Drumbeat: June 3, 2011
Posted by Leanan on June 3, 2011 - 10:30am
General Electric Co. (GE) expects to double energy revenue from Saudi Arabia in the next five years by increasing sales of gas power turbines, curbing the amount of oil needed locally to produce electricity.
With oil prices around $100 a barrel, Saudi Arabia and other oil producers in the Middle East will try to free more of their crude for exports rather than burning it to generate electricity, GE Vice Chairman John Krenicki, who heads the Fairfield, Connecticut-based company’s Energy Infrastructure division, said in a June 1 interview.
The crucial point to take away from all this, though, is that expectations formed by the extravagance of the recent past are not a useful guide to the best options available to us in the post-peak future. It’s a safe bet, of course, that plenty of resources will be thrown down a dizzying assortment of ratholes in the attempt to keep the infrastructure of the age of abundance up and running even as the abundance itself trickles away. Long after private cars have stopped making any kind of economic sense, for example, what’s left of the American economy will still be being jiggered and poked in an attempt to keep some mummified simulacrum of an auto industry propped up in its corner, and no doubt similar efforts will be made to support the big regional grids even when the impact of shutting them down would be less of an economic burden than the cost of keeping them going.
Firefighters battled a blaze raging through an arms depot today, forcing a halt to oil pipeline flows from Russia's largest crude producer and causing 28,000 residents to be moved out of the area.
CAIRO (UPI) -- Egypt's cutoff of natural gas supplies to Israel is escalating a dispute over resources that is wrecking the Jewish state's relations with its Arab neighbor, which, until the fall of President Hosni Mubarak in February, were the linchpin of the Middle East peace process.
Israel has found major natural gas fields off its coast under the eastern Mediterranean, but none is likely to come on-stream before 2013, leaving Israel facing a serious energy crisis.
The boom in Marcellus shale natural-gas exploration and production created 48,000 jobs in Pennsylvania during the past 18 months, says a new state report.
"The numbers are absolutely staggering. We certainly project the jobs will grow as production continues to expand," said Travis Windle, a spokesman for the trade group Marcellus Shale Coalition in Cecil in Washington County.
Hype, awe and bubbles are inextricable from technology-led enthusiasms. So it was with the battery two centuries ago, the light bulb a few decades later, automobiles and planes in the subsequent half century, and laptops and cell phones in the last two decades. One of the latest fads is natural gas -- technological advances that have unlocked vast new volumes, and transformed it from a locally usable fuel into one economically transportable around the world.
Yet, as with all these other technologies, now comes the moment of truth -- how do you scale up and make money? If you can't, the technologies will ultimately return to the shelf until somebody can.
While critics on the right have accused the Obama administration of moving too slowly on the still-unproven potential of oil shale on Colorado’s Western Slope, observers on the left say the White House has been pushing too fast on an agenda promoting Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal and tar sands oil production in Canada.
CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are studying a plan from TransCanada Corp to restart its Keystone oil pipeline, and are likely to impose some conditions for resuming operations, the Canadian company said on Friday.
TransCanada, whose 591,000 barrel a day line to Oklahoma from Alberta has been idled since Sunday, said it was still making repairs and modifications to a Kansas pump station following equipment failure that caused about 10 barrels of oil to leak.
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Brazilian state-led oil company Petrobras said on Friday it will produce more than any other publicly listed oil company at 6 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in 2020, 10% more than its previous estimate.
The expanded production estimate, presented by Chief Financial Officer Almir Barbassa on Friday in Rio de Janeiro, is based primarily on the addition of new ultra-deep-water assets and exploration areas near Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh said on Thursday that last year’s devastating floods, energy crisis, hike in international oil prices and internal and regional security challenges were the main factors that hit the country’s economy and subsequently slowed down the growth rate during the fiscal year 2010-11.
LAHORE – The All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Gohar Ejaz has said that 12-hour daily power outages have hit the textile units located at Manga–Raiwind and Multan–Bhai Pheru roads, which fall in the LESCO jurisdiction. Talking to The Nation the APTMA Chairman said the textile industry was a major sufferer of energy crisis, as continuous suspension of gas supply from the SNGPL network for over three days a week along with power breakdowns have affected production capacity to the extent of 43 per cent.
At least five people were killed and several others were injured including two policemen in the incidents of violence and riots linked to the call of strike against energy crisis by some political groups here in Karachi on Friday morning, police said.
