Saturday, 2 February 2013

Gazprom's (and Putin's) business model is losing its shine

The end is near for Gazprom's (and Putin's) business model: 

Technological progress is threatening its business model and the company that has long monopolized the market has failed to adjust in time. "Eat or be eaten" has been its general operating principle when it comes to prices. For decades, many countries, including Ukraine, relied on Gazprom for its gas supply, but the market is becoming increasingly global. With the supply of natural gas growing and prices falling, Gazprom is beginning to lose its grip on the market.
Three-Fold Pressure
There are three primary risks that are threatening the country. For one, rivals in the Middle East are constructing facilities for liquefied natural gas (LNG) and developing a fleet of special tankers that will be able to transport LNG to destinations thousands of kilometers away -- further than any pipeline and with far more flexible trade routes. In Europe and Asia, LNG is increasingly competing with Gazprom. Qatar in particular has massively boosted its LNG supply to Europe: In 2011, the emirate exported 44 billion cubic meters, compared to 5 billion cubic meters in 2006.
Secondly, Norway is expanding its gas exploration and wresting market share from Russia in Europe. According to Eurostat, the European Union's statistical authority, Norway's gas sales in Europe rose by 16 percent in 2012, while Gazprom's fell by 8 percent.
And thirdly, thanks to new drilling methods, it has become easier to extract natural gas trapped in permafrost, dense clay and, especially, shale, allowing for gas production in previously untapped regions. In the US particularly, fracking, as it known, has triggered a gas bonanza, making it hard for Russia to get a foothold in the market. Gazprom was aiming to secure 10 percent of the US market, but this goal now seems decidedly out of reach.
The Kremlin is feeling the effects of these developments in the gas market. In coming years, EU countries such as Poland are planning to concentrate on unconventional gas extraction in order to reduce reliance of Russia. With gas and oil accounting for 50 percent of state revenue, a drop in Russian exports will hit Moscow hard. In addition, it will lose leverage over countries such as Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and other states that used belong to the Soviet sphere of influence. The German intelligence service Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) predicts that the erstwhile energy giant will soon begin to lose power.

Read the entire article here

The published version of Bundesnachrichtendienst's analysis does not say it, but it goes without saying that Gazprom's loss of power in reality also means the end of Vladimir Putin's "business model", which is solely based on the easy billions from gas and oil exports flowing into the state coffers. 

Putin will of course try to cling to power as long as he can, but sooner or later he will share the fate of all other dictators ...

A book review in the Guardian: "Extreme pornography and natural disasters caused by climate change are described with equal force"

A novelist reviews a new novel by another contemporary novelist:

"Griffiths's language is lyrical, brutal and startling; it requires and deserves a robust reader. At times, this fury risks shading into a monotone: cosmetic surgery, extreme pornography and natural disasters caused by climate change are described with equal force. Yet this frantic even-handedness is meaningful: in the world Griffiths creates, the ageing and decay of individuals, of a society and of a planet are laid against each other in a portrait of hopelessness and helplessness"

(Review of "A Great Big Shining Star" by Niall Griffiths in the Guardian)

Thank God that I still have the books by Austen, Hardy, Dickens and Powell in my library to reread! 

Friday, 1 February 2013

Dr. James Lovelock: Wind turbines "may become like Easter Island statues"

Words of wisdom from former global warming alarmist Dr James Lovelock:
Lovelock is objecting to a "medium sized" (240ft high) erection planned for his neighbourhood in North Devon by infamous windfarm operator Ecotricity. The UK currently has 3,000 onshore turbines and 6,000 are planned: this is the main reason why electricity bills are soaring out of control in order to pay for the inefficient, highly expensive windmills. Lovelock calls the runaway windmill building "industrial vandalism".
In an objection to the planning application made to Tiverton council, Lovelock points out that one nuclear power station provides as much power as 3,200 industrial wind turbines, without the environmental damage. In fact, he seems to be understating the case: we would calculate* one nuclear powerplant as equivalent to 5,400 wind towers of the sort discussed above.
He concludes:
I am an environmentalist and founder member of the Greens but I bow my head in shame at the thought that our original good intentions should have been so misunderstood and misapplied. We never intended a fundamentalist Green movement that rejected all energy sources other than renewable, nor did we expect the Greens to cast aside our priceless ecological heritage because of their failure to understand that the needs of the Earth are not separable from human needs. We need to take care that the spinning windmills do not become like the statues on Easter Island, monuments of a failed civilisation.
Lovelock is a long-time advocate of nuclear energy. But he also supports switching to lower-emission fossil fuels too, arguing they also do the job.
"Let's be pragmatic and sensible and get Britain to switch everything to methane. We should be going mad on it [fracking]", Lovelock The Grauniad last year.

