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ODAC Newsletter - Jan 21

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.

BP increased its exposure to the 'wild east' this week through a new joint venture with the state-owned Russian oil giant Rosneft. Given the rocky history of its existing joint venture, TNK-BP, the deal illustrates the risks BP has been forced to take to gain access to meaningful oil resources. It may also suggest a conscious decision to shift away from the US in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. News that the new partners will be drilling in the Kara Sea in the Arctic was met with dismay by environmental groups, and Energy Secretary Chris Huhne was criticised for cheerleading the deal, in light of Russia's treatment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who languishes in a Siberian gaol cell. His company Yukos was dismembered by the state in 2004 and Rosneft got the assets.

The pressure to develop all available resources was underlined in BP's Energy Outlook 2030 published this week, which forecast global primary energy demand will grow by almost 40% in the next 20 years. Unsurprisingly given BP's long-standing rejection of peak oil, the analysis foresees no shortages, but does predict a more powerful role for OPEC as its market share increases; a demand-led move away from oil towards natural gas; and blistering growth in biofuels — where the company has committed more money than most, by the way. An FT columnist summed up, "ignore anyone predicting a global energy squeeze in the next two decades." Famous last words.

The most hyped alternative to oil currently is shale gas. Following its success in the US, the fuel is being promoted as a game changer because of the size of the resource and its claimed emissions reduction potential. A report from the Tyndall Centre, timed to coincide with the release of the Gaslands documentary this week, recommends a precautionary approach to the introduction of fracking in the UK because of the risk of water pollution, its potential to increase total emissions, and to distract investment from truly low-carbon technologies. Important questions also remain on how much shale gas can economically be extracted and whether the low gas prices produced by the US shale boom will depress investment elsewhere [see - The Shale Gas Revolution: Hype & Reality].

With the supply side of the energy equation being pushed into increasingly uncertain and risky territory it was good to see a plan unveiled this week aimed at reducing energy demand. Tradable Energy Quotas: A Policy Framework for Peak Oil and Climate Change is the latest iteration of an idea which the previous government described as "ahead of its time". With this launch the authors have addressed issues raised by an earlier audit of the scheme which questioned the cost-benefit analysis. Of course the policy would be politically difficult, but it would help redress the inherent unfairness of fuel price rises to the poor, and help connect people's behaviour to energy and climate goals, so it certainly deserves further investigation.

View our Reports and Resources page

Oil

BP and Russia in Arctic oil deal

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BP energy outlook: main points

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Opec's grip on oil market to return to 1970s levels

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IEA says Saudi oil output jumps, OPEC critical

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The Peak Oil Crisis: It's Not Adding Up!

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Crude Oil Climbs as Investors Buy Back Contracts on Rising Demand Outlook

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Shell Shuts Brent North Sea Platforms After Incident, Can't Forecast Return

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Brazil Oil Fields May Hold More Than Twice Estimates

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Gas

Warning over UK shale gas projects

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Quebec should 'go slow' on shale gas: experts

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Pledge boosts Europe's pipeline plans

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Coal

BHP says coal output fell 30% in Australia floods

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Renewables

Special Report: Is a solar trade war about to flare?

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Geothermal energy: All the benefits of nuclear - but none of the problems

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UK

Fuel Rationing in U.K. Needed by 2020 to Cut CO2 Emissions, Lawmakers Say

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Green transport boosted by £560m fund

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Climate

ExxonMobil warns carbon emissions will rise by 25% in 20 years

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European carbon market suspended over fraud fears

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Obama orders review of environmental, health and safety regulations

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Economy

China's economy grew 10.3% in 2010

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Brazil raises interest rates to 11.25%

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China's Hu Jintao: Currency system is 'product of past'

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