Welcome to the ODAC Newsletter, a weekly roundup from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre at nef dedicated to raising awareness of peak oil.
News of Turkish military retaliation to a mortar round fired from inside Syria spooked oil markets this week. Former Arab League envoy to Syria Kofi Annan has warned that there is a danger that the Syrian conflict could spread and destabilise the region, although the Turkish Prime Minister said on Thursday that his country had no intention of starting a war. Meanwhile, Syria’s ally in the region, Iran, saw internal unrest in response to a plummet in the value of the Iranian rial. The currency crisis has at least partially been brought on by tightening western sanctions in opposition to Iran’s nuclear programme.
The UK’s nuclear plans took another hit this week as yet another potential bidder to build new capacity pulled out of the race. A consortium of Areva and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation decided not to bid for the Horizon project, which is up for sale following the exit from Britain’s nuclear scene of RWE and E.ON. The government put a brave face on it, but concern is rising over the strike price that will be needed to attract any investors. Add to this a report by the European Commission, saying that a safety review of Europe’s reactors turned up hundreds of issues which could push costs up further; the odds on a nuclear solution to the energy crisis are looking thin.
On the renewables front this week, the government reversed a decision to exclude small-scale renewable generators, 50kW to 5MW, from the RO Renewable Obligations scheme from April 2013. Meanwhile there was considerable press interest in the potential for liquid air technology as a way of filling the intermittency gap for renewables, following the launch of a working group at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Not a silver bullet even if it can be scaled, but energy storage is one important element for the eventual elimination of fossil fuels.
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Oil Falls After Biggest Gain in Two Months; Set for Weekly Drop
Oil headed for a third weekly decline in New York on speculation the biggest gain in two months yesterday was exaggerated amid rising supplies.
Futures slid as much as 0.6 percent after surging 4.1 percent yesterday on concern tension between Turkey and Syria will disrupt Middle East output. Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest crude producer, sees no difficulty in meeting demand, according to Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi. Investors are awaiting a report today which may show the U.S. jobless rate increased last month even as employment growth accelerated…
Alarm bells on the longevity of oil wells in Saudi Arabia
A headline in the Telegraph of September 6 said “Saudi oil well dries up”, which is the newspaper way of sensationalising a report published by Citigroup earlier about Saudi Arabia production that raised alarms not only in Saudi Arabia but around the world.
The report titled “Saudi Petrochemicals — The End of the Magic Porridge Pot?” was released on September 4 but I have seen no reporting or discussion in the media on the petrochemical side of the report and all the concentration was on one point relating to the possibility that Saudi Arabia might become an oil importer by 2030 according to the report…
The writer is the former head of the energy studies department in the Opec Secretariat at Vienna
Iraq oil output likely to hit 3.4m bpd in 2012
Iraqi oil production is likely to hit 3.4 million barrels per day (bpd) while exports are expected to average 2.9 million bpd by next year, the top energy advisor to the Iraqi prime minister said on Tuesday.
“Next year, the plan is for 2.9 million barrels per day of export,” Thamir Ghadhban told reporters in Dubai…
Cabot’s Methodology Links Tainted Water Wells to Gas Fracking
Methane in two Pennsylvania water wells has a chemical fingerprint that links it to natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing, evidence that such drilling can pollute drinking water.
The data, collected by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, are significant because the composition of the gas –its isotopic signature — falls into a range Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (COG) had identified as that of the Marcellus Shale, which it tapped through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking…
Poland aiming to enact new shale gas law in 2013
Poland wants its new shale gas law to go into force next year, Piotr Wozniak, the deputy environment minister responsible for the draft law said on Wednesday, but added that it would be best if a shale gas tax waited until at least 2016.
Poland, which aims to be Europe’s shale gas pioneer, has postponed publication of its legal framework for the development of the potentially lucrative energy resource several times in the past few months…
EU preparing to ban gas imports from Iran
The European Union is poised to ban imports of Iranian gas into Europe as part of its efforts to ratchet up pressure on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear programme.
Diplomats from EU member states have started to prepare a package of sanctions against Iran with a goal of formally adopting them at a meeting of foreign ministers on 15 October in Luxembourg…
EU nuclear reactors need 10-25 billion euros safety spend
Europe’s nuclear reactors need investment of 10-25 billion euros, a draft European Commission report said, following a safety review designed to ensure a disaster like Japan’s Fukushima cannot happen.