Václav Klaus: "the best promoter of “social and environmental quality” is economic growth"

Opposing the global warming hoax does not mean that one does not care for the environment. On the contrary, as Czech President Václav Klaus pointed out in his remarks at the EU-CELAC Summit in Santiago de Chile, on 26 January:

- The term sustainable development is not an economic concept, but a political doctrine with far-reaching economic implications, and
- the best promoter of “social and environmental quality” is economic growth. The history has proved that the optimal economic response to social and environmental problems is abandoning any policies that hinder economic growth.
To say that does not imply any underestimation of social and environmental problems. This statement of mine is about sequencing – the economic growth makes the achievement of non-economic goals and ambitions possible. Being wealthier and having greater human capital means being able to employ cleaner, environment protecting technologies.
We have to take care of our forests, rivers, seas, of the air in the cities, but we should stop fighting the non-existent danger, the ideological doctrine of excessive, the planet and people endangering, man-made global warming. I find it promising that this catastrophic view about the future has already crossed its zenith. In our efforts to guarantee a prosperous future for both continents, Europe and Latin America, we should refute such politically motivated environmental agendas.

Schwarzenegger and Barroso congratulate themselves in Vienna

Arnold Schwarzenegger saves the world :
"I still drive my Hummers but now they are all on hydrogen and biofuel ..."

Arnold Schwarzenegger has taken his climate change/global warming road show to his former home country. On Thursday he opened the Regions of Climate Action (R-20) conference in Vienna

Arnold Schwarzenegger called Thursday for an end to "doom and gloom" environmentalism as he hosted the first conference of his new green movement fostering action by local governments and individuals.
"If we want to inspire the world, it is time for us to forget about the old way of talking about climate change, where we crush people, where we overwhelm people with data," the former California governor, bodybuilder and film star said.
"I mean I still drive my Hummers but now they are all on hydrogen and biofuel ... We need to send a message that we can live the same life, just with cleaner technology." Following his success implementing environmental legislation in California ahead of federal US action, Schwarzenegger's created the R20 Regions of Climate Action movement in 2010.

Reality check
California, once the most attractive business environment in the nation, is today caught in a downward economic spiral while Texas is on the upswing.
Between 1960 and 1990, more than four million people moved to California, attracted by the state’s beauty, weather and booming economy. However, a 2012 study by the Manhattan Institute found, that since 1990, California has lost most of that gain as millions moved out of the state.
Many of those who left were business owners driven out by California’s high income taxes, oppressive regulations, high energy costs, property taxes and labor costs. As employers relocated to Texas, Nevada and Arizona, workers followed, taking their money with them -- a total of $18.55 billion in lost wages from 2000-2010.
Once a magnet for job creators, California’s unemployment rate has been higher than the national average for the last 22 years.
In 2012, 650 business leaders surveyed by Chief Executive Magazine rated California the worst state in the nation for business -- for the eighth consecutive year. That same survey rated Texas #1 for the eighth year in a row.

The "keynote" speaker, European Commission president José Manuel Barroso was full of praise for the "succesful" European Union working method: 

"Regions20 is a shining example of this new mind-set in business and in government at the regional level, because it draws on so many stakeholders and their expertise. In many respects the work of R20 is similar to that of the European Union, as it connects different actors on all levels to cooperate on common challenges - to be stronger together.
Within the European Union this has been our successful working method of more than half a century"
Unemployment in the euro zone hit a record high of 11.8 percent in November, according to a new Eurostat report. In Spain, Greece, and Portugal, joblessness has never been higher during this crisis.
Unemployment for workers under 25 is now closer to 60 percent than 50 percent in Spain and Greece, and youth joblessness is rising in France, Italy, and Portugal.
Optimistically, Europe will grow about 0.0% this year. The last time Spanish growth was this weak was during the Spanish Civil War. Greece's GDP decline is the worst of any peaceful, non-communist post-WWII economy.

