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China Just Got Handed The Oil Deal Of A Lifetime
China and Russia are sewing up whatever oil and gas fields and accompanying infrastructure that they can in Iran and Iraq, as Iraq tries to markedly up the pace of development on the fields it shares with Iran. Iraq only wants the U.S. for the Common Seawater Supply Project (CSSP) because ExxonMobil is the only firm that can do it properly and within a reasonable timeframe. ExxonMobil’s participation, though, is far from guaranteed.
Of all the key shared fields - Azadegan (Iran side)/Majnoon (Iraq side), Azar/Badra, Yadavaran/Sinbad, and Dehloran/Abu Ghurab, Naft Shahr/Khorramshahr – the first of these has been a priority for Iran since it was severely flooded in March. It is this field that was the focus of the announcement last week that two major new drilling contracts have been signed: one with China’s Hilong Oil Service & Engineering Company to drill 80 wells at a cost of US$54 million and the other with the Iraq Drilling Company to drill 43 wells at a cost of US$255 million.
According to senior oil and gas industry sources spoken to by OilPrice.com last week, it is China that will do all of the work and finance all of the drilling, with the headline ‘Iraq Drilling Company’ being on the contract simply to assuage the followers of Moqtada al-Sadr, the de facto leader of Iraq, and his Sairoon (‘Marching Towards Reform’) power bloc whose public message at the last election was that Iraq should not be beholden to any other country. OilPrice.com understands that al-Sadr privately has approved the project, otherwise, of course, it would not be going ahead.
Located around 60 kilometres to the north-east of the main southern export terminal of Basra, the supergiant Majnoon oilfield is one of the world’s largest, holding an estimated 38 billion barrels of oil in place. Rather literally, the field’s name means ‘insane’ in Arabic, derived from its possessing an ‘insanely’ large amount of oil. Discovered in 1975 by Brazil’s Braspetro (now part of Petrobras), it has been subject to a microcosm of the troubles that have affected the Iraq oil industry as a whole, with two U.S.-led wars, the war against Iran, and ongoing domestic security issues leading to the cancellation of various deals with international oil companies (IOCs) over the past 40 years. A major ongoing problem for development remains the substantial quantity of unexploded ordinance in and around the site that dates back to the 1980-1988 Iran Iraq War.
Having been awarded the licence for the field on 11 December, 2009, it took Shell Iraq Petroleum Development (SIPD) and its partner Petronas nearly 18 months to clear 28 square km of land of explosives, prior to constructing and opening the first well, and then restarting production on 20 September 2013. The Shell subsidiary had to develop a new approach for removing mines, involving the use of heavily-armoured bulldozers and loaders. During the site’s construction phase, over 12,000 items were cleared and destroyed using this technique.
Additionally, in order to circumvent the dangerous conditions, the super-major had to transport an initial 48,000 tonnes of steel via the Shatt al-Arab waterway, which had previously been closed to commercial transport for 31 years. Given these logistical constraints and the longer-than-expected delay in generating any revenue from the project – already fixed under the terms of the technical service contract (TSC) terms at a relatively tight per barrel fee of US$1.39 per barrel for the developers – there was much talk that the consortium at the time (SIPD 45%, Petronas 35% and Iraq’s Missan Oil 20%) was in the process of renegotiating key parameters of the concession.
As it transpired, given the Iraqi view that the enormous reserves in situ and the low costs of recovery would more than offset any other considerations, negotiations were unsuccessful. The consortium moved quickly to boost output from the 46,000 barrels per day (bpd) level being produced when it took over in 2009. Within a very short timeframe from production re-commencing, the consortium managed to boost output to the 175,000 bpd first commercial production target (the threshold for cost-recovery payments for Shell), and by the end of the first quarter of 2014, the field had an average output of 210,000 bpd. As it stands, the field is now producing only marginally more, at 240,000 bpd.
