by Roger Andrews
A Kurdish tanker loaded with $100 million worth of oil vanished off Texas’ coast Thursday. Radar systems showed no signs of the United Kalavrvta cargo ship, which has been at the center of a long legal battle between Iraq’s government and the country’s Kurdish region. The ship, which was 95% full and carrying 1 million barrels of disputed crude, was on its way to Galveston when it mysteriously went dark Thursday night. Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan each claim the oil on board as its own.
It’s common for ships carrying disputed crude to go dark while they offload shipments. Without functioning transponders, the ships’ movements are hard to track. Earlier this week, a partially full tanker carrying Kurdish crude disappeared from satellite tracking north of Egypt. It reappeared empty two days later near Israel.
The United Kalavrvta heads for radar-free waters
~20 more stories below the fold:
Now with lucky thirteen more added by Euan at 6pm UK time
CBC: Ukraine seeks NATO membership to gain Western military aid
Ukraine called on Friday for full membership in NATO, its strongest plea yet for Western military help after accusing Russia of sending in armoured columns that have driven back its forces on behalf of pro-Moscow rebels. Russian President Vladimir Putin, defiant as ever, compared Kyiv’s drive to regain control of its rebellious eastern cities to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in the Second World War.
International Business Times: Vladimir Putin Punishing McDonald’s Over West’s Ukraine Sanctions?
Russian authorities have now temporarily shut down twelve McDonald’s restaurants in the country and are investigating a hundred others over health concerns. Four more were shuttered over allegations that Russian health and safety rules have been breached, something US fast food chain McDonald’s denies. There are 440 McDonald’s restaurants in Russia. The closures and investigations come amid a tit-for-tat sanctions battle between the West and Russia over the latter’s interference in Ukraine.
Alistair Darling’s poor performance in Monday’s TV debate has given a huge boost to Alex Salmond’s campaign for Scottish independence, a poll revealed last night. The debate has been a disaster for the No campaign, which has seen its lead narrow sharply.
Royal Dutch Shell submitted a plan to the federal government on Thursday to try once again to explore for oil in the Alaskan Arctic, following years of legal and logistical setbacks as well as dogged opposition from environmentalists. While the plan is just a first step in the process, it reflects the energy potential in the Arctic. Shell’s proposed programs consist of two drilling rigs working simultaneously in the Chukchi Sea, which could produce more than 400,000 barrels of oil a day.
At ONS 2014 Wood Mackenzie releases its latest upstream estimates revealing that Norway has 10 billion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) of discovered natural resources yet to be developed. Despite being at different stages of evaluation, facing intense investor scrutiny and considerable technical and commercial challenges, Wood Mackenzie says over 60% of the resources could be commercialised – potentially adding US$106 billion (NKr 649 billion) to the country’s oil and gas industry revenues.
Natural Gas Intel: U.S. Natural Gas Production Hit 87.08 Bcf/d in June, EIA Says
U.S. natural gas production hit 87.08 Bcf/d in June, a 0.5% increase from 86.63 Bcf/d in May and a whopping 6.9% (5.61 Bcf/d) more than in June 2013, according to the latest Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production Report issued Friday by the Energy Information Administration.
Al-Monitor: Iraq and Libya spark oil production fears
The world fears an oil crisis will occur if the security situation in oil-producing countries does not improve, especially in Iraq and Libya, two prominent producing countries. Everyone is concerned and is expecting the suspension of the Iraqi oil supply at any time now. If an Iraqi oil disaster occurs — especially if production allocated for export is halted — oil prices will easily hit an average of $130 per barrel and will only cease to fluctuate when Iraq regains calm and stability.
Energy Collective: The Catch-22 of Energy Storage
Several recent analyses of the inputs to our energy systems indicate that, against expectations, energy storage cannot solve the problem of intermittency of wind or solar power. Not for reasons of technical performance, cost, or storage capacity, but for something more intractable: there is not enough surplus energy left over after construction of the generators and the storage system to power our present civilization.
In its third annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report, the International Energy Agency has scaled back its predictions for renewable growth citing policy uncertainty as a major hindrance to the industry. The report predicts that growth could be around 45% by 2020, though it would appear the industry may stagnate after 2014. This would keep the industry from meeting necessary goals to combat climate change.
Australia should weaken or phase out its renewable-energy target in favor of a lower-cost approach to cutting greenhouse-gas emissions, a panel appointed to review the plan recommended. The government should close the program to new entrants while protecting current investment until 2030, or scale it back to 20 percent of electricity generation as originally intended, according to the review led by Dick Warburton and released today. Scrapping the small-scale renewable energy target, including subsidizing solar panels on rooftops, should be considered, it said.
New coal power stations designed to burn Europe’s massive deposits of lignite pose a serious threat to the continent’s decarbonisation efforts, according to figures released on Wednesday. Analysts from Greenpeace’s Energydesk compiled data from the German government that shows burning Europe’s reserves of lignite would wipe out the EU’s entire carbon budget from 2020 until the end of the century. Greenpeace said that if Europe is to continue to play its part in keeping the world within the internationally accepted limit of 2C of warming, 90% of the carbon contained in its lignite reserves must remain buried.
