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Israel pushes to reduce oil dependency
Amir Mizroch and Ryan Nadel, Jerusame Post
The National Infrastructures Ministry's Fuel Authority is drafting a strategy to reduce Israel's dependency on petroleum and plans to present it to the relevant ministries on November 20.
The document, entitled "Sustainable Development of Energy for Transportation and the Reduction of Oil Dependency," will be presented to officials from the Transportation, Finance, Infrastructures, and Environment ministries. The Fuel Authority - which has only six staffers - has considered ideas ranging from "Green tax" incentives for fuel efficient and low emission vehicles to banning the import of offending vehicles, to exempting alternative fuels from tax.
While no concrete measures have been prepared, these ideas are under advanced consideration.
Israel's per capita oil consumption of 0.043 barrels per day ranks 35th in the world, according to the CIA's World Factbook. In the past, Israel imported oil from Egypt, the North Sea, West Africa, and Mexico. According to officials at the Ministry of National Infrastructures, Israel now imports 90% of its oil from Russia and the Caspian region.
...The academic and private sectors are also moving on the issue. This week, the University of Haifa opened the Center for Advanced Energy Studies, and next week, Tel Aviv University hosts a conference on Renewable and Alternative Energy.
Omer Selah of the Fuel Authority, 34, the man National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer has tasked with reducing the country's dependence on petroleum products, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview this week that although Israel was a minor player on the world energy stage, it could nevertheless be a "light to the nations" by reducing its dependence on oil. He admits, however, that totally eliminating petroleum imports is highly unlikely.
"Even though Israel's [oil] consumption is low, relative to the major powers, [the way we reduce our dependency on oil] could have a powerful moral effect on the international stage," he said.
Israel was an island in terms of energy infrastructure, he said. "We are on our own here, and if something breaks down, we can't hop onto our neighbor's energy resources.
(3 Nov 2006)
Nice summary article - more at the original.
Africa Over a Barrel
Abdoulaye Wade, Washington Post
Although gasoline prices have dropped recently in the United States, many Americans continue to worry about the toll of oil dependence at the gas pump and on the U.S. economy. As an African, I feel their pain -- and then some. While the price of a barrel of crude has recently dipped below $60, oil still costs twice as much as it did three years ago -- and experts fully expect the price to climb higher.
(28 Oct 2006)
Nigeria's oil curse (Audio and transcript)
Kai Ryssdal, Marketplace
Protesters yesterday shut down an oil pumping station in the Niger Delta. It's one of the richest oil regions in the world, but residents don't benefit much. Host Kai Ryssdal talks to documentary filmmaker Sandy Cioffi who just returned from the area.
(30 Oct 2006)
Evo Morales' Complete Victory Over Big Oil
Newton Garver, CounterPunch
The Progress in Bolivia
I have previously argued that Evo Morales might best be described as a genius rather than put into any of the ready-made political categories that so regularly distort both news and policy. One main reason for this is his combination of principle and pragmatism, leading him into confrontations in which he does not attack opposing persons or institutions but instead invites them to join him in a struggle for justice.
...[One] example, cited in my previous article, was his use of troops in the nationalization of oil and gas reserves on May 1, 2006, which of course garnered world-wide press attention, even though he knew full well that there was no opposing armed force and that the nationalization could as well have been accomplished by signing decrees in his office in La Paz.
At the time of the nationalization there was a near-consensus among analysts that the nationalization would fail. There were two reasons for this belief. One was that the opposing parties were the Brazilian government and very powerful and well-connected international cartels, who had plenty of other assets and were powerful enough to just leave Bolivia rather than renegotiate contracts that would give the lion's share of revenues to a desperately country that had few alternatives. The other reason was that neither the Bolivian ministry of mines nor the national petroleum company, YPFB, had the expertise required to run the operation that the renegotiated contracts envisaged. Both reasons were based on solid knowledge of the details of the industry, so the skepticism was well founded.
...So Evo Morales achieved what most of the analysts thought would be impossible, a complete victory in his struggle against the foreign companies exploiting Bolivia's natural resources. In his remarks hailing the agreements Morales stressed that this is a favorable outcome for everyone and noted that it had been achieved without the expropriation of the property or assets of the foreign companies. He looks forward to years of continued cooperation.
(6 Nov 2006)
Ecuador on the Edge: A Tale of Two Presidential Candidates
Cyril Mychalejko, Towards Freedom
The question of who wins the election race in Ecuador on November 26 may be overshadowed by the uncertainty over whether the winner will actually survive a full term. The politically unstable South American nation has had nine presidents over the last ten years. The current front-runner is Alvaro Noboa, a billionaire banana tycoon who has run unsuccessfully twice in the past. He won 27 percent of the vote in the first-round, edging out Rafael Correa (and 11 other candidates), a U.S trained economist who ran on a platform that attacked Washington’s neoliberal policies, as well as the traditional corruption plaguing Ecuador’s political system.
Correa was widely seen as the front-runner heading into the Oct. 15 vote, which made Noboa’s victory by an estimated four percentage points a welcome surprise for Washington and Wall Street.
...Correa would also renegotiate contracts with oil companies in order for the government to gain a greater share in the profits. If the companies don’t like it then expect state-owned Petroecuador to take over the oil f
ields. If elected, he also plans to review contracts in the extractive industries that are opposed by local populations.
Conn Hallinan, a foreign policy analyst with Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF), believes that if Correa wins and follows through with his campaign promises that there could be a target on him. "I think the U.S. has since the coup against Chavez been following a policy of intervention in Latin America, more so than we have seen in many years," said Hallinan.
In a recent column titled "Hunting Hugo", Hallinan writes that the "U.S. Southern Command, the arm of the U.S military in Latin America, concluded that efforts by Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia to extend greater control over their oil and gas reserves posed a threat to U.S. oil supplies." This would make these countries a threat to our national security.
(2 Nov 2006)
Also appearing at Znet.