Daily Archives: November 9, 2009

Kate Mackenzie


Sites identified as suitable for nuclear power plants. Source: DECC

The UK government has published its long-awaited national policy statement drafts on electricity supply for the next two decades. The key point was the naming of 10 sites as suitable for nuclear power stations, most of them near existing or decommissioned plants. Industry seems keen on this (after all they suggested the sites) and even the opposition’s strongest criticism was that it was years too late.

This is not something to be taken lightly, however. Many of the UK’s existing nuclear, and some coal plants, will become too old to keep working, while cumbersome and slow planning approval has held up development of both renewables and fossil fuelled plants (nuclear has, in addition, its own specific political and financial problems). This has been a pressing concern for years now. The government’s goal to increase the supply of energy from renewables and address energy security concerns (namely, importing gas from Russia) makes it even more challenging.

Kate Mackenzie

One of the difficult issues facing countries negotiating at Copenhagen is ‘carbon leakage’. Developed countries agree — in principle — that they should sign up for more stringent emissions reduction targets, allowing developing countries to continue increasing their emissions for a while in order for their populations’ living standards to improve.

But big developed countries, particularly the US, face massive political backlash against the idea of signing up to commitments that would increase costs to their own carbon-intensive industries. Even worse is the prospect of ‘carbon leakage’ – or, work going offshore to developing countries who were allowed more generous limits. The US has floated the idea of a border tax to offset this, which is only inflaming developing countries ahead of Copenhagen.

Kate Mackenzie

On FT Energy Source:

Did oil cause the latest recession? The IEA weighs in

A potentially bullish nat gas data mystery

Shell falls short on the forecourt

Oil, US gas prices rise on Hurricane Ida concerns

Further reading:

India’s Reliance set to spend $6bn on LyondellBasell assets, say sources (Economic Times)

The new Iraqi deals don’t mean cheap oil (Energy Outlook)

Shale gas skeptic plot thickens (Houston Chronicle)

Is socialism a prerequisite for a national nuclear industry? (Matthew Yglesias)

Gas players are hedging their bets with liquids ‘topnots’ (The Barrel/Platts)

Technical guide to shale gas (The Oil Drum)

Angola to stash more cash into fund (UpstreamOnline)

EPA demands attorneys remove video critical of cap and trade (Grist)

Kate Mackenzie

An old Shell gas station in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Source: Flickr

Shell is usually pretty pro-active in its approach to shaping its public image. It is eager to host and participate public discussions on climate change and CCS, and the company’s climate change scientist David Hone writes what is, for a corporate-sponsored effort, not a bad blog.

But those efforts tend to be focused on oil and gas production, or big-picture stuff such as the future of fossil fuels. They seem to be falling down a little, at least by comparison, when it comes to the somewhat more mundane downstream efforts.

First, the poppy scandal. In the UK, Shell retailers are not allowing charities, including the Royal British Legion’s ubiquitous poppy appeal, to put their fundraising boxes on its service station counters. It’s easy to guess how that turned out: threats of boycotts from ex-servicemen and general accusations of heartlessness.

And in the US, Shell on Friday agreed to pay $19.5m for “numerous violations” discovered in an investigation into 1,000 gasoline stations around California. “Many dealt with failure to properly monitor underground storage tanks and spill alarm systems,” the AP reported.

(Incidentally, the rather eye-catching gas station pictured above is in neither California nor the UK.)

Update: Shell has changed its mind about the poppies and published a rather abject apology about the whole affair. Royaldutchshellplc.com – probably company’s most eagle-eyed watchers - have published the whole thing and even gave them a pat on the back for it.

Crude oil and US natural gas prices rose amid concerns that hurricane Ida could cause supply disruptions as the storm moved through the Gulf of Mexico.

Nymex December West Texas Intermediate rose $1.27 to $78.70 a barrel, while ICE December Brent added $1.20 at $77.07 a barrel.

Oil offloading has been halted at the Louisiana offshore oil port and some oil companies have already evacuated offshore workers from platforms.

Nymex December Henry Hub rose 3 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $4.625 per million British thermal units, a relatively muted reaction as US natural gas inventories stand close to record levels in preparation for winter.

Read the full commodities report

Kate Mackenzie

It’s a basic economic tenet that supply must always equal demand. So when the Energy Information Administration finds in its monthly natural gas report that the volumes of gas produced are not equivalent to the amount of gas that is bought, it publishes a number known as the ‘balancing item’. This represents the different between the two amounts, and it is added to the supply number to correct whatever error led to the imbalance between reported supply and demand.

If there is more supply than demand recorded, the balancing item is negative. If supply is lower than demand, the balancing item is positive to make up the difference.

Kate Mackenzie

Though it’s universally viewed as a crisis of the financial sector’s making, several voices (notably James Hamilton) have argued the recession that began last year had a lot to do with the sharp rise in oil prices over the preceding months and years.

As long-dated oil futures contracts near $100, the oil shock question is becoming more pressing. At least Opec, which is increasing its production rapidly, seems to think so.

A feature in the draft executive summary of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook, which will be published tomorrow, revisits this argument and comes to a rather worrying conclusion.

Kate Mackenzie

Fears as price of long-dated oil soars
Long-dated contracts within a whisker of $100

Labour backs nuclear energy option
UK government to set out huge expansion plans today (FT)

Gazprom Q2 profit beats forecasts
Profit attributable to shareholders 192.6 bln roubles (Reuters)

Oil at $100 doesn’t compute
Opec raises output at fastest rate in two years (Bloomberg)

Iraqi Minister says three oilfields to pump 6m barrels
Shahristani says new contracts will boost production (Bloomberg)

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