April 01, 2009

Irrawaddy Dolphins

Good news from Bangladesh: the Irrawaddy Dolphin isn't as endangered as we thought.

Thousands of Irrawaddy dolphins, one of the world’s rarest species of freshwater dolphins, have been found on the Bangladesh coast, conservationists said Wednesday.

Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said they have found almost 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins in the country’s Sundarbans mangrove forests and nearby waters of the Bay of Bengal.

It's another example of the fact that we really don't know as much about the natural world as we think we do. Irrawaddy Dolphins were thought to be nearly extinct

But in the great weaving of  mangrove-fringed islets and channels that make up the sprawling coast of Bangladesh, biologists have found a thriving population of another species that marine mammal experts had also thought depleted — the  Irrawaddy dolphin. After methodical surveys, biologists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and Chittagong University in Bangladesh estimate that the region is home to 6,000 of the dolphins, by far the largest known population.

There are, of course, more stories about the Irrawaddy dolphins:

WCS Discovers More Irrawaddy Dolphins
By admin_huliq
WCS researchers have discovered a stronghold for one of the world’s rarest freshwater dolphins, the Irrawaddy, deep in the waterlogged jungles of Bangladesh. The scientists counted nearly 6000 of the dolphins in the South Asian ...

Thousands of Rare Irrawaddy Dolphins Discovered in Bangladesh ...
By Andy
Their numbers globally were thought to be in the low hundreds, but yesterday at a conference in Maui conservationists announced they've found thousands of Irrawaddy dolphins living in freshwater regions of Bangladesh's Sundarbans ...

Irrawaddy Dolphins Found Along Bangladesh Coast | Winwab
By admin
A recent observation by US conservationists shows that around 6000 population of endangered dolphins under threat from climate change and fishing. See more.

Rare Irrawaddy dolphins found in Bangladeshi waters | itschaitime.com
By Administrator
Thousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins have been found in Bangladeshi waters, a wildlife advocacy group said Wednesday, a hopeful sign for a vulnerable species.

Thousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins found along Bangladesh coast ...
Population of 6000 endangered dolphins under threat from climate change and fishing, US conservationists warnConservationists claim to have foundthousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins on Bangladesh coast, but warn that the newly ...

Just Now: Save the Irrawaddy Dolphins. Photos of irrawaddy dolphin
By admin
4 Irrawaddy dolphins were captured in Burma for shows right out of the wild! These animals were not in need of help or sick like many in other places these were perfectly normal dolphins snatched from their homes and taken to perform in ...

Irrawaddy Dolphins Not Extinct (Yet): ITOTD | TakePart Social ...
By Danny Jensen
Irrawaddy dolphins, once thought to be one of the many marine mammals nearing extinction, are now reported to be thriving among the islets and channels along.

irrawaddy dolphins | TrendyTwits
By admin
megasun says:About Irrawaddy Dolphins: Population of 6000 endangered dolphins under threat from climate change and fishing, ..

Irrawaddy Dolphins Discovered in Bangladesh | binggobinggo.com
By Mr. Binggo
A previously unknown population of Irrawaddy dolphins discovered in Bangladesh has given scientists great hope for the survival of the rare species.

Wild, Wacky and Wonderful: Irrawaddy Dolphins
By TreeHuggaz
“This discovery gives us great hope that there is a future for Irrawaddy dolphins,” Brian D. Smith of the conservation society, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “Bangladesh clearly serves as an important sanctuary for ...

CAROLINA NATURALLY: Irrawaddy dolphins found in waters of South Asia
By nacktman
Researchers with the Wildlife Conservation Society estimate that nearly 6000 Irrawaddy dolphins, marine mammals that are related to orcas or killer whales, were found living in freshwater regions of Bangladesh's Sundarbans mangrove ...

Thousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins found along Bangladesh ...
By Emil Oniga
Conservationists claim to have found thousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins on Bangladesh coast, but warn that the newly discovered population is under threat from climate change and fishing.

Irrawaddy Dolphins Bangladesh Sightings Videos & Pictures
By poshy
If you know much about dolphins, you would definitely agree that the Irrawaddy Dolphins are one of the rarest. This morning, there was a news and some internet buzz regarding the sightings of the Irrawaddy Dolphins! ...

