How do you know the Fed is justified in hiking again, the economy is recovering, and the market are zooming higher? One hint is the just announced thousands in layoffs in both the energy and tech sector, among which are Shell, which announced it would layoff 2,200 jobs; Microsoft reporting it would cut 1,850; and Intel terminating up to 350 jobs in Germany.
Two new lawsuits say Shell is liable for oil spills that have destroyed livelihoods, contaminated water supplies, and rendered some wetlands ‘lifeless’ in the fragile ecosystem
Royal Dutch Shell must pay for the lives and livelihoods destroyed by the decades-long deluge of oil spilled from its pipelines in the Niger Delta, two lawsuits filed in London on Tuesday charged.
“Shell has an appalling record of obfuscation and misinformation with regard to its dealings in the Niger Delta,” said Peter Frankental, director of Amnesty International’s UK Economic Affairs Programme.
On October 27, the Anglo-Dutch oil major announced that it was pulling the plug on its Carmon Creek oil sands project in Alberta, Canada. The project was expected to yield 80,000 barrels per day in oil sands production, which was originally greenlighted in 2013.
However, the markets have turned against Shell. In March, the company said that it would alter the design of the project to “take advantage of the market downturn to optimize design and retender certain contracts.” The logic was that low oil prices are forcing cost reductions up and down the supply chain, potentially allowing the company to lower construction costs.
Moments ago a massive explosion, accompanied by a raging fire seen from miles away, occurred at a Shell Oil production plant in Moerdijk, Netherlands, reports the Omroep Brabant. Two “enormously loud bangs” were reported by bystanders. Bystanders reported a pink flash of light followed by flames that were meters high. According to a Dutch reporter, the explosion shook the neighborhood houses as if an earthquake occurred. Marieke van Wijk of the Safety Mid and West Brabant reports that the fire occurred during an exchange of services.
“The blaze is pretty intense and the smoke goes straight up. Hazardous substances are igniting high in the air. “Stay at least always the smoke,” adds the municipality of Moerdijk.
No evacuation of local residents has been ordered so hopefully the damage is contained.
This is what the facility looked like before the accident:
According to Kurt Wulff of the oil investment firm McDep Associates, the Four Horsemen, romping in their new Far East pastures, saw asset increases from 1988-1994 as follows: Exxon Mobil- 54%, Chevron Texaco- 74%, Royal Dutch/Shell- 52% and BP Amoco- 54%. Big Oil had more than doubled its collective assets in six short years.
This quantum leap in global power had everything to do withthe takeover of the old Soviet oil patch and the subsequent impoverishment of its birthright owners.
While the Four Horsemen gorged on Russian and Central Asian oil, Wall Street investment bankers were facilitating the oil grab and ripping off the Russian Treasury.
Salomon Smith Barney’s Phibro Energy oil trading subsidiary set up shop in Moscow. Goldman Sachs was hired by Yeltsin to lure foreign capital to Russia. Heading the Russian Goldman Sachs team was Robert Rubin, later Clinton Secretary of Treasury & Citigroup CEO. CS First Boston took a 20% stake in Lukoil, in partnership with BP Amoco.
US embassy cables reveal top executive’s claims that company ‘knows everything’ about key decisions in government ministries
Despite billions of dollars in oil revenue, 70% of people in Nigeria live below the poverty line. Photograph: George Osodi/AP
The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians’ every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.
The company’s top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew “everything that was being done in those ministries”. She boasted that the Nigerian government had “forgotten” about the extent of Shell’s infiltration and was unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.
The cache of secret dispatches from Washington’s embassies in Africa also revealed that the Anglo-Dutch oil firm swapped intelligence with the US, in one case providing US diplomats with the names of Nigerian politicians it suspected of supporting militant activity, and requesting information from the US on whether the militants had acquired anti-aircraft missiles.
Watch an ‘Inconvenient Truth (Lie)’ again (What a horrible thought!) or watch the following video from 2:20 and you will see that CO2 lags 800 years behind temperature rises:
And yes, the hockey stick graph is a fake and it is obvious to anybody:
Redd scheme designed to prevent deforestation but critics call it ‘privatisation’ of natural resources
An aerial view of trees at a forest on Sumatra, Indonesia where millions are being spent to fight deforestation. Photograph: Beawiharta/Reuters
Some of the world’s largest oil, mining, car and gas corporations will make hundreds of millions of dollars from a UN-backed forest protection scheme, according to a new report from the Friends of the Earth International.
