Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 01/08/14

Massenbach-Letter. News

*Herausgegeben von Udo von Massenbach, Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster, Joerg Barandat*

Udo von Massenbach

Guten Morgen.

· Schon ein Jahr: Andacht für Pater Paolo dall´Oglio SJ

· Coke Brothers

· Israel und die Strategie gegen Hamas in Gaza

· Qatar’s Gaza Motives

· American Exports Cannot Replace Russian Gas To Europe

· Oil Prospectors Shift Back to Wealthy Lands

· Tanker with Iraqi Kurdish crude cleared to unload cargo off Texas

· Female quotas in company boards: Norway

· Medicare, Social Security head toward insolvency, at slower rate

· The Guardian: A global guide to the first world war. Interactive documentary

Top News

U.S. judge says cannot seize Kurdish crude for now

Tue, Jul 29 18:36 PM EDT

Massenbach* Coke Brothers

The new $50 billion BRICS bank will finance a wave of heavily polluting coal plants the West wouldn’t touch. And that’s not all bad.

“That’s where the billions of dollars in potential coal financing from the new bank could make a difference, by pushing CCS out of the experimental nest and into flight. One way to make clean coal cheaper is to build more plants using it, creating economies of scale and driving research into improved technology.”

The BRICS countries‘ announcement last week that they will create a new development bank comes as a frontal challenge to the Western-dominated international financial system. It could also boost financing for coal-fired power plants around the world, something most international economic institutions, such as the World Bank, and many Western countries spurn.

Unshackling fresh money for coal could help bring poor countries what they most sorely need — energy — and jumpstart serious investment in advanced clean-coal technology that the whole world needs.

The New Development Bank won’t be fully formed until next year, its policy charters have yet to be written, and pundits have teed off on the bank’s prospects for success. But many observers believe that despite teething pains, the new kid on the block will grow up to be a real alternative to the World Bank, IMF, and the like and bring Beijing’s investment focus to poorer countries.

If nothing else, the bank’s creation reflects middle-income countries‘ frustration with the West’s refusal to recapitalize the World Bank, keeping their financial leverage limited. And it comes at a time when even France has joined Russia and China in calling for an alternative international currency to curb Washington’s ability to use the dollar’s ubiquity to further its policy agenda.

More importantly, the New Development Bank will take a page from the BRICS countries‘ own recent history with infrastructure-fueled investments, said Kevin Gallagher, an associate professor studying economic development at Boston University. He said the new bank would likely finance projects similar to those backed by the institutions it is modeled on, the Brazilian National Development Bank and the China Development Bank.

"They are going to put a premium on infrastructure and energy, which was the World Bank’s model in the 1970s, which got them in trouble with local environmentalists," Gallagher said.

It’s safe to assume that the $50 billion bank won’t tar coal with the brush used by the World Bank, the U.S. Treasury, and the other pillars of developmental finance.

Most of the BRICS countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — invest heavily in coal. China uses as much coal as the rest of the world combined, while India’s economy is powered by coal. South Africa and Russia are big coal exporters.

"You can definitely see why poorer countries, and the BRICS nations especially, would be interested in having new institutions to fund these types of energy projects without the red tape that is increasingly coming" from Western governments and Western-dominated development banks, said Alex Trembath, an energy and climate analyst at the Breakthrough Institute. His technology-focused environmental think tank recently studied energy options for less-developed countries.

The World Bank, for example, has all but banned underwriting investments in coal-fired power plants, except in "rare circumstances." The U.S. last year echoed that stance, following a summertime pledge from President Barack Obama to keep public money out of dirty power overseas. The U.K., Nordic countries, and others soon followed.

"No doubt the BRICS will take a more flexible stance, certainly in their energy strategies, when it comes to fossil fuels," said Scott Morris, an expert on international financial institutions at the Center for Global Development.

And although that’s exactly what people concerned about rising global emissions of greenhouse gases and temperatures don’t want to see, it may not be the environmental cataclysm they envision.

Poor countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa, need energy to power development and growth; coal is a cheap, readily available source for plenty of places that literally can’t keep the lights on. South Africa, for example, struggled mightily with the World Bank’s environmental strictures that made it difficult to build a big new coal plant there; now rolling blackouts are a problem. And South Africa is the success story. The rest of Africa has a much bigger energy-access problem.

That highlights a paradox with the rich countries‘ decision to discourage financing coal plants on environmental grounds: Many of those nations are simultaneously trying to improve the energy prospects of the poorest countries.

The Obama administration, for example, launched the "Power Africa" initiative last summer but left one big source of power off the table while favoring clean, renewable energy instead. International financial support for wind power and solar power checks the green box but doesn’t always light the fuse box.

"There’s this notion in the environmental world that if we just stop funding coal out of the World Bank, then we’re not going to have coal and everyone’s going to have wind and solar," said Armond Cohen, the executive director of the Clean Air Task Force.

"The disconnect between the actual power requirements of the BRICS and other developing countries and what people in Washington think is doable is almost surreal," he added. "So this could be a very healthy wake-up call."

Even from the perspective of tackling climate change, the BRICS bank could ultimately end up fighting the good fight. For a decade, the United States, China, and other nations have sought the Holy Grail of clean energy: how to burn cheap and abundant mountains of coal without frying the planet. Technically, it’s not difficult. New power plants can be constructed and existing ones retrofitted to trap carbon emissions. That carbon can then be pumped underground, rather than into the atmosphere. One new plant in Missouri does just that.

The problem is the price. Carbon capture and storage, or CCS, is very expensive. The plants devour even more coal because they are slightly less efficient. And storing the stuff requires pipelines, underground reservoirs, and other infrastructure all costlier than a smokestack.

