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Iran dumps U.S. dollars in oil transactions

Xinhua (China)
Iran had totally removed U.S. dollars in the country’s oil transactions, an Oil Ministry official said on Wednesday.

“The dollar has completely been removed from our oil trade….Crude oil customers have agreed with us to use other currencies (in the trade),” Oil Ministry official Hojjatollah Ghanimifard was quoted as saying by the state television.

“We make our transactions with euros in Europe, but yen in Asia,” he added.

Due to the tensions with Washington in the past years over the nuclear disputes and the latest depreciation of dollars, Iran has vowed to decrease the greenback in its foreign trade. Iran central bank also has reduced dollars in the country’s foreign reserves. In last November’s summit of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Saudi Arabia, Iran proposed that it was necessary to replace the U.S. dollar with other major hard currencies in oil trading.

But some Arab allies of the United States showed few support to Tehran’s advice.

However, Iran’s Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari has already declared in last December that Tehran had completely stopped selling its oil in dollars, according a report by the semi-official ISNA news agency at that time.

“In line with the policy of selling crude oil in non dollar currencies, currently selling our country’s oil in U.S. dollars has been completely stopped,” Nozari was then quoted as saying. Right now it’s not clear why there seems to be a contradiction between comments by the two officials over the exact time to stop dollars in Iran’s oil trade.
(30 April 2008)
Related story at Associated Press.

ExxonMobil row masks true green dilemma

Carl Mortished, UK Times
Members of the Rockefeller family are jousting with Rex Tillerson, the boss of ExxonMobil, calling for an independent chairman and a corporate governance upheaval at the oil company, which was once part of Standard Oil, founded by John D. Rockefeller in the 19th century.

Some Rockefellers don’t like Exxon’s lofty disdain for the environmental lobby and its refusal to consider anything other than a simple diet of more hydrocarbons.

They are pushing for a vote on the issue at the annual meeting.

It is less exciting than it sounds. The Rockefellers are not controlling shareholders and investors do not like change for its own sake – Exxon’s profitability and valuation is leagues ahead of rivals, such as BP, Shell and Chevron, the industry’s green agony aunts.

… Yet underlying the protest from the trust fund Rockers is a big problem for oil companies – their ever-increasing reliance on the support of governments and regulators.

Exxon’s riposte to the climate change and peak oil lobbies is that technology rather than regulation will provide answers to our energy problems.

It is a disingenuous argument because the energy industry is at the governments’ knees begging for help – big dollops of taxpayer cash to build experimental power stations.
(30 April 2008)
Related at UK Times: Rockefeller family call for ExxonMobil shake-up.

Oil Majors Rapped Over Secrecy, Corruption

Abid Aslam, IPS News
Leading oil firms impede efforts to stamp out poverty and corruption by shrouding their financial dealings in secrecy, says a global watchdog.

Transparency International, in a new report, says Western firms and those from developing countries are similarly opaque when it comes to disclosing their payments to governments in countries where poverty prevails despite an abundance of natural resources.

Sixty percent of the world’s poorest people live in such countries, the group says. Most constitutions grant citizens ultimate ownership of their country’s natural resources, it adds, but much data on what companies pay for the right to exploit these resources, and on how host governments spend this money, remains hidden from public scrutiny.

Development opportunities are being squandered in the process.

“The tragic paradox, that many resource-rich countries remain poor, stems from a lack of data on oil and gas revenues and how they are managed. Companies must do more to increase transparency,” said Huguette Labelle, the group’s chairperson.
(29 April 2008)
The “Resource Curse”.

Natural Gas – the future of fuel?

Big Gav, Peak Energy (Australia)
The ABC’s “7:30 Report” last night had a look at the large amount of optimism that many people have regarding Australia’s natural gas reserves – “As world oil prices skyrocket, experts warn Australia must find an alternative source of fuel. Some argue a cheaper, greener solution is right under the nation’s nose: natural gas.”

Both the APPEA and new Energy Minister Martin Ferguson have been arguing this for some time – though its far from clear how long we can continue to expand LNG exports, expand gas fired power generation (as part of the APPEA’s “transition to lower carbon emissions” strategy), contemplate building GTL plants and use CNG for most or all of our transport as suggested in this report (not to mention supplying the usual industrial and domestic uses of gas) especially when one major potential source of supply (from PNG via the now abandoned pipeline project) has been removed from the equation.

