Archive for the ‘gas’ Category

Venezuela’s Chavez Extends Greeting To “Black Man” Soon to be In White House

November 3, 2008

Anti-U.S. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez predicted on Sunday the “black man” will win the U.S. presidential race and offered to hold talks with him to improve ties between the superpower and one its biggest oil suppliers.

Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee who would be the first black U.S. president if he wins Tuesday’s election, said this year he would be open to dialogue with leaders like Chavez — a remark that was seized on by Republicans as naive.

McCain, who trails Obama in polls, has labeled Chavez a dictator.

Chavez, a socialist who has mocked President George W. Bush and calls ex-Cuban leader Fidel Castro his mentor, has said there is an inevitable clash between U.S. and Venezuelan interests, although he has at times offered to ease bilateral tensions.

“We are not asking him to be a revolutionary, to be a socialist — no,” Chavez said at a political rally. We just want the black man who is about to be the U.S. president to have enough stature for the times the world is living through.

“I send an overture to the black man, from us here, who are of Indigenous, black, Caribbean, South American race,” he said.

“I am ready to sit down and talk … I hope we can, and I hope we can enter a new stage,” he said later at another rally.

Most Latin Americans would prefer Obama to win the White House over Republican rival John McCain, according to polls. They have felt largely neglected by the Bush administration as the region swung to the left.

Chavez, who expelled the U.S. ambassador in September, urged Obama to end the Cuban embargo, withdraw troops from Iraq and stop what he called U.S. threats against Iran and Venezuela. (Reporting by Ana Isabel Martinez; Writing by Saul Hudson; Editing by Bill Trott, Reuters)

Oil and Careless Geology: Was Eruption Caused By Poorly Planned Drilling?

November 1, 2008

The eruption of the Lusi mud volcano in Indonesia was caused by drilling for oil and gas, a meeting of 74 leading geologists has concluded.

Lusi erupted in May 2006 and continues to spew out boiling mud, displacing around 30,000 people in East Java.

Drilling firm Lapindo Brantas denies a nearby well was the trigger, blaming an earthquake 280km (174 miles) away.

Lusi

Above: Lusi has been erupting for two years, leaving 30,000 people homeless

Around 10,000 families who have lost their homes are awaiting compensation, which could run as high as $70m (£43m).

By James Morgan
Science & Environment reporter, BBC News

After debating new evidence at a conference in South Africa, most geologists voted drilling as the cause.

Correspondents describe the result a significant development in the tug-of-war to establish liability for the disaster.

Mud slinging

The debate on the cause of the eruption took place at a meeting of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, in Cape Town.

It was the first time the two opposing sides had agreed to debate before an international conference of independent experts.

The contest was chaired by a professional football referee – Professor John Underhill, an Edinburgh University geologist, who is also a match official in the Scottish Premier League.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7699672.stm

Recession Will Likely Be Long, Deep Says Consumer Spending Trend

October 31, 2008

By Patrice Hill
The Washington Times

Consumers this summer pulled back on spending by the most since 1980, driving the economy into what analysts expect to be one of the nastiest recessions in decades.

The nation’s legions of shoppers started out the summer cutting back on purchases from food and clothing to cars primarily because of record high gas prices of more than $4 a gallon. But the trend worsened even as gas prices dropped with the approach of fall, when a severe credit crisis caused huge stock losses, job cuts and an unprecedented collapse in consumer confidence.

Battered consumers cut spending by 3.1 percent, curbing purchases of both essential and discretionary goods such as clothing, newspapers, food and fuel by 6.4 percent — the most since 1950 — and slashing purchases of big-ticket items such as cars and appliances by a devastating 14 percent, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.

$100 dollar bills are being counted in this undated handout ...

Consumers barely maintained spending on services from haircuts to sports and entertainment.

Consumers normally fuel 70 percent of economic activity and continued to spend during the last recession in 2001, but their rare retraction in the latest quarter caused the economy to shrink by 0.3 percent.

With a multitude of developments from job losses to falling credit card limits conspiring to keep consumers at bay, analysts say, the economy is in for a long slog. A recovery may not arrive until this time next year.

“The U.S. economy has clearly moved into recession,” said Swiss Re economist Kurt Karl. “The outlook has deteriorated sharply over the past two months. The credit crisis will have a severe impact on the real economy — in the U.S. and globally.”

