Category: Gas

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Eni’s Damietta liquefied natural gas plant in Egypt. Credit Eni

The Italian energy company Eni knew it was taking a big risk this summer when it spent $60 million on an exploratory rig and began drilling more than 100 miles off the coast of Egypt.

Eni’s gamble worked. The company, using drilling rights from the Egyptian government, found what it called a “supergiant” natural gas field. It may be the largest discovery yet in the Mediterranean and is one of the world’s biggest new gas finds in years.

Eni will need to drill more wells to prove its claim that the field, which it calls Zohr, holds up to 30 trillion cubic feet of gas. That could be worth about $100 billion, even when taking into account current low energy prices. But the promise of Zohr — the Arabic word for noon — is already brightening the prospects of the Egyptian economy, which has been benighted by an energy shortage and years of political turmoil.

As with so many things in the Middle East, however, the discovery of the gas field has geopolitical repercussions. And it has thrust Eni’s chief executive, Claudio Descalzi, into the role of shuttle diplomat.

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Employees stand near pipes made for the South Stream pipeline at the OMK metal works in Vyksa in the Nizhny Novgorod region, April 15, 2014.

Employees stand near pipes made for the South Stream pipeline at the OMK metal works in Vyksa in the Nizhny Novgorod region, April 15, 2014.


— Russia’s controversial South Stream pipeline, which would transport gas via the Black Sea into Europe towards the end of the decade, received support from Turkey on Wednesday when Ankara said it may let the conduit pass through its territory.

Turkey would consider granting access for the line if Moscow made such a request, Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said.

The subject is one of a series of issues including increased gas supply, gas price revisions and nuclear power that Turkey and Russia are set to discuss during talks in Ankara next week, according to Turkish officials.

The future of the 2,400-km (1,490-mile) line from Russia via the Black Sea to Bulgaria and from there further into the European Union, avoiding Ukraine, has been cast into doubt because of Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

The Ukraine crisis has intensified EU efforts to reduce energy dependence on Russia, while Moscow has long sought to curb its reliance on Ukraine as the main pipeline route for sending Russian gas to Europe, its biggest market.

The European commissioner for energy, Guenther Oettinger, said in March that discussions with Russia over South Stream’s regulatory approval in the European Union were on hold.

The EU delay could offer an opportunity to Turkey, where gas demand is rising fast.

“We are open to assessing any request for the line to pass through Turkey’s territory,” Yildiz told reporters when asked about South Stream.

“It is said that there could be such a demand. If there is a request, we will consider it,” said Yildiz, due to hold talks with Alexander Medvedev, deputy head of Russian state-controlled Gazprom, in Ankara on Monday.

South Stream would carry around 60 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas a year to Europe towards the end of the decade, enough to meet more than 10 percent of its annual demand.

Officials said Russia’s annexation of Crimea created a risk for Turkey, noting 12.5 percent of its gas supplies passed through Ukraine, and that steps to prevent a supply problem could be on the agenda next week.

In a letter to European leaders last week, President Vladimir Putin warned Russia would cut natural gas supplies to Ukraine if it did not pay its bills and said this could lead to a reduction of onward deliveries to Europe.

To eliminate such transit risk for Turkey, Ankara proposes to have South Stream enter land in the Thrace region of northwest Turkey rather than Bulgaria, to avoid routing it directly from Russia into an EU country.

“That way Russia will be able to feed directly with the line the Marmara region of Turkey, which has the highest level of consumption,” said an analyst, who declined to be identified.

The construction of a second Blue Stream pipeline, complementing an existing one that runs under the Black Sea from Russia to central Turkey, could also come onto the agenda soon, sources close to the matter said.

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) speaks at a meeting with top officials on gas deliveries to Ukraine at his Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on April 10.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) speaks at a meeting with top officials on gas deliveries to Ukraine at his Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on April 10.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent a letter to leaders of 18 European countries warning of a suspension of gas supplies to Ukraine if Kyiv does not pay off its $2.2 billion gas debt.

The Kremlin said on April 10 that Putin told the European leaders that the “critical situation” over Ukraine’s debt could impact the transit of Russian gas to much of Europe.

