Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Monday, December 29, 2014
Western economic sanctions against Russia were expected to have no effect. Yet they have caused much pain. They were also meant to have a clear goal. So far, they don’t.
“The war that dare not speak its name,” to quote New York University professor Mark Galeotti, is a problem both for Russian President Vladimir Putin and for European leaders who have struggled to keep a united front since Russia moved to annex Crimea – and must decide in March, 2015 whether to roll over their sanctions against Moscow.
Defining a strategy beyond sanctions is all the more important for Europe now that Russia is sending all the signals that it has no intention of retreating from its power-flexing policy, from the Baltic to the Balkans. Moscow is hinting that it can take the pain from prolonged economic isolation - at least for the next couple of years. Even before the steep fall of oil prices, and the subsequent crisis of the rouble, that was a highly optimistic view, but the implication of the Kremlin’s position is clear: don’t expect any short-term change.
The harm done to a Russian economy already immersed in deep problems before anything happened in Ukraine has been substantial. The rouble fell 40 percent against the U.S. dollar in 2014. Capital flight may have topped $130 billion over the same period, according to official estimates. The Central Bank of Russia tried without success to defend the rouble and keep inflation under control, taking its key interest rate to an unprecedented 17 percent, and putting a brake on growth. Meanwhile, sinking oil prices are pushing Russia’s resource-dependent economy ever deeper in the hole. Gross domestic product will barely increase in 2014 and shrink by 4.5 percent in 2015 if oil prices stay around the $60-a-barrel mark, according to the central bank.
The European economy is hurt in return. Some countries are hit by Putin-ordered embargoes on food or clothing imports. Others are worried about their energy dependence on Russia. Western diplomats and businessmen think there’s little chance Moscow will ever cut off gas to Europe. But no one has ever accused Putin of being predictable.
This state of affairs will continue as long as Europeans don’t agree on what they want to achieve. Is Putin open to a deal that would ease tensions in eastern Ukraine? Or has he embarked on a long game of brinkmanship from which he will not retreat whatever the economic cost?
The answers to these questions lie with the Kremlin. But as long as Europe lacks a clear objective, the Russian president will be left to misinterpret mixed messages – and the Ukraine crisis remain in suspended animation.
This view is a Breakingviews prediction for 2015. Click here to see more predictions.========== M&A spin doctors could get swept up in the action Financial PR specialists have been buoyed by the boom in mergers and activist investing. History suggests independent outfits like Joele Frank or Brunswick may be tempted to find an investor or bigger owner. They should at least have enough deal nous to know when to sell. spin doctors could get swept up in the action | Considered View Financial PR specialists have been buoyed by the boom in mergers and activist investing. History suggests independent outfits like Joele Frank or Brunswick may be tempted to find an investor or bigger owner. They should at least have enough deal nous to know when to sell M&A spin doctors may get swept up in the action. If anyone knows how to assess the climate for takeovers, it should be financial public relations advisers.
A $3 trillion-plus merger bonanza with plenty of hostile bids and activist investors creates a timely backdrop for sellers of all sorts. Three of the busiest deal whisperers – Alan Parker’s Brunswick Group; Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher; and Sard Verbinnen – remain tantalizingly independent. In London, Andrew Grant’s Tulchan and Rory Godson’s Powerscourt are, too.
Previous booms led advertising conglomerates WPP, Havas and Publicis to the doors of such financial communications firms as Finsbury and Abernathy MacGregor. Their experiences in the field have been patchy, though. Rival ad groups without a top-tier firm in the niche also are admittedly busy. Omnicom is rebounding from a failed merger with Publicis while an activist is hounding Interpublic.
Buyout firms also have taken a shine to PR. Advent, for one, invested in London-based Financial Dynamics before its $260 million sale in 2006 to FTI Consulting. Teneo, a corporate adviser co-founded by two FTI alumni and a former consigliore to Bill Clinton, has just secured backing from BC Partners.
Such acquisitions can be as treacherous as buying an investment bank. After all, they’re about people, who easily can walk out the door – along with their clients. London’s M:Communications, for example, imploded after a 2008 sale to private equity-backed Sage Holdings, which later became King Worldwide. The target firm closed its doors last year and the Ms in the old company name, Nick Miles and Hugh Morrison, recently resurfaced with a new shop, Montfort Communications.
Publicis bought Kekst in 2008 and founder Gershon Kekst stepped down two years later. The 44-year-old firm has since slipped in the league tables. Britain’s Incepta, which later united with Huntsworth, perhaps tells the most cautionary tale. After a takeover in 2000 of Sard Verbinnen went sour, the founders bought the outfit back at a fraction of the original purchase price.
The message should be pretty clear for prospective buyers – and agencies tempted to sell. As with any M&A transaction, it’s vital to look past the spin. Drafting the celebratory press release is the easy part.
This view is a Breakingviews prediction for 2015. Click here to see more predictions.
