Daily Archives: October 26, 2009

Sheila McNulty

A new study by Wood Mackenzie, the consultancy, confirms what others have warned about in recent months and takes it one step further: The carbon legislation being considered by Congress is more onerous than that in Europe and could threaten the sustainability of the US refining industry. Alan Gelder, Wood Mackenzie’s head of global downstream oil consulting, said, if passed into law, the legislation could cost US refiners US$100bn per year.

That is because they will be required to purchase carbon emission credits for both stationary emissions – from the refineries themselves – but also emissions from the subsequent combustion of the fuels. Gelder says the US draft legislation is much more onerous on the US refining sector than its European counterparts. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

The US Chamber of Commerce has not been making many friends lately with its views on climate change.

Last week it was the subject of a spoof press release and press conference , in which a group of pranksters/activists declared the Chamber had reversed its long-held position on climate change and called for a carbon tax (apparently the Chamber has since made sure the press release was taken offline).

They’re not popular with the White House.

Then there was the spat over its membership numbers: 3m or 300,000? And if indeed it is the smaller number (direct membership, rather than membership of member organisations, is in fact about 360,000), who was to blame for getting it wrong all those years?  The question was first raised on Mother Jones, but Colombia Journalism Review, for one, is rather critical of the Chamber on the issue. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Enthusiasm for betting on a fall in the share price of some of the world’s biggest solar companies is high, according to Data Explorer.

They say that almost 16 per cent of outstanding shares in First Solar, which last week joined the S&P 500, are available for loan as of October 23. That was more than a third higher than a week earlier, when it was 11 per cent. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

On FT Energy Source:

The elusive truce over Nigeria’s oil production Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Remember that European carousel fraud was discovered in carbon credits? It’s actually made a big hit on the global carbon markets in Q3.

New Energy Finance finds the value of the carbon market fell 21 per cent in the third quarter, but this was primarily because of carousel fraud (in which buyers are charged for value-added tax, but the seller then absconds with the tax rather than handing it over to the relevant government). Read more

Tom Burgis

Crude from a recent spill slicks the creeks beside the settlements of the Edagberi clan in the Niger Delta. Villagers say their livelihood - long based on fishing - has been eroded by oil extraction. 

Crude from a recent spill slicks the creeks beside the settlements of the Edagberi clan in the Niger Delta. Villagers say their livelihood – long based on fishing – has been eroded by oil extraction. (Photo: Tom Burgis)

The main militant umbrella group in the Niger Delta has declared an indefinite ceasefire. Amid proposals of shifting a share of oil profits to the regiona and pledges to retain surrendered combatants, the rebels who have suppressed Nigerian oil production for years are waiting for the government to make good on its promise, writes Tom Burgis from the Niger Delta

On October 7, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, an umbrella organisation of the militant groups that have waged an insurgency against Nigeria’s oil industry for most of this decade, issued a statement denouncing a government amnesty that had convinced several top commanders and thousands of footsoldiers to surrender their arms.

“We will fight for our land with the last drop of our blood regardless of how many people the government of Nigeria and the oil companies are successful in bribing,” said the group, giving voice to a hardline faction that demanded full talks on how oil revenues are divided, above and beyond the amnesty.

Ten days ago came another statement declaring a resumption of hostilities against “the Nigerian oil industry, the Nigerian armed forces and its collaborators” following the end of Mend’s ceasefire.

Then, on Sunday, there was a dramatic change of tone. Declaring an “indefinite ceasefire” to allow for talks with the government, Mend, always fond of a biblical citation, wrote: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven … a time to tear and a time to mend.” (Ecclesiastes).

The announcement is a fillip to a government that is losing billions of dollars of revenue after years of attacks that have reduced the output of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest energy sector by as much as 40 per cent. Read more

Oil prices dipped on Monday after hitting their highest levels of the year last week but base metals rose and US agricultural commodities extended their recent gains as markets made a mixed start to the new trading week.

Nymex December West Texas Intermediate dipped 30 cents to $80.20 a barrel while ICE December Brent lost 18 cents at $78.74 a barrel. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

President Obama’s speech on Friday at MIT, which some hoped would urge Congress to move ahead with climate change legislation, instead focused largely on green jobs and economic stimulus.

And indeed, with last week’s Pew survey showing levels of belief in the seriousness of climate change have fallen pretty sharply in the past 18 months, and that cap and trade seems to barely register on the public psyche right now, why would he want to talk about all that?

Interestingly, however the Pew survey found that a majority of Americans believe the US should sign up to an international agreement on climate change, and half of those polled believed emissions should be restricted, even if it made energy bills go up.

It’s enough to make us wonder whether cap and trade has been tainted by association with nasty financial instruments, the somewhat-maligned ‘giveaways to polluters’, or simply by its own complexity. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Amid all the worry in the US about China winning the clean tech race, Duke Energy seems to be unusually pro-active about teaming up with Chinese energy companies (or at least, about publicising it).

Anyhow, Duke has announced another China deal, this time with ENN Group. According to the press release, the two will team up to “to develop, own and operate the solar projects” in the US. They will focus on utility-scale solar farms and commercial distributed solar projects; both will be photo-voltaic.

But what does it mean to collaborate with China? This latest announcement, although lacking in numbers, advances an announcement back in September at the Clinton Global Initiative that Duke and ENN signed an agreement that specifically mentioned solar developments. But it also alluded to sharing technology. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Nigerian militan group calls ceasefire (FT)
Broader efforts required to maintain peace, warn activists

Senate Democrats set climate industry permits (Reuters)
Free allowances similar to proposed Waxman-Markey legislation Read more