The 10 Most Read Books in The World

Everybody loves to enjoy a good literary work, but do you have any idea about the 10 most read books in the world? Hundreds of thousands of books have been amazed us so far, but very few have the status of most read books around the world. Here in this article, you...
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Indian satellites provide new era for space

INDIA is set to launch more of its own rockets in 2013 than it has in any previous year. Its budget is less than a tenth of NASA’s US$17.7 billion, but it has increased every year since the early 2000s, jumping from US$591 million in 2004-2005 to US$1.3 billion in...

Azerbaijan is the winner in European pipeline race

AZERBAIJAN can be seen as the biggest winner in the race to decide the route for the final leg of the trans-European pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Italy. It cooperated with Turkey in building the TANAP pipeline and made the supply of Caspian gas to Europe...

POLITICS

Israel’s view of Syria and its radical Sunni groups

MANY Israeli Jews view the Syrian government and the country’s Sunni radical movements as bitter enemies – an attitude further exacerbated following the eruption in March 2011of the Syrian civil war. Frosty relations and periods of hostility have punctuated Israeli...

Russia’s street protests melt away

THE winter of 2011/12 will long be remembered as the time when Russian society was mobilised in earnest, demanding regime change and showing little fear of repression. For some time, it looked as though Russia was heading for serious change. But a year later the...

Rare earths: the US fights back

Rare earths: the US fights back

THE United States is at a crossroads over the production and use of rare earth elements (REE). The 17 minerals, essential for products and processes from cruise missiles to smartphones, are widely used in the US defence industry, but this represents only a fraction of...

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Gas consortium backs the Adriatic route to Europe

YEARS of corporate rivalry in the energy industry and international competition has ended with the decision to award a contract to build a pipeline to take gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe. The BP-led Shah Deniz Consortium selected the 876km...

Japan’s economic boost as it struggles with globalisation

JAPAN has voted to return to the past. The outcome of its general election implies four things: First, the election was primarily a defeat of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) under former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The electorate voted the DPJ out of power...

Rare earths: the US fights back

THE United States is at a crossroads over the production and use of rare earth elements (REE). The 17 minerals, essential for products and processes from cruise missiles to smartphones, are widely used in the US defence industry, but this represents only a fraction of...

Lebanon’s oil and gas bid is set to attract global energy firms

THE Lebanese government has, for the first time, announced a timetable for the first stage of a bidding process for offshore oil and gas exploration contracts. The launch of the pre-qualification round is expected to be on February 1, 2013. Some companies have been...

ECONOMICS

Indian satellites provide new era for space

Indian satellites provide new era for space

INDIA is set to launch more of its own rockets in 2013 than it has in any previous year. Its budget is less than a tenth of NASA’s US$17.7 billion, but it has increased every year since the early 2000s, jumping from US$591 million in 2004-2005 to US$1.3 billion in...

read more

Russia’s hold Europe’s gas market is changing rapidly

THE 28 countries in the European Union form the world’s largest energy importer with Russia its biggest supplier of oil, gas, uranium and coal, as well as the third-largest electricity exporter to the EU. The EU is Russia’s largest trade partner, accounting for more...

Gas consortium backs the Adriatic route to Europe

YEARS of corporate rivalry in the energy industry and international competition has ended with the decision to award a contract to build a pipeline to take gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe. The BP-led Shah Deniz Consortium selected the 876km...

Japan’s economic boost as it struggles with globalisation

JAPAN has voted to return to the past. The outcome of its general election implies four things: First, the election was primarily a defeat of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) under former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The electorate voted the DPJ out of power...

ENERGY

Azerbaijan is the winner in European pipeline race

Azerbaijan is the winner in European pipeline race

AZERBAIJAN can be seen as the biggest winner in the race to decide the route for the final leg of the trans-European pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Italy. It cooperated with Turkey in building the TANAP pipeline and made the supply of Caspian gas to Europe...

read more
Major oil nations warned over failure to develop shale

Major oil nations warned over failure to develop shale

MAJOR oil exporters are warned they could see a significant deterioration in their balance of trade if they fail to develop their own shale oil resources. Countries such as Russia and the Middle East could see a drop of around four to 10 per cent of GDP, according to...

read more

Gas consortium backs the Adriatic route to Europe

YEARS of corporate rivalry in the energy industry and international competition has ended with the decision to award a contract to build a pipeline to take gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe. The BP-led Shah Deniz Consortium selected the 876km...

