Category Archives: Uncategorized

China plans huge Brazil-Peru rail link

Interoceanic Highway

The new road climbing out of the Amazon into the Andes

Story here.

Chinese premier Li Keqiang is to push controversial plans for a railway through the Amazon rainforest during a visit to South America next week, despite concerns about the possible impact on the environment and on indigenous tribes.

Currently just a line on a map, the proposed 5,300km route in Brazil and Peru would reduce the transport costs for oil, iron ore, soya beans and other commodities, but cut through some of the world’s most biodiverse forest.

The six-year plan is the latest in a series of ambitious Chinese infrastructure projects in Latin America, which also include a canal through Nicaragua and a railway across Colombia. The trans-Amazonian railway has high-level backing. Last year, President Xi Jinping signed a memorandum on the project with his counterparts in Brazil and Peru. Next week, during his four-nation tour of the region starting on Sunday, Li will, according to state-run Chinese media, suggest a feasibility study.

 

The criticisms are similar to those that met the Interoceanic Highway project along the same general route a decade ago. When I traveled that road in 2011, when it was mostly paved but still missing a couple final links, I found that the most of the predictions of doom had failed to come true, while there were some clear benefits from the road construction. However, the bad news may have been bubbling away, and I haven’t been back to see if things stayed so positive once the road was fully open.

Time to go back!

Important crime news

That’s right, very important, right here.

Nice-Pak Products, Inc., a manufacturer of wet wipes, will stop advertising moist toilet tissue as flushable unless it can substantiate that the product is safe to flush.

That’s under a settlement between the company and the Federal Trade Commission.

nicepak

Nice-Pak was represented by Trenton Norris of Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C.

Nice-Pak will no longer claim that its moist toilet tissue is safe for sewer and septic tanks unless it has substantiation for those claims.

Nice-Pak will also stop providing trade customers, such as retailers, with information to make such unsubstantiated claims.

Oh wait, no. That’s not the important one. This is.

Y en español también.

h/t quico

UPDATE. But seriously. Can you all please take your triumphalist “ooh la la here comes the collapse of el rrregimen” and just shut up and think for a minute?

This all is not especially good news. Find me an example of a country where the US has taken out top members of the government and things got significantly better within a decade. If this is really the way things are going, then it’s where things are going. But please don’t pretend that this is good news. This is horrible news. If the US moves on Cabello and/or other top members of the Venezuelan state, we are probably looking at a long period of extreme instability. Not fun.

And forget about Diosdado and friends. What about all these scumballs who are turning state’s witness? You think these are some sorts of charmers? Why do you suppose that the US has never brought charges against the many people whose criminal activity has been decently described on this website, and even more on those of Alek Boyd or Caracas Gringo? These are not nice people. These are assholes who have stolen, quite often, hundreds of millions of dollars from the people of Venezuela. And since they are able to give a bit of chisme on Diosdado Cabello, they get to live out their days in fancy suburban homes and send their kids to fancy universities and live happily ever after, while Venezuela falls ever deeper into a pit.

It’s a disaster, it’s a mess, and the people who should be doing something about it are the people of Venezuela, especially the relatively well off, literate and networked expatriates. But the extent of their organizing is to retweet Nelson Bocaranda once a day and then go back to the pool.

ANOTHER UPDATE: What the Devil says.

Pacific Rubiales takeover situation gets truly weird

I never thought I’d just repost a press release from Orlando Alvarado on my blog. An Orlando Alvarado was at one point CFO of Derwick Associates, according to a lawsuit that company filed in 2012, and Alek Boyd says he confirmed somehow that one of these companies includes in its owners the chairman of Derwick Associates. So, this all looks terribly Derwicky, though the documentation is as yet a bit thin.

And I don’t even know what to say about this. All very strange. Theories and speculation are welcome in comments or in my inbox. Continue reading

Bloomie & Reuters say Pacific Rubiales sold

UPDATE: companies confirm, see end of story

Stories here and here.

Meanwhile, the official method of informing the market:

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 5.20.01 PM

And the share price after Bloomberg ran its first headlines:

CERL-AjWgAAfVUS

Never change, guys.

Update 12:35 pm Eastern Time, 11:35 in Mexico. ALFA makes it official! And someone on the Twitter points out that Pacific also posted a statement, though it’s not yet on SEDAR or on the company’s own home page.

Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp. (TSX: PRE) (BVC: PREC) announces that it has entered into exclusive discussions in respect of an offer from ALFA, S.A.B. de C.V. (“ALFA”) and Harbour Energy Ltd. (“Harbour Energy”), whereby they would acquire all of the issued and outstanding common shares in the capital of the Company (“Common Shares”) not owned by ALFA for a price of C$6.50 per share, subject to completion of definitive documentation and final Board approvals. The Company’s Board has constituted a Special Committee comprised of independent directors, which has engaged an independent financial advisor to deliver a formal valuation in accordance with applicable Canadian securities laws.

Together, ALFA and Harbour Energy have completed technical, financial and legal due diligence. ALFA and Harbour Energy have agreed with the Company to work toward completion of definitive documentation expeditiously. The contemplated transaction would be subject to a number of conditions and there can be no assurance that any transaction will be completed.

ALFA currently holds 59,897,800 Common Shares, representing approximately 18.95% of the issued and outstanding Common Shares.

Pacific Rubiales, ALFA and Harbour Energy do not intend to provide further updates, except as required by applicable laws.

UPDATE2: And then there’s this. WTF, really?

Galt’s Gulch Chile update with more soap opera

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 1.33.06 PMJust go read PanAm Post, it’s too much for me to deal with right now.

“The restoration of Galt’s Gulch Chile has started!” reads the statement released viaFacebook on Friday, April 25.* After over six months of falling off the radar, the development project inspired by Ayn Rand’s dystopian novel Atlas Shrugged appears to be making a comeback, but not without new controversy and grave implications.

In the reboot statement, Galt’s Gulch Chile (GGC) condemns a confrontation and robbery on the property that allegedly took place in October 2014: “a handful of short-sighted and self-serving individuals took illegal possession of the GGC offices, clubhouse, farm and land.” The release asserts the presence of a “small band of thieves” headed by Thomas Baker, “a crooked military cop,” and Edward J. Lashlee, who “was convicted and sentenced to federal prison in 2003 for his role in an $80,000,000 ponzi scheme.”

Full story.

ADDING: Looks like Ken Johnson is back in charge. You can read a bit about him in my Galt’s Gulch story from a year ago. Interesting cat.

Derwick Associates has a very good day

Derwick-300x225

As they portray themselves

Yesterday was a good day for the guys in charge of Derwick Associates.

Last week, a group of three companies, two in Panama and one in Barbados, disclosed they had bought a bit more than 10% of Pacific Rubiales Corp. The Panama companies were well anonymized, but the Barbados one less so. Alek Boyd said on Twitter April 28 that he got the paperwork for the Barbados company. It belongs, he says, to Alejandro Betancourt, chairman of Derwick Associates. This was a surprise, given as I’ve covered each of those companies extensively and the last we heard, a top Pacific Rubiales executive was saying he didn’t know the Derwick guys. Continue reading

Oil corruption in icier climes

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 7.20.55 PMI focus a lot on energy industry corruption in Latin America and Latinish America (Texas, California), but please don’t get the idea that oil stinks worse in southern latitudes. No, you can pretty much count on the energy industry attracting interesting characters like flies to shit.

You have drivers, power plants and other fuel-burners demanding USD2 trillion a year worth of gunk to be pulled out of the ground, refined and shipped to their far-flung machines. The companies who comply with this demand do what they can to seal the oil and its derivatives hermetically into pipes and tanks and tubes and ships. When all goes right, the stuff never sees sunlight before it’s burned. In the other direction, money is supposed to be just as well contained. Credit cards slide into gas pumps, letters of credit are transferred from power plant operators to refiners, tax collectors take their direct deposits, and money travels back up the line, retracing the route of the oil. But with so much money. So much money. So much money at stake, you just can’t stop people from trying to poke holes into the system. It’s too tempting. They can get physical oil, or much better, get virtual streams of cash, never contaminating their silk ties with the stink of sulfur and pitch.

Here in Canadialandia, land of the Canadialandians, the desire to extract a bit of money and power from the oil system is as irresistible as anywhere else. A new publication is chronicling the local money and power games: National Observer.

Subscribe to its tweets since the kids these days refuse to provide an RSS feed and since “following” something on Facebook is unreliable. Thanks to Jesse Brown of Canadaland, chronicler of happenings here in Canadialandia, land of the Canadialandians, for highlighting National Observer on his podcast. If you care about Canadian politics you can subscribe to his podcast — which wisely does have an RSS feed.