A Green Zone » Good News! Irrawaddy Dolphins Less Rare Than ...
dire—the baiji in the Yangtze River has been pushed to extinction by expanding human populations; the vaquita in the Gulf of California is critically endangered—the Irrawaddy dolphin in Bangladesh is doing much… Original post: ...

By admin
Good News! Irrawaddy Dolphins Less Rare Than Thought in Bangladesh. irrawaddy dolphin photo photo: Wildlife Conservation Society. Every once in a while there’s a bright light in the world of endangered species and animal conservation ...

Featured Article - Huge Population of Rare Dolphins Discovered
Each discovery of Irrawaddy dolphins is important because scientists do not know how many remain on the planet. In 2008, they were listed as vulnerable in the IUCN Red List based on population declines in known populations. ...

Environment » Blog Archive » Good news on the dolphin front | Blogs |
By Ed Stoddard
I had the great privilege of observing some wild Irrawaddy dolphins in Thailand in 2004 when I was covering a conservation conference and the scientists I was with at the time told me I was unbelievably lucky. ...

Study finds 6000 rare Irrawaddy dolphins off Bangladesh ...
By dan
Thousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins have been found in Bangladeshi waters, a wildlife advocacy group said today, a hopeful sign for a vulnerable species found only in small numbers elsewhere.

Puzzle Inspiration Blog: Study finds 6000 rare dolphins off Bangladesh
By Kenneth Todd
Study finds 6000 rare dolphins off Bangladesh By FARID HOSSAIN – 57 minutes ago DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Thousands of rare Irrawaddy dolphins have been found in Bangladeshi waters, a wildlife advocacy group said Wednesday, ...

Huge population of rare dolphins found - Odd News | newslite.tv
By newslite
Conservationists have discovered a huge population of previously rare dolphins in South Asia. Nearly 6000 Irrawaddy dolphins - which are related to orcas - were found living in freshwater regions of Bangladesh’s Sundarbans mangrove ...

April 1, 2009 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 18, 2008

Go Topless Day

A date in your diaries, ladies, Saturday August 23rd is National Go Topless protest day.

On Saturday 23rd at noon, women (and men) all over America will we stripping off their tops to protest at laws that discriminate against female upper body nudity, when men are allowed to be "topfree".

There will major topless events in several cities and lots of smaller ones elsewhere.  For more information and a list of places to be if you want to take part - or simply show your solidarity by turning up for a gawk - have a look at gotopless.org

Nadine Gary, Las Vegas, letter: A national go-topless protest is ...
In-Forum, ND 
We would like to take this opportunity to let you know that Gotopless.org is organizing an upcoming Gotopless national protest on Aug. ...

The Breast of Times: Go Topless Protest Day
LA Weekly, CA - 9 hours ago
Organizers of Go Topless ask that you put your best breast forward on Go Topless Protest Day and rally with other top-free women and men to demand that "as ...
National Topless Protest Day
Phillyist, PA - Aug 4, 2008
For August 23 the group is encouraging women nationwide to rally bare-chested in public as part of the national protest day. "As long as men can go topless, ...
Raelian Movement Declares Aug. 23 'National Topless Protest Day'
PR Newswire (press release), NY - 1 hour ago
23, the date selected for  the organization's "National Topless Protest Day." "As long as men can go topless, women should have a same and equal right," said ...

August 18, 2008 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 27, 2007

The Fifth Element

The fifth element, for any doing the New York Times crossword, is boron.

October 27, 2007 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 08, 2006

Hopeful Idiot


But yesterday came the eviction order which the company is challenging in court. Andrew Cranswick, 44, ACR's chief executive, said: "I don't believe Zimbabwe would allow illegal seizure of claims without due process."

December 8, 2006 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 22, 2005

Quick Question.

A report out from Platform. Some coverage, like in the Independent.

Iraqis face the dire prospect of losing up to $200bn (£116bn) of the wealth of their country if an American-inspired plan to hand over development of its oil reserves to US and British multinationals comes into force next year. A report produced by American and British pressure groups warns Iraq will be caught in an "old colonial trap" if it allows foreign companies to take a share of its vast energy reserves. The report is certain to reawaken fears that the real purpose of the 2003 war on Iraq was to ensure its oil came under Western control.

