Sunday, September 12, 2010

ODAC Newsletter - Sep 10

BP Plc, facing billions of dollars in damages and penalties for causing the largest U.S. oil spill, says its investigation shows other companies made mistakes that led to the Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion.

BP managers had direct involvement in just one of the eight judgment errors and equipment failures that led to the April 20 explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, according to the company's internal investigation. The explosion killed 11 workers and spewed crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico for almost three months...

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BP oil spill: after the human cost will come the cost of safer oil productionDamian Reece, Head of Business, The Daily Telegraph, 09 Sep 2010View original article

In the gloom of a Gulf night, 28 workers were either killed or injured as first mud violently and uncontrollably spewed on to the rig floor and then exploded skywards. All the time a great pressure was building beneath the sea floor forcing a fatal mixture of mud, sea water, oil and gas through the rig's pipework and vents, eventually raining the awful cocktail down on to the heads of terrified workers. All this in the space of just four minutes - no time for calm reflection on how to handle the situation.

Yesterday's report logs the inevitable panicked call that came next. "The well is blowing out," by which time the 126 workers on the rig "were enveloped in a flammable mixture" and the noise that any drill operator fears most became audible - the dreaded hissing sound of gas escaping at high pressure. With terrible inevitablity the sound of ruptures gave way to the first alarm piercing the night air. Then a second alarm was triggered, then another, then another as the scale of the gas leak cloaking Deepwater Horizon was confirmed...

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Offshore Drilling Agency Overwhelmed, Says ReportTenille Tracy, Wall Street Journal, 09 Sep 2010View original article

The federal agency that regulates offshore drilling rarely conducted unannounced inspections, allowed oil-rig operators to shop around for favorable decisions and gave its inspectors financial incentives for speeding up application approvals, according to an internal report released Wednesday by the Interior Department.

The report, by a panel of top Interior officials, shed more light on the extent of the problems at the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, formed from the agency formerly known as the Minerals Management Service...

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MPs warned on deep sea drilling banSylvia Pfeiffer, Financial Times, 08 Sep 2010View original article

Preventing the drilling of wells in the waters off the UK would send "a very negative message" to investors in the oil industry, the head of Oil and Gas UK, the industry body, has warned...

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Oil Rises After U.S. Jobless Claims Decline, China Crude Imports IncreaseGrant Smith and Ben Sharples, Bloomberg, 10 Sep 2010View original article

Oil climbed to near a three-week high as economic indicators from the U.S. and Asia restored confidence that the recovery will stimulate fuel demand.

Oil was set for a weekly increase of 1.5 percent as U.S. jobless claims fell, Japan boosted its estimate of economic growth, and China increased imports of crude. Prices gained after a leak prompted Enbridge Energy Partners LP shut a pipeline that can carry more than one-third of oil to the U.S. Midwest...

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BBC One Planet - Peak oil and happy cowsRichard Hollingham, BBC World Service, 05 Sep 2010View original article

Type the phrase 'peak oil' into any popular internet search engine, and you will not be short of results to wade through.

Like the fuel itself, the topic generates a lot of heat and hot air. This week on One Planet, reporter Richard Hollingham seeks to define the term 'peak oil' before asking leading experts whether they believe the event is nearing...


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Pricey Petrobras Oil Deal Removes Share Sale HurdleJeff Fick, Wall Street Journal, 03 Sep 2010View original article

A deal between Brazil's government and oil company Petroleo Brasileiro, or Petrobras, has removed some doubts that the company can pull off the world's largest share offer later this month.

Petrobras and the Brazilian government reached a $42.5 billion agreement late Wednesday that gives the oil giant the right to produce five billion barrels of crude oil in government-held areas...

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US test shows water problem near natgas drill siteJon Hurdle, Reuters, 01 Sep 2010View original article

U.S. government officials urged residents of a Wyoming farming community near natural gas drilling sites not to use private well water for drinking or cooking because of chemical contamination.

