Click on the headline (link) for the full text.

Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage

UK Private Sector Raises Doubts on Nuclear Support

Gerard Wynn, Planet Ark
The private sector could not shoulder the full clean-up costs of new nuclear power plants in Britain, potential investors say, casting doubts on government claims this week that it would not subsidise new reactors.

The big problem is no-one knows what the full decommissioning costs will be — Britain is still consulting on both near-term and permanent waste disposal options at current sites, and research has not begun into such costs at new sites, according to engineering firm AMEC PLC.

“The government needs to tell us what to do with the waste, and that will affect the sums. If the sums don’t add up we won’t do it,” said Jonathan Smith, spokesman at E.ON UK, whose German utility parent E.ON owns nuclear plants in Germany and is a potential investor is Britain’s nuclear sector.

All but one of Britain’s ageing reactors, which produce a fifth of the UK’s electricity, are due to shut by 2020s….

Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estimates the clean up costs for Britain’s 11 oldest nuclear reactors and research sites at 70 billion pounds. That does not include permanent disposal, which would cost in excess of an extra 10 billion pounds, a source close to the NDA said.
(16 June 2006)

Floating atomic plant for Russia

BBC News
Russia is to build the world’s first floating nuclear plant, designed to provide power for remote areas.

Under a contract signed on Wednesday, the plant will be built at an Arctic site where atomic submarines are made.

Work is expected to start next year on two nuclear reactors and the 144m (475ft) platform for them, despite environmentalists’ concerns.

Nuclear industry leaders said fears about the safety of the $336m (£183m) facility were unfounded.

“There will be no floating Chernobyl”
Sergei Kiriyenko, Russian atomic power agency chief
(14 June 2006)

Sweet or sour? In oil, that’s a big deal

Michael E. Kanell, Atlanta Journal Constitution
It all comes out of the ground, but it’s not all the same.

Roughly 85 million barrels of oil power the world’s economies each day. Pumped from deserts, sea floors and backyards, much of it is free-flowing, low-sulfur oil that is easy and cheap to refine for use in cars, trucks and heating.

It’s the Good Stuff: light, sweet crude.

Light because it is less viscous — that is, less thick. Sweet because it has little of the sulfur that must be removed — in a costly process — to make gasoline, diesel and heating oil.

Light, sweet crude.

It produces more fuel than the heavier, “sour” versions. It’s what most refineries are designed to handle. And it is just not coming out the ground fast enough.

… The light, sweet story also meshes with another narrative: the debate about peak oil.
(15 June 2006)

Use of coal surges as firms seek alternative

Carl Mortished, Times Online
COAL is the world’s fastest-growing fuel, displacing natural gas as power generators and industrial consumers avoid swingeing price increases and opt for a cheaper alternative.

Global coal consumption increased by 5 per cent last year, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy, published yesterday. The switch to coal boosted carbon dioxide emissions by almost 3 per cent, despite an overall weakening in global energy consumption. In 2005, growth in the world’s appetite for energy subsided from a rampant 4.4 per cent to 2.7 per cent.
(15 June 2006)

CERA: Global products to remain tight through 2007

Oil & Gas Journal
Disruptions to supplies of gasoline, diesel fuel, and light products, associated in part with changes in fuel quality standards, will keep oil markets tight and prices high during the next 2 years, Cambridge Energy Research Associates forecast in a report issued June 6.

“Incremental additions to refining capacity over the next 2 years [will] be insufficient to meet new global demand,” it predicts…

CERA says it also expects US refiners to ramp up to full production as maintenance programs are complete and hurricane-damaged refineries come back on stream.

Nevertheless, such measures may not be enough to lower gasoline prices significantly this summer, CERA says, because of the “continued susceptibility of crude oil prices to geopolitically upward pressure” and because refining capacity additions will lag incremental demand growth, causing global refining tightness. CERA analysts expect global markets to remain tight “with exposure to potentially sharp price upswings—even in response to small, unexpected disruptions in refinery operations.”
(15 June 2006)
CERA, headied by Daniel Yergin, have been perhaps the most vocal challengers of the imminent Peak Oil thesis. While this report focuses on refining capacity and geopolitical concerns, CERA’s optimism may be waning. (Kudos: ODAC) -AF

US: As Natural Gas Glut Looms, Producers Eye the Weather

Steven Mufson, Washinton Post
The whole world is talking about energy shortages, but for the moment, the U.S. natural gas business is looking at a potential glut.

Thanks in part to a warm winter, inventories of natural gas have built up to levels far greater than normal for this time of year. And terminals built to handle imports of liquefied natural gas from other countries are operating at about half of their capacity.

It is, unfortunately for consumers, a situation that may not last. Energy traders are still pricing futures contracts at high levels, and natural gas producers are planning for big increases in U.S. demand over the coming years…

Since domestic natural gas production is essentially flat, most of the supply needed to meet that demand is expected to come from abroad in the form of LNG.
(16 June 2006)

BP To Invest $550 Million in Biofuels Research Centre

Reuters, Planet Ark
BP Plc is to invest $550 million over the next 10 years to establish a centre for biofuels research, the British oil major said on Wednesday. BP Chief Executive John Browne, who has often been a first mover in the oil industry on environmental issues, said his company was in talks with universities in the United States and the UK that could host the new institute.

BP’s “Energy Biosciences Institute” will focus on developing new and improved blending components for traditional fuels, ways to extract more biofuels from crops and developing plant species that offer higher fuel yields and which can grow in areas not suitable for food production.
(15 June 2006)