Blowout week 50

UK: The UK Institute for Economic Affairs voices opinion on creeping state control over the energy industry. Marathon oil announces exit from the North Sea. And another large offshore wind project is cancelled.

Europe: Petrochemicals industries under threat from US competition. EU probing German price subsidies. Statoil in shale oil deal in Russia.

World: Steps taken to restart nuclear generation in Japan. US prepares to export oil even although it still imports half of consumption. Shale gas production in China lifting off. Iran gas exports still a decade away.

UK: From Nationalisation to State Control – The Return of Centralised Energy Planning

For a short period, around the turn of the millennium, the UK energy market was highly competitive, offering choice to consumers and keeping prices in check. Since then, governments have reverted to centralised action, importing many of the defects of discredited Soviet-style planning. In particular, they effectively control the types of power stations that are built, even though they lack relevant knowledge.

Europe: Europe’s petrochemical industry the next victim of cheap US gas

Europe’s petrochemical industry will face a competitive assault as U.S. rivals emerge with cheap feedstock from the shale gas boom. It can look to the refining industry now for a taste of what is to come.

World: Nuclear to remain key Japan energy source

Japan should continue to use nuclear power as a key energy source despite the Fukushima power plant disaster, a government panel said Friday in a reversal of a phase-out plan by the previous government. The draft energy plan issued by the panel underscores Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to restart as many nuclear reactors as possible under new, stricter safety requirements that took effect this past summer.

UK: No case’ to water down CO2 targets, chancellor told

The government will break the law if it waters down its plans to reduce greenhouse gases, its advisers say. The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) says there is no legal, environmental or economic case for lowering the fourth UK “carbon budget”, set in 2011.

Biofuel suspected in probe into diesel breakdowns

A measure intended to make diesel cleaner is being investigated as a possible cause of car breakdowns.

Where does Britain’s energy infrastructure rank internationally?

Like all countries, the UK needs to make difficult decisions as the energy landscape is evolving fast. These decisions often arouse strong emotions: some protest wind farms in the countryside, others demonstrate against fracking. Some argue for ploughing more resources into a push for cleaner energy, others argue getting the bills down should be the overriding priority.

UK: Centrica buys Irish gas supplier and sells UK wind project

British Gas owner Centrica is set to become Ireland’s biggest household gas supplier as part of a €1.12bn (£942m) joint acquisition of state-owned Bord Gáis Energy.

UK: Eggborough coal plant closure ‘would push up bills’

Household energy bills could be pushed higher if Eggborough power plant, which supplies 4pc of the UK’s power, is forced to close, the company has claimed. The coal-fired power plant in North Yorkshire wants government subsidies to convert to burn biomass and says it will otherwise be forced to cease operation by the end of 2015 because of the UK’s rising carbon tax, which will make burning coal uneconomic.

UK: Energy minister indicates government could defy official advisers’ verdict on green energy targets

Michael Fallon has indicated that the Government could be prepared to defy official recommendations that it must meet its green energy targets for the 2020s. The Energy minister described a report that said the UK is legally obliged to meet tough emissions targets as “advice”.

Energy bills: Who pays the most in Europe?

High energy bills may top the political agenda in the UK, but households all over Europe are feeling the squeeze. Since 2010, both gas and electricity prices have risen markedly, largely due to rises in wholesale prices on the back of the tentative global economic recovery and expectations of higher demand.

World: Nigeria’s leader under fire over missing $50B in oil money

President Goodluck Jonathan is under growing pressure from top-level corruption in Nigeria’s oil industry, with the central bank asking what happened to $50 billion in missing oil revenues and his political mentor, former president Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo complaining about massive fraud in the industry.

UK: Marathon Oil selling UK offshore assets

Marathon operates the Brae complex, and also has stakes in the East Brae and Braemar fields as well in the Foinaven project west of Shetland. The company’s UK operations are based in Aberdeen. Marathon is putting more resources into its shale gas projects in the United States.

UK: Scottish government approves £800m Lochaber hydro scheme

The Scottish government has given its backing to a proposed new £800m hydro-electric scheme in Lochaber. SSE plans to construct the 600MW project at Coire Glas, near Spean Bridge if the investment goes ahead. The development would be Scotland’s biggest ever pumped storage scheme but objectors warn it could damage tourism.

Europe: Statoil and Rosneft move forward with Samara region shale oil cooperation

Statoil and Rosneft today signed the shareholders and operating agreement for a joint venture to assess the feasibility of commercial production from the Domanik shale formation.

