Monthly Archives: August 2012
Prime minister bashes Obama’s ineffectual stance, US Ambassador Shapiro says he’s misrepresenting president’s position, newspaper claimsBy Ilan Ben Zion August 31, 2012, 4:35 pm
Tensions between the Israeli and United States governments reached fever pitch over the issue of Iran’s nuclear program in a recent high-level meeting between the prime minister and the American ambassador, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Friday.
Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a closed-door meeting with visiting Congressman and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and American Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. Netanyahu opened the discussion by lambasting the Obama administration for what he considered its ineffectual policy vis à vis Iran.
Netanyahu then expressed his belief that the US should be pressuring Iran to stop its nuclear program rather than pressuring Israel not to attack.
“Instead of effectively pressuring Iran, Obama and his people are pressuring us not to attack the nuclear facilities,” he reportedly said. He concluded by saying that the time for diplomacy had run out, the Yedioth report said.
At one point during the meeting, Shapiro grew enraged by Netanyahu’s remarks, broke diplomatic protocol, and snapped at the PM, saying he was misrepresenting Obama’s position on Iran.
According to a source at the meeting, “sparks and lightning were flying.”
The US embassy did not comment on the Yedioth Ahronoth report.
- Sparks fly at meeting between Netanyahu and US envoy (timesofisrael.com)
- ‘PM tells US ‘time has run out’ on Iran diplomacy’ (warsclerotic.wordpress.com)
(Reuters) – A U.N. watchdog report is expected to show that Iran has expanded its potential capacity to refine uranium in an underground site by at least 30 percent since May, diplomats say, adding to Western worries over Tehran‘s nuclear aims.
The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due this week to issue its latest quarterly report on Iran’s disputed nuclear program, which the West and Israel suspect is aimed at developing bombs. Tehran denies this.
Language used by some Israeli politicians has fanned speculation that Israel might hit Iran’s nuclear sites before the November U.S. presidential vote. Washington has said there is still time for diplomatic pressure to work, but it could be drawn into any war between the two Middle East foes.
The Vienna-based diplomats, giving details on what they believe the IAEA report will show, said Iran had completed installation of two more cascades – interlinked networks of 174 centrifuges each – since the previous IAEA report in May.
They said Iran may also have added centrifuges in another part of the fortified Fordow facility, buried deep inside a mountain to better protect it against any enemy strikes, but they gave no details.
Fordow, where Iran is refining uranium to a level that takes it significantly closer to weapons-grade material, is built to house roughly 3,000 centrifuges – machines that spin at supersonic speed to increase the fissile concentration.
The May report said Iran had installed a total of 1,064 centrifuges, of which 696 were operating, in some six cascades. The diplomats said Iran has since added at least another 328, a jump of about 30 percent from the May figure, and perhaps more.
Iran says it needs this higher-grade uranium for a medical research reactor in Tehran. It is enriching uranium to lower levels at its main such plant in Natanz, where diplomats say it is also installing more centrifuges.
While the newly added centrifuges at Fordow are not yet operating, the expansion reaffirmed Iranian defiance of international demands to suspend enrichment, which can have both civilian and military uses depending on refinement level.
“There is reason to be concerned by increased tempo of enrichment, the larger stockpile of enriched uranium and, most importantly, the additional centrifuges installed in the deeply-buried facility at Fordow,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute of Strategic Studies think-tank.
It may reinforce the belief in Israel that diplomatic and economic pressure is failing to make the Islamic Republic curb its uranium enrichment program.
Iran denies allegations it seeks a nuclear weapons capability and says all its atom work is for peaceful purposes. It has threatened wide-ranging reprisals if attacked.
Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday told heads of state from developing countries at a meeting in Tehran that the country has no interest in nuclear weapons but will keep pursuing peaceful nuclear energy.
(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl; Editing by Myra MacDonald)
- Iran expands nuclear capacity in underground bunker: sources: VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran has installed more uranium… (reuters.com)
- Iran “expands nuclear capacity underground” (thehimalayantimes.com)
- Netanyahu points to ‘more proof’ that Iran is making progress toward nuclear weapons (timesofisrael.com)
This week the SubseaIQ team added 4 new projects and updated 13 projects. You can see all the updates made over any time period via the Project Update History search. The latest offshore field development news and activities are listed below for your convenience.
