Here are some more selected news articles for the week ending 15 August 2021. Go here for Part 1.
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Oil pipeline protest in Green Bay aimed at stopping construction, protecting land and water (WBAY) – Protestors in Green Bay want the construction of two oil pipelines that run through Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan to stop.Action 2 News spoke with protestors on August 7 at City Deck about their environmental and safety concerns, while the energy company responsible says they’ve done everything to minimize them.”These pipelines are constantly leaking,” protest organizer and member of the JOSHUA Environmental Justice Task Force, Justice Peche, said. “There has never been a pipeline that doesn’t leak. They’re destroying the wild rice fields out in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin. They’re violating treaty rights by destroying these lands that the First Nations have the rights to hunt, fish, and gather on.”The Line 3 and Line 5 pipelines are being repaired and expanded by Enbridge, one of the leading energy delivery companies in North America.”This Line 3 issue, we are involved because it is an international issue,” Bobbie Webster, chair of the JOSHUA Environmental Justice Task Force, highlighted. “It affects climate change, it affects treaty rights it affects human rights and it’s something that should concern all of us.”Line 3 travels about 1,100 miles from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. Line 5 picks up where Line 3 leaves off and continues into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to transport crude oil and natural gas liquids. In a statement released on August 6, Enbridge said Line 3 construction permits include conditions that specifically protect wild rice waters. Their pipelines have coexisted with Minnesota’s most sacred and productive wild rice stands for over seven decades, Enbridge added.
An Oil Company Paid Police $2 Million to Defend Its Pipeline From Protests – Enbridge is funding police who have violently responded to protests of its Line 3 pipeline. A Canadian Oil company has given Minnesota law enforcement $2 million to fund the policing of protests against construction of its pipeline, Motherboard has learned. Calgary-based oil giant Enbridge set up a fund called the Public Safety Escrow Trust in May, 2020 as part of its permitting process for the Line 3 pipeline route, which carries tar sands oil from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. The funds in this account have been used to reimburse costs associated with “maintaining the peace” around the pipeline, including for officer wages, lodging, and boom trucks, according to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and Line 3 permits. On July 29, a group of unarmed environmental activists protesting the pipeline in Thief River Falls, Minnesota were tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and arrested.”It was a really brutal scene,” Tara Houska, an Ojibwe lawyer and activist who was arrested at the protest, told Motherboard. “The level of force being used, partnered with the very close range that law enforcement was facing us, led to some pretty serious injuries … It was really an extreme level of force, partnered with a really punitive and oppressive style of jailing.”The nearby Marshall County Sheriff’s Department filed a reimbursement request for expenses associated with that day’s patrol, a spokesperson for the Minnesota PUC confirmed to Motherboard. According to the utility regulator, between June 8 and July 31, the Sheriff’s Department was reimbursed $20,057.90 by Enbridge for personnel expenses associated with Line 3 assists. The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department did not respond to a request for comment. Enbridge’s proposed 340-mile pipeline is an expansion of Line 3, a 1960s-era line. The company began construction on the Minnesota stretch of the route in December, 2020. Part of the pipe runs through waterways, including the Red River and the Mississippi River, which are home to wild rice paddies tended to by local communities.
Minnesota Cops Block Records on Surveillance of Pipeline Opponents -FOLLOWING CRITICAL STORIES about the policing of anti-pipeline activists, a Minnesota law enforcement agency barred a federally affiliated body from releasing documents through the state’s public records laws, according to documents obtained by The Intercept.The Minnesota Fusion Center, a police intelligence-sharing partnership affiliated with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is sidestepping the state’s freedom of information law by citing security concerns, though it had in the past released records related to its policing of pipeline opponents. The fusion center is refusing to release any public records pertaining to activities, including surveillance, against opponents of the energy firm Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline until after it is constructed, according to one of the documents.The unusual policy came after The Intercept and other media outlets published stories documenting law enforcement surveillance and coordination with private security during protests against Line 3, part of a trend in which aggressive policing against pipeline opponents across the U.S. was reported by media. Many of the news stories concerning Minnesota police activities were based on records provided under the Minnesota Data Practices Act and reporting on anti-pipeline struggles in other states has relied on similar public transparency laws.”It is a little unprecedented for a police agency to refuse to disclose records concerning its activities like this with respect to one specific construction project,” said Freddy Martinez, a transparency law expert and policy analyst for the group Open the Government. “I’ve never seen something quite like this.”Big Wind, a Northern Arapaho tribal member opposing the pipeline said police are attempting to cover up their activities because freedom of information requests have exposed damaging and embarrassing information about them that has helped further the struggle against the pipeline.”Freedom of information requests are how lots of things came to light about the police working with private mercenaries during Standing Rock, and also about how Enbridge is paying the police here in Minnesota,” said Big Wind, who is affiliated with the anti-pipeline Namewag Camp. “We know there is still a lot of information about what Enbridge and the police are doing to us here that they don’t want to be revealed.”The policy enacted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which oversees the fusion center, asserts that it is withholding Line 3-related records to prevent “terrorists,” “criminals,” and “those who would create public safety hazards” from having access to them, according to a document obtained by The Intercept through a public records request.
Protesters against Line 3 tar sands pipeline face arrests and rubber bullets — More than 600 people have now been arrested or received citations over protests amid growing opposition to the Line 3 oil sands pipeline currently under construction through Minnesota. Native American tribes including the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe and indigenous-led environmental organisations such as Honor the Earth are leading opposition efforts in court and on the ground, mobilizing ‘water protectors’ to try to halt the project.Kelly Maracle, 57, a member of the Tonawanda Seneca and Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, was one of seven women arrested on 19 July while protesting the construction of the pipeline by the energy firm Enbridge. Maracle, Honor the Earth executive director Winona Laduke and four other women chained themselves together at a right of way crossing on the Shell River in northern Wadena county, Minnesota. For about three hours, the women sat chained together in front of a line of police.Police officers arrested them on trespass charges and they were released two days later, while LaDuke was imprisoned an extra night in jail over charges related to previous actions. Enbridge is paying the salaries of the police officers who are providing security during the construction of the pipeline, as a part of a deal with the state: The pipeline was approved in exchange for a promise that taxpayers would not have to foot the bill for policing the expected protests.Maracle explained she got involved as a water protector in the fight to stop Line 3 for her grandchildren. For Maracle and other water protectors camping along the Line 3 construction route, the confrontations are becoming increasingly dangerous. On 30 July, water protectors at Line 3 were subjected to pepper spray and rubber bullets during a series of arrests, and protesters who’ve been jailed havereported mistreatment from officers such as lack of proper food, solitary confinement and denial of medications. Maracle noted the police presence at camps has increased in recent weeks, including more frequent police raids, sweeps, surveillance and helicopter flybys. “It’s a climate crime,” said Winona Laduke, executive director of Honor the Earth, who lives on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. “This is the largest tar sands pipeline in the world being built in the time of drought in Minnesota and catastrophic fires in Ontario and Manitoba.” Opponents of Line 3 have cited concerns over the environmental impact of constructing the pipeline on new routes through ecologically sensitive areas in Minnesota, as well as violations of US treaty rights with Native American tribes. And they object that expanding the tar sands gas pipeline will bring profit to a multinational corporation based in Canada, but will do nothing for the nearby communities. “It’s running this pollution through our country, and then exporting it. So there’s no benefit for us. We’re just getting the pollution,” “This line is not a replacement. It’s a reroute and an expansion … So they decided to bring it through tribal land on people who don’t have a voice and don’t have the political power to stop it.” Enbridge’s Line 3 oil sands pipeline is a 1,097-mile crude oil pipeline extending from Edmonton in Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. In the US, most of the pipeline’s route is being built in Minnesota, where construction of Line 3 isreplacing an existing 282-milepipeline with a new 330-mile route. The project received federal approval under the Trump administration, and the Department of Justice under Joe Biden has supported the decision in court, rejecting arguments from Native American tribes and environmentalists that the US Army Corps of Engineers did not properly assess the environmental impacts of the pipeline.
Line 3 Drew Thousands of Protesters to Minnesota This Summer. Last Week, Enbridge Declared the Pipeline Almost Finished – – In the dense coniferous forests of northern Minnesota, they’ve shown up nearly every day to chain themselves to equipment and block traffic on roads, chanting “water is life.” Not a week has passed this summer that activists haven’t used their bodies to stymie construction of Line 3, an oil pipeline that would deliver energy-intensive Canadian crude from the tar sands of Alberta to the Midwest. But those efforts don’t appear to be stopping the project, which has steamrolled forward since obtaining its final permits late last year. All but the Minnesota section of Enbridge Energy’s 1,031-mile pipeline has been finished, and now the Canada-based energy giant says that that remaining work is 80 percent complete. The company said it’s on track to wrap up Line 3, including the 337 miles that run through Minnesota, by the end of the year. Activists haven’t admitted defeat, at least not publicly, and press releases calling on people to join the frontline demonstrations continue to get widely disseminated among social media feeds and in email inboxes. “We have to be brave. We have to stand strong,” Tara Houska, a prominent Indigenous leader in the anti-pipeline movement, said in a July 30 press release. “We have to try. Actions, not words.” And last Wednesday, in the latest attempt to derail the pipeline through legal action, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe tribe sued Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources, arguing that when the agency granted Enbridge permission to divert nearly 5 billion gallons of water as part of Line 3’s construction work, it violated a 2018 tribal law that gives certain rights to wild rice plants. But the lawsuit’s implications remain uncertain, and legal scholars said that tribal court cases affecting state law are quite rare. “Tribal court decisions are binding in the tribal nation they are decided in,” Kathryn Fort, the director of the Indian Law Clinic at Michigan State University’s College of Law, told Reuters. “Beyond that, it gets very situation specific.” Once operational, the pipeline would pump 760,000 barrels of crude oil per day across 14 counties in northern Minnesota. And Indigenous activists say any spill from the pipeline could easily contaminate the hundreds of bodies of water it crosses, where local tribes fish, gather wild rice and perform cultural traditions. Indigenous and environmental activists say the pipeline not only poses a grave risk to Minnesota’s environment but hinders the state’s transition to clean energy and violates the long-held treaty rights of Native tribes that depend on the land for their cultural identities and livelihood.
