Daily Archives: February 1, 2012

Pacific Scirocco Drillship Begins Work in Nigeria


Pacific Drilling, a growing offshore drilling company that provides global drilling services to the oil and natural gas industry through the use of ultra-deepwater drillships announced today that the Pacific Scirocco drillship commenced operations offshore Nigeria on December 31, 2011.

The drillship is contracted for an initial one-year term to a subsidiary of a French oil and gas giant, Total S.A. The contract further provides for options, to be exercised at the client’s discretion, which could result in up to four additional years of contract term.

The Pacific Scirocco is an upgraded Dual Activity Samsung 12000 design dynamically-positioned drillship capable of operating in water depths of up to 12,000 feet and drilling wells 40,000 feet deep.



President Obama’s Domestic Energy State Of Delusion


Larry Bell, Contributor

President Barack Obama’s administration has claimed a number of remarkable accomplishments that will reduce dependence upon foreign oil and secure future energy security. Statements leading up to and during his January 24 State of the Union address take credit for highest levels of natural gas production in more than 30 years, record oil production in eight years, reduction of oil imports by an average of 1.1 million barrels per day, and making the U.S. a net energy exporter.

To hear him tell it, these achievements, to the extent they really exist, are appropriately attributable to his foresight and actions, rather to than to an entrepreneurial energy industry. Speaking at a January 17 meeting of his Jobs and Competitive Council he complained about lack of recognition of this fact, stating, “Folks are acting as if that [natural gas boon] just sprung out of thin air and is one more example of the dynamism of the marketplace.” Yup, under his leadership, government did it.

Furthermore, his masterworks have but only begun. Next he will open up 75% of our potential offshore oil and gas resources for development, and approve enough renewable energy projects on federal land to power three million homes.

Of course there is obviously a small catch. He will need a little more time, another four years beyond this one, to really solve everything. But before we cast those 2012 ballots to allow that to happen, let’s review the veracity of his many claims thanks to lots of fact checking help from the Institute for Energy Research (EIR) and Politifact.com.

First, he’s right about natural gas production being at record high levels and oil up very slightly, but he apparently forgot to mention that is occurring on private and state-owned lands, not on federal lands that presidents have control over.In fact the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has reported that both natural gas and oil production have declined on federal lands since the beginning of the Obama administration.

As for domestic oil, it is also true that production has reached slightly highest levels since 2003, but yields on federal lands have fallen 43% over the past 9 years, and have done so most rapidly under Obama’s watch. While total levels have been quite stable, EIA’s estimated production for 2012 is only about 13% higher than for the lowest year over an eight-year period (about 2,055,646,000 barrels, compared with 2,073,453,000 barrels in 2003). In January 2009 when President Obama was inaugurated, the U.S. produced 5,154,000 barrels of oil per day. By November 2011 (the last month for data), the U.S. was producing 5,874,000 barrels per day.This 700,000 increase occurred once again on private and state lands. Not only is the Obama administration making it more difficult to produce energy on federal lands, his minions are also leasing out less lands than in the past. Due to actions that limit offshore areas where oil can be produced and cancel other leases, production on federal lands will most likely continue to fall.  Yet fortunately, the most recent EIA “Short-Term Energy Outlook” published in January forecasts increases in total crude oil production in 2012 and 2013 thanks to increases in onshore production in the lower 48, which overshadows decreases in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Has the president, as he bragged, caused the amount of oil we are importing to be reduced? Very likely, the answer is a clear “yes”. More than half of this reduction is because of the ongoing recession along with much higher fuel prices which have caused consumers to drive less. But has the U.S., as Obama stated, become a net energy exporter? He didn’t provide any information source to back up that claim, and it contradicts EIA data that shows this to be far off the reality mark. In 2010 the U.S. imported 21 quadrillion of the 98 quadrillion Btus of energy used.

And what about that bold new proposal to make more than 75% of undiscovered oil and gas resources off our shores available for development, while putting in place common-sense safety requirements to prevent a disaster like the BP oil spill from happening again? For historical perspective, let’s remember that when Obama was elected, nearly 100% of the offshore areas were available for exploration and development. Since then his administration has imposed severe limitations. One case in point is that despite bi-partisan support from the Virginia delegation, including Democratic senators, exploration off Virginia’s coast has been prohibited.

