Tuesday, January 27, 2009

P25. Pick Points

Half-a-dozen or so stories of interest:

What to do about the contradiction that rising commuter traffic is moving to metro train and bus lines as a falling tax revenue reduces support to the systems, and they reduce service? There is not a lot of stimulus for renewables in the new package going through Washington. Much of the money is going for new transmission lines and $1 billion for a smart meter program. And the pressure mounts for more efficient cars.

Not to be outdone European leaders are writing letters to the President asking for climate change legislation, since without it, Europe is at a disadvantage. Although the UK may not be able to keep to the pace of the rest of Europe. Oh, and apropos the tidal system that was in Pick Points yesterday, there is an explanation of how it works. On the other hand they are putting $27 million into the next generation of biofuels, that includes a cellulosic ethanol project that relies on the gribble (I’m glad you asked - it is a marine woodlouse), as well as starting to build houses out of straw - no this is serious, but I do remember a certain rhyme . .

China will get six LNG plants. Given that they are projecting an increase of 16-18% in gas production, but that is from abroad. The success of the first coal liquefaction plant in Mongolia, it ran for 300 hours, is leading to plans for expansion. Chinese coal mine deaths dropped 15% last year. And they are planning to introduce more efficient and energy conscious vehicles. Even as China’s oil demand tanks.

In order to start providing gas for the proposed new gas line from the North Slope, Alaska has given permission for Exxon to start drilling at Point Thomson. Previously the State had cancelled the leases, but they have now temporarily been reinstated. At the same time the weakened economy is not seen as slowing the progress forward of the pipeline, though that is not what BP thinks.

The Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline continues to face problems relating to the price of gas to be paid . Meanwhile Iran’s objections to the pipeline under the Caspian (part of the Nabucco network) are seen as being objections to the loss of monopoly. Politicians from the countries that would receive the gas are urging support at their Budapest meeting. Bulgaria has signed an agreement with Azerbaijan to receive a billion cu m per year through the pipeline. However it is not clear whether Azerbaijan would merely act as a conduit, or whether it would supply the gas itself. And Turkey is thinking of holding the pipeline hostage to its treatment by the EU. Poland will be joining the Nabucco project. All this fuss about alternatives has led to some recriminations against Prime Minister Putin.

The turndown in the economy is hurting rig operations, and Baker Hughes will cut 1500 jobs. On the other hand Petrobras is hiring though reducing costs elsewhere to allow production efforts to continue.

And in the “Haven’t we been here before,” section I see that Libya is talking about nationalizing its oil industry.

For more stories see The Energy Bulletin or Drumbeat at The Oil Drum.

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