Saturday, December 27, 2014
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Laal Masjid Molvi Aziz Threatening MQM Chief Mr... by syed-ali13 Laal Masjid Molvi Aziz Threatening MQM Chief Mr. Altaf Hussain BREAKING: Saudi ministry says clashes in Awamiya killed four 'terrorists,' one of them involved in killing a soldier few days earlier The Iraqi Army are now in full control of Fallujah's entrances & exits, tightening the siege. Iraqi AF is stepping up airstrikes. #Iraq; Reports that heavy clashes are currently taking place in central Baiji between ISF & #ISIS. A dozen militants already reported dead. Pics of Haji Hadi al-Amiri as he toured Dhulu'iya. An offensive will soon be launched in southern Salahudin. Reports emerging of Golden Division (Iraqi Special Operations Forces) reaching the outskirts of Tal Afar. Some suggest the airport. Tal Afar city is in IS hands. Only AB was repeatedly attacked & captured by ISF ( still not confirmed) Kurds and other citizens of Erbil are celebrating the liberation of #Sinjar /Shingal.Biji Peshmerga 💖✌✌
Friday, December 19, 2014
Exclusive: Iran's support for Syria tested by oil price drop: How much have they been RIPPING US OFF for DECADES?
Oz Zenn It was a clusterfuck all these years, vicki. A majestic, spectacular, steaming, smelling, perturbed clusterfuck....
Joe Vigilante The United States states has stock piles of oil sitting sitting in warehouses across the country. Billions of barrels just sitting waiting to be used. We buy the oil we use, and barrel and reserve our own product. The US and Saudi's can flood the market whenever we want. We've been doing this for decades.Brics would be another money super power towards countries that don't have gold. You can't only back up money with so much gold before it gets in the way
Saq Aziz: So the next time a fervent croney capitalist hawk tells you that the market is some sort of trusted ethereal financial mechanism , you have permission to laugh. 'The market' is double speak for fraud as we see it today. There is no free market, i t has always been subject to ma nipulation. In this instance there is a clear agenda at harming economies that have traditionally been overly dependent on revenues generated by exporting oil. One moment Putin is signing a multi billion dollar trade deal with China, the next moment oil prices tank. The message from the Whitehouse being don't get too cocky, we have total spectrum dominance. It's laughable that certain people think the Saudi's are acting alone.
Ben Taylor If the Ruble starts to fight back an recover ..watch them lower the price even still...saudi arabia sells $17.48 per barrel in their dessert
Roy Sauseda Jr. This is the best time to get the stocks we always wanted be were to high the Saudis are choking out the Cowboys and the Eagles in the west. And of course the big 3 never lose. The rest is and illusion. ..
Chuck Bauer And collapse the petrodollar so the IMF and world bank can install a new currency and the UN can take the guns from the American people. This is the beginning of the NWO.
Daniel Ruiz These guys don't have to worry much longer, the price of fuel was only temporarily cut in half to pacify the american people and prevent an overturning and or the fall of the US government, which is inevitable. Especially when we show so many similarities to Ancient Rome (Overextended military, Public Humiliation as Entertainment, (Gambling and microtransactions hidden in every aspect of life) just before its fall.
Joe Fakhury Quite telling.... Such an arrogant and totally uneducated position only confirms collusion not by choice but by force , with the USA. His excellency the Saudi oil minister speaks his master's voice to create the illusion that the current decline in oil prices is a market phenomenon and not a contrived drop. aimed at crippling Russian economy and Putin.l probably cheaper to buy a barrel of oil than a litre of diesel at the UK pumps son $20 oil wouldn’t force production cut – Saudi oil minister
Mani Veiszadeh Sounds like he is even happy the prices are low. The deffinition of dumb. I have a comodity, it's falling, yaaaay, it may even fall further, yaaaaay, I don't care if it falls and falls, because I'm a corrupt Arab.Oil declines amid stronger dollar, crude oversupply in U.S. Fri, Dec 26 15:15 PM EST image 1 of 2 By Jessica Resnick-Ault NEW YORK (Reuters) - Oil prices fell Friday, tumbling as the dollar strengthened and as a supply glut in top consumer, the United States, trumped worries about falling production from Libya. The market had come under pressure from Wednesday's Energy Department report, which showed a 7.3 million-barrel rise in crude inventories to their highest December level on record. Analysts had expected a seasonal decline. The slide was exacerbated as oil prices reacted to a strengthening dollar index. "There’s still significant weakness in confidence, and that means that we’re going to have occasional retests to the downside,” said Richard Hastings of Global Hunter Securities. The strengthening dollar index triggered the slide on Friday, he said. Additionally, the market continued to reel from bearish storage data just before the Christmas holiday. “The numbers on Wednesday were really bearish, and it’s possible the market is still trying to digest them,” said Andrew Lebow, a Senior Vice President of Jefferies in New York. “Maybe the path of least resistance is down here, given that we’ve been in a long down trend.” Crude imports by Japan, the world's fourth-biggest oil buyer, dropped 17.3 percent in November from a year earlier to 14.68 million kilolitres (3.08 million bpd), government data showed on Thursday. Brent crude settled down 79 cents at $59.45, while U.S. crude fell $1.11 to $54.73 in thin trade as many countries were still on holiday. "We tried to rally off of the Libyan situation, but I think that the market is still reeling from larger-than-expected inventory data," said Phil Flynn of Price Futures Group in Chicago. Fighting in Libya has cut output there to 352,000 barrels a day, or about half November's average, state oil company spokesman said on Thursday. This countered the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) report showing a big stockbuild. In Libya, a rocket hit a storage tank at the country's biggest export terminal, Es