Archive | Energy & Fuels

Wind Power Industry to Gain from Copenhagen Summit Deals

NEW DELHI, Dec. 14 (UPI) — A breakthrough deal in climate-change talks in Copenhagen would lead to a sales boost for the wind power industry, says the chief of India’s biggest maker of wind-turbine generators.

Suzlon, based in the Indian city of Pune, could see a ten-fold increase in annual revenues by 2020 with a successful Copenhagen outcome, predicts chief executive Tulsi Tanti.

“With a very strong support of the Copenhagen meeting and a very clear road map from political leaders around the world, I think I can deliver by 2020 a $50 billion size of the business,” Tanti told Bloomberg.

Tanti said that worldwide turbine sales, which have averaged 28 percent over the last decade, will likely increase to 35 percent pending a successful Copenhagen outcome. Even without a Copenhagen deal, Tanti predicts an industry-wide turbine sales increase of 20 percent to 25 percent a year.

The Global Wind Energy Council expects industry growth of 22 percent until 2013.

Suzlon, the third-largest wind-turbine manufacturer in the world, was founded in 1995 with a staff of 20 and has grown to 14,000 people in 21 countries, according to the company’s Web site.

But Suzlon has weathered storms due to the global economic crisis, a high level of company debt and manufacturing problems with its turbines.

For fiscal year ending March 31, 2010, Suzlon is functioning at less than 50 percent of its 4,200 megawatt manufacturing capacity. That’s down about 70 percent to 75 percent from the previous year. The company’s breakeven point is for manufacturing to be running at 40 percent to 45 percent of capacity, Chief Operating Officer Sumant Sinha told The Wall Street Journal.

Now Suzlon is close to pinning down a $2.8 billion refinancing package that would give it permission to acquire the remaining stake in REpower Systems AG, one of the leading turbine producers in the German wind energy sector.

Sinha said last week that Suzlon would file for a “domination agreement” in Germany “probably in a couple of months.” Suzlon currently holds a 92 percent stake in REpower but under German law must buy out the remaining shareholders before exercising full control of the company.

Sinha also said the company has spent about $100 million to retrofit blades that cracked on turbines in the United States and is also making strides in its financial affairs.

India, for its part, has a total wind power installed capacity of 10,900 megawatts and ranks fifth in the world after the United States, Germany, Spain and China.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, People, Wind0 Comments

Bombs Defused on Gas Pipeline

MAGAS, Russia, Dec. 14 (UPI) — Weapons experts Monday defused two bombs planted near a natural gas pipeline in Russia’s volatile Ingushetia region, authorities said.

The bombs, made from hand grenades, were found Sunday night on the gas line running from Mozdok in Russia’s North Ossetia to Georgia, RIA Novosti reported.

Gas supplies to Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Armenia were cut while weapons experts defused the bombs and searched other parts of the pipeline, said a spokesman for Gazprom, the giant Russian energy utility. Gas supplies to Georgia were not affected.

It was not known who planted the bombs, investigators said.

The predominately Muslim region of Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya, in recent months has seen a rise in attacks by Islamist rebels battling pro-Kremlin authorities and Russian security forces.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Natural Gas, Other0 Comments

Czech Nuclear Plants to Go Back Online

TEMELIN, Czech Republic, Dec. 13 (UPI) — A Czech Republic nuclear power plant taken offline for tests and repairs should be back in operation and providing electricity Monday, officials say.

The Temelin plant has two units, both of which were disconnected from the national power grid Saturday, though technicians had planned to have only one off the grid at a time, the Czech news agency CTK reported.

While one unit was being tested, the second had to be taken offline earlier than expected for planned repairs, CTK said.

“The planned shutdown of the Unit 2 that was to end at midnight to Sunday has been complicated a little bit. The generation block will be reconnected almost a day later,” a Temelin spokesman said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Electricity, Energy & Fuels0 Comments

Top Natural Gas Producers Tackle Global Excess

DOHA, Qatar, Dec. 11 (UPI) — The world’s top natural gas producers meeting in the Gulf state of Qatar have agreed to strengthen their emergent organization and work together to push up tumbling prices caused by an unprecedented global gas glut.

But there’s still no sign that they will coalesce into a price-manipulating cartel with the market muscle of the 13-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that the three nations with the world’s three biggest reserves of gas — Russia, Iran and Qatar — are pushing for.

Talk of a possible major gas monopoly, dubbed a “gas OPEC,” has unnerved Europe, which gets much of its gas from Russia. The 27-member European Union imports 61 percent of its gas needs, 42 percent from Russia.

There are concerns too that a resurgent Russia, now vying with Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer, is using its oil and gas exports as leverage to reassert its dominance over the states that comprised the former Soviet bloc.