MPCA reports more drilling mud spills along Line 3 route – Enbridge has spilled more drilling mud along the Line 3 construction route in northern Minnesota than previously reported – 28 spills so far this summer, creating at least 10,000 gallons of muck.State pollution regulators confirmed the totals Tuesday in a response to DFL lawmakers who called for a halt to drilling and demanded an accounting of the spills.Meanwhile, in a move that has alarmed Line 3 opponents, Enbridge has been buying water from the city of Park Rapids for dust suppression in the weeks since the state restricted the company’s use of water from drought-stricken lakes and rivers. The company said it has also used water from Bagley.The health of the region’s water supply has been at the heart of searing controversy surrounding Enbridge’s replacement oil pipeline, which is now more than 80% complete. It will carry tar sands oil from Canada 340 miles across northern Minnesota to Superior, Wis.In a letter Monday to DFL lawmakers, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Peter Tester said the water pollution permit issued to Enbridge doesn’t allow it to release drilling fluid “to any wetland, river or other surface waters.” He said those spills are “under active enforcement investigation.”The letter also said that the MPCA has increased the number of independent environmental monitors at sites and “required additional containment and response equipment” at active horizontal drilling sites.For example, the agency now requires fabric barriers called “turbidity curtains” to catch silt and sediment when Enbridge drills beneath rivers.A memo from Enbridge attached to the MPCA letter lists emergency gear the company has stationed at drilling sites, such as 70 straw bales, 800 sandbags, pumps and a small boat.Tester said in the letter that information on active investigations isn’t public. But the MPCA was releasing some information to dispel “widespread rumor” about the Line 3 on social media.The letter and attached table detailed 28 inadvertent releases of drilling fluid from June 8 to Aug. 5, with individual spills ranging from 10 gallons to as much as 9,000 gallons. One spill occurred in the Willow River, 13 spills happened in wetlands, and 14 were on land, although in one instance the spill flowed into a wetland. All the spills involved Barakade Bentonite, a brand name for the sodium bentonite clay base that is mixed with water to create drilling mud, MPCA spokesman Darin Broton said. Many releases also involved one or more additives identified as Power Pac-L and Sandmaster, Power Soda Ash and EZ Mud Gold. Drilling mud can be considered a pollutant if it enters water, Broton said.
Winona LaDuke Feels That President Biden Has Betrayed Native Americans – The New York Times — Right now in northern Minnesota, the Canadian oil-and-gas-transport company Enbridge is building an expansion of a pipeline, Line 3, to carry oil through fragile parts of the state’s watersheds as well as treaty-protected tribal lands. Winona LaDuke, a member of the local Ojibwe tribe and a longtime Native rights activist, has been helping to lead protests and acts of civil disobedience against the controversial $9.3 billion project. “I spend a lot of time,” she says, “fighting stupid ideas that are messing with our land and our people.” So far the efforts of LaDuke, who is 61 and who ran alongside Ralph Nader as the Green Party’s vice-presidential nominee in 1996 and 2000, have been in vain. The Biden administration declined to withdraw federal permits for the project, a stance that Line 3 opponents see as hypocritical given the president’s cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline as well as his vocal support for climate action. “I have had the highest hopes for the Biden administration,” LaDuke says, “only to have them crushed.” Not long after we spoke, LaDuke was arrested and jailed for violating the conditions of her release on earlier protest-related charges, which required her to avoid Enbridge’s worksites. She has since been released. How do you understand Biden’s decision to allow the construction of Line 3? He’s hellbent on destroying Ojibwe people with this pipeline. Why do we get the last tar-sands pipeline, Joe? It’s kind of like when John Kerry went and testified to Congress against the Vietnam War and said, Who’s going to tell that soldier that he’s the last one to die for a bad war? Who’s going to tell those Ojibwes that they’re the last ones to be destroyed for a bad tar-sands pipeline? What’s right about this? I organized people to vote for Biden. I drove people to the polls through seas of Trump signs. I drove Indian people to vote who hadn’t voted in 20 years. And what did we get from Joe? A pipeline shoved down our throats.He doesn’t have animosity, but he’s privileging a Canadian multinational. He knows that this pipeline runs right through our reservations. They know, and have a choice of what they’re going to support. I think it’s a trade-off for him: I canceled Keystone, and so we’ll just let this one go through, because it’s a replacement pipe. It’s not. It’s a new pipe. It’s horrendous. It’s a violation of not only the treaties but also every ounce of common sense. It’s a drought right now. But Enbridge put in an amendment: They get five billion gallons of water out of a region where rivers are 75 percent below normal. What’s with that? There was not a federal environmental impact statement on this pipeline, and the Biden administration just said we don’t need to do one. I mean, why?
Wyo drilling rig count triples during Biden leasing pause – The number of rotary rigs drilling for oil and gas in Wyoming tripled since President Joe Biden announced a pause on leasing federal minerals for development more than five months ago. Oil and Gas companies were operating five rigs in Wyoming the week of Jan. 29 when Biden announced a pause to review oil and gas leasing policies and royalty rates. This week, drillers, roughnecks and tool pushers were staffing 15 rotary rigs, according to Baker Hughes, a leading energy technology company.During the ongoing pause, the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has granted 1,984 drilling permits to energy companies, according to commission records. That’s almost double the 1,059 issued during the same five months – February to June – in 2020.The activity somewhat erodes fearful statements exclaimed by the energy industry, its supporters and communities reliant on extraction that followed Biden’s executive order in January.The Bureau of Land Management stopped at least two scheduled lease sales in Wyoming this year, sales that historically have earned Wyoming millions of dollars earmarked for education and other services.But the industry has ample federal leases to develop, according to a 41-page report by the Conservation Economics Institute. The Natural Resources Defense Council funded the study, which was endorsed by various conservation groups, including Wyoming’s Powder River Basin Resource Council.
Despite promises, Biden admin pushing pro-fossil fuel agenda –Not long after taking office, the incoming Joe Biden administration was treated to a shower of media praise in response to the Interior Department’s announcement that it would halt new oil and gas leasing on public lands. Some conservation and environmental groups lauded the move, claiming it would have significant impacts, such as “improv[ing] the health of our communities, our climate and our wild places.” Overwhelmingly, coverage favored rose-tinted glad-handing and dispensed with the facts – namely that the administration’s move was mostly symbolic, temporary in nature, and would have no impact whatsoever on the enormous surplus of oil and gas leases already existing on public lands. In truth, there was no reason to believe, let alone report, that it would have any meaningful impact on fossil fuel production on U.S. public lands.Months later, the administration has not only laid bare the empty reality of its January move, it has proceeded to approve new oil and gas permits on public lands at a staggering pace. According to a recent analysis of government data by the Associated Press, the Biden administration has approved roughly 2,500 new drilling permits and is on pace to approve roughly 6,000 permits by year’s end. That number of approvals for new fossil fuel production on public lands would eclipse anything seen during the Trump years and would be the highest number of new permits issued in one year since 2008, during the Bush administration.Lest the administration’s actions be misconstrued as administrative backlog-clearing after which the Interior Department can implement its desired agenda, in June Biden’s much-celebrated Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland told lawmakers that the Biden administration had no plan to make permanent its highly touted halt of new oil and gas leasing on public lands. During a meeting of the Natural Resources Committee, Haaland said, “I don’t think there is a plan right now for a permanent ban,” adding that “gas and oil production will continue well into the future.”
The Planet Can’t Survive a Repeat of Barack Obama’s Climate Denialism –The new IPCC report confirms that if the Biden administration gives us a repeat of Obama’s climate denialism and refusal to aggressively cut back emissions, the climate crisis will radically escalate, devastating the lives and livelihoods of workers around the world.after yesterday’s news cycle you didn’t feel a pang of doom, you’re either a zen master, a recluse living in a news vacuum, or a nihilist. The new United Nations report on climate change predicts an actual bona fide apocalypse unless our civilization discards our fetish for incrementalism, rejects nothing-will-fundamentally-change fatalism, and instead finally takes the crisis seriously.The bad news is that we’ve been here before during the last era of Democratic supremacy, and if the Obama Era we sleepwalked through now repeats itself, we’re done. It’s that simple.The glimmer of good news is that we still have a bit of time left to defuse the worst parts of the climate bomb, and at least one part of the political dynamic may finally be changing.But if we allow corporate media and the political class to erase our memory of how we arrived here, then history will probably recur and we will all burn. its core, the climate crisis is a product of bipartisan corruption and greed. Politicians bankrolled by oil and gas interests ignored scientists’ warnings and financed a fossil fuel economy knowing full well that it would destroy the ecosystem that supports all life on the planet.Republicans were more explicit about their corruption, actively denying the scientific facts and resurrecting their own version of a Flat Earth Society that reassured voters that nothing has to change and everything will be fine. Democrats settled on a different, but similarly pernicious, form of climate denialism: They acknowledged the science and issued progressive sounding press releases about the environment, and then they continued supporting fossil fuel development.This strategy worked for many MSNBC-addled liberals, who seem to most value rhetorical flourish. Focused on the red-versus-blue war, they want politicians who deliver inspiring speeches that make them feel smart, smug, and superior to the troglodyte Republicans – but they seem to care far less about whether the words eventually become legislation, policy, and law.The cynical formula crescendoed in the presidency of Barack Obama, who campaigned in climate poetry and then governed in fossil fuel prose.When Obama won the 2008 election, liberals lauded him for declaring: “Now is the time to confront this challenge once and for all. Delay is no longer an option. Denial is no longer an acceptable response.”Little noticed was the concurrent Obama-Biden pledge to “promote the responsible domestic production of oil and natural gas,” “prioritize the construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline,” and extract “up to 85 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil remains stranded in existing fields.And so four years after that campaign, Obama delivered a speech in Cushing, Oklahoma which perfectly summarized his actual legacy – and which future post-apocalypse historians (if any survive) will likely see as one of the pivotal moments in the cataclysm: “Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years,” he said in a speech promising to boost pipeline capacity to flood the world with even more fossil fuels. “Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline[s] to encircle the Earth and then some. So we are drilling all over the place – right now.”
