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.
Image: Leonardo DiCaprio failed to persuade Donald Trump to appoint Al Gore to lead the EPA 😉 Roger should be back next week.
Scott Pruitt, attorney general of Oklahoma and a sceptic of climate science, has been chosen by Donald Trump as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Having Scott Pruitt in charge of the US Environmental Protection Agency is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires,” said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. “He is a climate science denier who, as attorney general for the state of Oklahoma, regularly conspired with the fossil fuel industry to attack EPA regulations. Nothing less than our children’s health is at stake.
President-elect Donald J. Trump has selected Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and a close ally of the fossil fuel industry, to run the Environmental Protection Agency, signaling Mr. Trump’s determination to dismantle President Obama’s efforts to counter climate change — and much of the E.P.A. itself.
Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with the president-elect’s comments during the campaign. Mr. Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to fight climate change, and attacked Mr. Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal.”
Opec has won the backing of countries outside of the oil cartel to join supply cuts for the first time since 2001, overcoming the final major obstacle for a global agreement to curb output.
Russia, the biggest oil exporter outside of the group, alongside other countries such as Mexico, Oman and Azerbaijan on Saturday agreed to reduce their production by more than 500,000 barrels a day. Exact numbers are still being finalised by ministers.
Any agreement in Vienna is designed to speed the end of the worst oil downturn in a generation by mopping up excess supplies and boost prices, providing some relief to resource-rich nations whose economies have taken a big hit.
The Kremlin has sold a stake in its biggest oil company Rosneft to the London-listed commodities firm Glencore and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, as part of Russia’s attempts to stabilise its economy.
Rosneft, like its government owners, has been laid low by tumbling oil prices and international tensions in recent years and is worth a fraction of its former value.
Glencore and the Qatar Investment Authority have taken a 19.5pc stake in the firm for €10.5bn (£8.9bn). Rosneft was worth $80bn when it floated a minority stake in 2006.”
The Kremlin has announced that commodities trader Glencore and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund are together buying a 19.5% stake in Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil company.
“It is the largest privatisation deal, the largest sale and acquisition in the global oil and gas sector in 2016,” President Vladimir Putin said.
The surprise move sees Glencore and Qatar paying $11.3bn for the stake in Rosneft, where BP already owns 19.75%.
Moscow will keep the controlling stake.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc signed an agreement to assess three of Iran’s largest oil and gas fields as OPEC’s third-biggest producer looks to boost output with the help of international companies.
Shell signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate the Azadegan and Yadavaran oil fields near the Iraqi border, and the Kish gas deposit in the Persian Gulf, Gholam-Reza Manouchehri, deputy director of the National Iranian Oil Co., said at a signing ceremony in Tehran on Wednesday.
“We’re happy to resume working in Iran,” Hans Nijkamp, Shell’s vice president for Iran, said at the ceremony. “We are hoping to have a fruitful cooperation with NIOC on these fields.”
Royal Dutch Shell signed a provisional agreement on Wednesday to develop Iranian oil and gas fields, an Iranian official said, the first deal by the world’s second biggest listed oil firm in Iran since sanctions were lifted.
The Anglo-Dutch company confirmed it had signed a memorandum of understanding with National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) on Wednesday “to further explore areas of potential cooperation”, declining to give further details.
Analysts said the agreement underscored major oil companies’ willingness to keep doing business with Iran despite the risk that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump could scrap the nuclear deal that ended the sanctions earlier this year.
German energy suppliers can claim compensation over the country’s phasing out of nuclear power by 2022, a court has ruled.
Judges did not agree with power plant operators that the shutdown, ordered after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, was an “expropriation” of their assets.
But they ruled the government should agree a deal to compensate the firms.
The phasing out of nuclear power is a flagship policy of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.
The owner of Britain’s energy network is gearing up to buy more power from suppliers to ensure the country’s lights stay on, with polluting diesel generators among the providers vying for contracts.
The National Grid needs back-up electricity sources that kick in when, for instance, demand is high but the weather is not breezy enough to power wind farms. It secures this back-up power through the annual capacity market auction that begins on Tuesday and will see controversial “diesel farms” taking part.
