Without War To Inflate the Price, Many Anticipated Gas “Bonanzas” May Go Bust

[Until the price of gas rises above $14 per 1,000 cubic feet, gas, like Israel’s Leviathan gas is too expensive to pump out of the ground.  For nations like Israel, with large armies and large untapped gas reserves, it must be tempting NOT to take military actions which cause the price of natural gas to shoot-up (SEE: Imperial Plan To Use Civil War As Gas and Oil Valve).]


Goldman-Sachs Chart On gas prices and project profitability

The US and Russia may be headed for a gas war in Asia


By Steve LeVine

The US and Russia are set to clash in a gas rivalry in Asia.

Cheaper gas is flowing. Reuters/Gleb Garanich


The trigger for the shakeup is a critical mass of US and Russian gas exports destined for Asia over the coming decade and beyond, much of it likely to be priced at a substantial discount to the liquefied natural gas (LNG) currently on sale in the region.


LNG sold in Japan last month for about $15 per 1,000 cubic feet, and in February, it went for more than $20. But in May, Russia committed to sell 38 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas per year to China at half that February price—an estimated $10 per 1,000 cubic feet. When US LNG produced from the shale gas boom begins to reach Asia next year, Citi estimates that it will sell for about the same price–$10 to $12 per 1,000 cubic feet.


The US and Russian gas will compete with existing and planned LNG projects around the world toward the end of the decade. According to numbers compiled by Citi, Russia could supply 30 bcm of gas to China by 2020 and as much as 95 bcm to Asia as a whole by 2025. The US is in approximately the same posture—seven export projects in various stages of approval could export 93 bcm of LNG in a similar time frame. The combined potential US and Russian volume is equivalent to more than 3 million barrels of oil a day.

Among the projects whose economics could be challenged are Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone LNG projects offshore from Australia. In a report last year (pdf, slide 32), Goldman Sachs said the two projects require a gas price of $13.50 to $14 per 1,000 cubic feet to break even. Others in possible trouble are east African LNG projects in Mozambique (which need about $11.50 to break even) and Tanzania ($13). Proposed Canadian LNG projects are also at risk of becoming uneconomical. Here is the Goldman chart:


In a note to clients today, Eurasia Group’s Leslie Palti-Guzman said that, as a result of the price impact of the Russia-China deal in particular, new Australian LNG projects are unlikely, and the development of projects in Mozambique and Canada could be delayed.


Chevron has sold much of its Australian LNG production in advance, and some analysts suggest that high-priced LNG may survive more or less intact despite the encroachment of the cut-rate competition. IHS’s Kelli Maleckar says that prices across Asia will vary. “You might see North American LNG projects getting slightly lower average prices from China, but the impact when mixed with prices received for deliveries to the rest of Asia will be fairly muted,” she told Quartz.


But if Europe is a lesson, Asian LNG buyers are likely to initiate a price renegotiation once the competing US and Russian volumes show up at such a substantial discount—and to secure lower prices. Such pressure will continue for a number of years if analysts are right that a surplus LNG market will emerge in Asia toward the end of the decade.


But to the degree that demand soars unexpectedly—a possibility given China’s politically driven shift from coal-fired to gas-fired electricity—prices could stabilize in the middle, moving toward $14 per 1,000 cubic feet. Even at that price, the Australian projects could be only marginally profitable.


Chevron declined to comment. Anadarko, one of the major LNG developers in Mozambique, did not respond to an email.


Commerce usually operates on a different plane from politics, and as the low-price sellers, the US and Russia may end up amiably sharing the Asian spot market. But, depending on demand and the size of their own supply, they could just as well end up in savage competition for market share.


Russia does not fear US shale gas in Europe because it can supply the continent at a much lower price. But neither will it have a distinct price advantage in Asia, the fastest-growing region for energy demand. There, with the high-priced gas producers struggling for survival, the US and Russia would slug it out. The only certain winners will be consumers.


The Families of 6 US Soldiers Killed Looking for the Deserter Want Answers

Angry families of THESE soldiers who died searching for Bowe Bergdahl demand truth

washington times

By Cheryl K. Chumley-The Washington Times

From left, PFC Matthew Martinek, SSG Kurt Curtiss, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Clayton Bowen, 2LT Darryn Andrews, SSG Michael Murphy. This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  The case of Bergdahl, held by the Taliban since 2009, has arisen again as the U.S. and other countries engage in diplomatic efforts to end his capture. But if he is released, will America’s only prisoner of the Afghan war be viewed as a hero or a deserter? (AP Photo/U.S. Army)
From left, PFC Matthew Martinek, SSG Kurt Curtiss, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Clayton Bowen, 2LT Darryn Andrews, SSG Michael Murphy. This undated image provided by the U.S. Army shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. The case of Bergdahl, held by the Taliban since 2009, has arisen again as the U.S. and other countries engage in diplomatic efforts to end his capture. But if he is released, will America’s only prisoner of the Afghan war be viewed as a hero or a deserter? (AP Photo/U.S. Army)

Families of the six U.S. soldiers who reportedly died while trying to save Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl are angry, demanding answers and asking: Was it worth it?

