Daily Archives: April 11, 2012

Express completes its deepest work ever

Originally posted on Helix Currents:

Helix ESG’s reeled-pipelay vessel the Express.

Helix ESG’s reeled pipelay vessel, the Express, recently undertook its deepest work ever during a project in the Gulf of Mexico.

Working in the Lloyd Ridge Area of the Gulf, the Express laid 9,748ft of 6.6in diameter rigid pipeline from a starting depth of 8,960ft (2,731m) to an ending depth of 9,180ft (2,798m).

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Schlumberger Announces Agreement to Sell Wilson International Inc.

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posted on 4-11-2012

HOUSTON, April 10, 2012—Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB) announced today that it has entered into an agreement with National Oilwell Varco, Inc. (NYSE:NOV) to sell its Wilson distribution business. Schlumberger acquired Wilson International Inc. as part of the acquisition of Smith International in 2010. Closing of the transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals.

“Schlumberger’s global supply chain has benefited from Wilson’s best-in-class distribution practices and we look forward to working with Wilson in the future,” commented Paal Kibsgaard, Schlumberger Chief Executive Officer.

Founded in 1921, Wilson is a leading distributor of pipe, valves and fittings as well as mill, tool and safety products and services to the international energy business and to other industrial customers. The company manages a distribution business of approximately 200 sales and operations locations across the United States with a growing presence in other key international geographies. Wilson employs approximately 2,500 employees as a standalone Schlumberger business unit.

About Schlumberger

Schlumberger is the world’s leading supplier of technology, integrated project management and information solutions to customers working in the oil and gas industry worldwide. Employing more than 113,000 people representing over 140 nationalities and working in approximately 85 countries, Schlumberger provides the industry’s widest range of products and services from exploration through production.

Schlumberger Limited has principal offices in Paris, Houston and The Hague, and reported revenues of $39.54 billion in 2011. For more information, visit www.slb.com.

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For further information, contact:
Malcolm Theobald
Vice President, Investor Relations
Schlumberger Limited
Tel: 1 713 375 3535
or
Stephen Whittaker
Director, Corporate Communications
Phone: 33 1 4062 1308
investor-relations@slb.com

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Obama Impeachment 2012

Kurt Nimmo and Alex Jones
Infowars.com
Aprill 11, 2012

We can only win by launching Impeach Obama 2012. Whether or not we fully impeach him, we are committed to rebuking these unconstitutional and criminal power grabs and are determined to take the case to the court of public opinion.

–Alex Jones

Published on Apr 11, 2012 by TheAlexJonesChannel

Film director, producer, actor and writer Sean Stone has thrown his weight behind a resolution introduced in the House last month by North Carolina Republican Walter Jones. Resolution 107 states that should the president use offensive military force without the authorization of Congress that such an act would be “an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor.”

Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution reserves exclusively for Congress the power to declare war. Both Thomas Jefferson and James Madison argued that the power to declare war must reside in the legislative branch of government and the president will only act as the commander-in-chief and direct the war after it is declared by Congress.

“The constitution supposes, what the history of all governments demonstrates, that the executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the legislature,” Madison wrote.

In the video, Stone notes Obama’s unconstitutional war on Libya was waged “despite the fact that the United States was neither attacked, nor threatened for attack by the nation of Libya.”

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said during questioning by Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama that the Obama administration does not believe Congress has the exclusive right to declare war and that the Pentagon answers to the United Nations, not the people of the United States.

The Obama administration “does not believe that the Congress has the exclusive power to declare war,” Stone notes, and “accordingly the president should be impeached.”

Stone also mentions Obama’s facilitation of the banker engineered 2008 “bailout” as an additiojnal reason he should be tried for High Crimes and Misdemeanors and impeached. Obama’s efforts worked in favor of the “consolidation of private banks, many of them in Europe.”

“There was no investment of any meaningful type in the physical economy, there was no protection of the American people,” Sean explains. “Rather, an illegal commitment made on behalf of private banking interests, to commit the American people to paying a debt that the American people did not accrue.”

