Over half of China’s 1.3 billion population now lives in urban areas.

Europol reported winds farms, and renewable energy in general, are the most popular target for laundering money, after analysing the financial activities of Italy’s four Mafia groups. “The Italian mafia is investing more and more in renewable energy, especially in wind farms, to profit from generous European grants paid for by member states which allow them to mix dirty money with legitimate economic activities,” the report said.

Liberum Capital analysts expect UK renewable energy policies to push electricity costs up 29% by the end of this decade. This means the average electricity bill will be £812, of which £285 would be green energy taxes and Value Added Tax. The UK Taxpayers’ Alliance believes natural gas bills will jump to £1,070, making the total average energy bill almost £1,900.

The US is the world leader in virtually every kind of renewable energy, except solar. It produces 37% of the world’s biofuel, 27% of geothermal, 36% of wind energy and 24% of hydro power (Canada tops that list at 27% hydro). Germany leads the solar pack by producing 21% of all solar energy in the world.

US President Obama said his government would provide $7 billion in public funding, as well as $9 billion from the US private sector, for a “power Africa” initiative.  The goal of the project is to double the number of Africans who will have access to electricity and “to bring a light where currently there is darkness”.

The world’s largest offshore wind farm, which can generate enough electricity for half a million homes, was  opened off the UK’s south-east coast. The 630-megawatt London Array project, built 20 miles offshore, contains 175 wind turbines.

A new law in Paris forces all shops and other buildings in the French capital city to switch off their lights every evening, in a bid to save energy.

The decline in US oil imports is forcing down international shipping rates. US oil imports by ship are expected to fall by 11 % to 5.4 million barrels per day this year. One million barrel Suezmaxes are now leasing for $10,600 a day – the lowest price since 1991. Shipments of West African crude to North America will average 700,000 b/d this year, a 30% in the last three years.

Pakistan expects the 683 mile pipeline from offshore Iranian natural gas fields to Pakistan will be completed by 2014. When and if completed, the pipeline is expected to supply 750 million cubic feet of natural gas a day which would be enough to generate 5,000 megawatts of power.

US natural gas exporters plan to defend linking the prices they charge to the price of  crude oil even after the courts have ruled they are overcharging their customers. The exporters claim the 40 year old system is fair and transparent, while consumers say it keeps prices well above those that would be established by supply and demand. Meanwhile, Russian President Putin is urging natural gas exporters to join in an effort to keep natural gas prices tied to the price of oil.

The members of Petrocaribe which was Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s program for making gifts of crude oil to friendly states around the Caribbean are wondering what will happen under the new Maduro government. Venezuela supplied more than 100,000 b/d of oil to each of the Petrocaribe members at favorable terms in 2012.

Interest in drilling for oil and natural gas off Ireland’s coast is increasing. An Australian company and Exxon have started drilling in the Porcupine Basin. So far there have been no estimates as to the potential of the region.

Chinese oil firm Sinopec bought a share of a 1 million acres of crude oil and natural gas leases in the US state of Oklahoma.

China has expressed interest in investing in an oil refinery and a refined products export pipeline for the African country of Uganda. The two projects would cost an estimated $6 billion. Last month Uganda awarded a Chinese firm the contract for building a hydro-electric dam on the Nile and is talking about expanding the contract to cover a 600 megawatt power plant.

Irish oil company Tullow Oil reported a new discovery of crude oil in Northern Kenya, raising hopes that large amounts of oil will be found in the African country.

In October Brazil will auction off offshore blocs containing about two-thirds of its proven crude oil reserves. The government hopes that all the world’s major oil companies will bid and inject some $8 billion of cash into Brazil’s sluggish economy.

The Trans-Adriatic-Pipeline (TAO) won the bid to become the initial transit route to ship natural gas from the Caspian Sea to Europe. The 500-mile TAP (backed by Swiss energy company Axpo, Norway’s Statoil ASA  and Germany’s E.ON SE) will run through northern Greece and southern Albania before traveling under sea to Italy. TAP will connect with a pipeline carrying the gas through Turkey. TAP will carry 10 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz reserves in the Caspian toward Italy. However, the European Union’s energy chief says that Europe will always need more natural gas so that the Nabucco West pipeline which lost out to the TAP line is not dead.

The possibility exists that there are 700 million barrels of shale oil underneath the suburban counties of Surrey and Sussex south of London in the UK.

The UK’s JKX Oil and Gas says it has started Europe’s largest hydraulic fracturing operation in the Ukraine to produce shale gas. The procedure will take place in nine stages and take about 40 days in the area of Rudenkovskoye.  JKX has given no indication of the reserve potential for the eastern Ukrainian field.

The US Energy Information Administration reported that the cement industry is the most energy-intensive industry. In 2012 the industry used one-quarter of 1% of US energy consumption.

The European Parliament after months of bitter debate has backed a plan to increase carbon prices, throwing a lifeline to the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS). EU politicians voted 344-311 in favour of temporarily removing up to 900 million carbon permits from trade, in an attempt to curb a massive oversupply that has sent carbon prices to record lows. The hope is that a higher carbon price will encourage European industry to invest in low-carbon energy projects. The plan will now require backing from a majority of EU countries to become law.



with h/t Tom Whipple

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