Griff Witte at the Washington Post reports that a truck bomb exploded outside a hotel at the provincial capital of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province, Peshawar, killing 11 people and wounding at least 50.
Alamgir Bitani at Reuters reports that the Pakistani army is coordinating attacks with the citizen's militias:
"[O]n Tuesday, the army came to the help of a pro-government militia fighting the Taliban in a northwestern district after outrage over a suspected Taliban bomb attack at a mosque last week that killed about 40 people.2. HERITAGE TO AQUIRE TURKEY'S GENEL ENERJI, KNOC, SINOPEC, CNPC, CNOOC ALL MAY BE BIDDING FOR ADDAX--IS ANKARA EDGING TOWARDS COOPERATING WITH THE KRG AS OPPOSED TO BAGHDAD--IS TEHRAN WORRIED ABOUT THIS POTENTIAL?
The villagers' action is the latest in a series of examples of people turning on the Taliban in recent weeks, underscoring the shift in public opinion away from the Islamists.
Army helicopters had attacked militants surrounded by militia fighters in a village in the Upper Dir district, senior police officer Rahim Gul told Reuters by telephone.
Gul said more people were joining the militia and it was making advances after heavy clashes. Paramilitary soldiers set up mortars on high ground above the village. About 25 militants were killed in the fighting, police and the military said."
Ben Lando at the Iraq Oil Report writes that Canada's Heritage Oil is likely to acquire Turkey’s Genel Enerji, which has a 44% share in a joint venture with Addax, the Taq Taq Operating Co. (TTOPCO).
"If shareholders approve, Heritage will purchase Genel for about $2.5 billion in stock, forming the new company HeritaGE Oil.KRG's Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami has estimated that the field has recoverable reserves of one billion barrels. Miran is thought to have a 2.3-4.2 billion barrels of recoverable oil--see Daily Sources 5/6 #4. Tawke is thought to have total volumes of oil in place are ranging from 0.9 to 1.9 billion barrels, with an estimate of 1.3 billion barrels in place, and total recoverable oil from 150 million barrels to 370 million barrels, as of 2007. Genel Enerji is a subsidiary of Çukurova Holdings Group, a Turkish conglomerate which has roots dating back to the foundation of the Turkish Republic in 1923 with interests in automotive, paper, chemicals, textiles, telecommunications, construction, banking, insurance, media and services to maritime transportation and information technology services. It has foreign operations in Azerbaijan, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Northern Cyprus, the UAE, Moldova, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Qatar, and Ukraine as well as Iraq. Çukurova's business dealings in Iraq date back to 1979, when it worked on water projects for the Hussein government. Ed Crooks and William Macnamara at the Financial Times report that Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) is considering a takeover or asset deal with Addax, a partner in the TTOPO joint venture with several interests in Africa. As Lando reports, SK Energy, a South Korean refining firm, was cut off from Iraq's crude supply when it joined a consortium of South Korean firms operating in Kurdish Iraq. It left the consortium, and now is receiving crude as normal. Sinopec, CNPC, and CNOOC are also reportedly considering some sort of participation with or acquisition of Addax, but their participation could jeopardize their potential participation in bidding via Baghdad. For example, Sinopec and CNPC are in a joint bid agreement with Shell for developing the Kirkuk oil field.
Genel is spread throughout the KRG, beyond its 44% stake in TTOPCO. It owns a 25% share in DNO’s Tawke project--the other field to begin exports earlier this month--as well as 40% in the Norwegian firm’s Dohuk project. It owns 40% and 20%, respectively, in two other young projects in the KRG.
And, it has a 25% stake in Heritage’s Miran project."
However, the KRG effectively presented Baghdad with a fait accompli when it said that oil would begin to flow through the Kirkuk pipeline to Turkey on June 1 from these fields, given that they control the fields and part of the pipeline--see Daily Sources 5/12 #8--and so the oil has begun to flow. In the middle of May, Austria's OMV, Hungary's MOL and UAE-based Crescent Petroleum and Dana Gas entered a partnership to invest as much as $8 billion into the Kurdish Autonomous Region--see Daily Sources 5/18 #4. Russia's Putin-connected Surgutneftgas has recently purchased a 21.2% stake of MOL from OMV and Gazprom signed a deal in March with MOL to establish a 1.3 billion cubic meter natural gas storage facility in Hungary, nearer to Gazprom's potential market than western Ukraine--see Daily Sources 3/18 #4. Of course, no one wants to upset Baghdad, but the KRG is manifestly capable of providing security for operations, and Baghdad is not.
