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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bad weather hampers search for AirAsia wreckage after debris, bodies found

Weather frustrates divers as more AirAsia wreckage found Sun, Jan 04 05:53 AM EST image 1 of 20 By Fergus Jensen and Fransiska Nangoy PANGKALAN BUN/SURABAYA, Indonesia (Reuters) - Divers tried to reach sunken wreckage from a crashed AirAsia passenger jet on Sunday but were forced to return to their ship by bad weather, as Indonesian officials said they had detected a fifth large underwater object believed to be part of the plane. Indonesia's meteorological agency has said seasonal tropical storms probably contributed to the crash, and the weather has persistently hampered efforts to recover bodies and find the black box flight recorders that may explain why the Airbus (AIR.PA) A320-200 plunged into the sea a week ago. "The weather is bad. There's a storm. It's windy," said a Reuters photographer on board a search and rescue ship in the search area off Borneo island. "Earlier, four divers were transferred to (Indonesian navy ship) KRI Banda Aceh but they canceled the diving because the sea currents were too strong." Flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea last Sunday, about 40 minutes after taking off from Indonesia's second-largest city Surabaya en route for Singapore. There were no survivors. Indonesian officials were hopeful of a breakthrough in the operation when they announced on Saturday that ships using sonar had pinpointed four large pieces of debris on the sea bed. The head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency, Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, told a news conference in Jakarta on Sunday that a fifth object almost 10 meters long had been found. But although nine ships from four countries have converged on the area, with teams of divers including seven Russian experts standing ready, winds and high waves have meant progress has been agonizingly slow. WEATHER LIKELY A FACTOR Air Force Lt Col Johnson Supriadi, speaking at a briefing for pilots in Pangkalan Bun, the southern Borneo town where the search operation is based, said efforts on Sunday would be divided between recovering bodies and locating wreckage and the all-important cockpit voice and flight data recorders. Until investigators can examine the recorders the cause of the crash remains unknown, but the area is known for intense seasonal storms. BMKG, Indonesia's meteorological agency, has said bad weather was likely a factor. "The flight document provided by the BMKG office shows fairly worrying weather conditions for the aircraft at cruising level on the chosen route," the agency said in a report. A source close to the investigation told Reuters that radar data appeared to show the aircraft made an "unbelievably" steep climb before it crashed, possibly pushing it beyond the A320's limits. The Indonesian captain, a former air force fighter pilot, had 6,100 flying hours on the A320 and the plane last underwent maintenance in mid-November, according to Indonesia AirAsia, 49 percent owned by Malaysia-based AirAsia (AIRA.KL). SHALLOW WATER The objects that are the main focus of the search were located by ships about 90 nautical miles off the coast. The largest object is around 18 meters long. The suspected wreckage is lying in water around 30 meters (100 ft) deep, which experts say should make it relatively straightforward to recover if the rough weather abates. Efforts to capture images with remote operated vehicles (ROVs) were frustrated on Saturday by poor visibility. Thirty-one bodies of the mostly Indonesian passengers and crew have so far been recovered, including some still strapped in their seats. Many more may be still trapped in the fuselage of the aircraft. Nine Indonesian victims have been identified. The crash was the first fatal accident suffered by the AirAsia budget group, whose Indonesian affiliate flies from at least 15 destinations across the sprawling archipelago. The airline has come under pressure from Indonesian authorities, who have suspended its Surabaya to Singapore operations saying the carrier only had a license to fly the route on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Indonesia AirAsia said it would co-operate with the transport ministry whilst it investigates the license. A joint statement from Singapore's civil aviation authority (CAAS) and Changi Airport Group said that AirAsia had the necessary approvals to operate a daily flight between Surabaya and Singapore. (Additional reporting by Beawiharta ABOARD KN PURWOREJO, Nilufar Rizki, Adriana Nina Kusuma, Chris Nusatya, Cindy Silviana, Kanupriya Kapoor, Michael Taylor, Charlotte Greenfield and Nicholas Owen in JAKARTA, and Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE; Writing by Alex Richardson; Editing by Michael Perry & Kim Coghill) ================= Bodies, debris from missing AirAsia plane pulled from sea off Indonesia Tue, Dec 30 16:21 PM EST image 7 of 12 By Gayatri Suroyo and Adriana Nina Kusuma SURABAYA, Indonesia/JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian rescuers searching for an AirAsia plane carrying 162 people pulled bodies and wreckage from the sea off the coast of Borneo on Tuesday, prompting relatives of those on board watching TV footage to break down in tears. Indonesia AirAsia's Flight QZ8501, an Airbus A320-200, lost contact with air traffic control early on Sunday during bad weather on a flight from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore. The navy initially said 40 bodies had been recovered, although other media later quoted the head of the search and rescue agency, Fransiskus Bambang Soelistyo, as saying only three bodies had been retrieved. The plane has yet to be found. "My heart is filled with sadness for all the families involved in QZ8501," airline boss Tony Fernandes tweeted. "On behalf of AirAsia, my condolences to all. Words cannot express how sorry I am." The airline said in a statement that it was inviting family members to Surabaya, "where a dedicated team of care providers will be assigned to each family to ensure that all of their needs are met". Pictures of floating bodies were broadcast on television and relatives of the missing already gathered at a crisis center in Surabaya wept with heads in their hands. Several people collapsed in grief and were helped away. Yohannes and his wife were at the center awaiting news of her brother, Herumanto Tanus, and two of his children who were on board the doomed flight. The Tanus family had been on their way to visit Herumanto's son, who studies in Singapore and who traveled to Surabaya on Monday after the plane went missing. "He cries every time he watches the news," Yohannes said. The mayor of Surabaya, Tri Rismaharini, comforted relatives and urged them to be strong. "They are not ours, they belong to God," she said. SEARCHING THROUGH THE NIGHT A navy spokesman said a plane door, oxygen tanks and one body had been recovered and taken away by helicopter for tests. "The challenge is waves up to three metres high," Soelistyo told reporters, adding that the search operation would go on all night. He declined to answer questions on whether any survivors had been found. About 30 ships and 21 aircraft from Indonesia, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the United States have been involved in the search. The plane, which did not issue a distress signal, disappeared after its pilot failed to get permission to fly higher to avoid bad weather because of heavy air traffic, officials said. It was traveling at 32,000 feet (9,753 metres) and had asked to fly at 38,000 feet, officials said earlier. Pilots and aviation experts said thunderstorms, and requests to gain altitude to avoid them, were not unusual in that area. The Indonesian pilot was experienced and the plane last underwent maintenance in mid-November, the airline said. Online discussion among pilots has centered on unconfirmed secondary radar data from Malaysia that suggested the aircraft was climbing at a speed of 353 knots, about 100 knots too slow, and that it might have stalled. Investigators are focusing initially on whether the crew took too long to request permission to climb, or could have ascended on their own initiative earlier, said a source close to the probe, adding that poor weather could have played a part as well. He cautioned that the investigation was at an early stage and the black box flight recorders had yet to be recovered. CLUES WHEN THINGS GO WRONG The plane, whose engines were made by CFM International, co-owned by General Electric and Safran of France, lacked real-time engine diagnostics or monitoring, a GE spokesman said. Such systems are mainly used on long-haul flights and can provide clues to airlines and investigators when things go wrong. Three airline disasters involving Malaysian-affiliated carriers in less than a year have dented confidence in the country's aviation industry and spooked travelers across the region. Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board and has not been found. On July 17, the same airline's Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Bizarrely, an AirAsia plane from Manila skidded off and overshot the runway on landing at Kalibo in the central Philippines on Tuesday. No one was hurt. On board Flight QZ8501 were 155 Indonesians, three South Koreans, and one person each from Singapore, Malaysia and Britain. The co-pilot was French. U.S. law enforcement and security officials said passenger and crew lists were being examined but nothing significant had turned up and the incident was regarded as an unexplained accident. Indonesia AirAsia is 49 percent owned by Malaysia-based budget carrier AirAsia. The AirAsia group, including affiliates in Thailand, the Philippines and India, had not suffered a crash since its Malaysian budget operations began in 2002. (Additional reporting by Fergus Jensen, Wilda Asmarini, Charlotte Greenfield, Fransiska Nangoy, Cindy Silviana, Kanupriya Kapoor, Michael Taylor, Nilufar Rizki and Siva Govindasamy in JAKARTA/SURABAYA, Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah and Praveen Menon in KUALA LUMPUR, Saeed Azhar, Rujun Shen and Anshuman Daga in SINGAPORE, Jane Wardell in SYDNEY, Tim Hepher in PARIS and Mark Hosenball, David Brunnstrom and Lesley Wroughton in WASHINGTON; Writing by Dean Yates and Robert Birsel; Editing by Nick Macfie and Mike Collett-White)

