Daily Archives: April 15, 2011

One year after oil spill, are we safer?

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William O’Keefe CEO, the Marshall Institute

In the year following the BP disaster, energy policies pushed by President Obama and his allies in Congress have done more harm than good — putting the United States at greater risk from potential oil-related problems.

The moratorium first imposed by the Interior Department early last summer caused American companies to send many of our idled drilling rigs equipped with the best technology to offshore oil fields abroad (and with them went substantial investment that would have created jobs and economic benefits here). Six months later, the administration’s reversal on plans to open portions of the Atlantic Coast to exploration further stalled domestic energy development.

Its current push to adopt “Use It to Lose It” legislation would lead to underdevelopment of promising fields. Such a policy would likely strip companies of the time to properly conduct necessary technical and geophysical tests before committing hundreds of millions of dollars to exploration.

Collectively, these anti-oil agenda items hamper our domestic oil and gas industry at the expense of our economic and energy future.

Meanwhile, Cuba is inviting foreign firms — which operate under less stringent safety and environmental standards — to begin drilling this summer within 100 miles of our country’s coastline in waters deeper than the Macondo well.

The state-owned oil companies in queue to operate in the Gulf of Mexico — including Russia’s Gazprom, Malaysia’s Petronas, and Venezuela’s Pdvsa — have little, if any, experience drilling deepwater wells. The U.S. embargo of Cuba will keep highly qualified U.S. companies from competing for these opportunities, while the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s slow walk of domestic permits keeps our firms idled at home too. And Cuba — the government responsible for overseeing the safe execution of these highly technical, high-stakes projects — is the same country that announced its first high-speed Internet cable just a few weeks ago.

These events seem at odds with our nation’s best interests and also conflict with Obama’s recognition that “given our energy needs, in order to sustain economic growth, produce jobs and keep our businesses competitive, we’re going to need to harness traditional sources of fuel.”

Gulf Coast residents would likely sleep better at night knowing Chevron, not China, was bidding for projects off their shores. It’s no wonder. America’s oil and gas sector has long served as the “gold standard” in international exploration and production. However, the administration’s relentless attacks on Big Oil could also discourage the best and brightest minds of America’s youth from pursuing petroleum-related science and engineering degrees and thereby hinder future technology breakthroughs.

Consider the case of Three Mile Island. Following the political backlash to the 1979 partial meltdown of one of Pennsylvania’s nuclear plants — which caused panic but no injuries — the U.S. saw a substantial drop in nuclear engineering bachelor’s degrees. Some nuclear engineering programs shut down altogether.

Due to these kinds of unintended consequences, sweeping berates and penalization of an entire industry does little to advance the objectives of improved safety and advances in prevention and cleanup technology. As such, safety advances in the industry have taken place in spite of rather than thanks to the Obama administration’s response to the Gulf spill.

The plain and simple fact is that the world is going to rely on oil products for transportation for decades to come. We can either produce more here or import more from foreign producers while cursing the growth in imports. And the former option gives us directly control over safety.

( Original Article )

politico.com

G20 tackles global economy; China unswayed on yuan

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By Leika Kihara and Jan Strupczewski

WASHINGTON | Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:37am EDT

(Reuters) – The world’s big economies on Friday tried to overcome their differences and flesh out a plan to make the world economy less prone to booms and busts.

The challenge of getting the Group of 20 to agree on how to spot and fix dangers to global growth comes as policymakers are worried about more immediate threats — high oil prices, huge debts in some rich nations and unrest in the Middle East.

China, at the center of the ambitious global policy plan, signaled it will only let its tightly controlled yuan currency rise in value at its own speed.

Still, the G20 as the major forum for global policy coordination wants to find ways to insulate the economy from some of the imbalances that led to the 2007-2009 crisis and the worst global recession since World War Two.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said addressing imbalances between export-rich and debt-burdened countries that have long plagued the global economy was a priority of the G20, which accounts for 85 percent of world output.

But it has become hard to find agreement on just how to reform the world’s financial system now that the darkest days of the financial crisis have passed. The G20 is trying to settle its differences on the imbalances plan in time for a leaders’ summit November.

