Daily Archives: November 6, 2009

Kate Mackenzie

On FT Energy Source this week:

- Peak demand: Going big?

- All your questions about India, China and Copenhagen answered

- Why no treaty at Copenhagen wouldn’t be a disaster

- The big challenge in US CO2: Coal

- Non-Opec, non-Russian oil supply: Down

- Index investors are a force for good in oil – for now

- Shale gas row gets nasty

- Green stimulus and the dangers of ‘buy American’

- Natural gas’ environmental hopes dashed?

- Geoengineering, for the lullz

Kate Mackenzie

We found this ‘Ode to Opec‘ from EnergyBurrito, a blog by SummitEnergy analyst Matt Smith, very amusing:

Opec

Source: Opec

Oh I wish I worked for Opec,
I bet the pay is great;
They only meet four times a year,
To have a quick debate.

Oh I wish I worked for Opec,
Their meetings sound like fun,
They always meet in a fancy place
And never get much done.

Oh I wish I worked for Opec,
I could shoot the breeze;
And give statements to reporters,
Like how Opec is keeping quotas unchanged when in reality they are doing whatever they feel like.

Want more Opec songs?

Kate Mackenzie

Hot on the heels of an eruption in the green stimulus/buy American debate, China Investment Corporation – a Chinese sovereign wealth fund – has agreed to buy a 15 per cent stake of listed US power generator AES, and to buy 35 per cent of AES’ wind generating business.

On the face of it, it’s perfect fodder for those fearing the US will lose the clean tech race, who are especially riled up right now about green stimulus money going to Chinese and European wind turbine manufacturers. And the US apprehension about foreign interests spreads far beyond renewable energy – witness the CNOOC/Unocol and DP World furores.

But it’s more complicated than that…

AES runs power generation and utilities, so it’s not involved in turbine manufacturing, which is the touchiest area of green stimulus jobs debate — partly because it’s labour-intensive, partly because it contains the promise of a quick-change career for those left unemployed by the recession. 

Kate Mackenzie

Why no treaty at Copenhagen wouldn’t be a disaster

Green stimulus and the dangers of ‘buy American’

A bad week for French nuclear

European coal storage maxing out?

David MacKay’s foot-in-mouth moment

ExxonMobil bulking up on reserves again

Anti-climate change campaigning all comes together

Markets: WTI back to $80

Further reading:

China, Italy do poorly in emissions-to-GDP ratio (NY Times)

First US carbon capture scheme project hits 1 megaton (Houston Chronicle)

US has the most fossil fuels (BNet)

Halliburton bags Saudi Ghawar gig (UpstreamOnline)

Why do countries rich in oil still have poverty? (Planet Money/NPR)

Petrobras signs $10bn China loan (Oil & Gas Journal)

Kate Mackenzie

Updated: Professor David MacKay was a respected academic figure well before he was appointed the UK’s chief scientist for energy and climate change. He attracted a great deal of mainstream attention with his excellent book ‘Sustainable Energy: Without Hot Air‘, which calmly and lucidly explores exactly how the UK might meet its energy needs while also lowering its greenhouse gas emissions.

But everyone makes mistakes, and scientists, we notice, are more prone to slips of the tongue than others.

The Telegraph reports that during a speech yesterday, Prof MacKay referred to energy security by asking who wanted to be held hostage to fossil fuel producers “with funny accents“?

A spokesperson from the Department of Energy and Climate Change writes:

This was an inappropriate choice of words and Professor MacKay regrets any offence that may have been caused. The important point he was intending to make was that much of the world’s remaining fossil fuel reserves lie in potentially unstable regions, this being one of the reasons for the shift to low carbon.

It’s an important point, but it’s also a very unfortunate choice of words.

Update: Some readers below have pointed out that the comment was ironic. Perhaps DECC could have just told us that?

(H/T to our reader and ardent commenter Gas Guru, who’s posted his response here).

Related links:
David Mackay: The first factual meme on renewable energy? (FT Energy Source, 14/04/09)

Kate Mackenzie

MoToMo

Flickr: MoToMo

European coal might be having some of the same problems as US natural gas: supplies are building up, and places to store it are being stretched.

Natural gas kept in storage in the US has been closely watched in recent months: abundant supply and anaemic demand saw inventories reach record level, prompting fears that the limits of capacity would be reached. News last month that there was still a few hundred million cubic feet of capacity going gave prices a boost.

Now one of Europe’s biggest coal import terminals has broken records for coal storage levels.

Kate Mackenzie

As if it wasn’t enough that three countries – including France – had raised concerns about safety in the new EPR nuclear reactor design, concerns are building over delays to another big European reactor.

France remains a leader in world nuclear power, with almost 80 per cent of its electricity supply sourced from its reactors. The reactor under development by Electricite de France in Flamanville, northern France, and the Finnish Olkiluoto reactor are meant to be showcases for the new EPR reactor, largely designed by French company Areva.

Delays over Olkiluoto have been well-publicised this year, and it’s also been the subject of a public spat between Areva (which is building the plant) and Finnish utility TVO, which will operate it.

Now the French project in Flamanville is coming under fire for delays, too.

US crude oil prices regained the $80-a-barrel level with Nymex December West Texas Intermediate up 50 cents to $80.12 a barrel, while ICE December Brent added 56 cents at $78.55 a barrel.

Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos, president of Opec, said during an oil sector meeting in Ecuador on Thursday that prices were “more or less at an acceptable level” and that crude at $80 a barrel in 2010 would be “reasonable”.

Hussein Allidina, commodity strategist at Morgan Stanley, said further gains for oil prices were likely to be limited as physical demand remained weak and supportive macro factors would start to fade.

Kate Mackenzie

Relations were – briefly – looking warmer between the US and China on the clean energy ‘race’ front last week, when trade talks in Hangzhou saw officials on both sides agree to relax several sticking points, including China dropping its local requirement on wind turbines tenders.

But even as the talks were concluding, trouble was brewing in the form of Texas wind farm that planned to use Chinese turbines.

The announcement has blown up into a row about US stimulus money being spent overseas – not helped by findings published last week by a non-profit journalism group that many of the wind farms receiving stimulus money were owned by foreign companies, mostly European.

Now Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat Senator in New York, has criticised the spending of stimulus money on the $1.5bn, 600MW farm in Texas, going on foreign-owned projects, called for stimulus funds to be conditional on sourcing components locally. Schumer pointed out that the entire Texas project could be built with American manufacturing.

Fiona Harvey

When is a treaty not a treaty? When it is a political agreement.

The question of whether the climate change conference in Copenhagen this December will produce a new global treaty on greenhouse gas emissions has been vexing the minds of negotiators and observers at the United Nations climate change talks in Barcelona this week – the last formal negotiating session before Copenhagen.

Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Photo: Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Since 2007, when countries set out a roadmap to a new agreement, the official line has been that a new treaty needed to be signed in December in order to give countries time to ratify it before 2012, when the current provisions of the Kyoto protocol expire.

But the UN and the EU have begun scaling back expectations that this can be achieved in the next six weeks.

Instead, they say the December conference must produce a “political deal”, that would have to be turned into a legal document in the subsequent months. The EU and the UN say it would probably take about six months; one senior negotiator, however, said it could take a year.

So, is this a big problem? It depends who you ask.

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