Monday, February 16, 2009

P38. Pick Points

Half-a-dozen or so stories of interest:

Until recently if you had tried to talk to me about solar cars, I would have only been able to think of the cars in the American Solar Challenge, a biennial race that takes cars built by university students in races that last started in Dallas and finished in Calgary. Our office has a small glass memento for helping Principia College, who finished second last year (well OK, our car finished 7th). But these are all flat, single person vehicles that can reach (and exceed) the speed limit, but are fragile enough to require protective chase cars. Thomas Friedman describes driving around New Delhi this weekend in an electric car, with solar panels on the roof and 3 other folk in the car. The car is a plug-in electric with a 90 mile range which had just finished a 3,500-km road tour though when you see the size of the car, rather them than me. (The car sells for Rupees 399,343. ($8,196). That does not include the modifications needed for the road trip). The Tesla electric car that is to be made in the United States is waiting for a $450 million federal loan to get started. It is expected to come from the $25 billion loan program for retooling U.S. factories and they hope to get the money in the next “four to five months.” The current plan is for cars to be on the market by 2011 – for a mere $109,000. They have a thousand customers on their waiting list. (If that’s a tad much you might want to chat with John Hendrickson, who made one out of a rusty VW, it does 50 miles per charge and uses gel batteries).

India continues to move ahead with its planned expansion of nuclear power , with two new plants as part of a 2.000 MW expansion being announced as part of a move towards 20,000 MW targeted for 2020, as a way of supplying a country that is currently short about 16% of demand at peak hours. By 2030 the target will rise to 60,000 MW. Uranium will largely come from Russia , though U.S. firms are anxious to become involved, and French firms hope to be able to do some reprocessing since some of the uranium will come from there. Apparently Pakistan was getting some help from Japan as well as China with their nuclear program. Russia is also helping Turkey with its plan for four new nuclear reactors. China is also switching its power emphasis more towards nuclear .

Even the Russians are now taking heed of energy efficiency, though at the moment it appears more of an editorial opinion than a set of programs, though the Germans have been brought in as part of a collaborative program . They also have just opened production at a new oil complex in Western Siberia at Uvat, some 1,250 east of Moscow. (You can see it on Google Earth). Collectively it will produce, in time, some 200,00 mbd roughly. Russian auto production was down 80% in January, but it should be remembered that they take their Christmas break in January, and to help with lagging demand some factories just extended the holiday. Others have been waiting for parts. But this is a y-o-y drop. Natural gas dropped 10% and coal 18%. Checking back in on the most recent numbers relative to those I quoted on the 6th: oil production on the 14th was 1,325,000 tons, (9.71 mbd) in-country refining was 658,000 tons (4.8 mbd); they produced 1,721 million cu m of natural gas, and 739,000 tons of coal. Oil is about the same, but natural gas and coal are down over the last week. Had it not been for the Yuzhno-Khilchuyu production coming on line then Lukoil production would have peaked.

In a move to corner more of the coal bed methane properties in Australia BG Group has raised its offer for Pure Energy Resources. The gas is in north-east Australia and would provide feedstock for LNG facilities that would market the product into Asia. Shell who partnered with Arrow Energy, the BG rival in the bid, is planning a new LNG facility in the region. Japan meanwhile is signing more contracts with Indonesia for future LNG supplies and is being reassured by Gazprom that it can count on it for the supplies from Sakhalin Island. At least this doesn’t go through a Ukrainian pipeline. BG may, however, have another market in mind, since they have just leased an import terminal in India which, as noted above, is greatly in need of more energy. It should be ready to import cargoes by the end of March. In the United States, a new design has been submitted to the FERC for the terminal at Weavers Cove in Massachusetts.

The value of Norwegian gas exported in January was 29.4% higher than the comparable figure last year. And last year at this time they hit a record also. The difficulties in expanding production into the Barents Sea are not seen as a barrier.

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

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