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Oil and geopolitics - July 16

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Iran asks Japan to pay for oil with yen, not dollars

Kyodo, AP
Iran has asked Japanese oil wholesalers to pay for their oil purchases in yen instead of dollars, which are currently used for most transactions, industry sources said Saturday.

The request by the National Iranian Oil Co. is believed to be part of Iran's efforts to increase oil transactions denominated in currencies other than the dollar to avoid a possible seizure of its assets by the U.S. government amid tensions over its nuclear development program.

The Iranian state-owned oil company sent letters to Japanese oil wholesalers requesting them to pay in, yen the sources said, adding some companies received such requests through trading houses. ..

"We have yet to decide how to respond," said an official at one wholesaler. "We cannot find any advantage in switching to yen-based transactions." Late last year, Iran sounded out Japanese oil firms about switching their payments to the yen or the euro, the sources said...
(15 July 2007)
The Times makes it a ‘demand',
reports a rise in the Yen.

Cheney pushes Bush to act on Iran

Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Julian Borger, The Guardian
The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo."

The White House claims that Iran, whose influence in the Middle East has increased significantly over the last six years, is intent on building a nuclear weapon and is arming insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.
(16 July 2007)

Energising Russia's geopolitical goals

Michael Richardson, Daily Times (Pakistan)
Enhancing Russia's role will be its rejuvenated military power, largely financed by taxes and royalties from the oil and gas sector, which the World Bank says accounts for 20 percent of the country's GDP, over 60 percent of its export earnings and 30 percent of all foreign direct investment

Russia exports more natural gas than any other country and has by far the biggest proven reserves in the world. Much of this so-called "clean" energy is close to Asia, where demand is rising fast for carbon fuels less polluting than coal and oil. Countries are trying to reduce air pollution that harms human health. They're also under pressure to reduce emissions blamed for warming the planet.

Russia is also the world's second largest oil exporter, standing number eight in terms of reserves. Yet until recently, little of this energy went to Asia and the Pacific. Instead, for more than 30 years, Russia - and before it, the Soviet Union - sent huge quantities to Europe. Today, Europe depends on Russia for more than a quarter of its gas supply and almost 30 percent of its crude oil imports.

However, the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin seems poised to adjust this energy-export imbalance between Asia and Europe. As it does so, Russia - with about two-thirds of its territory in Asia - will gain both economic and political influence, becoming a major player in the region as it is in Europe. Enhancing Russia's role will be its rejuvenated military power, largely financed by taxes and royalties from the oil and gas sector, which the World Bank says accounts for 20 percent of the country's GDP, over 60 percent of its export earnings and 30 percent of all foreign direct investment.

A key question is where in Asia and the Pacific will most of the Russian energy go?

Michael Richardson, a former Asia editor of the International Herald Tribune, is an energy specialist at the Institute of South East Asian Studies in Singapore. This article appeared in YaleGlobal Online (, a publication of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, and is reprinted by permission. Copyright (c) 2003 Yale Center for the Study of Globalization
(13 July 2007)

Benchmark Boogie: A Guide to the Struggle Over Iraq's Oil

Antonia Juhasz, AlterNet
Your guide to the ongoing dance between Bush, the Congress, and the Iraqi government; an update on the current status of the proposed oil laws; and some steps you can take to stop the hijacking of Iraq's oil.
(14 July 2007)

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