Ken Silverstein's 'The Secret World of Oil' explores a murky business on which the west depends. Oil is the world's most important traded commodity. It powers our cars and drives our industry. And surging energy demand in developing countries from China to Brazil means its significance will only grow.
But how much do we really know about the business? Some of its public faces are familiar – the Gulf potentates, the bosses of BP and ExxonMobil, energy ministers in Europe and the US
Developed by Western Oil Companies, Giant Project Off Kazakhstan Is Years Late, More Than $30 Billion Over Budget. Kazakh workers were recuperating from the frigid temperatures of the Caspian Sea over cups of tea when their Italian supervisor interrupted their break, demanding they return to work. The workers restrained the supervisor— a manager working for Eni ENI.MI +0.17% SpA, a company building a giant oil development here—and put a plastic bag over his head. He fled, packed his bags and left Kazakhstan.
On February 11, Kazakhstan's central bank devalued the national currency, the tenge, by 19 percent against the US dollar. It said the gradual decrease of the US Federal Reserve's stimulus program had led to a capital outflow from developing countries to developed ones and the central bank was not able to maintain the exchange rate of the tenge by selling dollars.
Caught in an emerging market storm, some resource-rich states may keep more windfall income in liquid assets, ready to aid their economies, rather than locked up in strategic investment for future generations.
Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev said he expects "serious" output from the nation's largest oil deposit this year after waiting almost half his 23 years in office for the $48 billion project to start. The Kashagan field was halted in October, a month after production started, because of defects found in pipes carrying lethal sulfur-laden natural gas from the oil field. The operating company, a venture that includes Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), is completing tests at the site and hasn't said when output will resume.
When Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, rang the bell to open trading on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in late November 2006, he was symbolically ushering in a new era. Companies flush with cash from Kazakhstan's energy-driven economy were flocking to list in London, where they were welcomed as rising stars.
The first industrial revolution in the 19th Century was the invention of the steam engine. In the 20th Century oil and gas played a large role, and the US invented the telephone and television. Electrical supplies became centralised.
Mining firm ENRC bids farewell to the Stock Exchange but its Uzbek and Kyrgyz creators are here to stay. It is May 2010 at Monaco's vast Le Sporting banquet hall, where 800 guests have responded to an invitation from one of central Asia's most powerful, and secretive, oligarchs.
The railroad locomotive factory here on the outskirts of the capital of Kazakhstan is one of the most modern in the world, with huge yellow overhead cranes and a work force of 1,100. An engine factory being built next door will soon make some of the world's most fuel-efficient 12-cylinder diesel engines.
KAZAKHSTAN'S capital, Astana, celebrated its 15th anniversary on July 6th with a petrodollar-fuelled party. It happened also to be the 73rd birthday of the country's strongman president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who commissioned this epitome of surreal bombast rising from the Central Asian steppe.
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