Friday, February 26, 2010

Mainstream Media Acknowledges Russian Decline

Times have changed for the Russian bear. With oil prices hovering around the $70s a barrel, Russia is unable to support Putin's ambitions. With the global climate failing to warm, vast Arctic oil and gas fields remain out of reach in a frozen wasteland. With a corrupt Russian leadership alienating foreign investors and failing to rejuvenate its own population and its own technology infrastructure -- Russia is in big trouble.
Today, the super-giant Shtockmann natural-gas field under the Arctic sea—Russia's only big hydrocarbon discovery since Soviet times—has just been mothballed due to the towering cost of extracting the undersea gas. At the same time, worldwide demand for Russia's gas has plummeted. And meanwhile, the government has punctured investor confidence by pressuring BP, one of the few major foreign investors left in Russia's energy sector, to hand over a giant Siberian gas field to a government-owned rival. It's time for Moscow to kiss goodbye those dreams of energy hegemony.

One problem is that the recession has eviscerated European demand for Russian natural gas (consumption dipped by 7 percent in 2009). Another is that demand in the United States for imported natural gas has fallen off too. Thanks to shale gas and other unconventional sources like tar sands, the U.S. is now close to self-sufficient in natural gas. It's a nightmare for Shtockmann, where the business plan hinged on freezing the product into liquified natural gas, or LNG, for export to the United States.

That made the Shtockmann field, with reserves of 3.7 trillion cubic meters, seem less like the strategic future of Russian natural gas and more like an M&M that fell behind the couch—tasty, but not strictly necessary and very hard to reach. The $20 billion cost of extracting the deep-buried gas in the harsh conditions of the Arctic has proved prohibitive for Gazprom and its minority partners, Total of France and Statoil of Norway.

That's a problem for Gazprom, which was the main cudgel of Putin's foreign policy just four years ago, when he played one European country against another in their eagerness to lay Gazprom pipelines across their territory. Now the European market seems oversupplied. More worrying still, Gazprom's traditional suppliers (gas fields in the Central Asian nations of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan) have begun opening their own direct pipelines to China, where gas consumption has a future. And though Gazprom still controls about 17 percent of the world's proven natural-gas reserves, many of its existing fields are beginning to run dry. Getting at the remainder—for instance at the Bovanenkovo field in the remote Yamal Peninsula in Siberia—will need massive investment of cash and know-how. Who wants to sink in that kind of money with no guarantee of returns?

That's why the latest attack on BP is so strange—and so dumb. A time of falling demand, unstable energy prices, and investor nervousness about emerging markets might seem like a bad moment to crack down on one of the few large foreign investors in Russia's energy sector. But that hasn't stopped Russia's Natural Environment Inspectorate, or RosPrirodNadzor, from threatening to throw BP off the giant Kovykta gas field in Eastern Siberia. The official reason for the threat is alleged environmental infractions—the same reasons cited by the Russian state when Royal Dutch Shell was persuaded to sell Gazprom its stake in an oilfield in Sakhalin two years ago for below market value. But the real reason seems to be that the state oil company Rosneft has its eye on BP's field. _Newsweek

The end of the Putin model?

Taking the "R" out of BRIC

The mainstream media is hesitant to present the whole sordid story: Russia's population collapse due to an abysmal national health infrastructure, and very low birth rates. The influx of fast-breeding and violent Muslim immigrants from the Caucasus and Central Asia. The rusting away of Russia's industrial and military infrastructure. And much more bad news for Russia.

Al Fin has been telling you all of this for years. The mainstream media -- being composed of unintelligent and indoctrinated products of a lobotomised academic culture -- will never quite catch up to a reality foreseen long ago by brighter lights.

But Russia, and much of Europe, are losing population too quickly to maintain what is left of a former greatness. Outsiders are pouring through the breech in the defenses. Very little time remains. They should use it wisely.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Europe: What Are You Doing to Your Own People?

H/T Gates of Vienna

Europe is turning to the dark side of censorship, groupthink, and persecution of outspoken and independent thinkers. European leftism by itself is enough to destroy the continent, with its intolerance of free speech and association, and its style faux environmentalism.

But when you tack on the onslaught of immigrants from Islamic countries -- people generally resistant to assimilation, intolerant to other ways of thinking, of typically low IQ, low aptitude for escaping welfare, of violent impulses and high fecundity -- Europe is putting an exclamation mark to her own suicide.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hyper-Leveraged Economy Always Doomed

H/T Financial Armageddon

International investment bankers outsmarted themselves -- and devastated the global economy -- by going much too far out on the leverage limb.  Governments went along, because the money was just too good.

In other words, your government -- like the large investment banker -- is clueless as to how to grow a healthy economy.  Governments will try to spend their way out of a financial hole, regardless of the level of pre-existing debt.  You might ask Greece how that is working out for them.

Your government is out for itself.  You had best take care of yourself while you still have time.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

BBC Caught in Huge Conflict of Interest Scandal

Government supported British media, the BBC, has been caught out in a huge journalistic ethics scandal that threatens to rock the institution to its very foundations.

