Could Russian President Vladimir Putin bail us out? He might take some grim satisfaction from the mounting oil crisis. High prices have underpinned Russia's booming economy in recent years: oil and gas represented 25 percent of the economy last year. The last thing the Kremlin wants is cheap fuel. \nWell, not too cheap, anyway. If a genuine oil shortage took hold, few would suffer more than the tens of millions of Russians shivering in some of the coldest places on Earth. And there quickly comes a point where a crisis-struck, cash-strapped Western economy threatens Russia with a recession of its own. \nBesides, Putin has always counted himself an enthusiastic ally of US President George W. Bush's "war on terror," and could be expected to show solidarity with the US against al-Qaeda -- particularly if it once again gave him the diplomatic cover he needed to pulverize Chechen separatists. The real question is not whether Russia would want to ride to the rescue of the West, but whether it is able to. \nThat entirely depends on the size of the problem in the Middle East, of course, and how apocalyptic we are being in our theorizing. \nBut the signs are that Russia has strong capacity. Most analysts now believe its oil reserves are probably much bigger than previously thought. \nThe BP Statistical Review says Russia has 60 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. But several companies have increased their estimates, and Brunswick UBS says the figure could rise to 180 billion barrels. That would put the country second in the world rankings behind Saudi Arabia, which has an estimated 300 billion barrels. \nRussia and its Caspian neighbors are the leading gas producers. \n"I believe that by the end of the decade Russia will be proven to have 50 percent more hydrocarbon reserves than Saudi Arabia has today," Brunswick's Paul Collison said recently. \nWhile Shell has been revising its reserves estimates downwards because of tight US accounting rules, the same rules will allow Russian companies to be more liberal in their estimates, analysts say. But first there will have to be a lot more exploratory work. \nThe uncertainty surrounding Russia's reserves is a reflection of the country's inhospitable terrain, where extracting and transporting oil is four times more expensive than in the Middle East. \n"It's the difference between drilling through frozen Siberian earth and sweeping away some sand," one industry expert said. \nMore foreign capital and investment in new technology is essential if the industry is to get to grips with Russia's remote resources, but the country remains an uncertain place for outsiders. \nAt the moment, for example, Aim-listed Sibir Energy, the UK oil and exploration group, is trying to understand the apparently unexpected "disappearance" of a ?100 million (US$183.8 million) Russian oilfield stake it thought it held. \nAnd BP's much-trumpeted US$13.5 billion TNK venture has been unsettled by news that its Russian partners want to exit the deal early.
EFFICIENCY: The rules for Philippine arrivals were revised after 17.6% of arrivals with symptoms tested positive, compared with 0.7% of those with no symptoms Starting today, Chinese spouses who hold a reunion permit can apply to enter Taiwan and travelers without symptoms from the Philippines do not need to be tested for COVID-19 upon arrival, but are to be tested after a 14-day quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that from today, Chinese who are married to a Taiwanese citizen and hold a reunion permit can apply to the National Immigration Agency for entry into Taiwan. Chinese who are married to a foreign national and hold an accompanied reunion permit
PENGHU INSPECTION: Taiwan cannot let its enemies strut around in its airspace, Tsai said, one day after a Chinese spokesman denied a median line exists in the Taiwan Strait Following China’s assertion on Monday that there is no “median line” in the Taiwan Strait, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend the nation’s airspace during a visit to an air force base in Penghu, saying that Taiwan cannot allow others to flex their military muscle in its territorial airspace. Tsai praised the “heroic performance” of the pilots of the Indigenous Defense Fighters who have been intercepting Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force planes in recent days. “I have a lot of confidence in you. As soldiers of the Republic of China [ROC], how could we let enemies strut
CONSOLIDATION? Taiwan Thinktank deputy executive-general Doong Sy-chi said Beijing’s intimidation tactics are further alienating those who identify as Chinese Only 2 percent of respondents to a poll on constitutional amendments and national identity identified as Chinese, while 62.6 percent identified as Taiwanese, the Taiwan Thinktank said yesterday. Legislators have proposed amendments to the Additional Articles of the Constitution (憲法增修條文), which would change the definition of the nation’s territory, remove the Taiwan Provincial Government as an entity, prioritize the use of “Taiwan” for national groups at international events, and remove restrictions on defining the national emblem, national flag and national anthem. The poll showed that 80.5 percent of respondents agreed that the nation should participate as “Taiwan” at events organized by world
MISTAKE: The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy is not a UN body, and the government is committed to protecting the nation’s name, Joseph Wu said The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday condemned the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy for listing Taiwanese cities as belonging to China on its Web site, and asked that it correct the error. The organization was inaugurated in Brussels in 2016 as a global coalition of mayors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Six Taiwanese cities at the time joined the coalition as cities in “Taiwan,” the ministry said. However, officials from the Kaohsiung City Government — one of the organization’s members — last week noticed that the city was now listed on the organization’s Web site as a