LONDON, Feb 28 (Reuters) – Copper producers have struggled
to raise production even though prices for the metal have
quadrupled since the turn of the century, an embarrassingly poor
performance for the industry.
Producers tend to blame falling ore grades at ageing mines
for the industry’s failure to produce more of a supply response
in the face of soaring prices.
LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) – By publishing a new primer on the
changing landscape for commodity markets and emerging issues for
regulators, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has
taken a welcome first step towards greater transparency.
Despite its rather dull title, the FCA’s “Commodity Markets
Update”, released on Thursday, is the best summary of how
markets are changing in response to the fading super-cycle and
tougher regulation in the wake of the financial crisis. (here)
LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Smart grids and reformed
electricity pricing are essential to decarbonising Britain’s
electricity system at lowest cost while maintaining secure and
reliable supply, but the public remains “ambivalent” about them,
according to researchers.
Smart meters are due to be rolled out to every household in
Britain between 2016 and 2019, under plans backed by the
government, replacing the simple accumulation meters fitted in
most homes for the last century.
LONDON, Feb 26 (Reuters) – Crude oil shippers in the United
States must conduct detailed chemical tests and classify cargoes
as moderate- or high-risk materials before loading them onto the
rail network, or face prison, under an order issued by the U.S.
Department of Transportation on Monday.
Safety officials have acted following a spate of fiery
derailments involving crude-carrying trains, including an
accident in Quebec in 2013 that killed at least 42 people.
LONDON, Feb 25 (Reuters) – U.S. railroad operators have
agreed new safety procedures to reduce the number of fiery
derailments involving crude-carrying trains and cut the risk of
a catastrophic explosion in a densely populated urban centre.
The agreement between the Association of American Railroads
(AAR) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), announced
on Friday, builds on safety enhancements many rail operators had
already implemented individually.
LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) – Britain’s North Sea exploration
and production business is set to be transformed, with
cooperation replacing competition and proactive, intrusive
regulation replacing a light touch.
On Monday, ministers promised to back fully the
recommendations contained in Ian Wood’s review on maximising oil
and gas recovery from the UK Continental Shelf
LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Personnel shortages at the U.S.
Department of the Interior are causing delays in issuing oil and
gas drilling permits as well as missed targets for important
oversight work, according to a government performance audit.
“Interior continues to face challenges hiring and retaining
key oil and gas staff – particularly petroleum engineers,
inspectors and geologists,” the Government Accountability Office
(GAO) warned in a report to Congress released on Wednesday.
LONDON, Feb 19 (Reuters) – “Cripplingly high power costs are
forcing some of Britain’s heavy manufacturers to shut down their
entire operation at peak times, with furnaces cooling and
workers shivering in cold, darkened offices,” according to an
article in Wednesday’s Financial Times.
“It costs us 27 pounds (about $45) to boil the kettle. We
end up telling our workers to sit in the mess room together to
keep warm, because we can’t afford to keep going,” Tony Pedder,
chairman of Sheffield Forgemasters, a heavy engineering firm,
LONDON, Feb 18 (Reuters) – U.S. electricity regulators have
begun drafting new reliability standards to protect the power
grid from a repeat of severe geomagnetic storms like those that
crippled the U.S. telegraph service in 1859 and blacked out
Quebec in 1989.
Experts remain divided about just how much damage the grid
would sustain in the event of another big solar storm, but
regulators are taking a safety-first approach, ordering
reliability coordinators and transmission operators to start
LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) – “We are concerned that voluntary
measures may not be sufficient to constitute a reasonable
response to the risk of physical attack on the electricity
system,” four senior U.S. senators wrote in a letter to
regulators this month.
The letter was prompted by a Wall Street Journal
investigation into a night-time sniper attack in April 2013 on
the Metcalf substation in southern California which threatened
to blackout power to thousands of homes (“Assault on California
power station raises alarm on potential for terrorism”, Feb. 4).