He rightly notes that Obama’s actions “represent the most clear violation of the principal of the general welfare of the people in the preamble of the Constitution of the United States.”

In addition to setting the stage for the economic rape of the American people and waging illegal and unconstitutional wars, Obama has committed a number of other egregious violations of the Constitution.

Specifically, Obama violated the Constitution’s Takings and Due Process Clauses when he bullied the secured creditors of automaker Chrysler into accepting 30 cents on the dollar while politically connected labor unions and preferential others received better deals.

In addition, the Dodd-Frank financial “reform” bill created the so-called Financial Protection Bureau and Financial Stability Oversight Council, bureaucratic monstrosities that are now engaged in unchecked and unconstitutional economic action without consulting Congress. The Dodd-Frank bill also further empowers the bankster’s preferred cartel, the Federal Reserve (which has engaged in unconstitutional activity for nearly a hundred years).

The Obamacare mandate is the most obvious violation. “No list of President Obama’s constitutional violations would be complete without including the requirement that every American purchase health insurance, on penalty of civil fine. The individual mandate is unprecedented and exceeds Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. If it is allowed to stand, Congress will be able to impose any kind of economic mandate as part of any kind of national regulatory scheme. Fortunately, the Supreme Court has a chance to strike this down during its current term,” writes Ilya Shapiro, a Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies, Cato Institute.

Obama signed into law the NDAA with a provision allowing the military to indefinitely detain American citizens. “He will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said the executive director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero.

Finally, Obama may be tried and impeached for signing a large number of executive orders. Article II of the Constitution provides the president with three options when presented with legislation – do nothing, sign the bill, or veto it in its entirety.

“Obama’s use of signing statements has clearly shown his willingness to continue the George W. Bush legacy – not only of torture and illegal detainment, but in the dangerous trend of de facto rule by ‘executive fiat.’ Worse, such signing statements put in place a precedent for future presidents to follow – or expand upon,” writes Aaron Dykes.

Obama is definitely a renegade president in violation of the law. He is guilty of treason and must be brought up on formal charges. The House must introduce a resolution for impeachment and a trial must be held in the Senate.

It can be argued that Obama has done little different than any number of presidents going back to Abraham Lincoln. Now is the time to put an end to this treasonous and tyrannical behavior. If we continue to allow the executive to flagrantly violate the Constitution, we will eventually end up with a full-blown dictatorship run out of the White House. Congress will become ceremonial and the will of the American people will be null and void once and for all.

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Shadow Banks on Trial as China’s Rich Sister Faces Death

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By Bloomberg News – Apr 11, 2012 2:24 AM CT

When a Chinese court sentenced 28- year-old Wu Ying, known as “Rich Sister,” to death for taking $55.7 million from investors without paying them back, it sparked an unexpected firestorm that has drawn in China’s top leadership.

Her crime involved a common, illegal practice in China: raising money from the public with promises to pay back high interest rates. Known as shadow banking, these underground lending and investing networks are estimated to total $1.3 trillion, according to Ren Xianfang, an economist with IHS Global Insight Ltd. (IHS) in Beijing. That’s the size of the 2011 U.S. government deficit.

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Chinese businesswoman Wu Ying who was accused of illegally raising funds and defrauding investors weeps during a trial at the Intermediate Peoples Court of Jinhua in Jinhua city, east Chinas Zhejiang province, 16 April 2009. Photograph: Imaginechina via AP Images

Operating outside the banking system or government regulation, the informal networks provide an important source of economic growth, capital for private companies and return for investors seeking to beat inflation. Premier Wen Jiabao, in an unusual move, weighed in on the Wu case at a March 14 news conference. His comments highlighted a public debate over the importance of shadow banking to the Chinese economy, government efforts to bring it under control — and whether capital punishment is an effective means to do so.

“Chinese companies, especially small ones, need access to funds,” Wen said when asked about Wu’s case. “Banks have yet to be able to meet those companies’ needs, and there is a massive amount of idle private capital. We need to bring private finance out into the open.”