The Commission is expected to finalize the stress test report by Thursday and it will be debated by EU ministers later this month…
EU energy chief ‘satisfied’ with nuclear safety despite critical report
The European Union’s energy chief has called the bloc’s nuclear power stations “satisfactory” despite a report on Thursday that showed hundreds of defects, with dozens of reactors failing to meet international safety standards.
The report — the “stress test” of Europe’s 145 nuclear reactors — was commissioned after the Fukushima incident in Japan last year. It found that bringing Europe’s nuclear power stations up to international standards could cost €25bn…
Some MEPs criticised the commission for not urging stronger action on the nuclear industry.
Favourite for UK nuclear reactor contract ends bid
One of the favourite bidders for a multi-billion pound project to build a new generation of nuclear reactors in Britain has pulled out of the race.
French engineering group Areva was expected to table a bid, along with the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation, for the much-vaunted Horizon joint venture but did not make a final offer by a deadline on Friday, it was reported on Tuesday night…
UK is haring off down the wrong path on new nuclear power plants
In a recent blog, Sir Bernard Ingham, former press secretary to Margaret Thatcher, posed an important question: do we want nuclear at any price?
Sir Bernard is an avid supporter of new nuclear build, so the answer he invites — no — is all the more significant…
Cumbria councils defer nuclear waste storage search
Three Cumbria councils have deferred plans to allow tests for a possible underground nuclear waste repository.
Copeland and Allerdale have been earmarked as potential sites to store high-level radioactive waste…
Microgenerators to remain eligible for RO subsidy
Industry trade bodies have welcomed a government decision to allow small-scale renewable installations to continue to claim financial support under the Renewable Obligation (RO) subsidy scheme.
The decision represents a U-turn on a July consultation published alongside a review of the RO, which suggested excluding new small-scale solar, anaerobic digestion, onshore wind and hydro power installations of between 50kW and 5MW from the RO from 1 April 2013…
Liquid air ‘offers energy storage hope’
Turning air into liquid may offer a solution to one of the great challenges in engineering – how to store energy.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers says liquid air can compete with batteries and hydrogen to store excess energy generated from renewables…
California Governor Jerry Brown green lights renewable energy push
Californian businesses and households should find it significantly easier to install renewable energy and energy efficiency measures from this week, after Governor Jerry Brown signed off on a host of new green bills late last week.
Brown rubberstamped 19 new bills related to renewable energy and energy efficiency programmes last Thursday, the bulk of which are designed to streamline existing clean energy rules and remove barriers to investment…
The world-leading UK windfarm built with little British involvement
The project briefing for Britain’s world-leading offshore windfarm is given by a Dane, the crew on the transfer boat from Ramsgate harbour are Norwegian and the lunch served 20 miles off the coast on a converted ferry is served up by Latvians.
They call it the London Array but there are few cockney accents to be heard. In fact, it is tempting to think that the HP sauce on the buffet table is the sum total of UK “content”, but even that is made in the Netherlands these days…
Twenty gas-fired power stations planned for the UK
Twenty new gas-fired power stations are likely to be built in the UK, amounting to a massive increase in consumption of the fossil fuel, the climate and energy secretary, Ed Davey, has told the Guardian.
But Davey insisted the expansion — the biggest construction effort in the power sector for decades — would not harm the prospects for investment in renewable energy or in the government’s carbon reduction targets…
Cheshire energy-from-waste plant gets green light
A 60MW energy-from-waste plant in Cheshire backed by Tata Chemicals and E.On has been given government approval today following a year-long public inquiry.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) statement confirmed the inquiry recommended consent be given for the construction of the £250m plant at Lostock, Northwich, after taking into account concerns around its potential health and visual impacts, as well the implications for traffic safety and the local environment…
The green deal still has big gaps to plug
As the evenings grow cooler, what better time to launch the biggest transformation of the nation’s draughty housing stock ever attempted? The government’s “green deal”, which begins on Monday, aims to plug the gaps in 14m of Britain’s leaky homes, making them cosier, cheaper to heat and producing less climate-heating carbon emissions. Yet severe doubts are swirling around the programme like a bitter winter wind, some even whipped up by the government’s own analyses.
If the immediate prospects look bleak, Ed Davey, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, sees better weather ahead: “It will be a gradual roll out because it is a new market: we should be looking ahead two, three, four, five years.” Perhaps ministers’ desire to focus on the future is why the green deal launch is set to be quieter than mouse buried under three feet of insulation…