|Tuesday 24th of September 2019
les feux a la pluie du vent de diamants jetee par Arthur Rimbaud
—les feux â la pluie du vent de diamants jetée par
le coeur terrestre éternellement carbonisé pour nous.—
(—the fires in the torrent of diamonds thrown up by
the earth’s core perpetually carbonized for us.—)
Here water (pluie), fire (feux, carbonisé), air (vent), and earth (le
coeur terrestre) are fused to register an experience of the eternal.
The Drunken Boat Arthur Rimbaud
As I drifted on a river I could not control,
No longer guided by the bargemen's ropes.
They were captured by howling Indians
Who nailed them naked to coloured posts.
I cared no more for other boats or cargoes:
Flemish wheat or English cottons, all were gone
When my bargemen could no longer haul me
I forgot about everything and drifted on.
Amid the fury of the loudly chopping tides
Last winter, deaf as a child's dark night,
Ah, how I raced! And the drifting Peninsulas
Have never known such conquering delight.
Lighter than cork, I revolved upon waves
That roll the dead forever in the deep,
Ten days, beyond the blinking eyes of land!
Lulled by storms, I drifted seaward from sleep.
Sweeter than apples to a child its pungent edge;
The wash of green water on my shell of pine.
Anchor and rudder went drifting away,
Washed in vomit and stained with blue wine.
Now I drift through the poem of the sea;
This gruel of stars mirrors the milky sky,
Devours green azures; ecstatic flotsam,
Drowned men, pale and thoughtful, sometimes drift by.
Staining the sudden blueness, the slow sounds,
Deliriums that streak the glowing sky,
Stronger than drink and the songs we sing,
It is boiling, bitter, red; it is love!
I know how lightening split the sky apart,
I know the surf and waterspouts and evening's fall,
I've seen the dawn arisen like a flock of doves;
I've seen what men have only dreamed they saw!
I saw the sun with mystic horrors darken
And shimmer through a violet haze;
With a shiver of shutters the waves fell
Like actors in ancient, forgotten plays!
I dreamed of green nights and glittering snow,
Slow kisses rising in the eyes of the sea,
Unknown liquids flowing, the blue and yellow
Stirring of phosphorescent melody!
For months I watched the surge of the sea,
Hysterical herds attacking the reefs;
I never thought the bright feet of Mary
Could muzzle up the heavy-breathing waves!
I have jostled - you know? - unbelievable Floridas
And seen among the flowers the wild eyes
Of panthers in the skins of men! Rainbows
Birdling blind flocks beneath the horizons!
In stinking swamps I have seen great hulks:
A Leviathan that rotted in the reeds!
Water crumbling in the midst of calm
And distances that shatter into foam.
Glaciers, silver suns, waves of pearl, fiery skies,
Giant serpents stranded where lice consume
Them, falling in the depths of dark gulfs
From contorted trees, bathed in black perfume!
I wanted to show children these fishes shining
In the blue wave, the golden fish that sing -
A froth of flowers cradled my wandering
And delicate winds tossed me on their wings.
Sometimes, a martyr of poles and latitudes,
The sea rocked me softly in sighing air,
And brought me dark blooms with yellow stems -
I remained there like a woman on her knees.
Almost an island, I balanced on my boat's sides
Rapacious blond-eyed birds, their dung, their screams.
I drifted on through fragile tangled lines
Drowned men, still staring up, sank down to sleep.
Now I, a little lost boat, in swirling debris,
Tossed by the storm into the birdless upper air
- All the Hansa Merchants and Monitors
Could not fish up my body drunk with the sea;
Free, smoking, touched the violet haze above,
I, who the lurid heavens breached like some rare wall
Which boasts - confection that the poets love -
Lichens of sunlight, and snots of bright blue sky;
Lost branch spinning in a herd of hippocamps,
Covered over with electric animals,
An everlasting July battering
The glittering sky and its fiery funnels;
Shaking at the sound of monsters roaring,
Rutting Behemoths in thick whirlpools,
Eternal weaver of unmoving blues,
I thought of Europe and its ancient walls!
I have seen archipelagos in the stars,
Feverish skies where I was free to roam!
Are these bottomless nights your exiled nests,
Swarm of golden birds, O Strength to come?
True, I've cried too much; I am heartsick at dawn.
The moon is bitter and the sun is sour…
Love burns me; I am swollen and slow.
Let my keel break! Oh, let me sink in the sea!
If I long for a shore in Europe,
It's a small pond, dark, cold, remote,
The odour of evening, and a child full of sorrow
Who stoops to launch a crumpled paper boat.
