DrumBeat: September 28, 2007
Record high coal prices and tight supply are piling the pressure on electricity generators already hit by soaring oil markets and high gas prices, industry players say.
..."I do believe that before the end of the year it's possible that some generators in Asia will have to look at turning off their plants because they won't have enough coal," said a coal producer.
West Coast refined products traders said the notice could be an indication of an overhaul planned for a unit or units at the Los Angeles refinery in October.
Hovensa LLC, the second-biggest gasoline exporter to the U.S, shut the fluid catalytic cracker at its Virgin Islands refinery today to repair a wet gas scrubber.
At the United Nations' climate change conference this month, experts painted a grim picture for the future of our planet. If humans don't act within the next 5 to 10 years, they warned, not only will we cause the extinction of many of the world's vital species, but in the end, we will be wiped off the earth ourselves.
A bid to phase out all high-energy light bulbs on sale in British shops was announced by the Government today.
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said he wanted to see the energy wasting bulbs start to disappear from the shelves in January and phased out by 2011.
President Hugo Chávez, who made diverting oil profits to the poor a hallmark of his administration, is faced with a series of corruption scandals that are threatening to undermine the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA).
Oil-rich Norway leant its support on Thursday to a global effort to rub out corruption in the oil, gas and mining industries, and a leading corruption-buster said he hoped other countries would follow suit.
IT IS a thinly populated slice of Atlantic coast backed by a large tract of rainforest. But Guyana reckons it may have struck riches, thanks to a decision by a United Nations tribunal on September 20th. This awarded most of a disputed area of sea to Guyana rather than its neighbour, Suriname. “Think Kuwait,” dreamed an upbeat foreign diplomat.
Before you tune out and turn off, you should know that black isn't necessarily the new green. Because computer monitors come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and not all monitors create black and white the same way, there's no proof that, on the whole, an increased use of black images would save more energy than the continued use of white images. In fact in newer liquid-crystal display, or LCD, monitors white is actually slightly more energy efficient than black.
Greenland doesn't allow any uranium mining or prospecting to take place on the island.
Despite this, companies are actively exploring Kvanefjeld in southern Greenland, one the largest undeveloped uranium-rich areas in the world, with an estimated $10 billion worth of uranium.
Taiwan is planning to invest around T$30 billion (US$915 million) over the next three years boost its wind power generation by more than five-fold, by inviting private firms to bid for the right to build turbines, energy officials said on Thursday.
Yes, really. These five leak-plugging, warmth-trapping, efficiency-enhancing ideas could slice your home's energy usage by up to 50 percent.
Air New Zealand has announced it will carry out the first commercial trial of a bio-fuelled Boeing 747.
China is scouring the world for oil, natural gas and minerals to keep its economic machine humming. But trade deals cannot solve water problems. Water usage in China has quintupled since 1949, and leaders will increasingly face tough political choices as cities, industry and farming compete for a finite and unbalanced water supply.
Amid an auto boom, China's gasoline imports hit a ten-year high in August after the country's economic planner ordered state-owned oil firms to make up shortfalls in supply.
"Meiyou, meiyou" -- "None here, none here!" the petrol station attendant shouts, waving his arms at a small truck pulling up to the diesel pump to signal that it is dry.
Without stopping, the truck rolls on in search of the fuel elsewhere -- another casualty of the low-profile but intense battle between China's government and its increasingly independent oil firms over who should fund fuel subsidies.
The showdown has caused diesel shortages in parts of China's booming coastal province of Guangdong for weeks, according to drivers, gas station managers and industry sources, as refiners seek to staunch losses by reducing sales.
The dry pumps are a distant echo of the fuel criss in the summer of 2005 that sparked long lines and a government crackdown on oil firms' huge exports. Beijing suspended tax incentives and set export quotas to keep more fuel at home.
Sunday night's orchestrated blackout for 30 minutes in seven cities was intended as a wake-up call to citizens who take electricity for granted.
The French oil company Total said shutting its operations in Myanmar could cause even greater hardship in the country, despite a hardening attitude by France toward new investment amid a conflict between citizens and the ruling military junta that has left nine people dead.
