Archive for March, 2012

Canadian vs Venezuelan oil: The Real Importance of Keystone XL

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

This is an email from Kermit Hoffpauir, which I’m sharing with my readers,

The Real Importance of Keystone XL

After constantly reading all of the media coverage regarding the Keystone XL and its importance, there are some very key facts missing.  This pipeline has geopolitical importance and not because it would be carrying just any grade of crude oil, but a heavy crude oil with an API gravity of 20, or less.  Here I would like to address the fact that Canadian Syncrude is a replacement feedstock for refineries producing an important commodity, Venezuela’s crude problems and the cost of converting “regular” refineries into heavy crude process ones.

I had originally written an email describing this and sent to a friend who posted it as an article, on his website here

For those unaware of crude oil and types of refineries and where sources of crude oil are from for them and certain products, I have already proposed that Venezuela is the sole major beneficiary of the blocking of the Keystone XL.  Meanwhile the chattering class is hollering Warren Buffett’s railroad, there is much more to this than that.

First, Keystone XL was to bring HEAVY crude to the Gulf Coast (TX & LA) where 12 refineries use heavy crude as a feedstock.  Primarily this is Venezuelan crude, which is a good bit less expensive and great for producing petroleum coke.  Canadian Syncrude is also a heavy crude, though not as heavy as Venezuelan, and would be a stable supply.  We have imported around 1.2 Million Barrels per Day of this crude in recent years.  Additionally, Hovensa (Hess Oil/PDVSA 50/50 venture) imports a substantial percentage for its refinery in St. Croix, the largest refinery on U.S. soil rated at 500,000 barrel per day crude charge capacity.

Hovensa is shutting down!

That would mean that Venezuela LOSES over 1 Million Barrels per Day of oil exports.  There are very few refineries in the world to utilize its crude as a major feedstock.  It could be used as blending with light crude but not much else.  All the talk about Warren Buffett is a sideshow, and should have nothing to do with the real reason behind Keystone XL.

Petroleum coke technology is a result of squeezing the very bottom of the barrel, into producing more gasoline.  In the late 1970′s a market was developed for fuel grade petroleum coke, and by the early 1980′s the one time nuisance by product, petroleum coke suddenly became profitable.  Almost overnight, Venezuelan crude became desirable for several refineries, located mainly in Texas and Louisiana, which had the ability to cost effectively refine it.  Billions of dollars were poured into these and other regional refineries in upgrades, and export facilities.  By the early 1980′s Lake Charles, LA became the center of the petroleum coke exports for the world, with both the Citgo and Conoco refineries going full bore into producing and exporting, through the newly build state of the art outdoor storage facility connected to the Port of Lake Charles Bulk Terminal No. 1.  By 1982 ships loading from 10,000 to 40,000 tons of this cargo were headed to many part of the world, but in particular to Livorno, Italy for use as a fuel to replace coal in lime kilns for cement manufacturing.  A small West German steel company’s (Otto Wolff) trading division played a key role in this and surpassed the two former leaders, Great Lakes Carbon and International Minerals & Chemicals, in contracts with petcoke producers to supply the new European fuel market.  Heavy crudes are great for producing petroleum coke, not light crudes such as those coming from the new shale oil production or Alaskan North Slope.  The only type of crude equivalent, here in the U.S., is around Bakersfield, CA.

While Houston is NOT a key petroleum coke market (contrary to Newt Gingrich’s claim that it would consume Canadian Syncrude) Lyondell’s refinery there has been a leader in petcoke production and use by building a cogeneration unit with the metalurgy required for the higher btu value, over coal, to use some of its petcoke production.

All of this was BEFORE Venezuela’s state oil company, PDVSA took part ownership position in several refineries in the U.S.

Today, the U.S. is the world giant in petcoke production with over 53,000,000 tons per year being produced annually.  It exports close to 50% of that capacity (8 times the exports of Venezuela).  China has in fact increased its petcoke production capacity to 50% that of the U.S. and imports more from elsewhere.

