Posts Tagged ‘energy’

China Offers Support for Strife-Torn Venezuela at United Nations

September 20, 2017

BEIJING — China believes that the Venezuelan government and people can resolve their problems within a legal framework and maintain national stability, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Venezuelan counterpart at the United Nations.

At least 125 people have been killed in four months of protests against President Nicolás Maduro’s government, which has resisted calls to bring forward the presidential election and instead set up a pro-Maduro legislative superbody called a Constituent Assembly that has overruled the country’s opposition-led Congress.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (L) shakes hands with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres — File Photo

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he wanted democracy restored soon in Venezuela and warned that the United States might take additional measures to apply pressure on the oil-producing nation.

China, a good friend of Venezuela’s, has brushed off widespread condemnation from the United States, Europe and others about the situation in the country.

Wang told Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza on Tuesday on the sidelines of a U.N. meeting that the two countries have an all-round strategic partnership, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday.

China has always upheld the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, and believes Venezuela’s government and people have the ability to resolve problems via talks within a legal framework and protect national stability, Wang added.

“The international community should take a fair and objective stance and play a constructive role,” he said.

China and oil-rich Venezuela have a close diplomatic and business relationship, especially in energy.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)


US Urges China to Use Oil Leverage on North Korea

September 14, 2017

LONDON — The Latest on U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s trip to London (all times local):

6:05 p.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is urging China to use its leverage as North Korea supplier of oil to get the North to “reconsider” its development of nuclear weapons.

The United States has sought an embargo on oil imports to North Korea at the U.N. Security Council in response to North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test to date.

But the U.N. has agreed to weaker measures against the North — although the U.N. is banning ban textile exports, an important source of its revenue for the North.

Tillerson says it was going to be “very difficult” to get China to agree to an oil embargo. Still he’s urging China as a “great country and a world power” to use its leverage as the supplier of virtually all North Korea’s oil.


10:25 a.m.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is holding talks in London with British and French officials on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

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The U.S., Britain and France are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and the council this week approved new sanctions to punish North Korea’s latest nuclear test explosion.

The officials also intend to discuss the response to Hurricane Irma, which struck the southeastern United States and the Caribbean.

And expect the situation in Libya to come up during talks with representatives from the U.N., Italy, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

It’s Tillerson’s second visit to Britain since taking office in February.


US agencies banned from using Russia’s Kaspersky software

September 14, 2017

Federal agencies in the US have 90 days to wipe Kaspersky software from their computers. Officials are concerned about the Russian company’s ties to the Kremlin and possible threats to national security.

Headquarters of Internet security giant Kaspersky in Moscow (Getty Images/AFP/K. Kudryavtsev)

The administration of US President Donald Trump has ordered government agencies to remove products made by Russian company Kaspersky Labs from their computers.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said Wednesday it was concerned that the cybersecurity firm was susceptible to pressure from Moscow and thus a potential threat to national security.

Read more: Facebook, Russia and the US elections – what you need to know

DHS said in a statement that it was “concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies,” as well as Russian laws that might compel Kaspersky to hand over information to the government.

But the makers of the popular anti-virus software have said “no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions.”

US tech retailer Best Buy confirmed earlier Wednesday that it would no longer sell Kaspersky products, but has declined to give further details on the decision.

Ties between Kaspersky, Kremlin ‘alarming’

Civilian government agencies have 90 days to completely remove Kaspersky software from their computers. The products have already been banned in the Pentagon.

US congressional leaders have applauded the move. Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen said the “strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are alarming and well-documented,” and asked the DHS if the company’s products were used for any critical infrastructure, such as for voting systems, banks and energy supply.

Although Kaspersky Labs was founded by a KGB-trained entrepreneur, Eugene Kaspersky, and has done work for Russian intelligence, the company has repeatedly denied carrying out espionage on behalf of President Vladimir Putin and his government.

es/cmk (AP, Reuters)

Total sells Norwegian assets to Kuwait

September 4, 2017


© TOTAL/AFP | French oil giant Total sells remaining stake in Norwegian oil field Gina Krog so that it can concentrate on its recent acquisition of Denmark’s Maersk Oil.