What adds fuel to the fire is the present situation in the entire region. Albania faced and faces a major energy crisis. Greece is constantly increasing the its imported quantities of electricity. In the wake of the closure of two reactors Kozloduy in January 2006, there simply isn't enough electricity to go round. The whole region is facing an energy crisis. Bulgaria, which was one of the biggest exporters of electricity in Europe, has recently started to import it!
India is now in serious dilemma. The probable nuclear deal with U.S is getting serious political opposition; the prevailing situation in Myanmar may not favor anyone to access gas from that troubles torn country soon. Now if the IPI or to be more specific the Pakistan- India segment does not happen India will be in serious energy shortage to meet its dynamic economic growth.
Trade with Turkey has already slowed down and the Kurds had started buying more foodstuffs and all their fuel needs from Iran. With the closure of the border he food and fuel flow stopped cutting off vital supplies in the midst of Ramadan.
This is creating a crisis situation in the region.
Another syndrome emerging in the country may be called demographic dichotomy. There is creeping obesity in the cities, especially among youth, and chronic under-nutrition in rural areas, especially among women and children. This trend needs to be checked.
In the 1970s, Iceland was one of the poorest countries in Europe. Today it is one of the richest, with a per capita GDP higher than that of Denmark, from which it won full independence in 1944.
How did it accomplish this remarkable transformation? A key element was the shift from imported coal and oil to geothermal energy. Iceland now uses geothermal energy to generate a large portion of its electricity and nearly all of its heating needs.
California's push for energy from the sun could turn the Golden State into the Saudi Arabia of the solar power industry.
An energy crisis is the last thing most Americans want to talk about, but if someone doesn't address it soon we will keep going to war over power sources.
Okay, here’s the big problem in America; we made this unfortunate set of choices to create the drive-in utopia, the happy-motoring utopia. America’s oil consumption is the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world. We’re not going to be able to continue this living arrangement and that makes it, by definition, the greatest misallocation of resources in the history of the world.
But we like things the way they are. So we will not change our behavior until conditions force us to change. We Americans have put so much of our resources, so much of our wealth, so much of our spirit into constructing and assembling this energy-intensive infrastructure for daily life, that we can’t imagine letting go of it.
And here's Part II: America's New Religion, Part II
Suburbia is going to fail. You can state that categorically: It's going to fail in terms of investment and it's going to fail in terms of utility. We're not going to be able to use it; we're not going to be able to make those trips from 38 miles outside of Minneapolis and Dallas.
Oil markets are in turmoil, admits Saudi Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Al-Naimi in an interview in New York. With Saudi Arabia currently accounting for almost one-fifth of global crude exports and analysts expecting it to meet a quarter of the world's increasing crude thirst in the near future, the global dependence on Saudi Arabia is set to go up. As the only producer with significant excess capacity, the Kingdom has played a crucial role in alleviating temporary supply disruptions and crises. The Kingdom upped its daily production by 3.1 million barrels during the first Gulf War, for example, when oil production in Iraq and Kuwait dropped by 5.3 million barrels. It was crucial in balancing the global markets then. With geopolitics occupying center stage, the Saudi role would stay crucial to the global well-being.
We are updated on a daily basis about the ever mounting human cost of the Iraq war, but even the US military is now starting to ask questions about how much oil the "war over oil" is consuming. Last year, Major General Richard Zilmer sent the Pentagon a "priority one" request from Iraq for "a self-sustainable energy solution" that would include "solar panels and wind turbines". The US military's carbon footprint was not his concern - rather, that "by reducing the need for [petrol] at our outlying bases, we can decrease the frequency of logistics convoys on the road, thereby reducing the danger to our marines, soldiers, and sailors".
Vilified by world leaders wary of his nuclear ambitions, Iran's president is turning to South American leftists who are embracing him as an energy and trade partner and counterweight to U.S. influence.
Although one or more factors have put a temporary ceiling on oil prices during some periods, oil prices then continued their upward trend, as if a retractable roof had opened.
