ODAC Newsletter - 18 March 2011


Welcome to the ODAC Newsletter, a weekly roundup from the Oil Depletion Analysis Centre, the UK registered charity dedicated to raising awareness of peak oil.

The earthquake and tsunami which ripped apart the northern half of Honshu in Japan on Friday has caused a massive humanitarian disaster and a nuclear emergency which may still develop into a major catastrophe. The wider knock on effects could be a backlash against nuclear power, and further global economic instability as a result of damage to what is the world’s 3rd largest economy. Meanwhile in Libya the civil war raged on, and in Bahrain protests became bloody as the government turned to military force and outside help to retain power.

The full effect of the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant remains unclear at this stage. What is already clear though is that the safety of the industry is being called into question once again, just as it looked to be on the cusp of a renaissance. Germany’s Angela Merkel went furthest, calling for a “measured exit” from nuclear and shutting down the county’s seven oldest reactors for a 3 month moratorium. China announced on Tuesday that it is suspending its nuclear building programme until a review has been completed, and other countries including the UK also announced reviews. Governments are likely to face a huge loss of public confidence in nuclear which could reopen debate about its cost and safety. Delays could increase demand for gas and coal, but may also strengthen the investment case for renewables. Either way power prices look likely to rise.

Oil prices eased back early in the week on the perceived threat to oil demand of an economic slowdown. There is fear that the impact of tsunami damage on the Japanese economy will have a knock on effect into the wider global economy. On Thursday prices rose again on concern that violence and unrest in the Middle East will affect supply. Prices are likely to continue to see-saw in the coming weeks as events develop.

On Tuesday Bahrain declared a 3 month state of emergency and invited in troops from the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi forces, to quash the demonstrations.  The government then sent in the tanks against protestors drawing widespread condemnation. There were reports on Thursday of protests by Shi’ites in Saudi Arabia calling for the withdrawal of forces.

In Libya Gaddafi’s army advanced this week using their superior weapons and air power, and closing in on the opposition stronghold of Benghazi. Late on Thursday night the UN Security Council passed a resolution approving air strikes and "all necessary measures", short of an invasion, to protect Libyan civilians. The resolution has the support of the Arab League. It could however involve the UN in a protracted conflict to oust Gaddafi with unpredictable consequences.

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Disclaimers

Oil

World energy crunch as nuclear and oil both go wrong

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Oil Surges as UN Approves Libya No-Fly Zone; Credit Suisse Raises Forecast

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Alberta tar sands pipeline project delayed

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Shell plans $100bn investment drive

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Gas

European Gas Rises After Japan Quake, German Reactor Decision

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More views on Japan’s effect on gas prices

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Coal

US proposes air rules that may hit coal-fired power

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Moray Firth rocks 'could store 15 years of carbon emissions'

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Nuclear

IAEA urges Japan to give more information on nuclear crisis

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Experts Had Long Criticized Potential Weakness in Design of Stricken Reactor

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Japan crisis: Germany to speed up nuclear energy exit

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Germany to shut down pre-1980 nuclear plants

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China suspends nuclear building plans

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Huhne inquiry weighs nuclear crisis

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Barack Obama to press ahead with plans to build new nuclear power stations

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Japan nuclear plant: Panic buyers seek out salt, seaweed and red wine as rumour fuels fallout fears

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Renewables

Islay to get major tidal power scheme

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Geopolitics

U.N. council approves no-fly zone over Libya

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Bahrain Declares a Three-Month State of Emergency as Gulf Soldiers Arrive

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Saudi Shi'ites call for Bahrain troop withdrawal

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Economy

This tragedy will have an impact far beyond Japan

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Portugal hit by debt downgrade from ratings agency

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Panic over Japan triggers market turmoil

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Upcoming Event

9th International Peakoil & Gas Conference

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Disclaimers

The items contained in this newsletter are distributed as submitted and are provided for general information purposes only. ODAC does not necessarily endorse the views expressed in these submissions, nor does it guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information presented.

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