Author Archives: Euan Mearns

Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and Baseload Tidal Generation in the UK

Charles Hendry, former energy secretary, published his long awaited report on the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon power station last week coming down in favour of the project. Hendry’s report is comprehensive but has one key omission. It does not ask if tidal lagoons can provide renewable base-load power in the UK as is often claimed. I set out in a positive frame of mind to show that it could, but failed miserably in that attempt. Facts defeated me.

UK tidal lagoons will produce more intermittent electricity than any other form of renewable generation providing four spikes separated by four periods of zero production each day. It is often claimed that the predictability of tides is a virtue. This also means we can predict with certainty that this energy source will be a disaster for the public as well as the environment. Continue reading

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Oil Production Vital Statistics December 2016

Global total liquids production hit yet another record high of 98.24 Mbpd in November led by OPEC and Russia! Libya’s drive to restore production is a significant factor with production up 280,000 bpd from recent lows. The US oil rig count has risen for 32 consecutive weeks and US oil production has stopped falling. Production from the North Sea and Asia are in decline as the past low price and drive to restore profitability works through the system. Continue reading

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Energy Prices in Europe

A few days ago a link to a UK government report called Quarterly Energy Prices landed in my in box. At the end was a series of interesting charts comparing liquid fuel, natural gas and electricity prices across Europe. This post presents these charts alongside some simple but rather interesting observations. 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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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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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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Blackout: the sequel

Reactor 1 (600 MW) of the Torness nuclear power station in Scotland tripped at 09:00 on 22nd November whilst reactor 2 was on half load for refuelling. Since then Scotland has been dependent on electricity imports from England for every hour of every day peaking at 2552 MW at 20:00 on 23 Nov as the mercury plunged towards -5˚C. At that point, Scotland was dependent on England for half of its electricity. In the past, Scotland was always 100% reliant on home-grown power. Continue reading

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The Aramco IPO and the Black Art of Estimating Oil Reserves

Saudi Arabia has announced that 5% of state owned Aramco is to be put up for sale perhaps as early as 2018. As part of the process, the country’s oil reserves will be subject to audit by western consultants, presumably to OECD standards. Given that Saudi Arabia has not adjusted oil reserves for production since 1980 there is a widely held view that the official figure of 267 billion barrels is a gross overstatement of reality. The audit will be interesting to say the least, especially since Iraq, Iran, Kuwait and UAE are all guilty of the same malpractice. Deducting the 156 billion barrels produced since 1936 leaves 110 billion bbls remaining. Only time will tell where reality lies. Continue reading

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Playing the Trump Card: a Tale of Golf, Wind Turbines and Political Expediency

To say that US President elect Donald Trump is a controversial character would be an understatement. Not so widely known, he is also 50% Scottish, his mother Mary Anne Macleod being born in Stornaway on the Island of Lewis on May … Continue reading

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Blackout

Last week I gave a talk at The Scottish Oil Club in Edinburgh that was well received. The slide deck can be down loaded here. Since then we have been on high blackout alert since the UK weather has turned cold, wet and snowy with little wind at times. And there are 20 nuclear power stations closed in France creating an import shortage. This post summarises my talk using 14 out of 36 slides. Continue reading

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Oil Production Vital Statistics October 2016

The post-November 2015 production decline was accentuated by the Fort McMurray wild fire in Canada in May 2016. But overprinting all this is Iran coming back to full production with a YOY rise of 760,000 bpd combined with large rises in Saudi and Russian production.

The oil price is pressing on its $51 / bbl resistance. With OPEC spare capacity approaching lows and global production fast approaching balance, we can look forward to a rally in the oil price towards $65 / bbl (perhaps higher) some time in 2017. Continue reading

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The BN-800 Fast Reactor – a Milestone on a Long Road

The BN-800 fast breeder reactor was commissioned in Russia this week. This guest post by Russian commenter Syndroma provides an overview and history of the Russian fast breeder reactor program. Continue reading

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UK Electricity 2050 Part 2: A High Nuclear Model

Guest post by Energy Matters’ commentators Alex Terrell and Andy Dawson. In part 2 of their trilogy, Alex and Andy examine how the UK 2050 electricity demand may be met by a nuclear dominated supply model. It requires 85 GW of nuclear capacity in the UK. The model is founded on existing technology and existing UK nuclear sites. But as the decades pass goes on to include new UK nuclear sites previously occupied by coal fired power stations and clusters of small modular reactors (SMRS) that have yet to be built, licensed and tested. It concludes by introducing the concept of nuclear islands built in very shallow water off the English coast. Continue reading

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LCOE and the Cost of Synthetic Jet Fuel

The technology to make liquid fuel from CO2 and H2 has existed for nigh on 100 years. The main barrier to wide-spread deployment is the uncompetitive cost of fuel that is produced. The main cost centre is the electricity consumed where, for example using onshore wind as the source would lead to Jet A1 costing over $200 / bbl compared with $62 / bbl today. This is a show stopper.

The cost of synfuel can be attacked from two directions. The first is to make the process more efficient to reduce the amount of energy consumed. But this will inevitably at some point meet a thermodynamic barrier that cannot be crossed. The other approach is to tackle the cost of the electricity consumed. < $20 / MWh is the magic number that would make Audi's e diesel and Extra Virgin Jet Fuel competitive with fossil fuels. High altitude wind power is the only show in town that holds out this promise. Continue reading

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UK Electricity 2050 Part 1: a demand model

Guest post by Energy Matters’ commentators Alex Terrel and Andy Dawson. Alex Terrell is a business consultant in the area of Vehicle Telematics. He has also consulted in Energy and Manufacturing, and has a degree in Engineering. Andy Dawson is an energy sector systems consultant and former nuclear engineer.

This lengthy post is in three parts and aims to provide greater sophistication to a UK 2050 electricity model than can be achieved using the DECC 2050 calculator. Part 1 (below) presents the demand model. Parts 2 and 3 (to follow) will look at how demand may be met by a high nuclear option and from a renewables option. Continue reading

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