Friday, 27 January 2012

Shale gas: Good news for Poland, bad news for Gazprom and the greenies

Bad news for Gazprom and the greenies - and the French and Bulgarian governments (who have made the incredibly stupid decision to ban shale gas exploration):

There is no need for new legislation to regulate shale gas exploration in the European Union, according to a study published Friday that proposed the bloc adopt a low profile on the controversial issue.
The study, carried out by a consultant and authorized by the European Commission, the EU's executive body, says that existing legislation on exploration and production of fossil fuels, chiefly designed to guarantee safety and to protect the environment, can apply to both conventional and unconventional gas.

"The legal study confirms that there is no immediate need for changing our EU legislation," Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said in a statement. "We take environmental concerns seriously and will continue to monitor the development of shale gas extraction in the EU."

Good news for Poland:

A study by the European Union's Directorate General for Energy, concluding there is no need for new legislation to regulate shale gas exploration, is a good signal to markets, Polish Treasury Minister Mikolaj Budzanowski said Friday.

(Poland, which intends to get rid of its dependence on Russian gas, may have enough shale gas to meet its needs for 300 years, according to a U.S. Department of Energy estimate published last April.)

Thursday, 26 January 2012

President Klaus: The present EU is a straightjacket blocking economic activity

Czech President Václav Klaus is always worth listening to. In a key-note speech given at the 13th GCC Industrialists’ Conference in Riyadh, Klaus describes what went wrong with the European project, "which started with a rational and undoubtedly positive idea of its founders to liberalize Europe, to open it up, to eliminate barriers existing at the borders of European countries, to form a free trade zone and a customs union, to create a common market and a large interconnected economic space":

The overal liberalization and the removal of barriers were replaced by a different project – by centralization, regulation, and standardization, by harmonization of most of economic activities and economic parameters, by radical shift of competencies from individual member countries to the EU headquarters in Brussels, by the change of the whole concept of integration from intergovernmentalism to supranationalism, by de-nationalization of European member states and by a shift towards European governance. A fundamentally heterogeneous European continent, which flourished in the past because of its diversity and non-uniformity, has been gradually artificially unified and homogenized by a centrally organized governance and legislation. It brought about negative economic effects and led to what is called a democratic deficit (or lack of democratic accountability). I call it postdemocracy.
This very problematic tendency has been accelerating in time with crucial turning points connected with both the Maastricht and Lisbon treaties. At a lower level of integration, the consequences of centralization had not been that dramatic. In the era of a deeper integration, the existing European heterogeneity became more and more in contradiction with the institutional uniformity, which turned into a form of straightjacket and keeps blocking the economic activity.
The most important moment in this process was the establishment of the European Monetary Union and the introduction of common currency in a group of originally 12, now 17 countries that do not form an optimal currency area. The current Eurozone sovereign debt crisis is an inevitable consequence of one currency, one exchange rate, one interest rate for countries with very different economic parameters. The political decision about this arrangement was taken without sufficient attention being paid to the existing economic fundamentals. I have to say that some of us have been criticizing this project for years, as early as in the early 1990s.

Read the entire speech here


The problem is that the failed European system that Klaus describes so well is almost impossible to change, at least to the better. It is therefore likely that the required reforms will take place only after a deep economic and social crisis.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Taiwan´s gift to China: Democracy

Taiwan´s newly re-elected president Ma Ying-jeou chose his words well, when he presented a gift to the leaders of communist China:

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou said this month's presidential vote was the island's "best gift" to China, hailing the potential for the poll to show the path to democracy on the mainland.
Ma has said hundreds of millions of people in mainland China watched Taiwan's presidential candidates debate live on television last month for the first time through the Internet.

The poll, which saw Ma re-elected, could inspire Chinese democracy supporters, he said in a statement released by the Presidential Office.

"The peaceful election, a sign of democracy taking roots and bear fruits on the soil of a Chinese community, will make them feel that this will also happen on the mainland," the statement said.

"I believe this is the best gift from us to the mainland."

Read the entire article here

It may take some time before China understands the value of Taiwan´s gift, but good things are worth waiting for .....

