Entries in Oil (35)


Is Afghanistan Buying Iranian Oil with US Funds?

Comstock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- Afghanistan may be spending U.S. money to purchase fuel from Iran, according to a story in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

If that's the case, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says Afghanistan could be in violation of sanctions put in place to force Iran to drop its nuclear ambitions.

Special Inspector General John Sopko said in a review of the situation that "despite actions taken by the Department of Defense to prevent the purchase of Iranian fuel with U.S. funds, risks remain that U.S. economic sanctions could be violated."

SIGAR began an investigation into alleged improprieties two months ago.

It was already known that Kabul buys petroleum fuel for the Afghan National Army (ANA) from Iran, Russia and Turkmenistan with Afghan money, which does not breach any existing ban.

However, Sopko said questions remain on how much of "the $1.1 billion in fuel purchased between fiscal year 2007 and 2012 came from Iran, in violation of U.S. economic sanctions."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Iranian Oil Exports Continue to Fall

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There is further evidence that financial sanctions and an embargo on Iranian oil imposed by the U.S. and the European Union are having a crippling effect on Iran’s economy.  The sanctions were imposed to compel Tehran to negotiate its nuclear program.

A report released by the International Energy Agency shows Iranian exported 1.3 million barrels per day in October, down from an average of 2.3 million barrels per day last year.

According to The Telegraph, the decline represents a daily revenue loss of $109 million at the current price of oil.  That adds up to $33 billion in losses so far this year.  That $33 billion represents approximately 30 percent of Tehran’s government’s budget for 2012/2013.

The drop in oil exports is a direct result of the embargo and financial sanctions that make it harder for Iran to insure its tankers and get paid for oil sales.

In addition to falling oil exports, the country’s oil production total has also dropped dramatically.  This past June, Iran was the second-biggest oil producer in OPEC, behind Saudi Arabia.  In October, it fell to fourth place, behind Iraq and Kuwait, and continues to fall.

The loss of oil revenue has forced Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to slash government subsidies on a number of everyday essentials, including food and cheap gas prices for Iranian citizens.

Iran’s parliament was scheduled to discuss the subject of subsidy reform on Tuesday but delayed the discussion until March 2013.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran Now Threatening to Cut Off All Oil Exports

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran warned the international community that if sanctions tighten further over its rogue nuclear program, Tehran will be left with no choice but to stop all oil exports.

If that happens, Iranian Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi said that prices of oil across the world will skyrocket.

Since August, Iran has seen its exports drop by 300,000 barrels daily because of U.S. and European Union sanctions.  This has caused prices of everyday items to soar, leaving many Iranians grumbling about how long the government can sustain such damage to the economy.

Petroleum experts believe that if Tehran moves ahead and halts all exports, the rest of the world will be able to manage but not Iran.

One analyst said that Iran would wind up "sanctioning itself," which is tantamount to economic suicide.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Battle for the Arctic: Oil Drilling Still Faces Environmental Concerns

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The bottom of the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska's north shore, is one of the most hotly contested places under the sea.

It is here that Shell Oil, Co., is looking for oil and Greenpeace is trying to stop them.

The oil giant has spent years and billions of dollars jockeying to be first to strike and the payoff stands to be enormous. The ocean floor inside the Arctic Circle may hold a quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil, enough to drastically reduce the United States' dependency on foreign supplies.

Shell has promised to drill safely and responsibly, developing new technologies to reduce drilling noise, and dedicating a fleet of vessels ready to respond to a spill in 60 minutes, 24 hours a day.

But that's not how Greenpeace sees it. The environmental activists made famous for chaining themselves to things are now trying a different approach: going after Shell with science. That's where Greenpeace activist and marine biologist John Hocevar and the organization's Arctic floating research hub, a former Russian Army fireship Greenpeace dubbed the Esperanza, came in.

Life on board is what you might expect: tofu for lunch, a very serious recycling program, and an eclectic crew from all over the world who dedicate their lives to the cause.