Washed in your languors, sea, I cannot trace
The wake of tankers foaming through the cold,
Nor assault the pride of pennants and flags,
Nor endure the slave ship's stinking hold.
China: Why Taiwan is unfinished business for Xi Jinping @FinancialTimes
Law & Politics
In 1937, during the Chinese civil war, a communist agitator was
captured by nationalist troops in southern Shanxi Province. Her
father, an administrator working for a local warlord, negotiated her
release after a few days of detention.
The fervent young communist was Qi Yun, whose nephew Xi Jinping is now
the leader of China. The administrator was Mr Xi’s maternal
grandfather Qi Houzhi, a man who fought on the opposite side of the
civil war from Mr Xi’s more famous father, communist veteran Xi
The complicated politics of Mr Xi’s family during the Chinese civil
war of the 1930s and 1940s are especially relevant this year, as their
heir celebrates the 70th anniversary of the Communist party rule over
mainland China, while navigating a messy challenge to its authority.
On October 1, an array of tanks, missiles and soldiers will roll
through Beijing to celebrate the communist victory in the Chinese
civil war, one of the great conflicts of the 20th century.
Seldom discussed, even within China, the war continues to colour the
ruling party’s relations with its own people and with Chinese
communities outside the People’s Republic.
Ahead of the Soviet-style parade, party and military leaders have
drummed up talk of their historic “mission” while trying to diffuse
protests by millions of people in Hong Kong.
Looming behind the drama on the streets of Hong Kong is the question
of Taiwan — often viewed as the most likely trigger for any clash
between Chinese and US forces.
The self-ruled island’s uncertain future, amid tensions between
Washington and a newly powerful Beijing, is the greatest unresolved
legacy of the Chinese civil war.
All summer, red-and-white propaganda banners hanging across Beijing
have displayed a quote from Mr Xi: “Don’t forget the original
intention. Stick to the mission”.
Outside the city, the couplet is even more common. It dominates
billboards and signs in garrison towns ringing the capital. It is
splashed across T-shirts of tour groups visiting Communist sites
“sacred” to the party’s long struggle and to Mr Xi’s family history.
“Facing intense challenges both domestically and overseas, including
in Hong Kong, Taiwan and with the US, Xi’s ‘original intention’ slogan
is an attempted battle cry for political unity and perseverance,” says
Jude Blanchette, an expert in Chinese politics at the Center for
Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
“The recent linking of the phrase to the protests in Hong Kong is a
message to both local residents and Xi’s domestic audience that
political obedience and territorial integrity are unwavering and
eternal interests of the party.”
Since taking power in 2012, Mr Xi has purged the top ranks of the
bureaucracy and army and reasserted the party’s control over society,
following decades of relaxation.
He relies on tools honed during the party’s long decades fighting its
fellow Chinese: the United Front Work Department for managing external
allies; ideological indoctrination to keep party members in line; and
a heavy dose of propaganda centred around Mr Xi himself to communicate
with the Chinese public.
Seven decades in power and a generation of prosperity have pulled the
Communist party far from its Marxist guerrilla roots.
“The phrase [original intention] is a response to a longstanding worry
among party leaders that the CCP membership had become unmoored from
any political conviction or organisational discipline,” Mr Blanchette
In a 2016 speech marking the anniversary of the Communist party’s
founding in 1921, Mr Xi told party members: “Don’t forget the original
intention. Press forward.”
A year later, at the beginning of his second term, he returned to the
theme. “Don’t forget the original intention. Stick to the mission,” Mr
Xi told thousands of delegates to the 19th party congress.
They warn of “black hands” behind the unrest and accuse the US of
orchestrating the mayhem to undermine the Communist party.
Looming over the crisis in Hong Kong is the question of Taiwan. After
Mao declared victory in mainland China in October 1949, KMT leader
Chiang Kai-shek installed himself on the island of Taiwan, a former
Japanese colony. He was backed by the US.
The armed stalemate has outlasted the cold war, but the balance of
power has shifted. Taiwan, once an Asian Tiger, is now dwarfed by
mainland China, the world’s second-largest economy. That begs the
question of what Mr Xi means by his “mission”.
“From Beijing’s perspective, Taiwan is the unfinished part of the
civil war and thus must be concluded for Xi ‘to make China great
again’,” says Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the
School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “Xi believes in this
Mr Xi has floated “one country, two systems” — the political formula
that is disintegrating in Hong Kong — as a path towards integrating
Taiwan into an enlarged People’s Republic of China, evoking his
family’s divided history during past overtures towards Taiwan.
“Whenever the KMT governs Taiwan, relations with China calm down,” she says.
The detente ended after Tsai Ing-wen, from the independence-minded
Democratic Progressive party, won power in 2016.
