Category Archives: Stupidity

Vaccine Mandate Threatens Major Trucking Disruption, Industry Insiders Say

Truck drivers work alone. In their cab. Probably the least likely group to spread the virus. This is “stupid government” in spades. mrossol

10/24/2021

American truckers don’t like taking orders. But the Biden administration has increased pressure on some of them to take the vaccine—willing or unwilling.

All through the pandemic, truckers endured hardships to keep America’s infrastructure running. They waited in line for hours in sight of bathrooms they weren’t allowed to use. On the road, some died alone of COVID-19.

Now, with supply chains disrupted, Americans need them more than ever. But faced with the prospect of a mandated vaccination, many drivers are considering quitting.

“I’d fight it,” said veteran trucker Mike Widdins, referring to vaccine mandates. “I think a lot of us will be quitting. Who likes to be forced to do stuff you don’t want to do?”

Widdins isn’t alone in his willingness to leave trucking if he is required to vaccinate. Polls by trucking publications Commercial Carrier Journal and OverDrive indicate that up to 30 percent of truckers will seriously consider quitting if required to vaccinate. If they quit, the consequences for America may be massive. US Transport estimates that 70 percent of American freight goes by truck.

 

“It would hurt shipping big-time,” Widdins said.

Epoch Times Photo
Capital City Cargo truck driver Robert Wagner finishes gassing up his big-rig at Pilot Travel Center in Bellemont, Arizona on Oct. 19. Wagner said that many long-distance truck drivers like himself reject federal vaccine mandates for COVID-19. “It’s poison, man,” he said of the vaccines. (Allan Stein/Epoch Times)

Narrowing Lanes

President Joe Biden ordered his administration to mandate vaccines for private companies with over 100 employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was charged with developing the rule and the Office of Budget and Management is currently reviewing it. The review process can take as long as 90 days.

Most of the trucking industry is composed of companies with less than 100 employees, though a significant portion is made of companies which would fall under the over-100-employee umbrella.

Most truck companies have six trucks or fewer, according to the American Trucking Associations.

Some experts say the selective reach of the mandate makes it ineffective. Barbara Smithers, vice president of the Indiana Motor Truck Association, told The Epoch Times via email that it makes little sense to “cherry pick” who to vaccinate based on company size.

“Truck drivers spend most of their work hours alone in the cab of a truck—literally one of the safest places possible during a pandemic—so why do they need to be regulated in this way?” she said. “Testing hundreds of thousands of truck drivers moving across the country every day is a virtual impossibility.”

For mandate-affected companies, Biden’s decision may drive away employees at a time when America needs them most. The American Trucking Associations estimates that America needs 80,000 more truckers to meet transportation needs.

Recently, supply chain crises have left many Americans in need. Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg said the shortage will last as long as there’s a pandemic.

With backups unloading goods at America’s ports, shortages already threaten consumers. But if long lines of trucks waiting to ship goods suddenly become shorter, the crisis will become far worse.

Whether America runs short on trucks depends on the Biden administration’s orders and how truckers respond.

Epoch Times Photo
CGS Transport truck driver Vivian Alexis fills a gas tank at Pilot Travel Center truck stop in Bellemont, Arizona on Oct. 19. Alexis said many truck drivers she’s spoken with oppose federal vaccine mandate for COVID-19. (Allan Stein/Epoch Times)

Joe Trucker and Joe Biden

Some truckers think of their job as their service to America. In exchange for long hours away from home, they get relatively low pay, independence, and the nation’s best sunsets.

The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus hasn’t been kind to truckers. At a time when many Americans hunkered down at home, they were still on the road.

Trucking life during the pandemic was a series of frustrating restrictions, said trucker Victor Morales at a Georgia One9 truck stop. Morales has driven trucks for 25 years.

After a long day on the road, Morales would wait for hours to drop off a truckful of deliveries at a warehouse. But warehouse owners didn’t allow truckers to leave their cabs for any reason.

“You’re almost forced, like a second-class citizen,” he said. “They want the goods and services you got, but they don’t even want you to get out of your truck.”