The 15-member Gas Exporting Countries Forum agreed at its Dec. 9-10 ministerial meeting in Doha, the ninth since the organization was formed in 2001, that it needs to expand strategic cooperation.

The group also elected its first secretary-general, energy executive Leonid Bokhanovsky, vice president of Russian pipeline builder OAO Stroytansgaz, further cementing its organizational structure from its informal beginnings and adding more cohesion to its decision-making process.

According to Forbes, the group of gas producers “is in many ways similar to OPEC in its early days. … OPEC members cooperated to use their market power and as a result extracted hundreds of thousands of billions of dollars of ‘cartel profits’ from consuming countries.”

“The Gas Exporting Countries Forum should function like OPEC to defend the interests of its members,” declared Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil.

He urged forum members to “reach agreement on a strategy for obtaining a fair price for gas.”

Forbes observed that “such words cause alarm, especially in European and Asian countries, many of which are highly dependent on gas imports from GECF member states.”

The Paris-based International Energy Agency warned in November of an “acute glut” of natural gas across the world in the coming years because of rising production in the United States and Canada.

Much of this is due to new technologies that allow the large-scale production of “shale gas,” an unconventional natural gas, particularly in the United States, which had been expected to become a major gas importer.

This, Forbes noted, would “turn the United States into a net exporter and thus offset a GECF-led natural gas cartel.”

Still, opinion remains divided over the likelihood that a Gas OPEC will emerge.

U.S.-based global security consultancy Stratfor said in an analysis that the prospect of a cartel being able to affect gas prices is remote because natural gas is a very different energy commodity than oil.

“Gas is not transported — or priced — like oil” and “cannot simply be poured into a container and sent to market,” it said. “It has to be shipped and distributed via multibillion-dollar dedicated pipeline infrastructures that require years to build.

“Because the infrastructure is so tightly linked to the market, natural gas prices almost exclusively are priced only within that network, not via the global market as oil is.”

Most GECF members “are wholly dependent upon foreign investment for their natural gas industries … and are very unlikely to actually take steps to hurt their customers,” Stratfor added.

“Keeping those investments flowing and those facilities operational requires partnering with customers, not plotting against them.”

Forbes sees it differently. “Despite potentially mitigating factors, the economic risk of an emerging natural gas cartel remains since market structures change rapidly and gas exporters are determined to cooperate,” it noted.

“In the early 1960s, OPEC was dismissed as an ineffective forum. But it managed to harm the world economy and extracted enormous ‘cartel profits’ at the expense of consumers only a decade later.

“Today, policymakers need to take the scenario of a natural gas cartel seriously. It could cost consumers dearly and hurt the world economy if we were unprepared.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Infrastructure, Natural Gas0 Comments

GE Turbines Picked for $1.4 Billion Wind Farm in Oregon

NEW YORK, Dec. 10 (UPI) — The United States’ largest-ever wind farm will use $1.4 billion worth of turbines built by General Electric Co., the New York company said Thursday.

A total of 338 GE turbines will power Caithness Energy’s 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat wind farm on 30 square miles near Arlington in north-central Oregon. GE said on its Web site the alternative energy project has received the majority of the government permits it needs to operate and is ready to move into the construction phase with completion expected by 2012.

“This project underscores our commitment to harness the power of wind to meet present and future energy needs while reducing greenhouse emissions,” said Les Gelber, a partner at Caithness Energy. “The Shepherds Flat project will add more renewable energy to the west coast’s energy mix and help the region meet its demand for clean energy.”

The deal announced Thursday marks the U.S debut and largest single global order of GE’s 2.5xl wind turbines, said officials at the company founded by Thomas Edison, the developer of the common incandescent light bulb.

Steve Bolze, president and chief executive officer of GE Power & Water, said the project “highlights our ability to deliver integrated solutions in the clean energy space and it supports our overarching focus to provide first in class technology to our customers.”

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy, Energy & Fuels, Science, Space, & Technology, Wind0 Comments

Falklands Look to Impress Chilean Oil Companies

STANLEY, Falkland Islands, Dec. 10 (UPI) — Falklanders’ hopes of an imminent oil bonanza have received a boost after senior executives from a major exploration and production firm on the islands were reported in talks with Chilean oil companies to try and forge strategic partnerships.

Falklands Oil and Gas Ltd. is seeking Chilean partners because of Chile’s geographical proximity with the British dependent territory.

Industry analysts said the Falklanders’ quest for strategist partners in Chile was a logical outcome of reports that the islands’ basins have vast hydrocarbon resources that need to be exploited at speed to make the most of the current trend in oil prices.

