Here are some more selected news articles for the week ending 22 May 2021. Go here for Oil, Gas, And Fracking News Read 23May 2021 – Part 1.
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Is DEEPROP A Missing Ingredient For More Efficient Fracking In Shale Wells? The shale revolution has occupied the first 20 years of the new century. The key to success was technology – a long horizontal well (up to two miles long) fracked up to 40 times along its length. Each fracking operation basically cracked up the shale rock around the horizontal well, and by using up to 40 separate fracking operations, the shale was cracked up along the entire length of the horizontal well. Oil or gas molecules could find their way to a crack, and then hustle along a series of crack conduits to the horizontal well. Voila! a commercial well. But one important step is missing. After fracking operations cease, the crack conduits tend to close under the intense stress of the rock. If they close, the oil and gas has no preferred pathways, and the well is not profitable.The traditional antidote has been to inject proppant – a variety of sand – into the well. The sand grains act to prop open the cracks and stop them from closing. For shale oil or gas wells, what operators found out quickly was that conventional 20-40 sized sand, used for decades in fracking operations, could not be pumped into the cracks because the cracks in shale were too thin in width. It was like trying to fit walnuts into a crack in the sidewalk. They had to reduce the size of the proppant and found by trial and error the best sand was a mix of 100-mesh and 40-70.For over 20 years, this has been the status quo. But in 2014, the position waschallenged: finer sand should have an advantage because it would fit into smaller cracks and hold them open, and this would allow even more molecules of gas or oil to get to the wellbore.The report told of a study of gas production from five shale wells, where the correlations implied that using more 100-mesh proppant in the fracking recipe led to greater gas production. But others argued theoretically for less 100-mesh sand because it was weaker than 40-70 mesh sand and less resistant to crushing by higher stresses trying to close the fractures.In the last few years, a new type of proppant has come along. Its smaller in size than 100-mesh, rounder, and stronger, and it’s called DEEPROP. It is sometimes called microproppant because of its small size: 400-500 mesh (about 0.05 mm or 1/20 of a millimeter). DEEPROP is a tiny microproppant material that has been shown to increase well productivity by between 20-40% in multi-year trials, in over 250 wells in 6 major US shale plays. Mesh size of the proppant is 400-500 (0.05 mm). The particles are made of ceramic and are spherical. DEEPROP allows operators to place proppant in smaller fractures, further from the wellbore and it has been shown to slow flowrate decline and increase estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) from a shale gas or shale oil well.
IEA’s First 1.5°C Climate Model Rejects New Fossil Fuel Extraction –For years, we’ve seen fossil fuel companies and governments justify their fossil fuel expansion plans – from the TransMountain tar sands pipeline expansion to Arctic oil drilling to the Adani coal mine – on the backs of scenarios from the International Energy Agency (IEA).This was possible because, until today, the world’s most influential energy modeling agency had not produceda scenario actually aligned with the full ambition of the Paris Agreement goals. That’s true no longer.Now, after years of pressure from climate advocates, investors, businesses, and diplomats, the IEA has finallyreleased its first ever fully-fledged energy scenario aligned with the urgent goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C). As with past IEA modeling efforts, this new scenario needs some fixes (more on that below), and we’re still analyzing all of its implications. But one conclusion in particular stands out to us at Oil Change International (OCI).In its Summary for Policymakers, in a bolded headline, the IEA finds that, “There is no need for investment in new fossil fuel supply in our net zero pathway.”They add, “Beyond projects already committed as of 2021, there are no new oil and gas fields approved for development in our pathway, and no new coal mines or mine extensions are required.”This is huge. An agency that has consistently boosted new oil and gas development in its flagship annual World Energy Outlook (WEO) is now backing up the global call to stop the expansion of fossil fuel extraction.Big Oil and Gas companies and the governments of fossil fuel-producing countries have lost one of their key covers for claiming that developing new oil and gas reserves is fully consistent with their commitments to “net zero” or the Paris Agreement. People around the world who have been demanding that governments, banks, and other financial institutions stop enabling the expansion of oil, gas, and coal extraction can point to the IEA’s “authoritative” analysis reaching the same conclusion. Of course, the IEA is behind the curve. OCI has been analyzing the disconnect between new fossil fuel development and the Paris goals since 2016. We found then that already operating or under construction oil and gas fields and coal mines contain enough fossil fuel reserves to push the world well beyond 1.5 degrees of warming. The implication was as clear then as it is now: The world must stop digging new holes, and focus instead on managing a rapid and equitable wind down of already developed extraction.
The Renewables vs Oil Spend of Majors – BP and Total have the biggest announced renewables targets to 2030 among the oil and gas majors, according to Rystad Energy, which highlights that the companies are aiming for 50 gigawatts (GW) of capacity.This is more than double that of any other major during the same period, with Eni, Shell, Equinor, and Repsol all targeting under 20 GW of renewables capacity, Galp aiming for 10 GW and Chevron aiming for well under five GW, Rystad outlines.If we take BP and Total’s 50 GW target by 2030 as their renewables investment benchmark, the companies will have to spend roughly $5 billion to $6 billion per year on new projects within renewables to reach their targets, according to Vegard Wiik Vollset, Rystad Energy’s vice president of renewable energy.In comparison, Vollset highlighted that BP’s planned capital expenditure (CAPEX) on oil and gas projects to 2030 is $8 billion per year and Total’s planned CAPEX on oil and gas projects to 2030 is around $10 billion per year. Going by the figures above, on average, BP’s annual oil and gas spend would be around 37.5 percent to 25 percent higher than its annual renewables spend to 2030 and Total’s annual oil and gas spend would be around 50 percent to 40 percent higher than its annual renewables investment during the same period..“Whereas the European majors have already made strategic shifts into renewables, the U.S. majors have yet to make any material investments within renewables energy,” Vollset added.Commenting on what the potential percentage breakdown of investment among the majors may look like to 2050, Emma Richards, a senior oil and gas analyst at Fitch Solutions, noted that it would be hard to gauge as CAPEX projections tend to be short run.“Net zero ambitions can offer a guide, but what this means in terms of spending on renewables versus oil and gas will depend on a host of factors, not least the deployment of carbon capture technologies and the use of carbon offsets,” Richards told Rigzone.
Analysis finds $8.1 billion gap in New Mexico bonding requirements, clean up costs for oil and gas – Oil and gas infrastructure could leave the state with a hefty price tag for cleanup if companies go bankrupt, according to a new analysis completed by the Center for Applied Research. The analysis found an $8.18 billion difference between the bonds for the infrastructure in the state and the cost of cleaning up the sites. Companies issue bonds to provide financial assurance that the sites will be cleaned up in case of bankruptcy. The Center for Applied Research is an economic consulting firm that focuses on “resource valuation and market analysis pertaining to tribal lands and state trust lands,” Chad Linse, an economist with the organization, told NM Political Report in an email. According to the report, it will cost approximately $8.38 billion to clean up the oil and gas infrastructure currently located on state and private lands in New Mexico. The amount of money available through the required financial assurances, or bonds, is $201.42 million. That leaves the approximately $8.18 billion gap. Some of the infrastructure does not have any bonding requirements. This includes compressor station sites, freshwater frac ponds and storage facilities or warehouses. Additionally, companies with a larger number of wells pay less per well. For example, operators with more than 100 wells carry an average of $127 in bonds per well. Meanwhile, a company operating a single well would have an average of $13,203 in bonds for that well. The report states that market volatility is common in the petroleum industry and it is not uncommon for an operator to file bankruptcy in the middle of operations. This is particularly true if there is an economic downturn or if demand for petroleum decreases. Related: With oil’s future uncertain, orphaned wells on public lands could become a big problem for New Mexico “We have completed several studies related to the oil and gas industry’s use of New Mexico state trust lands in the past,” Linse said. “However, this is the first study we have undertaken looking at financial assurance requirements for oil and gas infrastructure.” Linse said the Center is hopeful that its findings will be useful during discussions about bonding policies in New Mexico.
