The 3 Week Diet System

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Brazil’s former star Petrobras hit by scandal and stagnation

April 21:

Oil giant Petrobras coming to symbolise the disarray of Brazil’s sluggish economy

A replica of an old oil pump outside the headquarters of Petrobras in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The state-run company is facing a growing scandal over its $1.2 billion purchase of a refinery in Texas. Photograph: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg
A replica of an old oil pump outside the headquarters of Petrobras in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The state-run company is facing a growing scandal over its $1.2 billion purchase of a refinery in Texas. Photograph: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

No company has embodied Brazil’s rise like the oil giant Petrobras. Bolstered by some of this century’s largest oil discoveries, Petrobras soared into the top ranks of global energy producers. Executives at the state-controlled company boasted it could even outstrip Apple as the world’s most valuable publicly-traded company.
Now Petrobras is coming to symbolise something else: the disarray afflicting Brazil’s sluggish economy and the reassessment of growth prospects in emerging markets.
Instead of surging, Petrobras’s oil production has stagnated, heightening Brazil’s reliance on imported oil.
Petrobras finds itself mired in corruption investigations and claims of managerial incompetence. And its debt load is exploding: Petrobras now ranks as the world’s most indebted company, dependent, more or less, on US mutual funds to finance its ambitious investment plans.
“The decline of Petrobras has been stunning, swift and painful,” said Fabio Fuzetti, a partner at Antares Capital Management, a Sao Paulo investment firm. “This is the energy company that served as the model for others in developing countries. Now it’s the example of precisely what not to do.”

Deep-sea explorationDespite these problems executives at Petrobras say the company still has strengths. It remains profitable overall despite mounting losses from importing fuel and is a pioneer in deep-sea exploration. It commands coveted assets around the world, including oil and gas reserves of 13 billion barrels.
In a statement, a spokeswoman for Petrobras said that debt levels had climbed as the company invested in offshore oil and expanding refining capacity. “We’ll have an inflection point in our debt starting in 2015, when revenue generation will surpass investment, initiating a trajectory of debt reduction,” said Paula Almada, the spokeswoman.
So far foreign bondholders, who now fund a record 43 per cent of the company’s giant investment programme, have been remarkably patient. But analysts warn that much of this largess has been driven by the global liquidity glut.
If Petrobras’s troubles continue to mount, it could run into resistance on international markets.
The ills that plague Petrobras – too much debt and spending for too little return – reflect a larger concern that the golden age for Brazil, China, Russia and Turkey, once the vanguard of the emerging-market boom, is coming to an end.
“The problem with Brazil is that the days of 4 per cent growth are gone,” said Tony Volpon, a Latin America expert at Nomura Securities, who expects its economy to expand at well below 2 per cent this year.
The problems at Petrobras, which is 60.5 per cent owned by Brazil’s government, have come into sharp relief in recent weeks as the company grapples with a simmering scandal over its acquisition of a Houston refinery, beginning in 2006 and completed years later, at an estimated cost of $1.19 billion from Astra, a Belgian oil trading company that bought the refinery for $42.5 million in 2005.

Recently arrestedPolice here also recently arrested one of Petrobras’s most powerful former executives,Paulo Roberto Costa, who led refining operations until 2012. Investigators say he was involved in a sprawling money-laundering scheme and may have received bribes related to the construction of a refinery that has ballooned in cost to $18.5 billion from $2.5 billion.
Citing the increasing debt load, Moody’s downgraded the company’s debt last October to Baa1, the third-lowest investment grade rating offered by the credit agency.
Perhaps Petrobras’ biggest challenge is that it is not just an energy company. It is also at the heart of a fierce debate over the extent of the Brazilian government’s use of its wealth to achieve political and economic goals. – ( Copyright The New York Times 2014)

Sale of power: Sugar companies move HC

April 20:

The sugar companies have moved the High Court challenging the State government’s action of invoking Section 11 of the Electricity Act, mandating private power generators to sell power generated by them only to the state-run energy companies.

Saundatti-based Shivashakti Sugars Limited and others have approached the court seeking to quash the government order dated March 26, 2014, directing private power producers to sell the entire power generated by them to government-run companies at a fixed price of Rs 5.50 per unit.
The petitioners have termed the government order “arbitrary and a case of misconstruing the powers conferred upon it.”