Communities of value at the world’s liquidity hubs

Communities of value at the world’s liquidity hubs Posted in: Connectivity, Cost of Ownership, Infrastructure & Managed Services, Technology Innovation · 4 Dec 2014 REUTERS/Keith Bedford New interactive communities are growing around all the world’s major trading hubs. These communities are ecosystems where trading institutions and innovative suppliers operate alongside trading venues to create better infrastructure and data solutions for smarter, more agile trading operations. There are perhaps a dozen or so key liquidity hubs around the world for exchange-traded and highly liquid assets such as cash equities, derivatives and FX. Some of these are already mature markets (for example, New York, London and Tokyo); others are developing rapidly (for example, Shanghai, Mumbai and Sao Paulo). At each of these locations, there are some 20 major financial market data centers – proprietary exchange data centers and those housed in centers by providers such as Equinix, Interxion and @Tokyo. Choice creates value Today, a significant proportion of mission-critical trading infrastructure is located in those data centers. There are agency brokers, prime brokers, hedge funds, quant trading firms and other active buy-side companies –the hubs are becoming interactive financial communities. And with the increasing electronification of OTC markets, this trend can only increase. Initially, existing markets showed a predilection for keeping things proprietary, but this has changed. It is the opposite approach – building community – that has increased their value as liquidity hubs. Venues are naturally keen to grow new revenue lines and drive trading volume across their matching engines; they have found that offering choice is the best way to do this. Any firm that can add value to the community is welcome. Perhaps the best example is the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). More than 100 trading firms are located at its Aurora data center – along with a multitude of service providers, connectivity firms and other vendors. If you can help these people trade smarter, cheaper, quicker, with less risk or more profit, then you are pretty much guaranteed a seat. The annual Tech Talk conference at Aurora attracts over 200 people from all parts of the community. From capex to opex Data centers at the main liquidity hubs have the highest level of resilience and performance so they are entitled to charge for the privilege. Undeniably, co-location is expensive; but easy access to pre-built, shared and multi-tenant services can significantly reduce costs. Accessing market data or trading connectivity via a simple cross-connect is significantly cheaper than operating your own dedicated comms and server footprint. That’s what is happening in our London Elektron Managed Services site in Interxion where firms are accessing low-latency, normalized direct feeds for 11 markets via two resilient cross-connects. Other meaningful benefits include rapid time to market for new services, reduced management and staffing overhead, and shifting from capital expenditure (capex) with multi-year ROI to operating expenditure (opex) with the ability to scale up or down. It might not yet be the democratization of market data and trading infrastructure that some are demanding, but it does offer some interesting commercial options. Tiers create cost benefits Similarly, where latency is not an issue, market data platforms, test and development environments, risk management, compliance and middle-office systems can all now be handled by hardware provisioning, virtualization and cloud services to bring down the overall TCO. These are backed-up by a broader set of managed services, such as capacity management and proactive incident monitoring. So we see a clear two-tier model forming in the market – the first being liquidity proximity sites with interactive communities of trading counterparties, and the second offering cost-effective, scalable data centers catering to the broader infrastructure requirements of financial firms. Those firms now have more options to effectively outsource parts of their workflow, infrastructure provisioning and management. That is why Thomson Reuters has pre-built multi-tenant or scalable capabilities within client communities – reducing the cost of ownership and improving the time to market for anyone who uses those services. To date, Elektron Managed Services operates from 19 data centres globally incorporating all key financial centres as well as the four BRIC countries. This offers data, platform, connectivity and infrastructure, together with an end-to-end monitoring and real-time service dashboard as a pre-integrated service – all based on defined SLAs. Excellence is clustering around the world’s major trading hubs. That is a good thing in a changing global industry. It creates choice, innovation and agility – key qualities for future success. Related reading: TABB Report sheds new light on TCO The question isn’t just ‘What does it cost?’ but, ‘What can you save?’ cta-1 Share Tweet Share +1 Email Print Elektron LinkedIn Visit the Elektron LinkedIn page Speak to us Speak to us ------------- Stockspot BlogSign up How it works Who we are Insights Blog What are ETFs and why are they becoming so popular? (infographic) http://blog.stockspot.com.au/what-are-etfs-and-why-are-they-becoming-so-popular/?utm_source=dianomi&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=etf_explained&utm_content=fum 5 December 2014 Chris Brycki ETFs, Uncategorized While exchange traded funds (ETFs) are rapidly growing in popularity, many Australians are still not familiar with their benefits. Less than 10% of money invested by Australians goes into ‘passive’ strategies (either index funds or ETFs) with most people still preferring to either invest directly into stocks or employ traditional “active” managed funds. Compared to Do-It-Yourself investing, ETFs can usually diversify a portfolio in a more cost effective manner. They also attract lower fees than most managed funds. We’ve decided to bring it back to basics and explain what ETFs are and why they’ve taken off in the recent years, growing to $14 billion in funds under management as at November 2014 (up 40% in one year!) ETFs explained An exchange traded fund (or ETF) is an investment fund that is traded on Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). It generally holds a wide range of investments which are representative of a particular asset class (e.g. Australian shares or bonds) and most track against an index (e.g. S&P/ASX 200). It gives investors access to a broad range of securities through a single trade. ETFs-explained-infographic Benefits Low costs ETFs generally have lower fees than other investment products because they are not actively managed and do have to pay for additional fund managers to try and beat the market. The reality is that majority of funds underperform the market return after you include their fees.1 ETF also typically have lower marketing, distribution and accounting expenses plus lower portfolio turnover which helps to defer the payment of tax. Diversification ETFs provide a diversified investment to entire markets within an index. They do not have any over-concentration in one company or sector, as a result enabling easy access to a wide range of investments. Potential tax efficiency Because ETFs typically have low turnover of their portfolio securities, it helps minimise capital gains. While this is an advantage they share with other index funds, their tax efficiency is further enhanced because they do not have to sell securities to meet investor redemptions. Transparency Each ETF issuer provides daily information to the market including the ETF basket and Net Asset Value (NAV). They are also priced throughout the trading day. Liquidity Ability to buy and sell during ASX trading hours and at a price quoted on the ASX, unlike unlisted manage investment funds that can only be traded at one price per day. It should be noted that along with the benefits, ETFs also carry risks like all investments. This includes market risk, currency risk and liquidity risk. Growth of ETFs In the aftermath of the global financial crisis (GFC), many investors are finding ETFs to be a compelling alter­native to higher cost managed investment funds. This is especially the case when you factor in that most actively managed funds had negative returns during this period but still charged their high fees. ETF assets in Australia have steadily been increasing over the years and has more than doubled in 2012. The growth has continued in 2014 and has increased by $4.1 billion (40%) since the beginning of this year. Australian-ETF-capitalisation Source: ASX We believe they will continue to grow with many more Australians adopting low-fee ETFs within their investment portfolios and superannuation. Stockspot has chosen ETFs as part of our portfolios because we believe that they provide clients with the best low-cost exposure to different asset classes and geographical regions. The also enable investors to reduce risk with diversifications, and their low-fees help to optimise investment returns. This is backed-up a study by Gratten which shows that fees have the highest impact on the balance of investments.2 About Stockspot Stockspot can help you build and manage a diversified portfolio of ETFs with as little as $2000 – low-fees, fully online 24/7, no paperwork, automated investment advice with portfolio rebalance. Our vision is to enable anyone to access professional investment services at a fraction of the cost. Try it now and see what portfolio we recommend for you. Related posts Is your Super in a Fat Cat Fund? 3 lessons on diversification 5 Smart Super Tips Stay up-to-date with the latest news, tips and insights. You will also receive a copy of the Stockspot Fat Cat Funds Report. 1 Stockspot Fat Cat Funds Report 2014 2 Gratten Institute – Super Sting – April 2014 inShare 21 ASX Diversification ETF ETFs Exchange Traded Funds fees Funds management Grattan Investing Low fee Self Managed Super Funds SMSF Stockspot CHRIS BRYCKI Stockspot Founder and CEO LEAVE A REPLY Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Name * Email * Website Comment Post navigation RECENT POSTS Stockspot portfolios: what stocks and bonds are they invested in? 2014 : Stockspot end-of-year update 3 tips for investing in your 20s What the Murray FSI Report means for super & technology What are ETFs and why are they becoming so popular? 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Monday, December 29, 2014