Angry mob blocked the National stadium road for hours and chanted slogans against KESC management. They also burnt the tires and old furniture and pelted stones on the vehicles. The residents of Gulshan-e- Iqbal are suffering with the cables faults since many days and suffering with day to night power outage.
Biofuels offer Africa the chance to supply itself with alternative energy sources, and also to become a major supplier of these sources for developed markets. Yet, challenges -- from creating the relevant infrastructure to competition for biofuel crops from food markets -- remain.
I'm positive about climate change and energy saving and alternatives. Taking a helicopter view of the problem is a bit like examining the books of a company you are considering buying out. What do we look for? Inefficiencies, ways of making savings, increasing production, selling off some under-performing assets? The worse-run the enterprise, the better, because you know how you are going to make improvements - lift sales and thereby lift share prices.
Larry Gibson's tiny house sits in a green oasis on top of the Appalachian peak his family has called home for 230 years. The setting would be peaceful if not for the roar of machinery scraping away the surrounding mountain in search of coal.
"It's a noisy, dusty place. They dynamite constantly," said Gibson, 61. "It's the genocide of Appalachia, the destruction of a people who have lived in these mountains forever."
Nigeria’s leading militant group threatened to resume attacks on foreign and domestic oil and gas operations following a four-month cease-fire intended to allow the new president to make good on vows to reform the petroleum sector and root out corruption.
With every passing month, evidence peak world oil production has either passed or is getting very close becomes stronger. Last week, the world peak oil conference in Ireland, heard that the best available data now suggests there may only be about 250 billion barrels of oil left to find rather than the generally accepted figure of 700 billion barrels put forth by the USCGS in 2000. Keep in mind that 250 billion barrels is only about eight years worth at our current 31 billion barrel per year rate of consumptions and that, should these billions of barrels actually be found, they will be extremely difficult to find and exploit.
The head of Boulder Valley Relocalization has a radically different view of the future, one in which the daily gridlock on U.S. 36 would be a thing of the oil-guzzling past, where farms would dot large swathes of Boulder County open space, Kentucky bluegrass would give way to food crops in suburban yards and businesses would plant rooftop gardens. Solar panels and other renewable energy would supply a large portion of the community's energy. Local businesses would meet many more of the citizenry's daily needs, and customers could even choose to use a local currency.
Alberta, once a refuge from the world's resource nationalists, could soon join them.
Statements like these could almost make one believe that the Saudis really are sitting on top of an inexhaustible ocean of oil, and that peak oil is a myth. Because if there is one problem the world isn't facing right now, it is a precipitous decline in the global demand for oil, tax policies notwithstanding. If only it were so.
These are the two faces of climate change - worsening cases of extreme weather on the one hand, accompanied by scientific evidence that humankind is the cause; on the other, clear signs that the world has awakened to the scale of the problem and, at long last, has decided to do something about it.
This June, Group of Eight leaders confirmed the need for "substantial global reductions" in the man-made emissions of greenhouse gases that are dangerously warming the earth. By 2050 global emissions will have to be at least 50 percent below their level in 1990.
Such radical calls are crucial to prevent a climate catastrophe. They also make countries nervous. The reason? They're worried carbon reductions will hurt economic growth.
OVER the past few years the questions have been asked ever more forcefully whether global climate changes occur in natural cycles or not, to what degree we humans contribute to them, what threats stem from them and what can be done to prevent them. Scientific studies demonstrate that any changes in temperature and energy cycles on a planetary scale could mean danger for all people on all continents.
Ten years ago, Peter Levene, chairman of Lloyds of London, was skeptical about global warming theories, but no longer. He believes carbon emissions caused by human activity are warming the Earth and causing severe weather-related events. "At Lloyds, we feel the effects of extreme weather more than most," he said in a March speech. "We don't just live with risk -- we have to pick up the pieces afterwards." Lloyds predicts that the United States will be hit by a hurricane causing $100 billion worth of damage, more than double that of Katrina. Industry analysts estimate that such an event would bankrupt as many as 40 insurers.
