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AlterNet article on Iraq’s Oil mentioned in House of Representatives
Evan Derkacz, AlterNet
Joshua Holland’s article is a must-read according to Seattle’s rep…

In the video to the right, Seattle Democrat Jim McDermott mentions Joshua Holland’s AlterNet article, “Bush’s Petro-Cartel Almost Has Iraq’s Oil,” several times to point out how under-covered this crucial issue is.

Part one of the article is HERE and Part two is HERE.
(11 Jan 2007)

Oil’s Vital New Power

Vivienne Walt, Time
…The stakes in Azerbaijan’s new pipeline are far higher than the fortunes of just Mirza and his family. This Muslim republic, directly north of Iran and tucked into the southwest corner of the vast former Soviet empire, is suddenly a central player in one of the West’s most distressing problems: how the U.S. and Europe will secure enough oil and gas to power cities, factories, airplanes and cars–in short, how to keep our entire modern lives afloat.

…Fifteen years after the Soviet Union’s collapse, it’s tempting to think of the cold war as history–until you land in Baku. This is the front line of a new East-West contest, one that is as consequential as the nuclear-weapons face-off of the past: the battle for energy supplies among countries heavily dependent on imported oil and gas, which include the U.S. and the E.U., plus the rocketing economies of China and India. That necessity is a powerful weapon in this new battle.

…The U.S. sees its alliance with a republic of just 8.4 million people–about the same population as New York City–as key to securing energy supplies at a time when China and the rest of Asia are competing for new sources. The Caspian, which is largely unexplored, probably accounts for 7% of the world’s oil reserves, and the oil flowing through the new West-bound pipeline still represents a mere 1% of global supply. But ultimately some of the gas from Khazakstan and Turkmenistan’s much larger natural-gas fields across the Caspian from Baku could flow through BP’s pipelines, turning to the West rather than to Asia. “The pipeline is changing the strategic map in a very major way,” says a senior State Department official.

A glance at the map shows why: Azerbaijan is sandwiched between two energy giants–Iran to the south and Russia to the north–allies and old U.S. foes whose reserves will last decades. The U.S. has three interests in Azerbaijan: securing energy, spreading democracy and fighting terrorism.
(12 Jan 2007)
The last sentence quoted about U.S. interests (“securing energy, spreading democracy and fighting terrorism”) is chilling for anyone who studies history, since this is the mantra of great empires about to fall. Rome, the former Soviet Union, Great Britain, Napoleonic France… -BA

Resource Wars

William K. Tabb, Montly Review
…Collier and Anke Hoeffler find countries with one or two primary export resources have more than a one-in-five chance of civil war in any given year.4 In countries with no such dominant products there is a one in a hundred chance. In these civil wars more than 90 percent of casualties are civilians. At the start of the twentieth century war casualties were 90 percent soldiers. Such “traditional” wars are rare today. Resource wars with their devastating impacts on civilians have become the norm.
(8 Jan 2007)
Good if not exactly uplifting article. A brief history of resource wars and the influence of oil over current geopolitics. Tabb is a bit dismissive of peak oil, but also questions the optimists. -AF

Chavez promises Nicaragua 200-year oil supply

Deutsche Presse-Agentur via Monsters and Critics
Managua – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Friday promised his Nicaraguan counterpart a 200 year supply of oil.

The announcement came at the end of Chavez’s three-day-long visit for the inauguration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Oretega and for diplomatic and economic talks.

Venezuela will supply Nicaragua with 10,000 barrels of affordable oil per day, and build a refinery and 32 power stations that will produce 80 megawatts of electricity.

‘The oil that Nicaragua will need for the coming 200 years lies in Venezuela,’ Chavez said.
(13 Jan 2007)

Putin unlikely saviour of endangered grey whales

Mike Blanchfield,
With tens of billions of petrodollars floating in limbo, there are no runaway winners in the long and nasty battle over who will ultimately control the lucrative oil and gas deposits around Russia’s remote Sakhalin island.

Unless, of course, you count the approximately 100 grey whales — the only ones of the species left on Earth — swimming idly off its shores in the frigid waters of the northern Pacific Ocean.

These whales are the last of a seriously endangered species but they have found an unlikely, but formidable ally in what is, literally a life and death struggle to avoid extinction: Russia’s inscrutable President Vladimir Putin.

“I don’t think anybody’s accused Mr. Putin of being a raging environmentalist,” said Francis Grant-Suttie, director of private-sector relations with the World Wildlife Fund in Washington.

“At the same time, he watched his government take a very active, hands-on role with how energy in Russia is being managed.”

Putin has become the unlikely savior of grey whales — whether he cares for them or not — because of a bitter legal dispute that has raged for several months between the Kremlin and an international consortium led by Royal Dutch Shell.

At stake is control of the $20-billion Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project, the largest foreign investment venture in Russia’s booming energy sector.
(8 Jan 2007)