Sgt. Bergdahl’s swap and return has brewed up “very raw emotions,” said the mother of 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews, who died while searching for the soldier, the Army Times reported. “It gets really hurtful when I think, this guy was worth my son’s life? My son who was patriotic? Who was a true soldier? Who defended his country with his life? That guy was worth that? I don’t think so.”

Robert Andrews, his father, said similarly, to Reuters: “Basically, my son died unnecessarily, hunting for a guy that we shouldn’t even have been hunting for.”

Another family member of a soldier who died during the search — Kenneth Luccioni, the stepfather of the deceased Pfc. Matthew Martinek — said the swap of Sgt. Bergdahl for five Taliban militants was a slap in the face to those who served honorably.

“This opens up the wounds again,” he said, Newsmax reported. “There were a lot of people who risked their lives for this young man, and we want the truth.”

And one more comment, from the father of Sgt. Kurt Curtiss, who also died during the search-and-rescue operation: “It’s just disgraceful that Obama would trade five high-level Taliban officers for this guy who basically defected,” said Bob Curtiss, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

“Leave him there,” Mr. Curtiss added. “That was his choice, his decision.”

Pakistan Launches Airstrikes Against Fazlullah’s Afghan Hideout

(AP) — Taliban fighters attacked several Pakistani military posts along the Afghan border Saturday, sparking an hourslong gun battle that included Pakistan launching airstrikes into Afghanistan, authorities said. Pakistan said soldiers killed 16 militants, while Afghan officials said the airstrikes killed five civilians.
The fighting was the latest cross-border attack along the volatile and porous Pakistan-Afghanistan boundary and again tests the two countries’ already uneasy relations.

Two Pakistani military officers blamed the local Pakistani Taliban for the attack, saying dozens of fighters from the group crossed into Pakistan overnight to stage the attack. A Foreign Ministry statement later said “over 200 terrorists” took part.

The insurgents attacks at least two military checkpoints in the northwestern tribal region of Bajur, killing one soldier and wounding two others, local government official Shah Naseem said. Naseem said the heavily armed attackers also targeted several military posts in the border village of Nao Top, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest of Khar, the main town in Bajur.

The army responded, sending helicopter gunships into battle as troops chased the attackers. The assault killed 16 insurgents, the two army officers told The Associated Press. The attackers then fled toward Afghanistan, the officers said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.

The officers said their intelligence suggested the attack local Pakistani Taliban fighters launched the attack. They said the fighters, originally from the Bajur tribal region and the northwestern Swat Valley, have been hiding in the village of Ghund in neighboring Afghanistan’s Kunar province.

Gen. Abdul Habib Sayedkhaili, the provincial police chief of Kunar province, said two Pakistani helicopters crossed into his country and opened fire in Dangam district. Their attack killed five Afghan civilians and wounded 10, Sayedkhaili said.

Sayedkhaili said Pakistani forces fired mortar shells into Afghanistan throughout the day Saturday. In its statement, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry denied its strikes killed civilians, only “attacking terrorists.”

“Pakistan’s concerns about miscreants and terrorists attacking from the other side of the border have been repeatedly shared with Afghan authorities,” the statement read. “We hope effective steps would be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents.”

Afghanistan and Pakistan share a 2,250-kilometer (1,400-mile) border and militants from both sides routinely launched cross-border attacks before fleeing back into their other country. The border area is remote and off limits to reporters, making it difficult to independently confirm information about fighting or military operations in the tribal regions.

Mortar attacks and other military operations routinely strain relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai long has accused Pakistan of sheltering Taliban militants and other extremists.

The Pakistani Taliban have killed thousands of people in an attempt to impose Islamic law in Pakistan and end the government’s support for the U.S.-led war in neighboring Afghanistan.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made negotiations with the Taliban a centerpiece of his government. Supporters of the peace talks argue that negotiations are the only way to end the cycle of violence while critics say a deal will only strengthen militant ranks, allow them to regroup and strike back with more force.

Afghan Northern Alliance Candidate Abdullah Survives 2 Car-Bomb Attack

Bomb blasts close to presidential rally in Kabul, bodyguards wounded - official

House bans DEA from attacking medical marijuana facilities

[If you needed more proof that this legislative move in the House of Representatives represents a true “sea change” in American enforcement of archaic anti-marijuana laws, then consider this fact—this pro-pot legislation is a Republican initiative (Rep. Dana Rohrabacher R-California).  Need more proof?  Then check-out the following report (Seattle police seize 2600 illegal marijuana plants, refuse to arrest owners).  This one details a Seattle police operation to enforce the “45 plant” limit on homegrown medical marijuana grows.]

