Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Saudi Aramco Posts Blowout Annual Profit and Raises Dividend

 https://cdni.rt.com/files/2019.01/article/5c430454dda4c8865e8b4588.jpg

https://tankterminals.com/news/saudi-aramco-posts-blowout-annual-profit-and-raises-dividend/ 

Saudi Aramco unexpectedly increased its dividend and said it would hike spending as it looks to deploy an avalanche of cash generated by last year’s surge in oil and gas prices.

The world’s biggest energy company made net income for the full year of $161 billion, the most since it listed and up 46% from 2021. Its performance was bolstered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine roiling oil markets and the OPEC+ alliance raising production.

Aramco boosted its dividend — a crucial source of funding for the Saudi Arabian government — to $19.5 billion for the final quarter, up 4% from the previous three-month period.

US and European peers such as Chevron Corp. and Shell Plc also reported blowout earnings and are returning billions of dollars to shareholders through larger dividends and buybacks. Aramco, until now, has instead focused on using its extra cash to increase output.

Crude prices have fallen from $125 a barrel since the middle of 2022, with Brent dropping another 3.6% this year to below $83 a barrel. That’s been caused in large part by the US Federal Reserve staying hawkish on inflation and investors no longer anticipating interest rates will be on a clear downward path by the second half of 2023.

The company’s adjusted profit weakened to around $31 billion between October and December, according to Bloomberg estimates, down from $42 billion in the third quarter. Aramco will release a full financial statement on Monday.

Sabic, a chemicals firm controlled by Aramco, saw income slump in late 2022 as a global economic slowdown weighed on consumption of everything from plastics to building materials.

China bounce

Many traders still think oil will climb later this year, perhaps back to $100 a barrel, as China’s economy recovers with the ending of coronavirus lockdowns.

Demand in China and India, two of Aramco’s main markets, is robust, Chief Executive Officer Amin Nasser said to reporters on Sunday. Oil consumption will probably hit a record of 102 million barrels a day by the end of 2023, he said.

“Europe might have been impacted a little bit because of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and economic headwinds,” he said. “But in the rest of the world, where most of our supplies go to, we are seeing pick up in demand.”

Aramco reiterated there’s too little investment globally in oil and gas production and warned that a tight market could cause prices to jump.

“Given that we anticipate oil and gas will remain essential for the foreseeable future, the risks of underinvestment in our industry are real — including contributing to higher energy prices,” Nasser said in a company statement.

Saudi Arabia has criticized Western governments and energy firms for trying to transition to clean energy too quickly. Aramco, in contrast, is spending billions of dollars to raise its daily oil capacity to 13 million barrels by 2027 from 12 million, and gas output by more than 50% this decade.

Aramco spent $37.6 billion on capital projects in 2022 and will increase the figure to between $45 billion and $55 billion this year, it said. In addition to oil, its investing heavily in cleaner fuels including hydrogen.

The full year dividend of $75.8 billion — the world’s largest for a public company — was easily covered by free cash flow, which soared to almost $149 billion.

“We’re aiming to sustain it at this level and grow it through the years,” Chief Financial Officer Ziad Al-Murshed said of the dividend.

Aramco will also issue one bonus share for every 10 shares owned.

The gearing ratio, a measure of net debt to equity, fell further into negative territory as the firm’s finances improved. It dropped to -7.9% from -4.1% at the end of September.

Crude production averaged 10.5 million barrels a day in 2022, the highest level ever for the kingdom. That came as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its partners — a 23-nation group led by Saudi Arabia and Russia — opted to pump more following deep supply cuts in 2020 as Covid-19 battered the oil market.

OPEC+ staying put

Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, has indicated the alliance will leave its quotas unchanged for at least the rest of the year.

Aramco, based in Dhahran in eastern Saudi Arabia, carried out an initial public offering in 2019. The government still owns around 98% of the stock, which was unchanged on Sunday in Riyadh at 32.80 riyals.

Aramco has a market value of $1.9 trillion, second only to Apple Inc.

Tanker With Russian Oil Sits Off Ghana 2 Weeks After Arrival

Tanker Theseus has been waiting off coast of Ghana since Feb. 24.

Tanker Theseus has been waiting off coast of Ghana since Feb. 24.Source: Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-10/tanker-with-russian-oil-sits-off-ghana-two-weeks-after-arriving?leadSource=uverify%20wall 

An oil tanker loaded with Russian crude has been idling off the coast of Ghana for more than two weeks. 

The tanker Theseus reached Ghana’s territorial waters on Feb. 24 and was supposed to discharge its load into storage tanks at the Tema oil refinery, known as TOR. The National Petroleum Authority granted a delivery period for the cargo to be unloaded, but national security considerations have held up the process, according to people familiar with the matter.

Gold price backs off after surpassing $2,000, nearing record high

Gold price

https://www.mining.com/gold-price-backs-off-after-eclipsing-2000-for-first-time-in-a-year/ 

Gold prices backed off from the key $2,000 level on Monday as investors assess the health of the global banking sector, even as increasing bets of a Federal Reserve rate pause kept bullion near a one-year peak.

Earlier, spot gold climbed 1.6% to its highest since March 2022 at $2,009.59 per ounce, just short of a record set during the onset of the pandemic. By noon ET, it reversed to a 0.6% loss at $1,977.42 per ounce.

US gold futures, meanwhile, rose 0.2% to $1,978.00 per ounce in New York.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

“Gold’s volatility reflects that the market is digesting the recent shotgun wedding between Credit Suisse and UBS and the possible contagion,” independent analyst Ross Norman told Reuters.

Prices have rallied more than $100 after the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank earlier this month, the second-largest banking crisis in US history, which also ensnared 167-year-old lender Credit Suisse.

Europe’s bank shares fought back from an early slump led by UBS Group’s rescue deal to buy Credit Suisse failed to assuage market fears of a global banking contagion, sending their shares sharply lower.

Bullion touched record highs in some currencies on Monday, and near an all-time peak in US dollars, on the back of the latest banking sector turmoil, which has sent safe-haven demand skyrocketing.

“It’s all about risk hedging,” said StoneX analyst Rhona O’Connell. “A Swiss bank is supposed to be the be all and end all of safe havens,” she said. “If something else happens in the banking sector, you can expect gold to go higher.”

Investors will keenly watch a Fed policy decision due on Wednesday. Traders are now pricing in a 49% chance of the Fed holding rates in the current range, according to Reuters.

Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, told Bloomberg that the outcome of this week’s Fed meeting is “going to be the most difficult to predict in years.” He added:

“A shift to a more dovish outlook from policymakers at a time when inflation remains hot could push gold even higher.”

“Today’s rejection above $2000 may trigger some profit taking, but in our opinion not a change in direction,” Hansen said in a separate note to Reuters.

“We maintain a bullish outlook for gold, especially if the FOMC, driven by the current banking and liquidity crisis, is forced to change its focus away from fighting inflation to maintaining stability.”