He wrote that the state-controlled energy giant Gazprom would be “compelled to switch over to advance payment for gas deliveries” for Ukraine and that if Ukraine remains unable to settle its debt, Gazprom “will completely or partially cease gas deliveries.”

Putin raised concerns about Ukraine siphoning off gas from pipelines leading to Europe and said Ukraine needed some 11.5 billion cubic meters of gas, worth some $5.5 billion, to fill the country’s underground storage tanks.

Putin also wrote Russia is prepared to take part, along with the European Union, in efforts to restore Ukraine’s economy.


Aid to Ukraine not forever: Putin

Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW. — Russia does not recognise the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new authorities, but continues its economic assistance to its crisis-hit neighbour, a situation that will not last forever, Russian president Vladimir Putin said yesterday.
“As you know, our partners in Europe recognise the legitimacy of the current Kiev authorities, but are doing nothing in order to support Ukraine; not a single dollar, not a single euro,” Putin said.

“The Russian Federation doesn’t recognise the legitimacy of the authorities in Kiev, but will continue to give it economic support and subsidise Ukraine’s economy with hundreds of millions and billions of dollars for now.

“This situation, of course, can’t continue eternally,” the Russian leader added.
He demanded that Russia remain disciplined and fulfil all contract obligations with Ukraine, but added that the country must be prepared to replace Ukrainian goods and correct state defence orders.

“I ask you to be disciplined and fulfil all contract obligations with our Ukrainian partners, but we need to be prepared for any development in the situation . . . including import replacements,” Putin said during a meeting of senior officials.


Little expected from Ukraine talks

Updated: 04:53, Thursday April 10, 2014

Little expected from Ukraine talks

The US says it is going into an upcoming meeting with Russia, Europe and Ukraine on the crisis in the former Soviet republic with low expectations.

‘I have to say that we don’t have high expectations for these talks, but we do believe it is very important to keep that diplomatic door open and will see what they bring,’ Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European affairs, said on Wednesday.

US and EU diplomats have agreed with Russia to hold four-way negotiations involving Ukraine next week to de-escalate the worst European security crisis in decades.

An EU diplomat said the talks would likely be held on April 17 in Vienna.

In signs that Russia will continue its pressure on the Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has warned the country may begin requiring advance payment for gas supplies unless Ukraine comes to the negotiating table over its unpaid energy bills.


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Price tag for Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500

Published time: March 20, 2014 12:10

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

Reuters / Sergej Vasiljev

The price of Russian gas to Ukraine could rise to $500 per 1,000 cubic meters, as future developments in relations between Moscow and Kiev remain vague.

From April 1 the price Ukraine pays for Russian gas will go up to $360-$370 per 1,000 cubic metres, after Russia cancelled the discount agreed in late December, Pavel Zavalny, the head of Russian Gas Society told Izvestia newspaper.

In the worst case scenario, and Ukraine decides to take over Russian property, as well as new threats from radical nationalists, the price could jump to as high as to $500, the paper added.


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Russia to redirect trade elsewhere in case of EU-US sanctions

Published time: March 19, 2014 16:59

Russian President's Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov (RIA Novosti / Aleksey Nikolsky)

Russia will switch to other trade partners if economic sanctions are imposed by the US and the European Union, the Russian President’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov has said.

“If one economic partner on the one side of the globe impose sanctions, we will pay attention to new partners from the globe’s other side. The world is not monopolar, we will concentrate on other economic partners,” RIA news quotes Peskov.

According to him, possible economic sanctions by the US and EU on Russia are unacceptable, and the Russian Federation intends to offer further economic cooperation with the European Union.

“We want to keep good relations with the EU and with the US. Especially with the European Union as it is the main economic, investment and trade partner of the Russian Federation. Our mutual economic dependence assumes that we shall have good relations,” the Russian President’s Press Secretary declared. He also emphasized that discussion of global economic problems without involvement of Russia can’t be a complete discussion.

In a Tuesday telephone conversation between Russia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov and the US Secretary of State John Kerry they discussed the situation in Ukraine, and Lavrov said sanctions imposed by the US and the European Union against the Russian Federation are absolutely unacceptable and won’t come without consequences.