However, no sign of the actual report anywhere to see how they reach these numbers.

Anyone got an idea? Platform isn’t answering the phone at present.

Name of the report: "Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq's Oil Wealth"

Update. Platform have just posted it here.

Generally, oil companies make their profits from investing and risking their capital.

These oil companies, so different from every other company out there!

They argue against Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) on the following term:

They fix terms for 25-40 years, preventing future elected governments from changing the contract. Once a deal is signed, its terms are fixed.

Well, yes actually, that’s what contracts are supposed to do.

Thirdly, they generally over-ride any future legislation that compromises company profitability, effectively limiting the government's  ability to regulate. One of the most worrying aspects of PSAs is  that they often contain so-called �stabilisation clauses�, which would           immunise the 60-80% of the oil sector covered by PSAs from all future laws, regulations and government policies. Put simply, under PSAs future Iraqi governments would be prevented from changing tax rates or introducing stricter laws or regulations relating to labour standards, workplace  safety, community relations, environment or other issues. One common  way of doing this is for contracts to include clauses that allocate the 'risks' for such tax or legislative change to the state.(64)  In other words, if the Iraqis decided to change their legislation, they  would have to pick up the bill themselves. The foreign oil company's profits are effectively guaranteed.

Well, quite, contracts are supposed to do that.

Fourthly, PSAs commonly specify that any disputes between the government and foreign companies are resolved not in national courts, but in international arbitration tribunals which will not consider the Iraqi public interest. Within these tribunals, such as those           administered by the International Center for Settlement of Investment  Disputes in Washington DC, or by the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, disputes are generally heard by corporate lawyers and trade negotiators who will only consider the narrow commercial issues and who will disregard the wider body of Iraqi law.

Well, yes, I suppose so. We’dal love to hear Libyan oil cases decided in Libyan court rooms now, wouldn’t we, and we all think that Shell will invest billions if it were so, do we not?

Oh dear Lord:

THE NEED FOR TRANSPARENCY                                 

Ensuring that Iraq's oil wealth benefits the majority of Iraqis is not only a question of the contracts themselves.  Appropriate development also depends on good governance.                              

There are very few oil-producing countries that have managed to prevent corruption in their oil sectors, and Iraq  is no exception. Indeed, during the three decades of national control over the industry, Iraq�s oil wealth was used to sustain a brutal dictatorship and its internal security apparatus, to personally enrich Saddam Hussein and his family, and to finance                   devastating wars with Iraq�s neighbours. Meanwhile, corruption became endemic at all levels of Iraqi officialdom.

Corruption is already a problem in post-Saddam  Iraq. Investigations by US and international agencies into the financial operations of the Coalition Provisional Authority and  Iraq's interim governments have concluded that billions of dollars have been lost due to corruption, theft and inadequate accountability. The vast majority of that money, estimated to be at least $4 billion,       was derived from Iraq's oil income, which was meant to be invested in the reconstruction of the country.(85)                              

Whether Iraq�s oil is held in the public or the private sector, good governance and effective democratic institutions  will be essential. In order to prevent the emergence of another Saddam, it is particularly important to curb the discretionary power of the executive over oil income and expenditure. It is also necessary to ensure that adequate oversight powers are given  to appropriate government bodies and that transparency is enshrined in law.(i) Furthermore, all oil income and expenditure must be included in a transparent  and accountable budgetary process. Auditors should report to parliament and parliamentarians should be able to call ministers and senior officials to account. No national reserve fund should be allowed  to be used as a �slush fund�.(86)

This is the argument they use in favour of a national oil company rather than allowing foreign companies in. Yes, there are such things as market failures but simply pointing to past and current corruption in Government might not be the best way of highlighting this fact.

I mean, the national oil companies of Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, they are such paragons of financial virtue, are they not, never interfered with by politicians or anything?

I’d also note a small statistical sleight of hand used throughout. Yes, in the footnotes they do discuss the concept of Net Present Value. But in the Executive Summary we get these numbers:

At an oil price of $40 per barrel, Iraq stands to lose between $74 billion and $194 billion over the lifetime of the proposed contracts (2), from only the first 12 oilfields to be developed. These estimates, based on conservative assumptions, represent between two and seven times the current Iraqi government budget.

