OPEC + more things

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OPEC – the national cartel for oil producing countries is having a meeting this weekend. OPEC stands for Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. For me, OPEC is something from my childhood. I grew up in the aftermath of 1973 OPEC embargo.

wien opec building

The 1973 OPEC embargo

Exhibit at the First Symposium on Low Pollution Power Systems Development ..., 10/1973

1973, a coalition of Arab countries launch an attack on Israel, with a view to regaining land that had been lost during the 1967. The OPEC embargo was targeted at nations that had supported Israel during the Yom Kippur War:

  • Canada
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Portugal
  • Rhodesia
  • South Africa
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

The reality is that the impact was so much wider than just the embargoed countries. For instance, Ireland wasn’t targeted, yet was impacted heavily by OPEC’s action. The time was critical as well.

The oil shift

The west had moved from coal to oil after the Second World War. Societies followed the same energy path that Winston Churchill mapped out for the Royal Navy back in 1911 for many of the same reasons. Oil offered many benefits in a way that it provided double the thermal content of coal. Boilers in power stations could be smaller, trains and ships could go double the distance.

Countries like Japan and Ireland had moved from coal fired power stations towards oil fired power stations. Car ownership had taken off. Finally, the US had been on a journey from using domestically produced and nearby oil (via Canada and Venezuela), to rapidly increasing oil imports from 1970 onwards.

This gave the OPEC countries a lot of leverage. The embargo finished in 1974 but oil remained at $11/barrel.

1979 oil crisis

The Iranian Islamic revolution disrupted supplies of oil to the west. In late 1978, with the revolutionary fervour in the air foreign oil workers left Iran. Iran tried to use Navy personnel to keep things going. Then in 1979 the revolution succeeded and The Shah vacated his head of state role and left Iran with his family.

With the exception of the Gulf War oil production and pricing was stable through the 1990s.

OPEC back in the news

The Ukraine war gave Middle Eastern oil producers an increased amount of leverage as European oil and natural gas customers pivoted away from Russia as a supplier. Countries like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are investing for a post-oil economy with large infrastructure projects like Neom and need a $80/barrel in order to make their balance of payments.

Yet the oil price currently is too low. This has created a fractious relationship between OPEC and the business press, especially Reuters and Bloomberg who are banned from their meetings. A good of the reason why oil prices are so low is that China’s economy didn’t surge back, and fast growing economies like India and China are getting cheap Russian oil. And despite what the Saudis might want, the price of oil at the moment is more affected by demand, rather than supply-related issues.

Saudia Arabia itself as exasperated this as it has bought Russian diesel and resold it on in South East Asia at a higher price as an arbitrage play.


Jamie Dimon warns ‘uncertainty’ caused by Beijing could hit investor confidence | Financial Times – not sure Mr Dimon’s comments will go down that well in China

Spy agency warns Canadian MP that she’s on Beijing’s ‘evergreen’ target list – POLITICO and more on China’s continued security campaign in Canada; Erin O’Toole says CSIS has told him he was target of voter suppression and misinformation campaign by China – The Globe and Mail 

China investigated Covid lab leak claims, says top scientist | Financial TimesProfessor George Gao, former head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a BBC Radio 4 podcast that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was checked by experts to see whether the facility could have been the source of the coronavirus pandemic. – to be fair just because you investigate it doesn’t mean its true. I would have expected them to consider all possible vectors


US-China trade war would hurt Britain most, says leaked analysis | Sunday TimesThe analysis finds that the UK’s economy will suffer more than those of the US, EU and China in the event of a full-blown subsidies war. It says the UK cannot adopt “a wholesale activist industrial policy” like the US, EU or China because it is only a “mid-sized economy outside major trading blocs”. The UK does not have the same “fiscal capacity or economic strengths” as the world’s superpowers, the paper goes on to say – not terribly surprising given that it’s about scale. Even inside of the EU there are likely to be countries that are clear winners and losers

China developers: the main quake is over but the aftershocks are not | Financial Times – real estate still dragging on China’s economy


