Monday, February 19, 2024

Presidents Day 2024 / God Bless America!

Saudi Arabia Adjusts Oil Capacity Expansion in Response to Energy Transition 

Saudi Arabia has revised its oil capacity expansion plans, attributing the change to the ongoing global energy transition.

On January 30, the Saudi government directed the state-owned oil company, Aramco, to maintain its maximum sustained production capacity at 12 million barrels per day (bpd), scaling back from a previously set target of 13 million bpd to be achieved by 2027.

This announcement was made by the Saudi Energy Minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, during the IPTC petroleum technology conference in Dharan.

The decision to adjust the expansion plan aligns with Saudi Arabia’s broader environmental commitments, including its goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2060, with Aramco aiming for net zero emissions from its operations by 2050.

Prince Abdulaziz emphasized the kingdom’s substantial spare oil capacity, highlighting its readiness to mitigate potential disruptions in global oil supplies due to conflicts or natural disasters.

Aramco’s CEO, Amin Nasser, reaffirmed the company’s capability to adjust production levels as needed, noting a current spare capacity of approximately 3 million bpd.

This flexibility is part of Saudi Arabia’s strategy to adapt to market demands and maintain its position as the world’s largest holder of spare oil capacity, under the current OPEC+ agreement which has Saudi oil production approximately 3 million bpd below its maximum sustainable capacity.

The Energy Minister also expressed criticism of the International Energy Agency’s decision to release oil from emergency reserves following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, questioning the lack of appreciation for countries that maintain emergency oil capacities.

Despite adjustments in production targets and the anticipated energy transition, Nasser predicts an increase in oil demand, projecting a rise to 104 million bpd in the current year and further to 105 million bpd by 2025.

This forecast suggests a continued reliance on oil in the near term, despite the global shift towards renewable energy sources.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Some Service Members Say They Were ‘Coerced’ Into Taking COVID-19 Vaccine: Survey

Some Service Members Say They Were ‘Coerced’ Into Taking COVID-19 Vaccine: Survey 

In an independent survey conducted by the author last fall, 229 individuals currently serving in the U.S. military voluntarily participated by responding to a multitude of questions. Results helped to reveal the difficulties faced by some members of the U.S. Armed Forces who were confronted by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s August 2021 military vaccine mandate.

Part of the anonymous questionnaire addressed the COVID-19 vaccine status of the participating service member, various details about the now-rescinded military vaccine mandate, as well as the deliberate coercion faced by many who opposed it.

All branches of the military as well as enlisted and officer ranks responded to the survey. Survey participants served in the military for an average of about 16 years.

Out of the 229 participants, 169 were active duty service members. Eighty-seven percent, or 199, were unvaccinated against COVID-19. Of the 30 who were vaccinated, only two said they had wanted to do it.

Twenty out of 30 individuals who admitted taking the vaccine claim they were injured by the vaccine. Ninety-three percent of the participants said they know someone they believe has been injured by the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Epoch Times spoke to two of the survey’s participants who used a pseudonym out of concern about reprisals. Both emphasized that their views don’t reflect those of the Department of Defense, or the Department of the Army and Department of the Air Force, respectively.


Officer Alvin Johnson (a pseudonym) is a 20-year combat veteran of the Army with multiple deployments around the world. He opposed the COVID-19 vaccine that was once-mandated by the Department of Defense (DOD) in August 2021.

“I’m not a lab rat and neither are the people I work with,” he told The Epoch Times.

Officer Johnson was one of the 227 participants who believe the COVID-19 vaccine should not have been mandated. Approximately 95 percent said the mandate was unlawful.

“While holding out [from taking the vaccine], I was forced to wear a mask and was often singled out for being unvaccinated,” Officer Johnson said. Bringing these concerns to his command, “I was simply told: ‘I don’t make the rules.’” Threats that would negatively impact his personal life and career soon followed.

Without the vaccine, Officer Johnson would have been prohibited from coming home to see my family. At the time, his wife was at risk of a serious medical concern that could require his presence at a moment’s notice. “You can see I had no choice but to take the shot,” he said. “At the same time I would be prevented from being my wife, my orders to deploy were also being threatened.”

Like Officer Johnson, over 72 percent of survey participants also said they were “coerced” into receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and/or boosters. Nearly 95 percent of those who objected to the vaccine said they faced reprisals, including verbal threats of punitive legal action, loss of promotion, and exclusion from career enhancing schools.

Officer Johnson reluctantly took the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine at a local pharmacy chain store.