Mr. Karl held out hope that the economy will improve in the second half of next year after the banking system and financial markets slowly stabilize and the housing market ends its steep fall.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/
oct/31/consumers-signal-bad-recession/

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American Consumers Borrow Even More

By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON – Beaten down and watching their wealth shrink, Americans are burrowing ever deeper — cutting back on spending and spelling more trouble for the sinking economy.

One of the biggest problems saddling the country is damage from the housing market’s collapse. Mounting foreclosures, falling home prices and soured mortgage investments are taking their toll on both individuals and businesses alike.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who is scheduled to speak via satellite Friday at a Berkeley, Calif., conference on the mortgage meltdown, is likely to call on government officials and lawmakers to keep working on ways to provide more relief.

The Bush administration is considering a plan that would help around 3 million struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure by having the government guarantee billions of dollars worth of distressed mortgages. The plan also could include loan modifications that would lower interest rates for a five-year period.

Fallout from the housing meltdown has spurred the worst global credit and financial crisis in more than a half century. To combat the problems, the government has taken a flurry of bold steps. The Treasury Department is pouring $250 billion into banks in return for partial ownership and the Fed this week started buying mounds of debt from companies. It also slashed interest rates to 1 percent, a level seen only once before in the last half century.

A new batch of economic reports out Friday is likely to offer fresh confirmation of the stresses weighing on American consumers. Income growth is expected to barely budge in September, inching up just 0.1 percent, according to economists’ estimates. Consumers probably trimmed their spending during the month by 0.3 percent, economists predict.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081031/ap_on_bi_ge/
financial_meltdown;_ylt=Al6I_fO7EM5xBSCF2EJtjBCs0NUE

Russia pushes an ‘OPEC’ for natural-gas nations

October 30, 2008

The nations with the world’s three biggest reserves of natural gas – Russia, Iran, and Qatar – are quietly moving ahead to form a “gas OPEC,” an organization modeled after the oil cartel.

By Fred Weir
The Christian Science Monitor
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In Tehran last week, representatives of the Russian natural-gas monopoly Gazprom met with counterparts from Iran and Qatar and agreed to create “a big gas troika.” The group will meet quarterly to discuss pricing and supplies. Between them, these three countries hold an estimated 55 percent of known global gas reserves. The possibility of a cartel has long been opposed in Washington and European capitals.

The new cartel plan may be finalized Nov. 18, when Russia hosts a forum of gas-exporting countries in Moscow, including possible additions to the group such as Algeria, Indonesia, Libya, and Venezuela.

For Russia, which blames the US for causing the current global financial crisis and the attendant collapse of oil and other commodity prices, forging new energy-based international relationships holds political promise. “There is a clear desire in Moscow to work toward breaking what it perceives as US dominance of the world economy, but it’s way too soon to predict where this global crisis is leading,” says Masha Lipman, an expert with the Carnegie Center in Moscow. “If the US should really go into decline, I suppose we shall see new groups of states, and new contenders, come forward.”

As global energy prices plunge, cooperating with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to stabilize markets has gained fresh traction in the Kremlin while the long-discussed idea of creating a “gas OPEC” of leading producers is suddenly getting a big push from Moscow.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/2008
1030/wl_csm/oredopec_1

Russia, China sign landmark oil pipeline deal

October 28, 2008

Russia and China on Tuesday signed a long-awaited deal to build an oil pipeline from Siberia to China after talks between Prime Minister Wen Jiabao and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

The leaders watched as Chinese state energy major CNPC and Russian state pipeline monopoly Transneft signed the deal to build the pipeline from the Siberian town of Skovorodino to the Chinese border.

The pipeline agreed on Tuesday would have a capacity of 15 million tons of oil per year and would be a branch of the main East Siberia-Pacific Ocean trunk pipeline, which is still under construction, officials said.

“We should deepen cooperation in the energy sphere. Long-term cooperation will help economic development and stability on world markets,” Wen said at the opening of a Russia-China business conference with Putin in Moscow.

Even after lengthy negotiations on energy ties between the two neighbours, Russia is still only the fifth-largest exporter of crude oil to energy-hungry China, despite being the world’s number two producer after Saudi Arabia.

Amid lower energy prices, analysts say China is now seizing its chance.

“We have to aim for real results. We’ve discussed this for many years but the results do not correspond to what they should be for two neighbouring powers,” Zhang Guobao, China’s top energy official, told the conference.

“We need to build oil and gas pipelines, increase downstream and upstream cooperation and increase cooperation in the nuclear sphere,” said Zhang, head of China’s State Energy Bureau, speaking through a Russian interpreter.

