Daily Archives: July 7, 2010

Fiona Harvey

This week’s second report on the infamous “climategate” controversy came out with a bang on Wednesday afternoon.

The £200,000 review, headed by ex-civil servant Sir Muir Russell, was into the emails hacked last November from the University of East Anglia, and which purported to show that climate scientists at the university were conspiring to distort conclusions, conceal data and subvert the peer review process.

Except that they didn’t, according to the Russell review. His committee found: “On the specific allegations made against the behaviour of [UEA] Climatic Research Unit scientists, we find that their rigour and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.”

Further, “we did not find any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments”.

CRU scientists were also accused of withholding crucial temperature data. This they did not, said Sir Muir.

Kate Mackenzie

Henry Hub natural gas futures - three month chart - FT.com

Henry Hub

A particularly hot summer in much of the US has boosted natural gas prices somewhat, as the FT reports, with spot prices soaring in some areas and gas futures rising 19 per cent since May.

But will it do much to address the structural changes going on in the US gas market?

Barclays Capital’s gas analysts last week said they would remain relatively bearish on 2011 gas prices despite the recent upswing, are now worrying about the impact of Gulf of Mexico hurricane season, too. Both the incidence of hurricanes and their effect on gas production are difficult to predict, they wrote:

Last year provided a good example of how changing climate conditions can alter the prospects for hurricane activity in the Atlantic. 2009 was marked by an El Nino event, a condition whereby the temperatures of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean are warmer than historical norms, which was unforeseen at the beginning of the summer. El Nino conditions tend to suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic. Forecasters had expected a more active hurricane season for 2009, but
the development of El Nino conditions later in the year resulted in the quietest season since

They also point out that hurricane seasons can destroy gas demand, by heralding wetter, rainier summers.

Kate Mackenzie

We’re not sure what is more disturbing: this obscure but eerily prescient BP oil game from the 1980s that is doing the rounds:

BP Offshore Oil Strike game. Source - Flickr user Frankie Roberto

Or the fact that, as this Flickr photo suggests, there was/is a whole genre of oil-themed board games:

BP Offshore Oil Strike game & other oil games. Source - Flickr user Frankie Roberto

‘Black Gold’, ’The Slickest Game in Town’, ’Alaska Pipeline’ and the creatively titled ‘The Oil Game’ all seem to figure in there.

H/T Frankie Roberto/Flickr.

Kate Mackenzie

The Macondo blowout in the Gulf of Mexico has reminded everyone of the risks of drilling in new and more challenging environments. And it has led to a suspension of plans to allow companies to begin drilling in both Alaskan and Canadian Arctic waters.

Greenland, however, is not deterred; drilling in its Arctic waters commenced last week, by a small UK oil company called Cairn Energy, which began the first of four planned exploration wells. Greenland, the FT reports, is expected to hand out more drilling licences in August.

We looked at Greenland’s potential to become a big new oil play last year, and noted that Cairn was able to sell a 10 per cent stake in its holdings there to Petronas of Malaysia – a relatively small sale, but one that indicates a wider interest in the oil fields west of Greenland.

While Cairn’s Greenland fields aren’t at the depth of Macondo (900 – 1,500ft compared to 5,000ft), they are still deep. And some warn that the conditions make the prospect of fixing and cleaning up any accidents extremely daunting.

Kate Mackenzie

- Where’s the peak?

- The Kerry-Leiberman bill cost estimates smackdown

- Water markets: 1,000 times bigger than oil by 2030

- Was the UEA email hack a crime, and what are the police doing?

- BP’s next disaster

- 1970s BP board game comes back to haunt

Kate Mackenzie

- UK group begins oil drilling in Arctic - FT

- US heat wave slows rise in gas inventories - FT

- Nuclear waste store plan for UK unveiled - FT

- Heritage gains permission for Ugandan sale - FT

- BP shares soar as spill spreads - Reuters

- Embattled BP chief flies to Abu Dhabi for talks - The National

- Gulf operators declare Force Majeure on Diamond rigs – Rigzone

Fiona Harvey

It is a big week for the “climategate” story - the revelations late last year of emails from climate scientists at the University of East Anglia and elsewhere, and of alleged flaws in the fourth assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the most comprehensive body of work on climate science to date.

On Monday, the Netherlands Environment Agency (PBL) produced the result of its detailed investigation of the IPCC report. On Wednesday afternoon, the main inquiry into the UEA emails will publish its findings.

Contrary to what you might have read elsewhere, the PBL report was not “damning” of the IPCC and it did not provide evidence of a long litany of mistakes in the IPCC report. Nor did it portray the IPCC as one-sided or “alarmist”.

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