Monthly Archives: December 2009

Kate Mackenzie

First Solar, one of the world’s biggest solar photovoltaic manufacturers, has had some positive announcements lately. Its utility-scale power plant opened yesterday and last week it announced it had shipped 1GW worth of components, along with giving optimistic guidance for the coming year.

The moment was perhaps dampened a little by the appearance of one of the hedge fund managers who have been shorting the company in recent month.

(First Solar wasn’t the only solar company to find quite a high proportion of its shares available for loan in October).

Iraq has set the stage for a fight with fellow Opec members about production levels, warning it has been “deprived of its fair share” of oil output for long time.

The warning by Hussein Sharistani, Iraq’s oil minister, comes after Baghdad invited foreign oil companies back into the country to develop its vast oil reserves. The return of the international oil companies promises to bring Iraq’s oil production from 2.5m barrels a day to as much as 12m barrels a day within a decade.

Sharistani said that Iraq’s output will not enjoy any “significant” increase next year or even in 2011. But he made clear that Iraq will fight for a larger quota soon.

Baghdad’s Opec quota has been suspended since, under Saddam Hussein, it invaded Kuwait in August 1990. In theory, the country is free to pump as much as it can.

Kate Mackenzie

UN agrees to reform climate process (FT)

Opec expected to maintain oil output (FT)

Iran-Iraq stand-off over oil well ends (NY Times)

Carbon prices drop post-Copenhagen (FT)

Oil rebound keeps most-accurate forecasters bullish (Bloomberg)

Record year for top five crude traders (FT)

As Angola prepares to host an Opec meeting for the first time, the country has done its best to welcome fellow nations of the oil cartel – a new convention centre, a five star hotel and villas for the ministers on the outskirts of the capital, Luanda.

The display of wealth – and the contrast with poverty elsewhere – could backfire, however. The country is Opec’s biggest buster of the cartel’s official production limits, something Luanda justifies on the grounds of its dire economic situation.

Angola, the group newest member, wrote a letter earlier this year to the Opec secretariat asking for exemption from current quotas on the ground that the African nation is grappling with the impact of a 30-year civil war which only ended in 2002.

Sheila McNulty

Even as ExxonMobil was applauded this past week for finally plunking some real money down in the US natural gas scene, Royal Dutch Shell, which has long been in on the US gas play, made another move – this time into South Africa.

The South African Petroleum Authorities awarded Shell a Technical Cooperation Permit for a one-year study to determine the hydrocarbon potential in parts of the Karoo Basin in central South Africa. Shell will have the exclusive right to apply for exploration permits following completion of the study. This is being billed by Shell as a potential natural gas deal.

Kate Mackenzie

Post-meeting coverage from FT Energy Source:

Key points in the Copenhagen accord

Climate experts’ forum: A disappointment, or a relief?

Europe falls into line

Post-meeting coverage from FT.com:

Business chiefs – especially Europeans – unhappy with deal

Q&A: Have environmental hopes been dashed?

Where will the money come from?

Analysis: A foundering forum

What the pundits say

Editorial: A dismal outcome

Comment: Not the season for giving for rich nations

Climate deal arms Obama for Congress fight

As it unfolded on Friday night/Saturday morning:

Full text of Obama’s statement and press conference after the meeting with China, India, Brazil and South Africa.

It’s meaningful but it’s only a start, says Obama

Copenhagen deal done? Brazil takes more cautious tone

EU says deal is NOT done

Copenhagen: Where it’s up to

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FT Energy Source

FT Energy Source is posting a daily question for our panel of expert commentators. Mindy Lubber of the Investor Network on Climate Risk, Jeremy Leggett of Solarcentury, Julian Morris of the International Policy Network, Kyoto protocol carbon market architect Graciela Chichilnisky, and Climate Change Capital chairman Vivienne Cox.

The UN conference in Copenhagen finally ended on Saturday morning with a global deal on climate change, although it was a non-binding agreement and far from unanimous. Is the agreement a disappointment or a relief?

Mindy Lubber: The climate treaty announcement is legitimately catching some heat for being too little, too late. The enormity of the crisis cries out for strong binding pollution reduction targets by all countries and massive infusions of public and private capital to catalyse a fast-track transition to a low-carbon economy.

But expecting we’d get all this at COP15 was never realistic. That’s why leading US businesses such as Nike, PG&E and North Face are encouraged by these first positive steps from Copenhagen.

FT Energy Source

An agreement reached by US President Barack Obama with leaders from India, South Africa, China and Brazil has formed the basis of a text adopted by the United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen.

At a glance here are the main points from the “Copenhagen Accord”:

* Long-term goals:

“Deep cuts in global emissions are required according to science … with a view to reduce global emissions so as to hold the increase in global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius.”

Kate Mackenzie

Perhaps the most positive thing that can be confidently said about the Copenhagen meeting at this stage is that everyone agrees there is more to be done. A non-binding agreement between the US, China, India, Brazil and South Africa, negotiated in a four-hour meeting between the countries’ leaders, has caused confusion and provoked a mixed response from other countries.

Certainly, no-one is saying that the agreement goes far enough. Although there was progress on monitoring of emissions reductions and financing, the actual emissions commitments so far are not sufficient to reach the agreed target of limiting warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, which scientists suggest is probably the limit of safety.

[A word on the agreement itself: while the gist can be gleaned from officials' comments, several texts purporting to the be real thing have been circulating in Copenhagen. We will publish the correct text when confirmed.]

Ed Crooks

At 2am, about four hours after the US first called the Copenhagen climate deal done, the European Union has finally fallen into line, albeit with visible reluctance. The EU has signed up to the ‘Copenhagen Accord’, while complaining about most of its details.

Gordon Brown has been taking a similar tack, describing the accord as a “first step”, pleading understanding of the difficulties inherent in reaching agreement among 192 countries, and raising the prospect of strengthening the agreement next year.

As weary observers dozed in the front row of the press centre, Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister of Sweden which holds the rotating EU presidency, and Jose Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission complained about the weakness of the deal.

Reinfeldt could also not resist a dig at US president Barack Obama.

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