In the absence of any real cost for emitting carbon — such as a carbon tax or a trading scheme with teeth — the economics of CCS simply don’t work. Financing such programs is very problematic, as investment bank Société Générale has noted. Other than that plant in Missouri, there are only a handful of facilities worldwide even close to commercially ready.

That’s where the billions of dollars in potential coal financing from the new bank could make a difference, by pushing CCS out of the experimental nest and into flight. One way to make clean coal cheaper is to build more plants using it, creating economies of scale and driving research into improved technology.

China desperately wants to make CCS a reality since about three-quarters of its electricity comes from coal, and capping emissions has become something of a national mission. Beijing’s and Washington’s CCS collaboration is a rare point of bilateral cooperation. China is even pouring money into a project in Texas.

"For CCS, that’s a multilateral investment no-brainer, given the amount of coal we have today and the amount of coal that we’re expected to deploy in the future," said Breakthrough’s Trembath, noting that the New Development Bank has yet to outline its investment strategy.

The CATF’s Cohen notes that Western finance bans on new coal plants have had only a limited impact on the deployment of dirty energy, so the self-imposed limitations don’t always achieve their goals of a carbon-free developing world. China, Russia, Japan, and Germany have offered national financing for coal projects around the world. The prospect of multilateral development cash flowing into path-breaking coal plants is not unappealing.

"The hear-no-evil, see-no-evil attitude of the West with regards to fossil fuel is futile," said Cohen. He noted that China now has a fleet of coal-fired power plants triple the size of the American coal fleet; Africa, Latin America, and South Asia are also betting on coal when they can.

"Let’s get on with it, but figure out how to do it right."

*Israel und die Strategie gegen Hamas in Gaza*

Von Jakob Rieken

Jakob Rieken ist Programm-Manager bei der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung in Ost-Jerusalem. Der Artikel stellt die persönliche Meinung des Autors dar und spiegelt nicht grundsätzlich die Meinung der Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung wider.

Gewalt stärkt nur die Gewaltbereiten

Jakob Rieken

Die Netanjahu-Regierung versucht, mit dem Militäreinsatz in Gaza die Hamas zu schwächen und die palästinensischen Einheitsbemühungen endgültig zu stoppen – ein grober Fehler, der die moderaten Kräfte weiter an den Rand drängen wird.

Wie nun selbst von israelischen Polizeistellen zugegeben wurde, war die schreckliche Entführung und Ermordung dreier israelischer Jugendlicher kein Komplott der Hamas. Die Netanjahu-Regierung hatte suggeriert, offenbar wider besseres Wissen, dass die drei Jugendlichen noch am Leben seien. Die israelische Presse durfte über Hinweise, dass die Jugendlichen tot waren, aufgrund einer Nachrichtensperre nicht berichten. Die israelische Armee startete sogar eine rückblickend zutiefst zynische Social-Media-Kampagne unter dem Hashtag #Bring Back Our Boys.

Netanjahu hatte diese tragische Situation nicht ungenutzt lassen wollen, um eine massive Kampagne gegen die Hamas zu starten. Schließlich war dem Regierungschef die kürzlich gebildete, von der Hamas gebilligte, palästinensische Einheitsregierung ein Dorn im Auge. Trotz intensiver Bemühungen Israels hatten die USA und die EU diese Regierung akzeptiert.

Die Entführung der drei Jugendlichen war aus Regierungssicht die notwendige Legitimation, um die Hamas im Westjordanland zu schwächen. Hunderte Palästinenser, inklusive Hamas-Parlamentarier, wurden verhaftet. Hamas-nahe Sozialeinrichtungen wurden gestürmt, Computer, Geld und Akten konfisziert. Der israelische Wirtschaftsminister Naftali Bennett drohte, man müsse »aus dem Mitgliedsausweis der Hamas eine direkte Fahrkarte zur Hölle machen«.

Auf die großangelegte Operation »Brothers Keeper« gegen die Hamas im Westjordanland reagierte diese mit Raketenabschüssen aus Gaza. Hochrangige israelische Regierungsvertreter wie Außenminister Avigdor Lieberman plädierten daraufhin für die Ausweitung der Kampagne auf den Gazastreifen. Diese ließ, nun unter dem Namen »Schutzrand«, nicht lange auf sich warten.

Die Netanjahu-Regierung hatte sich für eine neue Konfrontation entschieden, die die Hamas militärisch zwar schwächt, ihr politisch aber Aufwind verschafft. Sie kann sich wieder als Widerstandsbewegung inszenieren und von ihrem politischen Scheitern in Gaza ablenken. So ist fast schon in Vergessenheit geraten, dass die Hamas ihre Mitarbeiter nicht bezahlen konnte und in Gaza, außer der Verschärfung von religiöser Gesetzgebung, wenig auf die Reihe bekommen hat. Eben noch auf internationaler Ebene an den Rand gedrängt, kann die Hamas jetzt wieder auf die Unterstützung der Türkei, Katars und Irans bauen. Wer den israelischen Angriff auf Gaza 2012 noch vor Augen hat, weiß, wie vorhersehbar das war. Die Hamas, so Haaretz-Kolumnist Ayman Sikseck, muss sich bei der israelischen Rechten bedanken.

