Daily Archives: April 29, 2011
Phil McNabb of Oceaneering International shows off the WASP Atmospheric Diving System during the Offshore Technology Conference at Reliant Center in 2002. (Melissa Phillip/Chronicle)
April 29, 2011 at 7:18 am by Tom Fowler
The Offshore Technology Conference is a showcase for all the brute force and technical finesse the energy industry has to offer, a place to highlight how mind meets muscle 20,000 feet beneath the surface of the ocean.
It’s also a place find folks up to their elbows in social media. Facebook and Twitter didn’t use to be part of the massive trade show, but that’s changed.
Since early this week the #OTCHouston hashtag on Twitter has become steadily more busy as vendors set up their booths at the Reliant Center. OTCHouston’s Facebook page has also been seeing steady traffic, answering questions from potential job applicants and students.
Three of us from the Houston Chronicle/FuelFix.com team will be at OTC all four days next week, posting stories throughout the day and tweeting using the #OTCHouston hashtag – so please follow our coverage and share any feedback/suggestions you may have along the way.
As with CERAWeek, we may even try a little contest for any dedicated followers of our work (no promises yet) so stay tuned and stay in touch.
Visit FuelFix this week for the latest news from OTC. You can also like our page on Facebook or follow @FuelFixBlog on Twitter. Look for updates from reporters @houstonfowler and @jendlouhyhc under the #OTCHouston hashtag.
While most eyes are on Japan or Libya, the President has been on tour in South America, visiting Brazil, Chile, and EL Salvador. Because the purpose of these trips seemed unclear in the face of world events, many have criticized the President’s choice in priorities.
But this morning, I ran across an article that finally explains for me the real objective– OIL.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, “The U.S. government’s export credit agency has authorized $3 billion in financing for Brazil, including $2 billion for the Brazilian government-run oil company, Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.” Somewhere investor George Soros must be smiling.
In an OP-Ed with the USA Today the President said, “We’ll also work to strengthen our relationship when it comes to energy. Brazil holds recently discovered oil reserves that could be far larger than ours, and as we seek to increase secure-energy supplies, we look forward to developing a strategic energy partnership. We’ll also continue our shared leadership in green economic growth and clean energy, including everything from biofuels to renewables such as wind and solar power.”
In fact Obama said he was looking forward to importing oil from Brazil. The President said “We want to work with you. We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers.”
Running up our deficit so we can be more dependent on foreign oil? The President goes on, “At a time when we’ve been reminded how easily instability in other parts of the world can affect the price of oil, the United States could not be happier with the potential for a new, stable source of energy.”
So there you have it.
As many have asserted, Libya is about oil, and so too, apparently, was the President’s trip to Brazil.
There was also this in the news:
US, Brazil expand biofuels co-operation to aviation sector
In Brazil, President Obama and newly inaugurated Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff expanded a Memorandum of Understanding on Biofuels, and agreed “that the two countries have converging interests in energy-related matters, including in oil, natural gas, biofuels and other renewables. President Obama stated that the United States seeks to be a Strategic Energy Partner of Brazil. They praised the Working Group on Energy and the Memorandum of Understanding to Advance the Cooperation
on Biofuels and decided that their work will be carried out under the umbrella of a bilateral Strategic Energy Dialogue.”
To the four year old MOU, the leaders added language on aviation biofuels development, including support for the Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative (CAAFI) and the Brazilian Alliance for Aviation Biofuels. The leaders did not release any language related to the disposition of the 54 cent per gallon ethanol tariff, which shields US corn ethanol, from competition from lower cost sugarcane ethanol.
Prior to becoming president of Brazil, Rousseff had served in past years as Brazilian minister of energy.
So why haven’t you really heard about any of this?
I’m assuming because of the ‘bigger’ stories, but also because the President knows he’ll face serious domestic criticism for his efforts.
See, for example:
State of Play: Republicans and the oil industry are working to translate President Obama’s weekend comments in support of Brazilian oil development into political ammunition in their battle against the White House’s U.S. drilling policies.
The American Petroleum Institute, the country’s most powerful oil and gas trade association, and Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), said Monday that the administration should be doing more to develop U.S. oil-and-gas reserves.
Here’s Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), who is among the lawmakers pushing for wider U.S. offshore drilling: “It’s ridiculous to ignore our own resources and continue going hat-in-hand to countries like Saudi Arabia and Brazil to beg them to produce more oil,” Vitter said in a statement. “We need to get serious about developing our resources here at home and working toward lower gas prices and long-term energy independence.”
But President Obama said Saturday during his visit to Brazil that an energy partnership with the nation will offer major benefits for the United States. Obama, in announcing a “Strategic Energy Dialogue” with Brazil, noted that the country has nearly twice the oil reserves as the United States and lauded its stability compared to some other oil-exporting countries.
“We want to work with you. We want to help with technology and support to develop these oil reserves safely, and when you’re ready to start selling, we want to be one of your best customers,” Obama told a group of business leaders Saturday. “At a time when we’ve been reminded how easily instability in other parts of the world can affect the price of oil, the United States could not be happier with the potential for a new, stable source of energy.”
Under the Strategic Energy Dialogue, the United States will work with Brazil “in the environmentally responsible and technologically advanced development” of Brazilian oil resources, according to a White House summary of the plan.
Administration officials also say they are working diligently to expand U.S. oil-and-gas development. The Interior Department has recently issued three deepwater drilling permits for the type of projects halted after last year’s Gulf oil spill. And the department on Monday approved an exploration plan that paves the way to expanded Gulf drilling.
So it got me to thinking, what was the purpose of the President’s trip to Chile? Surprising, this is what I found:
Among the “urgent events” that President Obama said he discussed Monday with Chilean President Sebastián Piñera was the unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan that began March 11 when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami along the northeast coast.
While the crisis only appeared to be mentioned in passing during a press conference in Santiago during Mr. Obama’s five-day regional tour, it has set off a firestorm of criticism against Mr. Piñera and caused a major rethink over energy policy here.
Yesterday, some 2,000 people marched through the capital to protest a new US-Chile nuclear power cooperation agreement signed Friday as radiation leaked from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. The agreement promises cooperation in operating research reactors, handling civilian nuclear training and safety measures. It seemed a natural extension of Piñera’s steady push for nuclear power to ensure electricity for Chile’s world-leading copper industry.
Copper. So is this another strategic resource play? Fascinating…
- “The stimulus is being reflected in the copper numbers,” said Larry Young, president of Covenant Trading LLC in Chicago.
- “Plans are going forward that will require more copper.”
- President Barack Obama proposed a six-year $50 billion infrastructure plan to revamp highways, rails and airport runways in an effort to create more near-term jobs and improve the long-term U.S. transportation network.
The article also notes:
China is the world’s largest consumer of copper.
And here is another interesting tid-bit:
So what happened on the last leg of Obama’s South American trip, in El Salvador?
I couldn’t find much, but here was one headline:
It seems Santa Claus was very busy over the weekend after all…
Now the timing of the trip makes sense to me.
Does it for you?