Qatar Balks At Saudi Ultimatum That Would Force It To Surrender Sovereignty

Immediately after Saudi Arabia and its Gulf State client shiekdoms released an ultimatum containing 13 demands to which Qatar must agree as a precondition for the resumption of diplomatic ties and an end of the Saudi economic and naval blockade, the tiny kingdom on the Persian Gulf described the ultimatum as neither “reasonable” nor “realistic”, and claimed it would infringe on Qatar’s sovereignty. 

“This list of demands confirms what Qatar has said from the beginning – the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combating terrorism, it is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy” said  Sheikh Saif Al Thani, of Qatar’s official communications office, according to Bloomberg.

The full list contained demands  such as reducing Qatar’s diplomatic representation in Iran, cancelling the Turkish military base being established there (Turkey has already balked at the threat), severing ties with terrorist organizations, shutting down Al Jazeera and all affiliated channels, and so on. The demands are explicitly aimed at dismantling Qatar’s two-decade-old interventionist foreign policy, which has reflected the clout generated by its vast natural gas and oil wealth but incensed conservative Arab peers over its alleged support for extremist groups they regard as threats to their dynastic rule.

Al Thani dismissed the demands and said the list is “under review”, but only “out of respect for our brothers in Kuwait” whose emissary delivered the Saudi demands on Friday (22 June). Al Thani said that the demands do not meet the US and UK criteria for “reasonable and realistic measures.”

Meanwhile Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said it will soon issue an official response, one which we doubt Saudi Arabia will like as the bid/ask in the early stage of the negotiations is being established. 

“The State of Qatar is currently studying this paper, the demands contained therein and the foundations on which they were based, in order to prepare an appropriate response,” the ministry told Channel News Asia.

On Friday, Qatar’s news outlet Al Jazeera responded to Saudi demands that it be shut down as part of the “renormalization” process. “We in the network believe that any call for closing down Al Jazeera is nothing but an attempt to silence the freedom of expression in the region and to suppress people’s right to information,” Al Jazeera said in a statement.

“By accepting those demands and conditions Qatar will be subject to international accountability and violating its commitments regarding human rights conventions,” Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee said in a statement cited by Reuters.

Meanwhile, a senior United Arab Emirates official told Reuters what would happen if Qatar refused to comply with the Arab ultimatum, saying there would be a “parting of ways.”

“The alternative is not escalation, the alternative is parting of ways, because it is very difficult for us to maintain a collective grouping,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash told reporters.

Gargash urged Qatar to meet the demands. “It would be wiser that [Qatar] deal seriously with the demands and concerns of the neighbors or a divorce will take place,” Anwar Gargash said on Twitter in Arabic, adding, that “the crisis is profound.”


UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash

In other words, another attempt at a backdoor deal orchestrated by Saudi Arabia failed because someone leaked something, only this time it didn’t involve Trump being a KGB secret agent.

Gargash said that if Qatar fails to comply within the 10-day timeline set out in the ultimatum, it will be isolated. But he did not make clear what more could be done since the four Arab nations have already cut diplomatic relations with Doha and severed most commercial ties.

Despite verbal assurances that there will be no further escalation, Qatar is preparing for the worst, as two contingents of Turkish troops with columns of armored vehicles have arrived in Doha since the worst crisis among Gulf Arab states for years erupted on June 5.

The uncompromising positions adopted by both sides leave little prospect for a quick end to the crisis. The sanctions have disrupted Qatar’s main import routes by land from Saudi Arabia and by sea from big container ships docked in the United Arab Emirates. But Qatar so far has avoided economic collapse by quickly finding alternative channels (mainly through Iran which made the Saudis even more pissed off) and says its huge financial reserves will meet any challenges.

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Qatar Close To Running Out Of Dollars?

Let’s be honest, the Saudi-led campaign to starve Qatar’s citizens of food and businesses of trade was doomed from the start, while the Saudi’s my feel they can rely on big bully boy best mate the USA to deter anybody thinking of helping Qatar, with both Turkey and Iran volunteering to provide food and other essentials to the tiny Gulf nation while <a href=”http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-12/bypass-food-embargo-qatar-will-pay-8-million-airlift-4000-cows”>local entrepreneurs have started a cow paradropping campaign</a> to beat the blockade on milk imports,&nbsp; the key factor is what will Russia’s President Putin do.