After the August 2021 mandate was rescinded in January 2023, and having received the vaccine, Officer Johnson still faced roadblocks to his career advancement. “With a General Officer Memorandum of Reprimand (GOMOR) in my record for initially refusing the vaccine, I was not promoted to a higher rank,” he said.

“Even though I have since taken the vaccine, I’m losing month income and hundreds of thousands of dollars over my lifetime in retirement pay for not being able to promote.” Almost half of the participants in the survey said they were also “financially harmed by non-compliance with the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.”

Officer Johnson said he knows others in a similar predicament, including some who were forced to retire or separate from the Army long before finishing their career. Nearly 90 percent of the survey’s participants said they know someone who was separated or forced to leave military service because of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

“Like many of them, I’ve been shot at and deployed [to a combat zone] by an organization that turned on me, and that has caused quite a bit of emotional and psychological trauma,” he said. “Having spent my adult life in service to my country, my experience has been absolutely destructive to my morale and physical well-being.”

Calls For Accountability

Master Sergeant Asher Grove (a pseudonym) has served in the Air Force for nearly 20 years. While investigating the COVID-19 vaccine, he said adverse risks that might have been associated with the drug were never made available to service members.

According to the survey, only three percent were informed by qualified medical personnel of known risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccine, including damage to reproductive health for females and increased risk of heart disease.

With past immunizations, he was given “a fact sheet,” he said. With a pre-existing health concern and guidance from God, he was adamantly opposed to the COVID-19 vaccine.

With the denial of both religious accommodation and medical exemption requests, Master Sgt. Grove said he was “slapped with a letter of reprimand.” According to him, “this was the only real coercion I faced, that I’d get continue to get in trouble for taking objection to the vaccine.”

Ultimately, it was an appeals court in Ohio that upheld an injunction to protect members of the Air Force from being punished for refusing the vaccine that prevented him from having any further negative impact to his career. Sadly, he said, many other service members were forced to retire or separate prior to the injunction.

“DOD leaders should be held accountable in the manner [the mandate] was enforced,” he said. All 229 participants of the survey agreed to this proposition.

“Trust in leadership suffered greatly when people were forced to do something they should have never been forced to do,” he said.

“Having witnessed so many people oppose the vaccine for religious concern and more, I was able to witness the greatest battle I’ve seen in my life,” Master Sgt. Grove said. “It wasn’t a battle fought on a foreign field, but it was a battle against good and evil in our own country.”

For him, the rescission of the vaccine mandate in January 2023 was “a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done so this never happens again.”

The Department of Defense, Department of the Army, and Department of the Air Force didn’t respond by press time to requests by The Epoch Times for comment

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Verdict Delayed in Trump Civil Fraud Trial as Judge Engoron Weighs Lifetime Business Ban

Verdict Delayed in Trump Civil Fraud Trial as Judge Engoron Weighs Lifetime Business Ban 

The verdict in former President Donald Trump’s civil fraud trial in Manhattan that could see him banned for life from doing business in New York has been delayed until mid-February, according to a court spokesperson.

Justice Arthur Engoron said during the trial’s closing arguments on Jan. 11 that he hoped to make his final decision by Jan. 31 in a much-anticipated verdict that could, in addition to hitting the former president with a lifetime business ban, see him fined $370 million.

After the tentative Jan. 31 deadline came and went without a verdict, the spokesperson for the New York State Office of Court Administration, Alfred Baker, said that the judge is now expected to deliver his decision in early to mid-February.

Mr. Robert also questioned the monitor’s competency, alleging “numerous factual inaccuracies” in her report, which he characterized as “misleading and disingenuous.”

He argued that the errors cited by the monitor have been blown out of proportion and that every item she identified had been fully resolved.

“The Monitor now twists immaterial accounting items into a narrative favoring her continued appointment, and thereby the continued receipt of millions of dollars in excessive fees,” Mr. Robert argued.

Ms. Jones did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Trump attorney’s claims.

The Trial

The trial centers on allegations that the former president and his company, The Trump Organization, defrauded banks, insurers, and others by allegedly overvaluing his assets and exaggerating his net worth in documents used in deals and to secure loans.

The case was brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, who initially wanted to fine the former president $250 million but later increased this to $370 million.

Justice Engoron has already issued a summary judgment, finding President Trump and his company liable for fraud. The trial was to decide the remaining claims of conspiracy, insurance fraud, and falsifying business records.

Ms. James, a Democrat, has requested a broad range of penalties against President Trump, including a $370 million disgorgement and a permanent ban on his doing business in New York state and with any New York-based financial institution.

