Category Archives: Middle East

The Peak Oil Paradox Revisited, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

source: The Automatic Earth

M. King Hubbert
M. King Hubbert

It’s been a while since we posted an article by our friend Euan Mearns, who was active at The Oil Drum at the same time Nicole and I were. Is it really 11 years ago that started, and almost 9 since we left? You know the drill: we ‘departed’ because they didn’t want us to cover finance, which we said was the more immediate crisis, yada yada. Euan stayed on for longer, and the once unequalled Oil Drum is no more.

On one of our long tours, which were based around Nicole’s brilliant public speaking engagements, we went to see Euan in Scotland, he teaches at Aberdeen University. I think it was 2011?! An honor. Anyway, always a friend.

And there’s ono-one I can think of who’d be better at explaining the Peak Oil Paradox in today’s context. So here’s a good friend of the Automatic Earth, Euan Mearns:


Euan Mearns:
Back in the mid-noughties the peak oil meme gained significant traction in part due to The Oil Drum blog where I played a prominent role. Sharply rising oil price, OPEC spare capacity falling below 2 Mbpd and the decline of the North Sea were definite signs of scarcity and many believed that peak oil was at hand and the world as we knew it was about to end. Forecasts of oil production crashing in the coming months were ten a penny. And yet between 2008, when the oil price peaked, and 2015, global crude+condensate+NGL (C+C+NGL) production has risen by 8.85 Mbpd to 91.67 Mbpd. That is by over 10%. Peak oilers need to admit they were wrong then. Or were they?

Introduction

It is useful to begin with a look at what peak oil was all about. This definition from Wikipediais as good as any:

Peak oil, an event based on M. King Hubbert’s theory, is the point in time when the maximum rate of extraction of petroleum is reached, after which it is expected to enter terminal decline. Peak oil theory is based on the observed rise, peak, fall, and depletion of aggregate production rate in oilfields over time.

Those who engaged in the debate can be divided into two broad classes of individual: 1) those who wanted to try and understand oil resources, reserves, production and depletion rates based on a myriad of data sets and analysis techniques with a view to predicting when peak oil may occur and 2) those who speculated about the consequences of peak oil upon society. Such speculation normally warned of dire consequences of a world running short of transport fuel and affordable energy leading to resource wars and general mayhem. And none of this ever came to pass unless we want to link mayhem in Iraq*, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Nigeria to high food prices and hence peak oil. In which case we may also want to link the European migrant crisis and Brexit to the same.

[* One needs to recall that GWI was precipitated over Kuwait stealing oil from Iraq, from a shared field on the Kuwait-Iraq border, leading to the Iraqi invasion of 1991.]

The peak oil debate on The Oil Drum was a lightning conductor for doomers of every flavour – peak oil doom (broadened to resource depletion doom), economic doom and environmental doom being the three main courses on the menu. The discussion was eventually hijacked by Greens and Green thinkers, who, not content with waiting for doomsday to happen, set about manufacturing arguments and data to hasten the day. For example, fossil fuel scarcity has morphed into stranded fossil fuel reserves that cannot be burned because of the CO2 produced, accompanied by recommendations to divest fossil fuel companies from public portfolios. Somewhat surprisingly, these ideas have gained traction in The United Nations, The European Union and Academia.

It is not my intention to dig too deeply into the past. Firmly belonging to the group of data analysts, in this post I want to take a look at two different data sets to explore where peak oil stands today. Is it dead and buried forever, or is it lurking in the shadows, waiting to derail the global economy again?

The USA and Hubbert’s Peak

The USA once was the poster child of peak oil. The Peak Oil theory was first formulated there by M. King Hubbert who in 1956 famously forecast that US production would peak around 1970 and thereafter enter an era of never-ending decline (Figure 1). Hubbert’s original paper is well worth a read.

hubbert1956

Figure 1 From Hubbert’s 1956 paper shows the peak and fall in US production for ultimate recovery of 150 and 200 billion barrels. The 200 billion barrel model shows a peak of 8.2 Mbpd around 1970 that proved to be uncannily accurate.

