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  • Kurds Seize Oil Initiative in Iraq

    Crude oil from the semiautonomous Kurdish region of Iraq has reached the international market for the first time. Oil was ferried by truck across the northern Iraqi border to Turkey from the Taq Taq oil field, operated by Turkish energy company Genel Energy. The central government considers unilateral oil trading from the Kurdish north illegal, highlighting a political row that's been festering for years. Iraq, however, is now the second largest crude oil producer among members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Production is gaining steam 10 years after U.S. forces invaded the country, but its full potential is…

  • Targeting Iran's Energy Sector Isn't Working

    Asian consumers are expected to help the Iranian oil sector recovery briefly this month. The U.S. State Department in March lauded Japan for its "significant reductions" in crude oil exports, which qualified it for an exemption from economic sanctions. Iranian crude oil deliveries to Japan are expected to rebound, however, as some of the country's refineries return to service after maintenance shut them down last month. Sanctions are meant to starve Iran of the revenue it needs to support nuclear research programs. At the very least, multilateral negotiations in Kazakhstan last weekend may have kept the conversation moving in a…

  • Bahrain Places Hezbollah on Terrorist List

    The tiny Gulf kingdom of Bahrain became the first Arab country to place the Shiite Lebanese movement, Hezbollah, on their terrorist list earlier this week. It is a rather bold step on their part and the implications are enormous while the ultimate consequences are yet unknown. In punishing Hezbollah, Bahrain is at the same time pointing an accusing finger directly at Iran.But first some background on the reasons behind this latest development. Bahrain, much like Lebanon has an important Shiite community. And much like the Shiites in Lebanon, those in the oil-rich sheikhdom felt that they were not treated on…

  • Chinese Energy Firms Invade U.S. Neighbors Mexico and Canada

    In 1946, with the U.S.-USSR-British military alliance that had defeated Germany and Japan in World War Two unraveling, U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan cabled a dispatch to Washington advocating a policy of “containment” of the USSR that was to become the bedrock of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.In the last two decades, despite the implosion of the USSR and its subsequent dissolution, the U.S. and its European allies have advanced NATO up to the Russian Federation’s western frontiers, incorporating former eastern and Central European satellite states Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary,…

  • Egypt Lacks Oil and Sense of Humor

    Egypt’s economy is in rather bad shape; practically in a shambles. Unemployment is officially placed at 13 percent, though the reality is certainly much higher. Inflation has almost doubled since November and the country’s ageing infrastructure continues to suffer from lack of resources. Buildings in parts of Cairo often crumble and collapse, killing their occupants due to lack of proper building codes.Tourism, one of Egypt’s largest sources of hard currency revenue has dropped about $4 billion per year. An unprecedented surge in crowds attacking and molesting women continues to worry many, especially women who feel at risk every time they…

  • Sudan-South Sudan: Watch Now as the Oil Flows

    I’ve been skeptical about investing in either of the two Sudans without an oil and border security deal in place. That said, recent developments remove a lot of the political risk, so now might be the time. Earlier this month, Sudan and South Sudan reached an agreement for the resumption of South Sudanese oil exports through Sudanese infrastructure. There have been oil deals before and they were dead in the water because they didn’t come along with border security agreements. This time we’ve got the full package. The deal calls for a withdrawal of troops from both Sudan and South…

  • TURKEY-IRAQI KURDISTAN: Another Step Towards Kurdish Independence

    Bottom Line: The call for peace by Abdullah Ocalan, jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), has a new tone that recognizes the potential for an independent Kurdistan in Northern Iraq and Turkey’s KEY role in this. Peace between Turkey and the PKK removes one more hurdle to Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil and gas independence. It also moves us one step closer to an armed conflict with the central Iraqi government, which will go down on the frontlines of Iraq’s disputed territories—the borders of which house foreign oil companies’ key assets. Analysis: On 21 March, Ocalan called for a permanent…

  • VENEZUELA-US: Tell-Tale Signs of Hostile Environment for Investors

    Bottom Line: As Maduro expels two US government officials from Venezuela, cutting off informal channels of communication, and the US reciprocates by expelling 2 Venezuelan diplomats, optimism surrounding a post-Chavez regime wanes.  Analysis: Despite some optimistic reports that Chavez’s passing could start a new chapter in the relationship between the US and Venezuela, tell-tale signs in the last few weeks debunk this. Maduro expelled 2 US government officials on 5 March, and a week later the US reciprocated by expelling 2 Venezuelan diplomats. This latest diplomatic tit-for-tat came after public statements of support by a US State Department official for…

  • CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Natural Resources Shape New Govt after Rebel Seizure

    Bottom Line: A new leadership is emerging for this resource-rich country after Seleka rebels seized the presidential palace in Bangui and forced CAR President Francois Bozize to flee, while French soldiers secured the airport and South African troops denounced the rebels. At stake are French uranium interests and South African oil interests—and this will shape support for a new leadership. Analysis: Bozize himself had risen to power 10 years ago during a military coup that overthrew Ange-Felix Patasse, who had likewise been through a number of coup attempts over a decade in power. The country is often referred to as…

  • TURKEY-ISRAEL: Energy Cooperation Prospects Boosted by Israeli Apology

    Bottom Line: A deal in the works for a Israel-Turkey pipeline that would transport Levant Basin gas to Turkey under the Mediterranean comes one step closer to realization with an official apology from Israel to Turkey, engineered by Obama.Analysis: As we noted in February, Israel has proposed the construction of a pipeline under the Mediterranean Sea to southern Turkey to market its gas to Western Europe. Turkish officials have conceded that the Israeli proposal has been officially made, but have responded publicly by saying that “we have a policy regarding Israel, and the claims that Turkey leans towards this idea…