Man With Autism Passes Bar Exam, Breaks Barriers

Man With Autism Passes Bar Exam, Breaks Barriers.

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This story comes from a personal perspective. Our son is Autistic. Today it seems like there are more and more of us out there. Is it just my imagination or is it real. If it’s fiction, I’m sorry for wasting anyone time for reading this. If not I have one question ;  Why is it taking so long to get the attention this issue deserves.

I realize some of you out there believe that these children and adults are just different. However, I am not one of them. I’m sorry if that bothers some of you but it is my opinion. My son can not talk or use the restroom properly. I have difficulty believing this is normal.

My point to this post is simple, please donate as much as possible, (even one dollar) to Autism Speaks or the Autism Society in your area. These people do as much as possible to help those in need.

That’s All For Now, more news to follow.

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Plunging Oil Prices

New post on Financial Post | Business

Oil just keeps plunging and plunging as bearish sentiment deepens

by Reuters

Crude oil prices tumbled further in Friday afternoon trade, with U.S. crude down US$6 a barrel to below US$68 and benchmark Brent off US$1 at under US$72 on OPEC’s refusal to ease a supply glut.

“There are no really new headlines moving the market, just people reacting I think to all sorts of headlines that the norm oil for oil is below $60,” said Tariq Zahir, managing member at Tyche Capital Advisors in Hollow Way, New York.

Russia’s most powerful oil official, Igor Sechin, said oil prices could hit US$60 or below by the end of the first half of next year. Options market data showed speculators betting on US$65 Brent by early next year.

As a result, energy producers led global equities lower. The MSCI All-Country World Index fell 0.4% at 1:16 p.m. in New York.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped 0.3% as U.S. markets reopened after the Thanksgiving holiday, and the Stoxx Europe 600 Index lost 0.1%.

Yields on 10-year Treasuries dropped 6 basis points, and Japan’s two-year rates turned negative for the first time. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index climbed to a five-year high, while the Bloomberg Commodity Index dropped the most in three years.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries kept its production ceiling unchanged, underscoring the price war in the crude market and challenge to U.S. shale drillers. The rout in oil is damping inflation, with price growth slowing in Japan and Germany and already negative in Spain.

Reuters | November 28, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Tags: breaking, financial markets, oil prices, OPEC | Categories: Investing | URL:
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Investors in Netflix Inc will need patience to reap rewards

Netflix Inc seen shedding billions in market cap Thursday as slower subscriber growth turns investors off

by Reuters

Investors in Netflix Inc will need patience to reap the rewards of a costly push into original content and international markets, analysts said, as slower subscription growth triggered a sharp drop in the company’s stock.

Netflix shares were set to open down 25% Thursday, enough to erase about US$7 billion of the company’s market value, after fewer new subscribers than the company had forecast signed up to its video-streaming services in the quarter ended September.

At least 19 brokerages cut their price targets on the stock by as much as US$150 to a low of US$300. The stock closed at US$448.59 on Wednesday.

Netflix, whose original shows include “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black,” plans to spend US$8.9 billion on the acquisition of new content in the next few years.
The company is financing four Adam Sandler movies and a sequel to martial-arts drama “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

J.P. Morgan Securities analysts said original content would help to “reinvigorate” subscription growth at home and overseas.

Of more immediate concern, however, were the disappointing third-quarter subscriber numbers. Netflix lured 3.02 million new streaming customers globally versus the 3.69 million it had projected in July.

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“(Subscription) growth and content cost trends both indicate a more difficult phase could lie ahead,” Macquarie analysts wrote.

In May, Netflix raised monthly subscription fees for its most popular video-streaming plan by US$1 for new customers in the United States, saying the higher price would allow it to spend more on new movies and TV shows.

“We believe the subscriber miss was largely due to price hikes for new subscribers, the effect of which was masked in the prior quarter with the positive reception to season two of ‘Orange is the New Black’,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Edward Williams wrote.

Netflix has a presence in nearly 50 countries and has grown its subscriber base fast. More than a quarter of its 53 million customers are now outside the United States.