Stating that the government action will discourage the private sugar companies generating power, they have contended that the cost of generating power comes to Rs 6-7 per unit.

Prabhulinga Navadgi, the counsel for the petitioners, submitted that unless the government took stakeholders into confidence, the action of the government would be counterproductive to the growth of energy sector in the State. “Power and water should be considered as essential resource,” he said.
Pointing out that Section 11 could be involved only under “extraordinary” circumstances, the petitioners have pointed out that there had been no capacity addition in the energy sector in Karnataka except the Bellary Thermal Power Station and a few minor power projects.

About 100 cogeneration units produce approximately 600 MW of power in Karnataka.
Justice B S Patil has ordered notice to the State and the Union governments.


NSCDC arrests 2 for selling siphoned petrol

April 21:

LAGOS—The Lagos State  Command of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, yesterday arrested two boat operators in Coconut area of Lagos, for allegedly selling  siphoned petrol.
Recovered from the suspects, were 66 jerry cans filled with the alleged siphoned petroleum product.
But the suspects denied the allegation, stating instead, that the recovered jerry cans were loaded into their boats by the NSCDC officials.
The suspects identified as Abu Idris and Kunle Ayandokun, according to the command’s commandant, Clement Adesuyi, attempted to bribe the officials with N40,000 upon their arrest.
He explained; “They were arrested  around the creeks in Apapa. We  impounded three of their operational speed boats  with 66 kegs of petrol.  Investigations are ongoing at the end of which they would be prosecuted. The N40,000 they attempted to bribe our officials with have been tendered as exhibits”, he stated, calling on members of the public to avail them with useful information that would lead to the arrest of pipeline vandals.
However on their part, the suspects denied culpability. One of them, Anyadokun claimed to be a member of the maritime workers union. He alleged that the recovered jerry cans were put inside his boat by the NSCDC officials.
Said he: “ I do not know anything about the recovered jerricans. On Sunday, some NSCDC men stormed our area to arrest pipeline vandals. On sighting them, those who usually sell the product  jumped into the water and escaped. Some of the officials entered my boat and told me to help them chase the fleeing suspects but they could not get them.
”They told me to load some of the stolen fuel into my boat and  take them to Iddo, but on reaching the place, I was arrested, as they claimed  I was among the pipeline vandals.”


‘Nigeria loses more money to mineral theft than oil´

April 21:

Participants at a one-day stakeholder’s workshop on gemstone have lamented the poor exploration and utilisation of local raw materials in the country, saying Nigeria loses more money to mineral theft than oil and gas.
They noted that the capacity utilisation of many industries in Nigeria was hampered by lack of raw materials and other required inputs.
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gems and Minerals Nigeria Limited, Rev. Zephaniah Ndaja, said Nigeria loses more money to stealing of solid minerals like gemstone than oil and gas theft, due to lack of ignorance of the industry.
He called on governments to give the same priority to the solid minerals sector as that of oil and gas by putting mechanism in place to protect the nation’s gem mineral reserves against abuse and waste.


The April Invasion of Veracruz

April 20:

