- Just how big is the Bakken?
- Worthy reading from Stratfor
- Backgrounder for 2012 U.S. presidential race
- Soldiers deployed as Nigerian fuel strike ends
- China’s gross domestic product growth slowed to 8.9% in the last quarter of 2011, compared with a year earlier, showing that the world’s fastest engine of growth is downshifting.
- Center on Foreign Relations Backgrounder on “Oil’s Trouble Spots”
- A senior American diplomat urged South Korea on Tuesday to reduce its imports of Iranian crude oil as the United States continued to seek support from major Asian economies to increase pressure on Tehran to halt its nuclear program.
- Egypt’s military backed government has demanded a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) worth $3.2 billion to help ease the country’s growing budget deficit, a minister said after meeting with an IMF delegation in Cairo on Monday.
- A hacker brought down the websites of Israel’s national carrier El Al and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE).
- Merkl is wrong about EU fiscal regulation: The case for a sovereign credit club
- ESFS sells bills smoothly after S&P downgrade
- China’s hunger for gas fuels hostile bid
- Saudi Arabia is aiming to keep oil prices at about $100 a barrel, a third above its previous public target, in a sign that Riyadh needs higher oil revenues to sustain a big rise in public spending.
- Venezuela has made another push to increase control over its oil industry, announcing plans to leave the World Bank’s international arbitration body and potentially putting billions of dollars of foreign investment at risk.
Fracking (I’ve given up and given in)
- Thousands of Bulgarians protested throughout the Balkan country on Saturday against exploration for shale gas, worried it would poison underground waters, trigger earthquakes and pose serious public health hazards. Protesters rallied in more than six major Bulgarian cities calling for a moratorium on shale gas tests through hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and demanding a new law to ban unconventional drilling for gas in the southeastern European country.
- The Environmental Protection Agency says New York regulators should set limits for radioactive materials in gas-drilling wastewater sent to public treatment plants before allowing any hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells in the state.
- Teamster pipeline workers are heading back to the job after the union and the Pipe Line Contractors Association struck a deal extending an expired contract. The National Pipe Line Agreement, which expired on Jan. 31, 2011, will be extended until April 13. The two sides will return to bargaining over the next three months. At stake is the future of pipeline workers retirement plans. The union and management group are battling over types of retirement plans. The impasse led to a strike that began in at pipeline work sites in Pennsylvania and West Virginia Jan. 1 and spread to pipelines in California early this week
- The White House said on Thursday that finding an alternate route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas would take time and any effort to circumvent the approval process would be “counterproductive.” President Barack Obama faces a February 21 deadline set by Congress to either allow TransCanada’s $7 billion pipeline to be built or determine the project is not in the national interest of the United States. Speculation in Washington is rampant on how Obama will address the tricky political question, which divides two key parts of his base during an election year.
- The Iran Government has raised the temperature further in its dispute with western regimes that threaten to impose sanction on its oil exports. Having threatened to close the Straits of Hormuz shipping channel through which 35%-40% of the world’s oil is moved by sea, it has now warned OPEC members in the region not to ‘ramp up their output’. ’Should Iran’s southern neighbours collaborate with the adventurous countries [the US and the European Union] to replace their oil production for that of Iran.such countries will be held as main culprits.’ The official added: ‘Such moves are not considered friendly and the consequences of Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members raising production could not be predicted.’
- This week the European Union announced they will be delaying their embargo of Iranian oil for at least six months.
Climate Change, Global Warming & Effects
- Nothing is quite as damning or convincing as photo evidence. And when James Balog looked over his time-lapse photography of an Icelandic glacier, everything he thought he knew about climate change …. changed. ”Your basic human perception of this stuff is that major epochal, geologic scale change happened a long time ago or will happen a long time in the future. ”[But] when we looked at these pictures, we realized — good God — we’re right in the middle of epochal change happening right now.
- On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its list of top greenhouse gas emitters from 2010. Of the top 100 emissions sources, 96 were power plants, virtually all of them coal-fueled.
