Tuesday, 17 April 2012

More Drilling

Exxon and Rosneft have announced a deal.  To work together to exploit Arctic resources.  The deal is to "develop" projects around the Kara and Black Seas, worth around $1bn and signed in the presence of Mr Putin. 
Former Rosneft Chaiman, now Russian Deputy PM Mr Igor Sechin estimates the Kara deposits at 4.9 billion tons of oil and 8.3 trillion cubic metres of gas.  the Black Sea shelf deposits are estimated at 1.2 billion tons of oil. 
Under a seperate deal, Rosneft also gains a 30% stake in 3 Exxon Mobil projects in the US, Gulf of Mexico and Canada (I wonder if any of these is connected to the Keystone XL pipeline, or the Alberta Tar Sands?)  Rosneft and Exxon also "inked in" a deal to study the "development" of the  oil reserves in the Achimovka and Tyumen layers in Western Siberia, which Rosneft estimates at about 1.7 billion tons.
This comes shortly afer the the announcement last week , by the Russian Govt of tax relief for arctic shelf development. 
In the UK the controversial technique of "fracking" is set to go ahead and given the green light for expansion throughout the UK, despite having caused 2 earthquakes and doubts about the safety and inspection regimes of wells already drilled. 

Our addiction to fossil fuels and fears for energy security are fueling climactic change, we do not have time.

Thursday, 12 April 2012


Following on from my previous post. 
I recently came across this article in The Herald which reveals that Big Oil, led by Total, BP and Shell have polluted the North Sea with 69 oil and chemical spills in the last 3 months alone. 
The UK Dept of Energy and Climate Change has released the data and has said that forthwith, the data will be released monthly instead of yearly.

As the environmental impact of the Elgin gas leak is being calculated and as Shell is set to drill in the Arctic this summer, the repeated failures should lead us to question frankly the wisdom of these decisions and the process by which, in the light of the repeated failure, the licenses were granted.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

"Drill baby drill"

As the methane continues leaking from Total's Elgin drilling platfrom, off the east coast of Scotland and Shell gets US Dept of Interior approval for its emergency response plan and so overcomes the last major legal hurdle to its plans to drill in the Arctic this Summer, despite the shock expressed by some UK MPs, I am saddened. 
Our greed for fossil fuel energy seems to be driving us over the edge.  With all the environmental issues arising from our consumption of fossil fuel, it seems amazing to me that governments are licensing such endeavours.  We should be building for the future not scrabbling for a last fix.

Water, water....

Water and the lack of it seem to be in the news. 
With the drought across much of the southern part of the UK and the consequent restricions.  With the loss of Arctic sea ice being linked to the colder, drier winters in the UK, it seems probable that this is now likely to be a frequent phenomenon.
Elsewhere, Colorado farmers were reportedly outbid for water by fracking companies.  and a US Intelligence report is prediction that by 2040, global demand for fresh water will outstrip supply by 40%, leading to use of water as a tool of political leverage or to actual conflict.  When you consider the impact of climate change on glacier fed rivers and the countries which depend on them such as Pakistan (nuclear armed) the seriousness of this becomes more apparent.  Russia seems to be aware of the political possibilities of this water shortage and appears to be making preparations to profit from it. 
With much of the agriculture parts of  India and in parts of the US dependent on groundwater which is being used faster than it can replenish.  With more meat consumption, (one kilo of beef "drinks" an estimated 15,000 litres of water) the strain on water supply is increasing. 
We in the UK often seem to take clean fresh water for granted, I was horrified recently while watching Channel 4 news to see a representative from Thames Water saying that they were commited to trying to help their customers reduce their consumption from 150 litres per person per day to 120 litres per person per day!  When one contrasts this with the situation in sub-Saharan Africa it is quite appaling. 

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

A damn good video

I found this video.  To my mind it sums it up so very well.

Are we at a tipping point?

I have been reading New Scientist (31 March 2012) and some of it was very alarming! 
In the report on the Planet Under Pressure conference in London, it is mentioned that Euan Nisbet, of Royal Holloway University London warned that warming ocean currents east of Greenland were melting ice in the seabed, which could (as happened off Norway about 8000 years ago in a similar geological setting) trigger landslides on the region's steep submarines slopes therby causing tsunamis capable of reaching the UK and (this is the scary bit) releasing methane which could amplify global warming, a la  Clathrate Gun Hypothesis

Tim Lenton of Univesity of Exeter who has carried out a day by day assessment of Arctic ice cover data collected since 1979 (when satellite observation began) presented his findings showing that while up until 2007 sea ice systematically fluctuated between winter and summer cover, since 2007 the difference between summer and winter sea ice cover has been a million square kilometres greater than it was before.  This means less reflection of sunlight as the sea water has a lower albedo and therefore more warming. 

While there seems to be some positive news in the posssibility highlighted  by Peter Cox from the University of Exeter of reducing our methane emissions and Methane's role in influencing CO2 absorption.  He is said to have calculated that a 40% reduction in human-caused methane emissions would permit the release of an extra 550 gigatonnes of CO2 before we exceed 2 degrees C warming, buying us an extra 15 years at current emission rates.  Reduction of methane seems possible at relatively low cost. 

What this is saying to me is that we are approaching or at a tipping point.  We do not have the time to wait until 2020 for a global climate treaty or "business as usual". 
Yet when you consider Cairn Energy's determination to continue exploration off Greenland and the expansion of their North Sea presence, along with the UK Govt's £3.5 billion in the budget for offshore drilling in the North Sea this is exactly what seems to be happening.
 In our time of economic woe and with the concentration on the Olympics we must not lose sight of the real priority.