Citizens' Issues
India building strategic oil reserves to meet emergencies

Two giant, rock-cut caverns will soon be pumped full of crude oil in the eastern port of Vishakhapatnam, as part of a set of new underground facilities that will hold India's emergency oil reserves, reports IndiaSpend

 

Taking advantage of weak global crude prices, down 42.5 percent since July 2014, the government is spending Rs.4,948 crore ($800 million) to shore up strategic oil reserves in the first phase of such a project, which can be used during emergencies to power India for around a fortnight.
 
Two giant, rock-cut caverns will soon be pumped full of crude oil in the eastern port of Vishakhapatnam, as part of a set of new underground facilities that will hold India's emergency oil reserves, reports IndiaSpend.
 
The new storage facilities were approved in January 2006. Its features:
 
- Concrete tanks being built at Vishakhapatnam port that with the other underground facility of natural caverns can hold 1.33 metric tonnes of crude, or the equivalent of 129,221 truck-tanker loads.
 
- Money left over after filling the Vishakhapatnam storage will be used to buy more crude to fill two more facilities -- at Mangalore and Padur, both in Karnataka on India's western coast.
 
- A series of pipes will run from the surface and descend into the underground rock caverns. Crude oil will be pumped into the caverns through these pipes.
 
- Put together, the three facilities, managed by the Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd, can hold 5.33 million metric tonnes of crude oil, or the equivalent of 517,857 truck-tanker loads of 12 kilolitre capacity each.
 
- The strategic reserves would hold enough crude oil to power India for about 13 days, based on the country's demand, according to data tabled in Rajya Sabha.
 
India needs these emergency oil reserves since it is a net importer of oil. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had estimated that in 2014-2015, the country will import 83 percent (228.41 million metric tonnes) of its oil requirement.
 
The domestic production has been somewhat stagnant. It was 37.7 million metric tonnes in 2010-11 and stood at 38.8 million metric tonnes in 2014-15. Over five years, India has imported more than 80 percent of its crude-oil requirement.
 
The erstwhile Planning Commission, and now re-named Niti Aayog, in its Integrated Energy Policy of 2006, said supply, market and technical risks were major threats to India's energy security.
 
It recommended that India "maintain a reserve equivalent to 90 days of oil imports for strategic-cum-buffer stock purposes".
 
Thus, the country will require additional crude-oil storage of approximately 13.32 million metric tonnes by 2019-20, according to rough estimates, based on existing storage with oil companies and the new facilities being built by Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Ltd.
 
Therefore, the Indian government is planning to build four more facilities for strategic crude reserves at Chandikhol in Orissa, Bikaner in Rajasthan, Rajkot in Gujarat and Padur in Karnataka.
 
These will have a combined storage capacity of 12.5 million metric tonnes of crude oil, as per data with the new company.
 
But India has to catch up. The global standard for strategic oil reserves, as set by the International Energy Association (IEA) for member-countries, is 90 days of net oil imports.
 
The US holds 95 million metric tonnes of strategic reserves, the highest by any country in the world. Japan, which like India is dependent on imported oil, has the second highest reserves with 44 million metric tonnes.
 
China, like India, is in the process of shoring up its strategic oil reserves. As of November 2014, it had acquired 12.4 million metric tonnes. While India now has made a start, there are countries that are well ahead.
 

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Just How 'Diet' Is That Diet Soda?

Advocacy group urges federal agencies to investigate what they call deceptive ‘diet’ claims

 

Choosing less caloric Diet Coke over regular Coke seems like a healthy decision. But a new advocacy group argues that consuming artificial sweeteners — such as those in Diet Coke — may actually result in weight gain rather than weight loss.

 

U.S. Right to Know, a San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit that claims to expose food industry secrets, says research suggests that diet soda and other artificially sweetened products do nothing to curb weight gain and may even contribute to obesity, which increases the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.
 
For this reason, the group is now calling on federal officials to prohibit Coca-Cola and PepsiCo from using the term “diet” in advertising for its respective products, Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi. They say the term is deceptive considering what research indicates about the artificial sweeteners in the soft drinks.
 
“Lots of scientific evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners are linked to weight gain, not weight loss,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of U.S. Right to Know. “So how can Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi be advertised as ‘diet’ products?”
 

Separate petitions to the FTC and the FDA urge the agencies to open a probe into all products containing artificial sweeteners, and point to studies like a 2010 review of scientific literature published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, which concluded that “artificial sweeteners may contribute to weight gain.”

 

The advocacy group writes:
 
Consumers are using products — Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi — that are advertised to make us think they assist in weight loss, when in fact ample scientific evidence suggests that this is not true, and the opposite may well be true. In this respect, the use of the term “diet” appears to be not only deceptive, but perhaps fraudulent as well.
 