Even if there is agreement, countries will not be bound to follow any policy recommendations that emerge from the monitoring of their policies but officials hope peer pressure will work.

There is a divide between big emerging economies, led by the group known as BRICS, for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, and developed economies such as the United States.

Leaders of the BRICS kept up their calls for a monetary system less reliant on the U.S. dollar at a summit in China this week.

BRICS STAND FIRM

China’s central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, stayed at home to attend the BRICS summit but made sure his voice was heard in Washington on the key topic of currency reform, reiterating that currency reform in China will take place gradually.

U.S. officials said ahead of the G20 meeting that currency flexibility was vital to correct excessive trade surpluses.

South African President Jacob Zuma, speaking in China, blasted the United States for its super-loose monetary policies and over-spending, which he said threatened the world economy.

The Federal Reserve’s $2 trillion bond-buying program, designed to stimulate the U.S. economy, has been blamed by emerging economies for driving down the dollar’s value and unleashing destabilizing waves of “hot money” into emerging markets in search of higher yields.

A cloudy outlook for global growth complicates efforts to find unity about how to add stability to the economic system.

High oil and food prices, the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis, political infighting over the massive U.S. budget deficit and the impact of Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis all pose risks to the recovery from recession.

G20 officials on Friday were pushing for a deal on how to apply new guidelines to identify countries with excess trade deficits or surpluses and too much debt.

“It is a matter of credibility for the G20 that we agree on the indicative guidelines this weekend,” said Olli Rehn, the European Union’s economic and monetary affairs commissioner.

The G20 wasn’t expected Friday to name specific countries that spend or save too much, but if it did, the United States and China would almost certainly top the list.

It would probably include others. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said Thursday the biggest economies — those representing 5 percent of total G20 output — might get special scrutiny. That would also include France, Germany and Japan.

Beyond that the G20 hopes to discuss how to apply guidelines. That might be done through computer modeling, with sources telling Reuters four different models for identifying imbalances were being discussed.

Reducing budget deficits is crucial too. The IMF this week said the United States may have a hard time meeting a G20 goal of halving its deficit by 2013.

President Barack Obama presented a plan this week to cut the deficit by $4 trillion over 12 years, but his former economic adviser said the country should wait until after growth is strong enough to warrant higher interest rates.

(Reporting by Reuters IMF/G20 team; Writing by Glenn Somerville, editing by William Schomberg and Leslie Adler)

( Original Article )

reuters.com

Is this Obama’s next target after Libya?

Posted: April 11, 2011
8:22 pm Eastern

By Aaron Klein

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Arab League chief on board that created doctrine used to bomb nation

TEL AVIV – Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa served on the committee that invented the military doctrine used by President Obama as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya, WND has learned.

The discovery is particularly pertinent because on Sunday Moussa announced during a special meeting in Cairo that the Arab League plans to press the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone over the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip similar to the one imposed now on Libya.

Moussa said he plans to present the proposal to the U.N. Security Council.

The call comes as Hamas has fired over 140 rockets into Jewish civilian population zones, prompting Israel to carry out anti-terror operations in Gaza aimed at diminishing Hamas’ rocketing capabilities.

As WND was first to report, billionaire philanthropist George Soros is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect, the world’s leading organization pushing the military doctrine. Several of the doctrine’s main founders sit on multiple boards with Soros.

The doctrine and its founders, as WND reported, have been deeply tied to Obama aide Samantha Power, who reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya. Power is the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights.

Now it has emerged that Moussa served on the advisory board of the 2001 commission that originally founded Responsibility to Protect.

That commission is called the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. It invented the term “Responsibility to Protect,” while defining its guidelines.

On the 2001 commission board with Moussa, as WND first revealed, was Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi, a staunch denier of the Holocaust who long served as the deputy of late PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

Also on the commission board was the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, which was founded by White House aid Samantha Power.

Power was Carr’s founding executive director and headed the institute at the time it advised in the founding of Responsibility to Protect. She is the National Security Council special adviser to Obama on human rights.

