Monday, June 30, 2014

What's up with Australia's electricity sector? - YouTube


  1. The incredible power of the sun.


    Solar may fuel grid collapse

    The uptake of rooftop solar panels has been so rapid in Perth that it could soon leave the grid dangerously exposed to a "system collapse", an electricity expert has warned.

    Ken Brown, who ran Western Power's network for 20 years until 2012, said the South West electricity grid had been able to handle demand for solar panels safely until now but this could not go on for ever.

    Mr Brown noted that unlike power stations, output from solar or photovoltaic panels could not be reduced or switched off. He said this had not been a problem while the number of solar panels and their combined capacity across the grid were manageable.


    There are about 136,000 Perth and South West electricity customers with solar panels that have a combined capacity of about 350MW - the equivalent of a base-load coal or gas-fired power plant.

    Amid forecasts by State-owned electricity provider Synergy the capacity could rocket to as much as 1500MW by 2020, Mr Brown said solar could soon pose a security risk to the grid.


    Giving the example of a warm weekend day - when businesses were often closed and electricity demand was low - he said 1500MW of solar would represent almost two-thirds of supply.

    "You don't want to put 1500MW of (solar panels) on and then turn around and say, 'I can't run the power system'," Mr Brown said. "Because a nice, warm Sunday in 10 years time - the whole power system might only be 2500MW, so you've got nearly two-thirds of your system on (solar).

    "This is a very insecure way to operate the power system, because if clouds come over the Perth metro area it will significantly reduce the output of the PVs, which could lead to a system collapse in the worst case."

    Sustainable Energy Association boss Kirsten Rose said Mr Brown's warning presupposed Western Power had no control over the amount of solar installed on the grid.

    She said it was also important to remember the grid's ability to handle solar would increase as technology improved. "If anything they (Western Power) are hyper-conservative about letting (solar) on because of the risks they believe it represents to the grid," Ms Rose said.


    Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 09:05 AM PDT.

    Solar Panel Acreage Needed to Power the Entire Planet: 158 mi x 158 mi

    eric lewis

    The three squares on the map, below, represent how much solar panel acreage would be needed to power Germany (marked "D"), Europe (marked "EU"), and the entire planet (marked "Welt"):

    Not that big, right? Just a small chunk of the Sahara Desert in Algeria.

    This, according to a graduate thesis from the Technical University of Braunschweig, by Nadine May: area of 254 km x 254 km would be enough to meet the total electricity demand of the world. The amount of electricity needed by the EU-25 states could be produced on an area of 110 km x 110 km. For Germany with a demand of 500 TWh/y an area of 45 km x 45 km is required, which concerns 0.03 % of all suited areas in North Africa (BMU, 2004b).

    That's just 158 miles x 158 miles (c. 25,000 square miles) to power the whole world. It makes one wonder why the hell we aren't doing this already, though the obvious answer is suppression from Big Oil.


    Update 1:

    Neither this post, nor Nadine May's thesis are in support of actually turning that chunk of the Sahara Desert into a solar array. It is merely an excellent way to visualize how little space we are talking about.

    Originally posted to Animal Nuz on Wed Jun 25, 2014 at 09:05 AM PDT.

    Also republished by Gulf Watchers Group.

    Solar Panels
    Solar Power

    1. Interesting that at the time Woodside and co. were after 2500 hectares or 25 sq.klms. of land at JPP for their gas plants China was planning a 20 sq.klm. solar plant to power over 2 million homes.

  2. Woodside Publishes General Meeting Booklet

    Posted on Jun 27th, 2014

    Woodside released the Notice of General Meeting and Explanatory Memorandum (Meeting Booklet) in relation to the previously announced buy-back of 78,271,512 Woodside shares from Shell Australia .

    The Meeting Booklet contains a report by the Independent Expert, Grant Samuel, which concludes that the buy-back is fair and reasonable to Woodside shareholders (other than Shell and its associates).

    Woodside has also obtained consent to the buy-back as required under a number of its facility agreements.

    Completion of the buy-back is now subject only to Woodside shareholder approval at a General Meeting which will be at 10:00am (AWST) on Friday, 1 August 2014 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, 21 Mounts Bay Road, Perth, Western Australia.

    The Woodside Board recommends that shareholders vote in favour of the buy-back for the following reasons:
    ◾The buy-back is expected to deliver increased dividends per share due to increased earnings per share;
    ◾The buy-back facilitates an orderly reduction in Shell’s shareholding;
    ◾The Independent Expert has concluded that the buy-back is fair and reasonable to non-Shell shareholders;
    ◾Woodside is purchasing shares from Shell at a discount, significantly lower than the price Shell received in the sell-down on 18 June 2014;
    ◾The buy-back is expected to increase the liquidity of Woodside’s shares in the equity market; and
    ◾The buy-back is an efficient and disciplined use of surplus capital that will optimise Woodside’s near-term capital structure.

    Haynes and Jamieson, who were originally nominated by Shell, abstained from voting when the buy-back was considered by the Board.

    Press Release, June 27, 2014


    Slugcatcher prepares for Woodside’s Last Supper

    Monday, 23 June 2014

    BIRTHDAY bash, or Last Supper? That’s a question that at least 800 Woodside Petroleum employees might be asking themselves as Slugcatcher and senior management of Australia’s biggest pure-play oil and gas company sit down for a 60th anniversary dinner on July 3.

    Promoted, when invitations were mailed out a few weeks ago, as a reason to celebrate the foundation of the company as Woodside Lakes Entrance Oil back in the early 1950s, the event has taken on an ominous twist given recent events both in and out of the boardroom.

    The biggest development was the announcement of the long-awaited exit from the Woodside share register by the global petroleum major, Royal Dutch Shell.

