Is Shale Gas a Real Energy Solution?

The Serious Consequences of New Technologies to Explode Gas out of Shale Rock

William Engdahl

shale1There is a global rush to embrace a new technique to extract hydrocarbons from the Earth. From  Germany to Poland and France, from China and above all in the USA where the technique of hydraulic fracturing of shale rocks is most developed, governments and major oil companies are producing huge volumes of shale gas.

A number of energy importing countries around the world are planning a major investment in extracting natural gas from their shale rock formations. The most ambitious plans are coming from China and from Poland in the EU. Germany is also heatedly debating the technique.

The US Government’s Department of Energy together with a Washington energy consultancy has just released a mammoth global report estimating resources of shale gas. Significantly, the report estimates that the largest untapped shale gas reserves worldwide lie in China. The study puts Poland and France at the top of the shale gas list in the EU. The rest of Europe they estimate has significant shale gas formations as well, though in smaller volumes where shale rock is present. [1] [Read more...]

BFP Exclusive: Can There Be A Military Response to the Occupy Movement?

Drones, NDAA & Killing of Americans Paints Frightening Scenario

By Anonymous Guest Author

drones1May Day developments have deepened concerns about a frightening scenario: the F.B.I. employing their well-practiced Muslim sting operations against the Occupy Movement with the intent of branding America's anti-corporate, pro-democracy protestors as “terrorists,” thereby subjecting them to arrest and even “legal” military action if the protests become uncontained.

What is certain is that the legal and operational basis is now in place for the government to kill American citizens on U.S. soil who it deems “terrorists” without providing any evidence.  At this point it is purely speculative whether this would be applied to a mass domestic movement that threatens “national security”--i.e., the corporate order. [Read more...]

China’s Land Bridge to Turkey Creates New Eurasian Geopolitical Potentials

Brzezinski Geopolitical Notion Remains US Foreign Policy Today

By William Engdahl

china1The prospect of an unparalleled Eurasian economic boom lasting into the next Century and beyond is at hand. The first steps binding the vast economic space are being constructed with a number of little-publicized rail links connecting China, Russia, Kazakhstan and parts of Western Europe. It is becoming clear to more people in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Eurasia including China and Russia that their natural tendency to build these markets faces only one major obstacle: NATO and the US Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance obsession.  Rail infrastructure is a major key to building vast new economic markets across Eurasia.

China and Turkey are in discussions to build a new high-speed railway link across Turkey. If completed it would be the country's largest railway project ever, even including the pre-World War I Berlin-Baghdad Railway link. The project was perhaps the most important agenda item, far more so than Syria during talks in Beijing between Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Chinese leadership in early April. The proposed rail link would run from Kars on the easternmost border with Armenia, through the Turkish interior on to Istanbul where it would connect to the Marmaray rail tunnel now under construction that runs under the Bosphorus strait. Then it would continue to Edirne near the border to Greece and Bulgaria in the European Union. It will cost an estimated $35 billion. The realization of the Turkish link would complete a Chinese Trans-Eurasian Rail Bridge project that would bring freight from China to Spain and England.[1] [Read more...]

Washington’s Bizarre Kosovo Strategy could Destroy NATO

Playing with Dynamite & Nuclear War in the Balkans

By William Engdahl

kosovo1In one of the more bizarre foreign policy announcements of a bizarre Obama Administration, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has announced that Washington will “help” Kosovo to join NATO as well as the European Union. She made the pledge after a recent Washington meeting with Kosovan Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in Washington where she praised the progress of the Thaci government in its progress in “European integration and economic development.”[1]

Her announcement no doubt caused serious gas pains among government and military officials in the various capitals of European NATO. Few people  appreciate just how mad Clinton’s plan to push Kosovo into NATO and the EU is. [Read more...]