She reportedly heavily influenced Obama in consultations leading to the decision to bomb Libya.

With Power, Moussa and Ashrawi on its advisory board, the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty first defined the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

In his address to the nation two weeks ago, Obama cited the military doctrine as the main justification for U.S. and international airstrikes against Libya.

Indeed, the Libya bombings have been widely regarded as a test of Responsibility to Protect.

Responsibility to Protect, or Responsibility to Act as cited by Obama, is a set of principles, now backed by the United Nations, based on the idea that sovereignty is not a privilege but a responsibility that can be revoked if a country is accused of “war crimes,” “genocide,” “crimes against humanity” or “ethnic cleansing.”

The term “war crimes” has at times been indiscriminately used by various U.N.-backed international bodies, including the International Criminal Court, or ICC, which applied it to Israeli anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip. There has been fear the ICC could be used to prosecute U.S. troops.

The Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect is the world’s leading champion of the military doctrine.

Two of global group’s advisory board members, Ramesh Thakur and Gareth Evans, are the original founders of the “responsibility” doctrine, with the duo even coining the term “responsibility to protect.”

As WND reported Soros’ Open Society Institute is a primary funder and key proponent of the Global Centre for Responsibility to Protect. Also, Thakur and Evans sit on multiple boards with Soros.

Soros’ Open Society is one of only three nongovernmental funders of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Government sponsors include Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Rwanda and the U.K.

Board members of the group include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, former Ireland President Mary Robinson and South African activist Desmond Tutu. Robinson and Tutu have recently made solidarity visits to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip as members of a group called The Elders, which includes former President Jimmy Carter.

Annan once famously stated, “State sovereignty, in its most basic sense, is being redefined – not least by the forces of globalization and international co-operation. States are … instruments at the service of their peoples and not vice versa.”

Obama cited doctrine many times

Aside from his direct citation of the “responsibility” doctrine in his address explaining why the U.S. is acting against Libya, Obama alluded to the doctrine four more times in his speech.

The following are relevant excerpts from his address:

  • In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies – nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey – all of whom have fought by our side for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibility to defend the Libyan people.
  • Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians.
  • To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are.
  • The task that I assigned our forces – to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a No Fly Zone – carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. So would the costs, and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

Soros: Right to ‘penetrate nation-states’ borders’

Soros himself outlined the fundamentals of Responsibility to Protect in a 2004 Foreign Policy magazine article entitled “The People’s Sovereignty: How a New Twist on an Old Idea Can Protect the World’s Most Vulnerable Populations.”

In the article, Soros said “true sovereignty belongs to the people, who in turn delegate it to their governments.”

“If governments abuse the authority entrusted to them and citizens have no opportunity to correct such abuses, outside interference is justified,” Soros wrote. “By specifying that sovereignty is based on the people, the international community can penetrate nation-states’ borders to protect the rights of citizens.

“In particular, the principle of the people’s sovereignty can help solve two modern challenges: the obstacles to delivering aid effectively to sovereign states, and the obstacles to global collective action dealing with states experiencing internal conflict.”

More Soros ties

“Responsibility” founders Evans and Thakur served as co-chair, with Gregorian on the advisory board of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty, which invented the term “responsibility to protect.”

In his capacity as co-chair, Evans also played a pivotal role in initiating the fundamental shift from sovereignty as a right to “sovereignty as responsibility.”

Evans presented Responsibility to Protect at the July 23, 2009, United Nations General Assembly, which was convened to consider the principle.

Evans sits on multiple boards with Soros, including the Clinton Global Initiative.

Thakur, is a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, which is in partnership with an economic institute founded by philanthropist billionaire George Soros.

Soros is on the executive board of the International Crisis Group, a “crisis management organization” for which Evans serves as president-emeritus.

WND previously reported how the group has been petitioning for the U.S. to normalize ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition in Egypt, where longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak was recently toppled.