    Attracting less publicity, but potentially as important, was a well-sourced story in The Australian that up to 800 Woodside staff might lose their jobs as part of a wide-ranging drive to cut costs at a business, which has promised much and delivered little over the past decade.

    There are reasons for Woodside’s lacklustre results in the field, which include failure to negotiate a way through the government impasse that has mothballed the Sunrise LNG project in the Timor Sea, delayed the Browse LNG project off the Kimberley coast, and seen a walk-out from participation in the Leviathan LNG project off Israel.

    If Woodside was playing baseball it would have have three strikes against its name and would be walking back to the dugout – which is what the unlucky 800 might be doing sometime after the July 3 “celebrations”.

    The same “failure to launch” criticism cannot be levelled at the financial performance of the company though a super-hot dividend payout policy that has put the stock on a 5% yield (better than some banks) is unnatural in the investment world where oil companies are supposed to be growth stocks and banks yield plays.

  3. Slugcatcher prepares for Woodside’s Last Supper

    Times at Woodside are obviously changing, and changing quite dramatically. The failure to deliver growth options is a black mark against management. The generous dividend policy is popular with self-funded retirees chasing yield, and the exit of Shell could be setting the company up as a takeover target.

    Slashing the company’s head count by 20%, which is what 800 jobs boils down, is a signal that anyone wanting to bid had best be prepared to pay a high price because cost-cutting is a way of maintaining the company’s share price when all else fails.

    Potential buyers of Woodside, after it loses Shell as its cornerstone shareholder with a big blocking stake that kept raiders away for the past 20 years, include two obvious suspects: BHP Billiton which has a long association with Woodside’s foundation asset, the North West Shelf LNG project, and Chevron, which is outgrowing Woodside in Australia’s northwest oil province, but actually has a better pedigree.

    Chevron’s roots in the region can be traced back to its time as California Asiatic when it was a co-founder of WA Petroleum and was issued with an exploration licenses covering most of onshore and offshore WA.

    Whether it is interested in a Woodside raid is unknown but it was interesting that one of Australia’s better connected investment bankers, Tom Elliott, floated the idea in a recent analysis of potential mega takeover bids.

    “The company’s North West Shelf projects have created substantial value, yet a management group that stands still for too long eventually gets replaced by a more aggressive competitor,” Elliott wrote.

    In terms of price, he reckons that a bid will have to be pitched at more than $50 a share, about 20% higher than the latest price of the stock.

    Not many of Elliott’s rivals seem to subscribe to his takeover thesis with Woodside stuck in the sin bin of under-performing stocks if current recommendations are considered.

    A quick survey late last week showed that of the seven top investment banks that cover Woodside, none have it as a buy. Three rate it as “underperform” (Credit Suisse, BA Merrill Lynch and Macquarie), and four have it as “neutral” (JP Morgan, Citi, UBS and Deutsche Bank).

    Collectively, the seven banks have 12-month price targets for the stock of $39.99, which is about 3.4% less than its Friday close.

    Looked at in totality, Woodside is a company that has tried hard and, despite a few notable successes in the past 10 years, has failed to deliver on its promises.

    It is very much a case of being a company that over-promoted itself in its small home-town market of WA, and failed to appreciate that in terms of the worldwide oil and gas industry it is a minnow.

    Now comes the time to pay the price, which Elliott suggests is what happens when management fails.

    Unfortunately, before management is called to account, there will be blood-letting among the lower ranks – but only after the Last Supper.

    1. Woodside to buy US LNG

      Woodside has signed an agreement with Cheniere Energy in the US to buy 850,000 tonnes of LNG a year from the Corpus Christi liquefaction project in Texas.

      The company said it would pay 115 per cent of the monthly Henry Hub price plus $US3.50 per million British thermal unit (MMBtu), in line with contracts signed with the other buyers from the project.

      The twenty-year agreement includes an extension option of up to an additional ten years and a mechanism that gives Woodside the option to forgo deliveries with sufficient notice through the payment of $US3.50 per MMBtu for cancelled quantities.

      Cargoes to Woodside from Train 2 of the project are expected to start in 2019.

      Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said the agreement with Corpus Christi Liquefaction complemented Woodside's existing portfolio by providing a new product source that diversified Woodside's LNG product offering.

      "This agreement is a demonstration of how we are extending and enhancing our marketing and trading capabilities and adding value to the portfolio," he said.

      "From a geographic, pricing and specification perspective we expect this US LNG to be attractive to LNG purchasers, complement our existing LNG portfolio and allow us to exploit new opportunities."

      Woodside shares were up nine cents to $41.16 at 8.35am.


      The Corpus Christi Liquefaction Project is being designed and permitted for up to three trains, with aggregate design production capacity of 13.5 mtpa of LNG. Under the SPA, Woodside will purchase LNG on a free on board, or FOB, basis for a purchase price indexed to the monthly Henry Hub price plus a fixed component. LNG will be loaded onto Woodside's vessels. The SPA has a term of twenty years commencing upon the date of first commercial delivery of the second train of the Corpus Christi Liquefaction Project, with an extension option of up to ten years. Deliveries from Train 2 are expected to occur in 2019.




      Huge Russia-China gas deal still leaves door open to Japan

      (Reuters) - For once, China looks to have done Japan a favour.

      In clinching a $400 billion deal last month to buy Russian gas, China may end up helping out its old political and economic rival in a way that matters hugely for Japan - energy security.

      The China-Russia agreement, the biggest gas deal ever, unlocks new gas supplies and could bring down gas prices across Asia, a development that would pay the biggest dividends for Japan, the world's top buyer of liquefied natural gas.

      Other big Asian gas buyers such as South Korea and Taiwan could also benefit.



      The Chinese deal has also revived talk of a pipeline from Russia to Japan. A group of 33 ruling party lawmakers plans to lobby Abe to sign a deal on a gas link with Putin at an estimated cost to build of about $6 billion compared with more than $40 billion for the Chinese pipeline.