If they arrived hungry, they waited hungry, he said. They weren’t even allowed to use the toilet only steps away.

“You can literally see a bathroom right there behind the glass. But you can’t get out,” said Morales.

In the eyes of drivers, Biden’s mandate is the last step in a long line of restrictions that don’t consider their needs or wants.

Epoch Times Photo
Trucker Victor Morales at the One9 truck stop in Wildwood, Georgia on Oct. 18,2021 (Jackson Elliott/ The Epoch Times)

“It’s unconstitutional,” said one trucker who preferred to remain anonymous. “We’ll just buy our own damn trucks and run our own company. All we’ve got to do is shut down and the country doesn’t exist no more.”

For many drivers, the vaccine mandate may prove the final straw. Some drivers don’t trust the vaccine because of how new it is. Some distrust it for personal medical reasons. Others distrust it because they don’t trust the government.

“I had cancer years ago,” said trucker Jack McGregory. “I don’t want to put something that I don’t know exactly what it will do into my body. If I die, I want to die with a little more time on my hands than that.”

McGregory said that he would rather quit than vaccinate.

But even those who take the vaccine say they oppose the mandate.

At the Pilot Truck Stop at I-69 and Wadhams Road in Michigan, all 10 truckers interviewed by The Epoch Times said they took the vaccine but oppose a vaccine mandate.

Epoch Times Photo
Trucker Kevin Hambrick at the Pilot Truck Stop off of I-69 on October 20, 2021, in Kimball, Michigan. (Steven Kovac/ The Epoch Times)

Kevin Hambrick, a longtime driver with Fortune 500 transportation company J.B. Hunt, opposes the mandate.

“Each guy should make his own choice,” Hambrick said.

In Arizona, Florida-based truck driver Juan Martinez said that he knows life without freedom, having lived under Cuban communism. He also received a COVID-19 shot and opposes the mandate.

“You have to decide for yourself,” he said. “People should do whatever they want to do.”

Many drivers feel pressured by their employers. After a year of difficult pandemic restrictions, it seems to them that COVID-19 rules grow ever more invasive.

In Flagstaff, Arizona, a long-distance truck driver in his late 20s asked not to be identified, fearing reprisal by his employer.

“There’s no place in the middle right now,” he said, adding “if you want to put something in your body, it’s your personal choice.”

Other truckers who did not want to be named said they felt angry at those who mandated the vaccine.

“We run our country,” one said. “They don’t give a [expletive] about this country.”

Epoch Times Photo
Pilot Truck Stop off of I-69 in Kimball, Michigan, on Oct. 20, 2021. (Steven Kovac/The Epoch Times)

Roads to Health

According to the Biden administration, America needs the new vaccine to increase protection against the CCP virus.

“The vast majority of Americans are doing the right thing,” president Joe Biden said in a press conference on Sept. 9. But more people should get vaccinated, he added.

According to the CDC, COVID-19 vaccines are “safe, effective, and free.” The efficacy of all three vaccines approved for use in the U.S. dwindles over time, requiring booster shots.

U.S. states with the highest vaccination rates recently experienced outbreaks. The number of cases in Vermont, the state with the highest vaccination rate in the United States, reached a record level earlier this month and hospitalizations were close to the records made last winter. The state recorded the deadliest day and the second deadliest month of the pandemic in September.

As of Oct. 24, more than 57 percent of Americans were fully vaccinated against the CCP virus, according to the CDC.

“We’ve been patient, but our patience is wearing thin,” Biden said to people who have not gotten a vaccine. “Your refusal has cost all of us.”

Some medical experts say clusters of unvaccinated people allow the virus to mutate into a form that can bypass the vaccine.

“It’s perhaps just a matter of time,” University of Alabama at Birmingham medicine professor Dr. Michael Saag said. “A new variant could emerge where we won’t be so fortunate, and the existing vaccines won’t work.”

A recent executive order suggested that the White House is aware of a potential truck shortage. Biden signed an executive order on Oct. 20 that temporarily lifts weight restrictions on trucks and encourages more people to become truckers.