India may be staring at an energy crisis. Shortages of coal and a sharp drop in natural gas output from Reliance Industries Ltd’s (RIL) Krishna-Godavari (KG) D6 bloc have come at a time of galloping demand for energy.
Following acute diesel shortages in Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar Railways has suspended travel of 11 freight-trains and 4 shuttle-trains for its local destinations. Destinations affected were Bor-Undur, Zuunbayan, Sharyn Gol and Nalaikh provinces.
Dubai: High subsidies leave oil retailers strapped for cash, forcing some petrol stations in Sharjah and Dubai to turn away customers from locked pumps without explanation.
"Petrol retailers are having to sell a product for less than they acquired it. Ultimately they will have to get a cash injection. It might have something to do with the government in Dubai dragging its feet too much and not injecting enough money," Samuel Ciszuk, IHS Senior Middle East Energy energy analyst told Gulf News.
TRIPOLI, Libya -- Weary and frustrated, the women had been lined up for days in their dust-covered cars waiting to fill up at Tripoli's women-only gas station. A scowling female soldier kept order with the help of a few dozen male volunteers.
The men, in groups of two or three, pushed cars with their tanks on empty as the line snaked slowly forward.
Iran's newly appointed oil minister is the "worst choice" who will damage the country’s vital energy sector, the head of parliament's energy committee Hamid-Reza Katouzian said today.
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian security forces opened fire during one of the largest anti-government protests so far in the 10-week uprising, and activists said at least 34 people were killed Friday in a city where thousands died in a failed 1982 revolt against the regime.
(CNN) -- More than 1,000 people have died in Syria since the conflict there started in mid-March, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday, a grim milestone that reflects his alarm over the "escalation of violence" in the authoritarian Arab country.
Petrobras and Colombia’s Ecopetrol are among energy companies aiming to increase investments in Peru by a combined 50% to $1.54 billion this year, amid the country’s presidential runoff, said the president of state oil contracting agency Perupetro.
Saudi Electricity Co., Saudi Aramco and Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. will develop a solar plant with capacity of as much as 15 megawatts on the kingdom’s Farasan Island, 30 times more than a project announced yesterday.
With little fanfare, a press release appeared last week on the website of the UK Industry Taskforce on Peak Oil and Energy Security (ITPOES). The release said that during a meeting between Chris Huhne, the UK's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, and representatives of ITPOES, an agreement had been reached that Her Majesty's Department for Energy and Climate will collaborate with ITPOES on a joint examination of concerns that global oil supply will begin to fall behind demand within as little as five years. This collaboration is seen by the British government as the first step in the development of a national peak oil contingency plan.
There are many implications buried in this seemingly innocuous announcement. First, American readers should note that the British government recognizes that energy policy and climate change are inextricably linked so that you cannot formulate policies for one without the other. The major step forward, however, is the official and semi-public recognition by a major government that global oil supplies will fall behind demand in as little as five years. After years of official denial this is indeed a breakthrough worthy of note.
SINGAPORE — OPEC is considering raising crude supply next week for the first time since 2007 in a move that could weaken $100 oil prices and lessen the drag of high energy costs on global economic growth.
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which pumps more than a third of the world's oil, may raise supply targets by as much as 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) when ministers meet on June 8, a delegate said on Thursday.
"There is a need for an increase to replace the loss from Libya," the delegate said. "Oil prices are too high. $100 oil is scaring people."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A request by the Obama administration to sell $500 million in crude from the U.S. emergency oil stockpile was included in a spending bill released on Wednesday by the House Appropriations Committee, with a spring 2012 deadline to sell the crude.
The Energy Department has to inspect and possibly repair some of the underground caverns that hold the 727 million barrels of oil in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Part of the oil has to be removed from the caverns so the inspections can be carried out, according to the department.
Oil fell before a report that will indicate the strength of the U.S. economy and as OPEC prepares to meet in Vienna next week to decide output quotas.
Futures have fluctuated from $98 to $104 a barrel this week. The U.S. Labor Department will say today that employers added fewer jobs in May, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will respond at its June 8 conference if the world needs more crude, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi said yesterday. An explosion at a Chevron Corp. refinery in Wales killed four workers.
(Reuters) - Baker Hughes Inc, the world's third-largest oilfield services company, expects the third and fourth quarters to be "much better" in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico as work resumes on deepwater wells.