(With files from Bloomberg and Reuters)

Trafigura sees fresh copper price records within a year

Trafigura plans to take large amounts of LME copper

https://www.mining.com/web/trafigura-sees-fresh-copper-price-records-within-a-year/     

The co-head of metals and minerals at the world’s biggest copper trader said on Monday the copper price could hit a new record high within the next 12 months owing to very tight stocks, even above $12,000 a tonne.

“I would highlight copper as the most critical metal globally given the shortage in the market. We only had 3.5 days of copper stock equivalent at the end of last year,” Trafigura’s Kostas Bintas told the FT Commodities Global Summit.

Copper hit a record high $10,845 in March last year.

(By Julia Payne; Editing by Susan Fenton)

BOOM! Case Against Trump IMPLODES: NY Cops In Revolt as Chris Rock, Elon...

Monday, March 20, 2023

Jonathan Turley: Manhattan DA’s Potential Case Against Trump ‘Legally Pathetic’

Johnathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, offered testimony during the House Judiciary Committee's hearing in Washington on Dec. 4, 2019. (House Judiciary)

Johnathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, offered testimony during the House Judiciary Committee's hearing in Washington on Dec. 4, 2019. (House Judiciary)

https://www.theepochtimes.com/jonathan-turley-manhattan-das-potential-case-against-trump-legally-pathetic_5133735.html 

George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley panned reports of the looming potential case against former President Donald Trump after the former commander-in-chief announced he may be arrested in the next week.

Alleged unnamed court sources have told multiple news outlets that Trump could be indicted in the near future, while Trump said via Truth Social that he expects to be arrested by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office on Tuesday. Bragg’s office has not publicly confirmed reports that he may possibly indict the former president for allegedly misclassifying a $130,000 hush payment made to Stormy Daniels in 2016.

Trump has denied claims that he had an affair with Daniels in the early 2000s.  However, unconfirmed reports alleged that a grand jury in New York has been empaneled and may be seeking an indictment of the former president.

But Turley said that based on those reports, the DA’s case against Trump “is legally pathetic” and “is struggling to twist state laws to effectively prosecute a federal case long ago rejected by the Justice Department against Trump.”

“In 2018 (yes, that is how long this theory has been around), I wrote how difficult such a federal case would be under existing election laws. Now, six years later, the same theory may be shoehorned into a state claim,” wrote Turley, who was a former expert witness for Trump’s first impeachment trial, for The Hill.

“While we still do not know the specific state charges in the anticipated indictment, the most-discussed would fall under Section 175 for falsifying business records, based on the claim that Trump used legal expenses to conceal the alleged hush-payments that were supposedly used to violate federal election laws,” Turley said. “While some legal experts have insisted such concealment is clearly a criminal matter that must be charged, they were conspicuously silent when Hillary Clinton faced a not-dissimilar campaign-finance allegation.

He noted that a Section 175 charge “would normally be a misdemeanor” and that the “only way to convert it into a Class E felony requires a showing that the ‘intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.’ That other crime would appear to be the federal election violations which the Justice Department previously declined to charge.”

Bragg’s office, meanwhile, could not prosecute the charge as a misdemeanor as it falls outside the two-year statute of limitations, Turley wrote. Instead, Bragg would have to pursue a felony charge.

“Prosecutors working under Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., also reportedly rejected the viability of using a New York law to effectively charge a federal offense,” Turley noted.  Bragg also previously expressed doubts about the Daniels case and shut it down when he took office several years ago, he said, adding that two lead prosecutors resigned at the time.

If Trump is indicted, it may require Trump to travel to the district attorney’s office in downtown New York to surrender. In white-collar cases, the defendant’s lawyers and prosecutors typically agree on a date and time, rather than arresting the person at home.

Trump would have his fingerprints and mugshot taken and would appear for arraignment in court. He would likely be released on his own recognizance and allowed to head home, legal analysts told Reuters.

Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, told CNBC on Friday that Trump would surrender if charged. If Trump refused to come in voluntarily, prosecutors could seek to have him extradited from Florida, where he currently resides.

On Saturday, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that the former president has not been formally notified of any pending arrest. Both Cheung and Trump accused Bragg, a Democrat who received $1 million in campaign cash from a George Soros-linked organization, of targeting him for political gain and could try to seek dismissal of the charges on those grounds.

“There has been no notification, other than illegal leaks from the Justice Dept. and the DA’s office, to NBC and other fake news carriers, that the George Soros-funded Radical Left Democrat prosecutor in Manhattan has decided to take his Witch-Hunt to the next level,” Cheung said. “President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system,” he added.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has not responded to a request for comment.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Trump Suggests He Will Be Arrested Next Week

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center National Harbor, Md., on March 4, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center National Harbor, Md., on March 4, 2023. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

https://www.theepochtimes.com/trump-addresses-indictment-rumors-calls-for-supporters-to-protest-take-our-nation-back_5132504.html?ea_src=frontpage_A_topstory&ea_med=list 

Former President Donald Trump has issued a statement saying he expects to be indicted next week by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and called his supporters to protest and “take our nation back!”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is investigating Trump for his company’s classification of a $130,000 reimbursement to his former personal attorney Michael Cohen over a payment allegedly made to adult actress Stormy Daniels.

The former president has repeatedly condemned the probe as a partisan witch hunt and in a Saturday statement on Truth Social, Trump doubled down on his rhetoric.

Trump said that “illegal leaks” from the “corrupt & highly political” Manhattan DA’s office indicate that he will be arrested on Tuesday of next week. He insisted that no crime has been proven and that the possible indictment in the case would be “based on an old & fully debunked (by numerous other prosecutors!) fairy tale.”

“Protest, take our nation back!” Trump urged his supporters in the message.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on Trump’s statement.

‘Witch Hunt’

Trump’s possible indictment stems from the alleged misclassifying of a $130,000 hush payment made to Daniels not to disclose an affair between the two, which Trump has denied. A grand jury was empaneled in the case and expectations have been building for an indictment.

Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that the former president has not been formally notified of any pending arrest.

“There has been no notification, other than illegal leaks from the Justice Dept. and the DA’s office, to NBC and other fake news carriers, that the George Soros-funded Radical Left Democrat prosecutor in Manhattan has decided to take his Witch-Hunt to the next level,” Cheung said.

“President Trump is rightfully highlighting his innocence and the weaponization of our injustice system,” he added.

Cheung told Fox News in a statement Friday that Trump is “completely innocent” and that the probe is a politically motivated attack to hamstring his run for reelection in 2024.

“Democrats are at it again, pushing the ‘Nuclear Button’ and attacking a President because of a disgraced extortionist,” Cheung said. “This will backfire massively for the Democrat Party, and end in disgrace for our Nation.”

The idea that a possible indictment and arrest of Trump would backfire was taken up by several prominent public figures, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

Musk said in a post on Twitter that he believes if Trump is indeed arrested next week, the former president “will be re-elected in a landslide victory.”

Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, told MSNBC that if the former president is indeed indicted, he would “follow normal procedures” and surrender.

