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  • 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…

  • US Training Rebels in Jordan: Get the Story Straight

    US media are now reporting what everyone else has known for some time: American special forces are helping train Syrian rebels on Jordanian territory, despite the fact that radical jihadists have infiltrated the Syrian rebels and could turn on Jordan’s monarchy the minute the dust settles in Syria. This special forces cooperation has been going on for almost a year, even according to US military sources who are suddenly keen to make this public via the Associated Press.  The reason this story is being run through the mass media belatedly is because the US is concerned that its operations in…

  • When Oil Revenues Go Awry

    By now it is no great secret that the small, but vastly rich oil and gas producing state of Qatar is playing a major role in supporting and financing opposition forces in the Syrian civil war. The conflict raging now for over two years has seen horrific fighting and destruction of Syrian cities and towns as the opposition continues in their relentless efforts to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad in Damascus. That can be perceived as either a positive or a negative political move, depending on one’s views. Qatar’s intervention in regional politics, be it in Syria or in neighboring…

  • Sudan Auctions off Exploration Blocks, Hoping to Revive Energy Industry

    South Sudan may have taken most of Sudan’s known energy reserves with it when it voted for independence in 2011, but that doesn’t mean Khartoum has given up on keeping Sudan in the mix of Africa’s key energy players. Eyeing a bounce back, Sudan has been courting energy companies worldwide with the promise of untapped resources in Sudan. And given the relatively raw nature of these unexplored blocks, the strategy could conceivably bear fruit over the medium term.  Over the past year, Sudan has auctioned off several exploration blocks, and these auctions have been well-attended by private and state-owned corporations.…

  • Iran’s Oil and Gas will not Protect its Rogue Islamic Regime Anymore

    The oil industry of Iran has now been brought into partial ruin and decay. This dilapidated state of Iran’s oil industry is a clear reflection of corruption within the governing system and extremely poor management by incompetent and unaware individuals within the oil industry.The National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) had grown from a passive office in 1951 after the nationalization of the oil industry in Iran to an active, mature and well-respected international oil company with production above 6 million bpd crude oil in 1979 before the so-called Islamic revolution and the establishment of a dictatorial regime in Iran.  For…

  • IRAQ: Flashpoint Nineveh

    Bottom Line: Dueling dynamics of the conflict in Syria and the brewing oil and gas conflict between the Iraqi central government and the Iraqi Kurds are creating another dangerous frontline in the disputed province of Nineveh. As al-Qaeda forces round up Syrian soldiers here and provincial Arab and Kurdish officials attempt to draw lines in the sand over a refinery and pipeline, the security situation is spiraling out of control and local elections have been postponed for at least six months.  Analysis: Local elections in the province of Ninevah scheduled for April have been postponed for up to six months…

  • DRC-RWANDA: M23 Gains Strength in Rivalry Reduction

    Bottom Line: As the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) escalates, the surrender to international authorities of a key Congolese general linked to M23 rebels will reshape the playing field in favor of M23 commander General Sultani Makenga and strengthen the rebels by removing a key rivalry that has led to in-fighting. It will also to some extent redefine the playing field for minerals, oil and gas. Analysis: Bosco Ntaganda turned himself in to the US Embassy in Rwanda on 18 March, saying he was surrendering to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ntaganda is wanted by the ICC…

  • India Mimics China in Seeking African Energy

    Africa is undergoing the great scrabble for its resources since Europeans carved up the Dark Continent in the 19th century.The latest to enter the fray for Africa’s energy resources is India, which, like China, is a net energy importer, seeking reserves anywhere and everywhere it can.On 15 March India’s state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and Oil India Ltd. made a joint bid to acquire up to 20 per cent stake in a giant Mozambique natural gas field. Mozambique’s offshore Area 1, is estimated to hold as much as 70 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources.But the deal is…