MEXICO CITY — The invasion had various objectives. To help remove a dictator who had seized power in a coup d’état, to channel and direct the radical groups that opposed him, to safeguard the interests of the oil companies active in the area, to forestall interference from other national powers, and to teach the citizens of an unfortunate country about the virtues of democracy. Baghdad in 2003? No. The Mexican port of Veracruz, on April 21, 1914.
For Europeans and Americans, 1914 marks the beginning of World War I. For Mexicans, it is synonymous with the “American intervention,” a smaller encore of the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 that cost Mexico half its territory and that in 1879 former President Ulysses S. Grant dubbed as America’s most “wicked” war.
When the expeditionary force (some 6,500 Marines and soldiers under the command of Vice Admiral Frank F. Fletcher) disembarked on April 21, there were still elderly Veracruzans who could remember, with horror, the naval bombardments of February 1847 ordered by General Winfield Scott. Bombs had rained down on hospitals, churches, public and private buildings, and had been followed by scenes of rape, pillage, robbery and killings by the invaders. Six hundred Mexican civilians died. The future commanding general of the Confederacy, Captain Robert E. Lee, wrote to his wife: “My heart bled for the inhabitants.”
The 1914 intervention was less bloody, its violent period lasting only a couple of days. President Woodrow Wilson’s stated intention was to block a shipment of arms from Germany to the Mexican dictator Victoriano Huerta. But the citizens of Veracruz did not passively accept the invasion of their city, already caught up in the Mexican Revolution.
In the United States, there were voices of opposition as well — but also rapid support. The tabloid press of William Randolph Hearst, as it had done with Cuba in 1898, not only rallied behind the landing in Veracruz but campaigned for invading the entire country. The writer Jack London, who combined a measure of revolutionary sentiment with a racist ethic of white supremacy, wrote in Collier’s magazine: “Verily, the Veracruzans will long remember this being conquered by the Americans, and yearn for the blissful day when the Americans will conquer them again. They would not mind thus being conquered to the end of time.”
In fact, the Veracruzans reacted with rage. The American military did not have to confront a regular army. (General Huerta’s federal troops had been ordered away from the city.) It was the people of Veracruz — masons, police officers, carpenters, street sweepers, shopkeepers, students of the Naval Academy, even prisoners — who resisted. Almost every Veracruzan family treasures the memory of at least one heroic act: the young Judith Oropeza who threw bricks from her rooftop at the Americans; the prostitute nicknamed “America” who set her ammunition belt on a flat roof and fired down at the “gringos”; the artillery lieutenant José Azueta who, all by himself, with an antiquated machine gun, covered the retreat of his comrades at the Naval Academy who had been battling the Americans. By the end of the fighting, 193 Mexicans had died (including Lieutenant Azueta) along with 19 American soldiers.

The American intervention plainly failed to achieve its objectives. It contributed only marginally to General Huerta’s fall a few months later, and had little influence on the outcome of Mexico’s civil war. The expeditionary force remained in the city for seven months before leaving it in the hands of Venustiano Carranza’s Constitutionalist army, a less revolutionary faction than those headed by the popular caudillos Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata. Without any need for protective American Marines, the oil wells of the area, with their copious production, remained untouched until the end of the civil war. The European powers — especially England and Germany — pulled back from Mexico, though their withdrawal from the scene had nothing to do with the American intervention: World War I had broken out. And Wilson, of course, did not succeed in “teaching democracy to the Mexicans.”
What the intervention did achieve was the renewal of rancor among Mexicans. Thousands of Veracruzans went quietly into internal exile, avoiding any cooperation with the invaders. Only a minority of civic employees were willing to work with the Americans’ provisional government. A parallel Mexican administration attended to the needs of the people. And Mexican nationalism underwent a surge — with profound and long-lasting consequences.
The experience of Veracruz sheds light on the nationalism of other Caribbean countries, such as the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and especially Cuba. In each of these countries, deep resentment was sparked by the physical presence of the invader. In Cuba, the United States went to the extreme of establishing what amounted to a protectorate based on the total identification of American foreign policy with American private interests. As a result, in 1922, a Cuban journalist predicted that “hatred for the North Americans will become the religion of Cubans.”
We are now near the end of this cycle. Since the invasion of Panama (in 1989) , American Marines have not come ashore on Latin American beaches. The identification of American diplomacy with the interests of its large, private enterprises is less evident. And the understandably anti-Yankee discourse of Fidel Castro became an artificial rhetoric for Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez and then a caricature for his successor, Nicolás Maduro. In the meantime, commerce and migration have grown so large and steady as to file down the old harsh points of contention.
Will an American president be willing to examine this long history of resentment and distrust, the better to construct a “happy ending” to these conflicts with “the other America”? Concrete actions are required: to pass long-awaited reforms of immigration laws, increase commercial relations and encourage mutual understanding, nourish cultural exchanges, lift the embargo on Cuba, close Guantánamo, and to be much more attentive and respectful toward Latin American countries and not treat them as the mere backyard of the nation they call “the Giant of the North.”
And also, at this time of year, a simple gesture: to remember the dead of April 1914 in the Mexican port of Veracruz.
Enrique Krauze is a historian, the editor of the literary magazine Letras Libres and the author of “Redeemers: Ideas and Power in Latin America.” This article was translated by Hank Heifetz from the Spanish.