That’s a gross figure. Not NPV. In fact, as they say in the appendix:

So when we consider the profitability of a capital-intensive           project such as an oilfield development, we have to look at discounted           values.

So, all through the report we should be looking at NPV? No? So where is it in the Executive Summary? In a footnote.

The (2006) net present value of the loss to Iraq amounts to between $16 billion and $43 billion at      12% discount rate.

And do they think that 12% is the correct discount rate? Only partially, from the appendix.

The oil industry commonly uses a discount rate of12% in real terms, or 15% in nominal terms (allowing for inflation).

Folks, it’ll have to be someone better at maths than me that tells us what the NPV is at a 15% discount rate. Is there actually a loss at all?

The really strange thing about this report is that they’ve half convinced me that PSAs are not necessarily the best way to go for the Iraqis, given the low up front costs of getting to the easily drilled and already found oil fields. That assumes that their investment numbers are correct.

But all of the other stuff, as above, makes me think in the opposite direction. If they’ve got to sexup their opposition with this sort of sleight of hand then perhaps there is more to PSAs?

Update. From this blog’s contact in the Middle East oil industry.

They are extremely common.  For example, the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) consists of 14 individual operating companies, almost all of which have a foreign shareholder.  For example, the following ADNOC operating companies have shareholdings as listed:

ADCO = 9.5% BP, 9.5% Shell, 9.5% Exxon Mobil, 2% Partex
ADGAS = 15% Mitsui, 10% BP, 5% Total
ADMA-OPCO = 14.67% BP, 13.33% Total, 12% JODCO
GASCO = 15% Total, 15% Shell, 2% Partex
ZADCO = 28% Exxon-Mobil, 12% JODCO

And that's just the main players in Abu Dhabi.

The Petroleum Development Company of Oman (PDO) and the Oman Refinery Company (ORC) both have large Shell shareholdings.

Qatar Petroleum is unusual in that it does not have a foreign shareholding, BUT two large companies - namely Qatargas and Rasgas - were formed by the Qatar government specifically for developing the gas fields in the north of the country.  These two companies split into different projects, Qatargas I, Qatargas II, Rasgas II, etc. and these "project companies" all have enormous foreign shareholdings, specifically Exxon-Mobil in the Qatargas II project (the 2nd largest project in the world).

Kuwait has yet to catch up and bring in foreigners, but I can assure you that within the next year or so they will have completed  a partnership agreement with BP to develop their Northern field.

So, these arrangements are extremely common.  But why?

Firstly, the foreign oil companies like Shell, BP, and Exxon-Mobil are usually far in advance of the national oil companies in terms of HSE, Asset Integrity Management, reservoir technology, etc.  It is therefore in the interests of the asset owners, i.e. the national oil companies to bring in expertise to assist them with their operations.  Given that this is more complicated than just hiring a few experts, as it involves adopting entire management systems such as HSE and maintenance procedures, the best way to do it is to partner up with a foreign major who brings in their own systems and people.  After all, why reinvent the wheel?  ZADCO recently signed a deal giving Exxon-Mobil a 28% ownership of the enormous Upper Zakum field offshore UAE, precisely because ZADCO's assets are getting towards the end of their design life and Exxon-Mobil has the expertise to extend their life and continue to operate them safely.

Secondly, and this is partly related to the first, certain technologies were developed by and are owned by foreign majors and the Middle Eastern companies have found themselves in need of this technology.  The best example of this is the Gas To Liquid (GTL) technology, which converts unassociated gas into semi-stabilised crude. Shell patented this process some time ago, and are the only company to have successfully operated a large GTL plant (in Bintulu, Malaysia). Qatar Petroleum have now instigated a $14bn project, of which Shell are stumping up $9bn to build and enormous GTL plant in Qatar.  Without the Shell involvement, the project could simply never have gone ahead.

Thirdly, there is a cash flow issue. Even though these national companies are resource rich, they have diffiiculty in turning it into ready cash as it must first pass through the layers of government.  Middle Eastern oil companies are surprisingly short of ready cash, and partnering up with a foreign major provides instant investment in the form of cash, enabling them to carry out certain projects without having to wait years for government cash.

