Monday, March 25, 2013

New Billboards for the Kimberley all over Sydney today.

What do you think of our NEW Kimberley billboards?


  1. Eye catching and catchy too.

    Congrats you guys just get better and better.

    You will win.

  2. Gary Gray.

    GARY Gray's appointment to the important resources portfolio has been given the nod of approval from the sector.

    Western Australia's Chamber of Minerals and Energy had been gunning for a local, given the state's dominance in the industry.

    CME director Nicole Roocke said Mr Gray, formerly the special minister of state, had a very good understanding of WA and the sector, and his challenge would be to ensure federal politicians and bureaucrats understood the impact of their decisions on the state.

    His new position would not be compromised by his former role with energy giant Woodside, she said.

    "We don't see that it will put him in a difficult situation," Ms Roocke said.

    She also urged Mr Gray to engage with the environmental portfolio, "because that is one area we are being hamstrung by government policy".


    The appointment of Gary Gray as minister for Resources and Energy makes good sense from the interests of the mining and oil & gas sectors. Holding a marginal seat in WA and having worked as the Director of Corporate Affairs for Woodside Energy, he will have a finely tuned ear to the needs of these industries.

    However there are some significant worries about his appreciation of the need to integrate climate change issues into energy policy considerations.

    Gary Gray was one of the founders of the Lavoisier Institute, a group that has probably done more than any to spread misinformation about the science of global warming in Australia. According to the The Age, in 1993 Gray said the evidence linking human activity to climate change was ‘‘pop science’.

    In 2007 he said he regretted the comments but added there needed to be "intellectual challenge and debate" on the science of human induced climate change. He is still yet to publicly acknowledge that the bulk of scientific evidence indicates that burning of fossil fuels will lead to significant warming of the globe.


    Key elements of Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s latest ministerial reshuffle for climate change and energy are:

    1) Consistent with Greg Combet’s responsibility for industry as well as climate change, the Department of Climate Change will be merged into the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. It will become the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.

    2) Gary Gray, the member for the WA seat of Brand and former National Secretary of the Labor Party, will be elevated to Martin Ferguson’s prior position as the Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism.

    Merging climate change with the Department of Industry is a missed opportunity. Energy and climate change are two sides of the same coin and ideally should be handled in an integrated manner. With the climate change former secretary, Blair Comley, having already been appointed Secretary of Resources, Energy and Tourism, now would have been a very good time to execute such a change.

    However, the government has announced that the energy efficiency functions previously carried out by the Department of Climate Change will be merged into the Department of Resources and Energy. The one worry amongst some energy efficiency insiders is that under these new arrangements, the electricity supply industry’s concerns over depressed electricity prices could trump the substantial benefits for consumers from enhanced energy efficiency.

    That would have been best done by also altering ministerial responsibilities at the same time and splitting resources and tourism away from energy.

    1. The Australian mining industry breathed a sigh of relief today when Gary Gray became resources minister. But for the small business portfolio Gray, as the fifth minister in 15 months, has no track record in this vital area.

      The miners have always had Martin Ferguson to stem the widespread anti-mining sentiment among most Gillard ministers. No one understood mining better than Ferguson. But Gray is not in the Gillard anti-mining pack. Gray was national secretary of the Labor Party between 1993 and 2000 and a key force in the ALP election campaigns in the 1990s. But he stepped down in 2000 to join Woodside Petroleum in Western Australia.

      Moreover, Gray was brought up in Whyalla where his mother still lives. Gary’s mother was none-too-happy about the original Rudd-Swan mining tax because it would have virtually wiped the town out. Gray also opposed that tax – and not just because his mother insisted on it. Gray understood the devastation it would have caused, not just to Whyalla (The tax is black and white for Gray, June 16, 2010).

      Gray is married to Deborah, the daughter of Peter Walsh, former finance minister in the Hawke government and one of the finest finance ministers in Australia’s history.

      Small business is a different story. In the last 15 months no one has been in the portfolio long enough to know when to alert the government to the implications of the anti-small business proposals that arise in cabinet – and there have been plenty.

      Partly in response to the anti-small business stance of the Gillard government, small businesses creation in Australian has fallen sharply.