The group’s new report – launched on the first day of the global climate summit in Cancun, Mexico, where 193 countries hope to thrash out a new agreement – is the first major assessment of the several hundred, large-scale Redd (Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation) pilot schemes. It shows that banks, airlines, charitable foundations, carbon traders, conservation groups, gas companies and palm plantation companies have also scrambled into forestry protection.
While forestry is billed as one issue where significant progress could be made at the talks, over the weekend David Cameron, Chris Huhne, the climate change secretary, and the government’s chief scientists all played down the prospect of a global deal to cut carbon emissions.
“British ministers are going to Mexico this week with an approach that is both realistic and optimistic,” the prime minister wrote in the Observer . “Realistic, because we don’t expect a global deal to be struck in Cancun, but optimistic too, because we are viewing this as a stepping stone to future agreement.”
Huhne, who will attend the second week of the talks, was more blunt: “No one expects a binding deal on climate change in Cancun.” But he said deforestation and longer-term climate finance were areas where progress could be made.
The Redd scheme is central to slowing, or halting, deforestation, which causes huge releases of carbon dioxide. But critics say that the scheme amounts to privatisation of natural resources.
FoE’s report shows, for example that the Anglo-Dutch oil firm Shell has linked with Russian gas giant Gazprom and the Clinton Foundation to invest in the Rimba Rey project, 100,000ha of peat swamp in Indonesia. The project is expecting to prevent 75m tonnes of carbon being emitted over 30 years, which could earn the three groups $750m at a modest carbon price of $10 a tonne.
It also says that an investment of little more than $10m by the bank Merrill Lynch, the conservation group Flora and Fauna International and an Australian carbon trading company could generate more than $430m, over 30 years, from a project to protect 750,000ha of forest in Aceh province, Indonesia.
Royal Dutch Shell has been ordered to pay $48m (£29.4m) in civil and criminal fines over its contractor’s involvement in bribing Nigerian customs officials.
Shell and five other companies must pay $236m in criminal and civil penalties. Photo: GETTY IMAGES
The US Department of Justice hit the London-listed oil super-major with the penalty, after Panalpina, which was employed by Shell, agreed to plead guilty to taking bribes on behalf of its clients.
Panalpina, a major Swiss freight and logistics company, must pay $82m in fines after admitting to paying bribes to customs officials in at least seven countries including Nigeria, Brazil and Russia between 2002 and 2007.
Four of Panalpina’s other clients in addition to Shell were also fined, including Transocean, Tidewater, Pride International and Noble Corp.
“These companies resorted to lucrative arrangements behind the scenes to obtain phony paperwork and special favours, and they landed themselves squarely in investigators’ crosshairs,” said Robert Khuzami, the director of enforcement at the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
In total, the six companies must pay $236m in criminal and civil penalties.
The Deepwater Horizon disaster caused headlines around the world, yet the people who live in the Niger delta have had to live with environmental catastrophes for decades
A ruptured pipeline burns in a Lagos suburb after an explosion in 2008 which killed at least 100 people. (Reuters)
We reached the edge of the oil spill near the Nigerian village of Otuegwe after a long hike through cassava plantations. Ahead of us lay swamp. We waded into the warm tropical water and began swimming, cameras and notebooks held above our heads. We could smell the oil long before we saw it – the stench of garage forecourts and rotting vegetation hanging thickly in the air.
The farther we travelled, the more nauseous it became. Soon we were swimming in pools of light Nigerian crude, the best-quality oil in the world. One of the many hundreds of 40-year-old pipelines that crisscross the Niger delta had corroded and spewed oil for several months.
Forest and farmland were now covered in a sheen of greasy oil. Drinking wells were polluted and people were distraught. No one knew how much oil had leaked. “We lost our nets, huts and fishing pots,” said Chief Promise, village leader of Otuegwe and our guide. “This is where we fished and farmed. We have lost our forest. We told Shell of the spill within days, but they did nothing for six months.”