Does Gender Diversity on Boards Really Boost Company Performance? – Knowledge at WhartonDespite the intuitive appeal of the argument that gender diversity on the board improves company performance, research suggests otherwise. Results of numerous academic studies of the topic suggest that the presence of more female board members does not much improve — or worsen — a firm’s performance


Goldman Sachs’s China dealmaker stops tapping US investors | Financial Times – instead they look for funding for Chinese projects in the Middle East. See also Saudi Arabia in talks to join China-based ‘Brics bank’ | Financial Times

Centerview: the Wall St power brokers confronting a rare rupture  | Financial Times

The Cleaner and the Laundromat: Belarusian Cleaning Magnate Allegedly Laundered Millions Through Disgraced Latvian Bank ABLV – OCCRP 


Suspicious Activity: What Are German Fighter Pilots Doing in China? – DER SPIEGEL


Klick Wire | US consumers trusting HCPs less25 – 34 year olds prefer to do their own research – trust but verify seems to be their approach

Coming to a hospital near you: 5G | Axios 


‘Secret Slowdown’ Threatens PR Firms After Buoyant Growth 

Are Concave Ads More Persuasive? The Role of Immersion: Journal of Advertising: Vol 0, No 0 – more immersive ads might work better


Rich Rare Earth Elements Deposit Found in Americas | EPS News 


The Little Mermaid subjected to ‘review bombing’ with mass negative reactions posted by bots | Film | The Guardian – I know a number of Disney fans outside the US weren’t that keen but who would have the motivation to write a bot or has Amazon jumped the gun?


Apparently Google isn’t responsible for the digital news echo chamber | Quartz

WordPress.com challenges Substack with launch of paid newsletters | TechCrunch 


SolarWinds: The Untold Story of the Boldest Supply-Chain Hack | WIRED

Capita cyber-attack: 90 organisations report data breaches | Capita | The Guardian

Cybersecurity at Risk in Automotive Industry – EE Times 

Japan’s leading cyber security expert Cartan McLaughlin gives an update on the current state of global cybersecurity and shares insights on how Japan can protect itself against the increasing wave of attacks. McLaughlin also answered questions on effective defense tools, whether Japan is catching up or falling behind, and Russian cyber attacks on Ukraine.

Words I never thought I would see myself writing together in the one sentence hacking and farming. Farming represents a large part of the US economy, and, food supply chain has national security aspects to it for obvious reasons.


Simon Willison on how design can improve ChatGPT usage: ChatGPT should include inline tips 

GitHub – datainsightat/introduction_llm: Explore the world of Large Language Models (LLMs) with this introductory repository.

China Merchants Group’s securities arm pulls out of tender offer for Microsoft AI services amid rising sensitivity | South China Morning Postsecurities arm of state-owned conglomerate China Merchants Group (CMG) has scrapped its participation in a tender for artificial intelligence (AI) services provided by US tech giant Microsoft, according to a Monday post on the group’s website, highlighting the growing sensitivity for Chinese firms of sharing domestic data with foreign firms

The Illusion of China’s AI Prowess | Foreign Affairs

INFER Public | The Pub Blog – INFER forecasters: Don’t expect GPT-5 anytime soon

AI Job Loss: Study Predicts Women Hit Hardest | Tech News World 


How Taiwan became the indispensable economy | FT


The Coming Wave of AI, and How Nvidia Dominants | Fabricated Knowledge

Generative AI silicon design challenge readies for fab | EE News Europe 

Nvidia launches first commercial exascale supercomputer | EE Times 

Are Chiplets Enough to Save Moore’s Law? – EE Times 

Marvell Launches Interconnects on TSMC’s 3-nm Process – EE Times 

Waterproof pressure sensor ensures 10-year availability – EDN 

Web of no web

Maxar explores new uses for Earth observation satellites | Defense News 

£50m for UK space infrastructure fund .| EE Times 

Apple’s MR device will determine Cook’s place in company history – a bit like John Sculley and the Newton….

Partnership Takes Wi-Fi HaLow to the Next Level – EE Times