Her victory took Mr Xi by surprise. In January, she faces a
contentious challenge from KMT candidate Han Guo-yu, who is backed by
pro-mainland media groups.
Ahead of the election, Beijing has lured more of Taipei’s few
remaining diplomatic allies and banned independent travel to the
Fear of a backlash in Taiwan could be one of the reasons Mr Xi has
refrained from a military intervention in Hong Kong, some experts on
Asian politics believe.
But how long can such an uneasy peace last? Sources say that
preparations for the anniversary parade as well as the anxieties
triggered by the Hong Kong protests have created a sense of tension
within the military.
Mr Xi’s personal and family experiences have taught him caution and
pragmatism, says Joseph Torigian, a China scholar at American
University in Washington, but they are unlikely to have left any doubt
that the Communist party has taken the right path for economic growth
and for unifying China.
That lends weight to Mr Xi’s scripted review of the troops and weapons
on Tiananmen Square on October 1, even in the face of the challenges
coming from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
“Xi believes in the CCP as a righteous force in Chinese history,” says
Mr Torigian. “One that is on the right side of history.”
27-MAY-2019 :: In one fell swoop, President Xi Jinping was President for Life. President Xi is on a Pedestal and is faced with the Strong Man Conundrum
Law & Politics
In China, however, There is only one Decider that Decider was
pronounced as much by Xinhua in a historical announcement in March
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China “proposed to
remove the expression that ‘the president and vice-president of the
People’s Republic of China shall serve no more than two consecutive
terms’ from the country’s constitution.” In one fell swoop, President
Xi Jinping was President for Life. President Xi is on a Pedestal and
is faced with the Strong Man Conundrum. The Political Brand will not
permit a retreat let alone a Surrender.
Friedrich Wu, a professor at Nanyang Technological University in
Singapore sums up the feelings of many when he describes them as “a
list of surrender demands for China to acquiesce to”. [FT]
“If there is a decoupling between the two economies, so be it. The
Chinese people can endure more pain than the spoiled and hubristic
The age of disruption
Schumpeter spoke of creative destruction (German: schöpferische
Zerstörung), sometimes known as Schumpeter's gale, which is a concept
in economics that speaks to a "process of industrial mutation that
incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within,
incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one"
I also learnt that 29 per cent of UK retail sales are now transacted
on-line and the direction of travel remains on-line.
23-SEP-2019 :: Streaming Dreams Non-Linearity Crude Oil; @netflix
Last week I wrote about the Oil Markets and it was this comment by the
Houthi Spokesman referencing Dubai and Abu Dhabi
"If you want peace and security for your facilities, and towers made
of glass that cannot withstand one drone, then leave Yemen alone,"
which streamed into my consciousness. And I was thinking to myself
about what sort of discount should be applied to the Burj Khalifa
because frankly I place more credibility on the utterances of the
Houthis than their adversaries.
And then in some major non-linear jujitsu move, William Goldings' 1964
novel ''The Spire'' started to spin in my mind. I studied ''The
Spire'' at ''A'' level and it made a big impression on me. The Spire
is a 1964 novel by the English author William Golding. "A dark and
powerful portrait of one man's will". it deals with the construction
of the 404-foot high spire loosely based on Salisbury Cathedral; the
vision of the fictional Dean Jocelin. In this novel, William Golding
utilises stream of consciousness writing with an omniscient but
increasingly fallible narrator. Dean Jocelin is the character through
whom the novel is presented. Golding utilises the stream of
consciousness technique to show his, Lear-like, descent into madness.
The first chapter begins with Jocelin holding the model of the spire
and laughing: "He was laughing, chin up, and shaking his head. God the
father was exploding in his face with a glory of sunlight through
painted glass, a glory that moved with his movements to consume and
exalt Abraham and Isaac and then God again. The tears of laughter in
his eyes made additional spokes and wheels and rainbows. // Chin up,
hands holding the model spire before him, eyes half closed; joy –
"I've waited half my life for this day!"'
It doesn't quite make sense, or it doesn't make immediate sense. In
Golding's opening sentence we read "God the Father was exploding in
his face …" which is initially as enigmatic as it is dramatic – until
it is resolved as a metaphorical description of sunlight streaming
through a stained glass window. The delay is important. There is a
semantic lag, a slight, postponed understanding throughout The Spire.
And then My mind flipped further back to 2001
You remember those twin statues of the Buddha that I told you about?
Carved out of a mountain in Afghanistan, that got dynamited by the
Taliban back in the spring? Notice anything familiar?"
"Twin Buddhas, twin towers, interesting coincidence, so what."