Sider, setting it on fire as armed factions allied to competing governments fought for control, officials from both sides said on Thursday. On Friday, officials said the blaze had spread to two more tanks. (Additional reporting by Alex Lawler and Henning Gloystein; Editing by Robin Pomeroy, Pravin Char, Chizu Nomiyama and Gunna Dickson) ======================= Why the oil price is falling Dec 8th 2014, 23:50 BY E.L. Timekeeper THE oil price has fallen by more than 40% since June, when it was $115 a barrel. It is now below $70. This comes after nearly five years of stability. At a meeting in Vienna on November 27th the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which controls nearly 40% of the world market, failed to reach agreement on production curbs, sending the price tumbling. Also hard hit are oil-exporting countries such as Russia (where the rouble has hit record lows), Nigeria, Iran and Venezuela. Why is the price of oil falling? The oil price is partly determined by actual supply and demand, and partly by expectation. Demand for energy is closely related to economic activity. It also spikes in the winter in the northern hemisphere, and during summers in countries which use air conditioning. Supply can be affected by weather (which prevents tankers loading) and by geopolitical upsets. If producers think the price is staying high, they invest, which after a lag boosts supply. Similarly, low prices lead to an investment drought. OPEC’s decisions shape expectations: if it curbs supply sharply, it can send prices spiking. Saudi Arabia produces nearly 10m barrels a day—a third of the OPEC total. Four things are now affecting the picture. Demand is low because of weak economic activity, increased efficiency, and a growing switch away from oil to other fuels. Second, turmoil in Iraq and Libya—two big oil producers with nearly 4m barrels a day combined—has not affected their output. The market is more sanguine about geopolitical risk. Thirdly, America has become the world’s largest oil producer. Though it does not export crude oil, it now imports much less, creating a lot of spare supply. Finally, the Saudis and their Gulf allies have decided not to sacrifice their own market share to restore the price. They could curb production sharply, but the main benefits would go to countries they detest such as Iran and Russia. Saudi Arabia can tolerate lower oil prices quite easily. It has $900 billion in reserves. Its own oil costs very little (around $5-6 per barrel) to get out of the ground. The main effect of this is on the riskiest and most vulnerable bits of the oil industry. These include American frackers who have borrowed heavily on the expectation of continuing high prices. They also include Western oil companies with high-cost projects involving drilling in deep water or in the Arctic, or dealing with maturing and increasingly expensive fields such as the North Sea. But the greatest pain is in countries where the regimes are dependent on a high oil price to pay for costly foreign adventures and expensive social programmes. These include Russia (which is already hit by Western sanctions following its meddling in Ukraine) and Iran (which is paying to keep the Assad regime afloat in Syria). Optimists think economic pain may make these countries more amenable to international pressure. Pessimists fear that when cornered, they may lash out in desperation. Published time: December 23, 2014 11:16 Edited time: December 23, 2014 16:02 Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi. (Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader) Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said OPEC wouldn't budge on its decision not cut production, even if oil hits $20 a barrel. He also said the world may never see $100 a barrel ever again. “It is not in the interest of OPEC producers to cut their production, whatever the price is,” Ali al-Naimi told the Middle East Economic Survey, a weekly oil and gas publication. Naimi added, “Whether it goes down to $20, $40, $50, $60, it is irrelevant.” Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil producer, and is also the most dominant force in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). “We have entered a scary time for the oil market and for the next several years we are going to be dealing with a lot of volatility,” Naimi said. “Just about everything will be touched by this.” Other Arab OPEC producers expect global oil prices to recover to the tune of $70-80 per barrel by the end of 2015, spurred by economic recovery, Reuters reported, citing unmade OPEC delegates. Some of them described as hailing from core Gulf producing nations even see $100 as a real possibility. Oil prices have been sinking steadily since the peak of $115 in June, losing nearly 50 percent, standing at $60.25 a barrel at the time of publication. Lower oil prices will hurt oil companies, as investors will shy away from putting money into pricey exploration and drilling projects. Overall, oil producers stand to lose more than $1 trillion if oil prices remain at $60 per barrel, according to a report by Goldman Sachs. The slump also puts hundreds of thousands of oil and gas industry workers around the world at risk of losing their jobs. The UK alone could lose 35,000 jobs should the industry collapse. READ MORE: 35,000 oil & gas jobs at risk as crude price tumbles – study Conversely, an IMF economist has come out and said that low oil could boost world growth by between 0.3 and 0.8 percent. Prices took a sharp downward turn in November, after the OPEC oil cartel decided not to cut production from 30 million barrels per day. Combined, the 12 OPEC nations produce 40 percent of the world’s oil. The group meets again in June to discuss production levels. The group lowered production to boost oil prices following the 2008 financial crisis. AFP Photo/Str AFP Photo/Str Many analysts believe that influential Saudi Arabia was behind the decision to keep prices low, in order to squeeze out other competitors, namely American shale oil, which has completely changed the energy market in the past 5 years. The majority of OPEC members are now selling oil at a loss. Low oil prices are bad news for exporters, especially those who cannot produce oil cheaply. OPEC members Venezuela and Nigeria especially would feel