- See China’s Insane Pollution From Space
- China tripled its solar energy generating capacity last year and notched up major increases in wind and hydropower, government figures showed this week, but officials are still struggling to cap the growth in coalburning, which is the biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions in the world. The latest evidence of China’s promotion of renewable energy has been welcomed by climate activists, but they warn that the benefits are being wiped out by the surge in coal consumption.
- Some more China bashing: China’s airlines will refuse to pay any charges under the European Union’s new carbon trading scheme, while other Asia Pacific carriers, already battling a weak travel market, are likely to pass on the extra cost to passengers.
- What Rising Temperatures May Mean for World’s Wine Industry. Warming temperatures associated with climate change are already affecting vineyards from France to Chile, often in beneficial ways. But as the world continues to warm, some traditional winemaking regions are scrambling to adapt, while other areas see themselves as new wine frontiers.
- As the graph below from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) clearly demonstrates, the amount of arable farmland has already shrunk and will continue to do so.
- China a prisoner to its own growth story. In order to sustain growth the Chinese will have to continue supporting a lopsided growth model: one driven by expanding leverage and increased investment and infrastructure spending. And while in the short run, investment (and even a little overinvestment is ‘ok’) at some point the consumer and organic demand must become the driving force of an economy.
- It’s the derivatives, stupid As in 2008, a boom has generated a large stock of liabilities of dubious worth—subprime loans then, European sovereign bonds now—with banks incurring large exposure to eurozone risk directly and through credit default swaps (CDS) and other derivatives. European banks have sold $238 billion in credit default swaps on bonds issued by the governments of vulnerable European countries—Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. U.S. banks have provided $518 billion in guarantees, mostly also in the form of credit default swaps, on the government, bank, and corporate debt of these countries. Banks tend to hedge a substantial portion of their CDS exposure, and it can be devilishly difficult to determine their net exposure to speculative instruments. For example, after a lengthy data slog, one analysis concludes that we can say very little “about the extent and form of U.S. banks’ exposure” to Europe.
- The actions of the European Central Bank greatly eased the immediate financial pressures in the Eurozone. But the underlying problem of internal imbalances remain, and the European response is still not addressing those imbalances. Instead, the commitment to the fixed exchange rate combined with Germany’s failure to recognize that their current account surplus must turn to deficit if they ever hope to be repaid promises to lock the Eurozone on the path of ongoing recession.
- I continue to be a skeptic of the pundits rhetoric that a European recession could lead to a true contraction of the economies of China and India. This is unlikely, and bordering on impossible.
- I remain a bear of the U.S. markets, but the U.S. consumer credit numbers for November 2011 (just released in January 2012) were striking and definitely not bearish for the markets. If consumers are happy to take on debt, for whatever reason, it is very bullish sign. However, as with all things in economics, the devil is in the details. Below is a table of the consumer credit breakdown, from December 2010 to November 2011 (the latest available data) from the Federal Reserve Economic Data
- U.S. consumers started the New Year feeling more hopeful about the economy, according to data released Friday. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index for early January increased to 74.0 from a reading of 69.9 at the end of December and a preliminary December reading of 67.7, according to sources who have seen the report.
- Friday’s jobless claims report showed an increase to both initial and continued unemployment claims as seasonally adjusted initial claims jumped back near the so-closely watched 400K level.
- If the United States economy is going to turn down, then foreign trade is the most likely source of the slump.
- FMCSA delays enforcement of final driver work rule until 2013, giving truckers and shippers more time to test impact, prepare a challenge. Many factors may push truck pricing higher this year, but new restrictions on truck driver work hours won’t be among them.
- Rail services linking Asia and Europe are set to boom as shippers take advantage of an operation that is faster than ocean shipping and cheaper than air delivery, rail operators say.