Rumors of the indictment and what would be an unprecedented arrest of a former president have prompted reports that law enforcement agencies are bracing for protests and making security arrangements.

An indictment would involve setting a date and time for Trump to surrender, with the former president then delivered by his Secret Service detail to the Manhattan DA’s office for fingerprinting and mugshots. Following arrest processing in cases where a defendant is allowed to surrender, normal procedures suggest Trump would face an arraignment before a judge and then probably be released on his own recognizance.

Former GOP congressman and Truth Social head Devin Nunes told Newsmax on Friday that reports of the possible indictment show the nation is becoming a “banana republic” where the justice system is used as a weapon against political rivals.

“As I’ve said for a very long time now, as the person who led the investigation into the Russia hoax, that we have slipped into a banana republic in this country where you have a two-tiered system of justice, where Democrats run scot-free, and then someone like President Trump, or other Republicans, are held to this ridiculous standard,” Nunes told the outlet.

Nunes, like Musk, believes that a Trump indictment would backfire.

“If they do move forward and indict, it’ll just make it even easier for President Trump to win election because people are going to see this for what it is,” Nunes said. “[It is] just a farce, and another attack on Trump at all costs to stop him from becoming president again.”

Gary Bai and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report. This article has been updated with comment from Trump’s spokesperson.

Friday, March 17, 2023

'You Need To Go Back And Check Your Facts': Byron Donalds Grills Dem Wit...

'Absolute Leftist Bunk': Pat Fallon Grills Dem Witness On Energy Policy

Agents make startling claim about lack of leadership at southern border

Rio Tinto sees robust short term outlook for copper

Rio Tinto sees robust short term outlook for copper

Oyu Tolgoi mine. Image courtesy of Turquoise Hill Resources

https://www.mining.com/web/rio-tinto-sees-robust-short-term-outlook-for-copper/ 

The short-term outlook for copper is “pretty healthy,” with global stockpiles trending down and mine disruptions having eroded supply from Latin America, Rio Tinto’s head of copper Bold Baatar said on Tuesday.

“We’re seeing pretty good fundamentals,” he told Reuters after the opening of the underground phase of the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in Mongolia, which is set to be the world’s fourth-largest copper mine when it is fully operational.

“Physical stocks of inventories of copper are at multi-year lows,” he said, adding that copper demand in China was “relatively strong.”

Global copper inventories held in warehouses monitored by the London Metal Exchange (LME) hit the lowest in 17 years last month as the global economy gathers steam post-covid 19, while Shanghai Futures Exchange stocks have turned down in recent weeks on seasonal demand pickup and as prices fell.

Benchmark copper on the LME traded down 0.6% at $8,876 a tonne on Tuesday, on a firm dollar, worries about the knock-on impact of a US banking crisis and as Chinese demand has not picked up as quickly as some had previously hoped.

[Click here for an interactive chart of copper prices]

But the contract has gained more than 5% year-to-date, and around a quarter from mid-July when it hit its weakest since late 2020.

“Overall, actually, there’s significant copper shortages in terms of the supply deficit that’s coming out of Latin America and the disruptions that are happening in countries like Peru.

“So at the moment, even in the short-term outlook, there’s a pretty healthy demand picture,” Baatar said.

Copper mines in Peru and Chile have been disrupted by protests that have blocked roads, impacting mine supplies getting in and concentrate shipments getting out.

Key copper mines in Peru, however, are cranking up activity again, power data analyzed by Reuters showed, potentially boosting supply from the world’s no. 2 producer.

(By B. Rentsendorj and Mai Nguyen; Editing by Sharon Singleton)

Gold price rebounds as fresh banking crisis hits risk appetite


https://www.mining.com/gold-price-rebounds-as-fresh-banking-crisis-hits-risk-appetite/ 

Gold prices rebounded on Wednesday as a new crisis in the banking sector turned investors away from seemingly riskier assets and drove them to the safety of bullion.

Spot gold traded 1% higher at $1,922.65 per ounce by 1 p.m. ET, rising to its highest since early February. US gold futures gained 1.5% to $1,940.90 per ounce in New York.

[Click here for an interactive chart of gold prices]

The latest rally comes despite a sharp jump in the US currency, which would usually weigh on demand for the greenback-priced bullion.

Europe’s bank stocks came under pressure again, with Credit Suisse shares sliding after its largest investor said it could not provide the Swiss bank with more financial assistance.

“It’s a total safe-haven trade. There’s a lot of concern about Credit Suisse and now European banks are really coming under quite a bit of pressure. So it’s a complete flight to safety,” Phillip Streible, chief market strategist at Blue Line Futures in Chicago, said in a Reuters note.

Gold prices in sterling hit a record high in the aftermath, while bullion in euros also spiked towards all-time peaks hit last year.

“People are going to the US Treasuries, gold, silver, and the dollar. They’re exiting riskier assets like US equities and economically sensitive metals like copper, platinum and palladium,” Streible added.

Overall focus was still on the Federal Reserve’s next move on interest rates as it assesses data showing elevated inflation in February against the backdrop of the collapse of two regional banks.

Markets put a 57.1% chance on the Fed holding its benchmark rate at current levels at its March 21-22 policy meeting, according to Reuters.

(With files from Reuters)

California Bay Area to Start Banning Gas Furnaces and Water Heaters

https://achristianresource.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Gavin-Newsom-mask-closeup-ap-640x335-1.jpg

https://www.theepochtimes.com/california-bay-area-to-start-banning-gas-furnaces-and-water-heaters_5127802.html?src_src=ref_share&src_cmp= 

Authorities from the Bay Area in San Francisco have decided to ban the use of natural gas-fired water heaters and furnaces, citing pollution and health concerns.

The Bay Area’s Air District Board of Directors made amendments to certain regulations to eliminate nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from residential and commercial natural gas furnaces and water heaters by mandating that new appliances comply with zero-emission standards.

“The rule amendments would apply only to new appliances and do not mandate the immediate change out of existing appliances, nor will they apply to appliances used for cooking, such as gas stoves,” according to a March 15 press release.

According to new amendments, only “zero NOx” water heaters can be sold or installed in the Bay Area beginning in 2027. Two years later in 2029, only zero NOx furnaces will be allowed to be sold or installed in the region. And in 2031, new commercial water heaters in the Bay Area will have to meet zero NOx standards.

NOx emissions are said to contribute to particulate matter and have been linked to wheezing, breathing difficulties, coughing, asthma, and susceptibility to respiratory infections, the Bay Area’s Air District Board of Directors said. Exposure to particulate matter has been linked with asthma, heart attack, neurological disease, lung cancer, and premature death, the board said.

Air District claims that the new amendments will improve air quality, prevent an estimated 85 premature deaths and dozens of asthma cases in the Bay Area annually, and save up to $890 million per year in health impacts resulting from air pollution exposure.

“The 1.8 million water heaters and furnaces in the Bay Area significantly impact our air quality, resulting in dozens of early deaths and a wide range of health impacts, particularly in communities of color,” Philip Fine, executive officer of the Air District, said in the news release. “This groundbreaking regulation will phase out the most polluting appliances in homes and businesses to protect Bay Area residents from the harmful air pollution they cause.”

