The price of oil: bad news for the Middle East (Jazeera)

The oil markets are feverish again because of events in Syria, Egypt and Libya. There is talk of $150 per barrel and dire predictions about what that all means for the future. But let’s take all that with a pinch of salt. First, because markets are uncaring beasts and if past experience is anything to go by, more »

Category: Blogs, Middle East, OpenOil blogs · Tags:

Could al-Qaeda have helped Yemen kick its oil habit (Jazeera)

Had the thwarted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attack on Yemen’s oil industry succeeded, its impact would have been immense. This country of 25 million people now suffers greater dependency on oil exports than its neighbour Saudi Arabia, although it produces 50 times less. A generation ago, when Yemen didn’t know it had oil, the country’s biggest source more »

Category: Blogs, Middle East, OpenOil blogs, Yemen · Tags:

Could al-Qaeda have helped Yemen kick its oil habit (Jazeera)

  Had the thwarted al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) attack on Yemen’s oil industry succeeded, its impact would have been immense. This country of 25 million people now suffers greater dependency on oil exports than its neighbour Saudi Arabia, although it produces 50 times less. A generation ago, when Yemen didn’t know it had oil, the country’s biggest more »

Category: Blogs, Middle East, OpenOil blogs · Tags:

Libya: oil and revolution – a tale of two generations

Young people started Libya’s revolution, young people fought and young people finished it. Now, almost two years after Tripoli’s liberation, their role in this new nation they helped create is unclear. Some of them have started radio stations to bring a little more exposure to the outside world. Others are active in a bustling civil more »

Category: Blogs, Contracts, Libya, OpenOil blogs · Tags:

How Saudi Arabia could end up importing oil

I was somehow surprised when Saudi Arabia’s Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed al-Jasser announced last week that their rock-bottom fuel prices, some of the lowest in the world, are after all a serious problem that needs to be dealt with. “This has become an increasingly important issue as these subsidies have become increasingly distorting to more »

Egyptian oil – looking through the rumour mill

On first appearances, the fact that there appears to be abundant information about Egypt’s oil and gas sector would seem like a sign of transparency, a well managed information dissemination system allowing citizens to know what is going on with their extractive industries. Under more scrutiny, however, it reveals the opposite. The information available contains more »

Category: Blogs, Middle East, Transparency, Wiki · Tags:

Invitation to an open discussion in Cairo, Sunday, April 7th

This Sunday, April 7th in Cairo, OpenOil invites all journalists and activists working on the extractive industries in Egypt to an open discussion: “Civil Society & the Egyptian Oil & Gas industry – how can we drive Transparency in the Digital Age?”

Category: Africa, Blogs, Egypt, Middle East, Transparency · Tags:

Introducing the Arabic language Libya wikiguide!

We’re happy to announce we have a new addition to our Wiki Guides family – an Arabic language translation of the Libya Oil Almanac. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first Arabic language guide to the Libyan oil industry, and it joins our other Arabic language wiki for Iraq, also the first more »

Category: Blogs, Iraq, Libya, Middle East, Wiki · Tags:

Best practice as defined in Libya’s oil contracts

In case you were worried about best practice being followed in the oil industry around the world, we’ve been reviewing Libya’s contracts for some research and came across this, embedded in the main EPSA IV agreements between the Libyan state and all the major oil companies of the world. 1.33 Good Oilfield Practices means those practices, more »

Petroleum Development Opportunities in Libya after the Arab Spring

Blog contributed by Jay Park, a partner at Norton Rose, and a contributing author of “Oil Contracts- How to read and understand them”. The echoes of the Arab Spring still resound in Libya.  At an oil conference I attended in Tripoli in late September, Libyan speakers began their presentations by honouring those who had been involved more »

Category: Blogs, Contracts, Libya, Middle East, OpenOil blogs · Tags:

Syria’s transit future: all pipelines lead to Damascus?

Between the rise of Hafez al-Assad in 1971 and the crisis engulfing his son’s government today, the Syrian energy sector seems to have come full circle. An oil importer in the 1950s and 60s with little production of its own, Syria became a net exporter of oil by the 1980s; it is now a country more »

Category: Blogs, Middle East, Syria, Uncategorized · Tags:

Who cares about oil?

What will it take to get Libyans talking about their oil industry? As in detail, numbers and mechanisms, not just salon gossip and personal slander. At the end of the Paving the Future Youth Forum, held in Tripoli last week by the British Council, the participants were asked to organise themselves into groups, according to more »

How treehuggers can help hard-nosed businessmen

Having spent the last 10 days in Libya, I’ve been searching, as I always seem to end up doing on field trips, for arguments to support the idea of publish and be damned. That governments should just let it all hang out, publish contracts, seismic data, the transactions of state-owned bank accounts, why not, as more »

Category: Blogs, Heritage, Libya, Middle East · Tags:

Iraq’s EITI report shows discrepancies with a KPMG audit

We were running some numbers on Iraq’s first EITI report, published in December, and stumbled on a surprising fact: the reconciliation report carried out by Price Waterhouse Cooper, mapped exactly onto an audit by KPMG of the Development Fund for Iraq accounts held in New York. And yet there is a discrepancy of at least more »

Category: Blogs, EITI, Iraq · Tags:

The missing pieces in Iraq’s first EITI report

The next few months are an incredibly crucial time for Iraq as an implementing country of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). It has until August 2012 to achieve EITI Validation, following the beginning of its candidacy in February 2010. As such, any issues with regards to the activities designed to display their increase in more »

Category: Blogs, EITI, Iraq, Oil 101, Transparency · Tags:

Colombia, KRG, Peru: so where are those “published” Oil Contracts?

There is an ever increasing level of interest in the debate around contract transparency in the global extractives industries, and a growing minority of jurisdictions which have agreed to publish contracts openly. However winning the argument is only the first chapter in the story as I discovered recently looking at Colombia, Peru and Iraqi Kudistan. more »

Why doesn’t the oil industry talk to itself more?

Why doesn’t the oil industry talk more to itself? Or, to be more precise, oil industries, since while of course it’s one global market when it comes to buying and selling, and the flutter of a butterfly’s wing in the North Sea can send Singapore futures soaring, it looks a bit different and slightly more more »

Iran sanctions risk widening rift between the West and India & China

In the maelstrom of debate around Western oil sanctions on Iran, the impact on the two Asian giants, India and China, has inevitably figured. Commentators have pointed out that Asian markets are likely, in fact, to be the biggest beneficiaries of the EU’s decision this week to impose oil sanctions after July 1 and similar more »

Category: Blogs, Iran, Middle East, Uncategorized · Tags:

Iraq’s first EITI report raises as many questions as it answers

Iraq issued its first report under the EITI mechanism just before the New Year and it was circulated last week in English, Arabic and Kurdish. It’s the first formal deliverable in Iraq’s participation in the transparency scheme since it signed up two years ago. Price Waterhouse Cooper reconciled financial reporting from Iraq’s monopoly oil marketing more »

Iraq’s uncertain oil future – ExxonMobil as harbinger

Sitting in Baghdad airport last week as the last American troops left was a filmic experience. Soldiers rattled around on the tarmac with their kit bags while Apaches hovered overhead – thrump, thrump, thrump. The airport base, even last year, home to perhaps 40,000 men, was almost empty and the Iraqi army hovered round the more »

Category: Iraq, Middle East · Tags:

Post-Gaddafi Libya: what has changed?

I landed in Tripoli last week just over eight weeks after my previous visit there, but during that time, momentous changes had happened in Libya. I was eager to see what changes Gaddafi’s death and Libya’s subsequent official liberation on October 23rd had brought about in the capital city. News reports of rebel forces beginning more »

In the dark about the black stuff

Last week I attended a conference, the “Forum for Media and Development 2011, called “Hype or hope; the impact of digital media on journalism and development”. As many of you will already know, at OpenOil our projects cover quite a range of topics and areas, from transparency assessments in Tripoli for Revenue Watch Institute, to, more »

Category: Libya, Oil 101 · Tags:

Why can’t we all be friends?

The very large majority of the Libyans who we spoke to last week all seemed eager to use their newfound voices to air concerns, thoughts and ideas for the future, and rightfully so. It almost seemed like they themselves were overwhelmed by their ability for freedom of speech; having not enjoyed such a right for more »

Category: Libya, Oil 101, Zara's Libya blogs · Tags:

Photo Albums

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NGO people= good, Big Oil= bad… or not

To set the scene, our trip was an assessment mission for Revenue Watch Institute, looking into transparency possibilities in and around the oil and gas sector. We decided to meet up with people from a variety of backgrounds; transparency activists, newly-established NGO workers, oil sector managers, and government officials, as well as talking to the more »

Category: Libya, Oil 101, Zara's Libya blogs · Tags:

Libya’s oil industry and Wikileaks…

Of the over 7,000 State Department cables devoted to the oil industry, global there are dozens from the embassy in Tripoli that relate the comings and goings of the oil companies and the Gaddafi regime in the last few years. It’s an incredible series of stories, manouverings and large scale theft. Here is our very more »

Category: Libya · Tags:

When is an oil company not an oil company?

Question: When is an oil company not an oil company? Answer: When it’s a security contractor, a bank, a derivatives trader or manipulator of stock market value… The news this week that Heritage Oil was quietly advertising itself to those in the know as advisers to the new Libyan government, beginning with the advice that more »

Category: Blogs, Libya, OpenOil blogs · Tags:

When is an oil company not an oil company?

Question: When is an oil company not an oil company? Answer: When it’s a security contractor, a bank, a derivatives trader or manipulator of stock market value… The news this week that Heritage Oil was quietly advertising itself to those in the know as advisers to the new Libyan government, beginning with the advice that more »

Category: BP, Companies, Heritage, Libya · Tags:

Oil companies & Syria – outlining the “Dictator Fine”

The United States applied an embargo on Syrian oil sales yesterday, and the EU has tasked its diplomatic force with drawing up similar plans for an oil embargo. But what can the Syrian opposition do? They can establish sticks and carrots for oil companies, both those currently operating in Syria and those who might in more »

Category: Syria · Tags:

Drilling while Hama burns

As protesters die daily, and the international community mulls what further measures to take to isolate the Assad regime, it is business as usual in Syria’s oil industry and the international oil firms operating there. Within the last month, the AIM-listed Gulfsands, have announced discovery of new reservoirs and increased production while another, Kulczyk Oil more »

Category: Middle East, Syria · Tags:

Would sanctions against Syria’s oil industry be effective?

Importance of Oil Revenues Syria’s oil and gas industry is modest by global standards but it provides a considerable amount of the Assad regime’s income. According to IMF estimates, oil revenues represented between 21% and 30% of total government income in the years 2006-10, grossing $2.8 billion in 2008 and $2.4 billion in 20091. Syria more »

Category: Middle East, Syria · Tags:

Facial metal or hejab – who’s a natural ally in the transparency movement?

You’re sitting at a gate in an international airport (as I am now) and, just as a parlour game, you’re looking for the transparency constituency among your fellow passengers in oil-producing country X. There are two people from that country sitting straight opposite you on the seats, grimacing through the barely intelligible announcements of delayed more »

Iraqi & Iranian reserves… mine’s bigger than yours

So, overnight, the world has another 29 billion barrels of oil after Iraq decided to upgrade its proven reserves from 114 billion to 143 billion barrels based on new evaluations of West Qurna and Zubair fields in the south. That’s pretty much an entire year of global demand right there. Although the details are a more »

Category: Iraq, Middle East, OPEC, Reserves · Tags:

Public oil prospecting in Yemen 3: what happens if it succeeds?

Suppose you’ve won the policy argument and even managed to persuade a donor to put her money down while simultaneously managing an incomprehending and at times openly hostile public opinion and media. Suppose also it all happened: terms of reference were set, a bid process launched and a reputable exploration company won the bid and more »

Category: Middle East, Public prospecting, Yemen · Tags:

Public oil prospecting in Yemen 2: how would it work?

The most appropriate public role might be to step in at the earliest stage in the value chain, with seismic data acquisition and processing, and perhaps also some reprocessing of old perhaps data, not even progressing to appraisal work and exploration wells (certainly not in the case of the offshore fields where the cost would more »

Category: Middle East, Public prospecting, Yemen · Tags:

Public oil prospecting in Yemen 1: why bother?

I have been invited to speak at Chatham House in November on Yemen. The discussion will be somewhat about Yemen’s EITI process, which is struggling if truth be told. But also there will be a rare chance to discuss publicly funded oil prospecting – and in this case, whether the international community should entertain the more »

Category: Middle East, Public prospecting, Yemen · Tags:

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