the pinch of $20 per barrel, with many analysts believing it could lead Venezuela to default. READ MORE: Fitch slashes Venezuela rating to pre-default level Countries highly dependent on imports, such as Japan, China, India, Turkey, and Europe, will benefit from the discount. However, it is bad for exporters, especially Russia, which has forecast GDP will fall 4.7 percent next year if oil prices stay at $60. On the flip side, it’s good for customers. In the US petrol pump prices have already dropped by $1 gallon since the decision was taken by OPEC. ======== Oil price plunge: Solace for consumers, anxiety for government By Zafar Bhutta Published: December 21, 2014 Fear lurking that foreign fund inflows, exports may slow down. STOCK IMAGE ISLAMABAD: The plunge in international oil prices has come as a welcome relief for the consumers in Pakistan who had been paying high prices for the past many years. However, many countries including neighbouring India are expressing concern that uncertainty in the oil markets may hurt foreign fund inflows and exports. Pakistan is no exception and it could face a similar situation as the sharp drop in crude prices is threatening economic growth in several oil-producing nations and may slow down global demand, which will leave its impact on Pakistan’s exports. Reports suggest that Middle Eastern states face a massive loss of $135 billion following the slump in global crude markets. This scenario will also deal a blow to the revenues of Russia and Iran, which are already experiencing difficulties due to sanctions imposed by the US. A surge in US shale gas production and sales has shaken the world’s crude market, forcing the oil-producing nations to keep existing supplies intact on fears that the US will capture their share of the market if they cut production to stabilise prices. Asian Development Bank Assistant Chief Economist Joseph Zveglich comments many Asian countries should be able to profit from the decline in oil prices, including emerging markets China and India. Moreover, in countries where oil is sold below market rates, authorities can capitalise on the opportunity to remove fuel subsidies without making any increase in prices, which is quite unpopular with the people. The resources freed in the wake of the reduction in subsidies can be directed towards more productive spending, such as infrastructure development. At present, the government provides no subsidy on oil, but it charges from power consumers less than the actual cost of production due to a poor fuel mix. The country mainly banks on thermal power plants which produce expensive electricity. Officials of the Ministry of Water and Power say the government is providing a subsidy of Rs2 per unit to the power consumers and has set aside Rs180 billion in the current fiscal year. Savings on this account could be spent on building major dams like Diamer Bhasha, which has dragged on for years as financial resources are not forthcoming. Demand to fall in overseas markets Pakistan will see a drop in demand for its export goods in the Middle Eastern countries where government revenues have taken a hit from the fast declining crude prices. Exporters are excessively focusing on the European market after getting the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus status from the European Union. But they are losing markets to competitors in other nations where they have no incentives available. Apart from the expected dent in export earnings, Pakistan may also see a slowdown in foreign fund inflows especially in the energy sector because of low oil prices. Revenues of state-owned hydrocarbon exploration companies – Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) and Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) – are also under threat. That’s why the country could not fetch a good price in the OGDC share float, which was eventually cancelled, as investors did not show enthusiasm due to the fall in the company’s profit. Commodity prices stay unchanged Though rates of petroleum products have come down, they have not impacted prices of commodities in the country. Overall, the inflation index has dropped sharply, but people are still paying high prices for essential commodities and other consumption goods. Even operators of transport vehicles in far-off areas are demanding higher fares and commuters are at the mercy of local administrations. On the other hand, cotton farmers are encountering tough times as they receive lower prices for their produce, perhaps because of a cartel in the textile industry. Bad governance is the real issue. In remote areas, petroleum dealers charge higher rates even after the government announces a cut in prices. The government should slash power subsidy and tighten the noose around power thieves to save funds and divert them to infrastructure projects in the energy sector. The writer is a staff correspondent Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2014. Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation. ================== The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria William Engdahl | October 24, 2014 4 Comments The Kerry-Abdullah Secret Deal & An Oil-Gas Pipeline War The details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called IS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. Details were concluded in the September meeting by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Saudi King. The unintended consequence will be to push Russia even faster to turn east to China and Eurasia. One of the weirdest anomalies of the recent NATO bombing campaign, allegedly against the ISIS or IS or ISIL or Daash, depending on your preference, is the fact that with major war raging in the world’s richest oil region, the price of crude oil has been dropping, dramatically so. Since June when ISIS suddenly captured the oil-rich region of Iraq around Mosul and Kirkuk, the benchmark Brent price of crude oil dropped some 20% from $112 to about $88. World daily demand for oil has not dropped by 20% however. China oil demand has not fallen 20% nor has US domestic shale oil stock risen by 21%. What has happened is that the long-time US ally inside OPEC, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been flooding the market with deep discounted oil, triggering a price war within OPEC, with Iran following suit and panic selling short in oil futures markets. The Saudis are targeting sales to Asia for the discounts and in particular, its major Asian customer, China where it is reportedly offering its crude for a mere $50 to $60 a barrel rather than the earlier price of around $100.  