Thursday, January 31, 2013

Giant heatwave delivers hottest January on record

Giant heatwave delivers hottest January on record:
The monthly result means the September-January period was also the hottest on record, beating the previous three highest in 2002-03, 2006-07 and 2009-10.

Those earlier years “were all El Nino and drought years, whereas that hasn't been a factor this time,” said Blair Trewin, senior climatologist with the bureau's national climate centre. “That makes it even more remarkable.”

Dr Trewin said that while Australia had a variable climate, the recent heat spell should be seen against the backdrop of longer-term warming.


  1. At least it seems they are putting a small dent in their obscene emissions.

    Big switch under way in US energy use: report

    The US is consuming energy considerably more efficiently and with lower emissions than just five years ago thanks to a slew of modern technologies that are changing decades-old patterns, research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance and industry group the Business Council for Sustainable Energy find in a new report.

    The Sustainable Energy in America 2013 Factbook portrays a dynamic and rapidly changing US energy landscape. Natural gas and renewables have gained market share largely at the expense of conventional resources. Energy efficiency is also making a major impact, and as a result energy demand has fallen steeply.

    From 2007 to 2012, natural gas rose to 27.2 per cent of total energy consumption (including electricity, heat, and transportation) from 23.4 per cent, while renewables including wind, solar, biomass and hydropower have jumped to 9.4 per cent from 6.4 per cent. Meanwhile, during the same period, coal declined to 18.1 per cent from 22.5 per cent and oil fell to 36.7 per cent from 39.3 per cent. The winner of all this is US emissions. From 2007 to 2012, US energy-related CO2 emissions declined 13 per cent.


    “Significant changes are occurring in the US energy sector that are boosting investment and accelerating deployment of a range of commercially available clean technologies,” said Lisa Jacobson, President of Business Council for Sustainable Energy. “The 2013 Factbook outlines these dynamics and provides the very latest data, not just on how much is being invested or how much is getting built, but on today's costs for these technologies. Our hope is that the report serves as a useful tool for policymakers and investors seeking the very best benchmarks in the energy sector.”

    The complete report and associated materials are available here.

  2. Has the Green movement got them rattled,a lot of greening going on all of a sudden.

    Japanese whalers ordered out of Australian waters

    The Federal Government has ordered a Japanese whaling vessel to get out of Australia's exclusive economic zone.

    The Shonan Maru Number 2 - a Customs vessel which travels with the whaling fleet - entered the zone off Macquarie Island in the Southern Ocean yesterday afternoon.

    Environment Minister Tony Burke said he had made it clear to Japan that vessels associated with the whaling program "are not welcome in in Australia's exclusive economic zone or territorial sea".

    "Our embassy in Tokyo has conveyed these sentiments directly to the Japanese government," Mr Burke said in a statement.

    Former Greens leader Bob Brown, now the mission leader of the Sea Shepherd anti-whaling group, says he believes the vessel has armed Japanese personnel aboard.


    Mr Brown says the Shonan Maru stopped this morning just outside Australia's territorial waters.

    He says there may be legal arguments about who has control over exclusive economic zones.

    "Tokyo has ignored the call from the Federal Government for this part of the whaling fleet not to enter our exclusive economic zone," he said.

    "It's stayed outside the direct territorial waters but it has not obliged that request and protest from Australia that it should not enter our exclusive economic zone.

    "That is a matter of some affront to Australia and one that I've no doubt the Federal Government will be looking to deal with during today."


    Aquila Resources has won state environmental approval for a proposed port to export iron ore, a key step for the company's planned $7.4 billion iron ore project in Western Australia.

    The biggest hurdle to the Anketell port project, designed to eventually handle 350 million tonnes a year of iron ore, is state clearance for who will build the project.

    Aquila's 50 per cent-owned API joint venture wants to build a 30 million tonnes-a-year mine, a railway and port, but the project has been stalled by delays in securing funding and regulatory approvals, aggravated by volatile iron ore prices.

    On top of those issues, Aquila and its partners, private mining investment group American Metals and Coal International and South Korean steel giant Posco, are locked in a budget dispute.


    The state has said it will not give final approval for the Anketell project until it is certain the project's backers have the funds to justify going ahead with construction, which will depend on the iron ore market.

    Aquila said today that the state environmental green light for Anketell Port clears the way for the federal government to consider the project for environmental approval.

  3. How are Shell travelling?


    Shell sets its sights on a leading role in fracking

    Oil giant posts profit slide, reveals $90m Arctic rig hit and confirms its interest in UK shale gas deal

    Shell has Britain's nascent shale gas industry in its sights after its chief executive, Peter Voser, declared plans to be a "leading player" in the fast-growing global fracking business.