Do you happen to remember when the Obama administration imposed a nearly year-long deep water drilling moratorium following the BP oil spill that blocked U.S. access to an estimated 7.5 billion barrels of oil and nearly 60 trillion cubic feet of natural gas? And when that very same administration also invested more than $2 billion in trade credits with Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras to finance offshore exploration in their Tupi oil field in the Santos Basin near Rio de Janeiro? (Investor’s Business Daily has recently reported that an Ex-Im bank source informed them that the amount could go way higher, “in the neighborhood of $20 billion”.) Do you happen to recall that March 19, 2010 White House press conference when the president pledged that America would become one of their best customers?

Well, it seems they got a better offer. Ten months later Brazil snubbed Obama’s generosity with our money and opted to sell its oil to another country. China bought up a 40% stake in Repsol-YPF’s Brazil unit which has dibs on drilling in the offshore Santos Basin where the biggest deepwater discoveries are occurring, along with a 30% stake in Galp Energia, a Portuguese company that has also acquired rights there. Meanwhile, some of those embargoed out-of-business deep water rigs we had planned to use sailed off into the sunset to Brazil.

Having been jilted by Brazil, one might imagine that the president might be more appreciative of our neighbor to the north. Yet shortly before his State of the Union address he single-handedly rejected issuing a Keystone XL pipeline permit that does great injury to Canada as well as to American energy consumers, businesses and job opportunities. A scant one month earlier his administration imposed onerous regulations on the American economy through EPA standards that will have little or no measurable effect on health from targeted emissions.

While extolling virtues of natural gas and cheering his administration’s accomplishments, the president continues to call for higher taxes and restrictions on those industries we depend upon to produce it.  Included are proposed windfall profit taxes, use-it or lose-it land fees, and agency foot-dragging on leases awaiting federal permits.  At the same time, he stumps unrelentingly for taxpayer handouts and other special benefits for Solyndra-style green energy companies that can’t compete in free markets, and most likely, never will.

This is a president who promoted alarmism about a scarcity of American oil resources, mistakenly declaring in June 2010 that “We consume more than 20% of the world’s oil, but have less than 2% of the world’s oil reserves.” In reality, the Institute for Energy Research founded by fellow Forbes contributor Robert Bradley has reported, based upon government data, that North America land areas contain twice the combined proven reserves of all OPEC nations, and enough natural gas to provide for America’s electricity needs at current usage rates for the more than 500 years.

A continuation of current White House agendas will only ensure that the administration’s energy scarcity narrative is realized. Moreover, as IER President Thomas Pile observes , “If the state of the union is actually stronger, it comes despite the policies of President Obama and not because of them.”


Interactive map of the drug war in Mexico

Posted by Diego Valle-Jones on Jan 25, 2012


Click on the image to visit the interactive drug war map. Or try the Spanish version

If you’re interested at all in what’s happening in Mexico you can’t miss the interactive map of the drug war I just made. You can link directly to cities or whole regions within Mexico and post them to Twitter and Facebook by clicking on the “Share This Map” link at the bottom of the box. You can even compare 2007 México with 2010 México and switch between drug war-related homicides and total homicides (the ones from the INEGI). If you hover over the chart you’ll get the monthly values and information on important events. To top it off you can export the monthly data to csv. You’ll need a latest generation browser to use it.

To unclutter the map and following the lead of the paper Trafficking Networks and the Mexican Drug War by Melissa Dell, I decided to only show the optimal highways (according to my own data and Google Directions) to reach the US border ports from the municipalities with the highest drug plant eradication between 1994 and 2003 and the highest 2d density estimate of drug labs based on newspaper reports of seizures. The map is a work in progress and is still missing the cocaine routes, but hopefully I’ll be able to add them shortly.
My assumptions in making the map:

  1. Homicides that were registered with no date of occurrence were assumed to have occurred on the month they were registered.
  2. The total homicide database has a cutoff date of the last day of the year for recording deaths, so for example, in 2009 there occurred 671 homicides that weren’t registered until 2010 (most occurred in December). I adjusted the 2010 database assuming the homicides were under counted by the same percentage as they were in 2009. So instead of the 25,005  homicides in the database I’m showing the adjusted number of 25,679. I used a similar adjustement at the municipality level.
  3. Even though the municipalities of Culiacán and Navolato are not officially a metro area I considered them one since they are only half and hour from each other and together have a million inhabitants.

The really cool thing about the map is that it makes it very easy to select regions of Mexico and link directly to them, which makes refuting mistaken claims by government officials, like the one Poiré made last year, a cinch.

