Monthly Archives: December 2010

Collahuasi copper mine–quite a run of luck

It seemed like a coincidence that Collahuasi, the world’s third-biggest copper mine, went from a strike right into a port shutdown. But according to this report in La Alternativa, there are those who say the company’s use of scabs to break the strike was a direct cause of the port accident over the weekend. That accident left three workers dead and shut the port. Even to the most hard-hearted might care upon hearing that copper prices set an all time high on the news.

A bit of the article, translated by yours truly:
Continue reading


Citgo, Isla jiggles

A couple news items of note regarding potential changes of control over refineries owned or used by Petroleos de Venezuela SA, Venezuela’s state oil company. Neither of these are serious issues, though they could become serious one day.
Continue reading

U.S. investors to learn about dead miners

U.S. mining companies that file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission may have to say how many workers they killed each quarter under a new rule up for discussion at the SEC. These rules look useful for those of us who as reporters, investors or everyday people like to keep an eye on corporate behavior. The new rule would also require miners to report various types of U.S. regulatory action.

The one problem I see in these rules is that they don’t explicitly apply to operations outside the USA. I already wrote the SEC to ask them to be clear that the rule about reporting deaths, at least, should apply to fatalities both inside and outside the USA, and to give the date and location of each incident.

Otto has the full SEC statement here accompanied by a bit more snark than the nice SEC folks saw fit to include. The SEC comment form is here.

Petrobras through Vennietrans

Original story here. (Nice work Mr. Millard.)

Petroleos de Venezuela SA, Venezuela’s state-run oil company, said production next year will rise by less than half a previous forecast as President Hugo Chavez’s expropriations spree cuts into the OPEC nation’s lifeline.

Output will increase by 3.5 percent to 4 percent, Eulogio del Pino, head of exploration and production, told reporters today in Maracaibo. PDVSA previously said in a presentation that output would rise on average as much as 9.4 percent a year and reach 3.9 million barrels a day in 2014. Daily oil and natural gas output averaged 2.56 million barrels in the first 10 months of 2010, according to its website. Independent analysts including the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries says Venezuela produces less than the official figures.

“The rainy day has arrived for Venezuela,” New York-based A.N. Analyst said. “Chavez has been devouring the golden goose and eventually he has to pay the piper. This will likely hasten his downfall.” Analyst declined to disclose his bank’s position in Venezuela bonds.

PDVSA is working on a new five-year business plan and hasn’t set a specific production target for next year, del Pino said. PDVSA will fall short of its production target for 2010 because the target was politically driven to start with, Analyst said.

PDVSA is seeking to boost output in the Orinoco Belt, which the U.S. Geologic Survey estimates to contain a half-trillion barrels of recoverable oil, to help compensate for aging fields and disinvestment. President Hugo Chavez has slowed Orinoco Belt development with frequent rule changes and by partnering with state oil companies from allied countries.

I’m long Petrobras, through a mutual fund. Which is why I guess I’m glad that no matter what happens to them, it’s not going to change the master narrative of Petrobras as the savior of all retail portfolios.

Oxygen is the dominant atmospheric gas

It is often reported that nitrogen is the most prevalent gas in our atmosphere. For example, Wikipedia says it makes up more than 70% of Earth’s gaseous layer. These claims are often repeated uncritically.

Studies show that the human body absorbs very little nitrogen in the course of respiration. Almost all of the air molecules absorbed into the body are oxygen.

It is clear from these data that statements about nitrogen “dominating” the atmosphere are not only exaggerated, but simply false.