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News from March 2014

Peak Oil and The Blibbit Principle

Peak Oil and The Blibbit Principle thumbnail

Podunk was a small town Arkansas. Back about a hundred years ago Podunk had no sewage plant, everyone just used outdoor toilets. But a problem soon developed, Podunk’s water supply became contaminated. That’s when they decided to build a blibbit* in which they would store their crap. This blibbit was built out of wood and […]


Peak Oil: A Different Perspective

Peak Oil: A Different Perspective thumbnail

I recently came across PERFECT STORM – ENERGY, FINANCE, AND THE END OF GROWTH. It’s a well-written and thoroughly-researched 2013 report issued by Tullet Prebon, a British financial services firm (in the wholesale financial and energy sectors), authored by Dr. Tim Morgan, Global Head of Research. This effort presents a sobering take—from a nuanced, slightly […]


Koreas Trade Fire

Koreas Trade Fire thumbnail

North and South Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other’s waters Monday in a flare-up of animosity that forced residents of five front-line South Korean islands to evacuate to shelters for several hours, South Korean officials said. The exchange of fire into the Yellow Sea followed Pyongyang’s sudden announcement that it would conduct […]


Global Oil Crunch In 2015?

Global Oil Crunch In 2015? thumbnail

Dr. Jeremy Leggett, a former oil geologist, industry consultant, and former adviser to the British government, has a new book out: “The Energy of Nations: Risk Blindness and the Road to Renaissance” Leggett’s book discusses five systemic risks that could affect the global energy market and financial markets. If not addressed soon they could spark […]


Getting BP back into the good graces of the US government

Getting BP back into the good graces of the US government thumbnail

Tucked near the back of a 45-page agreement lifting the ban on BP’s participation in US federal contracts is a section that could very well bear the headline: Back to the Future. Instead, the paragraph has the cumbersome title: “Resolution of debarment, suspension, or statutory disqualification.” That short section alone is likely worth more to […]


This Is What the Utility Death Spiral Looks Like

This Is What the Utility Death Spiral Looks Like thumbnail

In Germany, utility revenues are spiraling down the rabbit hole. Will American power companies follow? The German mega-utility RWE provided another dismal reminder today of the painful transition European power companies are undergoing. According to 2013 financial results, the utility lost more than $3.8 billion last year as it cycled down unprofitable fossil fuel plants […]


The Future of an Illusion

The Future of an Illusion thumbnail

In Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, Sigmund Freud relates the story of the man accused by his neighbor of damaging a borrowed kettle.  As Freud tells it, “A. borrowed a copper kettle from B. and after he had returned it was sued by B. because the kettle now had a big hole in it […]


German Minister Sees ‘No Sensible Alternative’ to Russian Gas

German Minister Sees ‘No Sensible Alternative’ to Russian Gas thumbnail

German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said there was “no sensible alternative” to Russian natural gas imports and it was unlikely Russia would stop deliveries because of the crisis over Ukraine, a German daily reported Friday. “Even in the darkest hours of the Cold War, Russia respected its contracts,” the Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung reported Gabriel, who is also energy minister and vice chancellor, as […]


Hanford Nuclear Site Workers Sickened by Unknown Vapors

Hanford Nuclear Site Workers Sickened by Unknown Vapors thumbnail

The KING 5 Investigators have found that six Hanford workers were sickened Wednesday from ingesting chemical vapors at the nuclear facility. Three were helping to conduct a video inspection of an underground nuclear storage tank. Two of the three were transported to Kadlec Medical Center by ambulance for treatment of symptoms. Another received treatment at […]


Can Europe wean itself from Russian natural gas?

Can Europe wean itself from Russian natural gas? thumbnail

One of the companies most entwined in the natural gas business in Europe is the Italian oil giant ENI – and that has put it smack in the middle of the crisis between Russia and western nations. ENI is the biggest seller of natural gas in Europe, providing 22 percent of the market. It is […]


Saudi dynasty moves to forestall succession crisis

Saudi dynasty moves to forestall succession crisis thumbnail

Saudi Arabia’s appointment of Prince Muqrin as deputy crown prince is a first step towards addressing its biggest dynastic challenge for 50 years and forestalling a possible succession crisis in the world’s top oil exporter. The ruling al-Saud family is fast approaching the moment when it must decide how to jump down a generation from […]


On oil-water nexus

On oil-water nexus thumbnail

In addition to the conventional energy market issues, mainly oil, related to price and production, the industry seems to be gearing for a new worry — how to handle the oil-water nexus. A recent UN Water Day has a very simple message to deliver: Water needs energy and energy needs water. The interdependencies between the […]


The Losing Economics of Investing in Aging Coal Plants

The Losing Economics of Investing in Aging Coal Plants thumbnail

Noah Long, Legal Director, Western Energy Project, Energy & Transportation Program; and Clean Energy Counsel, Land & Wildlife Program, San Francisco This entry is the first of a two-part follow up to the blog I wrote last fall. This first entry focuses on the national story, the next entry will focus on coal in the […]


Citigroup says the ‘Age of Renewables’ has begun

Citigroup says the ‘Age of Renewables’ has begun thumbnail

Investment banking giant Citigroup has hailed the start of the “age of renewables” in the United States, the world’s biggest electricity market, saying that solar and wind energy are getting competitive with natural gas peaking and baseload plants – even in the US where gas prices are said to be low. In a major new […]


Mexico’s state oil company is calling dibs on the best fields before the foreigners arrive

Mexico’s state oil company is calling dibs on the best fields before the foreigners arrive thumbnail

