BP boss sees oil low for three years; Greece’s staggering debt and the poll; The great wall of Saudi Arabia

1 BP boss sees oil low for three years (BBC) The boss of oil giant BP’s boss Bob Dudley has said that oil prices could remain low for up to three years. He added that could send UK petrol prices below £1 per litre. He said BP was planning for low oil prices for years to come.

That is expected to lead to job losses and falling investment in the North Sea oil industry and elsewhere, curbing supply and eventually forcing the price back up. Italian oil group Eni has said the next spike could be around $200 a barrel. Eni’s chief executive, Claudio Descalzi, said the oil industry would cut capital spending by 10-13% this year because of slumping prices.

From 2010 until mid-2014, oil prices around the world were fairly stable, at around $110 a barrel. However, since June prices have more than halved. Brent crude oil is around $48 a barrel, and US crude is around $47 a barrel.

Sustained low oil prices are also likely to cause “stress” on oil producing countries such as Norway, Russia, Venezuela, Scotland, Nigeria and Angola, he said. “All these countries are really going to feel it,” he said. “I think Scotland is going to be under some stress because of these low oil prices,” he said. Globally, BP and the rest of the energy industry were likely to see “significant workforce reductions,” he added.

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30913321

2 A look at Greece’s debt before the polls (San Francisco Chronicle) Greece goes to the polls Sunday with voters given a tough choice over how to handle the country’s debt after six years of recession badly weakened its economy.

Greece’s national debt topped 320 billion euros ($369 billion) last year — equivalent to nearly 30,000 euros ($34,600) for each Greek resident. Although Greece reached a major restructuring deal with private creditors three years ago, its economy has shrunk by a quarter during the recession to an annual output of 188 billion euros ($217.5 billion), making debt repayment more difficult.

Conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ term should expire in mid-2016 but he was forced to call elections when opposition parties refused to back his candidate for president. Samaras is trailing the left-wing Syriza party in opinion polls and has failed to narrow the gap as voters face hardship from austerity measures imposed during the bailout.

Syriza’s charismatic 40-year-old leader, Alexis Tsipras, is calling for a eurozone debt conference. The party argues that insistence on full repayment under current terms would only crush the Greek economy and be counterproductive. The party is seeking short-term help with a freeze on interest payments and longer-term aid with restructured bailout debt and repayment levels tied to domestic economic growth.

Senior Syriza economic planner Giorgos Stathakis believes a new debt deal could be possible by the end of 2015. But he added a Tsipras government would no longer talk with negotiators from the “troika” of the International Monetary Fund and European Union and central bank, but instead deal directly with governments.

http://www.sfgate.com/news/world/article/A-look-at-Greece-s-debt-debate-before-elections-6030163.php

3 The great wall of Saudi Arabia (Alexander Lacasse in Christian Science Monitor/Khaleej Times) Saudi Arabia has been constructing a 600-mile East-West barrier on its Northern Border with Iraq since September. The main function of the barrier will be keeping out Daesh militants, who have stated that among their goals is an eventual takeover of the Muslim holy cities of Makkah and Madina, both of which lie deep inside Saudi territory.

The Saudi “Great Wall”, will be a fence and ditch barrier that features soft sand embankments that is designed to slow down infiltrators on foot and are too step to drive a tired-vehicle up, according to the Telegraph of London. It will have 40 watchtowers and seven command and control centers complete with radar that can detect aircraft and vehicles as far away as 22 miles as well as day and night camera installations. The 600-mile structure will be patrolled by border guards and 240 rapid response vehicles.

But it’s not the first Saudi border wall. Since 2003, in fits and starts due to Yemeni opposition, the Saudi government has been working on a less costly barrier along the 1,100 mile border with Yemen on the Kingdom’s southern border.

And Saudi Arabia is not the only country that has turned to a physical barrier to keep its enemies or illegal immigrants out. The Saudi’s wall is designed to function as the modern equivalent of the Great Wall of China, which was completed in 206 B.C. The Great Wall was intended to force attacking armies to have to circumnavigate the 5,500-mile structure.

In the modern history of wall building, the Soviets militarised the border with Western Europe and separated East and West Berlin with the 87-mile Berlin Wall to stop would-be defectors from escaping to the West through the divided city that had an open border up until 1961. The US government started constructing a 700-mile border-fence on the Mexican border in order to stem the flow of illegal immigrants back in 2006 that President Barack Obama claimed in 2011 was, “now basically complete,” according to Politifact.com.

According CBS News, Daesh wants to unite the entire Levant, which includes land in Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, and Iraq. Jordan has sent more tanks and rocket launchers to the border with Iraq and its forces remain on “high alert,” as was reported in a BBC story, and Kuwait’s border with Iraq has been relatively quiet because Iraq’s Shia population lives in the areas north of Kuwait, according to the same report.

http://khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/opinion/2015/January/opinion_January37.xml&section=opinion

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About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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