KERRY O’BRIEN: The recent prediction by the head of Caltex Australia that the price of oil may very well double the already record highs for crude, have only heightened concerns about the security of Australia’s future fuel supplies. The Federal Government, for instance, has launched a national energy security assessment.

As oil production in Australian fields declines, the Government has also sought and won approval under the United Nations Convention on the law of the sea, to expand its search for oil offshore by an area equivalent to five times the size of France.

But Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson agrees that unless there is soon a “eureka oil strike”, Australia must find a new fuel alternative with sufficient reserves to power a vast and vital national car and transport fleet. But there are those who say there’s an obvious solution to the fuel crisis right under our collective nose, a solution that could cut fuel bills by up to 60 per cent. …

NOEL CHILD, TRANSPORT CONSULTANT: At the moment we’re a bit like a bus heading towards the edge of the cliff. Crude oil is going to become short in supply and it’s going to become progressively expensive.


JOHN MIKOLAJUNAS, OES NATURAL GAS: The Government and governments all around the world are scrambling to find alternatives to petroleum products.

GREG HOY: They’re selling off Australian gas by the ship load. Sixteen million tonnes this year, gas ships loaded with liquid natural gas, gas chilled to liquid minus 161 degrees Celsius to reduce its volume to one 600th of its original 84 billion litres in bulk. 2,200 gas ships have already left our shores in long-term, wholesale supply contracts with China, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Spain and the United States, nations scrambling to secure their energy supplies for decades to come.

BELINDA ROBINSON, AUSTRALIAN PATROLEUM PRODUCTION & EXPLORATION ASSOCIATION: It provides an energy source for a world screaming out for energy. There’s no doubt there’s a tightness in the supply of energy, particularly to meet the tigers of India and China. But secondly there’s also an enormous appetite for cleaner energy, so natural gas has around half the greenhouse gas emissions of coal fired electricity.

GREG HOY: But with global demand for natural gas expected to double in the next five years, some are left wondering if Australia is missing its own boat.

OLLIE CLARK, NATURAL GAS VEHICLE ASSOCIATION: The thing that strikes me as being rather quaint, to put it mildly, is that we pay anywhere from about $8 billion to $25 billion to import the oil and we get a paltry $4 billion for the gas that we sell to overseas countries. It seems odd to me, especially given gas is a superior fuel for many, many purposes including the use in motor vehicles.

JOHN MIKOLAJUNAS: There’s massive reserves of natural gas that are not being used and that’s why we’re selling them off to China at such low prices. We should be making use of this fuel ourselves locally because if we don’t, we’re going to be paying for petroleum products. Natural gas can represent a saving of up to about 60 per cent on what you’re paying for petrol and that includes diesel and LPG as well. …

NOEL CHILD: Governments need to look at the issue of where our future transport energy is coming from and take the step, which is a little unpopular in terms of modern economics particularly, of setting some targets and perhaps some mandates otherwise the default position I think is just to continue on the same pathway until the bus does hit the wall.

GREG HOY: The Australian Government is about to embark on an energy security assessment.

MARTIN FERGUSON: With only about a decade of known oil resources remaining at today’s production rates, Australia’s looking down the barrel of a $25 billion trade deficit in petroleum products by 2015.

GREG HOY: There are other strong reasons, supporters say, Australia should go for gas, not just for generating power with greenhouse efficiency, but to fuel the vast motor vehicle fleet of a sprawling nation, using compressed natural gas, half the price and less polluting than LPG, liquid petroleum gas, a by product of the oil industry.

OLLIE CLARK: Globally there are about 800 million vehicles on the roads of the world and there’s about 8 million natural gas vehicles that you pull up at a garage as if you were refuelling with petrol or diesel or LPG and you plug into your car into the natural gas supply and it’s full in a couple of minutes just like it is with the other fuels.

GREG HOY: Australia has abundant reserves of gas, enough to last around a century and a half but there is one far greater attraction for motorists who have grown tired of being battered by rising fuel prices.

JOHN MIKOLAJUNAS: You’d be looking at around 40 cents per litre covering all costs including compression of the gas.

Of course, even if you can produce CNG for 40 cents per litre, in the absence of any government regulation you’ll still end up paying a price that is driven by global oil and gas prices.
(30 April 2008)
The ABC segment on natural gas is also recommended by EB contributor Chris, the “Feral Metallurgist”): “nice piece of prime time Aussie TV. Good video to go with it.”

Related commentary on ABC about the Australian 2020 Summit: Solar? Wind? Forget it, we’re goin’ to gas!