Aug 28, 2012 – Based on “strong industry interest”, WHL is planning to speed up its 3D seismic acquisition program in Exploration Permit VIC/P67 by 12 months. The undeveloped La Bella gas field is located in the Permit and contains an estimated 150 billion cubic feet of contingent resources. Currently, WHL is looking for partners to participate in the data acquisition program which it expects to start in 2Q 2013. The program involves purchasing and assessing 313 square miles of 3D seismic data and is subject to regulatory environmental approvals.
Project Details: La Bella
Aug 28, 2012 – Noble Mediterranean Energy along with external consulting firms and the Israeli Department of Energy and Water have selected an alternate plan for sealing and abandoning drilling operations in Leviathan 2 offshore Israel. Drilling will be carried out by the ENSCO 5006 (DW semisub) for an estimated period of 60 days at a cost of $46.6 million. However, due to the complexity of the plan, deviations to these estimates are likely. Noble, the field operator, does not expect any environmental damage to result from the abundance of water produced from Leviathan drilling operations.
Noble and its partners Ratio, Delek and Avner are covered by “control of well” insurance that will takeover expenses for re-drilling and sealing and abandonment of operations up to $200 million per case. So far, the Leviathan 2 partnership has received $53 million for 100% coverage.
Project Details: Leviathan
Aug 27, 2012 – BP Egypt announced the discovery of gas in both the Taurt North and Seth South fields in the North El Burg offshore concession, Nile Delta. Satis-1 and Satis-3 Oligocene deep and Salmon-1 shallow Pleistocene were previous discoveries made by BP in this same concession. The stakeholders in the North El Burg Offshore Concession are the operator BP and its partner IEOC, each holding a 50% interest.
BP Egypt announced the discovery of gas in both the Taurt North and Seth South fields in the North El Burg offshore concession, Nile Delta. Satis-1 and Satis-3 Oligocene deep and Salmon-1 shallow Pleistocene were previous discoveries made by BP in this same concession. The stakeholders in the North El Burg Offshore Concession are the operator BP and its partner IEOC, each holding a 50% interest. The Scarabeo 4 (mid-water semisub) drilled both the Taurt North for Seth South wells for IEOC on behalf of the concession operator BP in water depths of 361 feet (110 meters) and 256 feet (78 meters), respectively. Presence of gas was confirmed by wireline logs, pressure data and fluid samples in one Pleistocene interval in Taurt North and in two Plio-Pleistocene intervals in Seth South. Studies are being conducted to determine options for tying both discoveries to a nearby existing infrastructure.
Project Details: North El Burg
Europe – North Sea
Aug 29, 2012 – Irish explorer Providence Resources confirmed that site survey operations are about to commence on its Spanish Point acreage in the Main Porcupine Basin off the west coast of Ireland. The work is being carried out by Chrysaor on behalf of the Spanish Point partners and is part of the preparations for the drilling of an appraisal well in 2013. The operations are expected to be finished in early September. Providence, currently the operator of the FEL 2/04 license although it recently agreed to transfer this role to Chrysaor, holds a 32% interest while Chrysaor holds 60%.
Project Details: Spanish Point
Aug 28, 2012 – Antrim Energy has entered into an oil sales contract with BP Oil International. The contract covers Antrim’s 35.5% share of oil produced from the Causeway field in UK Block 211/23d. Other partners in the field are Valiant Causeway Limited (54%) and Valiant Gamma Limited (10.5%). Production at Causeway is expected to begin shortly and will be facilitated using the North Cormorant Platform. The contract also allows Antrim to include its share of oil production from the nearby Fionn field once production is brought online, which is expected in mid-2013.
Project Details: Causeway
Aug 28, 2012 – TAQA Bratani has announced that exploration drilling operations are underway at Block 211/22a of the UK North Sea. The well is being drilled from the TAQA operated Cormorant North production platform which is located just west of the Contender prospect. The objective of the well is to test Jurassic Brent sandstones at a depth of 16,900 feet. TAQA agreed to cover 100% of the drilling and completion costs of the Contender well and has earned a 60% interest in the block. If it is determined that Contender should be developed, it will be tied into the Cormorant North Platform.
