Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Australians Lock the Gate on mining -- New Internationalist

Australians Lock the Gate on mining -- New Internationalist

The power of the Lock the Gate movement, which has mobilized thousands of people, is no mean feat in a country dominated by the interests of billionaires, who’ve made their fortunes drilling and digging holes. In Australia, mineral resources are legally the property of the state, but the profits are well and truly private.
In 2012, the Country Women’s Association, the largest conservative women’s organization in the country, often stereotyped as ‘great scone-bakers’, broke with 90 years of tradition and took to the streets, joining an anti-CSG rally of around 10,000 people in Sydney.
But until now, the rhetoric of the movement has largely focussed on protecting farmland and water resources, often peppered with nationalistic sentiments. On the surface the potential for a radical challenge to corporate mining interests would seem somewhat blunted. The fight seems to have pitted emerging, cashed-up mining magnates against entrenched agricultural elites. This includes millionaires from Sydney, who own vineyards and breed race-horses in New South Wales’ coal rich Hunter Valley.
In the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, an exciting branch of the campaign has decisively shifted the focus away from protecting patches of private property. Vast numbers of volunteers have been mobilized through town meetings, going door-to-door, sharing information on mining processes and surveying roads and towns.
The results of the survey process have been universally positive, with the overwhelming majority of residents electing to declare their roads and towns free from mining development. Subsequently, large numbers of people have been trained in peaceful civil disobedience, including techniques like blockading access to drilling sites and ‘lock-ons’, where people chain themselves to equipment or strategic locations.
Blockades in Glenugie and Doubtful Creek both lasted around 50 days, costing Metagsco, the company involved, tens of millions of dollars. Groups like the Knitting Nannas Against Gas, made up of retirees willing to be arrested (and knit) for a cause, have made it impossible for the mainstream media, governments and companies to dismiss the resistance as ‘the usual bunch of hippies and ferals’.


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  2. Santos ready for CSG fight

    Gas giant Santos has escalated its war against environmental groups opposing coal seam gas exploration, accusing them of hijacking the debate and exacerbating the looming energy supply "crisis" in NSW.

    Chief executive David Knox said the Greens and other environmental groups in Australia were originally supportive of gas as a transitional fuel to wean the country's energy grid off coal and eventually on to renewable sources.

    But now they had turned against the industry, he said, because the success of gas exploration - particularly in the US - now meant it would become part of the long-term energy mix. ''This is a concerted campaign to shut this industry down,'' he said.

    "When we all started this journey, gas here in Australia was viewed as a transition fuel. And I think what has happened, interestingly and I have to say incredibly disappointingly, the Greens are now opposing gas."


    NSW resources and energy minister Chris Hartcher said the level of intensity in the coal seam gas debate was unlike anything he had seen, and blamed the industry in part for failing to initially engage with communities and explain the process.

    "That vacuum has very quickly been filled by extremist Greens, fortified by a level of ignorance in the community," Mr Hartcher said.

    One of the Greens' policies for the election is to ban all new CSG exploration, a move Federal Resources Minister Gary Gray this week branded as "absurd".

    Mr Hartcher said the immense community backlash on coal seam gas, exacerbated by the distrust in government brought on it by the ICAC proceedings in NSW, meant the O'Farrell government would find it difficult to loosen its toughened regulatory CSG regime.


    Cooper Basin gas production set to surge, says Santos

    After a decade of decline, Santos' gas production capacity in the Cooper Basin in central Australia has risen for the past three years and is poised to surge by 30 per cent over the next two years.

    The forecast by the company, which has a major position in the Cooper Basin, comes as gas producers are warning of significant gas price increases over the next three years amid rising competition for gas from export projects being developed in Queensland.

    The move comes against the backdrop of rising demand for gas from the export projects being developed in Queensland and as Santos and its partners prepare to access a greater portion of so-called unconventional gas, which in the Cooper will be sourced from shale.

    Already Santos has had strong initial flows from unconventional gas wells in the region.

    At the same time the company is working to reduce "down time", when its wells are not producing, to less than 10 per cent over the next three years, as well as working to reduce production costs to below $10 a barrel of oil equivalent, it said.

    It is also moving to more than double the number of wells drilled annually in the Cooper from the present level of about 25 wells, it said.


  3. Eric Streitberg on the positives for Buru from Woodside axing it's JPP plans.




    Will the potential development of your gas project be affected by the recent announcement by Woodside that it will not be proceeding with the James Price Point development north of Broome?

    Executive Director, Eric Streitberg

    In Buru’s case, our business plan has always been to supply gas into the WA domestic gas market in the Pilbara and the southwest using a new pipeline from the Kimberley to Port Hedland. We never had any plans to take gas to James Price Point.

    We of course need to continue to appropriately engage with the community and do the work to prove up our gas assets. But as we have consistently said, if we are going to develop the gas there are sound commercial and operational reasons for us to take our gas south. So this decision certainly has no effect on our business plans.


    Given that there are no obvious effects on your business from this decision, do you see it might have any positives for you?

    Executive Director, Eric Streitberg

    We see this decision as overwhelmingly a positive one for Buru. Deferment of the Browse development means that any domgas component of the project is also deferred, which is a positive for our potential domgas project. On the cost side, we expect the deferment of another huge gas plant will help control costs and make greater resources of people and expertise available for our pipeline development.


    Buru has missed these targets but some insight here.


    By 2014 Buru aims to be supplying 20% of the domestic WA gas market and most of the light oil/condensate/LPG for WA. This means the Canning Basin producing a gross 200 TJ/day of gas and 10,000 bpd of liquids into the domestic market (50% net to Buru).

    Today, Buru holds gross 83,000 km2 (gross 20.6 MM acres, net 11.9 MM acres) – one tenth the size of Texas – over the most prospective parts of the 'Superbasin'. It aims to be the biggest domestic oil and gas producer in WA, with LNG as a long-term goal and to supply a significant proportion of WA's oil needs in the short term.

    The company's aim is to have total production over 15 years of about 1 Tcf of gas and about 50 MM bbl of liquids – and the Canning has potential for both conventional and unconventional resources to achieve this goal.

    A major unconventional gas accumulation has been identified in its Valhalla-2 well, while a hydrocarbon column has been confirmed in Nita Carbonates at the Pictor east location and is under review for a horizontal appraisal well. Buru also has a major tight gas field at Yulleroo which it will be appraising with at least two wells in early 2012.

    The first objective for Buru's Domgas plans is to find sufficient conventional and tight gas to support an export pipeline – the Great Northern Pipeline – into the Domgas system. There is potential for sales of up to 1 Tcf of domgas (200 TJ/day and 10,000 bpd of liquids).

    About 4 Tcf of gas is required to support a 5 MM tonnes-per-year LNG plant which could be sited in the Pilbara and supplied with the Great Northern Pipeline. Total reserves required are therefore 5 Tcf. Again, the Canning's unconventional resources can support this level of reserves.

    Production from the Yulleroo well is on the fast track to commercialisation, Valhalla has the potential to be a multi-Tcf resource play and Pictor is also a possible gas and oil field.

    The Yulleroo wet gas field is a major conventional/tight gas resource. An independent review has confirmed gross mean recoverable resources of 332 Bcf recoverable gas and 13.4 MM bbl liquids.


  4. What is all the fuss by Barnett over jobs being lost to FLNG?
    Happy times for mine robots.
    These are long term jobs - not short term construction jobs.


    Automation is the future as mining becomes smarter

    AN automated future of the mining industry was well within reach, federal Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray said, despite challenging market conditions that are prompting miners to axe spending.

    Speaking to The Australian as part of a Path to Prosperity roundtable in Perth, Mr Gray said the evolution of Australia's mining industry towards automation would continue.

    Asked if potential job losses could present a political challenge, Mr Gray said the advancement of the sector would make for a better industry.

    "I think the resources sector is always growing in one direction and contracting in another, (for example) as we've been growing our iron ore export volumes we've seen job losses in coal in Queensland and NSW," Mr Gray said.

    "So I think we'll always see that ebb and flow, but I think for the future we'll see an even cleaner mining sector.

    "I think we'll see one that does employ fewer people and is more productive and has more women in the workforce and has an even higher skilled workforce than the one that we currently have.


    "There will be more indigenous workers in it, we'll be generating in the not too distant future our second and our third-generation indigenous mine-working families. That's a tremendous future for us to look forward to in a sector that will not just generate wealth but help make Australia an even better place."

    Mining giant Rio Tinto has been at the forefront of automation, having set up a remote operations centre near Perth airport from which workers operate equipment more than 1000km away in the Pilbara.

    Fellow resources heavyweight BHP Billiton is in the early stages of a similar program.

    While cooling commodity prices had prompted mining companies to reassess their spending, Mr Gray expected to see companies continue to invest in technology.

    He said the resources sector was benefiting from the adoption of technology, while the National Broadband Network could deliver better communications through Western Australia's remote mining regions.

    "On the one end you've got the sort of equivalent of NASA, which is what Rio brings to its train set (through automation) but you also have some clever applications being worked out for human resource management, for people-management, for online training, for the creation of specialist skills, for providing bulletin boards on activities, for keeping workers better informed and connected with home," Mr Gray said.

    Atlas Iron chief executive Ken Brinsden said his company had "an open mind" on innovation, and said he expected to see more automation into the future.

    "The mining industry has relied really heavily on classic drill and blast technology that's been around for many, many decades but I would expect that mechanical mining methods would become much more prevalent, particularly in iron ore," Mr Brinsden said.

    Reg Howard-Smith from the Chamber of Minerals and Energy Western Australia said the growth of automation would help attract smarter talent to the mining industry.

    "Yes, over time (automation) does remove an operator but it increases the number of smart people working in the industry," Mr Howard-Smith said.

    "You're transferring skills into smart areas."


    Yeah right.


  5. Australia's richest woman,Gina ,was whinging lately (as uaual) about Aussie workers not being paid $2 a day like African workers.

    Exxon are happy to cash in on low PNG wages.
    This is more about cheap labour than expensive Aussie labour.


    Warning as cheap PNG labour tempts Exxon

    EXXON Mobil may more than double the size of its $US16 billion ($16.57bn) Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas plant amid waning enthusiasm for onshore plant development in Australia, where it has called for labour relations reform.

    Yesterday Exxon's Houston-based head of Middle East and Australian development, Mark Nolan, talked up the attractiveness of PNG as an investment destination while Australia's high labour costs and low productivity were affecting investment decisions here.

    Mr Nolan said the oil giant was in talks with Canada's InterOil about expanding PNG LNG, in which Oil Search and Santos also have stakes. Analysts said on top of other expansion options, this could mean that the current two-train project grows to five trains, although there was some uncertainty about what it could mean for the timing of expansions Oil Search has an interest in.

    Mr Nolan, whose company recently ditched onshore development options for the Scarborough LNG plant in favour of a floating plant and is part of the Gorgon project where costs recently blew out by $9bn, joined other industry heads at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association in Brisbane yesterday in warning high costs were making Australia an unattractive place to invest.


    "When we look around the world, we look at the most attractive place to develop -- Australia has some great advantages but it has some significant disadvantages in labour cost and labour productivity," Mr Nolan said.

    "As we look at these mega-projects around the world, those sort of issues drive development decisions."

    He also said the Australian government needed to change industrial relations policy.

    "The government has a role to help us manage labour relations, there's no question about that. It's a significant factor," Mr Nolan said.