Unfairly Singled Out

Wu’s lawyer says his client, now 30, was unfairly singled out and is no different from the estimated 42 million Chinese business owners who rely on the shadow-banking system for financing when they cannot get loans from state-owned banks. The Supreme People’s Court is reviewing the 2009 verdict and will decide as early as this month whether Wu Ying lives or dies.

“Entrepreneurs are paying attention to it because today’s Wu Ying could be any of them tomorrow,” the lawyer, Yang Zhaodong, said in an interview in Beijing last month. “There are so many of them doing the same thing Wu Ying did. This case not only relates to Wu’s life, but to whether China’s legal and judicial system is fair.”

Shadow banking has been fueled by a two-year credit squeeze in China and by large, state-owned banks’ preference for lending to government-run companies rather than small businesses. Private entrepreneurs account for 60 percent of China’s total economic activity and provide jobs for 80 percent of its urban population, according to China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

Meteoric Rise

“Underground banking filled the hole left by China’s state-owned banks, which have this long-term bias toward big enterprises,” said IHS’s Ren. “Even though it is an extremely opaque market and has a lot of hidden problems, the government needs it to meet the basic financing needs of small businesses.”

Wu’s rise and fall have been meteoric. The daughter of a farmer in Zhejiang province, south of Shanghai, Wu dropped out of technical school as a teenager to work at her aunt’s beauty salon and later opened two of her own, according to the state- run Global Times newspaper. She branched out into a foot-massage parlor and bought 10 cars which she rented out. An entertainment center and a boutique featuring Korean clothes followed, as did investments in real estate and copper, the report said.

Wu collected 770 million yuan ($122 million) from private investors between May 2005 and February 2007, according to government prosecutors. She also accumulated more than 100 properties and 40 cars, including a $500,000 Ferrari, the Global Times said.

Knowing the Risks

Wu borrowed money to fund her businesses and didn’t lie to anyone, her lawyer said. She never committed fraud, Yang said, adding that her investors, like anyone who took part in the private-banking business, knew the risks involved.

“Even her biggest creditor who she owed 320 million yuan doesn’t think Wu was lying to her,” said Yang. “These were real projects.”

The court in Wu’s home province of Zhejiang said she “brought huge losses to the nation and people with her severe crimes and should therefore be severely punished” when it upheld her death sentence in January, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Nicknamed “Fu Jie,” or “Rich Sister,” in the media, Wu and her case were discussed at the annual legislative session in Beijing in March, where delegates debated the larger issues of shadow banking.

“You cannot try to stop this just by killing people,” Wang Yongzheng, a delegate to China’s People’s Political Consultative Conference and owner of a textile company, told a small group session at the meetings.

‘Public Outrage’

In a country where public criticism of government policy is rarely sanctioned, state-run media outlets such as Xinhua and the People’s Daily, both Communist Party mouthpieces, have run stories, editorials and online chat sessions airing public sympathy for Wu.

On Feb. 8, the China Daily newspaper ran an article noting “public outrage” and the “wide sympathy and pleas for the fair-skinned woman with a short haircut.” It quoted a legal expert as saying the government’s seizure and sell-off of her assets was illegal.

On the Defensive

As the public outcry surrounding Wu’s case began to swell, court officials and police took the rare step of publicly defending their verdict. The presiding judge in her case, Shen Xiaoming, appeared in a Feb. 7 Internet chat to explain that Wu Ying was sentenced to death because the court found she intended to defraud investors.

“This was more than just illegal fundraising,” Shen said in the chat.

China’s entire shadow-banking system is bigger than just underground borrowing and lending, totaling about $2.4 trillion, a third the size of China’s official loan market, according to Societe Generale SA economist Yao Wei. In addition to informal lending, it includes the off-balance-sheet activities of banks, trust companies, and businesses lending to each other, Yao said. The amount is almost the size of U.S. consumer debt, which exceeded $2.5 trillion as of January, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Ordinary Chinese savers also fuel the country’s shadow- banking system. They have few legal options if they want to earn a return that beats inflation, which hit 5.4 percent in 2011. The government sets China’s current ceiling for savings account interest rates at 3.5 percent, a figure that has trailed inflation for two straight years as of January. Wu offered interest rates of as much as 0.5 percent a day to attract investors, according to Xinhua.