White House calls for probe of ‘divergences’ between oil price and gasoline costs + The White House on Wednesday called for a probe into gasoline prices, citing “divergences” between oil prices and what people are paying at the pump. National Economic Council Director Brian Deese wrote a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan asking her to look into any potential illegal conduct or anti-competitive practices that have occurred. “During this summer driving season, there have been divergences between oil prices and the cost of gasoline at the pump,” Deese wrote. “While many factors can affect gas prices, the president wants to ensure that consumers are not paying more for gas because of anti-competitive or other illegal practices.” He asked the FTC to look into what he described as an “asymmetrical phenomenon” in which gasoline prices rise during oil price spikes more quickly than they fall in price drops. FTC spokesperson Betsy Lordan confirmed that the commission received Deese’s letter but declined to comment on its contents “at this time.” Lordan did note that the agency would need to work with others including the Justice Department and state attorneys general for any such probe. The letter comes as both oil and gasoline prices have increased in recent months, with loosened coronavirus restrictions leading to more travel. New data from the Labor Department on Wednesday showed that gas prices are up more than energy prices over the past year, with gasoline jumping 42 percent and energy climbing 24 percent. Meanwhile, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan called on the group of oil-producing countries known as OPEC+ to increase their production amid pandemic-related cuts. “Higher gasoline costs, if left unchecked, risk harming the ongoing global recovery,” Sullivan said in a statement. Industry analysts told The Hill that they don’t think an FTC probe would reveal any irregularities. “I think they’re jawboning,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service. “I wouldn’t want to say this was about PR, but I don’t think the investigations are going to reveal much.”Instead, he cited high labor costs, a driver shortage and refinery closures as contributing factors. Republicans have repeatedly hammered Democrats over rising gas prices and inflation in general, seeking to tie them to President Biden‘s economic and energy agenda.
API supports carbon pricing, but its allies remain skeptical – When Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) got wind in March that the American Petroleum Institute would come out in support of carbon pricing, he felt the nation’s oil lobby was bending to liberal pressure. “I’ve been disappointed in lots of corporations and corporate organizations that have found it really important, evidently, to curry some favor with the Biden administration,” Cramer told host Larry Kudlow on Fox Business Network. “And I’m afraid that’s what’s going on here with the API.” He soon heard from API President Mike Sommers. “They called to try to explain themselves to me,” Cramer told E&E News, attributing Sommers’ call to his Fox appearance. “Michael Sommers and I had a good long talk, and I said to him, ‘North Dakota’s largely made up of independents, not made up of multinationals, and understand that everybody has a different position, I understand yours as long as you understand mine.'” API told E&E News that the policy was approved unanimously by its board, which includes independent producers and other sectors of the industry. Cramer may have gotten more direct outreach on API’s carbon pricing proposal than the average decisionmaker in Washington. But like the rest of Congress, API didn’t change Cramer’s mind. In the five months since API released its Climate Action Framework and, for the first time, endorsed the idea of putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions as the main way to fight climate change, the national conversation on carbon pricing has barely nudged. No carbon pricing legislation has moved in Congress. No lawmaker has announced a change in their position on the matter, with Republicans still overwhelmingly opposed to the idea and many Democrats supportive, but only in combination with other policies like regulations or subsidies.
Pro-fossil fuel Facebook ads viewed 431 million times — in one year – Big Oil is strategically using Facebook to blitz Americans with a steady stream of messages designed to delay the extinction of fossil fuel use, according to new research.Pro-fossil fuel ads were viewed more than 431 million times on Facebook’s (FB) US platforms in 2020 alone, a report released Thursday by InfluenceMap found.Despite that vast reach, the oil-and-gas industry spent just $9.6 million on the ads, according to InfluenceMap, a think tank focused on energy and climate change.”The oil and gas industry is using a more sophisticated playbook to undermine climate action, which involves the use of more subtle and nuanced messaging tactics,” the report found. Out of the 25 organizations InfluenceMap studied, the biggest users of paid ads on Facebook’s US platforms were ExxonMobil (XOM) and the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s powerful trade group. Exxon and the API accounted for a staggering 62% of the ads analyzed by researchers.
Cramer’s amendment would prohibit fracking ban – Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee member, has introduced an amendment to prohibit the Biden administration from releasing rules or guidance banning hydraulic fracturing. The Senate will vote on it for Senate Democrats’ fiscal year 2022 budget resolution.”Democrats enacting a ban on fracking would weaken national security, increase global emissions, and take more money out of the pocketbooks of hardworking Americans,” said Cramer.”If they reject our amendment to their reckless tax-and-spend proposal, Senate Democrats would be admitting that imposing their radical agenda on the American people is more important than lowering costs for their constituents, protecting our national security, or even decreasing the world’s carbon footprint. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting it.”In March 2021, when the Senate debated the fiscal year 2021 Budget Resolution offered by Senate Democrats, an identical amendment was introduced by Senator Mike Braun, R-Ind. It received the support of every Senate Republican and the following seven Senate Democrats: Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper, both of Colorado; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania; Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luj’n, both of New Mexico; Joe Manchin of West Virginia; and Jon Tester of Montana.
Oil spill reported in McKenzie County – The North Dakota Oil and Gas Division was notified of an oil spill occurring Sunday, Aug. 8, at the Gunslinger Federal 1-12-1H well, about 13 miles northwest of Keene, North Dakota. Slawson Exploration Company, Inc. reported that 260 barrels of crude oil and 390 barrels of produced water were released due to an equipment failure/malfunction. The product was contained on-site and cleanup is underway. A state inspector has been to the location and will monitor any additional cleanup required.
Oil, brine spill at McKenzie County well site — – Almost 11,000 gallons of crude oil and more than 16,000 gallons of produced water spilled on a well site northwest of Keene in McKenzie County on Sunday, Aug. 8, according to a report from the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality. Produced water, or brine, is a byproduct of fracking that is highly saturated with salt and can contain fracking fluids, hydrocarbons and other contaminants damaging to local ecology and agricultural land. New Town-based Slawson Exploration Company operates the well site and reported the release of 260 barrels of oil and 340 barrels of brine to the state’s Oil and Gas Division, attributing the spill to equipment failure. The spill was discovered when an employee arrived and noticed gas leaking from a building on the well pad. Immediately, the company killed its natural gas flares and shut in the oil wells, finding later that equipment had washed out, allowing for the oil and brine spills. All of the fluids were contained to the well pad, where cleanup is underway, according to the Department of Environmental Quality.
North Dakota Farmers Fear Environmental Damage From Fracking Boom That Made Some Rich – Both Dakotas pretty much gave themselves over to the extraction industry over the last couple of decades. It was there that fracking got to be the hot new thing. Now, the bills are coming due, and crows doth sit upon the drilling rigs.Fracking has also accelerated life on the surface. Some landowners have made millions of dollars from selling the rights to oil beneath their land to major corporations. And struggling agricultural crossroads, including Watford City, the county seat 20 miles southeast of Novak’s farm, have found new life as boomtowns. During the past decade, a new high school and hospital, and housing developments sprawling from Main Street into the prairie, have arisen to serve the more than 10,000 people who have come from afar to work in the McKenzie County oil field. But installing an industry atop an agricultural zone has brought less-heralded changes, too, including an elaborate system to deal with the saltwater, which is actually a polluted mix of naturally occurring brine, hydrocarbons, radioactive materials and more. Billions of gallons of it are produced by oil drilling and pumping each year. Tom Haines’ begins his story with an account of how one of the saltwater tanks got hit by lightning, whereupon it burst, sending its toxic contents spilling down washes and gullies and into a river, a lake, and one farmer’s groundwater. This was not an unusual occurrence.The damage to [Larry] Novak’s land, while dramatic, isn’t uncommon in the North Dakota oil fields. More than 50 saltwater spills happen each year in McKenzie County, when tanker trucks crash, pipelines leak, or well pads or disposal sites catch fire or otherwise malfunction. Many spills are contained on well pads and at disposal sites. But others drain into fields, farmyards and roadways. Novak worried about his pasture, a water source for cows, deer, pheasants and more. And he feared the cumulative impact of so many saltwater spills in a county that is home to hundreds of streams and springs, and where farmers and ranchers often rely on water wells for livestock and themselves. This, of course, puts the residents of the oil-rich state in the same bind as the poor folks down in Cancer Alley in Louisiana: What do you want, your job or your drinking water? Of course, in North Dakota, a lot of people got rich before being forced into that choice.
The Petro-Hunt Fires Are All Out North Of Charlson – August 9, 2021 –The last two to be put out had burned for sixteen days.
Judge orders EPA to update rules for dispersants used on oil spills – Alaska Public Media – A federal judge ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to revise its regulations on oil dispersants, siding with Cook Inletkeeper and other plaintiffs that the current regulations don’t reflect updated research on how toxic those chemicals can be. Clean-up crews used dispersants in large quantities after the 1989 Exxon-Valdez spill and 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but they haven’t been used in U.S. waters in over a decade, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Cook Inletkeeper Advocacy Director Bob Shavelson said he’s never seen them used in Cook Inlet. But, he said, it’s important to make sure it stays that way. “I think if you have a large oil spill, that’s one of the tools in the tool kit that would come out rather quickly,” he said. Dispersants break oil down into smaller parts that mix with water, which gets slicks off the surface of the ocean during spills. But research has since shown dispersants to be more damaging to humans and marine species than previously thought. Meanwhile, the EPA has not updated its regulations on oil dispersants since 1994. U.S. District Judge William Orrick said the EPA’s failure to update that part of its contingency plan in the face of updated science violates the Clean Water Act. Shavelson said the ruling could be especially significant to communities in the Arctic. “The concern is that as climate change ensues, as we see more of an ice-free Arctic, we’re going to see more shipping in areas that are dark and rough weather,” Shavelson said. “And it’s going to be very difficult to use traditional tools to clean up spills. So the oil companies and shipping companies are going to prefer to spray dispersants and just disperse it.” The EPA will have to finalize its new regulations on dispersants by May 31, 2023, per the agency’s own suggestion. The judge asked the EPA to file status reports on the process every 180 days until it is published.
