Natural gas is forecast to play a far greater role in the world’s energy mix, threatening to supplant crude oil and coal in many areas of industrial activity as well as in transportation and in the home, according to a report recently published by GE. The report anticipates global natural gas consumption will increase by more than one-third by 2025.

India’s energy demand will double by 2035 due to economic growth and increased population, the head of the International Energy Agency predicted. She said India will be the largest importer of coal, will be the second largest importer of crude oil after China and will be No. 4 in importing natural gas after the European Union, China and Japan.

Japan has discovered methane hydrate lying over a large area in the Sea of Japan in northwestern Japan, in addition to previously discovered areas in the Pacific Ocean, the trade ministry said. The government plans to spend the next three years trying to determine the nation’s reserves of methane hydrate – a frozen gas known as “flammable ice” – as part of its goal to achieve commercial production within six years.

The Chinese, investing heavily in Africa to secure its crude oil and other raw materials for their expanding economy, are spearheading a new era of railroad building to unlock the continent’s interior.

Norwegian energy company Statoil, in making another natural gas discovery off the coast of Tanzania, said it estimates there is more than 17 trillion cubic feet of natural the Mronge-1 area.

The US Geological Survey said the Alum shale reserve area in Denmark holds an estimated 6.9 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas.

The Alberta Geological Survey estimates the Duvernay shale reserve in the Canadian province holds more than 440 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and nearly 62 billion barrels of oil.

Canada’s National Energy Board has approved three export licences for liquefied natural gas (LNG) that clears the way for exporting 36 million tonnes of LNG a year. Exports could begin as early as 2015. Another five applications for LNG exports are under review.

Crude oil demand in the US is growing at a faster pace than in emerging economies such as China and India for the first time in a decade.

So far this year, 655,619 rail carloads of oil, or about 458 million barrels, were delivered by rail in the US, a 32.4% increase from the same period last year, according to the American Association of Railroads. In the state of North Dakota alone, 140 million barrels of oil have left on trains. So far this year, 60% of all oil produced in North Dakota left the state by rail.

The US Gulf Coast — home to the world’s largest concentration of petroleum refineries — is suddenly awash in crude oil. So much high-quality US oil is flowing into the area that the price of oil in the region has dropped sharply in the past few weeks and is no longer in sync with global prices. In fact, some experts believe a US oil glut is coming.

The US state of Texas produced oil at a new recent high in September—2.7 million b/d. In less than three years, Texas has more than doubled its year-on-year daily oil production, based on the September daily average figure. The state has increased its oil production by more than 25% year-on-year for 25 months in a row.

BP is leading an oil industry-wide push to develop technology that can retrieve crude oil from formations that are so deep under the sea floor, and under such high pressure and temperature, that conventional equipment would melt or be crushed by the conditions. One BP field in the Gulf of Mexico, called Tiber, is 35,000 feet below the sea floor.

Bioethanol production from bamboo in China is both technically and economically feasible, as well as cost-competitive with gasoline, according to researchers at Imperial College London.

About 2.6 billion people in the world and 1.8 billion in the Asia-Pacific use solid fuels (e.g biomass) for cooking. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 1.45 million people die prematurely each year from indoor air pollution caused by burning solid fuels with insufficient ventilation.

About 1.3 billion people in the world are living without electricity; two-thirds of them being in 10 countries and four of them, including Pakistan, in the Asia Pacific region, says a report by the United Nations. Africa has the lowest annual household electricity consumption at 200 kilowatt-hours followed by the Asia-Pacific at 400 kwh.

Venezuela’s second massive electric power outage of the year plunged much of the nation into darkness last week.

The European Union said it would impose additional anti-dumping measures on imports of solar panels from China for certain manufacturers. The EU said a duty of 67.9% will be applied to Chinese solar panel exporters who didn’t cooperate with an investigation into allegations the panels were sold to European countries at below market cost.

Deutsche Bank recently said the cost per watt from solar panels is coming down rapidly.  “The cost of unsubsidized solar power is about the same as the cost of electricity from the grid in India and Italy. By 2014 even more countries will achieve solar ‘grid parity.'”

Germany’s coalition government has agreed to slow down the pace at which it is adding renewable energy (solar, wind) to the national grid. The agreement favours the production of off-shore wind power and limits the amount of on-shore wind power. New on-shore wind power plants will only receive government subsidies if they are built at locations with particularly strong wind. The agreement also ensures the continuation of coal and natural gas plants, potentially for several decades, to be able to supply 24/7 electricity when solar and wind is unavailable. Critics argue that this change in policy means that Germany will be unable to meet its international climate change commitments.


with h/t Tom Whipple

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