      Gazpom plans to build a second plant in Vladivostok by 2018, with a capacity of 10 and 15 million tonnes of LNG per year, and also a spur to the Chinese pipeline to bring gas to Vladivostok.

      Rosneft and ExxonMobil also plan an LNG plant on Sakhalin to produce 5 million tonnes a year from 2018.

      Along with Russian supplies, Japan could also benefit with the United States due to start shipping shale gas from as early as 2015. Other potential sources include West Africa and Canada.

      And faced with potential new supplies, Japanese buyers are holding off from signing long-term LNG contracts starting from around 2017 until there is more clarity on nuclear power, said a source in the natural gas division of a Japanese trading firm.


    3. Japanese Lawmakers to Lobby Abe for Russian Gas Pipeline

      By Tsuyoshi Inajima and Emi Urabe May 28, 2014

      Japanese lawmakers are reviving efforts for a 600 billion yen ($5.9 billion) natural gas pipeline from Russia, which last week signed a supply deal with China, to cut energy costs after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

      A group of 33 lawmakers is backing the 1,350-kilometer (839 miles) pipeline between Russia’s Sakhalin Island and Japan’s Ibaraki prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, Naokazu Takemoto, the secretary general of the group, said in an interview on May 23. He plans to propose the project to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as early as June so it’s on the agenda when Russian President Vladimir Putin visits in autumn, he said.

      The shutdown of Japan’s nuclear reactors after the 2011 Fukushima disaster has spurred renewed interest in the Russia-Japan pipeline link, which has been discussed for more than a decade, Takemoto said. The effort also highlights Russia’s expanding role as a energy supplier to Asia after the country signed a $400 billion deal last week to sell China 38 billion cubic meters of gas annually for 30 years.

      Japan spent a record 7 trillion yen last year on liquefied natural gas imports, more than double the cost three years ago, according to the Ministry of Finance. The country could lower its energy bill by getting gas directly by pipeline rather than more-expensive LNG, which is shipped by tankers, Takemoto said.

      “Building an LNG plant requires a lot of money and makes the per unit cost of gas very expensive,” said Takemoto, who serves in the House of Representatives as a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. “Japan would be better off” buying gas via pipeline, he said.

      China Deal

      The Russia-China accord for gas supplies by pipeline from eastern Siberia was probably reached at a price of $10.50 to $11 per million British thermal units, Bank of America Corp. said in a report yesterday. That compares with a current spot price of $13.30 for liquefied natural gas cargoes delivered to Northeast Asia. Spot LNG prices are at a 19-month low after falling from a record of $19.70 in February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from New York-based Energy Intelligence Group.

      While Japan could buy Russian gas at a cheaper price similar to the China deal if the pipeline is built, Russia would also benefit from the project, said Osamu Fujisawa, a Tokyo-based independent energy economist.

      “Russia wants to extend its market,” Fujisawa said in a phone interview today. “It made a deal with China, and Japan is the next target. Then, Russia doesn’t have to rely on Europe,” which is trying to reduce dependence on the country’s gas supplies amid the crisis in Ukraine, he said.


      The proposed Russia-Japan pipeline is designed to transport as much as 20 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, according to proposals by the group consisting of lawmakers from ruling parties LDP and New Komeito. That’s equivalent to about 15 million metric tons of LNG, or 17 percent of Japan’s imports.



      After 40 year ban, sleeping US oil giant awakes

      After decades of isolation, the United States is set to become a major player in the global trade of ultra light oil as recent government export approvals attract interest across the world.

      Following rulings disclosed this week, US companies can now export the light, gaseous petroleum known as condensate after a forty-year ban, giving them access to needy markets in Latin America and Asia and potentially threatening the dominance of other established producers in the Middle East and Africa.

      Companies are ready to ship condensate from some of the United States' massive oil and gas fields within weeks. By the end of the year, as much as 300,000 barrels could be exported each day, according to analysts at Citi in New York, a timely event as Asian countries increase capacity to import and exporters elsewhere face headwinds.

      "It could have an enormous impact," said Al Troner a condensate expert and president of Asia Pacific Energy Consulting. "It could happen within the next two weeks."

      Up to one million barrels of condensate is produced each day in the United States, all of which can be exported after some basic refining to reduce volatility, known as stabilizing, according to the US ruling. That is double the amount exported by Qatar, the world's leading condensate producer.

      The amount exported and where it goes depends on the kind of condensate that is produced and whether it is the right grade to feed petrochemical plants in China or Japan or to dilute heavy crude produced in Latin America.

      Enterprise Products Partners and Pioneer Natural Resources this week both said that they have received private go-ahead from the Commerce Department to export condensate. Enterprise said it is ready to start exporting anytime.

      Exports of condensate, a major feedstock for the petrochemical industry, will provide the first outlet for the vast amounts of oil and gas now produced in the United States. It will also give an inkling of the impact that a U.S. drilling boom could finally have abroad if other types of crude are approved for export.

      Buyers are already interested, not just in nearby Latin America - the closest destination for US condensate - but further afield in India and east Asia, traders and sources said.

      In Latin America, companies could use condensate as a substitute for naphtha to lighten local heavy crude. Venezuela's state-run oil producer PDVSA and firms operating in Colombia including Ecopetrol and Pacific Rubiales, some of which already buy from West Africa, are "lined up waiting to buy light crudes and condensates if the price is right" said one trader working in crude purchases, speaking on the condition of anonymity.


      Length to tightness

      The Middle East dominates supply of condensate. Qatar and Iran export 760,000 barrels per day combined, about half daily global supply, according to a presentation in November by analysts at Facts Global Energy. Australia and Africa make up most of the rest.

