Andris Piebalgs' priority number one

Last week's log entry by Andris Piebalgs starts this way:

Which is the best energy source? This is not an easy question. If we are to apply the European Energy policy, it has to be a source of energy that contributes to our security of supply, that is low carbon and that increases the competitively our economy. Several energy sources answer this question. Renewables, for sure. Some people argue that nuclear is the right choice. Others that we have affordable fossil fuels for many years, and with a bit of carbon capture and storage we can continue our hydrocarbonated lives, like we have done for the last 80 years. All these solutions have its defenders and its opponents. But none of them is my favourite.

Crossposted at The European Tribune.

After an awkward start with bio-fuels, Andris Piebalgs is finally addressing EU's energy future objectively. In a nutshell:

For me the best energy is the energy that we don’t use. In other words, energy efficiency. There is no cleaner kilowatt/hour than the one we don’t consume. Every cubic meter of gas we don’t burn makes us a cubic meter less dependent on foreign supplies. Every barrel of petrol that we don’t need makes our economy a barrel less vulnerable to volatile oil prices.

These few sentences address many of the issues raised by the commentators at Andris' blog during the past weeks. But there is more to it than simply facing the coming energy decline, an Energy Efficiency policy can have economic upturns:

To make things more interesting, when we make an investment in energy efficiency we create jobs and growth in Europe. Let’s put the case of better insulation for your house. Putting double glazed windows certainly is an investment that has a cost. So has your gas bill. The difference is that the cost of the windows will go to a European window company, and will be installed by European workers. Your double-glazed window will not only help to reduce your gas bill and your greenhouse gas emissions, increase the comfort of your house, but will also help to create new window companies and installer jobs. The alternative consists of taking your hard earned euros and sending them to rich oil and gas producing countries.

This all sounds better than the hollow bio-fuel talk. As we've seen previously at TOD:E some states in the EU have poor records on GDP unit generated per Fossil Fuel unit consumed. This could be a good measure of how this policy gets under way. As discussed, the 2000$ / boe could be a tentative target for every state of the EU (accounting for currency oscillations).

Some commentators were fast in reminding that Jevons' Paradox may indeed imply a different outcome than what would otherwise be expected from energy efficiency improvements. But for energy consumption to increase in face of a technological development, there has to be surplus supply, which at least for Oil and Natural Gas today is not the case.

There are two extra advantages for a Energy Efficiency lead policy in today's energy landscape:

  • Alternative energy sources have their own timings entering the market. Even if there’s a political shift towards some alternative(s), technological development might constrain its growth (e.g. Photo-voltaics) hence Efficiency might be the best short-term policy against energy constraints;

  • Energy Efficiency is popular. It is hard for anyone to be against it, the dependence on foreign sources diminishes as so the bills by the end of the month.

Finally the announcement of how this policy is taking shape:

Certainly, there are many things that the Commission can do at political level, and I’m proud to announce that 2008 will be the European year of energy efficiency. During these 12 months I plan to come up with a number of energy efficiency legislative proposals, including a stronger energy efficiency in buildings directive; a new energy efficiency labelling directive; new standards for energy efficiency in various groups of products; a Covenant of Mayors for energy efficiency and last but not least, an international agreement on energy efficiency that I hope to sign in Japan next June. In my next entry I will explain all these proposals in detail.

The Commission's website on Energy Efficiency can be found here. Also in the Commision's website you can download a copy of the Energy Green Paper (available in 19 different languages), where the 20% savings figure was divised. The english version can be downloaded directly from here [pdf!].

This political path for Energy security can only be well received. Let's hope that the European year of energy efficiency initiative can be a fruitful one.

Previous coverage of Andris Piebalgs blog:

Andris Piebalgs : getting a sense of proportion

Andris Piebalgs on Bio Fuels

Piebalgs on European Energy Security

Andris Piebalgs' Blog

Luís de Sousa

Well, it sounds as though he's getting more sensible and practical which is good news.

But Luís, I would not be so sure about your comment:

Energy Efficiency is popular. It is hard for anyone to be against it, the dependence on foreign sources diminishes as so the bills by the end of the month.