Die Forderung israelischer Politiker, die Palästinenser müssten sich gegen die Hamas auflehnen, wirkt in Anbetracht der Eskalation realitätsfern. Denn dank der israelischen Offensive kann sich die Hamas wieder als handelnder Akteur in Szene setzen. Die moderate Führung in Ramallah muss gelähmt zuschauen. Die PLO hat die Waffenstillstandsforderungen der Hamas unterstützt und war so ebenfalls gezwungen, den Rivalen aufzuwerten. Die Führung um Präsident Mahmud Abbas im Westjordanland versuchte damit, nicht noch weiter ins politische Abseits zu rutschen.

Die Nervosität im politischen Ramallah ist spürbar. Die PA hat große Angst, dass ihre enge Zusammenarbeit mit israelischen Sicherheitskräften die Wut der Demonstranten nach innen richten könnte. Erstmals wurden Demonstranten auf ihrem Weg zu israelischen Checkpoints daher nicht bereits durch palästinensische Sicherheitskräfte aufgehalten.

Die Bombardierung des Gazastreifens führt zu großen Protesten im Westjordanland, mit bisher 10 Toten und über 600 Verletzten. Die Hamas rief nun zur dritten Intifada in den besetzten Gebieten auf. Die moderate Führung in Ramallah, die nun 20 Jahre unerschütterlich auf gescheiterte Friedensgespräche gesetzt hat, könnte dem Aufruf nur eine Rückkehr zur UN und einen Gang vor den Internationalen Strafgerichtshof entgegen setzen. Die Staatengemeinschaft täte gut daran, diese moderate, multilaterale Politik zu unterstützen und Israel tatkräftig bei der Beendigung der nun fast 50 Jahre andauernden Besatzung zu helfen. Denn: »Die beste Waffe gegen die Hamas«, so der Haaretz-Kolumnist Peter Beinart, ist, »den Palästinensern Hoffnung zu geben«.


*Qatar’s Gaza Motives*

Doha’s involvement in ceasefire diplomacy reflects its ambition for a wider regional role that Washington should challenge.

On July 26, Secretary of State John Kerry stood next to Qatari foreign minister Khalid bin Mohammad al-Attiyah in Paris during remarks on diplomatic efforts to organize a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. This followed a July 14 Pentagon meeting between Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Qatari minister of state for defense affairs Hamad bin Ali al-Attiyah, where the two signed an $11 billion arms package that included Patriot missiles, Apache helicopters, and antitank missiles.

These high-profile initiatives and the nature of the bilateral relationship in general are a consequence of Doha’s huge natural gas revenues, as well as its generosity in giving the U.S. Air Force the run of the giant al-Udeid Air Base, which has been crucial to operations over Iraq and Afghanistan. But these ties come at a cost. Qatar clutches its sovereignty over al-Udeid closely, insisting on being asked for permission in advance for arrivals of personnel and aircraft. It also supports Hamas, providing a home for leader Khaled Mashal and lending the group respectability through various diplomatic moves.


The key to understanding the relationship from Qatar’s perspective is that it regards the United States as its most important ally and works assiduously to maintain ties. This mindset is a consequence of Doha’s near paranoia about its diminutive size and geographical isolation. Smaller than the state of Connecticut, the hydrocarbon-rich peninsula juts out from Arabia into the Persian Gulf, only 120 miles or so from Iran. Its citizen population is a mere 250,000, about the same as Washington DC’s commuter suburb of Arlington (though its total population is boosted six to eight times by temporary expatriate workers).

Moreover, Qatar has long had troubled relations with its neighbors. To the south, it shares a land border with Saudi Arabia, which once backed a coup to overthrow Sheikh Hamad and still regards Qatar as a troublesome sponsor of the Aljazeera satellite television network and other media that are sometimes critical of the kingdom. To the west is the island-state of Bahrain, whose royal family hails from the Qatari peninsula and only gave up its territorial claim there in return for a generous settlement of a dispute over some reefs and islets. To the east is the United Arab Emirates, where officials have accused Doha of backing opposition political activists. Last but not least there is Iran to the north, with which Qatar shares the world’s largest offshore gas field; called "South Pars" in Tehran and "the North Field" in Doha, it is a source of tension at times because Qatar has been extracting more gas than Iran.

Amid this friction, Qatar has sought to position itself as something of a trendsetter in the region. After Sheikh Hamad deposed his father as ruler in 1995, he began deliberately reaching out to Washington — a process made smoother by Doha’s establishment of friendly contacts with Israel. He also lifted formal media censorship, allowing Aljazeera to begin operating in 1996. And in 1999, municipal elections were held — the start of what the royal family sees as a "democratization" program, though without political parties. More recently, Sheikh Hamad abdicated in 2013, and his thirty-three-year-old son Tamim took over. Although Hamad was believed to have health problems, his gesture was officially depicted as a progressive move, in marked contrast to other Arab Gulf rulers, who usually retain their positions until death.

The "Arab Spring" uprisings that began in late 2010 also affected Doha’s posture, with the government seemingly judging that further revolutions were inevitable, and that it should strive to be on the right side of this historical trend. Despite being a traditional conservative Arab state with a ruling family, Qatar sees itself as a postmodern role model of sorts. From its perspective, the House of Saud, the al-Khalifas in Bahrain, the al-Nahyans in the UAE, and even Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas are all anciens regimes. Most Qataris are Wahhabi, the ultraconservative branch of Islam also practiced in Saudi Arabia, though with some obvious differences (e.g., Qatari women are permitted to drive). But whereas King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia appears to have decided that political Islam is a major danger rivaling that of Shia Islam, the al-Thanis have taken the opposite view, perceiving the Sunni hardliners of Hamas and even Afghanistan’s Taliban as the way of the future.