      The majority of supply heads to Asia, where importers like China, Japan and South Korea have build processing plants known as splitters that can turn condensate into naphtha and other oil-related products. In Asia Pacific, splitters can process up to 900,000 barrels per day of condensate, according to Facts.

      But as demand rises, production from existing exporters is faltering. In Australia, where condensate is a by-product of liquefied natural gas production, exports are already declining in part because new gas produced is "drier" than before. In Qatar, domestic demand is set to slow exports. Iranian output has been hampered by sanctions.

      "The condensate market East may move from length to tightness," the Facts report said.

      It remains to be seen if the United States can fill the gap........................


    5. And of course the Woodside ships will fit through the Panama Canal very nicely.

  4. Karoon Updates on Pharos-1 Exploration Well

    Posted on Jun 27th, 2014

    As at 0600 WST on 27 June 2014 preparations were being made to commence drilling in the 6-1/2″ hole section of the Pharos-1 well. The current well depth is 4,950mRT, Karoon gas said in a statement.

    Since the last update, the 8-1/2″ hole section was drilled from 4,570mRT to a depth of 4,950mRT. Two wireline logging runs were completed before 7-5/8′ liner was run to a depth of 4,949 mRT where it was cemented in place. Wireline logging of the 8-1/2″ hole section was undertaken to obtain information to assist future well design.

    Pharos-1, the sixth and final well in the Browse Basin Phase 2 Exploration Drilling Campaign is located approximately 9 kilometres north east of Proteus-1 and will be a further test of the Proteus-Crown trend. Pharos-1 is targeting an extension of the discovery made at Proteus-1 which established excellent reservoir quality and condensate bearing gas in the Montara formation. Pharos-1 is a low risk exploration well with the potential to add considerable resource to any future Poseidon development.

    The exploration campaign, operated by ConocoPhillips, is using the Transocean Legend semi-submersible rig for the final well. The principal objective of the campaign is to better define the size and quality of the hydrocarbon resource within the exploration permits which contain the Greater Poseidon trend. ConocoPhillips is the operator of the WA-398-P Browse Basin permit in which Karoon Gas Australia Ltd currently holds 40%.

    Press Release, June 27, 2014

  5. APPEA: Metgasco Suspension Increases Problems

    Posted on Jun 27th, 2014

    The NSW Government’s decision to maintain its suspension of previously approved exploratory drilling work for natural gas at an unused quarry site in northern NSW sets an alarming precedent for resource development in the state, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) said in a statement.

    The decision suggests that protest action is now considered by government and regulators to be a proxy for “ineffective” consultation, and therefore grounds for license suspension.

    Industry has always recognised there are people with genuine concerns regarding resource development who are open to consultation, science-based evidence, and reasonable negotiation; and there are others who are not.

    The NSW Government has encouraged the actions of protesters intent on stopping natural gas production.

    The Metgasco suspension could raise concerns for any resource project in NSW and reduce certainty for shareholders and employees.

    The Metgasco work program was approved by relevant regulatory bodies, including the NSW Department of Resources and Energy; the NSW Office of Coal Seam Gas, in consultation with advice from the NSW Office of Water; the NSW Department of Primary Industries; the Environment Protection Authority; and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.

    Metgasco’s licence was suspended on 15 May, three days before the approved drilling site preparation work was due to start on a property owned by a Bentley farmer who also supports the project.

    Press Release, June 27, 2014

  6. Senate Inquiry slams monitoring of environmental offsets

    Labor Senator Lisa Singh says a report by a Senate Reference Committee into Environmental Offsets has recommended State Governments not be given greater powers under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act (EPBC).

    Environmental offsets are areas set aside by mining, oil and gas and infrastructure companies to compensate for land lost to their operations and are designed to be a last resort after looking at way to remediate or rehabilitate the land.

    Senator Singh, the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Water, says Labor supports offsets, which it introduced in 2012, but she says the Federal Government is failing to monitor them effectively to see if they're fulfilling their requirements.

    "When it comes to offsets they're not working as they should be," Senator Singh said.

    "If the monitoring isn't working with the Federal Government involved, how is that going to be adequate with the power devolved to the State Governments?"

    The Senate Reference Committee made 21 recommendations, including the EPBC Act Environmental Offsets Policy be revised to provide greater guidance on development in which offsets are unacceptable in 'red flag' areas such as world heritage and critically endangered ecological communities and species.

    Queensland Senator Larissa Waters, the Greens environment spokeswoman who initiated the Senate Inquiry after seeing what she says was the offsets process being poorly managed, now says the report vindicates that position and the Greens have lodged a Minority Report.

    "Based on a wealth of evidence from the community and scientists, the report leaves no doubt that the offsets system is grossly failing to protect our environment," Senator Waters said.

    "Our Minority Report recommends that the government should immediately revoke the approval for the Maules Creek coal mine.

    "Environmental offsets are being used time and again as a smokescreen to pay lip service to the community and give the big mining companies exactly what they want."



    After tiny gains recently, today’s Newspoll puts the government right back to the world of pain it faced immediately after the budget that voters judged to be the worst in 20 years.

    Seven weeks after the Coalition handed down its economic action plan, Abbott is taking all the blows. The Coalition’s primary vote has tumbled to its lowest level since he became leader in 2009.

    His approval ratings are awful and while Shorten’s disapproval is also more than his approval, ­Abbott is three times more ­unpopular.

    And Shorten is preferred as prime minister by a whopping 10 points.


    Liberal push to strip environmental groups of charitable tax status

    The government is being pressed to alter the charitable status of environmental groups after a Liberal MP successfully argued to his party that the groups are not “real charities” like the Red Cross or the Salvation Army.

    A motion introduced by MP Andrew Nikolic to the Liberal federal council called for environmental groups to be stripped of charitable rights, such as the ability to receive tax-deductible donations.