"The Trade Center towers were religious too. They stood for what this
country worships above everything else, the market, always the holy
fuxxing market." [Thomas Pynchon]
And by the way, my conclusion remains we are at a Peacock Throne
Moment for the House of Saud and that markets and Folks tend to miss
inflection points and therefore I have a supreme conviction around the
Oil markets and am conducting my own operations and only on a need to
The Shah of Shahs ended up in Panama all on his lonesome looking out
to sea and there is another Fellow not unlike the fictional Dean
Jocelin with a $500m Yacht called the Serene who will most likely
looking out to Sea in the not too distant future.
I stuck ''non-linearity'' in my headline for good reason and You will
need to indulge me. My Mind kept to an Article I read in 2012
''Annals of Technology Streaming Dreams'' by John Seabrook January 16,
“This world of online video is the future, and for an artist you want
to be first in, to be a pioneer. With YouTube I will have a very small
crew, and we are trying to keep focussed on a single voice. There
aren’t any rules. There’s just the artist, the content, and the
“People went from broad to narrow,” he said, “and we think they will
continue to go that way—spend more and more time in the niches—because
now the distribution landscape allows for more narrowness.”
And this brought me to Netflix. Netflix spearheaded a streaming
revolution that changed the way we watch TV and films. As cable TV
lost subscribers, Netflix gained them, putting it in a category with
Facebook, Amazon and Google as one of the adored US tech stocks that
led a historic bull market [FT] Today Netflix faces an onslaught of
competition in the market it invented. After years of false starts,
Apple is planning to launch a streaming service in November, as is
Disney — with AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Comcast’s NBCUniversal to follow
early next year. Netflix has corrected brutally and lots of Folks are
bailing big time especially after Netflix lost US subscribers in the
last quarter. Even after the loss of subscribers in the second
quarter, Ben Swinburne, head of media research at Morgan Stanley, says
Netflix is still on course for a record year of subscriber
additions.Optimists point to the group’s global reach. It is betting
its future on an expansion outside the US, where it has already
attracted 60m subscribers. And this is an inflexion point just like
the one I am signalling in the Oil markets. Netflix is not a US
business, it is a global business. The Majority of Analysts are in the
US and in my opinion these same Analysts have an international ''blind
spot'' Once Investors appreciate that the Story is an international
one and not a US one anymore, we will see the price ramp to fresh all
time highs. I, therefore, am putting out a ''conviction'' Buy on
Netflix at Fridays closing price of $270.75.
Countries at all levels of development risk becoming mere providers of
raw data to those digital platforms while having to pay for the
digital intelligence produced with those data by the platform owners.
Why The Saudis Are Lying About Their Oil Production @OilandEnergy OilPrice.com
Saudi Arabia’s comments about its hydrocarbons industry have long been
regarded by industry experts as being as believable as China’s
comments about its economic growth: that is, not at all.
Saudi Arabia’s skill in lying is definitely improving, though, from
the outright transparent lies about its level of oil reserves, spare
capacity, and why the omni-toxic Aramco should nonetheless be valued
at US$2 trillion.
Its latest lies - along the lines of ‘everything is fine after the
attacks and we will be back to full production really quickly’ – are
“The Saudi statements may not contain any direct falsehoods as such
but nor are they entirely being fulsome with the truth,” Richard
Mallinson, senior energy analyst for Energy Aspects, in London, told
OilPrice.com last week.
The stage was set for the Saudis’ latest lying extravaganza with the
aerial attacks on its massive Abqaiq oil processing facility and
Khurais oil field launched, according to various sources, by Houthi
‘rebels’ in Yemen or by Iranian operatives in Yemen or in Iran.
The effect of the combined attack on Abqaiq and Khurais caused the
temporary suspension of 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd). This
equates to well over half of Saudi Arabia’s actual crude oil
production capacity, not the capacity figure that Saudi has plucked
out of nowhere for geopolitical power purposes in recent years, and
resulted in the biggest rise in oil prices in a single day ever.
Once the hedge funds, who had handily positioned themselves long some
days before the attacks, had taken their profits, and younger traders
remembered that the U.S. can release vast amounts of oil at the drop
of a hat from its Strategic Petroleum Reserve to keep the price of oil
– and, crucially ahead of an election year, the highly correlated and
politically enormously sensitive gasoline pump price in the U.S. down
– oil prices came down again, obviously.
A number of interesting things happened from the Saudi Arabian side as
the prices went up and then went back down again.
The first of these, as OilPrice.com was informed repeatedly by senior
oil traders throughout the day, was the lack of real understanding
that senior Saudi officials seem to have on how the oil market works
or any details of Saudi’s own oil industry.
