Monthly Archives: April 2010

Kate Mackenzie

Minerals Management Service

The leak from site of the deadly Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion is five times bigger than estimated – 5,000 barrels a day, not 1,000 as previously thought. Meanwhile the US Coast Guard is likely to burn off some of the surface slick on Thursday, after carrying out a test burn on Wednesday with BP.

The burning, as The New York Times reports, is a relatively well-established way of removing leaked oil. (The photo above is from a joint Canadian-American test carried out in Newfoundland in 1993.)

Carola Hoyos

Angola overtook Saudi Arabia as China’s largest crude oil supplier in March, a month in which China’s imports rose to their second highest level on record, according to Petroleum Intelligence Weekly.

China’s third largest provider was Iran. Here is more from PIW:

Crude imports in March rose nearly 29 per cent to 4.98m b/d, the second highest on record. Angola was top supplier, shipping over 1m b/d, nearly double the volume last March. Saudi Arabia slipped to second spot with 760,700 b/d while Iran was third with 524,800 b/d. Total Mideast volumes were 2.25m b/d, or 45% of overall deliveries, while African cargoes comprised 35.8 per cent. China’s total imports in the first quarter of this year averaged 4.62m b/d, up 29 per cent year-on-year. The higher imports have been attributed to increased domestic refining capacity as well as robust economic growth, which was 11.9 per cent in the first quarter.

China’s Top 10 Crude Suppliers
(’000 b/d) Mar.’10 Mar.’09 Vol. Chg. % Chg.
Angola 1,081 544 537 98.7
Saudi Arabia 761 589 172 29.2
Iran 525 457 68 14.9
Russia 383 322 61 18.9
Libya 341 31 310 1,000
Oman 289 303 -14 -4.6
Sudan 241 242 -1 -0.4
Iraq 224 129 95 73.6
Kuwait 223 177 46 26.0
Kazakhstan 217 86 131 152.3
Others 695 984 -289 -29.4
Total 4,980 3,864 1,116 28.9

Kate Mackenzie

Cape Wind proposed view - Craigville, 6.5 miles from turbines. Source -

Last week we wrote about the counter-intuitive finding (for Brits, at least) that the UK is by no means the worst offender when it comes to lengthy approval processes for wind projects.

Unfortunately that report only looked at EU members – and as some commenters pointed out, the US would probably fare much worse. The country’s first offshore wind project, Cape Wind, has just been approved for installation off the Cape Cod coast — although with several revisions, including reducing the number of turbines from 170 to 130. And it only took nine years.

Kate Mackenzie

- Saudi Arabia global oil exports to wane post-2010

- Why burning leaked oil works

- And what happens to the oil already skimmed off the sea surface

- “The automobile is a transient stage in the evolution of mankind’s ability to transport oneself”

- Why Graham dumped the Democrats on climate

- The Libya-UK energy question, updated

Kate Mackenzie

US Coast Guard finds new leak in undersea well – Reuters

Crews try setting fire to oil slick - AP

Reid says he will move on climate bill first – The Hill

China in Pakistan nuclear deal - FT

Deutsche Bank, 50 other firms raided in carbon VAT investigation - Bild

PPL to buy Eon supply assets in US - FT

Climate change fears cloud Mediterranean tourism outlook – FT

Fiona Harvey

Like Arsenal supporters, carbon prices have been depressed for several months, and arguably for several years.

The current price of carbon in the European Union’s emissions trading scheme is just above €15 – slightly higher than the €13 to €14.50 range that it has been trading in for some time. The price tested six- and seven-month highs recently, and although it is giving up some of the gains, we can expect carbon to stay around current levels for a while.

Whether prices will go high enough to spur investment in low-carbon energy, however, is another question altogether.

Kate Mackenzie

Environmentalists and shale gas drillers may both disagree about the level of uncertainty, but the sudden boom in shale gas drilling has raised a lot of questions about whether the horizontal hydraulic fracturing techniques used have any serious environmental consequences — questions which regulators are looking into.

One gas company, Cabot, was this month banned from drilling in Pennsylvania while it plugged three wells believed to have contaminated drinking water of 14 homes.

A Cabot spokesman said:

“It just isn’t scientifically fair to say in any short period of time that Cabot’s activities did or did not cause the methane in the groundwater,” he said.

A pioneering expert on Marcellus shale says that statement doesn’t reflect well on Cabot. But he argues the ill effects of shale gas drilling are also overstated by some.

Carola Hoyos

For a long time, Total, the French oil company, has been one of the boldest of its peers when it comes to venturing to politically troublesome countries. Burma, Sudan and Nigeria are all on the list of countries in which it has investments.

The stock line has been that unless United Nations sanctions prohibit investment, Total will consider the country fair game.

Ed Crooks

As Royal Dutch Shell reports first quarter results – matching BP in comfortably exceeding analysts’ expectations – its chief financial officer Simon Henry has had some interesting things to say about the company’s plans in China.

Or rather, it would be more accurate to say, “with China”.

Kate Mackenzie

Both these companies reported much higher profit rises than consensus analyst forecasts had expected this week. Guess which one was overshadowed by a massive oil spill clean-up?

In fact BP’s 135 per cent increase versus forecasts of 85 per cent compare perfectly well to Shell’s 60 per cent increase versus a 30 per cent forecast.

But investors are of course are concerned about the cost to BP of containing the leak from last week’s Gulf of Mexico accident in which 11 workers are believed to have died – the fallout from which is drawing some rather ominous comparisons to the Exxon Valdez incident.

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