Blowout week 37

The focus this week is on Scotland in advance of the independence vote, beginning with the latest research from the University of Aberdeen:

Energy Voice:  Scottish independence: expert predicts North Sea oil bonanza

Alex Kemp, from the University of Aberdeen, has used detailed financial modelling to set out “commercially viable” projects for the industry following the Wood Review. Prof Kemp argues the 99 finds could be made by 2045, and also outlines an additional 58 which he says will be “uneconomic” by 2050 but could become viable as a result of technological improvements. He further points out 147 already discovered fields which are not yet at the detailed planning stage and 25 fields currently “being assessed” for development.

~20 more stories below the fold

Now with seven more added by Euan Mearns:

Telegraph:  Scottish people being misled over oil and gas reserves

Oil and gas industry expert Sir Ian Wood accuses Scottish nationalists of using overly optimistic figures on North Sea oil reserves which he dismissed as “highly speculative or even fantasy”. (He) warned there are only 15 years of reserves left before the industry’s decline starts wreaking major damage on the Scottish economy. Sir Ian spoke out against the pro-Scottish independence campaign’s reports of an additional 21 billion barrels of oil in the North Sea from unconventional shale resources.

Bloomberg:  Pound Seen Tumbling Up to 10% on Scottish Yes Vote

The pound, already suffering its worst month in more than a year, has the potential to tumble 10 percent should the Scots vote for independence from the U.K., according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. A victory by Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond’s Yes campaign would mean a 5 percent to 10 percent slide versus the dollar within a month, said 61 percent of the 31 respondents polled by Bloomberg Sept. 5-11.

BBC:  Scots’ Yes vote may cut English and Welsh energy bills

The UK government claims independence would see Scottish bills soar to pay for renewable energy projects. The SNP rejects this and has promised a 5% cut in bills if Scotland votes Yes. According to an analysis published by Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey in April, Scotland would need to meet the full cost of subsidies for the renewable energy schemes currently under construction there. Mr Davey claimed this would add hundreds of pounds to annual household energy bills in an independent Scotland.

Reuters:  Polls put Scottish unionists a nose ahead as vote approaches

A YouGov survey for The Times put Scottish unionists on 52 percent with separatists on 48 percent while a Guardian/ICM poll put unionists on 51 percent and separatists on 49 percent, excluding those who said they did not know how they would vote.

CNBC:  Ukraine vows return to union with Crimea

As the European Union announced a fresh wave of sanctions against Moscow, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko vowed Friday to reunite the Russian-held region of Crimea with the rest of the country. The annexation of Crimea, which sparked a diplomatic crisis with the West, will be reversed not by military force, but by an “economic and democratic petition” Poroshenko declared.

Reuters:  Ukraine to use U.S. nuclear fuel to cut dependence on Russia

Ukraine plans to use U.S fuel for some nuclear power generation from 2015 and seek non-Russian investors for development projects in a bid to cut its dependence on Russia. All current Ukrainian nuclear power plants are Soviet-designed and rely on fuel from Russian state nuclear reactor monopoly Rosatom. But in a sign Ukraine is looking to diversify its nuclear fuel supply, Energoatom said that next year it would start trialing fuel from Westinghouse.

National Post:  Russia developing new nuclear weapons to counter ‘potential threats to military security’ from NATO

Russia is developing an array of new nuclear and conventional weapons to counter recent moves by the U.S. and NATO, but will carefully weigh the costs to avoid overburdening its economy, President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday. He said Russia has no intention to launch a new arms race, but will respond to all security challenges. Russia carried out a successful test of its new Bulava intercontinental nuclear missile on Wednesday and the head of its naval forces said the country will perform two more test launches in October and November.

Moscow Times:  Russian General Calls for Preemptive Nuclear Strike Doctrine Against NATO

A Russian general has called for Russia to revamp its military doctrine, last updated in 2010, to clearly identify the U.S. and its NATO allies as Moscow’s enemy number one and spell out the conditions under which Russia would launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the 28-member military alliance, Interfax reported Wednesday. “First and foremost, the likely enemy of Russia should be clearly identified in this strategic document, something absent from the 2010 military doctrine. In my view, our primary enemy is the U.S. and the North Atlantic bloc,” General Yury Yakubov, a senior Defense Ministry official, was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Business Week:  BASF Buys Oil, Gas Assets From Statoil to Secure European Supply

BASF’s oil and gas arm agreed to buy assets from Norway’s Statoil for $1.25 billion, diversifying energy supplies for Germany’s biggest chemical maker as relations between Europe and Russia worsen. The Norwegian deal will make BASF, Germany’s largest industrial user of gas, less reliant on supplies from Russia as the U.S. and European Union ratchet up sanctions in response to the conflict in Ukraine. An asset swap with Gazprom, agreed to in 2012 and expected to close this autumn, was set to boost Russia’s share of BASF’s supply to more than half the total.