      A centrepiece of the Liberal 2013 election campaign is the plan to double the rate of small business creation in Australia with an associated rise in employment.

      Among the planned policies is a dramatic reduction in the 20,000 or so regulations that Rudd and Gillard have introduced – most of which ended up targeting small business because there was no one in cabinet to help.

      The Coalition will adopt the old ALP policy of a 'fair contracts' board to protect small enterprises from unfair deals with large organisations, in much the same way consumers are protected. The ALP dropped fair contracts protection because it might have made life tougher for their union mates negotiating with large companies.

      The current government has made life as tough as possible for independent contractors. But they will be promoted under Abbott.

      Opposition spokesman for small business, Bruce Billson, has an array of small enterprise booster actions, which is why he is so confident the small business start-up rate will double.

      But Billson will need to watch out. Gray might not be experienced in small business but he is talented and might just enable the Gillard government to finally understand small business issues in its last six months.

    2. Woodside connections no conflict: Gray

      March 25, 2013 3:25PM

      GARY Gray says there's no conflict between his new job as federal resources minister and his old job with oil and gas giant Woodside.

      Greens leader Christine Milne said on Sunday she didn't think appointing Mr Gray resources minister "would be a good look ... (his) having come straight out of an executive position of Woodside".

      But Mr Gray, who was an adviser to Woodside, said on Monday he would not be conflicted in dealing with Woodside given that people he had worked with, including former chief executive Don Voelte, had since left the company.

      "The management team with whom I had great personal familiarity have gone," he told Fairfax Radio.

      "I certainly don't have any Woodside shares."

      He said the resources sector wanted him to be a safe pair of hands, and business as usual, until the federal election on September 14.


      Meanwhile, he has reiterated his keenness for floating LNG (FLNG) processing technology.

      West Australian Premier Colin Barnett wants gas from Woodside's Browse Basin assets processed at an onshore plant north of Broome because it would be better for local jobs.

      Mr Gray said FLNG had the benefit of reduced capital costs and lower environmental risks.

      "I have said that I believe that FLNG brings a unique capability and solution to the development of offshore oil and gas resources," Mr Gray said.

      "They were observations that I made several weeks ago. They remain very firmly my view, but as a decision maker on these issues, I will ensure that the advice that I receive from my department is thoughtful, is considered appropriately, and I don't intend to be pre-empting any of those decisions."

      Local jobs were important, but the focus should be beyond the project construction phase, he said.

      "Given that we're talking about investments in capital infrastructure that will work for two or three decades, it's very important that we get those decisions right and understand the long-term sustainable jobs that will come out of the operation of mining and extractive industries, not so much out of the short-term construction side."


  3. Duplicate regulations choking $200bn of gas projects: report

    3 hours ago
    Resources and Energy

    A new report shows $200 billion worth of coal-seam and natural gas export projects are being shackled by ‘green tape’ due to a double-up in federal and state laws, according to The Australian.

    The newspaper said gas exporters are saying that Australia’s resources boom is being damaged long term as the government has added duplicate regulation instead of removing it as it promised less than 12 months ago.

    Industry executives also angry at the government's move last week to implement new powers over coal-seam gas projects in a deal struck with regional independent Tony Windsor.

    The 40-page report by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association includes case studies showing how dozens of overlapping state and federal regulations were applied to specific projects without any environmental benefit.

  4. No wonder Australia is so worried about US LNG exports.
    With Australian plants costing up into the $50 billion range here is a quote from a US LNG export article.


    Key US Senator Starts Work on Natural Gas Bill

    The bill, which is in the early stages of being developed, will seek to address natural gas exports and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It will also tackle infrastructure issues and could look at ways to promote natural gas vehicles, people familiar with the issue said.

    One of Mr. Wyden's most challenging tasks will be to find common ground on the issue of natural gas exports.

    With nearly 20 companies seeking permission from the U.S. Energy Department to ship natural gas to countries lacking a free-trade agreement with the U.S., the issue has divided lawmakers and pitted energy producers like Exxon Mobil against manufacturers like Dow Chemical.