Russia, Financial PR: Looking for an End Game

Ukraine crisis forced into suspended animation Markets worried about Europe’s economy in 2014. They will worry about Europe’s security in 2015. EU sanctions over Ukraine will weigh heavily on Russia’s economy. A lot depends on Vladimir Putin, but Europeans need to define what they want sanctions to achieve. Markets worried about Europe’s economy in 2014. They will worry about Europe’s security in 2015. EU sanctions over Ukraine will weigh heavily on Russia’s economy. A lot depends on Vladimir Putin, but Europeans need to define what they want sanctions to

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

Exodus: Gods and Kings

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Banned by United Arab Emirates for ‘Many Mistakes’ About Islam, ‘Other Religions’ UAE joins Egypt and reportedly Morocco in not releasing the Ridley Scott film The United Arab Emirates have reportedly joined a growing list of countries which won’t release Ridley Scott‘s biblical epic, “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” Gulf News, a daily English-language newspaper published from Dubai, reports that the UAE’s authority in charge of approving films will not allow it to release in the country due to “mistakes” regarding Islam and other religions found in the movie. See photos: 11 Top Grossing Christian-Themed Movies Since 2004 “This movie is under our review and we found that there are many mistakes not only about Islam but other religions too. So, we will not release it in the UAE,” director of Media Content Tracking at the National Media Council, Juma Obeid Al Leem, told the newspaper. There was no further comment from the Council. A representative for “Exodus” studio 20th Century Fox didn’t immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. Also read: Faith-Based ‘Exodus’ Crucified on Social Media for ‘Whitewashing’ Bible Previously, Egypt and reportedly Morocco also decided not to release the film. Egyptian authorities cited “historical inaccuracies.” It’s not clear why the Moroccan Cinema Centre (CCM) banned theaters from showing the film in its country. Relatively, the Arab world represents a tiny market when it comes to global market. Directed by Scott, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” follows the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt as led by Moses (Christian Bale) and told in the Bible’s Book of Exodus. In addition to Bale, the film stars Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley. Also read: Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’ Rules Box Office With $24.5 Million “Exodus: Gods and Kings” opened in North America on Dec. 12 and earned $8.7 million on its opening day. The film topped the box office during its opening weekend with $24.5 million. ======================= Movies | By Jethro Nededog on December 27, 2014 @ 5:28 pm Published on Oct 1, 2014 Exodus: Gods and Kings | Official Trailer: Watch the exclusive new trailer for Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley. Now Playing - Buy Tickets Now: http://fox.co/ExodusTix From acclaimed director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Prometheus) comes the epic adventure "Exodus: Gods and Kings," the story of one man's daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses (Christian Bale) as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 400,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues. The film's writing credits are: Written by Adam Cooper & Bill Collage and Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/FOXSubscribe Connect with Exodus: Gods and Kings Online: Visit the Exodus: Gods and Kings WEBSITE: http://fox.co/ExodusSite Like Exodus: Gods and Kings on FACEBOOK: http://fox.co/ExodusFB Follow Exodus: Gods and Kings TWITTER: http://fox.co/ExodusTwitter Follow Exodus: Gods and Kings INSTAGRAM: http://fox.co/ExodusInstagram +1 Exodus: Gods and Kings on GOOGLE +: http://fox.co/ExodusGplus Follow Exodus: Gods and Kings on TUMBLR: http://fox.co/ExodusTumblr About 20th Century FOX: Official YouTube Channel for 20th Century Fox. Home of Avatar, Aliens, X-Men, Die Hard, Ice Age, Night at the Museum, Rio, Percy Jackson, Maze Runner, Planet of the Apes and many more. Connect with 20th Century FOX Online: Visit the 20th Century FOX WEBSITE: http://bit.ly/FOXMovie Like 20th Century FOX on FACEBOOK: http://bit.ly/FOXFacebook Follow 20th Century FOX on TWITTER: http://bit.ly/TwitterFOX Exodus: Gods and Kings | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX http://www.youtube.com/user/FoxMovies Category Film & Animation License Standard YouTube License ================= After turbulent 2014, next year may be no calmer Sat, Dec 27 10:08 AM EST image 1 of 10 By Peter Apps NEW YORK (Reuters) - From financial crisis in Russia to cyber warfare with North Korea, 2014 has generated new flashpoints right into its final days, setting 2015 up to be just as turbulent. Almost all of the major confrontations, such as the battle with Islamic State militants, the West's stand-off with Russia over Ukraine and the fight against Ebola, will rumble on. Others could erupt at short notice. "Normally after a year like this you might expect things to calm down," said John Bassett, former senior official with British signals intelligence agency GCHQ now an associate at Oxford University. "But none of these problems have been resolved and the drivers of them are not going away." The causes are varied - a global shift of economic power from the West, new technologies, regional rivalries and anger over rising wealth gaps. In June, a report by the Institute for Economics and Peace showed world peace declining for the seventh consecutive year since 2007, reversing a trend of improvement over decades. The same group said in November deaths from militant attacks leapt 60 percent to an all-time high, primarily in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria, this at a time when the West's ability to respond militarily is constrained as Washington and its European allies cut defense budgets. RUSSIAN ENIGMA While Western policymakers hope Russia's economic crisis will curb Vladimir Putin's ambitions, others worry it could make him more unpredictable. "It's not necessarily going to make Russia any better behaved," says Christopher Harmer, a former U.S. navy pilot now senior fellow at the Institute for Study of War. NATO officials say the alliance would treat any aggression, even covert, in NATO member Baltic states as an act of war. China is building up its military might. It lays claim to almost all the South China Sea, believed to be rich in oil and gas. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims. In the East China Sea, a string of islets claimed by both China and Japan have strained ties severely. Some officials and analysts say Western overstretch means a confrontation in one part of the world can encourage potential adversaries elsewhere to try their luck, a potential factor in North Korea's increased assertiveness. Washington has accused Pyongyang of launching a cyber attack on Sony Pictures after its film on the fictional assassination of leader Kim Jong Un. North Korea has rejected the charge. "The recent hack on Sony has highlighted the vulnerability of the West to the growing threat posed by cyber attack," said Alastair Newton, senior political analyst at Nomura. MIDDLE EAST MAELSTROM Washington's adversaries are becoming more adept at "ambiguous warfare", using deniable tactics or proxy forces such as the "little green men" in unmarked uniforms and vehicles the West says Russia deployed in Ukraine. Covert tactics may no longer be enough to satisfy Israel it can slow Iran's nuclear program. With a mid-year deadline for a deal, some analysts believe Israel's government might launch a military strike to knock it back. "If Iran agrees a deal, and that remains a big "if", that could constitute a trigger for such an event," said Nigel Inkster, former deputy chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and now head of transnational threats at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies. He said much would depend on whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wins March elections and how hardline a coalition results. On one threat, most of the world's powers are coalescing. Pushing back Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is a high priority for western states, Gulf powers and Turkey, Russia and China. Whether they can bridge differences on the fate of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, however, remains unclear. Already some worry the anti-IS operation initially to safeguard minority refugees in northern Iraq is suffering "mission creep" as U.S. elections hove into view. More than 1,000 members of the 82nd Airborne Division will deploy to Iraq in the New Year to help train Iraqi forces. The first months of 2015 will also be key in tackling a very different foe: Ebola. A major U.S. military deployment to build treatment centers in Liberia is credited with helping slow new cases there but the virus continues to spread in Sierra Leone and Guinea. "It really is an unusually broad range of challenges," said Kathleen Hicks, U.S. Principal Deputy Secretary of Defence for Policy from 2012-13 and now with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. (Editing by Mike Peacock) ==

