Ever since Mexico became a major world oil producer in the mid-1970s, with the discovery of the super-giant Cantarell offshore field, the country has depended heavily on petroleum revenues to fund government spending. Today Pemex, the state-run oil monopoly, provides more than one third of the government’s total tax take. But oil production has dropped by nearly 30% in the past five years, the result of insufficient investment to replace Cantarell’s dwindling reserves. Mexico’s crude oil reserves will be depleted in only nine years, according to projections.
Monthly Archives: December 2009
Once again it is that time of year, where the minds of the world prognoses the future of humanity, for at least a year to come. In light of this tradition and for a second year running, I will endeavor to do the same.
… by the end of the year, oil will see a large increase due to supply constraints caused by geopolitical issues: first in Mexico, than in Venezuela and finally in the Persian Gulf.
War and civil war in Mexico, Venezuela and the Persian Gulf will push oil prices up even as demand continues to fall and Russia will be the only safe source on a large scale.
British citizens kidnapped by Iranian government operatives while in Iraq, and the British government does relatively little.
Britain, when are you going to get a spine? Unfortunately, the U.S. is not far behind Britain in the spine department.
The five British men kidnapped in Iraq were taken in an operation led and masterminded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, according to evidence uncovered during an extensive investigation by the Guardian.
The men – including Peter Moore, who was released today after more than two years in captivity – were taken to Iran within a day of their kidnap from a government ministry building in Baghdad in 2007, several senior sources in Iraq and Iran have told the Guardian.
They were incarcerated in prisons run by the al-Quds force, a unit that specialises in foreign operations on behalf of the Iranian government.
One of the kidnappers has told this paper that three of the Britons – Jason Creswell, Jason Swindlehurst and Alec Maclachlan – were subsequently killed after the British government refused to take ransom demands seriously.
Times correspondents from around the globe pinpoint the trouble spots, the changing alliances and the highs and lows of the next 12 months
Forget 2012. As far as many Mexicans are concerned, the ancient Mayas were being generous: the sky’s actually going to fall next year. Why? Because it’s 2010, Mexico’s bicentennial, and Mexican history has an eerie way of repeating itself. Mexico’s 1910 centennial, after all, saw the start of the bloody, decade-long Mexican Revolution, which killed more than a million people. And that cataclysm was precisely a century after the start of Mexico’s bloody, decade-long War of Independence in 1810.
On December 29 the AP’s George Jahn reported on an effort by Iran to import clandestinely 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan. The information was contained in an intelligence report authored by an IAEA member state and obtained by Jahn.
That Iran would be seeking a new source of uranium ore is not surprising, given how low its existing stocks are believed to be. According to the November 2004 IAEA report, Iran received 531 t of yellow cake, or uranium oxide (U3O8), from South Africa in the early 1980s. (Note, ISIS has previously reported the quantity of uranium obtained from South Africa as 600 t; ISIS has since learned with greater accuracy the quantity transferred and uses as a baseline the quantity reported by the IAEA in 2004).
This 531 t of yellowcake, or uranium oxide, is the equivalent of 450 t of uranium in the form of uranium oxide or 448 t of uranium in the form of uranium hexafluoride. According to the IAEA, Iran has produced at Esfahan 366 t of uranium in the form of UF6, leaving Iran with a relatively small stock of yellowcake. With its remaining yellowcake, Iran could produce approximately 82 t of uranium in the form of UF6. But at least some of this yellowcake is probably reserved by Iran for the operation of the Arak heavy water reactor when it is complete. Uranium conversion activity at Esfahan, as seen in the chart below, has effectively plateaued since the middle of 2008, with only 46 t of uranium in the form of UF6 processed since May 2008 according to the IAEA. The Esfahan facility has an annual production capacity of 200 t of uranium in the form of UF6 (the equivalent of 237 t of uranium oxide).
One final note: It is important to distinguish between uranium ore, of which Iran’s stocks have been depleted, and Iran’s supply of converted UF6 which is plentiful and sufficient to maintain Natanz at existing rates of enrichment for decades. While Iran has some 366 t of uranium in the form of UF6 as feedstock for its centrifuges, it consumes this material relatively slowly. Since commencing enrichment at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, Iran has introduced approximately 20.3 t of UF6 (uranium content is 13.7 t). At current rates of consumption, very roughly 1 t per month, Iran’s supply of UF6 would last for a long time. Of course, If Iran dramatically increased its rate of consumption, in particular the number of centrifuges operating, this stock would be depleted more rapidly.
It is now permitted to announce the IDF is winding down a major military exercise in the north, one that simulated a difficult but possible scenario, in which soldiers were abducted across the northern border, resulting in an IDF response into Lebanon, followed by Hizbullah firing thousands of missiles into Israel. Syria does not sit by passively, but decides to join in, sending missiles into the heart of the country, both conventional and with chemical warheads.
Once again, the Financial Times’ top pundits have assembled to pit their wits against the fickle future. Some of them are recklessly putting years of calm reflection and carefully built reputations at stake, piling up their chips on what they foresee for 2010. Others are simply taking a punt, going for broke as they scramble to soothe their bruised egos after some big misses last year.
Weston says that any attack by israel on Iran will be with the blessing of the United States. If Iran and its allies retaliate against Israel and the Middle East literally blows up, who do you think is going to be blamed?
If you are subsequently thinking about retaliation against Israel, who else is going to be included in your thoughts?
There can be only one conclusion: Should the Middle East blow up due to Israel’s attack on Iran, then America itself will be subject to extreme retaliation.
Michael Weston, a history professor who helped develop the Bush doctrine, says the United States and Israel will together prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.
“I don’t want to suggest war is imminent, but the probability is high.”
Any attack by Israel on Iran will be with the United States’ support and blessing, Weston says. “I’m sure we won’t be overt about it. We’ll simply act as though this was an independent move by Israel.”