"Sample results indicate that the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons and other chemical compounds in groundwater represents a drinking water concern," the Environmental Protection Agency said in a statement about tests of 19 water wells around the town of Pavillion...

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Pa. Senate GOP writes Marcellus Shale tax billMarc Levy, Business Week, 03 Sep 2010View original article

State Senate Republicans have begun drafting legislation for a sweeping overhaul of Pennsylvania's oil and gas law that includes proposals for a new tax on the extraction of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation and limitations on municipal zoning that affects drilling.

Senate President Joe Scarnati said Friday the GOP plan is a sincere effort to keep the pledge Gov. Ed Rendell and lawmakers made in this summer's budget agreement to enact a severance tax by Oct. 1...

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Smart meters alone may not save much energy -studyNina Chestney, Reuters, 08 Sep 2010View original article

Smart meters to boost energy efficiency in homes do not automatically achieve a significant reduction in energy demand, research showed on Wednesday.

Smart meters record energy or water consumption and send the readings back to the utility for monitoring and billing...

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Residents, industries in uproar over power cutsPan Yan, Global Times, 06 Sep 2010View original article

Residents and businesses in a county in Hebei Province are in an uproar over a measure taken by the local government aimed at reducing emissions by regularly cutting off power supplies.

China National Radio (CNR) reported Sunday that Anping county began limiting electricity supplies to local residents and industries on August 27 in order to achieve power consumption targets set by authorities under the country's 11th Five-Year Plan, which stipulates that carbon dioxide emissions from 2006 to 2010 should be reduced by 1,500 million tons...

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German energy watchdog wants faster grid expansionVera Eckert, Reuters, 06 Sep 2010View original article

Germany's renewable energy future hinges on the fast expansion of power transmission grids, but planning authorities are dragging their feet, the head of the country's energy regulator said on Monday.

"Many of the planned lines are waiting in local queues, among them ones that have priority," Matthias Kurth of the Bundesnetzagentur (BnetzA) told reporters during an energy conference...

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Flexitricity aims to bolster power gridAndrew Bolger, Scotland Correspondent, Financial Times, 06 Sep 2010View original article

A Scottish start-up believes private industry can make millions of pounds annually, and help reduce the UK's carbon footprint, by selling spare electricity to the National Grid.

Flexitricity has patented technology that brings together the capabilities of standby generators, combined heat and power units and heavy users of power such as commercial greenhouses, cold stores and distribution centres...

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Germany agrees to extend life of nuclear power stationsKate Connolly, The Guardian, 07 Sep 2010View original article

The German government today agreed to extend the working lives of its nuclear reactors by an average of 12 years, in a controversial move that will shape the energy strategy of Europe's largest nation for decades to come.

Having put the seal on a deal that was hammered out after lengthy talks between politicians and power companies, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, hailed it as a "revolution in energy provision". She said it would help to ensure Germany's place at the forefront of "the most environmentally and worldwide most efficient" energy policy...

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'Floating Chernobyls' to hit the high seasGarry White, Telegraph, 06 Sep 2010View original article

"Floating Chernobyls-in-waiting" are coming to a sea near you after a major international agreement was signed last week, according to critics of nuclear power.

China and Russia agreed to expand co-operation over nuclear power, specifically on uranium exploration and safer power plants – but also on floating nuclear reactors...

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Alex Salmond unveils plan to turn Scotland into 'world's first hydro-economy'Severin Carrell, The Guardian, 08 Sep 2010View original article

The state-owned utility Scottish Water is to be given new powers to build windfarms, hydro schemes and "green" power stations in partnership and competition with established energy companies.

The company, one of the country's last remaining state-owned firms, could generate £300m or more in extra revenues by using its 80,000 acres of land and vast pipe network for renewable energy projects...

