The Bullroarer - Friday 2nd May 2008 - Shoplifting up as fuel prices surge, say retailers

PETROL station drive-offs and shoplifting are increasing as record fuel prices, interest rates and inflation make people desperate. - Road projects at risk as oil price rises

Soaring fuel prices are biting into roading budgets, raising the spectre of abandoned developments and reduced maintenance.

This is an emerging trend, and I think we need to be conscious of it. Exploration is risky, and last year it didn't pay off for a lot of companies. To ensure better financial rewards for shareholders, many companies are using rigs to improve productivity of current fields, rather than going out and finding new fields. The long-term consequence is obvious.
SMH - Oil Search says it needs better programs

Oil and gas producer Oil Search Ltd says it needs to conduct better drilling programs and improve the accuracy of its production forecasts.

Chairman Brian Horwood told shareholders at the annual general meeting in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, on Friday that the company had fallen short of its production targets in the past few years.

"While exploration will continue to be a very important part of our business, the exploration budget for 2008 is considerably lower than in 2007, with a focus on prioritisation of targets, optimising our equity positions and reducing risk."

TV3 NZ - Growing crops for fuel threatening world food supplies

The impact of rising food prices around the world prompted President George W. Bush tonight to promise a $US770 in food aid for the poorest countries.

ITV has begun a global investigation into the causes of the high prices and grain shortages.

Attention is now being directed at the boom in crops being grown for bio-fuels - instead of for desperately needed food. - Gloom as economy decelerates

New Zealand's economic growth is "stalling at best" in the first half of the year, the latest business confidence survey show. - Low lakes threaten power supply

Extremely low hydro power lake storage is a significant concern, but a public electricity savings campaign will only be started if severe drought continues, Transpower says.

The Australian - Gas deal is a good omen for fuel future

THE $13 billion takeover bid for Origin Energy by Britain's BG Group should concentrate the minds of Australia's policy-makers about why we are not doing enough to utilise the nation's most abundant energy resource, gas. Ironically, the BG takeover bid, which is based around sending Australian gas to Asia, is exactly what is needed to help build Australia's own energy security. It may lead to higher local gas prices but it also points the way to breaking Australia's dependence on imported crude oil.
Put simply, a higher oil price and acceptance of the need to combat global warming have dramatically changed the world's energy equation. Gas, in particular, is much more attractive both as a replacement for coal for electricity generation and potentially as a transport fuel in the form of compressed natural gas and liquefied natural gas or converted into synthetic diesel.

The Australian - Santos surges on speculation

AUSTRALIA'S listed coal seam methane (CSM) sector rocketed to a record high yesterday, adding $1 billion to the value of 17 listed stocks, as speculation mounted that the super oil majors, along with the Japanese and Chinese oil giants, would make a move on the sector following BG Group's $12.9 billion bid for Origin Energy.

The Australian - LNG buyers paying more: Woodside

CONSUMERS of liquefied natural gas are today more willing to pay as much as they would for oil to use the cleaner energy source, according to Woodside Petroleum.

"Buyers are increasingly prepared to pay prices for LNG which are close to oil-price equivalent," despite huge jumps in oil prices, Woodside Petroleum chairman Michael Chaney said.

LNG - gas that has been cooled to liquid for transport in ships - has previously been supplied at a cheaper rate than oil, but demand is surging as energy use grows and countries seek cleaner forms of energy than oil and coal.

SMH - Qld geothermal exploration permit issued

The Queensland government has issued its first exploration permit for geothermal energy.

Mines and Energy Minister Geoff Wilson has announced NSW company Granite Power Ltd has been granted a permit to carry out the preliminary work needed to begin using the emerging energy source.

Radio NZ - The Auckland Regional Council wants to cut down on long-term parking in the region.

In its draft parking strategy, the council is calling on local councils to reduce the amount of all-day parking in business and shopping centres as public transport improves.

ARC's chair of the transport and urban development committee, Christine Rose, says there is no point investing in public transport if it is contradicted by cheap or long-stay car parking. - Clean-coal investment adds power to Victoria

Exergen is developing technology to remove 80% of the moisture from brown coal, effectively upgrading it to the equivalent of sub-bituminous black coal. ...
Once the engineering study is completed, it is anticipated building will begin on a demonstration-scale plant, lasting between 12 and 18 months, at a site in the Latrobe Valley.
"The same site will then be expanded into a commercial-scale facility," Mr Kukla said. "Once we get to that stage, we're talking about a $600 million facility." It is anticipated that the plant will supply coal to Latrobe Valley power stations and to export markets.

