Saturday, July 31, 2010

ODAC Newsletter - July 30

Welcome to the ODAC Newsletter, a weekly roundup from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, the UK registered charity dedicated to raising awareness of peak oil.

Another week on and there has been no further leak from the BP Macondo well. Officials are now "optimistic" about preparations for a new attempt at a permanent seal, with the initial step of pumping mud into the top of the well likely to begin as soon as Sunday. With the leak apparently under control, BP chose this week to announce the inevitable departure of its CEO Tony Hayward, whose replacement by the American Bob Dudley was vital for the company’s damage limitation efforts in the US.

Hayward's departure was announced on Wednesday along with BP's second quarter results which showed a loss of $17bn, the biggest quarterly loss in British Corporate history. BP set aside $32.2bn to cover losses associated with the Deepwater Horizon disaster, based on the company's claim that it was not grossly negligent. But that question will be decided in the American courts, and if BP is wrong, it may need to set aside another $10 billion for higher fines.

Second quarter results from other oil majors showed increased profits reflecting higher oil prices. Peter Voser Chief Executive of Shell, announcing their results on Thursday, stressed the importance of deepwater drilling to future oil production — underlining our increasing dependence on risky, carbon intensive and expensive resources. The Obama administration's attempt to pass landmark legislation on greenhouse gas emissions was abandoned this week, and replaced which a much more limited energy bill focussing on measures around oil spills and energy efficiency.

In Britain, Energy Secretary Chris Huhne delivered the first of the coalition government's new Annual Energy Statements this week, along with a call for evidence on future energy scenarios to achieve an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050. The 2050 Pathways Analysis report specifically includes a re-examination of the oil outlook over the next 40 years, and an ODAC trustee has been invited to take part - a welcome sign the new government is open to a wider range of views than the last. We hope the coalition also distinguishes itself from New Labour by avoiding the trap of endless consultation becoming a substitute urgent reform of energy policy.

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OilOfficials optimistic amid preparations to seal Gulf oil wellBP makes record loss as Tony Hayward quitsShell defends deep-water drilling as profits soarExxon Mobil Second-Quarter Profit Climbs After Oil Prices Rise'BP squad' assembled for criminal investigationBP Spill Thwarts Shell, Statoil in Arctic Oil DelayUK steps up offshore rig inspections as US probe beginsCrude Oil Falls, Poised for Weekly Decline, on Slowing Economy Tullow to start $10bn Uganda developmentGasChina First-Half Gas Demand Rises 22% as Output GrowsBritish Gas warns of rising energy bills as profits doubleRenewablesHot offer: free solar panels and lower billsUS renewable energy industry in call for actionOffshore wind needs ВЈ10bn to avoid missing green targetsEngineers race to design world's biggest offshore wind turbinesBiofuelsDon't fall for jatropha plants, warns UN bodyUKGovernment energy plans unveiled by Chris HuhneUK energy scenarios: working with a flawed modelOfgem ovehauls UK energy regulationCouncils "key" to meeting 2020 targetsBritain pledges millions in electric car subsidiesCBI attacks plan to tighten emissions targetsBan on new coal-fired power plants without CCSClimateUS Senate drops bill to cap carbon emissionsModern cargo ships slow to the speed of the sailing clippers


Officials optimistic amid preparations to seal Gulf oil wellCNN Wire Staff, CNN, 29 Jul 2010View original article

One hundred days after an oil well operated by BP ruptured in the Gulf of Mexico, and 13 days after crews finished capping the well to contain the gushing crude, the man who is overseeing the federal response is optimistic that steps planned for the coming days will finally, permanently seal the well.

"The relief well, while it is deep, is something that has been done before," said retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen. "The technologies involved here are not novel, but obviously, the depth is a challenge here. But we are optimistic we will get this done."...

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BP makes record loss as Tony Hayward quitsRichard Wray, The Guardian, 27 Jul 2010View original article

BP has reported one of the largest losses in British corporate history because of the cost of the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and confirmed this morning that embattled chief executive Tony Hayward is leaving the company.

