Fossil Fuels

The North Sea oil and gas industry will be almost finished within a decade, according to a controversial academic report. Geologists from the University of Edinburgh have calculated that only 10 per cent of the recoverable oil and gas remains and, at current rates of extraction, those reserves will be virtually dry within a decade. The geologists also analysed the economic feasibility of fracking and concluded that the controversial shale gas extraction method would not be viable in Scotland and only of marginal use in England.

Times 20th Sept 2017 read more »

Herald 20th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 20 September 2017

Fossil Fuels

The last decade has seen a significant change in the terms of the debate around the concept of “peak oil”. Ten years ago the focus was on when oil resources would start to run out and was still based on a concept developed in the 1950s by a Shell geophysicist called M King Hubbert. Hubbert saw in the life story of an individual oil field, which rises to maximum production and then usually rapidly declines, a model that could be applied to the industry as a whole. As a finite resource, global oil would inevitably reach a point where the only prospect was decline. Technology has enabled the industry to keep finding more oil and has identified ways to extract it from existing fields that had been thought close to exhaustion. Science and engineering have made production possible from resources once thought uneconomic for commercial development — the most obvious example of which is shale. The volume of identified reserves not yet developed is greater now than it was in 1977 when I first joined the industry, despite 40 years of growing production. The concept of peak oil has therefore shifted from peak supply to peak demand. There is no consensus on the date but the expectation is that demand will begin to fall before supply starts to run out. Static or falling demand in the developed world reinforces that theory as does the suggestion, recently articulated by a senior Chinese official, that Beijing is considering banning petrol and diesel cars at some point. Some say the peak could come within five years; others put the date much later.

FT 18th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 September 2017

Carbon Capture & Storage

Scotland’s energy minister, Paul Wheelhouse, has confirmed that carbon capture and storage plans in the north-east are not reliant on UK Government support. The Scottish Government announced funding towards a feasibility study for CCS at St Fergus earlier this month. But uncertainty still surrounds the UK Government’s position on the technology after proposals for a £1bn scheme at Peterhead were suddenly scrapped in 2015.

Energy Voice 18th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 September 2017

Fossil Fuels

Carbon Tracker report challenges the economic case for President Trump’s support for the coal industry and finds that phasing out US coal in line with the Paris Agreement would be good for consumers, investors and the wider economy. This is the first study to provide investors with a tool to identify uneconomic coal plants and align their portfolios with the Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 2˚C. It enables them to challenge coal owners about their plans to manage energy transition risk and avoid losses.

Carbon Tracker 15th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 September 2017

Fossil Fuels

A new study published by Stanford University suggests that fossil-fueled cars will vanish within eight years – and citizens will have no choice but to invest in electric vehicles or similar technologies. This is because the cost of electric vehicles – including cars, buses, and trucks – will ultimately decrease, resulting in the collapse of the petroleum industry.

Inhabitat (accessed) 15th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 15 September 2017

Carbon Capture

In an industrial greenhouse about 30km from Zurich, plump aubergines and juicy cherry tomatoes are ripening to perfection. Growing Mediterranean crops in Switzerland would traditionally be energy intensive but these vegetables are very nearly carbon-neutral. The greenhouse uses waste energy from a nearby refuse plant, and carbon dioxide from the world’s first commercial direct air capture plant. The facility, designed by Zurich-based start-up Climeworks, pumps the gas into greenhouses to boost the plants’ photosynthesis and increase their yield, it hopes, by up to 20%. Climeworks says it will extract around 900 tonnes of CO2 a year from the air. The company’s end game is not p lumper tomatoes but something far more ambitious – proving that carbon dioxide can be recycled from the atmosphere and turned into something useful. If this installation is a success, Climeworks wants to sell its concentrated carbon dioxide to companies producing carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels. With concentrations of CO2 at their highest in the last 400,000 years, the world needs to remove the greenhouse gas from the atmosphere – as well as cut emissions – if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Guardian 14th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 15 September 2017

Fossil Fuels

Drax could build one of the world’s largest batteries and create Britain’s biggest gas plant under ambitious plans to transform its North Yorkshire power station. The Drax coal and biomass plant near Selby is already the country’s biggest power station, capable of generating 3.9 gigawatts, or about 7 per cent of the country’s electricity needs. The plans announced yesterday could increase the site’s capacity to more than six gigawatts and enable it to stop burning coal as soon as 2020.

Times 14th Sept 2017 read more »

FT 13th Sept 2017 read more »

A coalition of institutional investors managing more than $1tn in assets is demanding that 60 of the world’s largest banks take action to protect the world from the threat of catastrophic damage due to climate change. The devastation caused by Hurricane Irma across the Caribbean and Florida has added urgency to efforts by pension funds and asset managers to step up the fight against climate change. Letters have been sent to the chief executives of banks including HSBC, Lloyds, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank to demand more information about their exposures to climate-related risks and their plans to ensure compliance with the landmark agreement to tackle global warming reached by governments in Paris in December 2015.

FT 14th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 September 2017

Fossil Fuels

Politicians and activists who have been fighting to rein in Norway’s mighty oil industry are eyeing a breakthrough. Several parties opposed to further oil exploration could emerge as kingmakers in the Sept. 11 election. That will threaten a push to search for about 9 billion barrels in Arctic crude and natural gas, which is necessary to prolong the petroleum age that made Norway one of the world’s richest countries.

Bloomberg 5th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 11 September 2017

Energy Supplies

Supplies of LNG are on course to increase by 50 per cent between 2014 and 2021. That implies the opening of a new LNG “train” – the facilities that condense gas into liquid form to allow it to be transported long distances by ship – every two to three months. Spencer Dale, chief economist at BP, calls that a “quite astonishing” rate of growth. The investments are part of a wider dash for gas among the biggest energy companies, as the industry bets that the clean characteristics of gas compared with oil and coal will allow it to keep growing as other fossil fuels decline. Gas emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal when burnt to generate electricity, and at least 75 per cent less nitrogen oxide and other health-harming particles. This makes gas a potential ally in the fights against climate change and air pollution, while providing a hedge for industry against the threat of electric vehicles eroding demand for oil. Companies that once treated gas as the poor relation to “black gold” are now gambling that the colourless commodity can help secure their future in a decarbonising world. Of the 16 new BP projects due on stream between this year and 2021, 12 involve gas rather than oil. Similar shifts are under way across the industry. Gas outweighs oil by a factor of two-to-one among pre-development resources awaiting investment decisions, according to Wood Mackenzie, the energy consultancy.

FT 7th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 8 September 2017

Fossil Fuels

An environmental campaigner is challenging the legality of a wide-ranging injunction obtained against protesters by a multinational firm that he criticised as being “draconian, anti-democratic and oppressive”. Joe Corr Vivienne Westwood’s son, accused petrochemical giant Ineos of using “disgusting bully boy tactics” against campaigners who want to protest against the firm’s fracking operations. He has submitted an application in the high court objecting to the injunction. A hearing is due to be held on Tuesday to dismiss the injunction. The temporary injunction was granted by a high court judge in July after an unannounced hearing which gave protesters no opportunity to object at the time.

Guardian 7th Sept 2017 read more »

Posted: 8 September 2017