Friday, December 26, 2014

Qatar asks Pakistan to explore joint ventures

By Our Correspondent Published: December 27, 2014 From 2012 to 2013, trade between the two sides decreased from $425 million to $243 million. STOCK IMAGE LAHORE: The head of a six-member Qatari delegation, Ahmed Hussain, has invited Pakistani businessmen to initiate joint ventures with their Qatari counterparts as abundant investment and business opportunities are available in various sectors including infrastructure, tourism, pharmaceutical and healthcare. He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). Hussain said a single-country exhibition would be organised for Pakistani businessmen in Qatar by the end of March 2015. “We would like to request Pakistani companies to take part in the exhibition to establish close contacts with their counterparts.” He said Qatar was also in dire need of skilled manpower and Pakistan could earn huge foreign exchange through exporting manpower to Doha. Qatar also needs Pakistan’s help in education, health and engineering sectors. He stressed the need for developing a screening mechanism. “Despite the fact that Pakistan and Qatar are members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and have close, friendly and cooperative ties but these do not reflect in the bilateral economic relations,” said LCCI President Ijaz A Mumtaz while speaking on the occasion. From 2012 to 2013, trade between the two sides decreased from $425 million to $243 million. Pakistan’s exports to Qatar were consistently declining. In 2011, the volume of total exports was $115.4 million, which dropped to $79 million in 2012 and remained the same in 2013. The LCCI president said the chamber was ready to play an effective role in promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. He said Pakistani construction companies, if provided proper information, could evaluate Qatar as a potential market. Likewise, Qatar can benefit from the cheap and abundant labour force available in Pakistan for this purpose. Other members of the delegation included Unicon Limited Managing Director Muhammad Khan, Qatar Lubricants Managing Director Fawad Rana, Al-Anis Trading Co Managing Partner Israr Malazai, Gulf GRC Group of Companies Managing Director Pervez Iqbal and AIKhayarin Group of Companies Managing Partner Mohammad Idrees. Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2014. Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.

PPL announces sixth discovery

PPL announces sixth discovery By Our Correspondent Published: December 27, 2014 LINE it! Share this article Print this page Email . Exploration well Faiz X-1 was drilled on October 17 and reached its final depth of 3,564 metres on December 1. STOCK IMAGE KARACHI: Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), the operator of Gambat South Block with a 65% working interest, has announced another gas and condensate discovery at exploration well Faiz X-1 Sanghar district, Sindh. This is the sixth discovery in the block, where PPL is working with joint-venture partners Government Holdings (Private) Limited and Asia Resources Oil Limited with 25% and 10% working interest, respectively. Exploration well Faiz X-1 was drilled on October 17 and reached its final depth of 3,564 metres on December 1. Earlier this month, PPL also announced its fifth find in the block after Wafiq, Shahdad, Sharf and Kinza gas and condensate discoveries. In August, the company discovered 42 million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcfd) in Gambat South, its third and biggest discovery in the block. At the time, the company said it was expecting production to go up to 60 mmcfd. It made the first two discoveries in Gambat last year. PPL, which has a portfolio of 47 exploration blocks, has been aggressively searching for new hydrocarbon reserves since last year to make up for the decrease in production from its established fields like Sui. Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2014. Like Business on Facebook, follow @TribuneBiz on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.

How To Barter For A Bargain

How To Barter For A Bargain January 1, 2014 by admin Trade Your Skills If you have good creative skills, such as copywriting or photography, why not use this to your advantage? Trade your services for theirs. Find someone who can teach you a new language, how to code or how to file tax records to make your life a whole load easier. Deals With Businesses If you have skills that could benefit a bookkeepers or accounting firm such as graphic design to make a logo or video production to make an advertisement, offer it to them in exchange for their accounting services. This can help you out hugely for no cost other than your time. Again, be sure you declare this to the IRS. Exchange books & video games If your friend has a book, game or movie that you really want to borrow, instead of paying for your own copy, offer something of your own in exchange for that thing you really want. Swap Outgrown Belongings Having kids can be a costly business but all the clothes, toys and cots they grew out of can be used to swap for some more age appropriate belongings for them. New parents will appreciate the gesture and who knows what people will be willing to give you for that? Trade Electronic Equipment If you want to enjoy some sentimental memories with an old video but don’t have a VCR, why not trade unused electronic equipment with your neighbour for theirs? Most people will be willing to trade for their unused antique electronics. Exchange Fruit & Vegetables If you live in a neighborhood where a few of your grow your own food, talk to each other and see if you can set up a system of giving each other your produce in return for some of theirs. You’ll be amazed what fresh produce you can collect with the help of some bartering. Use Your Skills To Reduce Your Rent If you are a handyman or just have good DIY skills, most landlords will be willing to reduce your rent if you can do basic maintenance to the house like mowing the lawn or mending faulty fixtures. Simply offering to keep the garden in check can save you around $1,000 a year. Filed Under: Finance Tagged With: bartering

How To Pay Just Pennies For Brand New Products

October 28, 2014 by admin QUIB If you like shopping online, you’ll be used to the endless stream of disappointing ‘deals’ and ‘sales’ pushed in front of you by retailers every day. They just never quite turn out to be the bargains they claim to be. Very few outlets offer extremely low prices on premium products, and even fewer make the experience of purchasing them fun and entertaining. Well, there are still some amazingly good deals to find out there that’ll save you heaps of money – but they only exist on a handful of websites. One such retailer is a new online auction website called QuiBids who have worked out a way to sell you must-have products at prices that are so low, you won’t believe your eyes. Their product range is extensive and includes some of the most sought-after consumer items available. Examples are Apple devices – iPads, iPhones and MacBooks – to HD televisions, Nikon cameras and even jewellery and gift cards to premium retailers. To name a few recent sale prices for items like this, a brand new Apple iPad recently sold for $31.77, a Sony VAIO laptop recently sold for for $28.77, and a LG 50″ HD television recently sold for $25.37. With such insanely low prices, it’s natural to be skeptical – so we did some research to learn exactly how they make this possible. Amazingly, we can confirm the deals are very real indeed. To understand how this works, you first need to know what an Entertainment Auction is. This auction model is different to traditional online auction formats such as eBay; every time a bid is placed a charge of a few cents is made to their customers. Added up, these small individual charges amount to quite a lot. This enables them to sell an item that costs hundreds – or even thousands of dollars – for no more than thirty or forty bucks. Simply put, the retail prices they charge are by far the lowest available online. We decided to enter a couple of auctions – one of which was for a MacBook Pro – to find out how easy it is to participate. Every time a customer bids, the auction is extended by no more than 20 seconds, and the last person who placed a bid when the clock time reaches zero receives the right to purchase the item at the discounted price. After 10-15 minutes, we actually managed to secure the winning bid – which was a huge thrill. It stopped at just under fifty dollars, $48.79, which is how much we ended up paying for a brand new MacBook Pro. While you get a big buzz from winning an auction, strategizing over when to bid and how many bids to place is also huge fun. CEO Matt Beckham said that they are growing incredibly fast, and that their number of customers now reaches into the millions. “This is a new type of shopping that appeals to a mass audience. Consumers expect more when they shop these days and QuiBids offers that,” he said. For an auction winner, the true cost of the item purchased is slightly higher than the final price the auction ended with because the auction winner would have spent a few dollars bidding several times in the auction. Typically this amount is fairly modest, so when both elements are added up, customers on average save around 75% – 85%. For those who participate in an auction and don’t win, they are able use a ‘Buy Now’ feature to purchase the product at a discounted rate, which is the listed price minus the value of the bids they have placed. This basically means the auctions are a no-loss proposition, which is pretty amazing. So, if you are looking to save up to 90% on items such as a brand new iPad for $32.39, a Samsung HD TV for $37.06 or a Canon Rebel T3i Camera bundle for $27.35, check out QuiBids today. Click here to see what products are selling for incredible prices right now.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Gold paving the way for a longer-term bull cycle

