I lead off this week with one of Roger’s links to sliding oil prices. Are lower oil prices a good thing? The answer depends on who you are. If you are a consumer the answer is clearly yes (or is it?). If you are one of the new global dictators planning the world economy from the IMF or World Bank then you too will be pleased since lower oil prices should help stimulate global growth. But if you are an oil producer with expensive production then the answer is probably no since lower oil prices may herald losses, decreased investment and lower future supply. The high cost of marginal supply is an economics conundrum that the Keynesian economists have not yet got to grips with.
Forbes: Oil price slide continues
The slide in oil prices continued on Thursday with Brent crude prices dropping below $90 a barrel for the first time in two years and West Texas Intermediate prices entering bear market territory. The price drop comes amid general concerns over weakening demand globally and oversupply from the U.S. because of increasing shale oil production.
A review of the global oil and gas industry by Italian oil major Eni has raised a question mark over whether the world is about to enter a so-called “Age of Gas”, with data showing that growth in oil consumption worldwide far outstripped growth in gas consumption last year.
Utility week: Supply concerns lift power market prices in Q3
Wholesale power prices in the UK market climbed steadily over the third quarter of this year, in increasingly volatile trade, due to supply concerns over European gas imports and nuclear availability, market analysts said.
The cold waters of Earth’s deep ocean have not warmed measurably since 2005, according to a new NASA study, leaving unsolved the mystery of why global warming appears to have slowed in recent years.
Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, analyzed satellite and direct ocean temperature data from 2005 to 2013 and found the ocean abyss below 1.24 miles (1,995 meters) has not warmed measurably. Study coauthor Josh Willis of JPL said these findings do not throw suspicion on climate change itself.
Utility Week: Davey turns on Tories as Lib Dems set out energy plans
Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow, Ed Davey said he had to “battle” with the Conservative communities secretary in relation to onshore wind projects.
Davey said that by calling in every onshore wind planning application “Mr Pickles is in danger of bringing the planning system into disrepute, of abusing ministerial power.”
The European commission on Wednesday gave Britain the green light for a huge government subsidy that will open the way for the first atomic power stations to be built for nearly 20 years.
The ruling was welcomed by ministers and the nuclear industry but Austria threatened legal action against it, while consumer champions said it could add more than £5bn a year to energy bills.
Marketwatch: Can Saudis beat North Dakota in an oil price war?
With oil prices tumbling — and dragging gasoline prices at U.S. pumps further below $4 a gallon — investors wonder if Saudi Arabia will cut production in an effort to stop the slide.
Don’t count on it.
Lee Tillman, chief executive officer of Marathon Oil Corp., told investors last month that the company was potentially sitting on the equivalent of 4.3 billion barrels in its U.S. shale acreage.
That number was 5.5 times higher than the proved reserves Marathon reported to federal regulators.
USA Today: Nigeria succeeds at containing Ebola
LAGOS, Nigeria — People here are shaking hands again, kissing, hugging, touching. These days, shops are open, people are working, and children are finally going back to school.
That’s because Nigeria — Africa’s most populous country — is officially Ebola-free, the health ministry said, even as the deadly virus rages on in neighboring countries, where lockdowns and quarantines are common and death rates are rising.
France’s economy may be doing badly but Germany’s energy sector is a “disaster”, the head of French state-owned energy company EDF has said.
Henri Proglio, EDF chief executive, acknowledged his country was “in a poor situation” and “under pressure”.
But he said different industries should be considered in their own right, highlighting the German energy sector, where the country’s phase-out of nuclear power and drive for renewables has severely damaged its two biggest companies.
Labour’s energy policies would destroy the certainty and stability the industry so desperately needs, Ed Davey has warned.
The secretary of state for energy and climate change went on the attack against Labour’s policies at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow. Speaking at a Guardian fringe meeting, he lambasted opposition plans to get rid of Ofgem, the energy regulator, and introduce an energy price freeze for consumers.
Daily Mail: LUNACY! The Lib Dem energy minister switched our biggest power station from coal to wood brought by diesel-guzzling ships from the U.S. The result? It costs us all a fortune and emits MORE pollution
This afternoon, just when many delegates might fancy a post-lunch snooze, the Lib Dem Cabinet Minister Ed Davey will stride on to the stage at his party’s conference in Glasgow.
The Energy And Climate Change Secretary will doubtless trumpet the success of the Coalition’s ‘green’ policies, which have mostly involved carpeting Britain with evermore wind farms and solar panels.
He may also boast about how, under his stewardship, we have moved away from relying on coal-powered energy and entered a brave new world in which ‘biomass’ — or plant-based fuel, mostly made up of wood chips — is used to run our power stations.
