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House democrats fight against oil giants

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During a Congressional hearing that took place on Thursday, there was a heated discussion regarding the growing climate change. The Democrats urged major oil companies to take a stand against climate change by reducing their funds towards groups that are unsupportive of the climate change concerns. The top executives of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP America joined the hearing virtually where they testified against the companies spreading misinformation regarding fossil fuel usage among the general public. They also denied that their products were driving climate change and said that they acted in good faith to cut emissions and were merely following the science at the time.

However the US representatives compared the denial of the oil companies to the Big Tobacco as they brought the CEOs of ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP America before cameras for the companies’ role for decades in climate disinformation. 

Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif, who helped to organise the hearing, said that he hoped the energy companies wouldn’t “follow the same playbook” as cigarette companies, as they had concealed information about their products’ harmful effects from the public.

Testifying at the hearing, ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods mentioned that the company “has long acknowledged the reality and risks of climate change, and it has devoted significant resources to addressing those risks.″ 

To combat the harsh criticism that comes up with the discussion on climate change, energy companies have put up a front of supporting the use of renewable sources of energy by investing in clean energy sources and adhering to government rules regarding carbon emissions and methane by regulating the price. But the Democrats acknowledged these efforts as nothing but “green washing” to portray a seemingly good image while driving the companies to the forefront of climate change. In order to drive home the point Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., testified virtually as she held up two jars of M&Ms — one which was nearly full, which illustrated the nearly $17 billion Shell would be spending this year on oil, gas and chemicals, and the other jar which was nearly empty, which depicted the less than $3 billion the company will spend on renewable energy like wind and solar.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Oil & Gas

OPINION: US Offers to ‘Control’ Libyan Oil – Is this Assistance or Opportunism?

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Javier Blas, via Wikimedia Commons

Recently, the United States Ambassador to Libya has announced a proposal from the US to help control Libyan oil revenue. Libya, a Northern African country, has the ninth-largest oil reserve in the world and ranks 30th overall for most oil produced in a year.

This proposal comes after rival factions in the country, which is currently in political turmoil as two prime ministers grapple for power, have been arguing over the distribution of funds and control over the oil production. The proposals are planned to be kept in place until the conflict subsides.

The main concern was that the oil revenue may be used by the factions for political purposes instead of providing to Libyans with subsidized goods, medicine and salaries. Especially now with the sanctions on Russian oil exports, keeping the production of oil in Libya at its regular rate of 1.3 million barrels is integral to global markets and keeping prices under control. 

It has not yet been made clear how exactly the proposals will aim to function, but the United States claims that they would ensure that warring factions do not impact the production of oil. 

Leaders in Libya, however, have responded with disagreement to the proposal raised, saying that the US was meddling with their affairs. 

The Oil Minister for Libya, Mohammed Aoun voiced his rejection for the proposals of the United States’ intervention by saying, “The foreign proposals are unacceptable interventions that violate the dignity and sovereignty of Libya.”

But this is not the first time the United States has interfered with oil-related matters in other countries. 

For a while, oil in Iran became a nationalized source, meaning that control was transferred to the state. But following the placement of Mohammed Reza Pahlavi as the Shah of Iran, the US began to work with oil majors in the country. By 1954, Pahlavi signed an agreement to have most of Iran’s oil production be overseen by US-based oil companies. This was with the hope that production in oil could be raised for the country, so as to increase exports and decrease the price of oil worldwide.

Since US oil majors and, in some cases, independent producers in the United States had taken hold of the oil production in Iran, that meant that there was less revenue for the Iranians themselves. 

Similar to Iran, Iraq had a history of a nationalized oil industry that was run entirely by the state. But following the war on Iraq, most of the oil in the country is now privatized and belongs to foreign-owned investment and production companies. In fact, in the years following 2003, many notable figures who were a part of the war admitted that oil, of course, had something to do with the invasion. Mainly, increasing production and exports of oil in Iraq would benefit the global economy.

After removing Saddam Hussein from power, the White House focused on proposing that the new Iraqi government pass legislation related to oil that would allow for a more privatized system. Through this, independent firms gained the ability to sign on to contracts which would allow them to largely control the production of oil in the country.

The contracts got rid of any such requirement that would force Iraqi oil to stay in the country, force companies to invest the revenue into Iraqi communities or hire local workers. As a result, the oil and gas sector in Iraq accounts for less than 2% of the company’s employment, losing a lot of revenue and goods in the process.

Essentially, like Iranians, Iraqi people lost many of the benefits the country was set to gain through their oil reserves, instead giving it up to oil firms and international investors through US policy. 

The fear for Libya is the same, that through the not-yet-confirmed proposals, international investors and firms would gain more control over production and exports, leaving Libyans without any goods from their national exports.

Although the United States of America perceives itself to be a country that mediates oil-related situations in other nations for the welfare of the world, more often than not, it has stranded oil-rich countries in turmoil in a haste to be responsible for more of the global oil market. 

As a result, many locals lose the benefit of their national resources, having to give them up for a nation that claims to want the best — but only ever helps itself.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Daniyah Yaqoob
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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

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Oil & Gas

Climate activists block oil depot for fourth day in a row – but to what end?

