Iran


Think of the messages you could be sending to the world if the U.S. suddenly moved 90% of its Iraqi forces to the Iran-Iraq border … leaving Iraqi forces in charge of their own troubles in Baghdad and elsewhere, stopping the flow of manpower and equipment into Iraq from Iran, putting some pressure on the Ahmadinejad government … I’m just sayin’

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Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday said oil prices are being controlled by ‘invisible hands’ in a ‘fake way’ for political and economic reasons, reported Reuters. Speaking at an OPEC meeting, Ahmadinejad said the price rise is ‘completely fake and imposed’ because it is occurring at a time when ‘the market is full of oil and the growth of consumption is lower than the growth of production.’

And meanwhile, on Wall Street:

Crude oil’s ‘bull run’ may be over following Saudi Arabia’s pledge to increase supplies and the increasing volatility of prices, according to analysts at JP Morgan and Chase. Prices are expected to ‘correct’ over the next few months, the analysts said, noting that spare production capacity may reach 5 million barrels a day by 2010, similar to levels in 2002 to 2003, when oil was $30 a barrel, reported Bloomberg.

Via AMEInfo.  It is interesting to note that both Ahmadinejad and Wall Street analysts see an overheated oil market, but it is hard to imagine two more different orientations on the topic.


 

Iran plans to privatise 47 firms in its energy sector worth $90bn and set up a holding company for these assets which it will list on four international exchanges, a National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) executive said, reported Reuters. The plan would see the oil and gas companies put under an umbrella group to attract foreign investment, Hojatollah Ghanimi-Fard, director of international affairs at NIOC, told MEED. He said the firms would also be listed in Tehran by 2014.

Via AMEInfo. What do we want to bet that the NYSE won’t be one of the “international exchanges”?

Iran is the world’s fourth-largest producer of oil. But its government imposed gasoline rationing last year in hopes of trimming extensive government subsidies. That has created a booming black market across the country — feeding Iranians’ discontent with the economic policies of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In the capital Tehran and other cities, the black market thrives around gasoline stations and mostly at night as drivers looking to buy fuel approach others who have high gasoline quotas, such as taxis or vans.

But in this city on the Persian Gulf, the boulevard officially named Pasdaran Avenue after Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards operates as an open-air black market in broad daylight. Its new nickname is meant as a sneer by Iranians, bitter at the irony that their country, a leading member of the world oil cartel OPEC, has resorted to rationing.

“Every taxi driver and anyone who needs gas knows where OPEC Street is,” said Jabbar Dehqani, a 27-year-old with a stand of gasoline jugs on the roadside. “I’m happy — the number of my customers is increasing day by day.”

Iran produces 4.2 million barrels of crude oil each day and sells 2.5 million barrels of it to other countries, making it OPEC’s second-largest producer. But because the country lacks adequate refineries, it must spend more than $3 billion a year to import gasoline for domestic consumption.

There are more than 7 million private cars in Iran eligible for the subsidized gasoline, which the government makes available in limited quantities under the fuel rationing system.

The new system began in May with a 25 percent hike in the subsidized price of gas, from roughly 30 cents a gallon to 38 cents a gallon. Then in June came the actual rationing, aimed at reducing demand and thus easing government subsidies that cost billions each year.

Full article here.

WASHINGTON — The United States lost a long battle when Russia, as it announced on Monday, delivered nuclear fuel to an Iranian power plant that is at the center of an international dispute over its nuclear program. Iran, for its part, confirmed on Monday plans to build a second such plant.

In announcing that it had delivered the first fuel shipment to the power plant, at Bushehr in southern Iran, on Sunday, Russian officials said that while the fuel was in Iran, it would be under the control of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitoring agency for the United Nations. Russia also said the Iranian government had guaranteed that the fuel would be used only for the power plant.

The Bush administration took pains not to criticize the Russian move publicly, even expressing support for outside supplies if that led Iran to suspend its nuclear enrichment program.

“If the Russians are willing to do that, which I support, then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich,” President Bush said Monday. “If the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there’s no need for them to learn how to enrich.”

But from the American standpoint, the timing could not have been worse, coming just two weeks after the release of a United States intelligence estimate that concluded that Iran stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The National Intelligence Estimate also concluded that Iran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, undercutting a central tenet of the Bush administration’s basis for maintaining international pressure against Iran.

Full article here.

The Jerusalem Post reports:

Iran tested a newly-developed ballistic missile on the day of the Annapolis conference, Channel 10 reported Wednesday.

The Ashoura missile has a range of 2,000 kilometers and is capable of reaching Israel, US Army bases in the Middle East and eastern European cities.

According to the report, the new missile is an improvement to the existing Shihab-3 missile. The Ashoura uses solid fuel instead of the Shihab’s liquid fuel, giving it a significantly faster launch sequence which is harder to detect.

Iranian Defense Minister Gen. Mostafa Muhammad-Najjar had announced the development of the new missile on the day of the summit, but had not specified whether it had actually been tested.

According to the country’s IRNA news agency, Najjar said the missile was named the “Ashoura,” meaning “the tenth day” in Farsi – a sacred reference among Shi’ite Muslims to the martyrdom of the third imam.

The Iranian defense minister said that “the production of the new missile was one of the Defense Ministry’s greatest achievements.”

Analysts believe much of Iran’s military production has benefited from assistance from Russia, China and other countries, but many of their weapons development claims have not been independently verified.

Recent weapons development has been motivated by Iran’s standoff with the US over its controversial nuclear program.

The Shihab-3, which means “shooting star” in Farsi, has a range of at least 1,300 kilometers.

In 2005, Iranian officials said they had improved the range of the Shihab-3 to 2,000 kilometers, a range equal to that of the new missile reported Wednesday.

Experts also believe Iran is developing the Shihab-4 missile, thought to have a range between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometers that would put much of Europe in range.

Well, that’s one way of expressing your displeasure about being left off of the tea party invite list …

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) — China Petrochemical Corp. signed a $2 billion agreement to develop Iran’s Yadavaran oil field, advancing prospects for a contract on the sale of liquefied natural gas to the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

The field will produce 85,000 barrels a day in four years and a further 100,000 barrels a day three years after that, China’s official Xinhua news agency cited Iranian Oil Minister Gholam Hossein Nozari as saying yesterday. Under an initial agreement in 2004, China would pay Iran as much as $100 billion over 25 years for LNG and oil and 51 percent stake in Yadavaran.

Sinopec Group, as China Petrochemical is known, hopes to talk about liquefied natural gas supplies “later,” Iran’s state news agency IRNA said today, citing Zhou Baixiu, president of Sinopec Group’s international exploration and production unit. China is “willing” to buy LNG from Iran, Zhou said.

China, a veto-holding member of the United Nations Security Council, has resisted pressure from the U.S. to isolate Iran and impose a third round of international sanctions over the country’s nuclear program. The Chinese government wants its oil and gas producers to step up their global search for energy resources to meet rising consumption, spurred by an economy that surged 11.5 percent in the third quarter.

Full article here.

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