    The comments, from the usually restrained Exxon, hammer home the extent to which the industry is disillusioned about the investment environment in Australia. They come after a call from Shell chief executive Peter Voser, also at APPEA yesterday, for Australia to put in better policies to attract investment.


  6. However countries are cancelling LNG agreements but guess who is cutting whose throats?

    Shell FLNG scalps Chevrons Gorgon!(a project they have a hefty stake in!)


    LNG costs in focus as $60bn gas deals shelved
    (this is for the gas - not the gas plants)

    AUSTRALIA'S high-cost liquefied natural gas projects - the investment backbone of the nation's economy - are under increasing pressure from Asian buyers demanding steeper discounts amid evidence at least $60 billion worth of gas supply deals have fallen over.

    As burgeoning supply centres emerge in the US and east Africa, operators of Australia's $200bn project pipeline of LNG plants on the northwest coast of Western Australia and in Gladstone in Queensland will find keener pricing on supply deals, industry leaders warn.

    Already two big gas export deals with South Korea, worth $60bn, have been shelved as LNG buyers seek out deals elsewhere.

    Chevron, the builder of the $53bn Gorgon LNG plant on Western Australia's Barrow Island, said a 2009 agreement to sell $30bn of gas from the project to Korea Gas across 20 years did not get approval from the South Korean government and that the country would not be taking the gas.

    Local Chevron managing director Roy Krzywosinski revealed for the first time yesterday the deal fell over in late 2011. At the same time, another Chevron deal with Kogas, a $29bn supply deal from its West Australian Wheatstone project, was also axed.


    The prices now being demanded by the big Asian buyers often do not cover the cost of higher-priced Australian projects. The industry has already warned that $100bn of potential LNG investment is at risk as higher labour bills and regulatory burdens push costs in Australia up to 30 per cent higher than competing regions.

    "We had what we thought was a long-term agreement with Kogas for 1.5 million tonnes of LNG a year," Mr Krzywosinski said on the sidelines of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Brisbane yesterday.

    "It was approved by Kogas and then was sent to the government for approval and there was some dialogue and things just didn't work out." The agreement had been non-binding, he added.

    When the Gorgon deal with Kogas was announced, the heads of agreement (which precedes a sales and purchase agreement) was trumpeted by Chevron as the largest long-term sale of Australian LNG to South Korea. It is believed the deal was knocked back after Shell, Chevron's partner in Gorgon but not in the gas deal, and Total offered Kogas a better price for gas from the Prelude floating LNG project.

    LNG marketing sources said there had been a big recent push by LNG buyers for cheaper pricing, either linked to US gas prices or simply demanding a bigger discount in the traditional method of linking moves in LNG to moves in oil prices. In many cases they are said to be demanding prices that would be unprofitable for LNG operators.

    Chevron has replaced the lost volumes at Wheatstone but not Gorgon. Mr Krzywosinski said he was confident the volumes would be replaced at a decent price.

    "The closer we get to first LNG (production) the more valuable the volumes are going to be, so we're confident we'll be able to market those," he said.

    A spokesman for Chevron said last night South Korea remained "an important market for LNG and still has significant uncovered demand for LNG in the 2015-plus timeframe". He said Chevron's Gorgon and Wheatstone projects were "well positioned" to supply growing LNG demand.


  7. Which brings us back to Eric Streitberg's comments on value for shareholders :

    "In Buru’s case, our business plan has always been to supply gas into the WA domestic gas market in the Pilbara and the southwest using a new pipeline from the Kimberley to Port Hedland. We never had any plans to take gas to James Price Point."


    So it is brownfields in the Pilbara for Buru and a good chance that if Woodside do not find enough gas in their new drilling program for Pluto (and remember the NWS will need new gas soon) Woodside could make a bid to take over Buru or at least farm in to the Canning Basin.


    Woodside to resume hunt for gas to expand Pluto plant

    WOODSIDE Petroleum said it would restart efforts to find natural gas for an expansion of the flagship Pluto export facility in Western Australia early next year, as it doused expectations it might look to fill a hole in its production growth with a big acquisition.

    Woodside, Australia's biggest oil company by output behind BHP Billiton, will have two rigs drilling in waters near the $15 billion gas-export facility next year, targeting at least eight natural gas prospects, chief executive Peter Coleman said.

    Woodside wants to expand Pluto because existing infrastructure makes it cheaper to bolt on extra liquefied natural gas, or LNG, processing units than starting new developments from scratch. The high cost of new LNG projects was cited by Woodside and partners for the recent decision to abandon plans to develop the Browse gas resource in Western Australia using an onshore plant.

    Analysts say the setbacks mean Woodside will struggle to increase its annual production until 2018 at the earliest unless it uses surplus cash to buy rival companies or oil and gas fields already in development.


    Woodside has long led the nation's push to capture rising Asian demand for clean fuels, operating two of the country's three operating gas-export facilities and partnering companies such as Royal Dutch Shell on discovering new gas fields.

    However, a lack of drilling success in recent years and rising costs means the Perth-based company is starting to lag rivals in developing new projects. Woodside put an expansion of Pluto on ice last year after it failed to find enough gas nearby and talks with rival suppliers broke down.

    Mr Coleman said the company retained the ability to make a "sizeable" acquisition following a recent $US500 million cash return to shareholders and a pledge to pay more of future profits as dividends.

    But potential targets currently look expensive, he said.

    "When you look at prices and so forth, it's not clear to me that it's a good time to be out in the market at all," Mr Coleman said.

    He said Woodside would only be interested in acquiring willing sellers, and therefore isn't keen on making hostile takeover bids.


    1. Of course it could prove to be more profitable to use FLNG for a Pluto expansion and float the second train right over the new gas fields.

      This could leave Canning Basin gas as backfill for the NWS as it may be cheaper than laying a pipeline from Browse or a new distant find.

  8. After all Sunrise is no longer on the back burner it is off the stove and back in the fridge.


    Aussie spies accused of bugging Timor cabinet

    AUSTRALIA'S overseas spy agency has been accused of breaking into the cabinet rooms of the East Timorese government under the instruction of then foreign minister Alexander Downer and covertly recording the Timorese foreign minister and officials.

    The East Timorese government claims that the Australian Secret Intelligence Service conducted the operation in Dili during the 2004 negotiations over a treaty that governs billions of dollars in gas revenue between the two nations - and which Timor now claims is invalid.

    East Timor's Resources Minister Alfredo Pires and lawyer Bernard Collaery allege that ASIS breached international law and Timorese sovereignty during the negotiations over the Greater Sunrise natural gas reserves under a "criminal conspiracy hatched in Canberra".

    The allegations emerged as China yesterday denied claims that it mounted a cyber attack to steal the plans for ASIO's Canberra headquarters.


    The Australian understands the breach occurred in 2010, or possibly 2009, with the layout of the $630 million building accessed via a contractor working on the site.

    In the wake of the Greater Sunrise espionage claims, the Timorese government has declared the Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea Treaty invalid and triggered compulsory arbitration.

    "That treaty was negotiated in a number of sessions, and in negotiating . . . in October 2004, Australia clandestinely monitored the negotiation rooms occupied by the other party," Mr Collaery told The Australian.

    "So it was a Watergate situation. They broke in and they bugged, in a total breach of sovereignty, the cabinet room, the ministerial offices of then prime minister (Mari) Alkitiri and his government. They placed clandestine listening devices in the ministerial conference room, we call it a cabinet room."

    Mr Downer declined to confirm or deny the allegations.

    "I am not in the business of giving any commentary on intelligence matters full stop," Mr Downer said. "Otherwise we won't have intelligence services."

    Neither Mr Collaery nor Mr Pires would divulge details of evidence of the alleged operation but described it as "irrefutable".


    "As far as Timor Leste is concerned, CMATS Treaty is invalid . . . it has come to our knowledge . . . that there was some covert operations by the Australian intelligence, which allowed the Australian team to have access to conversations by our negotiating team," Mr Pires told The Australian .


  9. Aussie spies accused of bugging Timor cabinet...cont...


    The Timorese government, which has assembled some of the world's best international lawyers to fight the case, is furious with Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus for issuing a press release earlier this month that it says was an attempt to discredit the allegations.

    Mr Pires and Mr Collaery said the issuing of the press release publicising the Timorese arbitration claim violated an agreement made when Julia Gillard met Timorese Foreign Minister Jose Luis Guterres on December 7 last year not to engage in "megaphone diplomacy" on the issue.

    After the failure of initial talks with Australia over the dispute, East Timor filed for compulsory arbitration under the treaty, a UN-recognised process, on April 23.

    Senator Carr and Mr Dreyfus issued the joint press release on May 3, claiming East Timor was alleging espionage during the negotiations, but refused to go into any further detail.

    "We wanted to keep this away from the megaphones, but it was done," Mr Pires said. He said East Timor specifically waited until after a vote that secured Australia a spot on the UN Security Council before lodging its claim.

    Mr Pires said East Timor had every intention of following through on the allegations. "This is a very serious allegation, we do not have a habit of doing these things," he said. "We will have to back up our allegations.

    "We are serious about it. Our leaders have made a decision."

    Mr Collaery, a former ACT attorney-general and Australian diplomat, is in London working on the Timor arbitration claim with international lawyers Elihu Lauterpacht, which was employed by Australia during the nuclear test case, and Vaughan Lowe.

    Mr Collaery claims that Mr Downer directly authorised the operation to listen covertly to the negotiations in a cabinet room built with Australian aid.

    "Downer certainly knew," Mr Collaery said. "It was a carefully premeditated, involved, very lengthy operation with premeditated breaches of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, and premeditated breaches of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. All premeditated and pretty mind-blowing. . .

    "This is a criminal conspiracy, a break-in on sovereign territory . . . and a breach of Australian law."

    Greater Sunrise gas reserve revenues have been a contentious issue between the two nations since East Timor gained independence in 2002. The CMATS Treaty agreed to split government revenue for Greater Sunrise 50-50, as well as put boundary negotiations on hold for 50 years if the Greater Sunrise joint venture gas project with Woodside and Shell went ahead within six years.

    The project has failed to get off the ground amid a disagreement over whether the location of the gas processing plant should be in northern Australia or in East Timor.

    Mr Downer said he thought East Timor was motivated by a desire to redraw the CMATS Treaty so that a gas processing plant was built in Timor. "I assume ultimately they want to terminate the treaty, but I have no real idea what's motivating them," he said.

    "They obviously have the option of going to arbitration and are hoping to do better out of it from that. But the real issue here is where they build the receival terminal or whether there is a floating LNG plant . . .

    "Not surprisingly - because of sovereign-risk issues - Woodside, and the consortium generally, have been keen to build it in Australia. Then they've come up with this idea of a floating plant that would be much cheaper than building it in East Timor. So I assume it's all to do with that."

    Australia has until the middle of next month to nominate an arbitrator to the talks. Timor has appointed former British supreme court judge Lawrence Collins.


  10. The "Food Bowl" of the North.

    Ord stage 2 given to the Chinese to grow sugar.

    Ord stage 3 will be to grow sugar to make the sugar mill being built for Ord 2 profitable.

    The Cape York irrigation scheme which will be planting next monsoon season to grow cotton.


    Anyone eating sugar and cotton?

    Or sandalwood?

    The Northern "No Food Bowl."


