Monthly Archives: June 2012

Chickens, roost

US Air Force fuel consumption: 2.5 billion gallons a year

2.5 billion gallons a year is 163,000 barrels a day

That puts the US Air Force, with a population of about 500,000, between Ireland (population 4.5 million) and Belarus (9.5 million) as the world’s 62nd biggest consumer of refined fuel.

Now, the Air Force Academy is threatened by a wildfire that may have something to do with climate change.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Fire crews fought to save the U.S. Air Force Academy and residents begged for information on the fate of their homes Wednesday after a night of terror sent thousands of people fleeing a raging Colorado Springs wildfire.

More than 30,000 have been displaced by the fire, including thousands who frantically packed up belongings Tuesday night after it barreled into neighborhoods in the foothills west and north of Colorado’s second-largest city. With flames looming overhead, they clogged roads shrouded in smoke and flying embers, their fear punctuated by explosions of bright orange flame that signaled yet another house had been claimed.

Sad all around. I can only hope that smoke and flames get through the heads of some climate change denialists where logic has failed. (No, not literally through their heads.)

Venezuela protects guy who allegedly ripped off Citgo

Hey, remember Guillermo David Clamens and FTC Capital Markets?

The Venezuelan Supreme Court decided April 13 to free Clamens and to deny his extradition to the United States, where he was wanted for allegedly stealing $50 million from Citgo, the US unit of Venezuelan state oil company.

Unlike the last case of a Venezuelan financier who ripped off PDVSA, at least the police this time made the motions of taking the guy in. But in the end, Venezuelan justice said no to extradition of Mr. Clamens, who is wanted for conspiracy and wire fraud in New York. I’m no expert at reading Venezuela court filings but from what I can understand, they say that the US didn’t prove that the Clamens they want is the same guy as the Clamens who lives in Venezuela, and moreover Venezuelan law doesn’t allow the extradition of Venezuelan citizens — and Clamens is one. The odd part in this case is that the original complaint in the case came from the US SEC, naming Venezuela’s state oil company as a victim, but from what I can see in the Venezuelan court website, the Bolivarian Republic hasn’t filed its own case against this guy. That is, it was Citgo — part of PDVSA — that first went to authorities, causing the SEC and US Attorney to go after Clamens. But now PDVSA isn’t continuing to pursue the dude now that he is in PDVSA’s home turf in Venezuela.

As far as I can see, this hasn’t been covered anywhere previously, so enjoy your scoop du jour. Here’s the background. Continue reading

Metablog: Why & how journalists should post notes in public

Felix Salmon writes about the incredible Noah Lehrer and his recent challenges as a blogger at the New Yorker. But he isn’t writing about Noah Lehrer, he’s writing an open letter to all of you reporters out there — and yes, I can see you through these little holes in the Internet, reading this blerg. This is my open notebook. You should have one too. Your work will be better for it. Go read Felix’s diatribe on the topic.

Venezuela arbitration watch: Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics

I have never heard of this “Bolivian Republic of Venezuela” defendant, but maybe they mean Bolivarian. Anyway, Saint-Gobain is the parent company of NorPro, which made proppants — little ceramic balls — at a factory in Venezuela that got nationalized on a rainy night in 2010. And now there’s a new case called “Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Europe v. Bolivian Republic of Venezuela” and you can see it on the ICSID website if you so please. And you owe me one, cause those direct links to ICSID pages aren’t easy to come by.

Venezuela now has 21 officially pending cases at ICSID, rapidly closing in on leader Argentina, which has 25. Noel Maurer wrote the other day about Argentina and Icsid and if you care about these things you’ll like his article.

Chile and the temptations of petro-populism

It would be hard to find two countries more opposite within South America than Chile and Venezuela. Excessively rigid rules vs. no rules. Homages to a right-wing dictator vs. homages to a left-wing dictator. Majority white European vs. a rainbow of mestizaje. Wheat, wine, apples, softwoods and salmon vs. oil, rum, mangoes, chemicals, and red snapper.

But there’s one thing everyone can agree on: we want cheap gas, cheap parking, and unlimited road space for our death monsters. Continue reading

Pacific Rubiales responds (PRE.to)

(Updated.)
Pacific Rubiales (PRE.to) counsel Peter Volk wrote a comment on this site this morning (and this time I’ve confirmed that it was him) and in the name of equal time I am pointing you that way and reproducing the letter here. I think it’s important to hear the company’s side of the story. Without additional commentary, the letter:

My name is Peter Volk and I am General Counsel for Pacific Rubiales (PRE) and, in the spirit of full disclosure, also General Counsel for PetroMagdalena (PMD). It is not corporate policy for either company to reply to web posts but I feel it is important that the record be set straight. I can categorically deny and reject the notion that the email referenced above and quoted in your blog on the proposed acquisition of PMD by PRE was sent by Mr. Iacono; while he may disagree with many of your posts, as you know, he has never responded before and there is little reason or incentive for him o respond to that particular one, despite its many inaccuracies (only one of which I will point out, because it is rather critical – PMD subscribers at $0.30 also saw their securrities consolidated on a 7 for 1 basis, so their actual current cost is $2.10). Mr. Iacono, PRE and the PMD board all believe that the transaction delivers value in an increasingly difficult market, and have the confidence in the value proposition to allow shareholders to decide if this is true. PMD will be issuing a shareholder circular shortly that makes this case, and therefore there is no reason or benefit to responding to blogs (other than, I guess, this response).

I am not an IT person but I do appreciate your pointing out what could possibly be a security breach, which we will be investigating. In the future, please feel free to call me first to verify the provenance of any such emails.

Finally, my thanks to all of you for a very healthy discussion on the proposed transaction and its potential benefits.

Yours truly,

Peter Volk
General Counsel, PRE and PMD

Regardless of anything else in this letter, on one thing he’s dead-on: In the future, I’m going to call to verify the provenance of mails claiming to come from companies. Anyway, thanks Mr. Volk for taking the time to write, and please keep in touch.

Workers’ Paradise (PDVSA)

“The Offshore Division’s actions are an accelerated march toward the greatest possible sum of happiness for the people of Sucre state, and for the country.” Thus, Petroleos de Venezuela SA pats itself on the back for buying three new diesel/natural gas electricity generation plants for use on an offshore gas production platform. (No word on price, delivery date, or middlemen, naturally.)

Other recent news stories that may have less to do with “marching toward the greatest possible sum of happiness”: Continue reading