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Special coverage of oil at Business Week
The May 15, 2006 issue of Business Week covers oil with emphasis on national versus international oil companies and new frontiers such as Sakhalin. The online version has several extra features such as slide shows, a discussion on Venezuela and an interview with Brown of BP.
(15 May 2006)
Suggested by EB contributor Sohbet Karbuz. The cover article for the issue is:
“Why You Should Worry About Big Oil:
Beyond the fat profits, the giants are surprisingly vulnerable worldwide. That’s bad news for business — and consumers”
Crop Shortages Could Curb European Biofuel Growth
Julia Hayley, Reuters via Planet Ark
SEVILLE, Spain – Shortages of suitable nationally grown crops could slow European moves to replace contaminating transport fuel with clean-burning, plant-based alternatives, industry sources said at a conference on Wednesday.
About half the EU’s members have already adopted the European Commission target of replacing 5.75 percent of transport fuel with biofuel alternatives by 2010.
…Ludz Wilkening, managing director of German alcohol producer KWST KG said the 5 percent ceiling was roughly what available cropland could support now.
“We have nearly reached maximum production of rapeseed now. After that we have to import, but that is not the idea of officials,” he told a World Biofuels conference in the southern Spanish city of Seville.
The EU, like the United States, is looking not only to cut emissions of climate changing CO2 by switching to biofuels, but also to diversify its energy sources and reduce its dependence on mineral oil for both cost and energy security reasons.
(11 May 2006)
Congress considers hydrogen prize
Edward Epstein, SF Chronicle
House OKs program to reward researchers who find ways to end fossil-fuel dependence
Washington — A group of congressmen think they know the right recipe for getting America started down the hydrogen highway to a new energy epoch — take a helping of good-old American know-how and throw in the lure of millions of dollars.
The result is the H-Prize, a $50 million program of awards for researchers who come up with breakthrough technologies that will free America from the polluting fossil fuels used in motor vehicles.
On Wednesday, the House voted 416-6, with one member voting present, to create the program, which features a $10 million grand prize. The Senate version of the legislation is due to be introduced today.
“Perhaps one day we’ll look back on this day as the day that led to a cleaner, more secure America,” said Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., one of the prize competition’s creators.
The bill directs the energy secretary to contract with a private foundation to create criteria for the prizes and administer the contest. The grand prize, to be awarded within the next 10 years, would go for creating a “transformational technology” that brings hydrogen fuel or hydrogen vehicles or the infrastructure to distribute hydrogen fuel closer to reality.
(11 May 2006)
Pacific islands look to coconuts to cut oil costs
Michelle Nichols, Reuters
Palm trees conjure an enduring image of the South Pacific, providing shade on a white sandy beach as the water gently laps the shore and coconuts for cocktails garnished with small brightly colored paper umbrellas.
But many impoverished Pacific island nations are also looking to coconuts to combat soaring world oil prices and cut severe balance of payment deficits by using coconut oil to make biofuel.
Electricity companies in Vanuatu, Fiji and Samoa are testing blends of coconut oil and diesel to run power generators.
A report by the 20-member South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) has found that if Pacific island countries were to replace 50 percent of diesel imports with coconut oil then the region’s average import bill would be cut by 10 percent.
(8 May 2006)
Europe warned of steep rise in gas price as Russia runs out
David Gow, The Guardian
European energy consumers face further big rises in gas prices in the coming years because of acute shortages of Russian supplies and growing tensions between the Kremlin and EU, senior economists and a former Russian premier said yesterday.
Eric Berglöf, chief economist at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, told MEPs and senior EU officials that Gazprom, the Russian gas group majority-owned by the state, would struggle to offset declines in output, but demand from Europe and ex-Soviet Union countries would grow at 2-3% a year.
He told the European Enterprise Institute that 70% of production at Gazprom, the world’s third-largest energy group, came from fields whose gas was running out, while the Russian energy sector needed a $700bn (£375bn) investment over the next 20 years – much of it from foreign interests so far denied access to the Russian pipeline network.
Mr Berglöf, founder of a Moscow economic thinktank, warned that without serious reforms of both Gazprom and Russia’s energy sector, prices for domestic use and export could double by 2010.
(11 May 2006)