    Nikolic, the federal member for the Tasmanian electorate of Bass, said the groups should not be subsidised for political activism, some of it which he claimed was illegal. The conference motion passed the motion unanimously.

    “Real charities include the Red Cross and the Salvos,” Nikolic told the conference. “Believe it or not, organisations like the Wilderness Society, Australian Conservation Foundation, Bob Brown Foundation and all the environmental defenders offices around Australia are currently recognised as charities as well; the latter provides free legal advice to greens groups.

    “The Bob Brown Foundation currently campaigns against the government and is soliciting tax-deductible donations to fund that campaign, while real charities like St Vinnies and Salvos struggle for donors.”


    Extreme weather official advice rewritten to remove climate change link

    The government has been accused of significantly watering down its official advice on extreme weather after removing mention of links between climate change and events such as bushfires and heatwaves.

    A document on the Department of Environment’s website, aimed at informing the public on how climate change is influencing dangerous weather, has removed an explicit reference linking the two.

    A previous version of the document opened with the statement: “There is a growing and robust body of evidence that climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

    “Australia has experienced an increasing number and intensity of heatwaves, bushfires, flooding and droughts in recent decades.”

    An amendment to the page removes these lines in favour of a general explanation of what extreme weather is.

    The page goes on to acknowledge that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events is “changing” and that “some studies” show a link to climate change, but stresses that it is “difficult to isolate the role of climate change in any given event”.

    .... the previous version of the departmental advice contradicted Tony Abbott’s view that any link between bushfires and climate change was “complete hogwash”.

    The prime minister...., also said Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate chief, was “talking out of her hat” for linking rising temperatures to increased bushfires.



    ".....................Unfortunately, the conversation is a little too shrill, and a little too cast in the context of extremes, and I think this continues to inhibit meaningful progress and meaningful discussion about what we need to do about what lies ahead.

    I may be repeating myself here, but the basic physics of greenhouse warming are very straightforward. The data we have make it very clear that the earth is warming. The data and the physics make it very clear that the bulk of the warming is being caused by human activity."


  8. AND THIS..............?


    Abbott Point dredging proposal leaves ‘significant' environmental uncertainty

    Australian Institute of Marine Science casts doubt on the modelling used to predict the spread of dredge material

    A dredging proposal for the expansion of one of the world's biggest coal terminals near the Great Barrier Reef leaves “significant uncertainty” about the environmental impact of the project, a report undertaken by the Australian Institute of Marine Science has found.

    Freedom of Information documents given to the North Queensland Conservation Council reveal the institute was concerned about the modelling used to predict the spread of dredge material as a result of the Abbot Point expansion.

    The institute ultimately concluded claims that dredging, dumping and expansion would have little impact were flawed because the impact of ocean currents on sediment movement had never been considered.

    They also raised concerns about the accuracy of the monitoring used to assess the impact, the location of monitoring sites, the lack of long-term monitoring and the failure to monitor in areas where sediment moves.

    The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority engaged the institute to undertake the review in 2012, with 3 million cubic metres of dredge material to be dumped in the world-heritage listed marine park area.

    But despite the institute’s concerns, the authority in January approved the dumping of the material in the marine park.

    “Although this dredging activity will be outside of the boundaries of the marine park, substantial amounts of mobile surficial sediment produced by the dredging, suspended sediment and other materials (e.g. nutrients) produced or released by the dredging activity will impact directly upon the marine park,” the review said.

    It comes as India’s Adani Group threatens to scrap plans to expand the Abbot Point coal terminal if a suitable dredging site isn’t found soon, because it could incur losses of $1 billion annually from export delays.

    North Queensland Conservation Council spokesman Jeremy Tager said the documents raised serious doubts about the modelling and monitoring undertaken by port authorities.

    “It’s extraordinary that, in decades of modelling, the impact of ocean currents on sediment movement has never been considered,” he said.

    “It’s clear that the modelling done by state-owned ports is likely to have been inaccurate for years, meaning the impacts of dredging and dumping may be underestimated or completely missed.

    “This faulty information has been relied upon by decision makers in approving dredging and dumping projects.”




    Great Barrier Reef authority approved marina ‘despite serious concerns’

    Officers within the organisation were worried the Great Keppel Island eco-tourism resort could harm water quality and coral

    The Great Barrier Reef marine park authority identified serious reef health concerns related to a large marina development it later approved, according to the ABC.

    The marina is part of a $600m eco-tourism resort on Great Keppel Island, which includes an 18-hole championship golf course designed by Greg Norman, 700 luxury villas, 350 apartments, a beachfront hotel and a 250-berth marina.

    The Queensland and federal governments approved the resort but it was up to the authority to grant permits for the marina project, which requires dredging, and sewage management systems for the resort.

    The authority ultimately granted those permits, with conditions, but documents obtained by the ABC under freedom of information laws show a raft of concerns were raised by officers within the organisation about the potential for reef harm.

    Those concerns included that the environmental impact statement, as it related to a proposed sewage discharge pipeline and sewage irrigation scheme, was often contradictory, vague or missing key information.



    Peru now has a ‘licence to kill’ environmental protesters

    Law exempts soldiers and police from criminal responsibility if they cause injuries or deaths

    Some of the recent media coverage about the fact that more than 50 people in Peru – the vast majority of them indigenous – are on trial following protests and fatal conflict in the Amazon over five years ago missed a crucial point. Yes, the hearings are finally going ahead and the charges are widely held to be trumped-up, but what about the government functionaries who apparently gave the riot police the order to attack the protestors, the police themselves, and – following Wikileaks’ revelations of cables in which the US ambassador in Lima criticized the Peruvian government’s “reluctance to use force” and wrote there could be “implications for the recently implemented Peru-US FTA” if the protests continued – the role of the US government?

