"Headlines about 2012's World Energy Outlook (WEO) from the International Energy Agency (IEA), released mid-November, would lead you to think we are literally swimming in oil.
The report forecasts that the United States will outstrip Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2017, becoming "all but self-sufficient in net terms" in energy production - a notion reported almost verbatim by media agencies worldwide, from BBC News to Bloomberg.
What happens when the shale boom goes boom?
These scientific studies are not the only indications that something is deeply wrong with the IEA's assessment of prospects for shale gas production and accompanying economic prosperity. Indeed, Business Insider reports that far from being profitable, the shale gas industry is facing huge financial hurdles.
"The economics of fracking are horrid," observes US financial journalist Wolf Richter. "Production falls off a cliff from day one and continues for a year or so until it levels out at about 10% of initial production."
The result is that "drilling is destroying capital at an astonishing rate, and drillers are left with a mountain of debt just when decline rates are starting to wreak their havoc. To keep the decline rates from mucking up income statements, companies had to drill more and more, with new wells making up for the declining production of old wells. Alas, the scheme hit a wall, namely reality."
Now read on Pepe's piece on What west is up to in NW Africa and Sahara region .
Burn, burn - Africa's Afghanistan
By Pepe Escobar Asia Times ;119 Jan 2013
LONDON - One's got to love the sound of a Frenchman's Mirage 2000 fighter jet in the morning. Smells like... a delicious neo-colonial breakfast in Hollandaise sauce. Make it quagmire sauce.
Apparently, it's a no-brainer. Mali holds 15.8 million people - with a per capita gross domestic product of only around US$1,000 a year and average life expectancy of only 51 years - in a territory twice the size of France (per capital GDP $35,000 and upwards). Now almost two-thirds of this territory is occupied by heavily weaponized Islamist outfits. What next? Bomb, baby, bomb.
So welcome to the latest African war; Chad-based French Mirages and Gazelle helicopters, plus a smatter of France-based Rafales bombing evil Islamist jihadis in northern Mali. Business is good; French president Francois Hollande spent this past Tuesday in Abu Dhabi clinching the sale of up to 60 Rafales to that Gulf paragon of democracy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The formerly wimpy Hollande - now enjoying his "resolute", "determined", tough guy image reconversion - has cleverly sold all this as incinerating Islamists in the savannah before they take a one-way Bamako-Paris flight to bomb the Eiffel Tower.
French Special Forces have been on the ground in Mali since early 2012.
The Tuareg-led NMLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), via one of its leaders, now says it's "ready to help" the former colonial power, billing itself as more knowledgeable about the culture and the terrain than future intervening forces from the CEDEAO (the acronym in French for the Economic Community of Western African States).
Salafi-jihadis in Mali have got a huge problem: they chose the wrong battlefield. If this was Syria, they would have been showered by now with weapons, logistical bases, a London-based "observatory", hours of YouTube videos and all-out diplomatic support by the usual suspects of US, Britain, Turkey, the Gulf petromonarchies and - oui, monsieur - France itself.
Instead, they were slammed by the UN Security Council - faster than a collection of Marvel heroes - duly authorizing a war against them. Their West African neighbors - part of the ECOWAS regional bloc - were given a deadline (late November) to come up with a war plan. This being Africa, nothing happened - and the Islamists kept advancing until a week ago Paris decided to apply some Hollandaise sauce.
Not even a football stadium filled with the best West African shamans can conjure a bunch of disparate - and impoverished - countries to organize an intervening army in short notice, even if the adventure will be fully paid by the West just like the Uganda-led army fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia.
To top it all, this is no cakewalk. The Salafi-jihadis are flush, courtesy of booming cocaine smuggling from South America to Europe via Mali, plus human trafficking. According to the UN Office of Drugs Control, 60% of Europe's cocaine transits Mali. At Paris street prices, that is worth over $11 billion.