The company is looking to expand its international business to reach new viewers and increase its buying clout with content providers. But each new country launch entails hefty investments in marketing and local content rights.

“We expect new international markets will become profitable eventually like earlier markets have, but this will require time and patience that some investors may not have, given high valuation and lower growth outlook,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote.

Netflix’s stock trades at about 76 times forward earnings and scores just 5 out of 100 on the Thomson Reuters StarMine Relative Valuation model. The lower the score, the more expensive the stock.

As of Wednesday’s close, seven analysts rated the stock a “strong buy” and 13 a “buy,” according to StarMine. Sixteen analysts had a “hold” rating on the stock, one had a “sell” and three a “strong sell.”

© Thomson Reuters 2014

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Texas Health Worker Tests Positive For Ebola

Posted: 10/12/2014 7:22 am EDT Updated: 13 minutes ago

DALLAS (AP) — A Texas health care worker tested positive for Ebola even though she wore full protective gear while caring for a hospitalized patient who later died from the virus, health officials said Sunday. If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S.

Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the diagnosis shows there was a clear breach of safety protocol and all those who treated Thomas Eric Duncan are now considered potentially exposed.

The worker wore a gown, gloves, mask and shield while she cared for Duncan during his second visit to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, said Dr. Daniel Varga of Texas Health Resources, which runs the hospital. Frieden said the worker has not been able to identify a specific breach of protocol that might have led to her being infected.

Duncan, who arrived in the U.S. from Liberia to visit family on Sept. 20, first sought medical care for fever and abdominal pain on Sept. 25. He told a nurse he had traveled from Africa, but he was sent home. He returned Sept. 28 and was placed in isolation because of suspected Ebola. He died Wednesday.

Liberia is one of the three West African countries most affected by the ongoing Ebola epidemic, which has killed more than 4,000 people, according to World Health Organization figures published Friday. The others are Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Texas health officials have been closely monitoring nearly 50 people who had or may have had close contact with Duncan in the days after he started showing symptoms.

The health care worker reported a fever Friday night as part of a self-monitoring regimen required by the CDC, Varga said. He said another person is in isolation, and the hospital has stopped accepting new emergency room patients.

“We knew a second case could be a reality, and we’ve been preparing for this possibility,” said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. “We are broadening our team in Dallas and working with extreme diligence to prevent further spread.”

Dallas officials knocked on doors, made automated phone calls and passed out fliers to notify people within a four-block radius of the health care worker’s apartment complex about the situation, though they said there was no reason for neighbors to be concerned.

Dallas police officers stood guard outside the complex Sunday and told people not to go inside. One said an industrial barrel outside contained hazardous waste taken from inside the building. Nearby residents periodically came out of their homes to ask about the commotion.

Kara Lutley, who lives a half-block from the complex, said she never received a call or other emergency notice and first heard about it on the news. She said the infected worker seemed to have taken all necessary precautions.

“I’m not overly concerned that I’ll get Ebola,” she said.

Officials said they also received information that there may be a pet in the health care worker’s apartment, and they have a plan in place to care for the animal. They do not believe the pet has signs of having contracted Ebola.

Frieden on Sunday raised concerns about the possible breach of safety protocol and told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that among the things CDC will investigate is how the workers took off protective gear, because removing it incorrectly can lead to contamination. Investigators will also look at dialysis and intubation, procedures with the potential for spreading infectious material.

Health care workers treating Ebola patients are among the most vulnerable, even if wearing protective gear. A Spanish nurse assistant recently became the first health care worker infected outside West Africa during the ongoing outbreak. She helped care for a missionary priest who was brought to a Madrid hospital. More than 370 health care workers in west Africa have fallen ill or died in west Africa since epidemic began earlier this year.

Ebola spreads through close contact with a symptomatic person’s bodily fluids, such as blood, sweat, vomit, feces, urine, saliva or semen. Those fluids must have an entry point, like a cut or scrape or someone touching the nose, mouth or eyes with contaminated hands, or being splashed. The World Health Organization says blood, feces and vomit are the most infectious fluids, while the virus is found in saliva mostly once patients are severely ill. The whole live virus has never been culled from sweat.

