Archive for October, 2011

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Breakout for TomCo?

October 31, 2011

TomCo is the London-based company with leases on large blocks of land in the shale oil rich region of the Uinta Basin in Utah.  This summer, they announced that they had awarded contracts to begin pre-development of these leases.  This month, their stock has shown a breakout:

Rumor has it (sorry, no links) that their partner RedLeaf Resources, the developers of the revolutionary EcoShale process that enables the production of kerogen oil without the use of water, will begin production on their own leases in early 2013, with TomCo to follow as soon as later that year.

The development of shale oil in an economical and environmentally friendly matter will be an even bigger game changer than has been the development of shale gas.  I am told (again, all rumor and scuttlebutt, no links) that November could be a big month for shale oil news.

I am not invested in TomCo, but I have been told that shares are very difficult to come by this week.  I do not know if that is irrational exuberance or simply the result of reasoned knowledge and well founded expectations, but I am hopeful for the latter, only because I want to see this shale resource brought to market on a large scale and the EcoShale process is so promising on so many fronts.

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US searching for new Strategic Ellipse approach

October 31, 2011

The long time American military commitment to the Persian Gulf region will not end when US forces leave Iraq at the end of 2011.  There is already word that the Pentagon and Obama Administration are preparing to beef up the American military presence in the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.  This is almost farcical.  One of the major issues put forth by Osama bin Laden in his original fatwa against the US was the presence of “infidel” military forces in Saudi Arabia, home of Islams two most holy cities.  One of the great benefits of the Iraq war was that, by removing Saddam Hussein’s perpetual threat to the Gulf oil fields, it allowed the US to remove its forces from Saudi Arabia, and in so doing to remove a driving force for jihad against America.  Now, due to what seems like blind disregard, the US will be forced to redeploy military forces to the Land of the Two Mosques.  What was one of the few clear benefits of the Iraq War is being tossed away.  This just sets us up for another generation of radicals with a clear grievance against the US to emerge . . . we are right back where we started.

In the other theater of the rapidly ending War on Terror, the State Department has launched the “New Silk Road” initiative to fill the gap as the US military mission to Afghanistan winds down.  On paper, this seems like a good idea, but Americans have had a number of good ideas on paper.  The Bug Pit points out that most people in the region believe this effort will prove to be “unfeasible . . . and so not worth worrying too much about.”  And, if it does turn out to be feasible, it does not appear from published statements that State has not game planned for what would be a robust Russian response.

I think a New Silk Road is a promising strategy, but it has to have real support.  It would help if there was a general foreign policy consensus in the US that bridged various administrations, as containment of the Soviet Union did for so long.  I humbly submit that an awareness of Long Cycle Theory in general and EnerGeoPolitcs in particular might go a long way toward creating that consensus.  We are nearing the endpoint of the current phase, probably within 20-30 years, and the coalitioning ahead of that macrodecision is occurring now, whether we actively acknowledge it or not.

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Relations strained between Turkey and Iran

October 29, 2011

Eurasia Review details the numerous recent Turkish actions that have strained what was a once blossoming relationship between Turkey and Iran.   In reality, the Turks and Persians have been rivals for regional influence for centuries, so it was always unlikely that the newfound friendship would last, but it has unraveled quickly.  Some of the issues that Iran has with Turkey are:

  • Turkish support for the opponents to the Iranian client regime in Syria
  • Turkish coordination with the US on Syrian policy
  • Turkish support for democracy and secular governments in Muslim states
  • Turkish drive for influence in post-American Iraq
  • and the biggest one of all, Turkey agreeing to host a US anti-missile radar, which could neuter Iran’s great power ambitions

Iran has a small circle of friends, and among them, Turkey is very important because of growing economic ties between the two nations.  Turkey holds the upper hand in this relationship, and it will be interesting to watch this relationship develop.

Long time readers will notice that I tend to write a lot about Turkey.  This is because of this blog’s focus on Long Cycle Theory in general and on the current coalitioning phase of LTC.  It is our belief that Turkey is a bell weather nation that will determine the path of that cycle.