Since Hugo Chavez came into power, Venezuela’s crude oil production has declined by 35%.  In late 2002 and well into 2003, a large number of management and professional employees of PDVSA went on strike to protest Chavez’s power and policy.  This sent Gulf Coast refiners scrambling for a replacement heavy crude, the declining PEMEX grade of Mayan Crude filled the gap for the several months it was needed.  There is no major source of such a heavy crude outside of Canadian Syncrude.

The capital investment required to refine Canadian Syncrude is nothing to sneeze at.  ConocoPhillips spent $4 Billon on its Wood River, IL refinery in new process units and upgrades.  Marathon spent $2 Billion on its Detroit refinery for the same reason.  ConocoPhillips was lucky that it only had to spend a few hundred million dollars at its Borger, TX refinery and converted a 200,000 bpd pipeline from Cushing to Borger to enable it to handle heavy crude.  Hovensa had spent $8 BILLION in the late 1990′s to enable it to take more Venezuelan crude.  It had successively converted 2 crude units in previous years, into visbreakers, and lowered its overall crude capacity for the the world’s largest at 650,000 bbls per day to approximately 500,000 bpd to capitalize on the lower prices of heavier crudes.

One more thing.  Canadian crude sells for $68 per bbls at terminal of origin in Hardesty.  Venezuelan sells for the same as Brent but with a $5 –10 discount at port of origin loaded aboard ship which makes it above $110 per bbl.

Here is a little more about fuel grade petroleum coke

The strikes in Spain stay mainly in the plain?

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

El Marko reports from Spain,
Spanish Unions Revolt Against Labor and Fiscal Reform

Thursday’s general srike in Madrid, unlike Barcelona’s, was largely a pacific affair. Two communist unions, the CCOO and the UGT, did their best to shut down the capital of Spain, and were met with solid resistance from the retail sector. The two unions, which represent a majority of unionized Spanish workers, failed to paralyze the retail sector, with approximately 80 percent of businesses remaining open. 17% of Spanish workers belong to unions with membership being voluntary. Huge mobs of union-led protesters attempted to force the closure of retail shops in the streets adjacent to the Puerta del Sol Plaza in Madrid’s city center

The garbage and vandalism were appalling.

Imagine if, instead, the strikers actually found something constructive to do. But that would take personal responsibility and creativity, wouldn’t it?

Read the whole photo report here.

The unknown man, and the blind Pope

Saturday, March 31st, 2012

The man who protested during the Papal Mass has been identified: His name is Andrés Carrión Alvarez, age 38, and has been detained by the Communist regime since then.

U.S. Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Albio Sires (D-NJ), and David Rivera (R-FL) issued a joint statement expressing grave concern for Cuban protester Andres Carrion Alvarez, and calling on human rights groups to demand the release of all political prisoners in Cuba:

“Today, we learned the identity of the heroic protester who denounced the Cuban dictatorship with shouts of ‘Freedom!’ and ‘Down with communism!’ during Pope Benedict XVI’s mass in Santiago de Cuba on March 26, 2012. His name is Andres Carrion Alvarez, and he has been missing since we last saw him brutally punched and dragged away by state security agents operating in white uniforms with red crosses designed to resemble humanitarian workers of the Red Cross. But as footage of the incident reveals, there was nothing humanitarian about their mission.

The Pope turned a blind eye (link in Spanish) to all the dissidents. Bernadette Pardo, writing in El Nuevo Herald, writes that Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos commented to her that “this Pope turns his back on the victims, and meets with the victimizers.” Pardo adds,

To sit by Raul Castro and limit oneself to saying that Cuba and the world need change is a solemn insult to those who every day risk their lives to transform Cuban society.

There was another protestor taken away,

He has not been identified.

But, you can be sure the Castros are happy that the Pope ignored the human rights activists and the dissidents, bought into the embargo lie, and granted Fidel a half-hour long papal audience. By doing so, Benedict

Gen. Raúl Castro, the Cuban leader, and his brother Fidel Castro were able to portray the image, domestically and abroad, that they are not international pariahs who are shunned by many world leaders for running a police state that has not allowed a free election, political parties or independent media for more than five decades.