That Saudi financial discounting operation in turn is by all appearance being coordinated with a US Treasury financial warfare operation, via its Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, in cooperation with a handful of inside players on Wall Street who control oil derivatives trading. The result is a market panic that is gaining momentum daily. China is quite happy to buy the cheap oil, but her close allies, Russia and Iran, are being hit severely. The deal According to Rashid Abanmy, President of the Riyadh-based Saudi Arabia Oil Policies and Strategic Expectations Center, the dramatic price collapse is being deliberately caused by the Saudis, OPEC’s largest producer. The public reason claimed is to gain new markets in a global market of weakening oil demand. The real reason, according to Abanmy, is to put pressure on Iran on her nuclear program, and on Russia to end her support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria. When combined with the financial losses of Russian state natural gas sales to Ukraine and prospects of a US-instigated cutoff of the transit of Russian gas to the huge EU market this winter as EU stockpiles become low, the pressure on oil prices hits Moscow doubly. More than 50% of Russian state revenue comes from its export sales of oil and gas. The US-Saudi oil price manipulation is aimed at destabilizing several strong opponents of US globalist policies. Targets include Iran and Syria, both allies of Russia in opposing a US sole Superpower. The principal target, however, is Putin’s Russia, the single greatest threat today to that Superpower hegemony. The strategy is similar to what the US did with Saudi Arabia in 1986 when they flooded the world with Saudi oil, collapsing the price to below $10 a barrel and destroying the economy of then-Soviet ally, Saddam Hussein in Iraq and, ultimately, of the Soviet economy, paving the way for the fall of the Soviet Union. Today, the hope is that a collapse of Russian oil revenues, combined with select pin-prick sanctions designed by the US Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence will dramatically weaken Putin’s enormous domestic support and create conditions for his ultimate overthrow. It is doomed to fail for many reasons, not the least, because Putin’s Russia has taken major strategic steps together with China and other nations to lessen its dependence on the West. In fact the oil weapon is accelerating recent Russian moves to focus its economic power on national interests and lessen dependence on the Dollar system. If the dollar ceases being the currency of world trade, especially oil trade, the US Treasury faces financial catastrophe. For this reason, I call the Kerry-Abdullah oil war a very stupid tactic. The Kerry-Abdullah secret deal On September 11, US Secretary of State Kerry met Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. The King invited former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar to attend. There a deal was hammered out which saw Saudi support for the Syrian airstrikes against ISIS on condition Washington backed the Saudis in toppling Assad, a firm ally of Russia and de facto of Iran and an obstacle to Saudi and UAE plans to control the emerging EU natural gas market and destroy Russia’s lucrative EU trade. A report in the Wall Street Journal noted there had been “months of behind-the-scenes work by the US and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when. The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh US commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority.”  For the Saudis the war is between two competing age-old vectors of Islam. Saudi Arabia, home to the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina, claims de facto supremacy in the Islamic world of Sunni Islam. The Saudi Sunni form is ultra-conservative Wahhabism, named for an 18th Century Bedouin Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist named Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahha. The Taliban derive from Wahhabism with the aid of Saudi-financed religious instruction. The Gulf Emirates and Kuwait also adhere to the Sunni Wahhabism of the Saudis, as does the Emir of Qatar. Iran on the other hand historically is the heart of the smaller branch of Islam, the Shi’ite. Iraq’s population is some 61% majority Shi’ite. Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad is a member of a satellite of the Shi’ite branch known as Alawite. Some 23% of Turkey is also Alawite Muslim. To complicate the picture more, across a bridge from Saudi Arabia sits the tiny island country, Bahrain where as many as 75% of the population is Shi’ite but the ruling Al-Khalifa family is Sunni and firmly tied to Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the richest Saudi oil region is dominated by Shi’ite Muslims who work the oil installations of Ras Tanura. An oil and gas pipeline war These historic fault lines inside Islam which lay dormant, were brought into a state of open warfare with the launching of the US State Department and CIA’s Islamic Holy War, otherwise known as the Arab Spring. Washington neo-conservatives embedded inside the Obama Administration in a form of “Deep State” secret network, and their allied media such as the Washington Post, advocated US covert backing of a pet CIA project known as the Muslim Brotherhood. As I detail in my most recent book, Amerikas’ Heiliger Krieg, the CIA had cultivated ties to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood death cult since the early 1950’s. Now if we map the resources of known natural gas reserves in the entire Persian Gulf region, the motives of the Saudi-led Qatar and UAE in financing with billions of dollars the opposition to Assad, including the Sunni ISIS, becomes clearer. Natural gas has become the favored “clean energy” source for the 21st Century and the EU is the world’s largest growth market for gas, a major reason Washington wants to break the Gazprom-EU supply dependency to weaken