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April 18, 2015 / 29 Nisan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘oil’

PA Arabs Call On Abbas To Kill Israeli Gas Deal, Saying It Will Cement A Future Without Statehood

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

Originally posted on Jewish Business News.

Palestinian Authority Arab civil society leaders and politicians are calling on Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to pull its backing from a $1.2 billion deal providing Israeli gas to the PA for the next 20 years, Middle East Eye reports.

Opposition to the deal comes a month after Jordanian officials have suspended talks over a $15 billion gas deal with U.S.-based Noble Energy and Israel’s Delek Group, which are partners in Israel’s largest offshore gas field, Leviathan.

The PA deal was signed last month by the same two companies, with the privately-owned Palestine Power Generation Company (PPGC).

The gas will fuel a $300 million electric power plant PPGC says it is developing in Jenin, which will be the first Palestinian Authority power plant in the Judea and Samaria.

But on Tuesday, PA politicians and activists at a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions press conference in Ramallah, said the deal is lacking in consideration for alternative providers—e.g. not the Jews.

The group also warned about the absence of clear Palestinian Authority laws on natural resource and energy governance—which means they expect their leaders to steal most of the money, like they usually do.

“I think there is corruption because there is no law that would monitor and regulate this sector,” said Azmi Shuaibi, commissioner of Aman, a PA anti-corruption watchdog. “This sector is hugely corrupt.”

They also questioned the need to lock down a 20-year deal, when gas deals in the past were kept to two years, and why Israel is a better trading partner than, say, Qatar or Venezuela.

“This deal will put burdens on the Palestinian people for a long period,” said Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Authority Legislative Council. “The people are not partners in this agreement.”

Jarrar argued that the gas deal is not a path to peace, but a premature normalization of relations between Israel and PA Arabs, cementing the abandoning of any future final status agreement.

Dr Mamdouh Akar, Commissioner General for Human Rights in the Palestinian Authority Territories who also spoke on Tuesday, recommended that, in addition to boycotting Israeli gas, PA Arabs should keep the gas they have underground until the laws governing natural resources are clear.

“We have to keep our gas for the next generation,” Akar said.

Saudi King Hands Out $32.2 BILLION in Bonuses to Government Workers

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Saudi Arabia’s new King Salam has handed out $32.2 billion in gifts to government employees despite the drastic dip in the price of oil the past six months.

Saudi kings have a tradition of marking their arrival to the throne by dipping into the kingdom’s vault and handing out a few shekels.

“The bonuses are the usual practice when there’s a succession,” Steffen Hertog, associate professor at the London School of Economics, told the Financial Times.

Saudi Arabia’s reserves stand at approximately $730 billion, give or take a penny, King Salam’s gifts reduce the reserves to a paltry $698 billion, which perhaps explains why there is not enough money to subsidize driving lessons for women.

 

More Western Defense Workers Targeted in Saudi Arabia

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Two American defense contractors were targeted by gunfire last Friday in Saudi Arabia, according to their employer, Vinnell Arabia, a firm which provides training for the Saudi National Guard.

It’s the second time in recent months the contractor’s workers have been targeted, according to the AFP news agency.

Saudi Arabia is in transition at the present time, with a new monarch, King Salman, having taken over for his late half-brother, King Abdullah, who died a week ago. Salman is also not likely to rule for very long, inasmuch as he is already ill himself; he has already named his youngest half-brother Muqrin as Crown Prince to follow him, as advised by the late monarch.

Abdullah had been seriously ill for months prior to his death, and the kingdom was facing some instability as its iron fisted ruler grew weaker.

“We can confirm… they were shot by assailants in the al-Ahsa province of Saudi Arabia,” the company said Monday in a statement via its public relations firm. “Both employees were injured but are in stable condition at a local hospital.”

Saudi police reportedly claimed that only one employee was wounded in the shooting, which took place just wast of a National Guard base near Hofuf city, in the east, near Saudi Arabia’s oil fields.

Several rounds were fired at the Vinnell vehicle from a white car, a source close to the incident told AFP. The employee driving the vehicle was hit several times. His passenger took over driving and raced to the hospital.