Lebanon’s oil and gas bid is set to attract global energy firms

THE Lebanese government has, for the first time, announced a timetable for the first stage of a bidding process for offshore oil and gas exploration contracts. The launch of the pre-qualification round is expected to be on February 1, 2013. Some companies have been...

DEFENCE & SECURITY

Brazil builds fleet to parade military on world stage

BRAZIL has several reasons for wanting more submarines. A larger, modern submarine fleet would be a strong deterrent to protect Brazil’s extensive coastline and its offshore and onshore resources, including oil, wood and uranium. A nuclear-powered submarine, which...

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Colombia’s search for peace and prosperity

COLOMBIA has been undergoing an economic transformation in the last few years.

It has now become an attractive place for foreign investment in the energy sector after a series of reforms which relaxed labour laws. Since then, there has been a dramatic increase in exploration and production of oil and gas.

There also has been some extraction of shale gas by US giant energy company, Exxon-Mobil. The estimates of reserves are highly optimistic.

The government has, for the first time, also started to auction potential oil and gas zones offshore for exploration, with the hope that it can match the huge success Brazil has enjoyed

The mining sector is also experiencing a boom, most notably in the production of gold.

On the political front, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos has balanced the country’s budget and eased tensions with Venezuela. But crucially, it has started to try to end internal conflicts with guerrilla groups which have lasted for more than half a century.

Peace negotiations started in November 2012 in the Cuban capital, Havana, with the largest guerrilla group, known as the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). This has been a major step in the peace process.

It also marked the biggest move in decades by the Colombian state to reclaim control over the nation’s territory and to bring peace to the country.

Colombia has also signed a number of free trade agreements with the United States, the European Union and its neighbours.

If there is progress in the peace talks, however slow, Colombia should be able to play a major role in the global energy market in the next few years. But the guerrillas are not the only armed group operating outside the law in Colombia. For the past 20 years, paramilitaries have operated with government acquiescence to fight the guerrillas in places where the country’s armed forces could not operate.

This has been carried out in some cases with vast financial support from the United States via Plan Colombia, which supports various activities in the country, such as the training of armed forces.

When President Santos distanced his government from that of his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe, by declaring that he would do everything possible to make amends for the atrocities of the paramilitaries, tens of thousands of refugees sued the government for compensation and the return of their land.

But as the paramilitaries are demobilised, many of their members are forming organised crime groups, which are responsible for widespread violence in several regions.

Colombia continues to be the principal hub of the massive trade in illegal drugs for the United States. Nothing the Colombian government has donehas succeeded in reducing the illegal trade to any significant degree.

Estimates within the World Bank during the 1990s showed that the laundering of money from the illegal traffic in drugs exceeded 10 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product.

Yet in spite of this knowledge, the government and the bank published reports each year indicating that the Colombian economy was growing.

Colombia’s other problem is diplomatic. After 10 years of deliberation, the International Court of Justice at The Hague has issued its findings in the dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua over the San Andres island chain, just off the coast of Panama.

The judges confirmed Colombia’s sovereignty over the islands. But, in recognition of Nicaragua’s maritime rights and the extension of the continental shelf off the coast of Nicaragua, it has granted sovereign rights to Nicaragua to waters just to the north and to the south of the islands.

The judgment has infuriated Colombian public opinion. The Santos government, in response, has denounced the court, rejected its judgement and announced that it was withdrawing from the Treaty of Bogota, under which Colombia and all Latin American countries agreed to resort to the International Court of Justice to resolve territorial disputes.