Spillovers from other policies “muddy the waters” around the capacity market, adding to uncertainty and undermining investment, management consultancy firm Baringa Partners has warned.
Government policy must be much better integrated if the mechanism is to achieve its aims of securing Britain’s electricity supply.
“Right now, there is a limit to what the capacity auction can achieve,” said Baringa energy retail and networks partner Phil Grant. “Regulation, incentives and subsidies flowing from other policy frameworks muddy the waters, creating risk and undermining investment opportunities.”
Mercom Capital Group, llc, a global clean energy communications and consulting firm, forecasts global solar installations to reach 76 GW in 2016. Solar installations to hit 70 GW in 2017.
“Global solar demand will overshoot most forecasts made earlier this year due to an unprecedented level of activity in China,” said Raj Prabhu, CEO and Co-Founder of Mercom Capital Group. “Record installations in China followed by a slowdown resulted in an oversupply situation, which led to a module price crash. Low module prices are helping demand recovery going into 2017.”
The world’s largest cold energy storage plant is being commissioned at a site near Manchester.
The cryogenic energy facility stores power from renewables or off-peak generation by chilling air into liquid form.
When the liquid air warms up it expands and can drive a turbine to make electricity.
The 5MW plant near Manchester can power up to 5,000 homes for around three hours.
National Grid has agreed to sell a majority stake in its gas pipe network to a group of investors.
The UK’s power network operator said it would sell a 61% stake in the distribution business in a deal that values the division at about £13.8bn.
The consortium of investors is led by Australian asset managers Macquarie, with backing from Qatari and Chinese state investors.
National Grid will return £4bn to shareholders after the deal.
The auction for the gas network has been running for at least a year and saw the Macquarie consortium fight off a raft of competitors, including a team led by Chinese investors.
The switch to renewables in Germany is saving money and creating jobs, according to a new economic analysis by the international consulting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC). The report finds that the German government’s 2015-2020 climate action plan and energy efficiency measures will save about 149 billion euros.
Research that appeared last month in Earth Systems Science Data suggested that global carbon dioxide emissions will be growing slowly, thanks in part to reduction moves by China and the United States. Several research projects have that a downturn in the use of fossil fuels in the United States that would come from switches to renewable energy could save U.S. consumers money, but coal’s not dead yet. President-Elect Donald Trump insisted during the campaign season that supporting the U.S. coal industry will help the economy and create jobs. Meanwhile, India plans to double coal production by 2020.
Political leaders in the Western Isles have accused the UK government of a “betrayal” over plans to curb subsidies for new wind farms.
Two major schemes, which already have planning consent, are expected to result in a £1bn investment in Lewis.
But last month the developments were frozen out of the latest round of subsidies for renewable energy.
The UK government said it was committed to renewable energy with £13bn invested in UK projects last year.
Wind projects in Orkney and Shetland have also been put on hold.
The United States endures more blackouts than any other developed nation as the number of U.S. power outages lasting more than an hour have increased steadily for the past decade, according to federal databases at the Department of Energy (DOE) and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC).
According to federal data, the U.S. electric grid loses power 285 percent more often than in 1984, when the data collection effort on blackouts began. That’s costing American businesses as much as $150 billion per year, the DOE reported, with weather-related disruptions costing the most per event.
Ohio State University: Researchers: Climate change likely caused deadly 2016 avalanche in Tibet
COLUMBUS, Ohio—With a deadly avalanche, it appears climate change may now be affecting a once stable region of the Tibetan Plateau.
That’s the conclusion of an international team of researchers who have published an analysis of the July 2016 disaster in the Dec. 9 issue of the Journal of Glaciology.
On July 17, more than 70 million tons of ice broke off from the Aru glacier in the mountains of western Tibet and tumbled into a valley below, taking the lives of nine nomadic yak herders living there.
The most important fact about the avalanche, said Thompson, is that it lasted only four or five minutes (according to witnesses), yet it managed to bury 3.7 square miles of the valley floor in that time. He said something—likely meltwater at the base of the glacier—must have lubricated the ice to speed its flow down the mountain.