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks to the press outside the New York State Supreme Court after closing arguments in the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization in New York on Jan. 11, 2024. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)
New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks to the press outside the New York State Supreme Court after closing arguments in the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization in New York on Jan. 11, 2024. (Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

Recently, Ms. James’s office provided Justice Engoron with a “notice of supplemental authority,” basically a newfound legal precedent, to bolster her call for a Trump business ban.

Colleen Faherty, Ms. James’s assistant, provided Justice Engoron with the notice to draw his attention to a verdict in an unrelated case that banned the defendant from participation in the pharmaceutical industry for life. This is the same type of ban that Ms. James is asking Justice Engoron to impose on President Trump.

While it’s unclear how the judge will weigh the notice, even before the start of the trial he ordered the immediate cancellation of President Trump’s business certificates and the dissolution of his LLCs.

However, that order was paused by an appeals court for at least the duration of the trial after the defense argued it would suddenly cast hundreds of Trump Organization employees’ livelihoods into disarray.

The former president has denied any wrongdoing and has claimed that the case is a politically motivated plot to undermine his 2024 White House run. He is the front-runner by far for the Republican presidential nomination.

President Trump has also said that if he loses the case, it will have a deeply chilling effect on businesses in New York City and could even prompt others to pack up and leave.
*This article has been updated to reflect receipt of a statement from the spokesperson for the New York State Office of Court Administration.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

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Traders divert Russian oil products around Africa to avoid Red Sea -sources, LSEG

The Galaxy Leader cargo ship is escorted by Houthi boats in the Red Sea 

MOSCOW, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Traders were diverting cargoes with Russian oil products around Africa to avoid the Red Sea due to a heightened risk of attacks by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group, data from market sources and LSEG showed.
Last week, the fuel tanker Marlin Luanda, carrying Russian naphtha, was attacked in the Red Sea by Houthi rebels.
Since the full EU embargo on Russian oil products took effect in February 2023, traders have rerouted fuel oil, vacuum gasoil (VGO) and naphtha cargoes from Russian ports to Asia and the Middle East via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal as the shortest sea route.
According to LSEG shipping data, fuel oil and VGO loaded on two tankers Nissos Christiana and Alkinoos at the Russian Baltic ports, had turned around in the Mediterranean Sea and were skirting the coast of Africa on their way to India and Singapore.
Another vessel, Minerva Zoe - loaded with Russian fuel oil - was heading to Singapore but was rerouted and was now waiting near the Senegal port of Dakar.
Shipping companies sailing around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid Houthi attacks in the Red Sea face tough choices over where to refuel and restock, as well as rough conditions at sea, companies and analysts say.
A Malaysia-bound tanker from the Russian Black Sea port of Taman with vacuum gasoil is heading towards Gibraltar, shipping data showed.
Another cargo vessel, Sea Senor, loaded with naphtha at the Baltic port of Ust-Luga has already passed the Cape of Good Hope on its way to Singapore, according to the LSEG data.
Most oil product tankers loaded in Russia head to Asia through the Suez Canal. Some of them add new signage - "No link with Israel" or "No contact Isr" - to deter Houthi attacks, in addition to the usual "Armed guard on board" signs, LSEG data shows.
The U.S. and Britain have launched strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen and reinstated the militia in a list of terrorist groups in a bid to curtail future attacks.
The Houthis, who control the most populous parts of Yemen, say their attacks on ships in and around the Red Sea are in solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza war.

Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Bernadette Baum

Vale cranks up iron mining just as demand concerns resurface 

World No. 2 iron ore supplier Vale SA delivered a bigger-than-expected increase in production last quarter in a result that may undermine prices of the key steelmaking ingredient.

The Brazilian mining giant is accelerating production, posting its best December in five years, after investing in its prized Amazonian operations and improving performance at its oldest mines in the country’s southeast. Production was up from both a year ago and the previous three months, with full-year output ahead of guidance.

The bumper haul may generate some headwinds for the iron ore market, which has been fairly resilient to a slowdown in China, the biggest buyer. Prices have rallied by more than a third since mid-August, leading some analysts to forecast a decline in 2024. Still, top producer Rio Tinto Group sees increased stimulus fueling a gradual recovery in China.

Vale produced 89.4 million metric tons last quarter, easily beating the 83 million-ton average estimate among analysts tracked by Bloomberg. In a statement Monday, the Rio de Janeiro-based firm reiterated its 2024 guidance.

While production was strong, shipments came in slightly below estimates and premiums for high-grade products shrank. Vale shares fell as much as 2.6% in New York Tuesday as renewed concerns over the real estate crisis in China pushed down iron ore prices.

