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Oil and Gas, Sweden, UUVs

Dated: 20 Oct 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: International, Technology, Uncategorized

Oil and Gas: Traders in the oil markets are currently debating Saudi Arabia’s strategy. One theory is that Saudi is happy to see oil’s slump because it will harm the U.S. shale industry. The lower prices go, the more difficult it will be for shale oil projects to make a decent return on investment. Therefore, the idea goes, shale production will come off line, causing a supply squeeze that will soon see oil prices recover.  However, shale projects may not come off line even if prices fall further. Productivity gains and hedging activities by shale oil producers mean their break-even prices on investments are falling all the time.  For example projects in the major shale oil fields of the Bakken, Permian and Eagle Ford could break even with oil prices at $60 per barrel.

Sweden: Sweden released on Sunday a grainy photo of a mysterious vessel in Stockholm’s archipelago, as the military hunted for a foreign submarine or divers in the country’s biggest such mobilization since the Cold War. The search in the Baltic Sea less than 30 miles (50 km) from Stockholm began on Friday and reawakened memories of the final years of the Cold War when Sweden repeatedly sought out suspected Soviet submarines along its coast with depth charges.

UUVs: MIT researchers unveiled an oval-shaped submersible robot, a little smaller than a football, with a flattened panel on one side that it can slide along an underwater surface to perform ultrasound scans.  Originally designed to look for cracks in nuclear reactors’ water tanks, the robot could also inspect ships for the false hulls and propeller shafts that smugglers frequently use to hide contraband.  Because of its small size and unique propulsion mechanism — which leaves no visible wake — the robots could, in theory, be concealed in clumps of algae or other camouflage. Fleets of them could swarm over ships at port without alerting smugglers and giving them the chance to jettison their cargo.

UN Security Council, Iraq, Battery Technology

Dated: 17 Oct 2014
Posted by Christine Chan
Category: International, Security, Technology

UN Security Council: Venezuela was elected Thursday to a two-year term on the U.N. Security Council, overcoming long-standing U.S. opposition to its membership on the world body’s premier security panel and setting the stage for a potential clash over issues ranging from Syria to Ukraine.  “This triumph is dedicated to commander Hugo Chávez,” Ramírez added, recalling the former Venezuelan leader’s 2007 quest to resume a campaign for a Security Council seat following Venezuela’s 2006 defeat as a result of American diplomatic maneuvers. The tribute was a sign of Chávez’s enduring role in Venezuelan politics. His daughter, María Gabriela Chávez, a socialite who has never held an actual job, will be acting Caracas’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations.

Iraq: ISIS attacks in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad, which included the detonation of two car bombs, left dozens of people dead on Thursday. Iraqi authorities imposed a curfew on the besieged city of Ramadi in Anbar province Friday. Officials there say ISIS now controls as much as 80% of the province and is within eight miles of Bagdad. In related news, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has also said that ISIS fighters are being trained to fly captured fighter jets, US intelligence officials did not comment.

Battery Technology: Scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast-charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 percent in only two minutes.   The new-generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, more than 10 times compared to existing lithium-ion batteries.