Thursday, March 5, 2009

P49. Pick Points

Sometimes there are situations that don’t know when to quit. So it is with the Ukraine:Russia dispute over gas. Today Prime Minister Putin “harshly accused” Ukraine of threatening the passage of Russian gas west. (He also appears to be ignoring the “President guy”) and said he would cut off gas this Saturday. This whole situation is now starting to threaten Russian credibility. But the demagoguery seems to have worked and Ukraine is coughing up the ready.
Naftogaz on Thursday transferred the final $50 million installment of a $360 million payment for gas consumed in February, the Ukrainian company's spokesman Valentyn Zemlyansky said. Gazprom confirmed that Naftogaz had paid in full for February supplies.
Part of the problem now appears to be a political struggle in Ukraine
Tymoshenko and her allies deny that Naftogaz diverted Russian gas. They claim Yushchenko initiated the search in order to get his hands on the company's profits and hinder the company's dealings with Russia by confiscating vital documents.
The message has spread beyond just government and industry also is now learning about using renewable energy, and conservation.

And speaking of revisiting crises, the Pakistan Chief Minister would like to reassure the country
Qaim Ali Shah said, “A meeting will soon be convened to resolve power outage crisis in which KESC administration, representatives from trade community and local citizens will be invited.”
The Canadians are trying to help but supplies are short, and still the Pakistan Senate is urging that prices be lowered. Imports of fuel oil are up 87% over this time last year. Sadly, and a little along the lines of my Tech Talk on Sunday, some 14 miners were killed and 19 injured in a gas explosion in a coal mine in Pakistan on Thursday.

Regulation of the coal industry has become the intent du jour, the European Commission has now set in place emission rules that will likely, through constriction of sulfur dioxide emissions , threaten to close the deep mines of Britain. The threats of increased regulation have just caused cancellation of another coal-fired power plant, this one a 649 MW plant in Iowa. Wisconsin also recently cancelled expansion of the Nelson Dewey facility. The utility planning the facility is now looking into wind power but, from a statistical point of view
Power producers have canceled more than 90 coal-fired projects totaling more than 55,000 MW of capacity for various reasons, over the past few years, according to data from the Sierra Club. There are still about 70 coal plants under construction or in development in the United States.
I believe I heard someone comment recently that all the wind and power installed in the U.S. to date would be the equivalent of one medium coal-fired power plant, just to put this in perspective.

Regardless, the pressure is on coal operators to find solutions but what might get lost in the shuffle is that, whether in Europe or the United States, if we shot the old, before the new can carry the load, life could go downhill really quickly. To counter that the IEA suggests that the US should consider new gas and diesel taxes, and open up offshore areas for drilling.

More stories can be found at The Energy Bulletin and Drumbeat at The Oil Drum.

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