Starting next year, for the first time on record the wealthy nations of Europe, North America, and Japan will account for less than one-half the world’s oil usage, projects the latest Oil Market Report from the International Energy Agency.

China’s energy giant CNOOC has offered $15 billion to acquire Canadian oil and gas producer Nexen Inc. in order to get access to Canada’s massive oil sands. Nexen operates in western Canada, the Gulf of Mexico, North Sea, Africa and the Middle East, with its biggest holdings in the Canadian oil sands. It is also exploring for natural gas in shale rock formations in British Columbia. CNOOC and other big state-owned Chinese energy companies are increasing their purchases of oil and gas assets in the Americas as part of a global strategy to gain access to resources needed to fuel China’s economy and to gain access to shale gas technology that can be used at home.

Argentina, which nationalized Spanish oil company YPF, will oversee an energy investment plan that tightens control over private companies, the government has announced.  Oil companies operating in the South American country will have to present an annual investment plan, and they could face fines or other sanctions, such as the withdrawal of concessions, if they fail to comply.A commission will oversee a national investment plan for the industry, where production of oil and natural gas has failed to keep pace with years of brisk, economic growth.

Currently 12 nuclear reactors are being built in China to generate electricity, accounting for 41% of the world’s total under construction.

Japan posted its biggest first-half trade deficit on record, highlighting the economic consequences of importing fossil fuels to meet its energy needs now that it has closed virtually all of its nuclear reactors. Japan has a desparate need for oil and liquified natural gas now that it has shut down its nuclear-generated electricity.

The spot uranium price has languished at just above $50 a pound for the past year, falling from around $70/lb after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear incident in May 2011.

The OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency reported total global identified uranium resources are “sufficient for over 100 years of supply based on current requirements.”

A recent study by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership suggests electric vehicles have a bigger carbon footprint than internal combustion engines once you take manufacturing the battery and producing the electricity into account. Electric cars don’t even out with their gasoline (petrol) counterparts until about 80,000 miles (204,000 km).

The UK government announced it would cut subsidies for onshore wind by 10%, which is less than the 25% reduction some members of parliament wanted. The government did say the cut could be increased in 2014.

Energy users in the Canadian province of Ontario have subsidized out-of-province electricity buyers $1.2 billion over the past three years, says a report by the Council for Clean and Reliable Electricity. That’s about $2.50 a month on a typical household hydro bill. In the spring and fall, when demand is low, Ontario often has surplus power – so much so that some large industrial customers inside the province, and export customers outside the province (such as in the adjoining United States) often get paid to use the power.

During the first half of 2012, Germany obtained 26% of its electricity from renewable energy sources. This compares with 20.5% in 2011 and 18.3% in 2010. The breakdown for this year is 19.5% wind, 7.5% biomass, 5.3% solar, 4% hydro and 1% other.

The Japanese government approved a plan by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to raise its electricity rates for residential users by 8.46%, starting Sept. 1. Tepco originally sought a 10.28% increase, saying it was necessary to cover the extra costs of purchasing fossil fuels to fill the energy shortage after Japan’s nuclear reactors were taken offline over safety concerns in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

India’s Kerala State Electricity Board announced a steep hike of 30% in electricity rates triggering protests from various quarters. This is the highest rate hike in a decade and will be retroactive to July 1st.  The increase will impact all categories of consumers such as agriculture, low tension industries, all types of non-domestic consumers like old age homes and orphanages, all categories of commercial establishments and street lighting.

Up to 600 million people living in eastern and northern India suffered electric power outages this week. The power failures have raised concerns about India’s outdated infrastructure and its insatiable appetite for energy that the government has been unable to meet.

The African country of Zimbabwe said its electricity supply shortages will continue and the country will not be self-sufficient for 10 years.  The news comes at a time when industry and households are grappling with severe power outages. In June, the nation’s power utility announced a nine-hour a day load-shedding schedule, as demand had far outstripped supply. The country is hoping for some relief in 2015 when other countries in the region are expected to have new capacity that could be exported to Zimbabwe.

A Canadian power company is set to take over operations of Nigeria’s government-owned power transmission company next week. Energy officials say this is a major step towards privatizing the energy industry – a move they hope will end the power shortages that cripple the Nigerian economy. On July 30, Canada’s Manitoba Hydrotakes control of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, a state-owned entity. Most people here do not have access to electricity and those who do have it often only get a few hours of power a day. A lot of the country’s power is lost in transportation. Dilapidated and mismanaged electrical grids waste about a forth of Nigeria’s electricity, which is roughly six times less than what the country needs to grow industry and power homes.

Sri Lanka’s state-run Ceylon Electricity Board has announced that it will cut electricity supply to homes, shops, offices and government buildings for three hours every day due to shortages in supply. The outages will be rotated across different regions of the island. The failure of two monsoon seasons has caused hydro-electricity generation in Sri Lanka to drop by 75% in the past year and shortages have been compounded by a new Chinese-built coal power generator’s repeated breakdowns.

Protests against prolonged electric power outages across the Punjab in Pakistan recommenced this week with demonstrators taking to the streets in major cities to voice their frustration. 14-16 hour-long outages are becoming common in many cities and paralyze life with business communities complaining of huge financial losses.

 

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