Neither the White House nor the Department of Transportation responded to repeated requests for comment on this story.

Epoch Times Photo
A female trucker stands between rigs while talking at the One9 truck stop in Wildwood, Georgia on Oct. 18, 2021. (Jackson Elliott/The Epoch Times)

Collision Course

Truck industry experts say that truckers with the option to quit will do so if forced to take the vaccine.

Joe Sculley, the president of Motor Transport Association of Connecticut, said that he sees a scenario playing out for those who oppose or refuse to comply with the mandate.

“Drivers will leave bigger companies and look for smaller ones that do not have to comply with the mandate, or they will quit altogether and look for another profession,” he said.

Right now, the supply chain crisis, the number of drivers who oppose vaccination, and the driver shortage leave the best cards in the hands of drivers, Sculley added.

“Drivers have leverage,” he said. “It won’t be an empty threat. Nobody is going to be quickly replaced.”

Jim Ward, president of D.M. Bowman and Chairman of the Truckload Carriers Associations, agreed that truckers are serious about quitting because of vaccine mandates.

“With driver availability already limited, any exodus due to compliance with a vaccine mandate would put our nation and its economy in an even more precarious situation,” he said.

Ward added that drivers who quit can’t easily be replaced. They require training.

“Our nation’s professional truck drivers are the safest, most well-trained operators on the road today. Replacing any driver who leaves the industry is not an overnight process,” he said.

Biden’s best chance to bring in new drivers comes from a pilot program in his recent infrastructure bill that would allow 18-to-21-year-old truckers drive cargo across state lines. The program would create a “test group” of 18- to 21-year-olds who would be followed to “see how they would perform” Sculley said.

However, the American trucking industry has long faced a driver shortage. Long hours away from home and mediocre pay don’t attract new drivers to the business, even when they have the right skills.

Epoch Times Photo
A truck on the road near Chattanooga, Tennessee on Oct. 20, 2021. (Jackson Elliott/The Epoch Times)

Impact

New workers also might not compare with longtime professionals. Experienced truckers thread their trucks through a complex ballet of traffic conditions and federal regulations to arrive on time.

Football games, the Kentucky Derby, hurricanes two states over, and other issues can all mean higher traffic along a route, said Morales.

If Biden’s mandate goes through, the most experienced truckers are most likely to quit, Morales said.

In 10 years, nearly 30 percent of truckers will be 65 or older, according to Department of Transportation statistics. Often, these drivers make more money and have cash saved up, said Morales.

“The mandate is going to affect the older drivers that have been here a while,” he said. “They’re gonna have a choice.”

If these drivers retire early, it will be a challenge to replace them. To become a trucker, a driver must pass his commercial driver’s license (CDL) test, a process that usually takes four to seven weeks. During the pandemic, many truck driving schools closed, and training schools issued at least 100,000 fewer CDLS.

Short-term truckers are often unreliable, said small truck company owner Pete Falkenstern. He calls them “cowboys.”

“If somebody’s done it for a long time and hasn’t had a lot of accidents, they’ve been pretty safe,” he said. “They probably take some pride in what they do.”

If 20 percent of truckers quit because of the mandate, America will lose about 15 percent of its transportation capacity.

America’s infrastructure relies most on trucks. As a transportation system, trucks are incredibly flexible. They can go anywhere at any time, can carry many kinds of goods, and are the most cost-effective form of transportation over short to medium distances.

“I love this industry, but without us this country would shut down in three days,” said trucker Jack McGregory.

Even so, the trucking industry has a high turnover rate.

Epoch Times Photo
A driver backs into a parking spot at the One9 truck stop in Wildwood, Georgia on Oct. 18, 2021. (Jackson Elliott/ The Epoch Times)

Backing Up

The vaccine mandate will only directly affect companies with over 100 people, but small truck companies won’t have the required resources to absorb many additional drivers, Falkenstern said.

“I would love to be able to accommodate 30 people, but the work is not here to support that many,” he said. “I don’t want to operate any more than what I have because of insurance regulations.”

