Many thanks for all your questions for Keith Parker, chief executive of the UK Nuclear Industry Association. His answers will appear on this site on Friday, April 1st.
Next week, the person in the hotseat will be Amrita Sen, Barcap’s oil analyst.
Amrita is one of the oil industry’s best known analysts, and will be taking your questions on everything from the effect of the Libyan conflict on oil supplies to what high oil prices mean for Opec and the wider economy.
Email all your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of Tuesday, April 5th.
President Barack Obama is calling on oil companies to increase production in the US, accusing them of sitting on tens of millions of unused and unexplored acres of leases on public land waiting to be tapped. But this must be put in context.
It would be one thing to make this accusation if companies were simply able to lease acreage and set to work exploring, drilling and producing. But the reality is not so. Even before the Macondo accident in the Gulf of Mexico, regulators have long forced oil and gas companies to go through a variety of hoops before producing on a lease. In some cases, they did approve permits without proper scrutiny, but there were many others, such as in Wyoming, where they forced the industry to go above and beyond before granting permission to drill.
With Brent Crude at $115 a barrel, it is little surprise to see the International Energy Agency talking in terms of oil remaining at $100 for 2011. And if it does, the organisation expects OPEC members to generate over $1,000bn in export revenues for the first time, as the FT reported on Wednesday.
Little wonder that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, which dominate the 13-nation cartel, can afford to splash out on big public spending plans to help quell social unrest. But it is expensive – Saudi Arabia now needs an oil price of $83 a barrel to balance its 2011 budget. And it may not work: history suggests that as countries grow richer, their citizens want rights as well as rewards.
Political scientists are still refining the theory but they generally accept its central tenets. The development of Europe, east Asia and Latin America has produced many examples of countries where, as incomes have risen, authoritarian regimes have been replaced with more democratic systems.
The tension between oil companies and George Osborne surrounding North Sea oil taxes has deepened.
But Statoil’s decision to put two projects on hold represents only one part of this clash. The other is from investors, who warn that it is not just current projects that are under threat, but long-term investment.
As Italy becomes the latest European government to consider changing its solar subsidies, ministers should pay attention to today’s report into green investment from the Pew Environment Group.
The report looked like good news for European governments. Private investment into renewables in the European region totalled $94.4bn, about $20bn more than in 2009, and more than any other world region.
Germany and Italy both surged, with more than 100 per cent growth in investment in small-scale solar installations.