Daily Archives: May 16, 2012

Ocean Rig Corcovado Starts Drilling Offshore Brazil

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Ocean Rig UDW Inc., a global provider of offshore deepwater drilling services, today announced that on May 15, 2012,  its Ocean Rig Corcovado drillship completed the general testing of equipment as required by Brazil’s oil giant Petrobras.

The drillship has now commenced revenue-generating drilling operations in Brazil. The Ocean Rig Corcovado will stay with Petrobras for three years on a contract worth approximately $650 million.

This is the second Ocean Rig’s drillship under a contract with Brazil’s state controlled Petrobras. The company’s Ocean Rig Mykonos drillship had started drilling offshore Brazil in March this year under a similar contract.

Ocean Rig’s drillships are based upon the Saipem 10K design, and built by a proven shipyard, Samsung Heavy Industries. They are a successful and well proven design complete with full dual derrick enhancements to ensure optimal operational efficiency.

The company owns and  operates 9 offshore ultra deepwater drilling units, comprising of 2 ultra deepwater semisubmersible drilling rigs and 7 ultra deepwater drillships, 3 of which remain to be delivered to the company during 2013.

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Ice-cream spot hits rocky road

Ice-cream spot hits rocky road - Lowell Sun Online

A state Environmental Police truck stands by the entrance to Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle Tuesday. Officers closed the ice-cream stand there Friday over alleged construction-permit violations. SUN / BOB WHITAKER

By Chris Camire

Read more: Ice-cream spot hits rocky road – Lowell Sun Online.

5th Discovery in a Row for BG Group Offshore Tanzania

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BG Group today announced its fifth consecutive Tanzania gas discovery with the Mzia-1 exploration well located in Block 1, offshore southern Tanzania.

Mzia-1 is BG Group’s first discovery within the deeper Cretaceous section and opens an extensive new play fairway within the Group’s offshore acreage in Blocks 1, 3 and 4, to complement the now proven Tertiary fairway.

Preliminary evaluation of the results indicates 55 metres of natural gas pay in good quality sands. An extensive logging programme has been completed, including the acquisition of pressure data and gas samples.

Significantly, the well has de-risked a number of adjacent Cretaceous prospects, which could form part of a future Mzia hub. These prospects are expected to be tested in a future appraisal programme to be defined following incorporation of data from this new well and 3D seismic.

The new resources proven by Mzia and the potential of adjacent prospects are currently under evaluation. Prior to drilling Mzia-1, BG Group had estimated mean total gross recoverable resources approaching 7 trillion cubic feet of gas from the four previous discoveries drilled in Tanzania.

Mzia-1 is approximately 45 kilometres offshore southern Tanzania in a water depth of 1 639 metres. It is some 23 kilometres from the Jodari-1 discovery and is part of the 2012 three-to-four well exploration programme.

Following the imminent completion of operations at Mzia, the Deepsea Metro-1 will relocate to Block 3 for the drilling of the next exploration prospect, Papa-1.

BG Group as operator has a 60% interest in Blocks 1, 3 and 4 offshore Tanzania, with Ophir Energy plc holding 40%.

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Lacking Courage, Politicians Not Moving on Fast and Furious Scandal

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A handful of Republicans are pursuing the biggest scandal in American history, but guess what: House Speaker Boehner isn’t one of them, and that puts him on par with Democrats like Jim Costa, who think “Issa and Holder should sit down and work it out.”

West Virginia Democrat Nick Rahall wants Holder to turn over the subpoenaed documents but is “not ready to go as far as contempt yet, no. Not yet.”

Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana explained why he thinks Boehner, along with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), are going along to get along.

With the other issues, the economy and everything else, I think they would like to focus on that. I don’t think they’re opposed to going ahead with the contempt citation; it’s just that if we can get the Justice Department to move without having to move it, they would probably prefer that.

Americans would probably “prefer” that career politicians grow a spine and stand up to one of the most corrupt attorneys general in recent history and hold everyone responsible for the murders of innocent people accountable.  Not gonna happen, according to an insider.