Rare FERC move sparks heated debate over commission’s role assessing pipeline climate impacts | Utility Dive –Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners on Thursday resparked the debate about whether federal regulators should take climate change into account when considering the environmental impacts of a gas pipeline project. Commissioners voted 3-2 to approve two pipeline projects proposed by the Northern Natural Gas Company in Minnesota and the Tuscarora Gas Transmission Company in Nevada, after reviewing their respective climate impacts. The projects were poised to be rejected by FERC before Commissioner James Danly, who briefly chaired the commission under President Donald Trump, proposed a last minute amendment to avoid setting a precedent on examining climate impacts – and to secure his own vote. FERC for the first time in March considered how a proposed pipeline project’s downstream emissions would impact the climate, ultimately determining they were not significant enough to deny certification. But the two projects put in front of the commission on Thursday had “significantly higher” emissions impacts, according to Chairman Richard Glick, leading him and Commissioner Allison Clements to oppose, in part, the certifications.Last minute changes to FERC orders are legal, but rare, and Thursday’s amendment sparked a heated debate during the monthly commission meeting over whether the timing of such a change was appropriate. “I talked to you many times yesterday. I talked to you again this morning. You didn’t even mention [the amendment] once,” said Glick. “You didn’t share it with anyone.” “This is not a game,” said Commissioner Neil Chatterjee. “People are watching this, the markets are watching this. We are toying with these companies. If this sentence is what it would have taken to have gotten us the three votes, it should have been offered before the meeting.” The amendment offered a single sentence, tacked onto each of the certificate orders for the two pipelines: “The forgoing analysis of greenhouse gas emissions is offered for informational purposes only, does not inform any part of this order’s holding, and shall not serve as precedent for any future certificate order.” Without this sentence, Danly said he couldn’t support the certification process, because the commission in this case and in the previous case was departing from precedent without acknowledging the departure in a meaningful way. It’s “unfair” to make such changes while FERC is in the midst of a broader review of how it approves gas infrastructure, Danly said.
PUBLIC LANDS: Barrasso bill would unlock nearly 100K acres in Wyo. — Friday, May 21, 2021 — –Nearly 100,000 acres of federal lands in Wyoming would return to less restrictive uses under a new proposal from Sen. John Barrasso.
North Dakota regulators approve McKenzie County pipeline project – North Dakota regulators have approved a pipeline project in McKenzie County that will direct more Bakken crude to a Wyoming oil hub. Bridger Pipeline plans to convert 27 miles of an oil gathering pipeline into a transmission line. It also will build an additional 2.4 miles of pipe to extend the line, which will run from Johnson’s Corner east of Watford City to Bridger’s Wilson Station south of the town. Other pipelines will transport the oil to Guernsey, Wyoming, and then to market in other states. Gathering lines tend to be smaller, collecting oil from wells, whereas transmission lines tend to be larger, taking oil from central locations such as a terminal or storage facility to market. The state Public Service Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to authorize the project. Commission Chair Julie Fedorchak said she sees it as a sign of the Bakken’s recovery following the oil downturn brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. “Any time these companies are adding more infrastructure and spending money, I think it shows a belief this play is here for the long haul,” she said. “I feel that it sends a strong message this company and others are still pretty hopeful and confident in the future of the Bakken.” She said commissioners “feel very comfortable” with Bridger’s pipeline monitoring plans after discussing them with the company at a hearing earlier this year. Fedorchak referenced past sloughing issues the company has faced, saying Bridger has since focused more on land stability and pipeline monitoring. Bridger is part of True Companies. A pipeline operated under a different True Companies subsidiary leaked 12,615 barrels or 530,000 gallons of oil in Billings County in 2016 when a hill slumped.
DAPL cites Colonial Pipeline outage as reason to remain open -The owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline cited the recent Colonial Pipeline outage from a cyberattack and a May 16 train derailment in Iowa as reasons to keep the major Bakken Shale crude oil artery open as it faces a potential court-ordered shutdown. The DAPL court filing on May 17 also quotes US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm talking about the urgency to get the Colonial petroleum products pipelines back online — and not relying too long on alternate truck or rail transport — when she said, “Pipe is the best way to go.” Colonial was down for about a week, triggering more than half of all fueling stations in several Southern states to run out of gasoline amid panic-buying, and they are only slowly being replenished as of May 17. There is an ongoing sense of urgency for DAPL proponents to state their case because US District Judge James Boasberg of the District of Columbia is expected to rule in the coming days or weeks whether to close the 570,000 b/d pipeline while the US Army Corps of Engineers completes a court-ordered environmental review that could put the pipeline in proper legal standing. That Environmental Impact Statement study is not expected to be finalized until March 2022. Pipeline operator Energy Transfer also is appealing to the US Supreme Court. This effort comes after the April 23 denial of the rehearing en banc request from the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which means the previous ruling stands: The four-year-old pipeline is operating without a legal water-crossing easement. The DAPL case is closely watched by industry and environmental observers alike because it could potentially set a standard for attempting to close existing pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure. The new DAPL court filing contends Granholm’s comments are “instructive on the severe disruption of a pipeline shutdown, as well as the relative superiority of pipeline transportation over rail or truck.” Colonial is the primary supplier of gasoline to the South and East Coast, while DAPL moves the most Bakken crude to refineries. DAPL ships more than 40% of Bakken oil and is responsible for 4.5 percent of all daily U.S. crude production, the filing noted. “Thus, DAPL — like Colonial — is a vital component of the supply chain for petroleum and petroleum products in the United States. And, as is the case with Colonial, rail and truck are inferior alternatives due to their limited availability in the short term, and the greater economic, environmental, and safety costs they impose,” the court filing concluded, also highlighting a May 16 Union Pacific derailment in Iowa involving a train carrying petrochemicals.
Judge allows DAPL to keep flowing during environmental review | INFORUM – The decision comes as a relief to a North Dakota oil industry that has been on edge over the fate of DAPL for the better part of a year, as well as a discouraging blow to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and environmental activists who have vigorously opposed the pipeline since its construction began in 2016. – The same federal judge who almost a year ago ordered an immediate shutdown of the Dakota Access Pipeline ruled Friday, May 21, that the embattled project can keep running through the completion of an extensive environmental review.The much-anticipated decision allowing the pipeline to continue operations even though it lacks a key legal permit comes as relief to a North Dakota oil industry that has been on edge for the better part of a year. It’s also a major blow to Indigenous and environmental activists who had hoped that the court’s prior position on the pipeline could foreshadow another shutdown order.U.S. District Judge James Boasberg’s ruling also comes in the wake of decisions by officials in President Joe Biden’s administration to punt on opportunities to shutter the pipeline themselves, leaving its short-term future in the hands of the court.”The Court acknowledges the Tribes’ plight, as well as their understandable frustration with a political process in which they all too often seem to come up just short,” Boasberg wrote. But he added that “judges may travel only as far as the law takes them and no further. Here, the law is clear, and it instructs that the Court deny Plaintiffs’ request for an injunction.”
NoDAPL Legacy: A pivotal moment of togetherness for Indigenous peoples -Five years have passed since the world watched as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stood against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline just north of their tribal land. And, the pipeline continues to be a source of division to this day. While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completes a new environmental report on the pipeline, new research by the American Petroleum Institute shows that shuttering the pipeline would cut oil production from the Bakken shale region, killing thousands of jobs and costing state and local governments millions in tax revenues generated by energy production. For Monday’s report, we are exploring a different conversation. NoDAPL united thousands of water protectors, including representatives from more than 300 tribal nations. It’s easy to look back on NoDAPL as a divisive time where one side was pitted against the other, but in all actuality, it was a time of togetherness for Indigenous communities. Alayna Eagle Shield was there when thousands of water protectors began arriving to camp. “I had always heard about it growing up that we were going to come together again, I just didn’t know it would be in my lifetime or my kid’s lifetime,” said Mni Wiconi Clinic and Farm Co-Executive Director Eagle Shield. People from all over the world who knew traditional medicines and healing practices came together. Integrating everything from medicinal herbs, to acupuncture, to even midwifery. A baby was born at camp. “That’s something we’ve been told over and over by our elders. Don’t say that we’re bringing back these ways, or we’re going back to this because they’ve never left. They’ve always been here. They’ve just been in a different state,” explained Eagle Shield.
North Dakota PSC Approves Bridger Pipeline — May 21, 2021 -The ND Public Service Commission approved a crude oil pipeline conversion project this week that can serve as an alternative route for North Dakota oil producers to deliver Bakken crude to market.The Bridger Pipeline project originates near Johnson’s Corner in McKenzie County, and runs 29.4 miles southwest to Bridger’s Wilson Station located seven miles south of Watford City where it interconnects with Bridger’s existing crude oil transmission network. The projects consists of 2.4 miles of new pipeline and the conversion of an existing 27-mile gathering line. The $21 million, 8-inch pipeline project will be capable of transporting up to 50,000 barrels of oil per day to a Wyoming hub, which interconnects with other pipelines that would move the crude to refineries in the Midwest or Gulf Coast. PSC Chair Julie Fedorchak noted that the pipeline runs through some rough terrain prone to landslides, but said she is comfortable that the company is familiar with potential hazards and is prepared to deal with them.