Add to the mix the recent reporting by Delphine Strauss posted at FT Energy Source that Turkey appears to have resurrected the demand that 15% of any gas being sent through Anatolia by the potential Nabucco pipeline be reserved for Turkish consumption.
"Turkey’s ongoing bilateral negotiations over the price and quantity of the gas it buys from Azerbaijan will certainly influence its stance on Nabucco--which could soften if it secures its own share of gas to be pumped from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz field.Of course, in the middle of May Gazprom's Alexei Miller told Bloomberg TV that the company stood ready to purchase all of the gas from the second phase of the development of the Shah Deniz field--see Daily Sources 5/15 #7.
But analysts say the stubborn negotiating tactics are less about supply concerns and more about Turkey’s ambition of becoming an energy hub, not just a transit country. Turkey is already able to re-export gas it buys from Azerbaijan and is seeking the same right from Russia.
Mr Morningstar puts it differently, saying 'Turkey does have to satisfy internal gas demand but it also has a strategic vision--I believe it wants to play a major role in the Caucasus and Central Asia and this project is a way to do it.'"
Clearly Iraq could eventually provide feedstock for Nabucco, but just now only the Kurdish Regional Authority appears ready to provide the relative security required for such a project to really begin. Further, Iran has lately suggested that it's Pars Pipeline could obviate Turkey altogether, going through Iraq to the Syrian Mediterranean Coast--which would make sense, perhaps pressure Anakara, but most likely go directly through KRG-controlled territory, also obviating Baghdad.
Without saying it's gonna happen, it does strike me as ironically possible that Ankara could be considering the KRG a better partner in terms of its goal of regional energy hub than Baghdad. I can't imagine, for example, that folks in Ankara were especially thrilled with the news reported by the Associated Press' Hamza Hendawi and Qassim Abdul-Zahra today that there are negotiations ongoing between al-Maliki's Dawa Party and the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council to reform the so-called United Iraqi Alliance. The UAE's participation in the Kurdish Autonomous Region [KAR] may well also be designed to off-set the so-called "Shia Crescent." Moscow now may be part of the natural gas troika with Iran and Qatar--see Daily Sources 10/24 #2--but they are still competitors. The fact that MOL--and by extension Surgutneftgas and Gazprom--is also getting involved in the KAR underscores the potential calculation on the part of Ankara that one key bit of leverage they might like to have, vis-a-vis, getting closer to EU acceptance, would likely be being a larger node in their energy supply picture. I further would not be surprised if US diplomats quietly made this point to folks in Ankara, and pointed out how helpful good relations with the KRG might be in terms of Ankara's long-term goals.
Hell, even Tehran's talk of having begun construction of the Pars Pipeline without having actually figured out where it will eventually go--see Daily Sources 6/4 #6--though the first assumption is Turkey, may be an attempt to try and secure a more secure role in European energy supply via supplying Nabucco, pace what Baghdad, even a Shi'a Baghdad, thinks. All speculation, I guess, but interesting speculation.
3. ISRAELI MINISTER URGES SANCTIONS ON U.S.--BOOK SAYS ATTACK ON THE 1967 USS LIBERTY WAS DONE WITH KNOWLEDGE THAT IT WAS AMERICAN
In a fascinating bit of news, Gil Hoffman and Hilary Leila Krieger at the Jerusalem Post report that Likud Minister-without-Portfolio, Yossi Peled, wrote a letter proposing sanctions on the US to the Israeli cabinet this Sunday! Apparently Peled believes that the Obama Administration has an activist agenda which does not mesh with Israel.
"[T]he minister suggests reconsidering military and civilian purchases from the US, selling sensitive equipment that the Washington opposes distributing internationally, and allowing other countries that compete with the US to get involved with the peace process and be given a foothold for their military forces and intelligence agencies.(h/t Michael Collins Dunn at MEI Editor's Blog.) And, Jeff Stein at Spy Talk reports that a new book by James Scott, The Attack on the Liberty: The Untold Story of Israel's Deadly 1967 Assault on a US Spy Ship, alleges that Israeli pilots which were involved in the attack on the US spy ship were told "two times" that the ship was American after radioing the hull number back to air control.
Peled said that shifting military acquisition to America's competition would make Israel less dependent on the US. For instance, he suggested buying planes from the France-based Airbus firm instead of the American Boeing."