    Fresh from signing a £6bn shale gas deal with the Ukraine at Davos last week, Mr Voser said he was looking at a number of fracking opportunities across Europe, including the UK and Germany. Shell disclosed its interest in UK fracking after revealing a disappointing 6 per cent slump in profits to $27bn (£17bn) for 2012, as its US oil and gas business was hit by rising costs and falling prices. The shares fell nearly 3 per cent to 2,294p.

    The company also revealed a $90m hit from the grounding of its Arctic drilling rig, the Kulluk, near the Alaskan coast on New Year's Eve, after it ran into a storm on the way to Seattle for routine maintenance. It said the Kulluk was not yet repaired, and it was "too early" to say whether its Arctic setbacks would be resolved in time for the drilling season, which runs from July to October. However, Mr Voser pledged his allegiance to the Arctic despite a series of setbacks over the years in the region, where Shell has invested $5bn but has yet to discover commercial quantities of oil.


    Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell is struggling to replace its oil and gas reserves as it pushes ahead with plans to produce more, invest more, and pay a higher dividend.

    Shell was posting quarterly profit that missed expectations on Thursday, rising 15% to US$5.58-billion on an adjusted current cost of supply basis thanks, in part, to stronger refining margins and compared with a forecast for US$6.2-billion.

    Disappointment over a weaker than expected performance in Asia-Pacific and U.S. production was partly offset by the promise of a 4.7% dividend rise in the current quarter. Shell shares were down 1.3% to 2,275 pence by 0910 GMT.

    Analysts say Shell’s strong cashflow outlook justify a higher payout, but are concerned by a reserves replacement ratio that was only 44 percent in 2012 and which Shell expects will average 84 percent over the next three years.

    “They are coming up short on that metric and that is a worry,” Investec analyst Stuart Joyner said.

    The company pledged a net $33 billion capital spending for next year, some of which will go into controversial places such as Nigeria – where a Dutch court this week found Shell’s local subsidiary partly responsible for pollution, and into the Arctic where it suffered a series of accidents last year that have raised new questions about the safety of offshore drilling.

    The world number two among international oil heavyweights said it would keep investing despite headwinds and an uncertain economic outlook in some markets. World number one Exxon Mobil will report results on Friday.


    The Hague: A Dutch court ruled on Wednesday that Royal Dutch Shell’s Nigerian subsidiary was responsible for oil pollution in the Niger Delta and ordered it to pay damages, saying it should have prevented sabotage at one of its facilities.

    The case was seen by environmental activists as a test for holding multinational companies responsible for alleged offences at foreign subsidiaries, but Shell said it would not set a precedent because the parent company was not held responsible.

  4. Can a Small Community Throw a Monkey Wrench Into the Global Fracking Machine?

    Woodstock, the iconic counter-culture capital of the world, has become the first municipality to call for legislation to make fracking a Class C felony.

    While New Yorkers anxiously await Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision on whether to lift the state’s de facto moratorium on high-volume slick-water horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” Woodstock, the iconic counter-culture capital of the world, has become the first municipality to call for legislation to make fracking a Class C felony.

    Woodstock’s action is just one small town’s response to a rapidly escalating global war over fracking. To both sides in this war—environmentalists and citizens who oppose fracking on the one side and the gas industry and its supporters on the other—the upcoming ruling to allow or ban fracking in New York is being viewed as (you should pardon the expression) a watershed event.


  5. Woodside beware.

    US sets it's sights on Japanese LNG.

    A group of Senate Republicans and two centrist Democrats shook up political debates over U.S. natural gas exports Thursday with new legislation that would ensure federal approval of exports to NATO countries and Japan.

    Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and several colleagues floated the bill as the Energy Department (DOE) reviews 16 applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries that don’t have free-trade deals with the U.S.


    In addition to Japan and NATO countries, the new Senate bill would also require DOE to approve exports to other countries if the State Department, in consultation with the Defense Department, determines that it would promote U.S. security interests.


    Begich, in supporting the bill, highlighted Japan’s push to import more gas.

    “In addition to being a key strategic ally for our nation, Japan has been Alaska’s number one trading partner for decades. When I talk to members of the Japanese parliament or officials from Japanese utilities, concern for the security of their natural gas supply always comes up. The U.S. and Alaska have plenty of natural gas to sell to Japan and our NATO allies, and I can’t think of a better place to sell it than to our strategic and economic partners,” Begich said in a statement.

    Japan is already the world’s largest LNG importer, and the 2011 nuclear disaster has further increased its need for outside energy supplies.

    1. A group of United States senators led by those from natural gas producing states has introduced a bipartisan Bill to Congress called - The Expedited LNG for American Allies Act of 2013 - to favour Japan as a recipient of the new US LNG export wave.

  6. There goes the neighbourhood...

    Major strife brewing at Woodside's new address.