Porter blasts oil CEOs: ‘Declined to answer to the American people’ –Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) on Wednesday chastised oil company executives who declined her invitation to testify before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, saying they “declined to answer to the American people.” Porter, who chairs the subcommittee, invited the CEOs of ExxonMobil, Devon Energy and EOG Resources to testify at a hearing, which was titled, “Misuse of Taxpayer Dollars and Corporate Welfare in the Oil and Gas Industry.” All three, as well as officials with the trade group Western Energy Alliance, ultimately declined. “I have long said that congressional hearings are opportunities for representatives and witnesses to be in conversation with Americans. Yet, despite receiving billions in taxpayer subsidies, every witness that we invited today from the oil and gas industry declined to answer to the American people,” Porter said, responding during Wednesday’s hearing. Porter particularly pointed to tax breaks meant to encourage fossil fuel production, what she described as “outdated” royalty rates and rental fees for public lands drilling as well as coronavirus-related aid. Exxon also declined to participate in a separate Senate hearing that took place last month. Exxon spokesperson Casey Norton told The Hill last week in an email, “We provided our responses to the members of Congress, and we will continue to engage with them on the important issue of climate change.” Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, told The Hill via email last week that the group had a board meeting at the same time, but also characterized the hearing as political. “I’ve willingly participated in many hearings over the years, and am always happy to engage in a rational dialogue with Congress on important energy issues. But this hearing has no clear goals with a Chair who’s more interested in scoring messaging points than discussing issues, so I didn’t feel inclined to rearrange my schedule,” Sgamma said. Asked for additional comment on Wednesday, she also pushed back on Porter’s remark about taxpayer subsidies, saying in an email that the industry “pays many times over in state, federal and local taxes (corporate, income, severance, property, etc.) and royalties… what are incorrectly claimed to be subsidies.” EOG and Devon didn’t respond to The Hill’s request for comment last week, and none of the companies immediately responded to The Hill’s request for additional comment on Porter’s remarks on Wednesday.
Third oil worker dies from COVID-19 outbreak at Canadian Natural Resources’ Alberta worksite – The massive COVID-19 outbreak at Canadian Natural Resources’ Horizon oil tar-sands worksite in northern Alberta claimed another worker’s life Tuesday, bringing the publicly acknowledged death toll among the workforce to three. With the local health system collapsing, the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, where the Horizon mine and most other Canadian oil tar-sands operations are located, declared a local state of emergency late last month. Since then infections and deaths have continued to surge. The latest victim was a worker in his 60s, who had two children and seven grandchildren. He had been employed at CNRL’s Horizon site as a pipefitter from late March. Alberta has been ravaged by a third wave of the pandemic directly attributable to the Canadian ruling class’ policy, implemented by the federal Liberal government and with especial gusto by the province’s United Conservative Party (UCP) government, of prioritizing corporate profits over saving lives. Currently Alberta has among the highest per capita infection and active COVID-19 case rates in North America, and in proportionate terms Wood Buffalo is the hardest-hit region in Alberta. According to local public health officials, there are currently 30 workplace and 19 school outbreaks in Wood Buffalo, and 31 COVID-stricken patients are hospitalized at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre (NLRHC) in Fort McMurray, Wood Buffalo’s principal population centre. Eight of the 31 are in intensive care (ICU), but just during the past week 16 other ICU patients were transferred from NLRHC to Edmonton hospitals. Across the province, there are 241 COVID patients in ICUs. In anticipation of a continuing wave of infection and death, the UCP government is hastily building more field hospitals, even as it orders schools across the province, with the lone exception of those in Wood Buffalo, to reopen next Tuesday. Throughout the pandemic oil-sands mining operations and the work camps that support them have been designated an essential service by the hard-right, Jason Kenney-led UCP government, and have thus been exempt from any restrictions on their operating at full-tilt. When the government was recently compelled to announce a new rule that workplaces with 10 or more infections must close, the energy sector was excluded as an “essential service.”
Big Gun, Part 2 – Why Natural Gas Production Took Off In British Columbia’s Montney Region –The Montney Formation in British Columbia and Alberta is exclusively responsible for the turnaround in Western Canada’s natural gas production in the past decade. Gas production in the Montney – a vast area with extraordinary reserves – has doubled in that time, with most of that growth coming from the BC side of the formation. This phenomenal growth story stems from a few key factors, including steadily improving gas well performance and increasing wellbore length, coupled with access to an established network of gas pipelines. Today, we delve into what has made BC’s portion of the Montney such as standout.After the acclaimed oil sands of Alberta, the Montney Formation is probably the most talked about geologic play in Western Canada in the past 20 years. Mostly known for its immense reserves and growing production of natural gas, the Montney has risen to prominence in the context of both the Canadian and broader North American gas markets. Within a few years, its reserves will also begin feeding the currently under construction LNG Canada liquefaction plant and export terminal on the BC coast, extending the access of Montney gas to overseas markets. In Part 1 of this series, we said that the immense Montney Formation straddles the provincial boundary between BC and Alberta (yellow-outlined region in Figure 1) and covers about 50,000 square miles (~130,000 square kilometers), making it about two-thirds the size of the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico. Joint studies between the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) and the provincial energy agencies of BC and Alberta have estimated remaining recoverable reserves for the Montney at 567 Tcf, with about 342 Tcf in BC and 224 Tcf in Alberta. We noted that the Montney is sandwiched between the Duvernay Formation and the Alberta Deep Basin, areas that also have considerable hydrocarbon reserves.
U.S. halts operations at Caribbean oil refinery after breakdowns U.S. regulators ordered the Limetree Bay refinery on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, to cease operations for at least 60 days, throwing the multibillion-dollar overhaul of the massive plant into jeopardy. The Caribbean refinery has suffered several financial and operational setbacks since its private equity owners sought to restart the 1,500 acre (607-hectare) facility idled since 2012. It voluntarily stopped processing this week after showering nearby homes with an oily mist for the second time this year. The incident exceeded the plant’s permit for sulfur dioxide emissions, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said. The EPA ordered the facility closed “due to multiple improperly conducted operations that present an imminent risk to public health” and signaled it might take further action. A Limetree spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment. On Thursday, a malfunction in a processing unit led the company to send staff to inspect local properties. It advised residents not to drink from rainwater cisterns. Its former owners filed for bankruptcy in 2015, facing heavy losses and U.S. Clean Air Act violations that required millions of dollars in upgrades. In 2016, Boston-based private equity firm Arclight Capital Partners acquired it and recruited other investors including EIG Global Partners that put about $3 billion into a plan to begin processing 210,000 barrels per day of crude into gasoline, diesel and fuel oil. Conditions at the old facility caused delays, as did the COVID-19 pandemic. After an extensive overhaul, operators last year began restarts that led to a fire. Oil rained on nearby homes for the second time in four months. “These repeated incidents at the refinery have been and remain totally unacceptable. Today, I have ordered the refinery to immediately pause all operations until we can be assured that this facility can operate in accordance with laws that protect public health,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement.
Shell secures investor backing for its energy transition plan, but a growing minority rebel – – Royal Dutch Shell shareholders on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted in favor of the oil giant’s energy transition plans at its annual general meeting, though a growing minority defied recommendations and insisted the company do much more to tackle the climate emergency.Shell said that the company’s own resolution received 88.74% of shareholder votes. The Anglo-Dutch oil major’s board had requested support for its Energy Transition Strategy – a vote that was the first of its kind in the energy sector.The result, while non-binding, was widely expected and ostensibly provides Shell with a shareholder mandate to proceed with its plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. However, 11% of shareholders voted against Shell’s own climate plans. This contrasted with 19 other resolutions put forward at the online AGM, where up to 99% of investors followed management advice.To be sure, U.K. corporate governance code stipulates that any shareholder vote above 20% requires the company to go back to investors to discuss their concerns.What’s more, it is perhaps a sharp increase in the number of shareholders choosing to support a separate motion on Tuesday that could be a catalyst for greater action. Shareholders rejected a second climate resolution put forward by activist investor Follow This by a vote of 69.53%. The Dutch group put forward the motion urging investors to vote with them to compel the company to be much more ambitious with its climate policy.Speaking to CNBC ahead of the vote, Follow This founder Mark van Baal had said he was confident a larger proportion of shareholders would back their proposal at Shell’s AGM. This prediction has now been proven correct, with more than 30% of investors backing their motion – a marked improvement from a vote of 14.4% last year.In 2016, just 2.7% of investors supported Follow This’ climate motion at Shell’s AGM.”This year for the first time, Shell put forward its own climate plan for a vote – and yet again, shareholders are sending a strong signal that Shell will have to set new targets. Shell’s policy falls short of what is needed to protect investors from devastating climate change,” Follow This’ van Baal said in a statement shortly after the vote. He added the company would now have to revise its targets once again.