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Demonstrators of climate change block Esso West London oil terminal located near Heathrow Airport. The activists have been blocking the oil terminals around the country for the past three days straight and so far there have been more than 200 arrests.

Extinction Rebellion is the main activist group behind these protests and they are preventing the oil trucks from making deliveries. On the fourth day, around 30 people blockaded the oil terminal with bamboo structures to urge the government to ‘stop all new fossil fuel investments immediately’. These protests started on Friday and have targeted various oil terminals throughout the country.

“We’re here to say that climate action cannot wait. Right now, governments are choosing to exploit the crisis in Ukraine to hand out oil licenses and continue the fossil fuel economy that’s destroying us,” says Andre Smith, a protestor.

Another statement by the group said “Extinction Rebellion is calling on everyone watching the current protests to join them at Hyde Park on (Sunday) at 10 am to finally bring an end to fossil fuels. We will return to the streets day after day until our immediate demand – for the UK government to immediately end all new fossil fuel investments – is met.”

Along with Extinction Rebellion, another climate activist campaign group has also joined the fight since Friday, by the name Just Stop Oil which was founded by the same group. These rallies will keep ongoing according to them until the government agrees to a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects.

On Friday the activists blocked 10 refineries around the country, on Saturday they blocked seven terminals, and now on Sunday, they have blocked at least five refineries. There are planned protests that will continue on Monday as well.

Along with their banners, the protestors have dug tunnels leading to the Inter Terminals and Navigator oil terminals in Essex. This stopped the trucker from entering and exiting the site during the weekend; however, on Monday the police finally escorted the truckers. Some local newspapers have claimed that this has caused fuel from running out in petrol stations, however, it has not been confirmed yet.

“None of our stations ran out of fuel at the weekend, we just had to divert some from terminals further north,” said a source at a top-five fuel retailer.

However, they also added, “That’s not to say (the protests) will not have an impact if they go on.”

Needless to say, these protests can negatively affect the already fuel shortage that the country is going through if they continue. Climate change is a huge issue and there should be more action to help the environment, however, these protests and inflation in oil prices will affect the poorest people while leaving the upper class unaffected.

Moreover, an article by The Atlantic states how the effect of these movements is often insignificant as after the protests “government responses usually amount to little more than rhetorical appeasement, and certainly no major political reforms.”

And another article by The New York Times also makes an important point, “before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.”

Basically, there are no long-term effects of protests as they are not planned to make a long-term impact.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Oil & Gas

US and EU Partner to Reduce European Dependence on Russian Fossil Fuel

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During a joint news conference in Brussels on Friday, the US President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the US and EU have made a deal to increase supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US to the EU. This is to reduce the reliance of Europe on Russian Energy.

President Biden arrived in Europe this week to take part in several meetings. He said in his statement “Putin has used Russia’s energy resources … to manipulate its neighbours, he’s used the profits to drive his war machine … Today, we’ve agreed on a joint game plan toward that goal, while accelerating our progress toward a secure clean energy future,”.

Explaining the purpose of the deal he said. “This initiative focuses on two core issues. One, helping Europe reduces dependency on Russian gas as quickly as possible Secondly, reducing Europe’s demand for gas overall.”

Biden said the US, working with its partners will ensure 15 billion cubic metres additional to the current supply of LNG to the EU in 2022.

Acknowledging the logistical challenges with supply, Baiden said “It’s going to take some time to adjust gas supply change in structure, as built for the last decade. So we’re going to have to make sure that families in Europe can get through this winter and the next, while we’re building an infrastructure for a diversified, resilient, and clean energy future. At the same time, this crisis also presents an opportunity.”.

According to a White House statement, the deal is to “ensure energy security for Ukraine and the EU in preparation for next winter and the following one while supporting the EU’s goal to end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels”.

White House said that as per deal, the European Commission will ensure the demand of at least 50 billion cubic metres of US LNG per year from the member states.

Von der Leyen said at the news conference “In a world faced with disorder, our transatlantic unity upholds fundamental values and rules that our citizens believe in,”.

“We want as Europeans to diversify away from Russia towards suppliers that we trust, that are friends and that are reliable,” she added. “Therefore the US commitment to provide the European Union with additional at least 15 billion cubic metres of LNG this year is a big step in this direction because this will replace the LNG supply we currently receive from Russia.”

Emily McClain, gas markets analyst at Rystad said, “The US is in a unique position because it has flexible LNG that can be rerouted to Europe or to Asia, depending on who’s willing to pay that price,”.

Issue is that the continent’s import terminals, located in its coastal areas, have fewer pipeline connections. Therefore, it will be difficult to receive the more gas shipped from the US. So much so that even if all Europe’s facilities were operating at capacity, only about two-thirds of what Russia delivers through pipelines can be delivered.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Oil & Gas

India Makes Bid To Buy Russian Oil

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Bernard Gagnon, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

India prepared to purchase Russian oil at heavy discount when other nations stepped down because of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Amidst the Russian-Ukrainian war, the west has imposed multiple sanctions on Russia. Russian Oil and other commodities have been banned by the US in protest to its unjustified invasion of Ukraine. This has led to a swift increase in oil and gas prices all over the world.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Russia ranked third in oil production. Russian ministers have already threatened the world of the skyrocketing prices of oil.

