U.S. Supreme Court Backs Chevron In $9B Ecuador Pollution Case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied to hear an appeal by an American lawyer to try to collect US$8.65 billion in pollution damages from Chevron, handing a victory to the U.S. oil supermajor over a pollution judgment issued in Ecuador, which lower U.S. courts had earlier agreed had been obtained via corruption. In August 2016, a U.S. appeals court blocked the enforcement of a US$9.5-billion judgment against Chevron, upholding a lower court ruling that had found that a pollution judgment against the U.S. oil major in Ecuador was the…

Methane Reduction Plan Could Seriously Harm Canadian Oil & Gas

The old saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”. And so it goes for the myriad of new regulations, taxes and restrictions forced upon the oil industry to attempt to make it something it is not, which is a zero-carbon and environmentally benign source of hydrocarbon fuel. Carbon taxes. Corporate taxes. Emission caps. The premise is the upstream oil and gas industry is so shamelessly profitable that governments and regulators can pile on more rules and costs that somehow this industry can accommodate, absorb and…

US Navy probes destroyer crash that killed seven in Japan

Mon, 2017-06-19 19:03

TOKYO: A probe into the crash between a US navy destroyer and a Philippine-flagged cargo ship was under way Monday, as the names of seven American sailors who died were made public.
Investigators were looking at how the USS Fitzgerald came to be holed in the smash in a busy shipping lane near its home port.
The container ship, the 222-meter Philippine-flagged ACX Crystal, made a 180 degree turn shortly before the accident, according to data from the Marine Traffic website. It was not immediately clear what prompted the sharp turn.
The US Navy and Japan’s coast guard are conducting separate inquiries, but will likely be co-operating, a spokesman for Japan’s transport safety board said.
Japanese coast guard investigators will be interviewing the Filipino crew of the Japanese-owned container ship, although the US has primary jurisdiction in investigating accidents involving military.
Citing local investigators, Japan’s top-selling Yomiuri newspaper said Monday that the damage on both ships suggests they were traveling in the same direction when the crash occurred, 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka.
The impact tore a huge gash in the Fitzgerald, sending gallons of water flooding into the berths where the crew were sleeping.
The bodies of the sailors, who were aged between 19 and 37, were recovered by navy divers after their 154-meter vessel limped into port.
The huge commercial vessel came into Yokosuka with large scrapes on its bow, but none of its 20 crew were injured.
Japan’s coast guard is also investigating why it took nearly an hour before the Philippine ship reported the collision, a coast guard spokesman said.
“We had first announced that the collision occurred at 2:20 am, based on the initial report from the Philippine ship, but we have now changed it to 1:30 am after directly hearing from the crew,” the spokesman said.
“We are checking what happened during the time and why the report was delayed,” he added.
There have been around 30 boat crashes over the past decade in the area, including a 2013 incident when six Japanese crew died after their cargo ship crashed with another vessel in the early morning hours, a coast guard spokesman said.
“That’s considered a lot of accidents,” he said, adding that many ships pass through the channel in the middle of the night to be on time for morning cargo pick-ups.
“There are all kinds of ships navigating those waters.”
Under maritime law, the container ship had an obligation to avoid a collision if it was trying to overtake the destroyer from behind.
But if the container vessel was approaching from the US ship’s right side, the destroyer had the obligation to give way, another Japanese coast guard spokesman said.
“Generally speaking, if a ship sees another vessel on its right hand side it has the obligation to avoid” a collision, he added.
Investigators are sure to put the vessels’ trackable movements under a microscope to figure out what set the deadly crash in motion, said Shoji Fujimoto, a maritime safety expert at Japan’s Kobe University.
“Probably the bulbous bow of the container ship, which is below the waterline, crashed into the hull of the naval ship,” he added, referring to a protuberance at the front of some ships designed to reduce wave resistance.
“Modern-day destroyers’ hulls are made from very thin steel sheets…so they’re vulnerable in a crash.”
On Sunday, US 7th Fleet commander Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin said the crew would have had little chance of escaping the “tremendous” amount of water that gushed into the ship after the accident tore open its side.
“A significant part of the crew was sleeping,” he told reporters. “There wasn’t a lot of time in spaces that were open to the sea.”
“So, it was traumatic. As to how much warning they had — I don’t know.”
Several other US crewmembers were injured in the accident and had to be evacuated by air to hospital, including the vessel’s commanding officer Bryce Benson.
He and a couple of other crewmembers have since been released from hospital.