In its second-quarter results the company has set aside $32.2bn (ВЈ20.7bn) to meet the cost of the clean-up, far higher than the City had expected and plunging the company into a $17bn loss, compared with a profit last year of $3.1bn. The dramatic loss means that BP will be able to slash its tax bill by about $10bn, in a move likely to infuriate politicians on both sides of the Atlantic...

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Shell defends deep-water drilling as profits soarBen Perry, AFP, 29 Jul 2010View original article

Royal Dutch Shell posted soaring profits on Thursday and defended deep-water oil production, saying it has an "important role" to play despite the US Gulf of Mexico disaster that rocked rival BP.

The Anglo-Dutch oil giant reported a 15-percent jump in net profit to 4.39 billion dollars (3.38 billion euros) in the second quarter, as it slashed costs and raised output....

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Exxon Mobil Second-Quarter Profit Climbs After Oil Prices RiseEdward Klump, Bloomberg, 29 Jul 2010View original article

Exxon Mobil Corp. posted its biggest profit increase since 2003, exceeding analyst estimates, as rising production helped the largest U.S. oil company take advantage of gains in energy prices.

Second-quarter net income jumped 91 percent to $7.56 billion, or $1.60 a share, from $3.95 billion, or 81 cents, a year earlier, Irving, Texas-based Exxon said today in a statement. Per-share profit was 15 cents higher than the average of 17 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg...

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'BP squad' assembled for criminal investigationJerry Markon - The Washington Post, Seattle Times, 27 Jul 2010View original article

A team of federal investigators known as the "BP squad" is assembling in New Orleans to conduct a wide-ranging criminal probe that will focus on at least three companies and examine whether their cozy relations with federal regulators contributed to the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to law-enforcement and other sources.

The squad at the FBI offices includes investigators from the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies, the sources said. In addition to BP, the firms at the center of the inquiry are Transocean, which leased the Deepwater Horizon rig to BP, and engineering giant Halliburton, which had finished cementing the well only 20 hours before the rig exploded April 20, sources said...

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BP Spill Thwarts Shell, Statoil in Arctic Oil DelayKari Lundgren,, 28 Jul 2010View original article

BP Plc's disaster in the Gulf of Mexico will keep the planet's biggest pot of untapped oil and gas under the Arctic ice for now as regulators toughen drilling rules and demand better ways to handle spills.

Royal Dutch Shell Plc has had plans to explore off Alaska halted by both U.S. authorities and a federal court ruling last week. Norway's Statoil ASA faces government restrictions on drilling in Arctic waters, while BP, responsible for the Gulf spill that prompted scrutiny of offshore drilling, has put off developing its Liberty prospect in the Beaufort Sea until 2011...

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UK steps up offshore rig inspections as US probe beginsJames Quinn in New York and Rowena Mason, Telegraph, 29 Jul 2010View original article

UK safety officials have begun a crackdown on elderly North Sea oil and gas rigs, at the same time as it emerged a clutch of US federal regulators are preparing to begin a formal investigation into whether BP and its partners drilling the ill-fated Macondo well contributed to the Gulf of Mexico spill.

The two separate moves — on either side of the Atlantic — highlight the seriousness with which regulators are treating the industry since the well's April 20 explosion, which killed 11 men and led to millions of barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf...

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Crude Oil Falls, Poised for Weekly Decline, on Slowing Economy Ben Sharples and Christian Schmollinger, Bloomberg, 30 Jul 2010View original article

Oil fell in New York, poised for its biggest weekly decline in four, on concern that faltering global economic growth will curtail a recovery in fuel demand.

Crude pared yesterday's 1.8 percent gain as Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average slipped 1.6 percent following an unexpected drop in industrial production and an increase in the unemployment rate. Oil has retreated 1.1 percent this week, its largest loss since the five days ended July 2...

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Tullow to start $10bn Uganda developmentChristopher Thompson, Financial Times, 28 Jul 2010View original article

Tullow Oil will begin a $10bn development of Uganda's oil reserves after completing the $1.45bn cash acquisition of Heritage Oil's 50 per cent stake in the country's Lake Albert oil blocks.

