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ODAC Newsletter - Apr 13

Welcome to the ODAC Newsletter, a weekly roundup from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre at nef dedicated to raising awareness of peak oil.

The IEA poured oil on troubled waters, so to speak, in its April Oil Market Report this week, suggesting a possible "turning of the tide for market fundamentals". The agency said supply is ahead of demand for the first time since 2009, though geopolitical threats remain. The possibility of new talks with Iran over their nuclear programme, slowing growth in China, and the European sovereign debt crisis are also dampening prices.

While some predict a possible fall in the price of oil, its rising environmental cost was much in the news this week. Lloyds of London, a key player in global insurance markets warned of the extreme risks of drilling in the Arctic. Richard Ward, Lloyd's chief executive, urged companies not to "rush in [but] step back and think carefully about the consequences of that action". Meanwhile BP continued to feel the fallout of the Deepwater Horizon disaster at its AGM on Thursday, as shareholders challenged CEO Bob Dudley's £4 million pay package—the meeting was also disrupted by climate change protestors, while other activists berated the management over safety.

The Gulf of Mexico was back in the news this week as investigators attempted to find the cause of an oil sheen near two Shell rigs. Shell said it was confident it is not to blame — while admitting that operational oil spills from its activities in Nigeria had doubled in 2011.

As Total continued efforts to stop the Elgin gas leak in the North Sea, the IEA warned that the decommissioning of oil rigs in the area meant that similar blowouts are a significant risk for companies working there. The news could lend support to EU moves to increase the level of financial liabilities required to gain a license for maritime drilling — a development that could result in smaller operators reducing their activity in the region and possibly accelerating its decline.

Fracking came in for more flack as the U.S. Geological Survey announced that an increase in low level seismic activity in central US states was "almost certainly" manmade, and probably due to the oil and gas production technique. The American Petroleum Institute meanwhile fought a rearguard action against the introduction of new air pollution standards for fracking operations. The industry group claims there is not enough time for companies to comply. The rule change comes at a time when plunging US natural gas prices have made much of the industry uneconomic.

While evidence of the environmental damage caused by oil and gas production was everywhere this week, one form of renewable energy received a good report. A joint study by naturalists and ornithologists from the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) found that wind farms did not cause long-term damage to bird populations, although some species could be harmed during construction. So, it's official: wind turbine bird slaughter stories are...a canard.

At last there was some good news on UK energy policy, as Energy Minister Charles Hendry visited Iceland to discuss plans to import electricity from Iceland's geothermal power plants through a 1500 kilometre undersea cable. The move is part of a broader plan for a European supergrid to help accommodate increasing amounts of intermittent renewable generation and reduce the need for fossil-fired back-up.

View our Reports and Resources page


Agency Sees Easing in Oil Market

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Arctic oil rush will ruin ecosystem, warns Lloyd's of London

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BP executives have their 'snouts in the trough', claim shareholders

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Shell Confident It's Not Source of Gulf of Mexico Sheen

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Shell's Nigerian oil spills soar

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North Sea decommissioning heightens risk of leaks

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Sudan oil war heats up, north mobilizes

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Iraq Progresses toward a Future Built on Oil Wealth

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Argentina 'satisfied' by BP's Falklands rejection letter

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Fuel to Burn: Now What?

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Earthquake Outbreak in Central U.S. Tied to Drilling Wastewater

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Industry asks for more time to comply with drilling pollution mandates

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Natural gas slump hammers producers

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Iceland's volcanoes may power UK

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Windfarms do not cause long-term damage to bird populations, study finds

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UK clean energy investment tops $9bn in 2011

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Communities urged to 'crowd fund' green energy schemes

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Austerity has not made people care less about the environment

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