Daily Archives: May 5, 2011

Obama’s Anti-Energy Policies Are Bankrupting America

Published on May 5, 2011 by HeritageFoundation

Randall Stilley has witnessed firsthand the Obama administration‘s job-killing agenda. As the president and chief executive of Seahawk Drilling, he had to lay off 632 employees before filing for bankruptcy — a direct result of President Obama’s anti-energy policies.

“As an American,” he told us, “you never want to look at your own government and say they’re hurting you personally, they’re hurting your business and they’re doing it in a way that’s irresponsible. I’m not very proud of our government right now and the way they handled this.”

Randall Stilley has witnessed firsthand the Obama administration’s job-killing agenda. As the president and chief executive of Seahawk Drilling, he had to lay off 632 employees before filing for bankruptcy — a direct result of President Barack Obama’s anti-energy policies.

Stilley’s company owned and operated 20 shallow-water rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. The lack of energy production — a consequence of Obama’s drilling moratorium and subsequent “permitorium” — led to Seahawk’s demise. Now he’s speaking out, sharing Seahawk’s story in a new video from Heritage and the Institute for Energy Research. (Click to watch.)

It’s an unfortunate example of how policies in Washington are harming American jobs and also squelching energy production at a time when consumers are paying $4-per-gallon for gasoline.

Fortunately, not everyone in the nation’s capital is content with higher prices and fewer jobs. Today the U.S. House considers the first of several bills that directly addresses energy and jobs. Lawmakers will vote today on legislation that requires the Obama administration to conduct oil and natural gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and in the waters offshore Virginia.

It’s a welcome change from the anti-drilling policies first imposed by the Obama administration one year ago. On May 6, 2010, the first moratorium on Gulf drilling took effect, followed by a longer ban that lasted until October. But even after it was lifted, few deepwater permits have been issued.

The long-term implications are disastrous for America. That prompted House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) to pursue a remedy through legislation. Today’s vote would ensure that companies continue energy development by requiring lease sales. Two other bills would speed up the permitting process and craft a long-term plan for offshore lease sales.

“What we’re proposing is to lower gas prices, create American jobs, which ironically will help drive up government revenues, and ultimately, in the wake of all the turmoil we’ve seen in the world, create an environment in which we are energy independent or on a path to energy independence,” Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) explained yesterday.

Even without the president’s signature, the legislation has already had a positive impact. After it passed in committee, the Obama administration promised to hold one lease sale in 2011. (Ever since 1958, there has been at least one lease sale every year.)

But while one lease sale is better than none, Hastings isn’t satisfied. He wants the Obama administration to hold four lease sales before June 2012  – including one off the coast of Virginia.

Aside from creating new jobs and discovering new sources of energy, the lease sales contribute a substantial sum of revenue for the federal treasury. In 2008, the offshore industry paid $9.4 billion for bids on new leases. Last year, that figure dropped to $979 million in lease bids.

The drop in revenue is a reflection of the Obama administration’s anti-energy policies. And lease sales are only part of the equation. According to the government’s own Energy Information Administration, production in the Gulf of Mexico will drop by 190,000 barrels per day. That means less money from royalty payments on offshore rigs as well.

Faced with mounting criticism, the Obama administration has defended its policies as a safety precaution following last year’s oil spill. But one year later, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement is issuing drilling permits at such a slow pace that it’s hard to swallow the explanation.

At the same time, the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are seeking new ways to penalize energy businesses. As Curtis Dubay and Nick Loris write on The Foundry, a proposal from Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) would significantly increase taxes paid by U.S. oil and gas companies competing abroad — exactly the wrong approach with gas prices on the rise.

Meanwhile, job creators like Leslie Bertucci and Randall Stilley continue to bear the brunt of the Obama administration’s misguided policies. Bertucci, who told us last month about her company’s struggle to survive, has dipped into personal savings to avoid layoffs.

Stilley didn’t have that option at Seahawk. And he’s not optimistic about what the future holds under this administration.

“As an American,” he told us, “you never want to look at your own government and say they’re hurting you personally, they’re hurting your business and they’re doing it in a way that’s irresponsible. I’m not very proud of our government right now and the way they handled this.”

Original Article

Norway: Ulstein Verft Delivers PSV Rem Mist

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Ulstein Verft delivered the platform supply vessel Rem Mist to Remøy Shipping on 5 May 2011. The vessel, which is yard number 289 from Ulstein Verft, was delivered one day before the contracted date.