Oil Demand Is Rebounding Fast In Europe –Traffic on Europe’s highways and in the biggest cities has been rising in recent weeks as economies reopen, suggesting a rebound in road transportation fuel demand.Traffic on highways in Spain and France, one of the largest car markets in Europe, is now only slightly off the pre-COVID levels from 2019, according to data from highway operators quoted by Bloomberg.Many European countries have been gradually reopening over the past month while advancing vaccination rates prompt more people to travel on the roads. This is bullish news for gasoline and diesel demand, which is expected to be the first to recover to pre-pandemic levels, especially compared to the lagging aviation fuel demand.Traffic in European capitals is also intensifying, with traffic in 15 capitals reaching the busiest this year, according to data from location technology company TomTom NV cited by Bloomberg.Fuel sales in the United Kingdom surged this month to their highest level since the first lockdown in March last year, suggesting that the reopening that began in April is already resulting in higher oil demand and economic growth. With domestic restrictions easing, many European countries are now working to reopen to tourists from abroad in time for the summer vacations. As of Sunday, Italy is allowing tourists on “COVID-free flights” where passengers are tested before departure and on arrival regardless of whether they have received a vaccine or not. The more important thing is that those travelers, including those from the United States, Canada, and Japan, are not subject to quarantine upon arriving in Italy. This week, ambassadors to the EU from its 27 member states endorsed the proposal of the European Commission that the European Union open its borders to vaccinated tourists. The ambassadors decided that tourists should show vaccination certificates that they have been given a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency. The EU was also negotiating on Thursday the potential use of COVID certificates to open up tourism during the summer season.
Russia sells largest independent oil refinery in bankruptcy case -Russia’s largest standalone oil processing plant, the Antipinsky oil refinery, was sold for almost 111 billion roubles ($1.50 billion) as part of bankruptcy proceedings, an online sale platform showed. The online platform showed that a company called Rusinvest completed the purchase of the plant located in West Siberia. Most of Russia’s oil refineries are controlled by big oil companies, such as Rosneft and Lukoil. The refinery, which has a capacity of 7.5 million tons per year, filed for bankruptcy in 2019 after having halted operations on several occasions because of a lack of funds to pay for crude oil deliveries. Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank, had been the refinery’s main creditor.
Cyclone Sinks Indian Barge, 96 Still Missing -The Indian Navy launched a search operation for 96 missing people onboard barge P305 operated by state-run explorer Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC). The barge first went adrift and subsequently sank at an offshore oilfield near Mumbai Tuesday morning after cyclone Tauktae, categorized as “extremely severe,” barreled through the country’s western coast, according to Bloomberg. “Long-range maritime surveillance aircraft were assisting the rescue effort but bad weather was hampering operations,” Indian Navy Spokesman Vivek Madhwal said. He said a total of 273 people were onboard the P305 barge, and 177 were rescued in a night-long operation, with 96 still missing.The offshore oilfield is about 95 nautical miles off the west coast of Mumbai in the Gulf of Cambay. The barge went adrift after Tauktae crossed the region with winds gusting above 115 mph. The storm made landfall Monday at 830 pm local time on the Gujarat coast, a state on the western coast of India. Indian warships were deployed Tuesday to rescue hundreds of people from two other ONGC barges, which went adrift in the storm, Madhwal said.ONGC vessels, Indian Navy ships, and vessels of the Indian Coast Guard joined forces on Tuesday to search for survivors. Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general of the national weather forecaster, said the cyclone was one of the hardest to hit the Gujarat coast since 1998. Meanwhile, residents of Mumbai and Gujarat experienced a powerful cyclone, the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane, with flooded streets, wind-damaged properties, fallen trees, and widespread power outages.
India scours sea after barge sinks, 2nd adrift in wake of cyclone – The Indian Navy was rushing to rescue crew members from a sunken barge and a second cargo vessel that was adrift Tuesday off the coast of Mumbai after a deadly cyclone struck the western coast. The navy said it had rescued 177 people of the total 400 on the two barges in the Arabian Sea. Three frontline warships, maritime patrol aircraft and helicopters were part of the rescue operations and were scouring the sea, the Navy said. Both barges were working for Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, the largest crude oil and natural gas company in India. The company confirmed that the vessels were in distress and rescue operations were ongoing on its website. Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than two decades, packed sustained winds of up to 130 miles per hour when it came ashore in Gujarat state late Monday. Four people were killed in the state, raising the storm’s total to 16. Residents emerged from relief shelters Tuesday to find debris strewn across roads, trees uprooted and electricity lines damaged. In Maharashtra, six people were killed Monday but the state’s capital, Mumbai, was largely spared from any major damage even as heavy rains pounded the city’s coastline and high winds whipped its skyscrapers. Over the weekend, the cyclone had killed six people in Kerala, Karnataka and Goa states as it moved along the western coast. Download the NBC News app for breaking news and politics The cyclone has weakened, but the India Meteorological Department forecast heavy rainfall for many parts of Gujarat and Maharashtra in the coming days. Ahead of the cyclone, about 150,000 people were evacuated from low-lying areas in Maharashtra and Gujarat states. S.N. Pradhan, director of India’s National Disaster Response Force, said social distancing norms were being followed in evacuation shelters and rescue teams were clearing debris from affected areas. Both states, already among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, had scrambled disaster response teams, fearing the storm could endanger India’s fight against the coronavirus, with supply lines cut, roads destroyed and lockdown measures slowing relief work. Tropical cyclones are less common in the Arabian Sea than on India’s east coast and usually form later in the year. But experts say changing climate patterns have caused them to become more intense, rather than more frequent.
Iran Awards $1.8B Gas Field Contract to Petropars – — Iran’s Petropars Ltd. will be awarded a $1.78 billion contract by the National Iranian Oil Co. to develop the giant Farzad-B gas field that was previously intended to be tapped by a group of Indian companies. Petropars will produce 28 million cubic meters of gas a day from the offshore deposit within five years, according to the agreement, the Iranian oil ministry’s official Shana news service reported, with the contract to be signed on Monday. Farzad-B is estimated to hold reserves of around 500 billion cubic meters. An Indian consortium led by ONGC Videsh Ltd. was engaged in talks with Iran to develop the field but disagreements over investment volume and gas prices delayed progress and negotiations stalled completely after the U.S. reimposed sanctions on Iran in 2018. Prior to those penalties, Iran had intended to jointly develop several major oil and gas projects with foreign energy companies as part of a push to modernize its industry and improve expertise and know-how. Farzad-B is the latest major energy project awarded to Petropars following the exodus of foreign companies from the Islamic Republic’s oil and gas industry. Last year, it took over the development of an offshore phase of Iran’s South Pars field after its partners Total SA and China National Petroleum Corp. quit the $5 billion project because of sanctions. Iran is priming its oil fields — and customer relationships — so it can increase production and exports as it inches closer to an agreement with the U.S. that could lift sanctions on its economy and revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
Israel, Palestine Tension Heightens Energy Risk – Following escalating tension between Israel and Palestine, ports and offshore infrastructure remain at “heightened risk” with attacks and associated damage a “realistic possibility”. That’s according to Dryad Global, which added that attacks against bespoke targets including port, energy, and offshore infrastructure are “highly likely” to feature in any protracted engagement. In a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, Dryad Global noted that tensions between Israel and Palestine had risen “substantially” in the past 12 days. “Following the eviction of 12 Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East-Jerusalem, protests erupted which resulted in violent clashes between protesters and security forces,” Dryad Global said in the statement. “In the last 48 hours there has been a significant escalation of force which has seen Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine (PIJ) conduct multiple indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli cities,” Dryad Global went on to say. The statement highlighted that a rocket attack on an oil facility near the port of Askhelon had occurred and that Chevron had shut in and depressurized the Tamar platform. Dryad Global noted, however, that it was understood that Chevron continued production from its offshore asset at the Leviathan field, whose platform is further north offshore Israel. According to a supplement to Chevron’s 2020 annual report, last year, net daily production from the Tamar field averaged 173 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, with 51 million cubic feet per day attributed to the company. Chevron noted in the report that progress continued on the Tamar SW development, which it highlighted consists of one well tied back to Tamar. The lease for the field covers approximately 15,000 net acres and the current term expires in 2038, Chevron revealed.
Saudi Aramco to co-lead report on cyber resilience in oil industry – Aramco, Siemens Energy and the World Economic Forum (WEF) have launched a co-lead report on Cyber Resilience in the oil and gas industry. The report, “Cyber Resilience in the Oil and Gas Industry Playbook“, establishes a blueprint for boards and business leaders to evaluate cyber risk and enhance cyber resilience across the industry. More than 40 senior executives from the oil and gas industry contributed by identifying cyber resilience best practices and offered new solutions that will help board directors mitigate cyber threats, protect supply chains and improve overall security in the sector. The playbook sets out six principles to help the oil and gas companies advance their approach to cybersecurity, and complements the World Economic Forum’s ten broader cyber resilience principles which apply to all organizations. The six principles of cyber-resilience for the oil and gas industry:
- Cyber-resilience governance
- Resilience by design
- Corporate responsibility for cyber resilience
- Holistic risk management approach
- Ecosystem-wide collaboration
- Ecosystem-wide cyber-resilience plans
Basim Al-Ruwaii, Chief Information Security Officer at Aramco said, “As a founding partner of the WEF Center for Cybersecurity, Aramco is proud to have collaborated with the World Economic Forum and business leaders from across the oil and gas sector to create this playbook, which aims to set the industry standard for improving cyber resilience. Establishing and aligning cybersecurity practices across the industry enhances our collective resilience efforts and allows us to present a united front against cybercrime and other critical security threats.”