Vale is also a major nickel producer and a significant supplier of copper. It saw nickel output slip 5.3% from a year ago, while copper production jumped about 50%. A slump in nickel prices is stress-testing producers worldwide, raising the prospect of investment delays and production curtailments, with miners including BHP Group and First Quantum Minerals Ltd. halting some operations.

In an e-mailed response, Vale said it continues to believe in long-term nickel fundamentals driven by rising energy transition demand and moving ahead with projects. Its realized price last quarter was 7% higher than futures prices.

The sharp drop in nickel prices may prompt some closing of high-cost shafts, with the business unit close to breakeven in the fourth quarter and in the red at current prices, BI senior analyst Grant Sporre wrote in a research note.

Vale, which is set to report earnings on Feb. 22, is enduring leadership tensions amid pressure from Brazil’s government to make changes as the board prepares to decide whether to retain Eduardo Bartolomeo as chief executive officer or seek a replacement.

(By Mariana Durao)

Monday, January 29, 2024

Chinese Communist Party ‘greatest existential threat’ to the US: Report

 Chinese Communist Party ‘greatest existential threat’ to the US: Report 

Chinese Communist Party leader Xi Jinping has amassed many enemies within China due to his continued efforts to consolidate personal power, according to a new report.

The success of Xi’s “dictatorial” concentration of authority has likewise relied on his ability to remove his opposition from power, according to the China Transparency Report, published by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

“There is no disputing the fact that [Xi] is a master in factional intrigue, building up cliques and elbowing aside, if not taking out, enemies from other factions,” the report says

To prevent that war from turning hot, the report said, legislators will need to acknowledge how bad things have become and act accordingly.

“American citizens and policymakers need to acknowledge reality: The United States and China are in a New Cold War,” the report said.

“The American people take the threat from China deadly seriously; it’s time for our leadership to do the same.”

To that end, the report said that the CCP is “the greatest existential threat” to the United States.

Heritage Foundation president Kevin Roberts underscored that threat, but said that it was not too late for U.S. leadership to aggressively respond and fix the situation.

“In some circles, it’s not politically correct to speak so plainly about the Chinese Communist Party being an adversary,” Mr. Roberts said.

“The bad news is we have a lot to fix. The good news is this is America and we’re going to fix it.

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Arizona GOP Selects New Chair After Attempted Kari Lake Bribery Scandal

 Arizona GOP Selects New Chair After Attempted Kari Lake Bribery Scandal 

The Arizona Republican Party selected a new Trump-endorsed chair on Jan. 27 after the former party leader resigned following a bribery controversy.

“We proudly present our new Chairwoman [Gina Swoboda], alongside the dynamic new AZGOP Board!” the party said in a Jan. 28 post on social media platform X. “With a laser focus on the 2024 elections, our mission is clear: to win additional seats in the state legislature, reclaim our Senate and Congressional seats, take control of school boards, and win back the White House. We are ready for victory!”

Ms. Swoboda was elected at the annual GOP meeting held at Dream City Church in north Phoenix on Jan. 27, which was attended by more than 1,000 people. Previously, only elections for the party’s lower-level positions were scheduled for the day.

However, the sudden resignation of former state GOP chair Jeff DeWit due to bribery allegations triggered an urgent election to select a successor. Mr. DeWit was only one year into his scheduled two-year term. His departure triggered a rush of candidates who aimed to secure the position.

Three candidates were initially nominated: Ms. Swoboda, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Jim O'Connor, and Mesa resident Verl Farnsworth, who ran for the office of president of the United States in 2012.

According to Republican state Sen. Wendy Rogers, Ms. Swoboda secured 67 percent of the votes.
In a Jan. 28 X post, Ms. Swoboda voiced her support for former President Donald Trump, who backed her in the race.

“Arizona is the key to the presidency,“ she wrote. ”I was proud to have the support of President Trump in this victory to lead the AZGOP into the most important election of our lifetime. Now it’s time to turn out every last vote for the 47th President, DONALD J TRUMP!”

On Jan. 27, President Trump said in a Truth Social post that Ms. Swoboda had his “complete and total endorsement to be chairwoman of the Republican Party of Arizona.”

“She is an outstanding person with incredible passion for our Party,” he wrote.

Kari Lake, a candidate for the U.S. Senate who allegedly was offered bribes by Mr. DeWit, called Ms. Swoboda’s win a “massive victory.”

“Gina is a National Leader in election law. She is a grassroots hero and is loved by Republicans of ALL stripes. Gina is battle-tested and a woman of great integrity—she understands that the White House and Senate Majority—and frankly, the survival of our Republic—runs right through State 48,” Ms. Lake wrote in a Jan. 28 X post.

“President Trump and I were VERY proud to endorse Gina. We look forward to restoring Arizona’s faith in elections and winning BIG in 2024.”