Obama wants to use the shale gas revolution in his re-election campaign

When it has become clear that the hundreds of thousands of "green" jobs that he promised, have not - and will not be - created, president Barack Obama now evidently wants to use the enormously succesful shale gas revolution - in which he has played no role - in his campaign to get re-relected.

President Barack Obama pushed drilling for gas in shale rock and support for cleaner energy sources to boost the economy in his final State of the Union address before facing U.S. voters in November.
Hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting water, sand and chemicals underground to free gas trapped in rock, could create more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade, Obama said yesterday. The process, called fracking, is among a list of energy policies Obama said would fuel economic growth.

“We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years, and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy,” Obama said.

Obama reiterated support for conservation and cleaner sources of power and pledged more oil drilling as part of an ‘all-out, all-of-the-above’’ policy “that’s cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.” He said domestic energy production is at an eight-year high and imports of foreign oil were declining, prompting criticism from Republicans.

California Republican representative Darrell Issa quite rightly commented that the shale gas revolution is not happening as a result of any efforts of Obama´s:  

“It’s just a blind accident, if in fact we are producing more oil or natural gas than in previous years, because it’s not because of any of his efforts,” Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said after the speech.

Read the entire article here

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Great news from the US and Canada: Media not interested in global warming

A Canadian feature writer is whining about the continiously diminishing interest of US and Canadian media to write about global warming and "climate change":

Even as dust storms rolled over Phoenix, fires ravaged Texas, tornadoes flattened towns like Goderich, Ont., and rivers flooded many regions, mentions of climate change in newspapers and on broadcast media in North America decreased substantially.
According to the Virginia-based news aggregator, coverage dropped by 20 per cent from 2010 and by more than 40 per cent from 2009.
Last year at least 7,140 journalists and opinion writers published some 19,000 stories on climate change, as opposed to more than 11,100 reporters who filed 32,400 stories in 2009.
“The decline was seen across almost all benchmarks measured by the news service: 20 per cent fewer reporters covered the issue in 2011 than in 2010, 20 per cent fewer outlets published stories, and the most prolific reporters on the climate change beat published 20 per cent fewer stories,” wrote editor Douglas Fischer, whose organization tracks both U.S. and Canadian media.

Andrew Weaver, with the imposing title "Canada Research Chair in climate modelling and analysis at the University of Victoria" thinks that he has found a way to end the desperation of the warmists:

“I think the next phase will be a bunch of good news stuff, solutions,” he says. “Like, ‘Hey we’ve got this solar power going here,’ or ‘Look at this wind power there.’
“Frankly I wish there was more of that because there is a lot of solutions out there but we’re just not focusing on them.”

Read the entire article here

Yes, we are indeed looking forward to more "solutions" like this, this and this!

Monday, 23 January 2012

Lithuania and Ukraine join Poland in the shale gas revolution

Fortunately, not all East European countries are - like Bulgaria - prepared to give in to pressure from Russia and the greenies. Ukraine and Lithuania are ready to join Poland in the shale gas revolution in order to end their dependence on Russian gas:.

The Polish oil company Lotos says it will start prospecting for shale gas in neighbouring Lithuania, which wants to break the current monopoly held by Russian giant Gazprom.

Experts say Lithuania may have sufficient reserves of gas trapped in shale -- sedimentary rock containing hydrocarbons -- to cover its needs for between 30 to 50 years.

Read the entire article here

Also a domestic Lithuanian oil producer is going to invest in shale gas:

Minijos Nafta UAB, a Lithuanian oil producer, plans to invest 10 million litas to explore shale gas in the west of the Baltic nation, LETA/ELTA reports, referring to Bloomberg.
The company, which has a license to search for shale gas, plans to drill its first exploration well this year, the Gargzdai-based company said today in a statement on its website.

Read the entire article here

Ukraine´s Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Boiko says that his country plans to produce 10 -15 million cubic meters of shale gas in five years:

Ukraine will be able to produce 10-15 billion cubic meters of shale gas in five to seven years, Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Boiko has said live on Inter TV Channel. He said that these figures were based on the relevant experience of other countries.
The minister said that three companies would participate in an auction to obtain licenses for geological exploration and shale gas production at the Oleska and Yuzivska areas. As for the environmental component of shale gas production in Ukraine, the minister assured that he did not expect any threats. "We have studied U.S. experience in this matter and we have not seen any environmental threats," Boiko said.

