Daily Archives: April 14, 2010

Ed Crooks

Vattenfall's Schwarze Pumpe carbon capture and storage pilot  plant

Vattenfall's Schwarze Pumpe CCS pilot

Lars Josefsson, who this week stepped down as chief executive of Vattenfall, has earned the right to take some pride in his achievements in his nine years leading the the Swedish state-owned power group.

Apart from his role in turning a national electricity company into an important player across northern Europe, Josefsson was also a pioneer among industry executives – alongside Lord Browne at BP – in taking seriously the threat of climate change.

As he steps down, however, to be replaced by Øystein Løseth, there is a question over how far Vattenfall will remain ahead of the pack, if at all.

Kate Mackenzie

How will Opec respond if crude oil prices remain above $80 a barrel?

There are increasing concerns that sustained high prices will damage economic recovery, and Opec itself knows that prices rising too high could damage its own prospects, by leading to a fall in consumption. Opec has made clear it thinks $70 – $80 is a suitable price range, but is hardly providing reassurances it will take action. A Reuters report claims that two of the cartel’s delegates on Tuesday said that $90 – $95 would now be required to trigger a change in quotas, and also quotes Libyan oil minister Shokri Ghanem saying recent price rises do not appear sustained enough to warrant a reaction.

And the cartel’s latest monthly report, out on Wednesday, is tight-lipped on the prospect of sustained $80+ prices.

Carola Hoyos

US Geological SurveyVenezuela under president Hugo Chavez has become the poster child of how to maim a burgeoning oil sector. But Caracas’s latest deal — the Juno 6 field, to be developed by Pdvsa and several Russian partners — has some heavy political firepower behind it and may yet lead to new oil production from Venezuela’s Orinoco Belt.

However, there are some rumblings of discontent: sources tell FT Energy Source that Russia’s decision to invest in Junin 6 was made by Vladimir Putin, and handed as a fait accompli to the less-than-thrilled chief executives of Russia’s biggest oil and gas companies.

Kate Mackenzie

A report in Wednesday’s LA Times highlights a conundrum that’s been puzzling us since talk began of a gasoline tax being included in the climate bill that Senators Kerry, Graham and Lieberman are expected to introduce next week (our emphasis):

As negotiations build toward a scheduled unveiling of the bill next week, it’s still unclear whether major oil companies and their trade group, the American Petroleum Institute, will explicitly endorse the legislation or at least agree not to fund an ad campaign opposing it. Proponents of a climate bill say such backing would be a major coup.

Several reports have suggested that oil companies themselves would prefer a form of carbon tax to a cap-and-trade scheme, and the LA Times specifically mentions Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips. Those three companies had all been members of US-CAP, an alliance supporting cap-and-trade, until February, when BP and Conoco withdrew from the group.

So, why support a carbon tax now, when any attempt to price carbon is arguably on rather shaky ground?

Kate Mackenzie

Urban Land Institute - Boston transport costs mapIt’s a phenomenon seen in many western cities, particularly in the past couple of decades as the gentrification of inner city suburbs made them more expensive. But are moves to areas with cheaper housing offset by higher transport costs – long driving commutes necessitated by limited access to public transport and walkable facilities?

It’s obviously a question that will change with price movements for crude oil and transport fuels, but a study of the Boston area, by the Urban Land Institute, suggests that many households are costing themselves more by favouring cheaper housing over transport proximity.

The yellow areas on the map show where households have higher costs because of their limited access to good transportation, meaning transport is a relatively high cost. The pale green areas are the opposite; they have lower costs primarily due to good access to transport. The darker green and orange zones are where household characteristics, such as income, affect transport costs.

The report is not exactly from one of the usual suspects, either – the Urban Land Institute is a non-profit organisation which says its 30,000 worldwide members are from the real estate development and “land use disciplines”.

Kate Mackenzie

- Clash of the ethanol lobbying efforts

- Fracking: just like Coca-Cola

- Coal ship leaves two-mile scar on Great Barrier Reef

- DoD worries about oil while DOE is complacent

- The Russian oil tanker titan leading Arctic ice-breaking

- All-electric scooter target at China

- The perils and potentials of geoengineering

Kate Mackenzie

IEA forecasts record demand in 2010 - FT

China raises diesel, gasoline prices by 4.6% – Bloomberg

Senators consider gasoline tax as part of climate bill - LA Times

Exxon chief’s pay falls 16% as earnings plunge - FT

Australian watchdog OKs Shell/Petrochina bid for Arrow - Reuters

Conoco to form UAE alliance to bid for Caspian oil, gas fields - Bloomberg

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