The Bullroarer - Friday 4th April 2008

New Zealand Herald - Are biofuels the solution to upcoming fuel and climate challenges?

Some are urging caution over biofuels, particularly because it was likely that some would have to be imported to meet the mandatory sales levels the Government is proposing.

International debate about the merits of biofuels is heating up, and concerns about the destruction of rainforests and rising food prices are making headlines around the globe.

Are biofuels the solution to upcoming fuel and climate challenges? Here is the latest selection of Your Views:

Courier Mail - Oil firms bump up profit on diesel

MOTORISTS with diesel cars are paying as much as 25¢ more a litre than drivers whose cars use unleaded fuel, despite diesel being cheaper to make.

Oil company profit margins were also 17 times higher for diesel than for unleaded petrol.

Herald Sun - Costs hit oil search

A DRAMATIC rise in costs resulted in a 70 per cent increase in oil and gas drilling expenditure last year, but the amount of exploration fell.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief executive Belinda Robinson said yesterday the figures reflected strong cost pressures and equipment shortages.

"Despite the number of exploration metres and wells drilled decreasing, expenditure increased by around $1 billion, representing a 70 per cent increase," Ms Robinson said.

"This is a stark illustration of the impact of rising costs and equipment shortages.

New Zealand Herald - The Good Oil

New Zealand Oil and Gas recently took analysts out to see its Taranaki facilities, showing some smarts by getting some Australians along who were on their way to a presentation by Contact in Queenstown.

In addition to its 12.5 per cent stake in the Tui oil field and 15 per cent in Kupe, the bright prospects for coal likely mean its Pike River investment will prove a good one, various setbacks aside. But chief executive David Salisbury and his team are also talking up their two exploration opportunities in the Tui area with drilling expected next year.

THe Gisborne Herald - Emergency services hit by fuel cost

Emergency services are being forced to tighten their purse strings as the cost of fuel in this district continues to spiral skywards.

Daily Reckoning - Australian Edition - Rising Resource Prices Keeping Aussie Economy Afloat

Rising resource prices for tangibles like coal, iron ore, and gold should continue to generate earnings growth for Aussie exporters. It's true that energy costs are rising for Aussie producers and the strong local dollar puts a dent in earnings.

When you get right down to it, though, the resource sector has a much better chance to grow earnings this year and next than the financial sector. The resource boom is, "generating an enormous amount of income for the Australian economy and it is not obvious that it is going away any time soon," Reserve Bank governor Warwick Mckibbin told David Uren in today's Australian.

ABN NewswireBowen Energy Limited (ASX:BWN) Announce Commencement of Coal Seam Drilling EPC1045

Potential for extensive coking coal accumulations contained in the area

New Zealand Herald - NZ Faces Long Wait For Electric Cars

Car-making titans are being urged to consider making New Zealand a big showroom to the world - for electric vehicles running on its clean renewable energy.

Although industry leaders such as Mitsubishi and General Motors are preparing to sell new electric or extended-range "plug-in hybrid" vehicles in various markets over the next two years, New Zealanders may have to wait longer for them.

Government electricity generator Meridian Energy admits difficulties trying to obtain demonstration models for trials it wants to conduct this year, with keen backing from Energy Minister David Parker, and using "zero carbon" power from its hydro lakes and windfarms.

From The Age

These first two focus on Melbourne's recently released "transport plan".

Right track but wrong assumptions
Eddington's report neglects greenhouse emission targets.

Projects that don't make a strategy
Megaprojects, particularly a road tunnel, may not be the answer to transport needs.

$72 million for green energy plan
RENEWABLE energy projects involving solar, wave and geothermal power will receive a funding boost of more than $70 million as part of the first stage of a State Government strategy to tackle climate change.

To put this into perspective the "transport plan" is billed at around $12 billion - mostly for freeways and other such... with a hint of rail (which will probably get dropped).

