Category Archives: Oil

Venezuela has been well and truly Fracked by the USA

fracking venezuela

Editor’s Note: We’re not sure about the accuracy of some of the statements by Peter Binose. We encourage our readers to research what Mr. Binose says and to state their opinions in the comments section.

Let ‘er rip!

By Peter Binose

Oil prices are down worldwide due to the Americans discovery and application of a process called fracking, and an oil pipeline from Canada.

“It’s such a shame that Chavez is no longer with us to experience Venezuela getting a good fracking.” 

Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.

The Venezuelans held the USA hostage with oil supplies for years, even offering cheap oil to certain cities and communities as a snub to the US Government. The Venezuelans own gas stations all over the US, thus squeezing those extra dimes from the Americans.

Citgo is a U.S. refining and marketing firm that is a wholly owned subsidiary of Venezuela’s state-owned oil company. Money you pay to Citgo goes primarily to Venezuela. There are 14,000 Citgo gas stations in the US. By buying gasoline at Citgo, American are contributing to the billions of dollars that Venezuela’s democratic government is wasting on military arms.

Venezuela Dictator Hugo Chavez Vowed To Bring Down U.S. Government. Chavez, president of Venezuela, told a TV audience: “Enough of imperialist aggression; we must tell the world: down with the U.S. empire. We have to bury imperialism this century.”

It’s such a shame that Chavez is no longer with us to experience Venezuela getting a good fracking.  Continue reading

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Filed under Oil, Venezuela

Missing in Action: A Dynamic Revival Plan for the Barbados Economy

“Borrowing to pay the interest on debt is a financial disaster waiting to happen which any teenager with a credit card could have told the minister.”

Barbados 2011 Budget Statement: A failed opportunity by the DLP Government

By Hal Austin in London

A Global Overview:

The global economy is in the throes of a major historic swing, with economic power moving gradually, but irreversibly, from the old developed economies to the newly Emerging Markets, led by China, India and Brazil, but including nearly all of the Asian, ex Japan, Latin American economies.

This is evidenced by the interesting fact that while the old economies – the US, UK, euroland and Japan – are in terrible trouble, about to fall back in to a double-dip recession, the Emerging Markets are continuing to grow at astronomical rates.

“Barbados is caught in this bind, an over-dependence on the old markets for tourist traffic, while not making any real effort to deal with the growing new economic powerhouses.”

To find a solution to this crisis, first the government must know what the problem is. And there is no evidence that the government or central bank has been treating the global economic crisis with the seriousness with which it deserves.

The global financial crisis of 2007/8 was not caused by the traditional inflationary or balance of payments shocks, (but? *) by the build up of historically high imbalances in the property sectors in Europe and the United States, the packaging of that debt and the subsequent contagion across markets. (* Editor’s note: The manuscript we received from Mr. Austin is unclear whether the word “but” might have been omitted from this location. Would Mr. Austin kindly email us to advise. Thanks!)

The following recession and attempts at a subsequent recovery have all been atypical with uneven economic growth, fiscal crises in the southern part of euroland and a battle between the Republican-controlled Congress and the Democratic-controlled Senate over macroeconomic policy, which has undermined confidence and looks set to plunge the world back in to a double-dip recession.

This broadly is the global landscape in which the Barbados government is functioning and which the Budget on August 16 was meant to provide the necessary fiscal and monetary cover for local businesses, consumers and workers.

The Budget: An Overview

Sadly everything in the Budget was predictable and uninspiring – the old clichés, the rhetoric, the criticism of adversaries, the over-dependence on civil servants and party hacks for ideas.

“The threat to issue bonds to reduce Bds$1bn in debt, with a target of $755.3m during this financial year, is a not so clever way of passing on government debt to bondholders, many of whom will be households.”

Mr Sinckler told the House: “In the next five years, maturities of the medium term securities will increase from $256m in 2012 to $413.6m in 2016. Consequently, if the deficit continues to be at the 2011/2 level, annual issuances of local debt will increase to approximately $1bn in order to satisfy maturing issues and to finance the deficit.”

This says it All. The government will be issuing IOUs to cover debt owed to other IOU owners and to finance its continuing current account deficit.

This is not only unfair, but to my mind borders on the fraudulent, since government is highly likely to default on these long-dated promises, certainly not priortise them for the honouring of coupons since they will have little or no impact on the much-treasured credit rating agency approvals.

This is a government that has failed to meet pensions and salary obligations for workers.