However, during the crisis, in order to strengthen its partnership with Russia, India has agreed to buy Russian oil and other commodities at a discounted price. Indian officials have said that, “Delhi wants to keep its key trading partner on board despite Western attempts to isolate Moscow through sanctions.”

India has been importing around 80% of its oil, however, only bought 2-3 percent from Russia. Now as the oil prices have skyrocketed, India has turned to its largest arms supplier for cheaper imports. Indian officials have said, “Russia is offering oil and other commodities at a heavy discount. We will be happy to take that.” Apart from oil, India has also looked for cheaper fertilizers to buy from Russia and its ally, Belarus.

Indian Petroleum Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri said that the Indian government was in talks “at the appropriate level of the Russian Federation” with regards to its crude oil. India is considering the purchase of 3.5 million barrels of crude oil from Russia.

India is the largest importer of Russian arms and weapons. According to a report called ‘Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2020’ by Stockholm International Peace Research Institution, “India remained the main recipient of Russian arms in 2016-20, accounting for 23 percent of the total.”Indian security officials have explained that they need to be well armed regarding its territorial disputes with China, a country that has been criticized by the west.

India has not intended to irritate the Russian government due to its reliance on Russian weaponry.

India has not denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It has been neutral in the United Nations Security Council voting. This has caused a lot of criticism against the largest democracy in the world.

Further criticism has come by the west on India’s approach for Russian oil. Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, in an interview, when she was asked about USA’s stand on this issue, said, “Abide by the sanctions that we have put in place and recommended. Also think about where you want to stand when history books are written at this moment in time.” She added, “Support for the Russian leadership is support for an invasion that is having a devastating impact.”

The ban on Russian natural resources has caused a huge crisis across the world. The prices of natural resources have been increasing as the economic war between Russia and the West escalates. India being the first to make a deal with Russia to purchase its oil at discounted prices would trigger other neutral nations to approach for Russian commodities. This would lower the prices in Russia’s friendly list of nations while the western allies would have to rely on the war to stop in order for the prices to come down.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Oil & Gas

UK’s Move to Middle Eastern Oil Seems to Ignore Region’s Human Rights Record

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UK Government, OGL 3 , via Wikimedia Commons

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has embarked on a diplomatic tour of the Middle East in a bid to shore up the UK’s oil supply and protect it from any economic shocks coming out of the war in Ukraine. On Johnson’s itinerary are planned visits to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, both being oil-producing countries with the latter having an extreme level of influence on the world stage simply by its state-controlled oil business. What puts Johnson between a rock and a hard place is that the Middle East is infamous for its pathetic record on human rights, and so British MPs and activists alike are mounting pressure on Johnson to make human rights a key pillar of any discussions.

Only on Saturday did Saudi Arabia execute 81 men sending shockwaves across the Western world in what dwarfed the number of executions from both 2021 and 2020. The UAE has its fair share of criticism with Amnesty International reporting as recent as 2020 that violations such as arbitrary detention, restricting freedom of expression, restricting women’s rights and capital punishment give it a highly questionable human rights record. In contrast, both Saudi Arabia and the UAE claim to promote all aspects of human rights laws and conventions through their government websites.

The decision to tour the Middle East during the worst conflict Europe has seen since WWII comes amid Western sanctions banning imports of Russian oil, sending prices skyrocketing and world leaders awake at night on how to prevent an energy crisis within their borders. Should Johnson be unsuccessful in lobbying for Arab oil he, and other leaders, will likely find it very hard in persuading countries in the oil cartel, OPEC to alleviate the market pressures stemming from the Russian invasion.

From a geopolitical perspective since oil is what the West seeks it gives OPEC leaders a competitive advantage in negotiating their political demands in return for secure and stable access to their oil. Simply speaking, in return for oil, Arab leaders will demand an end to their pariah status on the human rights stage. This trade-off is especially apparent for the US, with whom Arab states have been increasingly displeased especially after the murder of former Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.

If all this sounds very confusing and messy that’s because it is. There might still be a pandemic and there is most definitely a war going on in Europe, but that does nothing to sway world leaders from weaponising the vulnerabilities in front of them to fulfil their vested interests.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Oil Price Relief Comes as Russia and Ukraine are Set to Talk

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  • The prices of oil are set to drop as talks between Ukraine and Russia are being scheduled to discuss cease fire and pulling out Russian troops out of Ukraine.
  • Rebecca Babin, the senior energy trader at CIBC Private Wealth Management commented that the markets are “much more sensitive to sentiment than actual supply and demand calculation.”
  • Shenzhen, China went into complete lock down to stop the spread of Covid-19. China is one of the largest driving forces behind importing oil. With 17.5 million people locked down in homes the demand and risk of oil has lowered resulting in markets dropping the value of oil to below $100 a barrel. 
  • Previously, due to the major conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the imposed sanctions on Russia had resulted in oil prices skyrocketing to inflation levels. The scheduled talks between the two countries bring some hope and relief to the world.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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