    Iran issues threat over Israeli air strike

    Iran has threatened Israel with "grave consequences" after Israeli jets reportedly bombed a Syrian military complex near Damascus.

    Syrian state TV said Israeli jets carried out the raid on the facility at Jamraya, on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, at dawn on Wednesday.

    But a Western diplomat and Lebanese security officials told international news agencies that the attack actually hit an arms convoy, probably carrying advanced surface-to-air missiles to Hezbollah, near the border with Lebanon.

    Adding to the confusion, a local rebel group said it was responsible for the attack, which involved mortar fire on the weapons compound.

    Iran's deputy foreign minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian said the attack clearly demonstrated that foreign-sponsored militants and Israel "pursue the same goals with regard to Syria", and warned Israel not to have faith in its anti-missile defence system.

    That could be a reference to possible retaliation by Hezbollah, which is backed by Syria and Iran, and has missiles stationed in Lebanon, just across the border with Israel.

    Syria's foreign ministry said Israel "and the states that protect it" were responsible for the air strike, and said he affirmed "Syria's right to defend itself and its territory and sovereignty," state news agency SANA reported.

    Syria called on "all the competent UN bodies to take the necessary steps given this grave Israeli violation, and to guarantee that it will not happen again."

    UN chief Ban Ki-moon expressed "grave concern" and called on all parties to "prevent tensions or their escalation in the region."

    He called on all sides to "strictly abide by international law, in particular in respect of territorial integrity and sovereignty of all countries in the region," deputy UN spokesman Eduardo del Buey said.

    Damascus's ambassador to Lebanon, Ali Abdel Karim Ali, stressed Syria's right to respond to "the Zionist aggression."

    Meanwhile, Syria has called in the commander of the United Nations force which observes a decades-old truce between Syria and Israel.

    The Syrian foreign ministry says it lodged an official protest over Israel's violation of the agreement, which dates back to 1974.

    Russia said if the strike was confirmed it would be "a very serious breach of the UN charter".

    Israel has made no comment


    What does seem clear though,if no deal is reached on Iran's nuclear progress,an Israeli strike,backed by the US,is on the cards for mid year.


    Anything could happen from there.

    But a resolve to annialate the State of Israel would be very much hardened from there on in.

    Australia would back Israel making any Australian assets in the area a legitimate target from their many enemies point of view.


    Russia,whose Gazprom's bid for Leviathan was bigger than Woodside's,would back Lebanon,Syria,Iran.

    ""We warn those who are no strangers to military solutions ... that this would be harmful, literally disastrous for regional stability," Interfax quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying.

    An attack on Iran "would set off deep shocks in the security and economic spheres that would reverberate far beyond the boundaries of the Middle East region," Ryabkov was quoted as saying.

    Russian officials have issued similar warnings in the past, but Ryabkov's remarks appeared to underscore Moscow's concern about the possibility that Israel might attack Iranian nuclear facilities."


    Putin warned Israel after the failed bid process that,"only Russia could stop Lebanon targeting it's offshore platforms."

    Russia has armed Hezbollah with advanced cruise missles.


    "Buyer Beware"

    1. Would not be good if a lot of Russians get killed in the raids.

      Russia built Iran's first nuclear power plant,has sold Tehran sophisticated weaponry, and refuses to back further international sanctions over Iran's controversial nuclear program.

      Russia is training hundreds of nuclear scientists to operate the Bushehr plant.

      While Russia is a partner of the United States and four other powers in diplomatic efforts to ensure Tehran does not acquire nuclear weapons, it says the West is undermining those efforts with sanctions and the threat of attack.

      "In recent times the tendency to use sanctions to achieve aims that are beyond reach in principle by means of pressure has become a passion that ... politicians on both sides of the Atlantic cannot overcome," Interfax quoted Ryabkov as saying.

      A permanent U.N. Security Council member with veto power, Russia says it opposes further sanctions beyond the measures approved in four Security Council resolutions.


    Government issues renewable energy challenge
    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    •Challenge to identify new innovation to solve renewable energy problems
    •$50,000 prize to be awarded to winner
    •State Government is encouraging innovation in Western Australia
    The challenge of finding a cost effective solution to the energy concerns predicted to impact residents in the Pilbara and regional Western Australia has been opened to the public.

    The Renewable Energy Technology Challenge, a joint initiative between the Department of Commerce, the Pilbara Development Commission and Horizon Power, has been designed to address the need for a renewable energy smoothing device suitable for premises fitted with solar panels.

    The challenge provides a $50,000 prize to the winner.


    Thursday, 31 January 2013

    Royal Dutch Shell annual LNG sales volumes broke the 20 million tonnes barrier for the first time as output rose in Australia and on the Qatari liquefaction Train it has a stake in.