Large truck companies also tend to be cheaper, said Falkenstern. They can buy things in bulk and self-insure.

“A lot of the bigger companies can keep prices down,” he said. “They can get a lower cost because it’s in bulk.”

Cathy Roberson, the president of Logistics Trends and Insights LLC, said it’s unclear right now what the long-term impact of the vaccine mandate will be.

If truckers quit, the mandate could damage America’s logistics system, Robertson said. But if they switch to smaller companies, Biden’s executive order might only reshuffle employees.

“It really hurts the larger trucking companies more than anything else,” Robertson said, adding that whatever the case, the mandate will exacerbate current supply chain issues.

Logistics workers are already wrestling with the worst supply chain issues ever seen, said Lisa Anderson, the president of logistics group LMA Consulting.

“It’s unprecedented. It’s never happened before,” she said.

Right now, logistics issues have made it difficult to find replacement parts for trucks, she said. Businesses find themselves in a catch-22; To fix their trucks, they need trucks to transport parts.

Anderson said the vaccine mandate will almost certainly worsen the driver shortage.

“They are more of a lone wolf, always navigating complex situations on their own,” she said. “They don’t like to be told what to do.”

Epoch Times Photo
A driver backs into a parking spot at the One9 truck stop in Wildwood, Georgia on Oct. 18, 2021. (Jackson Elliott/The Epoch Times)

Delays Ahead

If truckers follow through with what they say they will do, America’s supply chain crisis may soon become far worse.

From a perspective based purely on material benefits, it seems like it’s only logical to obey the mandate. Truckers can take the vaccine, keep their jobs, and keep the national supply chain running.

But human beings often want to assert that they amount to more than mere links in a chain, pulling on command from the federal government. The logic of individual freedom doesn’t calculate for material benefits.

“It’s just that shoving-it-down-your-throat part,” Morales said. “Our first instinct will be to push back.”

https://www.theepochtimes.com/mkt_breakingnews/biden-plays-chicken-with-semitruck-drivers_4063261.html?utm_source=News&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=breaking-2021-10-24-1&mktids=e42d9ac2f275cf7c82ae75de9f1589cf&est=j5O7JM8TlxWBXdAyvs6VZ9FeZtEFNynx/X6/ziViDo9cOKPiqFDIYp6v9KbyAg==

Share

Hamstrung by New Law, Portland Police Make No Arrests in Latest Riot

DOJ and FBI were not able to send any help; they are too busy monitoring and tracking down parents who show up at school board meetings. mrossol

The Epoch Times  10/22/2021

As a group of about 100 anarchists raged through a Portland neighborhood on Oct. 12, police reportedly remained in their vehicles.

Some say their inaction is a direct result of confusion over an Oregon police-reform law passed last summer, which restricts how they can respond to such crowds.

In less than two hours, the group did an estimated $500,000 of damage to 35 locations, including banks, retail stores, coffee shops, and government buildings.

Portland Police Bureau (PPB) officers issued verbal warnings through a megaphone.

“Those who refuse to leave the area are subject to arrest,” the warning blared on a loop. “The bureau will investigate crimes and will make arrests either tonight, or in the future.”

 

Meanwhile, the anarchists blocked the streets, smashed windows, set off illegal fireworks, lit dumpsters and trash cans on fire, and tagged buildings with spray-painted messages like “kill cops” and “anarchy means attack.”

Some group members laid down in front of bureau vehicles to attempt to prevent a police response. Police believe that some people involved in criminal activity were changing clothes to further stymie efforts to identify them.

According to a public statement by Portland police’s Lt. Jake Jensen, they did not intervene because of Oregon House Bill 2928 and the restrictions placed on law enforcement in a crowd-control environment.

Instead, Jensen said that investigators will work to track down those behind the vandalism at a later time.

The law, which took effect last summer as part of Oregon’s police-reform initiative, prohibits the use of crowd-control tools commonly employed by law enforcement—including pepper spray, rubber bullets, beanbag rounds, and sound and light devices.

