Tag Archives: Oil

Friends of the House of Saud: America Ever Owes the Royals Deference and Defense, by Doug Bandow

The Saudi Arabian government is just as nasty, if not nastier, than Iran’s, but it gets a free pass from the U.S. government. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

No matter the many crimes committed by the House of Saud, defenders rush to take up their cause. The Wall Street Journal’s Karen Elliott House was the latest. Readers can imagine tears cascading across her keyboard as she wrote about the plight of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which “is begging the U.S. for Patriot interceptors to defend itself against drone and missile attacks from the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.”

House complained that this is bad for America for three reasons. “First, it endangers the Saudi people, who look to the US for protection.” Actually, what endangers the Saudi people is their reckless crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and especially his continuing war of aggression against the KSA’s much poorer neighbor.

Nearly seven years ago Riyadh attacked Yemen to reinstate the latter’s pliable president, who had been ousted by a coalition of his predecessor and the armed Ansar Allah movement, known as the Houthis. The Saudi and Emirati air forces hit hundreds of civilian targets and killed thousands of civilians. The impact of the war – malnutrition and starvation, disease, poverty – killed hundreds of thousands more. Surprising the Saudis, Ansar Allah shot back. (Apparently, they believed winning wars without loss was just another royal prerogative.) The KSA should acknowledge that it has lost, halt its attacks, and seek a realistic negotiated settlement.

Next, House contended that administration policy “endangers an ally and benefits Iran.” In fact, Saudi Arabia has no treaty commitment. Its value to American security is much overstated. The Saudi military performed miserably in Yemen. With the Abrahamic Accords Riyadh should look to Israel rather than the US as its chief security partner. As for economics, the oil market has changed dramatically, Riyadh’s importance is much diminished, and the royals recently made clear that they will pump oil to suit their, not America’s, interest.

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Biden Targets Another US Pipeline For Shutdown After ‘Begging’ Saudis For More Oil, by Tyler Durden

You can’t make this stuff up. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Despite approval ratings in the toilet, President Biden and his administration are reportedly exploring the closure of yet another pipeline in a bid to shift the US away from fossil fuels and appease environmental activists.

The move – shutting down the Line 5 pipeline which links Superior, WI to Sarnia, Ontario, would cost tens of thousands of US jobs, billions of dollars in economic activity, and further exacerbate energy shortages and price increases hitting lower-income Americans the hardest, according to a Thursday letter from 13 House Republicans led by Rep. Bob Latta

Via the Daily Mail

According to the letter, the closure would affect workers across “Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and the region,” and would place the environment at greater risk “due to additional trucks operating on roadways carrying hazardous materials.”

Line 5 is part of a network of oil pipes which move approximately 540,000 barrels per day from western Canada to Escanaba, Michigan.

“Furthermore, as we enter the winter months and temperatures drop across the Midwest, the termination of Line 5 will undoubtedly further exacerbate shortages and price increases in home heating fuels like natural gas and propane at a time when Americans are already facing rapidly rising energy prices, steep home heating costs, global supply shortages, and skyrocketing gas prices.”

This comes less than two weeks after the White House begged OPEC to increase oil production amid ‘supply issues’ and soaring energy prices.

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The Gigantic Holes in Anti-Oil ESG Activism, by Jude Clemente

You can’t throw out oil if you don’t have something that can replace it, and we don’t. From Jude Clemente at realclearpolitics.com:

Let’s start with the obvious: Oil is the world’s most important fuel, supplying 35% of all energy and over 95% of transportation needs. More than 6,000 everyday products contain oil as their core ingredient. Simply put, oil has no significant substitute, and it won’t for a long time. Massive amounts of wind and solar won’t displace “black gold” because these sources compete only in the power-generating sector, where oil effectively plays no role.

Most Americans probably don’t realize that electricity already lost the transportation race to oil and its powerful derivative – gasoline – 120 years ago. In 1900, nearly 40% of U.S. cars were electric. Today, less than 1% of cars run on electric power (1.8 million out of 270 million). Despite the huge subsidies thrown at the industry over the past 10 years, electric vehicles largely remain “toys for the rich.”

As the world’s economies rebound from COVID-19 and travel inevitably picks up, the need for more oil is becoming even more pressing. After the oil industry set a global-demand record in 2019 at 101 million barrels per day, the pandemic plunged demand to 92 million b/d in 2020. The Department of Energy, however, has just forecast that consumption will rise to 98 million b/d this year and above 101 million b/d in 2022.

Not even a price surge has slowed the need for a fuel embedded in just about everything we do: Oil prices just saw their best first half since 2009 (see below). In recent months, oil companies have had the best run of any sector in the S&P 500. Investors that bet against, or pulled out of, U.S. oil fund USO (NYSEARCA:USO) have been burned. The popular oil Exchange Traded Fund nearly doubled in value since October last year, and others such as DBO, BNO, and USL are once again making for sound investments.