    The conflict broke out in northern Peru after mainly indigenous Awajúns and Wampis had been peacefully protesting a series of new laws which were supposedly emitted to comply with a trade agreement between Peru and the US and which made it easier, among other things, for extractive industries to exploit natural resources in their territories. Following a blockade of a highway near a town called Bagua – and an agreement that the protestors would break up and go home, reached the day before – early on 5 June the police moved to clear it and started shooting. In the ensuing conflict, 10 police officers, five indigenous people and five non-indigenous civilians were killed, more than 200 injured – at least 80 of whom were shot – and, elsewhere in the Bagua region, a further 11 police officers were killed after being taken hostage.

    “So far only protesters have been brought to trial,” said Amnesty International in a statement marking five years since the conflict and pointing out that human rights lawyers have said there is no serious evidence linking the accused to the crimes they are being prosecuted for – which include homicide and rebellion. “[S]o far little progress has been made to determine the responsibility of the security forces. Likewise, no progress has been made to investigate the political authorities who gave the orders to launch the police operation.”

    Does this desperate failure of justice not effectively constitute a “licence to kill” for the police? Maybe, maybe not, but whatever the answer Peru has now formalised that licence by emitting a law that, as the Dublin-based NGO Front Line Defenders (FLD) puts it, grants:

    . . . members of the armed forces and the national police exemption from criminal responsibility if they cause injury or death, including through the use of guns or other weapons, while on duty. Human rights groups, both nationally and internationally, the Human Rights Ombudsman (Defensoria del Pueblo) as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights all expressed deep concern about the law. In the words of the [Lima-based] Instituto Libertad y Democracia [IDL], the law equates, in practice, to a “licence to kill.”

    That law, no. 30151, was promulgated in January this year and is, according to the IDL’s Juan José Quispe, a modification of existing legislation passed by the previous government. The modification consists of replacing three words – “en forma reglamentaria” – with another five – “u otro medio de defensa” – which Quispe says means that any soldier or police officer can now kill or injure a civilian without needing to use his or her weapon “according to regulations”, or by using something other than his or her weapon.

    “We continue considering this law as one that grants the armed forces as well as the national police a licence to kill,” Quispe told the Guardian. “It permits a high degree of impunity. During the repression of social protests, police officers and soldiers who cause injuries or deaths will now be exempt from criminal responsibility.”



    New York towns can prohibit fracking, state appeals court rules

    Statewide moratorium imposed in 2008 has kept oil and gas companies from digging into state's share of Marcellus Shale

    Opponents of hydraulic fracturing celebrated a major victory over the oil and gas industry on Monday after the highest court in New York state agreed that cities and towns can prohibit drilling within their boundaries.

    In a 5-2 ruling, the New York state court of appeals affirmed previous court decisions that two towns in upstate New York – Dryden and Middlefield – had the authority to use zoning ordinances to control land use, effectively banning hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. Drillers and landowners that brought the suits against the towns argued that state law prohibited them from blocking fracking.

    A statewide moratorium imposed in 2008 has kept oil and gas companies from digging into New York's share of the Marcellus Shale, and this decision deals another blow to the industry.

    "In New York at least the communities know that they have the power to protect themselves, and we're hopeful that it will be an inspiration to people around the country," said Deborah Goldberg, the lawyer who argued on behalf of the town of Dryden, which was sued by Norse Energy, an Oslo-based petroleum and natural gas company. The Middlefied case was brought by a dairy farm that had leased its land for drilling.

    Goldberg added: "If we had not won this case, localities would be completely at the mercy of the industry."

    Before Monday's court decision, 77 municipalities had passed permanent bans against fracking, and more than 100 municipalities had enacted temporary moratoriums, according to Karen Edelstein, a New York program coordinator at FracTracker Alliance. And roughly 40 towns have passed resolutions in support of gas development, according to the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York.

    1. LOL did anyone hear Bergman on ABC radio this morning ?

      Expect to see him with a pony tail in a tie dyed shirt soon.

      Bloody hippie nimby complaining Buru hasn't come up with the info and Mitsubishi has yet to visit him !

      Apparently fracking could damage the Fitzroy River.

      AS IF !



    The human cost of China's untold soil pollution problem

    Rapid industrialisation has left a legacy of soil pollution that is damaging health and livelihoods in villages across China, reports Chinaidalogue

    When Zhang Junwei’s uncle died in February 2012, he was only 50. In the three years that he had endured the cancer that killed him, surgeons had removed both his rectum and his bladder. “Perhaps he was better off dead,” said Zhang, reflecting on his uncle’s ordeal. “It was a release.” Two years after his uncle’s death, Zhang still refuses to name him, afraid that even now, talking about how his uncle lived – and died – could bring trouble down on the family.

    Zhang’s uncle lived in Fenshui, in Central China’s Jiangsu province, a village of some 7,000 people that straddles a network of waterways on the western shore of Lake Tai, China’s third largest freshwater lake. Lake Tai boasts 800 square miles of fresh water, shared between Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, and has been celebrated throughout Chinese history for its abundant fish and beautiful limestone landscape.

    But as China’s industrial boom gathered speed through the 1990s and the early years of the 21st century, a new, metalled road connected the once sleepy village of Fenshui to the major highway networks being built across China. Factories began to cluster along the lakeshore and the village’s traditional single-story whitewashed houses, with their signature black-tiled roofs, were steadily replaced with two- and even three-storey houses, as factory wages brought a surge of prosperity to Fenshui. Zhang’s uncle, like many of his neighbours, had found work in one of those factories.

    His illness hit the small family hard. His only son was serving in the army when his father fell ill, and the soldier’s wage was too small to cover the medical bills. Zhang’s aunt took a factory job herself to support her sick husband, making the difficult choice to leave him unattended during her working day. The cancer was to consume the family’s savings entirely, all spent in a fruitless effort to save his life. The patient struggled through his final days at home, getting up to see to his own needs until the day he finally collapsed while fetching a drink of water. He died later that day.