Ms. Swoboda works as a senior adviser on elections for the Arizona Senate. She is the executive director of the Voter Reference Foundation, which describes itself as “dedicated to ensuring transparent, accurate, and fair elections” in the country.

The Controversy

The bribery scandal that led to Mr. DeWit’s resignation came to light after The Daily Mail published a recording from March 2023 featuring a conversation between him and Ms. Lake.

In the recording, Mr. DeWit says that “very powerful people” want to keep Ms. Lake out of the Senate race for two years.

“They’re willing to put their money where their mouth is in a big way. So this conversation never happened,” he said.

“This is crazy though. They should want me. I’m a great candidate. People love me. These people are corrupt,” Ms. Lake responded. “This is about defeating Trump, and I think that’s a bad, bad thing for our country ... This is about the final death blow to Trump, and I don’t think that’s good for our country.”

Mr. DeWit agreed: “It’s not ... but at the same time I’m not even sure Trump can win again.”

“Just say, is there a number at which—” Mr. DeWit says before being cut off by Ms. Lake.

“I can be bought? That’s what it’s about,” she says.

Mr. DeWit suggests that he might be killed if the powerful figures behind him offering the bribe were to be exposed.

“Don’t tell anybody we had this conversation,” he warns Ms. Lake.

After the recording was published, Ms. Lake said in an interview with NBC that Mr. DeWit has “got to resign.”

On the same day, Mr. Dewit said he resigned from the post of Arizona GOP chair. In a statement, he accused Ms. Lake’s team of secretly recording their controversial conversation and leaking it to the media.

“I said things I regret, but I realize when hearing Lake’s recording that I was set up,” he said. “I believe she orchestrated this entire situation to have control over the state party.”

During the Jan. 27 election, when Ms. Lake took to the stage to nominate Ms. Swoboda, some audience members booed in an apparent rebuff to her involvement in the bribing scandal.

In an interview with AZCentral, Arizona Speaker of the House Ben Toma said that the recent turmoil was “unfortunate” for the party.

“I hope we can find a way to get united as a party very soon because I think that matters a lot,“ he said. ”It'll make a big difference by the time we get to the general election.”

J.D. Watson, a state committee member from Scottsdale, said he was concerned about the corruption exposed by the scandal.

“I believe that [DeWit] did something wrong. ... He needs to own up to it and stop being the victim.”

Mr. Watson also said he appreciated that Ms. Lake turned down the bribe and potentially leaked her conversation with Mr. DeWit.

“We’re talking six figures, possibly, and she could not be bought.”

Biden Administration Forces American Museum of Natural History to Shut Down Native American Exhibits 

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City is closing two major exhibits of Native American artifacts in response to new federal regulations released by the White House that require consent from tribes in order to display cultural items.

The New York Times on Friday first reported the dramatic decision by the 154-year-old museum , among the most vaunted in the U.S. for its encyclopedic collection of some 35 million artifacts.

Approximately 10,000 square feet of exhibition space are being indefinitely made off-limits to visitors, including the Hall of the Great Plains , which includes jewelry, tools, weapons, and other sacred items from the Cree, Cheyenne, Assiniboine, and Crow tribes.

"The halls we are closing are artifacts of an era when museums such as ours did not respect the values, perspectives and indeed shared humanity of Indigenous peoples," Sean Decatur, the museum 's president, wrote in a letter to staff on Friday obtained by The Messenger.

"Actions that may feel sudden to some may seem long overdue to others."

The museum is also closing the Eastern Woodlands exhibit , which features items from the Iroquois, Mohegans, Ojibwas, and Crees.

Several of the Native cultural items that have been on display at the museum for years were, in many cases, donated by people who'd stolen them after digging up sacred burial grounds.

Other display cases throughout the museum boasting Native American cultural items will be covered.

The scramble over the exhibits is not unique to the Manhattan institution. Other museums in Chicago, Cleveland, and Cambridge, Mass., have also been working to remove items from display or cover exhibitions completely, in order to comply with the new federal rules that went into effect this month.

Those rules , part of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act that was passed more than 30 years ago, are an attempt by the Biden administration to speed up the return of tribal remains and other items such as burial belongings and sacred objects.

The effect of the closures in New York will have an immediate effect on the five million or so people who visit every year.

Student field trips will be rerouted now that they won't have access to certain galleries, and certain well-known large items in the museum's collection — such as the birch canoe in the Hall of the Eastern Woodlands — will no longer be accessible, at least for some undetermined period.