If that were the case the UK government would stop roadbuilding plans and be re-nationalising and expanding the rail network. If that were the case the UK government would be following many of the excellent and numerous examples in Germany, Sweden, Holland and so on regarding feed-in tariffs, local CHP, insulation and conservation grants on a realistic scale. But we have none of these things - what we have is a proposed new centralised inefficient coal-fired power station, an expansion of inefficient centralised nuclear power, Terminal 5 and the proposed Heathrow airport expansion. All of these are looking toward wasting, expanding or maintaining our energy supply from non-renewable sources and bumping up our CO2 emissions into the bargain.

Any centralised, big-energy source will create relatively few jobs compared to small scale and more resilient local power generation and local building insulation and refurbishment work aimed at energy efficiency and demand reduction. That small and obvious point doesn't seem to have made it into the heads of the Powers That Be either!

Maybe the Gordon Brown Party ought to start reading the same material that is now informing Mr Piebalgs' thinking and then putting it into practice. We can but hope.

Building roads and airport terminals creates jobs. The problem with Energy Effiency is that it is still percieved simply as a means to restrain consumption, which doesn't fit in the current economic thinking.

Andris Piebalgs seems to be one of the polititians that has already made the leap from that way of thiking.

It also stimulates demand. When expanding an existing road it will ease the journey and reduce the time and in many places then more people will use their car to make the journey which they previously would not have made for example, driving further for jobs.

I am always suspicious when someone is advertising his ideas with the argument that "they would create jobs". If creating jobs was always good by itself the best thing to do is to hire every unemployed around to dig holes by hand and then fill them back again.

Clearly jobs which in reality correspond to money a society spends, have to be balanced against the other part of the equation - the benefits they bring. This is what is missing from Andris' arguments - the simple economics of what he's advocating. Investing in efficiency is not always the wisest thing - for example if you already have 10 inch of insulation making that to 20 inch is not going to bring you much extra benefit, and certainly not for the money you spend. Without economic analysis, such pleads smell more like another calls for subsidies and more government pork.

Another irritating thing is the use such large grained indicators as "fossil fuels used per euro of GDP". Which fossil fuels and whose GDP? Is it fair to compare UK with its easy access to natural gas with GDP mostly comprising of overvalued financial services, to more industrial Poland which has nothing but coal?

Otherwise I am also welcoming this refreshing shift away from biofuels of Andris Piebalgs. I am tempted to hope that his experience with contacting the public has helped him realize how disastrous idea biofuels are going to turn out to be in the long run (at least these biofuels produced with current technology).

If creating jobs was always good by itself the best thing to do is to hire every unemployed around to dig holes by hand and then fill them back again.

What do you prefer, to be unemployed or to have a job?

Is it fair to compare UK with its easy access to natural gas with GDP mostly comprising of overvalued financial services, to more industrial Poland which has nothing but coal?

Coal and Natural Gas are both fossil fuels, why can't they be compared? And both states have Transport infrastructures largely based on Oil.

Still, I'm all ears for alternative metrics.

What do you prefer, to be unemployed or to have a job?

Would you want your taxes to be spent for digging holes in the sea?

Still, I'm all ears for alternative metrics.

What about real net* CO2 emitted per capita? It is safe to say that a Polish, Italian or a UK citizen have pretty much the same needs and wants. If the Italian citizens emit more GHG per capita then the UK ones, Italy should be incentivised to reduce its emissions and UK should be rewarded. This is the only fair approach to the problem.

GDP-metrics is loaded with so much crap inside it and by definition rewards rich countries on the expense of poorer ones, developed service-oriented economies on the expense of poor, production oriented economies. I wonder why are they still using it?... or is this a rhetorical question?

* For the products and services a country exports, the CO2 emitted during their production and transport must be subtracted from its total emissions. Similarly the CO2 used for producing its imports in the origin country must be added to the country's emission.

Ah! CO2! How could I have forgotten that?

Hope you are not being sarcastic here, because in case you do I fail to see the reason.

For the record I wasn't really addressing the CO2 or boe part of the indicatior, but the GDP part. Using higher GDP as a justification to pollute more or use more FFs for me is borderline absurd.

Investing in efficiency is not always the wisest thing - for example if you already have 10 inch of insulation making that to 20 inch is not going to bring you much extra benefit, and certainly not for the money you spend. Without economic analysis, such pleads smell more like another calls for subsidies and more government pork.

I think your insulation must be made of straw , at least it sounds like a strawman argument to me. Of course investing in adding unneeded pork at this point would not only be useless, it borders on stupid and unethical. However I find it beyond disingenuous to imply that a widely implemented policy of conservation would be a bad thing. What is even more important is that it seems Piebalgs seems to be initiating the necessary paradigm shift from status quo to what needs to be. To the point is that right now nothing could be wiser than that!