Nightline was given the rare opportunity to go on a research dive with Hocevar in a two-person submarine deep below the Chuckchi Sea, one of the most remote oceans on Earth. It is a dive no one outside of the military had attempted before.

About 200 feet down, the world outside of the submarine is murky, so thick with plankton and sea worms, it's difficult to see. Slowly, Arctic life revealed itself and a sea bed covered in thousands of star fish, the occasional crab and other unworldly creatures appeared.

"We are right in the midst of Shell's proposed drill sites," Hocevar said.

While on the dive, Hocevar discovered a tiny coral, just one of the many examples environmentalists say offer insights into what fragile, new life might be at stake.

"We're rushing ahead to allow drilling in the Arctic and we don't even know what's down here," Hocevar said.

While Greenpeace continues its fight, Shell has found other support in some unlikely corners, such as Bob Reiss, an environmental journalist and the author of the The Eskimo and the Oil Man, who supports drilling in the Arctic.

"Are Americans going to buy the same amount of oil whether or not it comes from Russia or if it comes from Alaska? Yeah. So what's the downside of not taking out this oil?" he said.

Reiss said that Shell has more than cooperated to find solutions to environmental concerns.

"Shell bent over backwards over the last five years to compromise here," he said. "Their safety system has been called the gold standard by the Deepwater Horizon Commission. So I think if a company does bend over backwards, they ought to be rewarded for it."

That reward came this summer from the Obama administration, which gave Shell the green light to drill 1,400 feet below the surface of the Chuckchi Sea.

Shell declined Nightline's request for an interview, but said in a statement: "The debate on whether to evaluate Arctic energy resources is over. We are now focused on safe execution."

But Greenpeace refuses to back down, and the threat of a spill in the Arctic's pristine setting fuels their mission to stop oil drilling.

"In this remote, unforgiving environment, we all know it would be impossible to clean up an oil spill," said Greenpeace activist Jackie Dargon. "We can't risk it."

Reiss admitted than an oil spill in this part of the world, or in any part, could be catastrophic.

"The question is legislating perfection," he said. "Do you stop any kind of development because a spill could occur or do you have systems and back-up systems and other back-up systems to deal with a spill, which Shell does, and then allow it to proceed."

Local Eskimo communities whose culture and livelihood depend on a thriving Arctic are torn because for them, this debate is about survival. Steve Omittuk, the mayor of Point Hope, Alaska, located near the most northern part of the state, said the town has concerns for the animals and the ecosystem.

"If [the animals] are gone, our way of life is gone, the people who have been here for thousands of years is gone," Omittuk said. "The Arctic is so delicate, the system so sensitive."

But at the same time, Omittuk acknowledged that the town also needs jobs and drilling would provide them.

"It's hard for the people," he said. "They need money, they need income, they need our economy to come up, but we need our way of life also. It's a tough battle to choose."

Shell has already begun preliminary drilling and next year looks set to be full steam ahead.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sudan and South Sudan Strike Deal on Oil Fees

SIMON MAINA/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration Saturday lauded an oil revenue deal between Sudan and South Sudan. The two former civil war foes came to an agreement Friday on fees for landlocked South Sudan to export its oil through Sudan's pipeline.  

The deadline set by the U.N. Security Council for the two neighboring countries to strike a deal passed on Thursday, The Los Angeles Times reports.  Both nations faced sanctions if they failed to find a resolution.

On Saturday as he celebrated his 51st birthday at Camp David, President Obama congratulated the two countries in a written statement for finding compromise on the issue and applauded the international community for encouraging efforts to reach a resolution.

"This agreement opens the door to a future of greater prosperity for the people of both countries," the president said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also welcomed the agreement while traveling through Kenya, saying that the deal "reflects leadership and a new spirit of compromise on both sides."

Secretary Clinton said the deal was particularly important to "establishing strong democratic institutions" in South Sudan, which gained its independence in July 2011.

