Drumbeat: November 26, 2010

Foiled Saudi Qaeda cells were recruiting, goverment says

Turki said the attackers belonged to 19 al Qaeda cells and were planning to target government facilities, security officials and journalists in the kingdom. He gave no names of targets.

When asked whether they had also targeted oil installations in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, he said: “We cannot exclude this. Investigations are ongoing.”

The television channel al Arabiya reported that the kingdom had also foiled plans to attack Saudi oil installations.

Shale Goes Global

In the blink of an eye, the United States has rocked the once-sleepy natural gas market. Since the 1950s, American energy companies have drilled into massive formations of shale rock to get at the natural gas trapped beneath them, but historically these shale gas ventures required large cash investments to access a relatively unpopular fuel. In the last few years, however, shale gas has suddenly become much more profitable, thanks to three factors: The discovery of large reserves of this low-emissions fuel, tweaks to a process called hydraulic fracturing (“fracking” for short), and improvements in drilling that allow one well to access a reserve in multiple directions. The sudden surge in the supply of natural gas has driven prices down around the world and sparked countries throughout Asia and Europe to develop their own shale gas reserves.

Mexico’s Pemex October Crude Production 2.582 Mln B/D

MEXICO CITY (Dow Jones)–Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said Thursday that it produced 2.571 million barrels a day of crude oil in October, unchanged from September but down from 2.602 million barrels a day in the year-ago month.

Pemex said October’s production, of which 55% was heavy crude, brought the year-to-date average to 2.582 million barrels a day, compared with 2.607 million in the first 10 months of 2009. Exports averaged 1.377 million barrels a day last month, up from September and from a year ago. Exports, most of which go to the U.S., averaged 1.321 million barrels a day in the first 10 months of the year.

Pemex approves incentive-based oil contracts

Pemex, Mexico’s state oil monopoly and one of the largest integrated oil companies in the world, has approved a new type of incentive-based contract that aims to boost production in maturing oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico.

The contracts, known as “integrated service contracts”, which will be awarded for three fields in the south of the country, will eventually be rolled out for deepwater fields where the majority of the country’s reserves are thought to lie.

Musings: Separating Wheat from The Chaff of Unconventionals

Increasingly, petroleum industry executives are speaking out about the significance of the unconventional hydrocarbon resources in this country, although they do not always agree about the longer term outlook for the resources. In some cases we question the extrapolations speakers are making about the importance of unconventional resources in the nation’s long-range energy mix and, for that matter, the world’s mix.

Statoil lifts CFR Asia LPG premium in mopping up 220,000 mt Dec LPG

Singapore (Platts) – Norway’s Statoil has sent CFR Singapore-Japan LPG premiums soaring as it mopped up 220,000 mt of refrigerated LPG from the spot market so far this month.

Even as the CFR premium, to Saudi Aramco’s December LPG contract price, for December arrival evenly split cargoes has risen from the mid-$40s/mt to well over the $50s/mt over 2-3 weeks, the highest premium Statoil paid for a similar cargo is in the mid-$80’s/mt, data showed.

China diesel shortage may end in December

BEIJING — China’s diesel storage is likely to end in late December, National Business Daily reported Thursday. The newspaper cited sources from China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec), the two biggest petroleum enterprises in the country.

China’s refined oil products reserves have witnessed a dramatic decline since August. The stock of diesel dropped 8.6 percent in September month-on-month and 10.7 percent in October. In addition, the stock of refined oil products has plunged to 14 million tons as of the end of October, while the normal level is about 17 million tons, said Liao Kaishun, an analyst at C1 Energy. Diesel storage has dropped to about 6.25 million tons versus a normal level of 9 million tons, Liao added.

Fooling the fueling thieves

Wang, the husband, told police that they were pumping diesel from one of their three vehicles in order to prevent thieves from taking it. They had been hit by diesel thieves several times during previous days and lost about 2,000 yuan ($300) worth of fuel.

So to prevent history from repeating itself, the couple pumped it out every night and poured it back in the morning. It all took about an hour each time. Wang blamed it on a recent diesel shortage.

The Philippines – Shell: 35 gasoline stations temporarily shut down due to pipeline closure

As the Batangas-Manila fuel pipeline is still shut down, some 35 gasoline stations of Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. had to be temporarily closed down due to the shortage of petroleum products.

Even though the company has resorted to transporting fuel via trucks, Shell admitted it is having problems with the delivery because of the heavy traffic in the metropolis, according to a Balitanghali report on Friday.

Nippon Yusen to Buy Knutsen Stake to Get Shuttle Tankers for Deep-Sea Oil

Nippon Yusen K.K. will buy a 50 percent stake in Knutsen Offshore Tankers ASA to expand into deep-sea oil transport in countries including Brazil.