Aftermath of Colonial outage to drive oil prices this week – The lingering impact of the Colonial fuels pipeline closure and emerging concerns about U.S. inflation could drive the price of crude oil this week, analysts said. The 5,500-mile-long Colonial pipeline is delivering fuel following its recovery from a May 7 ransomware attack that idled operations on a network that meets about half of the East Coast’s demand for refined petroleum products. After allegedly paying off the hackers with some $5 million, company said Thursday, “It will take several days for the product delivery supply chain to return to normal.” Looking to this week, Giovanni Staunovo, a commodities analyst for Swiss investment bank UBS, said the outage will show up in US federal data on commercial petroleum inventories a sharp drop in gasoline levels. The Energy Department reports inventories on Wednesday. “That said, the data will contain a lot of noise, with plunging oil product inventories at the East Coast, and rising ones at the Gulf Coast, where refineries are located,” he said. Inventory levels serve as a barometer for energy demand, with inventories falling when demand is high and rising when its low. In this case, trends may be harder to read because of the one-time event. “The Colonial situation should lead to a pinch on inventories but it’s transient,” said Abhi Rajendran, a research director at Energy Intelligence The only major move on crude oil prices last week was on Thursday, after the company announced volume increased on the pipeline. West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark for the price of oil, declined 3.4 percent on Thursday, but ended the week up 1 percent to finish trading Friday at $65.37 per barrel. Elsewhere, emerging inflationary pressures are creeping up in the U.S. economy and that could spoil the otherwise optimistic mood. Cecilia Rouse, the chairperson of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said Friday that inflation was increasing at a rapid pace because the economy is coming off unusual lows during the pandemic.
Oil climbs 1% on economic recovery hopes despite fresh Asian restrictions –Oil prices rose more than 1% on Monday, lifted by European economic reopenings and rising U.S. demand after prices fell earlier due to surging coronavirus cases in Asia and underwhelming Chinese manufacturing data. Brent crude ended the session up 75 cents, or 1.1%, at $69.46 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude settled 90 cents, or 1.4%, higher at $66.27. The British economy reopened, giving 65 million people a measure of freedom after a four-month COVID-19 lockdown. With accelerating vaccination rates, France and Spain have relaxed COVID-related restrictions, and on Saturday, Portugal and the Netherlands eased travel restrictions. The promise of economic growth has supported oil prices in recent weeks, although the pace of inflation has kept many investors concerned that interest rates could rise, which could hit consumer spending. “The news is not all negative on the demand front as the U.S. saw air travel jump on Sunday to 1.8 million people, the highest total since March 2020,” s United Airlines announced it will add 400 daily flights to July for European destinations, Moya noted. Summer travel bookings rose 214% from 2020 levels, the airline said, adding it planned to fly 80% of its U.S. schedule compared with July 2019. Investors remained worried about the coronavirus variant first detected in India. Some Indian states said on Sunday they would extend lockdowns to fight the pandemic, which has killed more than 270,000 people there. Domestic sales of gasoline and diesel by Indian state refiners plunged by a fifth in the first half of May from a month earlier. Singapore is preparing to close schools this week and Japan has declared a state of emergency in three more prefectures. China’s factories slowed their output growth in April and retail sales significantly missed expectations as officials warned of new problems affecting the recovery in the world’s second-largest economy. China’s crude oil throughput rose 7.5% in April from the same month a year ago, but remained off the peak seen in the last quarter of 2020. Signs of rising supply also capped oil’s gains.
Brent Oil Tops $70 On Reopening Optimism – Oil prices rose on Tuesday amid bets that energy demand will rise steadily following reopenings of the European and U.S. economies. Brent crude futures for July settlement climbed 0.9 percent to $70.07 per barrel, trading above $70 for the first time since March 15. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures for June delivery were up 0.8 percent at $66.80. New York State will no longer require masks in most public spaces for people fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Amid improved coronavirus case numbers, New Jersey is fully lifting its pandemic-related travel restrictions and quarantine requirements. Germany has decided to allow vaccinated travelers or people who have recovered from the virus to skip testing and quarantine. The French government is moving forward with its plans to almost completely end coronavirus restrictions by June 30. Elsewhere, Britain’s unemployment rate unexpectedly fell again, reinforcing market expectations that the economy will bounce back strongly, helped by its fast pace of vaccine rollout and plans to ease lockdown measures. Limiting oil’s upside is the prospect of a revival of Iran’s nuclear deal that would allow the OPEC producer to fully restart exports. COVID-19 cases seem to be falling in India, though the daily death count is still on the rise.
Oil Prices Falter on Iran Negotiation Reports — Oil sunk as investors weighed developments in ongoing talks between world powers on a revival of the Iran nuclear deal, which would bring more supply to the market. Futures in London fell 1.1% on Tuesday after a Russian envoy in Vienna said significant progress has been made in efforts to broker an agreement between Iran and the U.S, the BBC Persian news channel reported. However, the same diplomat, Mikhail Ulyanov, subsequently took to Twitter to play down reports that a major announcement on the matter was likely on Wednesday. “I said that significant progress have been achieved, in my view,” Ulyanov said in the tweet. “That is true. But unresolved issues still remain and the negotiators need more time and efforts to finalise an agreement on restoration of JCPOA.” A return to the 2015 nuclear deal could allow for the removal of U.S. sanctions on the Persian Gulf country’s crude exports, raising the prospects of more crude coming back to the market. Iran has already been preparing to ramp up global oil sales, though the flow of additional crude may be gradual even if a deal is struck. “The devil is in the details,” said Tom Finlon of Brownsville GTR LLC, a trading and logistics firm based in Houston. Despite “periodic comments on progress,” talks have been at “an impasse on substantive issues, so it’s not going to be that easy.” Prices were already weak earlier in the session after Brent futures failed to sustain a rally past the key psychological $70-a-barrel mark, which it hasn’t closed above since May 2019. Meanwhile, concerns are lingering around the worsening Covid-19 crisis in India. The South Asian country’s gasoline exports soared 85% in the first half of May from the same period last month, according to Vortexa, as fuel sales there wane. Prices Brent for July settlement lost 75 cents to end the session at $68.71 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate for June delivery fell 78 cents to settle at $65.49 a barrel. Despite crude’s decline on Tuesday, oil is joining other commodities in a blistering rally this year. Crude prices are up more than 30% as raw materials emerge as a hedge against inflation. Much of Wall Street is calling for higher prices, with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. talking up the prospects of $80 a barrel oil. At the same time, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies are boosting supply to meet rebounding demand.