PARIS (AFP) – French oil giant Total said Monday it has agreed to sell its remaining stake in a Norwegian oil field to Kuwait so that it can focus on its recent acquisition of Denmark’s Maersk Oil.”Total has signed an agreement to divest its remaining 15-percent interest in the Gina Krog field in Norway to Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC),” Total said in a statement.

“In the framework of our portfolio management and optimization of the allocation of capital, we have decided to fully divest our interest in the Gina Krog project and focus on other opportunities in Norway,” said Total’s head of exploration and production, Arnaud Breuillac.

 Total announced the US$7.5 billion purchase of Maersk Oil's assets in August. Claus Bonnerup / AP

“With the recent acquisition of Maersk Oil & Gas, the group’s position in the North Sea will be significantly strengthened, in particular in Norway.”

Total announced on August 21 that it would buy Maersk Oil for $7.45 billion (6.35 billion euros), making it the second-largest operator in the North Sea, with substantial operations in Britain, Norway and Denmark.

For its part, KUFPEC said said the deal was valued at $317 million.

Total already sold a 15-percent stake Gina Krog to Kuwait in 2016. It put the combined value of both that deal and the latest one at more than $600 million.

The Gina Krog field is situated in the North Sea and is controlled by Norwegian giant Statoil.

China’s Global Times Tabloid Warns Against Cutting Off N.Korea Oil Supply

September 3, 2017

BEIJING — China’s Global Times, an influential tabloid, warned against any move to cut off North Korea’s oil supply or shut the border in response to Pyongyang’s nuclear test on Sunday.

In a widely cited editorial in April, the Global Times had raised the prospect of curbing oil supplies to North Korea, saying Chinese society would approve of such a measure if the North engaged in further provocative behavior.

On Sunday, the Global Times said more stringent United Nations Security Council sanctions were “inevitable” after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, but urged restraint.

“Despite the anger of the Chinese public toward North Korea’s new nuclear test, we should avoid resorting to rash and extreme means by imposing a full embargo on North Korea,” it said in an editorial.

The tabloid is run by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, although its stance does not necessarily equate with Chinese government policy.

“If China completely cuts off the supply of oil to North Korea or even closes the China-North Korea border, it is uncertain whether we can deter Pyongyang from conducting further nuclear tests and missile launches. However, confrontation between the two is likely to occur,” it said.

“If so, the conflict between China and North Korea will transcend any conflict between the US and North Korea, and take center stage on the Korean Peninsula. Then Washington and Seoul can boldly shift the responsibility of the North Korean nuclear issue to China, which does not fit China’s national interests.”

North Korea gets the bulk of its oil from China, its main ally and trading partner, and a lesser amount from Russia.

(Reporting by Tony Munroe; editing by Ralph Boulton)


Ball in Beijing’s court: Kim Jong-un crossed China’s red line with nuclear test

By Kirsty Needham
Sydney Morning Herald

Beijing: North Korea’s sixth nuclear test was expected. The timing speaks of Kim Jong-un’s willingness to provoke China; and an attempt to seize the moment to wedge South Korea and Donald Trump.

A military response from the United States appears less likely than a decision by China to finally reach for its biggest gun – cutting the oil pipeline to North Korea.

North Korea, for its part, thinks it has just strengthened its hand for talks.

The United States has been urging China to cripple North Korea by cutting its energy supply.  China has to date resisted and Chinese foreign policy analysts have said this is because Beijing had to keep one card up its sleeve for the day Pyongyang crossed its red line.

The two North Korean earthquakes, measured by Chinese monitors as magnitude 6.3, and then magnitude 4.6, triggered by the hydrogen bomb explosion on Sunday, prompted reports of tremors in Chinese border towns and scrambled Chinese jets. As with the five earlier nuclear tests, there is fear of radiation leaks.

Renmin University’s professor of international relations, Shi Yinhong, had warned earlier in the week that China was in a difficult diplomatic situation – North Korea was acting increasingly hatefully towards China as it toughened economic sanctions.

The timing of Sunday’s nuclear test indeed appears an act of spite against Beijing.

North Korea’s sixth nuclear test was conducted as leaders from Russia, Brazil, India, and South Africa flew into China for the much-heralded BRICS summit of emerging economies, at which Chinese President Xi Jinping was due to give a speech.

