Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Five Interesting Stories From Rigzone -- May 13, 2015; Iraq's Largest Refinery Could Be Destroyed

Three of the stories have to do with the current glut of global oil:
A fourth story has to do with EIA / US data collection
And perhaps most interesting of all:
Islamic State militants have dug trenches around natural gas and hydrogen tanks at Iraq's largest refinery, raising the stakes in a battle where the price of victory may be the refinery itself.

The militants launched their fiercest attack on the installation last month and now control large parts of the complex in which 200 Iraqi security forces are trapped.
The Pentagon last week said the outcome of the battle – in which Iraqi security forces backed by coalition warplanes are fighting to retake the refinery from Islamic State militants – could not be predicted but warned it was going in "the wrong direction".
Islamic State appears to have committed itself to an all-out fight there, proving it can still seize the initiative after being ejected from the city of Tikrit further south in early April, military officials and experts say.
The battle highlights the disordered state of the security forces, which partly disintegrated last summer and must now fight on several fronts whilst holding ground they have retaken.
President Obama said ISIS was simply the JVs; the Iraqis are experiencing something different:
 "What we see on the ground is a modest number of forces compared within the ongoing build-up of Islamic State inside the town and also the refinery," said Mohammed Mahmoud al-Jubouri.
As for the refinery:
Michael Knights, fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said it would be difficult to salvage the refinery as a functioning facility.
"It's regrettable we have to lose the refinery but now that ISIS has committed itself to another one of these anvil type battles – the hammer's in the air – they've done it Kobani and they bled themselves white."
Not Ready For Prime Time

Don sent me a comment regarding the Baghdad/Iraqi refinery. My reply, not ready to for prime time, and minimally edited:
If the refinery is destroyed, there are so many, many story lines: it is the country's biggest refinery; 
  • that alone will create significant problems for country's energy infrastructure;
  • it will be a huge recruiting tool for ISIS
  • if Iraq throws everything it had at ISIS in this one battle and could not win, the Iraqis know what they are up against;
  • it's hard to see anything good come out of this for Iraq 
The US mainstream media isn't reporting this. If Obama's goal is to make Iran the superpower in the Mideast, the fall of Iraq is monumental. He just has to make it look like he did what he could to save Iraq, but if, at the end of the day, they couldn't save themselves, there wasn't much more he could do.
By the way, if you've been following the Jeb Bush story -- how he may have gotten himself in trouble over his answers on toppling Saddam -- one gets the feeling that there is nothing more Obama would like to see than Iraq implode. It would be the end of the story -- and a very bad ending -- that was created by Bush.
I think Obama's biggest fear is that Jeb Bush gets in the White House. The GOP would re-write history; reveal everything Obama did; the GOP would destroy his legacy and destroy his programs.
If there are images of Baghdad falling just as the 2016 elections are underway, one would think that Bush would get trounced ... simply for being Bush. Somehow I think Obama is enjoying this play out. He may be even orchestrating it (in the sense of limiting the coalition response to taking ISIS out).
Looking back on all this, maybe President Obama's comments that ISIS was JV was simply to divert our attention, making it easier for Iran to take out Iraq. It's as good a conspiracy theory as any.

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