Well, the BBC, a prime proponents of warming theory, or AGW, has heavily invested its pension fund in the theory, and thus have had a major non-Scientific reason for their bias. As revealed this weekend in The Express:
The corporation is under investigation after being inundated with complaints that its editorial coverage of climate change is biased in favour of those who say it is a man-made phenomenon. The £8billion pension fund is likely to come under close scrutiny over its commitment to promote a low-carbon economy while struggling to reverse an estimated £2billion deficit. Concerns are growing that BBC journalists and their bosses regard disputed scientific theory that climate change is caused by mankind as “mainstream” while huge sums of employees’ money is invested in companies whose success depends on the theory being widely accepted. The BBC is the only media organisation in Britain whose pension fund is a member of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which has more than 50 members across Europe.
The IIGCC is an interesting group. As their website explains:
The IIGCC is a forum for collaboration on climate change for European investors. The group’s objective is to catalyse greater investment in a low carbon economy by bringing investors together to use their collective influence with companies, policymakers and investors. The group currently has over 50 members, including some of the largest pension funds and asset managers in Europe, and represents assets of around €4 trillion.

Wait… I hate to be a skeptic, but did they just say… “Four Trillion Euros”? _BigJournalism

For four trillion euros, Al Gore, Raj Pachauri, Phil Jones, and Barack Obama would no doubt send 99% of the world's population to the antipodes of the universe with no chance of safe return. No wonder the BBC has been so gung-ho about man-made global warming! I wonder what skin the New York Times has in the game?

Right about now, anyone connected with politics and the media who has come out strongly -- well beyond reason and logic -- in support of big carbon taxes, big carbon trading, and multi-billion dollar reparations to environmental groups, the UN, and third world countries needs to be shot have their affairs looked into very scrupulously.

Organised crime is beginning to look very ethical in comparison to this climate scam affair. Shame on the BBC, and anyone else involved.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Can the Tea Party Movement Sprout in Europe?

Here is what the growing American Tea Party movement is about:

What the tea party activists do have is a well formulated set of ideas — small government, debt reduction, spending restraint, and an aversion to hurried, secret deal making. It is an agenda that is resonating with conservatives and independent voters who see the opposite behavior in Washington._J.Rubin 

It has been noted that Europe has the same problems with excessive debt, excessive spending, a bureaucracy growing exorbitantly large, and a central government that is nonresponsive to its citizens' problems, as the US government suffers from.  Some have wondered if a Tea Party movement for Europe might be just the thing:

Europe is in many respects an economic never-never land. It has a central bank to run a coordinated monetary policy, and a single currency, but it has several dozen finance ministries pursuing separate fiscal policies, many of which can be summed up as: Spend, spend, spend. In fiscal terms, "Europe" is often a riderless horse._RealClearPolitics

 Unfortunately for Europe, its people have never learned to emerge from the "groupthink" mentality which has dominated the Old World for millenia.  The Old World is known throughout history for murdering its prophets and wise men, and elevating its bloodthirsty maniacs to positions of power.  Old World residents are cowed in the face of authority.

Perhaps some Europeans can change, as they see their doors to freedom and prosperity closing irrevocably. More likely, the vast majority of Europeans will accept what they are told by authority and media, and behave like good little Euros.   And then, lights out.

Cautious Look Ahead at an Islamic Europe

We are not talking about a rapid replacement of Europeans by third world tribal muslims -- not across the entirety of Europe.  First, the replacement will occur within larger cities such as Marseilles, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussells, London.  Since these cities are the seats of power for entire nations, the shock waves of population replacement will rattle the windows and shake the house frames across all of Europe.

It is impossible to overstate the psychological impact of an entire advanced but gelded civilisation being overtaken by one more primitive and aggressive.

Some European nations will survive -- as Israel currently survives surrounded and infiltrated by tribal people who hate the existence of the more advanced nation.  Europe will become another battlefield of the "forever war."  The war that has continued since the beginning of Islam, and that will persist until either Islam is gone, or there is no threat to the overweaning dominance of Islam.

When particular European nations -- and parts of nations -- fall to a more fertile, vital, and aggressive third world Islam, the rest of the (non-Islamic) world will look on in horror.  Perhaps China will enjoy the spectacle, imagining itself immune from the type of suicidal immigration threat that Europe brought upon itself.   It is unlikely that the Anglosphere that survives -- Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the US -- will take the collapse of Europe lightly.

But then, the Anglosphere will have Islamic problems of its own -- brought on by dysfunctional immigration and suicidal political correctness.

Perhaps the real impetus for the "age of the seastead" will be a swarming locust-like dominance of Islam over the land masses of Earth, forcing the remnants of the civilised nations into the seas, to the poles, and into space -- if they are competent and prepared enough.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Peak Oil Fails to Take A Lot Into Consideration

The Earth contains massive quantities of heavy oils and bitumens (among other unconventional fossil fuels). The videos below first describe Alberta's rapidly expanding bitumens industry, and then look at a promising method of converting heavy oils and bitumens into light oils for transport via pipeline. At today's consumption rates, Earth has well over a thousand years' worth of oil and oil-equivalents that are currently known and accessible. But realistically, humans will stop the large scale burning of fossil fuels within the next hundred years -- due to better alternatives.