To the point is that right now nothing could be wiser than that!

Under different circumstances and in a perfect world I would certainly agree. But my impression is that efficiency measures way too often turn into smoke and mirror for the populace... a political show for the masses to convince the sheeple that we are doing something.
Here are few types of smoke:
1) Feel good measures of token importance. How much good for example the initiative not to use plastic bags? If you drove to the store instead of taking the bus you would burn hundreds of times the energy used to make a plastic bag, but no biggy, we are still green aren't we?
2) Schizophrenic policies. I despise for example the policies of Germany with their obsession with super-insulated houses and wind mills on one hand and on another no speed limits on the autobans, production of muscle cars and a alive and healthy coal industry, even rewarded with increased emission quotas.

The bottom line: the devil is in the details and what exactly AP will suggest. I admit I have a preconception about him and the EC in general and I wouldn't say I am thrilled with this latest jump to the efficiency bandwagon.

Let's face it, politicians are in the business of making people believe that they will be better off doing A than doing B, and if A creates jobs and cuts the gas bill then all the better. Taking politics out of the equation is not going to solve anything - it is the world that we live in. As far as I'm concerned, any initiative taken to reduce consumption rather than switching to a new source to depend on (ex. corn ethanol) is a great agenda to push. The price of oil is rising, and with it are all the alternative sources of fuel, heating, and even food.

"Efficiency is not always the wisest thing.."? Are you kidding me? At this point in time, we'd better become more efficient or figure out how to live in a seriously energy-difficient world. If everyone lived and worked in energy efficient homes and buildings we might not be in this predicament right now. It's time to change our attitudes and make conscious decisions to invest in technologies that are going to cut our consumption levels significantly no matter the cost.

From what has been said recently on the Oil Drum and elsewhere, ethanol is no longer the way to go. It wreaks havoc on world food prices will making no significant dent on our oil dependency. Now is the time to start talking efficiency, whether it cuts jobs or increases them. Any politician who is willing to take any kind of stand to that effect is okay in my books. If he/she has to do a little "embellishing" to get their policy through then so be it.

Energy Efficiency Nationalism vs. Resource Nationalism couched as growing local economies. What is it with always invoking the "Us vs. Them" mantra?

#1 priority should be grid-tied solar systems on all new construction,homes and businesses alike. The only way to do that is through a government mandate. Like it or not,the world is going all-electric,and soon. We should do it as cleanly as possible.

Hi Perry1961,

I think you forgot the caveat "where it makes sense" :-) In Northern Europe the sun shines weakly and some countries have heavy cloud cover with strong winds. In these cases it might make more sense to go for windmills with solar water heating and an even higher priority might be to install good insulation to reduce energy demands?

But yes, we need government mandate and starting very soon not in several years time.

Am I the only one who gets a slightly disingenuous feeling of all this?

First, it's now April of 2008.

All politicians understand that in order to get something done in year X, it has to be prepared and planned 1-3 years in advance.

So, claiming 2008 the year of Energy efficiency sounds more like lip service to me.

No, don't get me wrong, I'm not against efficiency as I believe Japan has historically shown that it is possible to beat at least part of the Jevon's paradox.

But I think we should make 2010-2020 the decade of efficiency and start planning for it now: on all levels of administration and publicly commit to it, so that even if politicians change at the parliament, there is no way to backpedal.

Then, perhaps then, we can have significant and long lasting changes that go through consumer, corporate, governmental and other sectors, and start to change how we think about efficiency.

After all, even if we succeeded in 2008, what about all the years after that if we don't change the way we think?

Efficiency is not a one year gimmick trend, it's a way of thinking and doing that is constantly trying to improve on itself.

PS Granted, having 2008 as the 'half a year of efficiency' is better than nothing, let's just hope we don't spoil it so badly that it leaves a bad taste in the mouth of politicians and it won't be tried again for another 10 years...

Actually I think this is far more hollow than the biofuels post. I agree with it more, but think that calls for conservation (decreasing demand) without any means of making it happen is only slightly better than saying we will increase supply.

Either one needs to be followed up with a how and a way of analysing the potential scale, cost and viability of the plan.