According to data from the EU’s Eurostat, Russia accounts for 7 percent of imports and 12 percent of exports in the 28 European Union bloc, making it the region’s third most important trading partner, behind the USA and China.

In turn, the EU is Russia’s biggest trade and investment partner, with trade turnover estimated at $330 billion in 2012.


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Green Fade-Out:Europe to Ditch Climate Protection Goals

By Gregor Peter Schmitz in Brussels

Europe may be backing away from its ambitious climate protection goals. Zoom


Europe may be backing away from its ambitious climate protection goals.

The EU’s reputation as a model of environmental responsibility may soon be history. The European Commission wants to forgo ambitious climate protection goals and pave the way for fracking — jeopardizing Germany’s touted energy revolution in the process.

The climate between Brussels and Berlin is polluted, something European Commission officials attribute, among other things, to the “reckless” way German Chancellor Angela Merkel blocked stricter exhaust emissions during her re-election campaign to placate domestic automotive manufacturers like Daimler and BMW. This kind of blatant self-interest, officials complained at the time, is poisoning the climate.


But now it seems that the climate is no longer of much importance to the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, either. Commission sources have long been hinting that the body intends to move away from ambitious climate protection goals. On Tuesday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported as much.

At the request of Commission President José Manuel Barroso, EU member states are no longer to receive specific guidelines for the development ofrenewable energy. The stated aim of increasing the share of green energy across the EU to up to 27 percent will hold. But how seriously countries tackle this project will no longer be regulated within the plan. As of 2020 at the latest — when the current commitment to further increase the share of green energy expires — climate protection in the EU will apparently be pursued on a voluntary basis.

Climate Leaders No More?

With such a policy, the European Union is seriously jeopardizing its global climate leadership role. Back in 2007, when Germany held the European Council presidency, the body decided on a climate and energy legislation package known as the “20-20-20” targets, to be fulfilled by the year 2020. They included:

  • a 20 percent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions;
  • raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20 percent;

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– Andrea Germanos, staff writer

A document obtained by several news agencies last week shows Democrats preparing to target tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations as part of congressional negotiations to meet a Dec. 13 deadline for a budget deal.

(Photo by Neil Parekh/SEIU Healthcare 775NW) Not on the list of Democrats’ targets: tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry.

The Hill reported that the list

contains 12 examples of the types of “tax loopholes” that [Democrats] would like to see closed in a year-end budget deal. Most have been proposed many times before.

Combined, the items on the list would raise $264 billion in revenue over 10 years, more than enough to switch off two years’ worth of the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

Bloomberg reported that

In addition to closing what Democrats call the “John Edwards/Newt Gingrich loophole,” the party’s list of options includes carried-interest treatment that allows hedge fund managers and private equity advisers to pay a 20 percent tax rate on their income instead of the nation’s top income rate of 39.6 percent. Ending that break would save more than $17 billion over a decade, according to the Democrats’ estimates.

Another lets U.S. companies deduct their expenses when they send their plants overseas, which Democrats say encourages offshoring of American jobs. It would raise $200 million. Ending preferences for corporate jets and subsidies for yachts and vacation homes, combined, would bring in another $19 billion.

“The list makes clear that Democrats believe they can win public support by targeting tax breaks that they can portray as subsidies for the rich,” according to Reuters.

Republicans have been demanding cuts in Social Security and Medicare in exchange for changes to sequestration spending cuts, and that has failed to be met by a widespread Democratic pushback.

Progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have called for an “End [to] tax breaks and subsidies for oil, gas and coal companies to reduce the deficit by more than $113 billion over the next 10 years”—a call echoed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s “Back to Work Budget,” which calls for an elimination of corporate tax subsidies for oil, gas, and coal companies.

But preserving tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry appears to have widspread bipartisan consensus.

The fact that fossil fuel companies are not on the list of targets may be a result of Democrats’ “embrace” of fossil fuels, the Financial Times reported.

James Politi reported at the Financial Times that the omission may “point to an increasing willingness among Democrats to embrace America’s domestic energy boom as a source of economic strength.”

