Daily Archives: December 14, 2012

After Hegemony: America’s Global Exit Strategy

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14 Dec 2012
By Kenneth Weisbrode

What will America look like in a post-American world? The National Intelligence Council, with its just-released Global 2030 forecast, has become the latest voice to join the chorus of those who see U.S. hegemony giving way to a leading but less-dominant position. It is worth considering what the loss of hegemony is likely to mean for America in terms of its trade, influence, reach and voice in international forums. What impact will these and any other consequences have on the way America engages with the world, as well as on its ability to provide the kinds of leadership that make it a hegemon? And how will all this affect the ways Americans live?

Examinations of hegemonic decline have historically focused on the world beyond the imperial center. The barbarian invaders get most of the glory and attention, with the subjects of historical empires who lived in what is called the “metropole,” that is, the imperial center or “homeland,” as understudied as the nature of these places following a hegemonic collapse. In fact, the fate of some more-recent metropoles has been relatively positive over the long run. Austria, Turkey, Britain and even Russia continue to survive as viable countries. Some of them even thrive and may offer useful lessons. Austria, for example, is a small, prosperous, secure and mainly conservative imperial successor state. So is Japan. The question is how Americans will cope with such a changed condition.

A loss of hegemony generally means a loss of access to markets and resources. In the case of the U.S., that would include the loss of global reserve status for the dollar, with implications for trade, government borrowing and interest rates. It will cost Americans more to get what they want, and, at the same time, they will have less to spend. As a result, they will have to do much more to live within their means.

This will make it more difficult to influence or even inspire other societies to follow America’s lead, but it won’t be impossible. Elements of the American character — creativity, pragmatism, adaptability — may continue to serve the country and other nations well, if under different circumstances. Adjusting to those changed circumstances will require a more collaborative and empathetic approach to the way Americans interact with the world.

Speculating about the American future in these circumstances requires a more precise understanding of the effect that global hegemony has already had on the United States and the global system. From the country’s founding to the peak of the industrial era,  some Americans went out of their way to abjure the idea and the reality of hegemony, deliberately eschewing international engagement in the name of what was later called exceptionalism. In the 20th century others did the reverse, also in the name of exceptionalism. Now, in the 21st century,  Americans seem to be doing both at the same time, while coping with ever more serious challenges at home and abroad.

These challenges will likely be exacerbated by a loss of hegemony. At home, it is likely to be accompanied by a decline in prosperity, with potential implications for domestic civility. The proportion of Americans who now live in poverty, currently at 15 percent, will probably increase. National cohesiveness may deteriorate when Americans realize that the cultural, ideological and economic foundations of national “success” are actually much weaker than they imagined.

Abroad, it will further constrain the effectiveness of America’s military as a tool for advancing American interests. America’s relative decline has already nurtured the increasingly widespread perception that the use of American military power limits American influence over the long term. Whereas hard power underwrote soft power — and sometimes vice versa — during America’s hegemonic rise, during its fall the two appear to be at cross-purposes. This reversal is consistent with much of the history of imperial decline.

How will Americans respond to such a world, in which U.S. influence, already limited, is no longer advanced by its military dominance? And if it is true that, as Henry Kissinger said recently, America will remain powerful but not hegemonic, how do you preserve one while losing the other? Will Americans, and the rest of the world, be content with an Austrian or Japanese future for the U.S.? That is hard to imagine. But the alternatives, perpetual empire and national disintegration, are too awful to contemplate.

If today’s preoccupation with decline is any indication, some Americans are in search of something like a grand global exit strategy. It may be better to imagine instead a post-hegemonic condition that retains some of the fruits of American exceptionalism — namely the exportability of its culture and technology — while multiplying the incentives, both domestic and foreign, against the frequent use of military power and other heavy forms of coercion. Time may be running out to shape these two goals in unison.

It is difficult to say what this will mean in practice. Making the world safe for a hegemonic retreat has always been, to some extent, a fantasy: a pre-emptive concession that is too clever by half. Even America cannot dictate the world’s reaction, least of all that of its adversaries and challengers. There also is no fixed or predictable pattern of retreat. Sometimes imperial states, even hegemons, simply just disappear, leaving only the successor states behind.

Kenneth Weisbrode is a diplomatic historian at the European University Institute and author of “The Atlantic Century” (Da Capo).

