Monday 22 December 2014

"Britain to build first permanent Middle East military base in four decades"

Quote: "Britain to build first permanent Middle East military base in four decades

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond says new facility in Bahrain guarantees Royal Navy’s Gulf presence

Chris Johnston and agencies
Saturday 6 December 2014 10.33 GMT

Britain will set up a permanent military base in the Middle East for the first time in more than four decades.

Four minesweepers have operated from the Mina Salmon port in Bahrain, but the new facility will also be a base for much larger ships including destroyers and aircraft carriers.

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said the deal with Bahrain would guarantee the Royal Navy’s presence in Bahrain well into the future. He said: “The expansion of Britain’s footprint builds upon our 30-year track record of Gulf patrols and is just one example of our growing partnership with Gulf partners to tackle shared strategic and regional threats.”

Defence secretary Michael Fallon said Britain would now be based in the Gulf again for the long term. The rise of Islamic State and ongoing instability in the region contributed to the decision to establish the new naval base, which is adjacent to a more substantial US facility, home to the fifth fleet. Bahrain will contribute most of the £15m cost of construction, with the UK picking up the ongoing costs.

Chief of the defence staff, general Sir Nicholas Houghton, said the deal was symbolic and strategically important. “Rather than just being seen as a temporary deployment to an area for a specific operational purpose, this is more symbolic of the fact that Britain does enjoy interests in the stability of this region,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“And the fact that the Bahraini authorities and government agreed to fund infrastructure within the country to base our maritime capability forward, both is a recognition from their perspective of the quality of the relationship with the United Kingdom, but also of our interest over time in maintaining the stability of this very important area.”

Bahrain’s foreign minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa said the agreement underlined its commitment to work with the UK and other countries to address threats to regional security.

Lobby groups including Human Rights Watch have criticised Bahrain’s record on human rights. Despite the Arab spring uprisings, Britain, the US and Saudi Arabia have supported the government following widepsread public protests in March 2011. The uprising led to the cancellation of a Formula One race due to take place in Bahrain that year.

John Horne of Bahrain Watch said in May: “There is growing frustration about the UK government’s increasingly visible support for Bahrain; [it] has a long, dark history of enabling state violence in Bahrain and protecting both British and Bahraini officials responsible.”

In 2012 King Hamad pledged to implement the recommendations of an independent commission to examine the roots of the country’s crisis, but reform has been slow."* Go to:

Quote: "New energy dawns as first LNG tanker arrives at Milford Haven

AFTER six years of planning, protests, court battles, claims and counterclaims, the first LNG tanker arrived at Milford Haven yesterday.
The massive Tembek carrying super-cooled gas from the Middle East to one of two new terminals in the county came in to dock escorted by a flotilla of tugs.
Once fully operational, the liquefied natural gas plants it supplies will be capable of meeting up to 25% of the UK’s current gas requirements.
The ship’s arrival was met by protesters who have fought the £13bn projects, but Milford Haven Port Authority said it could handle LNG shipping safely.
The tanker, which had sailed from Qatar, was moored off Pembrokeshire overnight onThursday, waiting for the tide to allow it to berth at the newly- built South Hook deep water terminal.
It is the largest LNG plant in Europe and is a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum, ExxonMobil and Total.
LNG is natural gas which has been converted to a liquid by cooling it to a temperature of -160°C.
In its liquid form, it occupies much less space than gas, making it easier and more cost-effective to transport.
It will be turned back into gas at the terminals and pumped into the UK network along a specially constructed pipeline running from Milford to Gloucestershire.
South Hook is the larger of two terminals built at the port.
The other, Dragon LNG, a partnership between Malaysia’s state oil firm Petronas, BG and the Netherland’s 4Gas, is expected to become operational later in the year.
The companies say LNG imports will increase the UK’s security and diversity of gas supply while helping to ensure that natural gas remains a competitive source of energy.
But the plants have been opposed by campaigners since they were first announced six years ago.
Gordon Main, founder of campaign group Safe Haven, said there were concerns that sufficient risk assessments had not been carried out into the possibility of a collision or major incident at the port.
Members of the group sounded a World War II air raid siren from an island at the entrance to the waterway to greet the tanker’s arrival.
Safe Haven commissioned its own report which it says shows “that a proper risk assessment of LNG cargo spills to the onshore population” has not been carried out.
Milford Haven Port Authority said a large number of reports and risk assessments had been undertaken.
“We are confident that we can handle LNG shipping safely and efficiently along with all other users of the port,” it said.
Milford Haven MP Stephen Crabb said the project would provide vital gas supplies to the UK.
“Local people have followed the progress of this project with enormous interest over the last four years,” he said.
“For many it has provided welcome new employment and income. For some, it has been a source of concern and anxiety. My hope is that the arrival of the first cargo and the commissioning of the new plant will go some way to providing new assurance to local people as to the safety of LNG operations.
“The cold winter we have just experienced and the Russia- Ukraine gas dispute has highlighted again the tight gas supply scenario we face.
“As North Sea gas production continues to decline, South Hook will provide the UK with another strategic entry point for vital gas supplies and will enhance our energy security.”" Go to:,50.4495874,8z

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