Blowout week 13

UK energy policy in disarray: UK has among cheapest gas and electric in Europe; Government to investigate big 6 utilities for malpractice; Scottish and  Southern Energy freeze prices until 2015 but axes renewables investment; politicians from all sides line up to take the credit.

MENA: Iraq oil production growth accelerates; Libya all but off line

Shale gas: Chesapeake undershoots production target, threatens finance; Sabine Pass LNG export terminal on target; can US LNG exports threaten Russia?

Climate change: AR5 eagerly awaited; some scientists move to distance themselves from report; MET office reveals it is clueless; deniers to be jailed?

UK: UK’s future climate to be all sorts

British winters are likely to become milder and wetter like the last one but cold spells still need to be planned for, says the UK Met Office.

Summers are likely to be hotter and drier, but washouts are still on the cards, it adds.

The assessment of future weather extremes finds the role of human influence is “detectable” in summer heatwaves and in intense rainfall.

33 stories in all in this bumper, bumper issue of Blowout. One ray of light just below the fold where a Guardian poll suggests that Guardian readers have more sense than our politicians and policy makers.
UK: UK energy crisis: what’s your priority? – vote now in our poll

The UK is facing an energy ‘trilemma’. The term, first used by the World Energy Council and now ubiquitously by government and policy wonks, describes the three challenges that our energy market must overcome: affordability, security of energy supply and cutting carbon emissions.

World: Musings: The Challenges Facing Saudi Arabia Include More Than Oil

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently issued a call for Saudi Arabia to sustain its current oil output during the upcoming seasonally weak global oil demand period in order to rebuild global crude oil inventories following the harsh winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the uptick in developing country oil needs.

World: How the US might persuade the Saudis to co-conspire in unleashing an oil weapon against Putin

Billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros has come down on the side of using US oil to tame Russian president Vladimir Putin. But a senior member of the Saudi Arabian royal family—which has more experience than anyone on the planet in using oil as a geopolitical weapon—doubts it would work.

World: Chesapeake’s Faltering Oklahoma Gas Field Threatens Loans

Chesapeake Energy (CHK) Corp.’s Sahara natural gas field in Oklahoma in producing less than expected, undermining fuel sales backing $880 million in loans and notes.

Output from 3,300 Chesapeake-operated wells in the Sahara field was 12 percent below projections during the six-month period ending in February.

UK: Forth Energy pulls out of Scottish biomass projects

An energy company has pulled out of plans for three major biomass projects in Scotland.

Forth Energy said it was not continuing with renewable energy projects in Grangemouth and Rosyth and was seeking new backers for the schemes.

The plans for a plant in Dundee have been withdrawn altogether.

World: Sabine Pass Liquefaction Project on Track

Sabine Pass LNG filed a report with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on construction activities of the Sabine Pass Liquefaction Stage 1 (trains 1 and 2) and Stage 2 (trains 3 and 4) projects during the month of December.
According to the report, Stage 1 Engineering is 90.7% complete, Procurement is 82.9%, and Subcontract and direct hire Construction work are 30.5% and 12.9% complete, respectively, for the period.

World: Jail Global-Warming Deniers: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

Professor Lawrence Torcello of Rochester Institute of Technology says it’s time “for modern societies to interpret and update their legal systems” to charge global warming deniers with “criminal and moral negligence.”

World: Fracking chemicals will put Karoo water at risk, says UK climate envoy

FRACKING should not be considered in water-stressed areas such as the Karoo, UK special representative on climate change Sir David King said on Wednesday.

President Jacob Zuma told Parliament in his state of the nation address that the development of shale gas could be a “game changer” for South Africa’s economy.


A paper published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation and written by Professor Michael Kelly (University of Cambridge) shows that most of the ambitions to decarbonise the UK and global economy have not been put through an engineering reality test.
The paper reveals that the scale, scope, feasibility, cost, resources and other requirements of the decarbonisation agenda have never been tested against other calls on human and physical resources of the planet.

World: Iraq returns as world’s fastest-growing oil exporter

Iraq is reclaiming its rank as the world’s fastest-growing oil exporter, cushioning consumers from Libyan supply outages for now and, perhaps, reviving OPEC market share rivalries down the road.

Despite worsening violence due to spillover from the war in Syria, Iraq – already OPEC’s second-largest producer – is likely to post one of the biggest annual output jumps in its history as BP, Exxon Mobil and other companies tap its southern fields, which are untouched by the unrest.

UK: Brian Wilson: So much for the power of Scotland

Putting all our eggs in one basket means we could have to import cheap nuclear energy under independence, says Brian Wilson

It IS timely to reassess the disarray of Scottish energy policy in the light of SSE’s declaration of retreat from renewables as part of its freeze package.

World: IPCC report: climate change felt ‘on all continents and across the oceans’

Climate change has already left its mark “on all continents and across the oceans”, damaging food crops, spreading disease, and melting glaciers, according to the leaked text of a blockbuster UN climate science report due out on Monday.

Europe: Can Europe wean itself from Russian natural gas?