It is the second time this year North Korea has spectacularly disrupted Beijing’s attempt to highlight its place on the world stage. Xi’s One Belt One Road forum, with 30 world leaders in attendance, was punctuated by a North Korean missile test.

But the timing of Sunday’s hydrogen bomb test also exploits tension between South Korea and the United States. On Saturday, South Korean foreign policy analysts were stunned that US President Trump – in his latest act of trade brinksmanship messing with security interests – threatened to axe a trade pact with South Korea as soon as this week.

On Friday, ahead of BRICS, Russian President Vladimir Putin described US tactics on North Korea as “misguided and futile”, and said there must be dialogue between the US, South Korea and North Korea with no preconditions.

Russia believes North Korea will not give up its nukes.

South Korea, under new president Moon Jae-in, has said it is open to talks with its neighbour, but has so far toed the US line by repeating the caveat that preconditions must be met.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has articulated US preconditions for talks with North Korea as no more missile tests and an agenda focused on North Korean denuclearisation.

But the rapid progress of North Korea’s missile technology, its attainment of an intercontinental ballistic missile, and the latest nuclear test now have many analysts saying negotiations may need to begin with an acceptance of North Korea as a nuclear state.

“There is no strike option that is not a war. We are beyond ‘prevention’ and there is a third option: diplomacy and negotiation,” wrote Professor John Delury of Yonsei University in Seoul.

China has said it wants denuclearisation but has grown increasingly irate at the US in the past fortnight, after Washington imposed unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies caught dealing with North Korea.

China’s spokeswoman snapped that some parties appeared disinterested in peace talks and dialogue, only threats.

China’s foreign ministry went so far as to blame the US and South Korea for conducting a large, week-long military drill that has historically provoked Kim. North Korea’s fifth nuclear test, in 2016, was also conducted soon after the joint US military drill that North Korea has strongly protested is a threat to its security.

If the ball is in China’s court on cutting oil, it may demand more willingness from the US to come to the negotiating table with North Korea.

Pyongyang, anticipating oil sanctions, has reportedly been stockpiling fuel for months.

North Korea on Sunday declared the test had confirmed it now has a hydrogen bomb capable of fitting on an intercontintental ballistic missile, and so the “DPRK-US confrontation structure has fundamentally changed”.


Japan Spokesman: Sanctions on N Korea Oil-Trade an Option — North Korea Conflict Would ‘Severely Affect’ the Global Oil Trade

September 3, 2017

TOKYO — Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Sunday that sanctions options against North Korea in the wake of that country’s nuclear test include restrictions on oil-products trade.

Suga, speaking at a news conference, also said he condemned the test in the strongest of terms.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Writing by Elaine Lies; Editing by William Mallard)


Around India
An oil tanker delivers at the oil terminal in the harbor on October 10, 2016 in Kochi, India.  Kaveh Kazemi Getty Images
A North Korea Conflict Would ‘Severely Affect’ the Global Oil Trade
Aug 31, 2017

If current tensions between North Korea and its neighbors in Northeast Asia devolve into conflict, the world’s oil markets would be “severely affected,” a leading energy consultancy warns.

Wood Mackenzie warned in a report published Wednesday that a third of the world’s seaborne oil traffic and two thirds of Asia’s refining capacity could be at stake in case of open warfare in the region, according to CNBC.

Crude oil imports to Japan, China and South Korea could be halted as a result of military action, the report said, forcing all three to turn to their respective stockpiles. The three nations account for 34% of the world’s oil trade by sea.

Japan and South Korea have emergency reserves sufficient for 90 days’ demand, while China started building its strategic reserves three or four years ago, CNBC reports.

China has domestic oil production to fall back on, but up to 58% of its capacity — involving oil fields in the country’s northeast, close to the North Korean border — could be disrupted if any conflict involving North Korea escalates, according to Wood Mackenzie’s report.

Tension in the region heightened this week after Pyongyang test-fired a mid-range ballistic missile Tuesday, which flew over Japan into the Pacific. Leader Kim Jong-un called it “a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” where the U.S. has a major military presence.