An American defense subcontractor for the Israel-based Elbit Systems firm died under mysterious circumstances in the kingdom on January 15 of this year as well. Saudi authorities are still trying to untangle the cause of death in that case, and have not yet released the body to the family of the victim.

Not counting that death in January, this is the fourth attack on Westerners in the kingdom since October 2014, when the U.S. began its coalition air strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

One Vinnell employee was shot dead and a second was wounded at a gas station in Riyadh in October, allegedly by a U.S.-born Saudi who was fired from the company.

Interior Ministry spokesperson Gen. Mansour al-Turki said, “It was not a terrorist-related incident,” although the Saudi National Guard is intended to, among other things, combat “terrorism.”

A Danish citizen was attacked in a drive-by shooting in November as he was driving away from his workplace. Last month three Saudis were arrested by their own government in connection with that attack, allegedly for acting “in support of” ISIS.

One week after that attack, a Canadian citizen was stabbed at a mall on the Saudi Gulf coast, which the interior ministry again said was “not terrorist related.”

But the government did not hesitate to blame ISIS for the November killing of seven Shi’ite Saudis in the eastern province of the country.

Nearly 1,000 U.S. soldiers are soon to be sent to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar as consultants to train “moderate” Syrian rebel forces in the effort to fight ISIS. It is still not clear how many troops which go to each country.

Economic Bomb of Plunge in Oil Prices Crippling Hezbollah and ISIS

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

The plunging price of oil may do the long-term work for Israel and cripple Hezbollah, the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist groups that owe their existence to income from oil.

The price of black gold has plunged by 50 percent in less than half a year, and all signs point to it remaining less than $50 a barrel, and possibly even dropping below $45.

Western sanctions have not harmed Iran enough for it to halt its development towards procuring a nuclear weapon, but a continuing slump on the oil market is more effective and non-negotiable.

Militarily, Israel on several occasions has bombed advanced weapons destined for Hezbollah, and on Sunday the IDF wiped out Iranian and Hezbollah commanders who were planning attacks on Israel.

However, Hezbollah still has approximately 150,000 missiles that its leader Hassan Nasrallah could launch a catastrophe in Israel.

The dizzying drop in the price of oil endangers the capabilities of Hezbollah and the very existence of the Islamic State.

Hezbollah has cut the salaries of some of its members, and one of its commanders told Newsweek, “There are many members…who are now paid their wages much later. Some are getting less money than before.”

Hezbollah uses oil revenues to finance its massive support system that has made it the de facto government in southern Lebanon, a system copied by Hamas in Gaza and in some parts of Judea and Samaria.

One widow in a Beirut suburb told Newsweek, “Our family only gets half of the medical care and medicine that we need. This used to come every month without any problems, but today we are suffering.”

On the political front, Hezbollah no longer can buy off allies the way it once did when oil was selling at $110 a barrel.  At least two politicians said they now receive only half of the former $40,000 a month from Hezbollah.

“Salvaging the regime in Syria and fighting ISIS in Iraq have forced Iran to divert more resources away from Hezbollah at a time when the resource base in Iran is shrinking,” Hezbollah expert Randa Slim, a director at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, told The Christian Science Monitor.

One of the guiding hands behind the drop in the price of oil is none other than Saudi Arabia, which is no less afraid than Israel of Iranian and Islamic State ambitions.

The Saudis are the leading influence in OPEC and has not cut its production of oil to encourage a rise in prices.

Another victim of the dropping oil revenues is Russia, which has poured hundreds of millions of dollars to prop up the Assad regime in Syria, which is still less than Iran’s $1 billion to $2 billion monthly payments for military aid to Assad’s forces and salaries for Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria.

“Absent Iranian largesse, Assad would not be financially solvent today,” Karim Sadjadpour, a senior associate of the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Monitor.

Although Hezbollah  is far from bankrupt thanks to its huge investments and makes millions of dollars from drug smuggling and other illicit trade, the drop in oil revenues has increased pressure on senior officials to stuff more money in their own pockets.

The Monitor quoted one Lebanese politician as saying, “The whole thing is falling apart. It’s corruption on a cataclysmic scale.”