Joe Biden blasted by Alberta for demanding more OPEC oil after cancelling Keystone XL – Wounded after U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the Keystone XL pipeline that would have shipped Alberta crude to the United States, the province snapped at the White House’s call on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries Wednesday to raise production faster than planned. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney was also critical of the Biden Administration. “The same US administration that retroactively cancelled Canada’s Keystone XL Pipeline is now pleading with OPEC & Russia to produce & ship more crude oil,” the premier tweeted. “This comes just as Vladimir Putin’s Russia has become the 2nd largest exporter of oil to the US.”
Canada Imported Cheaper, Lower Volumes of US Oil Amid Covid Pandemic – The Covid-19 pandemic cut the volume and value of Canadian oil imports from the United States but did not stop the northbound flows, according to the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) and IHS Markit. Canadian imports from the United States fell 20% year/year in 2020, to 550,000 b/d from 693,000 b/d in 2019 before global oil trade withered in the pandemic, CER records showed.Depressed volumes and prices because of the pandemic inflicted a 40% cut on the total value of Canadian oil imports from all sources, down to C$11.5 billion ($9.2 billion) in 2020 from C$18.9 billion ($15.1 billion) the year before.About four-fifths of the value reduction eroded American sales. U.S. production was 77% of Canadian oil imports in 2020, up from 72% in 2019, according to CER. Canadian refineries relied on imports for 40% of their supplies.IHS said Central and Eastern Canadian refineries rely heavily for oil from Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia on international pipelines that cross U.S. territory, such as Enbridge Inc.’s contested Line 5 through Michigan.”The relationship is truly symbiotic, with both nations relying on one another to meet domestic demand each day,” said IHS North American crude oil markets director Celina Hwang. The IHS report is the latest in a series of industry studies by the consulting firm.Re-exports of Western Canadian oil that flows across the northern United States to reach refineries in the eastern provinces run at about 480,000 b/d, according to IHS.
Reports of an oil spill in Gulf of Paria – Trinidad Guardian –Environmental group Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) is reporting another oil spill in the Gulf of Paria, today. The group posted videos in its social media pages showing the spill in the waters of the Gulf, and warned “all fishers, seafarers and mariners to be on the lookout for this oil”. “Fishermen and Friends of the Sea have received reports of an oil spill in the vicinity of the Pointe-a-Pierre refinery stretching all the way to Claxton Bay. At the moment the oil is moving in northerly direction and is approximately one nautical mile from the coast,” the group said in its Facebook post. FFOS says it has alerted the relevant authorities about the spill, namely the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) and the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries. “Our Authorities must initiate the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP) with the utmost urgency before this heavy crude reaches onshore,” FFOS said, in addition to demanding full transparency on this current spill, as it noted, “every drop of hydrocarbon has an ever-lasting impact on our marine ecosystem”. “We are calling on the Authorities to make public, the cause of the spill, volume, nature of the hydrocarbon spilled, and those who are responsible. Furthermore, pray that our Government/EMA act in the interest of our environment and prosecute this polluter.” According to FFOS, since 2015, there have been in excess of 377 oil spills in this country, but “no one has ever been charged or prosecuted.
Black Sea Oil Spill 400 Times Bigger Than Claimed, Russian Scientists Say – The Moscow Times -An oil spill off the coast of the Black Sea is at least 400 times larger than originally claimed, Russian scientists said Wednesday, citing satellite images. A Russian-Kazakh consortium said Monday that 12 cubic meters of oil had spread over 200 square meters on Saturday when a Greek-flagged tanker was taking on oil at a terminal in southern Russia. The Caspian Pipeline Consortium’s statement added that the situation was “normalized” by Sunday and did not pose a threat to local wildlife or humans. But the Russian Academy of Science’s (RAN) space research institute said a satellite image taken on Sunday showed the size of the oil spill to be almost 80 square kilometers, with a 19-kilometer oil slick stretching from the shore to the open sea.”The spill is much larger than claimed,” it said in a statement on its website.World Wildlife Federation (WWF) Russia experts say the spill has spread across 94 square kilometers and caused billions of rubles in damages. The environmental group warned that the oil has already reached the shores of national parks and other protected areas and that most of the oil had dissolved in the water, posing a threat to living organisms and beaches. “The events are unfolding according to the worst-case scenario,” WWF Russia’s fuel and energy policy director Alexei Knizhnikov told The Insider news website. Video published to social media showed a visible layer of oil on the water’s surface at a dolphinarium near the resort city of Anapa. Staff can be seen installing sorbent booms to protect the dolphins.
Russian investigators probe big Black Sea oil spill – Authorities initially estimated that the spill covered only about 200 square meters (2,153 square feet), but Russian scientists said Wednesday after studying satellite images that it actually covered nearly 80 square kilometers (nearly 31 square miles). WWF Russia has estimated that about 100 metric tons of oil have spilled into the sea. The Investigative Committee, the country’s top criminal investigation agency, said Thursday it was conducting a probe on charges of inflicting significant damage to marine biological resources. The committee said it performed searches at the Caspian Pipeline Consortium and inspected the area for damage. Russian media said traces of oil were spotted along the scenic Black Sea coast, including Abrau-Dyurso and a dolphin aquarium in Bolshoy Utrish, 25 kilometers (15 miles) to the west, where workers urgently put up barriers to protect the mammals. The spill’s oily film was also spotted in the resort city of Anapa, further west down the coast. Veniamin Kondratyev, the governor of the Krasnodar region, sought to downplay the impact of the spill, saying that he and other officials flew over the area in a helicopter and saw no trace of it at sea. “Quick measures were taken to eliminate the consequences,” Kondratyev said, according to the Interfax news agency. The governor later met with the head of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium, who assured him that the sea has remained clean thanks to quick efforts to contain the spill.
Oil lifting temporarily suspended from CPC Marine Terminal due to oil seepage accident – Oil lifting was temporarily suspended from Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) Marine Terminal due to the oil seepage accident, Trend reports citing CPC. Oil seepage occurred on 7 August 2021 at 04:49 p.m Moscow time at CPC Marine Terminal in Yuzhnaya Ozereevka during the loading of the Minerva Symphony tanker (Greek flag, port of registry is Piraeus) from the Single Point Mooring (SPM 1). In accordance with the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Plan, CPC-R immediately took necessary emergency response measures. To contain the consequences of the incident, resources and equipment of the professional emergency response unit were promptly engaged (17 vessels), booms were deployed, four skimmers and oil storage tanks were used. Interaction with the discipline governmental regulatory authorities was arranged. The oil spill was contained and the oil spill response was completed by 10:42 p.m. Moscow time on 7 August. The Black Sea water area is being monitored. Independent laboratories are engaged to measure the condition of the water and air, they take samples from the territories adjacent to the Marine Terminal. The spill area amounted to 200 square meters, the volume is approximately 12 cu.m. The cause of the incident was the destruction of the internal space of the hydraulic damper which is an integral part of the SPM (supplier – IMODCO, MONACO). Oil lifting was temporarily suspended from CPC Marine Terminal while the emergency was being dealt with. According to the information as on the morning of 8 August, the situation was back to normal and posed no hazard to the local population or flora and fauna of the Black Sea. CPC has set up an ad hoc commission to investigate the causes and conditions of the incident. The increase focus of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium on assuring safe operation and readiness to emergencies allowed to contain the oil and mitigate its consequences within the shortest time.
Gas leak from ONGC pipeline triggers panic in South Tripura (PTI) Gas leak from a pipeline of the state-run ONGC at Dhananjoynagar in South Tripura district triggered panic on Friday, officials said.Locals saw in the morning that gas was gushing out of the pipeline.They immediately informed the Fire Services and local authorities.A team of technical experts from ONGC was rushed to the spot and the leakage was plugged, bringing the situation under control, officials said. Belonia Sub-divisional Magistrate Manik Lal Das, who visited the site, said the situation in the area is normal.
Cargo ship splits in two after running aground in Japan port – – A cargo ship broke into two pieces after running aground in a northern Japanese port and is spilling oil into the sea, Japan’s coast guard said Thursday. All 21 Chinese and Filipino crew members were safely rescued by the coast guard, said the ship’s Japanese operator, NYK Line. The 39,910-ton wood-chip carrier Crimson Polaris went aground Wednesday while sailing inside Hachinohe Port. It managed to free itself from the seabed, but suffered a crack which widened and eventually caused the vessel to split into two early Thursday, the coast guard said. Officials were trying to contain the oil spill. The amount of oil leaked is under investigation, NYK Line said in a statement. The broken hull of the Panamanian-registered ship has drifted about 4 kilometers (2.4 miles) off the coast, it said. (AP)
Oil spill from Crimson Polaris reaches Japan coast – An oil spill from a wood chip carrier, Crimson Polaris, that split in two after it ran aground at the Hachinohe Port on Wednesday, has reached Japanese shores. According to the Japanese Coast Guard, heavy oil that spilled from the Panama-flagged vessel reached the coast of Misawa City on Friday morning local time. The stranded oil has spread around 24 km north of the coastline, but the extent of any environmental impact remains unclear as the authorities continue to tackle the oil spill.The 49,500 dwt ship operated by Japan’s NYK Line had about 1,550 metric tonnes of heavy oil and about 130 metric tonnes of diesel oil on board, but the amount of oil that spilled into the ocean has not been identified. “The Maritime Disaster Prevention Center is trying to control it using oil-treatment agents and adsorption mats,” NYK Line said.The Crimson Polaris, owned by MI-DAS Line, an affiliate of Doun Kisen, broke apart at 4,15 hrs local time on Thursday. The vessel’s split hull is about 4 km offshore Japan. A crack that initially occurred between the No. 5 cargo hold and the No. 6 cargo hold at the rear of the vessel worsened, and the hull eventually split into two, NYK Line explained.The bow is floating and held by an anchor chain, and the stern appears to have become stranded on the seabed. MI-DAS Line is said to be in discussions with relevant authorities and salvage companies concerning towing and treatment of the separated hull.The 2006-built vessel, with 21 crewmembers on board, grounded and sustained structural damage on Wednesday morning as it was unable to navigate due to bad weather. The cause of the accident is currently being confirmed, and investigative authorities are interviewing the captain.
