The UK’s hopes of a US-style shale gas boom received a major boost this week after fracking firm IGas dramatically increased its estimate of the amount of shale gas trapped within the rocks of north-west England. IGas said it now believed there could be as much as 172 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas within its drilling areas in Lancashire and Cheshire, equivalent to more than 50 years’ worth of supply. Andrew Austin, chief executive of IGas, said: “We know there is a very significant amount of gas there. The question is: will it flow, and will it flow economically? We don’t know whether we can recover any of it yet.”

The German government has decided to delay a draft law on hydraulic fracking for shale gas until after the September elections. Hydraulic fracturing or fracking, where water, sand and chemicals are blasted into rock cracks to drive out gas and oil, remains controversial because of the risk to ground water reservoirs. France in 2011 banned the practice.

Iraq is due to start pumping crude from two of its largest oil fields within weeks, creating a possible obstacle to future efforts by OPEC to cut crude oil supply in the event of a drop in prices. The Gulf state plans to start production at Majnoon within days, followed by Gharraf in July and West Qurna-2 by year-end, lifting capacity by 400,000 barrels a day.

Saudi Arabian crude oil production rose to a record 9.51 million barrels a day of oil last year.

Chinese oil companies were the biggest spenders on oil and gas acquisitions in 2012, a trend that is expected to continue this year.

A crude oil discovery near the Grane field in the North Sea could hold as much as 33 million barrels of recoverable oil, Norways’s state owned Statoil said. Norway is the largest oil producer in Europe.

Concern over Argentina’s negative policy on foreign investments is pushing business entrepreneurs toward caution and keeping them away from the Latin American country. Argentina nationalized Spanish oil company Repsol’s majority stake in local energy giant YPF last year, triggering alarm in the international investment community

The boom in Alberta’s oil sands was initially hailed as a hugely promising development for Canada’s economy. But major threats challenging the economic viability of oil sands projects have emerged. The main obstacles are spiraling operating costs, depressed pricing for Western Canadian crude oil, and increased competition from US shale oil. Growth prospects for smaller oil-sands producers including Black Pearl Resources and Southern Pacific Resource Corp. are fading as political wrangling over the Keystone XL pipeline and rising US supply slow deals in the Canadian energy industry.

US crude oil imports fell 14.9% in March from a year earlier, to 7.46 million barrels a day, as rising domestic output continued to cut the need for foreign oil.

With pipelines full, more and more crude oil is moving by rail in the US. Crude oil deliveries by rail  reached a record 97,135 carloads–about 58 million barrels–during the first quarter of the year, up 20% from fourth quarter 2012 and more than 160% higher than the same time last year.

In the last 10 years the world’s annual car production increased 52%  –almost 2/3 of this growth came from China—  while in the same period, global transportation fuel supply went up only 16%.

Pakistan’s persistent electricity generation shortages have led to blackouts and brownouts, causing social unrest as more than 18 hours of blackouts are being enforced in some urban areas and more than 20 hours in the nation’s rural regions.

In India, both residential and business consumers say the most serious problem facing the country is its inadequate electrical grid.

A survey by McKinsey & Co. found that, despite generous government subsidies, a third of Japanese electric car owners said they would not buy an EV again. The reasons given were the higher purchase price, lack of mileage range, and a need for more charging locations.

UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey stated firm commitment to the European Commission’s goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 — but rejected increased mandatory levels for the percentage of wind, solar and other types of renewable power sources in the energy mix.

The European Commission has imposed anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese solar panels, defying dire warnings from Beijing the move could spark a trade war. The EU said the panels were being sold at up to 88% below cost in the European market. China responded the next day by immediately launching an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probe against wine imported from the European Union.

Testing labs, developers, financiers and insurers worldwide are reporting defective solar panels and say the $77 billion global solar industry is facing a quality crisis. Some panels, with an expected 25 year life span, are failing after just two years. At stake are billions of dollars that have financed solar installations, from desert power plants to suburban rooftops, on the premise that solar panels will more than pay for themselves over a quarter century. Most of the concerns over quality center on China, home to the majority of the world’s solar panel manufacturing capacity.

China buys over 90% of the e-bikes in the world and Japan buys the most hybrid cars. Indeed the best selling electric car in the world, the Toyota Prius, sells in Japan at twice the volume of the US.


with h/t Tom Whipple

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