Read the entire article here

Danish economist: Greece and Portugal will leave the euro zone

Money, money, money
Always sunny
In the rich man's world
All the things I could do
If I had a little money
It's a rich man's world

(From the old Abba hit)

Yes, it is all about money. After all the previous rescue packages and bail-outs, Greece and Portugal again need more money. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble today said that he wanted a second bailout program for Greece, and in Lissabon investors, economists and politicians are convinced that Portugal also will need a second bailout, reports the WSJ.

However, the Chief Economist of the Danish Saxo Bank, Steen Jakobsen is probably more realistic in his forecast:

The euro currency does not work for Greece or Portugal and they will eventually leave the euro zone, an economist told CNBC.

They will leave the euro but stay within the European Union because it is very difficult to leave the EU in terms of security policy and foreign policy. You want to be part of it but only linked to it and that is increasingly what a number of countries want to do," Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank said.
Jakobsen said that some countries within the euro zone would rather be one of the 10 that are currently outside of the zone but form part of the broader 27 countries of the EU.

Jakobsen does not think that a return to the drachma would be catastrophical for Greece:

"First of all there is a significant amount of local money from Greece now positioned in the U.S., Germany and elsewhere. If it was devalued this money would be flowing in and buying utilities, railways and telecom companies. If there was devaluation there could be huge advantages for companies," he added.

Read the entire article here

Putin´s aim is to stay in power for the rest of his life - but he will not succeed

The opinion page editor of the Moscow Times, Michael Bohm has written a must read article about why Russia´s de facto dictator Vladimir Putin aims to stay in power for the rest of his life:

According to The New Times Oct. 31 cover story, "Russia, Inc.: How Putin and Co. Divided Up the Country," Putin and his inner circle control from 10 percent to 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product (from $140 billion to $200 billion) through inside deals. Andrei Illarionov, former economic adviser to then-President Putin from 2000 to 2005, described Putin's "Russia, Inc." as "a corporatist state model." U.S. diplomats put it a little less diplomatically in cables that WikiLeaks published a year ago, describing Russia as "a virtual mafia state" with Putin as the "alpha dog" sitting at the top of this structure.

The best, and perhaps only, guarantee of securing immunity for Putin — and dozens of his friends and colleagues who have become millionaires and billionaires over the past 10 years through their Kremlin-connected businesses — against possible corruption and other criminal charges is to remain in power.

As long as Putin remains in control, Western leaders will continue to do business as usual with him and his administration, and they will ignore or downplay allegations of corruption at the very top. After all, the West has shown many times that it doesn't have a problem having close ties with leaders with shady reputations, such as former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak or the king of Saudi Arabia, when it is in its best interests.

But imagine if opposition leader Alexei Navalny, for example, ever came to power and Putin becomes just an ordinary citizen. Putin understands that one of the first things Navalny would do after freeing former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky from prison would be to appoint an independent tribunal to investigate allegations of corruption and abuse of power among Putin and his ruling elite.
The Yukos affair alone would probably be enough to put those who conspired to expropriate the country's largest and most-profitable oil company — worth $45 billion in market capitalization before Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 — in jail for the rest of their lives. Along with Yukos, the tribunal could investigate corruption charges against Kremlin-connected executives at Gazprom, VTB, Transneft, Russian Technologies, National Media Group, Gunvor, the Rotenberg brothers' enterprises, Bank Rossia, arms trader Rosoboronexport and dozens of other companies that make up Putin's "Russia, Inc."
In a worst-case scenario, Putin and his inner circle could try to escape justice by fleeing to a friendly country, such as Belarus — not the best place to spend the rest of their lives, but it sure beats a prison cell in Krasnokamensk or even The Hague. If they take enough money with them, they could set up a luxurious retirement community — an enhanced Belarussian version of Putin's Ozero dacha cooperative — and join former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, who escaped corruption charges by fleeing to Belarus in 2010.
The current criminal trial of Mubarak, who is accused of embezzling as much as $70 billion, shows the danger of giving up power peacefully — even when you are 83, dying from cancer and presumably were given an unwritten guarantee of immunity. The conviction on corruption charges against another elderly, ailing world leader, former French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac, also must have given Putin a slight scare.