Putin has little time for the Saudis, is fed up of American meddling in the middle east, and is a strong ally of both Iran, the real target of the Saudi move against Qatar, and of Syria’s President Assad. And Putin is well aware of the role the USA and Saudi Arabia have played in sponsoring the iSIS / Al Nusra war in Syria. In fact, right up to the end of his failed presidency Barack Hussein Obama was telling the world America’s priority in Syria was not to defeat the terrorists of ISIS but to remove Assad and open the way for the Saudis to install a Muslim theocracy that would support its own extreme version of Islam.

A new problem has now emerged in Qatar, the world’s biggest source of natural gas: the financial system is running out of dollars. Bloomberg reports that several Qatari banks have boosted interest rates on dollar deposits to shore up liquidity as the Saudi-led campaign to isolate the gas-rich state intensifies.
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Adding to concerns of a monetary blockade, Bloomberg also reports that some banks in neighboring countries have been offloading investments in Qatar amid concerns of a widening of the blockade.

Qatar is the world’s wealthiest nation on a GDP/capita basis and is well able to withstand a prolonged financial siege, and defend its currency and economy. Finance Minister Ali Shareef Al Emadi&nbsp; played down the impact of the crisis on the country, in an interview with CNBC on Sunday (11 June) saying the plunge in Qatari assets last week was a “normal” reaction to the standoff.

Finally, the question nobody dares ask out loud is, “Where does Russian president Vladimir Puting stand on all this. Well aware of the US role in this latest crisis and the real reasons behind it (reported <a href=”https://originalboggartblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/germany-foreign-minister-warns-qatar-crisis-could-lead-to-war-as-qatar-asks-moscow-for-support/&#8221; target=”_blank”>HERE</a> and <a href=”https://originalboggartblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/irans-warships-sail-to-oman-as-the-qatar-crisis-deepens/&#8221; target=”_blank”>HERE</a>) Puting has said the US has “got a false sense that it is able to do everything without any consequences,” in particular after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

“In such a situation, a man or a country begins to make mistakes… Putin said. The state begins to function ineffectively. One mistake follows another. That is the trap in which, as I believe, the United States got caught into,” Putin reflected during a press conference.<strong><em>

“I believe that if you think you are the only world power, trying to impose on the whole nation the idea of their exclusiveness, this creates an imperialistic mentality in society, which in turn requires an adequate foreign policy expected by society. And the country’s leaders are forced to follow this logic. And in practice this might go contrary to the interest of the Americans…. It demonstrates it’s impossible to control everything.”</em></strong>

 

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Which some might interpret as a warning to the USA to stay out of the middle east and mind its own business.

 

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Iran’s warships sail to Oman as the Qatar crisis deepens.

We highlighted the developing crisis around Qatar, the oil and gas state in the Persian Gulf over the past two days. Not only does the latest news from the Gulf suggest the situation is getting more dangerous, there are signs it is threatening to spread.

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On Sunday (11 June), the 47th flotilla of the Iranian Navy, comprised of an Alborz destroyer and Bushehr logistic warship, set sail from the southern port city of Bandar Abbas to take up positions off Oman, in the approaches to the Gulf, Tasnim News reports.. Oman has so far stood aside from the conflict between Wahhabi Muslim Saudi Arabia and the Iranian backed shia Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen and from other conflicts in the Arab world triggered by the so – called Arab Sping resurgence of Islamic extremism. From Oman, the ships will head to the Gulf of Aden and international waters in the northern reaches of the Indian Ocean.

At the same time, the 46th flotilla, is due to return to Iran on Sunday after completing a two-month mission to protect merchant vessels and oil tankers in the Gulf of Aden. The Iranian Navy has been conducting patrols of the region since November 2008 as part of international anti-piracy efforts.

“Today, there is some controlled insecurity in the Gulf of Aden and we have been able to escort over 4,000 oil tankers and cargo ships to the safe regions without any disruption in our plans for oil and non-oil exports and imports,” Admiral Sayyari told Fars News Agency.

The Gulf of Aden, which lies between the Horn of Africa and the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, is a major concern to security agencies in the west and east. The war in Yemen between the Saudi-backed government and Houthi rebels has led to a number of ships in the area coming under attack. Meanwhile, pirates in Somalia have been taking advantage of the chaos to launch raids on merchant vessels passing through the area, one of the busiest shipping routes for oil in the world.