Russia and keep control over the EU via loyal proxies like Qatar. The world’s largest known natural gas reservoir sits in the middle of the Persian Gulf straddling part in the territorial waters of Qatar and part in Iran. The Iranian part is called North Pars. In 2006 China’s state-owned CNOOC signed an agreement with Iran to develop North Pars and build LNG infrastructure to bring the gas to China. The Qatar side of the Persian Gulf, called North Field, contains the world’s third largest known natural gas reserves behind Russia and Iran. In July 2011, the governments of Syria, Iran and Iraq signed an historic gas pipeline energy agreement which went largely unnoticed in the midst of the NATO-Saudi-Qatari war to remove Assad. The pipeline, envisioned to cost $10 billion and take three years to complete, would run from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh near the South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf, to Damascus in Syria via Iraq territory. The agreement would make Syria the center of assembly and production in conjunction with the reserves of Lebanon. This is a geopolitically strategic space that geographically opens for the first time, extending from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. As Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar put it, “The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – if it’s ever built – would solidify a predominantly Shi’ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord.” Shortly after signing with Iran and Iraq, on August 16, 2011, Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian Ministry of Oil announced the discovery of a gas well in the Area of Qarah in the Central Region of Syria near Homs. Gazprom, with Assad in power, would be a major investor or operator of the new gas fields in Syria.  Iran ultimately plans to extend the pipeline from Damascus to Lebanon’s Mediterranean port where it would be delivered to the huge EU market. Syria would buy Iranian gas along with a current Iraqi agreement to buy Iranian gas from Iran’s part of South Pars field. Qatar, today the world’s largest exporter of LNG, largely to Asia, wants the same EU market that Iran and Syria eye. For that, they would build pipelines to the Mediterranean. Here is where getting rid of the pro-Iran Assad is essential. In 2009 Qatar approached Bashar al-Assad to propose construction of a gas pipeline from Qatar’s north Field through Syria on to Turkey and to the EU. Assad refused, citing Syria’s long friendly relations with Russia and Gazprom. That refusal combined with the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline agreement in 2011 ignited the full-scale Saudi and Qatari assault on Assad’s power, financing al Qaeda terrorists, recruits of Jihadist fanatics willing to kill Alawite and Shi’ite “infidels” for $100 a month and a Kalishnikov. The Washington neo-conservative warhawks in and around the Obama White House, along with their allies in the right-wing Netanyahu government, were cheering from the bleachers as Syria went up in flames after spring 2011. Today the US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal. The true aim of the US and Israel backed ISIS is to give the pretext for bombing Assad’s vital grain silos and oil refineries to cripple the economy in preparation for a “Ghaddafi-”style elimination of Russia and China and Iran-ally Bashar al-Assad. In a narrow sense, as Washington neo-conservatives see it, who controls Syria could control the Middle East. And from Syria, gateway to Asia, he will hold the key to Russia House, as well as that of China via the Silk Road. Religious wars have historically been the most savage of all wars and this one is no exception, especially when trillions of dollars in oil and gas revenues are at stake. Why is the secret Kerry-Abdullah deal on Syria reached on September 11 stupid? Because the brilliant tacticians in Washington and Riyadh and Doha and to an extent in Ankara are unable to look at the interconnectedness of all the dis-order and destruction they foment, to look beyond their visions of control of the oil and gas flows as the basis of their illegitimate power. They are planting the seeds of their own destruction in the end. F. William Engdahl, BFP contributing Author & Analyst William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics in the New World Order. He is a contributing author at BFP and may be contacted through his website at www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net where this article was originally published. Endnotes:  M. Rochan, Crude Oil Drops Amid Global Demand Concerns, IB Times, October 11, 2014 http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/crude-oil-drops-amid-global-demand-concerns-1469524  Nihan Cabbaroglu, Saudi Arabia to pressure Russia Iran with price of oil, 10 October 2014, Turkish Anadolu Agency, http://www.aa.com.tr/en/economy/402343–saudi-arabia-to-pressure-russia-iran-with-price-of-oil  Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, Deal With Saudis Paved Way for Syrian Airstrikes: Talks With Saudi Arabia Were Linchpin in U.S. Efforts to Get Arab States Into Fight Against Islamic State, Wall Street Journal, September. 24, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/articles/deal-with-saudis-paved-way-for-syrian-airstrikes-1411605329?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories  POGC, North Pars Gas Field, Pars Oil and Gas Company website, http://www.pogc.ir/NorthParsGasField/tabid/155/Default.aspx  Imad Fawzi Shueibi , War Over Gas–Struggle over the Middle East: Gas Ranks First, 17 April, 2012. http://www.voltairenet.org/article173718.html  Pepe Escobar, Why Qatar Wants to Invade Syria, Asia Times, September 27, 2012, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32576.htm  Ibid.  