A crazy set of stories this week: the evolving and confusing situation in Iraq; the Ukraine – Russia – Europe gas crisis that is hand made in Ukraine; global warming doctrine continues to unravel; the fantasy worlds of UK and European energy policies and regulation. 39 stories in total this week, posted Sunday evening and updated on Monday morning.
Readers’ attention is drawn to Luis’ commentary on Iraq below the fold:
One of the reasons floated by the US media for this hesitation is a lack of intelligence regarding the geographic lay out of the Sunni command hierarchy. Quite ironic, one year after Edward Snowden’s revelations – it seems the US has wired the whole world, except for those that really matter wiring.
Ukraine cut off, Europe not?: Russia cuts off gas to Ukraine as Kiev orders border secured
Russia cut off gas to Ukraine on Monday in a dispute over unpaid bills that could disrupt supplies to the rest of Europe and set back hopes for peace between the former Soviet neighbours.
After the weekend loss of 49 troops when pro-Russian rebels shot down a military transport plane, Ukraine’s new president ordered his forces to retake full control of their border with Russia – saying this could then pave the way for negotiations.
Fundamental magnetism: Swarm reveals Earth’s changing magnetism
The first set of high-resolution results from ESA’s three-satellite Swarm constellation reveals the most recent changes in the magnetic field that protects our planet. Launched in November 2013, Swarm is providing unprecedented insights into the complex workings of Earth’s magnetic field, which safeguards us from the bombarding cosmic radiation and charged particles. Measurements made over the past six months confirm the general trend of the field’s weakening, with the most dramatic declines over the Western Hemisphere.
[Earth, without a magnetic field, would be stripped of its atmosphere by the solar wind, like Mars.]
As many sources, including HH Lamb, have pointed out, back in the Bronze Age around 2000BC, the climate in the Alps was much warmer than now.
It is therefore no surprise to find direct evidence of this from geologist Dr. Christian Schlüchter, Professor emeritus at the University of Bern in Switzerland.
Dr. Christian Schlüchter’s discovery of 4,000-year-old chunks of wood at the leading edge of a Swiss glacier was clearly not cheered by many members of the global warming doom-and-gloom science orthodoxy.
High cost of energy in Scotland: Regulator Ofgem examining fuel costs on Western Isles
Ofgem is investigating the cost and availability of electricity and gas in the Western Isles.
Philip Cullum from the energy regulator met with representatives from Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and the Hebridean Housing Partnership in Stornoway.
Ofgem said it wants to understand the level of fuel poverty on the islands.
Fiddling statistics: The scandal of fiddled global warming data
When future generations try to understand how the world got carried away around the end of the 20th century by the panic over global warming, few things will amaze them more than the part played in stoking up the scare by the fiddling of official temperature data.
Rebranding: Group set up to cut carbon is rebranded
THE business group set up to help Scotland meet its carbon reduction targets by the end of the decade has marked 2020 days to go until 2020 by launching a new brand identity.
UK coal mines closing: Employee buyout considered for last UK mines
The UK government is investigating new possibilities to address the future of the country’s last remaining deep-pit coal mines after a closure programme was cancelled due to an investor pulling out.
According to Energy Minister Michael Fallon, the government is still prepared to lend £10m to UK Coal to manage closure of two mines in Kellingley, North Yorkshire, and Thoresby, Nottingamshire, despite Hargreaves, one of the private backers and landlord of the two mines, withdrawing from the project last week.
Wish they would investigate the banks too: Ofgem to announce largest ever energy market probe
Ofgem is set to announce the largest ever investigation into the energy market, which could result in the break-up of the Big Six.
An 18-month probe into claims British Gas, SSE, Npower, EDF, Scottish Power and E.ON may be making excess profits and ripping off loyal customers is expected be launched by the Competition and Markets Authority.
Too many law makers in Europe: EU-bombe under dansk energistøtte
EU-Kommissionen mener, at den danske energistøtte via PSO-ordningen er ulovlig. Meldingen lander som en granat midt i Vækstpakke-forhandlingerne, hvor PSO-milliarder spiller en afgørende rolle.
[In Danish: The EU Commission has found that the Danish energy subsidy called “PSO” is unlawful. The finding has landed like a grenade in the middle of the growth package negotiations where the PSO billions play a deciding role.]