China’s Biggest Oil Refiner Sinopec Seen Cutting Runs as Delta Hits – China’s biggest oil refiner is scaling back operations as Beijing’s aggressive response to the delta virus variant saps demand for road and aviation fuel, according to an analyst. State-owned China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., commonly known asSinopec, is cutting run rates at some plants by 5% to 10% this month as compared with July levels, Jean Zou, an analyst at Shanghai-based commodities researcher ICIS-China, said in an interview. The analytics firm tracks refinery operations, maintenance plans and processing margins across China.
Africa Needs to Spend $15.7 Billion on Refineries to Curb Emissions -African nations need to spend about $15.7 billion on their refineries to curb emissions and meet climate-change targets as demand for oil and gas surges, according to an industry lobby group.Governments on the continent should focus on reducing sulfur levels in petroleum products because Africa’s consumption of fossil fuels will rise quickly in the coming decades even as the supply of clean energy expands, said Anibor Kragha, executive secretary of the African Refiners and Distributors Association, or ARDA. The pan-African body, based in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital of Abidjan, promotes the interests of the downstream oil industry.A “leapfrog” switch by African nations from oil and gas directly to renewables isn’t realistic, Kragha said in an emailed response to questions. “Africa needs a unique energy transition roadmap.”Governments in wealthier nations have set ambitious targets for a rapid shift to renewable energy to slash carbon-dioxide emissions, with many countries and companies making commitments to achieving so-called net-zero by 2050. Africa has accounted for about 2% of cumulative global emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, a figure the Paris-based organization sees rising to only as much as 4.5% by 2040.Africa’s overall energy consumption is set to increase at twice the pace of the global average as populations and economies grow, the IEA said in a 2019 report. Demand for oil and gas in Africa is expected to double to at least 7 million barrels per day and 317 billion cubic meters respectively by 2040, even as the contribution of renewables is forecast to soar more than tenfold from its current low base, according to IEA estimates.ARDA’s immediate priority is facilitating Africa’s switch to “cleaner” petroleum products, Kragha said. The group is working with the African Union to introduce harmonized measures across the continent that cap sulfur volumes in gasoline and diesel to 10 parts per million by 2030. That would bring it in line with existing limits in major economies including the U.S., the European Union, China and India.The 15 governments of the Economic Community of West African States have already adopted an ARDA proposal to implement policies to phase out imported and manufactured fuels with more than 50 ppm, Kragha said.
Shell to pay $111m over decades-old oil spills in Nigeria –Royal Dutch Shell has agreed to pay around euro 95m (Pound Sterling80.4m/$111.6m) to communities in southern Nigeria over crude oil spills in 1970, lawyers involved in the case have said.The decision is the latest involving Opec-member Nigeria’s oil-producing south where communities have long fought legal battles over oil spills and environmental damage.”The order for the payment of [$111m] to the claimants is for full and final satisfaction of the judgement,” a local spokesman for Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria said on Wednesday. Lucius Nwosa, a lawyer representing the Ejama-Ebubu community in Rivers state, confirmed the decision.”They ran out of tricks and decided to come to terms,” the lawyer said. “The decision is a vindication of the resoluteness of the community for justice.”The company said it maintained the spills were caused by third parties during Nigeria’s 1967-70 civil war when much damage was done to oil pipelines and infrastructure.”It is a confirmation of the issues we have raised about Shell’s environmental devastation of Ogoni and the need for a proper remediation of the land,” the MOSOP organisation for the local Ogoni people said in response. After a 13-year legal battle, a Dutch court in January this year ordered Shell to compensate Nigerian farmers for spills that polluted much of their land in the Niger Delta.The court ordered Shell to compensate three out of four farmers who lodged the case in 2008. The case has dragged on so long that two of the Nigerian farmers have died since it was first filed.
Aramco posts nearly 300% leap in second-quarter profit on global demand recovery – Saudi state oil giant Aramco reported a stunning 288% increase in net income to $25.5 billion for the second quarter, while maintaining its dividend of $18.8 billion, as big oil benefits from higher prices and a recovery in worldwide demand. Aramco’s net income of $25.5 billion for the quarter compares to $6.6 billion in the same quarter of 2020. The result beat expectations, with analysts expecting a median net income of $24.7 billion for the quarter. “Our second quarter results reflect a strong rebound in worldwide energy demand and we are heading into the second half of 2021 more resilient and more flexible, as the global recovery gains momentum,” Aramco president and CEO Amin Nasser said in a company statement published Sunday.Aramco said net income for the first half of the year was $47.2 billion,compared to $23.2 billion in the first half of 2020, representing a 103% increase. The company said the results were supported by the global easing of Covid-19 restrictions, vaccination campaigns, stimulus measures and accelerating activity in key markets. “While there is still some uncertainty around the challenges posed by Covid-19 variants, we have shown that we can adapt swiftly and effectively to changing market conditions,” Nasser said.Aramco said free cash flow was $22.6 billion in the second quarter and $40.9 billion for the first half of 2021, compared to $6.1 billion and $21.1 billion, respectively, for the same periods in 2020. This is significant, because free cash flow has now risen above the quarterly dividend of $18.75 billion for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Aramco already pays the world’s largest dividend, but the improving outlook has prompted some analysts to call for higher payouts.”A dividend increase is needed to stay competitive,” BofA analysts said in a research note ahead of the earnings release. “Higher oil prices and OPEC+ driven production increases should support a significant free cash flow increase over the next couple of years,” it added. Aramco responded by saying its dividend is staying at the “normal level” for the quarter, but it would “advise later” as to whether it would stick to the current payout plan. Aramco, which is majority-owned by the Saudi Arabian government, is a key source of revenue for the kingdom. “All of this will be reviewed with our board, and we will decide at a later date regarding any additional dividend distribution,” Nasser said.
‘Code red’ climate report sends oil prices sinking – Oil prices tanked on Monday morning driven by investors selling off holdings after the publication of a landmark report on the damaging effects of climate change signals “code red” for humanity. International benchmarks WTI and Brent Crude plummeted 4.1 per cent and 3.8 per cent respectively. A barrel of either benchmark costs well below $70. A landmark new climate report from the UN is ‘code red’ for humanity, secretary-general Antonio Guterres said today. A new report examining the potential trajectory of climate change and its impacts on humanity was published by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this morning. The study found that the scale of recent changes to the world’s climate system were “unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years”. It also said that it was “unequivocal” that “human influence” had contributed to the world’s warming. Scientists warned that human activity is the primary driver of climate change and indicated that an international agreement to keep temperatures under 1.5C will be breached by 2040 in all scenarios. The report did highlight that if nations are able to significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade, the worst effects of climate change could be avoided, suggesting that reliance on oil to facilitate economic activity will start to ease, causing demand to drop sharply. Oil company shares in London fell along with crude, BP shares were down 2.3 per cent, while fellow major Shell was down 1.9 per cent this lunchtime.
Oil Futures Sink as Virus Batters Asia’s Top Oil Importer — Oil futures nearest delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent crude on the Intercontinental Exchange dropped more than 2% in ending the first session of the new trade week, sending the international crude benchmark to just above $69 per barrel (bbl) and the U.S. crude benchmark to just below $66.50. The losses came amid a one-two punch of a strengthening U.S. dollar index joined with tightening restrictions on mobility and businesses operations in China and other southeast Asian countries that are leading to weaker fuel consumption. At settlement, NYMEX September West Texas Intermediate futures dropped $1.80 or 2.5% to $66.48 per bbl after briefly touching $65.15 per bbl, and Brent crude futures for October delivery settled at $69.04 per bbl, shedding $1.66 on the session. Both contacts declined more than 7% last week. NYMEX September RBOB contract fell 2.21 cents for a $2.2348-per-gallon settlement, paring a decline to an intrasession low of $2.1730 per gallon, and NYMEX September ULSD futures declined 4.24 cents or 2% to $2.0421 per gallon. Crude shipments to China — Asia’s leading oil importer — shrunk more than 5% in the first five months of the year compared to the same period in 2020, said the China’s Customs Bureau this morning, with China’s new year beginning on Feb. 13. Beijing imported 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) less crude oil since last month’s daily average and almost 3.3 million bpd below that level reported last year when Chinese refiners stocked up on crude. Another year of cupped soybeans is inspiring another wave of rumored causes, but scientists say… Imports of other commodities that are sensitive to economic expansion, including iron ore and cooper, also declined sharply, hammered by extreme weather and tightening COVID restrictions in several industrial hubs in China. Last month, Beijing reintroduced curbs on international and domestic travel, suspending flights and railroad services between COVID hotspots. City officials have ordered mass testing of residents in response to a rapidly spreading Delta variant, but many analysts believe that Beijing will have to pivot from its “zero tolerance” containment strategy sooner rather than later. Domestically, the seven-day average for new infections jumped above 110,000 cases daily as of Aug. 8 — the highest point since mid-February, as the Delta variant sweeps through unvaccinated Americans. The United States averaged about 11,000 cases a day in late June.
Oil prices fall 4% more after global Covid surge -Oil prices slid Monday, building on last week’s steep losses, as rising Covid cases prompted fears of a demand slowdown. West Texas Intermediate crude futures declined more than 4% at one point to trade as low as $65.15, a level not seen since May. The contract recovered some of those losses during afternoon trading and ultimately settled 2.64% lower at $66.48 per barrel. International benchmark Brent crude settled at $69.04 per barrel for a loss of 2.35%, after hitting a low of $67.60. “The biggest challenge for oil markets remains the uncertainty around COVID as the ‘delta variant’ has made for the highest daily case counts since early 2021,” Bank of America said. Last week, both contracts dipped more than 7% for their worst week since October. The slide came amid demand worries as well as a surprise buildup in U.S. crude inventory. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that crude stocks rose by 3.6 million barrels in the prior week, while analysts surveyed by FactSet were expecting a 2.9 million barrel draw. Gasoline stocks, however, declined by a larger-than-expected 5.3 million barrels. Data out of China also weighed on crude on Monday. The country’s export growth unexpectedly slowed in July, while imports rose 28.1% from a year earlier. This was below forecasts that called for a 33% increase. China, the world’s second largest oil consumer, imported 9.7 million barrels per day in July, the fourth straight month below 10 million bpd, according to analysts Commerzbank. “The price slide is continuing [Monday] amid growing concerns about demand again,” the firm wrote in a note to clients. “Market participants are watching the rising coronavirus figures in Asia with considerable alarm, as this could prompt the Chinese government to take drastic measures in line with its strict zero Covid strategy.” A possible slowdown in demand as portions of the world reinstate lockdown measures follows a production boost this month by OPEC and its allies. In April 2020, the group implemented record production cuts of nearly 10 million bpd as the pandemic sapped demand for petroleum products. Oil has slowly recovered and WTI is still up 40% for 2020. In July, the contract traded as high as $76.98, a price not seen since 2014.