For what it's worth, those national oil companies with a prominent western or Japanese major oil company as a partner have a far greater record in areas such as efficiency, safety, and environmental protection, and those companies who stand alone are visibly lagging behind, suffering a far greater rate of downtime and lost time incidents.  If there is one thing the Iraqi national oil company needs, it is a large western supermajor as a joint owner, something that would be enormously beneficial to all concerned parties.



November 22, 2005 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack

November 05, 2005

Oil Prices.

Here’s a pretty good indicator of why BP is not rushing to invest in new production of oil:

The price of oil is grossly inflated and due for a tumble as fresh supplies come on stream and users switch to other forms of energy, BP warned yesterday.

Lord Browne, BP's chief executive, said crude was likely to fall from its current level of around $60 a barrel to nearer $40, and even lower in the long run.

"Our view is the price of oil is unsustainably high and will come down," he told an energy forum in Singapore.

He may be right (I certainly think he is) and he may be wrong but if that’s the way the feel inside BP then they’re not going to be throwing money at projects marginal at current prices now are they?

November 5, 2005 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 28, 2005


A line from the NYT report on oil profits:

Politicians and other critics are asking why the industry allowed its refining capacity to tighten.

Could be two reasons here.

1) No new refinery has been built in the US since 1976. Because people don’t want to have a new refinery built near them.

2) The way in which the EPA (and various State and more local levels of government) insist upon winter and summer fuels, local mixes and special additives. There is no longer a fungible national gas market and of course, the switchover between making these different blends means that the same refinery can in fact refine less.

It could, in fact, be that Government itself has caused the tightening of refining capacity.

October 28, 2005 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 15, 2005

Peter Preston.

Good Grief! How did this man ever prosper as editor of the Guardian? Peter Preston actually shows a great deal of economic literacy in discussing water provision, metering and charging by usage. Whatever is the world coming to?

August 15, 2005 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 10, 2005

Sheep’s Piss in Diesel.

Fun report about Stagecoach using sheep’s urine to reduce pollution:

The urine is collected by the fertiliser industry from farmyard waste and refined into pure urea, which is then sold on to be used in the green engine technology. Ammonia from the urea reacts with nitrous oxides in the exhaust fumes and converts them to nitrogen gas and water, which is released as steam.

All very fun but why the sheep? Urea can be collected from any form of urine....and it is also synthesized on an industrial scale.

June 10, 2005 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 15, 2004

Natural Resource Depeletion.

Over at the Adam Smith Institute Blog Alex Singleton makes a small point about natural resources running out. He uses the example of wheat production growing from 2 tonnes per hectare to 6 tonnes per hectare. There seems to be no reason why this should not continue.
While I agree with him I think the point can be better made using one of the resources that were part of the Ehrlich / Simon bet ( which he also mentions ).
And that is copper.
Unlike wheat which grows each year, and can thus be seen as a renewable resource, even by the most fanatically green of us, copper is obviously limited in that pre the transmutation of the elements, there are a limited number of copper atoms on the planet.
So in one sense of course we must be using that resource up. So why wasn't Ehrlich right in the bet ? Why was copper cheaper in 1990 than in 1980 ? As Simon understood, and as many if not most do not today, there is no such thing as a "resource". There is a " resource at a price". And that price is determined by technology . Just what technologies are available to convert a pile of rock ( to continue the copper story ) into something we can use to make telephone cables and computers ?
And we all know that technology continually marches on.
Just to complete the story, in the early 1980's a new method of copper extraction came into use, the SW/SX process ( check out Google for it , I haven't got that bit of the blog working yet ) , which enabled miners to make useable copper out of what had indeed been piles of rock before.
No, Simon didn't know that this process was about to come online, nor obviously did Ehrlich who actually chose the materials for the bet. But Simon was betting on the march of history, that such new technologies would come from somewhere, and Ehrlich was betting against that tide, as if we had already discovered everything there was to know.
The moral would appear to be that if you know something about economics try and find an insect entomologist to bet against you.

April 15, 2004 in Natural Resources | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack