Fossil Fuels

Hurricane Energy has made a further oil discovery west of the Shetland Islands days after Royal Dutch Shell and BP won exploration licences in an area the UK is counting on to breathe new life into its struggling oil and gas industry. The latest find adds to a series of successful wells drilled by Hurricane in a geological formation that analysts say looks likely to be the biggest new oil discovery beneath UK waters this century. Shell and BP were last week awarded licenses to drill in nearby exploration blocks in a sign of renewed interest among large oil and gas groups in the west of Shetland region even as they withdraw from more mature parts of the North Sea. Hurricane is expected to announce that initial data f rom its Halifax well indicates the presence of a 1km-deep oil column and that, crucially, it appears to be part of “a single large hydrocarbon accumulation” connected to the company’s adjacent Lancaster field.

FT 26th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 March 2017

Fossil Fuels

The number of coal-fired power stations under development worldwide has almost halved over the past year as political and economic tides turn against the old king of energy provision. About 570 gigawatts of coal plant capacity was in the pre-construction pipeline as of January, down from 1,090GW a year earlier, a study by the environmental groups Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Coalswarm reported. This resulted from “a dramatic clampdown on new coal plant projects by Chinese central authorities and financial retrenchment by coal plant backers in India”, their report said. There also was a 62 per cent drop last year in construction starting on new coal power stations, something that Greenpeace hailed as a “turning point”.

Times 22nd March 2017 read more »

FT 22nd March 2017 read more »

Independent 22nd March 2017 read more »

Guardian 22nd March 2017 read more »

Posted: 22 March 2017

Fossil Fuels

Anti-fracking protesters have adopted the tactics of animal rights extremists by targeting employees and suppliers of shale gas companies, business groups have claimed. They are calling for the police to protect Lancashire businesses, several of which have been blockaded and whose staff have been subjected to intimidation because they delivered materials to Cuadrilla’s fracking site near Blackpool. One business leader said that some protesters had been noting down vehicle number plates and he feared they would try to obtain his address from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

Times 21st March 2017 read more »

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has warned oil and gas companies that failing to adapt to the lower carbon energy agenda could lead to over a trillion dollars worth of assets being abandoned by 2050. The IEA estimates that a step-change in climate policy away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner sources of energy would leave a total of $1 trillion of oil assets and $300bn in natural gas assets stranded. The report, undertaken in partnership with the International Renewable Energy Agency, said the move to reduce global greenhouse gases could hold “significant consequences for the energy industry” if companies fail to adapt their portfolios in the wake of the Paris Agreement.

Telegraph 20th March 2017 read more »

The record-breaking heat that made 2016 the hottest year ever recorded has continued into 2017, pushing the world into “truly uncharted territory”, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. The WMO’s assessment of the climate in 2016, published on Tuesday, reports unprecedented heat across the globe, exceptionally low ice at both poles and surging sea-level rise. Global warming is largely being driven by emissions from human activities, but a strong El Nino – a natural climate cycle – added to the heat in 2016. The El Nino is now waning, but the extremes continue to be seen, with temperature records tumbling in the US in February and polar heatwaves pushing ice cover to new lows.

Guardian 21st March 2017 read more »