“I used to think the Saudis thought all of us [oil traders] were
idiots, with all the rubbish they used to come out with and thought
we’d believe, but recently it’s occurred to me that they genuinely
don’t know anything about the oil industry, so they don’t understand
that other people actually do know what they’re talking about and this
has also been one of the reasons for the constant delaying of the
Aramco sale, by the way,” one senior oil trader based in Asia told
The Aramco sale to one side for another time (although OilPrice.com
has exclusively previously highlighted all of the lies pertaining to
it), one particularly striking comment came from Saudi Arabia’s new
oil minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, just after the attacks.
He stated that the Kingdom plans to restore its production capacity to
11 million bpd by the end of September and recover its full capacity
of 12 million bpd two months later.
“It was extremely telling that he spoke of ‘capacity’ and later of
‘supply to the market’, as these are terms that Saudi tends to use in
order to avoid talking about actual production, as capacity and supply
are not the same thing at all as actual production at the wellheads,”
said Energy Aspects’ Mallinson.
“What Saudi is trying to do by not revealing the true picture is to
protect its reputation as a reliable oil supplier, especially to its
target clientele in Asia, so we have to take all of these comments
with a hefty pinch of salt,” he added.
So hefty a pinch of salt as to be mountainous in the case of its
capacity and corollary spare capacity figures. The country has stated
for decades that it has a spare capacity of between 2.0-2.5 million
bpd, implying – given actual production during virtually all of this
time averaging less than 10 million bpd - total production capacity of
12.0-12.5 million bpd.
This level, though, or anywhere near it, has never been even remotely
tested, with the highest production ever recorded being just over 11
million bpd in November last year.
This is despite the all-out oil price war that Saudi started in 2014
against U.S. shale producers to try to destroy the industry through
low prices caused by flooding the markets with oil.
“If the Saudis had anything near 12 million barrels per day capacity,
that would have been the time to pump it but all it managed was just
under 10 [million bpd] with 10.5 [million bpd] managed for just one
month over that two-year period [2014-2016 before Saudi reversed it
Additionally, the EIA defines spare capacity specifically as
production that can be brought online within 30 days and sustained for
at least 90 days, whilst even Saudi Arabia has said that it would need
at least 90 days to move rigs to drill new wells and raise production
to the mythical 12 million bpd or 12.5 million bpd level.
Many serious oil market players now do not believe that the Saudis
have anywhere near 2 million bpd of spare capacity, as it would imply
production of 12 million bpd plus. Instead, many now believe that the
Saudis have sustainable spare capacity of no more than around 0.5-1.0
Whatever Saudi’s actual capacity, there is absolutely no way that it
can have made any accurate assessment of how long it would take to get
back to any particular capacity level either – another lie.
“Engineers we have spoken to have said that following an incident like
this it would take several weeks just to assess the damage, never mind
to begin doing anything about it, rather than the few days that the
Saudis have taken and then announced the actual timeline – and a very
short timeline at that – to bring back various stages of capacity,”
said Energy Aspects’ Mallinson.
“Instead, what the Saudis will do to keep exports up is draw down
supplies to its domestic industry and reduce the amounts it is sending
to domestic refineries – one big refinery, SASREF, is conveniently
bringing forward its planned maintenance for later in the year to now
- and we hear very mixed reports which of the other refineries are
operating at regular rates,” he added.
“But some buyers are already being warned of delays, some are being
offered swaps with other grades and so on,” he underlined.
Specifically, a number of customers of Saudi’s Arab Light and Arab
Extra Light grades – the grades most affected by the recent attacks –
have been offered Saudi’s Arab Medium or Arab Heavy as substitute
grades.OilPrice.com understands from oil trading sources.
This even applies to Saudi’s number one target country, China. A
number of refineries have been told by Aramco that their rolling
orders for Arab Extra Light crude cannot be supplied for the time
being but can be switched for either Arab Medium or Arab Heavy,
depending on the set-up of the refinery.
Others, looking for their usual monthly supply of Arab Light have been
told that this will be switched to Arab Heavy as a substitute for
September loading at least.
The other measure that Saudi is taking - which it has vehemently
denied but OilPrice.com can confirm from various oil trading sources
and from sources in the Iraq Oil Ministry – is looking to buy Iraq oil
grades, which are close to the key export grades that Saudi ships to
various destinations, including Asia.
“Aramco Trading Company has been aggressively checking prices and lot
sizes for Iraqi crude with various [oil] trading houses since the
attacks and are looking are shorter-term potentially rolling
contracts,” one trading source told OilPrice.com last week.