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Exposed: Harry Reid should not be allowed to manipulate Senate rules to further stifle Senators’ freedoms

By James Christophersen

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accidentally drew back the curtain on fabricated tales of Republican obstructionism and revealed the dark secret of Democrats who have been promoting “gridlock” in the U.S. Senate for nearly a full four years.  It happened so quickly anyone who blinked missed it.

Upon filing for Senate consideration of the Transaction Account Guarantee (TAG) Act, Sen. Reid immediately “filled the tree” by offering the maximum amount of amendments permitted under the rules and filed cloture on the bill before any other Senator could speak, offer debate or filibuster the bill.

Senator Reid essentially asked the Senate to consider a bill then immediately asked to end consideration on that bill, all within the space of a mere two minutes.  Some have speculated this parliamentary slight-of-hand may have made history with its sheer speed.

While proclaiming the need for filibuster “reform” and complaining of its over use by the minority, Senator Reid continues to apply these tactics, limiting debate and preventing Senators of both parties from submitting their own ideas through amendments.  His actions essentially produce a “majority filibuster” which prevents the voices of citizens throughout every one of the 50 states from being heard through their Senators.

Yet, even while setting a new speed record, Sen. Reid’s tyrannical control of the calendar is nothing new.  Reid has spent the last four years turning such bold obstruction into regular operating procedure for the Senate – with Tuesday marking the sixth-ninth time Sen. Reid has launched a majority filibuster.

These actions are atrocious in their violation of the purpose of the Senate in our federal government and their steamrolling of two key rights of all Senators.

On the official Senate website, the Senate Historian notes: “All senators have two traditional freedoms that, so far as is known, no other legislators worldwide possess. These two freedoms are the right to unlimited debate and an unlimited opportunity to offer amendments, relevant or not, to legislation under consideration.”

Since Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has successfully manipulated standing Senate rules to severely stifle (and in many cases, entirely eliminate) the second of these unparalleled freedoms by routinely “filling the amendment tree,” only one of those freedoms remains.  With Reid’s iron-fisted control of the process — frequently preventing even Senators from his own political party from offering their own amendments — it is no wonder Senators of all stripes question the wisdom of removing their remaining freedom. In fact, it is a wonder Majority Leader Reid does not face a mutiny from within his own party.

But the story gets much, much worse.  Because Reid cannot capture enough votes (despite a Democratic majority of 55 Senators) to institute his radical rules change under the existing rules (which requires 60 votes), he has proposed a method that ignores the rules entirely.  Instead, Reid’s grand plan is to pretend the “Standing Rules of The Senate” simply do not exist during the first day of a new Congress – and only during the first day.

This runs into a major problem through a simple reading of Rule V, Section 2, which itself clearly states that (emphasis added): “The rules of the Senate shall continue from one Congress to the next Congress unless they are changed as provided in these rules.”  Furthermore, this rule was initially adopted, at the will of the Senate itself, in recognition of the Senate’s unique place in our legislature.

For Majority Leader Harry Reid to completely ignore the rules in order to re-write the rules (something he promised he would never do) in the name of political expediency would violate matchless freedoms of every U.S. Senator while also violating the Constitution itself.

Ultimately, this boils down to three observations.  One, the pervasiveness of majority filibuster and obstructionism of their own agenda has helped slow action in the Senate.  Two, this atrocious behavior by the Senate Majority Leader snatches away exceptionally unique freedoms and rights of Senators from both sides of the aisle, and all deprived Senators should demand reform.  And three, Majority Leader Reid’s proposal, if carried through, would irreparably depart from the rules and Constitutional provisions guiding our “most deliberative” legislative body.

This is the essence of the current debate between totalitarian forms of government and conservatives: whether existing rules can be ignored for political or popular expediency, or whether the rules must be followed in order to protect the unique freedoms and force compromise which truly moves our nation forward.

Regardless of what reforms are needed in the Senate, the rules are the rules – and those rules must be followed in order to bring about credible, positive and lasting improvement.

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Worldwide Field Development News Dec 8 – Dec 14, 2012

This week the SubseaIQ team added 1 new projects and updated 15 projects. You can see all the updates made over any time period via the Project Update History search. The latest offshore field develoment news and activities are listed below for your convenience.

