The shale oil and gas revolution in North America may put OPEC out of business  noted Bloomberg.  The combination of shale oil and gas finds in the US and Canada is threatening the existence of OPEC, according to analysts at Citigroup, Inc.

“OPEC should find it challenging to survive another 60 years, let alone another decade,” analysts led by Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup in New York, said in a report released today. “The United States should see its role in the world as a singular superpower enhanced and prolonged.”…A shift toward natural gas as a transportation fuel may further undermine the power of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Morse said in the report titled “Energy 2020: Independence Day.”

See also CNBC US Is on Fast-Track to Energy Independence: Study.


OILPRICE asked: Is Europe Next for a Shale Natural Gas Boom?  The question is of some importance now that major oil companies Chevron and Shell are going to start drilling in the Ukraine and Romania. If substantial finds of shale gas arise, Russia’s stranglehold over the natural gas market in Eastern Europe could be gone. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that, combined, Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania may hold many trillion cubic feet of shale natural gas. The same agency puts the reserve estimate for shale natural gas at 42 trillion cubic feet.  That is enough gas to make both Romania and the Ukraine energy self sufficient. In parts of Europe, however, nearly 70% of the gas consumption is covered by imports and as much as 90% of that amount is from Russia.

Energy Trends told us coal will surpass oil usage by 2020. A report issued by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that coal will outpace oil as the world’s most popular fuel source within 10 years driven by Chinese and Indian demand.

The boost in coal use is due to extreme growth in emerging markets like China and India, countries that require cheap fuel sources for electricity production in order to support their quickly growing infrastructures and populations. At current rates of growth, the IEA says that it expects that coal consumption will rise to 4.32 billion tonnes of oil equivalent versus 4.4 billions tonnes of oil per year worldwide within only four years; with that trend continuing, coal would quickly overtake oil as the world’s fuel source of choice….

As the United States focuses more on shale gas reserves, India is expected to become the second largest coal consumer in 2017, ranking only behind China. For its part, ever-growing China will remain the world’s largest coal consumer, accounting for more than half of global consumption, for the foreseeable future, with the IEA predicting an increase in Chinese demand for coal of 3.7 percent per year, dropping to 2 percent per year in the case of an unexpected slowdown of the world’s most quickly expanding economy.

National Public Radio discussed the potential for mini nuclear reactors. The US government is investing millions of dollars in a new wave of nuclear reactors. The plan is to build hundreds of mini-reactors, dot them around the country and export them overseas. The industry says mini reactors will be safer and “will be small enough to build in a factory and ship on trucks, like prefabricated houses. They’ll generate about one-tenth the power of a typical nuclear power plant.” These reactors would replace aging coal-fired electricity plants both at home and abroad, and would be affordable for developing countries new to the nuclear business.

“…these reactors are so small and self-contained, they are almost “plug and play.” Smaller, cheaper, with less staff — it’s your entry-level nuclear reactor, perhaps coming online in about a decade.”

Chemical & Engineering News said the European Union’s carbon emissions trading scheme is in freefall caused by the Great Recession. The implications are that Europe will not be able to meet its carbon emissions reduction goals.

“The European Union carbon emissions trading scheme­—the biggest in the world and the heart of Europe’s climate-change program—is in dire straits. The scheme’s carbon price has collapsed. The primary reason: The economic recession has suppressed manufacturing, thereby reducing emissions and creating a huge oversupply of carbon emissions allowances…If the low carbon price continues, the region’s ability to meet long-term reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions will be severely hampered because the trading scheme will fail to provide money for cleantech programs and incentive for manufacturers to adopt cleaner technologies.”

Der Spiegel wrote about wind’s slow growth future in Europe. After a decade of double digit growth rates, the wind sector is being hit hard by financial austerity in many economically depressed countries, changing energy policies, and evaporating investors. Wind’s growth rate is expected to drop to 6% by 2020 and 4% by 2030 as European nations cut back on subsidies to renewable energy sources which makes it difficult for them to compete with coal and natural gas. As renewable subsidies increased, electricity prices soared creating an unhappy electorate across the EU. So politicians are looking for ways to moderate if not reduce those electricity prices. As the author points out: “In tough economic times, politicians are looking at every little thing to cut. And high energy prices have made renewables a target for politicians looking to score points.”

The West African country of Ghana has a goal of 100% electricity coverage by 2016. Currently 74% of the population of 25 million have access to electric power.

The ambitious European Desertec project to develop solar energy across North Africa and the Middle East (MENA) has run into roadblocks and is changing direction. (You can find background information on Desertec here and here.)  SolarServer reported political instability across the region (such as the Arab Spring in Egypt) has frightened off private investors and two corporate participants (Siemans and Bosch) have quit the project.  Meanwhile, encumbered by its own austerity measures back home, Spain has withdrawn its support.  Spain is critical as it is is one of the points where solar electricity generated in the MENA region must travel through to reach Europe. Europe hopes to get 15% of its electricity from the MENA region by 2050. Desertec recently announced that it will shift its focus towards integration of Europe and MENA energy markets rather than continue to try to develop projects in the desert. See also PV Magazine Desertec to focus on EU MENA connection.

The US has launched a complaint at the World Trade Organization (WTO) over India’s domestic content requirements in its national solar policy program we learn from Climate Spectator. The US says the policy violates global trading rules by requiring domestic and foreign solar energy producers to use Indian-manufactured solar cells and modules and by offering subsidies to those developers for using Indian equipment instead of imports. Under WTO rules, the United States can request a WTO dispute settlement panel to hear its complaint if consultations with India do not resolve the dispute within 60 days. Recently the WTO ruled against the Canadian province of Ontario for using “local content” rules for its green energy initiatives. Canada has appealed this ruling. See also Climate Spectator  Trade fights could lead to solar zoning.


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