Chinese National Arrested in Los Angeles on U.S. Hacking Charge

August 25, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO — U.S. authorities on Thursday accused a Chinese national visiting the United States of providing malware that has been linked to the theft of security clearance records of millions of American government employees.

Yu Pingan of Shanghai was arrested on Monday at Los Angeles airport after a federal criminal complaint accused him of conspiring with others wielding malicious software known as Sakula, a Justice Department spokesman said on Thursday.

The complaint said the group attacked a series of unnamed U.S. companies using Sakula, the same rare program involved in U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hacks detected in 2014 and 2015. The filing did not mention the OPM hacks.

The arrest could provide information on the OPM hacks which U.S. officials have blamed on the Chinese government.

In an FBI affidavit linked to the complaint, an FBI agent said he believed Yu provided versions of Sakula to two unnamed men that he knew would be used to carry out attacks on the firms.

Yu’s court-appointed attorney, Michael Berg, said Yu was a teacher with no affiliation with China’s government.

“He says he has no involvement in this whatsoever,” Berg said, adding that Yu came to Los Angeles for a conference.

The Justice Department and San Diego FBI declined to comment further.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular press briefing on Friday that she was not aware of the situation, but that China actively seeks to guarantee overseas Chinese individuals’ legal rights. China opposes of all forms criminal internet activity, she added.

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The court filings said Sakula had rarely been seen before the attacks on U.S. companies and Yu knew the software he was providing would be used in the hacks carried out between 2010 and 2015.

Though the victims are not named, some companies appeared to be in the aerospace and energy industries.

Adam Meyers, vice president at U.S. security firm CrowdStrike, said software flaws and one of the internet protocol addresses cited in the complaint matched up with attacks on a U.S. turbine manufacturer, Capstone Turbine, and a French aircraft supplier.

Meyers said Sakula could be used by multiple groups, but that all of the known targets would be of interest to the Chinese government.

The OPM breach was a subject of U.S.-China talks, and the Chinese government previously told American diplomats it had arrested some criminals in the case.

Yu remains in jail pending a court hearing on his detention next week.

(Reporting by Joseph Menn; Additional reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Andrew Hay)

Lithuania Takes Delivery of US Gas to Cut Reliance on Moscow

August 21, 2017

KLAIPEDA, Lithuania — Lithuania has taken delivery of its first shipment of liquefied natural gas from the United States, a milestone that the Baltic state hopes will further reduce its reliance on Russia.

Independence, the U.S.-based tanker, docked Monday in the port of Klaipeda to offload some 150,000 cubic meters (200 cubic yards) of gas at a fully functioning offshore terminal that is capable of covering most of Lithuania’s annual energy needs.

Energy Minister Zygymantas Vaiciunas said the U.S. is already the country’s most-important strategic partner and now becomes “a reliable LNG supplier for the whole region.”

Moscow has used gas supplies to put pressure on Ukraine, which like the Baltic states was once part of the Soviet Union. That’s driven the urgency into projects to diversify sources to reduce dependence on Russia.

Locator map of Lithuania

Rosneft finalises strategic deal in India

August 21, 2017


© AFP/File / by Germain MOYON | Rosneft will now control 49% of India’s Essar Oil as it moves to increase its exposure to the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region.

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia’s state-controlled oil giant Rosneft announced Monday it had closed a deal with India’s Essar Oil that is the single largest foreign investment in India and is strategically important for Russia.

Announced in October 2016 as oil prices plunged, the deal values at $12.9 billion the Indian group that owns one of the world’s most modern refineries — Vadinar — and controls over 3,500 petrol stations.

Rosneft is acquiring a 49 percent stake, while another 49 percent is being acquired by a consortium including global commodities giant Trafigura.

Essar in a statement called it “Russia’s single largest foreign investment made anywhere in the world” and also “the single largest foreign investment in India.”

One of the brothers who founded the company, Shashi Ruia was quoted as saying “Today is a historic day for Indo-Russian economic ties.”

He said the deal “reflects the shared vision of two of the world?s most dynamic leaders.”

India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi is one of the emerging countries with whom Russian President Vladimir Putin has built up dialogue in recent years.

“Together with our partners we intend to support the company (Essor) to significantly improve its financial performance and, in the medium term, adopt an asset development strategy,” Rosneft head Igor Sechin, a close ally of Putin, was quoted as saying in a statement.

