Daily Archives: June 10, 2009

Kate Mackenzie

BP’s new statistical review highlights that coal was the fastest-growing energy source for the sixth year in a row; racing up from 2405m tonnes of oil equivalent in 2002 to 3305m last year.

A WSJ story on Monday looked at ‘peak coal’ in the US, and suggests the ‘Saudi Arabia of coal’ may have been a mite over-confident. It also noted the US is rather dependent on coal. It is not alone in this; Japan, South Korea, Australia and South Africa use quite a bit, compared to natural gas, nuclear and hydroelectric – and that’s just among the wealthier countries. 

By Neil Hume

Here’s another example of false news shock – the tendency of erroneous news to move markets even though it has proved to be wrong. It concerns an exploration company called Heritage Oil, which has found a serious amount of oil in Kurdistan.

Shortly after 2.00pm BST on Wednesday its shares went into reverse:

The reason was a report on Reuters, which spread like wild fire round the City of London. Emphasis ours:
Contracts that semi-autonomous Kurdish authorities have signed with private oil firms are illegal until they are ratified by the Oil Ministry in Baghdad, the Iraqi government reaffirmed on Wednesday.

Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani also rejected paying firms that have developed the Taq Taq and Tawke oil fields in northern Iraq as part of contracts signed independently with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

“These contracts need to be ratified by the Iraqi federal Oil Ministry. Till that time they are illegal,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told reporters at a news conference with Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani.

What Reuters did not mention, and which Bloomberg reporting from the same press conference did, were these vital comments, which cast things a completely different light:
“These exports are still not completely legal now; to become completely legal, they need to have the approval of the federal government in Baghdad,” Shahristani said. “We hope the oil law being discussed will allow this to happen.”

Needless to say, Heritage, which has just announced a $6bn merger deal with Turkey’s Genel, are hopping mad. It’s PR people are phoning round and trying to undo the damage at the moment.

We will see if they have been successful when trading resumes in Heritage shares tomorrow morning.

For the record, shares in Heritage closed 63p lower at 540p, a fall of 10.5 per cent.

Related links:
Bearing the Brownt – FT Alphaville

Kate Mackenzie

Jatropha, a biofuel crop favoured for its ability to grow in areas not suitable for food, may be about to become less popular.

A new Dutch study shows it uses 20,000 litres of water to produces one litre of jatropha biodiesel – more than the other crops used for biodiesel, rapeseed and soybean; and a lot more than ethanol crops such as maize (corn).

Furthermore, one of the study’s authors tells MIT Technology Review, “”The claim that jatropha doesn’t compete for water and land with food crops is complete nonsense.” There are a few other problems: It’s a wild crop and therefore difficult to cultivate: ‘a terrible harvest index’ says one expert. And cellulosic ethanol might be getting the jump on it.

There are some caveats: the study does point out that the jatropha figures were based only on crops in India, Indonesia, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Guatemala – whereas the other crops’ water use were averaged from around the world; and water use between countries can vary substantially.

BP and D1 Oils partnered on a jatropha biofuels project in 2007, and D1 is still optimistic, saying the EU biofuels mandate means demand will grow, and that cross-breeding strains of the plant could improve the yield.

Related links:

All washed up for Jatropha? (MIT Technology Review)

Kate Mackenzie

On Energy Source:

Climate change: A glimmer of hope in US-China talks?

Oil: Crude over $71, or 20 Big Macs

Oil: World oil reserves fall, just a little, in 2008

Markets: Oil breaks through $70

Oil: EIA demand forecast raised by 5,000 bpd

Geopolitics: Turkey’s Nabucco stance: Satisfying energy needs, or ambition?

Renewables: Clean energy patent number dip in Q1


Coal: what happens if it isn’t cheap and plentiful? And who would benefit from peak coal (SeekingAlpha)

Better solar PV on the way Multiple, mini inverters can make photovoltaic cheaper and less vulnerable (New Energy and Fuel)

The Tata Nano and Jevons Paradox Ramped up production numbers bear out the theory that efficiency measures can increase demand (Bit Tooth Energy)

Cisco, Silver Springs Networks land smart-grid deals Competition heats up (CNet)

Opec and the consumer: BFF? The $70 – $80 sweet spot for oil (Scarce whales)

Saudis turn on Khurais taps Field can supply 1.5 per cent of global oil (UpstreamOnline)

Kate Mackenzie

As the visit to China by US climate change envoy Todd Stern, White House science advisor John Holdren and other energy officials, end, there is little news of substantial progress in the talks.

