I’m off to Aberdeen, the home of the UK oil industry. Can’t wait!! I hope to find some good uisge beatha there as well; that’s water of life, or whisky in English.
Another variable in OPEC’s ability to sustain cooperation in the cartel is something they will discuss today at their meeting: the fall of the US dollar. As this story reports, the currency in which oil trades are denominated us the US dollar, so its decline is not good news for oil producers who are trying to raise revenues from the sale of oil by restricting output to raise prices. As this story says,
Continued dollar weakness another incentive for OPEC members to bust quotas, OPEC source says. In the short-term, producers can maintain their purchasing power by selling more crude. The dollar recently traded at 27 month lows against the euro and at seven month lows against the yen.
This Bloomberg News story also summarizes the OPEC meeting, and mentions how much cheating on the production quotas is occurring, as well as the motivations for it:
Rather than raise the targets, members have pumped more than promised to fight Russia, Norway and other rivals for market share.
Isn’t competition a grand, disciplining force?
One of the charming and fascinating things about British culture is the contradictory use of euphemisms for some things, and brutally frank phrasings for other things. The word “toilet” is one such contradiction — whereas we Americans say “restroom” or “ladies room”, even properly-brought-up Brits will say “excuse me, where is the toilet?” I must admit, this one grates on my ear much, much more than any other British/American English difference. So I was deeply amused yesterday when I encountered a reversal of this yesterday at Fortnum & Mason. I finally have done something I’ve wanted to do since I first studied in London in 1986 — I had a cream tea service yesterday at Fortnum’s (it was yummy, and the strawberries were fantastic, perfectly in season). I had some confusion following the waitress’s directions to the ladies room, because when I did so all I saw was a door that said “ladies and gents cloakroom”. Now, when I think cloakroom, I think coat check; but indeed at Fortnum’s, the cloakroom is the restroom is the toilet!
I noticed something yesterday (Tuesday) that is quite different from the last several visits I made here, and from when I lived here four years ago. There are many, many more cyclists on the roads, and the cyclists no longer wear face masks to filter out the particulate in the air. London’s air is still by no means pristine, as my skin indicates after just four days here, but it’s quite a bit better than it used to be. Some of that improvement is due to fleet turnover, primarily in taxicabs but also a little in buses. Some of the improvement is also due to London’s efforts to control congestion and use a fee-based system to reduce congestion in central London. I have not kept up with the developments in the congestion fee program, but I have noticed an appreciable change in air quality here.