Africa – West

Ophir Subsidiary to Participate in Starfish

Dec 13, 2012 – A subsidiary of Ophir Energy has assumed operatorship of the Offshore Accra Contract Area through a farmout agreement with Tap Oil. Under the agreement, the Accra Contractor Group consists of: Ophir Energy (20%), Afex Oil (20%), Vitol Upstream (30%), Rialto Energy (12.5%), Tap Oil (17.5%). The farmout and transfer of operatorship have been approved by Ghana National Petroleum Corporation and the Ministry of Energy. Contract terms dictate that an exploration well must be drilled before September 23, 2013 and the Group has identified the Starfish prospect as the target of that well. Starfish is a deepwater prospect that is structurally similar to the Jubilee field. It is estimated to hold P50 reserves on the order of 431 Mmbbls.

Hess Hits Pay in Pecan-1

Dec 12, 2012 – A notice of discovery was filed with the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation on behalf of Hess Corporation for the Pecan-1 exploration well. Drilled in the Deepwater Tano / Cape Three Points license, a total depth of 15,420 feet was reached and 245 net feet of oil pay was discovered in two separate intervals. An extensive logging program was carried out and the well was sidetracked to obtain additional reservoir cores. Drilling was carried out by the Stena DrillMAX (UDW drillship) in 8,245 feet of water. The rig is now in the process of suspending the well before sailing to the Cob prospect 15 miles away.

Jubilee Phase 1A Production Underway

Dec 12, 2012 – Production has commenced from Jubilee Phase 1A offshore Ghana. The first production well is onstream and has helped bring total field production to over 90,000 bopd. Phase 1A consists of five production wells, three injection wells and general expansion of the existing subsea infrastructure and should take 18 months to complete. A second Phase 1A well is expected to be brought into production before the end of the year but the Sedco Energy (DW semisub) must first perform remedial work on some of the Phase 1 wells.

Project Details: Jubilee

Asia – SouthEast

Pathum-1 Exploration Spuds Off Thailand

Dec 13, 2012 – Tap Oil announced the spud of its Pathum-1 exploration well in the G3/48 concession offshore Thailand. The well is being drilled by the Ensco 85 (300′ ILC) to a proposed total depth of 8,667 feet. Pathum is thought to hold perspective resources in the range of 5 million barrels. Barring any issues, the well should reach TD in a maximum of 11 days.

MEO Abandons Gurame Sidetrack

Dec 13, 2012 – Difficulties have plagued MEO Australia at its 100% owned Gurame prospect in the Seruway PSC off Northern Sumatra. After loosing over 100 feet of BHA in the Gurame SE-1X appraisal, the decision was made to plug back and sidetrack the well. More progress was made in Gurame SE-1XST but significant mud losses caused MEO to plug back into the liner at 9,599 feet. A 187 foot section of the Baong sands was perforated at 8,858 feet MDRT. No flow was observed and attempts to stimulate the well with nitrogen were made with no effect. The Ensco 85 (200′ ILC) will plug and abandon the well and will be released soon after.

Project Details: Gurame

Keppel Kicks-Off Malampaya Phase 3

Dec 12, 2012 – A steel cutting ceremony held at Keppel Subic Shipyard marked the start of construction of a Depletion Compression Platform (DCP) to be deployed at the Malampaya gas field near Palawan Island in the Philippines. Installation of the DCP represents Phase 3 of the Malampaya Gas-to-Power project which is led by the Philippine Department of Energy. Once complete the DCP will be stationed next to the existing Malampaya production platform. Supporting the project are Shell, as operator, and joint venture partners Chevron and Philippine National Oil Company. Keppel is responsible for building the base and topsides as well as a bridge connecting the new facility to the production platform. The DCP is expected to be installed by 2015.

Project Details: Malampaya

Coastal Tests Fracking at Bua Ban South

Dec 12, 2012 – Coastal Energy recently tested a three stage pilot hydraulic fracturing program in the Bua Ban South A-1 well. The fracked zones flowed back oil at a combined rate of 800 Bopd under natural conditions during well cleanup. Plans call for the well to be re-completed with an electric submersible pump for long term production testing. Next, the company will focus its efforts on the Bua Ban South A-3 sidetrack well in an effort to improve recovery rates. If successful, Coastal will continue the fracking program in order to unlock the full potential of the Songkhla Basin which is characterized by sands with lower porosity and permeability.

Project Details: Songkhla

Europe – North Sea

Breagh Production Test Update

Dec 14, 2012 – Production testing has been completed on three initial development wells at the Breagh field in the UK North Sea. Results from the tests are in-line with reservoir stimulation models run by development partners RWE Dea and Sterling Resources. Once normalized to reflect expected the sales level of wellhead pressure, the current three well capacity is estimated at 88 Mmscfd. The newly drilled A3 well is the most prolific producer with a flow rate of 58 Mmscfd under initial production conditions. Performance of the development wells is being monitored so that future production can be optimized. Five wells are expected to be available by early May 2013 with an estimated total production capacity of 150 Mmscfd.

Project Details: Breagh

Seismic Cables to Increase Snorre and Grane Recovery

Dec 13, 2012 – Norwegian oil major Statoil announced Thursday that it plans to use seismic cables on the seabed to help produce 30 million additional barrels of oil from its Snorre and Grane fields. The company has signed contracts worth $160 million with U.S. firm Geospace Technologies to deliver the cables, which will be part of a permanent reservoir monitoring (PRM) program. Statoil believes the technology will allow it to better understand the reservoirs because they are stable and able to provide a more accurate picture of the subsurface than cables that are towed on the surface and which are subjected to wind, waves and currents. Statoil plans to lay more than 400 miles of seismic cables. Statoil currently recovers around 50 percent of the oil from its operated fields on the Norwegian continental shelf.

Project Details: Greater Snorre Area

Wintershall Spuds Rodriguez

Dec 11, 2012 – The Transocean Arctic (mid-water semisub) is drilling ahead at Wintershall’s Rodriguez prospect in the Halten Terrace area off Norway’s coast. Well 6407/1-6S is seeking oil in the Middle Jurassic Garn, Ile and Tilje formations. It should take roughly 75 days to reach the planned total depth of 13,254 feet. Rodriguez is located in PL475 near the Tyrihans field and Faroe’s 2010 Maria discovery. Wintershall maintains a 50 percent operating interest in the license with Faroe Petroleum and Centrica sharing 30 and 20 percent interest respectively.

Africa – Other

Ophir Updates Jodari and Mzia Ops

Dec 13, 2012 – A recent three well appraisal drilling program undertaken by BG Group and Ophir Energy on the Jodari field off Tanzania successfully achieved its objectives. The wells proved high quality reservoir across the field and reconfirmed the 3.4 Tcf mean recoverable resource estimate. In addition, the joint venture was able verify that high-angle drilling within Jodari may be a viable option to reduce development costs. Drilling was carried out by the Deepsea Metro I (UDW drillship) which is currently drilling the Mzia-2 appraisal well. Upon completion of the Mzia appraisal, the rig will return to Jodari to perform a drill stem test and then move on to continue exploratory drilling in Block 1.

Project Details: Jodari

Black Sea

Gas Discovery Off Romania

Dec 14, 2012 – Sterling Resources, operator of Block 13 Pelican in the Romanian Black Sea, announced a gas discovery at the Eugenia-1 exploration well. The well was drilled by the GSP Jupiter (300′ ILC) to a measured depth of 7,375 feet. Initial results indicate 72 feet of net gas pay in Late Cretaceous sandstones. Data is still being studied but open-hole logging confirmed the presence of moveable gas. The company is also interested in a 65 foot zone of Eocene limestone which presented gas shows. Attempts to collect pressure data were unsuccessful which is not uncommon in carbonates where matrix porosity is limited. The same Eocene interval turned out to be producible in an adjacent well.

Asia – South

Eni Expands Deepwater Footprint in Pakistan

Dec 13, 2012 – Through an agreement with Pakistani authorities and OGDCL, the state oil company, Eni acquired 25% and operatorship of Indus Block G in the offshore area of the Indus Basin. The block is situated in an under explored deepwater area and covers roughly 2,895 square miles. To start, Eni will initiate a multi-disciplinary study in order to establish a suitable exploration approach. Eni has maintained a presence in Pakistan since 2000 and this acquisition further strengthens its position in the country.

Australia

Kan Tan IV Secured for Offshore Taranaki Exploration

Dec 12, 2012 – OMV, operator of PEP 51906, secured the Kan Tan IV (mid-water semisub) for the third quarter of 2013 to drill the Matuku prospect offshore New Zealand. Matuku is estimated to hold 65 million barrels of mean recoverable resources. The company has undertaken several studies to de-risk the prospect. Results of the studies indicate the presence of suitable reservoir rock, and adequate seal and a mature source kitchen. Partners in the license include OMV with a 65%interest, Octanex with a 22.5% interest and NZOG who recently farmed-in for a 12.5% stake.

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