Continue reading The Peak Oil Paradox Revisited, by Raúl Ilargi Meijer

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Seymour Hersh Says Hillary Approved Sending Libya’s Sarin to Syrian Rebels, by Eric Zuesse

ource: Strategic Culture

WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 19:  Author Seymour Hersh talks to a reader after a book discussion September 19, 2004 in Washington, DC. Hersh talked about his new book "Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib."  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON – SEPTEMBER 19: Author Seymour Hersh talks to a reader after a book discussion September 19, 2004 in Washington, DC. Hersh talked about his new book “Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The great investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, in two previous articles in the London Review of Books («Whose Sarin?» and «The Red Line and the Rat Line») has reported that the Obama Administration falsely blamed the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad for the sarin gas attack that Obama was trying to use as an excuse to invade Syria; and Hersh pointed to a report from British intelligence saying that the sarin that was used didn’t come from Assad’s stockpiles. Hersh also said that a secret agreement in 2012 was reached between the Obama Administration and the leaders of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, to set up a sarin gas attack and blame it on Assad so that the US could invade and overthrow Assad. «By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria». Hersh didn’t say whether these «arms» included the precursor chemicals for making sarin which were stockpiled in Libya, but there have been multiple independent reports that Libya’s Gaddafi possessed such stockpiles, and also that the US Consulate in Benghazi Libya was operating a «rat line» for Gaddafi’s captured weapons into Syria through Turkey. So, Hersh isn’t the only reporter who has been covering this. Indeed, the investigative journalist Christoph Lehmann headlined on 7 October 2013, «Top US and Saudi Officials responsible for Chemical Weapons in Syria» and reported, on the basis of very different sources than Hersh used, that «Evidence leads directly to the White House, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, CIA Director John Brennan, Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar, and Saudi Arabia´s Interior Ministry». And, as if that weren’t enough, even the definitive analysis of the evidence that was performed by two leading US analysts, the Lloyd-Postal report, concluded that, «The US Government’s Interpretation of the Technical Intelligence It Gathered Prior to and After the August 21 Attack CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CORRECT». Obama has clearly been lying.

Continue reading Seymour Hersh Says Hillary Approved Sending Libya’s Sarin to Syrian Rebels, by Eric Zuesse

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Middle East: The predictable defeat of France, by Thierry Meyssan

While the signature of the agreement between Washington and Teheran draws ever closer, Thierry Meyssan retraces and analyses the policies of François Hollande in the Near East which uphold his support for the Gulf monarchies and Israeli apartheid. Indisputably, the author demonstrates the fact that this policy, which is contrary to the values of the Republic and the interests of the Nation, exclusively serves the personal ambitions of a few individuals and the social group they represent.

The 6th July 2012, the war criminal Abou Saleh (Brigade Farouk) was the special guest of President François Hollande (the young man facing the camera, seated at the side of the stage to the right of the photo). He had directed the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr and ordered more than 150 people to have their throats cut in public.
The 6th July 2012, the war criminal Abou Saleh (Brigade Farouk) was the special guest of President François Hollande (the young man facing the camera, seated at the side of the stage to the right of the photo). He had directed the Islamic Emirate of Baba Amr and ordered more than 150 people to have their throats cut in public.

Elected in May 2012 as President of the French Republic, François Hollande has imposed on his country an entirely new foreign policy orientation. The fact that he presented himself as a left-wing politician has hidden from the eyes of his fellow citizens that this high-ranking civil servant has turned his back on the interests of the Nation, its history and its culture, and placed the state in the service of a tiny group of « upper-class » neo-conservatives.

The change of spring 2012

- Although during his electoral campaign he seemed open to all forms of analysis, surrounding himself with several competing study groups, he was obliged to lower his mask as soon as he assumed power on the 15th of May. He therefore placed his mandate under the auspices of Jules Ferry. With subtlety, he claimed to honour the founder of obligatory secular schooling, but not the socialist theoretician of colonisation. However, Ferry’s secularism was not aimed at guaranteeing freedom of thought, but at taking children out of the hands of the Catholic church and training them, under the authority of the « hussards noirs », to become cannon fodder for his colonial expeditions.

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The US Still Thinks It Owns The World, by Noam Chomsky

The United States has long assumed the right to use violence to achieve its aims, but it is now less able to implement its policies

Noam Chomsky-big

By Noam Chomsky and David Barsamian

This piece is adapted from Uprisings, a chapter in Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to US Empire, Noam Chomsky’s new book of interviews with David Barsamian (with thanks to the publisher, Metropolitan Books). The questions are Barsamian’s, the answers Chomsky’s.

Does the United States still have the same level of control over the energy resources of the Middle East as it once had?

The major energy-producing countries are still firmly under the control of the western-backed dictatorships. So, actually, the progress made by the Arab spring is limited, but it’s not insignificant. The western-controlled dictatorial system is being eroded. In fact, it’s been being eroded for some time. So, for example, if you go back 50 years, the energy resources – the main concern of US planners – have been mostly nationalised. There are constantly attempts to reverse that, but they have not succeeded.

Take the US invasion of Iraq, for example. To everyone except a dedicated ideologue, it was pretty obvious that we invaded Iraq not because of our love of democracy but because it’s maybe the second- or third-largest source of oil in the world, and is right in the middle of the major energy-producing region. You’re not supposed to say this. It’s considered a conspiracy theory.

