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Bolivia's Irresistible Reserves
Wealthier Neighbors Need Nation's Gas for Economic Growth
Monte Reel, Washington Post
When President Evo Morales took state control of Bolivia's energy sector nearly two years ago, critics warned that investors would abandon the country's gas fields and ultimately sink the industry.
They were half-right. Production has slowed along with investment, forcing Bolivia to renege on some of its export commitments this year. But foreign governments, often in the form of state-owned companies, have jumped in to resuscitate the energy sector.
The reason is simple: They can't afford not to.
South America's largest countries -- particularly regional powerhouses Brazil and Argentina -- are facing energy crunches and need natural gas to fuel economic growth. That has made them dependent on the poorest country on the continent and has helped Morales salvage a sector that critics believed was on the road to ruin.
(10 February 2008)
Clouds on Kurdistan's Horizon
Greg Bruno, Newsweek
Peaceful Kurdistan has been the silver lining amidst the upheaval of the Iraq War. But controversial oil deals threaten the stability.
In the summer of 2006, as a wave of sectarian killings spread through central and southern Iraq, leaders in Iraqi Kurdistan were promoting a less violent enterprise: tourism. Dubbed the "Other Iraq" campaign, the Kurdistan Regional Government turned to print ads and television spots to draw visitors and cash to a region it claimed was "already sowing the seeds of a brighter future." Two years later, violence remains unusual, unless one includes Turkish forays like the recent air strikes in the northern Avashin and Hakurk districts. But moves by the regional government to secure the future of Iraqi Kurdistan have stirred new fears among Iraq's other factions.
Disagreements over oil policy, security, and regional governance are threatening to splinter the shaky alliance between Kurdish and Shiite parties in Baghdad. Kurdish officials accuse Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government of stalling a referendum to resolve the status of the disputed city of Kirkuk, and of withholding funding for the region's military. Sunni and Shiite politicians, meanwhile, are furious over oil-exploration deals inked between the Kurdish government and international companies. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius notes the sparring has reached such a frenzied state some Kurdish leaders are pushing for Maliki to be replaced.
Politically speaking, the rift could have a dramatic impact on Iraq's long-term stability.
(11 February 2008)
Omani company's output to decline for eighth year
Sunil K. Vaidya, Gulf News
Muscat: The fall in Oman's oil production last year and the next four years has been attributed by the Managing Director of state-controlled Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), John Malcolm, to ageing oilfields and complex operations to produce oil.
Briefing media yesterday at the Oil & Gas Exhibition Centre in the Mina Al Fahal district of Muscat, Malcolm said: "Many of our fields have been producing oil for more than 30 years. Because they are mature, they require new approaches to ensure that they continue producing."
He said that the enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies had offered PDO, an affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell, a lifeline. However, he added, "They come at a considerable cost and require intensive technical management."
(11 February 2008)