A source ‘familiar with both negotiating teams’ told the China Daily: “As far as I know, the two sides showed intent to start a partnership on climate change cooperation at an early stage but, so far, they have achieved only limited progress and it is mainly shown in scientific cooperation.” They stressed this did not mean the talks were a failure; merely that more talks needed to be had in the lead-up to Copenhagen in December.

Even reports of the tone are somewhat ambivalent: a US source told AFP that while China was ‘making strides’ in clean energy, “it will need to commit to more robust and quantifiable actions to put the world on a pathway to a clean-energy, low-carbon future.”

Scientific cooperation, while a long way from agreement on emissions levels, is nothing to be sniffed at.

By Izabella Kaminska

Crude futures are racing higher on Wednesday. The  ascent has much to do with a continuing slide in the dollar, unexpectedly large crude draws in the last week according to figures from the American Petroleum Institute on Tuesday night, and numerous reports of consumer ‘panic’ buying, chiefly among big hedgers like airlines.

Kate Mackenzie

BP’s statistical review for 2008 is out today, and it shows proven oil reserves fell slightly last year, from 1,261bn barrels to 1,258bn barrels.

The only other Two other decreases appear in BP’s data since 1980. The first is in 1990, when reserves fell to 1,003.2bn from 1,005.8bn, largely due to falls in proven reserves in Angola, Qatar and Egypt, and smaller falls in Brunei, Tunisia, Malaysia.

The second was 1998, where a fall to 1,068.5bn from 1,069.3bn was due to moderate changes in Malaysia and India’s  numbers, and a small decrease in Gabon.

In 2008 the big falls were in Iran, Indonesia and China with smaller falls in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The lower reserves do not look dramatic against the overall chart since 1980:


Source: BP, FT

Commodities prices on Wednesday extended their rally, with crude oil trading above $71.5 a barrel at a fresh seven month high, spurred by signs that the global economy may have bottomed, a drop in US oil stocks and US dollar weakness.

Nymex July West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, rose $1.49 to $71.50 a barrel, its highest since early November. Earlier, it hit an intraday high of $71.60 a barrel. Meanwhile, ICE July Brent rose $1.24 to $70.86 a barrel.

The surge came after the American Petroleum Institute, the industry body, reported a larger-than-expected drop in US oil inventories of almost 6m barrels, against Wall Street’s forecast of 400,000 barrels. Although API statistics are less important than the official US Department of Energy figures, to be released later on Wednesday, the market still takes them as a sign of the direction of the official numbers.

James Fontanella-Khan

- Index lets investors tap Glencore’s views
The index will track about 20 raw materials (FT)

- BHP and Rio limber up to clear the final hurdles
News of joint venture overshadowed by Rio’s failed Chinalco deal (FT)

- Concerns mount over sharp rise in food costs
The world economy is turning its attention to the cupboard (FT)

- Veolia considers spin-off of unit
French group declared its interest in merging its transport subsidiary (FT)

- US Senate panel approves more offshore drilling
Bid to open more of the eastern Gulf of Mexico (Bloomberg)

- End of Kurdistan deadlock helps prompt Genel Heritage merger
Region could contain 40bn barrels of oil, according to estimates (FT)

- Bowleven raises $114m in share placing
Move is the latest sign of confidence returning to the industry (FT)

- Renewable energy spending delayed, Quanta Ceo says
Companies are waiting to see what government funds are available (Bloomberg)

- Korea Hydro to raise up to $1bn in bonds
State-owned group plans sale of 5-year dollar bonds (Reuters)

- Lex: Oz Minerals
Australian miner is a desperately indebted (FT)

- KKR invests in US natural gas company
Source says investment was about $350m (Reuters)

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