Russia’s Arctic Prize Won’t Be As Big As Many Think

April 20:

Gazprom sent its first shipment of oil from its controversial Russian Arctic offshore platform on April 18, a landmark event that Russian President Vladimir Putin said would contribute to economic growth. “The start of loading the oil produced at Prirazlomnaya means that the entire project will exert a most encouraging influence on Russia’s presence on the energy markets and will stimulate the Russian economy in general and its energy sector in particular,” he said. Putin was on hand to witness to first shipment of 70,000 tonnes of oil, which was loaded onto a tanker from the Prirazlomnoye platform, the same rig boarded by Greenpeace activists last fall. Despite opposition from environmentalists, Putin stated that this is merely the beginning, “this is, in fact, the beginning of our country’s enormous work on oil production in the Arctic.”
The Arctic theoretically holds 30% of the world’s remaining undiscovered oil and gas resources. Nearly 84% of the 90 billion barrels of oil are located offshore.
While Royal Dutch Shell’s bad missteps have all but killed off the Arctic oil program in the United States, Russia is moving ahead, and Putin clearly believes that the Arctic is an essential ingredient in its ability to maintain its position as one of the world’s largest oil producers. Russia gets 52% of its budget revenues from oil and gas, as well as 70% of its export earnings. In 2012 Russia produced an estimated 10.4 million barrels of oil per day with nearly two-thirds of that total coming from Western Siberia. But many of Russia’s oil fields, which have been in operation for years, are starting to decline. This has Putin looking to expand in the Arctic. Rosneft signed a deal with ExxonMobil to develop parts of the Arctic, a move that suggests that Russia needs the technological prowess from international oil companies to access remote Arctic oil fields.
But, while much has been made about the Arctic energy frontier – with headlines about how Russia is “beating” the U.S. in Arctic oil development – Russia’s Arctic prize won’t be as big as many think. The Prirazlomnoye field, which just started production, holds an estimated 530 million barrels of oil. The project is costly and would not have been economical if the Russian government had not granted it special tax breaks. But, even with heavy backing by the government, Gazprom estimates that the field will only be producing 120,000 barrels of oil per day, beginning in 2020. That would only add about 1% to Russia’s oil production. Rosneft’s projects aren’t expected to come online for at least another decade. Gazprom also wants to develop the giant Shtokman gas field, but that has been repeatedly put on ice due to high costs. On the whole, the Arctic suffers from high costs, severe weather, and a lack of infrastructure, all of which will make it exceedingly difficult for Russia to turn the region into a major source of oil production.
Still, mistrust and fear are likely contributing to a minor military buildup and the erosion of good relations in a region that up until now represented one of the few brightspots for international cooperation. This is no doubt being drastically exacerbated by the Ukraine crisis, but a zero-sum mentality over seizing the upper hand in a new region being opened up by melting ice seemingly pervades the capitals of the Arctic powers. The U.S. Navy recently announced that it would send a greater presence to the Arctic in the coming years. The Navy also cancelled a joint exercise with Russia in the region in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Russia is also calling for a military buildup in the Arctic.
More recently, Canada decided to boycott a meeting of the Arctic Council in Moscow in response to the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine. Canada is currently holding the rotating chair of the council, and has been particularly aggressive in denouncing Russia’s actions in Ukraine. In early April, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that Canada and the U.S. should form a “united front” against expansionist moves by Russia in the Arctic. She warned against Russia’s military buildup in the region.
While the Ukraine crisis may be currently driving events in the Arctic, both Russia and the West fear losing out to the other in the far north, despite what appears to be a small prize.