In his speech at the delivery, managing director of Remøy Shipping, Per Gunnar Jarnes, emphasised ULSTEIN’s ability to deliver advanced vessels on time – even before time in this instance. “In order to be successful in the global market, it is vital to focus on and develop what one does best – and that is what ULSTEIN has done with great success”, said Jarnes.

The vessel is a large PSV equipped with multi cargo tanks for dry media and liquids. The exhaust system grants a 360 degree view from the bridge. The exhaust is led through the ship side and escapes at the water surface, instead of going through the wheelhouse roof.

Rem Mist is the second vessel ULSTEIN delivers to Remøy Shipping. Her sister vessel, Rem Hrist, yard number 288, was delivered at the beginning of March this year. Both vessels have eight year contracts with Statoil in the North Sea.

Original Article

Arab Spring may not lessen West’s influence

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Aspirations for political freedom are driving the revolutions sweeping the Middle East

5 May 2011 Last updated at 03:27 ET

After nearly a century of political stagnation, change is finally on the way in the Middle East, but what role will there be for Western powers in this new Arab world, asks Middle East analyst Gerald Butt.

5 May 2011 Last updated at 03:27 ET

The wholesale upheaval taking place during this Arab Spring is the first in the post-colonial era.

But there are signs that Western states – former colonial powers among them – will still be playing substantial roles in the emerging new Middle East of the 21st Century.

The last major upheaval in the region followed World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Britain and France had secretly devised a scheme to create nation states, trampling cynically over the aspirations of the Arabs for independence and unity.

Now, by contrast, it is precisely the aspirations of Arabs – this time for political freedom – that is driving the revolutions sweeping the region.

But while the desire for change is strong, the Arab Spring is following no co-ordinated course.

So there is ample scope for nations outside the region to devise stratagems as they seek to protect their interests.

The successful elimination of Osama Bin Laden is likely only to reinforce their confidence in taking positive steps to achieve their goals.

There is little, furthermore, that the Arab world – after decades of division, demoralisation and defeat – can do to stop them.

Familiar spectacle

Nowhere was this more obvious than in the popular uprising in Libya.

As Col Muammar Gaddafi turned his guns and fighter jets on his own people, the Arab League called for the imposition of a no-fly zone to protect civilians.

But the collective Arab world – for all its vast resources – could not muster sufficient political agreement to assemble the military hardware needed to impose the zone.

So, just when the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt appeared to be restoring Arab self-esteem, there came a humiliating call on the West to intervene.

Canadian Armed Forces CF18 at Trapani-Birgi airbase in Sicily, Italy - 25 March 2011

 Planes from Western nations are forming the bulk of the coalition force intervening in Libya

Now, not only are Western aircraft bombing targets across Libya, but military advisers from the three former colonial powers in the country, Britain, France and Italy, have been dispatched there.

For Arabs with even short memories, the spectacle looks depressingly familiar: Western forces helping to take control of a country rich with oil and gas.

Western powers have also intervened elsewhere – selectively. Some sanctions are being imposed on Syria for its brutal treatment of protesters – but not on Bahrain, where excessive force was also used on demonstrators.

Syria, in Western eyes, is a rogue state. Regime change there would neatly break the arc of Iranian influence that extends from Tehran to the Hezbollah strongholds of southern Lebanon.

Bahrain, on the other hand, is a key Western ally that provides a port for the US Fifth Fleet and an air base in the south of the island.

Saudi Arabia and all the Arab Gulf states, for their part, need Western support both to secure oil exports and to provide protection against what is regarded as a growing threat from an Iran with strong nuclear ambitions.

The growing Iranian influence in Iraq is also a worry in the Gulf. But the United States is preparing to increase the number of its embassy staff there next year to 16,000 – a sufficient platform, surely, from which to secure Western (and therefore Gulf) interests.

Egypt, too, looks set to maintain its ties with the United States. Public calls for the peace treaty with Israel to be scrapped are likely to be quietly ignored.

Any future leadership that took such a step would have to find funds to replace the $2bn (£1.2bn) that this cash-strapped country receives from Washington each year – and put its armed forces on a war footing again.

Then, just north of Egypt lies the strategically located island of Cyprus, where British sovereign bases provide a springboard for possible Western military intervention in the Middle East and North Africa.

All in all, then, the new Arab world, in many respects, is likely to look very much like the old one.

Colonial shadows

The key obstacle confronting those countries in the region that want to distance themselves from the influence of the West have been highlighted all too clearly by the Libyan crisis: the Arabs’ failure to take action themselves.

Oil refinery at Mina Al Ahmadi,40km south of Kuwait City - 4 June 2001

Vast oil wealth has not lessened Western influence in the Middle East

Despite the billions of dollars accrued in oil revenues and the billions spent on acquiring military equipment, two key challenges have not been met.

The first is to achieve political co-ordination. Inter-Arab disputes and rivalries have seen the 22 members of the Arab League pulling in different directions, rather than working for a joint cause.

The second challenge is to develop indigenous industries, rather than rely on technology and expertise from abroad.

As successive UN Arab Human Development Reports have pointed out, too often the technology was imported but not the skills: “With few exceptions, the experience of individual Arab countries in technology transfer, management and adaptation has not met initial expectations.”

The governments that come to power in the wake of the Arab Spring need to concentrate urgently on raising education standards, providing jobs for skilled graduates and developing indigenous talent, thereby enabling countries to stand on their own two feet.

Otherwise, the shadow of the former colonial powers and their allies is likely to fall across the Middle East for decades to come.

Gerald Butt, a former BBC Middle East correspondent, is a Cyprus-based writer on the region.

Original Article

Vietnam Approves Full Development Plan for Te Giac Trang Field

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The Company has been informed by the Hoang Long Joint Operating Company, the Operator of Block 16-1 in the Cuu Long Basin offshore Vietnam, that PetroVietnam has relayed the Government of Vietnam’s agreement to the extension period for the Te Giac Den Appraisal area.

The extension period is for 15 months (from 1st January 2011 to 30th April 2012) or 21 months (from 1st January 2011 to 31st October 2012) in the event that the Company elects to drill a well.

Several 3D seismic acquisition options are currently being reviewed and it is anticipated that acquisition of the 150 square kilometre 3D programme will commence in late June to early July 2011.

PetroVietnam has also informed the Company that the Government of Vietnam has approved the Full Development Plan for the Te Giac Trang Field, incorporating the second phase development. Installation activities in the field are ongoing and the H4 jacket for second phase drilling and production has been installed. The project remains on target for Phase I production start in August 2011.

Original Article

Shale gas ‘revolution’ impacts to vary across globe: OTC panelists

The impacts that the international liquefied natural gas market will see from shale gas production growth in North America and across the globe will vary widely according to local market conditions, members of a panel at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston said Wednesday.

In the US, where the “shale gas revolution” first started and already is well under way, domestic gas supplies have severely cut into the demand for imported LNG, Emma Cochrane, manager of gas power and marketing for ExxonMobil, said.

With ample gas supplies to meet US gas demands most of the time, LNG imports will largely serve to meet seasonal balancing needs, she said.

“Imports will mostly come in the summer, where there is nowhere else for the gas to go,” Cochrane said. As a result of the inflow of gas supplies from shale plays across the nation, “the US becomes almost self-sufficient” in meeting its gas demand in the future.

In other regions of the world, however, the growth of shale gas production will be less of a factor in supply-and-demand dynamics than more localized factors, Rafael McDonald, associate director of global gas research, IHS CERA, said.

“We see an acceleration of the tightening of the global gas market,” he said. However, the resurgence of gas demand in the wake of the global recession will result in “a multi-speed recovery,” with some regions outpacing others.

“In terms of GDP and gas demand, some places never dipped, like Brazil and China. Some dipped but came roaring back, like South Korea, and some continue to languish,” he said.

Australia, which has ambitious plans to dramatically increase its liquefaction and LNG export capacity, could someday surpass Qatar as the world’s largest LNG exporter, McDonald said. “There are some questions still. There 28 million tons of capacity already, with over an additional 100 million tons of capacity planned,” he said.

He added that “all of that can’t come on line,” as Australia does not have the resources to increase its LNG capacity to the extent that LNG developers envision.

Davis Thames, president of Cheniere Marketing, described how the changing dynamics of the international gas market has led his company to announce plans to convert its Sabine Pass LNG receiving terminal in Cameron Parish, Louisiana into bi-directional terminal capable of exporting as well as importing LNG.

“In the US, we have a natural gas market that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world,” he said. Technological innovations in gas production techniques have resulted in “a tremendous amount of gas,” coming onto US markets, driving down the domestic costs of gas and destroying the economic rationale behind building LNG import-only terminals.

As a result, Cheniere is reinventing its business model from the traditional LNG import terminal, Thames said.

“We’re providing a midstream service,” he said. Cheniere’s proposed bi-directional LNG facility “looks more like a pipeline,” than a traditional LNG import terminal, he said.

Houston-based Cheniere, which owns the 4 Bcf/d Sabine Pass LNG import terminal, in August 2010 applied to US authorities for permission to export gas produced in the Lower-48 states.

–Jim Magill, jim_magill@platts.com

Original Article

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