- More Asian air cargo carriers will remove capacity this week year as export traffic remains week, said industry executives. The current air cargo export market out of Asia was “very, very bad,” said Paul Tsui, chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Freight Forwarding and Logistics. He pointed to a 10 percent year-over-year decrease of export traffic at Hong Kong International Airport in the first 11 months of last year. Total traffic was down 5.6 percent in the same period.
- The cost advantage of manufacturing products in low-cost manufacturing locations in Asia will erode in comparison to the U.S. and Mexico in 2012, according to a new report by global consultancy AlixPartners. China, which is experiencing negative pressure as an exporter because of wage inflation, exchange-rate pressures and higher freight rates, could lose its cost advantage vis-à-vis U.S. production in four years if freight rates rise at 5 percent annually, according to the 2011 U.S. Manufacturing-Outsourcing Cost Index.
The global economy could withstand widespread disruption from a natural disaster or attack by militants for only a week as governments and businesses are not sufficiently prepared to deal with unexpected events, a report by a respected think-tank [Chatham] said.
Bakken – North American Miracle?
The “Economic Miracle State” of North Dakota pumped another record amount of oil during the month of November at a daily rate of 509,754 barrels, which was 43% above last year’s output, and the first time that the state’s daily production exceeded 500,000 barrels (see chart above, data here). Oil production in the Peace Garden State has more than doubled from 246,000 barrels per day two years ago, and North Dakota is now producing enough oil to completely displace the imports of crude oil from Colombia (364,000 bpd) or Iraq (422,000 bpd).
And a slightly different perspective on this milestone: On Tuesday afternoon, North Dakota, home to the booming Bakken oil shale, announced that it had scored its first victory over OPEC. Bakken production in November passed the mark of half a million barrels of oil per day, at about 510,000 barrels, surpassing Ecuador. It’s probably worth pointing out Ecuador is the “Rhode Island” of OPEC. In the same way that metaphors looking to make just about any small land area in the world look big use the comparison of Rhode Island, Ecuador is the only OPEC nation that the Bakken can rival, representing 0.6% of OPEC reserves, or roughly 476,000 barrels daily.
Even investors are worried about water: Jonas Kron is worried about water. The investment adviser at Trillium Asset Management, a $900 million fund manager that focuses on environmentally sustainable investment, fears the world’s dwindling supply of fresh water is hurting the companies he has invested in. For most of the year, Kron has led a shareholder challenge to J. M. Smucker, the strawberry jam maker that also owns Folgers coffee. Kron says the company hasn’t demonstrated it’s prepared for the market changes that are sure to come as climate change reduces the size of the world’s coffee growing area.
Climate experts believe that changing rain patterns at Lake Victoria (the world’s second largest lake), consistent with expected climate impacts, are contributing to [falling water levels], and that further changes are possible. “To date the quays have conceded two metres of waters,” Ndaro says in frustration.
Gasoline prices to rise?
Cognizant of the fact that retail gasoline is currently running nearly 30 cents per gallon higher than it was in January 2008 the year when prices topped out at a national average of $4.11 and that gasoline futures have risen by 30 cents a gallon in the last few weeks, there is reason for concern. Typical of the stories is one from the Los Angeles Times that quotes Tom Kloza, long-time chief analyst for the Oil Price Information Service and the go-to guy when one needs numbers and forecasts on gasoline prices. Kloza notes that for the last decade gasoline futures prices, which ultimately determine pump prices, have risen from an autumn low to a spring high by an average of 83 percent. During these years, the annual winter-spring price surge has varied anywhere from 52 to 169 percent making higher prices by summer a fairly sure bet. This year the 2011 low for gasoline on the NY futures market likely will turn out to have been $2.44 a gallon on November 25. If one does the arithmetic using the average price jump of 83 percent, futures prices could be expected to top out in the vicinity of $4.46 a gallon next spring. Adding in the additional 60 cents to get the gasoline taxed and to the nozzle of your pump, we could theoretically be paying a national average on the order of $5.00 a gallon before the 4th of July. This of course assumes that nothing bad happens in the Middle East that restricts or seriously threatens the flow of oil exports and sends prices much higher.