From Roll Call:

A GOP aide also warned against a racial backlash if Republicans are seen as unfairly targeting the first black attorney general, who is serving under the first black president. “Especially after Trayvon,” the aide said, referring to slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

How about an attorney general targeting Hispanics?  “The term Hispanic, as dominated [sic] by the Office of Management and Budget, is used in the United States for people with origins in Spanish-speaking countries, including Spain, Mexico, Costa Rica.”

Over 300 Mexican citizens have been murdered by weapons trafficked by our own government, with “more to come” according to Holder’s testimony.  Many Mexican-Americans have relatives south of the border.  Where is La Raza?

Bloggers, journalists, and investigators have chronicled this mess from the beginning.  They’ve uncovered evidence leading first to the Department of Justice, then straight to the White House.

How about the three Os?  Ogden, O’Reilly, and Obama.

In March 2009, Former Deputy Attorney-General David Ogden said, “The president has directed us to take action to fight these cartels and Attorney General Eric Holder and I are taking several new and aggressive steps as part of the administration’s comprehensive plan.”

A September 2010 e-mail from ATF Phoenix Special Agent in Charge Bill Newell to White House National Security Staffer Kevin O’Reilly showed an “arrow chart reflecting the ultimate destination of firearms we intercepted and/or where the guns ended up.”  The chart shows arrows leading from Arizona to destinations all over Mexico.

In March 2011, on the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, Sarah Brady met with Jay Carney to discuss the need for tougher gun control laws.  The president joined them, and Mrs. Brady recalled him saying, “I just want you to know that we are working on it[.] … We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”

Agent Brian Terry died nine months after Obama’s “under the radar” statement.

Issa has indicated that he will seek a contempt citation if Holder doesn’t turn over the remaining documents by Memorial Day.  We’ll see.  In the meantime, I suggest that both Democrats and Republicans read the following words from the Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

A decline in courage may be the most striking feature which an outside observer notices in the West in our days. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling groups and the intellectual elite, causing an impression of loss of courage by the entire society.

Of course there are many courageous individuals but they have no determining influence on public life.

Political and intellectual bureaucrats show depression, passivity and perplexity in their actions and in their statements and even more so in theoretical reflections to explain how realistic, reasonable as well as intellectually and even morally warranted it is to base state policies on weakness and cowardice.

And decline in courage is ironically emphasized by occasional explosions of anger and inflexibility on the part of the same bureaucrats when dealing with weak governments and weak countries, not supported by anyone, or with currents which cannot offer any resistance. But they get tongue-tied and paralyzed when they deal with powerful governments and threatening forces, with aggressors and international terrorists.

Should one point out that from ancient times a decline in courage has been considered the beginning of the end?

Somebody needs to get on with it.  Charge Holder with contempt now.

Read more M. Catharine Evans at Potter Williams Report.

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Do-Nothing Democrats

Senate Democrats set to reject Ryan, Obama budgets

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BY: Andrew Stiles – May 16, 2012 5:00 am

Senate Democrats are poised to continue their impressive streak of budgetary negligence on Wednesday by unanimously rejecting as many as five different budgets, including the one offered by President Obama. Republicans, meanwhile, are hoping that voters will pick up on the disturbing trend.

The Democratic-led Senate has not formally proposed a federal budget resolution in more than three years, and is not expected to offer one Wednesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Budget Committee chairman Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) have made explicitly clear that they have no intention of doing so before the November election.

Senate Republicans plan to offer four GOP budgets—authored by Sens. Mike Lee (R., Utah); Rand Paul (R., Ky.); Pat Toomey (R., Pa.); and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.)—as well as the president’s budget. None of them are expected to draw any support from Democrats.

It would mark the second year in a row that Senate Democrats have unanimously opposed the White House budget proposal. The House of Representatives has already voted to reject Obama’s budget 414-0.

In total, members of Congress have cast more than 500 votes in favor of what is widely seen as the official Republican budget (Ryan’s) and zero in support of the president’s plan.

It is a sign, Republicans say, that Democrats are not serious about solving what experts have called “the most predictable economic crisis in history.”

“They simply don’t want to be held accountable,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) told the Washington Free Beacon. “Either they don’t have a plan, or they are totally unwilling to tell the American people what their plan is.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, said he thought the latter was true. “I actually think they do have a plan,” he told the Free Beacon. “Their goal is to increase spending and increase taxes. But that plan will be rejected by the American people.”