  11. To be run on Australian Uranium.

    Second of four nuclear plants underway in UAE

    Wednesday, 29 May 2013

    THE construction of a second nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates has begun, with a joint venture between the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation and Korea Electric Power Corporation hailing the milestone.


    It might surprise many Australians to know that Foreign Minister Bob Carr is moving forward with a deal to sell Australian uranium to the United Arab Emirates – a country with an illiberal government situated in one of the most volatile and insecure regions in the world.

    In Abu Dhabi last August, Carr talked up the deal which would see the UAE become Australia's first Middle Eastern uranium market as “underpinning jobs and investment in Australian uranium mines”.


    A deal to sell uranium to the United Arab Emirates will open the door to nuclear waste returning to Australia, the Greens warned today.

    Australian Greens spokesperson on nuclear policy, Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam, raised the alarm at the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties today, pointing out a dangerous provision in the proposed treaty to allow the return of nuclear materials.


    MAPW urges against uranium sales to UAE

    Written 15/05/2013

    MAPW has presented a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties against the sale of uranium to the United Arab Emirates.

    MAPW Vice President Dr Margaret Beavis, who prepared the submission, has said that "MAPW believes the sale of uranium to the UAE in not in Australia’s national interest".


  12. There have been many comments from Coleman and his predecessor Voelte on fracked gas and how it will never impact the conventional gas market.
    Well here we go and it has hit the Chevron Gorgon project in a big way.


    Gorgon gas sales fall short

    Chevron has quietly been forced to look for a new customer for $30 billion of Gorgon gas after the world's biggest LNG buyer walked out on offtake talks.

    Chevron confirmed yesterday that Korea Gas, or KOGAS, had not followed through on a non-binding heads of agreement to buy 1.5 million tonnes of Gorgon LNG a year.

    When Chevron announced the agreement with KOGAS in 2009, it trumpeted the proposed 15-year offtake as "the first long-term sale between KOGAS and an Australian supplier".

    Analysts forecast the deal to be worth about $30 billion over its 15-year life.

    Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski yesterday did not provide a reason why the KOGAS talks collapsed.

    Industry sources said KOGAS walked because of disagreement over price at a time when the Korean giant was playing off the prospect of US LNG exports against traditional suppliers in Australia.

    The collapse of the KOGAS deal leaves Chevron with just 65 per cent of its share of Gorgon LNG committed under long-term contracts.

    Chevron traditionally aims for long-term contracts covering about 80 per cent of output, as it has done with the $US29 billion Wheatstone venture. The remaining output is used for spot or shorter-term supply contracts.


    .....it underscores that KOGAS has led the charge among LNG customers to become increasingly aggressive in offtake price negotiations amid the prospect of new uncontracted LNG projects emerging in North America and east Africa.

    KOGAS is known to want to move away from traditional LNG pricing - where the gas price is linked to crude oil prices - and instead use the Henry Hub gas price in the US as a benchmark.

    US gas prices have plummeted over the past three years because of the abundance of new supply from onshore shale developments.

    Mr Krzywosinski said yesterday that Chevron and key Gorgon partners Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil remained committed to beginning front-end engineering and design work for a fourth processing train this year.

    Mr Krzywosinski would not go into specifics but said it was likely the fourth train would be similar in output size to the foundation three processing lines, of 5.2mtpa a piece.
    He said a decision to go ahead with the fourth train would depend on "whether this investment climate settles".


    Despite all the reassuring words Chevron would really be feeling the pinch.
    They may now need a 4th train to increase volumes as a way to make up for the falling gas price.
    This game has a long way to go but it is only going to get tougher from here on in and it is now essential for all companies to find much cheaper options to satisfy their customers needs for cheaper energy.
    You can guarantee Buru will be watching this keenly and the thought of being shoe horned into a site like JPP would be absolutely hair raising.
    The same will apply for all the companies hoping to develop their Browse resource.
    Coleman has been over JPP with a fine tooth comb and any company would be hard pressed to find a more UNSUITABLE SITE.
    It is way past time Barnett stopped trying to bash this square peg into a round hole - it's over finished time to walk away.

    There is a huge tourist potential for JPP and it's time this was realised especially as our lousy developers have lost Chinatown.


    Ferguson has retired and as far as a great many Broome residents are concerned it's good riddance.
    He spent a lot of time and energy bad mouthing this community while sucking up to his big oil and gas mates.

    The fact his resignation reduced Abbott to tears says enough about what Ferguson really cared about.


    1. As a footnote to this Barnett has embarked on an MUA union bashing exercise to shift the blame of the Gorgon failings onto the workers and away from management.

      The truth is that some time back when Chevron were asked about the main reason for the delays they said,"...we didn't fully understand the implications of the environmental conditions on operating in a class "A" nature reserve.
      The main problem we had was when it came to unloading materials and equipment.
      If we had the cargoes in the wrong order we couldn't move them around by unloading other cargo onto the island because of the environmental conditions.
      We didn't learn fast enough with this and it caused us many delays."


      It's the worlds oldest ploy - when the fit hits the shan kick the butt further down the line until you get to the last one in the line.

      Unfortunately some people have long memories.


  13. One of the best time lapse yet.


    "What’s truly amazing — and perhaps alarming — about this new era of extreme resources is how fast they’re developing. My visit to the Albertan oil sands came late in 2010. In the two and a half years since, oil companies there have produced nearly a billion new barrels of crude. As time-lapse satellite images show, much of this development is relatively new, a response to the sharp increase in the price of oil over the past decade. Similar trends are also at work in the vast coalfields of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, the mountaintop mines of West Virginia and the rain forests of the Brazilian state of Rondonia. A growing global population and a ravenous demand for natural resources is altering the very face of the planet. Thanks to the Timelapse imagery, we can see it happening."


  14. Coalition will 'get around' new law on coal seam gas

    Environmental assessments will be done by states, says shadow resources minister, speeding up approval process for CSG wells

    The Coalition says it will 'get around' a new law to force the federal government to take responsibility for coal seam gas, giving power for environmental assessments to the states to speed up the approval process and boost the CSG industry.

    In June the Senate is likely to pass the Gillard government's legislation requiring the federal government to take account of the cumulative impact on the water table of developments like coal seam gas wells.

    The bill, which inserts water as a trigger under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, was amended in the lower house at the initiative of Independent Tony Windsor. The amendement was intended to "put beyond doubt" that the commonwealth had to give the final approvals for coal seam gas wells, taking into account their impact on water, and that it could not hand this power over to state governments. The Coalition opposed the amendment, but did not oppose the bill, which passed.

    But Coalition resources spokesman Ian Macfarlane says that the new law, even with Windsor's amendment, "contains nothing to prevent" the Coalition from proceeding with its stated policy intention to hand over environmental assessments to the states, including for gas wells, under strict standards set by the commonwealth.

    "We can get around it,' he said. 'We want a one stop shop, and that's what we will achieve. We'll delegate approvals to the states. We already have an expert panel to assess water impacts. Labor is assuming the state governments are incompetent and don't have processes in place to deal with it," he said.

    "The only thing they will actually achieve is a slower approval process for no environmental benefit, because if the state is handling an assessment and approval they will have to add this to their process".

    At the same time Macfarlane is pressing NSW to approve more CSG wells because of a looming "gas crisis" in the state.

    He attacked the NSW Government for broad restrictions that have caused a virtual investment freeze on new CSG projects and told a conference this week that NSW "better get busy. They're facing an enormous crisis".

    "The pressure we can put on is to make sure the O'Farrell government understands that it's likely to be in power when Sydney runs out of gas," Macfarlane said.

    "Gas is either going to get so expensive that some users will stop using it, the price will make it uneconomical or there might not be enough to go around."

    The chief executive of the Victorian Environmental Defenders' Office, Brendan Sydes, said Macfarlane was wrong when he said that the new law would not force the commonwealth to make the final decision on projects.

    "The whole intent is to remove the ability to delegate those powers to the states...it is hard to see how you could get around that," he said.

    And Greens Senator Larissa Waters, a former environmental lawyer, also believes Macfarlane is mistaken.



  15. Oh dear - more for Gina to whinge about.

    Iron ore miners face $18bn hit

    FEARS that annual revenues of the Pilbara iron ore producers are in line for a combined hit of more than $18 billion have sent investors scurrying for the exits.

    The revenue cut is a result of prices for the key steelmaking raw material slumping to a seven-and-half-month low of $US112.90 a tonne in response to a fresh bout of destocking by steel mills in China, amid slumping steel prices and over-capacity concerns.


    The mining boom is over

    ....This is a turning point: for the mining industry and the economy. Its implications need to be absorbed fully by the Reserve, and by the austerity faction in the federal Coalition, which is likely to inherit an economy slowing sharply.


  16. Barnett hoping China will revive Oakajee port plan

    Posted Fri May 31, 2013 3:56pm AEST

    The Premier Colin Barnett is hoping new investment from China will help to revive WA's troubled Oakajee Port and Rail development.

    The proposed $6 billion development involves building shared rail network to connect mines in the Mid West to a new deep water port at Oakajee, north of Geraldton.

    It was shelved last year after Japanese backer Mitsubishi scaled back funding.

    Mr Barnett is flying to Asia tomorrow and is hoping the Chinese Government will become major investors in the project.

    "I know many people would say 'Oakajee is finished, give up', but I will not give up, " he said.

    "The Japanese interests have essentially taken a step back, but I'm hoping the Chinese interests will take a step forward.

    "I hope we can spark up their interest and bring China more formally into the project and perhaps even lead the project."

    The State and Federal Governments have jointly committed $700 million towards the port.

    "We now need something similar from the Chinese side to start the port development and bring on the rail infrastructure," Mr Barnett said.

    But he says getting the Chinese Government on board won't be easy.


    "I think there's a little bit of hesitancy at the moment and I think Australia as a whole has to be careful," he said.

    "I sense that China's appetite for investment and trade within Australia has just come off the boil a little bit.

    "They're certainly looking at more at South America and Africa, and we have to work hard both at a state and federal level to maintain that interest in major investment in this country."


    Mr Barnett says mineral trade, agricultural opportunities and science programs will also be discussed during the trip to China and Japan, which is his first in almost two years.

    Currently, more than 80 per cent of Chinese investment in Australia is in WA.


  17. Barnett to spruik Oakajee to Chinese

    WEST Australian Premier Colin Barnett will personally lobby Chinese state-owned companies in Beijing to invest in the stalled $5.9 billion Oakajee port and rail iron ore project in the state's midwest.

    Mr Barnett said cost blowouts in resource projects like CitiPacific's $10bn Sino Iron Pilbara iron ore development, confusion over foreign investment approvals and failed merger bids had created a hestitancy by the Chinese to invest in Australia.


    CITIC's Pacific's Sino Iron project delayed again

    by: Paul Garvey
    From: The Australian
    May 31, 2013 7:59PM

    HONG Kong-listed CITIC Pacific has suffered yet another delay at its already horribly over budget and behind schedule Sino Iron project in north-west Western Australia.

    CITIC late yesterday announced that the project now won’t make its long-awaited first iron ore shipment until the second half of the year, with frequent interruptions from “technical and operational issues” forcing the company to stop commissioning on the first of two production lines at the project.


    Japan pledges $32 billion aid for Africa to boost investment

    YOKOHAMA Japan (Reuters) - Japan pledged African leaders a $32 billion in public and private support on Saturday to help growth on the continent and encourage Japanese firms to invest there over the next five years.

    The package, unveiled by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the opening of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), includes $14 billion official development aid and $6.5 billion support to help infrastructure.

