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ODAC Newsletter - Jan 6

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.

The New Year failed to ring in the customary changes this time round. The great economic hangover moves into its fourth year with many predicting that things will take a turn for the worse during 2012. Geopolitically, the standoff between the West and Iran escalated over the holiday, hoisting oil prices over $113/barrel once again. The US and EU are pushing for further sanctions against Iran for its alleged nuclear weapons programme, while Iran is threatening to retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz and treating US aircraft carriers as hostile. With Iranian parliamentary elections due in March, and the US Presidential election in November, expect much political posturing to add to the tension.

It is already clear energy will be a significant issue in the US elections, and the oil and gas industry is shaping up to make sure of it. With conventional oil in decline or held by resource nationalists, oil companies are betting on deepwater and unconventional hydrocarbons (John Busby's piece on Trends of 5 Oil Majors shows in more detail how companies are struggling to maintain oil reserves). Expect to see a lot of press this year claiming the power of unconventional oil and gas to provide jobs and energy security, a message which still plays better politically than the idea of energy conservation. Environmental issues, especially climate change, will struggle in the face of short-term economic interests, yet the recent delay of the decision on the Keystone XL pipeline has given protesters heart, and earthquakes in Ohio, which are being linked to gas fracking, have added to a building unease about the safety of the industry.

In the UK, where shale gas exploration is currently suspended following the earth tremors caused by drilling in Lancashire, energy policy also remains controversial. The allure of a new supply of cheap domestic gas (however realistic this is) is likely to complicate the already fraught politics around energy security, climate change, nimbyism and economics. The issue of resource depletion has yet to penetrate the mainstream here either, although there are signs of progress: the Royal Institute of Town Planners issued a discussion paper on peak oil this week.

The idea that the economic crisis is actually being driven by wasteful use of declining resources was put forward recently by EU commissioner for the environment Janez Potočnik, who argued resources must become a mainstream issue in economics. "We have simply no choice. We have to use what we have more efficiently, or we will fail to compete. Resource efficiency is a real competitiveness issue for European companies." With luck the sentiment will not be entirely buried by the euro crisis.

Happy New Year!

View our Reports and Resources page

Oil

Oil Little Changed as U.S. Supplies, Europe's Economy Counter Iran Threat

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Trends of 5 Oil Majors

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EU agrees 'in principle' on Iran oil embargo

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Russian Crude Oil Production Rose to Post-Soviet High in 2011

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'Searing anger' as Nigerians protest fuel price increase

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BP Tries to Shift Costs From Spill

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World pays Ecuador not to extract oil from rainforest

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Oil Firms Face Services Hurdle

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BP to End Venture With Rosneft

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North America

How the oil industry intends to attack Obama over the coming year

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Quakes halt Ohio 'fracking' waste water well

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Federal judge blocks California emissions rules

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Renewables

Vestas shares plunge to eight-year low after latest profit warning

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Germany reports record 60 per cent surge in solar generation

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World's largest solar plant powers up

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Biofuels

Canal network could be used to transport biomass for power plants

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Wood trading exchange stokes green energy row

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UK

The communities taking renewable energy into their own hands

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DECC lodges appeal against High Court solar feed-in tariff ruling

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UK taxpayers face extra £250m bill for nuclear waste clean-up

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UK switch to low-carbon energy 'no dearer than doing nothing'

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UK investment in green energy stagnates at £2.5bn

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Economy

EU warns wasting environmental resources could spark new recession

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Transport

In China, Power in Nascent Electric Car Industry

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Chinese airlines refuse to pay EU carbon tax

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