Gold paving the way for a longer-term bull cycle The calm after the storm: gold is forecast to average $1,270/oz this year, 10% lower than the 2013 average of $1.411.23. After its wild gyrations in 2013, with a range of 42% (basis the pm fix), gold price movements have been much more circumspect in the first part of 2014, with a range of 13%. Thomson Reuters released “Update 1” last week, the first of the two interim updates to the 2014 edition of the GFMS Gold Survey. The update found that after last year’s turbulent ride, gold is essentially in a period of recuperation. To download the full report, click here. Recuperation for gold in 2014 There was a substantial fall in physical gold demand in the first half of 2014 compared with the massive demand in the first half of 2013, which is persisting through the second half of the year to date. Last year was highly anomalous, however, driven by the dramatic price fall in the second quarter and the market has subsequently been gradually regaining its sense of composure. From the grass roots standpoint, much of the Asian market over-bought gold in the price falls of 2013, effectively bringing forward purchases that would otherwise have been made in 2014. It is also arguable that market stakeholders in the middle of the value chain over-built their inventories and it has taken time for these to be worked off. Consequently there has been little pull on the international market from this part of the world. As these two sets of conditions work their way through to a conclusion then the market should see more of a dynamic flow which will help to put a floor under the price. This is backed up by pent-up demand in the Indian market, traditionally the world’s largest consumer of jewellery and physical investment products combined, but which was edged into second place by China in 2013. While the changed import rules have quelled a degree of demand for logistical reasons, the underlying market has also been stifled to a degree by lower price expectations against higher premia, which deterred any large-scale buying in the first half of this year. Bar and coin purchase dropped by 50% in tonnage terms the first half of 2014 against the equivalent period of 2013 and by 13% against H1 2012, in dollar terms, however, the falls were 57% and 31% respectively. To put this into a wider historical context, global jewellery demand in the first half of the year, at 1,046 tonnes, was 16% higher than in the first half of 2012 (although very approximate expenditure, based on the average prices for the periods) was down 12%. Retail bar investment, meanwhile, was 10% down in tonnage terms and 30% in approximate dollar terms. A floor at $1,200? Rhona O’Connell, Metals Research & Forecasts, GFMS, Thomson Reuters noted that “any price fall towards $1,200 is expected to see a strong resurgence in physical interest in the highly price responsive regions of Asia and the Middle East (although the latter has its own local problems that are partially stifling demand). The lack of a clear price direction, and the expectation of lower prices, have been key drivers in deterring purchases among private buyers and a similar mentality has prevailed in the professional sector”. The only country to post any notable gain in physical demand in the first half of this year was the United States, where an 8% increase in jewellery fabrication was driven by weaker gold prices and improving consumer sentiment. Europe remains under pressure, but when the European economy finally turns, gold fabrication should improve accordingly. Mine output plateauing The supply side is posting a flat profile for the medium term. The mining sector is increasing production this year, with a number of important projects coming into production and / or ramping up to full capacity, having benefited from investment flows in earlier years when prices were much higher. The mining sector is now though concentrating on good husbandry and managed to reduce total global cash costs by 6% in the first half of the year, while the average grade of ore processed in the period posted an increase for the first time in more than ten years. Margins remain under pressure, however. For the longer term, the production profile is likely to come under pressure and Thomson Reuters believes that 2014 will be a cyclical top for mine production. Future outlook; Europe is key A European recovery is likely to be pivotal in helping to change professional sentiment in the gold market. Once a global economic recovery starts to get underway (by which stage the market is likely fully to have discounted a rising interest rate cycle in the United States), attention is likely to turn to the longer-term inflationary pressures that should accrue following the massive injections of liquidity into the financial system in many of the likely economic regions in an effort to bolster economic activity. There has been a whiff of professional investor interest this year, but this is still very tentative as perceived economic and financial risks are skewed, in the United States at least, towards continued tapering followed by a swing to rising interest rates. At present these features are the prevailing drivers of sentiment and, combined with the perceived lack of price response to the tensions in the Middle East has not only deterred investment, but resulted in an expansion of short positions in the market (which, while pointing to negative sentiment in the near term, could easily lead to a short covering rally in the future). Tightening fundamentals and inflationary pressures point to a longer term bull market The GFMS team at Thomson Reuters expects the gold market (prior to any ETF or Over-the-Counter activity) to be in a small surplus this year, but that the fundamental position will start to tighten during 2015 as underlying demand strengthens, taking the market into a deficit. With a growing demand profile and a flat to declining supply outlook (partly offset by a projected decline in official sector purchases) the market balance is expected to continue to tighten over the next few years. This is likely to attract the attention of professional investors, especially when coupled with the likelihood of increased inflationary expectation developing from the latter part of 2015 and beyond. The price is therefore expected to bottom out during 2015 before embarking on a gradual secular bull market. cta-5

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Fruit fly outbreak declared in Adelaide, exclusion zone established for affected area

An outbreak of Queensland fruit flies has been declared in Adelaide by Biosecurity SA. A 1.5 kilometre quarantine zone has been established around the affected area in West Croydon and an eradication program is about to start. State Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Leon Bignell said staff will begin a bait-spotting program together with a hygiene regime aimed at eliminating any fruit flies from the outbreak area and nearby surrounds. "We will have staff in the area first thing on Boxing Day morning in response to this threat," Mr Bignell said. "Residents and businesses within the quarantine zone will shortly be receiving information from Biosecurity SA about the outbreak detailing what part they can play in preventing its spread." Mr Bignell said fruit flies do not normally exist in South Australia, and must have been brought into the state from infested fruit originating in one of the eastern states. "Fortunately, the householder who discovered the fruit fly larvae rang the Fruit Fly Hotline to report what they'd found in their backyard fruit," Mr Bignell said. "Early reporting of fruit fly discoveries is vital in aiding successful eradication. "I urge everyone to be just as vigilant and report if they discover any maggots, and to reduce the risk of fruit fly breeding by not leaving ripe fruit lying on the ground in backyard gardens." Mr Bignell said residents and businesses inside the quarantine area could help eliminate fruit flies by practicing a few simple measures including not giving away any fruit, not leaving fruit or vegetables lying on the ground, and not composting any fruit or fruiting vegetables, including those purchased from a shop. Topics: fruits, lifestyle-and-leisure, adelaide-5000, sa, australia

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ties triumph: Pakistan, Russia ink $1.7b energy deal

Ties triumph: Pakistan, Russia ink $1.7b energy deal By Zafar Bhutta Published: December 23, 2014 The energy agreement was signed during the visit of the Russian defence minister. PHOTO: PID ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia signed a most sought-after energy deal of $1.7 billion for laying a liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline from Karachi to Lahore. The supply of LNG is expected before March next year. It is for the first time Islamabad and Moscow have signed an energy pact decades after their defence deal. The energy agreement was signed during the visit of the Russian defence minister. Moreover, Islamabad and Moscow also signed a defence and military cooperation deal, a move seen by economic experts as ushering in a gradual improvement in ties between the two countries. Before Gen Ziaul Haq’s military regime, Russia had helped Pakistan set up the Karachi Steel Mills and also supported the Oil and Gas Development Company Limited, which is still using old Russian machinery in exploring oil and gas. Pakistan is currently working on two LNG pipelines as an alternative to the apparently doomed Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project, which included LNG Gwadar pipeline and south pipeline from Karachi to Lahore. The government has signed a deal with China to award $3 billion Gwader LNG pipeline and terminal project. Earlier, Pakistan had offered China and Russia to lay IP gas pipeline but both the countries had backed out due to sanctions imposed against Iran. “However, the government has offered Moscow to sign a deal on government to government basis of $1.7 billion for laying LNG pipeline from Karachi to Lahore during the recent meeting of Pak-Russia Joint Ministerial Commission following a defence deal between the two countries,” sources said. There was a good development between Islamabad and Moscow in the JC meeting to enhance bilateral energy cooperation, the sources maintained. Officials pointed out that the pipeline would be used to transport imported LNG from Karachi to Punjab, adding that LNG terminal was in progress and first supply of LNG was expected before March next year. At present, existing pipeline network has capacity of transporting 320 million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcfd) LNG and therefore the government was going to set up additional LNG pipeline. The regulator Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) has already allowed gas utilities Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) to generate funds from gas consumers to set up LNG pipeline. SNGPL has planned to invest $750 million and SSGC $300 million to set up LNG pipeline. This pipeline was also likely to link with Gwadar LNG pipeline in future to pump gas from Iran and also LNG supply through a terminal to be set up at Gwadar. Officials said that Pakistan had almost done a deal with China to lay Gwadar LNG pipeline which would be connected to Iran and south LNG pipeline from Karachi to Lahore had been offered to Russia. The government of Pakistan was keen to award contract of south LNG pipeline to Russia on government to government basis which would create competition with China. “The presence of two countries [Russia and China] in energy sector would open new avenues for attracting more investment,” sources maintained. Published in The Express Tribune, December 23rd, 2014.

