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Russian giant looms over Europe
(text, audio, video)
Tony Connelly, RTÉ News
The increasing power of the biggest energy firm in the world, Gazprom.

… Rarely can the fortunes of one company and an entire state have been so intertwined as with Gazprom and Russia.

At a local level Gazprom pours millions of euro into facilities, infrastructure and the salaries of people like Alexander, who is braving sub-zero temperatures in places like Yugorsk.

At a global level, thanks to high oil and gas prices the Russian Federation has been enriched immeasurably.

Gazprom’s earnings have wiped out Russia’s debt, and accounts for 25% of its foreign earnings.

But since the state is a major shareholder in Gazprom, Russia has also gained prestige and power. ‘Gazprom is keen to have as much influence in the world as possible: it has become an instrument of Russian state policy,’ says one Western diplomat.
(28 February 2008)

Brazil: An Energized Giant

Stephanie Hanson, Council on Foreign Relations, Newsweek
Brazil looks set to play a larger role in South America and the world, thanks in part to a major oil discovery

… Most recently, major oil and gas discoveries off the Brazilian coast promise to substantially shift the balance of power in Latin America, chipping away at Venezuela’s energy hegemony.

Initial euphoria over the magnitude of the oil discovery, located in the offshore Tupi field, led Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to announce his intention to join OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. Petrobras, the country’s state-run oil company, estimated the field had about 8 billion recoverable barrels of oil, and the broader area surrounding the field might hold as much as 100 billion barrels. The Tupi field probably won’t be productive for at least another five years, and it will be difficult and costly to develop, but the Economist Intelligence Unit says there are indications that the possible reserves might be even larger than the government estimates. In a region that is energy-starved-Argentina and Chile are both struggling with energy crises-Brazil’s finds will give it significant leverage. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Brazil had the second-largest crude reserves in the region prior to the Tupi discovery.
(28 February 2008)

Ghana: Crude Oil – Blessing Or Curse?

Appiah Kusi Adomako, Ghanian Chronicle via AllAfrica
Mishaps are like knives that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle. James Lowell Russell Ghanaians were excited last year when Kosmos Energy Group announced that it had identified crude oil in commercial quantities.

Just last weekend news filtered in that another commercial quantity of oil has also been discovered in the West Cape Three Points. The prospect for more oil discovered look great.

We have every right to celebrate the news of the oil discovery in the country particularly when the nation had just wallowed in the darkness of energy crisis for nearly a year. Moreover, with crude oil prices reaching record high, we ought to rejoice as the great book says ‘again, I say rejoice’.

However, whilst rejoicing on the discovery of the oil we should not allow our heart to override our head in this matter. Crude oil is not the solution to our problem. It is like the bitter bile on the liver. One ought to be careful when attempting to take the liver as it might result in bursting the bitter bile.
(28 February 2008)

US sees Iran nuclear dispute going to 2009

Daniel Dombey and Harvey Morris, Financial Times
The senior US official responsible for handling the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme has admitted that the Bush administration is unlikely to resolve the issue, which until recently was seen as a possible cause of military confrontation between Washington and Tehran.

“I think this is going to be a drama that plays out well into 2009 and beyond,” Nicholas Burns, US undersecretary of state, told the Council on Foreign Relations ahead of leaving office at the end of this month.

His comments indicated the dwindling expectations in Washington of either a US airstrike on Iran or an imminent breakthrough in negotiations.
(27 February 2008)