Energy Transition: Officials: China's New Energy Storage Sector Developing Rapidly, Installed Capacity Exceeds 30 Million Kilowatts 

China’s renewable energy storage sector is developing rapidly, with installed capacity in operation exceeding 30 million kilowatts of power by the end of 2023. That’s the key message from the National Energy Administration in Beijing on Thursday. Officials said the newly added installed capacity topped 22 million kilowatts in 2023, up more than 260 percent compared to the end of 2022.

The government says the addition of new energy storage installed capacity has promoted investments worth more than 100 billion yuan, or 14 billion U.S. dollars, since the 14th Five-Year Plan. Officials also introduced the International Day of Clean Energy, which falls on January 26. It was declared by the UN General Assembly to raise awareness and mobilize action for a just and inclusive transition to clean energy for the benefit of people and the planet.

PAN HUIMIN Deputy Director General, Dept. of International Cooperation National Energy Administration “According to the latest data, the world’s newly installed renewable energy capacity hit 510 million kilowatts in 2023 and China has contributed more than 50 percent. Overseas clean energy investments by Chinese firms are spread across major countries and regions, covering major fields such as wind power, photovoltaic power generation, and hydropower.”

Adnoc Adds $8 Billion to Net Zero Budget 

State-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) will commit an additional $8 billion to its unfolding decarbonisation projects, technologies and lower-carbon solutions, with the total planned long-term spending target upped to $23 billion.

The company said in a statement that the decision has been approved at a recent meeting of the Adnoc board of directors, led by chairman Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Al Nahyan noted the progress of the company in tripling its renewable energy capacity through its shareholding in renewable energy player Masdar and delivering towards Adnoc’s interim targets of reducing its greenhouse gas intensity by 25% and achieving near-zero methane emissions by 2030, the statement said.

An Adnoc spokesperson told Upstream: “The increased allocation will include investments to grow our domestic and international carbon management platforms.”

The company has a target to reach net zero emisions by 2045, according to the most recent statement.

On short-term targets, the company said that it is working to achieve a 25% reduction in carbon intensity by 2030, and is pursuing a $3.8 billion decarbonization project to employ “clean energy” at its offshore operations by connecting them to the onshore electricity grid.

Upon completion, this project can reduce the company’s offshore carbon footprint by up to 50%, Adnoc said.

The company has also reiterated its ambition to double its carbon capture and storage capacity target to 10 million tonnes per annum by 2030, which is the equivalent of removing over 2 million gasoline-powered cars from the road.

Through its 24% shareholding in Masdar, Adnoc is supporting Masdar’s target to reach 100 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2030, the company said.

Adnoc managing director and group chief executive Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber said: “As a leading global energy provider, we are committed to enabling a lower-carbon future and a just, orderly and equitable energy transition,” echoing the global climate goals approved at COP28 climate talks in Dubai in December.

Friday, January 26, 2024


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Red Sea diversions add nearly $1 million per voyage to shipping costs while doubling transit time 

Average monthly Suez transits down by a third as diversions around South Africa increase

LONDON, 25 January 2023: The incremental costs of diverting a tanker from Asia to NW Europe via the Cape of Good Hope is accounting for an extra $932,905 USD per voyage while increasing transit time from 16 days to 32 days according to a report by LSEG Shipping Research.

These additional costs mostly accounts for extra fuel and increases costs for an Aframax tanker by 110%, while for a large container vessel it increases by 35% for a voyage between Asia to NW Europe.

Transits through Suez have been hugely affected following the Red Sea attacks. Average monthly transits through the Suez from June to November 2023 was seen at 1914. This dropped to 1672 in December, a 12.6% drop in transits and January month-to-date transits are assessed at 947 as of 22nd Jan, which translates to a 32.6% decline.

Daily container vessel traffic within the Red Sea have dropped by almost 60% since mid-December, with the larger container ships being the most responsive to avoid the region as their transits have declined by over 80%.

For those that elect to transit via the Red Sea, ships are also using AIS to broadcast deterrence messages in addition to standard security protocols.

Fabrice Maille, Global Head of Shipping at LSEG, comments: “As we saw with the grounding of the Ever Given in 2021, the importance of the Suez Canal and the Red Sea to global trade cannot be understated.

“The impact of this conflict is therefore considerable leading to very difficult decisions to be made regarding financial costs and security risks. 

“Our customers are bringing together a vast array of data points from insurance premiums, average speed, and even AIS messages aimed at threats, in real-time, to mitigate these risks effectively. Their feedback is also helping us develop tools and solutions to help respond to future crises.”

