Politics & economics - Dec 5
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New era of energy for tribes
David Melmer, Indian Country Today
Renewables conference drives innovative ideas
DENVER - Before oil reserves and production peaked, many countries, states and communities started looking forward and embracing renewables as energy sources - something American Indian tribes have been advocating for years.
Alaska Natives are in the crucible of climate change. They experience it first, they say, and are very concerned. At the first-ever Native Renewables Energy Summit in Denver, Alaska Natives and American Indian representatives from across the country and Canada met to discuss the future of renewables as an energy source for not only saving the planet, but also for economic benefits.
The Alaska Natives spoke of wildlife changes, from the land and in the oceans. The traditional harvesting of whales, seals and other oceanic life has become difficult. Some villages lie below sea level, and with the rising of ocean levels those villages, which have existed for hundreds of years, are being abandoned.
...The importance of energy from renewables has been discussed in Indian country for many years, thus the need for this summit. Another summit will be held within six to eight months.
(25 November 2005)
One of several articles by David Melmer on the recent renewables conference in Denver.
Iraq: so much oil, and so little
Brian Conley , Inter Press Service
BAGHDAD, Nov 30 (IPS) - Before the recent war in Iraq, the sanctions decreased access to many resources, but gas was still plentiful and affordable. Since the invasion in 2003 gas and kerosene have been in short supply.
Iraq has the second largest oil deposits in the world, but Iraqis are forced to sit in excruciatingly long lines, waiting for a meagre amount of petrol.
Under Saddam Hussein's regime the Oil for Food programme provided quotas for Iraq's oil production. Iraq was able to meet, and illegally exceed, those limits.
Saddam's regime was able to maintain tight security at oil drilling sites and pipelines, so supply was uninterrupted. Fuel cost approximately three cents a litre (about 10 cents a gallon).. Kerosene was even cheaper: a reliable electricity grid decreased the need for home generators, so the demand for kerosene was low.
(30 November 2005)
Penn. Gov. promotes energy plan to cut oil imports
Nancy Waitz, Reuters
WASHINGTON, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on Thursday promoted an energy plan to develop alternative fuels, hoping to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and create new jobs with existing state funds.
Pennsylvania's "American Energy Harvest" plan calls for production of 3.5 million barrels a day of alternative fuel produced in the United States by 2015. The country currently consumes about 20 million barrels a day of crude oil.
Under the plan, Rendell said, 2.5 million barrels per day of fuel will come from 50 new coal gasification plants. One million barrels a day would come from biofuels produced largely from Pennsylvania soybeans.
"By changing how and where we spend energy dollars, we can create more jobs, increase domestic investment and make our nation safer," the governor said in a speech at the National Press Club.
Rendell, a Democrat who oversees a $22 billion state budget, urged the Bush administration to do all it can to address the country's energy needs. In a letter to the president, he said the country should reduce its reliance on oil from the Middle East.
(1 December 2005)
Rising energy prices, materials costs impact small business
Dallas Business Journal
Small business owners in Texas have been plagued in the fourth quarter by rising energy costs and prices for materials, according to a report released Thursday.
...Rising energy costs are among the most rapidly increasing costs for small businesses, with the cost of raw materials and insurance following, the report said.
A net 60 percent of business owners across the state say they have experienced purchase price increases across the board, up 9 percentage points from the third quarter survey. A net 63 percent of small business owners in the northeast region say they have experienced price hikes materials. That's up from a net 47 percent who said they had experienced price hikes in the second quarter.
"Texas small-business owners are resilient and find a way to make things work even in a climate of rising energy and materials costs, but we need to remember that small businesses in the southern section of the state are struggling right now as they try to recover from the damage of Hurricane Rita," said Will Newton, Texas state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
(1 December 2005)
Kurdish oil deal shocks Iraq's political leaders
Borzou Daragahi, LA Times
A Norwegian company begins drilling in the north without approval from Baghdad.
BAGHDAD - A controversial oil exploration deal between Iraq's autonomy-minded Kurds and a Norwegian company got underway this week without the approval of the central government here, raising a potentially explosive issue at a time of heightened ethnic and sectarian tensions.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party, which controls a portion of the semiautonomous Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, last year quietly signed a deal with Norway's DNO to drill for oil near the border city of Zakho. Iraqi and company officials describe the agreement as the first involving new exploration in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Drilling began after a ceremony Tuesday, during which Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdish northern region, vowed "there is no way Kurdistan would accept that the central government will control our resources," according to news agency reports.
In Baghdad, political leaders on Wednesday reacted to the deal with astonishment.
"We need to figure out if this is allowed in the constitution," said Adnan Ali Kadhimi, an advisor to Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari. "Nobody has mentioned it. It has not come up among the government ministers' council. It has not been on their agenda."
(1 December 2005)
Iran oil industry ails as minister spat drags on
Christian Oliver, Reuters
TEHRAN - Iran's oil industry is not just in the doldrums, it is sinking.
The world's fourth biggest crude producer has not had an oil minister since August, meaning output loss continues unabated, new production deals have no hope of getting signed and Tehran's voice in OPEC is barely a whisper.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has failed to get three of his close allies appointed to the most prestigious job in Iran's cabinet -- vetoed by parliamentarians who are angered at not being consulted about this linchpin post.
"This limbo in the oil ministry is definitely causing us a lot of trouble and the longer it goes on, the more serious it becomes," said Mohammad Mehdi Jabbarzadeh, a lawmaker on Iran's budget commission.
Ahmadinejad is due to nominate a fourth candidate on Sunday.
Last week, moments after parliament rejected Ahmadinejad's third candidate, Mohsen Tasalloti, lawmaker Kazem Jalali neatly summed up the malaise.
"The current situation weakens our stance in OPEC and will diminish our chances of co-operation with foreign companies because it indicates instability," he said.
In his address to lawmakers before their vote, Tasalloti addressed the fundamental problem Iran must solve: the Islamic Republic is losing more than 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) of its output capacity each year.
(1 December 2005)
Emphasis added by contributor ldcdnd, gracious souce of multiple stories.