    Energy companies say the U.S. government should steer clear of any restrictions. The hefty cost of building an export facility, which can top $7 billion, will inevitably weed out many applicants and serve as a natural control on export levels, they say.





    "The hefty cost of building an export facility, which can top $7 BILLION....."


  5. The owner of the Tenderspot butcher is I have read the person who owns the property Woodside is to build their first camp on."Skulthorpe."

    But that is not why I am posting this warning.It seems that what was once a good butcher,going back to when it was in Chinatown,has now become a disgusting make money at all costs butcher.

    In the last couple of months I have bought mince there,$12 for 2 kilos,that had so much fat in it that it was a horrible grey colour and smelt terrible.Threw it out.

    Marinated pork ribs for $14 kilo with no meat on them.Threw them out.

    Before this I bought a few kilos of chicken pieces that when thawed out had broken bones coloured black,and pieces cut out of them that I guess had been tumours.Threw them out.

    Their hygene practices are not the best either.

    I see they now have beef for #3 kilo for pets.Now I don't have any evidence at all of this but with the bovine johns cull going on now,is it possible this is diseased meat?
    If so can johns disease be passed on to cats and dogs.

    I suggest buyer beware at the Tenderspot as it is no longer the great butcher shop it once was.i have shopped there for nearly 28 years but will no longer be using it.


    BHP, Exxon in $10bn gas plan

    by: Matt Chambers
    From: The Australian
    March 26, 2013 12:00AM

    BHP Billiton and Exxon Mobil are keeping hopes of more Australian liquefied natural gas developments alive, with plans to kick off the approvals process on a $10 billion-plus floating LNG project this month and advanced engineering studies mid-year.

    It is understood the pair are close to settling on floating LNG as the way to develop the offshore Scarborough field in Western Australia's Carnarvon Basin after talks to develop the gas through expansions of both Woodside Petroleum's Pluto LNG plant and Chevron's Wheatstone plant fell through.

    The long-awaited confirmation that the two parties have finally selected a method to develop the big but far-offshore fields is being targeted for about the middle of the year.

    This would be followed by activation of a front-end engineering and design study, which can cost $500 million on big LNG projects.

    BHP yesterday referred questions to Exxon, which is the operator of the field.


    An Exxon spokesman said no decision had been made on what the preferred option was.

    "ExxonMobil is considering a number of onshore and offshore concepts for development of Scarborough, including FLNG," the spokesman said.

    The pair are set to submit documents to the federal Environment Department this week or next.

    If Scarborough pushes ahead, it will join the thinning ranks of potential new LNG projects in Australia, where prohibitively high costs have had many analysts saying the era of new Australian gas export plants is over.

    The only two other potential plans given any chance of succeeding are the $40bn Woodside-led Browse LNG project being studied for James Price Point near Broome (but seen as more likely to be developed through FLNG) and the Arrow coal-seam gas project being studied by Shell and PetroChina.

    If all goes to plan at Scarborough, the move will involve the long-expected abandonment of a potential LNG site on the coast at Ashburton North, near the Pilbara town of Onslow.


  7. cont...

    Last year, BHP said FLNG was being considered as an option for Scarborough.

    But the company also expressed reservations about using the technology at Browse, where it has sold its stake to PetroChina. It is also clamping down on capital expenditure.

    For Browse, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has railed against the prospects of floating LNG, which sees construction work head offshore. But he has said Scarborough, which is nearly 300km out to sea, is an example where FLNG could work.

    The plan would see Exxon and BHP building a floating LNG ship capable of exporting between six million and seven million tonnes of LNG a year.

    This is potentially nearly twice the size of the $US12bn ($11.5bn) Prelude development, the world's first floating LNG project.

    Prelude, which will produce 3.6 million tonnes of LNG a year, is a 500m-long hulled platform being built to process gas from WA's offshore Browse basin.

    Despite the increased capacity of the planned Scarborough plant, the platform will be no larger than the Prelude plant.

  8. Worth noting,Woodsides plan for JPP is 12 mtpa,so 2 of these FLNGs would do the same job.

    BUT for around $20 billion NOT $46 billion !

    So they could have double or triple the gas for the price of JPP.