(image by wikipedia)

Thursday, 31 January 2013

German wind energy 2012: No increase in wind energy production despite 1000 new wind turbines

A sudden outburst of honesty by a representative of the German wind energy industry:

But despite the increase in the number of units (1000 new units, NNoN), the amount of electricity they contributed to the grid merely remained stable. According to Sylvia Pilarsky-Grosch, vice president of the German Wind Energy Association, "We didn't produce more electricity in 2012 with wind energy than we did in 2011." And one of the reasons for that was that there simply wasn't enough wind.

Yes indeed, when the wind does not blow, neither German, nor any other  wind turbines produce energy. And when the sun does not shine, not even the most expensive solar panels add energy to the grid. 

So much for the reliability of these renewable sources of energy. 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng urges global pressure on China over human rights

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who yesterday received the Tom Lantos Human  Rights Prize in Washington, urged United States not to let business concerns prevent it from pressing China over human rights:

“We must not only remember the atrocities of the fascists, but also recognise that today authoritarianism is firmly entrenched, and that the barbarism of the authoritarian system is the greatest threat to civilized societies,” said Chen. -

“We must not only remember the atrocities of the fascists, but also recognise that today authoritarianism is firmly entrenched, and that the barbarism of the authoritarian system is the greatest threat to civilized societies,” said Chen.-

“Recently, many friends and neighbours who I have been in touch with by phone have been taken into custody by the authorities for questioning. They have been threatened and made to describe what our conversations have been about,” he said.
The United States bore a special responsibility to uphold and promote its basic founding principles, despite economic weakness that has prompted some deference to fast-growing power China over human rights in recent years, he said.
While “it is clearly difficult to shift attention away from issues of finance and the economy, remember that placing undue value on material life will cause a deficit in spiritual life,” said Chen.
“You must establish a long-term plan for human rights and not compromise on it, ever,” he added.-

“Democracy, freedom and justice don’t just happen. We must strive for them through action,” he said.
“Last year, Myanmar lifted the ban on political parties, and last Friday it abolished media censorship. What the people in Myanmar do, we can do, too,” said Chen.
Read the entire article here
Chen's appeal is of course also directed to all other western leaders, who for years now have been kowtowing to China's corrupted communist party bosses in a vain hope of reaping economic rewards. 

Germany returns to reality: Merkel wants to cap subsidies to renewable energy producers

Merkel begins to see the light.

Upcoming elections sometimes have a beneficial effect on politics. Germany is a case in point: Chancellor Angela Merkel is now prepared to scale down the disastrous and huge subsidies to wind and solar energy producers. 

Merkel's environment minister Peter Altmeier this week announced a plan that he described as a "paradigm shift":

In a surprise announcement on Monday, he said he would draft legislation to cap subsidies to renewable energy producers in order to stop the recent sharp increase in electricity bills caused by those subsidies -- a potentially popular move in an election year.
"It is not acceptable that electricity consumers should keep bearing all the risk of the future costs on their own," Altmaier told a news conference.
The current system works like this: Germany wants to boost its power generation from wind, solar and biogas plants, but the electricity they produce remains more expensive than coal and nuclear power. To encourage investment in renewables, the government allows operators of such plants to sell their electricity at a guaranteed fixed price or feed-in tariff that is above the market price. Energy consumers pay the difference via a renewable power surcharge on their electricity bills. To date, there has been no upper limit on Germany's subsidies for renewables, which means that the more solar panels and wind turbines go into operation, the higher the surcharge that consumers have to pay.
The guaranteed high return has led to a boom in investment in renewable energy in recent years. This has boosted the surcharge to a record 5.28 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity this year, up almost 50 percent from 2012 and up from just 0.88 cents in 2006. An average German household currently pays €180 ($242) per year to subsidize renewable energy. -
Altmaier wants the legislation to be passed by Aug. 1. However, it has yet to be approved by Economics Minister Philipp Rösler, chairman of the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), junior partner to Merkel's conservatives in the center-right coalition. Rösler praised the plan on Monday but stopped short of giving it his blessing. And even if Altmaier gets the go-ahead from the FDP, the law could be blocked by the opposition Social Democrats and Greens who have a majority in the Bundesrat, Germany's upper legislative chamber.

