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The End of Oil Is Near: the pandemic may send the petroleum industry to the grave

By Antonia Juhasz - Sierra, August 24, 2020

This past spring, coastlines around the globe took on the feel of an enemy invasion as hundreds of massive oil tankers overwhelmed seaports from South Africa to Singapore. Locals and industry analysts alike used the word armada—typically applied to fleets of warships—to describe scenes such as when a group of tankers left Saudi Arabia en masse and another descended on China. One distressed news article proclaimed that a “floating hoard” of oil sat in tankers anchored across the North Sea, “everywhere from the UK to France and the Netherlands.” In April, the US Coast Guard shared an alarming video that showed dozens of tankers spread out for miles along California’s coast.

On May 12, Greenpeace activists sailed into San Francisco Bay to issue a challenge to the public. In front of the giant Amazon Falcon oil tanker—which had been docked in the bay for weeks, loaded up with Chevron oil—they unfurled a banner reading, “Oil Is Over! The Future Is Up to You.”

The oil industry has turned the oceans into aquatic parking lots—floating storage facilities holding, at their highest levels in early May, some 390 million barrels of crude oil and refined products like gasoline. Between March and May, the amount of oil “stored” at sea nearly tripled, and it has yet to abate in many parts of the world.

This tanker invasion is only one piece of a dangerous buildup in oil supply that is the result of an unprecedented global glut. The coronavirus pandemic has gutted demand, resulting in the current surplus, but it merely exacerbated a problem that’s been plaguing the oil industry for years: the incessant overproduction of a product that the world is desperately trying to wean itself from, with growing success.

Today, the global oil industry is in a tailspin. Demand has cratered, prices have collapsed, and profits are shrinking. The oil majors (giant global corporations including BP, Chevron, and Shell) are taking billions of dollars in losses while cutting tens of thousands of jobs. Smaller companies are declaring bankruptcy, and investors are looking elsewhere for returns. Significant changes to when, where, and how much oil will be produced, and by whom, are already underway. It is clear that the oil industry will not recover from COVID-19 and return to its former self. What form it ultimately takes, or whether it will even survive, is now very much an open question.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has joined other petroleum superpowers in efforts to maintain oil’s dominance. While government bailout programs and subsidies could provide the lifeline the industry needs to stay afloat, such policies will likely throw good money after bad. As Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former Federal Reserve governor and former deputy secretary of the Treasury, has written, “Even in the short term, fossil fuels are a terrible investment. . . . It also forestalls the inevitable decline of an industry that can no longer sustain itself.”

In contrast to an agenda that doubles down on dirty fuels, a wealth of green recovery programs aim to keep fossil fuels in the ground as part of a just transition to a sustainable and equitable economy. If these policies prevail, the industry will rapidly shrink to a fraction of its former stature. Thus, as at no other time since the industry’s inception, the actions taken now by the public and by policymakers will determine oil’s fate.

The Greenpeace activists are right. Whether the pandemic marks the end of oil “is up to you.”

An Investigation into Red-Brown Alliances: Third Positionism, Russia, Ukraine, Syria, and the Western Left

By the blogger - A Roaming Vagabond, January 15, 2018

This long post started as an investigation about the Left and Syria which I started after I read the Sol Process blog’s publication of three posts concerning shady pro-Assad sources used in leftist circles (which can be read here: part I, part II, part III), and which later expanded into a more extensive investigation. I also thank the acknowledgement of my blog post by Russia Without BS, whose blog was helpful in the initial stages of my research.

Note for safety purposes: this post will contain links to far-right pages for documentation and sourcing purposes, and any link to such a page will be in bold and italic, such as this.

The Cost of Coal: Impact of Russian coal mining on the environment, local communities and indigenous peoples

By Natalia Paramonov - EcoDefense, December 2015

In four hours of flight from Moscow, in the middle of the country, lies the coal heart of Russia.

Coal mining and burning are generally known to be polluting atmosphere with loads of CO2 and causing climate change. But people of Kuzbass have little concern about global problems. They get used to open-cut mines operating and huge trucks roaring right out of their windows. Shot operations destroy houses, and spoil piles grow up around. Air and rivers are contaminated with coal dust, and fertile land is being devastated.

These particular problems can be discovered only by visiting surroundings of Novokuznetsk. Bad news about violations over environmental rights in Kemerovo Oblast would never reach Moscow themselves. They are hidden behind companies' ambition to get coal at any cost.

Number of official statistics provides evidence for contamination of air, water, and soil, high mortality and sickness rates in Kemerovo Oblast. Local authorities and regulatory bodies, however, prefer to avoid looking into particular cases. There is Kemerovo Oblast with a range of general environmental problems, but there are no particular people whose violated rights need to be protected. This way, there are no victims and no need to pay out compensations or think about mine reclamation.

This report begins with statistic data which reflect environmental conditions in Kuzbass, followed by testimonies of the local residents. Interviews with those suffered from coal production but unable to get it acknowledged and fully compensated by the state are enclosed in the appendix.

Behind every figure of the official statistics presented below, there are lives of people who live in Kuzbass and battle for their rights.

Read the report (PDF).

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