Archive for November, 2012

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Federal government to regulate fracking

November 29, 2012

The Institute for Energy Research reports that the federal government is set to begin regulation of shale gas extraction on federal lands, a power they had previously deferred to the states within whose borders those federal lands were located.   State and local regulations seem to be working to create a safe industry, and the IER sees no reason for the federal government to add yet another layer of bureaucracy over the process:

Hydraulic fracturing is already subject to multiple state and local regulations and through these and with cooperation from the industry, refinements and improvements in rules and practices have been occurring for decades. Since 1949, over one million cases of hydraulic fracturing here in the United States and many more worldwide have not caused any serious harm. So, why must the federal government need to increase its presence in this area, costing taxpayers more in the administrative process of overseeing the industry and adding more red tape and processing time for industry to do the job that they have been trained and experienced to do, providing us with much needed energy. Fossil fuels will dominate our energy future for longer than forecasters can predict energy supply and demand, so denying that fact and restricting their use through even more regulations will only cause Americans financial and comfort hardships.

At a minimum, I would hope that the USG waits for the release of formal industry standards (which process is already underway) before completing its entry into the regulatory environment.

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Afghanistan: The Exit Plan takes shape

November 27, 2012

The US Central Command is developing detailed plans for moving its men and material out of Afghanistan, with a determination that multiple paths be laid in advance in order to avoid disruption and bottlenecks.  The Bug Pit has the story; the link to the CENTCOM slide presentation does not work, but here is a picture of the main slide:

The US will be moving over 2000 containers a month, every month, for two years.  Much of that will be transiting corrupt and even lawless spaces . . . the cynic in me wonders how much of that material will be lost along the way, and how much of the transport cost will be going to bribes large and small.

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China’s infamous “9 dash line” map

November 26, 2012

In 2009, China submitted a map to the United Nations claiming sovereignty over virtually the entire South China Sea, ignoring legitimate claims well within the rights of other nations bordering the sea.  In essence, China seeks to turn the major international shipping region into a virtual internal lake.

Every other nation in the region immediately protested the Chinese submission, but China has been using a version of the map in official claims ever since.  Last week, they raised the stakes even further, issuing a new official passport that prominently features the “9 dash line” map.  As Reuters notes, this puts neighboring countries in a very difficult position – they will be forced to stamp the passports of Chinese visitors, which China could someday claim gives official recognition by those governments of Chinese claims.

In the map below, you can see the contrast between the Chinese claim (yellow line) and what a negotiated line based on the 200 mile limit (the purple shape in the middle) could look like.

The US backs the smaller nations in this dispute . . . but whether we will have the resources to do anything about it when it comes to a head remains to be seen.

 

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EGP off for the holiday

November 20, 2012

Please check for new posts on Monday November 26.

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Israeli assault on Gaza

November 16, 2012

For all it’s bluff and bluster, the only real strategic military options that Iran has are Hamas and Hezbollah.  If Israel or the US attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, the main retaliations will come first via an attempt to close the Straits of Hormuz and second via attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah.  It is only the latter that directly impacts Israel.

For that reason, it seems to me that an Israeli assault on Gaza would be a necessary (though not sufficient) precursor to a strike on Iran.

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World Energy Outlook 2012

November 15, 2012

The IEA released its annual World Energy Outlook report on Monday.  It has received a lot of mainstream notice because of its predictions that the US will overtake Saudi Arabia in oil production by 2017, and surpass Russia in natural gas production even sooner.

Readers of this blog are not surprised, as we have been predicting this outcome for years.  Indeed, we go even further:  through technology promotion and a national environmental/energy policy mix  that:

  1. takes environmental concerns into account,
  2. emphasizes carbon capture sequestration (CCS) and utilization (CCU),
  3. promotes coal-to-liquid (CTL) and  gas-to-liquid (GTL) technologies in conjunction with (2) above
  4. advances de-carbonization by embracing the Methanol economy
  5. opens the outer continental shelf and productive federal lands to resource production

then the United States can become within a generation the worlds largest fossil fuel producing, consuming, and exporting nation all at the same time.  Such a policy would eliminate the trade deficit, the budget deficit, send the economy on a long term growth trajectory, and secure another century of the Pax Americana.

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The escalating conflicts in West Africa

November 14, 2012

The Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset (ACLED) issues monthly reports on armed violence around the world.  This month’s report focuses on West Africa (link will open a pdf).  This region is of interest to EnerGeoPolitics because the Gulf of Guinea and the states that border it are oil rich, and also because recent reports indicate that the US and other Western nations may be preparing for deeper military engagement against Muslim extremists in the region.  These reports focus on Mali and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), but most violent group in the region is Boko Haram, fighting primarily in Nigeria.  Nigeria is the most significant oil producer in the region, and it would not be surprising to see Western forces pulled into combat against Boko Haram, and/or vice versa.  Mali may simply be the pretext by which NATO is able to engage in Nigeria.  It is certainly something to which readers of this site should pay much attention.