Welcome to the ODAC Newsletter, a weekly roundup from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, the UK registered charity dedicated to raising awareness of peak oil.

As ODAC went to press the oil price had broken through $103 for the first time ever, after a pipeline rupture in Ecuador, a fire at the Bacton gas terminal in Norfolk, UK, and as OPEC looks set to keep output unchanged at next week’s meeting.

Alan Greenspan has apparently joined the chorus urging the cartel to raise production, which is interesting in the light of his previous remarks. The former Fed chairman wrote in his memoirs published last year that “the Iraq war is largely about oil”, and said in an interview last December (Wall Street Journal, 15 Dec 2007) that oil was peaking “lower and sooner than had been contemplated”.

The impacts of soaring fuel prices are manifest this week: figures showed the US economy almost stalled in the fourth quarter of last year, while prices continue to rise, raising the risk of stagflation; soaring grain prices led the UN World Food Program to announce it was making plans to ration food aid to the world’s hungry; while in Britain it was noted that rising gas prices tend to worsen emissions by encouraging power generators to switch to coal.

Only a week after the row over UK energy companies’ profits, gas prices in Britain jumped again after fire closed a gas substation at Bacton which handles 13% of the UK gas supply. The whole terminal accounts for 33%.

A reminder of other risks to the gas supply came as Gazprom threatened to cut supplies to Ukraine once again, as part of the ongoing price ‘negotiations’, amid increasingly shrill calls from US officials urging Europe to hurry up and build the proposed Nabucco gas pipeline to bring gas from the Caspian to central Europe.

Meanwhile, as we reported last week, Gazprom continues to tighten its grip on the European gas supply by building relations with Iran, safe in the knowledge that if the US were ever to apply sanctions to the Russian energy giant, it would threaten the energy security of America’s allies in Europe. Russia, Iran and other major exporters are due to discuss the formation of a Gas OPEC in Moscow this summer.

The good news this week comes from ODAC trustee Jeremy Leggett – that a combination of renewables can provide baseload power. The bad news – from a British perspective – is that the UK hardly has any renewables. To understand why Britain is third worst in the European league, read UK lags behind on eco energy.

If you read nothing else this week, please read Roger Bentley’s comprehensive demolition of Odell’s recent Guardian piece, which expands on his initial thoughts in last week’s guest commentary.

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Oil smashes records on supply woes, UK gas fire 29 Feb 2008
Scattered inheritance 26 Feb 2008
Energy companies plead for tax breaks to help raise production 26 Feb 2008
Greenspan Urges Gulf States to Raise Oil Output, Arab News Says 26 Feb 2008

U.K. Gas Prices to Rise After Blast and Fire at Bacton Terminal 29 Feb 2008
Ofgem fines National Grid £41.6m 25 Feb 2008
US tells Europe to stop dithering over pipeline 23 Feb 2008

Uranium and the Nuclear Renaissance 23 Feb 2008
New UK nuclear must provide for decommissioning ‘from day one’ 22 Feb 2008

Renewed energy 26 Feb 2008
UK lags behind on eco energy 25 Feb 2008

Energy Geopolitics
Ukraine’s PM to brief Yushchenko on Russian gas debt payment 27 Feb 2008
Oil giants are poised to move into Basra 24 Feb 2008

Rising energy prices create global climate conundrum 27 Feb 2008

Economy close to stalling in fourth quarter 28 Feb 2008
Euro tops $1.50 on expectations of US rate cuts 28 Feb 2008

£10,000 loan to install renewables in your home 27 Feb 2008
Bike bids invited for cycling demonstration towns 25 Feb 2008

Airline in first biofuel flight 24 Feb 2008
Branson acknowledges peak oil 28 Feb 2008
China’s growth to send jet fuel demand up by 11-13%/year to 2020 22 Feb 2008
Russia’s $1 Billion Aircraft Complex 27 Feb 2008
Indian rail to get big investment 27 Feb 2008

UN warns over food aid rationing 25 Feb 2008
The World’s Growing Food-Price Crisis 28 Feb 2008
Svalbard’s giant cold store 26 Feb 2008

ODAC Guest Commentary
Reports of the oil industry’s imminent death are greatly exaggerated 15 Feb 2008
Guest Commentary: Dr. Roger Bentley