Longer term, the original production target figures for the Shell-led consortium still stand: the first production target of 175,000 bpd (already reached), and the plateau production for the site of 1.8 million bpd. The Iraq Ministry of Oil’s own latest target is for 450,000 bpd by the end of 2021. All things remaining equal, the International Energy Agency (IEA) maintains its projection for 700,000-1 million bpd at some point in the 2030s.
As it has transpired, the floods in March handed China ‘a deal of a lifetime’, according to Iraq oil industry sources. It is widely posited that much of the structural damage to the Majnoon area was caused by the erosion of subsoil across over one million hectares of forest and brush land in both sides of the region – Azadegan and Majnoon - by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a result of extensive building programmes. Because of the geology of the region, Majnoon fared worse than its neighbouring Azadegan. Crucially, though, China is currently the lead operator of the North Azadegan field, and is in prime position in South Azadegan as well, so it is in a position to address the potential flooding problem across the entire region, covering both Iran and Iraq sides, and including widespread berm building and maintenance, and directing of water flows.
Partly because of this, China has been negotiating a deal with Iraq for one of its oil and gas entities (China National Offshore Oil Corporation is the one on the table currently) that involves a 25-year contract. However, the contract would officially start two years after the signing date, so allowing CNOOC to recoup more profits on average per year and less upfront investment, according to a senior Iraq source. The per barrel payments to China will be the higher of either the mean average of the 18 month spot price for crude oil produced, or the past six months’ mean average price.
It also involves at least a 10% discount to China for at least five years on the value of the oil it recovers. China, for its part will make good on the structural damage to the site and will increase output to at least 500,000 bpd by the end of May 2021.
“With the terms of the deal on the table, China would make between eight and nine billion dollars profit every year from Majnoon alone,” concluded the Iraq source.Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 20:25 Tags Business Finance
Amazon Ordering 100,000 Custom Electric Delivery Vans From Rivian
Amazon announced on Thursday that it would be implementing a newly formed climate change pledge for its business where it aims to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040, a decade ahead of the Paris Climate Agreement.
As part of that endeavor, the e-commerce giant announced that it would be ordering 100,000 custom electric delivery vehicles from startup Rivian, based in Chicago.
The order is set to be for a previously unrevealed commercial vehicle that will be designed and built at Rivian's Illinois factory, according to the Chicago Tribune. The custom electric vehicles are going to be made exclusively for Amazon and will not be sold to any other customers.
The vans will share a number of elements with Rivian's truck and SUV lines, including battery, powertrain and electrical network. The van's body, design, application software and suspension will be custom made for Amazon.
Rivian spokeswoman Amy Mast said:
“This has been in the works for some time. The idea that you can marry consumer applications to these more commercial applications ... is just really exciting.”
She continued, speaking about the vans:
“[The vans] are all developed specifically for Amazon’s last mile delivery operations, so that they fit seamlessly into Amazon’s existing logistics network.”
Rivian is targeting 10,000 electric vehicles on the road for Amazon by late 2022. It then hopes to ramp up to the full 100,000 order by 2030. The first of the new electric vans are expected to begin delivering orders in 2021.
The order is the latest milestone for Rivian, who announced a $350 million equity investment from Cox Automotive last week. This came after the 10 year old company closed on a $500 million investment from Ford in April of this year. Amazon led a $700 million investment round in the company several months prior, in February.
Our fleet is Electrifying! Thrilled to announce the order of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles – the largest order of electric delivery vehicles ever. Look out for the new vans starting in 2021. pic.twitter.com/y5qYpuy2WP— Dave Clark (@davehclark) September 19, 2019 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement: “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon which delivers more than 10 billion items a year — can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can.”
Amazon is projecting reducing carbon emissions by 4 million metric tons per year by 2030, when the full fleet is scheduled to hit the road.
Rivian's flagship truck and SUV are slated to hit the road by late 2020. The company unveiled prototypes of the two models last year and says the high end model of its pickup, the R1T, will be able to go from 0 to 60 in about 3 seconds and travel 400 miles on a single charge.
Not bad, huh Elon?Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 20:05 Tags Environment Business Finance Technology Internet
Smart Faucets And Toilets Use Alexa To Listen To Your Conversations
It is hard to imagine a more intrusive home surveillance device than a faucet or toilet that listens to everyone's conversations, but that is just what Delta Faucet and Kohler have done.
Delta Faucet's "Voice IQ" takes advantage of where lots of people like to congregate and turns it into an Alexa eavesdropping center.
"Designed with the understanding that 20 percent of all WiFi-enabled homes are equipped with a connected home device, VoiceIQ Technology pairs with existing devices to dispense the exact amount of water needed, all with a simple voice command."
Delta lets Alexa decide how much water everyone gets.
"VoiceIQ Technology allows users to easily warm water and turn it on and off with voice activation, lending a hand in an active kitchen space. Consumers can command the faucet to dispense a metered amount of water in various quantities for precise measurement. Additionally, consumers can customize commands to make everyday tasks easier, like filling a coffee pot, a child’s sippy cup, or a dog bowl."(To learn more about Voice IQ click here.)
What they are really saying is Amazon will now monitor your home and individual water usage.
How is that for Orwellian?
Install Alexa in your kitchen at you own peril:
So despite what Delta's promotional video says, 'the kitchen is not a great place for some hands-free help.'
I mean who in their right mind thinks that Alexa's "hands free help" does not include moderators listening to your conversations while entertaining?
Delta is also offering Alexa's "hands free help" to homeowners with older kitchens.
"VoiceIQ Technology will be available summer 2019 as a pre-assembled feature on select Delta Trinsic® pull-down models with Touch2O Technology. For an added level of convenience, a retrofittable module for VoiceIQ Technology will be available to upgrade existing kitchen faucets with Delta Touch2O Technology manufactured after January 1, 2018."
No thanks, I'm good. I do not want to turn my faucet into an Amazon eavesdropping device.
I mean, what's next a voice-activated toilet?Kohler creates a voice-activated toilet
Leave is to Kohler to destroy what most people consider their most private part of life: the bathroom.
Earlier this year, Kohler unveiled their voice-activated toilet, called the "Numi 2.0" intelligent toilet.
"Numi 2.0 will come equipped with embedded Amazon Alexa for easy voice control to active toilet features as well as Alexa commands such as checking weather, traffic, accessing news, etc."
Is this really what America wants: a toilet that listens to you while you sit on the throne?
According to the Numi Intelligent video, Alexa monitors how often you go the bathroom and how much water you use.
Kohler is so sure that homeowners will want Alexa to listen to their most intimate moments that they created an app for the whole family.
"Use the Kohler Konnect app to program personalized presets for different users, and you can use voice to access the preset/profile. There is probably a difference between you, your spouse, and your children when it comes to your interaction with Numi 2.0; this lets you easily personalize your experience."
Alexa knows the difference between you and your children's voices. How is that for creepy?
In what messed up world do we live in? Where it is OK, to let a private company monitor when you go to the bathroom?
Delta Faucet and Kohler have joined the ranks of ignominious companies like Amazon and Google who have turned our private lives into a for-profit family surveillance model.Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 19:45 Tags Technology Internet
The Triumph Of Candidate Trump's Foreign Policy: Backing Off 'Disastrous War' With Iran
Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday shot back at Pompeo's Wednesday remarks from Jeddah characterizing the Aramco attacks as an "act of war" by Iran. FM Javad Zarif warned of "all-out war" if the US or Saudis attack Tehran in response. “We won’t blink to defend our territory,” Zarif told CNN.
Though the White House is said to be weighing "options" — including "substantially increased" sanctions which Trump announced this week, the consensus is the administration is cautiously walking back from a war footing. As the WSJ reports:
The White House is pushing to build an international coalition to exert pressure on Iran through the United Nations as its chief response to the attack on Saudi oil facilities, an approach consistent with President Trump’s aversion to military intervention, but also reflecting limits on his retaliatory options.Image via The Daily Beast
And the following section of the WSJ report sounds an apt description of Trump's 2016 campaign promises to avoid the disastrous global military interventions represented in the Bush, Obama, and Hillary legacies — a dovish instinct which helped propel him to the White House in the first place:
“This president, he didn’t want to go to war with anybody, OK? That’s not his inclination,” said Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho), the Foreign Relations Committee chairman. “He will do everything he can to avoid a kinetic engagement with another country.”
Trump's aversion to taking a war-footing with Iran was also seen in the president's latest Fox interview Thursday morning, set to broadcast Friday, where with characteristic ambiguity toward the ratcheting gulf tensions he said he wants a "peaceful solution" which would be "good" but it remains that "it’s possible that that won’t happen."
“You may have some very strong hit, we’re the strongest military in the world by far,” said Trump during the interview. “We’re very powerful. We have new planes, new missiles, new everything.”
Iran has also repeatedly expressed a desire to avoid a direct war, but has assured that any US-Saudi military strike would result in certain "all-out war". Forbes has described a potential war with Iran as "disastrous and enormously costly".
.@npwcnn: What would be the consequence of an American or Saudi military strike on Iran now? Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif: An all-out war. More: https://t.co/PllvEJnYBj pic.twitter.com/L8rwbEwI3d— CNN International (@cnni) September 19, 2019 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
But the president has at every turn resisted the urging of hawks in his own cabinet and in Congress, such as Lindsay Graham who this week urged a response "painful enough that they won’t do it again".
The WSJ's commentary suggests we are witnessing a return to the original foreign policy of candidate Trump, who tapped into the broader American public's desire of non-interventionism and to stay out of needless quagmires which cost untold blood and treasure:
Mr. Trump’s aversion to a more bellicose response — he publicly rebuked Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) after he advocated for a military response against Iran — aligns with his “America First” approach to foreign policy and his distaste for military adventurism in the Middle East.
Of course, a commander-in-chief who desires to avoid costly wars (true to his campaign promises) has been met with general derision by mainstream pundits — some of which even on the left have suddenly begun championing uber-hawk Bolton as some sort of exiled "resistance" figure.
It must be remembered that anytime President Trump bombed Syria (he's done this twice) major network pundits momentarily gushed over him looking "presidential".
As Glenn Greenwald once observed, "the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets."
“This president, he didn’t want to go to war with anybody, OK? That’s not his inclina-tion,” said Sen. James Risch (R., Idaho), the Foreign Relations Com-mittee chairman. “He will do everything he can to avoid an armed engagement” https://t.co/u310cEt6ib— Joshua Landis (@joshua_landis) September 19, 2019 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Speaking of the dismissed former national security adviser, he reportedly unleashed on Trump's reluctance to start new wars on Wednesday while at a closed-door luncheon hosted by the conservative Gatestone Institute. Bolton told the audience, according to Politico:
After the attack in June, Trump was poised to launch a military response against the Iranians — strongly urged by Bolton — but pulled back after Fox News host Tucker Carlson and others warned him that it was a bad idea.
During Wednesday’s luncheon, Bolton said the planned response had gone through the full process and everybody in the White House had agreed on the retaliatory strike.
Bolton followed with some biting sarcasm which appeared a further slam of Trump, apparently in reference to Fox's Carlson: But “a high authority, at the very last minute," without telling anyone, decided not to do it, Bolton complained, the Politico report relates.
* * *
Put simply, do Americans want war with Iran? No! — a recent Gallup Poll found...