Iraq exodus: British oil giants start to pull staff out of Iraq
British oil majors are beginning to pull workers out of Iraq as the battle between Sunni-Muslim Islamists and government forces north of Baghdad intensifies.
Fact or fantasy from UK government?: Securing electricity supply
With the World Cup kicking off this week, energy demand is at its greatest, and it’s worth reflecting on the fact that the UK’s energy security doesn’t happen by accident.
The planning is meticulous, because our modern lives revolve around the use of energy.
Since the 1970s we have grown used to uninterrupted supplies of power and we haven’t had a supply shortage for decades. The UK is rated among the most energy secure countries in the world and according to the US Chambers of Commerce, Britain is more energy secure than any other EU country – and more secure than the US, China, Japan, Australia, Canada, Russia.
[I’ve not read all of this UK Gov. article but there seems to be a flight of fantasy involved.]
More expensive unreliable energy: Government gives green light to offshore wind farm, supporting almost 2,900 jobs
The East Anglia One offshore wind farm that is expected to support almost 2,900 jobs and bring over £520 million of investment into the UK’s economy has today been given consent from the government to go ahead.
China – good at making consumer goods, untried on capital projects: Multimillion boost to UK economy as China and UK government sign civil nuclear agreement and sign agreement to deepen cooperation on climate change
The UK and Chinese governments have signed a civil nuclear agreement that could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to British companies over several years.
A separate landmark agreement also confirms that Chinese companies could own and operate a Chinese designed nuclear power station, provided they meet the stringent requirements of the UK’s independent regulator. Investing in nuclear will both diversify the energy mixes of both countries while playing a role in tackling climate change.
[Those who read my China coal monster article may recall that China currently has an immature nuclear industry.]
A Chinese gamble?: China signs £14bn trade deals with UK amid Premier’s visit
China says it wants to back major UK infrastructure projects and has signed £14bn in trade deals.
The news comes on the first full day of a visit by its leader.
The BBC understands the projects the state-owned China Development Bank (CDB) wants to invest in include High Speed 2 and the next generation of nuclear power stations.
Scottish food and drink firms who power their business through renewable energy will be featured at this year’s Royal Highland Show.
The “Made in Scotland from Renewables” highlights companies who use green energy to produce their products.
Doublethinking?: Government works to ensure UK energy security
Sir, Your editorial and Lombard column (“Britain is at risk of an electric shock” and “National Grid trials the app that passeth all understanding”, June 10) failed to give your readers the full picture on Britain’s future energy security.
From day one, this government has been tackling and turning around the legacy of under-investment and neglect in our power generation, with the greatest reform of the sector in a generation to ensure that as old plants close, new ones take their place. The bottom line is that we are “rewriting the rules” to spur investment, including through a capacity market that will protect security of supply.
[This needs to be checked out. I’m pretty sure the UK has seen massive investment of CCGTs in past decade.]
Estimating the economic value of energy transmission is difficult because investments in transmission capacity are endogenous to market conditions. This column presents recent research that takes advantage of a natural experiment to generate a credible counterfactual. The unexpected closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in California increased generation costs by $350 million per year; it also led to increased carbon emissions worth $320 million annually.
King coal and policy failure: Coal’s share of energy market at highest level since 1970
Coal has reached its highest market share of global energy consumption for more than 40 years, figures reveal, despite fears that its high carbon emissions make it a prime cause of climate change.
The use of coal for power generation and other purposes grew by 3% in 2013 – faster than any other fossil fuel – while its share of the market breached 30% for the first time since 1970, the BP Statistical Review reports.
Pipeline blast: Major Ukraine gas pipeline hit by blast
A major pipeline in Ukraine carrying gas from Russia to the rest of Europe has been hit by a blast.
Flames could be seen erupting from the Urengoy-Pomary-Uzhgorod Pipeline in central Ukraine. No one was reported injured by the explosion.
It is not clear what caused the blast. European and Russian companies said gas exports to the EU were not affected.
South stream confusion: EU gives Gazprom preliminary ‘OK’ for South Stream gas pipeline
Countries hosting Gazprom’s European super pipeline will not have to revise earlier agreements that technically break EU law. Russia and the EU have agreed on further cooperation on a route that will satisfy Europe with 15% of natural gas needs by 2018.