Posted: 21 March 2017

Fossil Fuels

Among many bold promises made on the presidential campaign trail, Donald Trump pledged to unleash an “energy revolution” that would release vast riches from America’s shale oil reserves. It is doubtful that he expected Saudi Arabia to do the job for him. Yet, since the Saudi-led Opec cartel agreed to cut oil production in November, the US shale industry has been boosted to levels not seen since 2014. “The shale boom is back,” Norbert Ruecker, head of commodities research at Julius Baer, said. “Over the coming one and a half to two years, we’re probably going to be back at the previous high levels of production.” The first US shale boom, which lasted from 2012 to 2014, took advantage of oil prices that hovered around the $100 mark. By the end of 2014, however, oil had plunged below $50, and a year later, was close to $25. The p rice collapse was orchestrated by Opec. Its 13 members pumped and pumped to create an oil glut that pushed down prices, knowing this would make it uneconomical to extract oil from shale. However, the price fell too far, and Opec members suffered. In November, they and 11 other nations including Russia agreed to cut production for the first time in eight years. The oil price has since held around $50, despite concerns that Opec members would not adhere to their promises. When oil prices fell after the end of the first US shale boom, oilfield service companies were forced to increase the effectiveness of fracking to decrease the cost of extraction. They found that the most effective way of doing so was to pump more fluid and sand down the pipes at higher pressure, using increasingly powerful fracking pumps such as those made by Weir, the British engineering company. Frackers are expected to use 50 per cent more sand this year than they did in 2014. Several companies are experimenting with microwaves to re lease oil from shale. In theory, a blast from a high-intensity microwave beam would liquefy oil trapped in shale rock, allowing it seep into a pipe before it is drawn to the surface. The technique, if proven, would do away with the waste associated with using a liquid and sand mixture.

Times 20th March 2017 read more »

The US shale industry has become a hydra-headed monster. Before Opec and Russia have contained one threat, fresh dangers keeps popping up in new and expanding zones. This war of attrition in the crude markets is lasting far longer and biting deeper than the energy exporting states ever imagined. It profoundly alters the geo-strategic contours of energy, and the global balance of power. Saudi Arabia has conceded that the 1.8m barrels per day (b/d) production cut agreed by Opec and a Russia-led bloc will almost certainly have to be extended when it expires in June. Stunned veterans fear that the global glut could drag on through 2017 and into a fourth year. New technology is reviving old US fields already written off as largely exhausted, and in the latest twist the impetus is spreading to ‘super-basins’ in Latin America that threaten to replicate the US success story in short order

Telegraph 19th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2017

Fossil Fuels

The biggest oil firms in the world are really really bad at predicting the future. A new report from Greenpeace and Oil Change International details how the oil majors BP, Shell and ExxonMobil consistently misread the energy landscape in their prestigious annual outlooks. Renewables are underestimated, King Coal is prematurely dethroned while oil and gas are given sunny forecasts despite structural challenges and price crashes. Indeed the industry’s latest round of reports – in which the disruptions electric vehicles and the Paris climate agreement are dismissed – suggests the pattern is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Energydesk 16th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 March 2017

Fossil Fuels

The prospect of “peak demand” for oil – an end to growth in global consumption – has been discussed in the energy industry for many years, without apparently coming much closer. But some of the world’s leading oil companies now see peak demand and sustained lower crude prices as a risk that they need to prepare for. Royal Dutch Shell has suggested the peak could come as early as the late-2020s. Statoil believes it could be between the mid-2020s and the late-2030s. Not everyone agrees. The International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries, thinks that unless there is much more intensive action by governments to tackle global warming, oil demand is likely to continue to grow out to 2040 and possibly beyond.

FT 15th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 15 March 2017

Fossil Fuels

Scottish local authorities are investing £1.7 billion in 52 fossil fuel companies blamed for causing climate chaos, according to a new report. Pension funds for more than half a million council staff are being poured into oil, gas and coal companies despite the danger that they will crash when the carbon financial bubble bursts. The revelation has shocked pension fund members, angered campaigners and upset trade unionists, who are all calling for fossil fuel investment to be phased out. But the investments have been defended by councils and the industry. The company given the most money by Scotland’s 11 council pension schemes is the oil and gas giant, Shell, which received nearly £130m of investments in 2015-16. The coal and mining multinational, Rio Tinto, was given £74m, BP £64m and Exxon £44m.