"'There clearly were individuals inside Israel's chain of command who knew this was an American ship in time to prevent the fatal torpedo boat attack that left more than two dozen of the Liberty's sailors dead," Scott says.At the time the Johnson Administration was a bit too preoccupied with the Vietnam War and pushing forward the civil rights movement to want to focus on the attack.
Yet the Israelis informed Johnson administration officials that they were innocent--and outraged by such suggestions.
That prompted the State Department's number two official, Nicholas B. Katzenbach, to summon Israel's ambassador Abraham Harman, Scott writes.
'The secret memo of the meeting,' Scott writes, 'declassified 33 years later, records Katzenbach telling the Israeli ambassador' that Tel Aviv's initial protest 'contains some statements they might find hard to live with if the text some day became public.'"
4. CHINA DRIVING UPTICK IN BALTIC DRY INDEX / IRON ORE RATES, DOES BEIJING'S BINGE COMMODITIES PURCHASES POLICY UNDERMINE LIKELIEST SOURCE OF RECOVERY?; CHINESE STIMULUS MAY FORCE LOCAL GOVTS INTO BANKRUPTCY; CHINESE SUPREME COURTS INSTRUCTS LOWER COURTS TO COOPERATE WITH AUTHORITIES TO CATCH MASS INCIDENTS BEFORE THEY HAPPEN
Maritime Global Net reported yesterday that Thailand-based Precious Shipping has said that the current rise in the Baltic Dry Index is unsustainable, given binge iron ore purchases in China. The post quotes Precious Shipping as arguing that the:
"rise in iron ore imports is despite the fact that steel production in China in the first four months of 2009 has been roughly at the same levels as we had seen in 2008. An explanation for these increased iron ore imports could be the fact that domestically produced iron ore in China is of a rather poor quality and quite expensive when compared to spot imported prices. Another explanation could be that of speculators getting into the import market to try and get hold of 'cheap' iron ire that would possibly be required under the Chinese government's US$586bn stimulus plan. And a third could be the impending conclusion of the iron ore contract price negotiations."In any case, the company expects iron ore cargoes to level off. (h/t Yves Smith at naked capitalism.) In the meantime, Michelle Wiese Bockmann at Lloyd's List reports that Chinese steelmakers have accepted contracts on iron ore (from Rio Tinto) at a 33% discount to last year's prices, apparently abandoning allegedly holding out for a 40% discount. Dow Jones reports that the Chinese Ministry of Transport estimated that 3.26 mb/d of crude were delivered to China via seaports in May, up 5.1% from the same month last year.
"However, seaborne imports fell 9.8% from April, according to calculations by Dow Jones Newswires, which may indicate crude demand is slowing from the high levels recorded earlier this year."On June 1, Zhang Guobao, the director of China's National Energy Administration, told reporters that crude storage facilities in the country had been completely filled--see Daily Sources 6/1 #2. A few days later, journalists were taken to heretofore secret strategic petroleum reserves by the State Council Information Office, apparently to show them that the tanks were indeed full to the brim--see Daily Sources 6/4 #2. All of which followed a report by Sanford Bernstein which used satellite images to deduce that about 400 kb/d of oil was being added to China's SPRs--see Daily Sources 5/22 #2. I wonder to what extent Beijing's central planners' decision to green light large purchases of commodities as the complex's prices have collapsed is based on an effort to provide some economic support to the commodity producing nations, with which Beijing wants a good long-term relationship looking forward. On the other hand, I wonder whether the decision to purchase counter-cyclically may support commodity producing nations while simultaneously undermining the main potential source of recovery: it's export market, or the developed world. Michael Pettis at China Financial Markets wonders whether the stimulus package will bankrupt China's local governments, quoting from Australian paper the Age:
"Beijing will have to jam on the economic brakes to save cities from bankrupting themselves, says a top Chinese adviser. He Fan, an assistant director at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who frequently advises top leaders, says as much as two-thirds of Beijing’s 4 trillion yuan ($A773 billion) stimulus program will be spent by local governments, financed mainly by state-owned banks.Of the monies already committed to the stimulus, the great majority has come from the central government, while local governments have reportedly lollygagged. In any case, the Professor He notes that the lending institutions can apply for a bailout if their loans go bad--and pretty much expect one--given that they were asked to make the loans by Beijing. Meanwhile, Xie Chuanjiao at China Daily reports that the Supreme People's Court has released guidelines to local courts which requires them to cooperate closely with authorities to reduce "mass incidents."
'Some local governments will virtually go bankrupt,' Professor He told BusinessDay. 'Previously, local governments got all their money from selling land. This is not sustainable. Some areas have already sold quotas from the next 30 years.' A number of large cities are thought to be at risk, including Kunming and Hangzhou, with their funding problems exacerbated by a slump in real estate sales."