Gunther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Energy, told Vedomosti newspaper that Moscow and Brussels will find a solution to honor previous intergovernmental agreements Gazprom has made with European transit countries. Oettinger met with Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak in Moscow on January 17, and the two agreed to create a commission to address technical and legal details of the gas pipeline, which will stretch 2400 km, and by 2018 will have the capacity to deliver 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe.
[Dated Jan 2014: background to European response to Russia. HT Roger Andrews.]
South stream confusion: Barroso warns Bulgaria on South Stream
Speaking after the EU summit held yesterday (27 May), Commission President José Manuel Barroso made it plain that the EU executive would impose infringements on Bulgaria regarding the Gazprom-favoured South Stream pipeline, the construction of which is about to begin in breach with EU laws.
[Dated May 2014: background to European response to Russia. HT Roger Andrews.]
Iraq confusion: The sectarian myth of Iraq
Tony Blair has been widely derided for his attempted justification of the 2003 Iraq invasion, and his claim last weekend that he’s blameless over the current turmoil. Unfortunately, though, many of his critics have also bought into a central plank of his argument: that Iraqi society is no more than a motley collection of religions and ethnicities which have been waiting for decades, if not centuries, to slaughter each other and plunge the place into a bloodbath.
[HT Phil Harris.]
Russian nuclear power – they have experience: Sberbank to Lend $1.1 Billion to Slovakia’s Largest Power Company
Russian Sberbank will provide a loan of €870 million to Slovakia’s dominant power producer Slovenské Elektrárne (SE), for 7.5 years. The money would go for the purchase of nuclear fuel and the completion of two 440 MW reactors at the Mochovce nuclear power plant.
[Registration / paywall: HT Syndroma]
European refinery woes: Flood of Russian diesel inflicts pain on European refiners
Europe’s hard-hit refiners are about to suffer further pain. A sharp rise in Russian refining volumes has sent exports of diesel fuel to fresh highs, creating a supply glut that threatens to inflict heavy losses on European plants.
Iran – the new best friend of America: US weighs alliance with Iran to counter ISIS, boosts presence in Gulf
The Obama administration reportedly is preparing to open direct talks with Iran on possibly cooperating to counter the Sunni militant force seizing large swaths of Iraq and threatening Baghdad, weighing an unlikely alliance in the face of a common foe.
[HT Roger Andrews]
My selection of stories posted by Luis de Sousa At The Edge of Time. Luis writes:
ISIL still tops the energy news this week as it consolidates and expands its gains in Iraq. It now controls most of the territory between the Tigris and the Euphrates, including the petroleum reserves underground. The impact ISIL is having on Iraq’s total petroleum extraction – and most importantly exports – is largely unknown, as the advances of ISIL once again mean the western media left cut off. Contradictory reports flew throughout the week about who controls important cities such as Baiji and Tal Afar.
The US confirmed its intentions to fend off the advance of Sunni factions, but naturally nothing was said of the support it has been lending to jihadists in the region. But if coming, these are still small steps, no relevant military actions are foreseen in the short term. One of the reasons floated by the US media for this hesitation is a lack of intelligence regarding the geographic lay out of the Sunni command hierarchy. Quite ironic, one year after Edward Snowden’s revelations – it seems the US has wired the whole world, except for those that really matter wiring.
On the field there are now reports of shortages of refined products; the impacts of this war are definitly coming.
Iraq exports under pressure from ISIS: Dwindling oil reserves in Baghdad lead to soaring prices worldwide
Iraq’s crude exports had helped to keep global petrol prices from rising, but the Isis advance has driven prices past $114 a barrel.
Iraq oil refinery attacked: ISIS attacks Iraq’s Baiji oil refinery
Militants have attacked Iraq’s largest oil refinery. The governments of multiple countries have reported missing citizens and vowed to do everything they can to protect national interests within Iraq.
Iraq – America helps all sides: Blowback! U.S. trained ISIS at secret Jordan base
Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.
The officials said dozens of ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.
Iraqis bet on ISIS: Life Under ISIS: Iraqis Return to Mosul, Seeing Militants As Safer Bet
Five days after fleeing Mosul in northern Iraq, Ahmed says he’s now more nervous than ever.
