Monday, April 27, 2015

Chile Deals With Calbuco Volcano's Ash;More Eruptions,Lahars Feared

Four hundred Chilean troops have arrived in the scenic Los Lagos region to assist civilians in recovering from last week's eruption of the Calbuco volcano,the first major eruption in fifty years.There had been no discernible activity since 1972.Ash plumes are still billowing out of the volcano,and the National Office of Emergencies said there have been sporadic secondary explosions,correlated with seismic signals that are in turn associated with the movement of fluids inside the volcano,which suggests more eruptions are on the way.It is a very unstable situation for the trekking mecca.
More than 5,000 people were evacuated from the 20-kilometer exclusion zone,but some areas have been temporarily reopened so people can retrieve personal belongings and begin the cleanup process.The weight of ash has caused the collapse of homes,schools and bridges.It has an estimated aggregate weight of 250 million tonnes so far and has accumulated more than 50 centimeters,or about 19.25 inches,on roofs and streets.It looks like a gray desert,observers say.Lava has melted snow on the mountain,and ash is choking streams as well.There was an effort to rescue salmon from the rivers.Crops and trees are being laid waste.The event is similar in some ways to the eruption of Mount St.Helen's in Washington State on 18 May 1980-almost 35 years ago.
Just as with Mount St.Helen's,the threat of lahars looms large in the mind of scientists.A lahar is a swift,destructive flow of pyroclastic material in the form of hot gas and rock that comes out at a temperature of about 1000 degrees C/1380 F,moving at up to 700 kilometers/450 miles an hour,as well as water,mud and rocky debris,down or across the sides of a volcano.The flood may run hot or cold.It may include huge boulders and scour valleys out,stripping them of all vegetation and killing their wildlife.Millions of trees could be uprooted and deposited downstream by a lahar.Lakes can be devastated,and the channels of rivers and streams rerouted.Homes,bridges and other structures can be washed away or buried in the cataclysmic flow.Death may also befall humans who would not or could not evacuate.Some of Mount St.Helen's 57 victims have never been accounted for,and the unforgettable Spirit Lake was temporarily poisoned and clogged with a mat of tree trunks,the lakeside camps obliterated.Even a small volcanic explosion can trigger a lahar after the main eruption.
Just as with the Mount St.Helen's region,however,the residents of Los Lagos can be confident that,even as nature destroys the ecosystem,she can also heal it.While the people who perished in the eruption and lahars can never be replaced,the forests and wildlife around Mount St. Helen's,and even Spirit Lake,which started to recover within three years,have shown an incredible resilience.
An estimated 1.1 billion dollars of losses have been attributed to the Mount St.Helen's events.

Chile's Calbuco volcano still unstable-reactions of two residents

Calbuco Chile 2015 eruption volcano HD Timelapse

Monday, April 20, 2015

Middle East Threats Help Keep Oil Prices Up

Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour Turki said there was information about a possible act targeting a mall or Saudi Aramco installations.We passed this information to the security forces to be on alert.*
The threat was not specified,but it could be from Houthi rebels in neighbouring Yemen that Saudi Arabia has been in conflict with since 26 March,conducting numerous air strikes on the Iran-backed Houthis with Persian Gulf and other allies participating.It could also be a threat from al-Qaida in the Arabian Penninsula,which has carried out raids on Saudi territory before,or from ISIL,both of which groups are active in Yemen.
Frayed nerves were in evidence Saturday as guards at a shopping mall in central Riyadh barred single men from entering and searched female shoppers' bags,Reuters reported.AQAP militants had staged a car bomb attack on the Aramco refinery at Abqaiq in 2006,but were killed when security forces opened fire on them,causing one of the two car bombs to explode,which in turn damaged a pipeline.After the attack,a dedicated Facilities Protection Force was set up with 40,000 personnel.*
Meanwhile,a proposed pan-Arab security force to counter ISIL and other Islamist extremists is moving closer to reality.On Wednesday,Arab defence chiefs will confer in Cairo on specifics about the force such as how it will be constituted;what its role will be;and the details of financing it,according to the Arab League.The drive was spearheaded by Egypt in the wake of ISIL's February killing of 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians who were citizens of Egypt working in Libya.
On Sunday,there was more trouble when ISIL released a video showing at least 28 Ethiopian Orthodox Christians being executed in two different Libyan locations,on a beach and in the desert,some by shooting and some by beheading.ISIL referred to the victims as followers of the cross from the enemy Ethiopian Church.
The United States condemns in the strongest terms the brutal mass murder purportedly of Ethiopian Christians by ISIL-affiliated militants in Libya,National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said.This atrocity once again underscores the urgent need for a political resolution to the conflict in Libya to empower a unified Libyan rejection of terrorist groups.*
West Texas Intermediate crude closed up 0.64,or 1.15%,to 56.50 bbl;while Brent crude inched up .07,or 0.11%,to 63.52 bbl in Monday trading.Other factors in the increase included a smaller stockpile of WTI crude and a decline in the number of US oil rigs.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Greece Racing To Revise Reform Plan;HBO Sees Red Over Leaked Shows

Athens has till Friday to submit a revised economic reform plan to the Euro Working Group of deputy finance ministers.The EWG will meet on 24 April to decide whether Greece will get more emergency funding to stave off default.It was able to make a payment of 450 million euros to the International Monetary Fund last week.Greece needs to present an ambitious reform list in line with its bailout program and start implementing it,European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombravskis said.
Greek finance ministry staff worked over the Orthodox Easter holiday weekend on the difficult negotiations with Greece's international lenders.The EC is still willing to be flexible,but feels that Greece must also step up to the plate with a serious effort to devise a plan.*
HBO is flustered because the first four episodes of the new season of its smash hit series "Game of Thrones" were leaked by a critic who had received advance copies for review.They have subsequently been viewed by more than three million illegal viewers to date.HBO said it is studying this breach of confidentiality.Some are saying they should just release all the shows at once the way Netflix does.
HBO is a division of Time Warner Communications.*
Time Warner Communications (TWX)

Monday, April 6, 2015

Saudi Aramco Raises Asian Oil Prices;Brent and WTI Prices Follow Suit

Saudi Aramco Oil Co. has raised its prices for all crude grades to be sold to Asia in May by thirty cents,based on strong refining margins in the region and a strong Dubai crude benchmark price.These factors could reflect strong Asian demand for oil.It is the second month in a row the state-owned energy titan has raised crude prices.
Other factors boosting crude prices may include the continued fighting in Yemen between a Saudi-led coalition of states and Iranian-backed Houthi Shiite rebels,and a weaker US dollar on Friday's lackluster employment report;as well as the realisation that sanctions on Iranian oil will not be meaningfully lifted for at least a year,even if the recently achieved framework agreement receives final approval from US and Iranian authorities.Morgan Stanley issued a report saying that,while clearly a bullish headline,a final deal and full lifting of sanctions still faces a number of obstacles.Even if a final deal is reached,we do not expect any physical market impact before 2016,said Adam Longson,head of oil research at the investment bank.
Oil prices on both sides of the Atlantic rose sharply Monday.NYMEX WTI crude futures rose 6.1 % to close at 52.14 bbl;while London Ice Futures Brent crude climbed 5.8% to 58.12 bbl.These were the largest one-day percentage increases since 3 February.
Another factor being cited in the oil price rise was a decline in the US dollar versus the euro Monday.The EURUSD pairing rose 0.06%.New York Federal Reserve Bank president William Dudley also made some concerning remarks,noting that a stronger dollar has given a significant shock to the US economy and low oil prices will exact a meaningful drag on growth as they shackle the energy industry's exploration plans.