On Thursday ENI’s chief executive, Paolo Scaroni, was in Washington to meet with Obama administration officials at the State Department and National Security Council to discuss natural gas, Russia and Ukraine.

Scaroni was visiting on the heels of hearings in Congress where lawmakers were calling on the administration to approve more liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals so that LNG from abundant domestic shale gas reserves could ease European dependence on Russia. But the committees didn’t get to hear from anyone with Scaroni’s background and distinctive points of view.

World: Climate Forecast: Muting the Alarm

The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will shortly publish the second part of its latest report, on the likely impact of climate change. Government representatives are meeting with scientists in Japan to sex up—sorry, rewrite—a summary of the scientists’ accounts of storms, droughts and diseases to come. But the actual report, known as AR5-WGII, is less frightening than its predecessor seven years ago.

The 2007 report was riddled with errors about Himalayan glaciers, the Amazon rain forest, African agriculture, water shortages and other matters, all of which erred in the direction of alarm. This led to a critical appraisal of the report-writing process from a council of national science academies, some of whose recommendations were simply ignored.

UK: Britain must take lead in global warming battle, says Ed Davey

Britain must lead the international battle against global warming, says energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey, who added that not to do so would be “deeply irresponsible”.

His comments, made on the eve of a landmark UN report on the impacts of global warming, are in pointed contrast to chancellor George Osborne’s statement in September that he did not want the UK to be “the only people out there in front of the rest of the world”.

UK: Think your energy bills are a rip off? Britain’s gas and electricity are the among the cheapest in Europe

Energy bosses, the Government and consumers are at loggerheads over our gas and electricity bills.
Customers furious at years of rising prices have fought back by ditching big suppliers, MPs have sought to claim kudos with promises of taking on the energy firms, yet the big suppliers claim they are not profiteering.
So how expensive are our bills, why are they rising and will a crackdown on energy firms really lead to the threat of the lights going out? We take a look.

UK: The heat is on as energy clash looms

With gas and electricity generators on a collision course with the government, is Britain facing blackouts, asks Kristy Dorsey

IT SHOULD have been a cause for the energy industry to celebrate. New figures released last week showed that wind power had risen by more than a third to a record high.

But anyone thinking of throwing a party had their hopes dashed when SSE, one of Britain’s big six suppliers, scrapped plans to invest £20 billion in four major offshore projects.

UK:  ‘Big six’ energy firms face competition inquiry

Regulators will investigate whether the “big six” UK energy suppliers prevent effective competition in the UK energy market.

A report by regulator Ofgem has called for an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) which could take 18 months.

Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw said it would cause delays to investment and “an increasing risk” of blackouts.

UK: Miliband pledges energy bill protection for small firms

Labour leader Ed Miliband has told small businesses he will protect them from “unacceptable treatment” by the UK’s largest energy firms.

In a speech in Manchester, he pledged to set up a regulator to stop firms being “rolled” on to higher tariffs and forced to pay “crippling” bills.

He said a Labour government would ensure small firms were given the same legal protections as householders.

UK:  SSE price-freeze: Politicians rush to claim credit

The government and the Labour party have both claimed credit for a price freeze announced by UK energy supplier SSE.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband said the freeze was a result of their policies.

SSE domestic gas and electricity prices will be frozen at their current levels until 2016, it said on Wednesday.

Europe: Satellites and Simulations Track Missing Methane

Methane-emission estimates are probably too low; the European Space Agency is spending €45 million to fix that

UK: Scaling back the many-headed Hydro

SSE is today setting out a big re-structure, and it sounds several alarming notes for the renewable energy industry.

Clearly, it is responding to public, regulatory and political pressure to bear down on prices, with its freeze until the start of 2016.

That comes with its response to Ed Miliband’s initiative for a temporary freeze on bills.

While the energy firms do not declare their hedging positions, it suggests SSE must be well protected against future fluctuations, in a market that is wary of what could happen if tensions intensify between Russia and Europe.

UK: Energy competition probe ‘will increase risk of blackouts’

The risk of blackouts will be increased by a two-year probe into the energy market that will deter companies from building new power plants, a leading analyst has warned.

Regulator Ofgem is this week expected to announce it is referring the market for a full Competition and Markets Authority investigation, amid calls for the Big Six energy giants to be broken up.

UK: Greenhouse gas emissions: Scotland making ‘good progress’

Scotland has continued to make “good progress” on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the body which advises the UK government on the issue has said.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) said emissions in Scotland fell by 9.9% in 2011.

The drop for the UK as a whole was 6.9%.

UK: £310m invested in UK wind turbines

Manufacturing giant Siemens and the UK’s Associated British Ports are to invest a total of £310m in UK wind turbine factories, creating 1,000 jobs.

Siemens will put up £160m – doubling its previous plans to invest £80m in wind turbine production in the UK.

The investment is being made across two locations – the Green Port project in Hull, and a second manufacturing facility in Paull in East Yorkshire.

World: Dissent among scientists over key climate impact report

Senior scientists and government officials are meeting in Japan to agree a critical report on the impact of global warming.

Members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish their first update in seven years on the scale of the threat.