While urging the government to address China’s recently introduced tariff on Australian coal, Mr Shorten said the Australian people had spoken on the carbon tax at the last election, which saw Labor lose office. “We will not have a carbon tax, the Australian people have spoken and Labor is not going to go back to that,” Mr Shorten told reporters in Sydney on Saturday.
Mounting evidence suggests that basic assumptions about climate change are mistaken: The numbers don’t add up. At the recent United Nations Climate Summit, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that “Without significant cuts in emissions by all countries, and in key sectors, the window of opportunity to stay within less than 2 degrees [of warming] will soon close forever.” Actually, this window of opportunity may remain open for quite some time. A growing body of evidence suggests that the climate is less sensitive to increases in carbon-dioxide emissions than policy makers generally assume—and that the need for reductions in such emissions is less urgent.
Lawmakers in France, the world’s most nuclear-dependent country, on Friday voted to cut reliance on the energy source from more than 75 percent to 50 percent within a decade. The vote comes as part of an ambitious makeover of France’s energy use promised by President Francois Hollande during his 2012 election campaign. The measure calls for renewables to increase in the energy mix for electricity production, rising from 23 percent in 2020 to 32 percent in 2030.Use of fossil fuels should drop to around 30 percent. The measure also sets a goal for a reduction of 40 percent in greenhouse gas emissions from the 1990 levels by 2030 and a 75 percent reduction in 2050. It also targets a 20-percent reduction in energy consumation by 2030, in line with a draft project EU leaders are set to consider at an October 23-24 summit in Brussels.
China’s move to impose a tariff on coal imports starting on Oct. 15 could have an “unquantifiable impact” on liquidity-constrained coal producers which have already suffered dramatic losses in bond valuations as declining coal prices pose a limitation on cash-flow generation. The decision by China – the world’s top coal importer – to put a 3% tariff on anthracite and coking coal and 6% tariff on thermal coal reverses a near decade-long policy to remove barriers to imports, making a near-term rebound in coal prices increasingly less likely, analysts say.
Russia’s Rosneft has made a major oil and gas discovery in the Arctic Kara Sea following the drilling of the northernmost well in the world in the East-Prinovozemelsky 1 block, which it explores together with ExxonMobil, the company said Saturday. “According to preliminary results, the resource base of the first hydrocarbons trap discovered through the drilling is estimated to hold 338 billion cubic meters of gas and over 100 million mt (730 million barrels) of crude,” Rosneft’s CEO Igor Sechin said in a statement.”This is light crude comparable to the Siberian Light blend, according to the initial tests,” he added.
Exxon Mobil’s joint venture partner in the Arctic exploration program, Rosneft, recently confirmed the discovery of oil in Kara Sea. The commercial viability of producing this oil under current market conditions is yet to be determined but the size of the find (estimated at around 750 million barrels of oil) seems to be huge. While this is great news for both Exxon and Rosneft, the current geopolitical scenario, where the U.S. and European companies are being increasingly banned from cooperating with Russian peers, clouds the development prospects of these reserves with uncertainty.
Almost every rooftop solar panel in the United States faces south, the direction that will catch the maximum energy when the sun rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest. This was probably a mistake. The panels are pointed that way because under the rules that govern the electric grid, panel owners are paid by the amount of energy they make. But they are not making the most energy at the hours when it is most needed.
Shale Energy Insider: Fracking less damaging than solar panels and wind turbines
According to a new study, installing offshore wind turbines and solar panels are more environmentally damaging than fracking. The study conducted by the University of Manchester suggests that the production of panels and turbines result in a greater depletion of natural resources which have an impact on freshwater and marine organisms also heavy metals and other toxic elements used in the life cycle of solar panels and wind turbines give them a ‘human toxicity’ rating at least three times greater than for shale. The study also found that solar panels cause more damage to the ozone layer than shale gas because of the use of tetrafluoroethylene in the production of cells, furthermore the silver and tellurium used to produce silicon cells for panels and steel used in turbines mean these renewable energy sources score far worse for resource depletion.
The EU Tracking Roadmap released by the Keep on Track! monitoring body warned that Belgium, the Czech Republic, Spain, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and the UK are all likely to miss their 2020 renewable energy targets. There is uncertainty that Germany, Finland, Ireland, and Slovakia will make their targets, while predictions show Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, Latvia, Romania, and Sweden will all comfortably hit their targets by 2020.
While Arctic sea ice continues to decline, Antarctic levels are confounding the world’s most trusted climate models with record highs for the third year running.