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China to buy Australian uranium

Australia and China have signed a nuclear deal allowing Beijing to import Australian uranium for power stations.

The agreement was signed under the gaze of both countries’ prime ministers.

Australia, which has 40% of the world’s known uranium deposits, sells uranium only to members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The two countries had previously failed to agree a deal amid concerns China would use the uranium in its nuclear weapons programme.

Australia insists that potential uranium buyers must agree to a separate bilateral deal stipulating that they will not divert nuclear fuel into weapons programmes.
(3 April 2006)
Related: NW Shelf China Gas Deal Burns A$20 Billion (Dow Jones):

A landmark gas contract with China stands to cost Australia’s biggest natural resources project up to A$20 billion (US$14.3 billion) in lost sales due to contractual terms that fail to account for the increase in oil prices to record levels, the Australian Financial Review reported Friday.

Chavez rules out return to cheap oil

Meirion Jones, BBC Newsnight
If you thought high oil prices were just a blip think again – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has ruled out any return to the era of cheap oil.

In an interview with BBC Newsnight’s Greg Palast, Mr Chavez – who is due to host the Opec meeting on 1 June in Caracas – said he would ask the oil cartel to set $50 a barrel as the long term level.

During the 1990s the price of oil had hovered around the $20 mark falling as low as $10 a barrel in early 1999.

“We’re trying to find an equilibrium. The price of oil could remain at the low level of $50. That’s a fair price it’s not a high price,” Mr Chavez said.

He will have added clout at this Opec meeting.

Analysis by the US Department of Energy (DoE) – seen by Newsnight – shows that at $50 a barrel Venezuela – not Saudi Arabia – will have the biggest oil reserves in Opec.

Venezuela has vast deposits of extra-heavy oil in the Orinoco. Traditionally these have not been counted because at $20 a barrel they were too expensive to exploit – but at $50 a barrel melting them into liquid petroleum becomes extremely profitable.

The DoE report shows that at today’s prices Venezuela’s oil reserves are bigger than those of the entire Middle East – including Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Iran and Iraq.

The US agency also identifies Canada as another future oil superpower.
(3 April 2006)
Related: Venezuela takes back oil fields.

The road to energy independence

Greg Blonder, Business Week via MSNBC
Conservation and alternative fuels are worthwhile ways to lessen U.S. dependence on foreign oil, but the immediate answer is efficiency
We have reached one of those rare moments of broad societal accord. We all agree the U.S. has become overly dependent on fossil fuels, particularly foreign oil. We all want to do something substantive to eliminate the dependency. The consensus transcends party affiliation, occupation, income level, or age.

Yet astonishingly, that consensus has been accompanied by a virtual absence of leadership — particularly from Washington. President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union address, belatedly acknowledged our “addiction” to foreign oil. He proposed a national goal to replace more than 75% of our oil imports from the Middle East by 2025, and trotted out vague “new technologies” as the solution.

Yet on the one rare occasion while the entire country stands united towards a common goal, Washington can’t imagine a real plan, let alone inspire the public to individual action. Our country isn’t addicted to “foreign oil” in particular — were addicted to energy in general- and the President’s plan only substitutes one drug for another.

It doesn’t have to be this way. A careful look at the underlying numbers, followed by simple, appropriate actions, could lead us to twice the real fuel savings, in half the time targeted by President Bush — in other words, a 30% reduction in total energy use by 2015. And it can be achieved with a virtual absence of economic and societal pain.
(2 April 2006)

Demand may outpace Saudi oil capacity

Jim Krane, Associated Press via Yahoo!News
DAMMAM, Saudi Arabia – The world’s only oil superpower boosted output last month, launching a pair of projects that are part of a massive $55 billion endeavor to keep pace with the world’s ever-intensifying thirst for oil.

But demand for the world’s premiere source of energy is rising so fast — by around 2 million barrels per day each year — that even Saudi Arabia’s vast resources will be unable to cope without drastic help, oil executives and analysts say.

Remarkably, even Saudis, who control over a quarter of the world’s known oil, are calling for relief from relentless consumption.
(3 April 2006)

Obama: Dems should stress oil independence

David Espo, Associated Press via Yanoo!News
CHICAGO – Democrats should stress energy independence, education improvement and science investment in the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. Barack Obama said Monday.

…He accused President Bush of a “stubborn refusal” to attack the causes of climate change, and said tougher fuel standards, stricter curbs on oil imports and more investment in cleaner energy are essential to avert global catastrophe.

“Saying that America is addicted to oil without following a real plan for energy independence is like admitting alcoholism and then skipping out on the 12-step program,” said Obama in a reference to one of the principal themes of Bush’s State of the Union addres
(3 April 2006)
It’s encouraging to see a rivalry between the Democrats and Republicans to see who can develop the better energy policy. -BA

Silicon Valley man bankrolls clean-energy initiative
Oil firms to pay tax to fund fuels, cars

Matthai Chakko Kuruvila, San Jose Mercury News
Vinod Khosla is bankrolling a ballot initiative that would tax oil producers and subsidize alternative energy — technologies he invests in as one of the valley’s most prominent venture capitalists.

If California voters embrace the November initiative, the tax on oil companies could generate $4 billion for projects intended to reduce the state’s dependence on oil by 25 percent within a decade.

Such political moves are still new territory for the well-heeled venture capital community more accustomed to funding start-up companies than ballot campaigns. That changed in 2004, when the industry put its money behind another technology-building initiative: stem-cell research.

This marriage of personal and political passions makes some consumer advocates uneasy, while outraging the oil industry.
(3 April 2006)

Merkel calls meeting on German energy

Judy Dempsey, International Herald Tribune
BERLIN Facing a test of her free-market economic beliefs, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has invited the country’s powerful industrial companies to a special energy meeting Monday to map out a long-term strategy for Europe’s largest economy.

The meeting – the first in more than a quarter of a century – will include the leaders of Merkel’s coalition of conservatives and Social Democrats, industry and environment officials, consumers and trade unions. Germany has some of the highest energy prices in the European Union and one of the greatest dependencies on energy imports.
(3 April 2006)