Duncan, the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with Ebola, came to Dallas to attend the high school graduation of his son, who was born in a refugee camp in Ivory Coast and brought to the U.S. as a toddler when his mother successfully applied for resettlement.

The trip was the culmination of decades of effort, friends and family members said. But when Duncan arrived in Dallas, though he showed no symptoms, he had already been exposed to Ebola. His neighbors in Liberia believe Duncan become infected when he helped a pregnant neighbor who later died from it. It was unclear if he knew about her diagnosis before traveling.

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Overworked fathers create a new mantra of their own: Lean out

Joseph Brean | September 29, 2014 6:50 PM ET
More from Joseph Brean | @JosephBrean

Max Schireson of software firm 10gen decided to spend more time with his children after he missed key family events.

Courtesy Max SchiresonMax Schireson of software firm 10gen decided to spend more time with his children after he missed key family events.

Few criticisms are as withering as those of a child for a parent.

So when the 10-year-old daughter of Mohamed El-Erian, CEO of the world’s largest bond firm, gave a devastating retort to his order to brush her teeth, by listing the 22 milestones he missed over the last school year — from a big soccer game to the Halloween parade — he did what many modern fathers might dream but few would dare.

He quit his job to stay home with her, instantly creating a new archetype: overworked fathers who lean … out.

Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Patrick T. Fallon/BloombergMohamed El-Erian

“I felt awful and got defensive: I had a good excuse for each missed event! Travel, important meetings, an urgent phone call, sudden to-dos,” Mr. El-Erian, 56, wrote in the finance magazine Worth, about his departure from PIMCO, a $2-trillion investment fund.

“But it dawned on me that I was missing an infinitely more important point. As much as I could rationalize it — as I had rationalized it — my work-life balance had gotten way out of whack, and the imbalance was hurting my very special relationship with my daughter. I was not making nearly enough time for her.”

With so much cultural energy devoted to the work-life balance of female executives — notably Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In and Anne-Marie Slaughter’s essay Why Women Still Can’t Have it All, but also the awkward questions about home life frequently directed at female executives like Mary Barra of GM, Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, or Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard — it has been less remarked-upon that men often struggle to balance work and family too.

Now, there are signs of a pushback, with powerful men emerging to say: us too.

Among those men who have chosen to lean out is Max Schireson, CEO of software firm 10gen, who has three children, aged 14, 12 and 9. He stepped down earlier this month to spend more time with them, taking the less taxing role of vice-chairman, largely out of regret at having missed key family events, including upsetting ones, like a child’s emergency surgery and the puppy being hit by a car.

“Friends and colleagues often ask my wife [a doctor] how she balances her job and motherhood,” he wrote about the decision in Time magazine. “Somehow, the same people don’t ask me … I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices.”

It is possible, indeed likely, that there is more to these stories than meets the eye. For example, the Wall Street Journal quoted two sources saying Mr. El-Erian, before he left, told PIMCO founder Bill Gross he was “tired of cleaning up your s—.” (Mr. Gross himself quit and joined a smaller rival fund last week, in anticipation of being forced out, in a move that seemed designed, as the Financial Times reported, to do maximum damage to the firm he founded, based in Newport Beach, Calif.)

In an age of unprecedented parental fretting and empowerment, however, the Wall Street tycoon who sees the light and becomes a lunch-packing, booboo-kissing soccer dad is an instantly attractive character, almost a movie pitch. He fills an aspirational gap in the culture.

‘Friends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don’t ask me’

Yes, his story has been met with skepticism from, among other people, women. As news of Mr. El-Erian’s Worth essay made the rounds this month, writer Beverley Turner noted this in The Telegraph: ‘‘El-Erian has described wanting to spend more time with his family as a ‘cliché’ but it’s not actually. As [the] reaction shows, blokes who cut back on work to be parents – whether they dine with presidents or mow lawns — are still the exception to the rule.’’