Joseph Kony & More AFRICOM Wars over Oil

A Major AFRICOM & US State Department Campaign to Undermine Chinese Influence in Central Africa


By William Engdahl

InvChildAccording to their website, the American NGO, Invisible Children, claims now to have had over 80 million viewers to their YouTube video, “Kony2012,” since its release on YouTube a few weeks ago. For anyone with the patience to sit through the entire YouTube of Kony2012, it is questionable how truthful the figure of 80 million viewers is. Eighty million is unprecedented in YouTube history by all accounts.

The video features such prominent Hollywood personalities as Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Lady GaGa, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs and other notables. It’s a slick, sentimental story directed by Jason Russell, a 33-year-old now-hospitalized American filmmaker who apparently just underwent a bizarre mental disconnect on the streets of San Diego.[1] The YouTube video depicts a young Ugandan, Jacob Acaye, whom Russell claims he befriended some ten years earlier after Acaye escaped conscription into Joseph Kony’s Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) as an 11-year-old killer. The film portrays Kony as the world’s worst beast and terrorist, in effect, Africa’s Osama bin Laden. [2]

The Invisible Children NGO is itself opaque. It reportedly rakes in millions from sales of such things as buttons, Invisible Children T-shirts, bracelets and posters priced from $30-$250, but it ranks low on transparency regarding other donors. The group, which employs around 100 people, is expected to raise millions of dollars from their “Kony2012” video, but so far it refuses to say how much has been donated or how it will spend the money. The founders of the group, who advocate direct US military intervention in response to the LRA, had been previously criticized for posing with guns alongside members of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in 2008, an organization widely accused of rape and looting. The group issued a statement in response: "We thought it would be funny to bring back to our friends and family a joke photo. You know, ‘Haha – they have bazookas in their hands but they're actually fighting for peace'." [3] HaHa… [Read more...]

Behind Oil Price Rise: Peak Oil or Wall Street Speculation?

‘The Key Oil Derivatives Insiders are Laughing All the Way to the Bank’

By William Engdahl

OilPricesSince around October last year, the price of crude oil on world futures markets has exploded. Different people have different explanations. The most common one is the belief in financial markets that a war between either Israel and Iran or the USA and Iran or all three is imminent. Another camp argues that the price is rising unavoidably because the world has passed what they call “Peak Oil”—the point on an imaginary Gaussian Bell Curve at which half of all world known oil reserves have been depleted and the remaining oil will decline in quantity at an accelerating pace with rising price.

Both the war danger and peak oil explanations are off base. As in the astronomic price run-up in the Summer of 2008 when oil in futures markets briefly hit $147 a barrel, oil today is rising because of the speculative pressure on oil futures markets from hedge funds and major banks such as Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and most notably, Goldman Sachs, the bank always present when there are big bucks to be won for little effort betting on a sure thing.  They’re getting a generous assist from the US Government agency entrusted with regulating financial derivatives, the Commodity Futures Trading Corporation (CFTC). [Read more...]

The New Mediterranean Oil & Gas Bonanza: Part II

Rising Energy Tensions in the Aegean—Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Syria

By William Engdahl

LevBasinThe discovery in late 2010 of the huge natural gas bonanza off Israel’s Mediterranean shores triggered other neighboring countries to look more closely at their own waters. The results revealed that the entire eastern Mediterranean is swimming in huge untapped oil and gas reserves. That discovery is having enormous political, geopolitical as well as economic consequences. It well may have potential military consequences too.

Preliminary exploration has confirmed similarly impressive reserves of gas and oil in the waters off Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and potentially, Syria.

Greek ‘energy Sirtaki’

Not surprisingly, amid its disastrous financial crisis the Greek government began serious exploration for oil and gas. Since then the country has been in a curious kind of a dance with the IMF and EU governments, a kind of “energy Sirtaki” over who will control and ultimately benefit from the huge resource discoveries there. 

energeanIn December 2010, as it seemed the Greek crisis might still be resolved without the by-now huge bailouts or privatizations, Greece’s Energy Ministry formed a special group of experts to research the prospects for oil and gas in Greek waters. Greece’s Energean Oil & Gas began increased investment into drilling in the offshore waters after a successful smaller oil discovery in 2009. Major geological surveys were made. Preliminary estimates now are that total offshore oil in Greek waters exceeds 22 billion barrels in the Ionian Sea off western Greece and some 4 billion barrels in the northern Aegean Sea.[1] [Read more...]

The New Mediterranean Oil & Gas Bonanza

Part I: Israel’s Levant Basin—a new geopolitical curse?

By William Engdahl

basinRecent discoveries of not just significant, but huge oil and gas reserves in the little-explored Mediterranean Sea between Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, Syria and Lebanon suggest that the region could become literally a “new Persian Gulf” in terms of oil and gas riches. As with the old Persian Gulf, discovery of hydrocarbon riches could as well spell a geopolitical curse of staggering dimension.

Long-standing Middle East conflicts could soon be paled by new battles over rights to oil and gas resources beneath the eastern Mediterranean in the Levant Basin and Aegean Sea. Here we explore the implications of a gigantic discovery of gas and oil in offshore Israel. In a second article we will explore the implications of gas and oil discoveries in the Aegean between Cyprus, Syria, Turkey, Greece and Lebanon.  [Read more...]

The Geopolitical Stakes in Nigeria—Part I: The Curious Role of the IMF

 What’s in the Store for the 5th Largest Supplier of Oil to the United States?

By William Engdahl

nigeriansNigeria, Africa’s most populous nation and its largest oil producer, is from all evidence being systematically thrown into chaos and a state of civil war. The recent surprise decision by the government of Goodluck Jonathan to abruptly lift subsidies on imported gasoline and other fuel has a far more sinister background than mere corruption and the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF) is playing a key role. China appears to be the likely loser along with Nigeria’s population.

The recent strikes protesting the government’s abrupt elimination of gasoline and other fuel subsidies, that brought Nigeria briefly to a standstill, came as a surprise to most in the country. Months earlier President Jonathan had promised the major trade union organizations that he would conduct a gradual four-stage lifting of the subsidy to ease the economic burden. Instead, without warning he announced an immediate full removal of subsidies effective January 1, 2012. It was “shock therapy” to put it mildly. [Read more...]

Why Washington Wants ‘Finito’ with Putin

The Shady National Endowment for Democracy &The Prime Agenda of ‘Whoever’ is Next US President

By F. William Engdahl
Putin Washington clearly wants ‘finito’ with Russia’s Putin as in basta! Or as they said in Egypt last spring, Kefaya--enough!  Hillary Clinton and friends have apparently decided Russia’s prospective next president, Vladimir Putin, is a major obstacle to their plans. Few however understand why. Russia today, in tandem with China and to a significant degree Iran, form the spine, however shaky, of the only effective global axis of resistance to a world dominated by one sole superpower.

On December 8 several days after election results for Russia’s parliamentary elections were announced, showing a sharp drop in popularity for Prime Minister Putin’s United Russia party, Putin accused the United States and specifically Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of fuelling the Russian opposition protesters and their election protests. Putin stated, “The (US) Secretary of State was quick to evaluate the elections, saying that they are unfair and unjust even before she received materials from the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (the OSCE international election monitors-w.e.) observers.”[1]

Putin went on to claim that Clinton’s premature comments were the necessary signal to the waiting opposition groups that the US Government would back their protests. Clinton’s comments, the seasoned Russian intelligence pro stated, became a “signal for our activists who began active work with the US Department of State.” [2]

Major western media chose either to downplay the Putin statement or to focus almost entirely on the claims of an emerging Russian opposition movement. A little research shows that, if anything, Putin was downplaying the degree of brazen US Government interference into the political processes of his country. In this case the country is not Tunisia or Yemen or even Egypt. It is the world’s second nuclear superpower, even if it might still be an economic lesser power. Hillary is playing with thermonuclear fire. [Read more...]

Why Moscow Doesn’t Believe Washington on Missile Defense… or on Just Almost Nuthin’…

Marching Ineluctably Towards an Pre-emptive Nuclear War?