“A number of the Iraqi grades are close in specifications to their
Saudi counterparts, and part of this activity by Saudi to fill
customer supply quotas for these grades is to make sure that the
demand we are still seeing for such Iranian grades from Asia, but
mainly China, is not boosted to make up for the shortfall from
Saudi.,” a senior source who works closely with Iraq’s Oil Ministry
The supreme irony, of course - as OilPrice.com has repeatedly
underlined, and as many in the oil markets now know, although
apparently not the Saudis - is that a cornerstone strategy used by
Iran to circumvent current U.S. sanctions against it (as was also the
case in the previous period of sanctions) is to rebrand its oil into
Iraqi oil, which is extremely easily done, both at the massive and
porous border between the two or via various pipeline and shipping
It may well be, then, that Saudi Arabia ends up boosting the bank
accounts of the very people that it thinks was behind the attacks on
its own oil infrastructure, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps – a
staunch and active supporter of Yemen’s Houthis - through its various
oil-industry associated businesses by buying Iranian oil, albeit with
the stickers changed on the barrels.
16-SEP-2019 :: Drones Strikes Deep Inside the Kingdom.
Thomas Pynchon in Bleeding Edge “No matter how the official narrative
of this turns out," it seemed to Heidi, "these are the places we
should be looking, not in newspapers or television but at the margins,
graffiti, uncontrolled utterances, bad dreamers who sleep in public
and scream in their sleep.”
More worryingly for the Kingdom are reports of cooperation by people
in Saudi Arabia. It may well be that drones were launched from inside
Saudi Arabia and that their launch point was far nearer to the targets
than publicly assumed.
“There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who
really know where it is are the ones who have gone over'
Events in Saudi Arabia this weekend has been interpreted every which
way and allow me to try and interpret the events outside the Echo
Chamber that is the Saudi paid PR machine and the reflexive Pompeo
''Iranians under the bed'' standard response.
More worrying for the Kingdom is the second scenario were these Drones
might have been launched within the Kingdom which would be signalling
that the Houthis might well have teamed up with the Saudi Shia who
represent up to 25% of the Population and have been ground down
viciously by the House of Saud, characterised as Apostates and whose
Leaders have been beheaded and crucified.
The much commented on Orb is of no help now.
Over the Weekend, so many of the Oil Watchers I follow were saying we
must wait for the Official Saudi comment. Let me tell you this for
free. Saudi comment is worthless, irrelevant and paid for.
So Big Price Spike then retracement but then if we do get within 10%
of Fridays closing Price of $54.83, then you need to get long. The
production shutdown amounts to a loss of about five million barrels a
day and is a big deal.
The Saudi Arabia Drone Attacks Have Changed Global Warfare Patrick Cockburn
The devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities by drones and missiles
not only transforms the balance of military power in the Middle East,
but marks a change in the nature of warfare globally.
On the morning of 14 September, 18 drones and seven cruise missiles –
all cheap and unsophisticated compared to modern military aircraft –
disabled half of Saudi Arabia’s crude oil production and raised the
world price of oil by 20 per cent.
This happened despite the Saudis spending $67.6bn (£54bn) on their
defence budget last year, much of it on vastly expensive aircraft and
air defence systems, which notably failed to stop the attack.
The US defence budget stands at $750bn (£600.2bn), and its
intelligence budget at $85bn (£68bn), but the US forces in the Gulf
did not know what was happening until it was all over.
Excuses advanced for this failure include the drones flying too low to
be detected and unfairly coming from a direction different from the
one that might have been expected.
Such explanations sound pathetic when set against the proud boasts of
the arms manufacturers and military commanders about the effectiveness
of their weapons systems.
Debate is ongoing about whether it was the Iranians or the Houthis who
carried out the attack, the likely answer being a combination of the
two, but perhaps with Iran orchestrating the operation and supplying
But over-focus on responsibility diverts attention from a much more
important development: a middle ranking power like Iran, under
sanctions and with limited resources and expertise, acting alone or
through allies, has inflicted crippling damage on theoretically much
better-armed Saudi Arabia which is supposedly defended by the US, the
world’s greatest military super-power.
If the US and Saudi Arabia are particularly hesitant to retaliate
against Iran it is because they know now, contrary to what they might
have believed a year ago, that a counter-attack will not be a
What happened before can happen again: not for nothing has Iran been
called a “drone superpower”.
Oil production facilities and the desalination plants providing much
of the fresh water in Saudi Arabia are conveniently concentrated
targets for drones and small missiles.
In other words, the military playing field will be a lot more level in
future in a conflict between a country with a sophisticated air force
and air defence system and one without.