    Resource-poor Japan has long been keen on Africa's vast natural resources, even more so since dependence on oil and gas imports surged after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster shut almost all of Japan's nuclear reactors.


    Japan's direct investment in Africa was $460 million in 2011, compared with China's $3.17 billion, according to the Japan External Trade Organization and China's government data.


    Some 50 African leaders gathered for the three-day conference held in Yokohama near Tokyo to discuss issues such as economic development, peace-making and anti-piracy.

    "What Africa needs now is private-sector investment. 'PPP,' or 'public-private partnership,' leverages that investment," Abe said in an opening speech.

    Abe, who has been engaged in aggressive diplomacy since he took office in December, also said he planned to visit Africa as soon as possible.

    State-run Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp (JOGMEC) will also provide financial support worth $2 billion in the next five years to help Japanese firms' natural resource development projects, aiming to catch up with China.

    Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (NEXI), also state-run will secure the maximum of $2 billion trade and investment insurance framework.


  18. Australia must 'earn its right' to a share of LNG boom

    The oilmen are banking big on a natural gas boom. Global energy giants including ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron are piling in with Australian partners, bankrolling more than $200 billion to drill thousands of gas wells across inland Australia, and to lay pipes crossing the length of entire states that feed into LNG tanks the size of stadiums.

    It is all in the name of meeting the world's soaring energy needs, while turning a tidy profit.

    Indeed, Australia, they constantly remind you, will overtake Qatar as the world's largest exporter of liquefied natural gas by the turn of the decade. Yet before most of the country has begun to fathom the natural gas industry's huge growth in the past few years, could investment already have peaked? And much like the minerals boom, will Australia benefit as much as it should or instead see vast dislocations exacerbating its multi-speed economy?


    But despite its abundance of gas, Australia's attractiveness as a place to invest has taken a hit due to its high costs. An independently prepared McKinsey report, released at the conference this week, found the cost of building LNG projects had "increased tremendously in the past decade and is now 20 to 30 per cent higher" than the competition in the US and east Africa.


    But the writing has been on the wall for some time, and Japanese oil group Inpex's $US34 billion plunge into the Ichthys project near Darwin in January last year is increasingly seen as possibly the last greenfield LNG project Australia will see.

    The Gorgon mega-project in Western Australia, operated by Chevron as 47 per cent owner in a joint venture with Shell and ExxonMobil (25 per cent each), is set for first gas in less than two years. But its project costs blew out by 20 per cent to $52 billion last year.

    Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski warned that high costs in Australia could deter global companies from making investments. ''Nothing is a slam dunk; you have to earn everything you do," he told reporters at the conference. "So the question of cost structure is an important issue, especially if you have an international portfolio of competing priorities.''

    Wild cost blowouts have rendered the original development plans for Woodside's $45 billion-plus Browse project unviable. Much of the blame has been pinned on labour costs, in part driven by union demands.


    (Woodside & Barnett will never admit they spent all those wasted years and wasted dollars exploring the most unsuitable site possible for a giant LNG hub from a purely technical standpoint & so as usual all the poor management is blamed down the line to the workers)

    Coleman on FLNG : "We've been working on it for quite some time now," he said. "As we looked at our strategic plan for the company we recognised we needed to have alternatives. We needed to do something different."


    The Woodside-operated North-West Shelf project has been producing natural gas through the Karratha plant since 1984, but the wave of investment in the past five years has been unprecedented.

    The trigger has been the leap in understanding extraction techniques which has precipitated the shale gas revolution in the US. It has unleashed a glut of cheap gas into the US energy grid and rejuvenated its manufacturing sector.

    Cue a rush to replicate the success around the world, and to supply that gas to Asia, where energy is scarce and incessantly in demand. In particular it has seen a land grab by three $20 billion-plus developments happening side by side in Queensland's Gladstone : QCLNG operated by British Gas-owned QGC, GLNG operated by Santos and Australia Pacific LNG operated by Origin. But these also have been beset by cost pressures, with Santos announcing a 15 per cent cost blowout in June last year.


  19. Australia must 'earn its right' to a share of LNG boom.........cont.....

    Meanwhile, the surge in coal seam and shale gas exploration has sparked concerns about its effect on the environment, which have spread through the community, none more so than in NSW. A big part of that is because the drilling is happening closer to urban or farming areas.

    Geoscience Australia chief executive Chris Pigram said it was a quirk of fate that the coal seams ripe for gas extraction also "happens to sit under our prime farming land".

    "Frankly, the oil and gas industry has met the farmers in a very intimate way for the first time," he said.

    John Cotter, the chairman of Queensland's GasFields Commission, said there were also "unacceptable" discrepancies in the way farmers were being compensated for their land when they agreed to sell, mainly based on their ability to negotiate.

    "You have some people being paid a pittance and then others who have done well because they've taken these guys right to the wire," he said.


    The oil and gas industry is furious that NSW in particular has toughened environmental regulations for coal seam gas exploration. In February, the state government introduced a ban on coal seam gas exploration within two kilometres of residential and residential growth areas.

    NSW Resources Minister Chris Hartcher said the level of intensity in the coal seam gas debate was unlike anything he had seen, and blamed the industry in part for failing to initially engage with communities and explain the perceived risks of coal seam gas exploration.


    "That vacuum has very quickly been filled by extremist Greens, fortified by a level of ignorance in the community," he said.

    The Greens last week announced they would push for a ban on new coal seam mining, a move they said was sparked by community concerns about coal seam gas extraction, and its impact on farming land and groundwater.

    But with the Greens and Labor expecting to suffer heavy electoral defeats in September, it may well be the oilmen that win out. With the minerals boom fading, the oil and gas industry has been applying the pressure on both sides of government.


    Krzywosinski pointed out that Gorgon kept 14,000 people employed. "By any measure that's a big number," he said.

    Australia was well placed to take advantage of a global demand for natural gas, but stood to lose out on $150 billion in investment if its cost environment did not improve. ''You're not going to dump more money into an existing investment if you have a better alternative,'' he said.


    (The Australian omitted the well known fact that the "extremist greens" were hand in hand with very conservative farmers and other land owners)


  20. This goes to the heart of Barnett's problem with a Kimberley port that needs a big export like coal to pay for it.

    To build a port capable of handling bulk cargoes at JPP or Point Torment would cost billions of dollars.

    JPP because of the "drill and blast dredging" and the more exposed cyclone coast would be the most expensive.

    Point Torment will need a lot of dredging too, but it is more mud I believe,but has higher tides and faster currents and rips especially around Sunday Island where tidal flows of 10 knots rush through.

    To make an investment of that size pay the port would have to be able to accommodate large bulkers and have a lot of exports to pay for it and the many support items required at these remote spots - quite likely including power stations,water treatment plants/recycling,waste,fuelling facilities,tugs and pilotage,at least a heliport,emergency services etc.etc.
    Lay down areas and bulk stockpiles with unloading stacking and reclaiming gear and space for all the companies that will service the port and it's users.

    JPP ran into problems with the dredging and breakwaters for LNG tankers that have a draft of 12 - 14 mts.

    Dry Bulkers are 13 - 15 mts. draft for a modest size ship of up to 80,000 DWT.
    The next size up have a draft of 15 - 19 mts.
    The very biggest have a draft of 23 mts.

    To be realistic the port would need to accommodate ships with a draft of up to say 19 mts. and would need a safety clearance under the keel at the LAT of a couple of mts.

    So Barnett would need to dredge out to at least 21 mts. for the LAT (Lowest Astronomical Tide) which would be 5 - 6 mts more than the Woodside plan for JPP.

    Working on the 34 million tonne dredging figure that is an extra 12 - 15 million tonnes or close to 50 million tonnes total.

    Add ons and extras would see this climb to a figure closer to 70 - 80 million tonnes.

    Gladstone is 60 million tonnes.

    For all that to pay for itself and make a profit it is easy to see this port would have to handle all but the biggest class of ships.

    For all the support companies to move there would cost them a lot of money.
    It would have to worth their while.

    The port would have to be a 24/7 year in year out operation to be viable so we are then back to huge breakwaters to protect the loading berths and possibly a lot of the access channel.

    Major major problems.


    Here are a few articles on the state of play with coal...


  21. Origin boss gives bleak outlook for coal

    ORIGIN Energy chief executive Grant King thinks difficult times for Australia's coal industry could continue as the US boosts coal exports in the years ahead.

    Mr King says the rising use of gas in the US for electricity generation has meant coal previously used to generate power is being exported to offshore markets such as Europe and, increasingly, to the Asia-Pacific region.

    This increased supply has not only depressed the price Australian producers receive for their coal exports, but also dented investment in coal projects.

    "The coal mining industry has gone from boom - I won't go as far as to say bust - but clearly projects are not proceeding," Mr King told the 2013 stockbrokers conference in Sydney on Friday.

    "Capital projects that were planned and would have been thought to have proceeded as little as a year or two ago are not proceeding.


    Mr King said there had been an "enormous withdrawal of capital" from the coal sector in recent times as "mines are being closed" and workers needed to find new jobs.


    US shale glut changes coal export game

    Origin Energy managing director Grant King has warned that the global fallout from the US shale oil and gas revolution will increase pressure on Australian coal exporters.

    The glut of US gas is threatening to choke off further expansion of the local gas export sector, beyond what is already under construction.

    Cheap gas in the US is forcing more US coal into export markets - in Europe and Asia - which has cut across export growth prospects for much of the local coal industry, Mr King told a conference in Sydney on Friday.

    Developers of export gas projects in Queensland, for example, were already beneficiaries of the changes unfolding, with an increase in labour availability as coalminers retrench staff and contractors.


    The shale revolution has catapulted the US to a cheap manufacturing centre, with ''implications for Europe'', which is increasingly uncompetitive especially with high energy prices.


    In the Australian coal industry, several planned expansion projects and proposed new mines are now not expected to proceed.


    The withdrawal of capital from the coal projects has resulted in ''much more labour available'' for the export gas projects being developed in Queensland.

    Mr King said Europe was ''struggling with the high level of subsidies required'' to sustain its renewables energy sector, in areas such as wind and solar energy. ''Spain is largely bankrupt due to subsidies'' on renewable energy. ''Europe's economic circumstances are increasingly uncompetitive. Subsidies will be withdrawn,'' he said, arguing that the ''global consensus'' in favour of a price on carbon no longer existed.

    Despite criticism over the high cost of developing export gas projects in Australia, Mr King said the projects now being planned in the US would be only slightly less expensive, although the US did have the advantage of using existing infrastructure, which needs to be reconfigured from, for example, import to export terminals.


    With the US benefiting from falling energy prices, electricity prices in Australia will rise further unless renewables energy schemes are revised, Mr King said.


    US coal export capacity could more than double to about 400 million tonnes by the end of the decade, with most of that growth aimed at the Asian market.


    BHP says no new major coal projects planned, cost cuts to continue

    BHP's vice president of finance for the coal business, Gideon Oberholzer, said the miner was targeting five key components of its cost base to reduce operating expenditure, including a reduction in contractor usage and rates, cuts in exploration and study costs and the closure of high cost operations.


  22. Cutting costs means cutting up communities.

    FIFO camp to send mine town of Singleton off the rails

    A PROPOSAL to build a camp for 1500 resources industry workers on agricultural land just an hour's drive from the second largest city in NSW has sparked fears that the current generation of miners might be the last to live in nearby communities.

