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Energy - May 26

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Many more articles are available through the Energy Bulletin homepage.


British Government Faces Up To Peak Oil

Chris Rhodes, Energy Source (blog), Forbes
The UK Secretary for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, has committed to establish an “Oil Shock Response Plan” to cope with some of the consequences of peak oil. While there remains dissent as to the facts of peak oil, a growing body of experts think that the phenomenon will occur at some point during the next five years. On a recent BBC radio 4 broadcast a former president of Shell, John Hofmeister, reckoned that there was no problem with the production of oil meeting demand for it until 2050/2060. This kind of estimate includes various sources of unconventional oil for which the EROEI (Energy Returned on Energy Invested) is far lower than for the cheap readily available conventional oil on which the modern global world depends.
(23 May 2011)



Exclusive: Government to develop Oil Shock Response Plan

James Murray, BusinessGreen
Chris Huhne agrees to work with UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security to assess risk of soaring oil prices
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Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne yesterday agreed to develop an 'Oil Shock Response Plan', following a meeting with the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES).

The group, which was formed by Arup, B&Q, Buro Happold, Solarcentury, SSE, Stagecoach and Virgin, and campaigns for greater awareness of the economic threat presented by dwindling oil supplies, said that the meeting had proved "constructive" and had helped to advance the energy security dialogue.

Specifically, Huhne agreed that DECC and ITPOES would work together on peak oil threat assessment and contingency planning.
(20 May 2011)



Fukushima nuclear plant is leaking like a sieve

News Blog, Nature
As more details leak out about the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it's become clear that something else is leaking—radioactive water from the cores of three damaged reactors.

Leaks have been a persistent problem at the plant since it was struck by an earthquake and tsunami on 11 March. Three reactors operating at the time of the quake went into meltdown after the tsunami wiped out emergency generators designed to circulate water through the cores. TEPCO recently admitted that all three units probably suffered complete meltdowns before workers could flood them with seawater.

Since then, reactor operators have kept water flowing to the cores and several fuel storage pools above the reactors. That same water appears to be flowing out into the basements of buildings and eventually the Pacific Ocean, where environmentalists and scientists have raised concerns about possible contamination.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which runs the plant, hoped to rectify the problem by pumping water into storage tanks until it can be reprocessed, but today Reuters reports that the storage tanks appear to be leaking.

And that's just the start of the bad news because the reactors themselves appear to be leaking as well. TEPCO initially hoped that the leaks were largely coming from pipes that could be repaired, but they now concede that both the reactors' pressure vessels and primary containment vessels, which are designed to contain an accident, are probably leaking water.
(26 May 2011)



U.S. Suit Sees Manipulation of Oil Trades

Graham Bowley, New York Times
After oil prices surged past $100 a barrel in 2008, suspicions that traders had manipulated the market led to Congressional hearings and regulatory investigations. But they produced no solid cases in the record run-up in gasoline prices.

But on Tuesday, federal commodities regulators filed a civil lawsuit against two obscure traders in Australia and California and three American and international firms.

The suit says that in early 2008 they tried to hoard nearly two-thirds of the available supply of a crucial American market for crude oil, then abruptly dumped it and improperly pocketed $50 million.
(24 May 2011)



China’s Utilities Cut Energy Production, Defying Beijing

Keith Bradsher, New York Times
YIYANG, China — It is a power struggle that is causing a power shortage — one that has begun to slow China’s mighty economic growth engine.

Balking at the high price of coal that fuels much of China’s electricity grid, the nation’s state-owned utility companies are defying government economic planners by deliberately reducing the amount of electricity they produce.

The power companies say they face financial ruin if the government continues to tightly limit the prices they can charge customers, even as strong demand is sending coal prices to record levels.
(24 May 2011)




WikiLeaks Documents Hint of Slick Plans for Arctic Oil

Joel N. Shurkin, Inside Science News Service via US News & World Report
With Arctic ice receding at an unprecedented pace due to global warming, many nations seem far more interested in carving up the newly exposed resources than doing something to slow climate change, according to documents released by WikiLeaks.
Click here to find out more!

According to the leaked State Department papers, even characteristically calm countries are staking claims and warning others to stay out of their way. Unlikely allies like the U.S. and China have joined to fight against any environmental agreement not suitable to their self-interest.

The changing climate is creating business opportunities never dreamed of before. At stake could be as much as one quarter of the world's gas and oil reserves, once hidden under huge masses of ice and inaccessible through frozen seas. Greenland's fossil fuel reserves alone may equal those of the North Sea.

That the Arctic is melting is beyond debate. The ice is melting faster than conservative computer models predicted.
(26 May 2011)



Danish warship sails into Greenpeace Arctic oil protest

John Vidal, Guardian
Armed Danish commandoes are thought to have been landed on a giant oil rig by helicopter to prevent environmentalists interfering with a British oil company's controversial exploration of deep Arctic waters. In a stand-off in the Davis Strait, west of Greenland, the Danish navy has been shadowing the Greenpeace ship Esperanza as it tracked the 53,000 tonne Leiv Eiriksson in iceberg-strewn sea to the site where it plans to search for oil at depths of up to 5,000ft.

The confrontation between Denmark and Greenpeace, which argues that it is dangerous to drill for oil in pristine Arctic waters, follows the decision by Scottish oil company Cairn Energy to explore for oil and gas in Baffin Sea this summer.

Fears that an Arctic spill would be difficult if not impossible to clean up were confirmed in an email exchange between the British Foreign Office and the energy secretary, Chris Huhne, that was obtained by Greenpeace under freedom of information legislation.
(24 May 2011)

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