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ODAC Newsletter - Apr 22

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.

Confusion around the true extent of the spare oil production capacity of Saudi Arabia increased this week following a statement by Saudi oil minister Ali al-Naimi that his country had reduced production in March by 800,000 barrels—this despite the loss of 1 million barrels/day of production from Libya. Al Naimi went on to claim that global markets are currently oversupplied.

While the earthquake and tsunami in Japan have certainly resulted in a short-term dip in oil demand, the question remains as to whether Saudi is really in a position to increase production if the need arises. In March Saudi Aramco unexpectedly called on oilfield service firms to expand the kingdom's oil rig count by nearly 30 percent. This follows on from the Wikileaks revelation in February alleging that the kingdom may theoretically be able to reach a production capacity of 12mb/d, but would be unable to maintain that for long. Add to all this the political imperative currently being felt in Saudi Arabia to raise as much money as possible from exports in order to stave off domestic unrest—made easier by a high oil price—and reliance on the kingdom to balance global supply is looking like a risky bet.

The increasingly difficult nature of oil production became self-evident last year as the world watched the Deepwater Horizon disaster unfold in the Gulf of Mexico. BP chose the anniversary of the disaster on Wednesday to serve its partners in the venture Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron with legal proceedings for their part in the failings which led to the accident. The convenient timing of the announcement ensured that press coverage of the anniversary was not solely focused on BP and its shortcomings.

In interesting news this week Google became a major investor in solar power. The company invested $168 million in a concentrated solar power plant being built in California. The plan is that the plant, which works by concentrating the sun's rays on a tower to produce steam to drive a turbine, will when completed almost double the amount of commercial solar thermal electricity produced in the U.S. today.

Oil

Fuzzy Data Help Roil Oil Markets

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U.S. Team to Study Whether 'Speculators' Driving Up Pump Prices

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Crude Oil Advances a Third Day on Improving Outlook for Global Fuel Demand

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Sinopec Halts Fuel Exports to Ensure Domestic Supply Amid Refining Losses

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BP sues Halliburton and Transocean for $80bn over Gulf of Mexico disaster

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France Mulls Banning Shale Exploration

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Welcome to the era of 'extreme energy'

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Plans for tough European rules on oil spills come under attack

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Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq

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Gas

Big guns vie to tap Azeri gas riches

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'Gasland changed everything' — fracking firm battles to woo English villagers

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The villages of southern France take on Sarkozy over shale gas

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Fossil fuel firms use 'biased' study in massive gas lobbying push

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Electricity

On Our Radar: Power Shortages Loom in China

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For Energy-Starved India, Japan's Crisis Raises Hard Questions

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Second phase of $1.4bn Gulf power grid starts

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UK's first local power station rattles the bucket for investment

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Nuclear

Fight to stop Fukushima radiation leaks 'could take nine months'

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Violence grows over India's nuclear goals

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Japan bans entry into Fukushima evacuation zone

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Radioactive spills and breakdown revealed at British nuclear plants

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Slim majority of Americans see nuclear plants as safe energy sources, poll finds

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Renewables

Google invests $168m in world's largest solar power tower plant

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Transparent Photovoltaic Cells Turn Windows Into Solar Panels

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Solar companies take legal action over UK feed-in tariff cuts

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Economy

Chinese Stocks Slump on Inflation, U.S. Credit Rating Concerns

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