Transportation continues to generate a large proportion of emissions worldwide, even as emissions from other areas of the economy fall. In the EU, transport accounts for around 30% of CO2emissions, and is rising. It’s the transport sector that is set to derail the EU’s overall emission reduction objectives. Globally, the number of cars is expected to double by 2035, and the air travel industry is expecting its passenger volumes to triple by 2050, yet there has been little political acknowledgement of this issue.
Californians already pay the nation’s second highest gas tax at 68 cents a gallon — and now it will go up again in January to pay for a first-in-the-nation climate change law.
“I didn’t know that,” said Los Angeles motorist Tyler Rich. “It’s ridiculous.”
Carbon Brief: The trouble with Europe’s ageing nuclear power plants
Four of Britain’s nuclear reactors were taken offline due to unexpected faults earlier this month. As nuclear plants are prone to breaking with age, a new report warns network operators across the world should be braced for more of the same. Britain is by no means a special case. Most of the EU’s 211 operational nuclear plants were built in the 1970s and 1980s and were designed to last around 40 years, so many are due to close. But with the EU committed to decarbonising its energy sector, and nuclear power able to act as a low carbon source providing electricity around the clock, policymakers face a choice: either spend billions eking out a few extra years of generation, or close the plants and build potentially expensive replacements.
The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014 suggests that without swift measures, nuclear power in Europe could be entering its twilight years. It warns that unless policymakers make immediate plans to replace ageing plants, by the mid-2050s, nuclear power across the globe could become a thing of the past.
Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) will decide next month whether the lifetime of the country’s oldest nuclear reactor, Wylfa 1, can be extended, a spokesman told Reuters on Wednesday.The Wylfa 1 nuclear power reactor in Wales is 43 years old. It is scheduled to shut down at the end of September but its owner Magnox Limited has submitted an application to the ONR to prolong operations to December 2015.
The poll shows that 68 percent of Democrats believe that global climate change is a major threat to the United States, compared to just 25 percent of Republicans. In contrast, 65 percent of Democrats believe that ISIS is a major threat, three points less than climate change. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans cited ISIS as a major threat -+ a partisan difference of 13 points.
In the 1950’s the US averaged about one major hurricane strike per year. Now we average zero per year.
The snow-capped southern peak of Lapland’s Kebnekaise, in the Scandinavian Mountains, reaches 2,097.5 meters (6,881.6 feet) above sea level, making it the highest point in Sweden. But not for long. The 40-meter-thick glacier on top of it has been shrinking, on average, a meter a year for the past two decades. In 1901, when the southern peak was first measured, its elevation was 2,121 meters. By next year, scientists at the University of Stockholm predict, Kebnekaise’s northern peak—which is solid rock—will likely become the tallest spot in the country.
The culprit? Climate change.
Starting in spring of 2015, Bellini plans to find a suitable iceberg in the northwest region of Greenland, where he will remain for up to a year as it slowly melts. Provisioned with with 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of dried food, Bellini will shelter in a survival capsule, the Kevlar-reinforced kind used for ocean oil rigs, until it becomes too risky — at which point he will take to the sea in the capsule, floating adrift until he is rescued.
Reuters: A solution to the longstanding mystery of why rocks move erratically across an isolated patch of California’s Death Valley finally emerged on Thursday, when researchers published a study showing the driving force was sheets of wind-driven ice.
How accurate are our national climate datasets when some adjustments turn entire long stable records from cooling trends to warming ones (or visa versa)? Do the headlines of “hottest ever record” (reported to a tenth of a degree) mean much if thermometer data sometimes needs to be dramatically changed 60 years after being recorded? One of the most extreme examples is a thermometer station in Amberley, Queensland where a cooling trend in minima of 1C per century has been homogenized and become a warming trend of 2.5C per century.
Long dependent on foreign resources to meet its oil and gas needs, Italy has found itself on especially precarious footing over the last three years as disruptions continue to threaten output in two of its largest energy providers.
Britain’s oil industry is facing the threat of a cascade of North Sea rig closures, unless ageing platforms can urgently source more gas to help squeeze out the remaining barrels. The potential threat to oil revenues looms as Scotland prepares to vote in September’s independence referendum — a debate in which oil production forecasts have become a political football.
US officials say Egypt and the UAE were behind air strikes in Libya last week that targeted Islamist-linked militia. A senior US official told the BBC that Washington was not consulted about the attacks and was “caught off-guard”. The air strikes on militia positions around Tripoli’s international airport were reportedly carried out by Emirati fighter jets using bases in Egypt. The Egyptian authorities have denied involvement, and there has been no direct comment from the UAE.
