Oil service company Baker Hughes announced that the total world oil and gas rig count (exempting inland China) was 1761 in February, down 52% from December 2014. It is numbers like these that have market observers expecting that eventually there will be much higher crude oil prices in the next couple of years.

The Middle East country of Kuwait announced it is planning to gradually cut subsidies on energy products. The move comes as the country follows in the footsteps of its Arabian Gulf neighbours seeking to relieve pressure on their finances hit by dwindling crude oil income. The country plans to start by cutting back on its subsidies for subsidy and on petrol, diesel and kerosene. The International Monetary Fund has urged the Arabian Gulf states to remove subsidies, impose taxes and trim spending to plug their fiscal deficits. The Fund has warned that these economies could use up their financial buffers within five years as they face a combined fiscal deficit exceeding $700 billion between 2015 and 2019.

Having already started to removed subsidies for transportation fuels, the United Arab Emirates said it will now work to remove further subsidies on energy, including on natural gas and electricity.

The South African government said it was expecting to reap the rewards of its shale natural gas deposits, with exploration slated as early as 2017. Currently South Africa relies on coal for about 90% of its electricity generation. Natural gas has proven to be a less polluting alternative in other countries, such as Canada and the US. The US Energy Information Administration estimates South Africa has 485 trillion cubic feet of shale gas resources.

The future of Europe’s energy supply is to rely heavily on natural gas for the coming two decades and beyond, according to a new strategy by the European Commission. Natural gas as will have to be imported, from sources including Russia, Norway, Qatar and other Gulf states, and potentially the US under plans set out in the commission’s “Sustainable Energy Security Package”. This will require tens of billions of euros of investment in infrastructure, including new cross-border pipelines, and the development of terminals for the import of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The European Union believes the renewed focus on diversifying supply and on constructing storage facilities would improve energy security. However, this policy change is not going over well with green groups who believe it is at odds with the European statements in Paris in 2015 supporting world Climate Change goals.

The capacity of global wind power generation reached 432.42 gigawatts (GW) at the end of 2015, up 17% from a year earlier and surpassing nuclear energy for the first time, according to data released by the Global Wind Energy Council. The generation capacity of wind farms newly built in 2015 was a record 63.01 GW, corresponding to about 60 nuclear reactors. China led all nations in wind energy generation capacity with 145.10 GW.

China’s production and sale of electric cars will more than double this year according to that country’s industry minister. More than 300,000 electric cars were sold in the Asian country last year. The minister added that for EVs to be successful they need to imporve their reliability and mileage along with the lifespan of electric batteries. In addition, China needs to speed up the installation of electric car charging stations.

The Middle East country of Jordan announced a green energy goal of employing 1.8 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2020, which would make up 10% of Jordan’s energy supply. The country is expected to bring online 500 megawatts of new solar capacity by the end of next year, which will significantly contribute to the new solar target of 1 GW by 2020 from the initial 600 MW goal.

The Central Asian country of Kazakhstan has increased electricity generation from renewable energy sources by 22% in 2015 compared to 2014.  The country has set a goal to obtain 3% of its total electricity production from renewable sources by 2020 and 10% by 2030.

 

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