Though gas stoves have been exempted from the Bay Area ban, federal agencies have indicated that they are considering tougher restrictions on these appliances.

In February, Richard Trumka Jr., commissioner for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), stated that the federal government could ban natural gas stoves.

The Biden administration denied that such a move was under consideration, but CPSC later announced it was soliciting information regarding the safety of such stoves, which could be the initial step toward restrictions. The Department of Energy has also proposed energy efficiency standards for residential stoves, which some believe could hit gas stoves harder than their electric counterparts.

Expensive Transition for Households

If adopted, the Bay Area’s amendment updates are expected to affect roughly two-thirds of all households in the region estimated to use natural gas appliances. The development could hit such households financially as gas heating tends to be cheaper than alternatives like electricity.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, average household spending on natural gas heating in the United States for winter 2022–23 was pegged at $931, far cheaper than the average spending on heating via electricity at $1,359.

The Bay Area’s ban on gas-fired furnaces and heaters comes amid a wider crackdown on NOx emissions.

In September 2022, the California Air Resources Board approved a proposal to ban such gas-powered appliances from homes by 2030.

The board directed state agencies to come up with a rule to phase out these appliances—an issue that will be voted on in 2025.

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a new rule aimed at cutting down nitrogen oxide pollution from power plants and other industrial facilities in 23 states.

The new rule is projected to reduce “ozone season NOX pollution by approximately 70,000 tons from power plants and industrial facilities in 2026,” according to a March 15 press release. It is also expected to prevent about 1,300 premature deaths, the agency claimed.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

CENTRALIA, PA - America's Burning Ghost Town (Documentary)

Oil Companies Line Up for Billions of Dollars in Subsidies Under US Climate Law

https://images2.markets.businessinsider.com/600af1fb21f52a0018cba0dd?format=jpeg

https://tankterminals.com/news/oil-companies-line-up-for-billions-of-dollars-in-subsidies-under-us-climate-law/?vgo_ee=lI2jIwKmJi5I6LlqVO2mReD436ZwtmRo6Hs7Efk9Nd3jmD1d93K9HA%3D%3D%3AXLhgmDP3UwLKWyWIUjdM%2FfqoWZoXq1rF 

Inflation Reduction Act’s tax credits include technologies favoured by fossil fuel sector

An oil industry that opposed President Joe Biden’s signature climate law is now manoeuvring to claim billions of dollars of US tax credits established by the legislation.

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in 2022, aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions by supercharging clean energy industries. Its $369bn in climate provisions has sparked new investments in renewable power generation and in manufacturing everything from electric vehicle batteries to solar panels.

But the law also includes generous incentives for a set of lower-carbon technologies and fuels where oil and gas executives argue they hold a big advantage. Oil companies are starting to plough cash into projects to capture and lock away carbon dioxide, to retool refineries for making biofuels, and produce low-emission hydrogen, all supported by the IRA’s green subsidies.

“There’s a lot of activity in this space, a lot of interest, particularly with the IRA,” ExxonMobil chief executive Darren Woods told investors last month.

“I think we’re very well positioned there,” he said. “This is not a game for start-ups. These are large, world-scale projects that require the kind of project expertise that we have, require the kind of size and balance sheet capacity that we have.”

Energy trade associations including the powerful American Petroleum Institute opposed the IRA before Biden signed it into law in August, calling its tax increases and new government spending “the wrong policies at the wrong time”.

Now oil companies are moving into position to take advantage of the IRA. They include shale producer Continental Resources, Gulf of Mexico-focused oil company Talos Energy and Phillips 66, an oil refiner. Exxon in December increased planned low-carbon spending by 15 per cent and outlined plans to invest $17bn on its low-carbon business through to the end of 2027, about 10 per cent of overall spending.

Analysts expect activity to accelerate, both as a growth opportunity and a way for companies to soothe investor concerns about the industry’s future amid a push to decarbonise the economy. Big oil companies with sizeable tax liabilities could also underpin green energy development by buying other groups’ clean energy tax credits, which are now transferable under the IRA.

Credit Suisse has estimated the “transformative” tax credits in the IRA that make many new carbon capture and storage and low-emission hydrogen projects suddenly profitable could spur about $160bn in spending over the next decade.

The law set a tax credit of $85 per tonne for CO₂ captured and permanently stored underground, which executives and analysts say opens up huge opportunities to trap emissions from industrial sites. Even as they opposed the legislation, oil companies and trade groups lobbied centrist West Virginia Democrat senator Joe Manchin, one of its architects, to include tax credits for carbon capture, hydrogen and biofuels alongside wind, solar and battery power incentives. API supported tax credits for carbon capture.

Not everyone is convinced. Climate activists have slammed the Biden administration for subsidising technologies such as carbon capture they argue are costly, unproven and promoted by oil groups as a scheme to keep pumping fossil fuels.

Yet US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm has called on fossil fuel producers to seize on the new government support to reimagine themselves as “more diverse energy and carbon management companies”.

Granholm has cheered on Occidental Petroleum’s plans to deploy direct air capture technology, which sucks CO₂ from the atmosphere to be stuffed underground, in the oilfields of west Texas. The company plans to have its first such project up and running in 2024 and says it will spend up to $600mn on it this year.

Direct air capture, a promising but so-far unproven carbon management technology, is eligible for a tax credit of up to $180 a tonne under the IRA.

BP’s US boss Dave Lawler told the Financial Times the company was “really excited” about the IRA and that the climate law made the US the “most lucrative” place in the world for green hydrogen development.

The British oil and gas producer, a member of API, individually supported the IRA’s passage. BP recently closed a $4.1bn deal for Archaea Energy, whose projects harvest methane created at landfill sites. Last month BP said it would spend $1.3bn to acquire TravelCenters of America, a chain of US highway fuel stations, to bolster its EV charging business. Both businesses would benefit from the IRA’s green incentives.

Mike Wirth, chief executive of Chevron, has taken a more cautious line. He told the FT that the tax incentives were “only one part of what it takes to build these businesses” and that his oil and gas major was still “proceeding on the path that we were before the IRA”.

Wirth said the industry still needed to improve nascent technologies, build infrastructure, agree deals for novel projects and receive government permits, meaning it would “take years” to stand up the new businesses.

Still, some smaller oil producers see big opportunities for growth.

Denbury Resources, a small oil producer, has long had an “enhanced oil recovery” business that uses CO₂ pipelines to pump the gas into ageing oilfields and boost their output.

But after passage of the IRA, owning one of the US’s largest networks of CO₂ pipelines and expertise managing the greenhouse gas suddenly put the company in a “completely unique space”, said Denbury chief executive Chris Kendall.

Denbury envisions itself transforming into a big player in carbon capture and storage to capitalise on new IRA tax credits. It is more than doubling spending this year on early-stage CCS projects to $150mn. Kendall said the company was “just scratching the surface of where we’re going with this”.