“The closing of the deal is a remarkable achievement for Rosneft too: the company has entered the high-potential and fast-growing Asia Pacific market,” Sechin said.

The deal is seen as a strategic triumph for Russia, allowing it to move into other markets, while the country and Rosneft specifically are under EU and US sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Ukraine.

Rosneft has said that Essor’s Vadinar refinery will allow it to process crude oil produced in Venezuela, which is difficult to refine.

Rosenft has said that since 2014 it has lent least $6 billion to Venezuela, with Caracas paying back some of that debt through oil shipments.

Russian analysts and opposition supporters have called the Indian deal a way for Moscow to prop up the regime of socialist President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela as he faces a serious political and economic crisis.

by Germain MOYON

South China Sea: Why the contested waterway is so strategically important.

August 11, 2017

The South China Sea has long been a source of territorial disputes between several Asian countries. DW takes a look at who owns what, and why the contested waterway is so strategically important.

Südchinesisches Meer Spratly-Inseln (Reuters/E. de Castro)

Who is claiming territory?

China, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan have overlapping claims to the South China Sea – one of the most important trade routes in the world.

Powerhouse China has the biggest claim by far. It has demarcated an extensive area of the sea with a so-called “nine-dash line” that first appeared on Chinese maps in the late 1940s. The Paracel and Spratly Island chains, as well as dozens of rocky outcrops and reefs, fall within this area. These bits of land are highly contested, mainly because they are believed to be surrounded by large oil and gas deposits.

The Spratly Islands, for example, are claimed in full by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and in part by Malaysia and the Philippines. The Paracel chain is claimed by Vietnam, China and Taiwan.

Graphic showing Chinese claims and disputed islands in the South China Sea

These competing claimants argue that China’s self-crafted line is unlawful because it appears to extend far beyond the limits set by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which gives states an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) up to 200 nautical miles from their coastline. Although other nations can pass through, states have sole rights over all natural resources in their EEZ. They only have full sovereignty in territorial waters 12 nautical miles from their coastline.

Vietnam, the Philippines and Taiwan have carried out significant construction on the islands they claim. In recent years, China has also sought to bolster its territorial control by building on the Paracel and Spratly archipelagos. Satellite images from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) show that Beijing has taken significant steps to militarize the islands, equipping them with runways, ports, radar facilities, anti-aircraft guns and weapons systems.

US destroyer in the South China Sea

The United States has challenged China’s territorial claims by sailing close to disputed islands

Why is the sea important?

An escalation in the conflict over territory in the South China Sea could have global consequences, given that more than $5 trillion (4.25 trillion euros) in traded goods and a third of all maritime traffic worldwide passes through its waters each year.

The sea covers about 3,500,000 square kilometers (1,400,000 square miles) and is a main route connecting Pacific and Indian Ocean ports.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, about 80 percent of China’s oil imports pass through the South China Sea via the Malacca Strait. Roughly two thirds of South Korea’s energy supplies, as well as nearly 60 percent of energy supplies for Japan and Taiwan follow the same route.

The waters are also lucrative fishing grounds, providing the main source of animal protein for densely populated Southeast Asia. And its floor is also believed to contain massive, mostly untapped reserves of oil and natural gas.

Graphic showing oil and gas in the South China Sea

The role of China and the US

If China secures more territorial control in the region, it could potentially disrupt shipments to other countries, as well as secure huge oil and gas reserves, thus easing its reliance on the narrow Strait of Malacca for its energy needs.

It could also potentially deny access to foreign military forces, such as the United States. The US has maintained that the South China Sea is international water, and that sovereignty in the area should be determined by the UNCLOS.

Washington has been critical of China’s island constructions, and from time to time sends military ships and planes near disputed areas as part of so-called “freedom of navigation” operations. These actions are seen as attempts to reassure allies in the region, such as the Philippines, and to ensure access to key shipping and air routes remain open.China's Liaoning aircraft carrier (imago/Xinhua)


 (Is the Philippines just a pawn for China now?)

The ONLY TRULY JOYFUL FACES at the ASEAN conference were provided by North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, left, and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.  (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)



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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law.