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Billions in Oil Missing in Iraq, U.S. Study Says

James Glanz, New York Times
Between 100,000 and 300,000 barrels a day of Iraq’s declared oil production over the past four years is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling, according to a draft American government report.

Using an average of $50 a barrel, the report said the discrepancy was valued at $5 million to $15 million daily.

The report does not give a final conclusion on what happened to the missing fraction of the roughly two million barrels pumped by Iraq each day, but the findings are sure to reinforce longstanding suspicions that smugglers, insurgents and corrupt officials control significant parts of the country’s oil industry.

The report also covered alternative explanations for the billions of dollars worth of discrepancies, including the possibility that Iraq has been consistently overstating its oil production.
(12 May 2007)
Related graphic from NY Times that shows “the missing oil”.

Cabinda: Prospects for an Oil Insurgency in the Angolan Exclave

Jeff Vail, The Oil Drum
Angola is one of the few bright spots in global oil production-oil production is expected to increase by roughly 2 million barrels per day to around 3.4 mbpd within the next 10 years. Angola has been wracked by civil war and violence since its independence from Portugal, with perhaps 1.5 million people dying in conflict. That 27 year civil war ended, however, in 2002, and Angola is generally seen as a relatively stable host for oil production, a perception that is further enhanced because the far-offshore, deep-water nature of most Angolan oil production makes it a difficult target for local groups with an axe to grind.

Is there anything standing in the way of this “Angolan Oil Miracle?” Other than the majority of present and future oil production being locatded in a small and ethnically separate territory, a territory with an active and violent independence movement, and with the budding capability to effectively disrupt oil production, no.

Is Angola a budding success story or the next Nigeria?

…The situation with regards to the Cabinda exclave would be far less problematic if the people of Cabinda were happy participants in the “Angolan Oil Miracle.” The huge royalties derived from Cabinda’s oil production, however, flow directly to the Angolan capital of Luanda, with very little flowing back in the form of development funds.
(13 May 2007)
Jeff Vail has just been named to the roster of Contributors at The Oil Drum.

Q& A With Venezuela’s Energy Minister

Washington Post
…The Washington Post spoke with Rafael Ramirez, the president of Pdvsa and also the minister of energy and mines. Excerpts are below:

Question: Some in the United States worry that Venezuela could cut off oil supplies. Possible? And is Venezuela worried about other competitors?

“We are not thinking of ceasing petroleum supplies to the United States. It’s not in our interest. We have a market that offers a series of competitive advantages in terms of geography, in terms of a history of relations that permit us to provide, with ease, 1.5 million barrels of petroleum a day. That African countries are accessing the Atlantic Coast is logical and welcome. Perfect. We don’t worry about any of that. None of the producing countries has to compete to stay in the market. We have our market niches and we’ll maintain them.”

Question: How are relations with foreign multinationals?

“We have fluid communications with all the North American companies that are here, from Exxon Mobil to Chevron. And even though we’re in a process of migrating old contracts, we’ve never interrupted the level of communication. The possibility of expanding joint businesses between the North American companies and the state company has never stopped, as long as it’s done within the framework of our laws.”
(11 May 2007)

IEA calls for OPEC to raise output

OPEC must boost its oil output before the summer to prevent a sharp decline in consumer nations’ crude oil stocks, the International Energy Agency said on Friday.

Gasoline supplies in top consumer the United States have sunk to a 16-year low for the time of year, pushing pump prices above $3 (U.S.) a gallon to near record levels, the adviser to 26 industrialized nations said in its monthly Oil Market Report.

The May report marked the third month running the Paris-based agency has urged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to open the taps to lower prices and refill inventories.

“We see a big, 1.6 million barrel a day crank up in global demand in June and there are still constraints in the refining side,” said Lawrence Eagles, head of the IEA’s Oil Industry and Markets Division.
(11 May 2007)

IEA says Iran gasoline rationing is a clever move

Iran’s plans to ration gasoline and increase the price should help curb imports and raise fuel efficiency but may provoke considerable domestic opposition, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday.

Iran imports 40 percent of its gasoline needs, making the Islamic republic vulnerable to trade sanctions in its dispute with the
United Nations over its nuclear programme.

The government has put forward plans to ration gasoline and raise the price, currently among the lowest in the world, from May 22. Iran is the world’s fourth largest crude exporter but a lack of refining capacity has made it dependent on gasoline imports.

“The new rationing plan should be seen as a clever move towards gradually adopting market prices, encouraging greater fuel efficiency and curbing demand,” the IEA, which advises 26 industrialized nations, said in its monthly Oil Market Report.

“However, the change will entail considerable social and political hurdles, which will need to be overcome if it is to be a success.”
(11 May 2007)