Aside from Evans and Soros, the group includes on its board Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, as well as other personalities who champion dialogue with Hamas, a violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

WND also reported the crisis group has also petitioned for the Algerian government to cease “excessive” military activities against al-Qaida-linked groups and to allow organizations seeking to create an Islamic state to participate in the Algerian government.

Soros’ own Open Society Institute has funded opposition groups across the Middle East and North Africa, including organizations involved in the current chaos.

‘One World Order’

WND reported yesterday that doctrine founder Thakur recently advocated for a “global rebalancing” and “international redistribution” to create a “New World Order.”

In a piece last March in the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, “Toward a new world order,” Thakur wrote, “Westerners must change lifestyles and support international redistribution.”

He was referring there to a United Nations-brokered international climate treaty in which he argued, “Developing countries must reorient growth in cleaner and greener directions.”

In the opinion piece, Thakur then discussed recent military engagements and how the financial crisis has impacted the U.S.

“The West’s bullying approach to developing nations won’t work anymore – global power is shifting to Asia,” he wrote.

“A much-needed global moral rebalancing is in train,” he added.

Thakur continued: “Westerners have lost their previous capacity to set standards and rules of behavior for the world. Unless they recognize this reality, there is little prospect of making significant progress in deadlocked international negotiations.”

Thakur contended “the demonstration of the limits to U.S. and NATO power in Iraq and Afghanistan has left many less fearful of ‘superior’ western power.”

Power pushes doctrine

Doctrine founder Evans, meanwhile, is closely tied to Obama aide Samantha Power.

Evans and Power have been joint keynote speakers at events in which they have championed the Responsibility to Protect principle together, such as the 2008 Global Philanthropy Forum, also attended by Tutu.

In November, at the International Symposium on Preventing Genocide and Mass Atrocities, Power, attending as a representative of the White House, argued for the use of Responsibility to Protect alongside Evans.

With research by Chris Elliott

( Original Article )

wnd.com

USA: International Energy Officials Prefer “Safety Case” System for Drilling Oversight

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Case-by-case regulation of offshore oil drilling is better than the one-size-fits-all approach favored by the United States, energy officials at an international oil spill conference said on Thursday.

Countries such as Britain and Norway have adopted regulatory regimes that ask companies to outline their plans to deal with the unique risks associated with each well they drill. Those governments then approve and enforce such plans.

That so-called “safety case” system differs from the U.S. style of drilling oversight, which focuses more on setting standards that companies must meet when drilling every well.

“If you use prescriptive regulations, companies become complacent,”

Jan de Jong, inspector-general of mines for the Netherlands, said on the sidelines of the conference sponsored by the U.S. Interior Department, held as the first anniversary of the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history looms.

“They think: ‘If I stick to regulations, then that’s fine’,” he told Reuters.

“We want them to identify every risk that people are exposed to or the environment is exposed to and think them all through.”

Still, he said he did not think U.S. regulations were the cause of the BP oil spill.

Held six days before the anniversary of the BP drilling disaster that ravaged the Gulf of Mexico coast, the conference gathered officials from 11 countries and the European Union to consider lessons learned from the accident and to share best practices for offshore drilling.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the delegates of the other countries at the conference had agreed to create a working group that could eventually lead to the development of international guidelines for safety in offshore drilling.

An explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig last year killed 11 workers and ruptured BP’s underwater Macondo well, unleashing nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf.

The Obama administration has since imposed a raft of safety measures and moved forward with rules that would take a more risk-based approach to worker safety on rigs, but Salazar warned against focusing too much on the style of regulation.

“I think sometimes there’s a false choice between safety case and prescriptive rules,” Salazar said.

He said most regimes would end up with a mix of regulations that fall in either category.

Martin Hoffman, deputy secretary of the department of resources and energy for Australia, said risk-based regimes still required countries to develop a general consensus about adequate safety standards.

“The safety case only works if there is a view around what is good oilfield practice, that has to be defined within real specific details,”

 Hoffman said. Australia, which uses the safety case system, suffered from a major oil spill in its Montara field in 2009.

