Friday, 7 March 2014

"Fossil fuels at a tipping point?"

This evening saw several presentations on climate change and what to do about it:
Futures Forum: Climate Week: more on Sidmouth event: Friday 7th March
Several times the issue of the impact of burning fossil fuels was brought up.

This evening also saw the publication of a report by the New Economics Foundation:

Energy round-up: fossil fuels at a tipping point?

Photo credit:   *Psycho Delia*

Three things you shouldn't miss this week

  1. Global riot epidemic due to demise of cheap fossil fuels - From South America to South Asia, a new age of unrest unfolds as industrial civilisation transitions to post-carbon reality.
  2. UK oil and gas production in terminal decline? Offshore production by field: 

  3. http://crudeoilpeak.info/uk-peak
  4. The Energy Transition Tipping Point is Here - The economic foundations for fossil fuel investment collapse as the business case for renewables builds.
Diplomatic efforts are underway to diffuse tensions between Russia and the West following the overthrow of Ukrainian President Yanukovych. Should tensions escalate, one risk is the disruption of gas supplies from Russia to Europe via the Ukraine.
A standoff between Russia and Ukraine following the Orange Revolution saw gas supplies disrupted in both January 2006 and early 2009. Europe is now better placed to weather such a storm thanks to improved gas storage facilities, the new Nord Stream pipeline from Russia to Germany and an unusually mild winter. But Moscow’s recent threat to suspend its 30% gas price discount to Ukraine could still have major political consequences given the country’s perilous financial position and political divisions.
Some commentators see US shale gas as a key to reducing dependence on Russia. Good reason for caution here, however - even industry voices are calling attention to rapid well decline rates of shale oil and gas.
In the UK, oil and gas moved centre stage last week. With September’s referendum on Scottish independence fast approaching, both David Cameron and Alex Salmond arrived in and around Aberdeen with their cabinets in tow to talk up their readiness to boost offshore oil and gas production.
The harsh reality is that both sides are fighting the wrong battle, as our chart of the week clearly illustrates: UK oil and gas production is in terminal decline and has been since the beginning of the millennium. A clear plan to transition away from fossil fuels could be a vote-winner.
Challenges to the oil and gas business model aren’t limited to the UK, as a recent presentation by Steven Kopits of Douglas Westwood demonstrates. In short, despite growing global demand for their products, the major oil companies are struggling to maintain supply, and new supply from unconventional resources is coming at a high cost. Record capital expenditure has failed to break this cycle and companies are now cutting capital spending and divesting to keep shareholders happy - the most recent example is BP’s announcement that it is to shed its US shale business.
Fossil fuel giants are increasingly on the back foot. It’s high time for an energy policy which reflects the real changes going on in the world.

Energy Transition

IEA Report: Wind and Solar Can Carry Bulk of Energy Transformation - IEA finds that integration of renewables into electricity grids can be done at little cost.
Report: Solar Paired With Storage Is a ‘Real, Near and Present’ Threat to Utilities - Is the solar-storage combination a deadly one for traditional power companies?
Coal Crunch Gives Impetus to India's Solar Switch - What looks like a looming crisis could turn out to be an almost accidental energy overhaul.
RWE posts first annual net loss for over 60 years - Germany's biggest energy company, RWE, has posted its first annual net loss in more than 60 years.
In a Host of Small Sources, Scientists See Energy Windfall - The emerging field of “energy scavenging” is drawing on a wide array of untapped energy sources.

Oil & Gas

Russia Gas Threat Shows Putin Using Pipes to Press Ukraine - OAO Gazprom (OGZD)’s threat to end natural gas discounts for Ukraine adds to the financial burden on the near-bankrupt government in Kiev and makes Europe’s energy supply part of the escalating crisis.
Wells That Fizzle Are a ‘Potential Show Stopper’ for the Shale Boom - The oil patch needs more brain for its brawn...New wells are fizzling out in their first year, threatening the 3-year-old oil boom.
Oil at the heart of Venezuela’s turmoil - At least six people have died in Venezuela’s street protests, with further clashes likely during marches planned this weekend. But amid the chaos, the Opec country’s oil keeps flowing – so far.
Europe abandons hopes of US-style shale gas revolution - Shale gas has had a “minimal impact” on the US’s manufacturing industry, and will have even less significance for Europe, according to a new report by the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI).
Petroleum-Free Norway Is No Pipe Dream for Ascending Green Party - “As a nation that has produced enormous wealth based on oil, we need to take responsibility,”...


How France is disposing of its nuclear waste - "I supported the laboratory from the start and I won't go back on that now," says the local mayor Francois Henri. But he admits that if his community had wanted to block the project there would be little they could do to stop it.
Japan to fast-track some nuclear restarts - It remains unclear when any of Japan's 48 reactors could come back on-line, but fast-tracking the process is good news for the nuclear industry…

UK Policy

UK oil, gas operators spend record amounts, produce less - Britain's oil and gas companies spent a record 8.9 billion pounds ($15 billion) in 2013 to produce 8 percent less fossil fuel than the year before.
North Sea oil: Facts and figures - The future of North Sea oil is one of the key campaign battlegrounds ahead of the Scottish independence referendum.
'Carbon bubble' poses serious threat to UK economy, MPs warn - Committee says government and Bank of England must not be complacent about the risks of overvaluing fossil fuel companies.
Balcombe residents call on council to oppose Cuadrilla oil drilling - Majority of residents in protest-hit West Sussex village want no further oil and gas drilling of any kind.
'Fracking': The potential for shale gas in the north west - BBC News gives a guide to the potential of fracking in the North West.
Brakes put on UK shale gas revolution - Just because gas is recoverable, it doesn’t mean it makes economic sense to do so.
UK wind beats storms to supply 11 per cent of power in February - Industry says new figures demonstrate stability of wind power against a backdrop of political uncertainty
Wind farm plans in tatters after subsidy rethink - Plans to build wind farms in England and Scotland are being scrapped in the first sign that the Government's proposed cut to subsidies is taking effect.


Norwegian government reviews fossil fuel divestment plan - Independent panel to assess whether country's giant wealth fund should quit oil, coal and gas investments.
Ministers urge Europe to agree green energy goals - 13 European ministers, including UK’s Ed Davey, call for EU to adopt climate package despite opposition from Poland.

Related Reports and commentary

Beginning of the End? Oil Companies Cut Back on Spending – Gail Tverberg, Our Finite World. Commentary on video presentation by Steven Kopits, Douglas Westwood.
US Natural Gas Inventories are Headed Toward Zero – Robert Rapier, EnergyTrendsInsider
Unconventional wisdom: an economic analysis of US shale gas and implications for the EU – IDDRI
The Great Resource Price Shock – Green Alliance

Heading in Three Directions Makes a Lot More Sense - Association for the Conservation of Energy

Energy round-up: fossil fuels at a tipping point? | new economics foundation

The economic foundations supporting fossil fuels investments are collapsing quickly, as the business case for renewables such as solar and wind finds a new center of balance.

I have waited a long time—decades, really—for a tipping point in the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables beyond which there can be no turning back. Fresh evidence pertaining to many themes I have explored in this column over the past three years suggests that tipping point is finally here.
The energy transition tipping point is here - SmartPlanet

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