There was no immediate indication if Chile would respond positively to the Falklands’ overtures or would pass on the offer so as not to upset neighbor Argentina, which fought a war with Britain over the Falkland Islands in 1982. Argentina still claims sovereignty over the islands.

About 162,000 square feet of the islands’ basin region in the South Atlantic is ripe for exploration. Scientific surveys have established vast reserves that could transform the islands into a major oil-producing region.

The current trend in prices is also conducive to attracting investors into the exploration project. However, if the prices drop amid continuing doubts about a global economic recovery, potential investors will have less incentive to get interested in an expensive drilling program.

FOGL’s first port of call in Chile was the state-run Empresa Nacional del Petroleo, which, according to industry experts, has the expertise and resources to enter into a large-scale oil exploration partnership abroad.

ENAP made no comment about talks with FOGL Chief Executive Officer Tim Bushell, who visited the Chilean oil company officials in October.

FOGL sources said the Falklanders believe ENAP is the natural partner for FOGL because of geography and logistics.

ENAP already has successful gas operations in the Magallanes region, Chile’s extreme south, and after 2008 losses of about $958 million is desperate for a turnaround.

ENAP lost heavily on importing expensive crude oil for its refining operations, so having Falklands oil in closer proximity will be an attractive prospect, analysts said.

FOGL has also made overtures to other oil companies in Chile but apparently not yet in Brazil, which has extensive experience in undersea drilling and also has cash to spare for overseas projects.

Meanwhile, Desire Petroleum said it planned a share issue of about $34 million to make use of the full potential of its exploratory drilling season, scheduled to begin in February 2010 with the arrival of the rig Ocean Guardian from Scotland.

Desire recently raised 40.2 million pounds by placing 60 million new ordinary shares. The funds, together with Desire’s other cash resources, are designed to enable Desire to drill at least four wells.

Desire said it would use any surplus funds to test any successful wells or drill more wells.

Two other oil companies operating in the Falklands, Arcadia Petroleum Ltd. and Rockhopper Exploration Plc, are expected to drill two wells on their own initiatives. Arcadia is operating within Desire blocks and Rockhopper is active outside of Desire blocks.

The combined exploratory ventures mean that eight of 10 designated wells are now accounted for.

The Falklands government has said it will monitor the drilling operations closely to guard against damage to the islands’ ecology, a source of tourism revenue.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Other0 Comments

China Moves Up in Renewable Energy

BEIJING, Dec. 10 (UPI) — China is the second most attractive place in the world to invest in renewable energy, says an Ernst & Young report released Wednesday.

China ranked just behind the United States and has moved ahead of Germany for the first time in the reports’ six-year history due to its increased commitments to reduce emissions through its carbon intensity reduction plans, according to the study. China’s ranking has progressed from number four in 2008 and number six in 2007.

China announced last month it would develop renewable and nuclear energies to increase the proportion of non-fossil-fuel power in China’s total primary energy consumption to around 15 percent by 2020 from 9 percent by 2008.

Nanri Island in Fujian province is just one example of China’s renewable energy initiatives.

Wind power from 19 massive turbines provides electricity to more than 50,000 people on the island. When another 57 turbines are installed next year, Nanri could reduce its coal usage by 67,000 tons, thus eliminating 94,000 tons of carbon emissions, Lin Yushu, an official with the local development and reform commission told Xinhua news agency.

The Nanri offshore wind power plant is just one of more than 100 wind farms built in China during the past five years, as the nation aims to reduce reliance on coal-fired power.

Last year China relied on coal for nearly 70 percent of its energy.

Shi Pengfei, vice president of the China Wind Energy Association, said China will have an additional 10 million kilowatts of installed wind power capacity this year, and the total installed capacity will exceed 30 million by 2010, a decade ahead of the target set in 2007.

The Global Wind Energy Council, based in Brussels, estimates China to become the world’s biggest producer of wind energy by 2013.

“I do see changes every time I visit China,” said Steve Sawyer, secretary general of the council, noting the increase in the country’s wind power.

“Certainly the main driver has been government policy and clear signals it has sent to the market, and I’m sure the spirit of Chinese entrepreneurs has also contributed to the rate of growth,” said Sawyer.

Yet China faces challenges in its wind energy sector. Up to 30 percent of the country’s wind capacity was not connected to the grid in 2008, according to a report by the China Greentech Initiative, a consortium of U.S. and Chinese companies, including Cisco Systems and Westinghouse.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Consumption, Electricity, Energy, Energy & Fuels, People, Wind0 Comments

Worldwide Energy Demand to Rise 35 Percent by 2030

IRVING, Texas, Dec. 9 (UPI) — Rising energy demand over the coming two decades will require investment in all potential sources of energy, Exxon Mobil said Tuesday in its latest report.