Russia oil export via Ukraine to rise to 18.5 mln T

(Reuters) – Russian oil export through Ukraine will be increased to 18.5 million tonnes from 17.3 million tonnes in 2009, Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich said on Friday after signing an agreement with Moscow.

Declare ‘squandered’ South African coal a ‘strategic’ mineral, say protagonists

Coal is seen as the climate-change culprit, but that, say coal protagonists, is because it is burned so wastefully without much regard for the myriad of other contributions that coal can make to the economy.

They want carbon capture and storage (CSS) technology to clean up its energy image, and then they want the remaining 60% of coal’s attributes to be used to build the economy of Southern Africa.

They say it can create a lot of wealth and generate many jobs if the full length of its value chain is exploited.

Norway hands $2.3B to Statkraft for renewables

The cash injection, which needs Parliament’s approval, will go toward Statkraft’s 82 billion kroner plan to invest in renewables — primarily hydropower, wind power and district heating — in Europe, South America and Asia.

Kenya seeks sites for nuclear power plant

(Reuters) – Kenya is seeking sites for the construction of a nuclear power plant along its coast, its energy minister said in a government notice on Friday.

Energy and immigration: Global warming and declining oil production will drive more Mexicans to the United States

Sophisticated scientific models suggest that Mexico is expected to be hit hard by climate change. Drought and shifts in land use and agriculture are likely to take place. And, as climate change diminishes crop yields and places ever more pressure on limited resources, the rate of immigration to the United States will only increase. A recent paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences predicts that the factors related to climate change will lead to millions of new immigrants from Mexico over the coming decades.

But that’s just one part of the equation. We also must consider how a declining energy sector in Mexico will impact the economy.

Consider Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex), Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company that produces crude, natural gas, and petroleum products. Pemex is also the government’s greatest source of income, responsible for financing 40 percent of the federal budget. The Mexican constitution limits foreign investment in oil production and Mexico’s history celebrates government ownership of the industry. This approach has worked for many years, but now Mexico is past peak oil. Crude production has fallen due to maturing oil fields (mainly the Cantarell field, the world’s second-largest oil field), and is not likely to recover to pre-peak levels without a significant amount of outside assistance.

Oil: Beyond the Barrel – And Over the Cliff

As the price of oil climbs through $85 a barrel, it reminds me of the explanations flying around a little over two years ago as oil went to this level for the first time. “It’s all the funds chasing the hot commodity – the only game in town” was the refrain. It’s all a bubble and we will have stable oil at $35 soon – that’s what Steve Forbes and many others said. But now, as oil goes through $85, it’s not the only game in town. In fact, it’s been the dog underperforming just about everything. No desperate performance chasing mania is driving the price of oil today as we threaten $100 again. Could those peak oil nuts be right? Could the Great Recession be camouflaging a real supply peaking process?

A peak into the human well being equation

The man who invented the term “Peak Oil” delivered a lecture at Melbourne University on Wednesday night declaring that: “fossil fuel energy does the work we don’t like doing ourselves” and “without energy there can be no economic growth”.

Kjell Aleklett, Professor of Physics at Uppsala University in Sweden and President of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas (ASPO), believes that oil, gas and coal are reaching peak production, which is set to leave the world with a deficit of energy relative to future demand.

Oil Drops From Near a One-Week High on Concern Ireland Crisis May Spread

Oil fell from near a one-week high in London amid concern that Ireland’s debt crisis will spread to Portugal and Spain, limiting economic growth and diminishing fuel demand.

Brent futures slipped as the euro dropped to a two-month low against the dollar, curbing investor demand for commodities priced in the U.S. currency. North Korea’s state news agency warned its confrontation with South Korea could lead to war, sending equities lower. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index headed toward its biggest loss in two weeks.

Fuel-Oil Premium in Asia to Increase Fivefold in Survey: Energy Markets

Rising Chinese demand for energy that’s helped push shipping costs higher may lead to a fivefold increase in the premium of Asian December fuel oil over January.

China cracks down on diesel overcharging amid shortage

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s economic planner and price regulator, said Friday it has asked local governments to crack down on some gas stations selling diesel above the state-set prices.

Cuba deal boosts China’s Latin American oil plans

HAVANA (Reuters) – China is taking another great leap forward in its Latin American energy plans, raising Cuba’s energy importance in the process, with a deal to lead a $6 billion refinery expansion project on the communist island, experts said this week.

The project, to be funded mostly by China’s Eximbank, is the latest of several significant moves in the region for the Asian power as it continues to expand its global influence.

