Friday, October 29, 1999
Deconstructing the walls of Jericho
Following 70 years of intensive excavations in the Land of Israel, archaeologists have found out: The patriarchs’ acts are legendary, the Israelites did not sojourn in Egypt or make an exodus, they did not conquer the land. Neither is there any mention of the empire of David and Solomon, nor of the source of belief in the God of Israel. These facts have been known for years, but Israel is a stubborn people and nobody wants to hear about it
By Ze’ev Herzog
This is what archaeologists have learned from their excavations in the Land of Israel: the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom. And it will come as an unpleasant shock to many that the God of Israel, Jehovah, had a female consort and that the early Israelite religion adopted monotheism only in the waning period of the monarchy and not at Mount Sinai.
Putin is judiciously playing defensive chess. He uses very well targeted but cheap resources to undermine Russia's enemies. Given Hillary's inept conduct of foreign policy, it could be he's secretly rooting for a democrat win.
As the world turns, the Russians will probably focus on weakening the European Union, strengthening the Cuba-Venezuela-Nicaragua axis (which seems to be also getting help from Obama), and assembling an alliance with Shiites and Allawites from Iran to Iraq to Syria and Lebanon. Syria has become a festering sore, this endless civil war has caused a huge wave of refugees, a cover/breeding ground for terrorists invading Europe.
Syria has been turned into rubble by a civil war
instigated by Obama and Hillary Clinton
It's evident Russia doesn't want to see the Islamic State terrorists make inroads in Russia proper, and are trying to erode its power without having a head to head confrontation with Obama's stupid Syrian policies.
It wouldn't surprise me to see them work quietly to undermine the Saudi dictatorship, the resulting chaos would surge oil prices, which in turn increases Russian cash flow.
All of this is the result of Clinton-Bush-Obama foreign policy which has been clearly aiming at encircling and dismembering Russia.
I don't like Putin's autocratic methods, nor the corruption and abuses we see inside Russia. I hate the way they have been aiding the narco state in Venezuela and the Cuban dictatorship. But I must conclude that Putin is a natural response by Russian elites to USA aggression since the fall of the USSR.
The BP World Energy Report 2016 is out. Unfortunately this report blends crude oil and condensate reserves and production with natural gas liquids reserves and production. Natural gas liquids are mostly ethane, propane and butane, they are usually recovered from gas streams using cryogenic processes, and are marketed separately (ethane is mostly used as a chemical feedstock).
In the past, NGL recovery was neglected, or the NGL recovered were burned as "trash gas" because they couldn´t be transported mixed with the crude (a crude spiked with NGL can exceed the vapor pressure limits for pipeline, rail, and ship transport, and this can cause explosions and fires).
Gas production and capture has also been increasing. By capture I mean the use of associated gas streams which have historically been vented or flared together with the associated NGL, such as was common practice in the Soviet Union. Thus the "oil production" reported by BP has a gradually increasing NGL volume added to it. This tends to mask the real evolution of the world´s crude oil and condensate capacity.
The following graph shows the production and the refinery throughput reported by BP. As you can see, the refinery throughput is a pretty decent proxy for "real" crude oil and condensate production (because this stream is what´s fed into refineries and what many of us think is about to hit a peak).
World Oil Production and Refinery Throughput,
and the difference between the two
Future world oil production will increase if prices rise. It´s difficult to predict the demand-price-production triangle. This means it´s hard to predict these parameters. In the past I had access to dozens of price forecasts prepared by dozens of oil companies, banks, and governments. I can´t disclose the sources, but I can reveal they are usually wrong.
This led me to prepare a simple algorithm to predict oil prices, which seems to work (more or less) for long term trends.
Oil price history and forecast, in constant 2015 US dollars per barrel.
I shaded the 60 minus region in red, to indicate that production will decline relentlessly as long as the price stays below this threshold. This is subject to minor blips caused by the ongoing oil price war between Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia (a war that´s spurred by the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars, in turn triggered by US and EU meddling in the Middle East).
I also shaded the 80 plus region in green to indicate that production ought to increase slightly once the price exceeds this threshold. This is purely speculative on my part, because oil companies and their banks make decisions based on their internal oil price forecasts. These forecasts are biased somewhat by the oil price of the day, but in many cases they are developed by forecasting wonks using very complex models, and company management boards tend to believe these figures even though they ought to know the forecasting game is mostly a load of bullshit (see Morgan Stanley´s forecasts in recent years to get an idea).
This forecast is completely useless for companies interested in developing "shales", because they depend so much on the price during each well´s first year of life. However, this forecast can be used with caution for long term projects, such as Kara Sea exploration or Canadian extra heavy oil developments. It can also be used to estimate the future competitiveness of electric vehicles and biofuels.
This was released by Rigzone, based on a Reuters report: "Cuba, long reliant on Venezuela as its top energy supplier, has received some 53,500 barrels per day (bpd) of crude from PDVSA this year, a 40 percent decline from the first half of 2015, according to PDVSA data."
Quite a few press reports and bloggers inform that Cuba is suffering from fuel shortages and a weak economy. In recent days Raúl Castro informed the communist party that the economy didn't grow in 2016 as expected, and that belt tightening was needed to survive the coming hard times (this in spite of the help delivered by Obama, who is trying to help his buddy Raúl Castro survive the Venezuelan apocalypse).
Raúl Castro visiting his satrap, Nicolas Maduro
The Castro family dictatorship controls a lot of what goes on in Venezuela. This means they were able to function as a parasite extracting cash flow and oil from its host. But the Cubans tried to push the Chavez and Maduro regime into the same irrational policies which destroyed the Cuban economy.
The dynamics are complex, because we note a significant conflict within the Cuban communist party upper elite. Some of them want to move towards a Chinese style capitalism with fascist attributes. Others keep preaching medieval Marxism, and others want a modified communism allied with foreign investors who use Cuban slave labor.