The global oil & gas crunch: fracking trouble, new gas, oil guesswork
Reuters reports that shale firms are slashing their budgets for new exploration. The New York Times heads to North Dakota, once home to an oil boom now with “an empty feeling”, whilst Grist notes that amidst the strife waste from shale operations is more likely to end up in poor or non-white communities.
In the UK the Times reports that 150 North Sea rigs could be scrapped within the decade, but it’s not all doom and gloom for the embattled gas sector. A substantial portion of the UK’s flagship today programme was dedicated to the opening of a new gas terminal in the Shetland islands, set to supply 8% of the UK’s gas needs from the remote “West of Shetland” frontier.
And there are other upsides. The indomitable fossil fuel exponent Matt Ridley claims that “cheap oil is here to stay” thanks to fracking (not exactly what investors had in mind) whilst The Telegraph suggests that oil shares may offer “the same returns as housing in the 90’s” when the oil price recovers – which Bloomberg doesn’t think it will.
Reminder: With flooding hitting the UK again and a decision on fracking expected imminently, our special on fracking & flooding by @christineottery maps out the 20% of the UK’s licence blocks which substantially over-lap with flood zones.
Coal: Meltdown continues (except in Japan), UK coal giant warns government over shutdown
More than half of the mines in Queensland, Australia are losing money prompting one (albeit fairly one-sided) outlet to ask if the Australian coal industry is having its “oh shit” moment. In South Africa the more balanced FT reports on troubles and job losses in the embattled mining sector whilst Croatia has abandoned plans for a new coal fired power plant.
Again, though, it’s not one-way traffic. In Japan, still reeling from the shut-down and slow restart of its nuclear reactors post-Fukushima, the government is looking to give conditional approval to several new coal plants, something almost no other advanced industrial economy is doing. And in the UK the owner of the country’s largest coal power plant, Drax, has warned the government won’t be able to keep its pledge to take coal off-stream by 2025 unless it throws money at alternative forms of energy, like, say, biomass (which Drax would very much like to burn instead).