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Yemen foils attacks on oil plants

Kuwait Times/Associated Press
SANAA: Authorities foiled an attempt by suicide bombers to blow up two oil installations with explosives-laden cars in near-simultaneous attacks yesterday just days after Al-Qaeda threatened to strike facilities in the Arabian Gulf. The four attackers and a guard were killed.

The violence coincided with a feverish presidential election campaign in which President Ali Abdullah Saleh, facing his first real challenge since he became head of state in 1978, has reached out to the country’s most strident Islamist movement, an alliance some believe will only embolden extremists. ..

Saleh launched several crackdowns against extremists, winning praise from the United States. But February’s prison escape raised worries the government’s fight against Al-Qaeda was softening. Analysts say yesterday’s violence has Al-Qaeda’s fingerprints, especially since it came so soon after Monday’s videotape from the network’s No. 2, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, threatening attacks on the Arabian Gulf and on facilities he blamed for stealing Muslim oil. The four bombers struck in two groups during early morning shift changes at the facilities. ..
(15 Sept 2006)

China’s Sinopec reportedly set for 51% stake in Iran oil field
BEIJING — China Petrochemical Corp., better known as Sinopec Group, is close to signing a deal with Iran to develop the Yadavaran oil field in the southern area of the Middle Eastern country, the Shanghai Securities News reported Friday.

Sinopec will secure a 51% stake in Yadavaran, with India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (500312.BY) taking a 29% interest and local Iranian companies holding the remainder, the report said.

A deal would not only grant China access to a field with estimated reserves of more than 30 billion barrels of oil, but also represent the latest alliance between Sinopec and India’s ONGC.

Last month, the two companies teamed up to buy a 50% stake in Omimex de Colombia Ltd., which has oil and gas-producing assets in the South American country and is owned by U.S.-based Omimex Resources Inc. ..
(15 Sept 2006)

Putin declines EU’s energy charter

Michael Binyon, Times Online
PRESIDENT PUTIN said that he would hold out against European attempts to force Russia to exploit its oil and gas reserves for the benefit of the West.

He said that Russia was determined to tap into its energy potential for its own development, and he warned foreign consumers of his country’s oil and gas that any contracts must be fair and take into account Moscow’s needs and interests.

Mr Putin insisted that Russia would act responsibly in global energy markets but he rejected European Union demands that Russia sign the new EU energy charter, which calls for open access by independent producers to the Russian pipeline network. He said that this would not benefit consumers or bring the price of gas down, would hand over any extra profits to intermediaries and would not offer Russia anything in return. ..
(11 Sept 2006)
See also Putin Dismisses Cold War Rhetoric About Russia’s “Energy Superpower” Status, from comments at the same meetings.

Pakistan: Hello al-Qaeda, goodbye America

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times
MIRANSHAH, North Waziristan – With a truce between the Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad now in place, the Pakistani government is in effect reverting to its pre-September 11, 2001, position in which it closed its eyes to militant groups allied with al-Qaeda and clearly sided with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

While the truce has generated much attention, a more significant development is an underhand deal between pro-al-Qaeda elements and Pakistan in which key al-Qaeda figures will either not be arrested or those already in custody will be set free. This has the potential to sour Islamabad’s relations with Washington beyond the point of no return.

On Tuesday, Pakistan agreed to withdraw its forces from the restive Waziristan tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in return for a pledge from tribal leaders to stop attacks by Pakistani Taliban across the border.
(8 Sept 2006)