Fitch Affirms Sun Hung Kai Properties at 'A'; Outlook Stable

Peer Review: Qatari Banks Very Strong State Support: All Fitch-rated Qatari banks have a Support Rating of ,,1, reflecting the agencys opinion that there is an extremely high probability of support from the Qatari authorities. Fitchs view is based on a strong history of support including measures to boost capital, as well as asset purchases. Support is the primary factor driving the IDRs. A change in Fitchs opinion of the willingness or the ability of the Qatari authorities to support the banking sector could lead to a change in IDRs, Support Ratings and Support Rating Floors. However, Fitch expects support for the Qatari banking system to continue. Strong Operating Environment Helps: Fitch expects the domestic economy to continue to provide a strong operating environment for Qatari banks in 2013. Fitch expects Qatars GDP growth to be a healthy 6% for 2012 and 7% for 2013. The public sector is set to drive credit growth related to the USD95bn of planned infrastructure spending between 2011 and 2016. Strong Capital... - See more at: http://www.alacrastore.com/fitch-credit-research/Peer-Review-Qatari-Banks-698637_report_frame#sthash.9EGWRVuv.dpuf http://www.alacrastore.com/fitch-credit-research/Peer-Review-Qatari-Banks-698637_report_frame#sthash.9EGWRVuv.pdf projects that form part of the governments development strategy include Lusail City (USD##bn), Doha Airport (USD##.#bn), Rail Project (USD##bn), Doha... - See more at: http://www.alacrastore.com/fitch-credit-research/Peer-Review-Qatari-Banks-698637_report_frame#sthash.9EGWRVuv.dpuf Page 51 • ... Challenges Major Projects Under Way Project Cost (USD bn) Completion Lusail City ## #### Doha Metro ## #### Airport ##.#... - See more at: http://www.alacrastore.com/fitch-credit-research/MENA-Ratings-Gap-Stabilising-747935_report_frame#sthash.xPAfEW1k.dpuf 7 instances of 'Qatar' were found in this document. Page 8 • ... tensions: Withdrawal of ambassadors from Qatar marks escalation of tensions; economic... Page 43 • ... #### #### Kuwait Saudi Arabia Qatar Oman (% GDP) www.fitchratings.com... Page 49 • ... Source: Fitch www.fitchratings.com Qatar: Infrastructure Spending Driving Rapid Growth... Page 50 • ... Driving Rapid Growth Growth Source: Qatar Statistics Authority -# # #... Page 52 • ... Expenditure (% GDP) www.fitchratings.com Qatar: Not Rated Inflation · High government... Page 53 • ... and some economic data Source: Qatar Statistics Authority -# -# -#... Page 57 • ... for #### Bahrain Kuwait Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia UAE Real GDP... - See more at: http://www.alacrastore.com/fitch-credit-research/MENA-Ratings-Gap-Stabilising-747935_report_frame#searchthisreport ======== In Hong Kong corruption trial, Thomas Chan sentenced to 6 years in jail, fined $500,000 - @SCMP_News More: Property tycoon Thomas Kwok was sentenced to 5 years and fined $500,000 for his part in Hong Kong's biggest graft trial - @SCMP_News Ex-Sun Hung Kai Properties co-chairman sentenced to five years for graft Mon, Dec 22 22:40 PM EST image 1 of 2 HONG KONG (Reuters) - Former co-chairman of Hong Kong-listed developer Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, Thomas Kwok, was sentenced to five years in jail and a HK$500,000 ($64,440) fine on Tuesday for corruption in the city's highest profile graft case. Billionaire Thomas Kwok, 63, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. His younger brother, Raymond Kwok, also co-chairman of the city's largest developer, was cleared of all charges. Thomas Kwok, who resigned as chairman and managing director after the verdicts were delivered, will appeal against his conviction, Sun Hung Kai said in a statement last Friday. ($1 = 7.7592 Hong Kong dollars) (Reporting by Lizzie Ko and Donny Kwok; Editing by Robert Birsel) ======================== Fitch Affirms Sun Hung Kai Properties at 'A'; Outlook Stable Sun, Dec 21 23:37 PM EST (The following statement was released by the rating agency) HONG KONG, December 21 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has affirmed Hong Kong-based Sun Hung Kai Properties Limited's (SHKP) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'A' and its Short-Term IDR at 'F1'. The Outlook is Stable. Fitch has also affirmed SHKP's senior unsecured rating at 'A' and the senior unsecured notes of Sun Hung Kai Properties (Capital Market) Ltd at 'A'. The affirmation reflects the delivery of strong and stable rental income from SHKP's well-located investment property portfolio, which provides healthy interest coverage. SHKP is focused on asset turnover, and is likely to speed up launches of its Hong Kong residential properties. Investment in the Xujiahui project in Shanghai led to an increase in SHKP's leverage, which is likely to remain at the current level for the next two to three years. Its financial management remains prudent with good liquidity. KEY RATING DRIVERS Strong Investment Property Portfolio: SHKP owns 28.7m square feet (sq ft) of gross floor area (GFA) of completed investment properties in Hong Kong, with HKD11.4bn in leasing EBITDA in the financial year ended 30 June 2014 (FY14), making it the biggest commercial landlord in Hong Kong in terms of rental income. SHKP also completed 9.5m sq ft of investment properties in first-tier cities on mainland China, mainly in Shanghai, generating leasing EBITDA of HKD2.3bn in FY14. With a continuous pipeline of investment properties in Hong Kong and mainland China, Fitch expects SHKP to maintain strong investment property EBITDA interest cover of over 4x. Xujiahui Project Raises Leverage: SHKP's net leverage - as measured by the ratio of net debt to investment portfolio value - increased from 18.6% at end-June 2013 to 23.5% at end-June 2014, after the HKD27bn land payment for the Shanghai Xujiahui Centre Project. The increased leverage still remains below Fitch's guideline of 30% at which negative rating action may be considered. In our view, SHKP's leverage is likely to remain at this level for the next two to three years. The leverage will trend down gradually after FY15-16, when the sale of Xujiahui office towers commences, with potential sales proceeds of over HKD20bn. Focus on Asset Turnover: SHKP booked HKD27bn of Hong Kong property sales in FY14, an increase of 68% from HKD16bn in FY13, as it completed a larger number of projects. At the same time, SHKP also continued to actively acquire land in Hong Kong. SHKP acquired 3m sq ft in FY14 compared with 2m sq ft in FY13. Fitch expects SHKP to speed up Hong Kong residential launches, given the strong demand for mass-market units and active land auctions by the government. Fitch believes that SHKP has strong ability to achieve quick turnover in the mass-market segment, with property sales margin remaining at a satisfactory level, despite coming under pressure. Prudent Financial Management: Fitch expects SHKP to maintain healthy interest coverage and leverage ratios given its strong track record of financial management. SHKP's recurring income EBITDA and EBIT interest cover are likely to stay above 5.2x and 7x respectively in the next two fiscal years, well above Fitch's negative rating guidelines of 4x and 6x. Net leverage (the ratio of net debt to investment portfolio value) will likely reach a peak of 26% in FY15-16, but will fall gradually, underpinned by the Xujiahui office sales. With SHKP focused on developing the Xujiahui project in the next few years, the company is not likely make another sizeable investment in China during this time. No Impact From Conviction: Co-chairman of SHKP Thomas Kwok Ping Kwong and former Hong Kong chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan have been found guilty of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office by a Hong Kong court. Co-chairman Raymond Kwok Ping-luen has been cleared of all charges in the same case. Fitch continues to believe that SHKP would be able to maintain its current operations because the company's day-to-day operations are well managed by a team of professionals. RATING SENSITIVITIES Negative: Future developments that may, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating action include- - recurring EBITDA/gross interest expense sustained below 4x (FY14: 6.3x) - EBIT/gross interest expense sustained below 6x (FY14: 9.9x) - net debt /investment property asset sustained above 30% (FY14: 23.5%) - net debt / recurring EBITDA sustained above 5x (FY14: 4.1x) - further developments related to the corruption trial adversely affecting SHKP's operations and financials. These developments may include SHKP itself being charged, and its business operations facing sanctions or restrictions - or facing higher borrowing costs relative to its peers or difficulty in raising fresh funds. Positive: Fitch does not envisage any positive action, as the rating is constrained by exposure to the volatile homebuilding segment. Contact: Primary Analyst Vanessa Chan Director +852 2263 9559 Fitch (Hong Kong) Limited 2801, Two Lippo Centre 89 Queensway, Hong Kong Secondary Analyst Jenny Wenjun Huang Associate Director +852 2263 9922 Committee Chairperson Kalai Pillay Senior Director +65 6796 7221 Media Relations: Wai-Lun Wan, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2263 9935 , Email: wailun.wan@fitchratings.com. Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com. Applicable criteria, "Corporate Rating Methodology: Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage", dated 28 May 2014 are available at www.fitchratings.com. Applicable Criteria and Related Research: Corporate Rating Methodology - Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=749393 Additional Disclosure Solicitation Status http://www.fitchratings.com/gws/en/disclosure/solicitation?pr_id=959435 ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE. ====================

