I’m doing lots on Iran (natch), quite a bit on Iraq and turning back to Libya again.
On Iran, I’d like to get some nuts and bolts — sorely missing in much coverage — about actual shipments and cargoes now. I’ve got good information about how Iran’s discounts system is working. In short, it’s keeping Asian buyers sweet at a cost of about $1.20 per barrel per month. The method is a little more complex than that… But I’ve also got contradictory information about the White House’s sanctions strategy. I’m reliably told it wants a 25% drop in volumes, which is hardly earth shattering. (That said, Iran’s at the table to negotiate, or may be soon, so it might be working.)
On Iraq, the piece is done. But all information on Iraq is gratefully received.
On Libya, well, I’d really like to get there again. Failing that, I’m working on a wider story or two. One is an attempt to navigate the politics — and to explain why the country’s oil industry seems to be coping fine while mini political implosions happen all around it. Also: where is the oil money going?
Please get in touch.
I’ll have a logistical update later, at tumblr.derekbrower.com. My post from April about how to get into Benghazi from the Egyptian border at Salloum was my most-read-ever post.
For now, I’ve used some downtime in Djerba to update more recent published pieces, mainly for The Economist and Petroleum Economist. They’re here.
I’m now updating more frequently at derekbrower.tumblr.com
It’s just a bit easier on the eye and definitely smart-phone friendly.
I promised myself that when I was back from Libya I’d do a favour to other journalists — especially the freelance ones like me — and write a post about the specifics of getting into the rebel-held east. Forget the fears about heading into a warzone: before I left for Libya, it was the logistics that troubled me most. And, specifically, I was worried about how dicey or otherwise the trip across the north of eastern Libya would be.
It isn’t. The trip was safe. There’s a big difference between going to Benghazi, now deep inside rebel territory, and going to, say, Brega or Misrata. This post isn’t about that kind of trip.
So here, to prevent others going through the same fruitless Google search for information, is my Guide on How to Get from Egypt to Benghazi. Continue reading
I’m at home in Buxton watching the Masters, my kids are asleep upstairs, and Libya — where, inshallah, I’ll be on Tuesday morning — feels a long way off.
I had this great idea about six days ago: get to Benghazi and do a story on the Transitional National Council and its oil plans. Now that the tickets to Cairo for Eric Kampherbeek, a photographer, and me are booked, along with a hotel in Marsa Matruh (on the Mediterranean coast, west of Alexandria as you run your finger along to the Libyan border), I’m beginning to realise just how far in over my head I may be. Continue reading
Investment banks reckon we’re in for it. Opec says it’s happy where things are. China’s oil demand last year was 17.5% higher than the year before.
This is dangerous and short-sighted. In countries like the US and UK, fuel costs are within spitting distance of the records set in 2008, when a big wave of demand destruction spread across the West.
Inflation in China, which prompted two interest-rate rises in Q4 last year, is worrying the government. Another effort to dampen growth can’t be far off. The Fed may end quantitative easing if the US economy picks up, as data on Friday is expected to show it has. That will strengthen the dollar and drive down oil prices.
And the premium Brent (about $98/b) is enjoying to WTI (about $88/b) means we’re in for some kind of correction, soon. Expect a flattening of the contango and a dip in prices back under $80/b, if not lower. And expect the IEA to revise its demand outlooks back down again. Demand destruction, part 2, is on its way.
Update: Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi said today he’s worried about speculators again. No doubt. It’s 2008 all over again.
Update 2: I’ll be interviewing Opec’s Sec-General Abdallah El-Badri next week. Nice guy, always a good interview, always insightful, and with a lot on his plate at the minute.