LONDON -(Dow Jones)- The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries' total oil production continued rising in May, boosted by a hike in Saudi production, a Dow Jones Newswires survey shows. The group's production, however, remains well below its level prior to the Libyan civil war.
Total production from the 12 OPEC members in May was 29.103 million barrels a day, up 355,000 barrels a day from 28.748 million barrels a day in April, according to the survey.
The quality of supply, however, is not a volume matter simply; it is not a peak oil argument. In my judgment, there is plenty of oil. But it is of lower quality, heavy, sour, high viscosity crude, or representing an expanding range of unconventional sourcing (for example, shale, oil sands or bitumen). New fields also tend to be smaller and require greater commitment to infrastructure. All of this provides supply, but at an increasing cost.
(Reuters) - Gazprom Neft's Moscow oil refinery with a capacity of 200,000 barrels per day stopped oil products loadings on Friday after a power substation caught fire, traders said.
(Reuters) - U.S.-based Chevron Corp said on Friday it had launched an inquiry into an explosion at its oil refinery in southwest Wales which killed four people and seriously injured one.
Concerns over refining safety have reverberated through the U.S. oil industry since an explosion at a BP refinery in Texas City in 2005, after which BP said safety shortcomings were common across the sector.
Ever since the tax raid on oil and gas producers, the energy industry and the Treasury have been at loggerheads.
Folks have lots of questions to ask about the environmental impact of natural gas fracking, but the more important questions to ask may have to do with the economics. Ultimately, the two lines of questioning are intertwined.
Representative Darrell Issa, the California Republican who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, charged Thursday that the Obama administration bungled the response to the Deep Water Horizon explosion and oil spill last year.
TRIPOLI, (Reuters) - China made its first confirmed contact with Libyan rebels in the latest diplomatic setback for Muammar Gaddafi, and France said on Friday it was working with those close to the veteran ruler to convince him to leave power.
Abdalgader Albagrmi's office sits above a vault piled high with gold. It's the dwindling pile of cash next to the bullion, however, that keeps the Libyan rebels' deputy Central Bank chief up at night.
As that pile shrinks, so too does the chance of funding and sustaining a revolution to oust one of the world's longest-serving dictators.
TRIPOLI (Reuters) – The Libyan government said on Thursday it will send a representative to the next OPEC meeting, replacing the senior oil official who defected saying he had lost faith in the rule of Muammar Gaddafi.
BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – Libyan rebel officials are in contact with top oil companies that operate in the north African country but no new contracts are being drawn up, a source in the rebel leadership said.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Bahraini police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters marching toward the landmark Pearl Square in the country’s capital Friday, eyewitnesses said, just two days after authorities lifted emergency rule in the Gulf kingdom.
The downtown square was the epicenter of weeks of Shiite-led protests against Sunni rulers earlier this year. There were no immediate reports of injuries during the protests. The eyewitnesses spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals.
Syria’s opposition is set to defy President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces again after prayers today without any sign it’s winning backers at home or abroad who could make the contest less lopsided and stop the killing.
Egypt's oil minister says Egypt will not resume natural gas exports to Israel and Arab countries until it secures a pipeline that has been repeatedly bombed.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Gazprom is set to start increasing deliveries of liquefied natural gas to India starting from 2016-2018, a source close to the Russian gas export monopoly told Reuters on Thursday.
The chief executive of Russia's natural gas monopoly Gazprom says that supplying gas to European power plants is the future of their work in the continent.
Alexei Miller said Thursday that a recent decision by the German government to shut down the country's nuclear plants by 2022 has influenced his company's strategy.
MUMBAI (Reuters) – Reliance Industries will work with BP Plc to address production issues at its key gas block in India, its chairman said at the firm's annual meeting on Friday, but its shares fell as investors were disappointed by a lack of specifics.
Iran's state TV is reporting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has withdrawn as the caretaker of the country's vital oil ministry and named an ally instead.
Naoto Kan’s pledge to step down as prime minister set off a contest to select Japan’s next leader, adding to the risk of delays in reconstruction and revenue bills needed to restore growth and assuage credit concerns.
BERLIN — Shortly after the earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan in March, stores in faraway Germany began selling out of radiation-tracking Geiger counters. Sales of iodine pills to limit the absorption of radiation surged briskly, too, propelled by anxiety that people might find themselves engulfed in clouds of long-range radioactive fallout.