F. William Engdahl, Syria Turkey Israel and the Greater Middle East Energy War, Global Research, October 11, 2012, http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-turkey-israel-and-the-greater-middle-east-energy-war/5307902 - See more at: http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/10/24/the-secret-stupid-saudi-us-deal-on-syria/#sthash.K1Wms9s8.eTFX7BRN.dpuf =================== Saudi Arabia says won't cut oil output Sun, Dec 21 14:09 PM EST image By Rania El Gamal and Maha El Dahan ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it would not cut output to prop up oil markets even if non-OPEC nations did so, in one of the toughest signals yet that the world's top petroleum exporter plans to ride out the market's biggest slump in years. Referring to countries outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told reporters: "If they want to cut production they are welcome: We are not going to cut, certainly Saudi Arabia is not going to cut." He added he was "100 percent not pleased" with prices but they would improve, although it was unclear when. He blamed the fall in prices to half their levels of six months ago on speculators and what he called a lack of cooperation from non-OPEC producers. His remarks at a conference in Abu Dhabi marked the second time in three days that the kingdom has signaled that it would not alter output levels, preferring to allow the market to stabilize on its own. The determined tone of his comments was echoed by some other Arab oil ministers at the conference in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital. UAE Oil Minister Suhail Bin Mohammed al-Mazroui urged all of the world's producers not to raise their oil output next year, saying this would quickly steady prices. He did not elaborate. RISING SUPPLY The world is forecast to need less OPEC oil in 2015 because of a rising supply of U.S. shale oil and other competing sources, with no significant increase in world demand growth. Kuwaiti Oil Minister Ali al-Omair said OPEC did not need to cut production and would not hold an emergency meeting ahead of its next scheduled talks in June. "I don't think we need to cut. We gave a chance to others (and) they were not willing to do so," he said, referring to contacts with non-OPEC producers before OPEC's meeting in November in Vienna. There, OPEC kept its target output of 30 million barrels per day (bpd) unchanged, leaving the market to balance itself without the group's intervention. That stance was seen as a shift from a longstanding policy in which OPEC powerhouse Saudi Arabia has acted as a swing supplier. Asked about possible cooperation between members of OPEC, which include the world's lowest-cost producers, and non-member countries, Naimi replied: "The best thing for everybody is to let the most efficient producers produce". CONSPIRACY THEORIES He also said that OPEC's decision would ultimately help the world economy. "Current prices do not encourage investment in any form of energy, but they stimulate global economic growth, leading ultimately to an increase in global demand and a slowdown in the growth of supplies," he said. Iraq's oil minister, Adel Abdel Mahdi, said he saw no need for an OPEC emergency meeting but "we have to wait and see" whether the group was right to keep output unchanged. Naimi denied politics played a role in the kingdom's oil policy and said the price fall would not have "a noticeable and big" impact on Saudi Arabia or other Arab economies. The market slide has triggered conspiracy theories, ranging from the Saudis seeking to curb the U.S. oil boom, to Riyadh looking to undermine Iran and Russia for their support of Syria. Before the Vienna meeting, there were hints that Russia could cut output or exports if OPEC did the same. But the message from Moscow after the meeting was that the world's second largest oil exporter would maintain its output. (Additional reporting by David French; writing by William Maclean; editing by Sami Aboudi and Jason Neely) ======================== Exclusive: Arab OPEC sources see oil back above $70 by end-2015 Tue, Dec 23 03:10 AM EST image By Rania El Gamal ABU DHABI (Reuters) - Arab OPEC producers expect global oil prices to rebound to between $70 and $80 a barrel by the end of next year as a global economic recovery revives demand, OPEC delegates said this week in the first indication of where the group expects oil markets to stabilize in the medium term. The delegates, some of which are from core Gulf OPEC producing countries, said they may not see - and some may not even welcome now - a return to $100 any time soon. Once deemed a “fair” price by many major producers, $100 a barrel crude is encouraging too much new production from high cost producers outside the exporting group, some sources say. But they believe that once the breakneck growth of high cost producers such as U.S. shale patch slows and lower prices begin to stimulate demand, oil prices could begin finding a new equilibrium by the end of 2015 – even in the absence of any production cuts by OPEC, something that has been repeatedly ruled out. "The general thinking is that prices can’t collapse, prices can touch $60 or a bit lower for some months then come back to an acceptable level which is $80 a barrel, but probably after eight months to a year," one Gulf oil source told Reuters. A separate Gulf OPEC source said: "We have to wait and see. We don't see 100 dollars for next year, unless there is a sudden supply disruption. But average of 70-80 dollars for next year – yes.” The comments are among the first to indicate how big producers see oil markets playing out next year, after the current slump that has almost halved prices since June. Global benchmark Brent LCOc1 closed at around $60 a barrel on Monday. Their internal view on the market outlook will provide welcome insight to oil company executives, analysts and traders, who were caught out by what was seen by some as a shift in Saudi policy two months ago and have struggled since then to understand how and when the market will find its feet. NOT AGAIN For the past several months, Saudi officials have been making clear that the Kingdom’s oft-repeated mantra that $100 a barrel crude is a “fair” price for crude had been set aside, at least for the foreseeable future. At the weekend, Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi was blunt when asked if the world would ever again see triple-digit oil prices: “We may not.” Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest exporter – and its close Gulf allies within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – say it’s time for others, whether that is countries like major exporter Russia or U.S. shale drillers, to slow down; OPEC can no longer slash output, ceding market share, to spare them a downturn.