    Zhang Junwei (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) believes that the cancer that ended his uncle’s life was caused by soil pollution, a subject so sensitive in China that Zhang himself is still afraid to discuss it openly. Zhang has just turned 40 and, like his uncle, has lived all his life in Jiangsu, near the lake. His village of Zhoutie is just five miles from Fenshui and less than 40 miles from the county town of Yixing, in the heart of the Yangtze Delta, today China’s biggest regional economy. For more than 1,000 years, Yixing and its surrounding countryside was an important source of grain for China, celebrated in poetry as far back as 960 AD for its benign climate and fertile soil..........

  12. The human cost of China's untold soil pollution problem

    Soil pollution has received relatively little public attention in China. Despite the fact that it poses as big a threat to health as the more widely covered air and water pollution, data on soil pollution has been so closely guarded that it has been officially categorised as a “state secret”. Until recently the Chinese government also resisted media efforts to draw attention to local cancer epidemics in China’s newly industrial areas. It was not until February 2013 that the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) finally admitted that “cancer villages” existed in China, and released a list that included the area around Lake Tai and the villages of Fenshui and Zhoutie. Some civil society experts have estimated that there are 450 cancer villages in China, and believe the phenomenon is spreading.

    The story of the cancer hotspot of Yixing is characteristic: in the rush to develop that engulfed China from the 1990s, local officials were eager to invite factories and chemical plants into the area, and their already weak environmental controls were often disregarded entirely. “Government officials just care about GDP,” Zhang complained. “They were happy to welcome any polluting firm.” So, for a time, were the villagers who found jobs in the new factories.

    Unprocessed industrial wastewater discharging from the factories in Zhoutie Town has caused excessive levels of cadmium found in the river silt (Image by Wu Di)


    In April 2014, the government released partial results of a second soil pollution survey, conducted from April 2005 to December 2013, and covering 630 square kilometres (243 square miles) of farmland. The survey reported that about 16.1% of China's soil and about 19.4% of farmland were contaminated.

    China has 135 million hectares of arable land in total, but the amount of available high quality arable land has been dropping due to advancing urbanisation and pollution.


    However, Zhuang Guotai, the head of the MEP’s Department of Nature and Ecology Conservation, has said that cleaning up soil pollution is a difficult and lengthy process that will require huge investment. In some cases, he explained, the pollution the ministry had identified in soil samples could be traced back decades: pollution from the pesticide benzene hexachloride, for instance, a substance banned in the 1980s, was still in evidence.

    Mr Zhuang promised that an action plan to deal with soil pollution will pull together both central and local government and businesses, using market mechanisms to promote soil restoration, with rewards systems in place to encourage public participation. A new law on soil pollution is also promised. But soil remediation is expensive and complex, and there are no easy answers to a pollution nightmare that has brought early death to the afflicted villages, reduced harvests and rendered much of China’s home-grown food toxic.


  13. Dublin shell to Sea shared Workers Solidarity Ireland photo

    Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland)

    A victory was won today by women in the UK who had been sexually abused by secret policemen using relationships with them as cover for their spying. One of the secret police spies had been active in Ireland. The High Court ruled that their was no public interest in the Met (London police) maintaining silence as to whether the 5 had indeed been secret policemen.

    The judge gave Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe 28 days to change the force's defence to either admit or deny that:

    * Officers, as part of their undercover work and using false identities, engaged in long-term intimate sexual relationships with those whose activities the Met wished to observe
    * This was authorised in or acquiesced to by senior management
    * Jim Sutton was such an officer
    * Bob Robinson was such an officer

    With the two other named secret policemen the judge said the Met would have to confirm or deny they were secret police. One of the two was Mark Kennedy (pictured above) who under the alias of Mark Stone spied on activists in Ireland on at least 6 occasions between 2004 and 2006 including at Rossport and the Dublin 2004 EU summit.

    The use of secret police against activists is routine in Ireland, the Irish secret police even videoed the entire Trade Union May day march this year in Dublin from the plinth of the O’Connell monument. Nevertheless the extent of secret police activity against environmentalists and that it included inserting deep cover spies for up to a decade surprised many. It seems certain that Kennedy could not have been operating in Ireland without the active support of the Irish secret police (known as the ‘Special Branch’).

    In the aftermath of the court decisions ‘Police Spies Out of Lives’ the support group for women's legal action against undercover policing released the following statement.


    Where we stand

    The women who are bringing this case, and their many supporters, believe that:
    There are no circumstances in which it would be acceptable for an undercover police officer to engage in intimate relationships with either targets or members of the public under the guise of their undercover identity.

    The fact that this has taken place repeatedly, despite being morally wrong and unjustifiable, shows that within the police forces in the UK there exists:

    * institutional sexism – women have been used to shore up undercover identities, without regard for those women’s right to a private life (whilst men have been affected, evidence so far shows that it is primarily women’s lives that have been abused in this way).

    * institutional prejudice against members of the public who engage in social justice and environmental campaigning, including a disregard for their human rights.

    Both these forms of institutional prejudice must be challenged and stopped; each has reinforced the other.

  14. Dublin shell to Sea shared Workers Solidarity Ireland photo

    Workers Solidarity Movement (Ireland)

    We call for:
    * a clear and unambiguous statement that the abuse has ceased, and will never, in any circumstances, be permitted.
    * the past to be thoroughly and openly investigated, so that the damage may be acknowledged, those responsible may be held to account, and that as a society we may come to terms with what has happened, heal the wounds that have been inflicted and be confident that the practice has ceased.
    * action and change to prevent these human rights abuses from ever happening again, including stronger support for whistle-blowers and greater protection for rights of association and expression.