The only exception, according to the law, is when the circumstances constitute a riot, which has also been narrowly defined in the law, and if an officer reasonably believes such tactics are necessary to “prevent more destructive behavior.”

Lt. Jensen “was providing his own interpretation of the law,” said police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Allen.

“The entire bureau membership has been made aware of the potential implications of House Bill 2928 and that it’s being analyzed by the City Attorney’s Office,” Allen told The Epoch Times. “Until we have some clarity on the bill we have to follow the most restrictive interpretation of it.”

Finding that clarity could be tricky.

“Attorneys are interpreting [the law] differently, so it’s a question of intent versus interpretation,” Andrew Fromm, a spokesman for the Oregon House of Representatives, told The Epoch Times.

“The law clearly allows Portland police to use effective tools necessary to control violent crowds,” said House Minority Leader Christine Drazan, a Republican.

“However, activist attorneys are deliberately misinterpreting legislation to prevent police from intervening,” she said. “They have no business putting law enforcement and community safety at risk.”

Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler’s office issued a statement as well.

“Our legal team at the City Attorney’s office is reviewing HB2928 to better understand how it will affect PPB’s operation during the management of crowds.

“We will be working closely with our colleagues at the Oregon State Legislature and Department of Justice for further clarification to remain in compliance with this new law.”

Meanwhile, no arrests have been made.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/

Share

Biden and Nothingness

WSJ 10/14/2021  By Daniel Henninger

Meet Joe Biden, existentialist philosopher.

Another of the world’s famous existentialist philosophers, Jean-Paul Sartre, wrote a book called “Being and Nothingness.” Extending Sartre’s ideas on nothingness, Mr. Biden recently said:

“Every time I hear, ‘This is going to cost A, B, C or D,’ the truth is, based on the commitment that I made, it’s going to cost nothing.”

Overnight, Mr. Biden’s belief that his $3.5 trillion spending bill will “cost nothing” became what fellow intellectuals call a “meme,” a thought adopted and repeated by other people.

The most notable Biden “cost nothing” meme was created by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who while repeating it days later held up her hand to form a zero. Some journalists then wrote elaborate explanations of how Mr. Biden was correct that his trillions in new spending would “cost nothing.”

Our purpose here is not to refute the president’s assertion that spending $3.5 trillion is cost-free. Instead, we want to recognize the Biden statement as a tipping point in the way Americans conceive reality, or what philosophers like Mr. Biden call consciousness.

All the time now, one hears people say, “I don’t know what’s going on anymore.” Or: “Maybe it’s me, but I just don’t get it.” They don’t mean only in Washington. They mean everything. We’re in a crisis of consciousness.

Let me explain.

The reason many have come to feel cut off from reality is that so many others spend their days creating alternative realities.

Washington, to be sure, has become a round-the-clock supplier of manufactured realities. Many Americans, for instance, watch scenes on television of thousands of migrants crossing the Rio Grande River into the United States. Nonetheless, Mr. Biden’s secretary of homeland security, Alejandro Mayorkas, says the border is “closed” and “no less secure than previously.”

Mr. Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, said in August the evacuation of Kabul couldn’t be called “anything but a success.” Ms. Psaki’s skill at reordering reality for Mr. Biden is mesmerizing, and I say without irony that she will be seen as an important figure in the transformation from believing what is real to believing what we’re told is real.

Reality resets have become commonplace. In Chicago some days ago, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx declined to prosecute any of the gang members who staged a broad-daylight shootout in a residential neighborhood. Among the reasons her office gave for not bringing charges was that the gangs were engaged in consensual “mutual combat,” like in the movie “Fight Club.”

The relevant point here is that in our time more and more people—and not just in politics—think they can say anything. We’re living in a Peter Pan world: “You just think lovely wonderful thoughts and they lift you up in the air.” The credibility cost is zero.

Read More Wonder Land

The political class, a lagging indicator, is assimilating changes in the general culture, which has been transitioning for years from old-fashioned lies (“I didn’t do it”) to self-delusion (“What’s your problem?”). Donald Trump inhabited both worlds.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram enabled people to assemble personal alternative universes, which became “real” when their friends embraced the fake persona. A similar manipulation away from plain reality has happened to politics on Twitter.

