Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is spending billions in renewable energy

Saudi Arabia is known for its oil and sun-soaked deserts. In a move to secure the kingdom’s financial future, its name could soon become synonymous with renewable energy.

According to the New York Times, Prince Mohammed bin Salman decided that Saudi energy company ACWA Power would spearhead the creation of a $300 million solar farm capable of powering 200,000 homes. And that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to what the Saudi government plans to spend on renewables.

“All the big developers are watching Saudi,” said Jenny Chase, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm. ... The renewables strategy finally started to take real shape when Khaled al-Falih took over as energy minister in 2016. Mr. Falih made solar and wind a priority for the kingdom, and set up a new unit last year to expedite the work. Much of the staff was drawn from Aramco.

Mr. Shehri, who had worked at Aramco before leading the kingdom’s renewables program, said he faced an “extremely challenging” task. Meeting Saudi Arabia’s targets would require contracts for a series of new facilities to be awarded by the end of 2020. “The only way this was possible,” he said, “was because we have done previous work.”

Saudi Arabia, with its vast oil resources, would seem an unlikely champion for renewables. But the country’s location and climate mean it has plenty of promising sites for solar and wind farms.

By 2019, the Times writes, they’ll have thrown $7 billion at the creation of solar and wind farms. Read the rest

Pipelines considered pointless: Big oil seems to be (finally) abandoning Canada's filthy tar sands

Canada's tar sands -- rebranded in this century as "oil sands" -- are the source of some of the world's filthiest and most expensive oil, which can only be extracted by burning tons of already-refined oil to boil tons of sand, producing a product that sells at a global discount because it is so adulterated. Read the rest

These four oil-fattened Democratic Senators helped the GOP confirm Exxon's Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State

Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson will get a $180 million parting gift from his former employers when he takes the Secretary of State job, thanks in part to four Senate Democrats who voted with the GOP to confirm him for the job, despite his extensive ties to regimes hostile to the US. Read the rest

North Dakota pipeline ruptures and spills 176K gallons of crude into a creek 150 mi from the DAPL protests

It's been a week since the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they would not grant a permit for the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the river that the indigenous Sioux people relied upon for their drinking, farming and washing. Read the rest

The race to find Incan ruins to halt US oil drilling

Peruvian archaeologists and activists have joined with the indigenous Harakmbut people to find legendary Incan lost cities. If they find them soon enough, traditional Harakmbut lands leased to an American oil company might be designated off-limits to drilling. Read the rest

North Dakota must drop outrageous charges against journalist Amy Goodman of "Democracy Now"

Amy Goodman, award-winning journalist and host of Democracy Now, has been facing an outrageous arrest warrant in North Dakota for “criminal trespass” since early September. The charges are a result of her merely doing her job as a reporter and covering police violence against oil pipeline protesters in North Dakota. Read the rest

China plans undersea lab, 3km down

Bloomberg News reports that the Chinese Science Ministry plans to build a laboratory on the sea floor at a depth of 3 kilometers. It's the latest salvo in its expansionist effort to take control of the South China Sea.

So far there are few public details, including a specific time line, any blueprints or a cost estimate -- or where in the waterway it might be located. Still, China under President Xi Jinping has asserted itself more strenuously in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest shipping routes. Its claims to more than 80 percent of the waters and the creation of artificial islands covering 3,200 acres have inflamed tensions with nations including Vietnam and the Philippines...

"The deep sea contains treasures that remain undiscovered and undeveloped, and in order to obtain these treasures we have to control key technologies in getting into the deep sea, discovering the deep sea, and developing the deep sea," Xi said last month at a national science conference.

Read the rest

Texas oil firm indicted in massive 2015 oil spill off coast of Santa Barbara, CA

In California today, a grand jury indicted the Plains All-American Pipeline and one of the oil company's employees on criminal charges over the massive 2015 oil spill in Santa Barbara County. Read the rest

Tar sands production in Canada pretty much shut down by Fort McMurray wildfire

Almost all of Canada's tar sands production has been shut down by a raging wildfire in Alberta's Fort McMurray region. Read the rest

Massive email leak reveals the worst bribery scandal in history

Reporters from Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post obtained a huge trove of email from Unaoil, a business run by a rich Monaco family, that reveal that the family ran a corrupt bribery empire that spanned the world's oil-producing states, and that they world with companies like Rolls-Royce, Halliburton, Leighton Holding, Samsung and Hyundai, to rig contracts through a system of bribes and kickbacks that looted the national treasuries of some of the world's poorest countries. Read the rest

Plummeting oil prices and 13 years of official looting leave Iraq on the brink

For 13 years, Iraq's post-Saddam elites have run amok, looting the country's riches while creating a pervasive culture of corruption that spreads all the way down -- only the continuous injection of new money from the country's oil-fields kept the whole thing from collapsing. Read the rest

Citing climate change, Obama rejects Keystone XL Oil Pipeline construction plan

In a decision that environmental activists see as a hard-won victory, President Obama today announced he is rejecting the request from a Canadian company to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The news ends a seven-year review process that was a focal point in the debate over the Obama administration's climate policies. Read the rest

IMF: Cheap oil will bankrupt the Saudis in five years

If oil stays below $50 a barrel for five years, the Saudis' cash reserve will be exhausted, and with it will also go the social stability that lavish spending for the Saudi elites brings. Read the rest

What's the best oil to cook with?

The BBC investigates. tldr: olive oil. But also: saturated fats perhaps are fine. Read the rest

Bathe in crude oil at Azerbaijan spa

You can visit a spa in Naftalan, Azerbaijan and relax in a bath of crude oil, a "medicinal treatment" that apparently goes back to the 6th century. Careful though, the oil contains naphthalene, a possible human carcinogen. Read the rest

Canada's Tories say the government's new slogan is a state secret

Stephen Harper's government has spent millions of tax dollars advertising the upcoming Canada Day celebration with the slogan "Strong, proud, free," which also happens to be awfully close to their election slogan. Read the rest

Leaked docs detail Big Oil and Big PR's plans for a opinion-manipulation platform

The leaked slides were prepared by Edelman, the largest PR company in the world, at the behest of Transcanada, and they constitute a blueprint for tracking and influencing platform that spies on its participants in order to psychologically profile them and nudge them into becoming advocates for the oil industry. Read the rest

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