    Are they in business for Barnett or their shareholders?

  9. Barnett of course hates it because with JPP he can dig up the Kimberley.


    Barnett bags Gray's floating gas preference

    Premier Colin Barnett has taken aim at new Federal Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray's support for offshore floating LNG processing on Woodside's $40 billion Browse gas project, calling it a "tragedy" that would cost land-based Australian jobs.

    And in a sign the issue could flare during today's visit by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to WA, unions warned the Federal Government "must not allow" petroleum giants to develop Australia's vast resources via huge vessels built in overseas shipyards.

    In contrast, though, mining and petroleum industry groups praised Mr Gary's appointment given his experience as a former Woodside executive.


    The Premier said though Mr Gray had a strong industry background, his support of FLNG technology would hurt the local economy.

    "FLNG may be cheaper to build but it doesn't bring the same level of long-term benefits to WA and Australia as an onshore site would," Mr Barnett said.

    "It would be a tragedy for Australians if all of these projects ended up as floating LNG. No other country would allow that to occur."


    Australian Workers Union State secretary Stephen Price said Mr Gray's appointment on the day ExxonMobil and BHP Billiton announced plans for a huge FLNG project off WA's coast was "extremely concerning" because Australia would miss out on investment.

    "It is clearly against the national interest to be giving our natural resources away to multinational companies without extracting a reasonable dividend for the Australian economy," Mr Price said.
    The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association welcomed Mr Gray's appointment and said the Government must remain committed to "market forces" and reducing red tape.

  10. Israel’s Delek gives more details of FLNG project and Leviathan deal with Woodside

    Monday, 25 March 2013

    Delek Group of Israel said its Tamar gas field was set to come on stream in about two months, with 9.7 trillion cubic feet of feed-gas set to underpin a Floating LNG project, while a second larger discovery in the Leviathan Basin was set to be developed with Australian LNG player Woodside Petroleum.

    1. Qld govt approves CSG pipeline

      Bianca Bartucciotto
      Monday, 25 March 2013

      ARROW Energy’s proposed $1 billion coal seam gas pipeline has been given the go-ahead by the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.


      Yara investigation no knee-jerk: DMP

      James McGrath
      Monday, 25 March 2013

      WA Department of Mines and Petroleum representatives will head to the Yara Australia-owned Burrup Peninsula ammonium nitrate plant near Karratha after safety concerns were raised, denying it’s the result of media speculation.


  11. Karoon Gas Australia Ltd. advised that the Proteus‐1 exploration well was spud at 04:28 hours (WDT) Monday.

    The Transocean Legend (mid-water semisub) is drilling the exploration well, which is operated by ConocoPhillips. ConocoPhillips is the operator of the jointly held WA‐314‐P, WA‐315‐P and WA‐398‐P Browse Basin permits containing the previously announced Greater Poseidon gas discoveries. Karoon Gas Australia Ltd holds 40% of the permit WA‐315‐P and WA‐398‐P, and 90% of permit WA‐314‐P.

    Proteus‐1 is the third well in the exploration program. Proteus‐1 is located in permit WA‐398‐P on a large tilted fault block approximately 8.7 miles (14 kilometers) south east of the Poseidon‐1 discovery well.

    Upcoming Well Program

    The exploration program, operated by ConocoPhillips, plans to utilize the Transocean Legend semisubmersible for the entire campaign and is expected to continue through 2013.

    A minimum of five wells will be drilled during the exploration program. The principal objective of the exploration program is to better define the size and quality of the hydrocarbon accumulations within the exploration permits which contain the greater Poseidon trend.

    Additional well locations for the remainder of the program will be announced as they obtain joint venture approval.

  12. The Eastern Med.


    Lebanese Geology Promises Offshore Oil Bonanza

    The Levant Basin in the Eastern Mediterranean has already been proven as a hydrocarbon system thanks to major gas discoveries in both Cypriot and Israeli waters. Now the Republic of Lebanon is getting in on the act by opening up its offshore waters to oil and gas explorers.