The trump card for the US, Nato powers and Israel has long been their
overwhelming superiority in airpower over any likely enemy.
Suddenly this calculus has been undermined because almost anybody can
be a player on the cheap when it comes to airpower.
Anthony Cordesman, a military expert at the Centre for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington, succinctly sums up the importance
of this change, writing that “the strikes on Saudi Arabia provide a
clear strategic warning that the US era of air supremacy in the Gulf,
and the near US monopoly on precision strike capability, is rapidly
He explains that a new generation of drones, cruise missiles, and
precision strike ballistic missiles are entering the Iranian
inventories and have begun to spread to the Houthis in Yemen and
Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Similar turning points in military history have occurred when the
deployment of an easily produced weapon suddenly checkmates the use of
a more complicated one.
A good example of this was the attack on 11 November 1940, on five
Italian battleships, moored at their base at Taranto by 20 slow moving
but sturdy British Swordfish biplanes, armed with torpedoes and
launched from an aircraft carrier.
At the end of the day, three of the battleships had been sunk or badly
damaged while only two of the British planes were missing.
The enormity of the victory achieved at such minimal cost ended the
era when battleships ruled the sea and replaced them with one in which
aircraft carriers with torpedo/bomber were supreme.
It was a lesson noted by the Japanese navy which attacked Pearl
Harbour in similar fashion a year after Taranto.
The Saudis showed off the wreckage of the drones and missiles to
assembled diplomats and journalists this week in a bid to convince
them that the Iranians were behind the air raid.
But the most significant feature of the broken drone and missile parts
was that, in full working order, the weapons that had just rocked the
world economy would not have cost a lot.
By way of contrast, the US-made Patriot anti-aircraft missiles, the
main air defence of Saudi Arabia that were so useless last Saturday,
cost $3m (£2.4bn) apiece.
Cost and simplicity are important because they mean that Iran, the
Houthis, Hezbollah and almost any country can produce drones and
missiles in numbers large enough to overwhelm any defences they are
likely to meet.
Compare the cost of the drone which would be in the tens or even
hundreds of thousands of dollars to the $122m (£97.6m) price of a
single F-35 fighter, so expensive that it can only be purchased in
As they take on board the meaning of what happened at Abqaiq and
Khurais oil facilities, governments around the world will be demanding
that their air force chiefs explain why they need to spend so much
money when cheap but effective alternatives are available.
Going by past precedent, the air chiefs and arms manufacturers will
fight to their last breath for grossly inflated budgets to purchase
weapons of dubious utility in a real war.
The attack on Saudi Arabia reinforces a trend in warfare in which
inexpensive easily acquired weapons come out on top.
Consider the track record of the Improvised Explosive Device (IED),
usually made out of easily available fertiliser, detonated by a
command wire, and planted in or beside a road.
These were used with devastating effect by the IRA in South Armagh,
forcing the British Army off the roads and into helicopters.
IEDs were used in great numbers and with great effect against US-led
coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. Immense resources were
deployed by the US military into finding a counter to this deadly
device, which included spending no less than $40bn (£32bn) on 27,000
heavily armoured vehicles called MRAPs.
A subsequent army study revealed that that the number of US servicemen
killed and wounded in an attack on an MRAP was exactly the same as in
the vehicles which they had replaced.
It is unthinkable that American, British and Saudi military chiefs
will accept that they command expensive, technically advanced forces
that are obsolete in practice.
This means they are stuck with arms that suck up resources but are, in
practical terms, out of date.
The Japanese, soon after they had demonstrated at Pearl Harbour the
vulnerability of battleships, commissioned the world’s largest
battleship, the Yamato, which fired its guns only once and was sunk in
1945 by US torpedo aircraft and bombers operating from aircraft
18 FEB 19 :: NigeriaDecides
We dream of a new politics
That will renew the world
Under their weary suspicious gaze. There’s always a new way,
A better way that’s not been tried before.
It’s a Nollywood Level drama but permit me to give you some context.
GDP growth has lagged Population growth, GDP grew by 1.93 percent last
year, up from 0.82 percent in 2017 and grew 2.4 percent in the fourth
Nigeria was the second biggest economy in Africa in 2018, using the
market exchange rate of NGN362/$ or the biggest economy using the
fixed rate [@RencapMan]. Unemployment has risen from 8.2% to 23.1%
under President Buhari's watch which would be a plain untenable
position for any incumbent Politician seeking re-election in most
parts of the World. The President is a victim of low oil prices which
provide 70% of government revenue. ''Baba Go Slow'' has to be
contrasted with President Al-Sisi's Egypt. Al-Sisi [and I for one
disagree with him on many things particularly with his
''incarceration'' strategy] made bold moves when it came to the
Economy. Egypt devalued its currency early, took a brutal punch in the
solar plexus but is now reaping the dividend from its bolder economic
policy, Nigeria is still muddling along with its ''Voodoo'' level FX
economics. Since President Buhari came to power in May 2015, Nigeria's
stock market has fallen more than any other in the world, dropping 50%
in dollar terms.