WTI Rallies as Traders Eye Stock Draw, Infrastructure Bill – (DTN) — Recouping a portion of their steep losses from the previous two sessions, oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent crude on the Intercontinental Exchange rallied more than 2% on Tuesday. The gains came as traders positioned ahead of the weekly release of U.S. inventory data, with expectations for nationwide crude and gasoline inventories to have fallen last week amid peak demand for summer travel, while the passage of an infrastructure package by Senate lawmakers fueled additional buying interest. On the session, NYMEX September West Texas Intermediate futures rallied $1.81 or 2.9% to settle at $68.29 per barrel (bbl), and international crude benchmark for October delivery advanced $1.59 to $70.63 per bbl, with both benchmarks reversing off Monday’s 2 1/2-month low settlements. NYMEX September RBOB contract rallied 3.31 cents to $2.2679 gallon, and NYMEX September ULSD futures surged 3.81 cents to $2.0802 gallon at settlement. Tuesday’s higher settlements were spurred by a combination of bullish factors, including the bipartisan passage of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill by the U.S. Senate that is seen bolstering employment and fuel consumption in the second half of the year joined with upbeat demand forecasts from the Energy Information Administration for the remainder of 2021 despite an uptrend in COVID-19 infections in oil-consuming behemoths like China and the United States. Support was also lent by expectations for the weekly change in commercial oil stocks, with U.S. crude oil stocks expected to have fallen by 600,000 bbl in the week ended Aug. 6, with gasoline stockpiles seen declining 1.8 million bbl from the previous week. Stocks of distillates are expected to have risen 100,000 bbl from the previous week. Refinery run rates likely rose by 0.4% to 91.7% of capacity. The closely watched inventory report from the American Petroleum Institute will be released 4:30 p.m. EDT, followed by Wednesday’s release of official supply data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In its monthly Short-term Energy Outlook released Tuesday afternoon, the EIA projected gasoline consumption would average 8.8 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, still 500,000 bpd below the level seen in the second half of 2019.
Oil recovers from three-week low as market shrugs off surge in Delta infections – Oil prices rose on Tuesday, recouping some of their losses in the previous session, as rising demand in Europe and the United States outweighed concerns over an increase in COVID cases in Asian countries. Brent crude gained $1.59, or 2.3%, to settle at $70.63 per barrel and U.S. oil settled $1.81, or 2.7%, higher at $68.29 per barrel. Both contracts dropped around 2.5% on Monday, but analysts believe the pandemic setback will not last for long. “This turbulence should remain temporary, not the least as Western world oil demand is back at, or above, pre-pandemic levels and is draining global supplies,” said Nortbert Ruecker, analyst at Swiss bank Julius Baer. U.S. crude, gasoline, and other product inventories are likely to have dropped last week, with gasoline stocks forecast to fall for a fourth consecutive period, a preliminary Reuters poll showed on Monday. Crude oil inventories are expected to have fallen by about 1.1 barrels in the week to Aug. 6, according to the average estimate of six analysts polled by Reuters. In the United States, the Senate is set to vote on the passage of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill later on Tuesday, which if passed would boost the economy and demand for oil products, analysts said. Successful vaccination programmes in the West and encouraging economic data come in sharp contrast to rising infections in the East. In Australia, police are on the streets to enforce COVID-related restrictions, while some cities in China, the world’s top crude oil importer, have stepped up mass testing as authorities try to stamp out a new surge of the virus. “The lockdowns (in China) could instigate a momentary pause in price action, but as COVID-19 cases are expected to abate quickly given the relatively low number of infections, the downside may be fleeting,” said StoneX analyst Kevin Solomon. Economic data this week, especially the U.S. Consumer Price Index on Wednesday, will provide guidance on how hard the virus will hit global and regional oil consumption, analysts said.
WTI Slides After Small Crude Inventory Draw, Distillates Surprising Build –Oil prices have erased much of yesterday’s gains after headlines reported the U.S. called on the OPEC+ alliance to revive production more quickly, as it appears the Biden White House is starting to panic over the highest gas prices in seven years…U.S. retail gasoline prices are running at about $3.18 a gallon at the pumps, up more than a dollar from last year at this time, according to the American Automobile Association. Which is ironic given that the call for OPEC+ to boost production also seems a quick turnabout from Thursday’s executive order calling for hybrid and electric cars to make up 50% of U.S. auto sales by 2023.The White House on Wednesday also directed the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which polices anti-competitive behavior in domestic U.S. markets, to investigate whether illegal practices were contributing to higher U.S. gasoline prices.“During this summer driving season, there have been divergences between oil prices and the cost of gasoline at the pump,” Biden’s top economic aide, Brian Deese, wrote in a letter to FTC chair Lina Khan.He encouraged the FTC to “consider using all of its available tools to monitor the U.S. gasoline market and address any illegal conduct.”Additionally, some Asian buyers are taking less Saudi crude as delta spreads.For now, all eyes on inventories and demand to see if Delta is having an impact (as Southwest Airlines CEO says it is). API:
- Crude -816k (-600k exp)
- Cushing -413k
- Gasoline -1.114mm (-2.4mm exp)
- Distillates +673k (-600k exp)
- Crude -448k (-600k exp, Whisper +1.27mm!)
- Cushing -325k
- Gasoline -1.401mm (-2.4mm exp)
- Distillates +1.767mm (-600k exp)
After last week’s unexpected build, analysts expected a return to crude builds (and API affirmed that expectation last night, albeit small), although BBG users ‘whsipered’ of a 1.27mm barrel build. Crude did manage a draw however, of only 448k barrels while Distillates saw a notable build of 1.767mm barrels which may be a warning signal for demand…
Oil turns positive, clawing back losses after White House calls on OPEC to boost production – Oil prices reversed losses to trade in the green on Wednesday, after the White House called on OPEC and its allies to increase oil production to support the global recovery from the pandemic. Futures for West Texas Intermediate crude settled 1.36% higher at $69.25 per barrel. Earlier in the session the contract dipped more than 2% and traded as low as $66.67 per barrel. International benchmark Brent crude advanced 1.15% to $71.44 per barrel. Oil prices moved lower Wednesday morning after CNBC reported that the White House said that OPEC+ needs to increase production. “Competitive energy markets will ensure reliable and stable energy supplies, and OPEC+ must do more to support the recovery,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement obtained by CNBC. The group agreed in July to increase production by 400,000 barrels per day, but that would leave output well below pre-pandemic levels. OPEC+ cut production by 10 million barrels per day in the middle of 2020. U.S. producers also scaled back production as demand dropped sharply. The White House said July’s deal is “simply not enough.” In recent months, consumer gas prices have climbed in the U.S. as the economy has reopened. The Biden administration is also asking the Federal Trade Commission to monitor the domestic market for potential illegal activity that could be adding to the rising prices. The national average for a gallon of gas stood at $3.186 on Tuesday, according to AAA, up by just over $1 in the last year.
Oil Up; Weak US Draws, White House Pressure on OPEC Limit Gains – Oil prices rose on Wednesday, helping market longs extend their recovery from a dismal week. But gains were limited somewhat by disappointing drawdowns in U.S. stockpiles. The market was also under pressure briefly after President Joe Biden pushed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, to boost production faster than the current pace of 400,000 barrels per month planned by the 23-nation group. “We’ve told OPEC that the output cuts implemented during the pandemic should be overturned,” Biden told a White House media briefing. Analysts, however, said they weren’t sure how much success the administration would have in pressuring OPEC+, especially with crude prices having declined about 10% or more from this year’s highs amid waning summer demand for oil and a renewed spike in Covid cases. Erlam noted that OPEC+ was no stranger to the White House trying to interfere in its decision making process, with former president Donald Trump being a constant critic of the group during his term. New York-traded U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil, settled up 96 cents, or 1.4%, at $69.25 per barrel. WTI lost 7.7% last week, its sharpest weekly loss since October 2020. London-traded Brent, the global benchmark for oil, rose 85 cents, or 1.2%, to $71.48 per barrel by 2:50 PM ET (18:50 GMT). Brent lost 7.4% last week. Weekly consumption in U.S. crude oil and gasoline was less than expected during the week ended July 6, data from the Energy Information Administration showed, as demand slid in the twilight stretch of summer and amid a renewed spike in coronavirus infections. U.S. crude inventories fell by 448,000 barrels in the week to August 6, the EIA said in its Weekly Petroleum Status Report. Analysts tracked by Investing.com had expected a drawdown of 750,000 barrels instead. The EIA reported a smaller-than-expected crude draw as U.S. imports declined by 36,000 barrels per day from the previous week. But exports of U.S crude spiked by almost 760,000 bpd to 2.66 million. That suggested Production of U.S. crude, on the other hand, rose by 100,000 bpd to 11.3 million. Gasoline stockpiles also fell less than expected, sliding by 1.4 million barrels against a forecast 2 million, the EIA data showed. Distillates, which include diesel and heating oil, had the best numbers of the lot, drawing down by almost 1.8 million versus an expected 500,000 barrels.
