Daily Archives: October 22, 2009

Kate Mackenzie

You could be forgiven for thinking that big companies with the vaguest interest in flashing their green credentials – even when those credentials are somwhat tenuous – do tend to get out there and do it. A lot.

But no, according to a new study. Big tech companies – you know, those shrinking violets of the marketing scene, like Microsoft and Cisco – often fail to tell the world about all the good they’re doing to save the world. Yes, that’s right. Oh and it’s the opposite of ‘greenwashing’, so they’ve called it ‘greywashing’ (or presumably ‘graywashing’ for Americans).

From the study, which actually involved some real academics (the University of Amsterdam Business School) and some real data (voluntary survey responses to the Carbon Disclosure Project):

As this study shows, top global ICT companies are making sustainability a driving factor in decisions related to financial investments, supply chain policies and human resources management. Climate change related goals are increasingly being integrated in the core functions of the company. What we find is that companies don’t get recognized for their efforts as much as they could. As climate change is becoming more mainstream, there is a need for companies to engage and communicate more directly with strategic stakeholders, including consumers.

And why don’t they get the recognition they so richly deserve? Sometimes it’s because – seriously now – they are too modest:

For many companies, this is an area of weakness, for others it is an act of modesty. Either way, the result is a process of greywashing: companies that are actually green seem grey in the eyes of the beholder.

So what they need to do is…

As climate change becomes an increasingly mainstream issue, there is a need for organizations to engage more directly with consumers, labor unions, and civic groups. The natural evolution of these types of communications is now consumer focused and it is important that these messages incorporating both marketing and public affairs. Strategic communications should be aligned with the stakeholder’s interest while still being aware of policy limitation and opportunities for companies.

You get the drift. To be fair, the report does include a few tips on how to report emissions more effectively to the likes of the CDP, such as counting supply chain and other inputs.

But somehow, we’re not expecting ‘greywashing’ to enter the lexicon soon, unless it’s via some kind of Martin Lukes-style satire.

Some kind soul has published the whole report here, if any CSR managers for large ICT firms happen to need it.

Kate Mackenzie

On FT Energy Source:

Just how much shale gas is there?

Markets: Oil falls as commodities retreat

Oil-poor South Korea

Crude data interpretations

Planes, boats and Nigeria’s MEND in Spot News

Further reading:

Joe Romm vs Master Resource on peak oil (Huffington Post/Master Resource)

What colour are solar panels, really? (Matthew Yglesias)

Goldman pulling back on commodities? (Metalminer)

Home solar subsidy scheme goes national (CleanTechnica)

A technical conversation on geo-engineering (Yale 360)

EDF and Gazprom trading arms to swap European and US natural gas (OilVoice)

Why Windows 7 efficiency claims don’t add up (Guardian)

Brazilian flex drivers switch from ethanol to gasoline (SeekingAlpha)

Crude oil prices fell by more than $1 a barrel on Thursday after reaching a fresh 2009 high in the previous session while gold softened and base metals moved lower as commodity markets continued to take their lead from fluctuations in the US dollar.

Nymex December West Texas Intermediate fell $1.20 to $80.17 after hitting $82.00 in the previous session, a high for 2009.

ICE December Brent lost $1.12 at $78.57.

US inventories data released on Wednesday showed an increase of 1.3m barrels in crude stocks last week, below the consensus forecast for a 1.8m barrel rise.

Kate Mackenzie

Korea’s National Oil Company, one of the world’s biggest importers of crude oil, has agreed to buy Canada’s Harvest Energy for up to $3.9bn – which makes a generous premium to its recent share price.

A third of Harvest’s 3bn-barrel estimated ‘original oil in place’ reserves are unconventional, so the deal may say something about the prospects for oil sands now that oil prices are rising – PetroChina last month bought stakes two projects run by Athabasca, for example.

But it also points to Korea keen to buy up more resources. KNOC has shown interest in other overseas resources lately – most notably it missed out on Addax, which Sinopec agreed to buy in June, and it already has some holdings in Canada as well as in Peru’s offshore fields and the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

A Moody’s note (which incidentally says KNOC’s credit rating will be unaffected by the deal) makes an interesting point about what it means for the sovereign and for South Korea more broadly. In short, while it boosts KNOC’s oil and gas holdings significantly, it only makes small inroads into the country’s overwhelming reliance on imports.

Moody’s writes:

The acquisition will add about 50,000 barrels of oil equivalent (“boe”) of daily oil & gas production to KNOC’s existing 75,477 boe (for 1Q2009).  KNOC’s proved reserves will also rise to approximately over 380 million boe from 230 million boe as at March 2009. This increase in reserves will  lift Korea’s oil & gas self-sufficiency ratio to over 8% of domestic demand, compared to the current 6.3%.

Korea is basically in the same position as Japan when it comes to its own energy resources, as this chart from the Asia Pacific Energy Research Centre shows:

The chart is from 2008, so some of the ‘equity oil ratio’ figures have obviously changed now, particularly for China. But Korea, unlike China, isn’t talking about going on a big spending spree – and in any case, it doesn’t have quite the same stratospheric level of GDP and energy consumption growth to worry about.

Related links:

KNOC lands Harvest (FT Alphaville, 22/10/09)
KNOC agrees $C4.1bn deal for Harvest (FT, 22/10/09)
PetroChina goes long oilsands (FT Energy Source, 01/09/09)

Kate Mackenzie

A lot of the focus in oil prices today will be on China’s stonking third quarter GDP growth of 8.9 per cent. But JBC Energy makes an interesting point about how the US inventories data over the past two weeks appears to have been (mis)interpreted: numbers out of the EIA, they write, have effectively boosted crude prices by some $6.

Commercial crude oil stocks added 1.31m barrels in this week’s estimate – fewer than  expected – and in last week’s report they rose by a mere 0.33m.

Gasoline and distillate stocks, meanwhile, fell by 0.8m and 2.2m barrels, respectively, in this week’s report.  There has been a lot of concern in recent months about the build in products – but is this draw really a bullish signal for crude prices?

Korea National Oil to buy Canadian oil group for $3.9bn
Korea competing with Asian neighbours for overseas assets (FT)

China and India join forces to resist carbon caps
Aligns effort to tackle climate change for 5 years (FT)

EU eyes ships and aircraft for climate deal
First time under EU plan to be proposed at Copenhagen (FT)

Total warns UK on green taxes
CEO says may need additional incentives to develop riskier fields (FT)

Onward to a hybrid future at Toyota
Group vows to build hybrid versions of all its vehicles (FT)

Guarded welcome for Niger delta oil initiative
Government hails plan as ‘revolutionary’ (FT)

Husky Energy profit plunges on lower prices for oil and gas
Third-quarter profit declines 33% year on year (Bloomberg)

Iberdrola profits slide 18% year-on-year on weak power prices
Spanish group positive over US renewable energy business (FT)

Plan for Europe’s largest gas storage site given go-ahead
Bergermeer facility to contribute to European energy security (FT)

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