North American Oil and Gas Bankruptcies

With the slump in crude oil and natural gas prices dozens of North American oil and gas companies have commenced Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to the law firm Haynes & Boone, 42 companies in exploration & production (E&P) and 39 companies in middle-market oilfield services have filed for bankruptcy protection during 2015 in the US and Canada. The total amount of aggregate debt involved in filed cases reached $17.2 billion for E&P and $5.3 billion for oilfield services companies. Texas leads North America in both sectors by number of filings, while Delaware has been the venue with most bankruptcy filings by amount of debt, with the largest reported bankruptcies attributed to Samson Resources Co. ($4.3B) in E&P and Vantage Drilling ($2.7B) in oilfield services.

Liquefied Natural Gas: Multi-billion dollar investments at risk

Today, liquefied natural gas (LNG) represents a significant component of the energy consumption of many countries and accounts for about one third of total internationally traded gas. The global LNG production (liquefaction) nameplate capacity has grown up to 320 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) or 435 billion cubic metres in the end of 2015 from 119 MTPA in 2000. US shale production boom and recovery in oil prices in 2010-2012 after the global financial crisis created an attractive environment for new LNG projects.Enormous 798 MTPA of new production capacity has been proposed globally in new liquefaction facilities (mostly in the US, Canada and Australia). Of that amount, 117 MTPA of capacity are currently under active construction.

Seven Big Summits to Watch in 2016

The US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) recently published the "Seven Big Summits to Watch in 2016." The visualizations that follow use publicly available data to provide context about each event on the CFR list. You may view these events and other notable events scheduled for 2016 on the Knoema Data Calendar.


The calendar kicks off in early spring, when President Obama will welcome world leaders back for the final meeting of what is perhaps his signature foreign policy initiative, the biennial Nuclear Security Summit (NSS). The president launched the NSS to close a glaring gap in the nuclear nonproliferation regime: the presence of loose nukes and fissile material that could fall into the hands of terrorist groups or rogue states. As at the three previous meetings, four dozen countries and several international organizations will announce “gift baskets”—steps they have taken, independently and jointly, to reduce the vulnerability of their nuclear arsenals and facilities. Unfortunately, the NSS series is currently slated to expire when Obama leaves office. To cement his legacy, the president should work with foreign partners to give this ad hoc process a permanent institutional home, perhaps by transferring it (along with additional resources) to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Burundi: Humanitarian Crisis Deepens

As 2016 begins there is still no sign of peace in Burundi. Positions are becoming entrenched, murders continue and the long-awaited dialogue between the government, opposition and civil society groups is faltering. Burundi's government will not take part in peace talks with the opposition scheduled for Wednesday, a senior official said, casting doubts on efforts to end months of violence. "No dialogue tomorrow neither on January 16 as many may think, because there has been no consensus on that date," Joseph Bangurambona, the permanent secretary in Burundi's foreign affairs ministry, told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.

The talks in neighbouring Tanzania were announced last month as part of regional efforts to resolve a crisis triggered in April 2015 by President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term in office - a move opponents described as violating the constitution. Since then, clashes between police and protesters and series of attacks in the capital, Bujumbura, have killed more than 400 people.

Africa’s Population Boom: Will it mean disaster or economic and human development gains?

In a perfect world, where access to technology and the wealth are equally distributed, the GDP of each country would be proportional to its population. In the real world that relationship exists on average (see the dot charts below) but with significant deviations from the trend on a GDP per capita basis. Many developed countries, being relatively less populous than their developing counterparts, have high levels of GDP, while the GDPs of less-developed countries, especially in Africa, are disproportionally low.
  • According to the UN DESA baseline scenario, by 2100 Africa will become the world's most populous region, accounting for 39 percent of global population and replacing Asia as the key driver of global population growth.

Venezuela: No help from OPEC before the elections, hard times ahead

On Friday, 4 December OPEC decided to forgo an artificial - and rarely upheld - ceiling on crude oil output and maintain current crude oil production volumes, even as markets brace for an increase of Iranian oil in global markets.

The decision by OPEC left Venezuela - one of the members of the cartel most seriously affected by the decline in oil prices - without any hope for improvement in external economic conditions right before the elections. And what a historic elections these were, with the opposition winning the majority of seats in the National Assembly for the first time since the late President Hugo Chavez took office in 1999. Venezuela is struggling with the worst crisis in decades, a harsh reality for the President's party in the lead up to the elections. Many Venezuelans, faced with chronic shortages and triple-digit inflation, wonder how their country, an OPEC member with more oil than Saudi Arabia, has made them feel so poor.

Can Data Collection in a Sustainability Report Prevent a Crisis?

As Volkswagen contends with a reputational crisis of epic proportions much of the focus has been on how it needs to manage the fallout from its emissions cheating scandal. While dissecting a crisis communications strategy for Volkswagen best practices makes for compelling theater, this incident is an opportune reminder for corporate leaders to focus on something much more mundane: the critical importance of accurate data in a sustainability (or CSR) report. 

Volkswagen is an illustrative example: Volkswagen built a reputation as a responsible company committed to producing vehicles that emitted fewer harmful emissions than the competition’s. Its diesel cars were the centerpiece in that narrative. Consumers purchased Volkswagen’s diesel powered cars because they liked driving a sporty and fun vehicle that was assumed to be not terribly harmful to the environment.