    Although such settlements have become an enduring symbol of the fly-in, fly-out resources boom in remote Australia, coalminers in the Hunter Valley have maintained the tradition of returning home to their families after each day's long shift.


    Just an eye on Woodside and Israeli LNG plans and their vulnerability as war targets.

    Syria President Bashar al-Assad says Golan will be new war front

    SYRIA'S President Bashar al-Assad has threatened to open "a new front" against Israel in the Golan Heights, as his country's civil war worsens.

    He also blamed "Israeli escalation" for the growing role of the militant Shia group Hezbollah in trying to shore up his regime.

    In an interview on the Hezbollah-owned TV station al-Manar, Assad said Hezbollah was now in Syria because Israel was involved.

    "There is pressure by the people to open a new front in the Golan," he said. "Even among the Arab world there is a clear readiness to join the fight against Israel."

    Assad also insisted that Russia would deliver all the weapons his regime had purchased, which would include the S-300 anti-aircraft missiles Israel has called on Russia not to provide to Syria.

    "We are negotiating with the Russians on many types of weapons," Assad said.


    Israel is concerned about them because it believes they would reduce its current aerial advantage in a future war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    The S-300s are high-powered surface-to-air missiles that can shoot down fighter jets.

    Israel's Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon warned this week that if the missiles arrived in Syria, "we will know what to do".

    However, a leading Israeli commentator said yesterday that Israel had fallen into "a self-induced trap" on the issue.

    Writing in the largest-selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, Yossi Yehoshua said if the S-300s reached Syria and Israel did not act, it would have undermined its power of deterrence, while if it did act it would be "dragged into an unwanted war".


    The EU's ban on providing weapons to Syria's rebels lapses this weekend.

    Britain and France successfully argued this week that the EU should not extend the embargo.

    They have said they will hold off any provision of weapons until the Geneva conference but, with that conference increasingly unlikely to proceed, the two countries could have the ability to provide weapons within weeks.


    Syrian regime, rebels ready for battle

    The Syrian National Coalition, the key opposition umbrella group, praised the rebel forces in the town.

    "The heroes of the Free Syrian Army prove every day that they are worthy of the responsibility that the people have entrusted them with," the group said.


    The Lebanese Shi'ite group, a staunch ally of the Syrian regime, has dispatched fighters to help put down the uprising that began more than two years ago with peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

    Some members of Lebanon's Sunni community have also crossed into neighbouring Syria to fight alongside the Sunni-led rebels forces, encouraged by local clerics.

    Despite an official policy of neutrality on the Syrian conflict, Lebanon has found itself increasingly embroiled in its neighbour's civil war.

    On Saturday morning, at least six rockets fired from Syria landed in Lebanon's eastern Bekaa region, causing no injuries.

    The continued fighting has raised concerns about the prospects for a peace conference expected to convene in Geneva this month to seek a political solution to the conflict.


  23. Was it all for nothing?
    Did Cheney's "Halliburton" master plan fail?


    China Is Reaping Biggest Benefits of Iraq Oil Boom

    BAGHDAD — Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China is now its biggest customer.

    China already buys nearly half the oil that Iraq produces, nearly 1.5 million barrels a day, and is angling for an even bigger share, bidding for a stake now owned by Exxon Mobil in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields.

    “The Chinese are the biggest beneficiary of this post-Saddam oil boom in Iraq,” said Denise Natali, a Middle East expert at the National Defense University in Washington. “They need energy, and they want to get into the market.”

    Before the invasion, Iraq’s oil industry was sputtering, largely walled off from world markets by international sanctions against the government of Saddam Hussein, so his overthrow always carried the promise of renewed access to the country’s immense reserves. Chinese state-owned companies seized the opportunity, pouring more than $2 billion a year and hundreds of workers into Iraq, and just as important, showing a willingness to play by the new Iraqi government’s rules and to accept lower profits to win contracts.

    “We lost out,” said Michael Makovsky, a former Defense Department official in the Bush administration who worked on Iraq oil policy. “The Chinese had nothing to do with the war, but from an economic standpoint they are benefiting from it, and our Fifth Fleet and air forces are helping to assure their supply.”

    The depth of China’s commitment here is evident in details large and small.

    In the desert near the Iranian border, China recently built its own airport to ferry workers to Iraq’s southern oil fields, and there are plans to begin direct flights from Beijing and Shanghai to Baghdad soon. In fancy hotels in the port city of Basra, Chinese executives impress their hosts not just by speaking Arabic, but Iraqi-accented Arabic.

    Notably, what the Chinese are not doing is complaining. Unlike the executives of Western oil giants like Exxon Mobil, the Chinese happily accept the strict terms of Iraq’s oil contracts, which yield only minimal profits. China is more interested in energy to fuel its economy than profits to enrich its oil giants.

    Chinese companies do not have to answer to shareholders, pay dividends or even generate profits. They are tools of Beijing’s foreign policy of securing a supply of energy for its increasingly prosperous and energy hungry population. “We don’t have any problems with them,” said Abdul Mahdi al-Meedi, an Iraqi Oil Ministry official who handles contracts with foreign oil companies. “They are very cooperative. There’s a big difference, the Chinese companies are state companies, while Exxon or BP or Shell are different.”


    For China, Iraq is one of several countries it increasingly relies on to keep its growing economy running. China recently became the world’s biggest oil importer, and with its consumption growing, it is investing heavily in oil and gas fields around the world — $12 billion worth in 2011, according to the United States Energy Department. Over 50 percent of its oil imports come from the Middle East, even as imports from Iran have been reduced in recent years. “It’s pretty simple,” said Kevin Jianjun Tu, an expert on Chinese energy policies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “China needs more energy and needs to diversify its sources.”


  24. cont...
    Was the illegal war that made war criminals of Bush,Blair and Howard a failure on all fronts?


    The Iraqi government needs the investment, and oil remains at the heart of its political and economic future. Currently OPEC’s second largest oil producer after Saudi Arabia, the Iraqi government depends on oil revenues to finance its military and social programs. Iraq estimates that its oil fields, pipelines and refineries need $30 billion in annual investments to reach production targets that will make it one of the world’s premier energy powers for decades to come.

    The revenue that investment would produce could either help pave over tensions between Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis, or worsen those tensions as competing camps fight over the spoils.

    But the kind of investment that is necessary has required contracting the services of foreign oil companies that are not always enthusiastic about Iraq’s nationalistic, tightfisted terms or the unstable security situation that can put employees in danger. Some like Statoil of Norway have left or curtailed their operations.

    But the Chinese, frequently as partners with other European companies like BP and Turkish Petroleum, have filled the vacuum. And they have been happy to focus on oil without interfering in other local issues. “The Chinese are very simple people,” said an Iraqi Oil Ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not have permission to speak to the news media. “They are practical people. They don’t have anything to do with politics or religion. They just work and eat and sleep.”

    International energy experts said the Chinese had a competitive advantage over Western oil companies working in Iraq. They noted that the Chinese, unlike many Western oil companies, are willing to accept service contracts at a very low per barrel oil fee without the promise of rights to future reserves. While private oil companies need to list oil reserves on their books to satisfy investors demanding growth, the Chinese do not have to answer to shareholders.

    The Chinese companies and their workers also win high marks for their technical expertise, as long as they are not working in complicated oil fields, like those in deep waters. “They offer a lot of capital and a willingness to get in quickly and with a high appetite for risk,” said Badhr Jafar, president of Crescent Petroleum, an independent oil and gas company based in the United Arab Emirates and a big gas producer in Iraq. He said the Chinese were vital to Iraq’s efforts to expand oil production, adding, “They don’t have to go through hoops to get people on the ground and working.”


  25. Court battle looms over WA gas hub plans

    A challenge against the West Australian government's approval of a gas hub in the Kimberley will go to court this week despite Woodside Petroleum shelving its original plans for the project.

    Woodside dumped plans for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing facility in the Browse Basin in April, but the WA government wants to make the area available for future projects.

    In the WA Supreme Court on Tuesday, the Wilderness Society and Goolarabooloo lawman Richard Hunter will argue that conflicts of interest in the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) assessment process resulted in just one EPA board member making the final decision.

    They will also claim the assessment process failed to properly consider the social impacts of the project.

    The applicants are seeking orders that the EPA report and WA environment minister's approval for the gas hub be overturned.

    Representatives of the Goolarabooloo traditional custodians will fly to Perth to hear the matter.

    Woodside, previously a respondent in the case, has applied to be excused from court.

    Wilderness Society WA coordinator Peter Robertson told AAP that when Woodside pulled out of the proposed James Price Point project, the applicants suggested an indefinite adjournment, but the government insisted the matter proceed.

    "As long as the threat remains, we have to keep pushing," he said.

    "We have been forced to continue with this case."


    Robin Chapple on Ord Stage II

    Greens MP Robin Chapple says the Ord irrigation expansion scheme has little to do with “genuine food production”.

    Robin Chapple MLC
    Robin Chapple MLC

    “Now, no matter how they try to dress it up, it has come down to a taxpayer-funded biofuel for export plan,” he said.

    You can read his statement here:

    Government Slips Deeper into Sticky Ord Mess

    Wednesday, 29 May 2013

    Greens WA member for the Mining and Pastoral Region, Robin Chapple MLC, today renewed his criticism of the way the Grylls-Barnett government has handled the Kimberley’s Ord expansion project.

    “When the current government first got involved with this project, I was at least prepared to give them credit for touting this as a food-bowl scheme.

    “But very soon it became clear that all we were going to get was a choice between various exotic schemes, at the fringes of bona-fide agriculture, and very far removed from genuine food production.

    “Now, no matter how they try to dress it up, it has come down to a taxpayer-funded biofuel for export plan.

    “History shows that large-scale irrigation schemes lead to land degradation and other problems, and we will be left footing the bill to fix up the mess.

    “The Kimberley needs sustainable industries, with regional community owned enterprises to increase regional employment and support local small business, not another large foreign-owned business siphoning short-term profits out of the region.

    “To try to make a case for the Ord River Expansion as a project which benefits the Kimberley is a furphy. In fact the massive taxpayer investments are largely going offshore, and doing little to support regional industry or aboriginal enterprise.

    “Before any more money is thrown into this mess, the government should publicly release a full cost benefit analysis of the project, with particular emphasis on the whole-of-life, long term environmental and social costs to the local community, and the impact it has on cultural industries, aboriginal tourism enterprise and other local or community projects.

    “What good is this to the Western Australian people? A few jobs here and there are hardly worth the millions spent on the development of this scheme”, Mr Chapple concluded.


  26. Climate campaigner warns of burning need to keep coal in the ground


    Not many people can attract a decent sized crowd to give what is essentially a maths lesson.

    Bill McKibben, a journalist turned global leader of climate change campaigns, is an exception.

    His message is blunt: to avoid dangerous climate change, the Earth's temperature must not rise by more than two degrees.

    To have any chance of achieving this goal - the planet has already warmed 0.8 degrees since the industrial revolution - no more than about 560 gigatons of carbon dioxide can be pumped into the atmosphere before mid-century.


    But buried in Australia's soils are coal reserves that, if dug up, sold and burned as fossil fuel companies plan, represent more than 150 gigatons of C02.

    "If Australia carries out its expansion plans of new mines that would be roughly equivalent of [releasing] 30 per cent [of the world's carbon budget] between now and two degrees," says McKibben.