With natural gas in such abundance here in the US and its low price, every day more people are wondering why nothing significant is being done to increase its use on a much wider scale. Of course, these low prices are temporary for this reason and the fact that the same rigs that drill for shale gas can be employed drilling for oil, and, as the report points out, the spread between gas and oil is at an all-time high
Alaska – Outlook for the Alaskan Pipeline Project just got a little less bright
An Alaska natural gas pipeline project that would serve overseas markets seemingly wouldn’t qualify for a loan guarantee under federal law. The Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline Act contains incentives aimed at speeding a project, including authorization for a federal loan guarantee. But Larry Persily, federal coordinator for Alaska natural gas transportation projects, notes that a qualified project under the law is one that would bring gas from Alaska’s North Slope to the continental United States.
Nigeria in crisis
Nigerian oil workers threatened on Wednesday to shut down output in Africa’s top crude producer, deepening a national strike over a more than doubling of petrol prices. With the government and unions locked in a showdown which has paralyzed Nigeria for three days, the biggest oil union said it was ready to halt oil production, although industry officials doubted it could shut down crude exports completely.
Gunmen in Nigeria have opened fire in a bar in the north of the country, killing eight people including several police officers. The attack in Yobe state is the latest in a series that officials blame on the Islamist militant group, Boko Haram.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defended his country’s nuclear program as he began a four-nation tour of Latin America, joining his ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in accusing the U.S. and its allies of using the dispute to unjustly threaten Iran. Both leaders planned to travel to Nicaragua on Tuesday for the inauguration of newly re-elected President Daniel Ortega, and then Ahmadinejad will also visit Cuba and Ecuador. The Iranian leader is using the visit to tout relationships with some of his close friends shortly after the U.S. imposed tougher sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.
European refiners have started to sever links with Iran, stopping spot purchases of crude ahead of a European Union meeting later this month that could impose a full oil embargo on Tehran.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it had told Israel that it would not be “appropriate” for Israeli pilgrims to make an annual visit to the tomb of a 19th-century Jewish holy man in the Nile Delta, as activists mobilized to block the pilgrimage route. Ceremonies at the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abu Hatizra have triggered yearly political sparring in Egypt throughout most of the last decade, with Islamists, nationalists, and others claiming that the government by allowing the pilgrimage is pursuing an unpopular policy of normalization with the country’s former enemy.
A bomber on a motorcycle killed a scientist from Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment site and his bodyguard-driver on Wednesday during the morning commute in Tehran, Iranian media reported, in an assassination that could further elevate international tensions over the Iranian nuclear program and stoke the country’s growing anti-Western belligerence. It was the fourth such attack reported in two years and, as after the previous episodes, Iranian officials accused the United States and Israel of responsibility.
And for a slightly different phrasing of the same incident: An Iranian university professor and deputy director at Natanz enrichment facility was killed in a terrorist bomb blast in a Northern Tehran neighborhood on Wednesday morning.
The European Union’s recent agreement in principle to gradually ban Iranian crude oil imports has brought to a head a long-running dispute between Europe’s economic and foreign ministries. Economic ministries feared politicizing oil because any disruption could hurt fragile economies and send prices soaring. Foreign ministries, for their part, were eager to turn the screws on Tehran with an oil embargo that would raise the costs of the country’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons. This gap is narrowing fast — but not only because of the urgency of increased diplomatic pressure.
How’s this for timing: by accident of Navy schedules, the U.S. military now has two aircraft carrier battle groups near Iran’s shores, with a third on her way, right as a bomb killed an Iranian nuclear scientist and Iran threatens to close off a key waterway.
Israel’s military chief said on Tuesday that the army was preparing for a potential influx of refugees into the Golan Heights from Syria with the demise of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which he said was inevitable.