HTL is based on the time-tested concept of thermal cracking and carbon rejection. The key innovation is speed - HTL incorporates ultra short processing times compared with significantly longer times for conventional technologies such as delayed coking. HTL has the added advantage over coking technologies in that it converts by-product coke to on-site energy, instead of incurring the costs of accumulating and managing large stockpiles of low value coke. HTL upgrading does not require catalysts, hydrogen or significant pressure. The net result is relatively small scale, low cost facilities that can be field located where energy and other heat integration benefits are maximized. _Ivanhoe

Ivanhoe Energy Company

Heavy oils and bitumens represent a huge worldwide resource of petroleum fuels. Ivanhoe Energy Company has developed a fast, high temperature, low energy demand cracking method for turning heavy oils and bitumen into light oils -- so that the oils can be easily piped to refineries. Its commercial demonstration plant in California proved the technology which is not being put in place in Canada, Ecuador, China, and Mongolia.

The video explains how hot sand is used to separate coke byproduct from the light oil, and how the coke byproduct is then used to fuel the ongoing heating of the recirculated sand. It is a low-water process which essentially fuels itself.

The HTL process represents the application of a commercially-proven technology to a new feedstock. The technology initially was developed in the 1980s by a predecessor company of a private, Ottawa-based company called Ensyn Corporation. Ensyn has been applying its RTP technology (the biomass equivalent of HTL) on a commercial basis since 1989. Seven commercial Ensyn biomass processing facilities are in operation in the United States and Canada.

...In late-2004, Ensyn commissioned the 1,000-barrel-per-day Commercial Demonstration Facility (CDF) in the Belridge heavy-oil field in Southern California. The purpose of the CDF was to confirm product quality and yields in a significantly scaled-up facility. Numerous successful runs were carried out in the period beginning in 2005 and through mid-2007, culminating in the successful processing of Athabasca bitumen in mid-2007.

In 2005, Ivanhoe completed a merger with Ensyn Group Inc. and now has full control of the patented, proprietary upgrading technology for the development of heavy oil. Ensyn Corporation retains the rights to biomass applications.

Ivanhoe now is working with AMEC, its tier one contractor, on the design and engineering of full-scale HTL facilities related to the commercial initiatives under way.

The world still has plenty of crude oil. But the quantity of extractable crude oil is eclipsed by the quantity of heavy oils, bitumens, kerogens, coal, and natural gas (including methane hydrates). Better means of extracting and converting these alternatives to light oils and liquid fuels are inevitable, as political peak oil continues to set in.

Political peak oil is primarily a consequence of most of the world's oil falling into the hands of oil dictators and corrupt national oil companies -- who enjoy consuming the profits from their oil fields, but do not wish to put the proper investment into personnel, maintenance and new technologies that optimal oil field management requires. Thus oil that should be extractable becomes non-extractable, and equipment that should last 50 years, rusts into disrepair in 10 to 20 years.

Political peak oil is secondarily a consequence of misguided climate and faux environmental policies of more advanced nations, which makes development of abundant oil, gas, coal, kerogen, bitumen, and heavy oil resources much more expensive and difficult than it should be.

Human innovation is necessary to bypass as many of the obstacles put in place by political peak oil as possible.

From a post at Al Fin Energy

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Expect Massive Layoffs in Public Sector Employment

Thanks to labour union overreach, and the inability of elected officials to deal with the tough tactics of union enforcers, the groundwork for massive public employee layoffs is being built across the US. The ongoing recession - depression highlights the problem, but it would have erupted sooner or later even without the Obama downturn.
Cities, states, and municipalities are sinking by the minute. And unless unions agree to concessions (which they won't) massive layoffs are coming everywhere you look.

...Layoff stories are endless, and layoffs in the public sector have barely started. Those layoffs are likely to be staggering unless Obama and Congress are willing to go much deeper in debt, specifically to bail out failed states.

The budget deficit religion in Obama's state of the union message will surely be put to the test.

4th quarter GDP numbers will give one last reason to celebrate. However, that will be the last hurrah. The next GDP report will be nothing more than a rear view mirror look of inventory rebuilding, failed stimulus plans like cash-for-clunkers, and housing tax credits.

Here's a sobering thought for all the stock market bulls: The best of this "recovery" is now likely behind us, the official unemployment rate is still over 10%, and massive layoffs are on the horizon for city and state workers across the country. _Mish_via_NewsAlert

First the private sector is parasitised by the public sector. Then the public sector itself falls apart for lack of a private sector to support it. At that point sundry violence and reorganisation occurs, and the process tends to start over for another cycle.

There is no safety in public employment. Just a temporary abeyance of the laws of the universe.