The new plan could according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung "end up stopping the expansion of renewables." If that is true, Merkel and Altmaier should be congratulated for finally returning to reality with regard to energy policy. 

Merkel will certainly get the votes of those hundreds of thousands of Germans, who cannot afford to heat their houses and flats, because of the steeply growing energy prices. 

The shale gas revolution is creating a new kind of 'peak oil'

The brand new Viking Line cruise ferry Viking Grace is fuelled by liquefied natural gas, meaning that sulphur oxide emissions will be almost zero, and nitrogen oxide emissions will be at least 80 per cent below the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) current stipulated level. Furthermore, there is a reduction of particulate emissions of more than 90 per cent compared to the emissions from conventional diesel engines, while carbon dioxide emissions are also 20-30 per cent lower

“LNG can provide great advantages for our commercial customers as a future energy solution in transportation”
Marvin Odum,  President of Shell Oil Company 

The fast growing supply of inexpensive and environment-friendly natural gas (including shale gas and LNG) is rapidly creating a new kind of "peak oil". Energy giant BP is predicting that the demand for oil will slow down to just 0,8% a year up to 2030, only half the projected total worldwide energy demand growth rate. And there are experts who think that the switch to plentiful natural gas will cut crude oil's supremacy even more. 

Oil is already being priced out of power generation and industry, and the same is expected to happen in the transport sector: 

Trains, ships, and even aircraft are all potential targets, too. Buses powered by compressed natural gas (CNG) – LNG’s less potent older brother – already ply the streets of Dallas and other cities. Rotterdam and Singapore have both outlined plans to become a hub for LNG-powered shipping.

There’s plenty to aim at here. International shipping and aviation fuel plus road freight will account for about 15 million barrels a day of oil demand by 2035, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). That is a quarter of the projected 60-million-barrel daily oil-for-transport pot.
LNG-powered ships are already a reality, even though the fleet is modest for now. A report by ship classifiers Det Norske Veritas last year predicted that 30 per cent of new vessels will be LNG-powered by 2020. Tankers that carry LNG are an obvious early target. Another classifier, Lloyd’s Register, said the use of LNG as a fuel will pick up from 2019 and could be as much as 8 per cent of global bunker fuel demand before 2025.
Airlines have yet to crack the LNG nut, but the first commercial gas-powered civil aircraft flight left Doha for London on Jan. 9 this year, fuelled by another potential gas-to-transport game-changer – jet fuel made from gas.
Read the  entire article here

The Weather Channel is an excellent service - if you need information about "Cutest Cats in Snow"

If you need accurate information about the weather, the Weather Channel is probably not the source to turn to. A channel that chooses to spread James Hansen's global warming propaganda instead of reporting facts, looses its credibility: 

Cold Snaps, Global Warming Go Hand-in-Hand

Frigid temperatures like these are sometimes used to refute the idea that the planet as a whole is getting warmer with each passing year. That's just not so, say NASA scientists, who point out that even on a warming planet, bitterly cold temperatures and harsh winter weather will still be possible and even commonplace.
One of the reasons they can coexist is a phenomenon known as Arctic Oscillation, a phrase used to describe the interaction of the jet stream and Arctic air during the winter. It can cause unseasonably cold air masses to sweep over what are normally temperate latitudes, NASA reports, making for unusually cold and severe winter weather across many parts of the U.S.
On its website the Weather Channel boasts about the "many new products" it has developed. 

