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Hi, teachers!

Below is the extract from an article titled “The limits of energy independence” with a subhead “The Trump administration is ill-equipped for a Middle East crisis that looks increasingly likely” on “The economist”!

Could you look at the underlined parts? ♥



...

There are many such contradictions in the administration’s Middle East plans. They are at once ambitious-Mr Trump pledged to end reginal terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Iranian threat-and undermined by his serial reluctance to take strong or consistent action. His statements on Iran have been so contradictory it is unclear what his policy is there: regime change or a footling renegotiation of Barack Obama’s nuclear deal. Yet in the absence of a major regional crisis, the sum of the administration’s faltering efforts has looked no worse than that of its recent predecessors. This could be about to change, with a pair of historic crises-an unprecedented calamity on oil markets and a global pandemic-threatening American oil production, Middles Eastern stability and in turn the administration’s diplomatic grip.


The coming decimation of America’s shale-oil firms could eventually lead to renewed dependence on Saudi oil. American production is predicted to fall to 10m barrels a day, around half the country’s pre-pandemic consumption. In the meantime near-universal anti-Saudi feeling in Washington is putting the bilateral relationship under great strain. Last month Republican senators in oil-producing states, who had been almost the Saudis’ last defenders on the Hill, turned furiously against the kingdom. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota and Dan Sullivan of Alaska introduced legislation to withdraw American troops and missile-defence systems if it did not cut its oil production. (1)Reports this week that a fleet of laden Saudi tankers was en route to oil-glutted America caused fresh fury. Mr Trump suggested he might close the country’s ports to it. The notion of American-Saudi co-operation to reorder the Middle East had rarely looked more fanciful.


Meanwhile (2)a region whose stability America has considered supremely important for seven decades is experiencing (3)two black swans in one swoop. Oil-poor countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Bahrain are facing a health-care crisis which their oil-rich neighbours would in normal times send them cash to stave off. Yet the Saudis, in need of an oil price of around $80 a barrel to balance their budge, are focused on fiscal problems at home. (4)A normal American administration might be expected to rally multilateral agencies to make up the shortfall for the poorer Arab states. Mr Trump is instead trying to defund the World Health Organisation.

...


(1)

At the beginning of the second paragraph, it says the amount of oil produced in the U.S. will fall steeply that the U.S. may face a renewed dependence on Saudi oil. And then at the underlined sentence, it says oil import from Saudi Arabia made Americans angry. Isn’t it contradictory? Or does the paragraph mean already hit American shale-oil companies due to plunged global oil demand by the COVID-19 crisis will confront more difficult situation because they have to compete even with Saudi oil in America if it’s constantly imported?


(2)

Why did the writer use an article “a” instead of “the”? Doesn’t “a region” refer to “the Middle East”? Readers all know where the region is and the region is already mentioned before! Could you explain it to me?♡


(3)

I’m totally lost here teacherT.t What is “two balck swans” and what is “one swoop”? Even Google was unable to help me with this phrase at all.


(4)

I interpreted this sentence as “A normal American administration would call on international organizations such as UN-affiliated organizations to help oil-poor countries which are going through financially(economically?) hard times due to the pandemic”. Is it right, teacher? ♥.♥


Teachers, thank you so much for reading my post! ♡♡♡

I wish I could get a reply T.T

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ANNE202The coming decimation of America’s shale-oil firms could eventually lead to renewed dependence on Saudi oil.

Shale oil is very costly to produce, and many companies that invested in the technology borrowed a lot of money and have large loan repayments.

Most companies need to sell their oil at about $60 / bbl to make a profit, and $55 to break even. But, the coronavirus has resulted in very low demand for oil products. Nobody is flying and few people are driving. Oil prices are based on a supply/demand curve, so when there is little demand and a large supply, prices plummet. When prices go down, the producers go bankrupt and out of business. And when the companies go bankrupt, they no longer produce oil. Production goes down. Politicians do not like it when their voters are threatened to go unemployed and bankrupt. Further, there has been so much production that there is nowhere to store the oil. More oil is a big problem.

So when the Saudis send tankers full of oil to American ports, the politicians are very angry.

ANNE202Why did the writer use an article “a” instead of “the”? Doesn’t “a region” refer to “the Middle East”?
ANNE202Meanwhile (2)a region whose stability America has considered supremely important for seven decades

The relative clause defines "region" We use "a" sometimes when the following clause defines the noun. For example:

There is Jim with a bouquet of red roses. A man who buys flowers for his wife every day is a rare gem of a husband.

ANNE202What is “two balck swans”

A black swan is very famous in philosophy. There used to be an an example argument illustrating the principle of deduction. It goes like this:


All swans are white. (The ancient European philosophers had observed this, so asserted it as a true statement.)
A is a swan.
Therefore, A is white.

That worked as a good example for hundreds of years until European explorers found black swans in Australia. That upset the philosophical apple cart. But now this example is used for the principle of falsifiability in the Philosophy of Science. The example above was changed to "All ravens are black"


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_swan_theory

A "black swan event," a phrase commonly used in the world of finance, is an extremely negative event that is impossible to predict. The writer is saying that there were two of these events at the same time.

ANNE202what is “one swoop”?

https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/one-fell-swoop

The normal idiom is "one fell swoop." It means all of a sudden, all at the same time.

Comments  
ANNE202Or does the paragraph mean already hit American shale-oil companies due to plunged global oil demand by the COVID-19 crisis will confront more difficult situation because they have to compete even with Saudi oil in America if it’s constantly imported?

That's how I read it, but I'm no economist.

ANNE202Why did the writer use an article “a” instead of “the”? Doesn’t “a region” refer to “the Middle East”? Readers all know where the region is and the region is already mentioned before! Could you explain it to me?♡

The use of articles is notoriously difficult to explain. The use of "a" there is correct, natural and expected, and "the" would be wrong. If you wanted to use "the", you would have to make it "the region, whose stability America has considered supremely important for seven decades, is experiencing …."

ANNE202I’m totally lost here teacherT.t What is “two balck swans” and what is “one swoop”? Even Google was unable to help me with this phrase at all.

It threw me, too. "Black swan" is not an expression I have heard before. It means rara avis, a rare bird, something that is rarely or never seen. The "one swoop" comes from a fixed expression, "at one fell swoop", meaning "as a result of a single effort", mixing species (swans and hawks) if not metaphors.

ANNE202I interpreted this sentence as “A normal American administration would call on international organizations such as UN-affiliated organizations to help oil-poor countries which are going through financially(economically?) hard times due to the pandemic”. Is it right, teacher? ♥.♥

Yes.

ANNE202I wish I could get a reply

I hope I get a reply.

Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
 AlpheccaStars's reply was promoted to an answer.

Wow teacher! ♡♡♡

Imagine how happy I was when I got your comment after getting no replies three times in a row last week T.T

Thank you so much for your explanations!

Reading your reply, I felt so good because it felt as if I was reading the article with a real teacher beside me who are very very smart!

And thank you again for correcting my wrong sentence T.T!

Corrected sentences by teachers do not slip out of my brain easily!

Have a nice day, teacher! ♥♥♥

Wow teacher, how do you know all of these things? o.o

Every time I receive your reply, I am so surprised at your extensive knowledge and never get used to it!

It seems that you have lived here for 300 years!

And you know what?

When I come across topics or expressions reading articles you’ve taught me through your posts, I think like “Oh, teacher AlpheccaStars have explained about it before”!

I’m improving with you teacher! hehehehe!

♡♡♡♡♡

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.