New discoveries and technological advances have increased the oil industry’s ability to increase crude oil production in recent years, pushing global maximum oil production to 98 million b/d for longer than initially expected, Industry participants believe global oil production should plateau at that level for some time before dropping as reserves gradually deplete.

Shell said it was considering a potential liquefied natural gas terminal in Egypt to transform the country into a net importer. Egyptian natural gas demand is starting to outpace domestic production. Egypt has been a natural-gas exporter to markets from China to Chile.

China is reported to have massive unconventional natural gas resources. Technically recoverable gas reserves are forecast to be 36 trillion cubic meters, making it the world’s largest reserve pool and nearly 50% larger than the reserves in the US. In China’s most recent 5-year plan it laid out a goal of 6.5 billion cubic meters of production by 2015, a steep increase from the current production level of zero.

Algeria’s state energy company Sonatrach is pushing an $80 billion, five-year investment program to expand its oil and natural gas industry and is offering an incentives package to woo foreign companies to develop its shale energy resources.

The UK government lifted a moratorium on exploratory hydraulic fracturing, a controversial process of extracting shale gas, aiming to stimulate investment in finding new domestic reserves to offset declining North Sea production and reduce dependence on imports.

Support for the regulation of hydraulic fracturing in the US has increased in the past three months, a sign that the gas-drilling practice is facing greater public scrutiny. A Bloomberg National Poll found that 66% of Americans want more government oversight of the process, known as fracking, that’s an increase from 56% in a September poll.

Exxon Mobil has raised its long-term global energy-demand growth estimate to 35% from 32% as expanding populations in Africa and India use more electricity.

The UK Government’s natural gas strategy said that Britain could need up to 26 GW of new natural gas power by 2030 to help keep the lights on. The plan is likely to result in an increase in consumer electricity bills of around £15 ($24) a year, which the Government said was “effectively an insurance premium against the risk of blackouts”.

Recent electricity and natural gas price increases in the UK “are likely to have pushed a further 300,000 households into fuel poverty,” said the government’s Fuel Poverty Advisory Group in its annual report. A household slips into fuel poverty when it pays more than 10% of its income on resources for adequate heating. Around a quarter of Britain’s households, or over 6.5 million, are now considered fuel poor.

More and more German firms are accelerating their investments in the generation of their own electricity, the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce stated this week. “Every third company in the country is making efforts to generate conventional or renewable energy for their operations,” association President Hans Heinrich Driftmann told the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. He added this trend is across all industries because of “growing doubts about future energy security.” Giant automaker Volkswagon currently generates 60% of its demands and plans to increase this amount to 75%.

Electricity bill shocks have taken their toll, with 38% of Australians stating they will have a much leaner Christmas this year according to a study of 1,506 Australians recently undertaken by an independent research agency. Young families with mainly preschool aged children were finding it toughest to cope with rising electricity prices. “Australians will be hit with the highest electricity prices the country has ever experienced,” commented Energy Matters Director Nick Brass. “When heatwaves hit you’ll see electricity generation companies jack up their prices to ridiculous levels and the Australian public will be completely powerless to do anything about it.”


with h/t Tom Whipple

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