At the end of the day, conservation is only accomplished at the barrel of a gun. Just saying people will use less is meaningless.

Conservation will only happen through incentives: either taxes on fuel use, or rewards for better practices. The first is unpopular, the second expensive. But at least one is needed to move from greenwash pipedream to plan or priority.

My thoughts exactly... I'm afraid I was not as clear as you in my post above. Yes, efficiency is good, but where, how, by how much, at what cost?

Just waving out the "Let's raise efficiency" slogan is reminding me of the good old socialist times. There were similar slogans back then, but not substantiated by anything meaningful... the caravan kept going pretty much like it always did.


I also find the assumption that the double-pane windows would be manufactured locally suspect.

As a US resident, I'd expect the jobs to be created in Mexico or China, were a double-pane mandate issued.

Mr Pielbalgs is obviously a respected member of the community, I apologize in advance.

The main Crisis appears to be tied into PER CAPITA ENERGY CONSUMPTION.

The whining Europeans and the belligerent Americans have been revisiting this "Consevation" thing ad-nauseum. North America actually managed to make a paper Oil-saving after the 1970's oil crisis. We all put in double and tripple pane windows, had timed energy and lighting zones in buildings and a whole spate of smart things.

We almost looked intelligent, then somehow we went totally crazy and started to waste energy like there was no tomorrow.

Why do we keep whipping this dead Consevation horse? its not going to happen.

The whole of Europe plus the US are now less than 1/3 of those Per Capita energy users, whose dictionaries do not have conservation in them.

Let me tell us all a sad story.

In the 1980's Canada's East Coast Cod declined badly. The Govt did its usual wimping act until circumstances finally made then actually place restrictions on the catch. ---------- Well all hell broke loose. The Fishermen and the Industry demanded their right to rape the resource to pay their mortgages and feed their families.

Surprise !!!! the cod are no more. But it gets worse.

in the 1990's The Canadian West Coast Salmon Fishery declined precipitously. The wimping government pretended to hide until the crisis got so bad that they had to impose restrictions. ---------- All hell broke loose, the industry demanded their right to rape the resource in order to pay their mortgages and feed their families.

Bigger Surprise!!!! The Canadian West Coast salmon fishery is no more. But it gets worse.

Just this week the news mentioned that US West Coast salmon industry has reached its limits.

Surprise !!!!!!!! boat and fishery owners are not going to "conserve" a single fish but will try to catch them before the "other guys" do.

Lets not have any more of this silly Conservation talk.

I've used a new nano-tech coating that has reduced our utility bills by about 30% with approximately 60% of our interior done.You will want to use the clear coat as it has twice the insulating value as the tintable.We have a 1927 built house with no insulation in the side walls.The north bed room is my wifes dressing room and has always been 5 degrees colder than the room 7ft across the hall.After coating you can't tell the difference and now the back of the house is warmer than the front where the thermostat is located.In the next two weeks I'll be doing the front half of the house. Nansulate has by this mornings press release been approved by the EU's building code board. Industrial Nanotech/nansulate.

If you are interested in the truly devastating effect that humans have had on the seas, I can recommend

The Unnatural History of the Sea
by Callum Roberts

as an excellent, very readable book on the subject.

Renewable Ali

Hello all tod's.
Conservation works. Jevons paradox also works. It is the extra energy spending of money saved that reduces the actual savings. And this is where Government should regulate - taxes and regulations.

In my car going 86 mph I go 32.5 mpg. Reducing speed to 68 mph the consumption is
41.7 mpg.
In 1985 I used 660 gallon US oil to heat my home.New windows, modest insulation ( 5-7 Inches) plugging gaps, new efficient furnance etc means that the last year I spent 380 US gallon. After further renovation hot water solar etc. I plan in 2 years to end up spending 240 US gallon a year for heating, ready for the next efficiency drive :-).

Conservation works for me and should work elsewhere on any level of spending.
Turning your indoor temperature 1 oC down - saves approx. 7% energy in any building in temperate climate. Simple as that. Reducing your heated area saves energy. To produce a one ton car (metal, rubber, plastic electronics etc)costs 1200 gallon fuel oil according to LCA research at VW.

So buying a one ton car instead of a 2 ton car saves 1200 gallon fuel oil eqvivalent energy.
The production of 10 ft2 home in Europe cost approx 1 bbl oil. If you do not build you save one bbl. Simple as that. Conservation works fine and you can start today. You do not need to wait for someone else :-)
Piebalgs is on the right track. His proposals for legislation and directives seems basically ok. But in the EU it is the national governments that decide what to do and when. Proposals must be approved and legislation changed. This delays implementation.

