Fossil Fuels

Norway’s state oil company is hoping to distance itself from its fossil fuel legacy by removing “oil” from its name after half a century as part of a major rebrand. Statoil has already won the approval of its biggest shareholder, the Norwegian government, and expects to finalise “Equinor” as its new name following a shareholder vote at its annual general meeting in May. The name Equinor was created by combining the prefix to words such as equal, equality and equilibrium, with “nor” to reflect the group’s Norwegian origin.

Telegraph 15th March 2018 read more »

Business Green 15th March 2018 read more »

Durham University has become the latest academic institution to commit to ending its investments in fossil fuels, after reviewing the potential impact of divestment on its finances and “charitable and strategic objectives”. The University announced this week that, following recommendations from a Commission it set up last year, Durham would be withdrawing its investment in companies involved in fossil fuel extraction. It added that these investments currently totalled less than £1.5m.

Business Green 16th March 2018 read more »

Posted: 16 March 2018

Fossil Fuels

Environmental groups have united to criticise Ineos for trying to force the National Trust to allow shale gas testing on its land. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, the Campaign to Protect Rural England and the WWF are among dozens of charities, academics and anti-fracking groups to have signed a letter to Theresa May protesting against the actions of the petrochemicals group controlled by Jim Ratcliffe. Ineos is bringing legal action against the National Trust after it rejected repeated requests for permission to carry out seismic surveys in its Clumber Park estate in Nottinghamshire. The company wants to force the trust to grant access for the tests to assess how much gas is in the rocks beneath the estate. The letter argues that fracking is an “extremely risky” technique that is “deeply unpopular”, and that there is no need for shale gas. Ineos described the letter as naive, saying that two weeks ago Britain had almost run out of gas. “The letter calls for more, cleaner energy sometime in the future,” Ineos said, “but in the real world our energy is essential to every aspect of life. We have to keep the lights on . . . We can’t leave it to crossed fingers and magical thinking.”

Times 13th March 2018 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2018

Fossil Fuels

Almost all governments in the world joined the Paris agreement in 2015 in an effort to tackle climate change. In the same year, many of the same governments paid about US$400 billion in direct and indirect subsidies to help people buy fossil fuels. Subsidies are government policies which make energy cheaper than under normal market conditions. They mostly go towards fossil fuels, since most of the energy we use comes from oil, gas or coal. As one of us noted in a review published in the journal Ecological Economics, fossil fuel subsidies are a popular and pervasive tool for helping people across the world have access to energy. But it isn’t clear whether both trends are possible. Isn’t there a contradiction between subsidising fossil fuels and meeting Paris climate targets? And, if the subsidies are removed, won’t many people suffer without cheap energy? Though recent analysis shows that the worldwide removal would not magically solve climate change, there are many reasons for reform beyond reducing emissions.

SPRU 9th March 2018 read more »

The race to exploit huge gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean is raising regional tensions as disputes over ownership of offshore fields escalate into a war of words between countries with stakes in the potential energy bonanza. Turkey, Egypt, Cyprus, Israel and Lebanon have engaged in a round of verbal salvos in recent weeks over contested claims to gas reserves – the first of which were discovered a decade ago. The deposits could in time transform the fortunes of the region’s economies, but currently seem more likely to be the source of further confrontation. The process of exporting gas from the Levant Basin fields to energy-hungry Europe will be difficult enough even without the emerging tensions which, if they continue to grow, could complicate plans to build pipelines linking producer countries to consumer markets.

FT 9th March 2018 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2018


National Grid has backed the Government’s bid to reignite the carbon capture industry with a call to fast-track funding for new projects to as soon as next year. Ministers have already pledged £100m to research technology which can help strip carbon dioxide out of industrial emissions, but the FTSE 100 energy system operator said funding for specific projects should emerge in 2019. The Government is currently developing new plans to help fund carbon capture projects in the same way it has helped support the roll out of renewable power projects, but it is not expected to reveal the new investment mechanism until next year.

