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Nations & resources - July 15

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Obama remains diplomatic on oil and guns

Geoffrey York, Globe & Mail
Behind all the inspirational words and “Yes we can” sound bites of Barack Obama's first presidential visit to sub-Saharan Africa, questions are lingering about two key issues that formed a tacit subtext to his visit: oil and military bases.

Mr. Obama's visit on the weekend to Ghana, so early in his presidential term, is the latest sign of Africa's mounting strategic importance to Washington. The continent is a growing source of U.S. oil supplies and a crucial battleground for the U.S. fight against Islamic radicals, who are increasingly powerful in Somalia and North Africa.

Ghana itself is an emerging source of oil and a possible site for “forward operating bases” in the U.S. anti-terrorism campaign. But both subjects have sparked so much controversy and resistance from Africans that Mr. Obama was careful to use diplomatic language when he talked of oil and guns...
(12 July 2009)

European countries sign up for Nabucco deal to break Russia’s gas monopoly

David Charter, The Times
With memories of freezing houses, schools and offices still looming large, five countries will sign up to an ambitious pipeline project intended to break Russia’s grip on European gas supplies.

The Nabucco project, a 2,000-mile (3,300km) pipeline to pump gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Turkey, has been given extra urgency by the ongoing payment dispute between Russia and Ukraine, which saw supplies to a dozen EU countries suspended in the depths of last winter.

Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria will sign a transit agreement today to give Nabucco — which has hit investment problems during the recession — fresh impetus and increase credibility with suppliers.
(12 July 2009)

Australian oil warning
Mike Woods, Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio
Professor Laurie Sparke, a leading Australian automotive engineering expert, has warned of an energy crunch that could make the 1970's oil crises seem small-time. He says that in coming years Australia may not be able to buy oil, at any price.

The solution he says is gas, and he's making the case that all Australians should consider converting their petrol driven cars to LPG
(10 July 2009)

Submitted by EB contributor Michael Lardelli, who writes:

Laurence Sparke is an adjunct professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, and a retired chief engineer at GM Holden Innovation in Port Melbourne, Australia. At Holden, he was responsible for developing new products, technologies and processes dealing with vehicle side impact protection. He was a member of the GM Global Safety Council, the Global Science Office Council, and the GM Global Advanced Technology Council.

Sparke has received more than 10 awards during his career, including the Engineers Australia National Professional Engineer of the Year Award and the SAE Australia Hartnett Award. He is a Fellow of Engineers Australia, and a member of SAE Australia, the National Pane of Biomechanics of Injury, the College of Biomedical Engineers, and the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine.

Sparke holds engineering degrees from RMIT University and Deakin University in Melbourne, and an engineering degree from Kettering University in Flint, Mich.

(from: Engineering Professors Receive Automotive Safety Engineering Award)

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