LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Electrification was the single
greatest engineering achievement of the 20th century, according
to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.
But buying electricity is not like buying a can of baked
beans. Irrespective of how much power households and businesses
use on any given day or month, they have come to expect that
nearly unlimited supply will always be available at any time at
the flick of a switch.
LONDON, Aug 13 (Reuters) – The village of Balcombe in West
Sussex has become the focal point for protests against hydraulic
fracturing in Britain. But Balcombe is also a fascinating
microcosm of the contradictions besetting Britain’s policies on
energy and economic development.
Like households across the rest of the country, Balcombe’s
residents use rather a lot of fossil fuels.
LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) – Exactly ten years ago, at 15:05
Eastern Time on August 14, 2003, an overhead power line came
into contact with an overgrown tree near Cleveland, Ohio.
What happened next is a frightening case study of how
vulnerable modern economies are to even a small disruption in
vital and highly interconnected systems.
LONDON, Aug 9 (Reuters) – The balance of power between host
countries and petroleum companies has shifted decisively as a
result of the shale revolution and the push into deepwater oil
and gas fields off the coast of Latin America and Africa.
The first decade of the 21st century was dominated by talk
about increasing “resource nationalism” as governments demanded
a greater share of the revenues from natural resources located
on their territory.
LONDON, Aug 8 (Reuters) – “See no evil, hear no evil, speak
no evil” might well have been the motto for Britain’s commodity
market regulators in recent years.
In too many instances, light-touch self-regulation by the
exchanges, overseen by the Financial Services Authority (FSA),
now reincarnated as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has
degenerated into ineffective or no regulation.
LONDON, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Shale sceptics have seized on big
writedowns in the value of shale gas and oil properties in North
America to question whether the fracking revolution could be
running into trouble.
On Aug. 1, Shell became the latest in a long line
of oil and gas companies to reveal a multi-billion-dollar
writedown in acreage value.
LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters) – Centrica, which supplies
electricity in the United Kingdom through its British Gas
subsidiary, has said it could offer free power to residential
consumers on Saturdays from next year, provided they have a
smart meter installed.
“Free power Saturdays” are a masterful piece of marketing
and illustrate how quickly smart metering will transform the way
residential customers use and pay for electricity in Britain and
around the world.
LONDON, Aug 1 (Reuters) – The United States has resumed
mining rare earths after more than a decade, ending its total
reliance on imports, mostly from China, for raw minerals
Washington says are critical for the economy and national
Responding to a quadrupling of prices between 2005 and 2011
and growing anxiety about supplies from China, Molycorp’s
Project Phoenix has sought to resurrect domestic production.
LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s gas and electricity suppliers should itemize customer bills to show how much of the total is related to the fuel costs, transmission charges, company margins and the government’s own energy policies.
The recommendation is contained in a wide-ranging and insightful report on “Energy prices, profits and poverty” published on Monday by the House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and Climate Change.
LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) – JPMorgan Chase & Co said
on Friday it was pursuing “strategic alternatives” for its
physical commodities businesses, including its assets and
physical trading operations, following an internal review.
In one sense, the bank is simply confirming that it will
comply with the law.
JPMorgan has reorganised its physical trading businesses as
a “merchant banking” activity to get around restrictions on a
bank engaging in non-banking operations. But in this form, the
law allows these assets to be held only “for a period of time”
for the purpose of “appreciation and ultimate resale or
disposition”. (12 USC 1843(k)(4)(H))