By William Engdahl

MissileMost in the civilized world are blissfully unaware that we are marching ineluctably towards an increasingly likely pre-emptive nuclear war. No, it's not at all about Iran and Israel. It's about the decision of Washington and the Pentagon to push Moscow up against the wall with what is euphemistically called Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD).

On November 23, a normally low-keyed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told the world in clear terms that Russia was prepared to deploy its missiles on the border to the EU between Poland and Lithuania, and possibly in the south near Georgia and NATO member Turkey to counter the advanced construction process of the US ballistic missile defense shield: "The Russian Federation will deploy in the west and the south of the country modern weapons systems that could be used to destroy the European component of the US missile defense," he announced on Russian television. "One of these steps could be the deployment of the Iskander missile systems in Kaliningrad." [i] Those would be theatre ballistic missile systems. The latest version of Iskander, the Iskander-K, whose details remain top secret, reportedly has a range up to 2000 km and carries cruise missiles and a target accuracy to 7 meters or less.

Medvedev declared he has ordered the Russian defense ministry to "immediately" put radar systems in Kaliningrad that warn of incoming missile attacks on a state of combat readiness. He called for extending the targeting range of Russia's strategic nuclear missile forces and re-equipping Russia's nuclear arsenal with new warheads capable of piercing the US/NATO defense shield due to become operational in six years, by 2018. Medvedev also threatened to pull Russia out of the New START missile reduction treaty if the United States moves as announced. [Read more...]

Moscow’s High Stakes Energy Geopolitics

The Battle of Pipelines: Nord Stream vs. Nabucco

By William Engdahl

NordStreamOn November 7 the first of two pipelines for Nord Stream, the huge Russian-German gas pipeline project, began delivery of gas. The event was no minor affair. German Chancellor Merkel and Russian President Medvedev along with the prime ministers of France and the Netherlands and the EU Energy Commissioner formally opened the first of two 1224-kilometre pipelines at Lubmin in northern Germany, beginning delivery of the first gas direct from Russia’s Yuzhno-Russkoye gas field in Siberia to Germany.

Nord Stream was not cheap. It cost a total of more than $12 billion for the complex 760 mile long undersea pipeline through the Baltic Sea from Vyborg near Russia's St Petersburg to north eastern Germany. It was laid in remarkable time and with extraordinary environmental precautions to insure protection of sea life, a precondition set by several EU Baltic countries. When the second pipeline is finished in late 2012, Nord Stream will be able to deliver 55 billion cubic meters of Russian gas a year, almost ten percent the entire EU annual gas consumption, or roughly one third the entire current gas consumption of China.

Nord Stream estimates it will provide enough energy to fuel 56 million West European households. With current EU political decisions over reducing CO² “carbon footprint” emissions, the Russian gas giant argues its natural gas gives 50% less CO² than rival coal plants at as much as 50% greater energy efficiency.

Even if Moscow is being more than somewhat opportunist and is not convinced about the shoddy science of global warming, Gazprom does not hesitate to use this as a shrewd political selling point. The EU is going for natural gas energy big time and Moscow intends to be a major, if not the major beneficiary of that push. In addition to delivering Siberian gas to Germany, Nord Stream will deliver to the United Kingdom, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the Czech Republic.

Moscow appears to hold a winning hand in the one important non-military lever it has to tip the global geopolitical balance of power in its direction and away from Washington's overwhelming dominance. Oil and natural gas are at the heart of the strategy. For some months Russian production of crude oil has surpassed Saudi Arabia’s to be the world’s largest oil producer with over 10.3 million barrels daily, nearly one million barrels more.[1] And in terms of known reserves of natural gas Russia is far away the world leader according to industry data.

Russian natural gas has increasingly been the foundation for a brilliant series of Russian energy geopolitical initiatives for several years. Gazprom, a closely-held state company, is the centerpiece of this energy strategy.