No matter that the incipient nuclear catastrophe was about 5,500 miles away, or that Germany, unlike Japan, did not lie on known tectonic fault lines. On the streets of major cities, hundreds of thousands of protesters, casting events in Japan as a portent of what might happen here, turned out ahead of state elections to demand a halt to Germany’s own nuclear power program, the source of nearly a quarter of the nation’s electricity.
Many Canadians may not realize this, but most of Canada’s long-distance, high-capacity connections for oil and electricity run north-south, not east-west. In these key industries, we have focused almost exclusively on serving the U.S. This is one of the great strengths of our nation -- the ability of each province to create its own best strategy for developing revenue streams. It’s also a weakness, because lack of access to other provincial markets has effectively siloed our energy strategies along provincial lines, leading to a patchwork of development across the country that does not take advantage of potential synergies across regions.
Sales of smaller cars double in a decade: As prices at the pump increase, more Americans are starting to get smart
According to the auto research site Edmunds.com, compacts and subcompacts accounted for nearly a quarter of the new vehicles sold in April. That’s double the market share from 10 years ago.
A three-cylinder engine? It's been more than a decade since we've seen one, but now Ford is bringing a three-banger to America.
The salesman's comment suggests there is truth to reports that some dealers are gaming the system to claim battery car tax credits for themselves, as first reported by a conservative think tank called the National Legal and Policy Center.
“Many Volts with practically no miles on them are being sold as ‘used’ vehicles, enabling the dealerships to benefit from the $7,500 credit supplied by the American taxpayers on each car,” NLPC’s Mark Modica said in a blog post on the practice. “The process of titling the Volts technically makes the dealerships the first owners of the vehicles, which gives them the ability to claim the subsidies. The cars are then offered to retail customers as ‘used’ vehicles."
LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A new film protesting against US coal mining and starring Robert F. Kennedy Jr. aims to boost green alternatives such as wind power and highlight "criminal" destruction by the industry.
Most renewable sources are abundant, practically inexhaustible and far more climate friendly than fossil fuels. Some companies making equipment to harness these energies are growing rapidly.
Last month, experts advising the United Nations said renewable sources could deliver nearly 80 percent of world’s total energy demand by the middle of the century. That report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — the most authoritative body of experts, scientists and engineers specialized in climate change — was a welcome signal for an industry that has faltered in previous decades after government subsidies dried up and lower-cost fossil fuels made their technologies uncompetitive.
A Red Sea island that burns diesel for electricity is soon to benefit from solar power. Saudi Arabia is testing out the technology before dropping billions of dollars on major renewable projects.
Plans to create huge solar energy plants in the deserts of California, Arizona, Nevada and elsewhere in the West are pitting one green point of view vs. another.
Texas prides itself on being the national leader in wind power, and many renewable-energy companies are looking to this big, sunny state as the next frontier for solar power, which California currently dominates. But solar technology remains expensive: notwithstanding its environmental benefits, it can be twice as costly as coal or gas power on a nationwide basis before incentives. The recent fall in natural gas prices has made it even harder for solar to compete (although panel prices are falling, too).
Now the Marine Corps plans to expand the deployment of green technologies that would be useful on the battlefield. “The goal is to make the Marines a more effective fighting force and to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, transported water, and battery logistics,” said Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, commander of the Second Marine Division. “We will significantly increase our energy efficiency on the battlefield and in doing so reduce our reliance on logistics convoys.”
Some of the innovations deployed include a solar-powered generator and LED lighting.
The share of the population under age 18 dropped in 95% of U.S. counties since 2000, according to a USA TODAY analysis of the 2010 Census.
The number of households that have children under age 18 has stayed at 38 million since 2000, despite a 9.7% growth in the U.S. population. As a result, the share of households with children dropped from 36% in 2000 to 33.5%.
There are now more households with dogs (43 million) than children.
Hall, a 68-year-old New England born professor with a gift for plain speaking, has made a name for himself by championing a revolutionary idea known as energy return on energy invested (EROI). Every plant, animal and human civilization lives by EROI.
The law isn't rocket science. Whenever a salmon, bear, lodgepole or Dow Jones company spends more energy on an activity than they get back, death follows. Or in corporate terms, debt builds and things fall apart.