Rosneft scraps purchase of Morgan Stanley's oil trading business

BP's Rosneft stake exposed for what it is Turmoil in Russia will hurt BP’s accounts via its 20 percent stake in Rosneft, at least on paper. But in cash terms, the impact looks manageable. This is a financial holding which provides BP with limited dividend income. Any strategic value looks very long term at best. * Rosneft makes loan payment, calls off Morgan Stanley deal MOUNTING PROBLEMS Mounting evidence suggested that Russia's economic pain and isolation were starting to bite. The country announced plans to impose a heavy tax on grain exports since rouble volatility and high global prices have caused exports to spike: Russian news agencies reported Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told a meeting with officials that the country needed to hang on to its stocks. And Russia's central bank said it would have to bail out mid-sized Trust Bank with 30 billion roubles ($540 million) to stop it going bankrupt. Trust held 145 billion roubles ($2.63 billion) in private personal deposits as of Dec. 1, according to its accounts The country's largest lender Sberbank was forced to deny a report from RIA news agency that it had suspended taking new requests for auto loans and mortgages. Though Russia's biggest oil firm Rosneft partially eased some worries by saying it had made a $7 billion debt repayment from its own cash reserves -- investors had been concerned it could default because the sanctions cut off its access to Western finance -- it announced separately that a deal to acquire an oil trading business from Morgan Stanley had been terminated due to a refusal by regulators in the United States to clear it. The termination of the deal is another blow for Rosneft after its partners including ExxonMobil withdrew from projects to develop Arctic offshore oil deposits after the sanctions were introduced. Kudrin forecast a series of defaults among both medium and large companies -- though he said banks would probably be supported by the state -- which was likely to result in rating agencies downgrading Russia's debt to "junk" status. Most agencies have put Russia this year one notch above junk status. "Russia will get a downgrade," Kudrin said. "It will enter the 'junk' territory." == WRAPUP 1-Ex-minister Kudrin warns of "full-fledged crisis" in Russia Mon, Dec 22 10:51 AM EST (Adds Putin in talks, Reuters poll, Sberbank denial, Rosneft calling off Morgan Stanley purchase) * Kudrin: Russia didn't tackle problems fast enough * Russia to be downgraded to 'junk' status next year * Putin to talk to Western leaders on Ukraine * Government announces tax on grain exports * Central bank moves to shore up Trust Bank * Rosneft makes loan payment, calls off Morgan Stanley deal * Sees 2015 inflation at 12-15 per cent By Darya Korsunskaya, Lidia Kelly and Katya Golubkova MOSCOW, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Russia's government has pushed the country into an economic crisis by not tackling its financial problems fast enough, former finance minister Alexei Kudrin said on Monday, as evidence mounted of trouble spreading through the economy. As he spoke President Vladimir Putin prepared to hold emergency talks with Western leaders to try to resolve the stand-off over Ukraine, the central bank bailed out its first victim of the collapsing currency and authorities announced a tax on grain exports to protect domestic stocks. A Reuters poll of 11 economists predicted that Russia's gross domestic product would fall 3.6 percent next year, after only 0.5 percent growth this year. Russia has been hit by what Economy Minister Alexei Ulyukayev recently called a "perfect storm" of plummeting oil prices, sanctions related to its military action in Ukraine, and a flight of investors' capital -- made worse by a lack of structural reforms that means the economy is overwhelmingly dependent on oil revenues.. Government officials have tried to minimise the impact of sanctions on the country and its rouble currency, which plunged 80 percent against the dollar last week despite a hike in interest rates to 17 percent. Putin has claimed "external factors" like oil were the key culprit behind the country's "tough times". But Kudrin -- a darling of investors who is credited with building Russia's $170 billion sovereign wealth funds -- asserted that sanctions over Ukraine, not falling oil prices, were primarily behind the collapse of the rouble, and warned that Russia risked having its debt downgraded to junk status in 2015. "Today, I can say that we have entered or are entering a real, full-fledged economic crisis. Next year we will feel it clearly," the former minister told a news conference. "The government has not been quick enough to address the situation ... I am yet to hear ... its clear assessment of the current situation." Kudrin, one of few to criticise President Vladimir Putin, quit in 2011 in protest at proposals to increase defence spending, though the two men are still believed to be close. He has also criticised Putin's response to Western sanctions imposed following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and its subsequent support for loyalist fighters. The Kremlin's foreign policy adviser said Putin would hold phone talks with the leaders of France, Germany and Ukraine on Monday that would "focus on the current crisis situation and prospects for the next meeting of the contact group." MISTRUST The rouble firmed against the dollar on Monday, with exporters responding to Putin's urge to sell their foreign currency revenues on the market, and Brent crude prices stood close to $60 a barrel. While the currency, down some 45 percent against the dollar so far this year, may stabilise in the first quarter of next year, its decline will likely help to push inflation to a rate of 12-15 percent in 2015, Kudrin said. The central bank envisages next year's inflation at around 8 percent. Economists polled by Reuters see it at 9.2 percent. Kudrin said he believed that between 25 and 35 percent of the decline in the rouble could be attributed to sanctions. The rest, he said, was down to a stronger dollar and investors' mistrust of Russian authorities and their actions. His outlook for the economy next year was bleak: Even if the price of oil rose to $80 per barrel, gross domestic product was still likely to fall by more than 2 percent in 2015, Kudrin said. At $60 per barrel GDP would decline by 4 percent or more, he added, echoing the central bank's latest assessment, published last week. (Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin, Oksana Kobzeva and Polina Devitt; Editing by Sophie Walker) ======== ========= #Iraq; #ISIS also launched another failed attack on Haditha this morning. Iraqi Army detonated a suicide car bomb southwest of the district.  Haidar Sumeri ‏@SumerRising · 38s38 seconds ago #Iraq; the Iraqi Army backed by local tribesmen managed to kill an #ISIS commander (named Abu Abdullah Al-Saddawi) in western Ramadi today.

Air China signs deal to purchase 60 Boeing B737 aircraft

Mon, Dec 22 06:31 AM EST image BEIJING (Reuters) - Air China Ltd (601111.SS), the country's flag carrier, said Monday it signed an agreement to order 60 Boeing B737 planes for a total price of $5.9 billion. The aircraft are to be delivered between 2016 and 2020 per the agreement, which was disclosed Monday in a Air China regulatory filing. The order comes four months after Boeing Co (BA.N) won an order for 80 737 planes from Singapore-based BOC Aviation. Boeing said in September it expects China to need more than 6,020 aircraft in the next 20 years, an 8 percent rise over last year's two-decade estimate, as growing overseas leisure travel drives demand. That same month Boeing delivered the first of seven 747-8 Intercontinental jumbo jets to Air China, which was one of the few carriers to order the fuel efficient aircraft. (Reporting by Twinnie Su and Gerry Shih, editing by Louise Heavens)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Exclusive: Southwest's oil swap trade waiver raises CFTC questions