The cool new thing in French haute cuisine? Madagascar caviar @Reuters
LAKE MANTASOA, Madagascar (Reuters) - Jerome Bastide slides an
ultrasound wand over the sturgeon’s belly, swiftly extracts a dozen
eggs with a thick biopsy needle, and returns the fish to the lake.
“Perfect for caviar,” he says, lining up the tiny grey orbs against a
ruler. “Here we have really good eggs, we have great colour.”
Floating fish laboratories like this one are common in Russia or Iran,
around the Caspian Sea - but this is Lake Mantasoa, a hydropower
reservoir in the highlands of Madagascar at an altitude of 1,400
metres (4,600 feet). It is Africa’s first, and so far only, caviar
With the world’s fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition,
Madagascar is an unlikely source for a luxury food that fetches
upwards of 700 euros ($775) per kg in plush French restaurants.
But Mantasoa’s cool fresh water and inexpensive labour inspired three
French entrepreneurs to set up a company in 2009, and they imported
their first batch of fertilised sturgeon eggs from France four years
“Friends thought we were crazy,” said Delphyne Dabezies, one of the
founders of Acipenser.
“Even our closest friends said: ‘Ridiculous, caviar in Madagascar –
what’s next, salmon in the desert?’ Lots of them laughed.”
Now her Parisian friends are eating not only their words, but also the
subtle flavours of Madagascar’s newest delicacy: the Rova Caviar
The global caviar market is projected to grow at 7% per year to around
$560 million by 2025, according to Adroit Market Research, an
Indian-based business analytics and consulting company.
A short drive from the lake lie the hatching ponds and processing
factory, a featureless building where employees in head-to-toe sterile
white protective clothing work in a chilled, spotless interior.
Inside, a four-foot sturgeon is heaved onto a stainless steel gurney.
One worker slices it open while another carefully removes caviar for
cleaning, sifting and salting. Each fish produces a pile of dark grey,
brown or black eggs.
“Before opening the fish we don’t know what colour the caviar will be.
But whichever caviar, we know it will be excellent,” said Lanja
Rajaobelina, deputy manager of the factory.
Discoloured eggs are removed with tweezers, a salt mixture produced
according to a jealously guarded recipe is added, and the final
product is decanted into cans. Around six months later, the precious
granules are repackaged for export.
Acipenser employs between 250 and 300 locals, depending on the season.
It made its first batch in 2017.
This year the company will produce almost 5,000 kg for export - mostly
to France, but also the United States and Reunion island.
Dabezies hopes to double production in the next five years as
Acipenser introduces caviar from five other varieties of sturgeon.
This month, the company launched an online shop.
Outside the factory, a row of 19 rectangular hatching ponds lie
side-by-side like a barcode.
Beneath the grey-green waters in two of the ponds are 1,500
highly-prized beluga sturgeon which, when they start to mature in
2026, will carry a payload each worth $86,600 at current prices.
An even more exclusive fish lurks beneath the surface of another pond:
a rare albino sturgeon. Their creamy roe sells for $34,500 per kg.
The Guinness Book of Records calls it the world’s most expensive food
- but the breeders don’t know yet whether this one is male or female.
Lalaina Ravelomanana, head chef at Marais, a glitzy rooftop restaurant
in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo, takes great pride in serving
“This caviar - it is very subtle in the mouth, buttery,” he says,
plating up six of his own caviar recipes, replete with vodka jelly,
maize cream, artistic smears of sauce, fumes of smoked cocoa and
“I started using the caviar a year ago. I’ve already invented 60
recipes and I’m not stopping.”
The baobab is the national tree of Madagascar
Baobab is the common name of a genus of trees (Adansonia). There are
nine species. Six species live in the drier parts of Madagascar, two
in mainland Africa, one in Australia and three in India, Ranchi. The
baobab is the national tree of Madagascar.
Other common names include 'boab', 'boaboa', 'bottle tree', 'the tree
of life', 'upside-down tree', and 'monkey bread tree'. The trees reach
heights of 5 to 30 metres (16 to 98 ft) and trunk diameters of 7 to 11
metres (23 to 36 ft). Its trunk can hold up to 120,000 litres of
water. For most of the year, the tree is leafless, and looks very much
like it has its roots sticking up in the air.