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Brazil: Petrobras euphoria fades with oil price

Oxford Analytica via IHT
Falling oil prices and the credit crunch have ended the euphoria surrounding state-controlled Petrobras during the past few years. The new scenario is forcing Petrobras and the government to face a strategy re-think.
(11 December 2008)

Greenwashing a tar sands sacrifice zone

MacDonald Stansby, via Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)
Dead forest standing

The famous Hollywood movie Dead Man Walking made common parlance of the term for a person on death row leaving his cell for the last time, heading for execution. The person about to be executed will walk towards where they will take their last breath, and “dead man walking” is a term about those last steps.

The truly perverse thing about the situation is that the individuals being executed would otherwise likely live many more years, and have nothing physically wrong with them. The same can be said of a huge forested area in the middle portion of Alberta’s vast Athabasca Region, south of the small Métis and First Nations community of Anzac.

Sadly, there is nothing at all unusual about seeing a large forested area in northern Alberta that is condemned—like the human being to be executed by the state—despite it being relatively healthy in its current form. To see an area condemned to obliteration in the near future is part and parcel of the largest industrial project in human history, the tar sands gigaproject, attempting to squeeze mock oil out of bitumen that gets extracted through various means.

One of the largest operations for the production of tar sands crude in Alberta is called the Long Lake Project, run by the joint venture of Opti-Nexen. This massive facility, a steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) operation, is the only major production plant that also operates an on-site upgrader, where the tar-like bitumen is diluted and transformed into a mock crude before further shipping to a refinery built by design to handle tar sands oil.

What is truly shocking about this operation? Several things. First, the operation openly boasts about the process it uses that makes it by far the dirtiest plant in operation. Climate-changing greenhouse gases are already produced in tar sands extraction at a rate three to four times higher than conventional oil. In the Long Lake Project it may as much as triple again. The reason is something that Opti-Nexen brags about, a “recycling” operation they dub “cogeneration,” in which they burn off the waste (which they have named “Asphaltene”) produced by the extraction process to power the plant and the upgrader. Burning this leftover gunk is the tar sands equivalent to a proposal many cities have seen to burn off their garbage to produce electricity. The level of pollution with climate-changing properties from this process are truly staggering.
(18 September 2008)
Suggested by Bill Henderson.

UK faces energy blackouts without investment in nuclear and clean coal

Louise Gray, The Telegraph

Dieter Helm, Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Oxford, said the UK will face shortages and high prices for
electricity from 2020 when the current generation of coal-fired power stations and nuclear stations have to close down.
He said the only way to avoid the problem it to invest in a new generation of power stations, including clean coal and nuclear, as well as renewables like wind and solar.

In a report for think tank the Policy Exchange, Prof Helm looked at UK energy policy over the last few decades. He said that the current policy to subsidise renewables through the Renewables Obligation is failing because wind, solar and hydroelectric power cannot fill the impending energy gap.

…Environmental groups claim the UK’s energy gap can be filled by boosting renewables alone…

(10 Dec 2008)
In support of this last idea, please see the Zero-carbon Britain report from the Centre from Alternative Technology here. KS