Reducing the European base energy load will benefit manifold. less currency loss, less supply problems and vastly more important. More political freedom for the EU to maneuver towards energy suppliers. Piebalgs track record so far is excellent. He walks the talk.

Kind regards/And1

It is the extra energy spending of money saved that reduces the actual savings. And this is where Government should regulate - taxes and regulations.

First sentence: you’ve hit the nail on the head.
Second sentence: I’m not so sure. Taxes don’t just disappear – they end up getting spent as well. Regulations have much the same effect as taxes – for example, a speed limit of 30 mph might force you to reduce your fuel consumption, but again that also means more to spend on something else.

Heads you lose, tails you lose.

Mandating high insulation for chilly Germany is especially important because most of the population rents. Homeownership is low. Landlords often underinvest in insulation, when left to their own devices, and so do renters.

I'm fine with some grossly wasteful displays of energy usage (V12 muscle cars on the autobahn, jacuzzis, yachts) as long as they don't create dependency. At the appropriate time, people will just stop using them, and no harm done. Japan is very much car-crazy, as one might imagine for a country with seven international car companies, not to mention some pretty good motorcycle companies too, but it is mostly just for fun. They also have a spectacularly good train and bus system. When the time comes, people will just stop driving. It appears the time has already come for the younger generation, which prefers no-car urban living to the vast expense of owning a car that you only drive twice a month.

Thus, the goal should be to establish a basic infrastructure that doesn't use much energy. Notice I didn't say "conserve energy," as this implies something like turning down the thermostat. "Conservation" typically involves a tradeoff, in this case less fuel cost but less warmth. This is just an adjustment of an existing system. Rather, we should focus on new systems which inherently don't use that much energy. Nobody has to "conserve energy" when riding the train because the train is so much more efficient than a truck or personal automobile that it is irrelevant. (Also, the train company, which has significant $$$ savings from a 10% increase in efficiency, is doing all the work for you.) Likewise, we don't have to "turn down the thermostat" on a compact, superinsulated apartment because it takes so little energy to heat it anyway that there is not much to be gained by going from 68F to 63F.

Ideally, this means trains and well-insulated urban construction. By "urban" I mean walkably dense, which applies to Manhattan and also to some of the teeny villages that dot the French countryside. You can be very big but not urban (Phoenix), and very small and urban (Italian hill towns).

There will always be the "big men" who engage in wanton displays of consumption, whether it is burning piles of blankets like the natives of the Pacific Northwest or air conditioning a 12,000 sf McMansion today. In the big picture, there are so few of these people that what they do probably doesn't matter much.

Econguy writes:

There will always be the "big men" who engage in wanton displays of consumption, whether it is burning piles of blankets like the natives of the Pacific Northwest or air conditioning a 12,000 sf McMansion today. In the big picture, there are so few of these people that what they do probably doesn't matter much.

I think we'll have to start giving code numbers to our arguments.

Let's call the rebuttal of this claim 'SS101', where SS = sexual selection and 101 = introductory seminar in first year at the university of life. It's been articulated on several occasions by Nate Hagen, Darwinian, Georgescu-Roegenists like myself, and a number of other commenters.

The snag is that it is these 'wanton' men who attract the female of the species and who are thus more likely to reproduce and pass on the 'wantonness' gene. Girls prefer to lie back with the 'wantons' than with the ecologically aware tightwads, so to speak. And it's relative -- in an Indian village, the 'big spender' may be the guy who can afford a scooter, and the equivalent of a McMansion may be a hovel with a flush toilet.

So the next time you invite a girl up to see your 'superinsulated apartment', don't forget to let her know that it cost you a fortune to have your pad refurbished ...

Americans like to blah blah a lot but all it amounts to is that Their Way of Life Is Non-Negotiable.

Europeans -- and other people living in the developed world ex-US -- have a different view, which is why, when they interact with Americans, they tend to conclude that Americans are retarded.

It might sound like I am just flaming here, but I am serious. Many of the "arguments" around here on TOD, like the one above, sound to me like little more than a fever dream caused by SUV withdrawal.

I see your mistake!

There is no developed world outside of the US.