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The Iran-China Axis Is A Fast Growing Force In Oil Markets, by David Messler

The Chinese and Iranian governments are sealing their alliance with oil and a shared antipathy towards the US. From David Messler at oilprice.com:

One of the things that doesn’t get a lot of discussion in the press is the under-the-table relationship Iran and China have had when it comes to oil. At first glance, they wouldn’t seem to have a lot in common. One is a theocracy with a radical view of non-believers and the other is probably the only example of a successful communist dictatorship since this form of government was created. But, if you look a little deeper they have a couple of things that align their mutual interests strongly. The first is they are both absolute dictatorships, meaning the institutions of government and national policies can be changed at the whim of those at the top. The second thing they have in common, and this is the main takeaway, both countries have serious geopolitical issues with the United States.

Iran suffers from years of sanctions imposed primarily by the U.S. to compel them to comply with U.N. resolutions regarding their atomic program. China views this century as the one in which they displace America as the world’s dominant Super Power. The place where these two authoritarian government’s worldviews align is in their opposition to the U.S.

It’s worth noting China’s apparent success has been funded by western economies over the last 75-years, thanks to our desire to buy everything as cheaply as possible. In that time, China has become the manufacturing center for the world and amassed immense wealth in doing so. The pandemic has caused a rethinking of the wisdom of outsourcing strategic commodities to despotic regimes, but for now, if you buy something other than food odds are it was made in China.

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One Little Problem with the “All-Electric” Auto Fleet: What Do We Do with all the “Waste” Gasoline? by Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith with an insight I haven’t seen anywhere else. From Smith at oftwominds.com:

Regardless of what happens with vaccines and Covid-19, debt and energy–inextricably bound as debt funds consumption– will destabilize the global economy in a self-reinforcing feedback.

Back in the early days of the oil industry (1880s and 1890s), the product that the industry could sell at a profit was kerosene for lighting and heating. Since there was no automobile industry yet, gasoline was a waste product that was dumped into streams.

Why couldn’t the refiners produce only kerosene? Why did they end up with “worthless” gasoline?

The answer is a barrel of oil produces a variety of products. While there is some “wiggle room” to produce more diesel and less gasoline, etc., it isn’t possible to turn a barrel of oil into only one product.

John D. Rockefeller became very wealthy by cornering much of the oil market in the 19th century. But he didn’t become fabulously wealthy until the 20th century, when the rise of automobiles created a market for all the “waste” gasoline.

Rockefeller became super-wealthy when all the products of each barrel of oil could be sold at a premium rather than just a portion of the products.

This reality has been forgotten: the price that can be fetched for a barrel of oil depends on the demand for all the products, not just a few of the products.

Those demanding an all-electric auto-truck fleet as a “green” alternative will re-create the dilemma of what to do with the “waste” gasoline. The world will still want fuel for all those container ships bringing all the goodies of a consumerist society, all those cruise ships visiting ports of call, jet fuel for all those exotic vacations enabled by 550 mile-per-hour aircraft, and oil-based lubricants, plastics and petro-chemicals, and so oil will still be pumped and refined, and almost half of it will be gasoline.

We can either use it or throw it away but we can’t magically turn a barrel of oil into only one product.

This is a topic worthy of your understanding, so grab a vat of your favorite beverage and turn off all distractions.

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Convergence of Quandaries, by James Howard Kunstler

The shit is hitting the fan all at once. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

And so, America has a new manufactured crisis, ElectionGate, as if all the other troubles piling up like tropical depressions marching across the September seas were not enough. Let me remind you what else is going on. The Wuhan pandemic is still on the scene, the economy is collapsing, a domestic race-war is escalating, the whole west coast is burning, and US oil production is crashing. Oh… and slow-moving tropical storm Sally is forecast to come ashore as a hurricane on the Gulf Coast today, dumping up to two feet of rain.

America needs a constitutional crisis like a hole in the head, and that’s exactly what’s being engineered for the holiday season by the clever folks in the Democratic Party’s Lawfare auxiliary. Here’s how it works: the complicit newspapers and cable news channels publish polls showing Joe Biden leading in several swing states, even if it’s not true. Facebook and Twitter amplify expectations of a Biden victory. This sets the stage for a furor when it turns out that he loses on election night. On cue, Antifa and BLM commence to riot all around the country. Meanwhile, a mighty harvest of mail-in votes pours into election districts utterly unequipped to validate them.

Lawfare cadres agitate in the contested states’ legislatures to send rogue elector slates to the electoral college. The dispute ends up in congress, which awaits a seating of newly-elected representatives on January 4, hopefully for Lawfare, mostly Democrats. Whoops…! Turns out the Dems lost their majority there too. Fighting in the streets ramps up and overwhelms hamstrung police forces in Democratic-run cities. January 20 — Inauguration Day — rolls around and the Dems ask the military to drag Trump out of the White House “with great dispatch!” as Mr. Biden himself put it so nicely back in the summer. The US military breaks into two factions. Voilà: Civil War Two.

