[Etan-key] LH looking for short-term environmental/economic researcher

Charles Scheiner cscheiner at igc.org
Wed Feb 8 09:10:28 PST 2006

Hi, Lynn, Vivek and all,

Thanks for your email.

The Timor-Leste government takes oil-related advice from Norway, the 
UN, the World Bank and others, including US government-funded 
consultant Gaffney-Cline and oil companies. This is one of La'o 
Hamutuk's concerns, of course. We offer alternative views, but they 
don't listen very closely. I'm not as sure as Vivek that their 
experts and legislators will make the right decisions -- which is why 
La'o Hamutuk is doing this independent study.

Lynn's questions about whether Timor-Leste should develop its oil are 
valid; they go in the same direction as much of the work that La'o 
Hamutuk and I have been doing for the last couple of years. Our 
November 2005 LH Bulletin points out the dangers of oil dependence -- 
see http://www.laohamutuk.org/Bulletin/2005/Nov/bulletinv6n4.html 
.  We've written lots more, which you can find on the LH website (see 
http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/OilIndex.html ).

Gute (from LH) and I wrote a book chapter last year on the 
relationship between oil development, ecological debt, and external 
debt in Timor-Leste. You can download it from 
http://www.oilwatch.org.ec/english/novedades.htm ; it's a big file 
because it has many appendices.

The researcher LH is seeking at the moment is to work with us, not 
the government. The government has its own set of priorities and 
assumptions; we want to provide an independent assessment of the 
impact of a particular LNG project. The bigger decision as to whether 
or not to exploit Timor-Leste's petroleum is a separate debate.  For 
what it's worth, the project we are researching is for natural gas, 
and gas is better than oil (but not blameless) when it comes to 
climate change -- provided it is burned, not leaked.

In discussing this research project with folks in the U.S., I've 
encountered some confusion. The LNG (liquefied natural gas) project 
suggested for Timor-Leste is to take natural gas from the ground, 
pass it through an undersea gas pipeline, and then pressurize and 
supercool it to liquid form so that it can be loaded onto tankers. 
The LNG receiving facilities that are currently controversial in the 
U.S. and nearby Mexico are the other end of the tanker's voyage, 
converting the LNG back to gaseous form. To my knowledge the U.S. 
doesn't have any facilities like those planned for TL. Such 
facilities are found in LNG-exporting island countries like Trinidad 
and Indonesia.

Vivek suggested alternative energy for Timor-Leste: this is important 
for the future, less so now. At present, Timor-Leste is developing 
its oil and gas resources to export for cash, not for domestic 
consumption. Last year, Timor-Leste exported about 24 times as much 
petroleum as it imported, a ratio which will increase to 80 by 2009.

A luta continua,

At 06:12 PM 2/7/2006, Lynn Robinson wrote:
>[Replies go to poster. Send to etan-key at lists.mutualaid.org to reply 
>to whole list.]
>Hi Charlie,
>About expert oil research help - Since E. Timor's government is
>interested in the project, has it approached oil-producing Venezuela's
>progressive president Hugo Chavez?
>In the same breath, I feel it's crucial to ask whether East Timor is
>aware that it needs to avoid the trap of economically relying on this or
>any export for any significant length of time.  If oil can produce
>revenue for a decade, and that revenue is directed towards reforestation,
>sustainable agriculture, zero emissions energy, clean and efficient
>public transportation, local manufacturing, public ecucation, health
>care, and cultural revival, then East Timor will be reliably prepared to
>sustain itself independantly into the future.
>We all know that oil burning is warming and fouling the planet. Both we
>and East Timor's people do not need to withstand the consequences of
>extreme weather changes, a fish-scarce and dying salt-starved ocean, or
>toxic air and ground water problems. Thanks for considering my
>sentiments, and good luck-
>On Mon, 06 Feb 2006 18:41:19 -0500 Charles Scheiner <cscheiner at igc.org>
> > [Replies go to poster. Send to etan-key at lists.mutualaid.org to reply
> > to whole list.]
> >
> >
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Charles Scheiner
P.O. Box 1182, White Plains, NY 10602 USA
Tel. +1-914-831-1098  or  +1-914-473-3185  (mobile)
email: cscheiner at igc.org  

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