Canada Embracing Climate Control Measures to Support Oil Sector

April 20:

Environmental advocacy groups put Canadian oil sands on the same footing as a weapon of mass destruction. With limited trade options on hand, provincial leaders are now trying to recast the Canadian oil sector's image with a green hue.
The processes involved in exploiting the more viscous form of crude oil found in the Athabasca region of Alberta are viewed as detrimental to human health and the global environment.
A government report last week found the emissions tied to oil sands means the Canadian energy industry passed the transportation sector as the country's largest source of pollution. Oil and natural gas production now account for about 25 percent of all of the country's emissions.
Last month, Canadian Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford met with provincial leaders in Alberta to express his support for responsible resource development. Environmental stewardship and increased market access, he was told, went hand in hand.
Canada last year signed a free trade agreement with Europe that it sees as potentially opening the door to new markets for its crude oil. Currently, nearly all of Canada’s oil exports head to the United States, where the shale boom is diminishing the needs for more imports.
Rickford's predecessor, Joe Oliver, in November tried to woo European investors wary of the emissions associated with oils sands. Last week, the Canadian government was met with opposition from the likes of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who said U.S. President Barack Obama should "do the right thing" and oppose the Keystone XL oil pipeline planned from Alberta.
Now, Alberta Energy Minister Diana McQueen said the provincial government had set aside more than $130 million in its annual budget for capture and storage technology for the oil sands industry.
"The Alberta government is committed to carbon capture projects," she said. "With them we are showing the world we take the responsible development of our resources seriously and we’re becoming a world leader in CCS technology."
The Alberta government says it will invest more than $1 billion total on oil sands-related CCS projects, an investment level it says is unprecedented. Two CCS projects planned for Alberta will be able to store more than 2.75 million tons of carbon dioxide per year, which the provincial government said is the equivalent of pulling more than half-a-million cars off the road each year.
Environmental advocates say Canadian oil sands development is undermining efforts to curb global warming at a time when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is warning time is running out to keep climate doomsday from approaching.
For fiscal year 2011-12, the Alberta government brought in more than $4 billion in royalties from oil sands projects. For the nation as a whole, oil sands contribution to gross domestic product is expected to almost double to more than $150 billion by 2025.
Alberta and the federal government say responsible resource development is the right step to take amid growing environmental concerns. Given the fiscal stakes involved for Canada, it may be more of a business decision than one of environmental stewardship.

MH370 conspiracy: Did America shoot down missing Malaysia Airlines plane?

April 20:

Author John Chuckman believes it's possible the US gunned down the jetliner, either deliberately or accidentally, and now wants to keep it secret

A former oil company executive turned author has suggested America could have shot down missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 - and is now trying to cover it up.
Writing on, John Chuckman, a former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company, asked: "Could it be that the United States shot down Flight MH370, either accidentally or deliberately, and now wants to keep it secret?
"The possibility of recovery of the full wreckage, even if its location were found, from four miles under the sea amongst underwater mountains is extremely remote at best, so the United States can remain confident that physical evidence will never emerge.
Mr Chuckman, who is originally from Chicago, continued: "There would be nothing unprecedented in such an act: on at least three occasions, regrettably, America's military has shot down civilian airliners.
"I have no idea what event (a rogue pilot, a hijacker?) led to Flight MH370 turning off its communications, changing course, and flying low, but I do know that the event could not have gone unnoticed by America's military-intelligence eyes and ears."
MH370 disappeared while flying between Kuala Lumpur and Beijiing on March 8 with 239 people on board.
A six week search of the Indian Ocean, where experts believe the plane crashed, has yet to yield any trace of the jetliner.

Russia Writes Off Majority of N.Korea Debt

April 21:

Russia's parliament has agreed to write off almost $10 billion of North Korea's Soviet-era debt, in a deal expected to facilitate the building of a gas pipeline to South Korea across the reclusive state.

Russia has written off debts to a number of impoverished Soviet-era allies, including Cuba. North Korea's struggling communist economy is just 2 percent of the size of neighboring South Korea's.

The State Duma lower house on Friday ratified a 2012 agreement to write off the bulk of North Korea's debt. It said the total debt stood at $10.96 billion as of Sept. 17, 2012.

The rest of the debt, $1.09 billion, would be redeemed during the next 20 years, to be paid in equal installments every six months. The outstanding debt owed by North Korea will be managed by Russia's state development bank, Vnesheconombank.

Russia's Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak told Russian media that the money could be used to fund mutual projects in North Korea, including a proposed gas pipeline and a railway to South Korea.