For the Castros, it was a win-win situation.

Too bad the Pope can’t see.

Friday night tango: Fresedo & Dizzy

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Dizzy Gillespie playing Vida mía with Osvaldo Fresedo’s orchestra
1956- Night Club Rendez Vous Porteño- Buenos Aires

(h/t Danelle)

Revisiting the “Hispanic” mirage

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Since the media is now in full racial-relations regression (h/t Gerard), and I’m under the weather, I thought I’d repost my 2006 post, The “Hispanic” Mirage,

Nowadays the Left will do its outmost to keep you in your underprivileged minority box because it makes them feel good (and after all, it’s their feelingswhat counts). Anyone like myself who doesn’t buy into the designed victimhood role is put down, insulted, derided, and resented.

The manifestations of this can be trivial but very telling, with comments such as “but you don’t even look Puerto Rican”. That particular type of comment (and I’ve heard it enough times that I’d be living like a Sheik if I had $5 for each time) reveals that
a. Puerto Ricans are supposed to look one way, and by implication, behave one way
b. That’s exactly what the person saying that expects.
At this point in the conversation you know they’ve bought into the multi-culti role because they can not get themselves to believe, in spite of my already assuring them, that I’m telling the truth. Not as trivial are downright insults and putdowns where you are essentially told that you are an ungrateful jerk for not appreciating the need “your people” have for the equal opportunity handout’s munificence.

While the people saying this usually have not an idea of who “my people” are – and have an equally less realistic notion of my own life story, or what kind of travails my friends have overcome – the underlying assumption is that all Hispanics belong to the oppressed, underprivileged minority that should be celebrated not for their own individual deeds, characters, achievements and merits, but for the sake of “multicultural diversity” because they can not get out of that oppressed, underprivileged situation on their own.

The hard-earned accomplishment of the individual is erased for the sake of a faceless, and I should say, worthless construct.

Additionally, as Dr. Sowell and others have repeatedly explained, the assumption is that the “minority” person has accomplished something only because of reverse discrimination. This, in turn, perpetuates the culture of victimization as it denies credit where due – when talent, hard work, virtue, and perseverance have brought the accomplishment – to the individual of merit.

When it comes to Hispanics, the dirty little secret is that there is no such thing as Hispanic.

I am not discovering America here, but maybe America needs to discover this.

There are two dozen Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas. Each one of those countries is as unique as countries can be. Their histories are different, their customs, foods, music, traditions, and even their slang, are different. Every “Hispanic” country has peoples of every ethnic origin, race, religion, economic status, family size, educational background, physical size and build, level of work skills, and intellectual and mental ability. You will find this to be the case even more dramatically in all cities with large ports, and in resort areas. A lot of people from other countries who come for trade and pleasure return to settle permanently in those areas.

You want diversity? Let’s look at real diversity:

There are Peruvians of Japanese ancestry (and one of them became president of Peru). There are Chinese Cubans. There are English Puerto Ricans (my mother’s high school teacher’s family, for instance) – and Puerto Rico has a significantillegal alien problem from people from adjacent islands. There are German Venezuelans. There are Irish Argentinians. The Africans that were brought to Latin America from the slave trade are not all from the same areas of Africa and did not follow the same traditions. Even among the native peoples, the Peruvian Quechua are not the Chilean Mapuche who are not the Mayans of Apocalypto.

Within countries there are significant differences. For example: Among the millions of legal and illegal immigrants to the USA, there are hundreds of native associations, particularly in the South West. Do a google search for asociacion Oaxaca and you’ll find 966,000 results. The Mexicans who come from Oaxaca will tell you that they are not the Mexicans from the capital (Distrito Federal), and that they enjoy getting together with their friends from their corner of the old country, hence, the asociaciones Oaxaqueñas.