Kim Jong Il, however, showed that the best way to preserve immunity from criminal prosecution is by staying in power until death. Putin — no less than Kim, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev or Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko — understands that he can never afford to give up power while he is still alive.

This means that we can expect much more than 12 years of Putin in power. At the end of the next two presidential terms, Putin will only be 72, and at that age he will probably still be in his political prime. What's more, Putin, as he reminded us during his New Year's greetings several weeks ago, was born in the year of the dragon — and, according to Chinese astrologers, those born in dragon years tend to enjoy health, wealth and a long life.

Regardless of whether you believe in astrology or not, this is a bad sign for Russia's future.

Read the entire article here


Putin certainly will try to cling on to power as long as possible, but when his house of cards - built on exporting oil and gas - begins to crumble as a result of the American-led global shale gas revolution, his days are numbered. That is the reason for Putin´s recent outbursts against shale gas. Fortunately, he will not be able to stop the revolution.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Fighting real pollution - finally some (partially) good science in Science

Finally some - partially - good science from sources close to the global warming establishment. A new study published in Science focuses on what could be done to decrease real air pollution:

Buses spew clouds of black exhaust fumes in Mexico City while, in India, wood burnt in rudimentary stoves fills houses with sooty smoke. Methane leaks from gas pipelines in Russia and rice paddies in China, eventually breaking down in sunlight and contributing to the production of smog and ozone. In each of these cases, simple steps to curb air pollution would promote public health.

By 2030, these reduction measures could prevent anywhere from 700,000 to 4.7 million premature deaths from air pollution annually, the study found. And because ozone is toxic to plants, such measures could boost global crop production by 1–4%.

It is only when the scientists behind the study start speaking about the benefits of the above measures in preventing bogus human caused global warming that things begin to go wrong:

We’re in a gridlock over carbon dioxide, and we’re losing time,” says Veerabhadran Ramanathan, an atmospheric scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and a co-author on the Scienceanalysis. “This is one way to buy back some of that time, and the co-benefits are huge.”

What Ramanathan calls "the co-benefits", are quite obviously the only real - but valuable - benefits of fighting "black carbon".  However, if there is support among warmists for these kind of measures, it should not be impossible to find common ground with global warming sceptics. At least for this blogger, it does not matter if the warmists - wrongly - think that fighting real pollution will be useful in promoting their beliefs. The main thing is that something is done in order clean the air in some of the worst polluted regions of the world.

But this may be too good to be true. Die-hard warmists, like Kevin Trenberth have already began to put down the new findings:

Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, credits the study with building scientific consensus on the issue, but warns that it should not detract from the main agenda on carbon dioxide. “The fundamental problem with long-term climate change is CO2, and anything that takes us away from addressing that doesn’t really solve the problem,” he says. “It just puts it off.”

Read the entire article here

Could super smart Godzillas take over after catastrophic global warming?

A world dominated by super smart Godzillas?

Global warming makes you smarter - at least if you are a lizard. This is what a new study, funded by the National Research Council of Canada, has found out:

His study looked at two different groups of a particular Australian lizard species called the three-striped skink (bassiana duperreyi); one group incubated at a temperature of 16C and the other at 22C.

Amiel and his research group tested the lizards’ intelligence by having them seek shelter when threatened. The lizards were given two options of where to hide: in a bin resembling an overturned flowerpot with a hole large enough for the lizard to enter, or an identical shelter with the hole blocked by a transparent plastic.

The research group observed the lizards from warmer incubation group consistently found the appropriate shelter faster, and made fewer mistakes doing so, suggesting higher temperatures may produce smarter lizards.

If, as the most fanatic warmists predict, catastrophic global warming will result in the end of the human species, it is at least good to know that the ever smarter lizard population will be able to take over ....

(image by wikipedia)