Project Details: Contender
Aug 27, 2012 – A/S Norske Shell has awarded a $100 million contract to Framo Engineering to supply its Draugen field with a complete subsea, multiphase booster pump system which includes topside power and control, power and control umbilical and the complete subsea pump module and manifold. Framo, a Schlumberger company, will install the system in Norwegian waters at a depth of 8,202 feet (250 meters). The system is designed to facilitate increased oil production in the Draugen field and will be installed in the summer of 2014.
Project Details: Draugen
Aug 27, 2012 – Statoil has made a discovery in the North Sea’s Utsira High within the Geitungen prospect. Well 16/2-12 intercepted a 115 foot (35 meter) oil column within a high-quality, Jurassic reservoir. Estimated volumes are between 140 and 270 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalents. Basement rock was also found to hold oil. Well 16/2-12, the eighth well in PL265, was drilled by the Ocean Vanguard (mid-water semisub) to a vertical depth of 6,709 feet (2,045 meters).
Geitungen has been defined as its own prospect in the PL265. Although it was drilled 1.86 miles (3 kilometers) north of the Johan Sverdrup discovery, well data indicates communication between the two discoveries is likely.
Statoil is the operator of PL265 and holds a 40% interest in the license. Its partners include Petoro AS with 30%, Det norske oljeselskap ASA with 20% and Lundin Norway AS holding the balance of the license with 10%.
Project Details: Geitungen
Aug 27, 2012 – Lundin Petroleum’s fifth Johan Sverdrup appraisal well has reached a final depth of 6,758 feet at Production License (PL) 501. Well 16/2-13S was drilled by the Transocean Arctic (mid-water semisub) in 380 feet of water. An 82-foot gross oil column was encountered in Upper and Middle Jurassic sandstone. Coring and logging operations were carried out and confirmed excellent reservoir quality. The well will now be sidetracked in an effort to investigate: the depth to top reservoir, lateral thickness and properties of the Jurassic reservoir and to establish an oil water contact.
Project Details: Johan Sverdrup
Africa – West
Aug 30, 2012 – Rialto Energy announced that Petroci Holdings, C??te d???Ivoire state-owned oil and gas company, is exercising its option to maximize its interest in the Gazelle Field located offshore in Block CI-202. Petroci will back-in for an additional 11% paying interest making its overall interest 26% (comprising a 16% paying interest). This transaction will reduce Rialto’s interest in the field to 74% (84% paying interest). However, its remaining interest in Block CI-202 – outside of the Gazelle Field – remains at 85% (95% paying interest). In the next six months, Petroci Holdings will reimburse Rialto for an 11% share of an estimated $10 million of historical cost that is associated with the Gazelle Field. From the point of the back-in date, Petroci will pay 16% of any future costs. Rialto has a 25-year permit to produce hydrocarbons from Gazelle.
Project Details: Gazelle
- Recap: Worldwide Field Development News Jul 13 – Jul 19, 2012 (mb50.wordpress.com)
- Recap: Worldwide Field Development News Jul 27 – Aug 2, 2012 (mb50.wordpress.com)
- BP considers sale of Gulf of Mexico assets for $7.9B, sources say (bizjournals.com)
Why Revolutionary Sunni Islamism is the World’s Greatest Strategic Threat and None of it is Moderate
No, it sure isn’t the age of Aquarius or of Multicultural, Politically Correct love-ins. It’s the age of revolutionary Islamism, especially Sunni Islamism. And you better learn to understand what this is all about real fast.
(Shia Islamism, important mainly because of Iran and especially because of its nuclear ambitions, is number two on the threat list. But that’s not our topic today.)
Focusing on the Sunni revolutionary Islamist tidal wave, the foundation of knowledge is that there are three types and they are all bad, very bad. A lot of people are going to be misinforming you about this and getting others—never themselves, of course—killed.
Sometimes people ask me why I use the phrase “revolutionary” Sunni Islamism. The reason is to remind everyone that this is a revolutionary movement like those of the past that seek to use a variety of strategies and tactics–of which violence might be only one–to seize, hold, and use state power to transform societies.