The FT also quotes the American Petroleum Institute as saying there is “growing bipartisan opposition” to taxes that target oil and gas industries.


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MissingSky101 MissingSky101

Published on Oct 12, 2013

Gov’t Officials: “All of Japan” at risk of food and water having serious contamination from Fukushima, now and into future — Land is contaminated out to 250 kilometers from plant (VIDEO)……

Government holds nuclear disaster drill
The Japanese government held a nuclear disaster drill on Saturday, the first since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.
The second day of the drill was based on a scenario in which a major earthquake hits the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, causing a loss of cooling functions for the number 2 reactor.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and cabinet ministers took part in an exercise at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo.
Abe declared a state of emergency and issued an evacuation order for residents living within a 5-kilometer radius of the plant. The order was based on government guidelines that were revised after the accident in Fukushima.
The prime minister’s residence was linked by videophone with the Kagoshima prefectural government to coordinate a response by an emergency taskforce.
Abe instructed the ministers to do all they could to help the local government carry out the evacuation and monitor for possible radioactive leakage.

Japan, Canada to increase shale gas cooperation
Japan and Canada have agreed to increase cooperation in the trading of shale gas.
Japan’s Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and Canada’s Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver reached an agreement on Friday in Vancourver.
They confirmed in a statement that the two countries will work together to start shipping shale gas to Japan from western Canada where a number of gas development projects are underway.
Japanese companies are taking part in some of those projects. Japan’s government will offer financial support to build ports and gas liquefying facilities.

Nuclear Engineer: So many different ways to destabilize Fukushima reactor buildings and melted cores, hard to predict exactly which one — Japan Academic: Facilities at plant very unstable, Unit 4 fuel rods very vulnerable (VIDEOS)………

High radiation near N-plant water tanks
FUKUSHIMA (Jiji Press)—Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday high radiation levels have been detected near three water storage tanks at the company’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The highest reading was 69.9 milli- sieverts per hour near one of the three radioactive water storage tanks west of the No. 1 reactor building.…

Fukushima; Dysfunction Olympics

Low Level Nuclear Radiation In Food And Water…

Nuclear Accidents, Recycling Nuclear Weapons/Fuel…

Fukushima cleanup workers’ radiation feared 20% higher…

Flood raises questions at Rocky Flats…

Atomic Energy — Unnecessary, Uneconomic, Uninsurable, Unevacuable and Unsafe…

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry


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Truckers To Shut Down America's photo.

Ride For the Constitution

Friday, October 11 at 10:00am in EDT

>Washington, District of Columbia in Washington, District of Columbia

144 people are going
Truckers To Shut Down America

Truckers To Shut Down America

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  • Community
    The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America! We therefore declare a GENERAL STRIKE on the weekend of October 11-13, 2013! Truck drivers will not haul freight! Americans can strike in solidarity with truck drivers!


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SHTF Plan - When The Shit Hits the Fan, Don't Say We Didn't Warn You - Preparedness, Planning, News, and Commentary

Convoy to D.C. – Truckers To Shut Down America in October

Mac Slavo
September 17th, 2013


Last year the American Truckers Association prepared a report for Congress highlighting the susceptibility of the nation’s just-in-time delivery system, the majority of which is made possible by the transport and delivery of freight. In the event of a catastrophic disaster such as a war that drives fuel prices through the roof or even a natural disaster such as a solar flare that renders electronic trucks inoperable, there would be a “a swift and devastating impact on the food, healthcare, transportation, waste removal, retail, manufacturing, and financial sectors,” according to the report.

The backbone of commerce in the United States are the truck drivers who spend long hours on the road ensuring our very survival as a modern society.

But with fuel prices continuing to rise, wages dropping, jobs becoming harder to find, and rampant corruption in Washington D.C. furthering the country’s economic death spiral, America’s truck drivers, like the majority of our fellow citizens, are fed up.

Between October 11th and 13th they have called for a general strike, asking truck drivers around the country to refuse to haul freight, a move that could carry with it a significant impact on the American economy.