Lloyd's has warned: "The insurance industry must start actively adjusting in response to greenhouse gas trends if it is to survive." The Association of British Insurers has called on governments to "stem ominous weather related trends" by cutting carbon emissions. U.S.-based companies AIG and Marsh -- respectively, the largest insurer and broker -- have joined with other corporate leaders to urge Congress to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions 60 to 80 percent by mid-century. AIG's policy statement on climate change "recognizes the scientific consensus that climate change is a reality and is likely in large part the result of human activities that have led to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere."
One of the ports of call during the last two weeks that I have been away was the 6th international conference of ASPO (the Association for the Study of Peak Oil) in Cork. This is the body, founded by former oil geologist Dr Colin Campbell, which more than any other has brought to public consciousness the imminent peaking in the availability of cheap fossil fuels.
‘Fun’ was hardly the word for it, but it was good to be in the company of people who have clearly understood the pivotal role of cheap energy in creating the highly abnormal and completely unsustainable global society in which we live today. Unsustainable precisely because the cheap energy on which the whole edifice is built is getting more expensive by the month – and is set, bar the odd blip, to do so indefinitely.
The Vermont secession impulse is born out of our understanding that the United States - once a great republic - has become an unsustainable Empire governed by a very few. Beyond massive (and bipartisan) national electoral fraud, 9/11's unanswered questions, a "war on terror" (that will not end, we are told, in our life times), the collapse of the U.S. Constitution, the erosion of civil liberties, and the practicing of "disaster capitalism" on a massive scale by political and economic elites, the U.S. is simply too big to function as a democratic republic in its current state. In other words, as astute observers from across the political spectrum have pointed out, the Empire is essentially ungovernable, unsustainable, and un-reformable.
Predictions that this is the year Americans will finally embrace small cars seem to perpetually miss the mark. Gas that’s cheap in relative terms, broad avenues and free parking continue to invite Americans to use roomier, more comfortable cars.
But a new crop of small cars that debuted at the 2007 Frankfurt Auto Show this month could raise the pulse of American small car enthusiasts and win a few converts if they reach production and make it stateside.
Oil prices rose back above US$83 a barrel in Asian trade Friday, adding to gains in the previous session sparked by a decline in crude inventories at a key Oklahoma terminal and the confrontation between the West and Iran.
This summer’s run-up in energy prices pinched consumer pocketbooks at the gasoline pump and helped put a dent in overall spending. With crude oil prices at near-record levels, many are looking at the potential for high heating bills this winter, especially in the Northeast, where homeowners are more likely to rely on heating oil.
But customers who depend on natural gas could catch a break, especially if forecasters are right when they predict a milder-than-usual winter this year.
Gunmen wearing military fatigues and traveling by boat attacked a riverside compound Thursday in southern Nigeria, killing a Colombian oil worker and kidnapping at least one other foreigner.
When Democratic and Republican presidential candidates push renewable energy from wind farms, solar cells and biofuels, one might think they're all talking about the same thing.
They're not. Democratic candidates talk about renewable energy as a way to cut greenhouse gases that cause global warming. Republican candidates talk about renewable energy to reduce the use of foreign oil or, as they call it, to achieve "energy independence."
Myth: The president refuses to admit that climate change is real and that humans are a factor. Myth: The U.S. is doing nothing to address climate change. Myth: The United States refuses to engage internationally.
So begins a hand-sized handout, easy for reporters to pocket, issued at the State Department where President Bush on Friday was to cap two days of talks at a White House-sponsored climate change conference that is as much about salesmanship as it is about diplomacy.
At the end of the one-day session, the delegates hadn't come much closer to achieving the next meaningful step in the battle against climate change: negotiating a more complete successor to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of 2012. Though political awareness of the need to grapple with climate change was clearly at an all-time high — scores of national leaders don't suddenly convene at the U.N. without a decent reason — the global political will to actually do something still seems lacking.
U.S. drivers would pay a 50-cent tax on each gallon of gasoline they pump to encourage less fuel use and cut greenhouse gas emissions, under draft legislation to fight global warming released on Thursday.