What makes this policy particularly ill-thought out, is that clearly the government has lost the confidence of the global lenders, it has lost the confidence of regional lenders and it has not turned to households, who no doubt will be mainly pensioners and people looking to diversify their savings, to fund this massive black hole which the government has done nothing in two Budgets to reduce. Continue reading

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Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Business & Banking, Crime & Law, Economy, Energy, Environment, Offshore Investments, Oil, Politics

How could the Barbados National Oil Company lose $65 million?

Barbados Free Press reader “St. George’s Dragon” asks…

“The results of the Barbados National Oil Company are out (a year late) and scandalously show that they have lost $48 million in the year, and will presumably have lost another similar amount in the time since March 2009 year end.

I am not an accountant, but there must be some relevance in the fact that the profit from the up-stream side (is that oil production?) is $14.5 million, while the marketing side has lost $65 million.

How can you lose $65 million when the fuel prices are not subsidised by the Government any more?”

PWC Auditors say Barbados National Oil Company “not viable” – No kidding!

According to The Nation, the auditing firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers says that the Barbados National Oil Company is on a downward spiral and will crash and burn without more of your tax dollars. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Energy, Freedom Of Information, Offshore Investments, Oil, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Will Barbados Environment Minister Denis Lowe attend World Environment Day Parish Walk – Saturday, June 5, 2010?

Why does our Environment Minister shun citizen-organised Environmental events?

Minister Denis Lowe

With his friendly demeanor and large frame Barbados Environment Minister Denis Lowe is easy to spot when he appears in public, but other than his press interviews and carefully-staged talks at schools, political functions and Ministry show-projects, Mr. Lowe remains The Invisible Man to ordinary citizens.

Saturday, June 5, 2010 is World Environment Day (UN WED website here).

Commemorated on 5 June since 1972, World Environment Day is one of the principal vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

This year, the National Conservation Commission and the Future Centre Trust are jointly holding a World Environment Day Parish Walk from the Eric Holder Centre in St Joseph to Bathsheba.  This event also marks the 40th Anniversary of the NCC.

We wonder if Environment Minister Lowe will attend this citizen-organised walk or if he will limit his participation to taking out one of his famous full page adverts in The Barbados Advocate. In lieu of the full page advert, perhaps he might be planning to do one of his “I am concerned” media interviews while standing in front of government crews cleaning drains. (The Barbados Advocate covers Dr. Lowe’s stand up interviews faithfully but that has nothing to do with the regular full page government advertisements… honest!)

Pardon our cynicism folks, but Dr. Lowe and his Ministry have been no-shows at so many environmental events that we have to wonder. Most recently the Barbados Government, Environment Minister Denis Lowe and the Environment Ministry were invited to participate in the planning and execution of No Plastic Bag Day.

Denis Lowe canceled a scheduled meeting with the Future Centre Trust at the last moment saying he had more important commitments. Lowe sent no stand-in. No Ministry of the Environment personnel responded to invitations either – and no politicians from any party showed up during the planning or on the day of the event. The Barbados DLP Government of Prime Minister David Thompson did do one thing though: the DLP denied a duty waiver on the green shopping bags imported as part of No Plastic Bag Day.

The good Doctor Lowe hasn’t been seen at any beach or gully clean-ups either. He’s also been conspicuously absent from the site of the Shell Oil pipeline spill since he was elected.

“There is no question that Shell Oil bought and paid for two successive Barbados governments. How else can we explain the actions of both the BLP and DLP governments in allowing this negligent and abusive company to walk away free from a major pipeline leak that polluted the water table over hundreds of acres, ruined agricultural land and still threatens our beaches?”

from the BFP article How Much Did It Cost Shell Oil To Buy Two Barbados Governments? Without Election Financing Laws, We’ll Never Know

Prior to the DLP victory in January 2008, Denis Lowe was happy to work with environmentalists and concerned citizens to look for justice for the victims of the Shell Oil pipeline spill. Lowe attended with Adrian Loveridge and others to pull buckets of Shell jet fuel from household water wells and demand that Shell take responsibility and clean up their mess.

That was prior to the DLP forming the government, of course.

Now? We have Shell Oil’s “fixer company” saying they will “ensure government buy-in” to Shell’s position.

Hey… Dr. Lowe, please tell us how much in “campaign donations” that you and the Democratic Labour Party have received from Shell, SOL or associated companies since you lost interest in the Shell Oil pipeline spill?

Does it matter whether or not Environment Minister Lowe shows up for World Environment Day?

At this point? Nope. It doesn’t matter at all. Not a bit.