That was the Niger delta a few years ago, where, according to Nigerian academics, writers and environment groups, oil companies have acted with such impunity and recklessness that much of the region has been devastated by leaks.
In fact, more oil is spilled from the delta’s network of terminals, pipes, pumping stations and oil platforms every year than has been lost in the Gulf of Mexico, the site of a major ecological catastrophe caused by oil that has poured from a leak triggered by the explosion that wrecked BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig last month.
Climategate exposed the greatest scandal in the history of modern science but you’re never going to hear this from any of the official investigations. Andrew Orlowski at The Register has uncovered why.
Turns out, that there’s this well-funded SPECTRE-like advocacy group called GLOBE (Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment) International which has co-opted leading parliamentarians from the main parties in both the Commons and the Lords into advancing the AGW agenda.
One of those is Lord Oxburgh, recently appointed – on the Royal Society’s recommendation – to lead one of the two official enquiries into Climategate. Mysteriously, Lord Oxburgh has failed to mention GLOBE in his register of interests.
GLOBE may be too obscure to merit its own Wikipedia entry, but that belies its wealth and influence. It funds meetings for parliamentarians worldwide with an interest in climate change, and prior to the Copenhagen Summit GLOBE issued guidelines (pdf) for legislators. Little expense is spared: in one year alone, one peer – Lord Michael Jay of Ewelme – enjoyed seven club class flights and hotel accommodation, at GLOBE’s expense. There’s no greater love a Parliamentarian can give to the global warming cause. And in return, Globe lists Oxburgh as one of 23 key legislators.
One insider has described Oxburgh’s appointment to lead this supposedly neutral investigation into Climategate as “like putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank.” Here are just a few more of this scrupulously unbiased fellow’s interests, revealed by Orlowski:
In the House of Lords Register of Lords’ Interests, Oxburgh lists under remunerated directorships his chairmanship of Falck Renewables, and chairmanship of Blue NG, a renewable power company. (Oxburgh holds no shares in Falck Renewables, and serves as a non-exec chairman.) He also declares that he is an advisor to Climate Change Capital, to the Low Carbon Initiative, Evo-Electric, Fujitsu, and an environmental advisor to Deutsche Bank. For a year he was non-exec chairman of Shell.
GLOBE seems especially drawn to the kind of MP who likes sailing close to the wind. Its president is none other than Stephen Byers, recently exposed in the “cash for influence” scandal as offering his services as a lobbyist like a “cab for hire” for a small consideration of just £5,000 a day. And its leading lights have also included Elliott Morley, one of the MPs more heavily implicated in the Telegraph’s parliamentary expenses scandal.
Investments in Royal Dutch Shell’s Netherlands pension fund have dropped 40 per cent since the start of the year and the scheme has fallen far short of the regulatory minimum requirement, the company has told employees.
It said in a letter that contributions from some employees and the employer would have to rise. It could need increased investment of billions of pounds to comply with Dutch regulations, which demand that schemes in deficit are brought back to asset levels of 105 per cent of liabilities within three years.
HONOLULU, Hawaii (CNN) — Bobby Maxwell kept a close eye on the oil industry for more than 20 years as a government auditor. But he said the federal agency he worked for is now a “cult of corruption” — a claim backed up by a recent government report.
Bobby Maxwell, a long-time auditor of the oil industry, says his former agency is corrupt “top to bottom.”
“I believe the management we were under was showing favoritism to the oil industry,” Maxwell told CNN.
Maxwell is referring to a tiny agency within the Department of the Interior called the Minerals Management Service, which manages the nation’s natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on federal lands.
A report, conducted by the Interior Department’s inspector general and released earlier this month, found that employees at the agency received improper gifts from energy industry officials and engaged with them in illegal drug use and inappropriate sexual relations. It looked at activities at the agency from 2003 through 2006.
“It sounds like they forgot they work for the government,” he said. “It’s disgusting. … There’s no excuse for that. Those people should not be working in those positions at all.
“They crossed a lot of lines that should never have been crossed,” he said. “They lost all objectivity.”