However, here in the USA there are a large number of people who are making money out of the “multicultural diversity” culture of dependence, and the industry it has generated, who are willing to go along. Some may be politicians, some may be bureaucrats, some may be using the sizeable amount of monies allocated to “minority businesses”, some just like to get a handout. And then there are theprofessional Hispanics, which as Val has correctly pointed out,

Professional Hispanics have no discernible talent other than to beat their chest and play the race card. It’s just sad. 

So please, let’s start looking at the content of our characters and give up on the content of our constructs.

I stand by my words.

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Merchants of despair

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Bill Whittle rocks,

Bipartisanship: Obama budget defeated 0-414

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

The vote came as the House worked its way through its own fiscal year 2013 budget proposal, written by Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan. Republicans wrote an amendment that contained Mr. Obama’s budget and offered it on the floor, daring Democrats to back the plan, which calls for major tax increases and yet still adds trillions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade.

“It’s not a charade. It’s not a gimmick — unless what the president sent us is the same,” said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a freshman Republican from South Carolina who sponsored Mr. Obama’s proposal for purposes of the debate. “I would encourage the Democrats to embrace this landmark Democrat document and support it. Personally, I will be voting against it.”

But no Democrats accepted the challenge.


The U.S. government’s debt on Monday was $15.544 trillion, and the government is projected to run a deficit of roughly $1.2 trillion in the year ending Sept. 30.

Carlos Eire on the Pope’s visit

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Let Peter weep,

Today His Holiness Benedict XVI disowned Christ in Cuba. Today, he averted his eyes from the eleven million crucified Cubans in his midst, as he celebrated the holy sacrifice of the Eucharist. Today, he chose not to speak for the crucified, or to chasten their tormentors. Instead, he spent his time criticizing the so-called embargo, blessing the tyrants, and preaching a platitudinous sermon written for the theological faculty at the University of Regensburg rather than for the Cuban people.

And his subaltern, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, archbishop of Havana, beamed with satisfaction at the abject submission of Church to state.

While at Babalu, check the image of the day.

In other news, Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela, perhaps after his Papal audience.


Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The results of WaPo’s Peeps diorama contest are up, and you can see all the entries here.

The Occupiers won

but my inner snob likes Downton Abbey better,

The Dame Maggie Smith peep is the one dressed in mauve.

Get your Peeps while they’re still in season!

Cuba: The Pope’s shameful trip UPDATE: Did Benedict see Chavez?

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Yeah, yeah, now the Pope’s given another Mass in Havana’s Revolution Square, right under the Che monument (Che monument soon to get a Galway branch, like a bank). Benedict gave lip service to hope and change.

Raul Castro got the photo-op of his lifetime, getting a Papal blessing, even when Hugo Chavez didn’t attend,

and Fidel Castro got a private audience with the Pope

The meeting followed Benedict’s open-air Mass in the same public square where a younger, healthier Castro once delivered official speeches that lasted for hours and frequently railed against the United States.

Here’s a photo,

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For Christ’s sake.

Benedict turned a deaf ear to the people clamoring for freedom – in the video above you can hear the chant of “libertad, libertad” (freedom, freedom).

The Catholic Church remains silent on arrest of protestor and hundreds of dissidents in Cuba, yet,

Unofficial reports also seem to confirm the future saint Fidel’s first miracle: the instantaneous disappearance from the island of the Ladies in White and all dissidents.

The hand of God lets go of Cuba and Cubans?

I wouldn’t know about the hand of God.

But going by the evidence, one can safely conclude that the Pope sure doesn’t have b*lls.

Photo of Fidel & Benedict added.
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Did Benedict meet Hugo?
Pope Blesses Cancer-Stricken Chavez in Cuba, Journalist Says (h/t Venezuela News & Views)

The alleged meeting, which Bocaranda first reported was in the works on March 25, was arranged by Venezuelan diplomats who used to work at the South American nation’s mission to the Vatican, the journalist said. All participants agreed the brief meeting would be without media coverage, Bocaranda said.

Plenty of time to meet the Communists, no time for anyone else.