Iran Hunting for Dragons in the Caspian Sea

By: Daniel Graeber of Oilprice.com

Iran announced this week that it’s made its first oil discovery in the Caspian Sea in more than 100 years. The semiofficial Fars News Agency reports the find, in ultradeep waters, may hold the equivalent of 7 percent of the country’s known national reserves. Iran has touted its ability to continue with domestic energy production, notably in the South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf, despite international sanctions targeting its energy sector. In the Caspian, however, Iran’s recent claims may put it at odds with its neighbours over their rights in disputed territorial waters.

Iranian officials reported the discovery of an oil field containing as much as 10 billion barrels of crude oil in the waters of the Caspian Sea. The find was reported at a depth of around 1.5 miles, however, and Iran seemingly has little experience with deepwater development. With Iran facing a diminishing consumer base because of European sanctions, the find, if correct, could be used as political capital by Tehran should global oil supplies constrict when international sanctions take hold later this summer. Iran insists the world needs its oil and 10 billion barrels of new oil in its pocket certainly makes for attractive bargaining.

The trouble, apart from the lack of experience in deep waters, is that the field could be situated in Azeri waters. Territorial boundaries in the Caspian Sea were never settled after the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s. More than twenty years on, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are at odds over maritime patrols near a Caspian field. A similar move by the Iranians into the waters to its north could excite regional tensions even further.

The International Energy Agency predicts Iran’s global share of oil production will likely decline during the next few years. Output has already declined by about 20 percent since 2008 to around 3.3 million barrels per day. This suggests Iran might be getting desperate as it looks for ways to prop up an economy financed in large part through natural resources.

Azerbaijan is a central player in European efforts to break Russia’s grip on the regional energy sector. British supermajor BP holds the cards in terms of natural gas with its stake in the Shah Deniz gas complex in the Caspian Sea. BP is already pumping oil from the Azeri-Chiraq-Guneshli complex, assumed to be the largest oil field in the Azeri waters of the Caspian Sea. That suggests Baku is tilting away from its former Soviet overseers and into the arms of Western allies. In 2001, Baku apparently agreed with Iran not to develop resources in the Caspian Sea until demarcation issues were settled. A decade later, however, Iran finds itself backed into a corner and flailing at whatever dragons appear ripe for the slaying.

Source: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/Iran-Looking-for-Dragons-in-Caspian-Sea.html

By: Daniel Graeber of Oilprice.com


A Career Vehicle

By: T F Stern
T F Stern’s Rantings

Every now and again certain vehicles make their way into my life; for lack of a better description they might be called “Career Vehicles” since the cash register never seems to stop ringing due to repeated “issues.” Sometimes it involves an individual who misplaces his/her keys regularly, has a poor memory or too many irons in the fire and can’t keep up; whatever the reason, I get to make second, third or even fourth time service calls to replace the same key. I’ve learned to keep good notes so the second time around is much easier; just click my computer on.

A long time back I ran a lock out call for a fellow and used a fancy tool made just for that model; had his vehicle open in quick order. I jotted down the key cuts and asked if he’d like a spare key to keep in his wallet to prevent his being locked out again; but he was in a hurry and declined. An hour later the same fellow called, sheepishly he explained how he’d locked his only key in the car. This time he was a mile further down the street. I did cut him that spare key and used it to open the car. Life supplies interesting moments, doesn’t it?

This morning had one of those interesting moments. A small car lot that specializes in repossession sales called to have me make a door key to an Impala. I’d made keys for an Impala at that same lot about a month or so earlier and recorded the information; a good thing since the door key was different than the ignition which had been changed out in a rather crude and unprofessional manner.

Going back on the calendar to a week ago; the door key information came up on my computer and worked perfectly; but the ignition switch had been changed out yet again so the information I had wasn’t any good. Their mechanic decided to take out the ignition switch and replace it one more time with one from the local auto parts store. I offered to change the combination of the new ignition switch so that it would match with the door key; basically it would be the way it was when it came from the factory, one key fits all.

I didn’t charge them for the extra labor and handed the ignition switch to the car lot owner and explained how much simpler it would be having to keep up with only one key instead of two. I’d already made keys for that unit a couple of times as it was and a little “good will” with a regular customer never hurts. He would later give that ignition switch to his mechanic to put it all back together since the dashboard looked like a bomb had exploded.

That gets us back to the present when I got called out to make a door key for an Impala. I asked a couple of questions before heading over thinking it must be the same car, it was; but they insisted the key they had didn’t work in the door. I pulled up the information on my computer and cut the door key which worked perfectly; but was not only different than the ignition key which they handed me, it was also different than any “old” ignition keys I’d recorded.

It turns out the mechanic didn’t want to “waste” money on the new ignition switch which had already been purchased and matched to the door. He decided to take that switch back for a refund; but he left the only key for that car in the returned ignition switch.

He then took the beat up ignition switch, the one left over from the bomb detonation, and took it to some locksmith shop down the road where a key was fashioned for it. That key worked; but didn’t spring back from the Start position the way it should and so I looked at the way the key had been cut hoping it might enlighten me as to why.