Financial Post:  Saudi Arabia could fight ISIS with oil — if it can bear the price

Saudi Arabia might end up doing more in the growing multilateral campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) than its muted response so far has suggested: Using its oil-market power to drive down the price of oil, which the insurgent group relies on to fund its Islamist rebellion. ISIS, which has been overwhelming conventional forces, as well as rival rebel groups, in a spreading occupation over large swathes of Syria and Iraq, is estimated to earn US$3 million a day from oil sales. The group has already seized the largest oil field in Syria, now controlling 60% of the oil production in that country, and captured seven oil fields in Iraq. Most of the oil is sold at discounts to world prices to Turkey, who then resells it throughout Europe.

EIA: Energy reform could increase Mexico’s long-term oil production by 75%

The changes in EIA’s assessment of Mexico’s liquids production profile are profound. Last year’s International Energy Outlook projected that Mexico’s production would continue to decline from 3.0 million barrels per day (MMbbl/d) in 2010 to 1.8 MMbbl/d in 2025 and then struggle to remain in the range of 2.0 to 2.1 MMbbl/d through 2040. The forthcoming Outlook, which assumes some success in implementing the new reforms, projects that Mexico’s production could stabilize at 2.9 MMbbl/d through 2020 and then rise to 3.7 MMbbl/d by 2040—about 75% higher than in last year’s outlook.

Arabian Business: Gulf states losing out amid shale gas boom

The increased competitiveness of the petrochemical industry in the United States due to the discovery of large reserves of shale gas has impacted the Middle East, which is already grappling with reduced natural gas supplies, a new report has said. “Once the exporting hub for natural gas, the region has now transformed into an import destination as the demand for fossil fuel exceeds its supply,” the report said.

Bloomberg: Clean-Air Rules Revive US Demand for Dirty Coal

Now that more of their power plants can remove toxins such as sulfur dioxide (SO2 ), utilities are buying coal with the highest levels of pollutants after abandoning it decades ago in favor of cleaner-burning varieties from Appalachia and Wyoming. This is good news for coal producers in Illinois, home to some of the dirtiest coal reserves in the U.S.

Guardian:  Japan to restart two nuclear reactors

The go-ahead from the Nuclear Regulatory Authority for two reactors at the Sendai plant in southern Japan comes after it issued a more than 400-page safety report in July and follows a month-long public consultation period. But any restart is unlikely before the year end as the operator, Kyushu Electric Power, is also required to get two more NRA approvals for other facilities at the site. More challenging, perhaps, is gaining the consent of communities living near the plant in south-western Kagoshima prefecture, who must sign off on the restarts before they can happen.

Forbes:  Global renewable energy investment declines for second consecutive year

Globally, investment in renewable energy declined for the second consecutive year in 2013 according to REN21. The world total still amounted to an an impressive $214 billion but this was down 12 percent on 2012 and 23 percent on 2011. Declining technology costs are one reason – solar PV installations in particular experienced considerable cost declines and efficiency improvements. Uncertainty regarding incentive policies in Europe and the United States has proven another major factor in the investment slump.

Breitbart: Flagship German offshore wind farm still not working

The wind farm was officially turned on in August last year but was shut down again almost immediately due to technical difficulties that have still not been resolved – and now lawyers are getting involved. The wind farm comprises 80 5MW turbines situated 100 km off the north German coastline. The difficulty facing engineers is how to get the electricity generated back to shore. So far, every attempt to turn on the turbines has resulted in overloaded and “gently smouldering” offshore converter stations.

European Voice: Juncker’s plan would shut down EU environmental policy, Greens warn

Rumours of the intention to combine the EU climate and energy portfolios have been sparking alarm among environmentalists for weeks. But the elimination of a dedicated environment portfolio came as a genuine shock to green groups. The ‘Green 10’ – an alliance of European environmental NGOs – sent a letter to Juncker saying that his restructuring decisions suggest a “de-facto shutdown of EU environmental policymaking”.

PR Week: Overwhelming majority of Tory MPs do not accept climate change is man-made

Nearly three-quarters of Conservative MPs do not accept that climate change has been proven to be caused by human activity, according to a new poll. Only 51 per cent of MPs agree that it is an established fact that global warming is largely man made, though there are substantial differences between parties. Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of Labour MPs agree that man-made global warming is now an established scientific fact compared with 30 per cent of Tory MPs. Over half (53 per cent) of Conservative MPs agree with the statement that “it has not yet been conclusively proved that climate change is man made”.