The report, “New Outlook for Energy: A View to 2030,” predicted energy demand would be about 35 percent higher in 2030 than it was in 2005, and meeting that demand will require “trillions of dollars of investment and a commitment to innovation.”

Exxon Mobil said it expects economies worldwide to grow and living standards to improve — implying increased use of automobiles and energy-dependent appliances.

As with other recent forecasts, Exxon Mobil said natural gas supply is set to expand, particularly in the United States. Unconventional gas supplies in the United States are expected to meet more than 50 percent of gas demand by 2030.

Analysts said rising energy demand and consumption would pose a major challenge as the clamor grows for cleaner and more renewable energy sources.

Although high prices, political commitments and campaigning groups have all pushed initiatives toward energy sources with a lower carbon footprint, achieving substantial results is set to be a major challenge through the next decades covered by Exxon Mobil’s outlook.

Fossil fuels — oil, natural gas and coal — are set to continue meeting most of the world’s needs in the near future “because no other energy source can match their availability, versatility, affordability and scale,” the report said.

“The fastest-growing of these fuels will be natural gas, reflecting its abundance, versatility and economic advantages as an efficient, clean-burning fuel for power generation.”

The oil company was upbeat about the future. “We see many hopeful things — economic recovery and growth, improved living standard and a reduction in poverty, and promising new energy technologies,” said Exxon Mobil’s Rex W. Tillerson, chairman and chief executive officer.

“But we also see a tremendous challenge, and that is how to meet the world’s growing energy needs while also reducing the impact of energy use on the environment,” Tillerson added.

Tillerson said supplies of all economic fuel sources need to be expanded to satisfy projected increases in global energy demand. With world population set to rise to almost 8 billion, there will also be greater demand for energy indirectly applied to serve the broader societies.

Exxon Mobil’s outlook includes an assessment of how potential carbon emission reduction policies will affect future energy demand and impact the fuel mix. The company says that imposing higher costs for carbon emissions would affect energy prices and prove to be an incentive to switch to less carbon-intensive fuels, such as natural gas.

Exxon Mobil said energy-efficiency gains are expected to accelerate between 2005 and 2030 when contrasted with historical trends. Gains in energy efficiency will curb energy demand growth through 2030 by about 65 percent, it said.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Coal, Consumption, Energy, Energy & Fuels, Energy Efficiency, Natural Gas, Other, Policies & Solutions0 Comments

FDA Issues Radiation Exposure Guidelines

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it has issued interim recommendations to address concerns about excess radiation exposure in medical facilities.

The FDA said its recommendations are part of an ongoing investigation into cases of excess radiation occurring during computed tomography perfusion brain imaging. CT or CAT scanning involves the use of X-rays to produce 3-D images to help physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Perfusion scans evaluate blood flow in various organs such as the brain and the heart.

Federal officials issued an initial safety notification in October after learning of more than 200 patients who were exposed to excess radiation at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles during an 18-month period.

Officials said they have also received reports of possible excess radiation from other states.

The interim recommendations for imaging facilities, radiologists and radiologic technologists include:

– Facilities assess whether patients who underwent CT perfusion scans received excess radiation.

– Facilities review radiation dosing protocols for all CT perfusion studies.

– Radiologic technologists check the CT scanner display panel to make sure the amount of radiation to be delivered is at the appropriate level for the patient.

The agency is also advising manufacturers to review their training for users, reassess information provided to health care facilities and put into place new surveillance systems to identify problems quickly.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Other, Radiation0 Comments

U.S. Nuclear Envoy Prepares for North Korea

SEOUL, Dec. 6 (UPI) — U.S. Special Envoy Stephen Bosworth arrived in South Korea Sunday en route to his first visit to Pyongyang to address nuclear issues, officials said.

Bosworth was to meet Sunday with Wi Sung-lac, South Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator, The Korea Times reported. He will travel to North Korea Tuesday and remain there through Thursday.

Bosworth was scheduled to meet with Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-joo and it was unknown whether he would be granted an audience with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Yonhap News Agency reported Sunday.

“I don’t expect much from the first visit to the North,” Bosworth was quoted as saying in London Thursday, Yonhap reported.

The United States and its allies want North Korea to agree to rejoin six-way negotiations on North Korea abandoning its nuclear programs.

North Korea was expected to seek the signing of a peace treaty to officially end the Korean War in exchange for its return to denuclearization talks.

The 1950-1953 war between North Korea and South Korea ended with an armistice but was not officially ended with a treaty.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

Posted in Energy & Fuels, Nuclear0 Comments

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