Canada expects strong interest in its heavy crude oil reserves from China after the U.S. government balked on a major oil pipeline project – the Keystone XL pipeline.  The pipeline was slated to bring Alberta tar sands crude to the mid-US.  The US has delayed a decision on the pipeline until after the American presidential election in November 2012. Canada may now consider an alternative pipeline to the Pacific coast where the crude could be shipped to Asia.

Canadian Natural Resources Minister, Joe Oliver, said he wants a regulatory decision by early 2013, a year ahead of the current schedule, on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project to expedite the shipment of Alberta oil sands crude to Asia.

Norway announced a 20-year plan to unlock offshore Arctic oil and gas resources and channel them to worldwide markets. A 134-page white paper said massive infrastructure building, research investment, a new fighter-jet fleet and careful diplomacy will help bring “a new industrial era in the high north”, including an island group where jurisdiction is contested.  Russia and the EU contest Norway’s assertion of jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic waters.

Fossil fuels (crude oil and natural gas) still dominate the economies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC): the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. Oil and gas account for 60% of Qatar’s GNP, close to 55% in Saudi Arabia and nearly 40% in the UAE. These countries also show the highest per capita power consumption in the Arab world. Countries in the area also heavily subsidize electricity rates. In Saudi Arabia, for example, the kingdom subsidizes 79% of electricity prices. Curbing these subsidies would, of course, be a very unpopular decision. In addition, the leading industries in the GCC member states are made up of very energy-intense sectors, for example aluminum or cement production.

Most Arab states have shrugged off the political and environmental fallout from the Fukushima disaster in Japan and are pushing ahead with nuclear energy programs.

Kazakhstan is now the world’s largest uranium miner. The former Soviet republic produces 33% of world’s mined uranium, followed by Canada at 18% and Australia at 11%. Kazakhstan contains the world’s second-largest uranium reserves, estimated at 1.5 million tons. Until two years ago it was the world’s No. 3 uranium miner, following Australia and Canada. Together the trio is responsible for about 62% of the world’s production of mined uranium.

The World Bank approved $297 million in loans to Morocco to help finance the Ouarzazate Concentrated Solar Power Plant Project, taking a historic step toward realizing one of the first large-scale plants of this kind in North Africa to exploit the region’s vast solar energy resources.

A combination of high oil prices, oversupply of natural gas, increasing global energy demands, and improving extraction technologies is creating a renewed interest in the natural gas to liquids market.  Analysts estimate the global gas to liquids market – defined as spending on new infrastructure, the upgrading of existing gas to liquids facilities, plus spending on R&D – to be worth $5.75 billion US in 2011.

The International Energy Agency estimates that Japan would need to spend $3 billion per month on additional oil and LNG in 2012 if the country’s nuclear power output falls to zero next year.

Retirement of coal-fired plants due to toughening environmental standards in the US would increase the share of total electric power generation fueled by natural gas by 6 percentage points, according to Fitch Ratings.

Increasing worldwide gas production and surging demand from Japan have resulted in huge changes to the way liquefied natural gas is shipped worldwide. In order to take advantage of higher prices, energy companies are vying for unused LNG tanker capacity around the world, and are offering tanker owners higher prices and an unprecedented range of short-term contracts.

Over 70% of African trade with China is in energy. Over 30% of Chinese oil imports come from Africa.

The Italian cities of Rome and Milan are banning Sunday driving in an effort to reduce smog. The ban lasts from 8:30 to 17:30 and extends to raising home heating levels above 18 degrees C.  Electric cars and other non-polluting vehicles are permitted.

Rio Tinto Alcan announced plans to close its Lynemouth aluminum smelter in northern England, due to the UK’s high energy costs resulting from the country’s new energy policy. The 40-year-old smelter employs 515 people, while a power station employs an additional 111 workers. The company said the smelter is no longer a sustainable business because its energy costs are increasing significantly, due largely to emerging government renewable energy legislation which will raise electricity costs substantially.

France’s nuclear giant Areva announced it will cut 1,300 jobs in Germany and close down two of its sites following the German government’s decision to abandon nuclear energy in May. In the wake of the Japan nuclear disaster in Fukushima, the German government decided to shut down all of its nuclear reactors by the end of 2022 and rely on renewable energy for its electricity.

EON, Germany’s largest nuclear power supplier, said it would file a complaint with Germany’s highest court, demanding financial compensation for the closure of its nuclear reactors brought about by the country’s decision to phase out its 17 nuclear power plants by the end of 2022.

Shutting down Switzerland’s five nuclear power stations will cost about 20.7 billion Swiss francs ($22.5 billion) and take about 20 years.


with h/t Tom Whipple

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