The two Koreas remain technically at war and are separated by one of the world's most militarized frontiers. Parts of the international community have been seeking to re-engage with North Korea amid hopes that the reclusive state's government would seek ways to end years of isolation and poverty.

Russia's state-owned top natural gas producer Gazprom, has long planned to build a gas pipeline via North Korea to South Korea with a view to shipping 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually.

Moscow has been trying to diversify its energy sales to Asia away from Europe, which, in its turn, wants to cut its dependence on oil and gas from the erstwhile Cold War foe. Moscow aims to reach a deal to supply gas to China, after a decade of talks, this May.


Suncor Energy reports employee fatality at its Oil Sands site

April 20:

FORT MCMURRAY, ALBERTA, Apr 20, 2014 (Marketwired via COMTEX) -- Suncor Energy regretfully reports there has been an employee fatality at its Oil Sands site on Sunday, April 20, 2014.
Suncor emergency service personnel responded at approximately 11:30 a.m. when an employee was severely injured while working. The employee was immediately transported to the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre where he was pronounced deceased.
Suncor is working with the appropriate authorities and will complete a full investigation into the cause of the incident.
"This is devastating news and a tragic loss for family, friends and co-workers. Our thoughts and prayers go out to loved ones during this extremely difficult time," said Mark Little, Suncor executive vice president, Upstream.
The name of the individual is not being released.
Suncor Energy is Canada's leading integrated energy company. Suncor's operations include oil sands development and upgrading, conventional and offshore oil and gas production, petroleum refining, and product marketing under the Petro-Canada brand. While working to responsibly develop petroleum resources, Suncor is also developing a growing renewable energy portfolio. Suncor's common shares (symbol:SU) are listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges.
For more information about Suncor Energy please visit our web site at, follow us on Twitter @SuncorEnergy or read our blog, OSQAR.

B.C. environment minister warned about LNG greenhouse gas emissions

April 20:

Internal briefing note singles out methane as concern, as well as emissions from fracking process

A liquefied natural gas tanker arrives at Sodegaura city in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo in 2009. Premier Christy Clark says B.C. is poised to develop a trillion-dollar LNG export  industry.
A liquefied natural gas tanker arrives at Sodegaura city in Chiba prefecture, east of Tokyo in 2009. Premier Christy Clark says B.C. is poised to develop a trillion-dollar LNG export industry. (STR/AFP/Getty )

British Columbia Environment Ministry staff have warned their minister that the province's dreamed-of liquefied natural gas industry poses some big challenges with greenhouse gas emissions.
Internal briefing notes prepared for Environment Minister Mary Polaksince she took office last year and obtained by The Canadian Press, single out methane emissions for concern.
On top of emissions from combustion and flaring of natural gas, methane and carbon dioxide escape during hydraulic fracturing process, orfracking, the documents said.
"Methane emissions are a particular concern since they have a global warming impact 21 times higher than carbon dioxide," said one July briefing note.
"A small increase in the percentage of natural gas that escapes can have a significant impact on overall emissions."
At a meeting last November, staff warned Polak that the federal government has updated its formula for calculating greenhouse gas emissions and that alone will increase methane values by 20 per cent. The province will need to follow suit, members of the Climate Action Secretariat told Polak.

