TomDispatch covers The Desperate Plight of Petro-States as continuing low crude oil prices play havoc with the budgets and civil society of many nations whose economies are tied to the fate of world oil markets.

“Pity the poor petro-states. Once so wealthy from oil sales that they could finance wars, mega-projects, and domestic social peace simultaneously, some of them are now beset by internal strife or are on the brink of collapse as oil prices remain at ruinously low levels…Now, with oil below $50 and likely to persist at that level, they find themselves curbing public spending and fending off rising domestic discontent or even incipient revolt.


Some petro-states like Venezuela and Iraq already appear to be edging up to the brink of collapse. Others like Russia and Saudi Arabia will be forced to reorient their economies if they hope to avoid such future outcomes. Whatever their degree of risk, all of them are already experiencing economic hardship, leaving their leaders under growing pressure to somehow alter course in the bleakest of circumstances — or face the consequences.”

Meanwhile The Telegraph writes about how the Scottish city of Aberdeen, the capital of the North Sea oil boom, is now in decline as oil prices plunged in the past couple of years.

Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of research firm IHS Inc., commented on how the energy world will look over the next several decades. In his view hydrocarbons will still be dominant by 2040 but renewables will be a growing part of the energy mix. In terms of new-build in North American electricity, all the new capacity will either be natural gas or renewables. Yergin added:

“I think people don’t understand how pervasive oil and gas is in our world, not just in terms of transportation, not just in terms of fuel, but in everything from your cellphone to cosmetics. I think also the ironic thing is that if shale gas and shale oil hadn’t come along, world energy prices would be much higher.”

Asked about the next big game changers in the world of energy economics, Yergin pointed to energy storage of electricity and carbon capture and storage:

What’s next? The one to keep your eye on is what happens with storage of electricity — of renewables, of electricity. That could be the next game-changer. Another one would be some new way that is cost-competitive of capturing carbon. CCS, carbon capture and storage, is feasible but it’s expensive.

Earlier this month Denmark abandoned plans to build five offshore wind power farms amid fears the electricity produced there would become too expensive for the nation’s consumers. Danish corporate and household consumers already pay the highest electricity prices in Europe. Denmark produced more than 40% of its electricity from wind power last year and has a goal of increasing this share to 50% by 2020.

Volkswagon looks to invest up to €10 billion (£7.6 billion) in a major new battery factory as it attempts to reposition itself as a leader in the electric car market. Previously the German automaker had announced plans to sell one million electric and hybrid vehicles a year by 2025 and to invest more in batteries. Now there are rumours it plans to produce a massive new battery factory. The rationale behind car makers building their own battery factories is to give them independence from the Asian manufacturers which currently dominate the market. Volkswagon will likely build the factory in Germany, Eastern Europe or Asia.

Uno-X Hydrogen AS has partnered with Norway’s Praxair (a leading producer of industrial gases) in order to create a hydrogen fuel infrastructure in Norway. The companies plan to install 20 new hydrogen stations in the Nordic country by 2020. These stations will be located in the country’s major cities.

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