Bloomberg: No Named Storms for the First Time Since 1992 at Hurricane Peak

The statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season has arrived and for the first time since 1992 there isn’t a named storm in the basin. Using an index called the accumulated cyclone energy, 2014 has only had 45 percent of the activity that it should have produced by this time.

WMO: El Niño Update

Despite warming of the Tropical Pacific Ocean up until June, the overlaying atmosphere largely failed to respond. As a result, ocean temperature anomalies along the equator have decreased over the past two months. Despite the recent observations, models and expert opinion suggest that the development of a weak El Niño event in the coming several months remains quite possible, with probability of at least 60%.

Daily Caller: There are now 52 explanations for the pause in global warming

It’s been a busy year for climate scientists, who have been trying to explain why there has been no global warming for nearly two decades. The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in February there were eight mainstream explanations for the pause, but there are now a whopping 52 explanations for why there has been no warming trend for the last 215 months.

Euan Mearns’ stories:

BBC: Greenhouse gas levels rising at fastest rate since 1984

A surge in atmospheric CO2 saw levels of greenhouse gases reach record levels in 2013, according to new figures. Concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere between 2012 and 2013 grew at their fastest rate since 1984.

Business Week: Bookies say odds favor Scotland staying with the union

The country’s two biggest bookmakers, Ladbrokes and William Hill, are laying 7-to-4 odds against a “yes” vote—even as Britain’s political elite is in a panic over polls showing the race is neck-and-neck.

BBC: Could the UK face power blackouts this winter?

The government and the power regulator Ofgem have both warned that Britain will face power shortages in the coming winters. Ofgem has said it expects the UK to have a very small margin of spare capacity this winter.

BBC: Smart meters will save only 2% on energy bills, say MPs

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said that, on average, consumers will save just £26 a year. MPs also warned that the technology could be out of date by the time the roll-out is complete. Installing the meters – which begins in earnest next year – will cost £215 per household, or £10.6bn. “Despite consumers footing the bill, they can on average make a saving of only 2% on the average annual bill of £1,328 by the time the roll out is complete,” said Margaret Hodge, the chair of the PAC.

Science Codex: Yale study shows how conversion of forest to cropland affects climate

Professor Nadine Unger of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies reports that large-scale forest losses during the last 150 years have reduced global emissions of biogenic volatile organic compounds (BVOCs), which control the atmospheric distribution of many short-lived climate pollutants, such as tropospheric ozone, methane, and aerosol particles. Using sophisticated climate modeling, Unger calculated that a 30-percent decline in BVOC emissions between 1850 and 2000, largely through the conversion of forests to cropland, produced a net global cooling of about 0.1 degrees Celsius.

Bloomberg: Scotland yes vote risking 23 billion in power work

A vote for independence in Scotland may halt work on renewable power projects that support 14 billion pounds ($23 billion) of investment and 12,000 jobs by raising questions about how developers would get subsidies. Currently, Scottish projects get support though a nationwide program known as the renewables obligation, which may have no mandate north of the border if the two countries were split. About 13 gigawatts of power projects are on the drawing board currently in Scotland, about 15 percent of total U.K. capacity.

Guardian: What would independence mean for Scotland’s economy?

Countries poorer than Scotland have thrived after independence, but it would not be a land flowing with milk and honey either.

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6 Responses to Blowout week 37

  1. Anon says:

    Alex Kemp letter to P&J – “There will be no bonanza”

  2. RBM says:

    gently smouldering” offshore converter stations

    The link didn’t give a technical analysis of the malfunction to explain this symptom, as I went looking.

    Is an explanation in the public domain, since lawyers are now involved, and all ?

  3. An important piece of recent news that seems to have fallen through the cracks is the UK govt’s Order giving the go-ahead for the 470 MW North Killingholme, Lincolnshire, gas plant. It allows the plant to burn gas but to burn coal or biomass only if CCS is installed. Here’s the wording:

    The Order, if made, would grant development consent for the construction and operation of a thermal generating station that would operate either as a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) plant or as an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) plant, with a total electrical output of up to 470MWe at North Killingholme, Lincolnshire. The generating station would only be able to burn other types of fuel such as coal and biomass if the full Carbon Capture Storage chain is in place.

    If applying CCS to biomass is the official policy reaction to the recent discovery that burning it isn’t as carbon-neutral as was previously assumed then it’s bye bye biomass in UK.

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