    The world famous climate activist - seen by many as a rock star of the global warming movement (he's been jailed twice for leading protests against the Keystone XL pipeline extension, some of the largest civil disobedience actions in the US for decades) - is in Australia this week for his Do the Maths tour.

    The campaign, one of several McKibben has founded - including 350.org - was formed off the back of an article the activist penned for Rolling Stone, which went viral last November.

    The campaign's central message is simple: to save the planet from catastrophic global warming Australia's coal deposits, particularly those proposed in Queensland's Galilee Basin, must stay in the ground.

    So must the other 2600 plus gigatons of carbon dioxide in the coal, oil and gas reserves earmarked for extraction by fossil fuel companies around the world.

    "We have to convince people to get their governments to set policies that keep this stuff in the ground," he said.

    "If we build new infrastructure now it locks in decades more of doing this stuff."

    McKibben is encouraging Australians to pressure businesses, organisations and universities to divest in fossil fuel companies.

    Since the campaign started, a growing number of groups, including the city of Seattle and a dozen US universities and other businesses, have sold their stocks in these corporations.

    In April, the Uniting Church of Australia announced it would no longer invest in coal or coal seam gas companies.


    McKibben will encourage Australians to lobby their superannuation funds to stop investing in these companies.

    He said the high level of public support for climate change action tied with the overwhelming scientific consensus had placed fossil fuel companies in a "precarious" position, he said.

    "It explains part of their rush to build all these mines, ports and infrastructure as fast as they can."


    But not everyone supports McKibben's economic argument.

    Two RMIT University economists, Sinclair Davidson and Ashton De Silva, wrote in the Australian in April that "foreigners coming to Australia to campaign against our national economy can do a lot of damage if their claims go unchallenged.

    "The consequences of ill-informed meddling in the coal economy would have a massive negative impact in Australia," wrote the pair, who co-authored a recent report on the country's coal industry which was commission by the Australian Coal Association.

    But McKibben said it was economically stupid for Australia to base its future economy on an industry that was riding a bubble.

    "And what's economically insane for the world is to deal with the economic effects of rapid climate change," he says.

    Bill McKibben's Do the Math tour will visit most Australian capital cities this week.


  27. Case against gas hub approval starts in court

    The Wilderness Society's case against the approval of the gas hub at James Price Point north of Broome has started in Perth's Supreme Court.

    The case before Chief Justice Wayne Martin is continuing even though the gas hub is not going ahead.

    The Wilderness Society and Goolarabooloo man Richard Hunter launched the action late last year.

    They argue there were more than a dozen grounds on which the approval of the gas hub was unlawful.

    They are seeking orders for the Environmental Protection Authority's report and the WA Government's approval to be overturned.

    The court has heard argument about the interpretation of the Environmental Protection Act.

    The Wilderness Society's Dr Hannes Schoombee told the court members of the EPA board with conflicts of interest had a bearing on the final decision and counsel for the state agreed.

    Woodside decided not to proceed with the project in April but the Wilderness Society is concerned there may yet be a project at James Price Point.

  28. Shale gas plentiful but pricey

    Australia's onshore gas resources could be more than double the size of current estimates, but it won't be cheap to extract and it won't be a quick solution to the country's looming domestic gas shortage.

    A report commissioned by the federal government's top research council found domestic shale gas resources could exceed 1000 trillion cubic feet; dramatically more than the 396 trillion cubic feet that is known to exist in explored parts of the nation.

    But despite the bullish supply forecasts, the report found Australia was unlikely to enjoy the sort of cheap energy boom that shale has created in the US over recent years, with Australian shale likely to be high cost.

    ''Shale gas will not be cheap gas,'' said Professor Peter Cook, chair of the expert working group that compiled the report. ''We have large resources but few economic reserves at this stage.''


    The findings will disappoint major gas users and consumers facing big increases in gas prices over coming years as domestic prices align with higher international prices.

    The findings are also at odds with recent comments by Resources Minister Gary Gray, who told an audience in Adelaide last month that development of shale ''will drive once again prosperity through a manufacturing sector and it will drive prosperity through downward pressure on domestic gas prices''.

    The researchers said shale gas will not be produced at scale by 2015, when gas prices will start to rise on the back of increasing exports. ''It's something for the future, a little bit beyond that time,'' Professor Cook said.

    Other hurdles include the lack of available pipelines, which mean shale gas will cost about $6-$9 per gigajoule to produce, compared with less than $4 in the US.

    Costs aside, the report said shale gas developers will need to work hard to secure community support, given they will use similar ''fracking'' techniques to those used controversially on farmland in Queensland.

    While only about 10 per cent of coal seam gas wells require fracking to release the gas, the majority of shale gas wells will require such processes, as the resource is typically buried much deeper and in much less permeable rock.

    By using a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals to crack open shale rock, fracking has the potential to contaminate groundwater and also use up scarce groundwater supplies in remote parts of Australia.

    ''Because the volumes of water for shale fracking are relatively large, we are in areas where most of the water will have to come from groundwater systems, which are relatively limited,'' said John Williams, a founding member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists.

  29. Coal of Africa shuts unprofitable Mooiplaats colliery

    COAL of Africa said it planned to suspend operations at a South African coal mine that's become increasingly unprofitable following global coal-price declines.

    Coal of Africa, listed in Australia and London, said the Mooiplaats colliery had been making monthly losses of about 20 million rand since the beginning of the company's fiscal year on July 1. The mine currently employs 290 permanent staff and 258 contractors.

    "This decision follows sustained and concerted attempts over the past two financial years to make the operation profitable and enable it to produce positive cash flows," Coal of Africa said in a statement. "Efforts to improve productivity and establish profitable operations at Mooiplaats, including capital investment, have been hampered by the global downturn in thermal coal prices over the last year."


    Coal of Africa, which has a market value of $209.7 million, said the situation had been made worse by challenging geology and the colliery's inability to achieve production targets.

    The company said it was working to minimise potential losses from a contract with the port of Maputo in neighbouring Mozambique to use 3 million metric tonnes of coal-export capacity annually.

    So-called "take-or-pay" deals are common in the coal industry. Companies typically sign contracts with port operators at a fixed price for an agreed volume of material, whether they ultimately use the capacity or not.


  30. Chinese sugar growers,miners and oil and gas companies get billions for free.

    Meanwhile BARNETT is "closing the gap" HIS WAY.


    Parents warn of Third World PMH

    Children with cancer and their families face Third World conditions at Princess Margaret Hospital because of its lack of resources, according to a leading charity campaigner.

    Mother Maria Papas says more has to be done for those who try to fight cancer. Read her story in The West today.

    Rick Parish, whose son Elliot was treated at PMH until his death from a brain tumour two years ago, said it was unacceptable that the hospital, particularly its 3B cancer ward, lacked basic furniture and equipment and depended on fundraising to provide them.

    His comments came as Perth mother Maria Papas, whose daughter Dahlia has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, tells in her own words in The West Australian today the struggle families face trying to get care for their sick children.

    Health Minister Kim Hames vowed yesterday to visit PMH with acting director-general of health Bryant Stokes to discuss the concerns of staff and families.

    But he said all hospitals were under huge pressure to cope with a surge in patients and find specialist staff.

    Mr Parish and his wife Emily founded the Telethon Adventurers in 2010 and have helped raise almost $5 million for research and state-of-the-art equipment for the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research and PMH.

    But he said some conditions young cancer patients and their families faced were "positively Third World" as overworked staff apologised for cramped conditions and cancelled treatments.

    "When I started the Adventurers one of the first things we had to do was replace the chairs that parents slept in because they were these old vinyl things which were about 20 years old and reeked of who knows what," he said.

    "Since then we've helped replace some basic bits of equipment that weren't expensive but things the staff just could not get. I've been in army hospitals and seen better.

    "It's bloody ridiculous. It's hard enough for parents who have kids with cancer, particularly like us when you know your child is going to die, without being told their treatment has been cancelled because someone is off sick or they can't find a bed."

    Mr Parish said staff did an incredible job with limited resources but the hospital was let down by a lack of the basics on wards and a shortage of staff.

    "When visitors come into the wards they are often visibly shocked by what they see and we have to say to them 'sorry this is WA, this is the best we can do for our kids'. You'd think in 2013 we'd be able to do a bit better."

    He described as "ludicrous" the recent case of cancer patient Archie Caldow, who had to go to Sydney for treatment because the only paediatric radiation oncologist was on leave.

    Dr Hames said the State Government was committed to providing $35 million over five years to recruit more cancer specialists but there was a global shortage.

    "We are making headway, but we have to keep scouring the world for more staff and we're going to do a lot more forward planning on the specialties we're short on," he said.

    "Meanwhile PMH is doing exceptionally well and we're finding the beds and treatment for children, even though sometimes there are peaks that cause extra pressures and that's always regrettable.
    "I read all the emails and letters that come to me and, while I can't pull a rabbit out of a hat, we are listening and doing what we can."


    *NOTE : The state knew 15 years ago about the shortage of Radiation and Cancer specialists.


  31. And of course as we launch into BARNETT's chaos of huge Perth-centric projects HIS "this is not a boom - but a very long period of sustained growth - over 20 years"....

    ...we now have what most of the rest of us could see plain as day...a boom going bust!


    Recession fear for WA as jobs go

    WA is on the verge of recession, one of the nation's leading economists has warned, as the mining construction boom that has sustained the State for a decade comes to an end.

    As the Reserve Bank left official interest rates on hold yesterday, Merrill Lynch senior economist Saul Eslake said it was clear the sharp lift in unemployment was a harbinger of the tough economic conditions ahead for WA.

    It is a fresh problem for Treasurer Troy Buswell with the falling price of iron ore threatening to punch an even bigger hole in his delayed Budget.

    Recessions are traditionally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. Australia has gone the past 21½ years without a recession.

    But Mr Eslake said such measures could be arbitrary and failed to take into account local conditions while at the State level there was no quarterly measure of economic growth.

    He, along with many other economists, measures recessions in terms of a rapid increase in unemployment.

    According to Mr Eslake, the sharp escalation in WA's jobless rate, which has climbed from 3.5 per cent last May to 5.2 per cent in April, clearly showed the State was heading into recessionary territory.

    "WA is a very cyclical economy, and we've seen that over recent years," he said. "In WA it's probably too early to say it is in recession but given the way unemployment is increasing it is very close."


    The latest Budget forecast for a surplus of $391 million next financial year is based on average iron ore prices rising to $US127 a tonne through 2013-14.

    The spot iron ore price is $US111, with some analysts tipping it could fall to as little as $US70 a tonne.
    It comes as the Reserve Bank left the official cash rate at 2.75 per cent, with governor Glenn Stevens saying there were signs past rate cuts were starting to work through the national economy.


  32. BARNETT will have HIS Dubai yet...


    Dubai: A morally bankrupt dictatorship built by slave labour

    Dubai is finally financially bankrupt – but it has been morally bankrupt all along. The idea that Dubai is an oasis of freedom on the Arabian peninsular is one of the great lies of our time.

    Yes, it has Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts and the Gucci styles, but beneath these accoutrements, there is a dictatorship built by slaves.

    If you go there with your eyes open – as I did earlier this year – the truth is hidden in plain view. The tour books and the bragging Emiratis will tell you the city was built by Sheikh Mohammed, the country’s hereditary ruler.