An Algerian has quit the Arab League team sent to check Syria’s compliance with an Arab peace plan, and a second monitor said he might leave because the mission was failing to end the killing of civilians protesting against the president’s rule.
Bunker prices have rallied at the start of 2012 to levels not seen since 2008, when record crude oil prices pushed the price of marine fuels to all-time highs. The price of 380 centistokes (cSt) bunker fuel, the most widely used bunker grade, rose to $740 per metric tonne (pmt) in Singapore on Wednesday, January 11. That was just over $20 shy of an all-time high of $761.50 set on July 15 in the world’s leading bunkering port, 2008 according to Bunkerworld data
Around 300 Chinese workers who manufacture XBox consoles took to a factory roof and threatened bosses with mass suicide over a dispute about pay, unconfirmed reports have claimed. The workers were employed at the Foxconn Technology Park in Wuhan in Hubei province. Foxconn is an independent, global manufacturing partner to companies including Apple, Microsoft and Sony.
I highly recommend this podcast which covers the disturbing Foxconn story in an entertaining and enlightening manner.
Is the EU in recession? The German economy is likely to have shrunk by 0.25% in the final quarter of 2011, an official from the Federal Statistics Office has said.
A digital rights and civil liberties group has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, demanding that they release information on who is authorized to operate drones within the United States.
Lagos ports remained closed on Tuesday as Nigeria’s nationwide strike by labour and civil rights groups entered a second day. The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) said ships were neither berthing nor leaving and that 29 ships had been effectively trapped.
A cargo vessel that broke its moorings off the Australian territory of Christmas Island sank during severe weather on Monday night spilling the majority of its contents, including bunker fuel, into surrounding waters. The Panamanian-flagged MV Tycoon was carrying approximately 102 metric tonnes (mt) of intermediate fuel oil (IFO), 11,000 litres of lubricant oil, 32 tonnes of diesel oil and approximately 260 tonnes of phosphate.
Bad timing if you’re into piping tar sands syncrude out of Canada
Canadian pipeline builder Enbridge reported a leak from one of its pipelines on the day public hearings began into the company’s planned Northern Gateway pipeline. U.S. pipeline regulators told Enbridge about the possible leak. A subsequent helicopter over-flight discovered a metre-wide patch of bubbles over the company’s Stingray pipeline, which can carry 560-million cubic feet a day of natural gas from offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico. The bubbles were found about 100 kilometres from the Louisiana coast.
Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through British Columbia’s mountains faces rising costs as regulators and opponents weigh environmental threats in the latest battle over Alberta’s oil sands.
With energy demand on the rise and sources of supply dwindling, we are, in fact, entering a new epoch — the Geo-Energy Era — in which disputes over vital resources will dominate world affairs. In 2012 and beyond, energy and conflict will be bound ever more tightly together, lending increasing importance to the key geographical flashpoints in our resource-constrained world.
The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to pass — with only six nays — the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011. At the Hill’s Congress Blog, Jamir Abdi explains that (as you may have heard) it contains “a provision—inserted without debate in committee after garnering the majority of its cosponsors—that would outlaw contact between U.S. government employees and certain Iranian officials.”
In this month’s update of the “real” employment situation we will dig down behind the headlines and look deeper into the recent release of the Employment Situation report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Remember the GOM BP oil spill?
After the catastrophic explosion in April 2010 at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, it’s believed that 206 million gallons of crude shot from the riser pipe over three months. Now, learning what was released, how much and where are key for understanding the impact on ecosystems, a Sarasota Herald-Tribune report said. As much as 36 percent of the oil remained in deep underwater plumes, a government-funded study published Monday said.
Some more on coal
Alpha Natural Resources Inc. has settled all remaining wrongful-death lawsuits with the families of coal miners killed in a 2010 explosion that was the worst U.S. mining accident in four decades. Alpha inherited the civil suits when it acquired Massey Energy for $7.1 billion last June, more than a year after an explosion at Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia killed 29 miners.
