Fossil Fuels

Oil rigs could soon be run on renewable energy and battery power under new plans to help the North Sea play its part in the energy transition. The industry’s regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority, is preparing to lead a new project to forge closer links between the oil producers and wind farm developers operating in UK waters. It claims that the project, which will run for a year, could help the transition to a low carbon economy, while extending the economic life of the North Sea. The argument is likely to raise eyebrows among green groups, which believe an end to fossil fuels is the most effective way to reduce Britain’s carbon footprint.

Telegraph 21st March 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

New £165m coal mine in Cumbria ‘unanimously approved’ by councillors despite escalating climate change crisis. West Cumbria Mining, which filed the application, wants to extract coking coal along the coastline between Whitehaven and St Bees in Copeland and process the fossil fuel at a plant nearby.

Independent 19th March 2019 read more »

Times 20th March 2019 read more »

Telegraph 19th March 2019 read more »

Guardian 19th March 2019 read more »

A total of £200bn needs to be spent by exploration and production companies to fully exploit the UK oil and gas sector’s remaining potential, a new report has said. Industry body Oil and Gas UK (OGUK) said its Business Outlook Report 2019 showed the need for a focus on cost and efficiencies was the “new reality”. The study reveals production has increased by 20% over the past five years. This follows 14 years of decline. The report found 62% of contractor companies had an improved outlook for 2019, but that many areas of the supply chain were still facing challenges.

BBC 20th March 2019 read more »

Times 20th March 2019 read more »

Telegraph 20th March 2019 read more »

The National 20th March 2019 read more »

Herald 20th March 2019 read more »

In addition to concerns about nature and species conservation, there are also high concerns about the planned location, the Pow Beck Valley and the St. Bees coast of Cumbria. This is just eight kilometers from the former nuclear reprocessing plant Sellafield away. There are still stored radioactive materials. In the surrounding mud of the lake are also up to 70 years old deposits from the nuclear industry. Seismic ground movements or earthquakes could have fatal consequences, say the opponents of the project.

Taz 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

Italian oil and gas major Eni has set out its plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, earmarking an additional €3bn of investment towards forestry offsets, renewables, circular economy initiatives, energy efficiency, and flaring down projects. Outlining its four-year business strategy on Friday, the company said it would achieve the “ambitious” emission target by minimising CO2 in its operations – such as through cutting methane leaks – and offsetting residual upstream emissions through large forestry projects.

Business Green 18th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

More than 1,000 shale rigs dot the plains of the US fracking heartlands in a patchwork of economic promise. The oil price crash all but snuffed out the US pioneers of the shale rush. Yet, it is from this pyre of bankrupt frackers and hastily dismantled rigs that a new industry centred on the Permian Basin in Texas has galvanised to reassert the US as an energy superpower. It is this “remarkable strength” that is “triggering a rapid transformation of global markets”, according to Fatih Birol, the chief executive of International Energy Agency (IEA). “The second wave of the US shale revolution is coming. It will see the US account for 70pc of the rise in global oil production,” he said last week.

Telegraph 17th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 18 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

The dominant theme of the week was competition, and in particular the potential for increasingly intense rivalry between oil and gas companies in a world of tightening constraints on greenhouse gas emissions. Wael Sawan, Royal Dutch Shell’s new head of exploration and production, told the Financial Times that when world oil production starts to decline, “we need to be able to be the last ones standing”. Since the election of President Donald Trump, the trend in US federal policy has been to work against attempts to address the threat of climate change. Mr Trump during the week tweeted a quote from Fox News by Patrick Moore, one of the first members of Greenpeace, saying: “The whole climate crisis is not only Fake News, it’s Fake Science.” In the energy industry, however, judging from the agenda and conversation at CERAWeek, awareness of the importance of climate change is higher than ever. Responding to pressure from investors, politicians and the public, many of the executives in attendance talked about the significance of the threat, and the steps they were taking to respond. Some of the strongest comments came from executives based in Europe, where the focus on climate is sharpest. Eldar Sætre, chief executive of Norway’s national energy company Equinor, told the conference that the oil and gas industry could face “a crisis of confidence” that was “a real threat to our license to operate”. Bob Dudley of BP said “we are operating in a world that is not on a sustainable path”, and suggested there was a need for “a step change to correct our course” on emissions. One of the forces driving energy companies to pay attention to climate change is public opinion. There is also a growing pressure from politicians, in particular in the US because of the Green New Deal that was launched last month by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. The Green New Deal’s radical strategy for transforming the US into a low-carbon economy through government intervention has attracted plenty of criticism already, and that continues. Representative Rob Bishop, a Republican from Utah, described the ideas behind the proposal as “tantamount to genocide”. In a more measured response, Ernest Moniz, a former energy secretary in the Obama administration, and Andy Karsner, who was a senior energy official under President George W Bush, wrote an article together for CNBC, calling for an alternative programme that they described as a “Green Real Deal”.