Swiss Panel Rules Israel Owes Iran up to $100 Million in Compensation

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

A Swiss panel of arbitrators has ruled that Israel should compensate the Iranian regime between $50 and 100 million for oil the remained in a pipeline in the Arava that both countries built in a joint project before the Islamic revolution in 1979.

The Marker newspaper reported that the decision, which is preliminary and subject to further hearings, was handed down a year ago but never was published. More claims are expected both from Israel and Iran before a final ruling is declared.

Iran, under the Shah, and Israel had close trade relations before the revolution, when the new regime stopped shipping Iranian oil that had been shipped Eilat and pumped through the Iran Eilat-Ashkelon Pipeline. Once in Ashkelon, the oil was loaded on to ships headed for Europe.

Israel took possession of 800,000 tons of oil that remained in the pipeline after Iran cut off relations with Israel following the revolution in 1979.

Iran sued for compensation 20 years ago for half of the value of the oil, whose current value is approximately $400 million, more than three times the value in 1979.

The Swiss panel stepped into the picture as an alternative to the agreement’s provision that Iran and Israel each appoint one judge to arbitrate in Tehran any disputes.

Obviously, the only way Iran would agree to an Israel arriving in Tehran for arbitration would be on condition that he do so on with pre-determined burial arrangements.

Israel has claimed that it does not own Iran a shekel, or in this case a rial. It argues that disputes must be settled by direct negotiations since the terms of arbitration are not clear.

Israel’s paying Iran millions of dollars would be the embarrassment of the century. Tehran would most likely headline that Israel is helping the Islamic Republic fund its nuclear development program.

If and when it obtains nuclear war, it will be said that Israel and Iran still are cooperating.

 

Huge Oil Spill near Eilat an Ecological Disaster

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014

Thousands of gallons of oil spilled in nature reserves in ecological-sensitive Arava region near Eilat Wednesday night, causing a major ecological disaster.

Highway 90 north of Eilat has been closed to traffic, which has been re-routed to Route 10, to the west. A tractor hit the three-foot diameter Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline at the pumping station during routine maintenance work.

Oil spilled for more than an hour until the flows stopped and flowed for miles in a dry river bed and on the highway. The flow was stopped near the Jordanian border.

The spill will severely damage the existence of animal life and vegetation, and the absorption of the oil in the ground will cause irreversible damage to the Arava.

No Oil Drilling on Golan Heights, At Least For Now

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Afek Oil and Gas has been blocked from drilling for oil on the Golan Heights, at least for now.

The firm received a temporary injunction Tuesday at the High Court of Justice in response to a petition by Adam Teva V’Din, the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, and a group of local residents who opposed the drilling.

According to court papers, “the company is prohibited against building any facilities or conducting any ground-altering works within the perimeter of the territory defined in the license.”

The Northern Regional Planning and Building Committee had approved on September 11 a pilot plan for exploratory drilling in the Golan Heights, which was to start on September 28.

The area in question spanned some 396 square kilometers, from Katzrin in the north, extending southwards to allow the company to sink up to 10 exploratory wells, each taking up about 1.7 acres, or seven dunam. Company officials had no idea whether they would find oil in any of the exploratory sites, or not.

At this point it is not clear whether there will be a further appeal by the company.

Earlier this month, a committee voted in Jerusalem to block a pilot project in south-central Israel to check it out. An exploration that began in 2011 estimated that approximately 40 billion barrels of oil are sitting below the surface of the Ela Valley at a depth of approximately 200 to 400 meters.

After having started an initial exploration several years ago — one that was frozen in 2011 — the Jerusalem-based Israel Energy Initiatives firm wanted to move to a pilot project to determine its viability. The plan involved extracting a total of 500 barrels of oil — about two barrels per day — to see if the site was commercially viable.

The process that would be used involves a new technology never before used anywhere else in the world. It’s not “fracking,” which involves drilling for liquid oil. This involves converting the very rock itself into oil – a form of hydrocarbons — known as “oil shale.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/no-more-oil-drills-on-golan-heights-for-now/2014/09/30/

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