The Colombian reaction to the court decision comes at an unfortunate time when President Santos is trying to reposition Colombia as a loyal and cooperative player in the international community.

Security crisis delays the expansion of Iraq’s economy

IRAQ’S officially proven oil reserves are approaching 115 billion barrels. In 2013 the Iraqi Ministry of Oil reported an increase to 143 billion barrels. If this is correct, Iraq is the fifth biggest producer in the world.

Most of the oil is in the Shi’i south – Iraq is led by Shi’i Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who seems irresponsive to the grievances of his country’s Sunni population as it edges slowly towards a civil war.

In the Kurdish autonomy in the north of the country, where Western companies are signing deals, proven oil reserves are estimated at 11 billion barrels.

In 2012 Iraq’s oil production was around three million barrels per day (b/d), some 75 per cent of which came from the south. However, by the end of 2012 production had reached 3.2 million b/d, the highest since the early 1980s.

By the end of 2013 Iraqi Kurdistan will probably produce 400,000 b/d; by 2015 Kurdish leaders promise to bring production to one million b/d and that will be doubled by 2019. By 2012 oil represented between 93-95 per cent of total government revenue. However, development is slow.

ExxonMobil decided in 2012 to give up its contract over the huge West Qurna field in the south in favour of developing oil fields in the Kurdish autonomy.

Kurdistan’s infrastructure is healthy, electricity supply is adequate and there is little corruption involved in signing contracts.

If Iraq repairs all or even most of its oil pipelines and prevents sabotage it will be able to market much larger quantities than it does today.

Between late April and early July 2013, the Iraqi dinar lost about 10 per cent of its value because of the sharp spike in sectarian violence. Otherwise inflation is low.

Iraq’s oil revenues are substantial even now. According to a UN Joint Analysis Policy Unit (JAPU) report in January 2013 the annual budget for 2013, approved in March and based almost entirely on the expected oil revenues, is US$118.5 billion (ID 138 trillion).

The expenditure of the central government in Baghdad – defence, the central bureaucracy etc – is US$34.6 billion or about 30 per cent of the total budget. The regions are demanding a higher share, but provision of funds is already quite high. The problem is that the spending rate for provincial development is low and most provinces cannot spend all the cash allotted to them by Baghdad.

One reason for that is the deterioration in security that slowed economic activities, including those of foreign companies.

There are also local inefficiencies. As a result, in 2011 less than 60 per cent of the substantial allocated provincial budgets was used.

The infrastructure development needs are very high. Some 32 per cent of households still lack safe drinking water and 25 per cent receive less than 12 hours of uninterrupted electricity per day from public networks.

Education, too, is in poor shape – 23 per cent of the population is illiterate and although 90 per cent of school-age children are enrolled in primary schools, the figure for secondary schools is only 49 per cent.

Iraq is a rich country. This, however, is not benefiting most Iraqis, whose income – the equivalent of US$3,900 a year in 2011 – and standard of living, are low because of a slow rate of development.

Foreign entrepreneurs will find attractive opportunities in Iraq. Official corruption can be circumvented if entrepreneurs approach the provincial authorities and local sheikhs (elders). If they can employ local workers, the regional leaders will use their electoral power to get the needed approval from Baghdad. Substantial funds are available.

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Russia’s hold Europe’s gas market is changing rapidly

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Gas consortium backs the Adriatic route to Europe

YEARS of corporate rivalry in the energy industry and international competition has ended with the decision to award a contract to build a pipeline to take gas from the Shah Deniz gas field in Azerbaijan to Europe. The BP-led Shah Deniz Consortium selected the 876km...

Brazil builds fleet to parade military on world stage

BRAZIL has several reasons for wanting more submarines. A larger, modern submarine fleet would be a strong deterrent to protect Brazil’s extensive coastline and its offshore and onshore resources, including oil, wood and uranium. A nuclear-powered submarine, which...

Japan’s economic boost as it struggles with globalisation

JAPAN has voted to return to the past. The outcome of its general election implies four things: First, the election was primarily a defeat of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) under former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The electorate voted the DPJ out of power...