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UK 'heat pumps' fail as green devices, finds studyAdam Vaughan, The Guardian, 08 Sep 2010View original article

Government plans to subsidise green heating are challenged today by the largest ever field study of "heat pump" devices in the UK, which reveals 80% perform so badly they would not qualify as renewable energy under proposed European standards.

The report, from the Energy Saving Trust, reveals the prevalence of badly installed heat pumps that are consequently under-performing. The controversial report could affect the government's plans to launch its Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) next April to pay householders for generating heat from such "green" ground and air source heat pumps. There are already fears the RHI could be a victim of spending cuts announced next month...

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China Supplants U.S. for First Time on Renewable-Energy Investor RankingAlex Morales,, 08 Sep 2010View original article

China overtook the U.S. to lead a quarterly index of the most attractive countries for renewable energy projects for the first time, according to a list compiled by the global accounting firm Ernst & Young.

After sharing the lead with the U.S. in the first quarter, China moved ahead of the world's largest economy to rank as the most appealing nation for investing in wind and solar power projects, according to the report released today. The move follows the failure of U.S. Congress to pass legislation that would have required utilities to use clean energy...

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Severn green energy project loses government fundingTim Webb, The Observer, 05 Sep 2010View original article

The government will this month sound the death knell for the world's largest tidal energy project – to be built across the Severn estuary between Somerset and south Wales – when it rules out public funding for the controversial £20bn plan.

The announcement will please some environmentalists, who were worried about the impact on bird life in the estuary, but others say such spending cuts will make a mockery of David Cameron's pledge to be the "greenest government ever"...

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Britain's energy challenge: meeting energy generation and carbon emission targetsPaul Hatchwell, The Independent, 03 Sep 2010View original article

Energy policy in the UK is at a crossroads, and the decisions made now will reverberate for decades. At least 43 gigawatts of new electrical generation capacity, equivalent to half of Britain's current total, will be needed by 2020, as all but one of its nuclear plants are retired and coal-fired power stations closed to meet EU air pollution standards.

A staggering £200bn of investment will be needed not only to maintain energy security against price spikes as North Sea resources dwindle and energy imports grow, but also to deliver the largest single contribution to a low-carbon economy...

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Urban development - global solutionsGenevieve Roberts, The Guardian, 08 Sep 2010View original article

The ways cities around the globe can make themselves smarter are as varied and multi-layered as the different sizes and shapes of the world's urban areas.

Cities face different problems. For one it might be dealing with transport, or crime, while for another sustainability, or streamlining public service provision and access to technology for all, might be important. There is no one-size-fits-all model...

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Rising wheat prices raise fears over UK commitment to biofuelsJamie Doward, The Guardian, 04 Sep 2010View original article

The soaring price of wheat has raised questions about the UK's commitment to biofuels as it attempts to wean itself from its dependence on oil.

A network of biorefineries that convert wheat and other crops into bioethanol that can then be blended with petrol are being developed as the UK looks to meet its EU renewable transport fuels obligations...

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Greens Seek `Fast, Furious' Movement on Climate Under Gillard GovernmentJames Paton,, 07 Sep 2010View original article

The Australian Greens plan "fast and furious" action to establish a climate change committee and impose a price on carbon emissions under a government led by the Labor Party's Julia Gillard.

"This is the best political opportunity collectively we've ever had," Christine Milne, deputy leader of the Greens Party, said in Sydney today before Gillard won the support needed to form a government. With Labor retaining power, "this committee will be on track fast and furious," Milne said...

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A carbon border tax can curb climate changeDieter Helm, Financial Times, 06 Sep 2010View original article

As global growth picks up after the economic crisis, carbon emissions are going back up too. With China and India back on track to double their gross domestic product every decade, and with coal providing nearly 30 per cent of global energy, the chances of stabilising and reducing emissions are low. Indeed, little progress has been made in the last two decades. Only recessions lower emissions – and then only for a short time.

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Mazda recall to fix power-steering problemsEIA: From forecast of oil supply abundance to decade of stagnation

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