Interesting one - thanks for posting that link (BTW - if any of you see any relevant news items feel free to post the to the latest BullRoarer thread - its quite hard trying to scan all the local media, especially when we are trying to write longer pieces as well).

Boof - aren't you near Beaconsfield ?

Indian multinational company Tata Power and Australian engineering services company Sedgman yesterday announced their investment at Beaconsfield, Tasmania, the site of Exergen's pilot plant. They join foundation investor Thiess.

Does anyone know what magical upgrade process they are using ?

"The beauty of the technology is that it's so elegantly simple that it's highly efficient," Exergen general manager Greg Kukla said. "It uses very little energy, it's almost energy neutral."

I live in SW not NE Tas. Ferguson was on telly saying this process would lead to brown coal exports. Huh? From a gold mine a few hundred metres from the Tamar River. I think brown coal in Australia is about 70 Mtpa for electricity and some cement manufacture, plus 25-50% extra CO2 compared to black coal.

The other coal story in Tas is that the grid was 30+% coalfired in April via Basslink HVDC due to local drought. The connector being close to Victoria's La Trobe Valley. That figure was 0% in 2005 before the cable. Hydro spent over $100m in April importing that as well as peaking gas from fields such as Basker. The Hydro is going to get into run-of-river mini hydros and also look at offsets. When trees are dying due to drought? They are against a biomass burning generator proposed by a logging firm.

Poppy seed oil is to be made into biodiesel for use in Hobart buses and small islands. Two reasons I suspect are that the Taleban have flooded the market for opiate feedstock and the caterpillars that plague canola will OD on the poppies.

I have a question for Hydro; if they are getting a hot graphite block for King Island does that mean they are unhappy with the vanadium redox batteries? One more question; why not use pumped hydro to smooth windpower? The rain may be less but the wind will still blow under GW, I think.

I thought the Taliban stopped the drug trade (back about 8 years ago or so) - the tinfoil community believes this is one of the reasons the US / UK are staying in Afghanistan forever - to stop them doing it again ! There are some pretty funny stories in the press about this if you keep an eye out for them and are sufficiently cynical (or just read something like Cryptogon and let him do it for you).

I talked about the King Island graphite vs vanadium issue in my post on graphite storage - it wasn't clear exactly what the issue was but some visiting SA parliamentarian noted they were unhappy with the batteries - if you ask them and get a response let me know what the story is.

You know, you could argue that if we (Oz) really wanted to help the Afghanis, we would show them how to make morphine out of them thar poppies. If we really really believed in the free market.

Oh wait, we grown them too...

The Taliban supported the drug trade while fighting the civil war, to get funds to fight, they stopped it while in power (and got a few hundred million from the UN and US to do so), but nowadays since they're rebels again they're buddies with the growers again.

See for example this report about the Taliban protecting growers, or this one noting that Afghanistan now supplies 90% of the world's opium.

Basically it was all predictable. Any insurgency needs money, and so will commit crimes of smuggling of all kinds (drug, arms, any taxed goods like cigarettes) or at least co-operate with and provide protection to criminal groups.

Sure - I don't doubt that Afghanistan is once again the source of most of the world's opium.

And no doubt the insurgents are involved in trafficking it (or extracting protection money from those who do so).

But I gather the warlords who are running the provinces are also heavily involved - and I think they have had their fingers in this pie for a long time.

The Age

Hybrid car to be built at Altona

Katharine Murphy, Canberra
May 3, 2008

MELBOURNE is set to become the new production home of Toyota's hybrid Camry, with negotiations between Australia and Japan likely to conclude by mid-year.

While the high-level talks are not yet wrapped up, sources have told The Age that senior Toyota executives in Tokyo are now strongly behind making the company's Altona plant the regional production base for the green Camry, provided the right government incentives are secured.

The Federal Government is working towards agreement from Toyota in time for an announcement by the end of July, a timetable that would approximately coincide with the release of the impending Bracks review of the automotive sector, which reports on July 31.