WTI Tumbles To $61 Handle After Russian Envoy Comments (Again) On JCPOA Deal –It’s deja vu all over again in oil markets as the Russian Envoy Mikahil Ulyanov is once again commenting optimistically on the likelihood of a JCPOA deal occurring. Additionally, Iran’s lead negotiator, Abbas Araghchi commented in a statement that “draft texts are mostly drafted for a return to the nuclear deal.” And Oil is extending losses from the DOE crude build as traders eye the potential for a recovery in the nation’s exports. API:
- Crude +620k (+1.7mm exp)
- Cushing -53k
- Gasoline -2.837mm (-1.2mm exp)
- Distillates -2.581mm (-300k exp)
- Crude +1.32mm (+1.7mm exp)
- Cushing -142k
- Gasoline -1.963mm (-1.2mm exp)
- Distillates -2.324 (-300k exp)
After the prior two weeks’ draws, analysts expected a modest crude build in the last week as Colonial shutdown issues ripple through the energy complex. API reported a small build, and the official DOE data showed a bigger build (as products drew down more than expected) As expected, we saw a giant weekly build in Gulf Coast gasoline inventories with the Colonial Pipeline down. Bloomberg Intelligence Senior Energy Analyst Vince Piazza noted that the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline likely only had a temporary effect on U.S oil inventories, as some refineries used floating storage and others cut activity to navigate the interruption until operations resumed on May 15. US crude production remains ‘disciplined’ despite the recent surge in prices and rig counts now back at their highest since April 2020…
Oil prices dive $2 on fears of Asian pandemic, possible U.S. rate hikes (Reuters) -Oil prices dropped over $2 a barrel on Wednesday to their lowest in three weeks, on worries that surging COVID-19 cases in Asia would dent demand for crude and that U.S. inflation fears could prompt the Federal Reserve to slow economic growth with interest rate hikes. Traders also cited rumors that the Iran nuclear talks were making progress, which could boost global crude supplies and depress prices. Brent (LCOc1) futures fell $2.05, or 3.0%, to settle at $66.66 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell $2.13, or 3.3%, to settle at $63.36. Earlier in the day, WTI was down more than 5%. That was the lowest close for both benchmarks since April 27. On Tuesday, Brent rose to a 10-week high over $70 a barrel in intraday trade on optimism oil demand would surge with the reopening of U.S. and European economies. It retreated on fears of slowing fuel demand in Asia where surging COVID-19 cases prompted new restrictions in India, Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand. “The global picture for demand is probably the most divided it has been since the start of the pandemic, with an improving demand picture in the West versus a deteriorating outlook in Asia,” said Sophie Griffiths, market analyst with OANDA, noting the mixed picture fed volatility. Analysts have said Iran could provide about 1 million to 2 million barrels per day (bpd) in additional oil supply if a deal is struck. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said oil prices were stable and the market had roughly balanced. Speculation the Fed might raise rates weighed on the outlook for economic growth and prompted investors to reduce exposure to oil and other commodities, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and stocks. A “number” of Fed officials appeared ready to begin considering changes to monetary policy based on continued rapid progress in the economic recovery, according to minutes of the U.S. central bank’s April meeting. Data since then may have already changed the landscape. The U.S. dollar, meanwhile, gained against a basket of currencies a day after closing at its lowest since January. A stronger dollar can weigh on oil prices because it makes the commodity more expensive for holders of other currencies. Oil prices declined despite U.S. data showing a smaller-than-expected 1.3 million barrel build in crude inventories, a bigger-than-expected 2.0 million barrel decline in gasoline stockpiles and a 5% increase in gasoline use to pre-pandemic levels
Oil Prices Continue Losing Streak – Oil slumped to the lowest in nearly a month as traders focused on the likelihood of a renewed nuclear deal with Iran and the potential removal of sanctions on the country’s crude exports. Futures fell 2.1% in New York on Thursday, posting a third straight decline in the longest losing streak since March. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said world powers have accepted that major sanctions on his country will be lifted. But he said diplomats are still discussing “details and finer points” before there’s “a final agreement.” The prospect of a return of Iranian supply is also being reflected in Brent’s prompt timespread. The spread’s backwardation narrowed to just a few cents, a sign that market tightness may be easing. Oil is “in a holding pattern until we get to June, because that’s when Europe’s going to start to reopen and the U.S. driving season will have officially kicked off,” said Jay Hatfield, CEO of Infrastructure Capital Management. “Between now and then, the main influences will be Iran headlines as a headwind” and signs of further improvement in the U.S. market as a supportive factor. Crude futures’ tumble pushed the benchmark to close below its 50-day moving average for the first time since late April, a bearish signal that may invite more sellers into the market. While a timeline for a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal remains unclear, Iran has already been boosting its exports and Indian refiners have signaled they would be willing buyers. India’s largest refiner said it will definitely restart buying Iranian oil when U.S. sanctions are lifted, and Hindustan Petroleum Corp. said Iran has been offering the nation’s refiners discounts on crude oil and expects these terms to be available after sanctions are withdrawn. “There continue to be positive statements out of Vienna from various participants, including Iran, that a deal is at hand,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC. “Even though we know they have already been ramping up their exports, it is adding to negative market sentiment.” West Texas Intermediate for June, which expired Thursday, fell $1.31 to settle at $62.05 a barrel. The more-active July contract declined $1.41 to end the session at $61.94 a barrel. Brent for July settlement lost $1.55 to settle at $65.11 a barrel, the lowest since April 13
Oil rallies for the session amid possible Gulf of Mexico storm, prices fall for the week — Oil futures rallied on Friday (link), finding support from a potential storm in the Gulf of Mexico. Prices still posted a loss for the week as traders continued to eye developments toward an Iran nuclear deal. The “possibility of the return on Iranian oil,” pressured prices for the week, said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at The Price Futures Group. On Friday, however, prices got a boost from concerns about a weather system developing in the Gulf of Mexico (link), he said. “A tropical disturbance is a reminder that [Atlantic] hurricane season is upon us, and it seems to want to start early.” Next week, oil traders are likely to “focus on the Iran deal, but also get a sense of the demand expected for the Memorial Day Holiday — the unofficial kickoff to the summer driving season,” said Flynn. West Texas Intermediate oil for July delivery rose $1.64, or nearly 2.7%, to settle at $63.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. For the week, prices based on the front-month contract, fell about 2.7%, according to FactSet data.
Oil Down 3% For Week As Fears Of An Iran Deal Offset Gain For Day – – Oil prices rose on Friday but still ended the week about 3% down on fears that Iran was nearing a nuclear deal that could remove U.S. sanctions, possibly adding two million barrels per day of crude to the market. Speculation of a storm forming in the Gulf of Mexico, where the bulk of U.S. energy installations are located, helped oil prices to rebound from Thursday’s losses triggered by worries over the Iranian situation. But the gain wasn’t enough to offset the slide for the week. “Much of the energy market has priced in more Iranian crude output later this summer,” said Ed Moya, head of research for the Americas at online trading platform OANDA. , the benchmark for U.S. oil, settled up $1.64, or 2.6%, at $63.58 per barrel. For the week though, WTI lost 2.7%. , which acts as the global benchmark for oil, settled up $1.33, or 2%, at $66.44. For the week, Brent fell 3.3%. WTI and Brent rose on the day as a weather system forming over the western Gulf of Mexico showed a 40% chance of becoming a cyclone in the next 48 hours, according to data from the U.S. National Hurricane Center. “This early storm prompted traders to buy crude ahead of the weekend in anticipation of potential production shut-ins,” said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. But the concerns over Iranian crude ramp-up were greater. World powers negotiating to bring Tehran back into a nuclear accord canceled by former U.S. President Donald Trump have accepted that major sanctions imposed since 2018 on the Islamic Republic’s crude exports be lifted, President Hassan Rouhani told Iranian television on Thursday. “Finer points” were being worked to finalize a deal, Rouhani said, even as European diplomats insisted that success was not guaranteed and that tough issues remained in the talks. At stake is an additional supply of some 500,000 to 2 million barrels of crude that could enter the market anytime between the next three to 18 months, those in the know say. Iran has said previously that it could return “within months” to its peak oil production of nearly 4 million barrels a day once the sanctions on its oil are lifted. Sources familiar with the country’s crude output currently estimated its production at around 2 million barrels daily. Analysts say the additional supply from Iran, whenever that comes, will force a reconfiguration of global oil supply that could be more bearish than bullish – especially with questions about demand resurfacing after new coronavirus flare-ups in No. 3 oil consumer India.
Top EU Negotiator “Quite Sure” Iran Nuclear Deal Will Be Reached Next Week –At the end of the latest round of talks (the fourth) in Vienna on Wednesday a top European Union envoy has said that the reviving of the Iran nuclear deal is now “shaping up”. Enrique Mora, the EU’s top negotiator for the Vienna nuclear talks, says he’s “quite sure” a deal will be reached at a moment the text is being drafted, and as talks adjourn for a week.Documents outlining both Iran’s compliance and the United States’ return to the JCPOA nuclear deal are now said to be”mostly drafted” – according to Iranian statements, with the exception of “complicated differences”. A “final round” of talks are now set for next week, with the Iranian side hoping for a deal to be reached prior to the Iranian presidential election in June, after which Hassan Rouhani will step down due to term limits.The Islamic Republic’s chief negotiator, Abbas Araghchi, assessed on Wednesday that “I think good headway has been made with the talks over the past two weeks. A few key issues have remained, and they need further consideration, and decisions should be made about those issues in the capitals.”This next week is being described essentially as a period where negotiators will go back to their respective capitals to prep for the final definitive meetings. Remaining “red lines” are expected to be decided on. The Guardian summarizes the three main remaining issues expected to be resolved by any agreement reached as follows:
- the precise sanctions the US is prepared to lift;
- the time Iran is allowed to reverse its steps away from the deal;
- …and how to handle the knowledge Iran has acquired in the many months in which it has not been in full compliance with the deal, including its enrichment of uranium to 60% purity.
Israeli Missiles Destroy Gaza Building Housing Foreign Media Outlets — A high-rise building in Gaza City where Associated Press and Al-Jazeera are based was destroyed by Israeli airstrikes Saturday, as the worst violence between Israel and Palestinian militants since 2014 continues to escalate. Israeli planes carried out airstrikes on Gaza and Hamas militants responded by firing rockets into Israel, as the violence between the two sides continued for a fifth night. A 12-story building that housed apartments and other offices in addition to the media organizations was toppled by Israeli missiles after the building’s owner received a warning by telephone from the Israeli military one hour before the attack that it would be struck. AP staffers and other building occupants evacuated the building immediately, but Al-Jazeera continued to broadcast the airstrikes as the building collapsed. “Al-Jazeera will not be silenced,” an on-air anchorwoman said. “We can guarantee you that right now.” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement the news organization was “shocked and horrified” over Israel’s attack on the building, while noting it received a warning from Israel. Pruitt said AP is seeking information from Israel and the U.S. State Department about the attack, from which a dozen staffers “narrowly avoided a terrible loss of life.” “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” Pruitt warned. ‘Human shields’ The Israeli military said without evidence it destroyed the building because intelligence operatives within the Islamist militant group, Hamas, were using media offices as “human shields.”
