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ODAC Newsletter - Oct 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.

As temperatures dropped in Britain this week, the political heat over rising energy bills intensified. Prime Minister David Cameron hauled in the utility bosses and demanded action. Cameron claimed “everything that can be done will be done to help people bring their energy bills down", but the meeting’s big idea was that energy companies should write to customers advising them to shop around. Much good that will do when bills are determined by a six-strong oligopoly based on rising international commodity prices.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne argues the best way to keep energy costs down long term is to move away from fossil fuels, an argument strongly supported by the stubbornly high oil price, with Brent at just under $110 per barrel despite the economic gloom. He is however facing increasingly vociferous opposition in the Conservative party over “green taxes” and from those who foresee a new age of cheap energy from shale gas. That was the argument of Dieter Helm in The Guardian this week, which is demolished in this week’s commentary by ODAC trustee Dr. Richard Miller.

The British renewables industry had feared the anti-green-tax-brigade was getting the upper hand ahead of this week’s long-awaited revision of the Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) scheme. But the proposals, announced on Thursday, were met with relief. Good Energy chief executive Juliet Davenport concluded “they weren’t as bad as many of us had feared”.

Biomass was a winner, although Drax, which has piloted biomass co-firing in its coal-fired power station, said the economics of biomass were still "highly challenging", and Marine energy which received more than double its current incentive is clearly an area in which the government feels the UK can be a world leader. There will be much disappointment though at a local level around the lack of support for energy from waste and biogas, and also at the strong rumours that solar feed in tariffs are to be cut drastically in the coming review.

The other big announcement in power generation this week was the collapse of the Longannet carbon capture and storage project, after Scottish Power and DECC failed to agree subsidy terms. Longannet was the only remaining bidder in the government’s CCS competition, which has dragged on farcically for four years. The government says a £1 billion subsidy is still available for new projects, and is due to make a further announcement in November.

The death of Muammar Qaddafi during the fall of Sirte on Thursday marked the end of an era, and there are hopes of a rapid improvement in security and oil production. But history suggests that getting rid of Qaddafi may have been the easy bit. In a note this week, analysts Barclays Capital argued that with no parliament, government or constitution, and with the Libyan military riddled with tribal divisions, the potential for a security and political vacuum remains high.

Qadaffi’s death also makes no difference to the damage suffered by the Libyan oil industry, say the analysts: “the potential loss of reservoir pressure from emergency shutdowns undertaken in February/March does not change with Gaddafi's death - its extent still needs to be ascertained by the companies as they return to the fields. Some mature Libyan oil fields, such as those of the Sirte basin, require water or natural gas injection to maintain pressure in the reservoir, and that has not been done for over six months and the risk for failure on this front remains high”.

Barclays expects Libyan production, which stood at 1.6 million barrels per day before the revolution, to reach around 500,000 b/d by the end of the year.

Oil

The peak oil brigade is leading us into bad policymaking on energy

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Oil Rises Before Europe Debt Talks; Libya Says Crude Production Returning

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Gaddafi's death to hasten return of Libyan oil

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BP gets $4 bln from Anadarko for oil spill costs

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Oil Trades Near Highest in a Month as Goldman Sees 'Upside Risk'

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It's Official: 'Age of Shale' Has Arrived

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Saudi oil exports see threat from within

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Gas

Vale of Glamorgan refuses fracking gas test drilling

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Earthquakes along Lancashire coast WERE caused by drilling for gas, experts warn as energy operation is threatened with closure

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Renewables

EU 2050 energy road map sees big shift to renewables

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Analysis: Renewable "gold rush" powers Germany's north shore

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Bird's-eye view of solar plant that works at night

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UK

Renewables Obligation review: the winners and losers

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Solar panel subsidy to be slashed

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Longannet carbon capture project cancelled

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Thousands of streets left in darkness to save money

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Ofgem vows to crack down on 'confusing' energy tariffs

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Cameron urges work to bring down energy bills

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Climate

Change needed to avoid 'dire' energy future: IEA

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Companies call for tougher climate action

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