Oil Up On Weaker Dollar | Rigzone – Oil rose as a weaker dollar offset a government report that showed a smaller-than-expected decline in crude stockpiles in the wake of a viral resurgence. Futures advanced more than 1.4% after falling as much as 2.4% earlier when the U.S. called on the OPEC+ alliance to revive production more quickly. The dollar weakened, boosting the appeal of commodities priced in the currency, with data showing consumer prices increased at a more moderate pace in July, reducing concern about an unwinding of some of the stimulus. “The dollar index is helping out all the commodities and it slipped to the negative side of the equation after the data release today, helping to support the crude market as well,” says Bob Yawger, director of the futures division at Mizuho Securities USA. Prices were under pressure earlier in the session after the U.S. called on the OPEC+ alliance to revive production more quickly. The world’s largest oil-consuming nation has seen gasoline prices firmly above $3 a gallon in recent months, putting pressure on drivers who are back on the road as pandemic restrictions ease. The Energy Information Administration report also showed gasoline stockpiles fell with strong draws in New York Harbor as well as on the West Coast, though overall demand for the fuel slumped. The lackluster shale supply growth is set to tighten markets as the third financial quarter unfolds. “We saw a lighter- than- expected crude oil draw, and exports that haven’t matched what we saw 12 months ago. All of that is a strong indication that delta is still having an impact on global demand.” Prices West Texas Intermediate for September delivery rose 96 cents to settle at $69.25 a barrel in New York. Brent for October gained 81 cents to end session at $71.44. The coalition agreed last month to restart the remaining offline supplies in careful installments, of 400,000 barrels a day each month. The tentative pace seemed in line with the market, which has seen prices soften in recent weeks as the delta variant prompts fresh lockdowns in China and other key fuel consumers in Asia. However, oil prices haven’t come down fast enough to substantially lower retail gasoline in the U.S., which have been at a seven-year high this summer and source of consternation for the White House.
WTI Dips on IEA Demand Downgrade, Non-OPEC Supply Growth — Nearby-delivery-month oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent crude on the Intercontinental Exchange held lower in afternoon trade Thursday. This followed the overnight release of monthly oil market reports from the International Energy Agency and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries forecasting rapidly growing oil production outside the 13-member cartel and stalling recovery in global oil demand as the COVID-19 impact drags on well into the second half of 2021. The IEA said Thursday morning that global oil demand recovery had gone into reverse midsummer with an estimated monthly fall of 120,000 barrels per day (bpd) on the back of a resurgent pandemic in China, Indonesia, Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia. The agency downgraded its estimate of 2021 demand growth by 100,000 bpd to 5.3 million bpd, while forecasting oil consumption next year would average 99.4 million bpd — still 1.5 million bpd below the fourth quarter 2019. “Growth for the second half of 2021 has been downgraded more sharply, as new COVID-19 restrictions imposed in several major oil consuming countries, particularly in Asia, look set to reduce mobility and oil use,” said IEA. While OPEC didn’t make any revisions to its demand forecasts and actually raised its global growth estimates to 5.6% this year and 4.2% in 2022, it significantly upgraded its non-OPEC supply estimates. Non-OPEC oil production is now expected to expand by 1.1 million bpd in 2021 to average 64 million bpd, with the United States, Russia, Canada and Norway seen as main drivers of that growth. Put together with the IEA’s demand forecast downgrades, Thursday’s two reports paint a picture of an oil market that isn’t as tight as forecast a few weeks ago. While the market will remain slightly undersupplied this year, rising supply in 2022 could once again leave the market in surplus. In currency markets, U.S. dollar index pushed higher against a basket of foreign currencies to settle above 93-level after weekly unemployment claims fell for the third straight week through Aug. 7 to the lowest since March 2020 at 375,000. Elsewhere, the Producer Price Index, which measures inflation on a wholesale level, increased more than expected last month, up 1% to 7.8% year-on-year growth. “Nearly three-fourths of the July increase in the final demand index can be traced to a 1.1% advance in prices for final demand services,” said BLS, with the index for final demand goods up 0.6%. The jump in PPI index contrasted with Wednesday’s release of inflation data at the consumer level, which showed a slight moderation last month.
Delta Variant Dents Oil Demand Recovery While OPEC Expects More Supply – WSJ – The economic impact of the Covid-19 Delta variant and rebounding output mean that expectations of global oil demand outstripping supply are fading, the IEA and OPEC said Thursday.In its closely watched monthly market report, the International Energy Agency said that the worsening of the pandemic, as well as revisions to historical data, mean its global oil demand outlook has been “appreciably downgraded,” with some of this year’s forecast recovery shifted to 2022.Investors have become concerned about falling commodities demand in China, where Beijing authorities last week canceled all large-scale exhibitions and events for the remainder of August. That, and other measures aimed atslowing the spread of the Delta variant, has in recent days spooked traders who were already worried about the fragile nature of China’s economic recovery.The IEA cut its 2021 global oil demand growth forecast by 100,000 barrels a day, while upgrading its 2022 forecast by 200,000 barrels a day. Both the IEA and OPEC expect the world’s thirst for oil to return to pre-pandemic highs in the second half of next year. The Paris-based IEA said the timing of the variant’s spread has coincided with planned supply increases from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies “stamping out lingering suggestions of a near-term supply crunch or supercycle.” OPEC, in its own report, significantly upgraded supply-growth estimates for its non-cartel counterparts for both 2021 and 2022. The Vienna-based cartel raised its 2022 supply-growth forecast by 840,000 barrels a day to 2.9 million barrels a day.While OPEC expects Russia to increase its production by a million barrels a day next year, it said “the U.S., with year-on-year growth of 0.8 million barrels a day, together with Brazil, Norway, Canada and Guyana, will be the other key drivers.”As the Delta variant sweeps the globe, scientists are learning more about why new versions of the coronavirus spread faster, and what this could mean for vaccine efforts. The spike protein, which gives the virus its unmistakable shape, may hold the key. Illustration: Nick Collingwood/WSJOil prices suffered a blow Wednesday, after the White House urged OPEC to boost oil production, saying planned increases are insufficient to fuel the post-pandemic economic recovery. The remarks came as the U.S. tries to tamp down rising consumer prices, particularly that of gasoline. Crude prices edged lower Thursday, with Brent crude oil – the global benchmark – falling 0.2% to $71.31 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate futures, the U.S. gauge, dropping 0.2% to $69.09 a barrel. U.S. crude is down 6.6% this month, with the price rally seen in much of 2021 foundering, largely due to worries about the Delta variant.
Oil Ends Lower Friday On Demand Concerns From Delta Variant Spread – Oil dipped, trimming a weekly advance, as the fast-spreading delta variant continues to cloud the short-term demand outlook. Futures closed nearly 1% lower on Friday in New York, narrowing a weekly gain to 0.2%. The latest Covid-19 wave is leading to tighter curbs on movement across the globe, though there are mixed assessments on its impact. The International Energy Agency reduced its demand forecasts for the rest of the year, while Goldman Sachs Group Inc. predicts only a transient hit to consumption. “The news surrounding delta is a bit worse than we expected, and the short-term view is becoming increasingly concerning as cases rise,” says Jay Hatfield, portfolio manager at AMCP, the InfraCap MLP exchange-traded fund. “Long-term indicators are still relatively bullish on oil, but for the near future, the delta variant and its hit to demand isn’t looking like it will burn itself out.” Delta has interrupted a rally that pushed oil prices more than 50% higher in the first half of the year as major economies such as the U.S. began moving again. A critical concern is the flare-up in China, where authorities have taken an aggressive approach to containing the outbreak. While the overall number of cases in the country are still in the hundreds, the spread of the variant to more than 17 provinces is raising international concerns about China’s near-term mobility. West Texas Intermediate for September delivery fell 65 cents to settle at $68.44 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent for October dropped 72 cents to end the session at $70.59 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe exchange. The oil market’s structure has also weakened. Brent’s prompt timespread narrowed to 39 cents in backwardation — a bullish signal where near-dated contracts are more expensive than later ones. That compares with 92 cents at the end of July. Global oil demand “abruptly reversed course” last month, falling slightly after surging by 3.8 million barrels a day in June, the IEA said in its monthly market report on Thursday. The drop in consumption comes as OPEC+ hikes output with a goal to steadily revive all of the production halted during the pandemic.
Oil Futures Lower Friday on Lingering Demand Concerns— Nearby delivery month oil futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange and Brent crude on the Intercontinental Exchange accelerated losses in afternoon trade Friday. All of the contracts, however, closed the volatile week with gentle gains despite the relentless spread of the coronavirus Delta variant and a potential tightening of quarantine restrictions in coming weeks across industrialized economies and as peak summer demand for transportation fuels winds toward its end. While the seasonal decline in gasoline consumption in the United States and European Union is typical between August-September, this year could see a steeper drop due to the lack of commuting to work and the rising tally of COVID-19 infections. DTN Refined Fuels data showed U.S. gasoline demand down 2.6% during the week ended Aug. 6 compared to the same week two years ago, which was a further weakening from a 2.0% deficit relative to 2019 levels reported just the week prior. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts gasoline consumption won’t return to pre-pandemic levels even next year, averaging about 9 million barrels per day (bpd), some 300,000 bpd below 2019 levels. The relentless rise of COVID-19 infections and souring consumer sentiment might provide some clues for the trajectory of gasoline consumption in the coming weeks. The University of Michigan on Friday morning reported the consumer sentiment index plunged a staggering 13.5% in early August to a level that was just below the April 2020 low of 71.8. The losses in confidence were widespread across income, age and education subgroups and observed across all regions. Moreover, the losses covered all aspects of the economy, from personal finances to prospects for the economy, including inflation and unemployment. Following the shocking reading, the U.S. dollar index tumbled 0.57% against a basket of foreign currencies to finish at 92.510 but failed to lend support to the front-month West Texas Intermediate futures contract. NYMEX September West Texas Intermediate futures fell $0.65 to settle at $68.44 per barrel (bbl), and international crude benchmark Brent contract for October delivery declined 72 cents to $70.59 per bbl. NYMEX September RBOB contract dropped 1.28 cents to $2.2626 per gallon and NYMEX September ULSD futures plunged 2.60 cents or 1.2% to $2.0779 per gallon. Friday’s lower settlements came as traders weighed flagging demand outlook against increased vaccination rates in the U.S. and globally. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data showed U.S. daily count of administered vaccines nearly doubled in the last four weeks from an average of 400,000 dozes at the start of July to 828,760 as of Aug. 6. Despite increased vaccination rates and reinstated mask mandates, the seven-day moving average of new daily infections still rose 33.7% from the prior week to 89,977, stoking concerns over the worsening progression of the pandemic in the fall months.
