Wednesday, January 14, 2009

P17. Pick Points

Half-a-dozen or so stories of interest:

Well that’s a turn up for the book, Cesar Chavez is looking for help in the Venezuelan oilfields. With declining production and low prices, new technical help is needed to reverse the trend that has led to a fall of around 100,000 bd/year down from 3.4 mbd to 2.3 mbd. This is about the amount, actually 90,000 bd, that Venezuela ships to Cuba. There is hope that new projects in the Orinoco Belt might yield 1.2 mbd. Certainly the industry could use the work with the rig count falling so that there are 1,589 still out there, of whom 1,239 are drilling for natural gas. Horizontal drilling comprises 552 rigs, and directional drilling 315. Maybe they can start drilling for water in Southern California, as the threat of water rationing down there has been raised.

While conventional oil production in the US dropped below 5 mbd in December, the need to find alternates sooner than that from biofuels will be available is leading Total to take a 50% share of a project that involves in-situ combustion, just as new leases become available in Colorado. However the incoming Secretary of the Interior is against the idea. Incidentally there are still some 334 offshore platforms that are still shut down as a result of Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Patience is now definitely wearing thin as the Russian;Ukrainian dispute continues. It is not clear if the monitors have much to do other than “sit in hotel rooms and drink horilka.” (Ukrainian vodka). In Serbia they now run the risk of overloading the electricity circuits, as the lack of natural gas is causing a switch to electric heaters, although, over the weekend Serbia had enough that it shipped some over to Bosnia, to help out there where over 100,000 households have no heat and the temperature is down to – 29oC. The latest Russian move is to suggest a Gas Summit in Moscow this weekend, however since Ukraine still doesn’t have a contract to purchase gas for itself for this year, it is unlikely that much progress will be made. Well at least Prime Minister Putin can paint while he waits. The visits of the Slovak and Bulgarian Prime Ministers to Moscow had no effect, and questions as to who gets paid what for the gas are circulating.

Given that UK Coal is planning on putting wind turbines on old coal mine sites and that plans are moving ahead to open 58 new or enlarged surface mines, half of which have already been approved, despite the furor over building new coal-fired plants. Northumberland seems to be the main place they plan the mines. (And for those that wonder I have seen one site turned into a golf course so you would never know the mine had been there), and there are 6 new coal-fired power stations being planned. Current underground mines are producing at up to 3 million tons/year, however the recent decline in demand for power has led some countries to cut back.

You would have thought that with the gas crisis, coal mining in Bulgaria would be seeing good times, but the Bobov Dol mine, in Bulgaria unable to sell coal to power plants is being closed this month. The story is a little more complex that it first appears, however, since it turns out that the local power plant was privatized, and the new owner had other mines that he owns and wants to get the coal from.

There are more stories over at The Energy Bulletin, or on Drumbeat at The Oil Drum.

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