Ferret 13th March 2017 read more »

The oil and gas industry risks losing public support if progress is not made in the transition to cleaner energy, Royal Dutch Shell Plc Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said on Thursday. The world’s second largest publicly-traded oil company plans to increase its investment in renewable energy to $1 billion a year by the end of the decade, van Beurden said, although it is still a small part of its total annual spending of $25 billion. The CEO said that the transition to a low carbon energy system will take decades and government policies including putting a price on carbon emissions will be essential to phase out the most polluting sources of energy such as coal and oil.

Reuters 9th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 March 2017

Carbon Capture & Storage

The world’s fossil fuel industry has joined with environmentalists in an unholy alliance to push for carbon capture, demanding radical changes in public policy to kick-start the technology. Leaders of the largest oil, gas, and coal companies lined up at the IHS CERA Week summit in Houston, pledging a muscular drive to slash the costs of extracting CO2 from hydro-carbon energy. The goal is some sort of ‘Manhattan Project’ to safeguard the long-term survival of their companies. “We can’t just keep our heads in the sand,” said Bob Dudley from BP. Contrary to widespread belief, the top executives are going out of their way to praise the findings of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). “I have read all the IPCC reports. We understand the risks associated with fossil fuels, and we think we can help mitigate those risks through technology,” said Darren Woods, the new chief of ExxonMobil. Few believe that the US will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement under President Donald Trump – despite his rhetoric – or that his election will stop the global push for tighter controls on greenhouse emissions in the 2020s and beyond. The historic forces are too powerful. Rex Tillerson, the US Secretary of State, has warned that it would be fatal for American credibility to pull out of the accord. Ivanka Trump is trying to persuade her father to let the matter drop quietly. The fear in Houston is that hardening public attitudes and rising penalties on carbon will drive much of the fossil industry out of business unless it can come up with viable forms of carbon capture and storage (CCS). If they fail to take the lead in time, some rival technology may beat them to it and catapult reneweables into irreversible dominance. Carbon capture is not new. Drillers use CO2 on a commercial basis, pumping it into depleted wells for enhanced oil recovery. The gas sells of $15 a tonne at current crude prices, but would be worth nearer $40 in a fresh oil boom. It is used in a host of processes, from fertilizers, or the treatment of alkaline waste water, to dry cleaning, and decaffeinated coffee. Utility-scale CCS has so far proved too expensive. Southern Co’s project at a Mississippi coal plant in Kemper has been a sorry saga, running $4bn over budget and two years late. It will capture just 65pc of the emissions. the UK is better placed than almost any other country to take the lead on CCS since it has storage sites in the North Sea and a nexus of pipelines already in place. Yet the government abandoned Britain’s £1bn prize for twin projects in Scotland and North Yorkshire in 2105, citing budget costs. While the abrupt decision caused uproar at the time, it may prove fortuitous if cheaper technologies emerge. “The most elegant solution is to disassemble the carbon molecule itself. We are not there yet,” said Lord Browne of Madingley, former BP chief and now a champion of green energy causes.

Telegraph 12th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2017

Fossil Fuels

The oil price is falling again, with the latest drop taking the price in the US below $50 a barrel. Behind the fall is a remarkable story of technical progress which is once again driving up the volume of oil produced from American shale rocks.

FT 13th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2017

Fossil Fuels

A £450 MILLION plan by Ineos to develop the Grangemouth petrochemical complex for fracking is facing fierce opposition from hundreds of residents and campaigners. The Swiss-based company is applying for permission for new security facilities and pipelines that require the permanent closure of a main road. The developments are part of a “masterplan” for the Grangemouth site founded on importing fracked shale gas from the US and opening up fracking in the UK. But more than 400 people have lodged objections, and more than 700 signed a local petition against the plan, which is due to be discussed at a special hearing in Grangemouth arranged by Falkirk Council on Monday. The Ineos masterplan envisages a “fully integrated chemical science cluster” at Grangemouth by 2020. New sources of ethane from fracked shale gas “will transform the site’s competitiveness and manufacturing potential,” it says.

Sunday Herald 12th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 12 March 2017