Most Americans do not want to go to war with Iran. Only 18% of Americans – 25% of Republicans and 11% of Democrats – think the U.S. should take military action against Iran. Majority prefer diplomacy. (Gallup, July 2019) pic.twitter.com/Wsfn9WZDOe— Negar Mortazavi (@NegarMortazavi) August 20, 2019 https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Indeed, the president's "crime" appears to be listening to the American people, which overwhelmingly according to every recent poll desire to "bring our boys home" and halt US regime change wars abroad with no more Iraq or Libya repeats.Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 19:25 Tags Politics
Will Chicago Be The Largest US City To Declare Bankruptcy?
The city of Chicago is in dire fiscal and financial straits with an almost billion dollar budget deficit, bonds rated at junk status or below, numerous extremely costly legal judgments, a shrinking tax base, and unfunded public pension liabilities to the tune of an astonishing $42 billion.
Other than that, it's a great place to live.
The state of Illinois has its own financial troubles, so the city can expect little or no help there. And good luck getting a federal bailout through the GOP Senate and signed by a president who's been called a "racist" by the mayor.
The shrinking tax base is clear proof that citizens are already over taxed. And since it's Democrats in charge, there won't be much cutting of city services.
The only option for Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city council is restructuring the city's massive debts. In other words: bankruptcy.
The city needs to lower taxes to start growing again, but lower taxes would mean Chicago can no longer service its debts. Federal law offers a procedure for reducing those debts by commencing a case in bankruptcy court. A bankruptcy judge has the power under federal law to reduce the city’s liabilities, change its pensions, reorganize its functions into a more efficient ongoing structure and eliminate some of its debts — but the judge does not have the authority to raise your taxes.
Bankruptcy is a painful process because it forces creditors who facilitated the city’s failure to take a loss: bond holders, such as hedge funds, Wall Street bankers that sold the bonds and the people who are waiting to be paid for goods and services sold to Chicago, including past and current municipal employees. (The city can and will still be able to offer generous pension benefits to its workers, but perhaps with a cap limiting pensions of well more than $100,000 and without the automatic 3% COLA; the exact terms of any new deal would be hammered out in negotiations under the auspices of the court.)
There are several problems with this plan. Good luck getting unions to agree to any change in the way pensions are figured. Former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner tried for 3 years to find a way to get the public unions in the state to make some tiny reforms and he was blown out of office.
Besides, it doesn't matter what the bankruptcy judge will say or do. There is going to be pain. Just ask the citizens of Detroit who endured the process in 2013. It wasn't pretty.
Indeed, there simply isn't an alternative:
This is Lightfoot’s moment: She didn’t make this crisis, but if she seeks higher taxes and less services instead of reform, Chicago’s population and property values will continue to bleed out. A bankruptcy restructuring is in Chicago’s future; it’s immoral to wait until empty buildings fill the downtown instead of cranes, and property values for “remainers” fall further toward zero.
Unfortunately, Lightfoot can’t make this happen on her own. Under federal law, the state must first authorize bankruptcy filings by municipalities before the city can avail itself of this procedure to restructure its debts.
Instead of lobbying Springfield to ask residents of other towns to pay Chicago’s debts, she needs Gov. Pritzker and the legislature to grant permission for the city to pursue a prudent financial reorganization and debt reduction through a federal bankruptcy procedure.
One thing is certain: a filing of bankruptcy will totally eliminate the leverage of machine politicians to bilk the public. The machine has been in decline for at least 3 decades, but remnants of the old Daley coalition survived. But there's no hiding anymore. The machine has to go if the city is to recover and thrive again.
From my 40-year observations of the Chicago political scene, I have my doubts whether Mayor Lightfoot could do what needs to be done. The powers that be are just too entrenched. It's not only politicians, it's bloodsucking businessmen, organized crime, and now street gangs who also get a cut of the action. This is the way the "City that works" has worked for more than 90 years.
Since the days of Big Bill Thompson, Chicago has been a cesspool of graft and corruption. Can waving the magic wand of bankruptcy cure the city of almost 100 years of amoral governance?
Don't bet the farm on it.Tyler Durden Thu, 09/19/2019 - 19:05 Tags Social Issues Labor
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