Daily Archives: December 1, 2011

Oz gig up next for Clyde Boudreaux

Oz job: Rig will wrap up work in Brazil in June

Less than a year after Noble’s semi-submersible Clyde Boudreaux was relocated from the Gulf of Mexico to Brazil, a fleet status report shows Shell has ordered it to Australia to start a project next October.

Upstream staff 02 December 2011 00:01 GMT

The rig, which can drill in up to 10,000 feet of water, will work in Brazil until mid-June at a day rate of $290,000, according to a Noble fleet status report

After preparations, testing and transport, Noble expects the rig to start working in Australia from October 2012 to late December 2014 making a day rate of $417,000 with up to a 17% performance bonus.

As of October, the rig was expected to be working on a pre-salt Santos basin well in Block BM-S-54, Upstream reported at the time.

Shell did not immediately respond to a request for comment for more details.

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EU to study Iran energy action, China urges calm

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By Justyna Pawlak and Robin Pomeroy

(Reuters) – EU nations agreed on Thursday to examine sanctions on Iran’s energy sector over its nuclear program which could include an oil embargo championed by France and Britain.

China, the biggest buyer of Iranian crude, also stepped in on Thursday to warn against “emotionally charged actions” that might aggravate the row between London and Tehran over the storming of Britain’s embassy in the Iranian capital.

In Iran, diplomats said protesters had devastated parts of the embassy complex in Tehran. A commander in an Iranian militia which joined Tuesday’s ransacking said he was tired of decades of British “plotting” against Iran.

European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels said Iran’s energy, financial and transport sectors might be targeted in response to a report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog which suggested Iran has worked on designing an atom bomb.

They added 180 Iranian people and entities to a blacklist that imposes asset freezes and travel bans on those involved in the nuclear work which Tehran says is for peaceful purposes.

However, they appeared to postpone decisions on a ban on oil imports.

“The Council (of ministers) agreed to broaden existing sanctions by examining, in close coordination with international partners, additional measures including measures aimed at severely affecting the Iranian financial system, in the transport sector, in the energy sector,” they said.

DECISION DELAYED

Ministers said a decision would be taken no later than their next meeting in January. EU member states take 450,000 barrels per day of Iranian oil, about 18 percent of the Islamic Republic’s exports, much of which go to China and India.

But European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said all 27 EU countries would need to back any embargo. “We need a common position of all European Union member states,” he told Reuters on a visit to Moscow.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed the embargo and won backing from Britain, but resistance persists. An import ban might boost global oil prices during hard economic times while debt-strapped Greece has been relying on Iranian oil, which comes with an attractive financing offer.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the EU could aim to offset any crude oil shortfall if a ban were imposed.

“Greece has voiced some concerns. We have to take them into account and work with the different partners so that the interruption of deliveries from Iran could be compensated by a rise in production in other countries,” he told reporters.

Britain shut down Iran’s embassy in London and expelled all its staff on Wednesday after pulling out its own diplomats. It said the storming could not have taken place without the consent of Iranian Islamic authorities.

However, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the push for tougher economic action against Iran had nothing to do with the embassy incident.

“I stress that the measures I hope we will agree today are related to the Iranian nuclear program. These are not measures in reaction to what has happened to our embassy,” he told BBC radio before the Brussels meeting.

Britain’s uneasy relations with Iran date from long before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi of the Basij militia, which participated along with hardline students in the embassy incident, said Iranians “were tired of decades of London’s plots against Tehran,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

EU diplomats who visited the embassy in central Tehran told Reuters of severe damage. “I saw two rooms where you couldn’t see what they were. There was just ashes … It was devastating to see,” one said.

“You could tell the action was coordinated,” he added. A building that had not been used for years was untouched while the most important offices were gutted.

STAY RATIONAL, CALM AND RESTRAINED

With the diplomatic temperature rising, Beijing issued an appeal for cool heads. “China hopes that the relevant parties can remain rational, calm and restrained, to avoid emotionally charged actions that could intensify the dispute,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing.

“Countries should … focus on the long term and the big picture. When encountering issues and conflicts, they should resolve problems through dialogue and consultations.”

Russia said the increasing tension and Western pressure were undermining the chances Iran will cooperate with efforts to ensure it is not seeking nuclear weapons.

“We speak out categorically against cranking up a spiral of tension and confrontation on issues linked with Iran. We believe that this … is fraught with severe consequences,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich told a news briefing.