Actually, the great majority of fisherfolk in California and Oregon are for shutting-in the fishery until it rebounds.


"The world has vast amounts of coal -- at our current consumption rate, 167 years of proven reserves alone or 285 years of estimated reserves at current prices with current tech (4786 BBOE / ~0.046 GBOD / 365 days) -- with only minimal coal exploration due to a lack of need for any potentially more expensive supplies. At $5-15 per short ton delivered (907kg) of Powder River Basin coal (a price roughly similar to that of dirt), ~30MJ/kg (8.333 kWh/kg), and 40% power plant efficiency, the cost of coal in generating electricity is only $0.0017-$0.0050/kWh (a small fraction of plant operating costs). Even pricey central appalachian coal, at as much as $65 per short ton delivered, you're only spending $0.02/kWh for the energy. The price of even expensive appalachian coal could rise by an order of magnitude and it would still be a functional feedstock for electricity. Coal liquefaction, by comparison, is about 65% efficient, so if you can afford up to a $60/barrel contribution from the feedstock price, given that a barrel of oil is ~6.1GJ, you could pay as much as $175 per short ton of coal (over an order of magnitude more expensive than Powder River coal). Yet, this is compared to coal *delivered*, which it need not be; for liquefaction, coal can be gassified in-situ, saving mining and delivery costs."

Pete, never mind any external costs; I have a vast amount of inexpensive asbestos ceiling tiles available for your CTL bureau.

before thinking of a new energy source we still have a couple that we can drip to the last drop......
A part from that i am going to say that nuclear power is the wave of the future, once of course we figure out how to control the spill over effects of a nuclear accident(soil contamination and birth defects due to radiation)....but many countries are already using and planning to upgrade their nuclear energy sources....why would they do so if they did noy belive in it viability? European countries are the ones pushing strongest for nuclear power (Ireland and France...that i know of)

The UK needs to rethink its 'romantic' energy policy or face disaster

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 1:40am BST 10/04/2008

Wulf Bernotat, head of German power giant e.on, tells Ambrose Evans-Pritchard why the UK needs a policy rethink

Puffing on a Sumatran Nobel cigar, Germany's energy baron Wulf Bernotat has a few words of friendly warning for Britain: face up to the harsh realities of the global power crunch, or face strategic disaster.

Wulf’s bane: Dr Bernotat has told the UK to become realistic about its energy policy

"The UK is in a very bad situation. Roughly 40pc of its power is from coal, and 20pc from nuclear. It all needs to be replaced. But is anybody in the British Government out there making the case for clean coal? I don't see anybody," he said, speaking over a capuccino in Madrid.

Dr Bernotat, who heads Germany's power giant e.on, is no shrinking violet. Last year he lashed out at Brussels, calling the EU competition police a bigger threat to energy security than the Kremlin.
Brussels had forced e.on to cede its stake in the German grid as part of its anti-trust drive. He called it "expropriation", and blamed British officials - free-market vigilantes controlling the key levers of power in the EU's economic apparatus, as indeed they often do. Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper calls the commission a branch office of Whitehall.

"You cannot replace 60pc of the country's generating capacity just by betting on renewables, which is what the pressure groups are demanding. It will be decades before we reach that point, and until then Britain is going to need coal-fired units. I hope some realism comes through in energy policy," he said, speaking in near perfect English from his London days as a Shell executive. He was once in charge of Shell's operations in Eastern Europe, and Africa.

E.on - Europe's biggest private energy group - is itself taking a €6bn (£4.8bn) gamble on wind turbines, hydro and tide power, solar technology, and biomass (wood chips) over the next three years, hoping to double the share of renewables in its energy mix to 24pc by 2030. But green power alone cannot plug the gaping holes in Britain's grid.

Critics say Britain has been remarkably complacent for years on energy policy, despite the steady slide in oil and gas output from the North Sea since 1999. Crude output is falling 10pc a year, not helped by Labour's windfall taxes on Brent production. The country became a net importer of oil in 2006.

A series of energy White Papers have failed to grasp the nettle, raising the risk of eventual blackouts, or worse.

Crude output is falling 10pc a year, not helped by Labour's windfall taxes on Brent production.

I would argue that if government policies are currently reducing the rate oil is being pumped from the north sea or slowing the rate at which new production is brought online then that most definitely is helping.

I might have missed an announcement or something, does anybody know why the main site has been down so long?
Thank you