LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) – Britain’s gas and electricity
markets are characterised by high entry barriers, weak
competition and possible tacit collusion among the six largest
energy suppliers which helps keep prices and profits high,
according to regulators.
“Suppliers are able to segment their customer base, and
charge different groups of customers different prices for what
is essentially the same product,” the Office of Gas and
Electricity Markets (Ofgem) complained in a scathing report on
the state of competition in supplying residential and small
LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) – Disruptions to natural gas
supplies pose an increasing risk to the reliability of the power
system in the United States as gas replaces coal and nuclear as
the main source of electricity generation.
“Reliance on natural gas as a fuel for electric generation
has increased in recent years, resulting in greater
interdependence between the natural gas and electric
industries,” the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
said in a proposed new rule issued on March 20.
LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) – Japan will transfer all the
highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium held at the
country’s fast critical assembly facility to the United States,
the two countries said in a joint statement on Monday.
“This effort involves the elimination of hundreds of
kilograms of nuclear material, furthering our mutual goal of
minimizing stocks of highly enriched uranium and separated
plutonium worldwide, which will help prevent unauthorized
actors, criminals, or terrorists from acquiring such materials,”
according to the White House.
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