Emissions may be under-reported

Premier Christy Clark says B.C. is poised to develop a trillion-dollar LNG industry.
But emissions remain a hurdle for the provinces, which has legislated targets for reductions. Legislation dictates that emissions are to be reduced by at least a third below 2007 levels by 2020.
On top of emissions from combustion and flaring of natural gas, methane and carbon dioxide escape during hydraulic fracturing process, or fracking. B.C. estimates that between 0.3 and three per cent of natural gas extracted is lost as fugitive methane emissions, but other North American jurisdictions and scientific literature estimate that rate is between seven and eight per cent.
Polak has also been told that while B.C. estimates that between 0.3 and three per cent of natural gas extracted is lost as fugitive methane emissions, other North American jurisdictions and scientific literature estimate that rate is between seven and eight per cent.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates between four and nine per cent is lost.
However, in B.C. regulations are significantly different, the briefing notes pointed out. Because B.C. gas contains toxic hydrogen sulfide, leaks are more tightly regulated.
The province's Climate Action Secretariat and Natural Gas Development Ministry are working with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers to test technology to curb emissions, said the internal documents.
"Though significant, this work does not address concerns about potential fracking-related emissions from geological formations, poor cement casing or produced water storage tanks," said the briefing prepared last July.
Polak declined a request for an interview.
"Based on academic research and work in the United States, there is concern that fugitive or unplanned emissions from oil and gas facilities are higher than currently reported in B.C.," the ministry said in an emailed statement to The Canadian Press.
The federal government has updated its greenhouse gas emissions formula and the province "is examining" when to update its own regulations, it said.
The Climate Action Secretariat is working with the association and industry to find ways to reduce emissions and "ensure emissions levels are properly understood," it said.
They've initiated a joint study of emissions levels and, as a result of updated information, the province has removed an outdated metering requirement, the statement said.
"International greenhouse gas (GHG) accounting and measurement practices are changing as research and the understanding of science evolves," the ministry said.
B.C. has been underestimating the impact of methane, said Tom Pedersen, executive director of the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, a collaboration between the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, the University of British Columbia and the University of Northern British Columbia.
But provincial officials are very aware of the challenges, he said.
"This is not something that they are trying to sweep under the rug. They are concerned about it and they are trying to put in place appropriate regulations to deal with it," Pedersen said.
That will require intensive monitoring and enforcement of regulations, he said.
"At the same time, one does have to be realistic about this, there is pushback from industry. They would prefer not to have regulations of course."

Oman seeks Singapore expertise to build Duqm free trade zone

April 21:

The projects in the port city alone offer business opportunities of about US$4.5b for S'pore companies, reports RAJU CHELLAM

BT 20140421 OMAN1 1052822
Port of Duqm: The free trade zone area of 1,777 sq km is three times the size of Singapore, skirts a coastline of 80 km, and is one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in the world. - FILE PHOTO

THE oil-rich Sultanate of Oman is seeking Singapore investment, talent and management know-how to build multiple high-end projects at Oman's newest free trade zone at the port city of Duqm. The free trade zone area of 1,777 sq km is three times the size of Singapore, skirts a coastline of 80 km, and is one of the most ambitious projects of its kind in the world.
With a land mass of more than 300,000 sq km, Oman is about 450 times the size of Singapore, but has roughly half the population. A litre of bottled water costs about the same in Oman's capital city of Muscat as in Singapore. Both countries have 1.5 times more smartphones than people. However, a litre of petrol costs just 40 Singapore cents in Muscat, compared to S$2.14 at home.
Welcome to Oman. It's an oil-rich country that borders Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The country, like Singapore, has a huge expatriate population and uses English to bridge communications between those who speak Arabic and those who don't. And it is now looking at Singapore as one of its role models for its multi-ethnic and multi-racial population to live and work in harmony while boosting economic growth.

Oil and gas continue to be at the core of Oman's economy and account for up to 84 per cent of overall government revenues. "However, with oil reserves projected to thin out over the next 20 years, we're pushing for economic diversification," Abdulmonam Mansoor Al-Hasani, Oman's Minister of Information, told a delegation of visiting journalists from the Singapore Press Club. "We're actively promoting tourism, telecoms, electric power and other non-oil industries."

Silent on subsidies

April 20:


For the hydrocarbon sector, the BJP’s manifesto holds out two broad promises. One, the party will expedite oil and gas exploration in the country. Two, it will set up gas grids to make gas available to households and industry. These promises, if fulfilled, will benefit domestic hydrocarbon players.
There have been few major hydrocarbon finds in the country over the past decade. Discouragingly, many global energy companies have relinquished blocks due to approval delays, and recent auctions of blocks have met with weak response.
If a BJP-led Government provides better operational and financial incentives to explorers, and expedites approvals, interest should revive. Among others, state-owned ONGC, Oil India and GSPC, which also hold high-potential blocks, should benefit. This will fit in with the BJP’s aim of reducing reliance on imports.
Expansion of the gas pipeline network should benefit transmitters GAIL (India) and Gujarat State Petronet Ltd. The pipeline network is currently concentrated in West and North India. GAIL has been laying pipelines in the South, but run-ins with State Governments over passage through farmlands have held up work. These issues will need to be sorted out. Expanding the network to provide CNG to vehicles and piped natural gas to households can also provide a boost to city gas distributors Indraprastha Gas and Gujarat Gas which will have a much larger playing field.
Fuel subsidies
But the BJP’s manifesto is silent on two key aspects. The first is about its stand on fuel subsidies. Will it restart the monthly diesel price hikes? If it does, this will provide a leg-up to public sector oil marketing companies (Indian Oil, HPCL and BPCL) as well as ONGC, Oil India and GAIL which share a chunk of the under-recovery burden. Also, the party has not spelt out its stance on the contentious domestic gas price hike. If, amid allegations of crony capitalism, gas prices are hiked, beneficiaries will include ONGC and Oil India, which produce 80 per cent of the gas in the country and, of course, Reliance Industries.