Barbados Free Press will be there though. See you on Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 5am for a 6am start at the Eric Holder Centre in St Joseph.

(5am? I know, I know! But Clive promises he’ll either get up early or stay up all night. Do we believe him? Sure! 🙂 )

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Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Corruption, Disaster, Environment, Ethics, Offshore Investments, Oil, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption

Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association asks BLP & DLP “Where is the Environmental Act you’ve both been promising for 20 years?”

UPDATED: September 2, 2011

Here we are on September 2, 2011 – some 26 years and 8 months since our BLP & DLP governments first promised to pass a comprehensive Environmental Protection Act.

It has been well over a year since Sue Springer, Executive VP of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) asked the DLP and the BLP where their promised Environmental Act went to – and still we have no action.

Nothing has changed. Liz Thompson just rolled into town to talk about the environment and gave us more of the same fine words we’ve heard for almost three decades. At the same meeting, Keith Franklin, Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office said “Environmental issues are taking a toll on the development of the world’s societies and economies and must be discussed and tackled at several levels.”

No kidding? Really? Gosh, we’d never had known!

Nothing but words. Words is all we get from these people. No action. No Environmental Protection Act.

To all our Environment Ministers, past and present, we give a hearty “Thanks for nothing.”

Original article first published May 13, 2010…

“My understanding is that it is coming up now to nearly 15 to 20 years that we are waiting on a new Environmental Act for Barbados. What message does that send?”

… Sue Springer, Executive VP of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) in the Barbados Advocate Protect environment to protect tourism sector.

Citizens getting tired of the same old BS promises from successive Barbados Governments

According to our research and community memory, Bajans were first promised an Environmental Protection Act in 1985 under Tom Adams when Aaron Truss was the BLP Government’s Minister of the Environment. Nothing more was heard about the legislation, and Tom Adams died a few months after the promise. (Some remember that Aaron Truss was once arrested for smuggling slot machines into Barbados as “used cash registers” – chuckle -)

In 1991 the new DLP Environment Minister, Warwick Franklin, promised a “Clean Environment Law”. Nothing happened and no draft was ever seen.

In 1995 newly elected BLP Prime Minister Owen S. Arthur promised to make the environment a priority. Late in 1996 as the true extent of the disastrous Shell Oil pipeline leak started to become known, Arthur went on the record and promised “Environmental legislation, controls and standards”. Continue reading

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Environment, Oil, Political Corruption, Wildlife

Mega-Disaster oil spill hits Southern USA – Lessons for Caribbean small island nations

The end of the world for many southern USA coastal communities

Unless you’ve been on the planet Mars or in Dodds Prison for the last few days, you know that a BP oil rig off the coast of Louisiana, USA exploded, caught fire and is spewing 5000 barrels of oil a day into the already-not-pristine waters of the Caribbean.

An oil slick the size of the state of West Virginia is starting to come ashore and threatens all along the southern USA coast from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama to Florida. The Mississippi River is covered with oil a mile up from the coast and that’s just the start.

This is the end of the world for many coastal communities because as we saw with the Exxon Valdez in Alaska and the Shell Oil spill in Barbados these disasters kill everything for decades.

President Obama has declared a national emergency and sent in the military to do what they can do, but the magnitude of the spill means that only God could now prevent the total destruction of fisheries and tourism on thousands of miles of coastline.

“BP suggested in a 2009 exploration plan and environmental impact analysis for the well that an accident leading to a giant crude oil spill — and serious damage to beaches, fish and mammals — was unlikely, or virtually impossible.

The Coast Guard estimates now that at least 1.6 million gallons of oil have spilled since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers. The environmental catastrophe could eclipse the Exxon Valdez disaster, when an oil tanker spilled 11 million gallons off Alaska’s shores in 1989.”

… from the AP news story BP plan deemed major spill from Gulf well unlikely

Blame Game doesn’t matter right now

Some news stories indicate that the oil rig in question had major problems and safety violations for some time prior to the disaster. Some stories say that the oil rig was an older technology and that the operators were reckless. Some say that the rig met standards (whatever they are) but that nothing at sea is guaranteed 100% safe and secure.

Only the last statement about nothing at sea being 100% safe and secure is obviously true, but none of that matters to the poor folks along the coast who are seeing their lives destroyed. We know from past experience that any lawsuits will take two decades or more to settle. We know from past experience that committee after committee will perform study after study while tens of thousands lose their homes, jobs and businesses. Families will disperse. Lifetimes, even generations, of toil and sacrifice will be destroyed.