Russia and China approved four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, after working together to blunt tougher Western proposals.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog, citing intelligence reports, said last month that Iran appeared to have conducted research and experiments relevant to developing an atom bomb and may still be pursuing work to that end.

The nuclear program has raised the question of whether Israel might take military action against arch-foe Iran.

In Jerusalem, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said an Israeli attack was not imminent but all options remained open to stop what Israel sees as an Iranian bid to develop nuclear weapons.

“We have no intention, at the moment, of taking action, but the State of Israel is far from being paralyzed by fear,” Barak told Israel Radio. “It must act calmly and quietly — we don’t need big wars.”

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U.S., again, talks of sanctioning Iran’s central bank

U.S., again, talks of sanctioning Iran’s central bank | Reuters.

by ANDY STERN: Obama’s other Buddy

China’s Superior Economic Model

The free-market fundamentalist economic model is being thrown onto the trash heap of history.

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By ANDY STERN

Andy Grove, the founder and chairman of Intel, provocatively wrote in Businessweek last year that, “Our fundamental economic beliefs, which we have elevated from a conviction based on observation to an unquestioned truism, is that the free market is the best of all economic systems—the freer the better. Our generation has seen the decisive victory of free-market principles over planned economies. So we stick with this belief largely oblivious to emerging evidence that while free markets beat planned economies, there may be room for a modification that is even better.”

The past few weeks have proven Mr. Grove’s point, as our relations with China, and that country’s impact on America’s future, came to the forefront of American politics. Our inert Senate, while preparing for the super committee to fail, crossed the normally insurmountable political divide to pass legislation to address China’s currency manipulation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama all weighed in with their views—ranging from warnings that China must “end unfair discrimination” (Mrs. Clinton) to complaints that the U.S. has “been played like a fiddle” (Mr. Romney) and that China needs to stop “gaming” the international system (Mr. Obama).

As this was happening, I was part of a U.S.-China dialogue—a trip organized by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the Center for American Progress—with high-ranking Chinese government officials, both past and present. For me, the tension resulting from the chorus of American criticism paled in significance compared to reading the emerging outline of China’s 12th five-year plan. The aims: a 7% annual economic growth rate; a $640 billion investment in renewable energy; construction of six million homes; and expanding next-generation IT, clean-energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing and environmental protection—all while promoting social equity and rural development.

Some Americans are drawing lessons from this. Last month, the China Daily quoted Orville Schell, who directs the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society, as saying: “I think we have come to realize the ability to plan is exactly what is missing in America.” The article also noted that Robert Engle, who won a Nobel Prize in 2003 for economics, has said that while China is making five-year plans for the next generation, Americans are planning only for the next election.

The world has been made “flat” by the technological miracles of Andy Grove, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. This has forced all institutions to confront what is clearly the third economic revolution in world history. The Agricultural Revolution was a roughly 3,000-year transition, the Industrial Revolution lasted 300 years, and this technology-led Global Revolution will take only 30-odd years. No single generation has witnessed so much change in a single lifetime.

The current debates about China’s currency, the trade imbalance, our debt and China’s excessive use of pirated American intellectual property are evidence that the Global Revolution—coupled with Deng Xiaoping’s government-led, growth-oriented reforms—has created the planet’s second-largest economy. It’s on a clear trajectory to knock America off its perch by 2025.

As Andy Grove so presciently articulated in the July 1, 2010, issue of Businessweek, the economies of China, Singapore, Germany, Brazil and India have demonstrated “that a plan for job creation must be the number-one objective of state economic policy; and that the government must play a strategic role in setting the priorities and arraying the forces of organization necessary to achieve this goal.”

The conservative-preferred, free-market fundamentalist, shareholder-only model—so successful in the 20th century—is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century. In an era when countries need to become economic teams, Team USA’s results—a jobless decade, 30 years of flat median wages, a trade deficit, a shrinking middle class and phenomenal gains in wealth but only for the top 1%—are pathetic.

This should motivate leaders to rethink, rather than double down on an empirically failing free-market extremism. As painful and humbling as it may be, America needs to do what a once-dominant business or sports team would do when the tide turns: study the ingredients of its competitors’ success.

While we debate, Team China rolls on. Our delegation witnessed China’s people-oriented development in Chongqing, a city of 32 million in Western China, which is led by an aggressive and popular Communist Party leader—Bo Xilai. A skyline of cranes are building roughly 1.5 million square feet of usable floor space daily—including, our delegation was told, 700,000 units of public housing annually.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government can boast that it has established in Western China an economic zone for cloud computing and automotive and aerospace production resulting in 12.5% annual growth and 49% growth in annual tax revenue, with wages rising more than 10% a year.

For those of us who love this country and believe America has every asset it needs to remain the No. 1 economic engine of the world, it is troubling that we have no plan—and substitute a demonization of government and worship of the free market at a historical moment that requires a rethinking of both those beliefs.

America needs to embrace a plan for growth and innovation, with a streamlined government as a partner with the private sector. Economic revolutions require institutions to change and maybe make history, because if they stick to the status quo they soon become history. Our great country, which sparked and wants to lead this global revolution, needs a forward looking, long-term economic plan.

The imperative for change is simple. As Andy Grove pointed out: “If we want to remain a leading economy, we change on our own, or change will continue to be forced upon us.”

Mr. Stern was president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and is now a senior fellow at Columbia University’s Richman Center.

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Australian Committee Recommends Halt to New CBM Activities

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Australia’s Senate committee on rural affairs and transport has recommended a halt to government approvals for new coal-bed methane (CBM) drilling in parts of Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) pending the outcome of environmental studies.

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Anadarko has Gulf of Mexico discovery

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Dec 1 (Reuters) – Anadarko Petroleum Corp (APC.N) has made a natural gas discovery at its Cheyenne East prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, an executive told investors on Thursday.

The first well Anadarko drilled since the U.S. government’s drilling moratorium was lifted was a discovery with “50 foot of high-quality gas pay,” Chuck Meloy, Anadarko’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, told the Jefferies energy conference.

First production is expected next year, Meloy said.

(Reporting by Anna Driver; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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Cowen’s Sean Pignatell On Why Peripheral Sovereign Debt Is ‘Completely Uninvestable’

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This may be in Germany’s future.

by Simone Foxman

Sean Pignatell of Cowen International just put out a new note calling peripheral European debt “completely uninvestable” and predicting the end of the eurozone unless the European Central Bank makes a commitment to “unconditional and unlimited” intervention in the sovereign bond market.

That’s because it is now impossible to hedge both currency and sovereign credit risk.

A combination of policy that allowed Greece to default (even “selectively”) and bond yields surpassing 3% mean that investors are no longer able to hedge the sovereign credit risk of the PIIGS. Even France, Pignatell writes, is nearing the end of that rope.

But now it’s even impossible to hedge currency risk. Here’s why:

The real answer is that it never could be but, until very recently, it didn’t need to be. And here we have to go back to that pivotal moment when Merkel and Sarkozy openly called Papandreou’s bluff and turned his ill-advised political manoeuvre (the bail-out referendum) into a vote on remaining in the Eurozone. One bad decision compounded by a catastrophic one. Pandora’s Box was opened and there will be no coming back from that one.

So, in one move we went from a position whereby currency risk for individual countries in the Eurozone could be hedged via Euros, to needing to be hedged in currencies that, as yet, do not exist.

With the very fabric of the euro monetary union in flux, there is only one solution that would avoid catastrophe:

Markets will continue to be volatile, and Eurozone sovereign spreads will have good days as well as bad. However, until the ECB fully commits, both unconditionally and without limit, then these bond spreads will continue to rise.

The mechanism by which others get sucked into the periphery is not dissimilar to a black hole; as the periphery’s problems grow, so does its pulling power, drawing more countries into its vortex, in turn increasing its force. Eventually, without a break up of the Eurozone, even Germany would get sucked in.

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Austin TX: Statoil takes Brigham stock

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Statoil gained majority acceptance from shareholders of Brigham Exploration on Thursday for its $36.50 per share offer to acquire the US tight oil player.

Steve Marshall  01 December 2011 09:11 GMT

The Norwegian state oil company struck a $4.4 billion deal recently to acquire Austin, Texas-based Brigham to give it access to prospective unconventional plays in the Bakken and Three Forks formations in the Williston basin, spanning North Dakota and Montana.

Statoil’s bid had already been accepted by Brigham management but was waiting on the company’s stockholders to tender their shares in response to the offer, with a deadline at midnight New York time on 30 November.

The transaction earlier ran into turbulence when Brigham shareholders sued the US independent, contending that Statoil’s buyout price was too low.

However, more than 87.7% of Brigham’s outstanding common stock has now been tendered to Statoil’s wholly-owned subsidiary Fargo Acquisition, Statoil said in a statement.

A subsequent offer period started on Thursday and will expire at midnight NY time on 7 December for the tender of the remaining shares.

Completion of the tender offer will enable the merger transaction to go ahead.

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