The protest calls for truckers to make their way to Washington D.C. in a massive convoy in an effort to call attention to, among other things, the Benghazi cover-up, the recent attack which killed 25 members of Seal Team 6, ever rising fuel prices, and claims that President Obama has engaged in treasonous crimes.

Moreover, they’ve requested that the American people join them in solidarity by not shopping or engaging in any economic activity that benefits the government or their corporate interests.

The American people are sick and tired of the corruption that is destroying America! We therefore declare a GENERAL STRIKE on the weekend of October 11-13, 2013! Truck drivers will not haul freight! Americans can strike in solidarity with truck drivers!

Breaker 1 9 calling on all Trucker to shut America down for three days October 11-13. The American people are bleeding out with no relief in sight, It is time to change the NEWS. Let us show our elected officials that we are 100% fed up with corruption and the blatant disregard of the Constitution that they swore to defend.

Bob tail it hammer down to the bull$hit city with flags flying high.

My fellow Patriot this effort is to support the truckers in a major shut down of America ion a 3 day strike October 11th thru 13th.

Obamacare will be in effect and most people will be ready to take action. No commerce on those days stock up on items that you will need. No banking no shopping no money transactions. It does not matter If a million or 50 roll through DC in this effort. Congress will listen to We The People. Which is remove Obama from office for crimes of treason and misdemeanors. We want Congressional hearing on Benghazi and Seal Team 6. Louis Learner put in jail. No amnesty, remove all Muslims in our government that do not uphold the Constitution. Remove Eric Holder from office for crimes against the people and the Constitution. Last but not least is Fuel prices.

Via: The Truckers to Shutdown America Facebook Page

The protest comes on the heels of a massive biker rally held in Washington D.C., and other grass roots efforts to hold the government to account for various Constitutional transgressions including everything from stripping Americans of their right to bear arms, to forced health care mandates soon to be implemented across the country (with exemptions for members of Congress and corporations with insider access, of course).

Calls of accountability have grown louder over the years from all political sides, starting most notably with the Tea Party movement and progressing to Occupy Wall Street.

The corruption and need for real change in America’s government has transcended political lines.

If the hundreds of thousands of truckers across America who keep our delivery systems running efficiently were to join together and stop hauling freight for even a week, the impact would be devastating and could not be ignored.

There’d be no food on the shelves, no fuel at our gas stations, and no medical supplies at our pharmacies and hospitals.

Congress and the President, who would like nothing more than to be perceived as our saviors and benefactors, would have no choice but to address the concerns of freight haulers, because the American people would feel the effects of the protest directly. And, chances are they’d be in the streets protesting themselves because of lack of access to essential goods they can’t live without.

We may often feel as if we, as individuals, have no power against the mighty United States government, but as Karl Denninger points out, we have much more power than we think.

If we get just 10% of America on board the entire game changes.

Especially when the business world — and government — realize that the next one is Black Friday weekend.

Just 10% of Americans can change the course of history, much like they did during the Revolutionary War.

Whether it happens in October, during Black Friday sales this November, or at some point in the future, this seemingly untenable situation is coming to a head.

Robert Kennedy may have said it best:

A revolution is coming — a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough — But a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability.

Robert Kennedy
Senate Floor
May 9, 1966

The snowball in America continues to roll down the hill, gaining speed and mass.

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The New American

Tuesday, 10 September 2013 15:55

Written by 

The quiet revolution going on in the energy sector as a result of fracking is being punctuated by changes unseen and unappreciated, such as the recent announcement by Warren Buffett’s railroad, BNSF Railway. The largest railroad in the country, BNSF is testing the use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to drive the company’s locomotives, which currently use more diesel fuel than any other entity except the U.S. Navy.

In the announcement, BNSF chairman Matthew Rose called the change “transformational:”

The use of liquefied natural gas as an alternative fuel is a potential transformational change for our railroad and for our industry.