Exclusive: Southwest's oil swap trade waiver raises CFTC questions Sun, Dec 21 12:31 PM EST image By Douwe Miedema WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Last month's move by the U.S. commodities regulator to let Southwest Airlines Co keep its multibillion-dollar oil trades secret for 15 days offered the world's biggest low-cost carrier a break it has been seeking for three years. However, the decision to grant the airline an exemption from rules calling for greater derivatives transparency raised concerns about its market impact and sparked a debate among regulators, according to people familiar with the approval process. All other swap trades except Southwest's must be reported "as soon as technologically practicable." The Dallas-based airline has argued that its deals are so specific that immediate disclosure could cause the market to move against it, adding tens of millions of dollars to its costs. For years, that argument was not enough to sway the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and its former chairman, Gary Gensler. One concern was that granting an exemption to just one company is unusual and could hurt others in a similar position. Also, the waiver could set a precedent that would encourage others to seek similar special treatment, restoring a veil over bigger parts of derivative markets. The agency is already looking into problems the Mexican government is facing in its vast oil hedging program after news organizations, including Reuters, reported on the country's trades using publicly available swaps trading data, said one person familiar with the agency's procedures. A CFTC spokesman said Tim Massad, Gensler's successor, had issued the waiver to Southwest after his staff had done proper analysis to confirm the company’s claims, and the relief was a lot narrower than what the company had originally requested. But the person familiar with the approval process said the decision caused "a big stink" within the agency. When Southwest talked to the Commission in 2012 and in 2013, "they couldn't prove their case," the source said. Barring new evidence or a further appeal, Southwest's plea appeared to reach a dead end more than a year ago. The company had another shot at an exemption when Gensler left this year. It made its case to then-interim Chairman Mark Wetjen, who told the staff to start another study but doubted that a waiver was warranted, said a second source familiar with the CFTC's thinking. Only after Massad's arrival in June did things start moving. It is unclear what led to his decision to grant the waiver. LOBBY GROUP Even those who see merits in granting a waiver have taken issue with the decision to give it to just one company. While the agency frequently issues exemptions from its rules, they generally apply to a wider industry or class of participants, or address a problem specific to one company. "I'm surprised that they didn't apply it across the market," another person familiar with the situation said. With its low-cost tickets and clever marketing, Southwest has wide popular appeal. It says it has been on Fortune magazine's list of most-admired companies in the world for 20 consecutive years, and many on Capitol Hill support it. Southwest hired Delta Strategy Group, a Washington lobbying firm replete with former CFTC staffers to make its case in Congress. Since it started its campaign, the House has passed two bills that would write the waiver into law, although it is far from certain that they would win approval in the new Congress. "I SEE YOU" Rodney Davis, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Illinois, who introduced one of these bills, welcomed the CFTC's waiver. "It's a good first step to help a company out," Davis told Reuters. "The rule was not initially designed to impact companies like Southwest." Southwest's hedging program, among the largest and longest-running in the industry, is best known for sparing the airline the pain when oil surged to nearly $150 a barrel in 2008. While other carriers' energy bills soared, Southwest was buying its jet fuel at half-price because of swaps and options positions it had locked in. But the size and frequency of its trades in long-term oil contracts allow a small group of dealers at banks to figure out Southwest's positions by crunching the public data, even though the transactions are anonymous, the company says. The airline "began to get phone calls from other participants in the market saying: 'I see you guys are out there trading,'" Southwest Treasurer Chris Monroe told Reuters. That meant Southwest had to pay higher prices after the transparency rules came into force in 2012. Monroe told a Senate committee last year that reporting the trades would add $60 million to Southwest's $6 billion annual fuel bill. Shedding light on derivative markets that were at the epicenter of the financial crisis is a core goal of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform, but non-banks are complaining they sometimes end up as unintended victims. Yet critics say the waiver allows Southwest to operate in secret, a privilege others do not have. Another concern is that no single player should be so dominant that its trades alone can move prices. The CFTC's action "looks anomalous and seems to warrant an expanded explanation," said Bart Chilton, a former Democratic commissioner who left the agency in March. (Reporting by Douwe Miedema; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Lisa Von Ahn)

Man shouting 'Allahu Akbar' drives into crowd in France, injuring 11

Paris (AFP) - A driver shouted "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great") as he ploughed into a crowd in the eastern French city of Dijon on Sunday injuring 11 people, two seriously, a source close to the investigation said. "The man, born in 1974, is apparently imbalanced and had been in a psychiatric hospital," the source told AFP, adding that "for now his motives are still unclear". The attack came the day after a French convert to Islam was shot dead after attacking three police officers with a knife while also reportedly crying "Allahu Akbar" in the central town of Joue-les-Tours.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Two New York police officers ambushed in squad car, commissioner says

NYPD gunman is believed to have posted anti-police messages on Instagram account prior to shooting officers, police say - @NBCNewYork Read more on nbcnewyork.com Two New York police officers ambushed in squad car, commissioner says Sat, Dec 20 20:01 PM EST image 1 of 8 NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two New York police officers were shot and killed as they sat in a marked squad car in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon, New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said. The suspect in the shooting then shot and killed himself, Bratton said at a news conference at the Brooklyn hospital where the two officers were taken. The two officers were ambushed in an "assassination," Bratton said. (Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst; editing by Andrew Hay)  NYPD officers shot in Brooklyn, Dec. 20, 2014  12m NYPD received fax warning about suspect from Baltimore, Md., authorities, 'but it was too late'; suspect shot ex-girlfriend in Baltimore prior to shooting police, NYPD Commissioner says - @NBC live broadcast End of alert  NYPD officers shot in Brooklyn, Dec. 20, 2014  21m NYPD officers killed in Brooklyn shooting identified as Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos; deceased suspect identified as Ismaaiyl Brinsley - @CBS live broadcast

Laal Masjid Molvi Aziz Threatening MQM Chief Mr. Altaf Hussain

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 💖✌✌

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900m Acland coal mine expansion near Oakey approved by Qld Govt

900m Acland coal mine expansion near Oakey approved by Qld Govt By Emilie Gramenz Jeff Seeney PHOTO: Mr Seeney said in a statement the Queensland coordinator-general's approval was subject to 137 strict conditions. (AAP: Dan Peled - file photo) MAP: Oakey 4401 The Queensland Government has approved a $900 million mine expansion near Oakey on the state's Darling Downs. In a statement, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the new Acland coal mine expansion would create hundreds of jobs and would be subject to more than 130 environmental conditions. A spokeswoman for Mr Seeney said the project was still subject to approval from the Federal Government and was still to be assessed under the State Government's new Regional Planning Interests Act. Mr Seeney said in a statement the Queensland coordinator-general's approval was subject to 137 strict conditions to manage the project's impact. "This mine expansion is set to create over 250 jobs during construction and another 435 operational jobs, as well as providing business opportunities in the nearby towns of Dalby, Oakey, Pittsworth and others," he said. "The reduced scope of this project in response to local concerns is a good example of a resource company working hard to achieve community confidence." Mr Seeney said the Queensland Government had not supported the original 2007 expansion plan due to its effect on high quality agricultural land and proximity to local townships. "However since 2012, the proponent has reduced the project's footprint by around 60 per cent and has relinquished 1,401 hectares or 28 per cent of the mining lease area, including the town of Acland," Mr Seeney said in a statement. Puzzled and very disappointed, farmer says Local farmer Dr Tanya Plant said she had previously raised concerns about the impact on agricultural land and was disappointed with the approval. "I'm pretty puzzled and very disappointed in how it looks," she said. "It really does seem like they haven't taken too much notice of our concerns. "They're still allowing the mine to cause a lot of noise impacts on people, it still seems like the mine's going to use an enormous amount of water. "The coal mine employment benefits are very short-term compared to what would otherwise be a sustainable agricultural community forever, potentially. "The EIS (environmental impact statement) even identifies quite a number who are going to quite probably have their underground water supplies badly impacted." Nikki Laws from the Oakey Coal Action Alliance said they would approach the Commonwealth with their concerns. "We'll make contact again - there's some really concerning issues that fall under the Federal EPBC Act (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999), and the other important thing that's under federal oversight is water," she said. "Unfortunately the water impacts are quite appalling and we think, completely unsustainable." Topics: mining-industry, mining-environmental-issues, liberal-national-party-queensland, mining-rural, public-sector, activism-and-lobbying, coal, oakey-4401, toowoomba-4350

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. [1] 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.[2] 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.” [3] 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.[4] 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.[5] 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.”[6] 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. [7] 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.[8] 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: [1] 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 [2] 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 [3] 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 [4] POGC, North Pars Gas Field, Pars Oil and Gas Company website, http://www.pogc.ir/NorthParsGasField/tabid/155/Default.aspx [5] Imad Fawzi Shueibi , War Over Gas–Struggle over the Middle East: Gas Ranks First, 17 April, 2012. http://www.voltairenet.org/article173718.html [6] Pepe Escobar, Why Qatar Wants to Invade Syria, Asia Times, September 27, 2012, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article32576.htm [7] Ibid. [8] 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)