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ODAC Newsletter - Jan 28

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.

Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi hinted this week that OPEC might move to increase oil production to satisfy rising demand. Both OPEC and the IEA are anticipating demand growth this year, and with Brent crude close to $100/barrel the pressure on OPEC is growing. The weak, heavily indebted western economies are struggling to absorb the additional costs, while developing economies risk serious civil unrest as fuel and food prices rise. Many of the OPEC nations face serious threats of their own as they struggle to generate jobs for their growing populations. No doubt the house of Saud and other OPEC leaders will be casting a wary eye at the recent uprising in Tunisia and the riots in Egypt.

President Obama delivered the State of the Union address on Wednesday and invited Americans to work together to meet a goal of producing 80% of electricity from "clean sources" (the President has a broad definition of clean) by 2035. The President presented the challenge in terms of energy security rather than resource depletion or climate change; it was a patriotic rallying cry to reduce reliance on foreign oil and create American jobs. This could play well at home, but the question of how to achieve it could produce deadlock in Congress, with Democrats generally more in favour of renewable generation and Republicans closely tied to the fossil lobby. The President called once again for the removal of subsidies to the oil and gas industry.

In Britain this week the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee warned that reforms to the Planning Act via the Localism bill, risked creating an uncertain investment environment which is likely to result in a new "dash for gas" at the cost of "the cleanest forms of energy". The coalition government abolished the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC), a quango set up by the Labour government to fast track national infrastructure decisions, in favour of a system in which final planning decisions rest with ministers, who are more likely to be swayed by local opposition to wind farms and the like.

The energy story getting the most headlines is not about future sources of supply but about current record high petrol prices. Pressure grew on the government this week, not only from hauliers and motoring organizations, but also from Mayor of London Boris Johnson. The signs are that the fuel duty rise planned for April may be axed as the government moves to avoid industrial action. This will be popular, but without serious steps to cut our dependency on oil in transport, it can only be a short-term stop gap.

As ODAC went to press BP's fortunes were lurching once again, as the Russian oligarchs who are BP's partners is TNK-BP started court action to block the company's new alliance with Rosneft.

Oil

OPEC could increase production in 2011: Saudi Arabia

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OPEC, IEA differ on demand outlook due to assumptions, IEF says

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German Government Rejects Report 'Peak Oil' Occurred in 2010

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The Exorbitant Dream of Arctic Oil

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TNK-BP Shareholders File to Halt BP Deal With Rosneft

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Industry warns over delays in Gulf permits

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BG Group to invest $10bn in Brazilian deepwater oil fields

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Gas

Shareholders challenge gas companies on fracking

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Exxon Mobil looks for shale gas in Germany

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Climate Benefits of Natural Gas May Be Overstated

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European pipelines in final push

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Gas Profit at 7-Year Low Reduces Storage Growth: Energy Markets

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North America

Obama sets 2035 clean electricity target

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Electricity

Backing for Brussels on energy market

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Saudi Arabia requires alternative power resources to meet demand

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Nuclear

Former critic warms to nuclear option

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'Sellafield is where we house the toxic legacy of our failed nuclear industry'

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Biofuels

Two-thirds of biofuel fails green standard

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Biofuel jatropha falls from wonder-crop pedestal

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U.S. gives $650 million loan aid for biofuels from waste

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UK

MPs warn that UK rules could hamper renewables investment

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George Osborne considering axing planned fuel duty rise

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Boris Johnson demands fuel stabiliser

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'Soaring Fuel Prices Are Crippling Business'

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Geopolitics

Arab Rulers Fear Spread of Democracy Fever

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Economy

Roubini: Oil, energy, food prices a risk to stability

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IMF predicts faster global economic growth in 2011

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