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India coal auction ‘revenue bonanza’ – and more data Delhi air pollution is worse than Beijing’s

The sale of India’s coal blocks continues, with recent auctions generating a ‘revenue bonanza’, according to the Financial Express. The auctions follow the Supreme Court’s decision last year to cancel the allocation of 204 coal mines.

Coal India’s move to push out large volumes of coal into the market ahead of the end of the financial year – amid a decline in demand – has meant the power price has dropped, the Economic Times reports.

A Reuters comment piece examines how realistic the Indian government’s target to double coal production in the next five years is – concluding it’s “too heroic”.

Meanwhile, a report covered by Times of India found that Delhi’s total number of “bad air“ days in 2014 have far outnumbered Beijing’s, it has no concerted plan to combat the problem.

China coal imports slump – and air pollution film censored

China coal imports have dropped for a second consecutive month. They fell by 9.1% in February from January – and fell 33% year on year – according to shipping data from customs.

Shipments were impacted by quality inspections at Chinese ports and slower demand during the Lunar New Year holiday, Reuters reported.

Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday the government would target economic growth of about 7 percent this year, down from 7.4 percent in 2014 and signalling the slowest expansion in a quarter of a century for the world’s biggest coal consumer, the Sydney Morning Herald noted.

Meanwhile, the BBC reports that China’s Under the Dome documentary about the health impacts of air pollution has been taken offline. It went viral, with over 100 million views and sparked debate on China’s Weibo social media platform.

Oil price could pick up later this year, OPEC says

WSJ reports OPEC Secretary-General Abdalla El-Badri said the global crude-oil market will return to balance in the second half of this year as demand growth picks up and high-cost producers trim output amid lower prices.

Traders – such as Trafigura, Vitol and Guvnor, as well as Shell and BP –  that have been storing oil since the start of the year are selling some supplies back into the market, completing a trade-play that made oil storage profitable, and re-injecting fuel into an already oversupplied market - according to Reuters.

An analyst writes in The Street that they don’t think oil prices haven’t bottomed out yet – as some think due to oil rig shutdowns.

Bloomberg reports deadly attacks on Libyan oil installations in recent days have resulted in what could be long-lasting damage to the industry that affects oil markets.

Also, firefighters were working over the weekend to put out a derailed train loaded with crude oil in Illinois – this is the last in a series of derailments in North America involving trains hauling crude oil, heightening focus on rail safety, NBC writes.

Meanwhile, in the UK, City AM reports PwC has said if oil prices remain subdued at $50 per barrel it would create an extra 121,000 jobs in 2016 compared to if prices had stayed at their mid-2014 level of $108 – and the economy could be boosted.

In related news, Lord Browne, the former BP chief executive, plans to exploit the collapse in oil prices to build a major new company using $10bn of Russian cash, the Guardian’s Terry Macalister writes.

Big Six challenged on prices by Ovo

Some of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers are “loss-leading” on their cheapest deals, the head of small supplier Ovo Energy has claimed, urging competition authorities to ban the practice, The Telegraph reports.

Calls for variable energy tariffs to be cut to reduce the number of people overpaying for gas and electricity have been rejected by the energy and climate change secretary, Ed Davey, on competition grounds – The Independent reports.

In related news, Ofgem is considering approving proposals for undersea links to the grid in France and Denmark, but may drop a planned connection to Ireland designed to provide the UK with access to Irish wind farms, according to Business Green.

In other news

Clean energy and transport projects across the US created 47,000 new jobs last year, writes Business Green’s James Murray.

Climate News Network reports the price consumers pay for the fossil fuels we use are appreciably lower than their true cost to society, US researchers say, and by the same logic renewables are seriously over-priced.

Experts are divided on whether the European Commission’s proposals to foster an Energy Union are strong enough to drive forward energy efficiency measures, and in particular the renovation of existing buildings, according to EurActiv.

General Electric expects to supply 150MW wind turbines for projects in Poland by the end of the year.

Arctic sea ice could set an ‘ominous’ new record this year, reports the Washington Post.

A Swiss pilot has begun the first ever attempt to fly around the world in a plane propelled only by the sun, The Guardian reports.

The Telegraph reports plans to replace one of Britain’s oldest wind farms with new turbines almost three times as tall will have a “devastating” effect on the Lake District, campaigners have warned.