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Geopolitics - Oct 15

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Energy Crunch Threatens South American Nations

Alexei Barrionuevo, New York Times
For Chile and Argentina, it was the frostiest of winters, and not just the reading on the thermometer.

During one of the coldest South American winters here in decades, neighboring Argentina cut at least 90 percent of the natural gas it sends to Chile 79 times along pipelines that connect the two countries.

Power plants and factories in this smoggy capital were forced to switch to diesel and fuel oil, which belch more air pollution and have nearly quadrupled the cost of producing electricity. Santiago reported its highest number of dangerous smog days in the past seven years.

Argentina’s actions have chilled relations between the two countries. But the impact of South America’s energy crisis is far broader. Across the region, concerns about energy are roiling national politics, generating tensions between neighbors and emerging as one of the biggest brakes to growth and integration.

Energy is the Achilles’ heel of the governments in Brazil, Argentina and Chile, which are struggling to maintain sufficient natural gas supplies after several years of strong economic growth.
(13 October 2007)


Aussie coal to fuel Vietnam expansion

Andrew Trounson, The Australian
VIETNAM is shaping as a major export market for Australian thermal coal, with a delegation from the country's electricity industry flying in this week to talk to coal suppliers, the second such visit in two months.

Vietnam imports almost no coal, but billions of dollars are set to be invested in building coal-fired power stations in the south, and the country is expected to import 20 million to 30 million tonnes a year by early next decade.

...Power demand in the country is forecast to grow at about 15 per cent annually to 2010, but with offshore gas reserves yet to prove as plentiful as first hoped, the country is turning to coal imports.

"It has been under the radar for a while," said Allan Dawson, marketing general manager at Queensland coal miner Ensham Resources. "Vietnam is the next development ground for Asia. They have the people and a great location, but they just don't have the power," Mr Dawson said.

With major coal-fired power station projects set to be commissioned from around 2011-12, Mr Dawson said, Vietnam could soon be importing 20-30 million tonnes a year, with Indonesia and Australia best placed to be the major suppliers. "I would say Australia has a good chance of getting up to half that," he said.
(15 October 2007)


Amid an Oil Boom, Poverty Persists
(photo gallery)
New York Times
This year, Angola joined the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, pumping out 1.5 million barrels a day, more than any other African country except Nigeria.

At the Aleutian Keys oil rig about 100 miles offshore, Sonangol, the national oil company of Angola, drills for oil. Angola has become an important supplier of oil to the United States and is presently the largest supplier of crude oil to China.
(15 October 2007)
Related story from NY Times: As Angola Rebuilds, Most Find Their Poverty Persists.

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