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Other Energy Issues
UK: Cold reception for pipeline project
Neasa MacErlean, The Guardian
As the UK braces itself for what has been billed as the “coldest winter in a decades”, the country is looking to new sources to boost its gas supplies.

A doubling in capacity of the gas pipeline between Norfolk and Holland today could, in theory, solve all the problems about a shortage of energy supply. At maximum capacity, the pipeline – running from Bacton to Zeebrugge – could increase our gas input by about 8% of normal national need.

As the pipeline capacity was extended, UK spokesman Sean Waring said: “This is one piece of a big jigsaw in the UK’s transition from being independent to being a net importer of energy. This is probably the biggest piece of infrastructure so far.”

However, the experts say that – because of the way the European gas markets are structured – there could be minimal effect on gas supply and we could see price rises if temperatures drop substantially.

Patrick Heren of Heren Energy does not expect supply to increase particularly through the Dutch pipeline even if UK prices rise dramatically – and the forward market for January suggests that they could double in very cold conditions.

He said: “The problem is not the interconnector (pipeline). The problem is that the people at the other end of the pipeline don’t necessarily play the game.”

The UK has 13 days of gas supply – compared to about 60 in most continental countries.
(8 November 2005)
A good article which also talks about the UK re-entering the LNG market, and problems obtaining it. -AF

Canada: The real gas crisis
Eric Reguly, The Globe and Mail
Forget oil. Natural gas is the true energy crisis. In the 1990s, North American gas prices averaged $2.10 (all currency in U.S. dollars) per million British thermal units (BTUs), the standard industry measure. By the early autumn of this year, prices had shot above $14. That’s more than a sixfold increase, compared with roughly a tripling in the price of crude oil over the same period.

The fat gas price has made small fortunes for investors and, in mid-September, turned EnCana, Canada’s top gas producer, into the TSX’s biggest company by market value. The bad news: Soaring gas prices and rapidly diminishing gas reserves are about to create a policy nightmare for Ottawa and the provinces.
(28 October 2005)

Saudi Arabia Can Raise Oil Output by 75% Through 2030, IEA Says
Alejandro Barbajosa, Bloomberg
Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil producer, will be able to increase oil production by 75 percent through 2030, satisfying about a sixth of global demand, the International Energy Agency said.

Growth in Saudi production is crucial to meeting demand. Some analysts, including Matthew Simmons, chairman of energy investment bank Simmons & Co., are skeptical of Saudi estimates of reserves and output that lack independent verification. They also say injection of water is damaging its reservoirs.
(7 November 2005)
It’s notable that skeptical comments of the IEA are arising only as far down as the forth paragraph -AF

EnCana Plans Higher Oil Sands Output, Weighs Partners
EnCana Corp., the largest natural-gas producer in the U.S. and Canada, plans to raise its oil output from Alberta’s tar sands as much as 12-fold in the next decade.

State-owned and publicly traded oil companies have made unsolicited inquiries about the possibility of participating in an expansion, Calgary-based EnCana said in a statement today. The company said its goal is to produce 500,000 barrels a day from its oil-sands properties by 2015, up from 42,000 barrels today.
(7 November 2005)
The refining of tar sands requires lots of both natural gas and, soon to be poluted, clean water. As a couple of recent articles have mentioned, Canada has an acute problem of dwindling natural gas reserves. So this planned expansion will not be without its environmental, economic and political hurdles if it can indeed be achieved at all. -AF

IEA urges countries to reduce oil dependence
Carola Hoyos, Financial Times
In a report published on Monday, the IEA confirmed comments made to the FT last week by Fatih Birol, the group’s chief economist. He had warned that Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, might not muster the political will to increase production from 10m barrels a day to 18m b/d by 2030.

If the investment – $23bn (€19.4bn, £13bn) a year for the Middle East and North Africa – were not forthcoming, international oil prices by 2030 would rise to $86 a barrel, rather than the $65 a barrel envisioned if the region met the challenge.
(7 November 2005)

Petrocan hikes oil-price investment measure
PATRICK BRETHOUR, The Globe and Mail
At a Merrill Lynch investing conference in New York on Thursday, Petro-Canada said it is now using a price of $40 (U.S.) a barrel for Brent oil to measure the long-term profitability of new investments for 2006 and beyond. That is a 25-per-cent jump from the previous figure of $32 a barrel for investment this year, and nearly double the $22 it used in 2004. But it is far lower than the current price for Brent crude, which closed at $60.52 on the International Petroleum Exchange on Friday.
(7 November 2005)

On diesel vs. standard gasoline cars
Umbra Fisk, Grist
Diesel engines go farther on a gallon of fuel than standard gasoline engines because of their design, and because of the higher energy density of a gallon of diesel fuel. But it takes more oil to manufacture a gallon of diesel than a gallon of standard gasoline, and the production and refining processes for diesel produce more heat-trapping gases. So when you’re considering the relative merits of diesel and non-diesel cars (like your friend’s VW and your regular alternative), UCS suggests knocking the mpg estimates for the diesel car down by 20 percent to account for those impacts. Since a diesel vehicle will also cost you more, you’ll get more bang for your buck from an efficient gasoline car if you’re concerned about fending off global warming, UCS says.
(2 November 2005)
Ulimately these kind of comparisons may be seen as a bit academic as we are forced to move to more genuinely low energy transportation, but interesting to note the extra energy costs of refining diesel as opposed to gasoline -AF