The ructions of the past three plus years have tested this philosophy, but Doha still believes its view is right. The al-Thanis were delighted when Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in Egypt, then replaced with a Muslim Brotherhood government legitimized via the country’s first free elections (though this sentiment was also driven by personal animosity toward Mubarak, a major but often ignored feature of intra-Arab relations). Yet Doha was let down by the Brotherhood’s massive administrative incompetence, and some might say the group’s overthrow showed that history is not necessarily flowing smoothly the way the Qatari royal family sees it. Today, Doha has reluctantly accepted the accession of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, though Cairo still seems bent on punishing Qatar for its previous stance, as in its recent prosecution of three Aljazeera journalists.

Qatar also starred during Muammar Qadhafi’s overthrow in Libya, at least through al-Thani lenses. Its air contingent was the first to arrive at the Souda Bay base in Greece, from which operations were directed, and its special forces were active on the ground. These efforts were commanded by then Crown Prince Tamim, who was deemed to have done well — a factor in his father having the confidence to allow last year’s leadership transition. Although the post-Qadhafi era in Libya has not gone well, that does not appear to have shaken Doha’s confidence in its approach.

Syria has been even more of a challenge. After becoming involved with the anti-Assad opposition via Turkey, Doha ended up backing some of the worst jihadists because they were the most effective fighters. Even so, the Assad regime still rules in Damascus three years later.


The latest crisis in Gaza is the first real foreign policy test for Tamim as emir. His father met with Hamas officials in Gaza in 2012, pointedly avoiding a parallel visit with the PA leadership in the West Bank. Yet Hamad is letting his son run the show today. And while the current foreign minister is clever, competent, and close to Secretary Kerry, he lacks the flair of his predecessor, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani (a.k.a. HBJ), a casualty of the 2013 transition.

On July 22, Tamim became openly involved in the crisis by visiting King Abdullah in Jeddah for talks on Gaza — the first time the two men had met since November 2013, when the Saudi monarch told Tamim to stop interfering in the domestic affairs of other Gulf states. Doha’s failure to honor that apparent agreement spurred a diplomatic boycott of Qatar by Riyadh, Bahrain, and the UAE. Last week’s meeting does not seem to have produced any significant rapprochement — Abdullah apparently hosted Tamim merely out of politeness, and the only other top Saudi at the meeting was the interior minister. Moreover, when Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Muqrin visited Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman a few days later, he pointedly omitted Qatar, the other member of the Gulf Cooperation Council.


The Obama administration has sought to take advantage of Doha’s Gaza diplomacy, but this stance comes with multiple costs. Secretary Kerry’s outreach to Qatar has annoyed a wide spectrum of U.S. allies, including Egypt, Israel, the PA, Saudi Arabia, and probably other Gulf states. Washington’s efforts also suggest tolerance of rather than irritation with the restrictions that Doha puts on access to al-Udeid. Qatar has arguably bought itself into the diplomatic equation by providing aid for many months, such as fuel oil for the Gaza power station delivered via the Israeli port of Ashkelon. But this aid has also included construction materials that may have been used to build the tunnels through which terrorists have infiltrated Israel.

Moving to ceasefire and then reconstruction in Gaza will be difficult enough without taking steps that legitimize Hamas, a terrorist group that rejects decades of U.S. Middle East peace diplomacy. Qatar’s view of Hamas’s future role is very different from the traditional U.S. view and should be challenged. Washington would certainly get Doha’s attention if it obtained assurances from other GCC members that their bases are available for redeployed U.S. air assets, thereby making clear that al-Udeid is not essential for preparedness toward Iran.

Simon Henderson is the Baker Fellow and the director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute.



Policy= res publica

Freudenberg-Pilster* Female quotas in company boards: Norwegian evidence shows no trickle-down effect*

Posted on July 28, 2014 by IZA Press

Women still earn less than men, and are still under-represented in executive positions. In 2003, the Norwegian government passed a reform to change that, setting up a mandatory quota of 40 percent for women in the boards of publicly limited liability companies. Like in many other countries where such reforms have been implemented or are discussed, the resistance of firm owners was immense. The typical concern is that there might not be enough qualified women available to fill all the seats, which would lead to inefficiencies and declines in productivity.

In a new IZA Discussion Paper, Marianne Bertrand, Sandra E. Black, Sissel Jensen and Adriana Lleras-Muney take a closer look at the introduction of a binding female quota in executive boards and analyze the labor market effects of such a reform. First, as a direct reaction, the researchers show that many firms tried to evade the rule by changing the legal form so that they would not be affected by the reform. The remaining publicly limited liability companies were, however, compliant: the share of women in the boards indeed reached 40 percent in 2008. Second, the researchers demonstrate that women, who were newly introduced to the boards, had on average an outstanding educational and professional background. Third, they find that the quota achieved another goal as the female wage gap within executive boards decreases significantly

Despite these intended effects in the boards of affected companies, the reform had no significant spill-over effects: while there seem to be more women among the top 5 earners within a company, the effect did not trickle down as the female representation within the top 5%, 10% and 25% of earners in the firm was not affected. Moreover, the authors look at highly skilled women who have not been newly appointed to become a board member, finding neither a significant earnings increase nor a higher probability to fill a top position in the future.

Last, the researchers investigate the effect of the quota on the attitudes of young women interested in a business career. The authors show that the introduction of the quota had no effect on the enrollment of women in business programs. In addition, there seems to be no reduction in the large gender gap in starting wages induced by the reform.

Read abstract or download discussion paper.



Politics: From Vision to Action

Barandat* Oil Prospectors Shift Back to Wealthy Lands*

Firms Find Developed World’s Stability, New Incentives Yield More-Predictable Returns*

WELLINGTON, New Zealand—In this land of towering peaks and gurgling streams, Simon Bridges wants to be lord of the rigs.