GasPromTo counter the eastward march of NATO into countries of the former Warsaw Pact such as Poland, the Czech Republic or Romania and the various US attempts to lure Ukraine and Georgia into NATO, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, both as President and more recently as Prime Minister, has used the economic lever of Gazprom. With its enormous gas resources Russia seeks to win stronger economic ties in Western Europe, thereby hopefully neutralizing somewhat the potential military strategic threat from the NATO encirclement. No country has been more the focus of this Russian pipeline diplomacy than former wartime foe Germany where Nord Stream lands. [Read more...]

Notes from the Star Chamber-Blacklisting in the Digital Age

US Prepares to Censor Internet Access While Urging Internet Freedom for the Rest of the World!

bidenAt the London Conference on Cyberspace, November 1-2, Vice President Joe Biden urged other nations to protect internet freedom of expression.

“Biden did not name countries he felt were offenders. But he criticized the efforts of some nations pursuing an "international legal instrument that would lead to exclusive government control over Internet resources, institutions and content and national barriers on the free flow of information online." (PCWorld)

Meanwhile, back in the US, Congress was preparing to pass a law granting extraordinary powers to censor the internet. The proposed law, described as “the Great Firewall of America,” has the support of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who also favors Internet freedom for other countries. If the US government still had any credibility on this issue after banning access to websites posting leaked cables, the latest hypocrisy should have killed it.

Last week, Representatives Lamar Smith (R-TX), John Conyers (D-MI), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced a House bill called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). A Senate version, called the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), had been introduced last May by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), and Charles Grassley (R-IA). The bills propose to let the federal government block public access to websites accused of violating intellectual property rights. They would also require Internet access providers, search engines and payment providers to deny services to websites upon request from rights holders.

A devil in the lack of details

banned The bills have been criticized for their vague language and lack of due process, making them ripe for abuses.

Imagine a world in which any intellectual property holder can, without ever appearing before a judge or setting foot in a courtroom, shut down any website's online advertising programs and block access to credit card payments. The credit card processors and the advertising networks would be required to take quick action against the named website; only the filing of a “counter notification” by the website could get service restored.

Finally, and for good measure, Internet service providers and payment processors get the green light to simply block access to sites on their own volition—no content owner notification even needed. So long as they believe the site is “dedicated to the theft of US property,” Internet providers and payment processors can't be sued. (ArsTechnica)”

Such a law could be used to chill criticism of corporate and government policies. [Read more...]

Notorious “Star Chamber” Courts Protect Government Wrongdoing

U.S. Embraces Tool of Despots


starchamberRecently, Mark Hosenball dropped the bombshell that a secret panel of White House Security Council members meets to draw up a “kill list” of American militants. Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald wrote a scathing critique of the panel, comparing it to a notorious English court known as the “Star Chamber.”

“[A] panel operating out of the White House — that meets in total secrecy, with no known law or rules governing what it can do or how it operates — is empowered to place American citizens on a list to be killed by the CIA, which (by some process nobody knows) eventually makes its way to the President, who is the final Decider.  It is difficult to describe the level of warped authoritarianism necessary to cause someone to lend their support to a twisted Star Chamber like that.”

The Star Chamber, an English court dating back to the middle ages, reportedly was named for the stars on the ceiling of the courtroom, located at Westminster Palace.  Over time, it grew increasingly powerful and corrupt.  By the 17th century, under Charles I, it had become a vehicle for prosecuting political dissent.  The court’s procedures made it virtually impossible for defendants to get a fair hearing and served as a rubber stamp for the monarchy.

“Court sessions were held in secret, with no indictments, no right of appeal, no juries, and no witnesses. Evidence was presented in writing. Over time it evolved into a political weapon, a symbol of the misuse and abuse of power by the English monarchy and courts.”

The Star Chamber also punished religious dissent, ultimately driving the Puritans to seek refuge in North America’s wilderness. Their descendents would form a new nation and endow it with laws that prohibited Star Chamber abuses. Today, “star chamber” is a pejorative term used to describe any administrative body with “strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings” that “cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings.”  Notwithstanding its infamous past, the Star Chamber appeals to government officials who abhor accountability.