At Facebook’s scale, these reality-shifting habits and forces are unprecedentedly powerful. Conspiracy theories proliferate, from QAnon to the Russia-collusion narrative.

Euphemisms are an important tool for asserting alternative realities. Two of the most important are “reframe” and “reimagine.”

The New York Times’s “1619 Project” said its purpose was to “reframe the country’s history.” Reframing is about displacing a proven reality with mere assertion, something previously difficult but now normalized.

Wokeness, in its many manifestations, says it is about “reimagining” the status quo. It has reimagined sex by asserting new pronouns; reimagined race as a national “DNA” problem (“1619” again); reimagined merit in college admissions; and reimagined crime control from Seattle to New York.

Most recently, the Art Institute of Chicago fired its staff of 82 volunteer docents because most of them are older white women. The museum is going to reimagine the docent function through “an income equity-focused lens.”

Can the constant assertion of alternative realities on such a scale endure? Maybe. They got this far. But cracks in this facade are starting to appear.

We began with Joe Biden because he is president—the object of nearly universal focus by the public and as such a constant national referendum. His statement that $3.5 trillion will cost zero may have been born in the plausible view that many people today think anything is possible. But let us agree: What he said did test the limits.

The most striking number in the recent, bleak Quinnipiac poll on Mr. Biden was the 23% support for his border policy. He says the border is “closed.” But virtually everyone in America says, “No it isn’t.”

All those people who today say they just don’t get it may—in reality—be a majority. And they do get it.

Write henninger@wsj.com.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-biden-alternative-realities-reconciliation-spending-cost-nothing-border-closed-psaki-11634158213?mod=opinion_lead_pos9

Share

Europe’s Energy Crisis Is About to Go Global as Gas Prices Soar – Bloomberg

And the Greens and Democrats want to get off carbon based fuels? And discussion of the most rationale solution, nuclear power, will get you branded as an “enemy of the world”.. This is not craziness? mrossol

 
A power failure in November 2016 plunged London's West End into darkness. Energy supplies in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe may become more unreliable this winter.

A power failure in November 2016 plunged London’s West End into darkness. Energy supplies in the U.K. and elsewhere in Europe may become more unreliable this winter.

Photo illustration by 731; Photo: Getty Images

This winter, the world will be fighting over something that’s invisible, yet rarely so vital—and in alarmingly shorter supply.

Nations are more reliant than ever on natural gas to heat homes and power industries amid efforts to quit coal and increase the use of cleaner energy sources. But there isn’t enough gas to fuel the post-pandemic recovery and refill depleted stocks before the cold months. Countries are trying to outbid one another for supplies as exporters such as Russia move to keep more natural gas home. The crunch will get a lot worse when temperatures drop.

The crisis in Europe presages trouble for the rest of the planet as the continent’s energy shortage has governments warning of blackouts and factories being forced to shut.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
Employees patrol a tank at a liquefied natural gas terminal operated by China Petrochemical Corp. in Qingdao, Shandong province.
Photo: VCG/Getty Images

Inventories at European storage facilities are at historically low levels for this time of year. Pipeline flows from Russia and Norway have been limited. That’s worrying as calmer weather has reduced output from wind turbines while Europe’s aging nuclear plants are being phased out or are more prone to outages—making gas even more necessary. No wonder European gas prices surged by almost 500% in the past year and are trading near record.

European Natural Gas Prices

Per megawatt-hour

Data: Intercontinental Exchange

 

The spike has forced some fertilizer producers in Europe to reduce output, with more expected to follow, threatening to increase costs for farmers and potentially adding to global food inflation. In the U.K., high energy prices have forced several suppliers out of business.