In Jalisco, Colima, and Nayarit, violence was increasing systematically previous to the killing of Nacho Coronel at a rate of more than 1 death per week, or 6 extra deaths every five weeks. After his death violence remained at a high level, but it increased at a much slower rate, barely 1 death every five weeks.
Replicating the analysis with data from the state of Jalisco, the region where Nacho Coronel was killed, and even with data from Zapopan, we obtain the same results–Alejandro Poiré, Nexos

But did violence really stop increasing near Guadalajara? This should serve as a warning not to extrapolate based on a few months of observations and underlines the importance of making the data available to researchers on a prompt basis to avoid embarrassing mistakes.
There are about a million things you can analyze with the maps:

  • The weird falls in homicides in Chiapas around the end 2007 and 2009.
  • Why did Sinaloa end up with more drug war-related homicides than total homicides from mid 2007 until the end of 2008? (the answer will be my next post)
  • The sudden increase in homicides in Nuevo León and Tamaulipas around the end of February when the Zetas and CDG (Gulf Cartel) went to war with each other.
  • Perhaps you heard that México is much safer than a certain other much smaller country or sub-country region and wish to only compare certain parts of México with a similar population/shape to the much smaller country/sub-country region.
  • The super secret link to the 2011 drug war-related homicides. (The size of the circles and the color scale used to fill them was annualized so it’s on the same scale as the years for which full data is available, but the numbers shown on the map correspond to the Jan-Sep data).
  • Are the Zetas really the most brutal cartel as the Mexican Government and Stratfor assert? You can compare northeastern Mexico to Chihuahua and find out just how mistaken they are, both in terms of rates and total homicides.
  • How the Tubutama massacre is registered as having occurred in Tubutuma according to the homicide database, but in Saric according the drug war-related homicide database

A note about drug war-related homicides

I’d be very surprised if the Mexican government had the capacity to correctly count the drug war homicides. There were big differences between the homicide databases starting in 2009 in Tijuana and in 2010 in Juárez. I tend to think of the drug war-related homicides as an independent count of a subset of firearm/extremely violent homicides based on police records rather than death certificates (independent of whether organized crime was involved or not). Looking at the whole country there has been a steady increase in the difference between INEGI homicides and the drug-war related ones.


This is not to say that the data for INEGI is without errors, besides not having registered the mass grave in Taxco and the immigrant massacre in San Fernando, there has been a steady increase in deaths of unknown intent by external injury caused by firearm. In Mexico most accidents are by transportation, most suicides by suffocation and most homicides by firearm, so a quick and dirty way to see if a more in-depth analysis is needed is to look at firearm deaths:


This is not to say all the deaths were homicides, since it would be perfectly reasonable to expect that as the availability of firearms increases, the number of accidents involving firearms increases, but the evidence does suggest that there has been an important under counting of homicides and even more so of drug war-related homicides.
Deaths of unknown injury intent in all of Mexico that were by firearm:

More – Source

P.S. You can download the source at GitHub

Shares of Penny Stock Treaty Energy Corp. (TECO) sink in Today’s Trading Session

Shares of Penny Stock Treaty Energy Corp. (TECO) sink in Today’s Trading Session | Tech24.

Time to Attack Iran

Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option


By Matthew Kroenig

In early October, U.S. officials accused Iranian operatives of planning to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States on American soil. Iran denied the charges, but the episode has already managed to increase tensions between Washington and Tehran. Although the Obama administration has not publicly threatened to retaliate with military force, the allegations have underscored the real and growing risk that the two sides could go to war sometime soon — particularly over Iran’s advancing nuclear program.

For several years now, starting long before this episode, American pundits and policymakers have been debating whether the United States should attack Iran and attempt to eliminate its nuclear facilities. Proponents of a strike have argued that the only thing worse than military action against Iran would be an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. Critics, meanwhile, have warned that such a raid would likely fail and, even if it succeeded, would spark a full-fledged war and a global economic crisis. They have urged the United States to rely on nonmilitary options, such as diplomacy, sanctions, and covert operations, to prevent Iran from acquiring a bomb. Fearing the costs of a bombing campaign, most critics maintain that if these other tactics fail to impede Tehran’s progress, the United States should simply learn to live with a nuclear Iran.

But skeptics of military action fail to appreciate the true danger that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to U.S. interests in the Middle East and beyond. And their grim forecasts assume that the cure would be worse than the disease — that is, that the consequences of a U.S. assault on Iran would be as bad as or worse than those of Iran achieving its nuclear ambitions. But that is a faulty assumption. The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.



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