    It is untrue. The people who really built the city can be seen in long chain-gangs by the side of the road, or toiling all day at the top of the tallest buildings in the world, in heat that Westerners are told not to stay in for more than 10 minutes. They were conned into coming, and trapped into staying.

    In their home country – Bangladesh or the Philippines or India – these workers are told they can earn a fortune in Dubai if they pay a large upfront fee. When they arrive, their passports are taken from them, and they are told their wages are a tenth of the rate they were promised.

    They end up working in extremely dangerous conditions for years, just to pay back their initial debt. They are ringed-off in filthy tent-cities outside Dubai, where they sleep in weeping heat, next to open sewage. They have no way to go home. And if they try to strike for better conditions, they are beaten by the police.

    I met so many men in this position I stopped counting, just as the embassies were told to stop counting how many workers die in these conditions every year after they figured it topped more than 1,000 among the Indians alone.

    Human Rights Watch calls this system “slavery.” Yet the Westerners who have flocked to Dubai brag that they “love” the city, because they don’t have to pay any taxes, and they have domestic slaves to do all the hard work. They train themselves not to see the pain.

    But Dubai’s bankruptcy does not end there: it is ecologically bust. This is a city built in the burning desert, where everything shrivels up and blows away if it is not kept artificially cold all the time. That’s why it has the highest per capita carbon emissions on earth – some 250 percent higher even than America’s. The city has to ship in desalinated water – which is more costly than oil. When it runs out of cash, it will run out of water.

    Today Dubai will be bailed out by the United Arab Emirates, the oil-rich country of which it is only one state. But the oil will not last forever. More importantly, there is no Bank of Morality that could provide a bailout for this sinister mirage in the desert.


  33. Blowing it

    Dubai: exodus from the kingdom of bling

    There is a "regular astonishing sight" at Dubai's international airport, says Mark Hollingsworth in ES Magazine: dozens of luxury cars – Mercedes, Porsches, BMWs, etc – abandoned with their keys still in the ignition. In some cases, notes of apology are taped to the windscreens.

    The owners of these vehicles are mainly British expatriates, who have left in a hurry because they faced "crippling debts" as a result of Dubai's financial meltdown and their own profligate behaviour. Many of them, says Hollingsworth, have defaulted on loans; rather than risk arrest and jail, they drove at top speed to the airport where they jumped on the first flight to London.

    If you're looking for a microcosm of the world financial crisis, then Dubai is it. The Alice-in-Wonderland atmosphere of crazed spending was more extreme than anywhere else and now the tourism-and-expatriate-dependent little kingdom is heading precipitously towards bankruptcy. Last month it was bailed out with a $20bn package by its oil-rich neighbour, Abu Dhabi, but, with $80bn worth of debts, it could still go bankrupt this year.

    Five years ago Dubai was expanding faster than anywhere else. Vast hotels were going up everywhere, as were millions of houses as British and other expatriates flooded in, along with Hollywood stars and supermodels. In the surreal world of Dubai, you could even ski on an indoor ski slope or watch racing camels being trained in a hotel swimming pool.

    Nor, in this "kingdom of bling", did anyone worry much about Islamic law, which prohibits alcohol and gambling and under which prostitutes risk being stoned or flogged to death. Almost everything was available in the Western hotels, "as long as patrons were discreet", and plane-loads of high-class call girls from eastern Europe descended on Dubai. "The government don't mind because it brings money," said one local madam. "Hotels, taxis, restaurants, shops – everything benefits from the girls. Now tourists come here just for sex." Dubai, says Hollingsworth, was the Las Vegas of the Middle East: "everything was illegal and yet everything was available".

    By last year, 100,000 Britons were living in Dubai, paying no tax and enjoying the sunshine for 300 days a year. Now, with property prices plummeting and the price of everything else staying high, they're leaving in droves. So are the Americans. And the days of film stars throwing glitzy parties in Dubai, I'd guess, will soon be gone, too, if they aren't already.


  34. BARNETT's answer - Sell (or better still give) the lot to China.

    Foreign investment rules discriminate against China: Barnett

    By Graeme Powell

    The West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says foreign investment rules discriminate against China and are holding back investment in Australia.

    Mr Barnett is in Beijing discussing trade as he pushes for investors in the stalled Oakajee port and rail project in the Mid West.

    He says the United States and New Zealand can invest more than $1 billion in Australia without attracting the attention of the Foreign Investment Review Board, the FIRB.

    But, the Premier says it is a different story for China.

    He says under the current rules a privately-owned Chinese company can invest $248 million in Australia without it being reviewed by the FIRB.

    Mr Barnett says the regulations are even more restrictive for a state-owned Chinese enterprise.

    "For China, for investment by state-owned enterprises then any level of investment from one dollar up goes through the FIRB process," he said.

    "I think Australia needs to correct that.

    "That is giving the wrong signal to China and I've got no doubt causes some resentment."

    He says the rules should be reviewed as China's state-owned enterprises are poorly treated.

    "There were certainly problems three or four years ago where Chinese state-owned enterprises were very unhappy with Foreign Investment Review Board procedures and rules," he said.

    "The history shows that most projects, almost all projects I think, have been approved but there is an area of discrimination that I think Australia needs to fix."

    Mr Barnett has highlighted the fact that 73 per cent of Chinese investment in Australia is in Western Australia.

    The federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is on record as saying investment in Australia by Chinese state-owned enterprises is complicated.

    He says it is rarely in Australia's interest to allow a foreign government or its agencies to control an Australian business and he has no intention of changing the rules if he wins government.

  35. Methane leaks could negate climate benefits of US natural gas boom: report

    Reduction in carbon emissions triggered by America's shift from coal to gas is being offset by a sharp rise in methane

    Methane leaks could undo the climate change benefits of America's natural gas boom, a new report said on Tuesday.

    The report, produced by the Centre for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), said America's shift from coal to gas had produced important climate gains.

    Carbon dioxide emissions fell last year to their lowest point since 1994, according to the Department of Energy. Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were 12% below 2005 levels.

    But the report said those reductions were not enough, on their own, to escape the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

    They were also being offset by a sharp rise in methane, the most powerful greenhouse gas on a human timescale, that was being released into the atmosphere at well sites, compressor stations and along pipelines.

    Methane is up to 105 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas on a 20-year timescale.

    "We have to deal with the methane emissions – whether they are large, which I think is unlikely, or whether they are small," said Eileen Claussen, president of C2ES, a Washington DC thinktank.

    "Natural gas is a big benefit right now, and you can see it in our emissions. But it doesn't mean that left to our own natural devices it would be a great thing in 2050 because it wouldn't be – unless you did some form of carbon capture."

    Claussen was also concerned that cheap natural gas would crowd out wind and solar energy.



    How to destroy the future

    From the Cuban missile crisis to a fossil fuels frenzy, the US is intent on winning the race to disaster

    .....So, at one extreme you have indigenous, tribal societies trying to stem the race to disaster. At the other extreme, the richest, most powerful societies in world history, like the United States and Canada, are racing full-speed ahead to destroy the environment as quickly as possible. Unlike Ecuador, and indigenous societies throughout the world, they want to extract every drop of hydrocarbons from the ground with all possible speed....


  36. Query on Woodside's Leviathan deal

    ...Latest reports out of Israel are that the government wants to cut from 50 per cent to 40 per cent the amount of Leviathan gas available for export. It remains unclear whether the proposed cut would deter Woodside given Leviathan's resource has increased from 17tcf since the farm-in was announced.

    Speaking about the farm-in negotiations before the latest gas reservation talk out of Israel, Mr Coleman said there "is nothing we can see that would stop us moving forward . . . it's just time".

    "We had some assumption in the offer that we made with respect to what the (export) trigger would be and (the Leviathan partners) are watching what the Israeli government does with respect to exports," Mr Coleman said. "They are concerned it will never be triggered and they won't get the payment, (and) we are concerned it will be triggered without being justified."


    Woodside’s Leviathan deal hinges on LNG policy

    Delays in Israel setting out its natural gas export policy, and uncertainty over its content, have placed a question mark over Woodside Petroleum’s planned $US1.2 billion deal to buy into the Leviathan gas field, a key plank in its growth strategy.


    EPA didn’t explore alternative sites: Wilderness Society

    The Environmental Protection Authority invalidated the site assessment process for the now-defunct, multi-billion dollar Kimberley Western gas hub by not exploring other options, the Wilderness Society has alleged in court.


    Timor’s Gusmao pushes for local LNG industry

    The East Timor government is insisting that Woodside’s Sunrise gas is piped to its southern coast, to create an industrial hub.


    UPDATE 1-Gazprom says to further cut gas prices for Europe

    * Price cuts will be less than 7-10 per cent

    * Average Russian gas price for Europe to decline to $370/tcm

    * Back payments to Europe seen up to $900 million this year (Combines stories, adds detail, analyst quotes)

    By Vladimir Soldatkin and Denis Pinchuk

    MOSCOW, June 4 (Reuters) - Gazprom will cut pipeline gas prices for European buyers this year in response to competition, its top export official said on Tuesday.

    Gazprom, Russia's largest company by market capitalisation, generates around 55 percent of its gas revenues in Europe where it supplies around a quarter of gas needs. Its revenues from gas sales to Europe declined 3 percent last year to $55.9 billion.

    The company has already had to give in to pressure to cash-strapped European buyers locked into long-term supply contracts, cutting prices and returning some money in "retroactive payments." This year's reductions will be smaller, however.

    "The price correction will be even less than in the previous round of talks, when it stood at 7-10 percent," Alexander Medvedev, the head of Gazprom's export arm, told a briefing.

    Total rebates to European companies stood at 102.7 billion roubles ($3.22 billion) in 2012.


  37. Well so much for the boom and so much for Labour.

    What bad headlines for both.

    It never rains but it pours.

    "Nine camera man falls into pot plant

    Nine camera operator has fallen into a pot plant while following Joel Fitzgibbon at parliament house
    he then kicked Joel in the nuts as he fell backwards causing him a lot of pain."

    Labor going down like the Titanic and Rudd won't be coming back: MP

    One of Kevin Rudd's key supporters has likened the Labor Party's electoral woes to the final moments of the Titanic.

    The MP has denied there is any chance of a comeback by the former prime minister, and has attributed recent criticism of Julia Gillard to general "crankiness" within the party.

    "It's like the Titanic - we're in the final scenes," the backbencher told ABC News Online.

    "Third class has realised the doors are locked and they're not getting out.

    "And first class are running around looking for a dress to put on."

    The MP told the ABC it was "too late" to consider a return to Mr Rudd.





    More of Australia now in recession

    Western Australia has joined the other AFL states in recession..

    Wednesday's national accounts confirmed that mining investment has handed over the baton of leading Australia's economic growth. But whoever has it is not running very hard.

    Over the past six months, Australia's growth rate has slowed to an annualised 2.25 per cent..


    WA: From boom to gloom

    The most stunning data in the 48 tables published by the Bureau of Statistics is that for Western Australia. The state which dominated Australia's growth in the mining boom is now experiencing the full force of the bust. In the March quarter alone, the Bureau estimates that after seasonal adjustment, investment in WA fell by more than $2 billion, slicing total spending in the state by 3.9 per cent.

    Even on the Bureau's preferred trend figures, total demand or spending in WA has fallen for the past two quarters.


    WAYNE Swan has blamed Western Australia's biggest contraction in domestic demand in more than 20 years on "lumpiness" in mining investment.


    NSW and Queensland were the only two states to record a rise in domestic demand.