Why China is an energy consumption hog

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Over the next 15 years China is expected to build the equivalent of 10 New York Citys.

That’s a lot of concrete and steel, and it goes a long way in explaining why the country is using so much energy.

Roads, bridges, rail lines, skyscrapers and factories all take tons of concrete, steel, chemicals and glass.

Coal India Plans U.S., Australian Mine Acquisitions to Meet Import Demand

Coal India Ltd., the world’s largest producer of the fuel, is studying the acquisition of five mines in the U.S., Australia and Indonesia to meet the country’s demand for the fuel, Chairman Partha Bhattacharyya said.

Saudi Arabia arrests 149 al-Qaeda terrorism suspects

Riyadh – Saudi Arabia has arrested 149 alleged member of al- Qaeda terrorist rings over the last eight months, the kingdom’s Interior Ministry said Friday.

Charles Okah charged over Nigeria oil kidnaps

The brother of Nigerian militant Henry Okah has been charged with kidnapping nine foreign oil workers this year.

Shell Ramping Up Nigeria Oil Production After Completing Pipeline Repairs

Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Nigerian unit is “ramping up” its Bonny Light crude production and exports after completing repairs on a pipeline ruptured by oil thieves, Precious Okolobo, spokesman for the company in Nigeria, said by phone from Lagos today.

Final draft of Iraq gas deal with Shell within 10 days

BASRA, Iraq (Reuters) – The final draft of Iraq’s multibillion-dollar deal with Royal Dutch Shell to capture flared gas at southern oilfields will be completed within 10 days, a senior Iraqi oil official said on Friday.

The $12 billion deal, which includes Japan’s Mitsubishi, involves capturing associated natural gas produced at fields near the oil hub of Basra, including Rumaila.

Energy firms probed over soaring profits

The price hikes of energy suppliers will come under fresh scrutiny after the industry watchdog today announced it is to investigate profit margins that have soared 38%.

UK energy suppliers will hand over their accounts to Ofgem, who claim that the average margin on a standard dual-fuel tariff has risen from £65 to £90 since September.

Putin Says Lithuania’s Unbundling Plan for Gazprom’s Lietuvos Is `Robbery’

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Lithuania’s unbundling plan for gas utility Lietuvos Dujos AB, in which OAO Gazprom is a majority shareholder, is “robbery.”

“Our companies and their German partners in Lithuania legally acquired part of the assets in the pipeline system,” Putin said at a business forum in Berlin today. “Now, citing this third energy package, they’re getting thrown out. What’s that about? What kind of robbery is that?”

Oil-rich south Sudan weighs cost of progress

BENTIU, Sudan (AFP) – South Sudan officials are concerned at the environmental damage being caused by the oil industry and are promising a tough new line if the oil-rich region gains independence next year.

Their potentially rich but grossly underdeveloped region is in a quandary. Its desperately poor people, mostly subsistence farmers and cattle grazers, need oil money but officials say livelihoods are being threatened by pollution.

Alaska gov: Interior’s climate-change polar bear decision hinders oil drilling

Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell (R) is slamming the Interior Department’s designation of large Arctic regions as “critical habitat” for polar bears threatened by climate change, alleging the decision will slow oil-and-gas drilling.

Pennsylvania investigating spill at Marcellus Shale natural gas well site

State officials were investigating a leak of drilling wastewater at a natural gas well site in north-central Pennsylvania that polluted a stream and a spring, a Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said Tuesday, Nov. 23.

A department inspector discovered the leak last week while visiting a producing well owned by XTO Energy Inc. in Lycoming County, where the company is tapping into the vast Marcellus Shale gas reserve.

California adding 4 more gas pipeline inspectors

SAN FRANCISCO – Under pressure since a deadly natural gas explosion, California regulators said they would immediately hire four more pipeline safety inspectors.

Peak oil: threat or fantasy?

The city is empty.

Vast skyscrapers and office buildings sit idle and unoccupied, workers finding no reason to be there since they lost their jobs. Cars are abandoned on the street, withering and rusting away with the passing of the seasons.

The sole remaining residents are gaunt, zombie-like figures, bodies ravaged by hunger, unable to transport themselves elsewhere because they can’t afford to fuel the cars that would drive them away. Like in a George Romero film, they wander aimlessly, desperate for the last scraps of food that will allow them to carry on a fruitless, myopic existence.

This is, we’re told, similar to the future that awaits us after Peak Oil, the point at which oil extraction reaches its maximum level and then begins to decline. High oil prices are to follow and rise exponentially, bringing economic devastation because the resource has a hand in almost everything we buy.