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A Caliph in a wilderness of mirrors, by Pepe Escobar

I’m aiming at you, lover
Cause killing you is killing myself

Orson Welles (director), The Lady from Shanghai,1947

The Lady from Shanghai: Rita Hayworth (Elsa 'Rosalie' Bannister) and Everett Sloane (Arthur Bannister) in the final scene in the mirror maze, where they shoot at each other (screenshot of the edition 2014 Blu-Ray)
The Lady from Shanghai: Rita Hayworth (Elsa ‘Rosalie’ Bannister) and Everett Sloane (Arthur Bannister) in the final scene in the mirror maze, where they shoot at each other (screenshot of the edition 2014 Blu-Ray)

He’s invincible. He beheads. He smuggles. He conquers. He’s the ultimate jack-of-all-trades. No Tomahawk or Hellfire can touch him. He always gets what he wants; in Kobani; in Anbar province; with the House of Saud (which he wants to replace) trying to make Putin (who he wants to behead) suffer because of low oil prices.

If this was a remake of Orson Welles’s noir classic The Lady from Shanghai, in the mirror sequence the lawyer (American?) and the femme fatale (Shi’ite?) would also get killed; but The Caliph of Islamic State would survive as a larger than life Welles, free to roam, plunder and “give my love to the sunrise” – as in a Brave Caliphate World shining in “Syraq” over the ashes of the Sykes-Picot agreement.

He’s winning big in Iraq’s Anbar province. The Caliph’s goons are now closing in on – of all places – Abu Ghraib; Dubya, Dick and Rummy’s former Torture Central. They are at a mere 12 kilometers away from Baghdad International. A shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (or MANPAD) away from downing a passenger jet. Certainly not an Emirates flight – after all these are trusted sponsors.

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THE SULTAN CHANNELS LAWRENCE OF ARABIA

Lawrence

Sultan Erdogan pulled a spectacular Lawrence of Arabia yesterday in Istanbul, at Marmara University:

“Lawrence was an English spy in an Arab land. But currently, the spies are springing out from our own countries in the shape of a journalist, writer or even a terrorist. You can witness the new ‘Lawrences’ trying to set the region on fire.”

Fascinating; virtually a century after perfidious Albion spawned the 1916-18 Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, the New Sultan is now once again denouncing the West a well as Arabs.

The Sultan also stressed the “artificially made” borders drawn by colonial Britain and France post-World War 1 are “the real cause of long-term pain and crises.”

That’s even more fascinating; he’s as stridently decrying the Skykes-Picot agreement as his rival… The Caliph!

For The Sultan, “Turkey is the only country that can provide peace in the region. Turkey is the hope of the Middle Eastern people. Turkey can remove the barriers between Middle Eastern people not by changing physical borders, but by instilling hope and trust.”

As in “Assad must go; all power to the Muslim Brotherhood; preventing any possibility of Kurdish self-determination; and getting NATO to do the dirty work.

But all of this, of course, is off the record.

The Sultan has all the motives in the world to be uneasy. It’s true that a century later, Arabs are not revolting – again – against the New Sultan. But as much as they are also pro-“Assad must go”, their not-so-hidden agenda is fundamentally intolerant and sectarian: against Iran and Shi’ism in both Iraq and Syria.

Not to mention against the Muslim Brotherhood – which they see as a mortal threat to their dictatorships.

And not to mention these GCC petrodollar Arabs are not exactly jubilant with the notion of Turkey as the dominant regional power.

So many Lawrences on the loose. Such an enticing alliance on the horizon between The Sultan and The Caliph. Where’s Peter O’Toole when we need him?

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FROM POL POT TO ISIS: “ANYTHING THAT FLIES ON EVERYTHING THAT MOVES”, by John Pilger

KissingerBlair

In transmitting President Richard Nixon’s orders for a “massive” bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, “Anything that flies on everything that moves”.  As Barack Obama ignites his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger’s murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery – including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields – I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today’s Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

According to Pol Pot, his movement had consisted of “fewer than 5,000 poorly armed guerrillas uncertain about their strategy, tactics, loyalty and leaders”. Once Nixon’s and Kissinger’s B52 bombers had gone to work as part of “Operation Menu”, the west’s ultimate demon could not believe his luck.

The Americans dropped the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on rural Cambodia during 1969-73. They levelled village after village, returning to bomb the rubble and corpses. The craters left monstrous necklaces of carnage, still visible from the air. The terror was unimaginable. A former Khmer Rouge official described how the survivors “froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half-crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told… That was what made it so easy for the Khmer Rouge to win the people over.”

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