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Britain seeks ‘special’ EU ties as Brexit talks start

Mon, 2017-06-19 20:19

BRUSSELS: Britain’s negotiators came to Brussels seeking a “new, deep and special partnership with the EU” on Monday, as talks on the unprecedented British withdrawal from the EU finally got under way.
A beaming Brexit Secretary David Davis, a veteran campaigner against EU membership, told a somber Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, that his team aimed to maintain a “positive and constructive tone” during “challenging” talks ahead in the hope of reaching a deal that was in the interests of both sides.
A year after Britons shocked the continent by voting on June 23 to cut loose from their main export market, debate within Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet on precisely what kind of trading relationship to pursue has perplexed EU leaders, who warn time is tight to agree terms before Britain leaves in 2019.
“We must first tackle the uncertainties caused by Brexit,” said Barnier, a former French minister, as he greeted Davis at the European Commission’s Berlaymont Building headquarters.
Those were, he said, the rights of expatriate citizens and problems of a new EU-UK border, notably cutting across Ireland. He did not mention a third EU priority — that Britain settle a bill of tens of billions of euros before it leaves in 21 months.
That financial issue is already a bone of contention, as is Brussels’ refusal to discuss a new free trade deal until after it is resolved. May, whose future is uncertain after she lost her Conservative majority in an election this month, has insisted that trade talks start immediately and run in parallel.
While Barnier insists on the “sequencing” of talks, so that trade negotiations cannot start until probably January, finding a way to avoid a “hard” customs border for troubled Northern Ireland may well involve some earlier discussion of the matter.
A bigger problem may be for British negotiators to resolve what trade relationship they want. While “Brexiteers” like Davis have strongly backed May’s proposed clean break with the single market and customs union, finance minister Philip Hammond and others have this month echoed calls by businesses for less of a “hard Brexit” and retaining closer customs ties.
The bloc has expanded steadily since first formed as the European Economic Community in 1957 by France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg. It currently numbers 28 members. Never before has a country sought to leave.
Brexit Secretary Davis, noting shared security threats for governments across Europe hours after a van rammed worshippers at a London mosque, said: “There is more that unites us than divides us.
“We are … determined to build a strong and special partnership between ourselves, our European allies and friends.”
Officials on both sides play down expectations for what can be achieved in one day. EU diplomats hope this first meeting, and a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday where May will encounter — but not negotiate with — fellow EU leaders, can improve the atmosphere after some spiky exchanges.
Davis’s agreement to Monday’s agenda led some EU officials to believe that May’s government may at last be coming around to Brussels’ view of how negotiations should be run.
After Davis and Barnier met over lunch in the Commission’s top floor dining rooms, their teams broke up into “working groups” that will be charged with handling specific areas of talks that the EU expects to take place for a week every month.
Barnier said he was hoping to have a clearer timetable by the end of the day. He has said a divorce deal should be ready by October next year to give time for parliamentary approval. With or without a deal, Britain will be out of the EU on March 30, 2019. EU leaders want May to lay off threats that she would walk out and leave a chaotic legal limbo for all Europeans.
But Union leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, are also determined not to make concessions to Britain that might encourage others to quit.
When 52 percent of British voters opted for Brexit, some feared for the survival of a Union battered by the euro crisis and divided in its response to chaotic immigration. The election of the fervently europhile Macron, and his party’s sweep of the French Parliament on Sunday, has revived optimism in Brussels.

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Saudi says captures three Iranian Revolutionary Guards from boat

The Saudi navy has captured three members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from a boat seized last week as it approached the kingdom’s offshore Marjan oilfield, the Saudi information ministry said on Monday. Relations between the two countries are at their worst in years, with each accusing the other of subverting regional security and support opposite sides in conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Iraq. “This was one of three vessels which were intercepted by Saudi forces. It was captured with the three men on board, the other two escaped,” a statement from the ministry’s center for international communications said. “The three captured members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are now being questioned by Saudi authorities,” it said, citing a […]

What the Fed’s Interest Rate Hike Means For Oil Prices

Finally, after almost a decade of historically low interest rates, the Fed is removing the proverbial punchbowl from the easy-money party. As it stands, Yellen & Company are only moving rates a mere 0.25 percent each time – most recently this past Wednesday, for the second time this year. That’s great news for anyone looking for investment income. But unfortunately, it also means projections of doom and dread for oil prices are now running rampant. These talking heads would have you believe that the sky is once again about to fall,…

Libya Oil Output Hits 885,000 Bpd

Libya is producing 885,000 barrels of crude oil daily after last week it reached an agreement with German Wintershall that will see the latter restart production at fields with a combined output of 160,000 bpd, a source from the country’s oil industry told Reuters. Since the announcement of the agreement, total Libyan output has jumped by 50,000 bpd. The North African country, which has been exempted from the OPEC production cut deal, now aims to raise production to 1 million bpd by the end of next month. This plan, and the fact that it is…

Canadian group eyes oil-sands emissions

Producers in Alberta’s oil sands would face new reporting
requirements and controls that toughened with rising emission rates
under recommendations by a group advising the provincial government.

5 Companies Revolutionizing The Wireless Game

If you thought you missed the boat on lucrative wireless investment—think again. The seeds of wireless communications that have minted billionaires in the U.S. are now budding in the explosively fertile land of Latin America. We’re still only at the start of this game, with a mere 25 percent of the world enjoying access to global communications networks. And every segment of this is exploding in Latin America—from wireless communications service providers and cable TV companies, to the most lucrative niche of independent cell…