    Until these things happen, we have no reason to believe that these abhorrent abuses have stopped, or that the police acknowledge their actions are wrong, and that they must change.

    We come from different backgrounds and have a range of political beliefs and interests, and we are united in believing that every woman, and every person, has a right to participate in the struggle for social and environmental justice, without fear of persecution, objectification, or interference in their lives. We welcome allies who wish to engage with the above issues in this spirit of democratic empowerment.

    The eight women bringing this legal action are doing so to highlight and prevent the continuation of psychological, emotional and sexual abuse of campaigners and others by undercover police officers. You can take a stand with them by signing up to the above statement at

  15. via shell to sea

    'Exxon Hates America' Ad Is Logical Follow-Up To 'Exxon Hates Your Children'

    The Huffington Post | By James Gerken

    "It's a serious accusation. And it deserves a serious explanation." That's the message from a trio of environmental organizations who want us to know that "Exxon hates America."

    The ad, from green groups Oil Change International, The Other 98% and Environmental Action, is a follow-up to last year's “Exxon Hates Your Children” video.

    The original ad was slated to air on Fox News in the Houston and Denver markets during the 2013 State of the Union address, but it was pulled at the last minute after Exxon Mobil Corp. gave a cease-and-desist order to Comcast.

    The new ad was released Tuesday and accompanies a crowdfunding campaign to buy airtime across the country.

    "Exxon and Big Oil & Gas have a vision for America that is a nightmare for our communities and our climate," Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, said in a statement Tuesday. "Adding insult to that injury, they're being paid with billions of our taxpayer dollars, while the climate continues to spiral out of control."

    Last month was the warmest May on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Data also show that June will mark the third month in a row with atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations above 400 parts per million, a level not seen in at least 800,000 years.

    (no wonder Exxon is pissed - what an ad !)


  16. What's up with Australia's electricity sector?


    Big savings from renewable energy target but consumers miss out

    DateJuly 3, 2014

    While Prime Minister Tony Abbott says renewable energy significantly increase electricity bills, a new study finds wind energy actually forced down wholesale power prices by more than $3.2 billion over six years - but that little of the savings flowed through to consumers.

    Mr Abbott on Tuesday said the renewable energy target, which has largely driven investment in wind farms, was ''very significantly driving up power prices''.

    ''It's precisely the opposite,'' John Foster, one of the authors of the study that has been submitted to a review of the target, said. "The [target] – and the stimulation of wind – has increased supply and flattened out the expensive peaks."

    For instance, modelling of 30 minutes of heavy demand for electricity in Victoria on January 31, 2011 showed the wholesale price of $1.4 million would have ballooned to $45.6 million had only coal and gas-fired power plants had been able to respond.

    Mr Abbott's statement has been interpreted as signalling his government may weaken or scrap the target requiring at least 20 per cent of power from renewable sources once a review into the scheme is complete.

    Lynette Molyneaux, a researcher at the university's Energy Economics and Management Group, said competition has increased ''phenomenally'' with the introduction of wind farms and the rapid spread of rooftop solar photovoltaic panels.

    Large fossil-fuel generators in the past ''got away with some fantastic events, particularly when demand peaked on a summer's day'', Ms Molyneaux said.

    Once other costs including the purchase of renewable energy certificates were taken out, the target delivered a net benefit of $870 million from 2007 to 2012, the study found.

    Little of that benefit reached consumers, though, with a lack of transparency masking just how much retailers snagged of the gains, Ms Molyneaux said. "We don't see evidence of consumer prices going down."

    Debate over the target is expected to intensify with coal baron Clive Palmer saying last week his party will use its balance of power in the new Senate to preserve the existing target – now set at 41,000 gigawatt-hours of renewable energy by 2020 – until at least 2016, whatever the recommendations of the government's hand-picked review panel.

    Environment Minister Greg Hunt, meanwhile, on Wednesday dubbed a plea by 25 Coalition backbenchers for exemptions from the target for aluminium producers as a ''very constructive solution''.

    "We are all working towards a common ground of making sure that we are protecting jobs and investment on the one hand, reducing emissions on the other, and finally doing our best to take the pressure off electricity prices," Mr Hunt said.

    The aluminium industry already receives exemptions from the target of about 90 per cent.

    Among the states, Victoria was the biggest beneficiary, snaring $2.37 billion of the $3.2 billion in wholesale savings. It hosts the second-largest wind turbine capacity of the states and can tap the largest – in South Australia – because of good transmission connections, the researchers said.

    NSW lagged with only $136 million in wholesale savings because of its modest wind farm presence, while wind farm-free Queensland had barely any savings at all.

    By 2012, wind farms were also responsible for reducing carbon emissions at the rate of 4 million tonnes a year, the study said.

    Separately, the latest Cedex report by energy consultants Pitt & Sherry found carbon emissions from the National Electricity Market fell 10.4 per cent, or 18 million tonnes, in the two years of the carbon tax.

  17. What's up with Australia's electricity sector?


    Big savings from renewable energy target but consumers miss out

    A fall in electricity demand contributed part of the drop, as did a switch to more wind and hydro electricity. Coal supplied 73 per cent of the power to the National Electricity Market – which serves eastern Australia – a year to the end of June, almost certainly a record low, according to Hugh Saddler, principal consultant with Pitt & Sherry. Gas supplied 12.7 per cent, hydro 9.6 per cent and wind 4.7 per cent.

    Windy conditions over the past week saw wind farms supply 14.5 per cent of the generation in NSW, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria from Monday to Saturday.

    At 4.25am on Friday, South Australia's wind generation exceeded demand in the state for the first time, according to Infigen Energy, a wind farm operator.

    ''The greatest significance of these figures is probably the demonstration that the [market] is sufficiently robust to be able to accommodate such large shares of wind generation, with no effect on the supply of electricity to consumers,'' the report said.