Monthly Archives: December 2016

Blowout Week 157 – New Year’s Edition

We kick of this week with a look at EU gas imports from Russia. And then follow with Russians hack into a Vermont utility; Toshiba’s nuclear business in trouble; nuclear power in Iran, Switzerland and South Africa; uranium in the US and Spain; Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage; coal in China and India; the Energiewende and the “Trump Effect”; Hawaii accelerates drive for 100% renewables; renewables records fall in Europe; Drax secures its future; post-Brexit investment surge in UK; Scotland’s renewable targets; electric vehicle costs; Swansea Bay tidal project adrift; climate change and Arctic warmth; more blackouts in South Australia and climate skeptics hoping to come in from the cold. Continue reading

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Oil Price Scenario for 2017

Every year around this time I make an oil price “forecast” for fun and have a bet with a friend. A year ago my BAU scenario for Brent was $37 for December 2016. The current front month is $55.80. My friend wagered on $64 leaving $50.50 as the break-even point. It is time to concede defeat and examine why I did so badly?

To cut to the quick, my wag for December 2017 is $60 but we may see $80 some time during the year. Light tight oil (LTO) production has disturbed the historic price-supply dynamic adding uncertainty to predictions. Continue reading

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Latest El Hierro reservoir images

Rainer Strassburger is back on El Hierro and has downloaded more Gorona del Viento reservoir images on his Cloud site, which is now accessible via the El Hierro portal . Here we take a quick pictorial look at what has changed since he took his last photographs in April. The main changes are a) two flexible pipelines are now delivering water to the Upper Reservoir from the island pipeline network and b) three long graduated poles presumably intended to measure water levels have been installed in the Upper Reservoir, suggesting that GdV may finally be planning to fill it. Otherwise GdV has continued to work with the ~100,000 cu m of water that the reservoirs contained in April. Continue reading

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Blowout Week 156 – Christmas Eve

This week it’s back to OPEC, which recently agreed to cut its output by 1.2 million bpd in an attempt to increase oil prices supplemented by an additional 0.5 million bpd from Russia + other non-OPEC producers. What does this portend for the oil market? Industry opinion is unanimous. No one knows: Continue reading

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The Bingham Canyon pumped hydro project – by far the world’s largest, but still much too small.

Some of the larger-scale options (pumped hydro, CAES, FLES etc.) presently being considered for storing intermittent renewable energy rely on the existence of holes in the ground, often man-made ones, to make them work. In this post I take as a hypothetical example the world’s biggest man-made hole (the Bingham Canyon Copper Mine, Utah, shown as viewed from space in the inset) and fill it with water from the Great Salt Lake 25km to the north to get an idea of how much untapped hydro storage potential Bingham and other holes like it might offer. I find that Bingham has the potential to store about 3TWh, which would make it by far the largest pumped hydro facility in the world. 3TWh of storage, however, is nowhere near enough to support an all-renewables world, and there just aren’t that many more big man-made holes like Bingham around. Continue reading

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The State of the Blog and Sponsorship Appeal 2016

It is that time of year again when I unfortunately must pass round the begging bowl and ask readers to dig deep and make donations to keep me and the blog afloat. The donate button is to the right. It is simple to use via PayPal. In November the blog had over 50,000 unique visitors. At the end of this post their are links to all 129 posts for the year to date. Continue reading

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Blowout week 155

This week we kick off with the good news that the Antarctic sea ice area has changed little since the time of Scott and Shackelton. All those who have feared for the worse can breathe a huge sigh of relief. We … Continue reading

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Solar power on the island of Ta’u, a preliminary appraisal

A 1,400kW(p) solar PV array backed up by 6,000kWh of battery storage and a smart grid has been installed on the island of Ta’u in American Samoa. It’s widely reported that this system already allows Ta’u to obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources for 100% of the time, and this brief review suggests that it will in fact be capable of delivering 100% electricity for almost 100% of the time if and when it reaches full operation. Continue reading

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The Glenmuckloch Pumped Storage Hydro Scheme

Scotland is to get a new pumped storage hydro scheme, not in the Highlands but in the Scottish Borders. With a capacity of 400 MW and an estimated 1.7 GWh of storage this plant can make a meaningful 4 hour contribution to peak generation every day. But wooly arguments made about smoothing intermittent renewables makes it unclear if this commendable strategy is the intended use. Continue reading

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Blowout week 154

This week we kick off with the controversial appointment of Scott Pruitt to head the US Environment Protection Agency. Else where in the news non-OPEC exporters agree to cut production by 500,000 bpd; Glencore and Qatar buys a stake in Rosneft; Shell moves into Iran; National Grid sells a majority stake in the UK gas transmission system and 9 Yak herders are killed by an avalanche in Tibet to join the lengthening list of those killed by climate change. Continue reading

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Oil Production Vital Statistics November 2016

In October, global total liquids production hit a new record high of 97.84 Mbpd led by OPEC and Russia! This was caused largely by the scramble to boost production ahead of production cuts with a datum on October 2016. The US rig count continues to rise and US production has stopped falling. The rest of the oil production world outside of OPEC, N America and Russia continues to suffer under the weight of low oil price. Continue reading

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OPEC Production Data and the Feeble Deal

OPEC largely wrong-footed markets and expectations by announcing their first production cut since the financial crisis of 2008 last week. This sent Brent front month “soaring” toward $55 / bbl. This is certainly good news for producers and at face value bad news for consumers everywhere. But the deal and the way it is structured is far from straight forward. For example there is a 285,000 bpd “typographical error” in the record of Iranian production in October in the OPEC press release, equivalent to about one quarter of the whole feeble deal. This is the stuff of dispute and of feeble deals unwinding. Continue reading

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Oil and Gas UK 2016 economic report: “a sobering picture”

Guest post by Alan Foum who is a geophysicist with 26 years industry experience with a major operator. He has a BSc in geology from Imperial College London, and an MSc in geophysics from Birmingham University.

The 2016 Oil and Gas UK 2016 economic report is a sobering picture of the current state of Britain’s oil and gas industry. The full report is available here . A distillation and commentary on its key points is posted below. Continue reading

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Blowout week 153

There are two major stories this week. First, the agreement within OPEC to cut production in concert with some non-OPEC countries, notably Russia sent the oil price soaring, but it has so far failed to break resistance at $54. Second, 50% of the 2 GW England-France inter-connector was severed by a dragged anchor during storm Angus. Continue reading

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UK Electricity Part 3: Wind and Solar

Part 1 of the series on 2050 electricity demand provided a “high electrification” scenario where the average electricity demand was approximately 72GW, but peak demand on exceptionally cold days could reach 121GW.

Part 2 described how this demand could be fulfilled with a nuclear supply model. In Part 3 we have used the same demand model to show how this could be substantially fulfilled with wind and solar power; though relying on significant amounts of storage to match supply and demand, and gas (or biofuel) capacity to operate when storage is insufficient. A number of different scenarios are explored, with the preferred scenario laid out below, adjacent to the nuclear scenario for comparison. Continue reading

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