The Bullroarer - Monday 21 January 2008

NZ Herald - Rising Petrol Prices A Wakeup Call For motorists

The Australian - Ferguson in favour despite focus on domestic market

FEDERAL Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson is quite rightly enjoying a honeymoon with his new portfolio stakeholders. That's not only because he has been in the job only two months, but because in the eyes of most sectoral lobbyists, he was the best choice from Labor's senior ranks. So there was a general reluctance to criticise Ferguson last week after it was reported he was warning global oil and gas giants not to neglect the domestic market when pursuing exports.

Ferguson has previously expressed reservations concerning the West Australian government's domestic gas policy, which requires LNG project proponents needing land for processing facilities to set aside 15 per cent of their reserves for domestic use.

The West Australian policy, which was rejected by other states at the Ministerial Council on Energy last year, has resulted in a review of the retention-lease policy for offshore petroleum with the aim of developing a "use it or lose it" strategy for major gas reservoirs. Ferguson is scheduled to have his first formal meeting with the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association this week and he may receive a quiet chiding over his remarks.

The Australian - New lease of life for Barrow island

THE Barrow Island oilfield, off the West Australian coast and producing for 40 years, is expected to extend its field life for at least another 15 years as a result of infill drilling programs. The famous field, Australia's longest-serving onshore oil producer, has produced more than 300 million barrels of oil, a remarkable achievement, particularly considering it is in a class-A nature reserve. The oilfield, about 60km off the coast, was discovered in 1964 by early Australian oil and gas explorer WAPET, which was replaced as operator by the Chevron group in 2002.

The new infill program comprising 13 wells, eight water injectors and five producers, is designed to improve production and extend the life of the asset. The Barrow Island oilfield was envisaged originally to have a 30-year life but, as a result of good reservoir management, is expected to last until the 2020s. The first well of the new infill program was spudded in September and Chevron expects drilling to be completed next month. Future infill programs are scheduled for 2010 and 2012.

The Australian - Royal Society attacks global biofuels

In its first report for 2008 the independent scientific academy of Britain and the Commonwealth warns that biofuels risk failing to deliver significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and could even be environmentally damaging unless the right policies are put in place.

Although the Royal Society study into sustainable biofuels is essentially concerned with the British experience relating to the European Union directive on biofuels that requires 5 per cent of transport fuels to be derived from biofuels by 2010 and 10 per cent by 2020, its findings have global ramifications.

This is particularly true in Australia, where hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies have been used in an attempt to build up a biofuels industry, essentially independent of other policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In November the CSIRO reported that in the Australian context, biodiesel was most effective at reducing greenhouse gas emissions when it was made from used cooking oil, rather than tallow, palm oil or canola, the feedstocks most favoured by new industry entrants.

The Royal Society report warns that biofuels "have a limited ability to replace fuels and should not be regarded as a 'silver bullet' to deal with transport emissions". - Is peak oil a factor in rising oil prices ?

The Australian - Otto Energy barrels in with a potential 'elephant' field

First oil is expected from its Galoc project in the Philippines in April, which has proven and probable reserves of 23 million barrels, while the Calauit field is appraised with initial oil, expected late in the year. Calauit's proved and probable reserves are 5.9 million barrels gross. Otto has three other prospects in the Philippines, which it expects to assess for drilling this year, including a potential "elephant" that has a resource potential for several billion barrels of oil or many trillion cubic feet of gas in a new exploration area, offshore from Palawan.

NZ Herald - Heat pump sales increase squeezing out solid fuel

Initial findings of a report to be released this year by Branz Ltd, a research, testing, consultancy and educational service for the building industry, indicate New Zealanders are moving away from solid fuel heating. Branz energy scientist Lisa French recently completed a national survey which looked at how heat pumps were used in New Zealand.

She said the increased use of heat pumps could mean higher annual average consumption of electricity but the pumps were highly effective. "Most users of heat pumps are very happy with their decision, despite the trend towards an increase in the overall use of electricity."

The Australian - Uranium mining company's licence at risk

ABC - EPA gives green light to Honeymoon uranium mine

The Age - Trying to decipher symphony of the ice

"On the east, as best we can tell, the amount of ice discharged into the sea and the amount of snow falling is roughly in balance," says Tas van Ommen, glaciologist and principal research scientist at AAD. "We haven't seen any clear sign of change, unlike the west, where there is clearly ongoing ice loss that is definitely attached to global warming, well outside the natural variability. "In both cases, east and west, what concerns us is that we don't have a good understanding of what we call the basal processes — what's happening at the base of the ice sheet, the interface of the ice and the land or ocean beneath. And what we don't capture well in our climate models could lead to more rapid loss of ice than we've been predicting till now."

Alternative Fuels Australia - When Will The Air Car Be Available ?

SMH - Green Woolies to change fridges, lights

SMH - A city for its citizens, not cars

The Poison Dwarf - California Dreaming

Kiashu - On measures of well-being

The more things change the more they stay the same. Ferguson is curiously echoing R.F.X. Connor his counterpart in the Whitlam Government. His immediate predecessor Ian MacFarlane pushed the flog-it-asap line. Look what happened not only to his boss John Howard but to Tony Blair who ushered in the collapse of North Sea gas. Maybe APPEA can't remember anything from as long ago as last year.

Personally I think resource nationalism could be an agent of necessary change. For example I think yellowcake sales should have strings attached.

Wasn't Barrow Island supposed to be used for CO2 reinjection? A molecular sieve at a distant LNG train (Burrup?) was supposed to separate CO2 which would be pumped out to the island then beneath it. Perhaps the oil masters have sussed that our new gubmint is not fair dinkum about reducing CO2.

Barrow island is where the Gorgon LNG plant will be.

As I understand it, the CO2 is supposed to be injected into saline aquifers under the island, not into the oil fields...