But BP British Petroleum will do alright because no doubt the rig was owned and operated by sub-companies with limited assets and even thinner insurance coverage and liability. BP will do alright because the politicians of the United States of America put the long term interests of the ordinary people and the nation secondary to the great god of MONEY and PROFIT.

All of which leads us to former Barbados Minister of Energy and the Environment Elizabeth Thompson.

During her tenure as Environment Minister, Elizabeth Thompson took the lead in auctioning off oil exploration areas around Barbados to multi-national oil companies. The Bajan news media proclaimed exaggerated benefits and mentioned no downside to this sell-a-thon of Bajan sovereignty.

Unnoticed and unmentioned by Liz Thompson and the Bajan news media though, was the fact that Barbados has no environmental legislation, regulations or enforcement organisation to police the oil companies. This disaster that will do so much damage along the US coast could easily have happened to our  beaches.

Imagine the slaughter of our economy if this happened to Barbados!

The days of “let the oil companies do what they want” should be long gone, but as we’ve seen with the Shell Oil pipeline spill along our south coast, our politicians for some reason seem to favour the polluting oil companies over our country’s future.

I wonder why that is? (He said knowingly…)

The oil spill disaster along the southern US coast should be a wake-up call to Bajan citizens. Hear the message well, my friends: our politicians are putting their own interests first over Barbados, and they can do so much damage if we allow them to act without the oversight of average citizens who are concerned for our children’s futures.

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Filed under Barbados, Disaster, Environment, Oil

Shell Pays Up In Nigerian Human Rights & Ken Saro-Wiwa Execution Case

In the lawsuit, the families of the Ogoni nine alleged Shell conspired with the military government to capture and hang the men. Shell was also accused of a series of other alleged human rights violations, including working with the army to bring about killings and torture of Ogoni ­protesters.

The company was alleged to have provided the Nigerian army with vehicles, patrol boats and ammunition, and to have helped plan raids and terror campaigns against villages.

Supporters of the legal action said the fact that Shell had walked away from the trial suggested the company had been anxious about the evidence that would have been presented had it gone ahead. Stephen Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, said Shell “knew the case was overwhelming against them, so they bought their way out of a trial”…

… from the Guardian story Shell pays out $15.5m over Saro-Wiwa killing

Shell To Pay US$15.5 Million Over Nigerian Government Execution Of Nine Activists

Ken Saro-Wiwa - "Shell has blood on its hands"

Ken Saro-Wiwa - "Shell has blood on its hands"

Considering that Shell makes about US$3 million dollars profit per hour – every hour of every day – we’d say they got off pretty lightly for their environmental rape of Nigeria and (denied) complicity in the hangings of nine innocent Nigerians who wanted clean air, water and soil for their children.

Why did Shell settle at the last moment before the trial was due to begin in New York City?

Because going to trial would have exposed the truth about Shell in Nigeria to the whole world. US$15.5 million is pocket change to make risk go away.

What is the Lesson for Barbados Farmers Coping With Shell Oil’s Barbados Pipeline Spills?

Barbado Environment Denis Lowe (left) remains silent on the Shell Oil spill since his election.

Since his election, Barbados Environment Minister Denis Lowe (left) is suddenly silent on Shell Oil spill.

Perhaps the lesson in Barbados should be to sue the hell out of Shell. After 15 years of Shell ducking and dodging their responsibility, the Shell Barbados pipeline spill case needs to go to court.

We’d advise the Barbados Government to charge Shell with environmental offenses of failing to keep records, spilling petroleum and failing to clean up the spill – except that Barbados has no environmental legislation. That’s right folks – we don’t even have a law that requires Shell Oil to check their pipes and tanks every day for leaks.

Welcome to Barbados: where we have no hazardous materials standards and companies can pollute at will without worrying about the consequences.

How much did Shell Oil “donate” to the “political campaigns” of the DLP and BLP?

Oh, sorry… no legal requirement for anyone to reveal that, either!

Further Reading

Wall Street Journal: Shell Settles Nigeria Case

Times Online: Shell agrees $15.5m settlement over death of Saro-Wiwa and eight others

BFP: Shell Oil Announces Pipeline Spill A Non-Issue – Barbados News Media & Government Ask Zero Questions Of Company Hired To “Ensure Buy-In” To Shell Strategies

BFP: Shell Oil Pollutes And Runs In Barbados. After 15 Years Government Has The Answer: Committee Of Politicians

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Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law, Disaster, Environment, Ethics, Nigeria, Oil, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption