LONDON, March 14 (Reuters) – Simultaneous attacks on just
nine substations could black out the entire United States,
according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, based on a
confidential study by energy regulators.
“A small number of the country’s substations play an outsize
role in keeping power flowing across large regions,” the Journal
explained (“U.S. risks national blackout from small-scale
attack”, March 12).
LONDON, March 13 (Reuters) – “We believe commercial shale
gas extraction should only go ahead in the United Kingdom if it
can be objectively demonstrated that the regulatory framework is
fit for purpose,” six leading conservation organisations wrote
in a report on Thursday.
“Our analysis suggests that the current regulatory regime is
not fit for purpose and therefore unable to adequately manage
serious environmental risks,” according to the study’s principal
authors from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the
country’s largest conservation charity with more than 1 million
members (“Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the UK”, March
LONDON, March 12 (Reuters) – Consumers who use large
quantities of power during peak periods in the winter impose
enormous costs on everyone else in Britain.
The result is that many extra power stations and
transmission lines must be built and kept in readiness to serve
their demand for just a few hours each year.
LONDON, March 10 (Reuters) – Owners and operators of
high-voltage transmission lines and substations must identify
critical facilities and implement a security plan to protect
them from physical attack, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) ordered on Friday.
The instruction comes in response to a recent investigation
by the Wall Street Journal into a sniper attack on the Metcalf
substation near San Jose in California in April 2013. (“Assault
on California power station raises alarm on potential for
terrorism” Feb. 4)
LONDON, March 6 (Reuters) – South African power utility
Eskom declared a stage three power emergency on
Thursday, implementing a programme of rolling blackouts to
reduce demand and stabilise the grid.
The blackouts are the first since 2008 but come after the
country only narrowly averted load-shedding on several occasions
in November and February as the grid comes under increasing
LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) – Asking petroleum engineers and
managers used to working offshore and on complex engineering
megaprojects, the equivalent of building Ferraris, to start
developing shale plays, the equivalent of building VW Golfs, was
never going to work.
BP’s decision to form a separate business to manage
its onshore oil and gas assets in the U.S. Lower 48 states
acknowledges shale production is more like a manufacturing
process than traditional petroleum exploration.
LONDON, March 5 (Reuters) – China’s reaction to events in
Ukraine will probably prove more important in the long run than
the responses of the United States and the EU.
China’s response has been typically low key but the
country’s leaders have provided quiet support for Russian
intervention and resisted attempts by Washington and Brussels to
LONDON, March 4 (Reuters) – Drilling for oil and gas
deposits outside North America has hit the highest level in
three decades, led by big exploration and production programmes
in the Middle East and Africa.
More than 1,300 drilling rigs have been operating on average
over the last six months, the greatest number since 1983,
according to oilfield services company Baker Hughes.
LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) – The White House could lift
the ban on U.S. oil exports in stages, according to an analysis
of past presidential decisions prepared for Senator Lisa
Murkowski, the highest-ranking Republican on the Energy and
Natural Resources Committee.
“The executive branch retains the statutory authority to
authorise crude oil exports,” according to the report released
in Washington on Monday (“Past is precedent: executive authority
to authorise crude oil exports” March 3).
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.