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Energy industry headed for a bigger crisis, it seems

Syed Rashid Husain, Arab News
Oil markets are facing a major slump — for a number of reasons — and continue to stream further down. As I write these lines, prices are already in the vicinity of $50 a barrel. Rather than seeking a ceiling, crude markets now appear looking for a floor — somewhere — at respectable levels. What a transition indeed. And indeed this transformation is not without ramifications, of considerable magnitude, one can easily deduce.

Crude markets have entered a phase where, due to low prices, the incentive to invest in the industry is getting less and less.

And if the trend continues, as some are arguing today, another round of price spiral may not be far off. The emerging scenario may not only be disastrous for the industry, but indeed for the overall global energy balance too — a real cause of concern indeed. We need to wake up to the consequences now — and not later.

Global crude prices have fallen by two thirds over the past four months and it appears set to fall further — unless drastic steps are in place. Interestingly it took 40 months for oil prices to rise from $50 a barrel to almost $150 a barrel and just four months for them to crash to the current lows.
(21 November 2008)

Green groups ramp up attacks on oil sands

Claudia Cattaneo, Financial Post
Environmental organizations in Canada and the United States are stepping up their campaign to derail Alberta’s oil sands and seeking funding from deep-pocketed endowments, including the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

Presentations made to the fund and other potential donors obtained by the Financial Post show a multitude of green groups, including the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, Oregon-based Corporate Ethics International and Albertabased Pembina Institute, have formed a coalition to broaden their attack on the Canadian sector, targeting politicians, regulators, investors, communities and the media.
(19 November 2008)

Greenwash: BP and the myth of a world ‘Beyond Petroleum’

Fred Pearce, The Guardian
“We can’t put all our energy in one barrel,” says the BP billboard poster. The slogan is accompanied by fetching images of green plants, wind turbines and the sun. And BP’s own logo, with its green tagline: Beyond Petroleum.

But this is confection. Until 2004, BP was called British Petroleum. And in the real world of business, the giant energy company continues to plunder most of its profits from – and sink the great bulk of its investment into – barrels of oil. Who is it kidding?

Well us, it hopes. You may have seen another of its posters. “There’s energy security in energy diversity,” it says. “BP provides oil, natural gas, wind, biofuels, solar and options.” Or, reading its recent print adverts, you may have puzzled at what it means by the headline “Hydrocarbons and low carbons living in harmony.”

Let’s get real. BP likes to say that it is investing $1.5bn (£980,000) a year in “alternative energy”. True, I am sure. But that word “alternative” is clever. Delve a little further and it turns out that BP’s alternative energy division includes not just wind and solar and biofuels but also natural gas-fired power stations. Natural gas may be less polluting than coal and oil, but at the end of the day it’s a fossil fuel filling the atmosphere with CO2. Alternative? Not by my definition…
(20 November 2008)