word -- outstripping Saudi Arabia and Russia -- by 2020. Developing Arctic resources will promote our American interests in many ways: securing a politically stable, long-term supply of domestic energy; boosting U.S. economic growth and jobs; reducing the federal trade defi…

PLAYING RISK WITH THE WORLD

It all began like a good disaster film. The gas alarm sounded and the emergency evacuation started. Only a small contingent stayed behind, labouring to plug the leak. Having failed to do so after hours of trying, they turned off all the machinery and electricity and fled the platform too. When the last helicopter lifted off, it left the drilling rig alone on a swelling cloud of highly flammable gas from the deep. For almost an entire week flickering way up at the tip of the 490-foot stack was an open gas flare. a company spokesman thankfully noted, the wind had been blowing the gas vapors away from the platform. If it hadn't, and the cloud of gas had come into contact with the flame, there could have been a massive explosion threatening to trigger an environmental catastrophe. Total, the French energy company that owns Elgin, the stricken platform, had lost complete control. Nor was this accident without warning. Weeks earlier, engineers working on the Elgin had noted troubling p…

Who owns the North Pole - Part 29

Greenland is an autonomous territory belonging to Denmark. But the U.S. believes Greenland is headed for independence, presenting “a unique opportunity” for American gas and oil companies to make money.

With Arctic ice receding due to global warming, American officials have been cozying up to Greenland, where future oil and mineral deposits may become available to exploration. State Department cables released by WikiLeaks reveal that the U.S. and other industrial nations are jockeying to “carve up” Arctic resources in the coming years. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates Greenland territory may sit atop oil reserves as large as those in the North Sea. The Arctic Circle could contain 90 billion barrels of oil, about 1,700 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids. In addition to oil and natural gas, mining companies also have their eyes on aluminum, iron ore, gold and rubies.

One diplomatic dispatch states: “Our intensified outreach to the Greenla…

Russia's Oil War

Just in case you may not be aware but the present crisis in the Caucasus may have more to do with oil and gas than protecting ethnic Russians .

Baku-Tbilisi-Erzurum pipeline (BTE) carries some six billion cubic metres of gas a year (bcm/y) to Turkey, some of which is then forwarded to Greece. As Azerbaijani gas output grows, the line should reach its full 20 bcm/y capacity by about 2014.The European Union is also backing proposals for development of essentially parallel lines to carry as much as a further 30 bcm/y of gas from Turkmenistan, and perhaps Kazakhstan.The EU calls the route through Azerbaijan and Georgia its "Fourth Corridor" - matching existing supply systems from Russia, Norway and North Africa - with concept projects such as the planned Nabucco pipeline from the Georgian-Turkish border to Austria seen as ways of implementing it.
Because transit through such a corridor bypasses Russia, it offers advantages to both Caspian producers and European consumers.Producers…

who owns the North Pole - part 11

The Socialist Copurier has been following the scramble for the Arctic and its resources for a while now.
The lasted development has been the research by the US Geological Survey revealing that the Arctic is estimated to hold 90 billion barrels of untapped oil and has three times as much untapped natural gas as oil.
The figures from the USGS are said to be the first estimate of the energy available north of the Arctic circle. According to the survey, the Arctic holds about 13% of the world's undiscovered oil, 30% of the undiscovered natural gas, and 20% of the undiscovered natural gas liquids. Exploration companies believe the recent rapid ice melt in the Arctic may make it easier to get reserves out of the region.
Hence the importance placed on the competition for territorial rights and sovereignty in the Arctic region .