Archive for July, 2011

Most moaned-about energy companies should be “named and shamed”.

July 21, 2011 Coal, Gas

So says Rowena Mason of the Daily Telegraph. The banking ombudsman publishes such a league table, but the energy ombudsman does not yet.

Koch, Exxon Mobil, & other corporations help write state climate laws.

July 21, 2011 Climate, Gas, Oil

The energy companies helped write identical legislation for multiple states at a meeting organized by a group they finance, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Corporations pay fees to sit and draft with legislators, documents obtained by Bloomberg News show.

“Rising energy costs move up political agenda”.

July 21, 2011 Clean Energy, Coal, Gas

David Blair reports in the FT that SSE’s price rise, the third of the Big 6, means that 6% of the median post-tax salary now goes on the average dual-fuel £1,265 domestic energy bills.

EU leaders agree another Greek bailout, this time of more than €100bn.

July 21, 2011 Finance

Trying to stop the eurozone contagion, they have agreed a further €109bn plus called in private bondholders, to contribute a further #37bn under conditions that amount to a partial default. Sarkozy says that the EU has effectively created a European Monetary Fund. Will they succeed? In the FT, Philip Stephens asks whether this crisis, and the US equivalent, are a spasm or a spiral. He concludes it is too early to panic: bold leadership could solve both crises.

Does carbon accounting doom the London financial markets to fail again?

July 20, 2011 Climate, Coal, Finance, Gas, Oil

John Elkington on the CarbonTracker report: “Having written my first report on climate change in 1978, I have been dutifully tracking the evolving science for half a lifetime, but only on Friday 15 July 2011 did I truly feel that the climate, carbon and financial agendas had been spot-welded in a way that potentially brings all of this right home to people such as asset owners, rating agencies, brokers, analysts, investment bankers, accountants, data providers and financial regulators.”

EDF’s French next gen reactor delayed another two years.

July 20, 2011 Nuclear

EDF says completion of its first French next-generation EPR nuclear reactor will now be in 2016, not 2014. In July 2010, if delayed the start of the 1,600 megawatt nuclear reactor from 2012 to 2014 and raised its cost estimate from 4 to 5 billion euros. It now expects the cost to rise to 6 billion euros ($8.52 billion). EDF blames complex engineering and Fukushima.  The project will take almost twice the time originally announced and nearly twice the budget. The company hopes to build two of these at Hinckley Point and two at Sizewell.

Half Turkmenistan gas production now goes to China.

July 20, 2011 Gas

Export began last month via the longest pipeline in the world (8,700 km). Turkeminstan will export 40 bcm pa, around half its production, 30 of which will be delivered by this pipeline.

Saudi oil consumption surges dangerously.

July 19, 2011 Oil

Saudi Arabia is on course to consume an average  2.8 m barrels a day this year. This would make it the world’s sixth-largest oil consumer behind the US, China, Japan, India and Russia. On a per capita basis, consumption is set to jump by 5.6 per cent against the global average of 1.4 per cent. Demand is up 75% in the last ten years. The IEA estimates that more than 0.5 mbd are being burned in electric power plants.

Arctic ice on track for a record low, worse than 2007.

July 18, 2011 Climate

The National Snow and Ice Data Centre reports that Arctic sea ice extent declined rapidly through the first two weeks of July, at a rate averaging nearly 120,000 square kilometers (46,000 square miles) per day. Ice extent is now tracking below the year 2007, which saw the record minimum September extent.

Planned gas-fired power plants in UK threaten renewables development.

July 18, 2011 Clean Energy, Gas

Friends of the Earth ask MPs to reject the UK government’s energy plan on the basis that the big energy companies are planning dozens of new fossil-fuel stations that will impede the development of renewables.

The conditions for the next financial crisis are “firmly in place”.

July 18, 2011 Finance

Andrew Smithers in the FT: “Financial crises occur when debt levels are excessive and asset prices fall. The severity of the recession that ensues can then be mitigated by large increases in government deficits and large cuts in interest rates. / Today the conditions for the next financial crisis are already in place. Debt remains at pre-crisis levels and US equities and UK property are seriously overpriced. But the ability to reduce the impact of the next recession with large increases in government deficits and sharp falls in interest rates has vanished.”

Catastrophe awaits if America cannot service its public debt and defaults.

July 17, 2011 Finance

Will Hutton walks through the drama in the Observer: “When President Obama, the supreme rationalist, says that there are just days to avert Armageddon, everyone should sit up and listen. For months, Republicans have used their new majority in the House of Representatives to block any move to lift the artificial cap on the amount the US government can borrow. If by this Friday they still refuse – insisting on up to $4trillion of spending cuts, excluding defence, and no tax increases as the price of their support – then the US will be unable to service its public debts. The biggest economy on Earth will default.  /  The results will be catastrophic…. The US government will have to start to wind down: soldiers’ wages and public pensions alike will be suspended. But in the financial markets there will be mayhem. Interest rates will shoot up and there will be a flight from the dollar. Banks, uncertain about their expected income from their holdings of US Treasury bonds and bills, will call in their loans, creating a second credit crunch.”

Record drought cripples farms across southern US.

July 17, 2011 Climate

The last 9 months have been the driest on record. The drought zone extends from Arizona to Florida. Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has designated 3 “days of prayer for rain” meanwhile cutting the budget of agency battling record wildfires.

Rating agencies edge closer to downgrade of US credit rating.

July 15, 2011 Finance

Standard & Poor’s warning: a 50-50 chance it could cut its triple-A status within the next three months. The trigger is the deadlocked talks between the White House and Republicans on raising the government’s $14.3tn (£8.9tn) borrowing limit.

Nine banks fail EU stress tests.

July 15, 2011 Finance

This out of 91 undergoing them: a failure rate lower than predicted that prompts questioning of the severity of the testing. Failed banks have to raise more capital.

“The astounding potential of a solar energy tipping point”.

July 15, 2011 Clean Energy, Commentaries

A Treehugger.com editorial blog based on a 2 minute video: “Once you get to the interview with Jeremy Leggett, he says something very simple, but very profound—as soon as people see solar energy at work, they want to see more of it.”

Conventional assets across the oil majors’ portfolios to fall from 48% to 39% by 2016.

July 14, 2011 Finance, Gas, Oil

Investment in conventional assets accounted for 63% of the Majors’ total capital expenditure between 2001 – 2005.  Wood Mackenzie calculates that the proportion falls to 40% in 2011 to 2015.  Increasing investment in the deepwater (23% vs. 17%) and LNG sectors (18%vs. 11%) makes up the largest difference, with heavy oil/oil sands (9% vs. 6%) and unconventional oil/gas (9% vs. 3%) most of the remainder.

Conoco-Phillips breaks up to focus just on exploration and production.

July 14, 2011 Gas, Oil

The third biggest integrated US oil and gas company is hiving off its refining and marketing in a “shrink to grow” strategy that will make it a super-independent like Apache. It has given trying to grow by acquisition, the FT reports.

700,000 more families fell into fuel poverty in 2009.

July 14, 2011 Clean Energy

Now one in five, 5.5 m homes, pay more than 10% of income on energy bills. And four of the Big 6 have yet to announce their price rises.

Action is needed on “unburnable carbon” by every sector in the financial chain.

July 14, 2011 Commentaries, Finance

In particular, regulators should require reporting of reserves and potential CO2 emissions by listed companies and those applying for listing. They should aggregate and publish this data. My Guardian blog on the CarbonTracker report.