In March 2007, the E.U. adopted climate and energy goals for 2010 to 2020. The 27 member countries set a goal of reducing carbon emissions 20 percent by 2020 and increasing renewables to 20 percent of their energy portfolio. Unfortunately, they underestimated the carbon intensity of burning wood (a.k.a. “biomass”) for electricity, and they categorized wood as a renewable fuel. The result: E.U. countries with smaller renewable sectors turned to wood to replace coal. Governments provided incentives for energy utilities to make that switch. Now, with a bunch of new European wood-burning power plants having come online, Europeans need wood to feed the beast. But most European countries don’t have a lot of available forest left to cut down. So they’re importing our forests, especially from the South.
U.S. oil major Chevron is struggling to lock-in 20-year sales contracts for its Gorgon liquefied natural gas (LNG) export plant in Australia, the world’s most expensive, as buyers spoiled for choice by new suppliers hold out for cheaper deals. The high level of unsold LNG shows how the U.S. shale gas boom has played havoc with major investments now coming to fruition in Australia, and threatens to undermine the industry’s traditional sales model where projects tie up forward sales in long-term contracts.
Power Engineering International: Belgium braces for power cuts
The Belgian government is making contingency plans as the impact of the closure of half its nuclear capacity looks set to see the imposition of planned power cuts this winter. Vessels enclosing the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear reactors were found to be suffering from micro fractures which led to their closure earlier this year. However another blow was suffered just a fortnight ago when Doel 4 plant was shut due to an oil leak, believed to have been caused by sabotage. All three plants are likely to remain out of action until the end of the year, and it has led Belgium’s parliament to hold a special session to discuss the situation. It has commissioned the national crisis centre to set out possible scenarios in case of a power shortage this winter.
The impact of the Marcellus shale formation on domestic natural gas supply is difficult to overstate. The speed and volume in developing this formation is astonishing. In 2007, Marcellus supplied only 2 percent of domestic supply in the U.S. By the end of 2013 it accounted for nearly 20 percent of total supply. The EIA predicts the formation will produce an average of 15.9 billion cubic feet of gas per day in September, nearly a quarter of all U.S. production. If Marcellus had one constant trait, it would be that it has continued to prove ‘experts’ wrong or extremely conservative in their projections of the formation’s output.
Faced with severe air pollution from coal and a rising dependence on energy imports, China has been eager to follow the United States by rapidly increasing natural gas output. Replacing coal with natural gas has also been central to Beijing’s hopes to limit emissions of global warming gases in China, the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide by a wide margin. But China’s ability to extract sufficient natural gas is in serious doubt. Despite heavy investment and strong government support, China’s natural gas production is growing at a slower pace than its decelerating economy. China’s production of natural gas increased just 6 percent last year and 4.4 percent in 2012. China’s main problem is that shale gas production has fallen far short of expectations. That has left the country relying on alternative methods considered also-rans by American standards, like pumping natural gas from coal fields.
Arabian Business: Saudi Aramco to invest $400bn to keep oil production steady
Saudi Aramco has announced plans to invest $40 billion a year over the next decade to keep oil production capacity steady and double gas production. President and CEO of the world’s largest oil producer, Khalid Al Falih, said the company expected an increase in capital for offshore projects, according to Arab News. Speaking at a conference in Stavanger, Norway, Al Falih said rising costs across the sector would underpin oil prices, which fell to a 14-month low of $101.07 last week as global demand growth weakened despite an increase in production in several locations creating an oil glut.
The Government misled consumers by implying they would save money if they signed up to its flagship energy efficiency scheme, the Green Deal, the advertising watchdog has ruled. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) also made unsubstantiated claims that green home improvements could boost house prices by as much as 38 per cent, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has found.
Essex Chronicle: Chinese plans for Bradwell power station could be “catastrophic”
Chinese nuclear power giants are homing in on Bradwell as the location for their first UK atomic plant. Asian corporations are understood to have chosen the Dengie, from a shortlist of locations, for a 3,000-megawatt station sitting beside the partly-decommissioned Magnox plant. The latest development has further divided opinions on the nuclear question in the district, leaving councillors hopeful but environmentalists fearing “catastrophic” consequences for Essex. “I think it’s outrageous that we entertain the idea of massive Chinese investment into nuclear energy picking on a site that is clearly unacceptable,” said Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) chairman Professor Andrew Blowers. “It makes no sense.”
Alex Salmond’s economic policies based on North Sea oil revenues being able to support an independent Scotland have been attacked by Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury. His critique comes as HMRC figures released yesterday show that revenues from North Sea oil and gas have fallen significantly to £4.7bn in 2013-14, down from £6.1bn the previous year. “These figures are another body blow to Alex Salmond’s credibility on the economy and public services,” said Mr Alexander. “They add to the overwhelming evidence that Scotland can better afford the quality public services it deserves by staying as part of the UK, and not by separating. Mr Salmond is guilty of promising the Earth, but not having the oil and tax revenues to pay for it.”