As New Zealand’s resource minister, Mr. Bridges is the man behind New Zealand’s big-oil aspirations. He travels the world to pitch New Zealand to petroleum prospectors.

It used to be a tough sell. New Zealand is remote and among the world’s most expensive places to drill offshore. Big prospectors largely avoided it.

Today, it is experiencing an exploration boom that is part of a broader shift: After decades of focusing on less-developed nations, big companies are tilting toward wealthy countries when hunting for oil and gas. Such places have higher costs and tighter regulations, but their political stability offers more-predictable cash flow.


Developed-world governments like New Zealand’s are trying to tap into the shift. Five years ago, New Zealand’s government decided the economy depended too heavily on industries such as sheep farming and tourism inspired by the "Lord of the Rings" movies, Mr. Bridges says.

It saw opportunity in oil companies "wanting to extract themselves from problematic sovereign-risk issues," he says. In 2009, New Zealand announced a "Petroleum Action Plan" to lure oil companies, and it hired an Oklahoman oil executive to woo prospectors.

"We want to be speaking the language" of oil companies, Mr. Bridges says. Companies spent about $1.27 billion exploring there in 2012, the latest government data show, up from $346 million a decade earlier.

New Zealand’s campaign came as Royal Dutch Shell PLC and others were re-evaluating their exposure to unstable regions. Shell decided about seven years ago to increase spending within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the club of the world’s richest economies, to more than 60% of its exploration-and-production capital, says Shell Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry.

At the time, Shell says it was spending 57% of its exploration-and-production capital in OECD countries. Last year, it spent 67% there. "It would be good if the majority of our cash flow came from OECD countries," says Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden. OECD countries carry little political risk, he says, making cash flow more predictable.

For decades, big oil companies bet that risks of violence and corruption in developing countries were worth the trouble. Governments there often cut attractive deals, regulation was lax and labor costs were low. But in recent years, violence, tension with governments and harder-bargaining state-controlled oil companies have hurt profits from North Africa to Central Asia.

Exxon Mobil Corp. says costs for its Papua New Guinea natural-gas project rose more than 25% from 2009 to 2012, due partly to poor infrastructure, rough terrain and angry locals. Italian firm Eni SpA was hit by violence in Libya.

For decades, Shell invested heavily in finding and pumping oil in Nigeria’s Niger Delta. But in early 2006, militants began attacking Shell facilities, kidnapping workers and blowing up pipelines. Thieves drilled holes in pipes to siphon oil. Shell says it lost money there in some recent quarters.

So companies like Shell are shifting toward more-predictable lands. In 2013, the world’s biggest non-state-controlled oil companies—Exxon, Shell and Chevron Corp. spent 66% of their exploration-and-production budgets in OECD countries, estimates Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd., up from 49% in 2003.

Exxon in 2013 put 67% of such spending into OECD nations, Bernstein estimates, versus 51% in 2003. The data don’t include companies‘ acquisitions of other firms; the biggest recent one was Exxon’s $25 billion 2010 purchase of XTO, a North America-focused shale producer. An Exxon spokesman says the company invests in projects with "the best rate of return."

Workers drill for oil in New Zealand. Some Maori tribes oppose drilling nearer Mount Taranaki, in the background, which they consider sacred. Mark Tantrum for The Wall Street Journal

Those shifts are largely because companies are allocating a bigger proportion of a growing overall spending pie to first-world countries, not because they are making large-scale pullbacks from developing nations.

But in some cases, they are leaving. Chevron this year sold its Chad assets. Exxon has sold stakes in Iraq and Indonesia projects. Since 2010, Shell has sold $1.8 billion in Nigerian assets and last year began talks to sell four oil-production blocks and a pipeline there, say people familiar with the matter.

Not every big company has followed. BP’s proportion of developed-world spending fluctuated over the past decade, says IHS, a consulting firm. After the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill, it was banned from acquiring new Gulf acreage until March, limiting its U.S. spending. BP says it focuses its exploration on places with favorable geology.

France’s Total SA has drilled more exploration wells in Africa over the past few years than in any other region. Still, Total in January said it acquired two U.K. shale-gas exploration licenses. A spokeswoman says Total’s "exploration is driven by geology, not geography."

Some of the shift comes from spending on North American shale assets as new technologies squeeze oil from old fields. But often, stable politics and a new regulatory openness are the draw.

New Zealand illustrates the trend well. It offers a rarity in a well-prospected world: millions of unexplored offshore acres. But exploration ships must sail from Australia or Asia, the closest places such boats are based. An offshore well can cost more than $100 million, double the cost in some areas.

Until recently, getting an exploration permit required a long process. Tough geology, storms and environmentalists delayed prospecting. "There’s good reason why it hasn’t been explored," says Shell’s New Zealand chairman, Rob Jager.

Petroleum has been a relatively small New Zealand industry, its fourth-largest export behind wood, dairy and meat-and-offal shipments in 2009. That year, the government published its plan to "explicitly position the government both domestically and internationally as highly supportive of the development of our petroleum resources."

That new official openness to oil was part of a broader move to ease petroleum-development hurdles that has been spreading among some developing-country governments.

The U.K. government in May proposed a new system to pay homeowners to let companies explore for shale oil and gas. It created recent tax incentives to encourage offshore exploration.

In 2012, Canada made oil-pipeline projects easier to approve. Shell and Exxon now have offshore projects in eastern Canada, where provincial governments over the past five years have acquired seafloor data to attract companies. Companies spent about $25 billion on Canadian oil-sands development in 2012, up from about $15 billion in 2007, according to Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, a trade group tracking the industry.

