Daily Archives: April 24, 2009

Kate Mackenzie

Why Russia is proposing its own energy treaty

EPA says cap and trade would be cheap and effective

Peak oil vs Newsweek

Britain bets on clean coal

Looking on the bright side of the LNG glut

The long road to credibility for new forms of transport

Why do international oil companies partner with Chinese NOCs?

Kate Mackenzie


“We don’t know what’s going on… All rationale has broken down.”

- Joseph Stanislaw, economist, co-founder of Cambridge Energy Research Associates, and now Deloitte & Touche’s independent energy adviser – on oil and gas price movements during the past year. Source: Platts.



The amount Chesapeake, the largest independent US paid its chief executive, Aubrey McClendon, last year. Source: FT


How long will various base and precious metals last? (not strictly energy, but those inclined towards peak theories will enjoy it). Click through for the full-size image via Gizmodo.

This is a new regular feature we will run every Friday. Feel free to suggest your own candidates below or by emailing us.

Ed Crooks

Francisco Blanch, head of global commodities research at Banc of America Securities-Merrill Lynch, will answer readers’ questions on the impact of recession and recovery on oil prices, on Monday April 27.

Ask your question on oil prices here.

Kate Mackenzie

Arguments that the oil price shock contributed to a US recession are continuing to create discussion, particularly James Hamilton’s paper published by the Brookings Institution. We wrote about it earlier this month, and it has since been picked up by the Atlantic, and the WSJ.

A reminder for those tempted to dismiss Hamilton’s report out of hand: he’s talking about Q4 of 2007 to Q3 of 2008. It is a matter of conjecture, he writes whether the subsequent, much steeper downturn from Q4 of 2008, would have been avoided or merely postponed if the economy had not already been in recession. He concludes: “Regardless of how we answer that question, the evidence to me is persuasive that, had there been no oil shock, we would have described the U.S. economy in 2007:Q4-2008:Q3 as growing slowly, but not in a recession.”

Ed Crooks

The first quarter oil company results season continues today, with Eni and Schlumberger following the lead set by ConocoPhillips and Occidental on Thursday: earnings fell, but by less than analysts had feared.

There are other pointers in today’s statements to encourage hopes that, now oil appears to be stabilising at about $50 per barrel, the outlook for the industry is brightening up.

Kate Mackenzie

On FT Energy Source:

Why Russia is proposing its own energy treaty

Energy efficiency: Not quite a free lunch

Maintaining dividends at different oil prices: Total comes out best in Europe

The end of the Asian oil premium?


Oil: “Oil prices need to triple — then triple again,” says ‘Twilight in the Desert’ author (Times Record News)

Emissions: Ending ‘Carbon Emissions’ jargon Not all carbon-containing emissions exert a heat-trapping effect on the atmosphere; not all greenhouse gases contain carbon (Dot Earth/NY Times)

Coal: It’s hard to win a fight against a cheap BTU Wind is good. Solar is better. But coal is cheap, portable and storable (Gregor)

Electric vehicles: Shai Agassi Q&A: Brilliant idea, or nuts? ‘I gotta tell you, mySAP Business Suite is more complex,’ says the former software executive (CNet)

CCS: E.ON’s video on how carbon dioxide could be captured, transported and buried under in the North Sea.

Ed Crooks

Is “peak demand” possible for rich countries’ energy use? CERA is publishing a very interesting report today on the potential for energy efficiency gains in Europe, which concludes that the EU has the potential for an “unpredecented” reversal in its energy use, with power consumption levelling off and gas consumption falling quite sharply. This could all be done using existing technology, CERA believes, and would still take Europe only about half-way to meeting the EU’s ambitious target of a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.

The question is: how much will it cost?

Kate Mackenzie

As many of the biggest banks are no longer an option, the world’s big oil companies are now among the best for investors seeking dividend growth.

The pressure to maintain dividend policy is substantial. So far, Shell has promised it would increase dividends ‘in line with inflation’ and BP has already signalled it will freeze its dividend. Austria’s OMV has already cut.

Dmitry Medvedev, president of Russia, was in Finland this week where he unveiled proposals for a new legal framework for global energy cooperation.

Although Russia has been talking about a new energy treaty for months, European governments could still be forgiven for being a little surprised by the plans, a copy of which they are set to receive in the post.

After all, such a framework already exists – namely the Energy Charter Treaty, which was established after the fall of the Soviet Union to provide investment protection for western energy companies.

Kate Mackenzie

Reuters is reporting the Asian oil premium is falling from $1 – $1.50 to below $1, and even going into reverse, as the big oil consumers there continue to grow, and increasingly source supplies from non-Opec countries:

Rarely officially discussed or acknowledged, the Asian oil premium has dwindled to an average of less than $1 per barrel over the past two years.

The premium is determined in large part by the official selling prices (OSPs) set by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Kuwait, which supply about 15 percent of the world’s crude among them. They set differential prices against benchmarks on a monthly basis, adjusting them to account for regional variations.

From an average of between $1.00 and $1.50 earlier this decade, the premium has dropped to below $1.00 over the past two years.

Reuters data calculate the daily price of Arab Light crude heading to Asia some 84 cents a barrel above the price of the same grade heading to the U.S. Gulf., and some 22 cents more expensive than crude heading to Europe over the past two years.

The story attributes it to growing demand, growing Gulf investment in refinery capacity, and Asian countries sourcing oil from non-Opec producers such as Kazakhstan, Brazil and Sudan.

A pipeline from Kazakhstan to China, agreed in 1997,  is under construction and a recent oil deal between Russia and China reportedly includes money for a new pipeline.

Energy Source is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Insight into the financial, economic and policy aspects of energy and the environment.

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