UK: Plans for £5.4bn Argyll Array offshore wind farm near Tiree dropped

Plans for a £5.4bn offshore wind farm off the coast of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides have been dropped. Scottish Power Renewables (SPR) announced it would not proceed with the Argyll Array scheme following technical and environmental site studies.

World: Ship, Baby, Ship! How to Get Ready for U.S. Oil Exports

As crude oil production continues to rise, the energy industry is pushing hard for exporting our bounty The hydraulic fracturing boom in the United States hit a major milestone last month. For the first time in nearly two decades, U.S. crude oil production exceeded imports.

What’s wrong with Science

BLUNT criticism is an essential part of science, for it is how bad ideas are winnowed from good ones. So when Randy Schekman, one of the 2013 crop of Nobel prize-winners (for physiology or medicine, in his case), decided to criticise the way scientific journals are run, he did not hold back.

World: Heavy oil field freight train traffic forces some Amtrak cancellations through Fargo

Heavy freight train traffic in the oil fields has canceled several of Amtrak’s passenger trips between Chicago and Spokane, Wash., through the weekend, disrupting service for hundreds of customers.


In this post I present some hard data from the Norwegian economy, which in the recent decades show high correlations between total debt growth and the oil price. Presently the total debt growth from some sectors runs at an annual rate above 8% of GDP.

Over 2000 cold and snow records set in the USA this past week

Quite an imbalance in weather records this week. Even the AGU fall meeting in San Francisco where the best and brightest global warming scientists were meeting was surrounded by record (such as 25F in San Jose Dec 9th) and near record setting low temperatures, though the irony was lost on many of them.

Historic’ snow storms spread havoc and misery across the Middle East

The worst snow storms since 1953 have caused chaos in Israel and the Palestinian territories and exacerbated an already severe crisis among Syrian refugees

Historic snow fall turns Holy Land into the scenes we see in Christmas cards with first flakes for 100 years

It’s a festive scene that’s adorned countless Christmas cards… and, for once, the Holy Land actually became a snow covered winter scene. The ancient city of Jerusalem, which normally basks in fierce heat, was dusted with a light covering of snow during a freak blizzard. And snow fell on the streets of Egypt for the first time in 112 years as one of the worst winter storms to hit the Middle East in living memory set in.

Europe: EU to probe German renewable energy discounts -draft letter

The European Commission is opening an investigation into the discounts German industries get on renewable energy surcharges, according to a draft letter sent to Berlin, which could lead to higher costs for thousands of firms in Europe’s biggest economy.

IRENA Launches Global Renewable Energy Cost Analysis Program

I love IRENA (the International Renewable Energy Agency). With that said, I’m thrilled to share with you the news that IRENA has launched a global renewable energy cost analysis program aimed at being the go-to source for renewable energy cost information. The website for the program is:

A few of the stories from Tethra Energy

World: Shale gas production in India expected only in 10 years: IEA chief

India faces several challenges in exploring for shale gas and commercial production may be expected only in another 10 years, Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, said Wednesday.

World: Statoil, ExxonMobil plan aggressive Tanzania exploration

Statoil and ExxonMobil have made another big gas discovery off Tanzania and plan a drilling campaign over the next two years, lifting the East African country’s hope of becoming a major gas exporter.

UK: George Osborne announces tax boost for shale industry

Halving tax on profits for shale gas in the early years will make these far more attractive to investors by increasing their return on investment, however, this announcement is unlikely to be welcomed by environmental campaigners.

World: Shale gas production in China reached 143 million cubic meters

The National Energy Administration has announced that China’s shale gas production has reached 143 million cubic meters. The country’s largest refiner Sinopec Co has drilled nearly 30 pilot shale gas wells in the Fuling area of Chongqing municipality in southwest China, part of the Sichuan basin, one of the most promising geological zones for the unconventional fuel. Six of the wells are pumping about 1.06 million cubic meters of gas, or an average of nearly 180,000 cubic meters per well.

World: Iran a decade or more from becoming major gas exporter

The world’s largest gas reserves may tempt some energy companies back to Iran if sanctions are lifted, but Tehran is unlikely to become a significant gas supplier to Europe or Asia for at least a decade.

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4 Responses to Blowout week 50

  1. Roger Andrews says:

    Euan: The “IEA” in the first story is the UK Institute of Economic Affairs, not the International Energy Agency.

    I think we’re beginning to suffer from acronym overload.

  2. Roger Andrews says:

    “For a short period, around the turn of the millennium, the UK energy market was highly competitive, offering choice to consumers and keeping prices in check. Since then, governments have reverted to centralised action, importing many of the defects of discredited Soviet-style planning.”

    Don’t knock it. Soviet-style planning ultimately led to a sustained 37% reduction in East Bloc CO2 emissions:

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