Canada’s promising geology and stable government, which is easy to deal with, are attractive, says Anita Perry, government-affairs vice president in the region for BP, which is exploring Nova Scotia. "They have set good and clear regulations that we felt we could work with," she says.

In New Zealand, the government shot seafloor images to attract prospectors and opened new areas to auction for exploration. It asked oil and gas companies for advice on shaping regulation. Chris Kilby, a civil servant spearheading the plan, proposed new structures to regulate petroleum and market New Zealand.

The government created an agency to serve both functions, and Mr. Kilby hired Kevin Rolens, an Oklahoman oil man, to use his network to market New Zealand. Government officials "definitely are supportive," says Garth Johnson, CEO of Tag Oil Ltd., which has increased spending on drilling onshore, and "their royalty rates are attractive."

A hitch came from New Zealand’s environmentalists, who have long fought drilling. They sparked a 2010 uproar by publicizing government plans to open certain conservation land to prospectors. The government reversed that proposal.

Brazil’s Petrobras SA agreed in 2010 to spend $118 million prospecting offshore. But a Greenpeace flotilla surrounded its drilling ship. It eventually left New Zealand without drilling. A Petrobras spokeswoman says the company’s work "showed not enough oil and gas reserves."

Two New Zealand government officials say they believe the protesters were responsible. Bunny McDiarmid, Greenpeace’s New Zealand executive director, says she believes the protesters played a role in Petrobras’s departure.

Petrobras’s departure was a blow, and the government redoubled efforts to make prospectors feel more welcome. The resource ministry bought oil-project-tracking software to find potentially interested firms, then used LinkedIn to identify executives to woo, says ministry strategy official Brad Ilg.

Mr. Rolens invited executives from 10 oil companies to the 2011 Rugby World Cup as government guests. The event was "a showcase weekend of how things are done in New Zealand," says Mr. Rolens, who left the government this summer to work for a small oil company. They sailed, tasted wine and listened to an oil consultant the government hired to tell executives how New Zealand’s regulations make it a good place to explore.

Mr. Bridges, the energy minister, over the last two years flew with Mr. Rolens to Houston, Canada and Norway to meet oil executives. He pushed through legislation making it a crime to interfere with oil-related vessels. The government passed regulations limiting environmental groups‘ opportunities to block offshore exploration in court. Gareth Hughes, a Green Party member of New Zealand’s parliament, says the regulations are too lax.

The regulations capped spill damages at 600,000 New Zealand dollars, or about $515,000. Legislators later raised that to 10 million New Zealand dollars under Green Party pressure.

In the past two years, oil firms conducted more deep-water exploration than ever, says Mr. Kilby, the former government official. He now works for Shell, which this year took seismic images off the South Island and plans to drill in 2016. It also plans exploration off the North Island.

Difficult geology and high costs once made executives skeptical of New Zealand, says Shell’s Mr. Jager. Shell long had relatively small operations in the country but not in expensive deep-water exploration. That has changed, he says, partly because new regulations make it "one of the better countries to invest in."

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. finished drilling two offshore wells this year, the company’s first New Zealand wells. Norway’s Statoil AS , which hasn’t drilled in New Zealand before, had a seabed-mapping ship off the North Island in June and plans to deploy a seismic-exploration vessel this year, says Pal Haremo, an ASA vice president.

Statoil likes the "very attractive commercial regime that has been established in New Zealand and a very stable political regime," he says. In 2012, Statoil pulled out of an Iraq project.

The interest in New Zealand echoes nearby Australia’s experience. Big companies drilled so little there 10 years ago that they didn’t break out their numbers. But they began piling in late last decade to develop natural gas, largely for Asian markets.

Chevron says it spent 4.7% of its exploration-and-development funds there in 2008, the first year it broke out Australia numbers. It spent 22% there last year.

Chevron’s Australia spending is part of its shift away from less-developed countries like Angola and Nigeria where it spent heavily before. Chevron spent 66% of its 2013 exploration-and-production funds in OECD countries, up from 39% in 2003, Bernstein estimates. A spokesman says Chevron’s biggest expenditures are on "mega projects" in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico and Australia.

In New Zealand, companies still face environmentalists. A surge in onshore drilling caused backlash in April, when Mr. Bridges, the resource minister, opened several forest preserves for exploration.

Opposition politicians said they would rather leave oil untapped than sully a kiwi-bird habitat. One asked Mr. Bridges in a debate if he knew he opened a preserve to prospecting. "I am not aware of any of the emotive claptrap that the member is talking about," Mr. Bridges replied. New Zealand kept the areas open.

New drilling has caused local battles. In the Taranaki region, a snow-capped volcano slopes to pastures scattered with Maori graves. While companies have long drilled near Mount Taranaki, favorable regulations and improved technology have sparked new activity.

A local Maori tribe has been fighting Tag’s plan to drill near the mountain, which it considers sacred. A tribe leader, Mahuru Robinson, says he doesn’t oppose all drilling, as it supports his community. But he laments "huge changes in the landscape" and worries Tag could drill beneath Mount Taranaki.

Tag’s Mr. Johnson says it won’t drill under the volcano and disagrees with concerns about drilling impacts.

The developed world still poses one age-old prospecting risk. Anadarko’s two wells didn’t strike commercially viable amounts of oil or gas, an Anadarko spokesman says.

"It’s disappointing," Mr. Bridges says. Still, with North Africa and the Middle East unstable, he says, he’s optimistic companies will keep drilling. Indeed, the Anadarko spokesman says the company still plans to drill other offshore wells in New Zealand.



