3 Arrested at Heathrow on Suspicions of Terrorism
By RAVI SOMAIYA
Published: April 20, 2012
LONDON — Three men have been arrested at Heathrow Airport and held on suspicion of “possessing articles and documents with intent to use them for terrorist purposes overseas,” the police said on Friday.
The suspects, residents of Britain’s second-largest city, Birmingham, were arrested Thursday night as they arrived from Oman. The police did not release their names.
The three, aged 33 to 39, were detained by officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit as part of a “preplanned and intelligence-led” operation, the police said, that was not mounted “in response to any immediate threat to public safety.”
They were held under Section 57 of the British Terrorism Act. That law makes it a criminal offense to possess materials that create a “reasonable suspicion” that they are “for a purpose connected with the commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.”
A police spokeswoman said British officers had traveled to Oman to meet with the authorities there before making the arrests, but she declined to provide further details about the operation or to describe the articles and documents the men possessed.
Oman, a small Arab nation that borders Yemen and Saudi Arabia, has not previously figured significantly in Britain’s long struggle against homegrown groups of Islamic extremists who have roots overseas. Earlier this week the British government rearrested Abu Qatada, a Jordanian-Palestinian militant preacher accused of being one of Al Qaeda’s leaders in Europe, and said it would resume efforts to deport him.
A couple of other interesting news items over the past few days.
Potential for Shale Gas in Oman?The Ministry of Oil and Gas was touting Oman's potential for the new 'unconventional' shale gas (& oil) plays that are all the rage in the global oil market [a big 'thank you' to the good ol' USA for figuring that out for us, BTW].
It follows the recent expro on Oil and Gas held in Oman last week. Read all about it in the Oman Observer in a press release by His Excellency, Nasser bin Khamis al Jashmi, Under-Secretary, Ministry of Oil & Gas. The Government is desperate for gas, having over built LNG capacity and given away large amounts in gas contracts to stimulate associated industry in Sohar and Salalah. Oxy got the Mukhaisna oil field project mainly because it could bring gas for steam from Qatar, via its Dolphin project.
The Observer also had this cracker of a headline:
Oil and gas expo showcases OER tech[sic]
It seems the ace young
Shale Gas. Not cheap, but there could be an awful lot of it in Oman. At a price.
PDO was quoted as having a $20bln spend over the next 5 years, all of which will need to be paid from production sales. Not included in that cost is the vast amount of natural gas PDO consumes to get that oil. Steam EOR requires gas fired boilers, even if some are from secondary heat recovery units on power stations. On top of the steam, PDO consumes about 700 mega-watts of power, all of it generated by gas.
EOR and fraccing all this unconventional gas and oil is very expensive. Hell, they can't get that to pay in the USA at $3/MMBTU, and that's a country that can drill and frac holes fast and cheap.
The price of oil may well be high enough for PDO's steam and stuff to more than repay, but a market price for gas in Oman (or the region) doesn't exist!
British Gas walked on Oman's Abu Butabul gas find because the gas price was too low. BP are struggling along with the Khazzan gas field, which may pay at $2.50 in places. But in all this the price of gas is a huge issue.
If only the MONE Ministry of National Economy [now defunct] hadn't gaven away loads of gas Oman's gas to Industrialists at dirt cheap rates! $0.77 per MMBTU to the Indians (and yourselves with a carried 50%) for fertiliser; same $0.80 deal for the Wizard of Oz to make Methanol. Even more generous - non-inflating fixed price contracts too! [see the laments of MC passem]
Thus Oman, with no extra conventional gas and rising internal demand to meet power and water requirements, has 20% shut-in capacity in it's 3 LNG export trains as a result. And Japan is gagging for LNG right now. Oman needs more gas* to liquify and send to the Japanese. But looking for the stuff is expensive. And gas supplies are tight. You can't shut the lights off in Muscat. What to do?
The Minister and his undersecretary suggest Foreign Oil companies come in to Oman and invest risk capital to explore for these shale gas and oil deposits, outside the patch of the dominant player (& majority Omani Government owned) PDO and their infamous and productive 'Block 6' concession (The gas is owned 100% by the Government, by the way). After all, there may be opportunities for these companies to strike it rich if the gas price is high enough, and Oman keeps its promises on tax and other fiscal terms. And Oman would get the gas it craves.
Sounds good! Where do I sign?
* Technical Factoid. Selling Natural Gas is different to oil. Most gas is effectively sold 'in the ground' over a long time period. If Oman could be sure of getting more gas from somewhere else in the future, they could 'swap' this new gas for already developed and sold existing gas. Thus the new gas could be immediately sold using existing capacity for the LNG projects and from PDO, plus that would increase oil [condensate] production as an added bonus!
