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Politics & economics - Nov 13

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Future of energy in Rockies

Chase Whitney and Bryan Hurlbutt, Denver Post
Even before oil prices soared in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, exposing the price volatility of our unstable oil supply, each week seemed to bring news of plans to increase energy production in the Rockies. Home to vast reserves of both traditional fossil fuels and potential renewable energy sources, the Rockies are emerging as a strategic piece in the evolving national energy picture.

The energy resources of the Rockies will continue to be developed, but how they'll be used is still largely an open question. There are different views.

The "Rockies Energy Futures" section of the 2005 Colorado College State of the Rockies Report Card evaluated the energy policies suggested by the Bush administration, the Western Governors' Association and the Western Resource Advocates, a Boulder-based environmental research group.

All three groups envision an increase in energy development in the Rockies, but each presents a unique approach to realizing our energy future. The Bush administration focuses on fossil fuel and nuclear energy development while nodding to renewable energy and conservation; the Western Governors' Association presents a pragmatic approach to fossil fuel development and renewable energy growth; and the Western Resource Advocates envision a plan of energy conservation, renewable deployment and more efficient fossil fuel use. Each plan expects the Rockies to produce a large amount of additional energy - the differences emerge in the means of production and the legacy that is left behind.

Chase Whitney is a researcher for the 2004-05 State of the Rockies Project. Bryan Hurlbutt is the program coordinator.
(7 November 2005)


Higher fuel costs coming

Tom Incantalupo, Newsday (NY)
9 Nov 2005 by . Archived on 9 Nov 2005.
The decline is apt to be just temporary, experts say, with cold weather just around the corner sure to raise prices for heating fuels and then probably drag gasoline upward again with it.

"I think at this point, we have to believe it's a lull," said John Kilduff, senior vice president for Energy Risk Management at the brokerage Fimat USA Inc.'s Manhattan office. "We still face the reality of strong demand globally and a great economic backdrop."

For now, drivers are getting a break, as reduced demand combines with higher imports of gasoline to take some of the pressure off gasoline supplies, while unseasonably warm weather in the nation's upper mid-section and Northeast is keeping the home furnaces idle.
(9 November 2005)


Sudan at the head of a global sweep to mop up world's oil resources

Declan Walsh, Guardian
A tangle of pipes and metallic towers rises over the shimmering, rock-strewn desert north of the Sudanese capital Khartoum. The gleaming oil refinery is the jewel of Sudan's oil boom, the mid-point of a 900-mile pipeline from the southern oilfields to the Red Sea that is projected to pump 500,000 barrels a day by the end of this year.

But if the oil is African, the money and management are Chinese. Inside the refinery gates, Chinese engineers man the distillation towers, Chinese cooks serve rice and noodles in the canteen, and workers pedal between the giant oil drums on bicycles imported from Beijing.

"We like Sudan very much," said Zhao Yujun, 35, a manager with the state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which built the sprawling plant five years ago. "China needs energy for economic growth. There is oil in Africa. That is why we have come here."

China is prowling the globe in search of energy sources. Oil executives and diplomats have signed a flurry of deals, from Canada to Kazakhstan. The scramble has triggered unease in Washington, where American conservatives worry about China's growing economic muscle, but has sparked an unprecedented engagement with Africa.

Chinese business is blazing a trail across the continent. Trade with China has almost tripled in five years.
(9 November 2005)


Azerbaijan: oil billions and poverty

Monday Morning (Lebanon)
“We’re not living well. Wages are very low,” complains Ruslan Khalilov, 42, a foreman earning 152 dollars (125 euros) a month to repair old wells, dig up pipes and replace faulty pumping equipment.

Azerbaijan may be experiencing an oil boom but analysts warn it could be short-lived and millions of ordinary Azerbaijanis have so far seen little of the windfall from oil revenues.

The country’s leading foreign investor, British oil giant BP, signed its first contract there in 1994 and has been pumping oil for the last eight years as well as developing a series of offshore fields.

A BP-led consortium has spent almost 11 billion dollars on projects such as the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) pipeline that links Azerbaijan to Turkey’s southern coast for shipping to Western markets.

This ex-Soviet Caucasus state pumped a total of 15.5 million tons of crude oil last year and plans to increase the amount to 20 million this year and to 40 million tons by 2007.
“It will be producing over 50 million tons for quite an number of years from 2008,” predicted David Woodward, head of BP in Azerbaijan, despite analyst warnings that the boom could end in 10 to 15 years unless new reserves are found.

The boom has fueled an impressive economic growth in Azerbaijan, with the gross domestic product (GDP) rising by 16 percent last year and expected to soar by 21 percent this year.
But 38 percent of Azerbaijanis still live below the poverty line and the minimum public sector wage is just 30 dollars a month -- although the amount has tripled since 2003 -- according to official government figures.
(9 November 2005)


Saudi oil expansion plan ‘may face delay’

Trade Arabia
Riyadh - Saudi Arabia may fall behind its schedule to raise output capacity by 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) by 2009 due to shortages of oil rigs and equipment, said a former top official at Saudi Aramco.

Sadad Husseini, a key architect of Saudi energy production policy for more than a decade, said the kingdom has the oil in the ground, political will and cash to ramp up output.

But a shortage of equipment could leave state oil firm Aramco two-to-three years behind its plan to lift capacity to 12.5 million from 11 million bpd now.
(10 November 2005)


Trans-Afghan gas pipeline project likely in 2006

The News International (Pakistan)
ASHGABAT: The construction of a proposed gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan across Afghanistan will start next year, an Afghan minister said on Thursday.
"January, in my opinion, will see the last meeting to find a consortium for the TAP (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan) pipeline," Afghan Minister for Mines and Industries Mir Muhammad Sediq told Reuters in an interview. Work would soon start on the $3.6 billion project, Sediq said but gave no details about a completion date, financing plans or likely consortium members.
The project envisages a 1,600km pipeline, which would provide Turkmenistan with a new outlet for its gas. Afghanistan would get transit revenue while Pakistan would get the much-needed energy
(11 November 2005)
Related interview with the minister of mines and industries of Afghanistan: Trans-Afghan Pipeline Slated to Pick Speed in 2006.

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