The length of the pipeline to the Chinese border would be around….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081028/bs_afp/
russiachinadiplomacyenergy_081028133121

Russia Unromanticized

October 20, 2008

By John R. Bolton
The Washington Post
Monday, October 20, 2008; Page A15

Former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz argued recently on this site that the United States should neither be “isolating” Russia nor drifting toward “confrontation.” The Post’s Masha Lipman urged us to avoid “Cold War preconceptions and illusions.” Unfortunately, these distinguished commentators are aiming at straw men: No serious observer thinks we face a new Cold War or that isolating Russia because of its increasing foreign adventurism is a real solution. U.S. opposition to Russia’s recent behavior should not rest on a desire to “punish” Russia but on the critical need to brace Moscow before its behavior becomes even more unacceptable.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with Germany's ARD television in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, Aug. 29, 2008. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia will not be isolated over its conduct in Georgia. The Russian prime minister is also warning Europe not to the bidding of the United States. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin speaks during an interview with Germany’s ARD television in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia, Friday, Aug. 29, 2008. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Friday that Russia will not be isolated over its conduct in Georgia. The Russian prime minister is also warning Europe not to the bidding of the United States. (AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Pool) (Alexei Druzhinin – AP)

Russia has been growing increasingly belligerent for some time. Its invasion of Georgia is only the most recent and vicious indicator of its return not to the Cold War but to a thuggish, indeed czarist, approach to its neighbors. Vladimir Putin gave early warning in 2005, when he called the breakup of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.” In the same speech, Putin lamented that “tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory.” He may now be acting to reverse that “catastrophe,” as further demonstrated by Moscow’s embrace of Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other efforts to interfere in that country’s elections. Prudence based on history requires us to assess Russia’s invasion of Georgia as more than an aberration until proven otherwise.

Russia has repeatedly demonstrated its capacity to threaten American interests: providing cover to Iran’s nuclear weapons program by enthusiastically neutering sanctions resolutions at the U.N. Security Council and trying to market reactors to Tehran; selling high-end conventional weapons to Iran, Syria and other undesirables; using its oil and natural gas assets to intimidate Europe; making overtures to OPEC; and cozying up to Venezuela through joint Caribbean naval maneuvers, weapons sales and even agreeing to construct nuclear reactors.

Take the controversy over locating U.S. missile defense assets in Poland and the Czech Republic. We fully informed Russia before withdrawing from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that we would create a limited (but geographically national) missile defense system to protect against the handfuls of missiles that might be launched by states such as North Korea or Iran. As anyone can tell from looking at a globe, anti-missile sites in Europe wouldn’t defend against the missile trajectories of a Russian strike on America. (That’s why the Distant Early Warning Line was in Alaska and Canada, not Europe.) Russia’s threats against Poland are aimed at intimidating Western Europe, an all-too-easy objective these days. We have real interests at stake, such as a route to the Caspian Basin’s oil and gas assets that does not traverse Russia or Iran. If Moscow’s marching through Georgia goes unopposed, marching will look more attractive elsewhere, starting with Ukraine, which has a large ethnic Russian population “beyond the fringes” of Moscow’s control. “Legitimate security interests” do not justify invading and dismembering bordering countries.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/10/19
/AR2008101901332.html?hpid=
opinionsbox1?hpid=opinionsbox1

As Fuel Prices Fall, Will Push For Alternatives Lose Steam?

October 20, 2008

By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 20, 2008; Page A01

Just four months ago, a conference here on electric cars drew four times as many people as expected. District fire marshals ordered some of the crowd to leave, and the atmosphere was more like that of a rock concert than an energy conference. A brief film depicted an electric car owner driving off with a beautiful woman to the strains of “The Power of Love” while her original companion struggles to pay for gasoline. The audience cheered.

One discordant note in the series of enthusiastic speeches came from Bill Reinert, one of the Toyota Prius designers. He cautioned that designing and ramping up production of a new car takes five years.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez (R) speaks during a visit ...
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez (R) speaks during a visit to a gas pipeline project in Cumana, 400 km east of Caracas. Chavez will urge fellow members of the OPEC oil cartel to implement a cut in production, with a goal setting a price floor of no less than 80 dollars a barrel, the Venezuelan leader told AFP Sunday.(AFP/Thomas Coex)

“If oil goes down to $60 or $70 a barrel and gasoline gets back to $2.50 a gallon, and that very possibly could happen,” he said, “will that demand stay the same or will we shift back up?”