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To Capture and Subdue: America’s Theft of Syrian Oil Has Very Little To Do With Money, by Steven Chovanec

There have been times in Syria when American government armed and supported  groups have fought each other. One of those groups has been al Qaeda, the same group that supposedly flew planes into the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon. To date, Syria has been the US military and intelligence services’ most bizarre engagement. From Steven Chovanec at mintpressnews.com:

Years of US support to Al-Qaeda and ISIS and efforts to effect regime change in the country have culminated in the theft of Syria’s oil, but is that really America’s coup de gras in Syria?

Near the end of July, one of the most important recent developments in U.S. foreign policy was quietly disclosed during a U.S. Senate hearing. Not surprisingly, hardly anybody talked about it and most are still completely unaware that it happened.

Answering questions from Senator Lindsey Graham, Secretary of State Pompeo confirmed that the State Department had awarded an American company, Delta Crescent Energy, with a contract to begin extracting oil in northeast Syria. The area is nominally controlled by the Kurds, yet their military force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), was formed under U.S. auspices and relies on an American military presence to secure its territory. That military presence will now be charged with protecting an American firm from the government of the country that it is operating within.

Delta Crescent Energy, run by the CEO of a private mercenary firm, has inked a deal with Kurdish rebels to “steal” oil in Syria.

Pompeo confirmed that the plans for implanting the firm into the U.S.-held territory are “now in implementation” and that they could potentially be “very powerful.” This is quite a momentous event given its nature as a blatant example of neocolonial extraction, or, as Stephen Kinzer puts it writing for the Boston Globe, “This is a vivid throwback to earlier imperial eras, when conquerors felt free to loot the resources of any territory they could capture and subdue.”

Indeed, the history of how the U.S. came to be in a position to “capture and subdue” these resources is a sordid, yet informative tale that by itself arguably even rivals other such colonial adventures.

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Is Trump Kicking the Saudis to the Curb the Beginning of Something Not Terrible? by Tom Luongo

The Saudi Arabia government is as bad as or worse than the Iranian regimes we’ve been trying to change since 1979. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

More than anything else in Saudi Arabia, that thing you smell is fear. Everything is coming unglued for the royal family there all at once. If we all weren’t so distracted by the Coronapocalypse these things would all be front page news.

In the past week there have been three major stories concerning Saudi Arabia, none of the bullish.

First, there was the news that UAE-backed forces in Yemen broke with the Saudis-led coalition there to declare the Southern Transitional Council the new administrators over southern Yemen which includes the capital and major port at Aden.

This led to major clashes over the next week between forces which less than two weeks ago were supposedly on the same side.

In addition, Saudi mercenaries were routed in Northern Yemen. The UAE pulled its troops out of Yemen ending its fight with the Houthis after the attack on the Ab Qaiq oil processing facility last summer.

Finally, the Saudis accepted a UN-brokered ceasefire with the Houthis. This is a two-week provisional ceasefire, but considering how badly their mercs and pet head-chopping animals have been faring this should be considered a mercy gesture by the Houthis.

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Holy WTF Moly: WTI May Contract Collapses to Negative -$37 by Wolf Richter

There was some weird things going on in the oil market today. They were paying you to take it off their hands. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Some hedge funds and big crude-oil traders must be blowing up.

It’s not often that we’re served up a WTF moment like this. Just about a couple of hours ago, I published my article about US crude-oil benchmark grade West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and how the May futures contract for it collapsed by 45% to $10 a barrel — US Crude Oil Gets Annihilated Under Targeted Saudi Attack — and I pointed at some of the dynamics. But WTI kept plunging.

This is the near-month May futures contract, which expires tomorrow. It should normally trade close to the spot market price, but has now divorced from it. It has continued to collapse in a breath-taking pace to $8 a barrel, then $4, then $2, then $0, then below zero, then at -$10 and then… and now settled at negative -$37.63 a barrel:

This is obviously completely nuts. Futures contracts that expire the next day should be close to the spot market cash price.

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OPEC++ Or A Dead Shale Industry? by Moon of Alabama

Vladimir Putin has the world oil industry by the balls, particularly the US shale producers, whose costs are far higher than Russia’s. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

Today there is a meeting by video of the OPEC states and Russia. Tomorrow the energy ministers of all G-20 states will likewise meet. Their discussions will be about the sinking global oil price caused by a lack of demand due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and record oil output from Saudi Arabia and Russia. ‘Western’ media have been optimistic that an agreement will be found:

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, are expected to discuss record cuts equivalent to 10% to 15% of global supplies, although demand has plunged by up to 30%.

It is unlikely that OPEC will agree on any cut unless the U.S. and other large producers join the deal. The U.S. is, for now, unlikely to do that.

Until the end of the last OPEC+ agreement this month and the onset of the pandemic demand slump, the three top producers were the U.S. with 12.7 million barrels per day, Russia with 10.9 mbpd and Saudi Arabia with 9.8 mbpd.

Since 2016 OPEC and Russia had reduced their production to keep the oil price in the $60/b range. This effectively subsidized the U.S. shale industry. U.S. production kept growing while production by Russia and Saudi Arabia was artificially limited. It allowed the U.S. to grab more global market share at profitable prices.

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