“If they believed their plan was popular, they’d want to put it out in front of people, vote on it, and brag about it,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “That’s not what they’re doing. They’d rather run for reelection without the American people knowing what their vision of the budget would look like. It’s one thing for me to say their plan is unpopular. That’s what they’re saying.”

Democrats have been particularly reticent to propose a credible plan to reform federal entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, despite the fact that these programs are the primary drivers of the national debt. Medicare’s trustees project that the program will be insolvent by 2024.

Earlier this year, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted that, even if Congress were to enact President Obama’s latest budget, “We would still be left with … what are still unsustainable commitments in Medicare and Medicaid.”

Obama pledged to make entitlement reform a priority as a candidate in 2008. “We’re going to have to take on entitlements, and I think we’ve got to do it quickly,” he said during a debate moderated by NBC. “I can’t guarantee that we’re going to do it in the next two years, but I’d like to do it in my first term as president.”

Nearly four years later, the closest thing to Medicare reform the president has offered is the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a council of appointed “experts” given sweeping power to reduce federal reimbursements to healthcare providers. Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, has raised doubts about the board’s ability to control costs.

Ryan’s budget, on the other hand, proposes to save trillions of dollars by gradually transitioning Medicare from a “fee-for-service” model to a market-oriented “premium support” plan modeled after a bipartisan proposal co-authored by Sen. Ron Wyden (D., Ore.).

Democrats have countered by accusing Republicans of trying to “end Medicare as we know it”—a charge the nonpartisan fact-checking site PolitiFact rated “Lie of The Year” in 2011—and in one case by portraying Ryan as literally throwing the elderly off a cliff.

Geithner summed up the Democratic position on entitlement reform during a House Budget Committee hearing in February when he told Ryan, “we’re not coming before you today to say we have a definitive solution to that long-term problem. What we do know is, we don’t like yours.”

President Obama and his Democratic allies have been far more resolute in their determination to raise taxes. Obama’s most recent budget calls for nearly $2 trillion in tax increases over the next decade. Conrad, the Senate budget chairman, has indicated that a similar amount would be appropriate.

Raising taxes is not something on which many politicians are eager to base their re-election campaigns. Studies have also shown that it is a particularly ineffective way to solve a nation’s debt and deficit problems. One report produced by the American Enterprise Institute examined data from a variety of countries between 1970-2007 and found “strong evidence that expenditure cuts outweigh revenue increases in successful consolidations.”

The findings echo those of a recent report from the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, which concluded: “International experience shows expenditure-based fiscal consolidation tends to be more successful.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently concluded that the president’s budget, if enacted, would have a negative impact on long-term economic growth.

Ryan’s budget, on the other hand, simplifies the notoriously complex federal tax code by eliminating various loopholes and tax shelters while lowering tax rates.

Wednesday’s vote encapsulates what ought to be central issue in the 2012 campaign, Republicans say.

“This is an opportunity for the American people to assess the differences between the two parties,” a GOP budget committee aide told the Free Beacon. “We’re headed for financial disaster, and Senate Democrats are making no effort to take us off that path.”

“Republicans are actually putting forward proposals that are serious, that address the major challenges—on tax reform, entailment reform, spending reductions,” said another Republican aide. “Democrats have punted on all these issues.”

Few things better illustrate this lack of leadership more than unwillingness of Democratic lawmakers to support the president’s plan, Republicans say. Senate Democrats in all likelihood will vote in lockstep against every budget proposal, including Obama’s, and quickly move to change the subject.

“It’s a tear-off-the-Band-Aid kind of moment for them,” the GOP budget aide said. “They want to get it over with quickly so they can avoid a serious conversation about the budget.”

Even though Ryan’s budget, or any other GOP plan, has no chance of passing the Senate, Republicans want to use the moment to lay the groundwork for a winning political agenda.

“This is preparation for a Romney presidency,” Norquist said. “Republicans can line up and vote for an actual, written down budget. If Romney wins, they can turn and say, ‘I was elected to do this.’ That’s not something Obama could say about anything he did.”

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