OILPRICE told us Canada is considering using nuclear reactors in its Alberta oil sands. Canada’s tar sands deposits of bitumen or extremely heavy crude oil, are the world’s largest. They consist of a mixture of crude bitumen, a semi-solid form of crude oil, admixed with silica sand, clay minerals, and water. According to the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration, the oil sands now account for approximately 170 billion barrels, or 98%, of Canada’s oil reserves. Now Toshiba is developing “mini” nuclear reactors to be used to mine the oil sands, with an initial deployment projected by 2020. Since mining the oil sands is very water intensive (with all the externalities that entails in terms of pollution and negative impacts on wildlife habitats), the reactor will be built underground using steam that is heated and pumped underground. The reactor will produce only 10,000-50,000 kilowatts of electricity or about one to five percent the power of a regular nuclear reactor, according to company sources.

“The wisdom of dotting Canada’s remote northern landscape with mini reactors has yet to be debated, but with Harper’s conservative government and the figures stated above, it seems likely that mini reactors in the Great White North are most likely a done deal.”

AOL Energy had an infographic on US energy independence.

The European Union’s carbon emissions trading scheme (ETS) made the news this week as the price of carbon crashed to a record low. The Guardian reported the price of a permit to emit a tonne of carbon fell to €2.81 after an EU vote against a proposal to support the struggling market. This is well below the high of €32 a tonne. The purpose of the ETS is to set a market price for carbon to reduce emissions from Europe’s entire energy and industrial sectors.  However, since its inception it has been plagued by an oversupply of permits due in part to over-generous initial allocations following lobbying by industry. Analysts believe a carbon price above €20 is needed to give electric utilities the incentive to make serious switches to lower carbon energy generation. Otherwise the ETS will have no effect on carbon emissions in Europe.  See also Der Spiegel Wake-Up Call: A Disastrous Week for Carbon Trading, Climate Spectator SocGen slashes EU carbon forecasts for 2013-2015 by 30% and theenergycollective Clean Energy in Europe Suffering from Falling CO2 Prices.

What a difference a decade can make. Der Spiegel said US shale oil and gas is tilting the world’s geopolitical balance in its favour. “The United States is sitting on massive natural gas and oil reserves that have the potential to shift the geopolitical balance in its favor. Worries are increasing in Russia and the Arab states of waning influence and falling market prices.”  In a related piece the same source wrote that Russia’s Gazprom’s dream of ruling the natural gas world is coming tumbling down. “Energy giant Gazprom is no longer the powerhouse it once was. The company is losing its tight grip on the European market and its rivals are gathering steam. The world’s largest producer of natural gas might even lose its export monopoly.”

The Petroleum Economist posted that the UK’s vast shale gas reserves could lower European natural gas prices. The publication reports that a new study to be released in the next few months will describe the extent of the UK’s large shale gas reserves and their likely impact on UK and European natural gas prices.

A major shale oil deposit has been found in Australia reported AFP. Australian resources firm Linc Energy said it has uncovered a huge shale oil deposit in the nation’s vast outback that could be worth as much as Aus$20 trillion (US$21 trillion). Estimates place the deposit as large as 233 billion barrels. Officials cautioned that it was too early to say whether the oil could be profitably brought to market. See also 9News ‘Oil in five years’ from SA oil deposit.

The eurasia review profiled Qatar. Qatar holds the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and is the single largest supplier of liquefied natural gas. The Middle East country is also a member of OPEC and is a significant net exporter of oil.




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