Leaked documents speak of significant effects on economies, food supplies and security.

But some attendees say the summary, due out next Monday, is far too alarmist.

UK: Tidal lagoon power ‘cheaper than wind’

Three tidal lagoons could be in operation around Britain by 2021 producing large-scale low carbon power at a cheaper price than offshore wind, according to their developer, Tidal Lagoon Power.

The company said a report commissioned from management consultant, Pöyry confirmed the lagoons, starting with one at Swansea Bay in south Wales, could produce power for about £100 per megawatt hour (MWh).

My selection of stories posted by Luis de Sousa At The Edge of Time. Luis’ focus this week is on Ukraine and Libya.

Luis’ commentary:

The reasons behind the coup d’état in Ukraine are becoming ever more evident. The propaganda machine made in USA is running flat out, trying to sway Europe as a whole to its side. Vladimir Putin is regularly compared to Adolf Hitler and the annexation of Crimea to the Nazi expansionism that lead to the second World War. But it is in Kiev that modern swastikas are seen, not in Moscow. The US and the UK push the sweet “shale gas” discourse, as if they could ever replace the energy Europe imports from Russia. For now all we can do is hope the chaos into which the Ukraine is immersed does not end up by itself cutting these vital economic ties.

One of the remarkable outcomes of this crisis is the revival of the transatlantic trade agreement. The multiple espionage scandals related to the activities of the American and British intelligence agencies had put negotiations on hold, the European companies being in clear competitive disadvantage with their information harvested en masse. This is the first big victory of the US in this crisis, and might not be the last.

World: Using Germany’s Ostpolitik for Crimea crisis

The Crimean crisis has sparked many articles drawing historical parallels – and just as many warning against them. The weight of the centenary of the beginning of World War I seems to have engendered this historical perspective, implying the subliminal fear: “Is Europe about to come full circle?”

World: Ukraine defense chief resigns; most soldiers in Crimea expected to switch to Russia

Ukraine’s interim defense minister resigned Tuesday, citing the shame of losing Crimea to Russia during his one month in office.

A short time later, the Ukrainian parliament voted in an interim replacement, a colonel-general who earlier this month was briefly kidnapped from his post in Crimea.

World: Can US Fracked Gas Save Europe?

There is a low, but rising, rumble from the right. Last week, GOP House Speaker John Boehner let loose the argument that all the US needs to do to free Europe from dependence on Russian gas imports is to export fracked gas.Cue the talking heads parroting the meme that the Obama administration is aiding and abetting our once, and again, Russian nemesis by keeping all that sweet fracked gas trapped in North America. Just one problem. Even a cursory examination of the facts reveals that the scenario envisioned by Boehner et al, the US replacing EU imports of Russian gas, isn’t even a remote possibility. Let’s lay out the facts of the case.

World: Libyan army in heavy fighting with oil port rebels

BENGHAZI, Libya: Libyan rebels occupying oil ports clashed with troops on Saturday after attacking an army base where reinforcements were preparing for an offensive to break the blockade, local residents said.

World: Libyan Oil Output Plunges to Six-Month Low as Elephant Halted

Demonstrators forced the Elephant field to halt today, cutting the nation’s production to 150,000 barrels a day from 230,000 barrels yesterday, Mohamed Elharari, a spokesman for National Oil Corp., said by phone from Tripoli. Paolo Scaroni, Eni’s chief executive officer, met with Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah Theni today to discuss increasing production in the North African country.

This entry was posted in Blowout and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Blowout week 13

  1. Rune Likvern says:

    Thanks for putting together this collection of articles.

    One of the subjects that caught my attention was about UK energy/electricity prices (relative to other countries).
    To me headlines/articles like those also points towards a more fundamental subject: Affordability for energy.

    $20/bbl oil is too expensive if consumers do not have $20 to pay for it. In other words money/liquidity is needed to connect seller and buyer.

    Could the attention around energy prices reveal other undertows?

    • Euan Mearns says:

      Rune, I think most consumers in the UK are adapting to $110 oil. Combination of efficiency savings, energy savings, and cutting back on other expenditure – fewer holidays etc. But there are of course a large number of poor folks who will be feeling the pinch. And they will moan to their MPs about it.

      MPs and the government have conveniently forgotten that it is the rise in international energy prices that lies at the heart of the problem aided and abetted in no small measure by the government’s and Eu’s bonkers energy policies.

      And so given that UK energy prices are actually low, I don’t understand the current fixation on this topic. But it is going to end badly. The government needs massive investment in new energy infrastructure but does not like companies making profits. And those companies that need to make those investments are being squeezed out by subsidised renewables that some countries are now finding unaffordable.

      There is a large segment of society now operating on a set of rules that departs so far from conventional science, economics and common sense that I am unable to understand it.

      • Roger Andrews says:

        Euan: On August 25th, 1914, with the German armies knocking on the gates of Paris, the French Cabinet convened to discuss bank moratoriums, disturbances to the judicial process by the call-up of magistrates, Russian aims in Constantinople and diplomacy in the Balkans.

        There’s nothing new about the ability of politicians to ignore reality 😉

Comments are closed.