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Enhanced Geothermal Systems

October 28, 2011

Terrific page at Google Earth on the potential for geothermal energy to power the planet.  You will need Google Earth to get the full impact, but here is the basic map of the US geothermal potential, and a summary table.

If you don’t have Google Earth, I highly recommend it (download it here).

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The US war in East Africa

October 28, 2011

After reports last month that the US was building “a constellation of secret drone bases” across East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, and news earlier this month that an American combat team had been deployed to Uganda to kill or capture Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony, the report that the US is backing Kenya’s invasion of Somalia is perhaps unsurprising.   On top of that news comes confirmation of the completion of one of those drone bases, in Ethiopia (although the Ethiopian government officially denies what locals can see with their own eyes).   The latter Washington Post story contains several tidbits of information about the growing US military presence in East Africa:

Mindful of the 1993 “Black Hawk Down” debacle in which two U.S. military helicopters were shot down in the Somali capital of Mogadishu and 18 Americans killed, the Obama administration has sought to avoid deploying troops to the country.

As a result, the United States has relied on lethal drone attacks, a burgeoning CIA presence in Mogadishu and small-scale missions carried out by U.S. Special Forces. In addition, the United States has increased its funding for and training of African peacekeeping forces in Somalia that fight al-Shabab.

. . . The Air Force operates a small fleet of Reapers from the Seychelles, a tropical archipelago in the Indian Ocean, about 800 miles from the Somali coast.

The U.S. military also operates drones — both armed versions and models used strictly for surveillance — from Djibouti, a tiny African nation that abuts northwest Somalia at the junction of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. About 3,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the only permanent U.S. base on the African continent.

The article also contains an admission by a Kenyan official that the US has provided unspecified “technical assistance” for the Somali invasion, a claim which the US officially denies.

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Iran, Hezbollah and the “soft underbelly” of the United States

October 27, 2011

Bret Stephens connects some dots and raises some very disturbing points in this essay.  Is Iran using Hezbollah and other non-traditional combatants to link up with drug cartels and disaffected Latin Americans to attack the United States through it’s “soft underbelly” of Latin America?

Read the whole thing.   And remember, too, that China is also spending money and effort to become a strategic force in South America.    For all the talk of Obama’s foreign policy successes, he has not done much to shore up our southern flank.

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Turkey seeks to preempt potential Israeli gas bonanza

October 27, 2011

Last year, the USGS assessed the potential energy bounty of billions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas in the waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, primarily around Israel.    Since its inception, Israel has had the misfortune of being one of the very few Middle Eastern nations without massive energy reserves.  This discovery would change the character of Israel both economically and strategically.  Not only would there be enough oil and gas to power the nation, but the potential to export resources to energy hungry Europe would not only bring in foreign revenues, but also fundamentally change a number of dependency relationships.

However, Israeli-Turkish relations have been on the decline (since before this discovery, but more rapidly since then).  Now, Turkey has taken things a step further, announcing that Turkey would block any Israeli access to European markets via the pipeline network that transits Turkey:

Turkey will not permit the transit of natural gas produced in Israel, linking the rejection to the present state of relations between the two nations.  Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said Turkey has turned down requests private firms to allow the transit of natural gas produced in Israel through Turkey to Europe.

Turkish-Israeli relations have been tense since the attack on a Gaza-bound flotilla on May 30, 2010 that killed nine Turkish nationals.  In very blunt terms, Yildiz stated: “Had not nine of our nationals been murdered, there could be major developments in the energy distribution in the Mediterranean Sea. [Then] we would not have rejected the demand by private firms,” he said on Friday.

The Minister’s comments also reflect adverserial positions on the contested drilling by Cyprus in the Levant Basin of Mediterranean Sea.

The flotilla deaths are a cover, IMO, for a hard nosed geopolitical calculation.  Turkey seeks to dominate the Eastern Mediterranean militarily and economically.  It needs to weaken Israel in both realms, and as an aside, probably has its own designs on the energy resources.