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Massive Oil Discovery in Alaska is Biggest Onshore Find in 30 Years

Some 1.2 billion barrels of oil have been discovered in Alaska, marking the biggest onshore discovery in the U.S. in three decades.

Matt Egan reports: The massive find of conventional oil on state land could bring relief to budget pains in Alaska brought on by slumping production in the state and the crash in oil prices. 

The new discovery was made in just the past few days in Alaska’s North Slope, which was previously viewed as an aging oil basin.

Spanish oil giant Repsol (REPYY) and its privately-held U.S. partner Armstrong Energy announced the find on Thursday, predicting production could begin as soon as 2021 and lead to as much as 120,000 barrels of output per day.

The oil resources lie in a well, called Horseshoe, that’s 75% owned by Denver-based Armstrong. Repsol owns the rest of this well.

The discovery is 20 miles south of where the two companies have already found oil in a project known as Pikka. That northern project is already in early development and is 51% owned by Armstrong, which is the operator on both developments.

“The interesting thing about this discovery is the North Slope was previously thought to be on its last legs. But this is a significant emerging find,” Repsol spokesman Kristian Rix told CNNMoney. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wall Street at Record Highs as Tech, Energy Stocks Rally

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Caroline Valetkevitch reports: All three major U.S. stock indexes were on track to hit closing records on Monday, helped by gains in energy and other commodity-related shares and as Facebook led a jump in technology.

“I think the post-election rally is continuing. There was some concern that rates might rise too far, but it looks like they may have slowed down a little bit.”

— Bucky Hellwig, senior vice president at BB&T Wealth Management

The indexes, all of which hit intraday record highs, have rallied since the Nov. 8 U.S. election, with investors snapping up shares of banks, health care and other companies expected to benefit from President-elect Donald Trump’s policies.

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[ALSO SEE – Poll: Trump’s popularity soars after election]

The energy index .SPNY gained 2.1 percent to a 16-month high, dominating the gainers among the 11 major S&P sectors, as U.S. oil prices jumped 3.9 percent. Hopes that the OPEC would agree to an output cut next week lifted oil prices. The S&P materials index .SPLRCM was up 1 percent. Read the rest of this entry »


Socialist Utopia: Venezuela’s Food Shortages Trigger Long Lines, Hunger and Looting

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Violent clashes flare in pockets of the country as citizens wait for hours for basics, such as milk and rice.

LA SIBUCARA, Venezuela— Maolis Castro and Kejal Vyas report: Hours after they looted and set fire to a National Guard command post in this sun-baked corner of Venezuela earlier this month, a mob infuriated by worsening food shortages rammed trucks into the smoldering edifice, reducing it mostly to rubble.

“In past years, when oil prices were high, Venezuela’s leftist government flooded markets with subsidized goods ranging from cooking oil to diapers. It gave citizens in border towns like La Sibucara not only access to cheap supplies, but also a source of income as many people trafficked products—including nearly free gasoline—to neighboring Colombia, drawing handsome profits.”

The incident was just one of numerous violent clashes that have flared in pockets around the country in recent weeks as Venezuelans wait for hours in long supermarket lines for basics like milk and rice. Shortages have made hunger a palpable concern for many Wayuu Indians who live here at the northern tip of Venezuela’s 1,300-mile border with Colombia.

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“We are going very hungry here and the children are suffering a lot.”

—María Palma, 55, of La Sibucara

The soldiers had been deployed to stem rampant food smuggling and price speculation, which President Nicolás Maduro blames for triple-digit inflation and scarcity. But after they seize contraband goods, the troops themselves often become targets of increasingly desperate people.

“Food-supply problems in Venezuela underscore the increasingly precarious situation for Mr. Maduro’s socialist government, which according to the latest poll by Datanálisis is preferred by less than 20% of voters ahead of Dec. 6 parliamentary elections.”

“What’s certain is that we are going very hungry here and the children are suffering a lot,” said María Palma, a 55-year-old grandmother who on a recent blistering hot day had been standing in line at the grocery store since 3 a.m. before walking away empty-handed at midday.

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“If people aren’t outside protesting, they’re outside standing in line for goods.”

—Marco Ponce, head of the Venezuela Observatory of Social Conflict

In a national survey, the pollster Consultores 21 found 30% of Venezuelans eating two or fewer meals a day during the second quarter of this year, up from 20% in the first quarter. Around 70% of people in the study also said they had stopped buying some basic food item because it had become unavailable or too expensive.

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An authentic socialist candidate soars in popularity in the U.S., the citizens of Venezuela are feeling the Bern

“They’re committing treason against our country, taking food and crossing the border.”

—National Guard Gen. Manuel Graterol

Food-supply problems in Venezuela underscore the increasingly precarious situation for Mr. Maduro’s socialist government, which according to the latest poll by Datanálisis is preferred by less than 20% of voters ahead of Dec. 6 parliamentary elections. The critical situation threatens to plunge South America’s largest oil exporter into a wave of civil unrest reminiscent of last year’s nationwide demonstrations seeking Mr. Maduro’s ouster.

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

“It’s a national crisis,” said Marco Ponce, head of the Venezuela Observatory of Social Conflict, noting that unlike the political protests of last year, residents are now taking to the streets demanding social rights. Read the rest of this entry »


Socialist Panic: Falling Oil Prices Risks Driving Venezuela’s Economy Off the Edge


Hugo Chavez’s legacy: How his economically disastrous, politically effective ideology will haunt the country he ruined.

Even before Hugo Chávez died, he had become a ghost. A strange, unfamiliar quiet had fallen on Venezuela for weeks as people waited to hear the voice of the president who had been part of their daily lives for nearly 14 years. That’s because Chávez spoke to Venezuelans constantly. In his first 11 years in office, he addressed the nation, on average, every two days. His remarks, usually improvised, typically ran more than four hours. If you add up these talks, which all radio and television stations were required to broadcast, they would amount to 54 full days.

And then there was silence. Venezuelans last heard their president on Dec. 8 when he announced that he was returning to Havana for his fourth operation to treat a recurring bout of cancer. He wouldn’t return to Venezuela until Feb. 18, slipping into a military hospital in Caracas in the middle of the night. (His advisers later admitted that his ability to speak had been impaired by a tracheal tube that had been inserted to assist his breathing.) Chávez had made the trip home, but he never truly returned. He was present but could not be seen. The eerie quiet was only broken with the announcement, delivered by Vice President Nicolás Maduro late Tuesday, that the 58-year-old president was dead.

What has Chávez bequeathed his fellow Venezuelans? The hard facts are unmistakable: The oil-rich South American country is in shambles. It has one of the world’s highest rates of inflation, largest fiscal deficits, and fastest growing debts. Despite a boom in oil prices, the country’s infrastructure is in disrepair—power outages and rolling blackouts are common—and it is more dependent on crude exports than when Chávez arrived. Venezuela is the only member of OPEC that suffers from shortages of staples such as flour, milk, and sugar. Crime and violence skyrocketed during Chávez’s years. On an average weekend, more people are killed in Caracas than in Baghdad and Kabul combined. (In 2009, there were 19,133 murders in Venezuela, more than four times the number of a decade earlier.) When the grisly statistics failed to improve, the Venezuelan government simply stopped publishing the figures…

More — from Slate Magazine

(via Instapundit)