The sale means Tullow is the owner of all but one of the landlocked east African nation's oil blocks with proved reserves, located deep in equatorial Lake Albert on the Congo border, that are estimated to hold up to 2.3bn barrels of crude.

Tullow will now finalise a sale of two-thirds of the project to be split equally between Total of France and the Chinese state oil company CNOOC...

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China First-Half Gas Demand Rises 22% as Output GrowsWinnie Zhu in Shanghai and Chua Baizhen in Beijing, Bloomberg, 27 Jul 2010View original article

China, the world's biggest energy user, consumed 22 percent more natural gas in the first half compared with a year earlier as the country boosted production and use of the cleaner-burning fuel to cut emissions.

Demand rose after China Petrochemical Corp.'s first-half gas output jumped more than 40 percent, China National Offshore Oil Corp.'s climbed more than 30 percent and China National Petroleum Corp. showed "stable growth," the National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement on its website today. It didn't specify how much gas China consumed...

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British Gas warns of rising energy bills as profits doubleTim Webb, The Guardian, 28 Jul 2010View original article

Utility bills could be on the way up, British Gas warned today despite almost doubling profits in the first half of the year.

Nick Luff, the finance director of parent company Centrica, said that energy costs for this winter and next year have risen significantly...

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Hot offer: free solar panels and lower billsBen Webster Environment Editor, The Guardian, 28 Jul 2010View original article

Thousands of homes are being offered the chance to rent their roofs to a solar power company in exchange for cheaper electricity bills.

The company, Isis Solar, will pay for solar panels to be installed without any costs being borne by the homeowner. Families will see their electricity bills fall by up to two thirds, with the average home saving about ВЈ340 a year. However, homeowners must agree to keep the panels for at least 25 years and allow access for maintenance. The scheme means that homeowners who cannot afford the typical ВЈ10,000 cost of installing panels will be able to take advantage of the Government's feed-in tariff scheme for small-scale renewable forms of electricity...

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US renewable energy industry in call for actionSheila McNulty in Houston, Financial Times, 28 Jul 2010View original article

In spite of the Obama Administration's pledge to create green jobs, the US renewable energy industry said on Tuesday it had stalled in the absence of strong federal policy, low power demand and bureaucratic funding.

Installations of wind power — the biggest growth engine of the US renewable industry - so far this year have dropped by 71 per cent from 2009 levels, according to the American Wind Energy Association, the industry trade group...

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Offshore wind needs ВЈ10bn to avoid missing green targetsSarah Arnott, The Independent, 26 Jul 2010View original article

Britain's offshore wind ambitions will face a ВЈ10bn funding gap within five years, energy experts will warn today, and the Government's legally-binding 2020 green targets will not be met unless the deficit can be closed.

This comes a day after Energy Minister Chris Huhne revealed plans for a huge expansion of the UK's wind turbines, saying wind power would be an "important part" of meeting the country's energy demands in the future...

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Engineers race to design world's biggest offshore wind turbinesJohn Vidal, The Guardian, 26 Jul 2010View original article

British, American and Norwegian engineers are in a race to design and build the holy grail of wind turbines — giant, 10MW offshore machines twice the size and power of anything seen before — that could transform the global energy market because of their economies of scale.

Today, a revolutionary British design that mimics a spinning sycamore leaf and which was inspired by floating oil platform technology, entered the race. Leading engineering firm Arup is to work with an academic consortium backed by blue-chip companies including Rolls Royce, Shell and BP to create detailed designs for the "Aerogenerator", a machine that rotates on its axis and would stretch nearly 275m from blade tip to tip. It is thought that the first machines will be built in 2013-14 following two years of testing...

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Don't fall for jatropha plants, warns UN bodyPrabha Jagannathan, Economic Times India, 26 Jul 2010View original article

In a significant implication for the country's biofuel policy, a specialised arm of the United Nations has warned that the developing countries should not buy blindly into the 'jatropha for biodiesel' argument. Warning against the hype and half-truths around jatropha curacas, an oil seed plant touted as a major potential source of biofuels, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned in a special report that yields need to improve significantly for the crop to give an adequate return.

"Although there have been increasing investments and policy decisions concerning the use of jatropha as an oil crop, they have been based on little evidence-based information," the report said, adding that identifying the true potential of jatropha requires separating the evidence from the hyped claims and half-truths."...