Here are a few of them:

Cutest Cats in Snow

25 Dogs in Snow to Melt Your Heart

25 Epic Umbrella Failures

French/German television channel ARTE joins the anti-fracking campaign

The French/German television channel ARTE last night lost whatever was left of its credibility in covering energy matters, by broadcasting the Polish-American film maker Lech Kowalski's anti-fracking "documentary" "Gas-Fieber" (Gas Fever). 

Kowalski, whose most notable film hitherto chronicles the UK punk scene in the 70's, had managed to find a few half hysteric people in Pennsylvania and Poland, who seemed to blame shale gas exploration for almost anything that had gone wrong with their lives. And, of course, Kowalski did not allow any objective studies (which show that there are no “proven cases where the fracking process itself has affected water” - Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator) spoil his anti-fracking message. Neither were any representatives of the shale gas industry given a chance to address the purely anecdotal "evidence". 

The "debate" that followed the "documentary" was another low for ARTE. The French moderator was clearly in the same team with the invited two French anti-fracking activists leaving the cautiously pro shale gas German MEP Michael Paul to play a very minor role. 

The people in charge of Gazprom's anti-fracking campaign must have been very pleased with the evening. If they did not already sponsor this program, Kowalski and ARTE will have no problems finding funding for their next propaganda effort. 

ARTE could have invited e.g. US ambassador to Germany, Philip D. Murphy to participate in the debate. He could have provided all the facts that were lacking in the program. 

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Canadian global warming scare: Outdoor skating season could shrink!

Backyard ice hockey in Canada
(image wikipedia)

Canadian climatologists have published a truly scary global warming report - the outdoor skating season could shrink from the previous average of nine weeks to less than six weeks in 2050! This groundbreaking study by researchers from the McGill and Concordia universities study is, not surprisingly, cited by warmist David Suzuki:

“Many locations across the country have seen significant decreases in the length of the OSS (outdoor skating season), as measured by the number of cold winter days conducive to the creation of rink ice,” their study states.
This echoes a 2009 David Suzuki Foundation report, On Thin Ice: Winter Sports and Climate Change. The McGill investigation looks at constructed outdoor rinks while DSF’s focuses on frozen rivers, canals and lakes, but the conclusions are similar. Both predict that, unless we rein in greenhouse gas emissions, outdoor skating in parts of Canada could be history within the next 50 to 100 years (the McGill study’s authors now say it could happen within 20 to 30 years), and the length of the outdoor skating season will continue to decline across the country.

“Our hope is that Canadians from coast to coast will help us track changes in skating conditions, not just this year, but for many years to come,” associate professor Robert McLeman said in a release. “This data will help us determine the impact of climate change on winter in terms of length of season and average temperatures.”

According to the DSF report, one of Canada’s best-loved outdoor skating venues, Ottawa’s Rideau Canal, provides an example of what to expect. It concludes that, with current emissions trends, the canal’s skating season could shrink from the previous average of nine weeks to 6.5 weeks by 2020, less than six weeks by 2050 and just one week by the end of the century. In fact, two winters ago, the season lasted 7.5 weeks, and last year it was down to four. The canal had yet to fully open for skating when this column was written.
On Thin Ice notes that many of Canada’s hockey heroes got their start on outdoor rinks. “Without pond hockey, we probably wouldn’t have what has become the modern game of hockey,” the authors state. The DSF study says climate change could have a profound effect on many other winter sports, from skiing and snowboarding to winter mountaineering.
Before Canadians start panicking, maybe we should remind them about what a leading British climatologist said about the impact of global warming in the UK thirteen years ago:
According to Dr David Viner, a senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia,within a few years winter snowfall will become "a very rare and exciting event".
"Children just aren't going to know what snow is," he said.

This winter we could read headlines like this in the (warmist) UK Independent:

Will this be the coldest winter for 50 years?

Harsh winter weather is prompting comparisons with the Big Freeze of 1963

So, we should perhaps take the new Canadian ice report with a pinch of salt. 

One could, of course, hope that Canadian taxpayers' money would be used for some other purposes than this kind of climate "science". 

