Monday, January 30, 2006

Dots, Unconnected 

A trio of completely unrelated items that appeared in the royal mailbox, courtesy of Zemblan patriots K.Z. and J.D.:

1.) Iran crisis 'could drive oil over $90'
Oil markets are braced for a nail-biting week, as world leaders demand action against Iran over its nuclear ambitions, and analysts warn that crude prices could reach $90 a barrel if the oil-rich state retaliates by blocking supplies . . . .

Kona Haque, commodities editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, said the worst case scenario of a shutdown of supplies from Iran would be 'absolutely devastating ... I wouldn't be surprised to see the price go over $90 a barrel'. She said fears about Iran are already adding a $10 risk premium to oil prices, which could remain in place for months as the crisis escalates. Davoud Danesh-Jafari, Iran's oil minister, has warned that the result of punitive action against his country would be 'the unleashing of a crisis in the oil sector'.

'The resumption of nuclear research by Iran is currently the market's largest preoccupation,' said BNP Paribas oil analyst Eoin O'Callaghan. He has pushed up his forecast for average oil prices this year to $65 a barrel because of geopolitical risk. He points out that the oil price rose more than 60 per cent in the run-up to the Iraq war; a similar increase now would take prices to $94.
2.) Exxon Mobil Sees Record Profit for U.S. Co.
Exxon Mobil Corp. posted record profits for any U.S. company on Monday — $10.71 billion for the fourth quarter and $36.13 billion for the year — as the world's biggest publicly traded oil company benefited from high oil and gas prices and demand for refined products. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations and Exxon shares rose nearly 3 percent on premarket trading . . . .

Exxon's profit for the year was also the largest annual reported net income in U.S. history, according to Howard Silverblatt, a stock market analyst for Standard & Poor's. He said the previous high was Exxon's $25.3 billion profit in 2004.
And now, the comedy relief:

3.) Exxon demands court reduce $5 billion Valdez award
Exxon Mobil Corp. urged a federal appeals court today to erase the $5 billion in damages an Alaska jury ordered the oil giant to pay for the 1989 Valdez oil spill. Exxon attorney Walter Dellinger told a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the company should be liable for no more than $25 million in punitive damages. Punitive damages are meant to deter and punish misconduct.

Exxon, which reported third-quarter earnings of $10 billion, said it has spent more than $3 billion on clean-up work and to settle other federal and state lawsuits stemming from the spill.

"Deterrence has been so satisfied by that amount," Dellinger said, adding that because of the money Exxon already has paid out over the last 16 years "the harm was largely avoided."

The comment prompted chuckles from a packed courtroom that included fishermen whose livelihoods were damaged when the Valdez hit a charted reef and dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound.
UPDATE: Even less related . . . .

4.) Bush to say wants Iranians to have greater freedom
President George W. Bush will offer words of support on Tuesday in his State of the Union address to Iranians who want greater freedom as U.S. diplomats push for sanctions over the Islamic republic's nuclear program . . . .

In a CBS News interview, Bush said it was important to speak both to the Iranian government and the people.

"And in speaking to the people, my message is this: You know, we're not going to tell you how to live your life, but we would like you to be free. We would like you to be able to express yourselves in the open, so without fear of reprisal. We want you to be able to vote and elect," he said.

"We believe they are great people and they want greater freedoms and the president has said multiple times that we stand behind them in their quest for freedom. He's not saying, 'rise up and overthrow,' but that we stand behind them in their quest for greater freedom," said an administration official.

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