Devon Energy gives $20K to fire departments

April 20:

CARLSBAD >> When the oilmen showed up at the volunteer fire chiefs' meeting earlier this week, it was easy to see something special was going on.
And at the end of the evening, the Eddy County fire fighters had enjoyed a nice dinner and received a check for each of their departments, courtesy of Devon Energy.
"During the meeting, Devon ambassadors -- employees who do community outreach -- presented 13 volunteer fire departmentswith $1,500 each," said Devon spokesman Tim Hartley.
He pointed out that the departments are an important part of the safety of their communities and of the county as a whole.
The departments and fire districts included Atoka,, Cottonwood, Happy Valley, Joel, La Huerta, Loco Hills, Village of Loving, Malaga, Otis, Queen, Riverside, Sun Country and Village of Hope.
"At Devon, one of our core values is to be a good neighbor," said Jerry Mathews, production superintendent for Devon in Southeast New Mexico. "That includes supporting our local first responders, who do so much for the communities where we operate."
Eddy County Fire Services Coordinator Robert Brader pointed out the difference between donated funds and tax funding.
"Each department is allowed to decide what they need that money for, because it is not tax money," he said.
It could go for recruiting and retention of volunteer fire fighters, for training or equipment.
"Local volunteer fire departments are always facing budget challenges," Hartley said, "so we wanted to offer some help to them because they are such an important part of the safety of our community,"

Netflix, Halliburton, Hasbro are stocks to watch

April 20:

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Among the companies whose shares are expected to see active trade in Monday’s session are Netflix Inc., Halliburton Co.Hasbro Inc. and LinkedIn Corp.

Netflix Inc. NFLX +4.32%  is projected to report first-quarter earnings of 81 cents a share, according to a consensus survey from FactSet. The video-streaming company is expected to add 570,000 subscribers in the second quarter, slightly below the 600,000 in the second quarter of last year, according to analyst Doug Anmuth at J.P. Morgan. Anmuth rates the stock at overweight with a price target of $500.
Professional networking site LinkedIn Corp.LNKD +2.10%   said on Friday it has reached 300 million members worldwide after adding more than 23 million members since year-end. It had roughly 277 million members when it reported fourth-quarter results in February. The stock market was closed Friday for Good Friday.
Halliburton Co. HAL +0.66%  is forecast to post earnings of 72 cents a share in the first quarter.
Hasbro Inc. HAS +1.41%  is likely to report first-quarter earnings of 10 cents a share. “We expect Hasbro’s Q1 2014 top line will benefit from Marvel’s Captain America sell-in along with the inclusion of Backflip Studios. Key will be management’s on-going solid execution in the seasonally least significant quarter for the company/industry in our view,” analyst Timothy Conder at Wells Fargo Securities said.
Kimberly-Clark Corp. KMB +0.12%  is expected to report first-quarter earnings of $1.47 a share.
Zions Bancorp ZION +1.14%  is likely to post earnings of 41 cents a share in the first quarter.
After Thursday’s closing bell, Advanced Micro Devices Inc. AMD -1.86%  reported its first-quarter loss narrowed to 3 cents a share from 19 cents a share a year ago. Excluding one-time items, AMD would have earned 2 cents a share, better than the break-even forecast by analysts surveyed by FactSet. AMD shares rallied almost 6% in after-hours trading