Monday, 28 January 2013

Germany's green hypocrisy

A German hypocrite

In order to show her "green" credentials, German Chancellor Angela Merkel (along with other leading German politicians) likes to talk about the catastrophe that will brought upon humanity if the international community is not able to agree on a binding global agreement reducing purported  human caused global warming. At the Petersberger Climate Dialogue last July, Merkel warned that non-action will have "terrible consequences" for the world. 

But all this "greenie talk" is of course nothing but political window dressing. On other fora the same Merkel openly - and rightly - praises Germany's incredible export successes, the main reason behind the country's stable economic development. 

A considerable part of the German export success comes from the exports of "polluting" luxury cars to China (and also Russia): 

China's luxury car sales increased about 18 percent to 1.2 million units last yearGerman companies together accounted for three-quarters of the total.

German automakers continued their reign in China's luxury car market last yearagain reporting record sales to consolidate a dominance that is unlikely to be challenged in foreseeable future.

In 2011 the total value of German exports to China was 65 billion euros, and according to the Federation of the German Export Trade it is only a matter of time before China will overtake France as the number one German export country. 

The German export industry is to be congratulated for the country's export "miracle". But to boast about it, while at the same time warning about the catastrophic consequences of global warming is pure hypocrisy. But that's what Merkel and most politicians everywhere specialize in, hoping that nobody will notice ...

Sunday, 27 January 2013

The shale gas difference: US consumer price for electricity only about a third of the price in Germany

"The average American pays about 9 eurocents per kilowatt hour for electricity; the average German household price currently is 26 cents per kilowatt hour and rising."
Philip D. Murphy, US ambassador

On January 23 Philip D. Murphy, US ambassador to Germany, gave a speech on the American shale gas revolution, which hopefully will be read by German environment minister Peter Altmaier as well as other top Berlin decision makers. 
Altmaier, who was interviewed today on German television today, was clearly not well informed about the game changing shale gas revolution and its repercussions in the US and the world. 
Here are some of the points made by ambassador Murphy:
When businesses and consumers pay lower electricity rates, they have more money to spend on other things, besides keeping the lights on.  This contributes to growing consumption and investment.  The average American pays about 9 eurocents per kilowatt hour for electricity; the average German household price currently is 26 cents per kilowatt hour and rising.  Both the International Energy Agency and the Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie have noted that low U.S. gas and energy prices are giving American industry a competitive edge.  Low energy prices have led to a “re-industrialization” as manufacturers are investing hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. chemical, fertilizer, steel, aluminum, tire and plastics plants and exports of these goods are surging.
One of the most astounding outcomes of the abundance of natural gas in the US is an unprecedented reduction in carbon dioxide and other particulate emissions.  There are 50 million more American energy consumers today than there were 20 years ago, yet U.S. emissions today are back to the levels of 1992, the year of the Rio Earth Summit and the first Handelsblatt Energy Forum. -
What is truly stunning is the International Energy Agency’s prediction that the United States will be a net oil exporter by 2030.  Reversing the traditional pattern of U.S. energy trade will improve the U.S. trade deficit—oil and gas exports could reduce our current account deficit by 60 percent by 2020, according to a recent study.  The same study estimated that adding U.S. oil exports to global markets, combined with reduced U.S. oil consumption because of higher vehicle fuel efficiency standards instituted by the Obama administration, should reduce global oil prices by 14 to 16 percent. -
Many people have seen internet videos of tap water “catching fire.”  It turns out that that in every documented case, this wasn’t caused by fracking, but by residents accidently drilling water wells into naturally-occurring methane reservoirs.  In some rare instances, faulty well sealing – not fracking – led to methane migration, reinforcing the need for the kind of “best practices” that Energy Secretary Chu’s team came up with.  Transparency builds trust; and the committee also recommended full disclosure of fracking fluid chemicals, which companies are doing on the website.  Obviously, extracting methane is the purpose of drilling for natural gas, so the firms involved have every incentive to minimize and eliminate losses.  But the bottom line is that tens of thousands of wells have been safely drilled and thousands of fracking operations are being conducted in the United States under federal and state regulations that provide strong protection for individuals and the environment.
(text boldened by NNoN)
Germans, as well as other Europeans should look at the facts, not at the lies and propaganda produced by the US and international anti-fracking lobby!