This pilot project is an important first step … [in] potentially reducing fuel costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

As the price of natural gas has fallen compared to the price of oil, the economic math is increasingly persuasive. At the current price for one million BTUs of natural gas, it would cost companies such as BNSF less than $20 for the energy equivalent in a barrel of oil costing $110. The explosion in natural gas in the United States has reduced the “landed price” of natural gas to one quarter of its price in the U.K., and one fifth of its cost elsewhere in the world. In the real world where BNSF operates, diesel fuel costs the company nearly $4 per gallon compared to just over $2 per gallon for large LNG users — a potential savings of 50 percent.

This is driving the BNSF test, according to Rose: “The changed market for natural gas in the United States is a critical part of our decision to explore it as a locomotive fuel.”

BNSF isn’t the first energy-dependent company to do the math, either. Waste Management (WM) has already started converting its fleet of 18,000 diesel trucks to LNG and expects to have the change-over completed soon. Said WM’s CEO David Steiner:

This conversion makes good business sense for our company and our shareholders because of the significant maintenance and diesel fuel cost savings. It’s much cleaner for the environment and our LNG trucks are much quieter.

Also doing the math is LA Metro, the public transportation system that serves Los Angeles. LA Metro, with the most LNG buses in the country — some 2,200 — estimates its fleet has already driven more than one billion miles on natural gas and has cut the release of particulates by 80 percent and greenhouse gases by 300,000 pounds every day. In addition, it has cut its fuel costs by between 10 and 20 percent.

This is just the beginning, according to the international energy consultant firm IHS. In its recently released study America’s New Energy Future, IHS says that the increases in natural-gas supplies and resultant lowering of energy costs have already increased household incomes, boosted international trade, and raised American competitiveness. In 2012 alone, according to IHS, the average family saved $1,200 in lower energy bills and lower costs for all other goods and services. That figure is expected to continue to rise as energy costs decline, with savings approaching $2,000 by 2015 and $3,500 by the year 2025.

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Warren Buffett Buys Over $500 Million of Suncor Tar Sands Stock, Latest in “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Warren Buffett – the fourth richest man on the planet and major campaign contributor to President Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 – may soon get a whole lot richer.

That’s because he just bought over half a billion bucks worth of Suncor Energy stock: $524 million in the second quarter of 2013, to be precise, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Suncor is a major producer and marketer of tar sands via its wholly owned subsidary Petro-Canada (formerly Sunoco) and this latest development follows a trend of Buffett enriching himself through dirty investments and deal-making.

So far in 2013, Suncor (formerly Sun Oil Company) has produced 328,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude.

Though he receives far less negative press than the Koch Brothers, Buffett’s no deep green ecologist. Not in the slightest.

Referred to as one of 17 “Climate Killers” by Rolling Stone‘s Tim Dickinson in a January 2010 story, Buffett owns the behemoth holding company, Berkshire Hathway. It’s through Berkshire that he’s making a killing – while simultaneously killing the ecosystem – through one of its most profitable wholly-owned assets: Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF).

Buffett purchased BNSF for $26 billion and was “the largest acquisition of Buffett’s storied career,” Dickinson wrote.

BNSF hauls around frac sand for the controversial horizontal oil and gas drilling process known as “fracking.” The rail company also moves fracked oil from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin, tar sands logistical equipment and tar sands crude itself and tons of coal. And not only does Buffett’s BNSF haul around ungodly amounts of coal, he actually owns coal-burning utility companies, too.

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By Thomas Hüetlin

Photo Gallery: Cars for Co-Consumers 
Maurice Weiss/ DER SPIEGEL

As collaborative consumption becomes increasingly mainstream, many young Germans are starting to see vehicle ownership as inconvenient and old-fashioned. Keen to keep up, the auto industry is turning to car-sharing.

Imagine a road trip that starts on a narrow backstreet in Rome, bathed in the rosy light of dawn. Visualize driving along roads lined with pine trees, past hill-top villages, motoring from the ocean to snow-capped mountains. Then on to Paris, London, and finally to the green hills of Scotland, stretched out before you like a giant golf course.


Own a car, and live the dream. Climb into a cozy interior, as familiar and comfortable as your own living room. Then head out into the great unknown in search of adventure, away from everyday life, all your senses thrilling at the grand vistas, the freedom and the speed.