But for those fathers who feel the guilt of leaving their child to go to work, though, he is a daydream come true. Kids dream of running away, but many working parents dream of staying home.

Mr. El-Erian, who has earned as much as $100-million in a single year, acknowledges how “incredibly fortunate” he is to have this option, and that “not everyone has this luxury. But, hopefully, as companies give more attention to the importance of work-life balance, more and more people will be in a better position to decide and act more holistically on what’s important to them.”

He said PIMCO had been devoting more time to improving the work-life balance of its employees, but the note from his daughter came as a “very personal wake-up call” for himself.

Once, he kept a schedule that saw him sleep only from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., work on his role as an economic media commentator until dawn, get to the office before 5 a.m., and start his management work by 9 a.m. Now, he manages a “portfolio of part time jobs that requires a lot less travel,” including chief economic advisor at Allianz, PIMCO’s German parent company, and chair of U.S. President Barack Obama’s Global Development Council, as well as being a prominent columnist with Bloomberg and the Financial Times.

It leaves him enough time to alternate with his wife, a lawyer, in managing the morning routine on school days. He picks his daughter up more often and is even planning a father-daughter holiday.

“So far, it’s been the right decision for me,” he wrote.

National Post

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Where there’s a Will there’s a Way

Washington hears of Plan B for exporting oil: an ‘Arctic Gateway’

by Canadian Press

WASHINGTON — With pipeline plans facing opposition in the West, the East, and the South, a Canadian premier is in the U.S. this week promoting an alternate route for exporting oil: the North.

The premier of the Northwest Territories is in Washington, D.C., this week promoting an “Arctic Gateway” to carry oil through his region to international markets.

Bob McLeod has been promoting the plan in meetings with the Exxon oil company, the American Petroleum Institute, the Canadian embassy, and in appearances before two Washington think-tanks in the presence of numerous members of the Obama administration.

He told one audience Tuesday that it’s become a real problem to get pipelines approved — and not just the famous Keystone XL example that Americans keep hearing about.

He says even getting oil through Canada’s own provinces is becoming difficult. So he’s promoting a 2013 Alberta government study that says an Arctic route could be technically feasible.

McLeod says oil could be shipped out from Tuktoyaktuk to Asia, Europe, or Canada’s east coast on existing infrastructure as early as next summer — and he says more elaborate year-round facilities could be set up within a few years.

Canadian Press

Canadian Press | September 30, 2014 at 3:56 pm | Categories: Energy | URL:
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Sanctions could hurt American Companies as well as Russian

New post on Financial Post | Business

Russia says an Arctic well it drilled with Exxon Mobil has just struck oil — a lot of it

by Bloomberg News

Russia’s state-run oil company said a well drilled in the Arctic Ocean with Exxon Mobil Corp. struck oil, showing the region has the potential to become one of the world’s most important crude-producing areas.

OAO Rosneft Chief Executive Officer Igor Sechin said the exploration well had found about 1 billion barrels. The number of similar geological structures nearby means the immediate area probably contains more than the U.S. part of the Gulf of Mexico, he said at the rig that drilled the well.

“It exceeded our expectations,” Sechin said.

The discovery, which needs to be confirmed with further tests, sharpens the dispute between Russia and the U.S. over President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine. The well was drilled before the Oct. 10 deadline Exxon was granted by the U.S. government under sanctions barring American companies from working in Russia’s Arctic. Rosneft and Exxon won’t be able to do more drilling, putting the exploration and development of the area on hold despite the find announced Saturday.

The development of Arctic oil reserves, an undertaking that will cost hundreds of billions of dollars and take decades, is one of Putin’s grandest ambitions. As Russia’s existing fields in Siberia run dry, the country needs to develop new reserves as it vies with the U.S. to be the world’s largest oil and gas producer.