The panel that authorized the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki is the most public U.S. example of a star chamber--but it is far from the only one.  The federal government operates a network of star chamber courts administered by government agencies for the purpose of hearing appeals from military and civilian federal employees stripped of their security clearances. Many of those employees are whistleblowers who have disclosed government wrongdoing, thus implicating senior officials.  Senior officials use the star chambers to punish whistleblowers, to discredit their disclosures and to discourage other employees from exposing negligence, waste and corruption.  Existing whistleblower protection laws are helpless to protect federal employees with security clearances from agency reprisal.

Security clearance star chambers violate the U.S. Constitution’s due process protections by presidential order--Executive Order (E.O.) 12968.  These courts go by a variety of names.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Star Chamber is the “Personnel Security Review Board.” The Department of Defense (DOD) calls its star chamber the “Department of Hearings and Appeals.” Each federal agency interprets the executive order differently, and some—for example, USDA—actually provide less due process than E.O. 12968 allows.  All are offensive to modern notions of justice, but none have been held accountable.  Government officials argue that national security requires the suspension of due process; but, a close examination of the appeals process shows that the government’s claim is a fraud. [Read more...]

The Alleged Iranian Plot: Turning the U.N. into a Courtroom

Reasons for Suspicion Run Deep on Political & Legal Grounds

By Joe Lauria

UNThe United States last week turned the U.N. Security Council into a courtroom. It wanted to try Iranian suspects before foreign governments in the bizarre story of an alleged assassination attempt on the Saudi ambassador to Washington. 

Behind closed doors in the council chambers U.S. officials admitted the story was “hard to believe.”  This is according to a Western diplomat who was among the council ambassadors shown evidence by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, who was accompanied by  officials of the F.B.I., CIA and the State and Justice Departments.

It isn't known whether the CIA official revealed classified information that went beyond the F.B.I. criminal complaint in the case, which was made public. The U.S. isn't normally in the habit of sharing intelligence at the U.N. 

Reuters quoted a U.S. official saying classified wire transfer documents used to pay for the alleged assassination had “some kind of hallmark” showing they were approved by Major General Qasem Soleimani, head of the elite Iranian al-Quds Force. Because the circumstances of the story are so strange, one cannot rule out forgery by Iranian agents working for the U.S.—or for another government that may have even fooled at least some U.S. authorities. Just recall the forged Niger uranium document that was used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

The Clinton administration in 1999 went to court in the Southern District of New York in U.S.A. v. bin Laden in the African Embassy bombings. I covered the trial and saw al-Qaeda operatives on the witness stand. They were convicted by a civilian jury.  The Bush administration ridiculed criminal trials for the crime of terrorism and insisted it was a national security matter without any need to test innocence or guilt in a courtroom.  

When the Obama Justice Department wanted to try terrorism suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the same New York court, the Right howled until Obama backed down.  The handling of this alleged Iranian plot appears to be a weird hybrid between a criminal proceeding and a rush to judgment to convince foreign governments of two suspects' guilt before they are even indicted. The U.S. is also inferring a sovereign state is involved, rather than merely rogue individuals, who, incidentally, are innocent until proven guilty. 

Though the U.S. admitted the story seems far-fetched, U.S. allies Britain, France, Germany and Colombia said they believed Rice's U.N. presentation. These countries may be ready to support new sanctions against Iran—or other action, even though each of them presumably guarantees due process in their legal systems.

Rush to Judgment

DOJOn the day the alleged plot was revealed, and before a Grand Jury has even been empaneled,  Downing Street issued a statement “congratulating” U.S. authorities on the “successful operation to disrupt a conspiracy to attack diplomats” in the U.S. “The United Kingdom is in close touch with the U.S. authorities on this case. We will support measures to hold Iran accountable for its actions," the British statement said. It did not prefix conspiracy with “alleged,” and assumed proof that the plot was already underway when “disrupted,” dismissing the possibility it was suggested to an Iranian-American suspect by the U.S. informant, posing as a Mexican drug gangster.  [Read more...]