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ODAC Newsletter - March 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.

Continued violence in the Middle East kept oil prices high this week. Libyan exports are down at least 1 million barrels a day and fears are escalating that the stand-off there could turn in to a protracted civil war. The unrest spread to Oman this week where security forces clashed with demonstrators. Meanwhile news of the arrest of a Shi'ite cleric demanding democratic reforms in Saudi Arabia sent the Saudi Tadawul stock exchange down 11%.

According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) oil production in the US increased by 3% last year. The rise is apparently due to increased fracking, the technology that has revolutionised US gas production. But the controversy around the dangers of fracking is hotting up, following the Oscar nominated film Gaslands, and more recently a series of reports in the New York Times. The paper reports that internal documents from the Environmental Protection Agency show the danger to drinking water from fracking is even greater than previously understood. At issue are high levels of radioactivity and inadequate waste water treatment plants. The paper also alleges industry and political pressure on the EPA to limit the scope of its safety enquiry. Meanwhile the first UK fracking project is getting underway in Lancashire.

In the UK this week energy minister Chris Huhne used the current oil crisis to underline the need to embrace a low carbon energy future. In a speech on Thursday he said "I asked economists at DECC to look at how a 1970s style oil price shock would play out today. They found that if the oil price doubled, as from $80 last year to $160 this year, it could lead to a cumulative loss of GDP of around £45 billion over 2 years." The speech coincided with the release of the Department of Energy and Climate Change's new 2050 pathways consultation tools aimed at broadening public engagement over energy choices.

ODAC welcomes the call to reduce our reliance on oil, but is concerned that progress will lack the necessary urgency so long as policy relies on IEA forecasts. In a paper published this week in Energy Policy Journal, ODAC calls on the government to reassess its reliance on the IEA's forecasts, and begin urgently to prepare for an oil crisis far more severe than the current upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa.

The report's author, ODAC trustee Dr Richard Miller said, "Events in the Middle East have grabbed attention, but the flaws in the IEA's analysis are potentially more serious in the longer term. We are flying blind into an even more dangerous crisis."

Oil

Crude Oil Heads for Its Third Weekly Gain as Unrest Spreads to Middle East

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Oil shakes starting to unsettle Saudi Arabia

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Market turmoil as IEA warns 'age of cheap oil is over'

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Future oil supply: The changing stance of the International Energy Agency

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Asia moves to shore up strategic oil reserves

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History tells us that a surge in fuel costs makes a US recession likely

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Bombing Damages Iraq's Largest Oil Refinery

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Spain adopts energy saving measures to combat oil price hike

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US oil production revives despite offshore disruption

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Texas activists ready to fight over $7bn oil pipeline in the home of black gold

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TNK-BP proposes taking BP's place in Rosneft deal

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Gas

Results of controversial 'fracking' for shale gas in UK will be kept secret

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E.P.A. Struggles to Regulate Natural Gas Industry

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Gazprom wins long Kovykta battle over TNK-BP gas

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Biofuels

Biofuels only major way to decarbonise road fuel - BP

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Jay Keasling: 'We can use synthetic biology to make jet fuel'

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UK

UK facing 1970s-style oil shock which could cost economy £45bn — Huhne

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Pull the levers of power in the UK with Decc's new carbon calculator

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U.K. Government Ready to Pay Power Users to Switch Off in 'Negawatt' Plan

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Cuts threaten green energy growth, says Ernst & Young

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National Grid chief says 2011 is 'pivotal' year for UK energy market

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Sheffield bids to become the UK's first energy self-sufficient city

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Transport

Iata cuts its airline profits forecast on high oil cost

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'Air hybrid' cars would be cheaper than electric hybrids, claims researcher

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Thomson and Thomas Cook add fuel surcharges to holiday flights

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