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ODAC Newsletter - Jan 15

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 began the year with a rally, reaching nearly $84 a barrel as temperatures across much of the northern hemisphere required the heating to be turned up a notch. Prices began dropping back into the $70-80 range this week on not so hot economic news from the US, and on reports that Chinese authorities had moved to raise bank reserve requirements to prevent a credit boom after announcing strong export results for December. Any oil demand growth for 2010 is anticipated to come primarily from China and other developing economies rather than OECD nations. With some fearing that China’s economy will be the next bubble to burst there is much uncertainty as to which way the price is going to go.

Iran blamed the US and Israel for a bomb attack which killed a man described by Iranian media as a “nuclear physicist” – although those claims were soon exposed. The continued political tension both inside Iran and internationally in connection with its nuclear program is one of the geopolitical areas most likely to affect oil prices and supplies in 2010. Other possible flashpoints could be Iraq where elections will be held in March; Venezuela where Hugo Chavez faces a challenging year which has begun with power blackouts and a devaluation of the currency; and Nigeria where President Umaru Yar’Adua’s health may force a change of leader and thus threaten the fragile peace following last year’s amnesty with militants.

The UK began 2010 with freezing temperatures eliciting the issue of 4 gas balancing alerts from the National Grid. In the event, although some businesses on interruptible contracts were cut off for a short time last week, the system squeaked through. The weather has highlighted the UKs increasing reliance on imported gas and lack of storage facilities at a time when dependency on gas imports is only likely to rise as domestic supplies decline and old coal and nuclear plants are closed down.

Plans to exploit domestic renewables were given a boost early in the year with the Crown Estate’s announcement of successful bidders for its nine 3rd Round offshore wind zones. According to the press release, a quarter of UK power needs could eventually be met from this round of bids alone. The challenges of wind power were however thrown into focus by the long period of high pressure which brought both the freezing weather and still conditions. Plans for a North Sea supergrid are aimed at mitigating such an impact.

The multiple challenges of profound oil and gas dependency in a world approaching peak oil, carbon emissions and infrastructure obsolescence - not to mention the deepest recession for decades - point to tough years ahead. So far the political response has been to try to preserve business as usual but paint it with a slightly greener brush. Will 2010 be the year which elicits a new realism that we now face real limits to growth which will require fresh ideas and a new approach? Happy New Year!

If you are able to support our work with a donation it would be very much appreciated. Your contribution will help us continue our awareness-raising and outreach work.

Oil

Crude Oil Falls as Retail Sales Drop, Jobless Claims Increase

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World oil demand to grow 1.47 mln bpd in 2011-EIA

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Russia-Belarus oil row may escalate to cuts again

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Downturn warning for North Sea oil and gas

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McMoRan, Energy XXI Find May Be Largest in Decades

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BP overtakes Shell in market capitalisation

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Gas

Britain on gas alert as extreme cold freezes Norway’s undersea pipelines

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Ofgem sees rule changes in UK gas market

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Britain puts off its gas crisis – for now

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Gas storage in salt caverns is approved

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EIA sees US natgas production down 3 pct in 2010

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What’s that in the car park? Looks like a drilling rig

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Electricity

World's communications network due an energy diet

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Dash for gas-fired power stations raises concerns

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Renewables

£75bn for UK's biggest offshore wind programme signals new era for renewables

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Dash for wind power leaves Britain with £15bn funding blackhole

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Wind farms produced 'practically no electricity' during Britain's cold snap

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Sun, wind and wave-powered: Europe unites to build renewable energy 'supergrid'

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Economy

As China Rises, Fears Grow on Whether Boom Can Endure

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China’s economy rebounds with 56% annual rise in imports

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Devaluation Sparks Chaos in Caracas

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America slides deeper into depression as Wall Street revels

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Economists start to consider that money can't buy happiness

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Geopolitics

Israel and US behind Tehran blast - Iranian state media

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Nigeria’s ailing president clings to power

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