As Naimi told the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) in an interview this weekend: “It is not in the interest of OPEC producers to cut their production, whatever the price is.”Without OPEC to defend prices, oil entered a free-fall, but most of OPEC’s members are holding fast. At this point, intervening in the market would simply invite new rivals to carry on pumping crude, eroding OPEC’s market share without any guarantee of a sustained price recovery, another Arab oil source told Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting in Abu Dhabi of the Organization of the Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC). "Every time prices fall, we would be asked to cut," the source said. The second Gulf OPEC source reiterated that OPEC would not cut alone. Non-OPEC producers such as Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan and "anyone producing more than one million barrels per day" should also cut or at least freeze their output if they wanted a stable market and better prices, the Gulf OPEC source said. NO PRICE TARGET To be sure, there is no suggestion that OPEC is targeting a specific price, or would want to do so. The group hasn’t had a formal price goal in about a decade, and Saudi Arabia has long maintained that it is only seeking price stability, not a set level. But it offers a convenient metric at a time when traders are struggling to figure out where and when markets will settle down. Asked about market signals OPEC is looking for to decide on whether the market is stabilizing or not, irrespective of the price, Naimi said: "The signals need time, one year, two years, three years. There is not one signal that we look to and say that's it... but for sure those who are the most efficient producers are the one who would rule the market in the future." Iraqi oil minister Adel Abdel Mehdi told Reuters in an interview on Monday he thought prices would stabilize now at about $60 a barrel but could rise to over $70 by mid-next year. "I believe that market has started to stabilize itself now," Falah al-Amiri, head of Iraq state oil marketing SOMO told Reuters in Abu Dhabi. "The future for next year, I don't think there would be much optimism in the market that the price would go to $80 or above. But I don't even think prices would reach $80," said Amiri, citing a resilient shale oil production to current prices. (Editing by William Maclean, Will Hardy and Jonathan Leff) ================== United Arab Emirates urges all world's oil producers not to raise output in 2015 Kuwait is co-operating with countries outside of OPEC to stabilise the oil market. Kuwait energy minister says - @bilgribs Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Ali al-Naimi, denies politics played a role in the kingdom's oil policy - Oil market to improve after fall caused by non-cooperation of non-OPEC producers, speculators' actions, Saudi Arabia says - @Reuters Iraq oil minister says he sees no need for OPEC emergency meeting now over falling oil price - @Reuters ================ Exclusive: Iran's support for Syria tested by oil price drop Fri, Dec 19 13:34 PM EST image By Suleiman Al-Khalidi AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian businessmen and trade officials say they are worried the economic lifeline provided by Iran is under strain from plunging oil prices, despite public messages of support from Syria's strongest regional ally. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has relied on oil-producing Iran to help him fight a nearly four-year-old civil war and also prop under a currency under pressure.
“If it had not been for Iranian support we could not have survived the crisis," a senior Syrian trade official said from Damascus, requesting anonymity. "It was Iranian support that has been the most important. In return, we are promising them more and more, and opening more and more doors for them to invest in Syria," he said.Oil production in Syria, which is under U.S. and European sanctions, has dropped sharply since the start of the conflict and as insurgents have taken over energy installations. In July last year, Iran granted Syria a $3.6 billion credit facility to buy oil products, according to officials and bankers at the time. Another $1 billion went for non-oil products. But with the global oil price down 50 percent since June, Syria - where rebels have seized up to a third of the country - has sought reassurances Tehran will maintain the status quo. The public message has been an overwhelming "yes". Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi visited Tehran this week to boost Iranian support for Syria, in particular ensuring Iranian petroleum products reach the Syrian market, Syrian state news agency SANA reported. “Iran’s economic support for Syria will continue incessantly,” said Iran's Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri on Tuesday after meeting Halqi, according to Iran's state news agency IRNA. But there were no detailed announcements of joint ventures or oil deals as followed previous such visits in the past. CURRENCY FALLS The Syrian pound, which fell around 70 percent since the civil war began in 2011, lost another 10 percent over the past fortnight alone. Dealers said the fall was driven by several factors, including a realization that U.S. strikes on Islamic State were not helping Assad as much as had been expected. But a major one was that a falling oil price had made them fear Iran would be less able to help shore up its ally's economy. Shi'ite Iran has deep ties with Syria. Assad is an Alawite, an off-shoot of Shi'ism, and Tehran sees him as a bulwark against Sunni Saudi Arabia's influence in the region. In the past, Assad streamed Iranian support to Shi'ite Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon, while now, the militia gets funds directly from Iran to fight Assad's enemies at the front. Damascus-based businessmen and bankers say the Syrian Central Bank is worried about the drop in oil prices affecting Iranian support for Syria. Iran deposited $500-$750 million in Syria's Central Bank more than a year ago that has been used by the authorities to help stabilize the pound, according to two senior bankers with close ties with central bank officials. In recent weeks, the bank sold dollars shore up the pound in some of the largest market interventions since the start of the crisis, the two bankers said. Syrian officials could not be reached for comment on Thursday or Friday. There is a general consensus by traders, bankers and businessmen that the drop in Iranian oil earnings will have untold consequences on level of economic support in the long term despite little impact on business ties so far. “The 50 percent steep fall in oil prices will break Iran’s back, not just the level of support for Assad,” a prominent member of the Damascus Chamber of Industry said, also requesting anonymity. OIL DISRUPTIONS Iranians have delivered turbines for power plants and have been promised contracts to rebuild housing, roads and other infrastructure destroyed by the war on the understanding that Tehran would finance them in return for equity shares. All this could be jeopardized. Much, however, will depend on how long oil prices will continue to stay depressed, they say. Two Syrian businessman who sell products including olive oil and garments to Iranian private traders are worried they may defer payments. A member of the Syrian Chambers of Industry from the city of Aleppo said he understood the main item on Prime Minister Halqi’s shopping list in Tehran was bigger quantities of petroleum products imports. Growing power cuts have hit government-controlled areas as more gas fields go out of action, forcing the authorities to rely even more on imports of fuel for its power plants. Islamic State militant control of some of the border crossings with Iraq has disrupted the flow of tens of thousands of barrels of crude from Iraq that were delivered overland by oil tankers, an oil trader based in the region said. Four Iranian tankers have discharged cargoes of gasoline products in the last two months in Syria's ports, traders said. But they did not end shortages accentuated by higher demand in the winter season, prompting small protests in Alawite villages near the port of Latakia, the heartland of Assad support. (Writing by Oliver Holmes; editing by Philippa Fletcher)