Kendall believes Denbury will be pumping 50mn-70mn tonnes of CO₂ a year into underground storage by 2030, more than the roughly 40mn tonnes that are captured and stored globally each year.

“There are a lot of industry emissions that can now be captured economically under that $85 tax credit . . . and our strategy is to build that business as rapidly as we can,” Kendall said.

BP Takes £1.2bn Hit on German Refinery Amid Race to Net Zero

https://cartype.com/pics/1315/small/bp__shield_logo.jpg

https://tankterminals.com/news/bp-takes-1-2bn-hit-on-german-refinery-amid-race-to-net-zero/?vgo_ee=lI2jIwKmJi5I6LlqVO2mReD436ZwtmRo6Hs7Efk9Nd3jmD1d93K9HA%3D%3D%3AXLhgmDP3UwLKWyWIUjdM%2FfqoWZoXq1rF 

BP has written down the value of one of its refineries by $1.4bn [£1.1bn] as it blamed a global shift to green energy which has driven a surge in demand for electric cars.

The company has taken a hit on its Gelsenkirchen refinery in north-west Germany which it said was because of “changes to economic assumptions”.

Those include an assumed cost for carbon dioxide emissions of about €70 per tonne of carbon dioxide equivalent, as well as expected lower refining margins.

In BP’s annual report, its auditors, Deloitte, warned over the threat to the value of refineries from the shift away from petrol cars, saying they may be hit by “changes in supply and demand […] due to the adoption of electric vehicles”.

The shift towards electric vehicles is one of the reasons refining margins could fall, although they will also be affected by other factors. Margins have been particularly high this year amid Russia’s war on Ukraine.

BP last month scaled back plans to cut its oil and gas output, citing concerns about energy security.

It had planned to cut production by 40pc by 2030 but will now only do so by 25pc, meaning it aims to be producing about two million barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2030.

On Friday BP disclosed it was handing boss Bernard Looney a £10m pay packet for 2022, more than double the previous year, sparking criticism from campaigners.

Global Witness, the campaign group, said people “have every right to be angry” at the payout during a cost of living crisis driven by high energy costs.

BP made record profits in 2022 of $28bn, as oil and gas prices leapt in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Looney’s pay package includes a £6m share award based on the company’s performance over the past three years, covering the pandemic.

He took over in February 2020 and immediately set out a new strategy to help the company diversify from oil and gas, including by building wind farms.

Paula Rosput Reynolds, chairman of BP’s pay committee, said the past three years had been “among the most challenging in BP’s recent history”.

She said the total paid to Mr Looney “reflects the complexity of Bernard’s job of running our global enterprise and its diverse and essential businesses”.

While the rise in oil and gas prices benefits BP, inflation has harmed the economic case for wind and solar farms.

Deloitte warned there was a risk the book value of BP’s investments in low carbon energy “may no longer be recoverable”, though they are satisfied with how BP is valuing the investments.

It follows warnings in recent weeks from several wind farm developers that rising costs could derail projects, raising questions over the pace of the shift to cleaner energy.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Biden Admin Makes Major Announcement After Silicon Valley Bank Collapse

 Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivers remarks during a press conference at the Treasury Department in Washington, on July 28, 2022. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivers remarks during a press conference at the Treasury Department in Washington, on July 28, 2022. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

https://www.theepochtimes.com/us-treasury-secretary-announces-no-federal-bailout-for-silicon-valley-bank_5117099.html 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced Sunday that the federal government wouldn’t bail out the now-collapsed Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) but said it will work to aid depositors who are worried about their money.

During a Sunday interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Yellen did not provide many concrete details about what her agency or what the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation might do to protect depositors’ cash. But the Treasury secretary, formerly an Obama-era Federal Reserve chair, emphasized that SVB’s situation was different than the financial crisis that erupted in 2008, which led to widespread bailouts of financial companies in what government officials at the time said was designed to protect the industry and larger U.S. economy.

The FDIC only insures deposits of up to $250,000 per account, analysts have said that a number of firms and wealthy investors had far more than the insured amount tied up in SVB. There have been concerns that workers at some tech companies and startups will not see their paychecks now.

“Well let me be clear that during the financial crisis, there were investors and owners of systemic large banks that were bailed out, and we’re certainly not looking” to bail out SVB, Yellen said Sunday in response to a question about a possible bailout of the bank. “And the reforms that have been put in place means that we’re not going to do that again,” she added. “But we are concerned about depositors and are focused on trying to meet their needs.”

U.S. regulators are working quickly to address any possible contagion before markets open Monday in Asia, Yellen confirmed. She did not provide further details about those steps.

“We certainly are working to address the situation in a timely way,” she said.

With Wall Street bracing for the collapse’s impact on Monday, Yellen attempted to reassure Americans that there will be no domino effect. SVB, which mainly served technology companies and tech investors, is the nation’s 16th-largest bank and was the second-biggest bank failure in American history following the collapse of Washington Mutual in 2008, which at the time, was a catalyst for the subsequent economic downturn.

“The American banking system is really safe and well capitalized,” she said. “It’s resilient.”

Reports have indicated that upwards of 85 percent of SVBs accounts weren’t insured. When asked about whether that money will be returned, Yellen appeared to be noncommittal.

“I’m not going to comment on the details of the situation at this point. I simply want to say that we’re very aware of the problems that depositors will have, many of them are small businesses that employ people across the country,” the Treasury chief told CBS. “And of course, this is a significant concern, and working with regulators to try to address these concerns.”

Epoch Times Photo
A worker (C) tells people that the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) headquarters is closed in Santa Clara, Calif., on March 10, 2023. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

“I really can’t comment on what the impact will be. I think it depends on how this situation is resolved,” she said. “And that’s something that we’re working on. But well aware that many startup firms have deposits and venture capital firms have deposits at this bank that have been affected by its failure. So this is something we’re working to try to resolve.”

SVB started its downward slide to insolvency when its depositors started withdrawing their deposits en masse amid concerns about the bank’s health. The bank then had to sell bonds at a loss to cover those withdrawals, leading to a sudden collapse before regulators in California closed the bank and appointed the U.S. FDIC to take over

Later in the CBS interview, Yellen noted that rising interest rates—hiked by the Federal Reserve in what its board members say is a bid to combat decades-high inflation—is the core problem for Silicon Valley Bank. Assets such as mortgage-backed securities and bonds lost their market value as interest rates climbed, she noted.

On Saturday, more than 3,000 CEOs and company founders representing some 220,000 workers signed a petition to appeal to Yellen and other officials to backstop SVB’s depositors. They warned that more than 100,000 jobs could be cut if no action is taken.

The petition called for “stronger regulatory oversight and capital requirements for regional banks” and sought a probe into any “malfeasance or mismanagement” by SVB executives, according to the Reuters news agency.

At the same time, some billionaires and analysts have noted that the bank’s collapse should serve as a warning to Americans that the U.S. economy may be sliding into a downturn. One billionaire hedge fund investor, Bill Ackman, wrote a lengthy Twitter thread Saturday saying the U.S. government has only 48 hours to fix the problem, suggesting that the contagion could spread.

