Daily Archives: April 20, 2009

Ed Crooks

The British government appears to have decided that “green stimulus” will be one of the ways it tries to win a few favourable headlines for what is otherwise set to be a pretty dismal Budget on Wednesday. The details of the leaked measures, however, show what a feeble attempt it will be.

Kate Mackenzie

The UK government’s plan to provide a £5,000 for electric cars has attracted a lot of criticism in the press: their environmental benefits are fiction; charging them ‘will lead to blackouts’; and they’re unpopular.

The current generation of wholly electric vehicles are beset with shortcomings; battery life, speed, and charging times and locations mean that buying one is not a simple decision. But this is changing quickly: China is planning to become a big player in development and manufacturing – likely giving GM, which has been developing its Volt for years, a push; and new business models, such as removable batteries, are being developed to address the charging issue.

As many have pointed out, the Toyota Prius hybrid was unprofitable and less than popular for years before it turned the corner.

But, looking back, we find that motor cars themselves were the subject of ridicule for years before they became fast enough to escape mocking.

Carola Hoyos

China’s annual coal production has been growing so quickly recently (200Mt) that it its growth almost matches Russia’s total production. Chinese demand is so strong that the country is witnessing the largest expansion of coal-fired power generation capacity in history. All this has been fuelled by and has helped fuel the economic expansion that has improved standards of living in China and many countries around the world. But that is where the niceties end in the latest major report by the International Energy Agency, the rich countries’ watchdog. That is because all this growth has come at a significant cost.

Kate Mackenzie

CNPC’s purchase of a Kazakh oil producer is only the latest in a long series of similar deals around the world, going back years now. As we noted today, one of the newer features of China’s overseas oil deals is that it is becoming more interested in partnering with international oil companies, or IOCs. The advantages are fairly clear for China: access to technology (in which IOCs tend to outpace their state-owned counterparts),

But what’s in it for the oil majors? As our story notes, there are the usual attractions of doing business with China: it has cash, and it has huge markets. Cash-rich partners are always welcome, of course, but the international oil companies are relatively flush at the moment (although maintaining dividends and extracting oil from ever-more difficult sources means they cannot afford to be relaxed about this). And markets? Yes they’re huge, but they’re also incredibly difficult for foreign companies to operate in and probably will be for some time. I spoke to several analysts and none of them believed the Chinese national oil company (NOC) market was a particularly attractive one unless it’s part of a long-term play.

Kate Mackenzie

China’s Ministry of Environment Protection says it will crackdown on heavily polluting, the Xinhua news agency reported, high energy-consuming and resource-intensive industries.

Via Cleaner Greener China:

Last year, environmental departments sent out more than 1.6 million officers to inspect about 70,000 enterprises. To date they have punished 15,000 enterprises for breaking environmental laws. More than 100 local government officials and department officers have been investigated.

That’s a lot of officers. But they do have quite a task:

According to the MEP’s random inspection in February, about 15.5 percent of projects started construction without approval. And about 9.6 percent of enterprises closed for environmental reasons resumed production without permission. Treatment facilities at about 25 percent of the main sources of pollution were not running properly.

Related links:

China’s MEPs tell polluters to clean up their act (Xinhua)
China’s environmental compiance rates (China Environmental Law)

Kate Mackenzie

On Energy Source:

How much will Iraqi politics deter IOCs?

The benefits and challenges of introducing solar ovens

EPA decision: Big news, but the real impact is some way off

Oil M&A and the penguin problem


Power: Renewables to spark US grid revolution Upgrading power transmission and distribution systems could cost as much as installing new generating capacity (John Kemp/Reuters) See also Wind power drives need for grid upgrade (Green Inc/NY Times)

Biofuels: Minnesota auditor recommends ending state corn ethanol subsidies (Platts)

Refining: Sunoco to sell refinery to Holly for $65m How much a refinery goes for in these difficult times (WSJ)

Intrigue: Anti-nuclear groups aim to implicate EDF chairman in spying case Greenpeace and France’s Sortir du Nucleaire allege the utility spied on their operations in several countries (Platts)

Carbon capture and storage: A Plan for U.S. Emissions to Be Buried Under Sea SCS Energy believes it can profitably build a clean coal plant on the outskirts of New York City (NY Times)

US policy: Congress to address ‘pent up demand’ for energy bill – “We had two decades of extraordinary legislation and almost two decades of nothing” (Huffington Post)

Green jobs in times of economic crisis Europe’s energy commissioner says renewables and efficiency can be big contributors to new job creation (Andris Piebalgs/europa.eu)

Kate Mackenzie

A political power struggle is taking place in Iraq over granting licences to foreign oil companies. Although the prime minister, Nouri al Maliki, and key oil ministry officials are keen to exploit the country’s rich oil and gas reserves by letting international oil companies bid for – even at more favourable terms than originally planned – others in parliament are less happy.

A few days after Shell signalled it might partner with a Chinese company in Iraq, Jabir Khalifa Jabir, secretary of the Iraqi parliament’s oil and gas committee, vowed to ‘push Shell out’ of the upcoming licensing round.

Kate Mackenzie

The Kyoto Box, the $5 solar oven, has garnered a lot of coverage in the week since it won the FT/Forum for the Future Climate Change Challenge and a $75,000 prize. The cooker can cook bread and boil water, is easy to assemble, could help reduce as much as 2 tonnes of carbon emissions per family per year, by replacing wood-burning stoves. Much of this is soot or ‘black carbon’, which one expert describes as ‘low hanging fruit’ among ways of reducing carbon emissions, because it is often easy, cheap and, unlike carbon dioxide, begins to disappear from the atmosphere in a matter of weeks.

Soot also creates health problems, and not just respiratory afflictions. “I don’t want to see another 80-year-old woman carrying 20 kilos of firewood on her back. Maybe we don’t have to,” the Kyoto Box’s inventor, John Bøhmer, told CNN.

James Fontanella-Khan

Energy news from elsewhere:

- Ed Miliband to back power supply from clean coal (Times)

- Reliance expects US regulatory nod for trading in Q2 (Platts)

- Darling said to boost carbon capture incentives in UK budget (Bloomberg)

- Sellafield: the most hazardous place in Europe (Guardian)

- OneSteel raises $422m selling shares to funds (Bloomberg)

- Solar power companies in plea to maintain green jobs (Guardian)

- Cnooc Chairman: Company has no M&A plans during financial crisis (WSJ)

- Nigerian militants free British hostage held since September (Bloomberg)

James Fontanella-Khan

Energy news from the FT:

- Rio Tinto stands by $19.5bn Chinalco deal
The global miner defends itself against shareholder criticism

- First Reserve $9bn fund-raising reinforces lead as energy investor
Falls short of $12bn target despite garnering some big investment cheques

- US urges food output boost to avert unrest
World risks fresh social instability, says US agriculture secretary

- Exxon Mobil tops Fortune 500 list
Energy group beat discount retailer Wal-Mart to the top place

- Chinese groups court west for partnerships
Chinese oil companies have discovered that newcomers need more than money

- Hungary’s PM opposed to takeover of Mol
Oil company deemed by the government as a strategic asset

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