But it’s not the Al Qaeda-inspired extremists who took over his hometown that have him worried. No, he’s scared of what his own military might do next.
OPEC shows its hand: OPEC can’t act alone, minister says
Maintaining stable global oil market conditions isn’t something the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries can do alone, a top delegate said Wednesday.
OPEC members met Wednesday in Vienna for a regular conference. Acting Libyan Oil Minister Omar Ali El Shakmak, serving as conference chairman, told delegates market stability was the top focus of member states.
OPEC under pressure: Angola’s oil output drops to 1.6 million b/d: minister
Angola’s oil production has fallen to 1.6 million b/d, oil minister Jose Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos said Wednesday, making it increasingly unlikely that Africa’s second-biggest producer will reach its output target of 2 million b/d next year.
Ukraine – cold winter looms: Russia to stop gas to Ukraine, rejects EU proposal
Russian firm Gazprom is stopping gas supplies to Ukraine after talks on a new price broke down in the small hours of Monday (16 June).
It said in a statement published at 10am Moscow time – its deadline for Ukraine to pay almost $2 billion of old debt – that it is switching to “prepayment for gas supplies … Starting today, the Ukrainian company will only get the Russian gas it has paid for”.
Ukraine – Russia fights back: Putin’s aide proposes anti-dollar alliance to force US to end Ukraine’s civil war
Sergey Glazyev, the economic aide of Vladimir Putin, published an article outlining a plan for “undermining the economic strength of the US” in order to force Washington to stop the civil war in Ukraine. Glazyev believes that the only way of making the US give up its plans on starting a new cold war is to crash the dollar system.
Thorium to the rescue?: Thorium: Energy Savior or Red Herring?
Have you ever heard of Admiral Rickover? Fans of “The Hunt for Red October,” the 1990 thriller starring Sean Connery as a rogue Russian submarine captain, may know that Rickover is the U.S. admiral responsible for creating the world’s first nuclear-powered sub.
Considered “The Father of the Nuclear Navy,” Hyman G. Rickover moved up the ranks during the World War II, and then afterwards was tasked with developing a system of naval nuclear propulsion while working for the Atomic Energy Commission – an agency whose role, ironically, was to work out how atomic energy could be used for civilian purposes rather than military ones.
Blackouts – Egypt leads the way: Egypt’s blackouts are here to stay
Pumped through a pipeline from al-Arish to Ashkelon, this transfer of cheap energy symbolised the tight economic, political and military partnership between the Egyptian and Israeli leadership. EMG, the company behind the gas transfer, was fronted by former agents from Mossad and Egyptian intelligence, Yossi Maiman and Hussein Salem. During the 2000s, they exploited their close relationships with the Israeli and Egyptian regimes to negotiate immensely profitable deals.
The last week on Master Resource:
Ohio backs off: Ohio’s Win, AWEA’s Loss (Rep-Elect Vitale new national hero)
“Gov. Kasich has walked away from his commitment to renewable energy. He and the Legislature are creating an unfriendly business environment in Ohio. Legislators rammed through restrictive rules without due process, and millions of dollars already invested based on the previous set of rules may now be lost without any public debate. This will force clean energy developers and manufacturers to move to neighboring states with similar resources and friendlier business climates.”
Lessons from Enron: Ex-Im Bank Cronyism: Remember Enron’s Bad Investments
“Enron was a political colossus with a unique range of rent-seeking and subsidy-receiving operations. Ken Lay’s announced visions for the company—to become the world’s first natural-gas major, then the world’s leading energy company, and, finally, the world’s leading company—relied on more than free-market entrepreneurship. They were premised on employing political means to catch up with, and outdistance, far larger and more-established corporations.”
Transparency on climate: Fighting Executive Fiat on Climate
“EPA’s actions routinely violate the Information Quality Act…. The closed circle of well-paid ‘peer reviewers’ employed by EPA, coupled with its close relationships with numerous Big Green environmentalist pressure groups, hardly satisfies [IQA] requirements. Worse, EPA consistently drags its feet on responses to FOIA requests….”
The Alliance for Wise Energy Decisions (AWED) is an informal coalition of individuals and organizations interested in improving energy & environmental policies. Our basic position is that technical matters like these should be addressed by using Real Science. It’s all spelled out at WiseEnergy.org, which has a wealth of energy and environmental resources.