Scraping the Barrel… 19 July 2012

Guest columnist Ricardo Soares de Oliveira offers a somewhat damning take on the Angolan government’s shrewd courting of the IMF when it comes to reforms in transparency in the oil-rich country. Are the reforms any more than lip service to reap reputational benefits and achieve the international community’s seal of approval? De Oliveira’s calls for true transparency and meaningful development outcomes for the populations of oil-producing nations is a warning against falling into the trap of becoming only a technocratic exercise to be exploited by entrenched elites.

More pipeline politics in the Eastern Mediterranean. A spokesman in Baghdad calls a deal signed between Ankara and the KRG for the export of oil and gas from Iraq to Turkey “illegitimate and illegal”. But Turkey seems happy to sacrifice cosy relations with Baghdad in order to ensure secure energy supplies amid uncertainty over future Iranian exports. Or maybe this is not about pure  economics, but instead signals a move by Turkey to form strategic alliances and finally get a hold on the Kurdish question?

Steve LeVine takes a look at the potential winners and losers in the new geopolitical alignment to take shape if the new age of fossil fuel abundance predicted by energy analysts becomes a reality…  the energy jackpot for the US, a shot at prosperity for new petro-states such as Israel and Uganda, and an end to the phobia over US-China cooperation…. meanwhile, tough times for unenlightened petrocrats, a dead end for Putin, obstacles for the green movement and chaos in the corridors of OPEC. Are we seeing the emergence of new rules of the game?

On the back of bombings in Syria and Bulgaria, combined with hopes of renewed demand in the West, Brent crude rose above $106. Today’s price is up 20% on the lows encountered in June this year.

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