We can all choose to make change

As a community, we can make interpretive choices. If we insist our problems are permanent, general and personal, we’ll be too discouraged to effectively plan for the future. But we can also choose to see them as temporary, specific and impersonal.

Greenhouse gas emissions are not a character flaw; they’re a cognitive-behavioral choice subject to analysis and change. We can learn to live carbon-zero. We don’t have to do it for the whole world, just here. We don’t have to do it overnight, we just have to keep steadily walking the walk without giving up.

When fields yield to houses per hectare

Urbanisation will put our food supplies under pressure.

UAE signs nuclear pact with UK

The UAE Government signed a nuclear co-operation agreement with the UK yesterday, furthering its strategy of cementing its own programme’s legitimacy with the help of established nuclear powers.

Finland’s Fortum to cooperate with Russian Rosatom

HELSINKI—Finnish utility Fortum Corp. has signed a deal for nuclear cooperation with Russia’s Rosatom in international markets.

New Mexico utility to combine solar power, batteries for energy storage project

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s largest electric utility is teaming up with federal scientists and researchers at two colleges to develop a way for managing solar energy so it can be accessed when it’s most needed, rather than only when the sun shines.

Many Britons off colour after catching solar fever

The winter blues are fast approaching and the public is asking if the government is acting responsibly as it strives to go green when the country is so much in the red

The British are not a happy lot at the moment. Understandably. Many will lose their jobs soon, victims of huge public spending cuts and value-added tax rises in January. On top of that, the winter blues are just about to kick in.

So the outbreak of solar fever within the rural community, driven by renewable energy companies, is a ray of sunshine amid the gloom.

Suzlon May Make Turbines for China’s Offshore Wind-Power Market by 2013

Suzlon Energy Ltd., India’s largest wind-turbine maker, plans production for Chinese offshore wind projects within three years to tap a market that may provide 5,000 megawatts of orders a year, Chairman Tulsi Tanti said.

“The current target plan is to start in 2013,” Tanti said in a phone interview. The Ahmedabad-based company is looking for a Chinese partner to build offshore wind projects, he said.

Too Much Doom & Gloom is Not Why People Stopped Believing in Climate Change

The explanation seems simple enough: the economy has been in the tank and partisanship has been on the rise. This study indicates that people’s acceptance of climate change tends to rise and fall with the economy.

Prescott calls for voluntary climate change agreement

Lord Prescott today called on countries to agree on principles for voluntarily fighting climate change amid widespread recognition that a legally-binding deal on global warming will not be struck at the upcoming UN talks in Mexico.

The former deputy prime minister, who was involved in negotiating the original climate treaty in Kyoto, warned the legal framework for tackling climate change was “falling apart” and that countries should be allowed to go ahead with their voluntary schemes, based on basic principles of fairness and transparency.

Chinese farmers struggle with climate change

In northwest China, farmers count the costs of a changing climate in lost crops, dry wells and lives weighed down by poverty.

Africa: Making a Case for Nutrition

Johannesburg — In another four decades, higher average global temperatures will lead to water stress, causing food production and access to fall, which will drive an additional 24 million children into hunger, says a study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

This forewarning should move the world towards being forearmed, according to the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN), a forum comprising UN agencies, NGOs and academics, which has been running a campaign to influence negotiators ahead of the UN climate talks from 29 November to 10 December, in Cancun, Mexico.

Defusing the time bomb

South Africa is in one of the regions most susceptible and vulnerable to climate change and is already suffering the effects of global warming. The department of environmental affairs says that South Africa’s sea level is rising, its rainfall patterns have changed, the average land and sea surface temperatures have increased and the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events have increased.

Africa: Millions of Africans at Risk From Sea Level Rise

More than 25 per cent of Africa’s population of about one billion people lives within 100 km from the coast. With climate change, many will be at risk from sea level rise and coastal flooding over the coming decades.

According to the new UN-HABITAT report, State of African Cities 2010, Africa will suffer disproportionately from the negative effects of climate change despite contributing less than 5 per cent of global green house emissions.

World May Post Warmest Year on Record as U.K. Met Office Adjusts Data

World temperatures in 2010 may be the warmest on record, the U.K. Met Office said, as it plans to calibrate a decade of data to account for newer sensors.

Scary new best friend for politicians

HERE’S cold comfort. It would be impossible, according to the Swedish energy expert Kjell Aleklett, for us to emit enough greenhouse gas to warm the planet by six degrees: we don’t have enough oil, coal or gas to burn.

”All the emissions scenarios that have been put forward over the last 10 years are wrong,” says Aleklett, professor of physics at the University of Uppsala and the world president of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil.