US utility agrees solar is now cheaper than gas.

September 16, 2013 Clean Energy, Gas 

REW.com: “Five months ago, one of the country’s ten largest electric utilities told regulators in Minnesota that it needed three new natural gas power plants to handle peak energy demand.  This week, the same company’s Colorado division announced plans to use more solar power because it is cost competitive with gas.” Read more

Warning to pensions firms as fees erode up to a third of pension pots.

September 16, 2013 Finance 

Guardian: “Firms that overcharge for managing pensions on behalf of millions of workers are to have their fees capped under new legal curbs being drawn up by the government.” Read more

US super-rich hit new wealth record five years after financial crisis.

September 16, 2013 Finance 

Guardian: “Five years after the financial crisis, America’s super-rich have recovered all their losses to see their wealth reach an all-time high. According to Forbes magazine the 400 wealthiest Americans are worth a record $2.02 trillion (£1.4tn), up from $1.7tn in 2012, a collective fortune slightly bigger than Russia’s economy.” Read more

Study funded by Big Oil finds Small Leaks from gas production.

September 16, 2013 Climate, Gas 

FT: Leaks from natural gas production in the US are smaller than some previous estimates, a study led by David Allen of the University of Texas concludes. Methan escape is roughly 10 per cent lower than the latest estimate used by the EPA, with a margin of about 9% either way. Read more

Record Saudi oil output needed to avoid global supply shortfall.

September 16, 2013 Oil, Top Ten Signposts to Energy Crisis 

FT: “The US might be drowning in oil, but the world is still dependent on Saudi Arabia. Indeed, Saudi Arabia is pumping out more crude than at any time since at least the 1970s. In neighbouring Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates meanwhile, oil production levels hit record highs. These numbers reflect a profound but easily overlooked trend in the global oil market.” Read more

US rivals battle over LNG: 4 export permits now approved.

September 15, 2013 Gas 

FT: “The rise of the US as a global gas exporter is gathering speed. Until May, the government had granted just one permit for worldwide exports of liquefied natural gas. It has approved three more in the past five months.” Read more

Five years on from Lehman collapse, risk of meltdown remains.

September 15, 2013 Finance 

Guardian: “Five years on from the tumultuous collapse of Lehman – which prompted a near meltdown of the global financial system – (Adair) Turner admits the socially useless activity he was concerned about has been only temporarily restrained. Indeed, to the public, the perception is that the City has got away lightly, especially compared with what happened to those blamed for the 1978-79 winter of discontent.” Read more

All Japan’s nuclear plants shut again, cash-strapped utilities deep in red.

September 13, 2013 Gas, Nuclear 

FT: Kansei Electric’s 1,180-megawatt No 4 reactor at the Ohi plant in Osaka will be idled from Sunday for safety inspections, and the total freeze will last until January at the earliest, exceeding a two-month hiatus last year. Read more

Whistleblower sues Morgan Stanley over harrassment.

September 12, 2013 Finance 

FT: “An ex-Morgan Stanley auditor has sued his former employer, claiming that his warnings that the bank was taking on too much credit risk before the financial crisis were ignored and “whitewashed” by senior executives and audit officers. Saeed Ahmad filed the complaint in a New York court earlier this month under the new whistleblower protections created as part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform.” Read more

“Derivatives move from banks into the shadows”: FT.

September 11, 2013 Finance 

FT: “Shadow financial institutions have taken advantage of the wave of new regulation to steal the lion’s share of the derivatives business from the major banks in a blow to those institutions’ profitability, according to traders.” Read more

Kashagan produces first oil 13 years after discovery.

September 11, 2013 Oil 

FT: The supergiant Kashagan field in Kazakhstan, which may hold as much as 35bn barrels of oil, begins production almost a decade later than had first anticipated by the seven-member consortium including upon discovery in 2000. It has cost $41.2bn, making it the world’s most expensive oil project.

Community-based renewables projects “could soar in UK”.

September 10, 2013 Change for Good, Clean Energy, Finance 
Recharge: “Think-tank ResPublica says community-owned capacity is on course to reach 550MW by 2020, from 60MW now, as local groups warm to the idea of having a stake in projects.” Read more

“Renewables a safer investment bet than the carbon bubble.”

September 10, 2013 Clean Energy, Commentaries 

JL in REA News: “I have been advocating renewables as the backbone of a global response to the grave dangers of climate change for a quarter of a century now. In all that time I have never seen anything trouble the deeply-entrenched fossil-fuel incumbency the way the carbon bubble argument has this year. Let me tell the story chronologically.”

UK minister: fracking won’t increase UK greenhouse emissions.

September 9, 2013 Climate, Gas, Oil 

Guardian: “Fracking for shale gas is not a “great evil” and can act as a bridge to a “green future” in the UK as long as it is properly regulated, according to the  energy and climate secretary Ed Davey. In a major speech in defence of exploiting domestic shale gas he said that Britain can extract the gas without endangering the country’s climate targets.” Read more

9 utility bosses say solar and wind policies threaten EU energy security.

September 9, 2013 Clean Energy, Coal, Gas, Nuclear 

FT: “Nine of Europe’s biggest utilities have joined forces to warn that the EU’s energy policies are putting the continent’s power supplies at risk. Gérard Mestrallet, chief executive of  GDF Suez and Paolo Scaroni, head of Italian oil group  Eni, will present proposals for reforming the system at a European Parliament meeting on Tuesday.” Read more

Cost of drilling rises steeply for oil majors: “the margins are not there.”

September 8, 2013 Gas, Oil 

FT: Chevron’s boss reports that the cost of drilling wells in the Gulf has risen 25% since Macondo. “It now takes two to three months longer than before the accident to secure a drilling permit, while deepwater well costs have soared driven by changes such as having to test blowout preventers.” Read more

Is the US shale oil revolution about to run out of steam?

September 8, 2013 Gas, Oil 

FT: “Innovation is central to the oil and gas industry, as the past half-decade has conclusively demonstrated. Five years ago, US oil production seemed on course to enter its fifth successive decade of steady decline, as the wells that had made it the world’s largest producer steadily ran dry. Since 2008, though, there has been a dramatic reversal.” Read more

UK recovery based on households getting deeper into debt is a bad idea.

September 8, 2013 Climate, Finance 

Larry Elliot in the Guardian: “There will be those who say that this (recovery) is all an illusion – they are both wrong and right. Wrong, because it is clear from the data that the pickup is for real. Right, because growth is only meaningful if real living standards are rising, which requires wages and salaries to be going up more rapidly than prices.” Read more

New European law to clamp down on market price-rigging.

September 8, 2013 Finance, Gas, Oil 

Guardian: “Life bans on rogue traders and large company fines as Financial Conduct Authority and Ofgem launch investigations. The European parliament is expected this week to vote through tough new legislation that would allow Brussels – and London – to crack down much harder on rogue traders in financial and energy markets.” Read more

Swedish politicians urge state pension funds to dump fossil fuel holdings.

September 8, 2013 Climate, Coal, Finance, Gas, Oil 

FT: “The Swedish Centre party has called for all of the country’s national pension funds to sell off their holdings in fossil fuel corporations in order to “climate proof” and protect the value of their investments.” Read more