"'The courts will focus on dealing with a sharp increase in mass incidents especially in the mediation of demonstrations. If there is any trend seen in "mass petitions", the courts should also work closely with local administrative departments,' the document said.Worth reading in full. In late May, apparently as a warning and part of an effort to anticipate and ward off incendiary cases, Beijing bgean denying license renewals to law firms which practice human rights law in the country--see Daily Sources 5/28 #1.
Judicial departments should 'establish an early warning mechanism' and direct their resources in line with law enforcement, the SPC said."
5. SEOUL PLACES FINANCIAL SANCTIONS ON 3 NORTH KOREAN COMPANIES NOT OPERATING IN SOUTH KOREA
Choe Sang-Hun at the New York Times reports that Seoul has imposed its first financial sanctions on North Korea.
"On Tuesday, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance in Seoul said that it has banned trading with three North Korean firms--Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, Tanchon Commercial Bank, and Korea Ryongbong General Corporation--and will freeze their assets. But officials said that these firms have no trading with South Korea or assets in the South."
6. JATROPHA TREE WATER GUZZLER
Phil McKenna at MIT Technology Review reports that a recent study done by researchers at the University of Twente, in the Netherlands, shows that the jatropha tree
"requires five times as much water per unit of energy as sugarcane and corn, and nearly ten times as much as sugar beet--the most water-efficient biofuel crop, according to the same study."Jatropha had been touted as a potential solution because it does relatively well in arid situations. But, according to the research, the Jatropha only really thrives in extremely wet conditions.
"The team calculated that jatropha requires an average of 20,000 liters of water for every liter of biodiesel produced in India, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Guatemala--the only countries for which jatropha production figures were available. For all the other crops, the researchers used much more comprehensive--and thus truly global--data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Soybeans and rapeseed, the two other biodiesel crops considered in the study, were next highest in terms of water consumption, each requiring roughly 14,000 liters of water per liter of fuel."India has bet heavily on the jatropha, and apparently the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)--an Indian research group--began a $9.4 million project to produce genetically altered jatropha with a higher oil content. Protests have taken place in parts of India over government plans to reclassify lands for the seeding of jatropha; unrest over reduced food crop yields due to biodiesel programs via the jatropha tree have also broken out in the Philippines and Myanmar--see Daily Sources 5/6 #6.
7. AVERAGE US HOURS PER WORK WEEK TO 1964 LOW, MEANS NEW HIRING UNLIKELY ANY TIME SOON, POSSIBLY MEANS HOUSING MARKET GOT A LONG WAY TO GO TO RECOVER
Jeff Frankel, a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee, on his blog argues that the labor market has yet to signal a turnaround, contra much of the reporting last week. Frankel explains why average hours worked is a better indicator of direction, in his estimation, than jobs added or lost:
"I like to look at the rate of change of total hours worked in the economy. Total hours worked is equal to the total number of workers employed multiplied by the average length of the workweek for the average worker. The length of the workweek tends to respond at turning points faster than does the number of jobs. When demand is slowing, firms tend to cut back on overtime, and then switch to part-time workers or in some cases cut workers back to partial workweeks, before they lay them off. Conversely, when demand is rising, firms tend to end furloughs, and if necessary ask workers to work overtime, before they hire new workers. (The hours worked measure improved in April 1991 and November 2001 which on other grounds were eventually declared to mark the ends of their respective recessions.) The phenomenon is called 'labor hoarding' and it is attributable to the costs of finding, hiring and training new workers and the costs in terms of severance pay and morale when firing workers."By that metric the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is not so encouraging as the length of the average workweek fell to it's lowest since 1964.
Worth reading in full. Barbara Kiviat at the Curious Capitalist adds the observation that the number of temporary layoffs is low, while the number of people who are involuntarily working part time is "uncharacteristically" high. Thus,
"When sales pick back up, businesses don't have to go out and hire more people--they simply return their workers to full-time schedules.Mark Thoma at Economist's View links to a graph from a report from the Atlanta Fed by Melinda Pitts and Menbere Shiferaw which raised some animal spirits on the job data front:
Put those two things together, and you've got an economic recovery without a particular jump in job growth. The implication, according to the economists: 'a longer and slower recovery path for the unemployment rate.'"
Note that the only sector hiring since the beginning of 2008 has been the government and that manufacturing has been shedding jobs from the beginning of the data set at the start of '07.