*Schon ein Jahr: Andacht für Pater Paolo dall´Oglio SJ*

Syrien: Mehr als eine Million geflohene Kinder und die Toten kann die UN schon nicht mehr zählen. Pater Paolo Dall’Oglio, der Jesuit, der unsere NGO Relief and Reconciliation for Syria seit dem Anfang unterstützt, widmet seit 30 Jahren sein Leben dem Dialog mit Muslimen – und den Menschen in Syrien. Kaum ein Mensch ist so hoch geschätzt bei Christen und Muslimen wie er. Wie man Hoffnung an Orte bringt, die hoffnungslos erscheinen – das ist es, was „Abuna Paolo“ umtreibt. Am 29. Juli 2013 ließ er sich in die Zentrale von ISIS, Syriens radikalster militärischer Gruppierung, bringen, um dort für Frieden und die Herausgabe von Gefangenen zu verhandeln. Seither fehlt jede Nachricht von ihm.

Am 29. Juli 2014 – genau ein Jahr nach seinem Verschwinden – werden Menschen in Paris, Brüssel, Suleymaniah (Irak), Beirut, Rom, Dubai, Qatar, Genf und London an ihn erinnern.

Auch wir laden an diesem Tag (Dienstag, den 29.07.2014) um 19 Uhr zu einer Andacht in die Akademiekirche St. Thomas von Aquin ein, um für ihn und alle Leidtragenden des Krieges und für den Frieden in Syrien zu bitten. Christen, Muslime und Nichtglaubende sind herzlich eingeladen.



Middle East

*Tanker with Iraqi Kurdish crude cleared to unload cargo off Texas*

Sun, Jul 27 19:27 PM EDT

HOUSTON (Reuters) – A tanker carrying crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan was cleared by the U.S. Coast Guard to unload its cargo at sea off Texas on Sunday as a State Department official signaled Washington would not intervene to block delivery of the controversial crude.

Coast Guard officials went aboard the tanker United Kalavrvta on Sunday and verified the ship and crew’s ability to safely offload the oil, a Coast Guard spokesman said.

The ship set sail from the Turkish port of Ceyhan in June with a load of crude oil supplied by a new pipeline from the Kurdish oilfields.

Trading sources in Texas, New York, London and Geneva have been unable to identify the buyer of the United Kalavrvta’s cargo. The oil could go to any one of the many refineries located along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The ship carries approximately 1 million barrels of crude, which would fetch more than $100 million at international prices.

Sale of Kurdish crude oil to a U.S. refinery would infuriate Baghdad, which sees such deals as smuggling, raising questions about Washington’s commitment to preventing oil sales from the autonomous region.

The U.S. government has expressed fears that independent oil sales from Kurdistan could contribute to the breakup of Iraq as the government in Baghdad struggles to contain the ultra-hardline Islamic State, a group of Sunni Islamist insurgents who have captured vast areas of the country.

But it also has grown frustrated with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s handling of the crisis.

The tanker anchored on Saturday night in an area off the port of Galeveston, Texas, where ships too large to transit the Houston Ship Channel offload oil to smaller tankers for delivery to the U.S. mainland.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, the Coast Guard was in communication with the U.S. National Security Council, and departments of State and Homeland Security, said Petty Officer Andy Kendrick.

To deliver the crude the tanker only had to show it could do so in compliance with Coast Guard regulations, Kendrick said.

"We didn’t have any extra stuff to impose on them," he said.

Crude offloading could begin as soon as the ship arranges a contract with a company that performs lightering, as the process is called, he said. Lightering, depending the size of the cargo, can take several hours and even days.

Attempts to contact the ship’s owner and the vessel itself were unsuccessful.

A State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Sunday because of the sensitivity of the issue, said officials were well aware the ship’s location and cargo.

"This is a private commercial matter," the official said. "Our policy has not changed. Iraq’s energy resources belong to all of the Iraqi people. As in many cases involving legal disputes, the United States informs the parties of the dispute and recommends they make their own decision with advice of counsel."

Washington has pressured companies and governments not to buy crude from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), but it has stopped short of banning purchases by U.S. firms.

The KRG has renewed its push for an independent state amid the latest violence roiling Iraq. Its relationship with Baghdad has deteriorated over what it sees as Maliki’s role in stoking the crisis and the long-running dispute over oil sales.

Baghdad has threatened to sue anyone that buys Kurdish oil.





*Medicare, Social Security head toward insolvency, at slower rate*

Social Security and Medicare are marching steadily toward bankruptcy though Medicare’s finances improved over the last year, according to a report released Monday by the trustees for the two entitlement programs.

Medicare will avoid insolvency until 2030, the program’s trustees said, a longer projected life span fueled by drops in healthcare spending.

The latest projections push the life of the Medicare trust fund back four years later than a year ago.

But the trustees for both Medicare and Social Security also continue to paint a dire long-term picture for programs that will come under more strain, when it faces a flood of retirees in the coming years.

"The Trustees Reports underscore the importance of making reforms to Social Security and Medicare," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said. "As the largest generation in American history enters retirement, the pressure on our social insurance programs is growing, and we must make manageable changes now, so we do not have to make drastic changes later."

The trustees’ new projections found fewer changes for Social Security, projecting that reserves for the retirement and disability trust funds will tap out in 2033 — the same as last year’s estimates.

Social Security’s disability trust fund, whose reserves are estimated to run out in 2016, remains in perhaps the worst shape of all the programs.

Medicare’s trustees acknowledge that long-term projections for the program can be difficult, given the quick advances in medical care.