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What’s Really Happening With Saudi Arabia and Qatar Will Not Be Televised

 While mainstream media is in a frenzy over what former FBI chief James Comey will say to a Congressional hearing about Donald Trump’s alleged links with Russia and attempt to shut down an investigation into those links, the UK election, Islamic extremist terrorism, football’s latest multi – million transfer deals, etc., as usual the really big story is hardly being reported. We bring you the story from The Anti Media, published here under creative commons licence.

June 7, 2017 at 11:04 am

Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and the Maldives — spearheaded by Saudi Arabia — have severed almost all of their ties with Qatar. The move comes just days after hacked emails from the Hotmail account of a wealthy, prominent UAE ambassador, Yousef Al-Otaiba, showed that a number of countries were conspiring to denigrate relations with Qatar (and Iran).

The official justification for Saudi Arabia’s rift with Qatar is that the latter country aligns with terrorists and threatens national security. However, both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been alleged to support ISIS, and Saudi Arabia’s history of support for terrorist organizations surpasses that of almost any other state in the world (with the exception of probably the U.S.). In fact, the British Home Office is currently refusing to release a report on terrorist funding — commissioned by former Prime Minister David Cameron — because it focuses too heavily on Saudi Arabia.

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So what could really be behind this deterioration between Qatar and its former allies?

Unsurprisingly, the real issue at play consists of a Pandora’s Box of money, oil, natural gas, and geopolitics.

Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. It is for this reason that many analysts believe Qatar was heavily involved in attempting to overthrow Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Assad had scrapped a potential deal with Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, opting for a natural gas pipeline deal that would involve Iran and Iraq, instead.

In April 2017, Qatar lifted a self-imposed ban on developing the world’s biggest natural gas field, which it shares with Iran, in an attempt to stave off an expected rise in competition, particularly from Russia.

Iran, too, is home to large natural gas reserves, and after a shortage of domestic gas, the Islamic Republic sought to capitalize on the 2015 nuclear accord by ramping up production on their share of the gas reserve. In November 2016, Iran signed a deal with France’s Total to develop this project. Iran is expected to surpass Qatar’s gas production by next year, and Qatar has been left with no choice but to join in the venture, though they deny Iran prompted their response to lift the ban.

“What we are doing today is something completely new and we will in future of course … share information on this with them [Iran],” Qatar Petroleum’s Chief Executive Saad al-Kaabi said, as reported by Haaretz.

Qatar has no current plans to go to war with Iran, unlike the rest of the Arab Gulf states. Not long after Donald Trump sword-danced his way through the Middle East, raving incessantly about the so-called Iranian threat, Qatari state media released a report that appeared to show Qatari ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani give a speech describing his respect for Iran and his support for Hamas. Qatar immediately claimed the report was actually the result of a hack, but the UAE and Saudi Arabia still believe the report to be genuine.

Saudi Arabia’s decision to cut Qatar from its so-called coalition of countries wreaking havoc on Yemen has come with its political repercussions. Iran immediately expressed support for Qatar in this struggle, as have the Houthi militias operating inside Yemen. The Houthis are already stating they are willing to cooperate with Qatar — even though Qatar was fighting against them for approximately two years.

Qatar is not following the playbook. In Libya, Egypt and Qatar are currently fighting a proxy war as they are both backing different rival camps that are vying to assert power in the war-torn nation. Though Qatar clearly shared NATO’s sentiment in ousting Muammar Gaddafi from Libya and attempting to overthrow Assad in Syria, Qatar’s support for organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood are largely seen as political challenges to the Saudi alliance.

Qatar is home to America’s largest base in the Middle East, with over 11,000 servicemen currently deployed there.

“The United States and the Coalition are grateful to the Qataris for their longstanding support of our presence and their enduring commitment to regional security. We have no plans to change our posture in Qatar,” Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. “We encourage all our partners in the region to reduce tensions and work towards common solutions that enable regional security.”

The U.S. cannot afford to intentionally destroy its relationship with Qatar outright, but it can certainly allow its client states in the region to do its bidding for them. As Otaiba’s recently hacked emails show, some very powerful people in Washington support putting pressure on Qatar in order to bring it to its knees and force it to comply with the rest of the region.

Though the U.S. military’s statement appears to be an attempt to mitigate the damage of the fallout, as usual, the one wildcard element that no one can account for when unraveling geopolitical strategies is Donald Trump’s personal Twitter account. Trump has already tweeted his support for the economic blockade on Qatar and even appeared to take credit for the initiative.