Oil demand in Asia, Africa boosted by cheap Russian crude

A crude oil tanker and a bulk carrier sail in Nakhodka Bay 

LITTLETON, Colorado, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Asia and Africa have replaced Europe as the top destinations for Russian crude oil exports since Moscow was slapped with European sanctions on sales of energy products following its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Prior to the sanctions in mid-2022, Europe accounted for more than 60% of Russia's oil exports and provided Moscow with a lucrative income stream for oil that was supplied cheaply to major European consumption hubs by pipeline.
To make up for the lost European volumes, Russian exporters were forced to slash oil prices since 2022 to grow business in far-flung markets, and divert record volumes of crude previously transported by pipeline onto tanker vessels.
Russia exports of oil + condensate to Europe vs Asia & Africa
Russia exports of oil + condensate to Europe vs Asia & Africa
The main Russian crude oil grade, Urals, has traded at a discount of more than $20 a barrel to Dated Brent crude - Europe's main cash oil benchmark - since mid-2022, versus an average discount of less than $2 a barrel in 2021, LSEG data shows.
That aggressive discounting in turn resulted in steep jumps in Russian oil purchases by Asia and Africa, and record high overall crude imports by both continents in 2023, ship tracking data from Kpler shows.
Continued aggressive oil pricing by Russia is likely to spur additional increases in oil buying across both Asia and Africa in coming years, despite efforts everywhere to cut reliance on fossil fuels in energy systems.


Total Russian seaborne shipments of crude oil and condensate hit new highs of 2.75 billion barrels in 2023, ship-tracking data from Kpler shows, up 4.4% from 2022, and came despite a drop of nearly 46% in shipments to Europe.
Russia oil + condensate exports by region
Russia oil + condensate exports by region
Offsetting the collapse in sales into Europe was a jump of 56% in shipments to Asia, which is now the top overall market for Russian oil, and an increase of 144% in Russian oil sales to Africa.
For both Asia and Africa, the annual increase in oil purchases from Russia in 2023 was the largest ever, helping to push total oil and condensate imports to record highs in both regions.
The higher shipments to Asia and Africa also increased the share of Russia's non-European exports to a record 73% from less than 40% in 2019, ensuring that Moscow has started 2024 far less dependent on Western oil markets than ever before.


The chief driver of Russia's penetration into Asian and African oil import markets was the steep price discounts offered on crude since Europe's sanctions kicked in.
Key Russian crude oil grades have traded at steep discounts to Brent prices since 2022
Key Russian crude oil grades have traded at steep discounts to Brent prices since 2022
In addition to discounting Urals crude shipped out of northern Russia, exporters also cut the price of Sokol oil, shipped mainly out of the Russian far east, to record discounts of more than $13 a barrel against dated Brent crude cash prices.
Such steep price cuts compared to Europe's main oil benchmark provoked strong buying interest from several cost-conscious buyers, notably in China and India, which together accounted for 48% of all Russian oil flows in 2023, Kpler data shows.
Russia boosted its export market share of both crude oil & fuels into Asia + Africa in 2023
Russia boosted its export market share of both crude oil & fuels into Asia + Africa in 2023
That combined share of Russian oil purchases by China and India compares to about 30% in 2022 and less than 15% in 2021.
However, while in volume terms China and India were Russia's main customers in 2023, several nations across Africa posted far steeper annual growth in Russian oil imports.


Ghana, Libya, Tunisia and Togo all posted more than 100% annual growth in Russian oil imports in 2023, while Morocco, Senegal and even Nigeria - an oil producer and exporter - also showed steep jumps in Russian oil imports last year.
Some of the import volumes shattered previous records, with flows into Ghana alone topping 16 million barrels in 2023, against 600,000 barrels a year on average from 2017 through 2022, according to Kpler.
With Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia bringing in an additional 109 million barrels last year, it is clear that Africa as a whole has quickly emerged as a key market for Russian oil sellers.
And thanks to strong economic momentum and favourable demographic trends across several African nations, the continent is expected to remain a key driver of global energy demand growth over the coming decades.
Between 2010 and 2022, Africa's oil consumption expanded by 21%, according to the Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy.
Asia + Africa account for 78% of global oil demand growth since 2010
Asia + Africa account for 78% of global oil demand growth since 2010
That growth lags the 28% expansion recorded by Asia-Pacific over the same period, but is expected to accelerate over the coming decades as the continent's massive population and growing businesses dial up consumption of all types of energy.
Much of Africa's additional energy consumption needs may be met by new and planned increases in renewable energy supplies, especially in households and offices linked to electric grids.
But strong growth in the region's car numbers, along with rapid expansion of fuel station networks, looks set to bring steady increases in overall oil and fuel demand and so ensure a reliable and rising market for oil exporters such as Russia.
<The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a columnist for Reuters.>

Reporting by Gavin Maguire; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Chinese Music Student Convicted of Stalking, Threatening Pro-Democracy Activist in Boston

 Chinese Music Student Convicted of Stalking, Threatening Pro-Democracy Activist in Boston 

A federal jury has convicted a Chinese student at Boston’s Berklee College of Music for stalking and threatening a fellow student who posted flyers in support of democracy in China.