US Intelligence Revises Afghan Estimate: Kabul To Be Overrun “Sooner Than Feared” – Previously a widely reported US intelligence assessment from June predicted that after the US troop exit from Afghanistan is complete (which at this point has essentially been accomplished), the densely populated capital of Kabul could fall within six months. US defense officials have now greatly revised that estimate after this past week which saw the Taliban overrun no less than eight provincial capital cities within a mere week. Officials told The Washington Post Kabul’s fall could likely occurwithin the next 90 days, according to a new military intelligence assessment, with some officials offering the more dire prediction of one month.The revised bleaker assessment comes a day after a senior EU official was widely cited as saying 65% of the country’s territory is now under Taliban control, much of it gained without significant resistance, given the many reports of US-trained national forces fleeing in retreat. Further, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby conceded there’s “not much” the US can do at this point if the Afghan Army isn’t willing to put up more of a fight.The Washington Post writes Wednesday, “The Biden administration is preparing for Afghanistan’s capital to fall far sooner than feared only weeks ago, as a rapid disintegration of security has prompted the revision of an already stark intelligence assessment predicting Kabul could be overrun within six to 12 months of the U.S. military departing, according to current and former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.”The outlook is such that US officials are said to be debating whether to even keep the sprawling, high-secured embassy in Kabul open; however, they assure plans remain the same to keep it in operation with hundreds of additional military security personnel guarding it. Amid the daily bad news reports of a rapid Taliban offensive to retake the country, President Biden says he has no regrets. “Look,” Biden began at a White House press briefing, “we spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years. We trained and equipped, with modern equipment, over 300,000 Afghan forces.” He indicated plans remain the same to declare ‘mission accomplished’ by the highly symbolic 9/11 anniversary.
Afghanistan war: Taliban back brutal rule as they strike for power BBC – The Taliban fighters we meet are stationed just 30 minutes from one of Afghanistan’s largest cities, Mazar-i-Sharif. The “ghanimat” or spoils of war they’re showing off include a Humvee, two pick-up vans and a host of powerful machine guns. Ainuddin, a stony-faced former madrassa (religious school) student who’s now a local military commander, stands at the centre of a heavily-armed crowd. The insurgents have been capturing new territory on what seems like a daily basis as international troops have all but withdrawn. Caught in the middle is a terrified population. Tens of thousands of ordinary Afghans have had to flee their homes – hundreds have been killed or injured in recent weeks. The displaced people hoping for safety in Kabul I ask Ainuddin how he can justify the violence, given the pain it’s inflicting on the people he claims to be fighting on behalf of? “It’s fighting, so people are dying,” he replies coolly, adding that the group is trying its best “not to harm civilians”. I point out that the Taliban are the ones who have started the fighting. “No,” he retorts. “We had a government and it was overthrown. They [the Americans] started the fighting.” Ainuddin and the rest of the Taliban feel momentum is with them, and that they are on the cusp of returning to dominance after being toppled by the US-led invasion in 2001. “They are not giving up Western culture … so we have to kill them,” he says of the “puppet government” in Kabul. Shortly after we finish speaking we hear the sound of helicopters above us. The Humvee and the Taliban fighters quickly disperse. It’s a reminder of the continuing threat the Afghan air force poses to the insurgents, and that the battle is still far from over.
Israel Pays For Bibi’s Successful Campaign Against The JCPOA Iran Nuclear Agreement – In the last few days for the first time in many years, northern Israel has been on the receiving end of rockets fired out of southern Lebanon, the territory under the control of the Shia Hezbollah group long supported by Iranian interests, although apparently, some think that it was Palestinians living in this area who fired the rockets. Even if it was, clearly this would not have happened without approval from Iran.Also in the last few days, an oil tanker in the Persian Gulf controlled by the Israelis has been attacked by drones apparently from Iran. Israel has been suddenly on the receiving end of attacks either approved by Iran or actually from Iran. Why now?The obvious reason is that Iran got a new hardline president, al Raisi, on Tuesday. He is showing his hardline credentials, and the word is out that this is showing Iran’s unhappiness at the economic sanctions it is under due to the US withdrawal from the JCPOA nuclear agreement, with so far, much to my unhappiness, President Biden has failed to get the US and Iran back into the agreement.Of course, probably the worst enemy of the agreement, who played a major role in convincing then President Trump to withdraw from the agreement, was former Israeli PM, Bibi Netanyahu. He openly wanted Iran to be under economic sanctions to make it harder for it to arm Israel’s enemies among its neighbors. But now the ultimate result of that has arrived: Iran attacking Israel. Bibi’s campaign has come home to roost.
Israel launches aerial strikes on Lebanon escalating covert war on Iran Israel has launched a series of air strikes on Lebanon in a marked escalation of hostilities in response to the launching of a handful of rockets by militant groups in the south of the country. It is the first time that Israel has admitted conducting air strikes against Lebanon since 2014, although its fighter planes have for years breached Lebanese airspace on an almost daily basis as it prosecutes its covert war on Iran and its allies, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah group, in Syria. The strikes come in the wake of mounting tensions between Israel and Iran following the drone attack, which Washington, London and Tel Aviv have attributed to Iran, on the oil tanker MV Mercer Street. The tanker is operated by an Israeli-owned shipping company and was sailing in international waters off the coast of Oman. F-16I Soufa Multirole Fighter in flight (Wikimedia Commons/Israeli Air Force) That attack, which killed the ship’s Romanian captain and British security officer, was likely in response to the long-running, covert offensive by Israel’s naval, air, security, intelligence and cyber forces against Iran. While the United States and Britain said they would work with their allies to respond to the attack, Israel said it reserved the right to act alone if necessary. Tensions rose further when several ships were delayed in the Gulf of Oman last Monday, after one of them appeared to hit a mine at sea. Later, the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations agency reported the end of a “potential hijack” of one of the ships by armed attackers, in a sequence of events that are far from clear. On Wednesday, Israel launched 92 rounds of artillery fire against targets in south Lebanon, reportedly hitting an open area near the town of Mahmoudiya in the Marjayoun district and causing a fire in a nearby village. This assault was in response to what the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said were three rockets fired into Israel by Palestinian militants in the area earlier that day, without identifying the Palestinian group it held responsible. One of the rockets was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system, with two rockets landing inside Israel, sparking fires near Kiryat Shemona. It marked the sixth such incident in the last three months, including three sets of rockets fired at Israel from Lebanon during Israel’s 11-day war on Gaza in May and a further three since then, after reported Israeli airstrikes on Syria, meaning that there were more incidents on Israel’s northern border than on its border with Gaza.
Iran is reducing its supply and the series of towers destruction is escalating.. Iraq is facing a fierce war to deprive it of electricity – The Iraqi Ministry of Electricity announced that Tehran has reduced the export of gas for operating power stations, at a time when the series of “systematic” destruction of the country’s power towers continues. The Iraqi Ministry of Electricity announced that Iran has reduced the export of gas for operating power stations in the country, while the series of destruction of power towers continues, describing the destruction process as “systematic” in conjunction with a severe heat wave of up to 50 degrees Celsius. The ministry’s spokesman, Ahmed Moussa, said that this reduction affected the rates of electricity production, and led to the loss of about 2,600 megawatts. For his part, the Executive Director of the Iranian Electricity Management Company announced the suspension of the export of electricity to Iraq, and said that this decision comes due to the need to meet the needs of his country internally. Tehran is demanding Baghdad to pay about $4 billion in debts owed by the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity, which is prohibited from paying any dollar amounts to the Iranian side due to US sanctions. Simultaneously, electric power transmission towers in Iraq are falling one after another, as a result of detonating them with explosive devices, causing the power to be cut off in large areas of the country. The General Company for Northern Electricity Transmission announced the destruction of 7 electricity transmission towers linking the governorates of Kirkuk and Salah al-Din, as a result of being targeted with explosive devices. The company affiliated with the Ministry of Electricity said, in a statement published on its Facebook page, today, Tuesday, that an act of sabotage targeted the Kirkuk-Baiji line, in the Riyadh district, south of Kirkuk, which led to the downfall of 7 electric power transmission towers. And she indicated in her statement, that “27 towers were bombed in the governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk and Salah al-Din within one week.” Moussa returned to say, in an interview with the government channel, that the Ministry of Electricity is being subjected to old and recent attacks, noting that there are indiscriminate and systematic attacks targeting areas of power.
The Disturbing Rise of the Corporate Mercenaries – When the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated by agents of the Saudi government in 2018, it caused an international scandal. Now, it turns out that his killers were trained in the US. In June, The New York Times reported that four Saudis involved in the killing had received paramilitary training from Tier 1 Group, a private security company based in Arkansas.This was no renegade operation, however. Tier 1 Group, whose training had approval from the US State Department, is part of a burgeoning global industry. Corporate mercenaries – or, more properly, private security and military companies – are increasingly taking over functions that were once carried out by states, with grave implications for human rights and democracy worldwide. It’s big business, too: Cerberus Capital Management, the private equity fund that owns Tier 1 Group, also owns a string of arms manufacturers. In April 2010, Cerberus merged with DynCorp International, one of the world’s largest corporate mercenary companies.Mercenaries – soldiers for hire – have existed for centuries, but this new breed is different. TheObservatory Shock Monitor, which tracks the impact of privatised war, argues that the corporate mercenaries stand out because of the internationalised, business-like services they provide. These companies are registered in one state but often work in another, offering their services via slick websites and a network of offices and facilities around the world. In the countries where they operate, they employ both foreign and local personnel. And the services they offer go far beyond the traditional role of mercenaries: from acting as security guards and patrolling public spaces, to military combat and operational support, to humanitarian work, clearing landmines or rescuing hostages. In short, they’re a replacement for a whole set of functions traditionally carried out by states, with access to the kind of military equipment that modern armies have at their disposal.As state security functions have gradually been privatised under neoliberalism, corporate mercenaries have reshaped the way that power is exercised, as well as tapping into a new source of profit.States have increased their reliance on private security contractors not only for international conflicts, but to strengthen their coercive power domestically. Corporate mercenaries have begun to focus on emerging sectors in the field of national security, such as protecting critical infrastructure from terrorism and cyber attacks, managing migration flows, running prisons and detention centres, and policing-like tasks including the ‘neutralisation’ of activists opposing the interests of states and multinationals.