Bankruptcies and Suicides

Zhejiang province, where Wu’s home village of Dongyang is located, has been at the heart of private lending activity. Between April and September last year, more than 80 indebted businessmen committed suicide or declared bankruptcy in its boomtown manufacturing city of Wenzhou because they couldn’t repay informal lenders, according to Xinhua.

Bankruptcies and arrests continue to be reported almost daily. Today, the China Securities Journal reported that Hangzhou Glory Real Estate Co., also located in Zhejiang, had filed for bankruptcy after borrowing 2.5 billion yuan from individuals.

Pilot Program

The government has stepped in to deal with the troubles and bring some aspects of shadow banking under government control. In October, Premier Wen traveled to Wenzhou, a city of 9.1 million people 230 miles (370 kilometers) south of Shanghai, pledging help for troubled businesses. Then, on March 28, China’s State Council approved a pilot program for Wenzhou that would ease some restrictions on private lending.

Private capital will be encouraged to participate in “innovative financial organizations” such as credit unions, and banks will be encouraged to lend money to small enterprises, the State Council said.

“The Wenzhou trial program has started us on the right track,” Zhou Dewen, president of the Wenzhou Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Development Association, said by phone the day after the announcement. “The trial program is a step forward toward making private lending a practice that’s legal.”

By the time Wu was in her mid-twenties, she had founded the Bense Holding Group — the name means “original color” — and established 12 companies, according to a profile in the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekly before her arrest.

Drawing Attention

Wu’s success drew the attention of the Chinese media. In its Feb. 1, 2007 profile, the Southern Weekly said she drove to the interview in a BMW and couldn’t explain where her wealth had come from.

“I don’t launder money,” Wu said, according to the newspaper. “My money is clean.”

According to the article, Wu had a tattoo of a rose on her chest and once donated 6.3 million yuan to charity. Less than two weeks after the article was published, authorities announced that Wu had been arrested on suspicion of illegal fundraising.

Prosecutors later upgraded the charges against her to financial fraud, a crime punishable by death in the most severe cases, for losing 380 million yuan of investors’ money. Two years later, she was sentenced to die.

The court found that Wu raised her money by “fabricating facts, deliberately hiding the truth, and promising high returns as an incentive,” according to Xinhua.

Photographs of Wu in court show her sobbing as she stands at the dock, clad in a yellow prison jacket, her tattoo peeking from the neckline. She has been in prison appealing her conviction since her arrest in 2007. Xinhua reported in April 2011 that Wu was writing a book called “Black Swan,” a fictional account of her life, while in prison.

Not the First

Wu wouldn’t be the first shadow banker to be put to death in China. On Aug. 5, 2009, the Supreme Court approved the execution of two female entrepreneurs in separate cases. Si Chaxian, age unreported, was charged with defrauding 300 people of 167 million yuan over five years and promising returns of as much as 108 percent annually, while Du Yimin — who was 44 at the time her death sentence was upheld — was charged with defrauding 709 million yuan by promising to pay as much as 10 percent per month, the official CCTV reported. Both women were from Zhejiang province.

On Death Row

At least 17 people, including Wu, now sit on death row after being sentenced for illegally raising funds from individuals, according to Chinese media reports compiled by Bloomberg since 2009. Seven of them are women.

In the latest case, on April 6, 30-year-old Wang Caiping was sentenced to death for borrowing along with her brother more than 100 million yuan from 15 victims, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Wang and her brother, who has fled, invested the money in gold and futures speculation and incurred losses, the report said. They had paid out 5.8 million yuan in interest as of the day Wang was arrested, with 94 million yuan unpaid, Xinhua added.