The well that made the discovery was the first step in realizing that strategy. Targeting a structure named Universitetskaya in the Kara Sea region of Russia’s Arctic Ocean, it cost more than $700 million, making it the most expensive in Russia. The start of drilling, which reached a depth of more than 2,000 meters (6,500 feet), was marked with a ceremony involving Sechin and Putin.

The importance of Arctic drilling was one reason that offshore oil exploration was included in the most recent round of U.S. sanctions. Exxon and Rosneft have a venture to explore millions of acres of the Arctic Ocean.

“Once the well is plugged, there will be a lot of work to do in interpreting the results and this is probably something that Rosneft can do,” Julian Lee, an oil strategist at Bloomberg First Word in London, said before today’s announcement. “Both parties are probably hoping that by the time they are ready to start the next well the sanctions will have been lifted.”

The stakes are high for Exxon, whose $408 billion market valuation makes it the world’s largest energy producer. Russia represents the second-biggest exploration prospect worldwide. The Irving, Texas-based company holds drilling rights across 11.4 million acres in Russia, only eclipsed by its 15.1 million U.S. acres.

Exxon Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Rex Tillerson is counting on Russian discoveries to reverse a trend of stalled exploration and escalating costs to pump crude and natural gas from the ground. Production from the company’s wells fell in 2012 and 2013 and is expected to be flat this year.

More drilling and geological analysis will be needed before a reliable estimate can be tallied for the size of the oil resources in the Universitetskaya area and the Russian Arctic as a whole, said Frances Hudson, a global thematic strategist who helps manage $305 billion at Standard Life Investments Ltd. in Edinburgh.

Sanctions forbidding U.S. and European cooperation with Russian entities mean that country’s nascent Arctic exploration will be stillborn because Rosneft and its state-controlled sister companies don’t know how to drill in cold offshore conditions alone, she said.

“Extrapolating from a small data sample is perhaps not going to give you the best information,” Hudson said in a telephone interview. “And because of sanctions, it looks like there’s going to be less exploration rather than more.”

In addition, the expense and difficulty of operating in such a remote part of the world, where hazards include icebergs and sub-zero temperatures, mean that the developing discoveries may not be economic at today’s oil prices.

The U.S. portion of the Gulf produces more than a million barrels a day and holds reserves of almost 6 billion barrels, according to data from the Department of Energy.

–With assistance from Joe Carroll in Chicago.

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Are We There Yet ?

Put away your wallet: Why mobile payments’ moment may have finally arrived

by Armina Ligaya

Thousands of years ago, humans traded grains and rocks for goods. We dug into our satchels for bits of silver. How little things have changed. Generation after generation has spent its days “pulling stuff out of our pockets and handing it to someone to get something back,” said Edward Castronova, a professor of media at Indiana University.

The author of Wildcat Currency: How the Virtual Money Revolution is Transforming the Economy, Mr. Castronova believes, finally, a transformation is coming.

No more pockets. No more reaching, even. Just tapping on the lens of your glasses will bring up a tally of your financial assets, from dollars and bitcoins to loyalty points and frequent-flyer miles. When you want to obtain something, some chip will calculate the best combination of currencies and execute the transaction for you.

If there’s one thing that Apple has done well in the past, is it’s gotten people to adopt technologies that they have not been willing to in the past

We will become the perfect consumer: a “walking source of purchasing power, able to freely walk through the world and acquire whatever you wanted,” Mr. Castronova envisions. “Until a little red beep would go off telling you that you’re out of money.” Little wonder that tech companies, and payment companies, are racing to beat each other to dominate in the space, most recently with Apple’s announcement this week of its launch of the Apple Pay device-based wireless payment system, compatible with the next generation of iPhones and Apple Watch.

The wallet, that overstuffed modern satchel — “an organizer, a secretary, and a friend,” asSeinfeld’s George Costanza once described his book-thick pocketbook — could have as little as five years left to live, the author suggests. Digital devices are already organizing our lives like secretaries, and connecting us to our friends. The only thing missing is the money.

“Our vision is to replace this,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said during Tuesday’sproduct gala, gesturing to the image of a bulging black leather wallet on the giant video screen behind him.

Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesJustin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple Pay, a contactless system, which uses near-field communication technology, will be available on its newest iPhones and the Apple Watch, starting in the U.S. in October.

The company will have to succeed where others have only struggled. Google Inc. has yet to make its Google Wallet, launched in 2011, take off on a wide scale. PayPal, which was acquired by e-commerce company EBay in 2002, has expanded beyond facilitating online payments and into physical stores, but hasn’t achieved widespread traction either.

But Apple has shown a knack before of being able to improve on existing products and make them ubiquitous, noted Maynard Um, equity analyst for Wells Fargo in New York. There were MP3 players around before the superior iPod roared into the space and put one in every music lover’s hand.

“If there’s one thing that Apple has done well in the past, is it’s gotten people to adopt technologies that they have not been willing to in the past,” he said. “It’s all about the execution of the technology.”

And Apple has built features into its platform that positions it a few steps ahead of its competitors, said Forrester Research analyst Denée Carrington.

Consumers have been reluctant to change the way they pay because many existing mobile-payment platforms are cumbersome, requiring users to figure out which app to use, and pull it up to make a purchase, she says. There hasn’t been a compelling reason for merchants to change their ways either, she added.

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Apple Pay, however, is using its PassBook app to automatically detect when the user is in a store and prompt them to pay, she said. The Touch ID function to detect a user’s fingerprint as a security measure when paying will also make consumers more comfortable, she added.

“They have designed a lot of things into the experience that are different than the way other [digital] wallets work,” said Ms. Carrington. “That will help remove the barriers that have existed before, and make it easier to even think about trying it,” she said.

And because iPhone users are typically early adopters of technology — and big spenders — merchants will be more willing to change their current point-of-sale terminals and adopt Apple Pay to cater to this audience, she added.

Apple’s entry is enough of a threat that some analysts, such as Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster, have downgraded EBay.

The iPhone maker has already signed deals with Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and major retailers including Staples, McDonald’s and Whole Foods.

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Still, Ms. Carrington doesn’t think the five-year deathwatch for the wallet is particularly realistic.

“There are things in your wallet, such as an ID,” she said. “And times when you need to have coins or cash. And that’s not going to go away entirely in the next year, or five years.” Mr. Um wonders how you deal with paying digitally for groceries when your device batteries are dead.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of payment-systems’ maker Square Inc., who was a co-founder of Twitter, said he is preparing for Apple, with its marketing and execution prowess, to finally shake up the sleepy digital-payment space.

“[Near field communication] is not new technology … It really hasn’t taken off because there hasn’t been a huge consumer demand for it,” said Mr. Dorsey, at the launch of Square’s Kitchener, Ont. office on Wednesday. “We think Apple may change that.” (Square launched its own wallet app in 2011, but pulled the plug earlier this year — now Mr. Dorsey says he doesn’t consider Apple Pay competition, but rather a complement to his system, which is agnostic about the form of payment).

But for all his anticipation of the end of the wallet, Mr. Castronova doesn’t actually believe it will be Apple — or any of the big Silicon Valley firms — that will put an end to our bulging pockets. As with Facebook and Twitter and social media, he expects a small, nimbler company will develop the ultimate solution to the modern satchel.

“It took a small company to take the full plunge,” he said. “The same thing is going to go on here.”

Armina Ligaya | September 13, 2014 at 6:00 am | Tags: Apple Inc., Apple iPhone, Apple Pay,PayPal Inc., square inc., Tim Cook | Categories: FP Tech Desk | URL:
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Saudi Arabia and ISIS

New post on Financial Post | Business

Saudi Arabia could fight ISIS with oil — if they can bear the price

by Yadullah Hussain

Saudi Arabia might end up doing more in the growing multilateral campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) than its muted response so far has suggested: Using its oil-market power to drive down the price of oil, which the insurgent group relies on to fund its Islamist rebellion.