But what will the U.S. and the other Gulf states achieve by implementing this policy? So far, all it seems to be doing is pushing Qatar even closer to Iran, and the U.S. may lose yet another vital ally from the anti-Assad alliance, further complicating the battleground as the framework continues to be set for an all-out regional conflict.

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Civilians in Yemen are still in the grip of a major humanitarian crisis as Saudi Arabia’s war on the republic continues. Shocking numbers are affected including 7 million civilians facing severe malnutrition, and 19 million out of the country’s 27 million population “in need of some form of aid.” However, all of this is made worse by the Saudis having imposed a blockade on humanitarian support.

Saudi Arabia Bids For Islamic Globalisation
soon after the suicide bomb at The Manchester Arena, I felt obliged to defriend someone on facebook, whom I have known online for around ten years. So what did this sweet lady, who writes books on medieval witchcraft and calls herself a pagan, do to piss me off? She showed herself to be a hypocrite by posting a whinge about people reacting with anger and ‘hate’ to this latest atrocity; “I’m all about compassion, I will not stand by and see Muslims victimised because of this.” Oh yeah? And what about the dead and injured victimised by a Muslim extremist?

Electrosensitivity – the Wi – Fi disease.
So you thought people who wear tinfoil hats are crazy conspiracy theorists? Not so fast there, some of them might actually be onto something.While these people are not tinfoil hat wearers either literally or in a metaphorical sense, the measures they take to avoid exposure to electromagnetic radiation (radio – activity) can seem rather paranoid until you know more about them.

The Source Of Islamic Radicalism Is biggest US Ally In The Middle East
From the fall of The Ottoman Empire after World War 1, throughout the rest of the 20th century into 21st, the evolution of Islamic culture has not been rational. Rather than moving forwards with Europe and North America, the main Islamic nations seem to have slid backwards toward medievalism. If we accept that social selection (or social conditioning) plays the same role in the evolution of societies as natural selection plays in the biological sciences:

Over 4000 Civilians Have Died In Forgotten War.
As attention has focused on Syria ans then on the efforts of the Obama administration, in its dying months, to avenge the defeat of the anointed successor Hillary Clinton and discredit the election victor and President – elect Donald Trump, and simultaneously demonize Russia and President Putin

Black Belgians Refute ‘Poverty, Discrimination’ As Causes Of Arab Terror – It’s A Cultural Thing
“You know, we hear a lot about how the Arabs are a fragile community that suffers, but we, ‘les blackies,’ are discriminated against, too, and we hurt nobody”, Nico Atoba, an African Christian living in Brussels told the National Post for a feature the Canadian newspaper was assembling.

USA Extends Drone war To Africa
So why we wonder is the USA taking its drone war against the third world into deepest, sub Sahran Africa? There cannot be any reason for it, the cited aim of neutralising Boko Haram is not valid because boko Haram are not a standing army but a guerilla force that strikes and then melts away into the civilian population.

Turkey and Sadui Arabia Already Have Troops Fighting In Syria
Even mainstream media has been forced to concede that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are apparently ready to send ground forces to the Syrian battlefield as Assad’s forces, backed by Russian air power and Iranian elite troops but continue to grind down ISIS forces equipped with US made arms and ammunition via Saudi Arabia and funded by Turkey’s illegal oil trade with the terrorist group.

The Truth Of What Is Going On In Syria
The public in those nations involved directly or peripherally in the Syrian war are not being told the truth of what is going on in that country, and have not been told the truth since hostilities began in 1011. We have tried to report this many times on our main news site The Daily Stirrer

Over 4000 Civilians Have Died In Forgotten War.
As attention has focused on Syria ans then on the efforts of the Obama administration, in its dying months, to avenge the defeat of the anointed successor Hillary Clinton and discredit the election victor and President – elect Donald Trump, and simultaneously demonize Russia and President Putin

Christians Are Not Safe In Europe, European Parliament President Says
In a meeting on religious tensions in Europe today (3 December, 2015), European Parrliament (EP) President Martin Schulz said that the persecution of Christians in Europe is under – reported and does not receive enough media attention, which has also meant that it “has not been properly addressed”.