Wu Xiaolei, 25, a Chinese citizen and Berklee College of Music student, was indicted last January on counts of cyberstalking and interstate transmissions of threatening communication. On Jan. 25, he was found guilty on both counts.

Judge Denise J. Casper scheduled the sentencing hearing for April 24.

The student activist who was the subject of Mr. Wu’s harassment campaign was referred to only as Zooey in court, for fear of reprisal. She is also from China and has permanent resident status in the United States.

Last April, Zooey’s friends started a petition calling on Berklee to issue a public statement to condemn the harassment and improve its process for responding to similar incidents. To date, the petition has gathered more than 1,000 signatures.

The college, which has about 6,000 students, hasn’t issued any public statements regarding Wu Xiaolei’s case yet and hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.

Wu Xiaolei (R) leaves the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts with his attorneys in Boston on Jan. 25, 2024. (Learner Liu/The Epoch Times)
Wu Xiaolei (R) leaves the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts with his attorneys in Boston on Jan. 25, 2024. (Learner Liu/The Epoch Times)

Cyberstalking and Threatening

Mr. Wu’s harassment campaign started after he saw a piece of paper posted on a window near the Boston campus that read, “Stand with Chinese People,” “We Want Freedom,” and “We Want Democracy,” on Oct. 22, 2022, according to the charging documents.

Consequently, he threatened Zooey on social media app WeChat and through Instagram and email.

“I already called the tipoff line in the country; the public security agency will go greet your family,” he said in a WeChat group with more than 300 members, according to the complaint. “Post more, I will chop your [expletive] hands off,” he added.

Prosecutors said Mr. Wu posted her email and home addresses online.

At a hearing on Jan. 23, the victim said she thought Mr. Wu made her information public to encourage others to beat her up.

“I remain terrified until this day,” she said.

With Mr. Wu’s conviction, the Department of Justice reiterated its commitment to “ensuring all U.S. residents are able to freely exercise their fundamental rights,” according to Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s national security division.

“No one in this country should ever be subjected to threats of violence or a cyberstalking harassment campaign for expressing their political views,” Joshua S. Levy, acting U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said in a press release.

“Mr. Wu now stands as a convicted felon for his illegal efforts to suppress speech by a fellow Berklee School of Music student who was critical of the government of China. This type of conduct will never be tolerated.”

Special Agent in Charge Jodi Cohen, of the FBI’s Boston division, echoed Mr. Levy’s comments: “What Xiaolei Wu did in attempting to silence and intimidate an activist who expressed dissension with the ruling Communist Party of China is not only criminal, but completely against our country’s democratic values.”

“Today’s conviction upholds one of our most fundamental rights—freedom of speech—and the FBI will ensure that anyone who tries to infringe on this right using threats or harassment will face the same fate as Mr. Wu,” Ms. Cohen said.

Transnational Repression

Mr. Wu’s conviction comes amid growing concerns about the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) influence operations in the United States and its attempts to silence Chinese dissidents.
Over the past year, the Department of Justice has charged more than a dozen Chinese intelligence agents, officials, or their American accomplices over a range of campaigns allegedly aimed at harassing and spying on Chinese rights advocates in the United States and, in some cases, attempting to coerce their return to China.
The Chinese regime also operates more than 100 “police service stations” around the world, including two in New York City and one in Los Angeles, according to Spanish nonprofit Safeguard Defenders.

Most recently, Zooey’s experience was mentioned at a transnational repression hearing hosted by the House Select Committee on the CCP in December 2023.

Zhang Jinrui, a Georgetown law school student who experienced harassment on campus in late 2022, while distributing flyers against China’s zero-COVID policy, told lawmakers he considered such harassment—“carried out organically by CCP supporters who are emboldened by the CCP”—to be informal transnational repression.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, elaborated on the term “transnational repression”: “The CCP actually seeks to surveil, influence, punish, and coerce people all over the world. They want to silence their critics, control politics, and police thought far beyond China’s borders.”

The FBI has run online and billboard campaigns in cities such as Philadelphia and Las Vegas to encourage victims of transnational repression to report their cases since the agency created a website dedicated to the subject in March 2022.
Learner Liu and Dorothy Li contributed to this article.