"South Sudan's leaders led by President Salva Kirr have really risen to the occasion for which they deserve a great deal of credit," Clinton said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Report: Oil Embargo Is Killing Iran's Economy

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The White House is right in its contention that sanctions against Iran to convince Tehran to give up its nuclear program is at least hurting the country economically, an analysis by Bloomberg shows.

Since international sanctions that ban the purchase and transport of Iranian oil started one month ago, Iran has lost an estimated $133 million in oil sales per day.

Overall, its oil exports have fallen more than 50 percent to 1.2 million barrels a day.  Should the boycott last an entire year, Iran stands to lose $48 billion or about 10 percent of its entire economy.

More advantageous for the White House, especially because it's an election year, is that the oil embargo is not affecting gasoline prices at home.

That's in a large part due to increased shipments by the Saudis, more domestic output and a slowdown in the global economy.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Scores Dead in Nigerian Fuel Truck Explosion

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAGOS, Nigeria) -- At least 95 people were killed Thursday in Nigeria while siphoning oil from a fuel truck that had crashed on a highway.  Authorities say the victims died when the truck exploded.

A spokesman for Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said residents from a nearby village were catching leaking fuel from the wrecked tanker truck with makeshift containers when the vehicle exploded.

Nigeria is the top crude oil producer in Africa and the fourth-largest supplier of oil to the U.S., but its lack of proper roads in the country’s oil-rich swampland is responsible for countless deadly accidents.

In 2010, more than 200 people died when a wrecked tanker truck exploded into flames as they approached.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iraq Wants Obama to Stop Kurd Oil Deal with ExxonMobil

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(BAGHDAD) -- Iraq is asking the U.S. for help again but it has nothing to do with providing military assistance.

Instead, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki wants President Obama to step in and block a deal between ExxonMobil and Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

The Iraqi leader maintains that such an arrangement violates the law since all oil contracts are supposed to go through Baghdad first.

What has got Baghdad upset is that the deal gives ExxonMobil exploration rights in six areas, including two in regions that are claimed by both the central government and the Kurds.

A spokesman for al-Maliki said this agreement represents "a very dangerous initiative that may lead to the outbreak of wars," which could spoil any chance at achieving national unity.

As a result, the prime minister "sent a message to American President Barak Obama last week urging him to intervene to prevent ExxonMobil from going in this direction."

The White House so far has not publicly responded to al-Maliki's request.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Afghanistan Preparing to Drill for Oil

Comstock/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- An output of 5,000 barrels of oil a day doesn't sound like much but it could be the beginning of a bonanza for Afghanistan, one of the poorest nations in the world.

Afghan Mining Ministry spokesman Jawad Omar announced on Wednesday that oil production is expected to start by October with the assistance of China's National Petroleum Corporation.

It would mark the first time Afghanistan has drilled for oil in its history.  The plan is to start with 5,000 barrels and work up to 45,000 barrels daily.

The initial drilling will take part in the "Afghan-Tajik" zone of northern Afghanistan, one of the areas that is relatively unscathed by war and where major oil deposits lie.

An estimated 87 million barrels of oil exist underground in that particular zone alone.  Tapping it would help Afghanistan rely less on the crude it imports from Iran and Central Asia and add to its revenues.

Six oil deposits have been found so far in Afghanistan in the northern, western and southern parts of the country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Afghanistan Wants to Import Iranian Oil Despite US Embargo

Comstock/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The U.S. effort to force Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions may have hit a bump in the road because of Afghanistan.

President Obama is attempting to pressure Tehran with tougher sanctions that include curbing oil imports from Iran that many of Washington's allies have agreed to go along with.  The penalties include punishing foreign banks that import Iranian oil.

However, Afghanistan is asking the White House if it can be given special dispensation from the sanctions.

Afghanistan's minister of commerce and industries says that his country is in a unique position because it imports 50 percent of its oil from Iran with other energy fuels, mostly natural gas, coming from Russia and other countries.

The U.S. may have to give in to Kabul's request since it desperately wants Afghanistan to become more self-sufficient in order to facilitate the eventual military withdrawal planned for 2014.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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