Maxwell was in charge of keeping track of the millions in royalty payments owed taxpayers by oil and gas companies who explored and found oil on U.S. government lands.
He estimates he and his team were responsible for saving the government close to $500 million in royalties, either underpaid or somehow skipped by oil and gas companies, over the years.
He received the Interior Department’s highest award in 2003 for his work. But not long afterward, his job was killed.
He believes it was retribution for his cracking down on Big Oil and blowing the whistle on what he believes was a “cult of corruption” within the agency. The Interior Department denies that, saying his job was reorganized as part of routine restructuring.
Just before he lost his job, he said, one of his superiors in Washington ordered him not to investigate why Shell Oil had raised its oil transportation costs. Maxwell said it jumped from 90 cents to $3 a barrel without adequate explanation. The government paid Shell to transport oil from offshore platforms.
When asked why a government worker would tell an auditor not to investigate, he said: “I believe it started from the top down,” he said.
PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria (Reuters) – Nigerian militants threatened on Wednesday to broaden their “oil war” to offshore oilfields and announced attacks on a crude oil pipeline in the Niger Delta and another Shell-operated facility.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), responsible for attacks that have cut a fifth of OPEC member Nigeria’s oil output, said it would launch attacks outside Rivers state for the first time since clashes began on Saturday.
Government officials in charge of collecting billions of dollars worth of royalties from oil and gas companies accepted gifts, steered contracts to favored clients and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of the energy firms, federal investigators reported yesterday.
Investigators from the Interior Department’s inspector general’s office said more than a dozen employees, including the former director of the oil royalty program, took meals, ski trips, sports tickets and golf outings from industry representatives. The report alleges that the former director, Gregory W. Smith, also netted more than $30,000 from improper outside work.
Aug. 31 (Bloomberg) — Hurricane Gustav threatens to hurt U.S. oil and natural-gas production and refining more severely than hurricanes Katrina and Rita did three years ago.
Gustav, downgraded to a Category 3 storm by the National Hurricane Center in Miami this morning, may strengthen to Category 4 later today and will make landfall as a “major” hurricane. The storm shut three-quarters of oil output in the region and refineries operated by Valero Energy Corp., the largest U.S. refiner, ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. There will be a special trading session today at the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“This storm will prove to be a worst-case scenario for the production region,” Jim Rouiller, senior energy meteorologist for Planalytics.com, said yesterday in an e-mailed message. “This storm will be more dangerous than Katrina.”
Speculators blamed for driving up price of basic foods as 100 million face severe hunger
Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry.
The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world’s poor – who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food – into hunger and destitution.
The World Bank says that 100 million more people are facing severe hunger. Yet some of the world’s richest food companies are making record profits. Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (£275m) to $1.12bn. Its profits increased from $1.44bn to $2.22bn.
Cargill’s net earnings soared by 86 per cent from $553m to $1.030bn over the same three months. And Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world’s largest agricultural processors of soy, corn and wheat, increased its net earnings by 42 per cent in the first three months of this year from $363m to $517m. The operating profit of its grains merchandising and handling operations jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m.
Similarly, the Mosaic Company, one of the world’s largest fertiliser companies, saw its income for the three months ending 29 February rise more than 12-fold, from $42.2m to $520.8m, on the back of a shortage of fertiliser. The prices of some kinds of fertiliser have more than tripled over the past year as demand has outstripped supply. As a result, plans to increase harvests in developing countries have been hit hard.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that 37 developing countries are in urgent need of food. And food riots are breaking out across the globe from Bangladesh to Burkina Faso, from China to Cameroon, and from Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates.
NEW YORK (AP) — Crude oil prices rose to within a penny of $114 a barrel Tuesday, setting a new record as concerns mounted about global supplies. U.S. retail gasoline and diesel prices also struck new highs.Traders honed in on a report by the International Energy Agency that said Russian oil production dropped this year for the first time in a decade. The report raised concerns about whether the key oil-producing nation will have enough supply to help feed growing global demand.
“In an emotionally driven market like we’ve got now, it just doesn’t take much in the way of a headline to prompt a psychological response,” said Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch & Associates in Galena, Ill.
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