The petitions claim that more than 10,000 products contain either the artificial sweetener aspartame or sucralose. Both Diet Coke and Diet Pepsi contain aspartame with the latter also sweetened artificially by acesulfame potassium, the group says.
 
TINA.org reached out to Coca-Cola and PepsiCo for comment but have not yet heard back.
 
Meanwhile, legislators in California and New York State are advocating for warning labels similar to those on cigarettes to be put on the packaging of sugary drinks.
 
Click here for more of our coverage on sugar. 
 
 

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COMMENTS

vishal

2 years ago

If only our youngsters know they are developing the type 2 Diabetics due to these drinks, they will stop consuming these altogether. These items are worse than liquor.

vishal

2 years ago

If only our youngsters know they are developing the type 2 Diabetics due to these drinks, they will stop consuming these altogether. These items are worse than liquor.

Mumbai 26/11: The Hidden Intelligence Breakdowns Behind the Attacks

After Edward Snowden, the US government said its controversial surveillance programs had stopped a terrorist – David Coleman Headley. In ‘American Terrorist,’ ProPublica and PBS ‘Frontline’ show why the claim is largely untrue

 

This story was co-published with PBS Frontline.

 

When Edward Snowden revealed the government’s vast surveillance programs in 2013, the Obama administration responded with a defense that sounded compelling: the high-tech spying apparatus had stopped terrorist attacks.
 
In a rush to provide success stories, senior officials cited the capture of an American terrorist whose case I knew well. I had spent several years reporting about David Coleman Headley, whose reconnaissance for Pakistani spymasters and terrorist chiefs was crucial to the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people, including six Americans. 
 
Now the intelligence community was claiming the National Security Agency had played a key role in preventing Headley’s follow-up plot against a Danish newspaper in 2009. 
 
That surprised me. In a series of stories and in the 2011 PBS Frontline documentary, “A Perfect Terrorist,” ProPublica had detailed multiple breakdowns in the U.S. counterterror system that allowed Headley to elude detection for years despite tips that could have prevented the attacks. 
 
I consulted with intelligence and law enforcement sources involved in the case, and they were mystified, too.
 
“When I first heard that statement, I was scratching my head,” a counterterror official told me. “I was trying to figure out how N.S.A. played a role. My recollection is that it wasn’t that much at all.” 
 
The mystery soon deepened when ProPublica gained access to a trove of Snowden’s classified materials. Suddenly a new, previously hidden layer in the story emerged, one that largely contradicted the government’s claims and revealed Mumbai as a tragic case study in the strengths and limitations of high-tech surveillance – a rare look at how counterterrorism really works. 
 
Our reporting airs tonight in “American Terrorist,” a major update of the 2011 Frontline film. It details the story of Headley’s eventual capture as well as the secret surveillance of Mumbai plotters that took place before and during the attacks. (We first reported some of the material in December with the New York Times.) 
 
The Snowden documents show that, months before Mumbai, British intelligence began spying on the online communications of Zarrar Shah, a key plotter who was the technology chief for the Pakistani terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba. 
 
Britain’s General Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, had the ability to monitor many of Shah’s digital activities, including Web searches and emails, during weeks in which he did research on targets, handled reconnaissance data, and set up an internet phone system for the attack.
 
But based on documents and interviews, it appears that the British spy agency did not use its access to closely analyze data from Shah until a Lashkar attack squad invaded
Mumbai on Nov. 26, 2008. Nor did the British tell the Americans they were watching Shah beforehand, despite the close alliance between GCHQ and the N.S.A.
 
The British data could have complemented separate chatter that the N.S.A. and C.I.A. were collecting about a potential attack on Mumbai, none of it related to Headley. 
 
Senior U.S. intelligence officials gave us their first account of their warnings to India about a Lashkar threat to sites in Mumbai frequented by Westerners, including the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, the eventual ground zero.
 
Meanwhile, Indian intelligence had separately tracked Shah’s communications before the attack, another layer of a complex international scenario.
 
Once the shooting started, the spy agencies went into high gear. The British realized that prior targeting of Shah gave them real-time access to the Karachi control room from which Lashkar chiefs directed the three-day siege using phones and computers. 
 
GCHQ and N.S.A. pulled a haul of intelligence from the monitoring of Shah and others that enabled analysts to assemble a “complete operations plan” of the plot, according to an N.S.A. document. The evidence helped the Western and Indian governments push Pakistan to crack down on Lashkar. 
 
U.S. officials emphasized that they had warned the Indians. British officials disputed the idea that they had information that could have prevented an attack; they said they would have shared such intelligence with India. 
 
The Indian government did not respond to requests for official comment, though an official in the Intelligence Bureau, India’s counterterror service, told me his agency was not involved in monitoring Shah. 
 
 
 

 

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