    WA's state final demand fell by a seasonally adjusted 3.9 per cent over the quarter; its biggest drop since December 1989.


    Mining and resources states fared the worst - the Northern Territory economy contracted by 10.2 per cent after rising by almost as much in the previous quarter, while Western Australia's economy shrank by 3.9 per cent.


    A new report has found that the profits of the world's biggest miners have slumped by nearly half since 2011 as the mining boom peaks.

    PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says higher costs, more writedowns and fluctuating commodity prices have hit the fortunes of the top 40 mining companies, including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.

    PwC Australia's head of energy and mining, Jock O'Callaghan, says the global mining industry is facing a crisis of confidence.

    "In 2012 we saw the effect of three important factors counting against the industry," he said.

    "The first was the downturn in prices, the second was the escalation in costs and the third was a series of impairments.

    "All that added up to was a big downturn in profits and a big downturn in confidence emanating from investors."

    The PwC report says that after-tax profit for the top 40 miners fell from $132 billion in 2011 to $68 billion in 2012.

    Mr O'Callaghan says that means more mine closures and job cuts, including in Australia.


    WA's economic contraction start of downward trend

    BIS Shrapnel's Frank Gelber says the trend will continue for the next four to five years as construction of resource projects end and production begins.




    Ports, dredging 'hastening decline' of Great Barrier Reef: scientists

    MORE than 150 scientists have written to the Australian government urging it to rein in development near the Great Barrier Reef.

    Marine scientists from 33 institutions have signed a statement warning of the consequences of industrial developments planned for the Queensland coast.

    They say there's no doubt construction of new ports, large-scale dredging and the increase in cargo ships will hasten the decline of the World Heritage-listed natural wonder.

    Ecologist Hugh Possingham says that in the last 27 years, half of the reef's coral cover has been degraded.

    "If half of Ayers Rock was being chipped away by random tourists in the last 27 years, first of all I would hope we would be trying to stop that and secondly we wouldn't be trying to add to that," the University of Queensland professor told AAP.


    "The public have to know about the risks of future development."

    Scientists from James Cook University, University of Hawaii, University of Melbourne, UTS and CSIRO are among the league of professionals calling for action.

    The letter calls on the Australian and Queensland governments not to construct new ports outside existing industrial port areas and develop a new strategy to better manage coastal development.

    The World Heritage Committee meets in 12 days and will discuss whether the reef should be listed as a World Heritage site "in danger", as recommended by UNESCO, the environmental arm of the United Nations.

    A UNESCO report last month found 43 development proposals in the vicinity of the reef were under assessment and that the federal and state governments had failed to improve water quality in the area.

    Prof Possingham said scientists had been concerned about the reef for a long time.

    "We don't say things lightly and we don't spend our time on this sort of stuff for free," he said.

    "It's up to governments to decide what are risks they're willing to bear and how they trade off economic development versus the environment.

    "We just want the facts on the table."


  39. As the state was putting its case, the Chief Justice Wayne Martin said, "If I decide the assessment was undertaken over four years, your case has significant problems."


    Chief Justice reserves decision in gas hub case

    The Chief Justice has reserved his decision in the Wilderness Society's case against the approval of the James Price Point gas hub, north of Broome.

    The Wilderness Society and Goolarabooloo man Richard Hunter had taken legal action against the project before Woodside announced that it would not proceed with the hub.

    They have been contesting the validity of the EPA's recommendation for approval in light of the conflicts of interest of some board members.

    They also said the EPA's chairman Paul Vogel should not have made the decision alone and the authority should have considered other sites.

    As the state was putting its case, the Chief Justice Wayne Martin said, "If I decide the assessment was undertaken over four years, your case has significant problems."

    He referred to the assessment process and said questions were decided by people who should not have been voting.

    But, Rob Mitchell SC for the state, said the EPA chairman's final assessment fit the statutory requirement, good or bad.

    The Chief Justice said he would publish his reasons as soon as he could.




    Minister attacks tourism ad freeze

    Deputy Premier Kim Hames has criticised the advertising freeze in his tourism portfolio ordered by Colin Barnett and Treasurer Troy Buswell, suggesting it did not make economic sense and should not be repeated.

    Cabinet signed off on the cost cutting but the tourism industry estimated the $1 million worth of Tourism WA marketing shelved would have injected $20 million into the struggling sector.

    Dr Hames said Tourism WA was originally asked to forgo $3.3 million in advertising under the six-week ban on Government promotions until June 30.

    Though TWA was eventually allowed to go ahead with $2.3 million of advertising already contracted, Dr Hames could not convince the Premier and Mr Buswell to exempt tourism from the freeze.

    Dr Hames said the fact every dollar TWA spent yielded an economic return for the State was "an excellent argument and one that I intend to continue to promote".

    "The problem with having a ban on advertising altogether is most of what we do in Tourism is classed as advertising," he said.

    Dr Hames, who admitted recent leisure tour bookings and interstate tourist numbers were "not as much as we would have liked", said exempting TWA from future freezes was "something we seriously have to look at".

    Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall said the industry would have matched the shelved $1 million dollar for dollar in "co- operative marketing" campaigns.

    "For example, an advertisement in the Sydney Morning Herald - half a page with a big whale shark or maybe wildflowers - that's what TWA does," he said.

    "What we do as an industry in the bottom half of the newspaper, we will throw in three nights accommodation, special deals and we turn that desire to see the wildflowers into bums on seats and we can't do it if they don't spend the money on advertising."

    TWA chief executive Stephanie Buckland said the freeze would make the agency's job harder but it had to operate within the budget it was given. She said TWA campaigns usually yielded between $13 and $25 for every $1 invested.
    Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said: "It's the core business of Tourism WA to advertise. Of course it should have been spared any cuts."




    Premier predicts big role for gas

    The golden age of WA iron ore expansion has come to an end but there is a new opportunity for natural gas development as China seeks to clean up its economy.

    That is the message Premier Colin Barnett has taken from four days of high-level government meetings in Beijing.

    Speaking to _The West Australian _ before setting off to Japan last night, Mr Barnett said the Chinese steel industry was unprofitable and dealing with an oversupply of capacity that meant production was likely to level off.

    WA supplies about 46 per cent of China's iron ore.

    He predicted the current round of Pilbara mine expansions - from BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and Gina Rinehart's Roy Hill mine - "probably will mark the end of the golden years (of expansion) for the iron ore industry".

    "I think our iron ore industry is reaching its long-term maturity," Mr Barnett said.

    "There is going to be some growth but not much more."

    There was an opportunity for WA, however, in meeting China's fresh demand for natural gas as the new administration under President Xi Jinping sought to clean up the country's choking air pollution problems.

    About 5 per cent of China's electricity supply is generated by natural gas and Mr Barnett said the Chinese Government wanted to boost that to 8-10 per cent by 2015 and 12-15 per cent by 2020.

    "For us, it means a big demand for WA gas," Mr Barnett said.
    (now if only he would back some cheaper ways to process it he may be able to sell some)


    Bill shock for WA businesses

    Up to 21,000 WA businesses face a surprise 10 per cent power price hike from next month, in part because a surge in solar panels has reduced electricity demand and forced Western Power to lift its tariffs to claw back a slump in revenue.

    However, the hit could have been worse, with the State's economic watchdog rejecting a rearguard bid by Western Power for a rise of almost 20 per cent - in order to avoid hitting businesses with "price shock".

    In an attempt to further ease the pain, the Economic Regulation Authority has also forced the increase in tariffs, which businesses pay to indirectly access Western Power's grid of wires and poles, to be spread out over four years.

    This smoothed option will see businesses paying about 5 per cent more each year over four years (including inflation) from July 1.

    Yet this is still about double - or a cumulative 10 per cent more - than what firms expected to pay under Western Power's so-called access regime that was "finalised" late last year.




  42. Climate change fears aired for remote Kimberley communities

    New research has found that people living in remote Kimberley communities are likely to be more severely affected by climate change than other parts of Australia's population.

    A study by the Cooperative Research Centre for Remote Economic Participation has identified communities in the Kimberley, central Australia and Cape York as some of the most at-risk from the impacts of warming temperatures on their health and wellbeing.

    Researcher Digby Race says more needs to be done to prepare those populations.

    "Extreme weather events such as storms, floods and extended periods of hot weather, just like what we had last summer, cause a considerable stress to people's lives but there's real gaps in our knowledge and understanding of how best people can adapt to their local climate," he said.

    He says communities suffering from poor health, infrastructure and socio-economic status are vulnerable to adverse changes in their health and wellbeing as a result of extended hot weather.

    "That means people suffering from heat stress over a greater extended period of time during the year and the stress effects of extreme heat will be more acute," he said.


    Greens push to end Future Fund fossil fuel investment

    The Greens will on Thursday launch a campaign to get the $85 billion Future Fund to sell its holdings in fossil-fuel industries, starting with coal.

    The fund's energy holdings now total about $3 billion, and are exposed to a ''carbon bubble'' as nations shift towards low-carbon fuels, Greens leader Christine Milne said.

    The International Energy Agency last year estimated that two-thirds of proven fossil-fuel reserves would have to remain in the ground if the world is to avoid global warming of 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

    ''It's good for the planet, good for people and good for long-term financial management to get out of coal,'' Senator Milne said.


    The Greens are hoping to match the success of the anti-tobacco push, which led to the Future Fund deciding in February to dump its $222 million holdings of tobacco-related investments.

    The Future Fund ''takes a very serious approach to environmental, social and corporate governance issues'', spokesman Will Hetherton said. However, exiting coal or other fossil fuels ''is certainly not on the current agenda''.

    Senator Milne is hoping the campaign will spread to other superannuation funds, mimicking the push among US universities and other institutions to divest fossil-fuel investments.


  43. Growing pains as Western Australia hits slow lane

    THE end of the mining investment boom has pushed Western Australia's economy into recession and left the national economy in its weakest state since the global financial crisis.

    The March quarter national accounts show that while resource exports are soaring, both households and businesses are cutting back their spending.


    Iron ore rally fails to keep China bear at bay

    THE iron ore price has staged a small rebound, but it remains significantly below the year-to-date average and further volatility is tipped as the head of China's biggest listed steelmaker warns demand will slow.

    The price enjoyed a 4.2 per cent rise to $US116.60 a tonne yesterday, however, it remains well below the year-to-date average of $US140.40 a tonne and this year's high of $US158.90 a tonne, which was recorded in February.


    Data points to a recession election

    IF yesterday's national accounts are giving a true reading of the economy, this year's election will be fought in near recession conditions with unemployment rising to 6 per cent.

    The headline figures may still show the economy growing because of rising volumes of iron ore and coal exports, but it will not feel like that to most households and businesses.


    China story not finished, says Ross Garnaut

    THE China story is not over, economist Ross Garnaut said yesterday, despite the slowing of its demand for more resources.

    "It will be a different story," he told The Australian. "It will still provide huge opportunities. But its new growth pattern will require harder work for Australia to take advantage.


    Woodside pulled up after failing to note safety flaw

    THE failure of a critical piece of safety equipment designed to prevent potential explosions at Woodside Petroleum's Vincent oilfield in Western Australia was only identified during a visit by a third party.

    According to the latest annual offshore performance report from the federal offshore oil and gas safety regulator, the failure of an oil mist detector at Vincent -- which is Woodside's largest single source of oil production -- was a result of incorrect wiring and an equipment design that did not meet specifications.