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Government energy plans unveiled by Chris HuhneTelegraph, 29 Jul 2010View original article

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne today outlined a series of measures to improve energy efficiency, boost renewables and allow new nuclear projects to go ahead as he laid out the Government's energy policy.

In the first annual energy statement to the Commons, Mr Huhne set out plans to secure the UK energy supplies and cut carbon emissions while ''keeping the lights on''...

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UK energy scenarios: working with a flawed modelAkanksha Awal, Financial Times - Energy Source Blog, 28 Jul 2010View original article

In the UK's first ever annual energy statement, Chris Huhne, UK energy and climate change secretary, asked researchers, industry experts and members of the public a series of questions about the country's energy priorities. The answers to these questions, he announced, will help form the basis of Britain's pathway to energy security by the year 2050...

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Ofgem ovehauls UK energy regulationAngela Monaghan, Telegraph, 27 Jul 2010View original article

Ofgem has laid out proposals to make what it described as the biggest change to energy regulation in 20 years in order to facilitate ВЈ32bn of investment in low carbon networks.

The move came ahead of what is expected to be a major energy policy update from the Government on Tuesday, focused on the Green Deal loan scheme, an accelerated roll-out of smart meters, and Britain's need for security of supply, in which Ofgem will play a leading role...

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Councils "key" to meeting 2020 targetsNew Energy Focus, 27 Jul 2010View original article

Local authorities are "key" to the UK meeting its 2020 renewable energy targets as they are best placed to deliver the community-scale schemes needed, according to a Friends of the Earth (FoE) report published today (July 27).

The report, written for the FoE by Dr Jim Watson, Dr Ivan Scrase and Dr Lee Stapleton of the Sussex Energy Group - based at Science and Technology Policy Research (SPRU) at the University of Sussex - is entitled 'Transforming the UK's energy system, policies for the 2020 renewables target and beyond'...

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Britain pledges millions in electric car subsidiesReuters, EurActiv, 29 Jul 2010View original article

Britain's coalition government will commit 43 million pounds (€51.6 million) over 18 months to subsidising the uptake of electric cars, the Department for Transport (DfT) said on Wednesday (28 July)..

British motorists will receive up to 5,000 pounds towards the purchase of a low-carbon car from January 2011 to March 2012, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said...

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CBI attacks plan to tighten emissions targetsFiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent, Financial Times, 29 Jul 2010View original article

The backing by Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, for a toughening of European Union emissions targets has been attacked by the CBI, which has warned it will entail "huge costs", "huge repercussions" and will "jeopardise and potentially damage" businesses across the economy...

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Ban on new coal-fired power plants without CCSFiona Harvey, Environment Correspondent, Financial Times, 28 Jul 2010View original article

No new coal-fired power stations can be built in the UK without including carbon capture and storage technology, the government said on Tuesday.

A consultation on an "emissions performance standard", which would penalise power plants that operate below a certain level of efficiency, will be launched in November...

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US Senate drops bill to cap carbon emissionsHaroon Siddique and agencies, The Guardian, 23 Jul 2010View original article

A major climate change bill that would have capped carbon emissions has been abandoned by Democrats in the US Senate in the face of opposition from both sides of the house.

Under pressure from falling popularity ratings, Barack Obama had hoped the bill would add to the two biggest legislative successes of his presidency: the comprehensive health care bill and reform of the US banking and financial sector...

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Modern cargo ships slow to the speed of the sailing clippersJohn Vidal, The Observer, 25 Jul 2010View original article

The world's largest cargo ships are travelling at lower speeds today than sailing clippers such as the Cutty Sark did more than 130 years ago.

A combination of the recession and growing awareness in the shipping industry about climate change emissions encouraged many ship owners to adopt "slow steaming" to save fuel two years ago. This lowered speeds from the standard 25 knots to 20 knots, but many major companies have now taken this a stage further by adopting "super-slow steaming" at speeds of 12 knots (about 14mph)...

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The true value of energy is the net energyNashville families’ beach plans marred by Gulf oil spill

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