In Zhejiang, sentences handed out for various shadow- banking-related crimes rose to 75 last year, up from eight in 2007, the official Legal Daily reported, citing the provincial high court.

In Shanghai, police said March 29 they had arrested Gu Chunfang, a woman in her early forties who runs a trading company, for racking up 500 million yuan in underground-lending debts, China Daily reported. Her nickname: “Most Beautiful Businesswoman.”

Striking a Chord

Wu’s case, unlike the two executions, 16 other death sentences and numerous arrests, has struck a chord and spurred a broader national debate.

“She’s not some sort of privileged person who just had everything handed to her,” said Sarah Schafer, a Hong Kong- based researcher with Amnesty International. “People see her as someone who is closer to them than they care to admit.”

Amid the demands for change to China’s shadow-banking system, Wu’s case has also been taken up as part of a parallel debate about China’s death penalty.

Groups including Amnesty International that monitor capital punishment say attitudes toward it have begun to change in China — especially in cases of financial fraud. The government has allowed broader public debate on the death penalty, and government officials have talked more often of pushing China toward abolishing the practice, according to Schafer.

Accepting Abolition

“The argument from the Chinese government has always been that the public wouldn’t accept abolishing the death penalty,” Schafer said. “This case has shown that maybe the public isn’t ready for full abolition but we think they are ready for abolishing it for nonviolent crimes.”

The Chinese government does not release statistics on the number of executions it performs. Groups like Amnesty International, which track the cases in the media, say the reports may underestimate the total number of executions carried out, since the media tend to report only the most sensational crime and corruption cases.

Still, China has cut the number of executions it carries out every year from 8,000 in 2006 to 4,000 per year now, according to the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation. Even so, it executes more people than every other government in the world put together. The next highest is Iran, with more than 360 in 2011, according to Amnesty International.

Starting in 2007, China’s Supreme Court decreed it must approve all the country’s executions. In a 2010 annual report, the court said it should “respect and protect citizens’ right to life, the most basic human right,” according to Xinhua.

Premier Wen’s remarks in March and the changes to the private banking system make Wu’s lawyer hopeful that the Supreme Court will commute her death sentence. On March 30, an editorial in the Financial News, a publication of the People’s Bank of China, said reforms in Wenzhou were a “turning point” for the development of private financing in China.

“Wu Ying’s case happened in a special time during China’s reform, where the financial system is hugely lagging behind economic development,” said Zhou, of the Wenzhou enterprise association. “Wu Ying won’t be executed now that the trial program has been announced. She can’t die before the dawn.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Jun Luo in Shanghai at jluo6@bloomberg.net; Yidi Zhao in Beijing at yzhao7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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BHP Billiton: Funds Approved for Mad Dog Phase 2 (USA)

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BHP Billiton today announced approval for US$708 million (BHP Billiton share) in precommitment funding for the Mad Dog Phase 2 project in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The funding will facilitate detailed engineering and the procurement of long lead time items related to the hull, topsides and subsea equipment.

The Mad Dog Phase 2 project is based on successful appraisal drilling which confirmed significant hydrocarbons in the southern portion of the Mad Dog field. The proposed project includes the development of a second spar facility with all subsea production and injection wells. The new facility is estimated to have a design capacity of approximately 130,000 barrels of oil per day that will be exported via the Mardi Gras Pipelines under existing agreements. A final investment decision is anticipated in calendar year 2013 with first production scheduled for calendar year 2018.

BHP Billiton Petroleum Chief Executive Officer, J. Michael Yeager, said: “Mad Dog Phase 2 will join our extensive Gulf of Mexico portfolio that includes Mad Dog and Atlantis as well as the Shenzi and Neptune platforms that we operate. The extension of this field will underpin continued valuable liquids production from the Gulf of Mexico and further enhance our growth profile.”

Mad Dog is a partnership between BP (operator, 60.5 percent share), BHP Billiton (23.9 percent) and Chevron (15.6 percent).

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