    Lebanon's deepwater area off its coast in the Eastern Mediterranean covers more than 7,600 square miles and offers a variety of unexplored hydrocarbon plays. However, while gas appears to be predominant in the southern part of the Levant Basin, offshore Israel, there is evidence to support the view that there might be plenty of oil resources in the waters of Israel's northern neighbor.

    Recently, the Petroleum Administration of the Republic of Lebanon held a seminar to promote pre-qualification for the first ever Lebanese offshore licensing round. Held March 7 in London, and attended by Rigzone, this was the only formal event planned by the Petroleum Administration ahead of the March 28 deadline for pre-qualification.

    Delegates from a variety of oil and gas companies – including majors such as Chevron Corp. and Repsol S.A. – were treated to an exposition on the geology of the region, and got further details from the Petroleum Administration itself on the forthcoming licensing round.

    According to one of the presenters, Dr. Neil Hodgson, an exploration geology specialist at seismic imaging firm Spectrum ASA, offshore Lebanon represents an enticing frontier exploration zone.

    "It's not many times in your career that you come across a basin that is completely untouched and yet is incredibly prospective," Hodgson said.

    "One of the exciting things about this particular basin is that the acreage offshore has never been licensed before. And this is the first chance that the industry has got to discover the wealth and the hydrocarbon promises that lie offshore."

    Hodgson pointed out that oil and gas companies who get involved in offshore Lebanon will also benefit from a lot of 3D seismic data that has already been acquired.

    "It's very rare that you have 70 percent of a basin covered by 3D seismic before there's even a single license block. That's something very clever that the Lebanese authorities have arranged so that the industry will have 3D seismic when they acquire blocks. So, instead of acquiring seismic before they drill, they can move very, very rapidly into a drilling phase," he said.

    One of the key factors that make offshore Lebanon enticing for explorers is that its geology is different to that found elsewhere in the Levant Basin.

    While Cyprus and Israel saw giant gas discoveries such as the Aphrodite field (estimated to hold up to 9 trillion cubic feet of gas) and Tamar (8 trillion cubic feet), offshore Lebanon promises large oil fields as well as gas.

    "The wells that were discovered in the southern Levant Basin discovered dry gas and they discovered dry gas in the early Miocene. But as you come offshore to the north and you go into the Lebanese acreage in the northern Levant Basin the basin gets deeper, the source rocks become more mature and it becomes an oil-prone basin as well as a gas-prone basin," explained Hodgson.

  13. So we have seen a massive expansion of resource infrastructure to feed a Chinese boom that will last forever,or at least 20 years.

    WA is borrowing heaps on this gamble.

    But all good things must come to an end and it seems everytime it is the banks and debt.
    China will be no different.

    China kept its economy,and a lot of other economies,going after the GFC by raising debt levels.
    Some say its time to pay for all this.


    Australia warned of future China crisis double whammy

    A major Asian investment bank says the seeds of a future financial crisis in China have been sown.

    Nomura is warning that debt levels in China are teetering at unsustainable levels.

    Debt in China is believed to be between 150 and 200 per cent of GDP, pushed up by easy monetary policy the government has used to foster economic growth, especially in the wake of the global financial crisis.

    Nomura chief economist Rob Subburaman says there is a real risk China will repeat what happened in the US and Europe.

    "When we compare China to other countries that have had crisis we would say that China is now in the danger zone in terms of debt," he told the ABC's Newsline program.

    Mr Subburaman says the only way for the authorities to avoid a crisis is to ease stimulus and slow down the nation's growth.

    "If it's not dealt with this year and policies remain easy I think it's a significant risk," he warned.

    "I think the international experience now is littered with examples where if you have a quick run up in debt the effects on the real economy can be very severe."

    Mr Subburaman believes Australia could be hit with the double whammy of falling commodity prices and a rising currency if the looming financial crisis in China materialises.

    "The Australian dollar in recent years has become a safe haven currency and, if we see this China slowdown, we could see Asian central banks and sovereign wealth funds pour more money into Australia as a safe haven trade," he cautioned.

    "So the Australian dollar could remain very strong despite commodity prices coming off, and that would be even worse for Australian exporters."