It didn’t take five years to hit those numbers. One type of oil shock has given way to another. Even more swiftly than the price of oil rose, it has tumbled to the range that seemed far-fetched when Reinert spoke and oil was more than $130 a barrel. Now that drop threatens a wide variety of game-changing plans to find alternatives to oil or ways to drastically reduce U.S. consumption.

“Declining oil prices can give us an artificial and temporary sense that reducing oil consumption and energy consumption is an issue we can put off,” said Greg Kats, a managing director of Good Energies, a multibillion-dollar venture capital firm that invests in global clean energy.

The credit crisis is compounding that threat by making it more difficult to finance capital-intensive projects, whether they are new auto assembly lines or solar panels or wind turbines. General Motors has been touting the Chevy Volt as the first mass-marketed, plug-in hybrid vehicle. GM, which has been holding merger talks with Chrysler, believes the project will help justify federal financing. It hopes to deliver the car by the end of 2010.
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Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/10/19
/AR2008101902073.html?hpid=topnews

An oil rig in a file photo. (File/Reuters) ...

Oil Prices Slip Below $70 a Barrel

October 17, 2008
Oil prices dropped below $70 a barrel for the first time in 14 months Thursday, prompting the OPEC cartel to call for an emergency meeting next week to establish some stability in prices that have plummeted recently after rising for months.

Above: Photo from Getty Image’ David McNew

Oil prices have tumbled by nearly $40 a barrel in just three weeks as indications grow that demand for energy will slow along with weakening economies around the world. As recently as July, oil was trading at a record of $145 a barrel.

The decline in oil prices could provide a form of stimulus to the economy as consumers pay less to fill up their tanks. If oil prices stay at current levels, consumers would have $250 billion more, over a year, to save or spend elsewhere, according to Lawrence Goldstein, an energy economist. Some analysts expect oil prices to keep declining, perhaps to as low as $50 a barrel in coming months.

A ship passes an oil refinery off the coast of Singapore October ...
ship passes an oil refinery off the coast of Singapore October 17, 2008.(Vivek Prakash/Reuters)

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/business/
worldbusiness/17oil.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Infuriated By Possibility of Higher Taxes? So Is Joe The Plummer (See Video)

October 16, 2008

John McCain may have found a blue-collar face to help him argue that no American — not even the richest 5 percent — should pay higher taxes.

“Joe The Plumber” has weighed in on Wednesday’s presidential debate and he says that Barack Obama’s tax plan “infuriates me.”

“To be honest with you, that infuriates me,” plumber Joe Wurzelbacher told Nightline’s Terry Moran. “It’s not right for someone to decide you made too much—that you’ve done too good and now we’re going to take some of it back.”

“That’s just completely wrong,” he added.

Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama speaks ...
Joe the Plummer (L) Wurzelbacher talks with a guy that wants to raise his taxes and redistribute his wealth.  John McCain calls it class warfare….Democratic presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama spoke to Joe as Obama canvassed a neighbourhood in Holland, Ohio, October 12, 2008.(Jim Young/Reuters)

Read the rest and watch the video from ABC News’ Teddy Davis and Hope Ditto:
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalradar/
2008/10/joe-the-plumber.html

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By Andy Sullivan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Barack Obama and John McCain may have turned him into the most famous small-business owner in America, but Joe the Plumber isn’t about to return the favor with an endorsement.
The morning after he emerged as the unexpected star of Wednesday night’s presidential debate, Joe Wurzelbacher of Holland, Ohio, declined to say who he will vote for in the November 4 election.

“It’s a personal decision, and myself and the button I push will know the answer,” the 34-year-old plumber and single father said on ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.

Later outside his home he told a crowd of reporters “I want the American people to vote for who they want to vote for,” and in an informed way.

He also said he was proud of what the U.S. military has accomplished in Iraq, feels his views are shared by many middle class working people he knows, is tired of people criticizing the United States and feels that the U.S. Social Security program is a “joke.”

Wurzelbacher came to prominence last week when he asked Obama about his tax plan during a campaign stop, which led to an appearance on a Fox News talk show and an invitation to a McCain rally.

Wurzelbacher said the sudden attention hasn’t yet translated into increased business.

“I hope I have a lot of jobs today. Yesterday I worked on a water main break for a gas station and that’s why I didn’t give any interviews. I was muddy and soaking wet,” he said.