Mexico wants to break out of a nine-year petroleum production slump and join the lucrative oil party under way in the US and Canada. To do so, the country’s laggard, state-owned oil company has finally announced the fields that it’s prepared to relinquish to more proficient foreign oil companies, which for the first time in […]


Paul Craig Roberts: Pushing Toward The Final War

Paul Craig Roberts: Pushing Toward The Final War thumbnail

Does Obama realize that he is leading the US and its puppet states to war with Russia and China, or is Obama being manipulated into this disaster by his neoconservative speech writers and government officials? World War 1 (and World War 2) was the result of the ambitions and mistakes of a very small number […]


Two New Ideas in Wave and Tidal Power

Two New Ideas in Wave and Tidal Power thumbnail

IEEE Spectrum has an article on some new ocean energy technologies – Two New Ideas in Wave and Tidal Power. The wave power idea is closer than the tidal energy one to rollout, with a planned open-water test for this summer. M3 Wave dispenses with all the problems that come with buoys or other above-and-below-the-surface […]


Here Comes $75 Oil

Here Comes $75 Oil thumbnail

The long-term outlook for global oil prices is lower, perhaps much lower, giving a strong boost to the U.S. economy while potentially crippling the economy of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Vast new discoveries of oil and natural gas in the U.S. and around the globe could drive the oil price to as low as $75 a […]


The battered state of EU-Russia energy relations

The battered state of EU-Russia energy relations thumbnail

Russia’s annexation of Crimea presents the EU with a terrible dilemma. It cannot let the flouting of international borders and use of military force go unanswered, nor does it want war. That leaves it with political and economic sanctions. But it remains hamstrung by its dependence on Russian gas. Given the high level of mutual […]


Solar for $1/W – Really?

Solar for $1/W – Really? thumbnail

Can you get a solar system at under the magical $1/W? You betcha. But I am increasingly of the view that systems priced at these levels are either built with smoke and mirrors or there is a magic formula that a very select number of companies have managed to find. If you shop around you […]


James Schlesinger on peak oil

James Schlesinger on peak oil thumbnail

In August 2012, I interviewed James Schlesinger over the phone as part of research for my upcoming book, The Oracle of Oil, the first biography of maverick geologist M. King Hubbert. Schlesinger and Hubbert shared a deep interest and concern in the issue of peak oil—specifically, the question of when world oil production might reach […]


Obama visit gives fresh impetus to Saudi-US ties

Obama visit gives fresh impetus to Saudi-US ties thumbnail

Iranian nuclear deal, Syria’s three-year-old civil war and their repercussions on the neighboring countries were the central themes of the talks between Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and US President Barack Obama on Friday. The two-hour discussions between the king and Obama also focused on key bilateral and regional issues such as […]


The changing world of energy commodity trading

The changing world of energy commodity trading thumbnail

The world of energy commodity trading has gone through a rather extensive reshuffling over the past few months. The key thing to note is that banks involved in energy have pulled back from the sector while merchant traders known largely for their secrecy are strengthening their position. The most notable deal came last week when […]


Ex govt adviser: “global market shock” from “oil crash” could hit in 2015

Ex govt adviser: “global market shock” from “oil crash” could hit in 2015 thumbnail

A former oil man calls for renewable “Renaissance” to ward off shale dystopia In a new book, former oil geologist and government adviser on renewable energy, Dr. Jeremy Leggett, identifies five “global systemic risks directly connected to energy” which, he says, together “threaten capital markets and hence the global economy” in a way that could […]


Hell in a Hand Basket and Why We’re Going There, Guaranteed (sort of)

Hell in a Hand Basket and Why We’re Going There, Guaranteed (sort of) thumbnail

The ebb and flow of societies is well documented by historians and archaeologists. It seems every society rises in complexity to a zenith of some kind and then falls. There are an increasing number of people who contend that this sociopolitical transformation is fast-approaching for our globalised, industrial civilization, and of those some believe that […]


Oil Exports: The Rhetoric And The Reality

Oil Exports: The Rhetoric And The Reality thumbnail

If not natural gas, then oil. That seems to be the latest reaction to breaking Russia’s energy grip on Europe. Harold Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Resources CLR +2.79%, reciting a new meme in the energy industry, told members of Congress this week to forget all the breathless banter about natural gas exports to […]


Peak Oil: Great Question. The Answer Is _ ?

Peak Oil: Great Question. The Answer Is _ ? thumbnail

The real question for the United States is not about optimal trade policy or economic theory, but whether we want to extract the last drops of our oil endowment as quickly as possible by enabling the debt-fueled land rush that has brought us a gratifying, but temporary, bump in production, or whether we want to […]


Keystone: The Pipeline to Disaster

Keystone: The Pipeline to Disaster thumbnail

The new State Department Environmental Impact Statement for the Keystone Pipeline does three things. First, it signals a greater likelihood that the pipeline project will be approved later this year by the administration. Second, it vividly illustrates the depth of confusion of US climate change policy. Third, it self-portrays the US Government as a helpless […]


Scientists develop more efficient natural gas-to-fuels process

Scientists develop more efficient natural gas-to-fuels process thumbnail

U.S. scientists says they have devised a potentially easier, cheaper and cleaner way to turn natural gas into usable fuels and chemicals — a discovery which could lead to natural gas products displacing oil products in the future. The process would be less complex than conventional methods to turn natural gas into liquid products and […]


U.S. To Export Liquefied Natural Gas To Taiwan

U.S. To Export Liquefied Natural Gas To Taiwan thumbnail

French gas group GDF Suez revealed on Friday a giant deal, the first of its kind, to ship liquefied natural gas from the United States to supply Taiwan. The contract, of undisclosed value, will include natural gas from shale production, and is a sign of huge changes in global energy markets driven largely by the […]


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