Healthcare spending has been falling for a while now, but it remains to be seen how much that is due to structural changes in the sector or to the problems with the economy in recent years.

But the Treasury Department also made sure to note that Medicare is now projected to be solvent 13 years longer than in the last report produced before the Affordable Care Act.

The trustees‘ findings come as analysts have also found that deficits, which have been declining in recent years, will remain relatively restrained for the next several years before increasing because of entitlement spending.

Congress, which has been divided for years over how to reform entitlement programs could be forced to act soon on Social Security’s disability trust fund. After the trust fund’s reserves are depleted in 2016, revenue from the payroll tax would be able to handle around 80 percent of payments.

To solve Social Security for the long term, trustees said, policymakers would have to hike the payroll tax by as much as 23 percent, reduce benefits, or some combination of the two.

The trustees said Medicare spending, which totaled $583 billion in 2013, will double as a percentage of the economy over the next 75 years — from 3.5 percent in 2013 to 6.9 percent in 2088.

If the slower rise in healthcare spending isn’t a long-term phenomenon, that could grow to 8.4 percent.

"Growth under any of these scenarios, if realized, would substantially increase the strain on the nation’s workers, the economy, Medicare beneficiaries and the federal budget."


American Exports Cannot Replace Russian Gas To Europe

By Paolo von Schirach on Jul 29, 2014 01:43 pm

Increasing US production makes sense. But Europe needs plenty of energy now, and we do not have enough to meet demand

WASHINGTON – America’s ability to exploit and use abundant domestic energy –shale oil and gas– has to be celebrated. Energy self sufficiency –now a fact in natural gas and a reachable goal (when combined with imports from Canada and Mexico) in oil– is the best economic news we have had in at least a decade.

America exporting natural gas?

That said, at least in the short-term, America’s ability to alter energy flows to Europe through the export of our own natural gas is negligible. The notion that US exports would be able to replace all or most of the natural gas that Europe imports from Russia is a mere fantasy.

Therefore it is really surprising to read in a WSJ op-ed by Senators John Hoeven and John McCain, (Putting America’s Energy Leverage to Use, July 29, 2014), that: “Today the US has the leverage to liberate our allies [in Europe] from Russia’s stranglehold on the European natural-gas market”.

American exports cannot replace Russian gas

To put it mildly, this is really a stretch. In fact, it is a fantasy. The US has no such capabilities. Sure enough, as the two Senators argue, the US could produce even more shale oil and gas. Through new legislation they are co-sponsoring, it could be possible to streamline regulations in order to drill more wells in a shorter period of time. It could be possible to expedite the vetting process necessary to authorize the construction of additional Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals, so that US produced natural gas could be exported. All this is possible.

And there is no doubt that, in the long run, the addition of US natural gas exports to total energy supplies would alter global supply and demand dynamics, therefore improving Europe’s prospects by creating additional sources that could be tapped, as opposed to being forced to buy Russian gas, simply because this is the only game in town.

Europe’s needs

However, the fact is that Europe’s energy needs are colossal. Even if we did –in record time– all the things that the two Senators recommend, a few years down the line America would be able to supply only a modest percentage of what Europe needs. In other words, we have no way to create –today, or in the near term– an alternative to Russian gas.

Energy policy coordination

Sure enough, if we had a solid transatlantic energy plan (the two Senators support this) that would include new supplies from America, a vigorous European push (aided by US know how) to develop the Old Continent’s substantial shale gas reserves, plus additional imports from Africa, Azerbaijan and other sources, then it would be possible, may be in a decade or more, to create a viable alternative to Russian gas for Europe.

But to say that if America would quickly build a few LNG terminals, then we could ship to Europe all the gas it needs is just not true.

Best export markets in Asia, not Europe

Besides, we have to consider that the most lucrative markets for future US gas exports are in Asia, (where natural gas is much more expensive), and not in Europe. Once the LNG terminals are built, unless McCain and Hoeven plan to have a legal mandate that will force companies to sell to Europe, US LNG exports would go where prices are higher, and that is to Asia.

Therefore, this whole idea that we should push for additional US production so that we can sell to Europe all the gas it needs just does not make a lot of sense.

Use LNG as transportation fuel

There may be other good reasons for streamlining permits and regulations so that it will be easier to bring to market abundant US shale gas supplies.

I for one strongly support the idea pushed by T. Boone Pickens ( of using domestic and relatively cheap US natural gas as transportation fuel, especially for heavy trucks. LNG for trucks is a cost-effective alternative to much more expensive diesel made with imported oil.

However, the idea of boosting US natural gas production so that we can supply Europe all the energy it needs is a dream.


Interactive documentary: Ten historians from 10 countries give a brief history of the first world war through a global lens. Watch the documentary in seven languages

A global guide to the first world war – interactive documentary

Ten historians from 10 countries give a brief history of the first world war through a global lens. Using original news reports, interactive maps and rarely-seen footage, including extraordinary scenes of troops crossing Mesopotamia on camels and Italian soldiers fighting high up in the Alps, the half-hour film explores the war and its effects from many different perspectives. You can watch the documentary in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic or Hindi thanks to our partnership with the British Academy.

Warning: contains images some viewers may find disturbing.



see our letter on:

Wir wünschen Ihnen ein angenehmes Wochenende. Ihr Team.

Udo von Massenbach – Bärbel Freudenberg-Pilster – Jörg Barandat



06-15-Vatikan-Magazin-Der Jesuit, der die Muslime liebt.pdf

Gedenken an Pater Paolo_29 Juli 2014.pdf