Some ask why I use the word “Islamism” and the reason is because this is a specific, conscious set of organized political movements. However theology is related to this issue the problem is political, not theological. Anyone who watched over decades as I have how the radicals had to sell the idea that “jihad” today meant picking up guns, cutting off people’s heads, overthrowing governments, and assembling mobs of thousands screaming for death and destruction, would have no illusion that they had an easy time of it.
This didn’t happen because somebody just pointed to some verses in the Koran and everyone said: Oh, now I get it! We must seize control of the world and kill everyone else. They murdered or intimidated into silence Muslims who disagreed with them. Even today hundreds of millions of Muslims oppose revolutionary Islamism. And if you don’t play it smart to have those people as allies–some out of mutually cynical self-interest and some as true brothers who want to live in freedom just like you do–and help them save their lives and countries you will never achieve anything.
To understand al-Qaida, which of course goes under many names and regional local groups, is simple. It has one strategy: kill! Its only tactic is terrorism. It is like those nineteenth-century revolutionary movements that always failed and for which the Marxists had so much contempt.
These small groups were always persuaded that if the workers would only be roused to a general strike or that enough officials would be assassinated the revolution would come like a nuclear explosion. Now, these movements always failed but sometimes they laid the basis for others to succeed. Remember, the People’s Will helped launch the Russian revolutionary movement; an anarchist assassinated an American president; the Serbian state-sponsored terrorist cell set off World War One in 1914, and of course al-Qaida created September 11.
Al-Qaida and its various versions in Morocco, Gaza (the Palestinian Resistance Committees), Iraq, Somalia, Europe, Yemen, and a dozen other places is dangerous because it can stage terrorist attacks. In a place where no government exists—like Somalia—it might conceivably seize power. But al-Qaida is not the great threat of the twenty-first century. It is a problem for counter-terrorism and relatively lightweight counterinsurgency.
They may be the worst guys but they are not the West’s main global strategic problem. Everybody who isn’t basically a supporter of an al-Qaida group hates al-Qaida except for the Taliban which is really sort of a similar version. Why? Simple. Because al-Qaida wants to overthrow every regime (they do play a little footsy with Iran but even that’s limited). Oh, and they also loathe Shia Muslims which makes for even more enemies and fewer potential allies.
It is “stupid” to have no friends because that means everyone has a motive to get you and nobody has a reason to help you or give you safe haven. Doesn’t sound like brilliant strategy, right? But there’s more.
Al-Qaida, although the name means in Arabic “base,” ironically, has no political base. It sets up no real mass organizations; it doesn’t do social welfare work capable of rallying whole countries behind it. There is no way that hundreds of thousands or millions of people will rally to its cause. Imagine someone in 1917 saying in Moscow, “Forget about those moderate Bolsheviks. It’s the anarchists we have to fear.” In other words, they are in a distant third place.
But even al-Qaida can be used by the Brotherhood. Look at what happened: an al-Qaida group stormed into an Egyptian base, killed lots of soldiers, stole a couple of vehicles, and attacked the border with Israel.
True, the Egyptian regime (that is, the Brotherhood) attacked and killed some of the al-Qaida people. After all, these terrorists had murdered Egyptian soldiers. But what did the regime tell its people? That Israel was behind the attack. Israel had murdered Egyptians. And therefore there is more reason than ever to hate and wage war against Israel. This is how Middle Eastern politics works. And that’s one reason why the Brotherhood—as it incites to hatred and violence even as it kills the even more hateful and violent—will never be moderate.
Then there are the Salafists, a word coined only recently in part as a pretense to pretend that the Muslim Brotherhood is moderate. But this also does describe a distinct set of groups, for example the Palestinian groups Jaish al-Islam and Jaish al-Umma. Egypt is the place where the Salafists developed in a most sophisticated fashion. But it’s important to understand why that happened. Indeed, that point is central to comprehending what’s going on now.
In the 1970s, when President Anwar al-Sadat made the mistake of letting the Brotherhood return to public life in practice, he threw fear into them. Advocate violence in Egypt; come out too openly against the regime; even become too successful and back to the concentration camps you go!
