In 2011 US coal exports soared to 1991 levels as it met increased demand from Asia and Europe. The 3 largest purchasers of American coal are South Korea, India and Japan who need it to produce electricity in their coal-fired plants. The largest European buyers are the Netherlands, the UK and Italy.

German energy company Wintershall announced it has discovered 60 to 160 million barrels of recoverable crude oil in the North Sea off the coast of Norway. All of Norway’s estimated 5.6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves are on its continental shelf. It has the largest oil reserves in Western Europe, the U.S. Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said.

Canada’s Trans-Mountain pipeline is spending $5 billion to double its carrying capacity from the oil sands in Alberta to the country’s west coast.  Canadian oil producers have been urging development of a new line to let them supply high priced Asian markets and U.S. West Coast refineries. The majority of Canada’s oil exports now flow to the U.S. Midwest, where a glut of crude at the Cushing, Oklahoma, storage hub has depressed crude oil prices. Production from Alberta’s oil sands, the world’s third largest crude oil reserve, is set to nearly double to 3 million barrels per day by 2020.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that global demand for crude oil in 2012 will increase by some 800,000 barrels per day reaching 91 million b/d by the 4th quarter. As expected, North American and European demand continue to fall while the rest of the world continues to increase oil consumption. The IEA estimates that spare capacity is now around 2.5 million b/d, but many outside observers are skeptical that it is this high.

Austria‘s energy providers have committed to stop importing nuclear energy within the next three years, the government announced this week. Austria does not operate any nuclear power reactors and imports less than 5% of its energy from foreign nuclear power plants.

Walmart announced it has placed solar panels on 100 of its US stores. It reached the 100 store milestone this past week. Collectively, the installations are expected to generate roughly 3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. Walmart’s long-term goal is to switch to renewable energy sources for all of its stores and warehouse locations in the US.

The UK currently has 350 wind farms in operation with another 500 on the planning board.  However, rumours that the govrnment may cut back subsidies to renewable energy as well as give local authorities more say in the placement of wind farms could limit the number to be built in future.

Spain’s wind turbines provided a record 60.46% of demand for electricity earlier this week. The previous maximum was 59.63% in November.

The Fraser Institute, Canada’s leading public policy think-tank, concludes that residents in the province of Ontario will pay $285 million more annually for residential electricity and the country could lose 41,000 full-time-equivalent jobs over a 20-year period as a direct result of Ontario’s policies for subsidizing wind and solar energy. When business and industrial electrical customers are included, the total additional costs for Ontario electricity users could hit $18 billion over 20 years.

India’s installed electrical generation capacity has crossed the 200 GW mark. This includes 132 GW capacity in coal-fired generation, 38 GW in the hydro sector, 24 GW in the renewable energy sector, and 4 GW in the nuclear sector. (1 GW or gigawatt = 1 billion watts)

As energy shortages worsen in Pakistan, the nation is not only stagnating presently but the prospect for meeting future needs is not any brighter. According to a World Bank estimate, widespread loadshedding (electricity blackouts) and the economic impact of the energy crunch are estimated to cost the country up to 2% of GDP annually. The State Bank of Pakistan claims that by year 2016, the country will face an acute natural gas shortfall of 3 billion cubic feet per day.


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