  14. A few other bits and pieces on this Chinese debt crisis.


    China ignores at its own peril its hidden debt risks

    Zhang Monan says with up to 90 per cent of its assets illiquid, Beijing runs risk of a debt default

    In the past 200 years, there have been more than 250 cases of sovereign-debt default, and 68 cases of domestic-debt default. None of these was an isolated incident. Indeed, such defaults have always triggered financial crises.

    The current problems are rooted in the government's response to the 2008 global financial crisis. The first round of fiscal stimulus, supported by credit easing, led local governments and the financial sector to increase their leverage ratios. As a result, by 2010, China's overall leverage ratio had risen by 30 per cent.

    By the end of 2010, local-government debt totalled 10.7 trillion yuan (HK$13 trillion), with only 54 of more than 2,500 county governments debt-free.

    China's corporate sector relies excessively on debt financing, rather than equity. China's non-financial corporate debt accounts for roughly 62 per cent of total debt - higher than in other countries. According to GK Dragonomics, its total corporate debt reached 122 per cent of gross domestic product last year.

    Many of these heavily indebted enterprises are state-owned, and have borrowed from state-controlled banks. The implicit guarantees on this debt, too, suggest that the government's liabilities are much higher than its balance sheet indicates.

    China is not too big to fail. In a fragile economic environment, policymakers cannot afford to allow the size of China's balance sheet to distract them from the underlying structural risks and contingent liabilities that threaten its financial stability.


    Eurozone debt crisis to last more than 10 years.

    China’s new finance minister said on Sunday it was unclear whether the Euro zone would solve its debt problems over the next decade and suggested further turmoil would complicate efforts to reduce Beijing’s fiscal deficits.

    Reuters reported that Lou Jiwei said external difficulties might oblige China to run deficits for longer than anticipated as government expenditure was rising quickly and revenue growing only at a single-digit pace.

    “I am really very worried about Europe. I am worried about whether it can get out of trouble in the next 10 years,” Lou said in an address to an economic forum.

    “Our fiscal expenditure is growing very quickly while I estimate fiscal revenue will only post single-digit growth rates in future … we are facing substantive domestic pressures.”


    Private Banks Sell Debt in Worst Quarter Since ’11: China Credit

    Chinese high-yield dollar- denominated bonds are returning the least in more than a year as private banks react to a flood of debt supply and rising global interest rates by cutting holdings.

    Investors have gained 2.24 percent from the notes since Dec. 31, poised for the worst quarter since the three months ended September 2011, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. Globally, junk bonds have returned 2.47 percent, the data show. Coutts & Co. is advising clients to shift into stocks and trim corporate debt holdings.

    More than a quarter of the record $18.9 billion of all notes sold by Chinese and Hong Kong companies this year was unrated and 82 percent of this debt lost money as of March 18, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

  15. China debt crisis .....cont....

    Tuesday, March 19, 2013

    China's First Debt Default - Harbinger of End of Credit Bubble?

    For the first time, a mainland Chinese company has defaulted on its bonds. Shocklingly, it is a high-flier solar panel maker that trades in the US market - Suntech Power. Its stock shot up in a classic parabolic FOMO pattern (FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out), and has now fallen like a broken windmill blade below the parabolic liftoff. The irony is that Chinese solar makers have used easy credit to scale up, and throwing the solar cell market into a huge glut, crushing Western manufacturers; and now it is coming back to bite the Dragon by its own tail.

    Sure, it could be a one-off, but Chnia's corporate bond market is much larger (adjusted for GDP) than the US equivalent and is highly misallocated due to easy credit and political malinvestment. While unconnected to the Euro crisis, coming so swiftly after Cyprus, it may be another harbinger that the wheels may be slowing coming off the global credit train.


    What Three Waves of Debt Crisis Have Taught China

    Problems in the economy since 1978 have followed a familiar pattern that ends with bailouts, something to bear in mind as local governments' liabilities soar

    An economy that booms on the back of credit expansion is bound to bust when the debts become unsustainable. Starting with a few unrelated defaults by small businesses on their loans, a chain reaction ripples through the entire economy and drags down other companies. Banks falter under the weight of bad loans. Propping them up requires stimulus that expands the government's deficit.