So the Brotherhood leadership, elderly and many of whom had been tortured and seen their colleagues hung, played it cool. They had no illusions about underestimating the strength of the regime. Yes, they said, the day of revolution will come but meanwhile we are in a long-term stage of da’wa, organize and educate. Patience is essential. Don’t make the regime too mad. Yes, hooray for killing Israelis and Americans! But at home keep the murders to a few too boldly open secularists.
There were, of course, young men who were too impatient. “Our leaders are cowards. They have betrayed the true word of Islam! Let us organize for a more imminent revolution, maybe even take up arms right now and shoot down the evil regime’s officials.” And they even gunned down Sadat himself. There were many such groups—one, Islamic Jihad, joined up with al-Qaida—but they had different views, mixes of strategies, and leaders. Some were almost sects with charismatic shaykhs.
Now they have blossomed forth, eager for violence and instant revolution. Their al-Nour party—which only represents part of this complex mix of groups that may or may not cooperate—got about 20 percent of the parliamentary vote.
Is the Brotherhood their friend or enemy? Should they raid police stations and blow up pipelines or not? Should they set up morality patrols and beat up young men walking with women and also women who aren’t dressed as the Salafists wish? There are many different views.
Sometimes the Brotherhood uses the Salafists as a convenient excuse. If Islamic Jihad lobs rockets and mortars at Israel, well—wink, wink, nudge, nudge—that isn’t the fault of Hamas is it? At times, the Salafists can furnish the Brotherhood with the needed storm troops though I would not suggest for a moment that the Brotherhood owns the Salafists. They are definitely two different groupings, but their interests can blend and the “radical” Salafists provide the “moderate” Brotherhood with a convenient excuse when one is needed.
One thing is clear though: the Salafists’ goal is the precise, exact same as that of the Brotherhood. The only question is how fast to go, how radical to talk, and how much violence to use.
And another thing is also clear: neither in Egypt, nor in Tunisia, nor in Gaza (where the Brotherhood is called Hamas) will the Salafists overthrow the Brotherhood people. We can be less sure about Syria where the balance of forces is not yet so clear.
Finally, we come to the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood is the Communist Party of Islamism. And you don’t have to take it from me; that was an idea expressed by the moderate, anti-Islamist brother of the Brotherhood’s founder.
The Brotherhood wants a Sharia state. It would like a caliphate (run by itself of course). It wants Israel wiped off the map and America kicked out of the Middle East. It wants women put into second-class citizenship and gays put into their graves. It wants Christians subordinated or thrown out. It wants all of these things.
And it will pursue these goals with patience and strategic cleverness. One step forward, one step back; tell the Western reporters and politicians what they want to hear. Pretend to be moderate in English while screaming death curses in Arabic.
These are the people who are coming to power. They hate their Shia counterparts generally and will kill them also at times. They will drag down their countries’ economies. Ironically, they will succeed in making Israel relatively stronger as they beat and burn and tear down; as they set back their countries economic advancement; as they kick half the population (the female) down the stairs.
They will lose. Just as the Communists did; just as the Nazis did; just as the Fascists and Japanese militarists did. But how many decades will it take? How many millions of people dead and injured? How much human potential and natural resources wasted?
And will Western policy make easier the ultimate triumph of moderation, moderation that includes millions of anti-Islamist Muslims and also includes lots of Middle Eastern Berbers, Kurds, Turks, Iranians, Druze, Christians and—yes—Israel. Or will the West make things harder, longer, and worse?
Of victory, I have no doubt. Of Western good sense, all too much uncertainty.
- A Layman’s Guide to Revolutionary Sunni Islamism, the World’s Greatest Threat (jewishpress.com)
- Al-Qaida websites vow ‘destruction’ of SEAL member outed by Fox News (dailykos.com)
- Al-Qaida: We’re returning to old Iraq strongholds (kansascity.com)
- Syria: Al-Qaida’s New Playground (pbs.org)
- Al-Qaida’s surge spells further turmoil for Iraq | Hayder al-Khoei (guardian.co.uk)
- Turkey: Turkish Opposition Says Government Ignoring Presence of al-Qaida (ionglobaltrends.com)
- Al-Qaida claims deadly summer attacks in west Iraq (dailystar.com.lb)