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4 thoughts on “Today’s 4.15PM Link: Egyptian Chronicle

  • Duncan_McFarlan

    Thanks for posting this Craig – will keep an eye on her blog. Egypt's still a long way from democracy unfortunately, though the BBC seem to prefer to pretend that with Mubarak's resignation everything has changed, nothing much has. Suleiman the torturer and Shafik (both Mubarak's people) are in the ruling "military council" along with Generals who served under Mubarak – and Tahrir square has been cleared by the troops with taserings, beatings and shots in the air.

    Doesn't stop Cameron going to help hawk more arms to them.

  • Michael.K

    The events unfolding in the Middle East are… extraordinary, and have the potential to radically change the region, pulling down the old order and putting ordinary people far closer to the centres of power. The article by Robert Fisk in today's Independent is interesting because if the revolts, or instability, spread to Saudi Arabia, which I personally believe is what is going to happen; then the cat will really be out of the bag.

    The House of Saud has grossly mismanaged the kingdom's oil industry for decades, squandering its wealth and pumping too much oil, too quickly, at too low a price. Today the Saudies are systematically lying and concealing the true level of their reserves. Now most of the easy, high-quality oil, is gone. What's left is of far lower quality and harder and more expensive to produce, and this at a time when Saudi domestic consumption is rocketing. Saudi oil reserves are probably less than half the official figure. When this 'news', and the conseaquences, sink in, inside Saudi Arabia and in the markets… the world will begin to change.

  • Michael.K

    One of my oldest friends, we met at a punk-festival decades ago, is from Saudi Arabia. He's a member of the Saudi aristocracy, there are an awful lot of them, around 30,000. Even then he, in private and in strict confidence, told me bizarre tales about the royal family and how they were primitive, enormously corrupt, shocking superstitious, violent, sexually perverted – the younger the beter, incredibly, mind-numbingly greedy – and would stop at nothing to gain status, and access to colossal riches beyond what most mortals can even imagine. He was a revolutionary then, and he, though we now rarely meet in public, hasn't changed. He's been waitng thirty years for the revolution to come and sweep all the 'filth' away, as he expressed it to me, and only then can fresh air and light purify everything.

    That doesn't sound like, (and he's rather a mild person, until roused), the revolution is going to be given the name of a flower, or a pastel shade, but will be something violent, terrible, and very bloody indeed. He, and for obvious reasons I cannot even hint at who, or where is he is in the Saudi hierarchy, ( he told me that political prisoners disappeared into secret prisons in the desert… forever, and can be punished for petty infringements by being bound and shoved into oil drums, and rolled out into the sun to 'stew' as they call it). Years ago he intimated that Saudi oil reserves were far, far, lower than the official, published, figures, claimed; and that there was friction within the ruling elite, which is split by factional infighting and personal rivalries, about what to do about this problem. One group wants to 'come clean' and gradually let the true data, that the reserves are half, or less, get into the public domaine in a controlled fashion, so the shock is minimized… and the possible repercussions. Another, far more powerful group, the leaders around the monarch, are scared stiff of what might happen when ordinary Saudies hear that half the oil is gone already, and the future for the kingdom is completely different to the rosy picture painted by the ruling elite.

    Not only that because the Saudies have drilled too much, and pumped too much, for too long, at too high a rate of extraction; they have actually managed to damage several of their largest oil fields, among them the super-giant Ghawar field, which is the largest in the world, the king of kings. This is forcing them to pump more and more water into the field to keep the pressure up, but this process, pumping millions of gallons of water into the oil field, is itself problematic and is causing even more, complex challenges. What they should do, according to my source, is give the fields a rest and let them recover, because they risk destroying them pumping too much, too quickly, which could, it's happened before, lead to the field collapsing, and then production would fall dramatically.

    Coincidentally, as a book reception a few weeks ago I talked to a guy who said that he'd worked in Saudi Arabia for several years for a UK firm that developed ultra-sophisticated, (based on secret military hardware), data and scanning software, which creates an incredibly accurate and detailed, three dimensional map of the underlying geology of Saudi Arabia. The military use the same basic technique to create underground maps of where enemy bunkers and missiles silos might be. Anyway he told me that they'ed spent four years searching for new oil fields in Saudi Arabia, covering every corner and strip of desert, sometimes more than once. They found absolutely nothing, Nothing, anywhere.

    He compared it to the game Battleships and Cruisers. It's relatively easy to hit the big ships first and then one moves down in size. It's the same with discovering oilfields, one finds the big one's first. In Saudi Arabia, using the most sophisticated techniques known to man, they weren't even discovering, or hitting, tugboats. There is no new oil to be discovered in Saudi Arabia, and there's far less of it than we think, and what's there may be damaged and unstable, with even current production keep artificially and irresponsibly high.

    If, if, all this is true and accurate, which many people in the oil industry, both inside and outside Saudi Arabia suspect it is, then the future, for a number of obvious reasons, is going to be very interesting indeed!

    • Guest

      Interesting informative comment. The rocketing demand for oil and gas, not least because of the exponential expansion in countries like China and India, means the future is looking very bleak indeed. Our economies are addicted to non-renewable energy sources. When addicts with a history of violence are denied their fix, the outcome is predictable.

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