House bans DEA from attacking medical marijuana facilities


US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agents (AFP Photo/Tim Sloan)

US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Agents (AFP Photo/Tim Sloan)

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives awarded a major victory to states’ rights advocates on Thursday and approved a measure that would prevent the United States Drug Enforcement Agency from cracking-down on medical marijuana operations.

Thursday evening, the House voted 219-189 in favor of an amendment from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-California) that, if signed into law, will prevent the DEA from using federal funds to go after medical marijuana patients and providers in jurisdictions where state law says pot can legally be prescribed in certain cases.

Although medical marijuana is legal in nearly half of the 50 states, the federal government still considers cannabis to be a Schedule 1 narcotic on par with heroin. This conflict between state and federal law has ravaged businesses in areas where local legislation permits medicinal weed, yielding countless instances in which armed DEA agents have raided nurseries and dispensaries alike to enforce the national pot prohibition.

With Thursday night’s vote, however, Congress may be signaling that a sea change is imminent. Rohrabacher’s amendment to H.R. 4660 as approved by the House calls that “None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to [states with medical marijuana laws in place] , to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

“Congress is officially pulling out of the war on medical marijuana patients and providers,” Dan Riffle, the director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, told Fox News.

But Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colorado), who represents one of only two states in the US where recreational marijuana is legal, told attendees at a Friday morning press conference that Thursday’s win, although a victory for those wanting reform, nevertheless came as a surprise.

“Quite frankly, many of us who were sponsors of this amendment… didn’t expect to win and were surprised by the margin of that victory this morning,” Polis said at a presser early Friday.

“While I always knew it would happen sooner than most political observers thought, it’s still hard to believe this just happened,” Tom Angell, the chairman of Marijuana Majority, told the Huffington Post’s Ryan Reilly.

Additionally, the House voted on Thursday to pass two separate amendments that, if signed into law, will prohibit the DEA from interfering in the educational research being conducted in certain parts of the US to examine a potential reemergence for industrial hemp. As RT reported previously, the state of Kentucky has come under fire from federal officials in recent weeks who’ve prevented scientists there from receiving shipments of hemp seeds that they plan to use for research purposes.

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky), who introduced those amendments along with Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon), told HuffPo that his state was forced into a “waste of time and money and the court system’s limited resources” by the DEA.

“The DEA is not above Congress, it’s not above the law,” Massie said. “This amendment simply asks the DEA to follow existing laws.”

Next, the Senate will have to weigh in on the hemp and medical marijuana amendments before they can be passed to the White House and await Pres. Barack Obama’s signature.



Pakistan court orders police to charge two ex-CIA officials

Pakistan court orders police to charge two ex-CIA officials

The Hindu

A Pakistani court on Thursday ordered police to register a criminal case under terrorism act against two former CIA officials, including a station chief, for murder, conspiracy, and waging war against the country by carrying out drone strikes.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of Islamabad High Court ordered registration of case for offences of murder, conspiracy, waging war against Pakistan and offences under the provisions of Terrorism Act 1997 against the former CIA station chief in Islamabad, Jonathan Banks, and Legal Counsel John A. Rizzo.

The order was passed on a petition filed by Kareem Khan, a resident of North Waziristan Agency who had lost his teenage son and brother in a drone strike on December 31, 2009. Mr. Khan started his legal campaign to get justice in 2010.

“Today’s order is a victory for all those innocent civilians who have been killed in U.S.-led drone strikes in Pakistan and as a citizen of Pakistan I feel somewhat reaffirmed that perhaps people like me from Waziristan might also be able to get justice for the wrongs being done to them,” Mr. Khan said.

“I sincerely hope that authorities will now do their job and proceed against the culprits,” he said.

Mr. Khan’s lawyer Mirza Shahzad Akbar of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights said that under Pakistani and international laws the U.S. officials are committing murder through drone strikes in the country.

He said the decision simply vindicates this very point and after this order all those who have been killed in drone strikes have a right to initiate similar criminal actions against the CIA officials and others involved.

“This remarkable order also highlights the strength of independence of judiciary in Pakistan which is truly protecting the rights of citizens of Pakistan under the Constitution,” he said.

Mr. Akbar said that the court has ordered Station House Officer of secretariat Police station in the capital to register the case and investigate the matter.

There is no single agreed data on the deaths due to drones but it is believed that more than 2,200 people were killed in over 380 strikes since 2004.

U.S. claims that drone strikes are precision attacks and have killed many top militants and terrorists.

The last drone attack was in December and there are reports that U.S. has halted the campaign in Pakistan as the focus of threat has shifted to Yemen and Somalia.