Israel continues “full force” attacks on Gaza, backed by US and several Arab states – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized Israel’s heaviest airstrikes on Gaza City yesterday, insisting that the war will go on “as long as necessary” and that attacks on Gaza would continue in “full force.” Israel “wants to levy a heavy price” from Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood group that rules Gaza, he added.Netanyahu proceeds with his criminal war on a largely defenceless people with the full backing of US President Joe Biden, who has repeatedly declared for “Israel’s right to defend itself.” On Sunday the US, for the third time in a week, blocked the United Nations from issuing a toothless call for a cease-fire. This was despite a warning from UN secretary general António Guterres to the imperialist powers that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict threatened to spiral out of control, fostering extremism and communal violence not only in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel but across the region. On Sunday evening, Biden said he was telephoning Netanyahu but refused to call for a cease-fire.Joining the US for the first time in all but openly siding with Israel are the four Arab states who have signed the Abraham Accords normalizing relations with the Netanyahu government – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. “In what appeared to be a state-backed response, the hashtag ‘Palestine is not my cause’ circulated in the UAE, Bahrain and Kuwait over the weekend,” the Guardian reported.The attacks on Gaza overnight Sunday/Monday were more intense, covering a broader area and lasting longer than the bombardment the previous night in which 42 Palestinians were killed. A reported 54 fighter jets dropped 110 precision munitions on 35 targets in 20 minutes. Casualties in Gaza already stand at over 200, including two doctors, at least 35 women and 58 children, and about 1,300 wounded since Israel started its bombardment of the besieged enclave last Monday. Over 700 homes and 80 buildings have been destroyed, displacing 34,000 people who now lack the most basic necessities of life, including food. There have been 10 deaths in Israel, including two children and a soldier, killed in some 3,100 projectiles launched from Gaza.Civilians have borne the brunt of the Israeli attacks. The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that the raids had targeted houses and government buildings, including a four-storey home near al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s main medical facility. According to other local media reports, the airstrikes also hit the main coastal road west of the city, security compounds and open spaces, while Gaza’s power distribution company said the airstrikes had damaged a feeder line from the only power plant to much of southern Gaza City.
Netanyahu war on Gaza continues as imperialist powers and Arab states feign ceasefire efforts -The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continued its murderous assault on Gaza overnight Wednesday, pounding central Gaza and the al-Rimal neighbourhood in an effort to destroy Hamas’s network of tunnels, destroying homes and killing at least nine people. The IDF also shelled “a number of targets” in southern Lebanon after four rockets were fired from Seddiqine, a village near the coastal city of Tyre, into northern Israel – the third such flare up since the start of the war on Gaza on May 11. At least 20 of Hamas’s military leaders have been assassinated, with IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Hidai Zilberman admitting, “Throughout the operation we have tried to assassinate Mohammed Deif. We’ve tried to kill him several times.” Deif is the head of Hamas’s military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, and has escaped numerous assassination attempts. Israel’s sophisticated weaponry has killed at least 227 Palestinians, including 63 children and 36 women, and injured 1,530 others since May 10, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. This contrasts with the toll from the Palestinians’ largely home-made projectiles that have killed 10 Israelis, including two children and a soldier, as well as two Thai migrant workers. Speaking to foreign diplomats Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made clear that he had no interest in reaching a ceasefire with Hamas until he had achieved his objective of obliterating Hamas and further degrading Gaza. A further military escalation on Gaza was possible, he said, as Israel seeks to “degrade Hamas’ capabilities.” He added, “You can either conquer them, and that’s always an open possibility, or you can deter them, and we are engaged right now in forceful deterrence. But I have to say we don’t rule out anything.” That was taken to mean that eradicating Hamas as a political force and re-occupying Gaza were also being considered. Netanyahu can maintain his bellicose stance, despite mass popular opposition globally to his criminal war on Gaza, his plans to drive out the Palestinians from occupied East Jerusalem and sending fascistic goons to terrorise Israel’s Palestinian citizens because he knows he has Washington’s backing. He stressed that he “appreciate[d] the support of our friend, US President Joe Biden, for the State of Israel’s right to self-defence.” Biden has three times blocked the UN Security Council from issuing a non-binding statement criticizing Israel and calling for a halt to the war, has agreed a $735 million arms package for Israel and called for a ceasefire only at some unspecified time. On Wednesday, Biden issued an equally meaningless plea for a “de-escalation.” Netanyahu also has the support of the European powers who, despite their handwringing and calls for a ceasefire, refuse to denounce Washington or oppose its support for the Zionist State and its criminal war.
Israel Is Wiping Out Entire Palestinian Families on Purpose — Fifteen Palestinian nuclear and extended families lost at least three, and in general more, of their members, in the Israeli shelling of the Gaza Strip during the week from May 10 through to Monday afternoon. Parents and children, babies, grandparents,siblings and nephews and nieces died together when Israel bombed their homes, which collapsed over them. Insofar as is known, no advance warning was given so that they could evacuate the targeted houses.Wiping out entire families in Israeli bombings was one of the characteristics of the war in 2014.On Saturday, a representative of the Palestinian Health Ministry brought listed the names of 12 families who were killed, each one at its home, each one in a single bombing. Since then, in one air raid before dawn on Sunday, which lasted 70 minutes and was directed at three houses on Al Wehda Street in the Rimal neighborhood of Gaza, three families numbering 38 people in total were killed. Some of the bodies were found on Sunday morning. Palestinian rescue forces only managed to find the rest of the bodies and pull them out from the rubble only on Sunday evening.Wiping out entire families in Israeli bombings was one of the characteristics of the war in 2014. In the roughly 50 days of the war then, UN figures say that 142 Palestinian families were erased (742 people in total). The numerous incidents then and today attest that these were not mistakes: and that the bombing of a house while all its residents are in it follows a decision from higher up, backed by the examination and approval of military jurists.An investigation by the human rights group B’Tselem that focused on some 70 of the families who were eradicated in 2014, provided three explanations for the numerous nuclear and extended families that were killed, all at once, in one Israeli bombing on the home of each such family. In any case, what stands out is the difference between the fate of the buildings that were bombed with their residents inside, and the “towers” – the high-rise buildings that were shelled as of the second day of this latest conflict, during the daytime or early evening. Reportedly, the owners or the concierge in the towers got prior warning of an hour at most that they must evacuate, usually via phone call from the army or Shin Bet security service, then “warning missiles” fired by drones. These owners/concierges were supposed to warn the other residents in the short time remaining.
Israel cracks down on Palestinian general strike, continues bombing Gaza – The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) responded with brutal repression to a Palestinian general strike across the occupied West Bank and Arab towns in Israel. The strike, a “day of rage”, was called by the Arab Follow-up Committee to protest the bombing of Gaza and worsening repression in East Jerusalem. The committee urged solidarity “from the sea to the river.” Supported by both Hamas and Fatah, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, it was the first by Palestinians in both the occupied territories and Israel. The historic action saw the shuttering of all Palestinian workplaces, businesses, shops and schools. Security forces responded with lethal force, killing three Palestinians and wounding at least 63 more in the West Bank. Troops fired tear gas and live ammunition at hundreds of Palestinians burning tyres and hurling stones at the Beit El military checkpoint at Al-Birah near Ramallah, killing one Palestinian and wounding 70 more. Heavy clashes were reported in other towns and cities, including Hebron, Bethlehem, Nablus and Budrus. On Monday, Israeli soldiers had shot and killed a Palestinian teenager at the al-Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron, preventing ambulances reaching the 18-year-old Obaida Akram Jawabra, while on Tuesday soldiers killed Fayyad Zahda in Hebron, claiming he was carrying weapons. In East Jerusalem, police used water cannon to disperse protesters in Sheikh Jarrah. They cracked down violently on protesters inside the Old City and around the Damascus Gate. Middle East Eye reported that Israeli police beat, pepper sprayed and removed the hijab of one of its correspondents, Latifeh Abdellatif, while she was filming the detention of a young boy. When Palestinians stepped in to protect Abdellatif, leading to scuffles with the police, several of them were arrested. Later, Israel’s police commissioner Yaakov Shabtai said his forces had restored calm after “riots in the Arab sector.” Foreword to the German edition of David North’s Quarter Century of War Johannes Stern, 5 October 2020 After three decades of US-led wars, the outbreak of a third world war, which would be fought with nuclear weapons, is an imminent and concrete danger. Israel renewed its criminal bombardment of Gaza’s defenceless Palestinians early Tuesday morning, firing 100 bombs and missiles against 65 targets described as a network of tunnels. Several buildings in Gaza city, including a six-storey block housing the Islamic University, were hit. It brings the total number of airstrikes since May 11 to 1,500. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged international pressure for a cease-fire, but “all in all, we are receiving very serious backing, first of all from the US.” US President Joe Biden has refused to call for an immediate halt to the war, reluctantly stating Monday evening he now “supports” a ceasefire but with no timetable. Asked whether a ceasefire was being discussed, a senior Israeli official said, “There is no such thing right now. There is no negotiation. There is no proposal. There is nothing on the table.”