[np_storybar title=”Oil sands players shrug off falling prices, eye narrowing differentials” link=”“]

While the industry is mindful of a disruption caused by a price collapse, companies are comforted by lower differentials between Canadian and U.S. crude

“What could Arab countries offer the West to help contain this threat? Lower oil prices,” wrote Francisco Blanch, commodity and derivative strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a note published this week.

ISIS, which has been overwhelming conventional forces, as well as rival rebel groups, in a spreading occupation over large swathes of Syria and Iraq, is estimated to earn US$3-million a day from oil sales. The group has already seized the largest oil field in Syria, now controlling 60% of the oil production in that country, and captured seven oil fields in Iraq. Most of the oil is sold at discounts to world prices to Turkey, who then resells it throughout Europe.

President Barack Obama’s phone call to Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Wednesday, before addressing the nation on the ISIS threat in a speech outlining plans to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the group, suggests greater cooperation between Washington and Riyadh.

“In our view, Saudi and other regional rulers may prefer to re-engage the U.S. to help protect established borders from the expanding caliphate,” Mr. Blanch wrote.

So far, however, the Saudis appear to have agreed, this week, only to provide a base where the U.S. can train moderate Syrian opposition fighters to combat ISIS.


As the largest OPEC producer, Saudi Arabia has in the past been able to wield the greatest influence on world oil prices, especially as it has large spare production capacity, and has significant sway with the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, two other major OPEC producers. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf counterparts have been largely credited for keeping a lid on oil prices in recent years at around US$100 per barrel, despite the disappearance of Iranian, Libyan and Sudanese crude from the market.

Since then oil prices have been tumbling into the double digits. OPEC’s latest report does show that the Saudis cut production last month, although some analysts noted that there are seasonal reductions this time of year: the kingdom’s output often falls when domestic demand for air conditioning declines from its summer peak. As a result, lower production does not necessarily mean lower exports. And, of course, the scaling down occurred before the White House began leaning on the Saudis for help in the conflict with ISIS.

A sustained dip in prices does benefit the Saudis in other ways, as it may slow production from U.S. shale plays and Canadian oil sands, while weakening Iran and Russia financially.

“A delay in energy independence would keep the U.S. engaged in the Middle East for longer,” the Wall Street analyst noted.


Of course that same effect would also hurt Canadian producers that are over leveraged.

ISIS reportedly controls a combined capacity of 80,000 barrels per day, according to the International Energy Agency, although it may have lost two of its Iraqi oil fields in Kurdistan in recent weeks after Kurdish peshmerga troops were able to push ISIS back with the help of U.S. airstrikes.

“There is lingering concern, however, that IS[IS] militants will make periodic attempts on vital infrastructure,” the Paris-based IEA said in a forecast published September 11. “The jihadists remain in control of the northern Baiji refinery, Iraq’s biggest facility. Their occupation has damaged the Baiji refinery, forced it offline and sharply reduced output by closing the major domestic outlet for crude from the northern fields.”

ISIS has reportedly smuggled crude via tankers to Jordan through the Iraqi province of Anbar, to Iran via Kurdistan, to Turkey via Mosul and to Syria where some of the oil is refined.

Luay al-Khatteeb, visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center said in a media interview that ISIS’s oil will remain limited to these black markets, and the group will have no chance to establish a sophisticated pipeline network. “Fixed distribution networks are complex, require investment and can become targets by the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga.”

If the Saudis were willing to swallow lower prices, it could mean forgoing between US$35-billion to US$55-billion; but with US$1-trillion in foreign assets, it may be a price they’re willing to pay in order to rid the region of a threat that ultimately could challenge their dominance.  Saudi Arabia’s budget break-even oil price is US$85 per barrel of Brent crude, the Wall Street bank estimates. Brent fell in trading Thursday to US$96.72 per barrel, on sliding demand and high crude inventories — its weakest price since July 2012.

With a file from Reuters

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Yadullah Hussain | September 11, 2014 at 5:01 pm | Tags: Iraq, oil prices, Saudi Arabia | Categories: Energy | URL:
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