( Original Article )

offshoreenergytoday.com

Norway: Subsea 7 Bags Tordis SURF Contract

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Subsea 7 S.A. announced today the award of a SURF contract valued at approximately $70 million from Statoil on the Tordis Area in the North Sea.

This contract is for the engineering, procurement and installation of two 10” 12 km oil production pipelines, together with a pull-in to Gullfaks C and tie-in at the Tordis PLIM. Engineering will commence immediately with offshore operations in 2011 and 2012.

About Tordis

Tordis oil field lies in block 34/7 in the Tampen area of the Norwegian North Sea, and came on stream in 1994.

In addition to the main Tordis structure, the development embraces the Tordis East (1998), Borg (1999) and Tordis South East (2001) fields.

These discoveries have all been developed with subsea installations. Water depth is roughly 200 metres.  Water injection is used to maintain pressure in the reservoirs.

The well stream from Tordis is routed through two pipelines to the Gullfaks C platform 10 kilometers away for processing, storage and export.

Subsea 7 S.A. is  a seabed-to-surface engineering, construction and services contractor to the offshore energy industry worldwide.

( Original Article )

offshoreenergytoday.com

Cyprus: Prosafe Announces Rig Utilisation of 61 pct for 1Q 2011

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Rig utilisation in the first quarter of 2011 was 61 per cent. Safe Esbjerg, Safe Lancia, Jasminia, Safe Hibernia, Safe Britannia and Safe Regency have been fully utilised in the first quarter.

MSV Regalia(photo) operated for BP at Valhall on the Norwegian Continental Shelf from mid March.

Safe Scandinavia operated for BP at Valhall on the Norwegian Continental Shelf until mid March.

Safe Caledonia commenced operation for BG on the UK Continental Shelf in the beginning of March.

Safe Astoria and Safe Bristolia were idle in the first quarter.

MSV Regalia, Safe Scandinavia and Safe Caledonia have carried out parts of their annual maintenance work in the first quarter. Safe Bristolia has undertaken a five year Special Periodic Survey (SPS) during the first quarter.

In the first quarter, Safe Concordia was mobilizing to Brazil and arrived in Rio de Janeiro on 10 April. The rig will go through the necessary approval process and is expected to commence on contract with Petrobras in the near future.

( Original Article )

offshoreenergytoday.com

Obama’s ‘energy policy’ riddled with inconsistencies

by: Tim T. Schowalter

To the Editor:

Now that oil is back up to $100-plus a barrel, Obama is spouting nice words but no plan of action. Not only do his words carry no action, they are distortions and outright lies about what he has done in the last two years and what he plans to do. He has increased our dependence on foreign oil, not decreased it.

First, he capriciously shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, putting 80,000 people out of work and reducing oil production. Most of those rigs have taken long-term contracts in other countries and the rigs and jobs won’t come back for years. Ironically, by executive order he gave $2 billion to Brazil to drill in their deep water offshore. So, we can’t drill for American oil but we are paying money to the 5th largest economy in the world to drill in the same environment that he shut down in the U.S. This has to be one of the most corrupt give-aways in American history as one of the owner’s of the Brazilian company is George Soros, a major Obama supporter.

Under Obama, leasing on federal lands has been decreased by 75 percent. It now takes two to three years to get a lease and a permit to drill. Thank goodness Obama only controls drilling on federal lands.

By contrast on state lands you could be drilling in 30 days. U.S. oil production is going up and Obama claims credit but he has done nothing to help. Production is up because oil companies are finding new oil fields, mainly in North Dakota on private lands.

Obama’s stimulus package gave billions of dollars of our money to subsidize high priced wind and solar projects. Wind and solar project energy do nothing to decrease our dependence on foreign oil as we only generate 1 percent of our electricity from oil. Obama also plans to continue to subsidize bio fuels, which take as much energy to make as they deliver and raising food costs in the process.

If we want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil we need to drill in America. Wake up America, Obama is making us more dependent on foreign oil — not less. He also wants to implement his Cap and Trade bill which will make your energy cost skyrocket, all for the sake of the global warming hoax.

Tim T. Schowalter – Granby

( Original Article )

skyhidailynews.com

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