A Spanish member of the European Parliament has renewed his attacks on bunkering in the Bay of Gibraltar. “These waters are suffering the negative effects of repeated spills of fuel and facing the risks posed by extremely dense maritime traffic and constant uncontrolled bunkering operations,” said Fancisco Sosa Wagner.
Apologies, I just realized my post yesterday somehow got destroyed… so here it is again, this time in complete form.
The year in review and the year ahead by Derik Andreoli (Logistics Management)
The second liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility in North America—originally designed for imports—is being constructed in Louisiana. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released an environmental assessment of the Sabine Pass LNG facility. FERC found that approval of the project, with a few changes, would not significantly affect the “quality of the human environment.” The deadline for comments is January 27.
Getting thirsty, yet?
Perhaps the West is looking a bit like Texas where: Water has always been a concern for 65-year-old Joe Parker, who manages a 19,000-acre cattle ranch here in South Texas. “Water is scarce in our area,” he says, and a scorching yearlong drought has made it even scarcer. What has Mr. Parker especially concerned are the drilling rigs that now dot the flat, brushy landscape. Each oil well in the area, using the technique known as hydraulic fracturing, requires about six million gallons of water to break open rocks far below the surface and release oil and natural gas. Mr. Parker says he worries about whether the underground water can support both ranching and energy exploration.
A tunnel beneath the Yellow River, China’s second longest, and related water gates and ditches have been completed for the eastern route of the country’s giant south-north water diversion project. Water diverted from the Yangtze, China’s largest river, along the eastern route will flow through the tunnel to the parched northern provinces of Shandong and Hebei as well as Tianjin Municipality, the Shandong Provincial Construction Management Bureau of South-to-North Water Diversion Project said in a statement on Sunday.
One of the government’s top scientists says much more research is needed to determine the possible impacts of shale gas drilling on human health and the environment. “Studies should include all the ways people can be exposed, such as through air, water, soil, plants and animals,” Dr. Christopher Portier wrote to The Associated Press in an email.
Federal environmental regulators took steps Friday to deliver drinking water to several Dimock Twp. homes where tainted well water has been tied to nearby gas drilling, according to three families who spoke with EPA officials.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency abruptly changed its mind Saturday about delivering fresh water to residents of a northeastern Pennsylvania village where residential wells were found to be tainted by a natural gas drilling operation. Only 24 hours after promising them water, EPA officials informed residents of Dimock that a tanker truck wouldn’t be coming after all. The about-face left residents furious, confused and let down — and, once again, scrambling for water for bathing, washing dishes and flushing toilets.
About being a net petroleum products exporter…
Growing tension with Iran and a threat to global crude supplies may be dominating oil traders’ attention but a potentially bigger story is breaking on the demand side of the market. Petroplus, Europe’s largest independent refining company, this week began shutting down three of its five refineries, halting about a quarter of a million barrels of daily production.
Meanwhile in the MENA
As the US completed its official withdrawal from Iraq, a series of events stoked a political crisis that will push Iraq toward a precipice. Observers questioned the timing of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s audacious moves against two of Iraq’s senior Sunni politicians, Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlak. All within days of the troop withdrawal, Maliki called on the parliament to depose Mutlak, who recently likened Maliki to Saddam, and the judiciary issued an arrest warrant for VP Hashemi’s alleged involvement in terrorist activities. Kurdish officials have refused to comply…
The Arab League has urged the Syrian government to end its violence against protesters and allow League monitors in the country to work more freely, but stopped short of asking the U.N. to help.
Iran’s top nuclear official announced this weekend that the country was on the verge of starting production at its second major uranium enrichment site, in a defiant declaration that its nuclear program would continue despite new international sanctions restricting its oil revenue.
Iran’s Revolutionary Court has sentenced an Iranian-American man to death for spying for the CIA, officials said on Monday, a move likely to aggravate U.S.-Iranian tensions already high because of Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.