Israel may cut power to Gaza, official warns ahead of tunnel strikes –Israel’s intelligence minister warned Tuesday that power to the Gaza Strip could soon be cut off – as the country’s military geared up for an “intensive night” of additional airstrikes against the region’s terror tunnels. Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Israel’s Channel 20 that he favored shutting down electricity to Gaza as the worst conflict in years stretched into its ninth day. “I think the next thing we should do – and I’ll raise this in the Cabinet – is to shut off electricity in Gaza,” he said in Hebrew, according to a video clip posted on Twitter. Cohen added, “There was no discussion about a cease-fire in the Cabinet.” “The international pressure is increasing but we owe it to our citizens,” he said. On Sunday, the Guardian reported that the power supply to Gaza had already been cut by more than half after six of 10 power lines were destroyed by Israeli strikes. “There are some border areas completely cut off from electricity,” Mohammed Thabet, a spokesperson for the Gaza Electricity Distribution Co., told the British news outlet. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces said it had an “intensive night ahead of us” Tuesday amid planning for aerial attacks on “new locations” of Gaza’s sprawling tunnel network, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Israel: An Apartheid State Created & Propped Up By the West – by Riaz Haq –As Israeli military pounds Gaza and kills large numbers of Palestinian men, women and children yet again, the western media and politicians are busy white-washing the Israeli crimes by repeating the same old mantra: “Israel has a right to defend itself”. There’s little mention of the decades-long occupation and continuing brutalization of the Palestinian people by the Israelis. Nor is there any discussion of how the West is culpable in this long-running injustice. The foundation of the state of Israel as we know it now was laid when the British government issued a public statement in 1917 called the “Balfour Declaration” in support of the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration was contained in a letter of November 2, 1917 from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. Winston Churchill disparaged Palestinians who had been living in the region for centuries as “dogs”. Churchill said, “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” Churchill’s racist comments have clearly established here that the Israeli settler colonialism in the Middle East is no different than the European settler colonialism in America and Australia. A large number of European Jews, including victims of Nazi persecution, poured into Palestine before the end of the Second World War. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were driven out of their land and their homes and by these European Jews who had the full support of the West. Miko Peled, Israeli author of “The General’s Son”, has detailed and documented the history of forced mass expulsions of Palestinians by armed Jewish gangs during the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. The following quote from an interview with The Middle East Monitor captures the essence of what Peled has been saying: “In hindsight, that was catastrophic for the Palestinians, because a lot of it has to do with why we are here today – the fact that they dropped the struggle.”
No Matter How Powerful Israel’s Military Becomes, It Still Can’t Win -Israel is the most powerful state in the Middle East. Its military forces may not match the likes of Egypt or Turkey in numbers, but the might of its training, equipment, technologies and nuclear weapons make it unassailable. Given its long-developed capabilities in public order control, such a position should also apply to its control of radical dissent within its own borders, as well as in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.Gaza may not be occupied in the conventional sense but it is a small territory with two million people living behind borders controlled by Israel. It lacks a port, its sole airport was destroyed many years ago and its Mediterranean coastline is patrolled by Israelis at all times. It is essentially an open prison.The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has persistently claimed that his country is indeed safe, that it has nothing to fear from the Palestinians and that the settlements can and should expand as Israel has established good relations with key Gulf states.More importantly, President Joe Biden’s administration has done little to repeal Donald Trump’s pro-Israel changes. There is no sign of moving the US embassy back from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, the US consulate in East Jerusalem that gave Palestinians a direct link to Washington has remained closed since 2019, as has the Palestinian office in Washington since 2018. There has been little pressure over the settlement expansion, and even the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNWRA) has only had $230m of its previous $380m US financial support restored. Taking all these elements into account, Israel should feel safe and secure – but in practice it doesn’t. Instead, an apt summary is of a state that is impregnable in its insecurity. It is impregnable in the sense that it cannot be defeated but insecure in that the underlying threats will not go away, as evident in the current violent confrontations. The threats stem from the underlying anger in Palestinian circles, especially in the occupied territories, as Netanyahu’s government moves ahead to get more settlers into East Jerusalem. This is seen in Palestine as straightforward ethnic cleansing, further encouraged by the far-Right Jewish parties that Netanyahu depends on for power.
United Nations meets Thursday to address ‘rapid deterioration’ in Mideast –The United Nations General Assembly will meet Thursday as violence between Israel and the Palestinians continues to escalate in the Middle East, Reuters reported Monday, citing General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir.Niger and Algeria, which chair the Organization for Islamic Cooperation group in New York, asked the 193 General Assembly member states to meet publicly “in light of the gravity of the situation and its rapid deterioration,” according to Reuters.The U.N. Security Council, made up of 15 countries, gathered publicly for the irst time Sunday amid the rising conflict between Israel and Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by the U.S., the wire service noted. The council, according to Reuters, has not been able to release a public statement on the conflict because the U.S., which is strongly allied with Israel, is fearful that any formal communication may hurt behind-the-scenes diplomacy. China, however, said on Sunday that it would again try to persuade the council to agree on a statement. Violence between Israeli forces and Hamas has escalated in the past week. The tensions began with Israeli police action at Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, and were exacerbated by an impending, and since-postponed, Supreme Court hearing on a potential eviction order in a predominately Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. Hamas began firing rockets into Israel on May 10. Gaza health officials, according to Reuters, said that 201 Palestinians have died in the conflict since it erupted last Monday, including 58 children and 34 women. Ten people have died in Israel, including two children, the wire service noted.
Egypt indicates a truce agreement between Israeli and Hamas forces – Israel and Hamas forces in Gaza may be edging closer to a cease-fire tonight, after 10 days of open war.Egyptian mediators say there’s a truce agreement in principle. A top Hamas official says he expects fighting to stop in a day or two. Pressure to end the conflict built today, with 227 Gazans and 12 Israelis killed so far.In a telephone call before leaving the White House this morning, President Biden stepped up pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ease the fight with Hamas in Gaza.The White House said Mr. Biden told his Israeli counterpart that he expected significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire, the administration’s most assertive public language yet. Later, Netanyahu seemed to rebuff the president, saying he is determined to continue this operation until its aim is met. Briefing foreign ambassadors to Israel, he said the aim is to return calm for Israelis and blunt attacks from the militant group.
Tensions will likely grow as China seeks bigger role in the Arctic – China’s ambitions to take a more significant role in the Arctic will likely lead to growing tensions, according to risk consultancy firm Control Risks. China has developed a “prominent presence” in the region since joining the Arctic Council as an observer in 2013, Oksana Antonenko, director at Control Risks, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.” The Arctic Council is made up of eight Arctic States – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States. It is an intergovernmental group that seeks to promote cooperation among the Arctic states as well as inhabitants of the Arctic. Their goal is to ensure the Arctic region, which faces harsh climates and extreme weather conditions, is protected and sustainably developed. In 2018, Beijing announced plans to build the “Polar Silk Road” – a network of Arctic shipping routes. It has also previously referred to itself as a “near-Arctic state,” a proposition that ignited some controversy. Antonenko said Arctic states are concerned about China “playing a much more assertive role unilaterally.” At the same time, Russia – which is facing Western sanctions targeting energy exploration in the Arctic – is getting funding from China. “China is providing investment, and therefore wants to take a much more significant role in allowing … transportation by the northern sea route,” she said ahead of the Arctic Council’s ministerial meeting on Thursday. “We’re likely to see, potentially, growing tensions between China and the littoral states in the Arctic,” she said. Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Moscow Center said Russia has “expanding interest” in developing large energy projects in the Arctic, but doesn’t have the necessary capital. “It sees China as a potential investor and as a potential … market for hydrocarbons,” said Gabuev, a senior fellow and chair of the Russia in the Asia-Pacific program. Arctic Council members want China to remain an observer in the group: Expert Despite growing cooperation, Russia doesn’t want China to become a full member of the Arctic Council, he said. “Russia worked together with the U.S. and other full members in order to make the observers basically voiceless,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Wednesday. “They sit at the table in the Arctic Council, but they don’t have real power and I think that this is a shared interest between all of the Arctic powers,” he added.