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ODAC Newsletter - Dec 4

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.

Oil prices ended Thursday under $76/barrel following a week of mixed economic and geopolitical news. A surprise announcement at the end of last week that Dubai, that shining symbol of sustainable development in the Middle East, would not pay the interest on some of its massive debts on time, briefly rallied the dollar pushing down oil prices. More bullish news came early this week from the developing economies with reports that India’s economy expanded above expectation at 7.9% for the quarter, while China announced its ninth month of continued growth in manufacturing output. This along with defiance from Iran over its nuclear program succeeded in pushing prices back up, until US reserve figures and disappointing service sector results cooled the market.

Overall prices remain in a fairly steady range despite news that OPEC is now producing at an 11 month high. Goldman Sachs however forecast this week that prices will rise to $110/barrel by 2011 due to rising demand from developing nations which will exhaust spare capacity. Many of the more optimistic oil supply forecasts rely on a significant increase in production of ‘unconventional’ oil, such as the tar sands, shale and coal-to-liquids fuels. In an article for the New Scientist, ODAC trustee David Strahan assesses the chances of non-conventionals filling the gap.

In the UK this week the government finally launched its ‘smart-metering’ program. The program is a key plank in plans to modernise the grid, in part to enable the wider deployment of renewables. Unfortunately, the renewable energy to power the grid suffered further setbacks from yet more stop-start government policy. A widely expected announcement on the rate for ‘feed in tariffs’ was delayed, and the government’s grant scheme for solar power was closed to applications after only half a year due to “unprecedented demand” – another chapter in the farcical history of the Low Carbon Building Programme.

The government’s chronic failure to provide effective support for renewables is mystifying and alarming: Germany, Spain and others have had great success with feed in tariffs, and DECC’s own figures show that ‘micropower’ could supply 6% of UK energy needs, according to Friends of the Earth. With Alistair Buchanan, Chief Executive of Ofgem warning that recent bleak predictions about UK power generation and pricing may have been optimistic there is surely no time to lose.

Oil

Oil Drops Below $76 on Industry Report; Poised for Weekly Fall

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Goldman Expects Crude Oil to Average $110 in 2011

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OPEC production reaches 11 month high

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Can non-conventional oil fill the gap?

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Peak oil: the summit that dominates the horizon

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Gas

Shell favours gas over oil for future production strategy

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Sputtering breakthrough for Shell’s new superclean fuel

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Piped gas from Russia to boost Britain’s supplies from 2012

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Nuclear

World fury as Iran plans 10 more nuclear plants

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Renewables

UN halts funds to China wind farms

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Renewable energy 'could provide 6% of UK's needs by 2020'

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Biofuels

Shell reins back expectations

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UK

Government gives go-ahead to smart meters

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National Grid fears ‘smart metering’ being rushed

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Solar industry ‘in limbo’ as grants dry up

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Energy firms face struggle to fund new plants, says Ofgem

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Energy suppliers 'overcharging'

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Climate

Efficiency best to cut carbon, says analysis

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New technology ‘must drive global carbon emissions cuts’

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Climate pledges 'not enough for deal', says EU

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Europe

EU starts screening raw materials ‘critical list’

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Economy

Indian economy surprises with fastest growth in more than a year

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Positive news from China's manufacturing sector pushes yuan higher

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Emirate has a lot of explaining to do

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What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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