FT 16th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 17 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

The UK government has again come under fire from MPs over allegations it gives “tacit acceptance” to oil and gas exploration in the Arctic, despite its commitments to tackle climate change, protect habitats, and ensure sustainable development in the region. Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) today doubled down on its calls for the government to end its “encouragement of UK businesses to explore oil and gas opportunities in the Arctic”, claiming doing so was incompatible with both the Paris Agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Business Green 16th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 16 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

BNP Paribas Asset Management is about to shed up to €1bn of stocks as the French group becomes the latest big investor to announce it is divesting from thermal coal. Large investors have increased efforts to tackle industries judged to be detrimental to the goal of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, which aims to limit global warming to below a 2C rise.

FT 14th March 2019 read more »

Business Green 14th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 15 March 2019

Energy Policy

Gas heating for new houses will be banned by 2025, the Chancellor has said, although gas hobs will still be allowed. The homes will keep warm with devices such as heat exchangers – and with “world-leading” insulation standards. It’s part of a bid by Philip Hammond to address the concerns of children protesting about climate change. Green groups welcomed the measure but said the Chancellor had ducked major challenges on the climate. They wanted action to cut emissions from traffic, planes and existing draughty homes – which will form the vast majority of the housing stock for decades. Instead, Mr Hammond offered what they called an inadequate idea for tackling aviation emissions.

BBC 13th March 2019 read more »

Gas boilers will be banned in new homes from 2025 to tackle climate change, the government has announced. Philip Hammond, the chancellor, said that a so-called future homes standard would be introduced “mandating the end of fossil fuel heating systems”, which would deliver “lower carbon and lower fuel bills too”. The announcement was made after advice last month from the government-appointed Committee on Climate Change, which said that developers should be banned from connecting homes to the gas grid from 2025. Mr Hammond’s statement did not go as far as the committee had recommended because the new standard will only ban gas boilers, not gas hobs or cookers. A Treasury spokeswoman said that new homes could still be connected to the gas network. The new standard will change building regulations, which do not cover cooking appliances, she said. Asked how banning gas boilers would result in lower fuel bills, as Mr Hammond had claimed, the spokeswoman said: “Costs will form a big part of the consultation. [That’s] exactly why it’s vital we consult to consider the impact.” The committee said that electric heat pumps, which extract heat from the air or ground, should be used in place of gas boilers. They typically cost £6,000, several times more than a boiler, but can be cheaper to run depending on how much electricity they consume. The GMB union, which has 30,000 members in the gas industry including boiler engineers, condemned the announcement, saying that it could result in more homes being in fuel poverty because gas was four times cheaper than electricity. Justin Bowden, GMB’s national secretary, said: “GMB calls on parliament to reject this proposal until there is thorough public debate on the energy mix and who pays. “We recognise the UK must up its game in respect of its climate change commitments under the Paris treaty but today’s announcement doesn’t sound well thought through. This is another example of the demerger of economic and political questions and decision-making.” Gas used in existing homes would increasingly come from innovations using biogas, which used sewage, food waste, crops and other organic material rather than fossil fuel reserves, Mr Hammond said. The government would publish proposals “to require an increased proportion of green gas in the grid, advancing decarbonisation of our mains gas supply”, he said.

Times 14th March 2019 read more »

Chancellor announces ban on fossil fuel heating in all new homes from 2025 Move part of a broader campaign to cut household energy use Campaigners welcome the move but say existing households need better insulation. Gas boilers and other fossil fuel heaters will be banned from all new homes from 2025 as part of a government drive to improve household energy efficiency. The move would see green alternatives such as heat pumps being installed as standard in all new homes. These included a consultation on how to help small businesses reduce energy bills and emissions and a pledge to increase the proportion of green gas used in the energy grid. “Banning fossil fuels from heating new homes from 2025 is an overdue but positive step forward,” said Friends of the Earth’s head of political affairs, Dave Timms. “But we can’t continue to neglect our existing housing stock, many of which leak heat and cost a fortune in fuel bills. The Chancellor did nothing to reverse the massive cuts to home energy efficiency programmes which have seen insulation rates plummet to almost zero.”

iNews 13th March 2019 read more »

Britain will accelerate its race towards a zero-carbon economy through a raft of green measures designed to cut carbon emissions while safeguarding clean economic growth. Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, 
offered the Government’s clearest support yet for tackling climate change by pledging to build sustainability “into the heart” of the UK economy. The Treasury has responded to rising environmental concerns by calling for a series of green policies that will help British homes use less high-carbon gas and place an economic imperative on protecting the environment. Britain’s gas grid could soon turn green under Government plans to lower the carbon emissions from heating homes and businesses. The Chancellor signalled the biggest gas grid change since the late Sixties with plans to replace high-carbon natural gas with “green” alternatives to help meet climate change targets. The UK has already cut carbon from the electricity sector to its lowest since 1881 but tackling the gas grid remains “one of the biggest decarbonisation challenges”, according to David Smith of the Energy Networks Association. He welcomed Philip Hammond’s plans to consult on how to heat homes with “green gas” options that will help to reduce carbon emissions and keep energy bills down. Gas network companies are already trialling technology to start making a transformation towards clean heating. Anna Turley, chairman of the Hydrogen all-party parliamentary group, said using hydrogen in the gas grid could “unlock innovations in other sectors, such as transport, and create high-quality jobs in places like Teesside”. The North East region is already planning a hydrogen revolution that could lead to more than 700,000 homes across Teesside and Tyneside being converted to run on hydrogen by 2034, with work to convert homes to be undertaken street by street from 2024.

Telegraph 13th March 2019 read more »

Low-carbon heating to replace gas in new UK homes after 2025. Hammond appeared to row back on implementing the full recommendations from the government’s advisory committee on climate change last month, which called for new homes to have no gas for cooking or heating from 2025. The move away from gas heating in new homes was given a cautious welcome by environmental groups, although they said the chancellor had to be more ambitious, systemic and radical if the government was to get to grips with the climate emergency. Mel Evans, a senior campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said although the plan to end fossil fuels in new homes was vital – and she welcomed the measures to protect wildlife – tackling the climate crisis required bigger thinking. “Issues like the shoddy state of our existing housing stock and rapid adoption of electric vehicles require serious money behind serious policies,” such as banning new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030, she said.

Guardian 13th March 2019 read more »

Independent 13th March 2019 read more »

FT 13th March 2019 read more »

Business Green 13th March 2019 read more »

New plans announced by the government to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss have been dismissed as greenwashing by environmental groups. Carbon offsets for flights and an end to gas heating in new homes were among the measures floated by Philip Hammond in his Spring Statement. But with consultations and calls for evidence supplanting hard targets, the chancellor was accused of “fiddling while the planet burns”.

Independent 13th March 2019 read more »

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) welcomes news that the UK Government intends to implement a series of measures to help reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and tackle climate change. The policies and consultations, announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Statement today, include: A ‘future homes standard’ which will ensure that new UK homes will be built without fossil fuel heating from 2025. This proposal is in line with CCC’s recommendation on new build housing in a major report to Government last month. New proposals to increase the proportion of ‘green’ gas in the gas grid, helping to reduce emissions from the mains gas supply. The consultation is expected to consider continued support for biomethane (and other forms of gasification) after funding for the Renewable Heat Incentive comes to an end in 2021. The Committee has been recommending increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid since 2016. A call for evidence on whether all passenger carriers should be required to offer genuine carbon offsets to customers. A call for evidence on a new business energy efficiency scheme which the Government previously announced it would consult on in the autumn 2018 budget.

CCC 13th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 14 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

In the UK, advances are being made on power sector emission reductions, with 75pc of reductions since 2012 coming from this sector. However, other sectors, most notably transport, agriculture and the emissions from our homes and industry, are off track. While greater clarity is urgently needed from the Government on how it will help accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy, it is not just up to governments to act. Consumers, businesses and investors also have a responsibility – the problem is that while the roles of each remain blurred, action stalls. A small number of investors are already aware and acting through integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related risks as well as stewardship into their investment processes and decisions. Doing this gives them the ability to generate holistic returns – financial outcomes for beneficiaries, alongside positive externalities for society and the environment – the integration of such information is indispensable. Moreover, by doing so, they become a truly long-term oriented investor. However, this approach is far from the norm. This must change. Today, there is near global consensus on the need to act with urgency to stop runaway climate change, as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. This will translate into a regulatory reality for investors that must abide by EU rules. For investors, climate change is different to other ESG risks. If not addressed, those companies who fail to transition put the value of their investments exposed to carbon at risk, as well as the value across the wider portfolio as increasingly extreme weather events affect supply chains and destroy physical assets. In 2010, floods in Thailand affected two thirds of the country, causing more than 230 deaths and disrupting supply chains in the region. This caused months of disruption, $2.2bn (£1.7bn) in insured losses and affected over 300 Japanese firms.

Telegraph 12th March 2019 read more »

Influential think tank calls on government to emulate Scotland and introduce Just Transition Commission for carbon intensive communities across Northern England. Calls for the UK government to deliver a ‘Just Transition’ that ensures workers in carbon intensive industries do not face unemployment and underinvestment as clean technologies emerge.

Business Green 12th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

The United States is about to supplant Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest exporter of oil and petroleum products – an economic powerplay that has seismic geopolitical implications. The shift, which overturns 70 years of precedent and appeared unthinkable until very recently, is expected to take place this year, according to the research company Rystad Energy. Saudi Arabia has led the global market since it began selling oil overseas in the 1950s but a technology-driven shale boom in Texas has positioned the US to embark on its own era of worldwide energy dominance. President Trump has begun to exploit the enhanced political clout that this gives the White House on the world stage. Freed from his predecessor’s concerns about the impact of energy embargoes on domestic petrol prices, he has levied sanctions on Iran and Venezuela, two big oil-producing nations. The increased global supply through the growth of Texas crude oil exports has forced down oil prices, weakening the economies of Russia and Saudi Arabia and compelling them to respond by cutting back their own production to try to prop up prices. The effects of American energy supremacy are about to become more marked. “The political and economic impact of this shift in global trade has already been dramatic, and will be even more pivotal within the next five years,” said Per Magnus Nysveen, a senior partner at Rystad. “The US trade deficit will evaporate and its foreign debt will be paid quickly, thanks to the swift rise of American oil and gas exports.”

Times 12th March 2019 read more »

Telegraph 11th March 2019 read more »

A shale gas explorer has announced a discovery at its site in north Nottinghamshire, but has added that set limits on quakes caused by fracking could prove “prohibitive”.

Times 12th March 2019 read more »

North Sea oil was back at the centre of a constitutional tug-of-war today after the production forecasts for the oil and gas sector were revised upwards. The industry regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority, has predicted that 11.9 billion barrels will be extracted by 2050 – a hike of almost 50 per cent from the forecast four years ago, of eight billion barrels. The figures were greeted by the SNP as “great news”, which “confirmed the major economic potential that North Sea oil reserves have to offer” and raised a new demand for a Scottish oil fund. But the Scottish Conservatives said that it was the tax policies of the UK government which had encouraged investment in the North Sea, and that there was no appetite for independence in Scotland.

Scotsman 11th March 2019 read more »

The National 12th March 2019 read more »

Climate campaigners and their growing allies among big investors appear to be on a roll. Last week, the Norwegian government recommended its sovereign wealth fund divest from upstream oil and gas groups (albeit not from integrated majors such as BP). A few days before, HSBC came under pressure from a group of big investors to end fully all financing of new coal power stations. Two weeks before, the mining company Glencore made headlines by vowing to cap its coal production. Scores of other listed fossil fuel companies are facing a proliferation of demands from investors and campaigners to commit to stronger action on climate. Demands include that they publish “two degree plans” aligning their strategy with the goals of the Paris accord on climate change and that they set clear targets for their – and their customers’ – carbon emissions. In such a context, campaigners’ efforts to limit investment in new production by those oil, gas and coal companies they happen to be targeting, even assuming they are successful, will probably have a limited impact on climate outcomes – unless they pull off a commensurately successful effort to curb fossil fuel demand. Instead, there may be two more likely results of all their activity. The first is to facilitate a shift in the global balance of new fossil fuel production towards private, smaller or state-owned companies that are less susceptible to investor pressures and therefore have fewer qualms about taking up the production slack. In the case of oil, for example, some Middle East state oil companies and Russian producers may be key beneficiaries. Second, to the extent that global supplies are genuinely restrained as a result of the pressures, fossil fuel prices will probably rise, potentially significantly. True, this should encourage the further take-up of renewables, but it could also incentivise a subsequent supply surge from fossil fuel producers – and certainly help existing producers to cash in.

FT 11th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 12 March 2019