Iran has described the US Navy’s rescue of 13 Iranian fishermen held by Somali pirates as a “humanitarian gesture”. Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said his country had also rescued foreign sailors from pirates on occasion. But he said such acts did not affect overall relations between countries.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez dismissed a U.S. warning to avoid close ties with Iran on Sunday, denouncing what he said was Washington’s attempt to dominate the world as he welcomed the Iranian president to the Latin American nation.
And things are getting worse in Nigeria
Nigeria’s president has said for the first time he thinks sympathisers of the Islamist Boko Haram group are in his government and security agencies. Goodluck Jonathan’s comments come amid a wave of violence blamed on Boko Haram which has left dozens of people dead in the north, most of them Christians. Mr Jonathan also said the security situation was now more complex than during the civil war four decades ago.
A general strike in Nigeria over the elimination of a fuel subsidy has brought the country to a standstill. Shops, offices, schools and petrol stations around the country closed on the first day of an indefinite strike.
Nigeria was paralysed by strike action over high fuel prices on Monday, with shops, schools and banks shut, roads empty and thousands of people joining demonstrations in large cities. Police shot dead one man and injured several others in Lagos, a union leader said, near to where several thousand people had gathered peacefully in a park to denounce President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
A bit on coal
Exports of coal are helping drive the business for railroads, but will new regulations leave the business in the dust? Coal exports may account for less than 10 percent of U.S. production, but strong demand from overseas buyers proved critical for domestic mining companies facing weak utility markets in 2011.
And some other stuff
Economic growth was disappointing in 2011 and a strong rebound is unlikely in 2012, but North America’s railroads will continue to outperform the overall economy, especially in the intermodal sector.
More than 60 percent of truckers surveyed in November said they expect volume to increase in 2012, with only 2 percent expecting freight levels to decrease, says trucking acquisition analysis and research firm Transport Capital Partners. An even larger share, 70 percent, said they expect rates to rise
Truckload rates rose less than some carriers expected but more than shippers wanted in 2011, with spot market rates on average rising 7.4 percent and contract rates climbing an average 6.5 percent, a freight pricing specialist says.
An system that allows ships to make emulsion fuel onboard could help ship operates save on bunker cost while also ensuring compliance with global and regional emissions standards, according to the company that makes it. (my note: we’re talking fuel savings of 5 to 15%…)
Shale gas pipeline costs triple (Underground Construction)
As natural gas prices fall, shale drilling loses some luster by Loren Steffy (Houston Chronicle)
Do oil companies need a belly rub? by Steve LeVine (Oil and Glory, Foreign Policy)
International players jump at U.S. shale by Simone Sebastian (Houston Chronicle)
Are E&P companies coming to their senses about gas? by G. Allen Brooks (Rigzone)
Virtually No One Can Predict Natural Gas Prices by Devon Shire (Seeking Alpha)
EPA may retest PA. water near fracking by Edward McAllister and Timothy Gardner (Reuters)
Persian Gulf Storm Clouds by Robert McMahon (CFR)
Damascus street explosion kills 25 by Abigail Fielding-Smith in Beirut (FT)
Arab League role in Syria questioned by Abigail Fielding-Smith in Beirut and Roula Khalaf in London (FT)
Political Role for Militants Worsens Fault Lines in Iraq by Jack Healy and Michael Schmidt (NYT)
Italy urges gradual Iran oil ban by James Blitz in London and Guy Dinmore in Rome (FT)
Iran is baiting, but America won’t bite by Ian Bremmer and Cliff Kupchan (FT)
Seoul and Tokyo seek to ease Iran oil ties by Ben McLannahan and Song Jung-a (FT)
A new gas-to-liquid fuels technology by Harry Tournemille (EnergyBoom)
Boko Haram Backgrounder (CFR)
Eurozone unemployment raises recession fears by Stanley Pignal (FT)
What America looked like before the EPA by Jess Zimmerman (Grist)
EPA releases toxic release analysis (UPI.com)