The planet shows us who's got the power
WELL, what a difference a week makes. Do you remember? This time last week when we were breathlessly counting down to Earth Hour and how proud we all felt for signing up to candlelit dinners and the turning off of all the non-essential lighting that happily burns its head off for every other hour of the year?

Earth Hour was, by all accounts, a tremendous success. Some 40 countries took part including millions of Australians who saved thousands and thousands of black balloon-fulls of deadly carbon dioxide emissions and registered an impressive 11.4% drop in energy consumption in the process. Well done us.

And then we switched all the lights back on and carried on burning non-renewable fossils fuels courtesy of the electricity grid. We'd done our bit for the planet, we'd engaged in a national conversation about acting local and thinking global and the planet, we felt sure, would be thankful for the gesture. Or so we thought. In what can only be described as a masterstroke of timing, the Earth decided to show us a thing or two about sitting in the dark and, boy, did the planet deliver. Just days after we'd banked our Earth Hour carbon credits the so-called "freak storm" that wreaked havoc over Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon certainly said a thing or two about the realities of climate change.

The gale-force winds, dust storms and rain that resulted in widespread destruction and blackouts across much of the state hit with such ferocity that tens of thousands of homes were still without power 48 hours later. And the people, it has to be said, went a little loopy. It was one thing for us to decide to turn off our lights voluntarily for one hour but it was entirely out of order for the Earth to decide it would teach us a thing or two about a sustainable power supply — over several days.

Its amazing when you look at how much money we waste on complete crap and think how much renewable energy or energy efficiency we could buy for the same amount of money.

It didn't take Kev long to increase the military commitment to Afghanistan, which I believe was running around $350m pa. If that doubles and there is no result within 10 years that is a hell of a lot of renewables that could have built up. For example progressively fit a solar PV or HWS to every rooftop in Australia. Military glory seeking is one of those delusions the fossil fuel economy lets us entertain. One day there won't be spare cash for either renewables or war.

Actually the plan is for $18 billion.

- a $9 billion, 18km tunnel between Deer Park and Clifton Hill. I can assure you no-one travels between those places... no exit points in the CBD, is the plan.
- an $8 billion, 17km rail tunnel from Footscray to Caulfield.

Both are stupid ideas.

Our railways are a mess, and it's bad management. In 1927 they carried more passengers than today; in 1952 they had twice as many services as today. Of course in that time they had manual signals - some guy would step out of a hut with a stick and push the little sign this way or that - and manual track changes - the same guy with a crowbar would move the track.

Now it's all computerised and "efficient" and they provide less services and carry less passengers. What's happened is that Connex has inherited the old bureaucratic mindset of the government department. You know how you get those guys at work who do the least work they can without getting sacked? Well, this lot is the same: they provide the least services they can without losing the government contract.

They don't run it as a business. They complain that they have too many passengers and can't provide services for them all. In what real business would you consider lots of customers to be an undesirable problem?

It could be that they know that until the State buys them out, they can always get a bailout/subsidy? How many 100s of millions have they been given over the years? Anyway, what's a few billion between friends?

Perhaps their performance metric is movements per passenger?

The cynic in me says that "the Government" off loaded the network because they didn't want to
1/. spend the money to upgrade it and
2/. didn't want the risk of "failure".
So outsource the risk. If it goes wrong it's now in the private sector... nothing to do with them... "the market" will sort it out! Then they appear to do something by releasing plans and emergency packages.

The same for the electricity network.

Meanwhile, instead of helping to transition to new jobs, industries and technologies, we support the mega construction companies by pouring concrete to nowhere.

Its Kunstlerish. Support those construction jobs to support those (ever diminishing) car jobs and support the real estate releases at the fringe. Every step in isolation can probably be quantifiably justified... but over all its a roundabout to an unsustainable cul-de-sac.

But perhaps as currently measured in $$$ this kind of stupid investment gives you your biggest hit of apparent GDP growth, and therefore justifies your policies where growth is king.

The mantra is if you aren't "growing" you are "stagnating". Which is ironic to me, as stagnation (in ponds) is the result of over growth!