    U.S. National Debt Clock March 2013

    An Overview of the United States National Debt

    The Current Outstanding Public Debt of the United States is:


    Last Updated: Tuesday, March 26th, 2013 (updated daily)

    Every man, woman and child in the United States currently owes $55,130 for their share of the U.S. public debt

    Which Foreign governments own the most U.S. debt?

    Answer: Here is the Top 10 (as of Jan/2013)

    1. China, Mainland, $1264.5 billion dollars
    2. Japan, $1115.2 billion dollars
    3. Oil Exporters*, $262.0 billion dollars
    4. Brazil, $253.4 billion dollars
    5. All Other, $245.5 billion dollars
    6. Carib Bnkng Ctrs**, $236.9 billion dollars
    7. Taiwan, $196.6 billion dollars
    8. Switzerland, $192.7 billion dollars
    9. Russia, $162.9 billion dollars
    10. Luxembourg, $144.7 billion dollars

    *Includes oil exporting countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran

    **includes countries such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands

    Of the $5.1 trillion dollars of US debt that is owned by foreign governments, China and Japan own nearly half

    Growth of US Debt Over Past 50 Years

    Current: $16,749,924,938,094.43
    2010: $13,178,317,356,215.73
    2004: $7,379,052,696,330.32
    1999: $5,656,270,901,615.43
    1994: $4,692,749,910,013.32
    1989: $2,857,430,960,187.32
    1984: $1,572,266,000,000.00
    1979: $826,519,000,000.00
    1974: $475,059,815,731.55
    1969: $353,720,253,841.41
    1964: $311,712,899,257.30
    1959: $284,705,907,078.22

    1. New BoJ chief slams Japan debt as 'abnormal'

      TOKYO (AFP) - The new head of the Bank of Japan on Thursday called the country's eye-popping national debt "abnormal" and warned that Tokyo must avoid a plunge in confidence among bondholders.

      Japan is struggling with chronically anaemic growth while its ever-increasing debt mountain stands at more than twice the size of the economy.

      That is the worst ratio among industrialised nations and one set to grow as a rapidly ageing population strains the social welfare system.

      "It is abnormal when the debt stands at more than twice GDP, and it's not sustainable," central bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda told parliament.

      "It is extremely important to maintain confidence in financial and bond markets," he added.

      Most of Japan's debt is held domestically, allowing it to sidestep the kind of criticism levelled at Greece and other eurozone nations by foreign debtholders.

      Kuroda, who was installed as BoJ governor last week, has pledged "all-out efforts" to rid Japan of its long-running deflation, which the Oxford University graduate previously branded as "abnormal" for a developed economy.

      The 68-year-old former Asian Development Bank president was Tokyo's choice to lead the central bank as it tries to fuel growth and hit a two-percent inflation target.

      The aim is to reverse years of falling prices that have crimped private spending and corporate investment.
      The Bank of Japan holds its first policy meeting under Kuroda next week, with widespread expectations it will launch aggressive monetary easing measures to kickstart the world's third-largest economy.

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    Toro decision delayed again

    The State Government approved the project last year, but Toro is still waiting for Mr Burke's verdict before it makes a final investment decision.

    The Federal Government's approval process was delayed in December until March 31, after Mr Burke wanted more information from the company on the "impacts to water and the long-term integrity of the final landform of the mine site".


    Rio hit by $1.4bn project blowout

    TENSIONS between Rio Tinto and Mongolia are threatening to delay production at the $US11.3 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project, where Rio yesterday revealed a significant cost blowout that has wiped out $US1.5bn ($1.4bn) of value, forced down forecast production and raised expected operating costs.

    Rio, through its Turquoise Hill subsidiary that is building the mine, yesterday said it remained in discussions with Mongolian officials over a proposed 2013 budget that proposes breaking a 2010 investment agreement by imposing a progressive royalty scheme on Oyu Tolgoi.


    Mine to expand despite promise

    THE Newman government is pressing ahead with a scaled-down proposal for an extension of a coalmine on the Darling Downs, despite promising that an extension would not go ahead before last year's election.

    The government yesterday released terms of reference for an environmental impact statement covering stage three of the New Acland Coal Mine, 50km west of Toowoomba.

    It said this would "clear the way" for New Hope Coal to prepare a new EIS for the scaled-down proposal.

    Under the new proposal, it was claimed the new open-cut mine would have a footprint -- the mine plus a buffer -- of 1354ha as opposed to the 3658ha originally proposed by New Hope and put forward to the previous Queensland government.

    Deputy Premier and State Development Minister Jeff Seeney said the new proposal would significantly reduce the project's impact on agricultural land and local communities while still providing employment and economic benefits.




    Arctic sea route will open Asia to Russian gas

    RUSSIAN oil and gas delivered to Asian customers via the Arctic Northern Sea Route (NSR) will add further competition to global markets within the next few years as projects such as the Yamal LNG development come on stream and new nuclear-powered icebreakers are built to clear the route for tankers.

    The NSR, which runs along the northern coastline of Siberia from Novaya Zemlya to the Bering Strait, is only open for about five months of the year (late June to November) and requires icebreakers to cut a path through the Arctic ice for specially strengthened oil and gas carriers.

    But the route cuts as much as three weeks from shipping times between Europe and Asia. For example, Murmansk to China’s Ningbo port near Shanghai is 13,000 km via the NSR, compared with 22,000 km via the Mediterranean Sea, Suez Canal, Indian Ocean and Straits of Malacca.

    Russian President Vladmir Putin is keen to see more energy sales to Asia, potentally pitting Russian producers against existing oil and gas suppliers from the Middle East and Australia and the post-2015 North American LNG exporters.


    The NSR is considered crucial to the successful development of Arctic oil and gas fields being eyed by Russian state-owned giants Gazprom and Rosneft, independent gas producer Novatek and a list of international partners that includes ExxonMobil, BP, Total, Italy’s Eni and Norway’s Statoil.

    ... At an international oil and gas conference in Houston, Texas earlier this month, Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin urged US and other international companies to join in the Arctic supply rush, telling them that the first stage of offshore development there would involve an investment of $500 billion.

    (the last great undiscovered area of oil and gas on earth)

    In a 2012 assessment of undiscovered conventional oil and gas reserves around the world, the USGS put the mean undiscovered estimate of technically recoverable oil in Russia’s Arctic provinces at 28 billion barrels, plus about 27 trillion cubic metres of gas.(729 TRILLION CU FEET)


    ... Novatek says the NSR is an integral part of its plan to develop gas fields in the Yamal peninsula, an area that holds as much as 83 per cent of Russia’s gas reserves. Its partners in the Yamal project include Gazprom and Total.

    In July last year Novatek began construction of Sabetta port on the east coast of the Yamal peninsula. It will serve as the main port for LNG cargo to Asia.

    rosatom general director Sergei Kirienko said one of the corporation’s main goals was to develop the NSR, and for this purpose it was building a new generation of nuclear-powered icebreakers.

    The first of these, a 33,000-tonne giant able to break through four metres of Arctic ice, is to be built at the Baltic Shipyard in St Petersburg at a cost of more than $1 billion. The vessel, known as Icebreaker 9, is due to be launched in 2015 and enter service in 2017.

    At the end of last year, Gazprom completed the first test shipment of LNG using the NSR, sending the chartered Greek carrier Ob River with a 66,000-tonne cargo from Statoil’s Hammerfest LNG terminal in Norway to the Japanese port of Tobata between November 7 and December 5. The route was cleared by three Russian icebreakers.

    According to the Centre for High North Logistics, 46 vessels used the NSR in 2012, carrying about 1.26 million tonnes of cargo, or more than 50 per cent greater than the volume carried in 2011.

    China is interested in using the NSR also, and in August 2012 sent its icebreaker Xue Long (Snow Dragon) on a two-way test run of the route. In the longer term, China envisages sending container ships to Europe and receiving LNG cargoes via the NSR.

    In February Rosneft’s Igor Sechin met the heads of China’s three state-controlled oil and gas majors, CNPC, Sinopec and CNOOC, during a working visit to China. According to a Rosneft statement, Sechin’s discussions with his Chinese counterparts included possible cooperation on projects offshore from the Russian shelf.