Energy

After the dot.com crash and the credit crunch, investors are being warned of the potential consequences of a ‘carbon bubble’.

Stock markets are sitting on vast reserves of fossil fuels that cannot be burnt if the world is to stick to climate change targets, according to research issued by the Carbon Tracker initiative.

Developing countries invested more in renewable energy than their developed counterparts for the first time last year, according to a report commissioned by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

When the Republic of South Sudan becomes the world’s newest state on Saturday, the new government in Juba will begin to assess how it can establish an independent export route for its vast oil reserves.

India seems to hold the upper-hand over Iran in a dispute over payments for crude oil shipments that has been rumbling for over six months.

Iran supplies India with 12-14 per cent of its total imports, making it India’s second biggest provider after Saudi Arabia. But a payments dispute has left India owing debts estimated at anywhere between $2-6 billion. In effect, this means India has been importing Iranian oil on credit since December 2010.

Middle East nuclear, RWE, Chinese wind turbines

In this week’s podcast: We talk to Deloitte’s head of nuclear, Daniel Grosvenor about nuclear power plans in the Middle East; we look at German utility RWE and the possible sale of UK subsidiary Npower; and, we discuss China’s steps into the European wind market with the country’s biggest turbine maker securing an Irish wind farm deal worth €1.5bn.

Presented by David Blair with Pilita Clark and Vincent Boland.

Produced by LJ Filotrani

Pakistan is to become a key buyer of Iranian natural gas at a time when relations with Washington are at their most strained in recent years.

Work on extending the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline will begin in the next six months and is set to be complete by 2014, according to Asim Hussain, the Pakistani natural resources minister. Some 1,100 km of the 2,700 km pipeline has already been completed on the Iranian side of the border, stretching from the South Pars field to the frontier with Pakistan.

Sheila McNulty

The issue of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has taken on a life of its own. But with so much misinformation, it is hard for the general public to know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. The truth is – as with any polarising issue – somewhere in the middle. New York appears to have accepted that and decided to move forward to permit fracking in all but the most sensitive areas of the state.

But even as New York is poised to lift its moratorium on fracking, New Jersey’s legislature has moved to impose one. What this illustrates is just how divisive this issue has become.

Let us look at some of the pros: Hydraulic fracturing in a series of stages, combined with horizontal drilling, has given the US oil and gas industry a new lease of life. After years of declining production, the technology has enabled the country to grow not only natural gas but oil production. And with a country that consumes so much energy and has yet to make any serious attempt to scale back its usage, this can only be a good thing. It means more domestic supply to meet demand, which translates into less money leaving the country for imports and heightened energy security. And more drilling, of course, means more jobs and more economic activity.

Now here are the cons: if drillers are irresponsible about how they use the technology – and with far more than 1,000 operators drilling and producing across the country there will always be some who are – it hurts everyone. The damage to the environment and people could be very real. One only needs to think of Macondo, BP’s well at the centre of last year’s accident in the Gulf of Mexico.

As the EPA investigates the environmental risks associated with fracking, the industry must ensure it has no Macondos. By proving the industry can safely and responsibly develop the US’ domestic resources, companies eventually win over the public, and politicians, who are so afraid of the technology they are banning it outright.

But the industry cannot do this if it is not permitted to frack at all. Take New Jersey, which has just  passed a ban on fracking this week. While New Jersey is not a major gas producer – and does not seem to have the geology ever to be – this is, nonetheless, a symbolic gesture that might well ensure that what it does have is never developed.  That leaves the burden to other states, such as Texas, to continue producing the gas used by those in New Jersey.

While this is not fair, the industry will say it would rather deal with states individually than have a restrictive federal law passed down that might, in the end, restrict the use of fracking in industry-friendly places such as Texas.

Certainly there are risks of that happening, but it seems to make the most sense for the US to approach this issue on the federal level. If a fair, science-based investigation can be conducted, and the industry be given an opportunity to defend itself against the charges of environmentalists, perhaps a workable solution can be found - one that permits fracking to continue across the country with the necessary safeguards to prevent a disastrous onshore event, such as Macondo was to the offshore industry.

That way states like New York – which was among the first of a string of places to put a temporary ban on fracking - and New Jersey will not scare off the public and politicians in other states from permitting something that might well be done safely  – and limit imports and grow energy security as much as possible. For a country that consumes so much energy and cannot seem to get its arms around a comprehensive plan to reduce carbon emissions with a real committment to renewables and energy efficiency, this seems the best course to take.

Smart meters and BG Group in Brazil

In this week’s podcast: Smart meters in the UK will save energy companies billions – but consumers only £23 per year. And BG Group revises the oil reserve estimates in Brazil. Good fortune for the company, but what does it mean for the energy market?

Presented by Pilita Clark, with David Blair, energy correspondent, and Vincent Boland, Lex writer. Produced by Rob Minto.

David Blair

Over the next decade, Britain is expected to spend some £200bn on overhauling its entire energy infrastructure. Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, tries to justify this colossal price tag by pointing to the future opportunities presented by “green growth”. He reckons the UK can reap a huge dividend by becoming a leader in renewable energy technologies, allowing us to penetrate new export markets in emerging economies. 

But an energy conference organised by the Financial Times in London threw several buckets of cold water over Huhne’s optimistic theory.

BP, EU emissions, India

In this week’s podcast: BP looks to settle potential claims over the Gulf spill; global airlines prepare to be included in EU emission targets; and we talk to Sangram Nayaka, organiser of the Energy Investment Summit in Dehli about India’s energy policy – nuclear vs renewables?

Presented by Sylvia Pfeifer with Pilita Clark and Vincent Boland in the studio in London, and Andrew Charlton from Aviation Advocacy in Geneva.

Produced by LJ Filotrani

Energy Source is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Insight into the financial, economic and policy aspects of energy and the environment.

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