LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) – The village of Balcombe in West
Sussex, with fewer than 2,000 residents, is set to test whether
Britain’s politicians, media and public can strike a sensible
balance between climate change and energy security, local
concerns and national priorities.
Balcombe has become a rallying point for a broad alliance of
environmentalists and community groups opposed to the
introduction of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in Britain,
as Guy Chazan explains in a thoughtful article in Monday’s
Financial Times (“Sussex village of Balcombe is focal point of
fracking opposition” April 29).
LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) – Forcing coal and gas-fired
power plants to ramp up and down more frequently to compensate
for the growing number of wind farms connected to the power grid
will reduce their efficiency and increase maintenance costs.
The adoption of renewable energy laws and renewable
portfolio standards (RPS), requiring power purchasers to give
priority to clean generation from intermittent sources such as
wind, will require fossil fuel generators to operate more
flexibly, according to a recent study funded by the U.S.
Department of Energy.
LONDON, April 17 (Reuters) – Converting the world’s roofs
from dark colours to reflective white would cancel the warming
effect of 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year for the
lifetime of the roof, according to former California Energy
Commissioner Arthur Rosenfeld.
The reduction in warming would be equivalent to taking half
the world’s cars off the road for 20 years, Rosenfeld wrote in a
recent commentary for the International Energy Agency (“White
roofs cool the world efficiency” April 3).
LONDON, April 15 (Reuters) – The status of commodities as a
distinct asset class is under threat following another lousy
start to the year for investors.
Total returns on the two major commodity indices, the
Standard and Poor’s Goldman Sachs Commodity Index
and the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Index, show losses of
4.4 percent and 3.7 percent respectively so far this year, while
an investment in the S&P 500 equity index is up 12
percent, including dividends.
LONDON, April 12 (Reuters) – Saudi officials should welcome
the recent decline in oil prices, which takes benchmark Brent
close to the level of $100 per barrel that everyone from the
kingdom’s oil minister down has said is “reasonable” for both
consumers and producers.
For more than a year, Saudi officials have sought to anchor
market expectations by reiterating the $100 figure, though the
kingdom has often appeared more comfortable with prices around
$110, and adjusted production and exports accordingly.
LONDON, April 12 (Reuters) – The recent rise in U.S. natural
gas prices, if sustained, will provide an opportunity to
identify the threshold that drillers need to cover their
marginal costs, the closest thing to conducting a controlled
experiment possible in real-time markets.
Concerns about peaking oil and gas production are over, but
the question about peak prices is still very much alive. The
shale revolution has ensured there will be sufficient oil and
gas but left unanswered the more important question about what
price will be needed to make sure they are available.
LONDON, April 11 (Reuters) – Exponential growth in shale oil
production must slow because output from fractured wells
declines much more rapidly than conventional ones, and because
the most productive areas have been drilled first, according to
Shale production has been likened to Lewis Carroll’s Red
Queen Race, in which more and more new wells will need to be
drilled just to offset rapidly declining output from existing
holes, according to one analyst at The Oil Drum (“Is shale oil
production from Bakken headed for a run with the Red Queen?” Sep
LONDON, April 10 (Reuters) – Collection of royalty payments
from production of oil and gas on federal lands is one of the
government programmes most at risk from fraud, waste and
mismanagement, according to congressional investigators.
“The Department of Interior does not have reasonable
assurance that it is collecting its share of revenue from oil
and gas produced on federal lands, and continues to experience
problems in hiring, training and retaining sufficient staff to
provide oversight,” according to the Government Accountability
Office (GAO) in a report sent to Congress.
LONDON, April 8 (Reuters) – Power networks, pipelines, radio
communications and the global positioning system (GPS) are all
entering a period of increased risk of outages from geomagnetic
storms as the solar activity cycle peaks in 2013.
So far the increase in solar activity has been smaller than
Nevertheless, there is no reason for complacency. Major
geomagnetic storms are more frequent during the periods of
maximum solar activity that occur every 11 years but can occur
at any time, sometimes with serious results. Grid operators
might have just 30 minutes notice of an incoming storm to take
emergency action. ()
LONDON, March 28 (Reuters) – The California Public
Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) continued to cut its
exposure to commodity futures at the start of the year, even as
the largest public pension manager in the United States
increased its total inflation hedging sharply.
CalPERS pushed its allocation to inflation-linked assets to
almost $10 billion by the end of January, 3.9 percent of the
total fund, up from $7.6 billion, 3.0 percent, at the end of
December. It was easily the largest allocation to inflation
protection since the fund began reporting monthly numbers in
this format in November 2011.