Telegraph 9th March 2018 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2018

Fossil Fuels

When French insurance group Axa announced it was selling its coal assets in 2015, the question emerged whether rivals including Allianz, Aviva, Zurich and others would divest too. Some did, and some did not. A broader question also surfaced: would public and private investors now look to sell down all their investments related to fossil fuels – oil, gas and coal? Axa, ING and the World Bank replied that they would. Norway, a country with significant oil reserves and revenue dependency, has already banned its sovereign wealth fund from investing in coal and is considering whether to drop oil as well. In the US, New York mayor Bill de Blasio wants the city’s $189bn fund – one of the country’s largest – to divest from fossil fuels. “It’s clear by now [that] Big Oil isn’t going to change its stripes; it’s time to stop pretending and start divesting,” he said in January this year. Perhaps unsurprisingly, fossil fuel companies are resisting these moves. The surprise, however, is that many institutional investors are also resisting divestment. They have opted instead for a strategy of engagement, choosing to talk to companies about their climate actions. BlackRock, Vanguard and New York State’s pension fund are among those that have opted for continued investment and discussions with fossil fuel companies. They argue that shareholder engagement is a superior tactic for pushing fossil fuel companies to move beyond business models based on burning every last barrel of oil. Yet expecting engagement to change the fossil fuel industry ignores decades of evidence to the contrary.

FT 8th March 2018 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2018

Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuel companies risk wasting almost $1.6tn on oil, gas and coal projects that will become uneconomic if the world steps up efforts to tackle climate change, according to an analysis of projected capital expenditure in the energy sector. The figure represents the difference between the estimated $4.8tn of investment needed to meet global fossil fuel demand between 2018 and 2025 under current climate policies and the $3.3tn that would be required if the Paris agreement on reducing carbon emissions was fully implemented. The study, by Carbon Tracker, a climate think-tank, illuminates one of the most difficult questions facing the energy industry: how much more capital should be committed to hydrocarbons in an era of increasing competition from renewable power. Institutional investors are also beginning to focus on the issue at the urging of regulators, led by Mark Carney, Bank of England governor and chairman of the G20’s Financial Stability Board, who has warned of “potentially huge” losses from fossil fuels which could become “literally unburnable”. Andrew Grant, author of the Carbon Tracker report, said current government policies fell “a long way short” of the commitment made at the Paris climate summit in 2015 to limit the average rise in global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

FT 8th March 2018 read more »

Fossil fuel companies risk wasting more than £1 trillion of expenditure by 2025 if they do not take the world’s climate goals into account, experts say. Businesses which “overinvest” in marginal oil, gas and coal projects based on the current policies of governments could destroy shareholder value worth billions of pounds, a Carbon Tracker report said. This is because of the gap between present policies, which would lead to temperature rises of 2.7C above pre-industrial levels, and what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris climate deal to limit them to between 1.5C and 2C.

Energy Voice 8th March 2018 read more »

Another firm is seeking a sweeping injunction against environmental protesters, drawing accusations that the legal move is “draconian and chillingly anti-democratic”. UK Oil and Gas (UKOG) has applied for a broad injunction to prevent campaigners from mounting protests that it says would unlawfully interfere with its operations. The injunction, if granted by a judge, would cover all campaigners who organise protests at the firm’s three sites in the south-east of England where it wants to drill for oil. Anyone breaking the injunction faces being jailed, fined or having their assets seized. The application, which is due to be heard at London’s high court on 19 March, has been condemned by campaigners who fear that corporate firms are increasingly attempting to use a heavy-handed legal weapon to close down dissent. Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the region, said the move was “chillingly anti-democratic”. “This is an absolutely outrageous move by a firm that has no social licence for its environmentally destructive drilling operations, and instead is seeking a draconian injunction to bludgeon local people’s right to peaceful and lawful protest.”

Guardian 7th March 2018 read more »

Posted: 8 March 2018

Fossil Fuels

The world could suffer an oil supply crunch by 2023, raising the risk of price spikes, because investment in exploration remains stubbornly low, experts have warned. Rising oil production from the United States will meet most of growing demand over the next three years, but after that markets could start to get much tighter, according to the International Energy Agency. In its annual oil market outlook, Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director, said that investment in exploration and production still showed “little sign of recovering from its plunge in 2015-16”. He said that this “raises concerns about whether adequate supply will be available to offset natural field declines and meet robust demand growth after 2020”. Oil companies slashed their expenditure after crude prices plunged from highs of more than $100 a barrel in 2014 to les s than $30 a barrel in 2016, putting strain on their finances. Although prices have since recovered to more than $60 a barrel, companies have remained cautious in their spending.

Times 6th March 2018 read more »

Posted: 6 March 2018

Fossil Fuels

Fresh fears for the nascent shale gas industry have emerged as freezing weather pushed Britain to the brink of running out of gas. The Government has publicly backed the burgeoning industry as a new source of secure domestic gas supplies but last week, on the eve of Britain’s tightest gas supply squeeze in a decade, energy minister Claire Perry poured fresh doubts over its future. Ms Perry said that figures suggesting there may be 155 wells across the UK by around 2025 are “now considered to be out of date”, despite being based on ­industry data that is less than two years old. Ms Perry threw the potential of UK shale into doubt just weeks after Greg Clark, the Business Secretary, put the brakes on Third Energy’s plans to frack a well near Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. Development was halted to undertake financial checks on the company, which was four months late in publishing its accounts. The meagre 155-well estimate itself falls well below early claims that 4,000 wells would emerge by 2032 to bring a multibillion-pound investment boom to the UK, including 64,000 new jobs. The downgrade emerged in a Sunday Telegraph report last month after ministers had kept the findings under wraps for over a year.

Telegraph 3rd March 2018 read more »

Posted: 4 March 2018

Fossil Fuels

The oil and gas industry regulator has raised its forecast of what can be recovered from the waters around the UK over the next three decades. Changes in the way the sector operates are thought to have unlocked the potential for a further 2.8 billion barrels of oil or the gas equivalent. It is now estimated that 11.7 billion barrels could be recovered between 2016 to 2050. More than 43 billion barrels have been extracted from UK waters so far.

BBC 2nd March 2018 read more »

Thanks to energy minister Claire Perry for her advice yesterday to “carrying on using your gas heating and cooking meals as normal” yesterday. Millions of Britons must have been moments away from smashing up the chest of drawers for firewood. Talk of a gas crisis is easily overdone. At no point in the current cold snap have domestic supplies been at risk. Yet the fact that Britain has faced its first gas deficit warning since 2010 is concerning. Experts warned last year when Centrica closed the Rough storage facility under the North Sea that the country faced weaker energy security and the prospect of price volatility. The arrival of the Beast from the East has proved them correct sooner than they may have hoped. Advocates for developing UK shale will also be emboldened by the supply problem. They argue that Britain’s energy security would be improved if it imported less gas and released its own buried treasure. Perhaps shale is part of the long-term solution. National Grid’s warning yesterday should first focus minds on the storage question, however.

Telegraph 2nd Feb 2018 read more »

Executives at the world’s most ambitious “clean coal” plant knew for years about serious design flaws and budget problems but sought to withhold key information from regulators before their plans collapsed, according to documents obtained by the Guardian. The Kemper plant in Mississippi – held up as the global model for a new generation of “clean coal” power plants – was the most expensive fossil fuel power plant in US history, with a $7.5bn price tag. Its owners, Southern Company, boasted it was “going to be the cleanest coal plant in the world”, in the words of the CEO, Tom Fanning. But thousands of internal documents reviewed by the Guardian and a series of interviews with Kemper staff uncovered evidence that the company had information showing that the project would blow through state-imposed budget limits five years before the company decided to reverse course and become an exclusively gas-fired energy plant.

Guardian 2nd March 2018 read more »

Guardian 2nd March 2018 read more »

Posted: 3 March 2018

Fossil Fuels

Fossil fuel subsidies totalled at least $373bn globally in 2015, according to a new report which for the first time combines figures from two key intergovernmental organisations. The new figure harmonises estimates up to 2015 from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Energy Agency (IEA), which largely assess different countries in their estimates of fossil fuel subsidies.

Carbon Brief 28th Feb 2018 read more »

Posted: 1 March 2018