Oil giant Saudi Aramco announces record profit of $161B in 2022

 

https://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/oil-giant-saudi-aramco-announces-record-profit-161-billion-2022 

Aramco's earnings increased 46.5% from the $110 billion the company earned in 2021https://www.nydailynews.com/resizer/wCoWYtEjIDgCyOVUZQLRdAiGIV4=/1400x0/www.trbimg.com/img-5bc8fa25/turbine/ny-1539897878-hyvfsb60i7-snap-image

Global oil giant Saudi Aramco announced Sunday it earned a record-high profit of $161.1 billion during 2022, attributing its massive jump in earrings to higher crude oil prices.

Officially known as the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., Aramco's annual report showed its year-on-year net income increased 46.5.% from the $110 billion earned in 2021.

Saudi Aramco CEO and President Amin H. Nasser said in a statement that the record financial performance was due to increased oil demand around the world.

"We also continued to focus on our long-term strategy, building both capacity and capability across the value chain with the aim of addressing energy security and sustainability," Nasser wrote.

BIDEN BLAMES RUSSIA, SAUDI ARABIA FOR RISING GAS PRICES, TAKES CREDIT FOR RECENT DIP

CEO of Saudi Aramco Amin H. Nasser

CEO of Saudi Aramco Amin H. Nasser speaks during the 22nd World Petroleum Congress, the largest meeting of oil and gas industry at Istanbul Convention Center in Istanbul, Turkey on July 10, 2017. (Islam Yakut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Nasser said the firm will spend $37.6 billion to expand its production capacity after embarking on the "largest capital spending program" in Aramco's history.

"Given that we anticipate oil and gas will remain essential for the foreseeable future, the risks of underinvestment in our industry are real — including contributing to higher energy prices," he added.

Aramco also declared a cash dividend of $19.5 billion for the fourth quarter of 2022, a 4% increase from Q3, and said it will be paid in the first quarter of this year.

placeholder

According to The Associated Press, Aramco revealed a record $42.4 billion profit during Q3 following a spike in Brent Crude Oil prices when they soared to over $120 per barrel in June. The market now shows it trading around $82 a barrel.

The Institute of International Finance reported that Saudi Arabia makes an additional $40 billion a year for every $10 rise in the price of a barrel of oil.

Oil storage tanks in Saudi Arabia

Storage tanks are seen at the North Jiddah bulk plant, an Aramco oil facility, in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

SAUDI ENERGY MINISTER SLAMS RELEASE OF OIL RESERVES AS 'MECHANISM TO MANIPULATE MARKETS'

The high prices have strained ties between the kingdom and the U.S., which is typically a security guarantor among the Gulf Arab states due to tensions with Iran. 

Before the 2022 midterm elections, Saudi Arabia claimed the Biden administration urged the kingdom to postpone a decision by OPEC+ and its allies, including Russia, to cut oil production by a month, which likely would have resulted in a delay in rising gas prices.

President Joe Biden warned the kingdom in mid-October there would be "consequences" after the OPEC+ ultimately ignored the request and announced the biggest cut in oil production since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The threatened consequences have yet to be seen as Saudi Arabia and Iran decided to revise tensions for the first time in seven years Friday amid a diplomatic deal with China.

placeholder
Aramco oil processing facility

Aramco's oil processing facility near Dammam in the Kingdom's Eastern Province. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX BUSINESS APP

Shares in Aramco stood at $8.74 on Riyadh's Tadawul stock exchange before it opened Sunday, which is down from a high of $11.55 a share in the last year, The AP reported.

The current price still gives Aramco a valuation of $1.9 trillion — making it the world's second-most valuable company behind Apple. 

The Saudi government still owns the vast majority of the firm's shares.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Saudi Aramco, UAE’s ADNOC Remain Middle East’s Most Valuable Brands as Energy Dominates: Brand Finance

https://idsb.tmgrup.com.tr/ly/uploads/images/2020/12/09/thumbs/1200x600/78159.jpg

https://tankterminals.com/news/saudi-aramco-uaes-adnoc-remain-middle-easts-most-valuable-brands-as-energy-dominates-brand-finance/?vgo_ee=WUMnk2f3l3xKHOmv4tVSMYIhtSVR024F4TGFrvUax0U3AylL1TIK7w%3D%3D%3AGRZ5zyJ6Wm6mqCzCsPH%2FQdqpHCwgmIFA 

Gulf’s oil giants have it their way in a year when energy dominated all talk

In a year when energy – demand and prices – dominated, Aramco in Saudi Arabia and ADNOC in the UAE reinforced their status as the Middle East’s most powerful brands. Aramco’s brand value went up a hefty 4 per cent to $45.2 billion, more than enough to retain its numerous uno status, according to the UK consultancy Brand Finance.

ADNOC was second placed at $14.2 billion, gaining 11 per cent. The clout was extended by IPOs from JV entities Borouge and Fertiglobe, and now comes the one from ADNOC Gas.

This is as far as brand value goes, When it comes to brand strength the UAE tech-telco entity e& (formerly Etisalat) is at the top of the hustings, with a value of $10.1 billion (up 18 per cent). That was enough to make it the strongest brand in the global telecom sector with a score of 89.2 out of 100.

It was last year that e& adopted the new identity and since then went into a raft of deals to work on its credentials as a super-app, build up a presence in the enterprise business, and also go big globally with stake purchases in UK’s Vodafone.

The ‘focus on enhancing customer experience and living the ethos of ’Together Matters’ helped the brand to increase its BSI score by 1.8 points, breaking into the Top 20 strongest brands globally, claiming 18th place,” says Brand Finance.

An entrenched domestic presence and one of the fastest expansions overseas helped UAE’s DP World anchor in with a brand value of $1.8 billion. “Despite difficult operating conditions, the global logistics brand has continued to deploy technology to create efficient and innovative trade solutions for stakeholders,” says the report.

Dubai headquartered Mashreq (brand value up 35 per cent to $1 billion) is the third fastest growing brand in the UAE. A refreshed brand identity, launched in 2022, was ‘part of a wider strategy to realign its offerings as a digital-first financial institution’. And at a time when standalone digital banks are coming to the party, not least the e& backed Wio.

Qatar’s QNB makes a clear point

In a year when Qatar rarely left the headlines, helped a bit by the FIFA World Cup, QNB retained the title of its ‘most valuable and strongest brand’, with a value gain of 16 per cent to $7.1 billion.

“QNB’s impressive performance was also reflected in the Brand Finance Banking 500 2022 ranking, where it moved up to 45th,” the report notes. The brand’s growth outpaced the top 50 banking brands in the world, as it consolidated its position as the most valuable banking brand across the Middle East.”

“The brand has acted as a unifying force across its operations, which have benefitted from the significant investment in digital services for retail and corporate clients,” said Andrew Campbell, Managing Director, Brand Finance Middle East.