Even a normally cold winter in the Northern Hemisphere is expected to drive up natural gas prices further across much of the world. In China, industrial users including makers of ceramics, glass, and cement may respond by raising prices; households in Brazil will face expensive power bills. Economies that can’t afford the fuel—such as Pakistan or Bangladesh—could simply grind to a halt.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
Low water levels in the Parana River are forcing Brazil’s hydroelectric plants to rely on other fuels for generation.
Photographer: Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images

Utilities and policymakers are praying for mild temperatures because it’s already too late to boost supplies. The prospect of accelerating energy costs, in conjunction with squeezed supply chains and food prices at decade highs, could make more central bankers question whether the jump in inflation is as transitory as they’d hoped. Traders will be carefully dissecting every weather forecast published from now to December.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
A man fishes in front of a liquefied natural gas tanker berthed at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s power plant in Futtsu, Chiba prefecture, Japan.
Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

“If the winter is actually cold, my concern is we will not have enough gas for use for heating in parts of Europe,” Amos Hochstein, the U.S. State Department’s senior adviser for energy security, told Bloomberg Television on Sept. 20. For some countries, “it won’t only be a recessionary value, it will affect the ability to actually provide gas for heating. It touches everybody’s lives.”

Global LNG Imports

In tons

Data: BloombergNEF

 

In Asia, importers of liquefied natural gas are paying record prices for this time of year to secure supplies, with some starting to snap up dirtier fuels such as coal and heating oil in case they don’t obtain enough. This may undermine efforts by governments to hit ambitious green goals: Gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal when burned.

China, the world’s biggest buyer of natural gas, hasn’t filled stockpiles fast enough, even though imports are almost double what they were last year, according to customs data. Several Chinese provinces are already rationing electricity to industries to meet President Xi Jinping’s targets for energy efficiency and pollution reduction. A power crisis could exacerbate shutdowns if authorities divert gas to light and heat households.

If Chinese factories have to contend with widespread power shortages, global prices for steel and aluminum will jump. To make matters worse, the country is also grappling with a coal shortage.

 

Utilities in Japan and South Korea are largely protected by long-term LNG contracts that are indexed to oil. Still, Korea Electric Power Co. said on Sept. 23 that it will increase electricity prices for the first time in almost eight years. A sudden cold snap could force more power companies to dive into the spot market to buy emergency gas supplies at record-high rates. That’s what happened last winter.

The cost of securing LNG supplies has sparked a political controversy in strapped Pakistan, with opposition politicians demanding an inquiry into purchases by the state-owned importer.

relates to Europe’s Energy Crisis Is Coming for the Rest of the World, Too
Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi.
Photographer: Donat Sorokin/Getty Images

In Brazil, the lowest flows to the Parana River Basin in almost a century have slashed hydropower output and forced utilities to rely more heavily on gas. The country boosted gas imports to an all-time high in July, and power bills are rising. With inflation already ballooning, that could hurt President Jair Bolsonaro’s chances in next year’s election.

The stage is set for an all-out scramble among Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America for shipments of LNG from exporters such as the Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago, and the U.S. “We have huge demand from all our customers and unfortunately, we can’t cater for everyone,” warned Saad Al-Kaabi, Qatar’s energy minister, at an industry conference this month.

Global Power Generation

In gigawatt-hours

Data: IEA Electricity Information 2020

 

American exporters are poised to ship more LNG than ever as new projects come online toward the end of the year. But as more gas goes abroad, less will be available at home. Even though gas prices have been notably lower in the U.S. than in Europe and Asia, they are trading near the highest level since 2014. Gas inventories are running below their five-year seasonal average, yet U.S. shale drillers are reluctant to boost production out of concern that would crimp their profitability and put off investors.

The Industrial Energy Consumers of America has requested that the Department of Energy reduce U.S. exports until storage levels get back to normal, a move that might exacerbate shortages abroad.

It used to be that the average person paid little attention to the market price of natural gas. It isn’t like oil, where a snap decision from OPEC will almost immediately affect how much they pay at the pump. This winter, the world is likely to learn how much the global economy depends on natural gas. —With Lynn Doan and Anna Shiryaevskaya

via Europe’s Energy Crisis Is About to Go Global as Gas Prices Soar – Bloomberg.

Share