“Why is a Hate Campaign being Waged against Muslims? By Prof Michel Chossudovsky”
An astounding question because the answer should be a no brainer even for an academic. His answer however is even more gobsmacking; “Because most of the oil reserves are in Muslim nations.” Actually most of the oil reserves are under the sea or in the arctic. But if you think of terror attacks from 9/11, through Madrid in 2004, London in 2005, through to Charlie Hebdo and bataclan 2015, the perps are all Muslim. Could that have a bearing?

Global Corruption: US Role In Getting Saudi Arabia On United Nations Human Rights Panel

Turkish Convoy Allegedly Carrying Weapons To ISIS Bombed In Syria
Why is NATO member Turkey breaking every aspect of international law and United Nations charter by trading with isis and why are the USA and other NATO members condoning it, while EU leaders pledge to fast track membership for the Islamist state?

In The War On Terror Freedom Is Not Winning – Here You Might Learn Why
Mainstream media has abandoned news reporting in favour of simply repeating government and corporate propaganda. Terrorism is one issue on which you will only find out the facts from new media. So unless you actually believe our leaders are heroes engaged in a constant struggle to save the world from dark forces, explore this page and learn how ‘terror’ has become a political tool.

Latest Posts

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Believe The Phoney Narrative Or Be Branded a Conspiracy Theorist

Living the fairy tale
living the fairy tale (Image Source)

The political, business and academic elites and their servants in the print and broadcast media have to make you believe a phoney narrative about the state of the world, they dare not let us start talking about how much trouble the west is really in. The economies of most of the developed nations, the western democracies, are in effect bankrupt, their debts and obligations exceed their assets by considerable margins.

Burdened by ageing populations, high labour costs, soaring unemployment, supportably generous welfare payments, punitive taxation and bloated public sectors they are losing out to the enemy, – i.e. any country that has resources or whose economies are surging on the strength of exports of cheap manufactured goods, like Russia, China, India, Brazil, anyone with oil, gas, minerals, metals, gold etc.

Rather than admit multicultualism has failed, open – doors immigration policy has been economically and socially disastrous, and the oligarchical system badged up as Marxism lite, with its populist promises of fairness, equality and redistribution of wealth has broken every promise, your government and it’s media mouthpieces requires you to believe a certain narrative.

The story goes like this: The world is divided into good guys (white hats) and bad guys (black hats). The good guys consist of all Western governments and their allies, whether taken individually or collectively as members of the ‘international community’. Forget that most of the recent troubles stem from the interference of the FUKUS axis powers (France, UK, USofA), the United Nations and NATO in the domestic political affairs of sovereign states, or blithely and unilaterally tearing up bilateral and legally binding treaties like the one agreed with Russia that prevented the EU and NATO seducing into their membership any of the former Soviet states that became independent following the break up of the USSR.

The bad guys are mostly Russia and Iran, not so much China, although they are not exactly best friends with the west, the Chinese hold to much of our debt for western governments to risk pissing them off, thus it is Russia and Vladimir Putin who has to be demonised. Unfortunately Putin is not an arrested adolescent who wants everybody to like him. he understands that his job is to look after Russian interests long and short term.

Like Don Quixote, these governments are out there in a perilous world, perpetually tilting a the windmills of economic recovery, slaying dragons of terrorism, and fighting injustice by ensuring the rich get richer and the poor get shafted (viz. green energy policies that have made home heating unaffordable for many).

Thus when Cameron and Obama engage in a love in, mutually congratulating each other for the deft economic management that has led to financial recovery nobody can feel, (GDP up, benefit payments up, debt up, sales and incomes down; unemployment down, part time working, zero hours contracts, people excluded from the workforce up; inflation down, wages, saving, pensions devalued etc. we are not supposed to point out the obvious contradictions in the statistics that ‘prove’ what a good job our politicians are doing.

Then there have been the various brutal, undemocratic dictatorships, authoritarian and oppressive regimes that may have crushed dissent but managed to keep the people who did not rock the boat in relative prosperity, they had to be reduced to at worst rubble like Syria and Iraq, or a failed state like Libya.

So western leaders are fighting terrorists, jihadists, gangster states and ‘bad guys’ like Boko Haram who are out there doing infamy. Or as Kenneth Williams once said in Carry On Cleo, Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me.”

In the fairy tale world politicians inhabit ‘we’ have no aggressive intentions (‘We’ did not fund and support the arab Spring uprisings, or the rebellion in Ukraine, ‘we’ do not engage in false flag outrages, on spy on other nations (who are planning to harm us) and ‘our’ citizens (for their increased safety). We do not engage in realpolitik. We do not kill people who know too much, in order to protect national security. We have no ulterior motives. Our foreign policy is guided entirely by lofty moral principles. We have no geostrategic or economic interests. Energy resources and pipeline routes do not interest us. We are the good guys (White hats).

We, the western allies, would never conspire to bring about ‘regime change’ by deploying the air forces of three of the worlds five major military power to bomb the crap out of a little country of 5 million population (though we might consider, on humanitarian grounds, providing air support for a legitimate rebellion led by religious fanatics, tribal warlords and gangster (see Libya link above) nor would ‘we’ meddle in other states’ affairs to ensure certain political outcomes that suit our economic interests. Anyone who says we do a ‘conspiracy theorist’, a bounder, a cad and an all round rotter. We do not engage in ‘terrorism’ and never ‘talk to terrorists’ or deal with states or organizations that do. We are led by decent folk, who only want to do the decent thing.

We are the good guys, as the picture below shows.

Pigs might fly
Pigs do fly according to politicians (Image source)

RELATED POSTS:
Europe In Crisis About The Mediterranean Boat People
The intervention in Libya by western powers France, UK and USA (the FUKUS axis) was morrally and politically wrong as well as being perhaps the most stupid example of balls out politics by an American president ever. To overthrow the leader of any nation, no matter how unpopular he is with other world leaders, is a dangerous game.

It’s Staring To Dawn On Economists That The Developed World’s Economic Problems Are Structural.

America’s debt disaster
American global hegemony
How the bankers rigged the markets to steal your money
Cameron and the war on ISIS
Capitalism and oligrachy
Champagne socialists
Don’t call me a conspiracy theorist
Naked finance – debt into profit
Government controlled media murdering democracy
The imminent collapse of the petrodollar
Russia, Ukraine and the petrodollar

Oil price: Britain’s North Sea Oil Industry ‘Close To Collapse’

We were perhaps mistaken in calling this page ‘Currency wars’ and focusing initially on American attempts to undermine Russia’s economy which is overly dependent on oil and gas. That of course is just a skirmish in a much wider economic war that is now hurting those nations that complied with Obama’s diktat and imposed economic sanctions on Russia in retaliation for Moscow’s refusal to surrender its strategically vital satellite state, Ukraine, to NATO and the EU.

Britain, because of our north sea oil interests is one of the hardest hit.

The price of crude oil began to collapse when The United states Of America, the swaggering bully of the world community decided to use its new status as a net exporter of oil, due to the shale boom, to flood world markets, finding because their oil is the most expensive to extract, that their wells were not economically viable, and damage Russia’s oil dependent economy. Naturally prices in world markets dropped due to the law of supply and demand. With typical stupid arrogance the Americans demanded that the Arabs and other traditional oil producers cut production to hold up prices.

The Arabs and other oil producing nations, sensing Amerca’s push to become gobal hegemon had run off track and what they were threatened with was the empty bluster of a bully whose cowardice and weakness has been exposed in effect said, “Fuck the fucking fuck off,” by pumping more oil and sending prices crashing even further. Result? Approximately $1trillion worth of new shale fracking projects planned in the USA have been cancelled. If it ended there the world would only have the minor problem of a US / Russia currency war.

Unfortunately the plunging oil price has brought about a “huge crisis” in energy markets, one of the worst hit is the UK’s North Sea oil industry, expert have warned. With North Sea oil now selling at below $60 a barrel, it is “almost impossible to make money”, Robin Allan, chairman of independent explorers’ association Brindex, told the BBC.

“It’s a huge crisis. This has happened before, and the industry adapts, but the adaptation is one of slashing people, slashing projects and reducing costs,” he said.

After several days of volatile trading in oil markets, Brent crude, the global benchmark, ended the day down 1 per cent at about $60 per barrel after having risen 3 per cent in early trading. In recent weeks, oil prices have crashed to their lowest levels in five-and-a-half years following falls demand due to weakening in major economies and concerns of a global oil glut.

Up to £55bn worth of North Sea oil projects scheduled for 2015 could be cancelled due to the falling prices, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Concerns over the financial state of the oil industry have increased since Opec voted not to cut production in an attempt to arrest sliding prices when they met in Vienna last month. Iran’s oil minister has publically criticised Opec’s inaction. Bijan Zanganeh told the country’s state petroleum news agency: “The prolongation of the downward trend of the oil price in world markets is a political conspiracy going to extremes.”

The US-based oil company ConocoPhillips has already moved to cut 230 out of 1,650 jobs in the UK and some analysts predict that other large firms will make similar cost-cutting announcements in the coming months.

However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said yesterday that even though reductions in oil prices have proven “very challenging” for companies active in the North Sea, “we have seen very little evidence of new projects being cancelled or deferred in reaction to lower oil prices”.

[more]

Christmas Message: Economic Recovery, Bah, Humbug

Contributed by Phil. T. Looker

Albert Finney as Ebeneezer Scrooge
Albert Finney as Ebeneezer Scrooge (source)

These words or something near them were seen in almost every financial newspaper and website today:

“Oil prices have dropped $50 a barrel. That may not sound like much. But when you take $107 and you take $57, that’s almost a 47 percent decline…!”

To certain people not unconnected from this blog who have an easy come, easy go attitude to money this may not sound like a big deal. When the accountants and maths geeks get busy with their scientific calculators, the decline starts to look catastrophic.

The Financial Pundits seem to think so anyway. And even Ian has to agree for one the meths geeks are right. So what’s going on?

Many people who have spent the last couple of years hailing the shale revolution and crowing about the economic boom it would usher in (never mind the serious environmental concerns about fracking). Being traders rather than accountants they failed to understand the downside side of shale’s effect on business. The significance of little things like the fact that much of the day-to-day shale operation was being run on junk bond financing. Thus they had no problem in convincing themselves that in the future every day would be Christmas. Sorry but I have to be Scrooge and tell you the bubble just burst.

The bubble floated well in the zero gravity environment of zero interest rate policy (ZIRP) where investors desperate for “yield” — i.e. a better return than sweet FA on their money — ended up in the bond market’s junkyard. These investors, it turned out, were the big institutional concerns, pension funds, insurance companies, mixed bond investment trust funds. ZIRP was killing them.

In the good old days of the late 20th century boom-and-bust they would see an annual interest rate of between 5 and 10 percent which enabled them to fund their obligations, i.e. pay pensions, settle insurance claims, cover company salaries and have a bit left over for a Christmas jolly.

ZIRP ended all that. In fact zero interest destroyed the most important index in the financial world: the true cost of borrowing money. It also destroyed the entire relationship between borrowed money and the cost-structure of the endeavors it was borrowed for. Shale oil is the prime (or sub prime) example.

The fundamental constraint for investing in shale oil was that the wells were only good for about two years after which they were pretty much fracked,(hence that was the contstraint nobody in the entire fracking world talked about).

So, if you were in that business, and held a bunch of leases, you had to constantly drill baby drill and drill and drill again just to maintain production. Drilling costs between $6 and $12-million per well.
Over the past seven years is that the drillers and their investment bankers, aided and abetted by the kind of scientists who deal in mathematical models, theory, speculation and guesswork hyped the holy shite out of the shale fracking business (the scientists had no qualms about building mathematical models that exaggerated the oil and gas yield from wells by 96% with makes even the climate science fraud look reasonable).

It was not a shale revolution but another Ponzi scheme, it was Enronomics all over again; as long as the money kept rolling in they could pay out the early investors and boost confidence in their scam. In the few short years they drilled the results looked so impressive that to quote the song Evita sings “The money kept rolling in”. It was going to save the American economy, it was going to chain the Russian bear, it was going to put the arabs in their place and restore the status quo.

Sadly the shale oil and gas economic “miracle” was a rerun of the dotcom bubble, the housing bubble, the South Sea bubble, the Tulip bubble (which we generally accept was the first investment bubble). It was deja vu all over again. The frackers sucked so much oil out of the ground in a short period of time that they killed the goose that laid the black, slimy egg; in response to American over production the Arabs cut their prices, demand for oil at a price that made it worth drilling for just dropped away.

The current stage (stage 4?) will see much of the junk financing default, bankers will steer clear of junk financing just as they steer clear of sub prime mortgages now, and a lot of planned wells will be abandoned, meaning that the current crop of wells will crap out within two years, and production will not be replaced by new wells because there is no money in it (it may come as a surprise to lefties but the objective of business is to make a profit. Still, on the bright side, all those wannabe protestors can go home and spend Christmas with their dear old Mum, no point protesting against something that ain’t gonna happen.