Much the same brands dew brand strength in Saudi Arabia, with telco stc (brand value up 17 per cent to $12.3 billion) the second strongest brand in the Middle East and strongest brand in Saudi Arabia. The brand also rose 25 places in the Global 500 rankings – the most by any Middle Eastern brand.

Saudi Arabia’s Al-Rajhi Bank (brand value higher by 32 per cent to $5.7 billion) is the strongest banking brand in the Middle East with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) of 85.5 out of 100. Another Saudi entity, Riyad Bank’s brand value is up 42 per cent to $1.8 billion, and above the overall average for Saudi banks.

Abu Dhabi’s FAB (brand value up 19 per cent to $3.9 billion) is the third most valuable banking brand in the region and the most valuable banking brand in the UAE. Record profits for 2022 bolstered the bank’s credentials on the brand side.

Saudi mining giant rises to the top

Ma’aden with a 69 per cent brand value increase to $503 million is the ‘fastest-growing brand in the Middle East of 2022’, helped by record sales. “The brand has become the third pillar of Saudi industry, behind oil and petrochemicals, and its growth has seen it named among the Top 20 largest global mining companies by market cap,” says Brand Finance.

Saudi Arabia makes a $5 Billion deposit at the Central Bank of Turkey through the Saudi Fund for Development

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=2R7xAB_0l99D8UC00

https://www.newsbreak.com/news/2947681593624-saudi-arabia-makes-a-5-billion-deposit-at-the-central-bank-of-turkey-through-the-saudi-fund-for-development?_f=app_share&s=a3&share_destination_id=MTM3MTE3MDI3LTE2NzgxMzgwOTMzOTM%3D&pd=09HKOxl3&hl=en_US&send_time=1678138093&actBtn=floatShareButton&trans_data=%7B%22platform%22%3A1%2C%22cv%22%3A%2223.9.0%22%2C%22languages%22%3A%22en%22%7D 

ISTANBUL,Turkey--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Mar 6, 2023--

In implementation of the directives from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and His Royal Highness Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, KSA Minister of Tourism and Chairman of the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Board of Directors, H.E. Mr. Ahmed Aqeel Al-Khateeb, signed an agreement with the Governor of the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey, Şahap Kavcıoğlu, to make a significant $5 billion deposit into the Central Bank of Turkey.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230306005482/en/

H.E. Mr. Ahmed Aqeel Al-Khateeb, KSA Minister of Tourism and SFD Chairman, signs a $5 billion deposit agreement with the Central Bank of Turkey, alongside Governor Şahap Kavcıoğlu, further enhancing economic cooperation between the two nations (Photo: AETOSWire)

This deposit is not only a testament to the close cooperation and historical ties that exist between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of Turkey and their peoples, but it is also a demonstration of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to supporting Turkey’s efforts to strengthen its economy and to promote social growth and sustainable development.

The deposit will contribute to bolstering the Turkish economy by addressing economic aspects across various sectors. By making this deposit, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expressing its strong support for the Turkish people and its confidence in the future of the Turkish economy.

*Source: AETOSWire

View source version on businesswire.com:https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230306005482/en/

CONTACT: Randah Al-Hothali

Director General of Corporate Communications Department

Saudi Fund for Development

Phone: 00966112794448

KEYWORD: EUROPE TURKEY SAUDI ARABIA MIDDLE EAST

INDUSTRY KEYWORD: FINANCE BANKING OTHER CONSTRUCTION & PROPERTY PROFESSIONAL SERVICES CONSTRUCTION & PROPERTY

SOURCE: Saudi Fund for Development

PUB: 03/06/2023 08:30 AM/DISC: 03/06/2023 08:31 AM

Westinghouse Celebrates First Criticality at Vogtle Unit 3 with Southern Nuclear, Georgia Power and Other Partners

Vogtle3_feb2023_WCK_7002-1

Vogtle Unit 3 from February 2023. 
© Georgia Power Company. All rights reserved. 

https://info.westinghousenuclear.com/news/westinghouse-celebrates-criticality-at-vogtle-3 

Westinghouse AP1000® Reactor Marks New Era for Nuclear Energy in the United States

Cranberry Township, PA – March 6, 2023 – Westinghouse Electric Company today celebrates an important milestone for Southern Nuclear, Georgia Power, and other project partners as Plant Vogtle 3 achieved the initial criticality of self-sustaining nuclear fission. Plant Vogtle, located near Waynesboro, GA, is the site of the first two AP1000® reactors to be built in the U.S.

“We are honored to share this incredible moment with Southern Nuclear, Georgia Power and the project’s co-owners, and with the entire team at Vogtle,” said Patrick Fragman, Westinghouse President and CEO. “This is a significant step toward delivering clean, reliable and safe power to the people of Georgia for generations to come.”

Westinghouse will continue to work closely with the team as Southern Nuclear prepares for the next major milestone of synchronizing the unit to the electric grid, which will be followed by full commercial operation.

The two AP1000 units nearing completion at Plant Vogtle are Generation III+ reactors with fully passive safety systems, modular construction design and have the smallest footprint per MWe on the market. They are the first new reactors to be constructed in the U.S. in three decades. 

In addition to the two reactors at the Vogtle site, four AP1000 units are currently setting operational performance records in China with four additional reactors under construction, and two more planned. Poland recently selected the AP1000 reactor for its nuclear energy program, and nine units have been announced for Ukraine, and the technology is under consideration at multiple other sites in Central and Eastern Europe, the United Kingdom, and in the United States.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Fire sale – Margin Call (2011)

Masks, the jury returns

Hand washing helped a bit

Covid natural immunity confirmed

China Outpacing US in Military Ship Buildup: Former Intelligence Officer

Soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army march on Red Square during a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Moscow on June 24, 2020. (Pavel Golovikin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Soldiers from China's People's Liberation Army march on Red Square during a military parade, which marks the 75th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Moscow on June 24, 2020. (Pavel Golovikin/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

https://www.theepochtimes.com/china-outpaces-us-in-military-ship-buildup-former-intelligence-officer_5098801.html 

China is outpacing the United States in military ship buildup, according to veteran intelligence officer and author Grant Newsham.

Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said on Feb. 28 that the Chinese military is producing warships at a greater pace than the United States, jeopardizing U.S. supremacy on the seas. He noted that China currently has about 340 ships and is seeking to add 100 more by 2030.

Newsham echoed Toro’s opinion, noting that the number doesn’t even include the regime’s coast guard ships, which are built like warships, and a maritime militia that adds thousands of ships to that.

The U.S. Navy reportedly has about 295 ships to cover the entire world.

“The Chinese shipyards have been launching at about a rate of 5 to 1 over the last decade. So for every warship we put in the water, they put five, and they have a much bigger shipbuilding capacity than we do; we have allowed ours to wither. And the Chinese have built theirs up just at a breathtaking speed,” Newsham told NTD’s “China in Focus” program on March 4.

“If Chinese authorities pick their spots, and get the right circumstances, they would give us a real bloody nose, to put it mildly.