Obama and McCain repeatedly invoked Wurzelbacher in their final debate as they sought to appeal to average Americans. McCain, a Republican, said Obama’s plan to raise taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year would hurt small-business owners like Wurzelbacher.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081016/us_nm/us_usa_politics_
plumber;_ylt=Am6aXw2iArr4XUtRD1GD8HGs0NUE

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Joe Doesn’t Have License as Plummer

By By JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press Writer

“That bothered me. I wished that they had talked more about issues that are important to Americans,” he told reporters gathered outside his home.

Wurzelbacher, 34, said he doesn’t have a good plan put together on how he would buy Newell Plumbing and Heating in nearby Toledo.

He said the business consists of owner Al Newell and him. Wurzelbacher said he’s worked there for six years and that the two have talked about his taking it over at some point.

“There’s a lot I’ve got to learn,” he said.

Wurzelbacher said he started his day with an early morning workout and came back to his suburban Toledo home to do live interviews with TV networks.

Reporters camped out by his house overnight and by midmorning there were 21 people on his driveway surrounding him, holding cameras and notebooks.

Wurzelbacher said he’s feeling overwhelmed.

“I’m kind of like Britney Spears having a headache. Everybody wants to know about it,” he joked.

Joe Wurzelbacher, right, or as Republican presidential candidate ...
Above: Joe Wurzelbacher, right, or as Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain dubbed him during Wednesday’s presidential debate, ‘Joe The Pumber’, chats with members of the news media outside of his home in Holland, Ohio, Thursday Oct. 16, 2008. Wurzelbacher was cited by the GOP presidential candidate as an example of someone who wants to buy a plumbing business but would be hurt by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama’s tax plans. In Toledo on Sunday, Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was preparing to buy the plumbing company, which earns more than $250,000 a year, and said: ‘Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?’ Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.(AP Photo/Madalyn Ruggiero)

In Toledo on Sunday, Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was preparing to buy the plumbing company, which earns more than $250,000 a year, and said: “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?”

Obama said that under his proposal taxes on any revenue from $250,000 on down would stay the same, but that amounts above that level would be subject to a 39 percent tax, instead of the current 36 percent rate.

Wurzelbacher said Obama’s tax plan wouldn’t affect him right now, because he doesn’t make $250,000. “But I hope someday I’ll make that,” he said.

“If you believed (Obama), I’d be receiving his tax cuts,” Wurzelbacher said. “But I don’t look at it that way. He’d still be hurting others.”

As he leaned against the Dodge Durango SUV parked in his driveway Thursday morning, Wurzelbacher indicated to reporters who crowded around that he was a conservative, a fan of the military and McCain. He said meeting McCain would be an honor but said he hadn’t been contacted by the Republican campaign.

Still, the plumber wouldn’t say who he was voting for and brushed off a question about whether he could influence the election or other voters.

“I don’t have a lot of pull. It’s not like I’m Matt Damon,” Wurzelbacher said.

“I just hope I’m not making too much of a fool of myself,” he added

Who Won Final Presidential Debate?

October 16, 2008

The morning of September 16, 2008, the Rasmussen poll is reporting that likely voters are for Obama 50%; McCain 46%…..

CNN polled people who wathed and said 58% said Obama won last night’s debate.  At Fox News, a “text-in” poll said 87% thought McCain won.  Dick Morris at Fox News said McCain won but Charles Krauthammer said the debate was a draw.  Most others said Obama won.

Who DID win?  Depends upon who you asked….

HEMPSTEAD, New York (CNN) — A majority of debate watchers think Sen. Barack Obama won the third and final presidential debate, according to a national poll conducted right afterward.
McCain, Obama get tough in final debate

Fifty-eight percent of debate watchers questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll said Democratic candidate Obama did the best job in the debate, with 31 percent saying Republican Sen. John McCain performed best.

The poll also suggests that debate watchers’ favorable opinion of Obama rose slightly during the debate, from 63 percent at the start to 66 percent at the end. The poll indicates that McCain’s favorables dropped slightly, from 51 percent to 49 percent.

The economy was the dominant issue of the debate, and 59 percent of debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job handling the economy, 24 points ahead of McCain.

During the debate, McCain attacked Obama’s stance on taxes, accusing Obama of seeking tax increases that would “spread the wealth around.” But by 15 points, 56 percent to 41 percent, debate watchers polled said Obama would do a better job on taxes. By a 2-1 margin, 62 percent to 31 percent, debate watchers said Obama would do a better job on health care.

Sixty-six percent of debate watchers said Obama more clearly expressed his views, with 25 percent saying McCain was more clear about his views.

By 23 points, those polled said Obama was the stronger leader during the debate. By 48 points, they said Obama was more likeable.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/
10/15/debate.poll/index.html