Lester Brown, in this new book, asks one main big question, “Can we change direction before we go over the edge?” As the foremost reporter of environmental and social data on the planet, Lester Brown has, for decades now, been tracking the facts of environmental decline with a special emphasis on relating this to social conditions in all countries the world over. He’s been tracking factual conditions over a wide spectrum of areas such as world food supply and food security, resource depletion, human migrations, poverty levels, species extinction, population growth, meat consumption, women’s reproductive health, fossil fuel decline (peak oil), pollution, climate data, peak water, deforestation, melting icebergs, ocean acidity, renewable energy, rising CO2 levels, etc. Brown concludes that the world is in trouble; he sees that Plan A, or business as usual, is not working, period. Based on all this massive and continuing research, he began to publish, a few years ago, a series of annual updates that he called “Plan B”—to be implemented at wartime speed to avert multiple catastrophes that feed on each other as each one tips the next one over into a path of no return.
UK Secretary for Energy and Climate Change Chris Huhne is to establish an Oil Shock Response Plan to cope with some of the consequences of peak oil.
So why is there no urgency from our government or business leaders to respond to these warnings?
Q: What sparked your interest to write about the tomato industry?
A: I was driving behind a truck in Florida that I thought was carrying green apples. Some of the orbs flew off. At the side of the road, I got a closer look. Not one was smashed. They turned out to be tomatoes so plasticine and so identical they could have been stamped out by the same machine. Florida is the poster child for everything that is wrong with not-seasonal and not-local produce.
Early this spring, while the world was distracted by Egypt’s uprising, President Barack Obama pushed the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to deregulate genetically engineered alfalfa and sugar beets in the United States. The USDA came through as he directed, totally deregulating these Monsanto-patented genes in early February.
LUBBOCK, Texas — A devastating drought tightened its grip on Texas over the last week with more than half the state now suffering the most extreme level of drought measured by climatologists.
A report released Thursday from a consortium of national climate experts said over the last week, Texas saw the highest levels of drought — rated as "exceptional" — jump from 43.97 percent of the state to 50.65 percent of the state.
Meanwhile, to the north in Oklahoma, another key farming and ranching state, about 30 percent of the state continued to suffer severe and exceptional drought levels.
The drought conditions have ravaged the region, sparking thousands of wildfires, drying up grazing land needed for cattle, and ruining thousands of acres of wheat and other crops.
CHONGQING, China — A Chinese official says the planners of the Three Gorges Dam failed to properly gauge its effects on lakes and other bodies of water downstream, according to a report on Thursday in Shanghai Daily, an English-language newspaper.
As a result, the dam has contributed to lower water levels in two of China’s largest freshwater lakes, raising the threat to them during long droughts, the report said. Large areas of central and southern China are suffering from the worst drought in 50 years, and the levels have plummeted in the Yangtze River and other bodies of water, including here in Chongqing.
DANJIANGKOU, China — North China is dying.
A chronic drought is ravaging farmland. The Gobi Desert is inching south. The Yellow River, the so-called birthplace of Chinese civilization, is so polluted it can no longer supply drinking water. The rapid growth of megacities — 22 million people in Beijing and 12 million in Tianjin alone — has drained underground aquifers that took millenniums to fill.
Not atypically, the Chinese government has a grand and expensive solution: Divert at least six trillion gallons of water each year hundreds of miles from the other great Chinese river, the Yangtze, to slake the thirst of the north China plain and its 440 million people.
BRASILIA (AFP) – Over the strong objections of indigenous groups, activists and environmentalists, Brazilian authorities gave a green light Wednesday to what will be the world's third largest hydroelectric plant and dam.
As the surging waters of the Mississippi pass downstream, they leave behind flooded towns and inundated lives and carry forward a brew of farm chemicals and waste that this year — given record flooding — is expected to result in the largest dead zone ever in the Gulf of Mexico.
NEW DELHI (AlertNet) – Barriers preventing the transfer of clean technologies to help nations like India adopt low-carbon development must be removed if the world is to successfully address climate change, a new study has warned.
With a population of 1.2 billion people, an economy growing at 8 to 9 percent annually and surging energy demand to sustain such growth, India has become the world's third largest carbon polluter, after China and the United States.
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The World Bank signed an agreement on Wednesday with mayors from 40 of the world’s biggest cities to work on technical and financial assistance for projects to minimize the effects of climate change.
ScienceDaily — A new study has matched future climate change "hotspots" with regions already suffering chronic food problems to identify highly-vulnerable populations, chiefly in Africa and South Asia, but potentially in China and Latin America as well, where in fewer than 40 years, the prospect of shorter, hotter or drier growing seasons could imperil hundreds of millions of already-impoverished people.