“And we’ve effectively allowed them to catch up with us and overtake us. Over the last 20 years at least, we dismissed the threat, we refused to address it, and people who did raise concern … were sidelined and silenced.”

Multipronged War

China has waged a multipronged war on the United States for several decades, according to Newsham, who is also an Epoch Times contributor.

“What I point out is that China is already attacking us,” he said. “And they’ve been at it for at least 30 years—longer, most likely, but just take 30—and it has been a multifaceted front.”

As the author of the upcoming “When China Attacks” and with decades of experience in Asia, including as a U.S. Marine and a diplomat, Newsham said that “the Chinese approach to warfare and their concept of it is very different from ours.”

“To China, the shooting part, the so-called kinetic warfare, is almost the last thing and you only do it if you have to,” he said.

Newsham pointed to the COVID-19 epidemic that allegedly stemmed from China and called it a “biological attack on the United States.”

“Look at how successful it has been in weakening us, getting us to fight each other, really destroying our economy, shutting it down,” he said.

Newsham cited the inflow of fentanyl reportedly from China, which has led to the deaths of about 70,000 Americans per year. More than 100,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in the 12 months ending in April 2021, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 64,000 of these deaths resulted from synthetic opioids such as fentanyl—the deadliest opioid in existence—the study shows.

“The Chinese got the American political class, the business class, and the financial classes to let them into the World Trade Organization (WTO). And that cost well over 3 million manufacturing jobs in the United States,” he said, calling it economic warfare.

China joined the WTO in 2000 after the regime’s Most Favored Nation/Normal Trade Relations status was made permanent by the Clinton administration in the same year.

“Additionally, they’ve gone after international organizations, the United Nations, the World Health Organization, to take control, effectively take a whole lot of influence into these organizations and often have them do what China wants them to do,” he said.

“They’ve tried to get international law reinterpreted, or just ignored it, and daring the world to do something about it.”

Beijing’s Vulnerabilities

Newsham took note of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s call on the United States not to “abuse the concept of national security to oppress Chinese companies,” during his November 2021 virtual summit with President Joe Biden.

The statement was later reiterated repeatedly by the communist regime.

“That shows you that they are terrified of being cut off from American technology, cut off from American markets, etc., and even our allies’ markets,” he said. “The Chinese Communist Party is vulnerable to an economic slowdown, and they know it.”

Newsham also highlighted the CCP’s fear of the United States and/or other like-minded countries banding together to present a unified front against the regime.

“When the free nations of the world get together to protect themselves, it makes Beijing very, very unhappy,” he said.

China is extremely vulnerable on the financial front because its currency isn’t freely convertible, according to Newsham.

If China’s access to foreign exchange is cut, making it harder for U.S. companies to invest in China, the regime is in deep trouble, he noted.

Understanding the pressure points of the regime would give the United States a good idea of what a counter-strategy should look like, Newsham said.

EXCLUSIVE: Bolsonaro Will Return to Lead Opposition in Brazil During ‘Uncertain Times’

 Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro (R) speaks to Epoch Times reporter Roman Balmakov at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2023. (Oliver Trey/NTD)

Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro (R) speaks to Epoch Times reporter Roman Balmakov at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C., on March 4, 2023. (Oliver Trey/NTD)

https://www.theepochtimes.com/exclusive-bolsonaro-will-return-to-lead-opposition-in-brazil-during-uncertain-times_5100924.html 

Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro shared his thoughts on leadership, the current political agenda in his country, and the future, in an interview with The Epoch Times at the U.S. Conservative Political Action Conference on March 4.

Discussing plans to return to his native Brazil later this month, Bolsonaro said: “I will once again be the leader of the opposition to the current government.”

When asked whether he fears retaliation from the current administration, Bolsonaro said his country is enduring “uncertain times,” adding he might face action from the judicial branch of the government: “I have not been indicted. There’s nothing against me when it comes to corruption. But, unfortunately, there might be some forceful measure taken against me, which would be completely unfair.”

However, Bolsonaro says many congressmen support him and are against the “communism” and “corruption” of the new administration.

Complaints of government overreach from Brazil’s supreme court have persisted since last year’s presidential election. Residents have reported incidents like canceled social media accounts and threats of arrest for questioning the official results.

Bolsonaro lost a tight election race in 2022 against current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, known locally as “Lula.”

The former president’s supporters fiercely contest the election results, which drove Jan. 8 demonstrations at Brazil’s federal buildings in the capital.

FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in Brasilia
Supporters of Brazil’s former President Jair Bolsonaro demonstrate against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva outside Brazil’s National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil, on Jan. 8, 2023. (Adriano Machado/Reuters)

Though, according to Bolsonaro, Lula’s win represents more than just a victory for the left. It’s an opportunity for regimes in countries like Venezuela and Iran to expand their reach in the Americas.

White House officials sounded the alarm when two Iranian warships were allowed to dock in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 26 and were given clearance to stay until March 4. The event occurred despite pressure from the United States to turn the ships away.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, Ned Price, said the White House was discussing the situation with its Brazilian partners so Iran can’t “acquire a foothold” in the Americas and “is not able to take advantage of others in our hemisphere.”

But Iranian warships showing up on Brazilian shores didn’t surprise Bolsonaro. He always expected Lula’s government to become “close” to countries with entrenched authoritarian regimes.

Lula began reestablishing ties with Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro before he was even sworn into office. In December 2022, Lula announced Brazil would once again have diplomatic ties with Caracas, which Bolsonaro suspended in 2020.

During his former turn at the helm as president, Lula also maintained a close relationship with Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega.

Regarding the arrival of Iran’s navy, Bolsonaro said: “If I were president, these warships would not be there.”

He also maintains that if Brazil doesn’t change its political course by 2026, it will end up in the same downward spiral as Venezuela.

Bolsonaro thinks there’s a chance Lula may not see the end of his term as inflation continues to impact Brazilians and the nation teeters at the edge of a recession. Bolsonaro says people will eventually turn against Lula, noting “there is great unemployment and a lack of investments by private companies.”

Biden and Lula
President Joe Biden and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (L) walk together along the Rose Garden colonnade at the White House on Feb. 10, 2023. (Andrew Caballero/AFP via Getty Images)

Brazil’s unemployment rate surpassed 11 percent between March and December last year. A recent economic report said the South American giant is heading for a slowdown in 2023, with a 2 percent drop in GDP growth due to elevated interest rates and a cooling export market.

Bolsonaro believes this will eventually snowball into overwhelming public anger at Lula’s government. He points to the current economic struggles of other socialist regimes in Latin America like Argentina, Chile, and Peru, as proof.

Despite the cautionary examples, socialist ideals have still gained traction in the younger crowds in places like Canada and the United States. Bolsonaro says it can be “very difficult” to change young minds because years of schooling paint pictures of socialism that don’t match reality.

“Unfortunately, the majority of youth cannot really see what is really obvious,” he said.

But one man alone can’t save Brazil from its current economic and political woes, according to Bolsonaro. He also thinks it’s time to move past the election loss and focus on the future: “Right now, we must think forward. We must bring the people to our side.”