Matthias Lorenz-Meyer freezes these images on his computer screen with a click of his mouse. His trip from Rome to Edinburgh lasted three weeks, and required two tanks of gas. But the vehicle didn’t belong to him. It belonged to Ford. He was paid handsomely for the journey — the film was a commercial. He sold his own car, a Renault Twingo, last year. “I’m glad I got rid of it,” he says. “It was a drag.”

Lorenz-Meyer is an advertising model and Internet entrepreneur, not a dropout or a fanatic. He is one of the many Germans under 40 living in cities who are both a puzzle and a worry to the auto industry. The reason? They no longer care about owning their own vehicles.

In Germany, the home of the automobile and where the auto industry is still a key sector of the economy, this is almost akin to a betrayal.

Around 46 percent of people living in the capital Berlin manage without their own vehicle. In New York, the figure is as high as 56 percent. Urban residents who still have vehicles don’t use them very often, either. In Munich, the average vehicle is in use for just 45 minutes a day. The rest of the time it’s just sitting there costing money in insurance, tax, depreciation and probably parking fees.

Many residents of larger cities see owning their own vehicle as something they can do without, as annoying excess baggage. Vehicle sales have dropped dramatically among the target customers of tomorrow. The purchasers of new vehicles are getting older. Since 1995, the average age has risen from 46 to 52.

For young people, other things matter more. “Young people today want to be mobile, and a cell phone gives them completely different possibilities when it comes to a vehicle,” says Michael Kuhndt, head of the Wuppertal Institute Collaborating Center on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP).

In the old days, the automobile was something everyone had to have. It symbolized independence and adulthood. These days, young people are geographically and virtually mobile, for which they need a mobile phone. A vehicle doesn’t help them travel to Honduras, New Zealand or Vietnam.

“Mobile phones really open up the possibilities for living in various parts of the world,” says Kuhndt. “Young people think of automobiles as too heavy, too much of a burden.”

Fighting Back

The auto industry, unwilling to lose its young customers, is fighting back with car-sharing — hoping to restore interest in the automobile with an alternative payment system. Mercedes, through its subsidiary car2go, supplies Smarts in Munich, Hamburg, Cologne, Berlin and elsewhere. BMW supplies Mini Coopers, BMW 1 Series and X1s through its DriveNow program. Citroën offers the electric C-Zero through Multicity. And the German railway company Deutsche Bahn offers various models through its Flinkster system, from Fiat 500s to Volkswagen Golfs.

Usage is generally calculated on a time basis: 29 euro cents a minute with car2go, 28 cents with Multicity, 31 cents a minute with DriveNow. Customers register with one or more firms, pay a registration fee and receive an electronic chip by post. Via a smartphone app, they can find out where the closest vehicle is. When they finish their journey, they park, get out and go. The bill is then sent by email to their phone. It’s an uncomplicated service that clearly works: At the end of 2011, Germany had around 260,000 registered car-sharers; at the beginning of 2013, there were already more than 450,000.

According to figures published by the Fraunhofer Institute, the number of automobiles in Germany will halve by 2050. “The cities are green, pleasant places to live, pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly; there are ample car-sharing parking spots and cycle stations at every larger transport hub,” say the authors of the study “A sustainable transport vision for Germany.” Even in the United States — the No. 1 energy consumer among industrial nations — one shared car will replace at least eight private passenger vehicles in the future, according to calculations by the study’s authors.

Car-sharing is part of a social trend in which consumers prefer to share certain items with each other rather than own them. Smartphones make this possible, allowing individuals to move around the modern city and get whatever they need at different points during the day.

The trend reflects the flexibility of new lifestyles and careers. For Internet entrepreneur Matthias Lorenz-Meyer, the smartphone forms the center of his existence. For Constanze Siedenburg, graphic designer and spokesperson for the Green Party on school and sports policies in Berlin’s Pankow district, life revolves around her local area and family, but as a road user she has much in common with Lorenz-Meyer. She too has sold her car and now drives vehicles that don’t belong to her. The lifestyle choices of both the happily single Internet entrepreneur and the environmentally-aware mother of two illustrate what mobility in major Western cities could look like in the years to come.

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