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Politics & energy - Feb 19

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Excellent Chevron interview on BBC

Nick Aster, Triple Pundit
The BBC's Mike Williams interviews Chevron vice-chairman Peter Robertson on peak oil and the future of the oil industry. The vice chairman gets put on the spot in a major way by the British interviewer who mercilessly drills him on climate change, greenwashing, the inevitability of the end of oil as well as what the public "really wants".

Robertson defends the company by standing by claims that oil is nowhere near running out and that Chevron will basically continue doing exactly what it has been doing all along - extracting oil and selling it to consumers who demand it, and nothing else. If, in fact, consumers were demanding alternative energy, Robertson says that Chevron would happily provide it.

Williams pushes his buttons pretty hard saying that the popularity of Chevron's own "Will You Join Us" website proves that consumers are demanding alternatives and that the relatively small amount of investment that Chevron is making in renewables proves they are just pulling a PR stunt.
(17 February 2006)
More at the original article. The BBC interview is audio only, no transcript.


Exxon head Lee Raymond: exit interview

Maria Bartiromo, Business Week
When Exxon Mobil (XOM) on Jan. 30 reported the most mind-blowing gains ever racked up by a public company in a single year, howls of outrage were heard in Washington, and the pundits pounced. But it was just Lee Raymond's way of saying so long, and thanks for the memories. Just a month earlier, Raymond, the architect of ExxonMobil's spectacular showing, retired from his post as CEO. I caught up with Lee twice over the course of the past month or so, and this interview is distilled from those talks.

Q: ExxonMobil reported a record fourth quarter: $10.7 billion in earnings, $36 billion for the year. Don't numbers like that raise the pressure for a windfall-profits tax?

A: I would hope not. The realization is dawning on people that a huge investment is needed for the oil demands of this country and the world, and you need a huge income stream to [make those investments]. What a lot of Americans don't understand is 75% of our profits don't even come from this country.

...Q: Can we wean ourselves off Mideast oil, as President Bush suggested we should in the State of the Union Address?

A: Energy is the lifeblood of the world economy, and oil and gas are the dominant energy forms. That is not going to change anytime soon. We might be able to reduce our dependence to a modest degree, but in reality, so long as the economy continues to grow, we will have to import substantial oil and import much more natural gas than we do right now. Most developed countries in the world find themselves in that position. And the Middle East is where the reserves are.

...Q: Are we going to have to send troops to protect oil fields around the world? And as China and India continue to grow and need more oil, what happens to us?

A: The major economies in the world are competing for the world's pool of energy supplies. We really don't have any special rights, but we have to recognize we are in the pool. We are not isolated and cannot isolate ourselves. History suggests that supplies will begin to grow faster than they have been. The IEA [International Energy Agency] has said that by the end of the decade there will be significant capacity again. People don't understand the time dimension in our industry: Things don't happen overnight.
(20 February 2006 issue)
The original article is subscribers-only.


Reports: China, Iran near huge oil deal

Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press via Yahoo!
China and Iran are close to setting plans to develop Iran's Yadavaran oil field, according to published reports, in a multibillion-dollar deal that comes as Tehran faces the prospect of sanctions over its nuclear program. The deal is thought potentially to be worth about $100 billion.

According to Caijing, a respected financial magazine, a Chinese government delegation is due to visit Iran as early as March to formally sign an agreement allowing China Petrochemical Corp., also known as Sinopec, to develop Yadavaran.

The Wall Street Journal also reported in Friday's editions that the two sides are trying to conclude the deal in coming weeks before potential sanctions are imposed on Iran for its nuclear ambitions.
(17 February 2006)


Expert: Ukraine is “on the verge of second energy crisis”

Regnum News Agency
Ukraine is “on the verge of the second energy crisis.” By the autumn 2006 the gas price in the country will reach $110, and then — $230 and more per 1,000 c m, says Yevgeny Fomichev, head of the energy management department of Odessa National Polytechnic University, Director of the Odessa Regional Center for Energy Saving and Energy Management. He expressed this view during the Feb 14 meeting of the Porto-Franco reforms press-club concerning energy saving technologies, reports REGNUM correspondent.

Fomichev believes that the gas crisis will force the Ukrainian government to concentrate on the problem and to try to solve it. He says that the gas price is rising because Ukraine “has always used cheap gas and has done nothing to save it.” WTO membership will make things even worse, as the local producers will not be able to rival with the West on the market of commodities, which are much cheaper there due to energy saving technologies.
(XX February 2006)
"REGNUM News Agency is a Russian federal news agency covering news from Russia and neighboring countries."


CP-USA: To solve the energy crisis, put people before profits

Communist Party-USA, People's Weekly World
...The reasons for the current energy crisis lie in the long-term negligence and short-term profiteering of energy and related corporations. The crisis is aggravated by the Bush administration’s close ties to the energy industry and by the disastrous war in Iraq. Deregulation of electric and natural gas utilities over the past two decades gave these corporations the green light to sacrifice public interest for private profits.

Energy production and use is at the center of modern civilization. Our U.S. economy has long enjoyed energy sources that were plentiful and among the cheapest in the world. But even though fuel prices were, until recently, relatively low compared to other countries, our energy industries have reaped mammoth profits.

The cost of production, refining, transportation and even exploration is a small fraction of the retail price of gasoline, natural gas and fuel oil. But the energy industries, helped by their friends in Washington, have been allowed to achieve an extreme degree of monopolization, with a handful of giant corporations controlling oil and gas production, refining and distribution, stifling competition, restricting supply and pushing prices up.

The oil/natural gas industry has long exercised immense political power in both domestic and foreign policy and is among the most reactionary sectors of monopoly capital.

Over six decades, the oil monopolies, in collaboration with the auto and rubber corporations, have used their financial and political might to promote policies that have made us highly dependent on nonrenewable fuel — oil and gas. These deliberate policies — many of them anti-working-class and racist — include destruction of urban centers and small-town “Main Streets”; dispersed housing, shopping and workplaces; destruction and underfunding of public mass transit; dependence on automobiles; lack of urban central heating facilities; and globalized production and distribution of commodities.

With a global market and distribution system for oil and its products, the entire world population must compete for the same supply, largely controlled by a few monopoly corporations. The crisis visited on U.S. families is also imposed on the working class throughout the world, as the wealth of whole nations is transferred to the controlling corporations and their financial institutions.
(16 February 2006)
The Communist Party (USA) has not been particularly insightful on energy and environmental issues in the past. What's interesting is that its current position is fairly meanstream -- echoing ideas and proposals that have been advanced by liberals and conservatives alike. No mention of peak oil though. -BA


Chavez threatens to cut off oil to US if it goes too far

Inter Press Service via Common Dreams
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has warned he was taking potential steps to cut off oil shipments to the United States, in the event Washington goes too far campaigning against his elected leftist rule.

"The US government must know that if it crosses the line, it won't be getting Venezuelan oil," the leftist leader cautioned late Friday, repeating threats he has made in his long, simmering dispute with the United States.

Chavez, who did not clarify how Washington might incur such a sanction, apparently was reacting to Thursday's call by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for an international "united front" against Venezuela.

"I have to say that I've begun taking steps on the matter, but I won't tell you what they are," Chavez told a meeting of pensioners in Caracas.

"They think I can't take these steps, because we won't know where to place our oil. Aha! That's where they are wrong," Chavez said.

"Many countries ask us for more oil and... we've had to answer that we can't give them any more because, among other things, (of)... the million and a half barrels of our production that goes to the United States."
(18 February 2006)

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