There’s a “maximum adjacent cut” rule for General Motor keys which states there are not supposed to be more than 2 cut differences on adjacent cuts because the shallow cut’s landing surface will be narrowed to a point where it becomes non-existent. The key which had been fashioned for this ignition appeared to violate that rule in a couple of places. In the middle of the key were a pair of One Cuts (same a No cuts) adjacent to a pair of Four Cuts on either side.

One of two things had happened; either the key machine used to cut the key was way out of adjustment and the Four Cuts were actually Three’s or some interesting things were going on inside that ignition switch. I cut a replacement key with my hand cutter, which cuts a near perfect factory key based on probabilities and it worked; but still did not spring back from the Start position. My guess is the cuts to match the wafers had not been “read” properly and one or more of the cuts were off; but it did work, not great, so the ignition switch would not be removed from the dash board.

I handed the secretary my bill along with an explanation, so she could justify one more locksmith expense to an already long list of repairs for that unit. When the owner signed the check I gave him an explanation of what was going on as well. This is when I found out the mechanic had returned the brand new ignition, the one I had matched to the door at no charge. He just shook his head and accepted the fact that he had a minimum wage mechanic; you really can’t fix stupid.

I added the latest key information to my existing list of keys that have at one time worked on that vehicle. After all, this Impala has become a career vehicle and will eventually find its way onto another work order.

This will also appear as a feature article on Fiercely Independent Locksmiths of America’s website where our motto is, “Refining our God given talents one lock at a time.”


Congress has Obama and Holder on the hook, reeling them in now

By: Jeffrey Klein
Political Buzz Examiner

As President Barack Obama spends most of the week traveling up and down the east coast on endless campaign fund-raising charrettes, the intensity and invasive nature of Congress’ hunt for the truth is escalating against he and Attorney General Eric Holder, who both seem to prefer using “head-in-the-sand” defensive measures–essentially making themselves unavailable and having their underlings pitch “sticks and stones” at their antagonists–expecting it all to go away.

On Thursday, there is no doubt that the Republican-controlled House will pass the Contempt of Congress citation against Eric Holder, and pursue a legal challenge to Barack Obama’s extraordinarily last-minute throw down “Executive Privilege,” while the GOP launches it own throw-down for “Independent Prosecutors” in both cases.

The first escalator between Congress and all the President’s men was the seven-page letter from House Oversight Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to Barack Obama, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News–the first time the network has covered this story since it broke over 18 months ago–as reported on in Kelly O’Donnell’s NBC News article today.

Issa begins by demanding that the president provide a formal, legal justification for the [executive] privilege claim and a list of specific documents covered by it, referencing a 1997 case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in which the court said the privilege should not extend to staff outside the White House in executive branch agencies, as reported in a FOXNews article today.

Rather, the court said, it should apply only to “communications authored or solicited and received by those members of an immediate White House adviser’s staff,” who has the responsibility to formulate advice for the president.

And, he questioned whether Obama was asserting a presidential power “solely for the purpose of further obstructing a congressional investigation,” according to a FOXNews article today.

Rep. Issa also expects an explanation from the president, as to how Eric Holder could tell him that releasing the documents would result in “significant damaging consequences,” just hours after agreeing to provide them to congressional leaders if the investigation were closed.

In addition the letter recounts the history of the case, beginning with the death of border agent Brian Terry, reminding the president that Attorney General Holder provided false information to Congress on Feb. 4, 2011 in a letter–that denied the gun operation permitted illegally bought weapons to cross into Mexico.

As the Justice Department retracted that denial months later, Chairman Issa pointedly states that lying to Congress is a crime itself, and states that the subpoenaed documents pertain to Holder’s denial and internal communications that brought about the subsequent correction.

As a “courtesy” to President Obama, Issa’s letter also provided the quotes from the president’s own public statements, which declared that neither he nor Holder knew about, or authorized, the Operation Fast and Furious.

Then, the Chairman gave Barack Obama the “bottom line,” stating that either the president’s “most senior advisers were involved in managing Operation Fast & Furious … and the fallout,” or the White House is asserting “a presidential power that you know to be unjustified solely for the purpose of further obstructing a congressional investigation.”

Now, Rep. Issa is demanding all the communications between the White House and Justice Department between the date of the false denial letter on February 4, 2011 and June 18, 2012, the day before ‘privilege’ was asserted.

Finally, Issa’s letter rejects criticism that the contempt vote is purely political, and taking serious exception to Holder having referred to the committee’s action as an “election-year tactic;” addressing it by writing that…

…nothing could be further from the truth. This statement not only betrays a total lack of understanding of our investigation, it exemplifies the stonewalling we have consistently faced.

And now, the considered response from White House spokesman Eric Schultz…

The congressman’s analysis has as much merit as his absurd contention that Operation Fast and Furious was created in order to promote gun control. Our position is consistent with executive branch legal precedent for the past three decades … The courts have routinely … affirmed the right of the executive branch to invoke the privilege even when White House documents are not involved.

There is not one learned, clear-thinking person following these stories, for whom ‘connecting the dots’ spells anything but … “Nixon-Watergate.”