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Chávez seeks to peg oil at $50 a barrel

Mark Milner, The Guardian
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is poised to launch a bid to transform the global politics of oil by seeking a deal with consumer countries which would lock in a price of $50 a barrel.

A long-term agreement at that price could allow Venezuela to count its huge deposits of heavy crude as part of its official reserves, which Caracas says would give it more oil than Saudi Arabia.

“We have the largest oil reserves in the world, we have oil for 200 years.” Mr Chávez told the BBC’s Newsnight programme in an interview to be broadcast tonight. “$50 a barrel – that’s a fair price, not a high price.”

The price proposed by Mr Chávez is about $15 a barrel below the current global level but a credible long-term agreement at about $50 a barrel could have huge implications for Venezuela’s standing in the international oil community.

According to US sources, Venezuela holds 90% of the world’s extra heavy crude oil – deposits which have to be turned into synthetic light crude before they can be refined and which only become economic to operate with the oil price at about $40 a barrel. Newsnight cites a report from the US Energy Information Administrator, Guy Caruso, suggesting Venezuela could have more than a trillion barrels of reserves.

A $50-a-barrel lock-in would open the way for Venezuela, already the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, to demand a huge increase in its official oil reserves – allowing it to demand a big increase in its production allowance within Opec.
(3 April 2006)

True price of UK’s nuclear legacy: £160bn

Jason Nissé, The Independent
Fresh analysis shows mushrooming cost of clean-up
The true cost of cleaning up Britain’s nuclear legacy is more than twice the £70bn figure given out by the radioactive clean-up body this week.

On Thursday, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the body set up to clean up the UK’s nuclear sites, increased its estimate of how much it would need by £14bn to £70bn.

However, this giant figure is only around half of what will be required. It excludes decommissioning British Energy’s seven nuclear power stations, the first of which is due to close in 2011, dealing with the Ministry of Defence’s nuclear sites and the long-term storage of the waste. Adding those all in would bring the total cost to around £160bn.
(2 April 2006)
Related: UK to privatise nuclear waste? by Jerome a Paris

Demand for ethanol grows, prices surge

Associated Press via Fort Wayne Journal Gazette
SHADELAND – Growing demand for ethanol has boosted prices for the corn-based fuel additive, worrying ethanol supporters just as they’re making inroads getting motorists interested in the alternative fuel.

Greg Boesch, who owns Fred’s Mini Mart in Shadeland, said that when he began selling a fuel that contains a high percentage of ethanol, it was between 30 cents and 40 cents a gallon cheaper than gasoline.

Now, he’s only able to keep the price of both products at $2.57 a gallon by losing money on sales of E85, a blend composed of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.
(2 April 2006)