In Other News
It was reported yeaterday that The Ministry of Oil and Gas has decided to break its gas supply contract with their Indian partners in the Oman Fertiliser Plant, Oman India Fertiliser Company (OMIFCO), a joint venture firm between Oman's state-owned Oman Oil Co (OCC) and Indian co-operative firms KRIBHCO and IFFCO. This is a business originally designed as a way to convert cheap, really cheap, gas into Urea for export to India, and to stimulate nearby business and infrastructure. [for reference, $0.80 per MMBTU is about $5/bbl oil equiv.]
The Urea plant & port has already been built and is working, but any extra gas supplies implied as an option in the Gas Supply contract were quickly cancelled after comissioning.
Since then, Oman has now threatened to turn off the taps altogether unless the Indains agree to pay a lot more for the gas - from $0.77 (constant, no inflation) to $3.00 with inflation added every year. Not withstanding the contract signed by the Government to supply long term gas. Surprise!
Photo: The Minister of Oil and Gas renegotiates a Sovereign Omani Non-renegotiable long-term Gas Supply contract. Go ahead, make his day.
As reported in the The Indian Express
Oman cuts gas price to $1.5 per mmBtu, but with riders
New Delhi, Tue Apr 17 2012, 16:33 hrs
Oman has halved the price at which it will sell natural gas to an Indian fertiliser plant in the Gulf nation to USD 1.5 per mmBtu but has added an annual escalation clause.
Oman, which had previously proposed to raise rates of gas sold to OMIFCO's urea manufacturing facility at Sur to USD 3 per million British thermal unit instead of present price of USD 0.77 per mmBtu, has revised its offer to charge USD 1.5 per mmBtu, sources in know of the development said.
The Gulf nation has also set a rider that gas price would be hiked by USD 0.5 every year till it reaches USD 3 per mmBtu.
Oman India Fertiliser Company (OMIFCO), a joint venture firm between Oman's state-owned Oman Oil Co (OCC) and Indian co-operative firms KRIBHCO and IFFCO, produces about 2 million tonnes of urea a year at Sur for exports to India
Oman had contracted to selling gas to the plant at USD 0.77 per million British thermal unit for 15 years beginning 2005 but mid-way decided to hike rates to USD 3 per mmBtu from January 1, 2012 citing firming up of prices in global market.
"Oman has agreed to cut the price to USD 1.5 per mmBtu from January 1, 2012 and under the new mechanism the rate would be USD 1.5 per mmBtu from January 1, 2012, and then the price would be increased by USD 0.5 per year till it reaches USD 3 per mmBtu," sources said.
Fertiliser Ministry has also proposed to the Cabinet to accept the price increase by Oman as it is much lower than the global rates of natural gas.
"We have sent a proposal to the Cabinet that the hike in gas price be accepted," a senior Fertiliser Ministry official had said.
The Ministry argues that even at USD 3 per mmBtu, the gas supplied by Oman is cheaper than alternative fuel sources. Long term gas supplies in the international market are no less than USD 18 per mmBtu.
The official said Cabinet, which may consider the proposal as early as this week, would decide if India should drag Oman to arbitration for breach of signed gas supply contract.
The ministry believes that Oman may snap gas supplies to the plant once arbitration is initiated the OMIFCO would have to buy fuel from international market during pendency of the suit. IFFCO and KRIBHCO holds a stake of 25 per cent each in OMIFCO, while the rest is with Oman Oil Company.
"We are against the proposal of taking the matter to the International Arbitration Tribunal in London, as this could lead to disruption of supply from Oman," the official said.
OMIFCO ships around two million tonnes of urea, which is its entire production, to India under an agreement the country has with the Oman government.
The Indians initially choked, so the Omanis gave them a special discount for a couple of years, while still immediately doubling the price.
I wonder why the Indians didn't get the contract entered as a Royal Decree, which would make it more difficult to renege upon.
It's also a bit sad the way the Indian press headlines the article as a victory for India (Gas Price halves!). They are getting screwed.
Meh. Yanni. Whallah. What to do? We have no gas! Sorry.
If I were some of the other big industrial gas users: Vail [steel plant - needs lotsa gas], or The Wizard of Oz [2 Methanol plants - needs lotsa clean gas], or Alcoa [Aluminium plant - lotsa gas!], I'd be pretty damn nervous right now. Maybe time to do some lobbying and hire some lawyers.
Is this the start of a resource nationalism trend by stealth? Is the Government's policy to negotiate long term contracts in bad faith?
It does not encourage Foreign investors to bring the capital and expertise into Oman, when the agreed and signed legal, fiscal and contractual terms are held at the whim of the Government.
The business environment is bad enough. Oman's courts are already a minefield for outsiders. Employment law is a micro-managing mess biased toward the Oligarchs. Education is poor. And wasta is a huge tax on SMEs. Infrastructure isn't everything.
Is this what happen's when HM goes on vacation?