The Bullroarer - Thursday 14th August 2008

The Australian - Coalition threat to $2.5bn gas tax

THE Coalition is threatening to blow a $2.5 billion hole in the budget surplus unless Kevin Rudd guarantees that a new tax on North West Shelf oil and gas producers will not be passed on to Australian families.

In the latest threat to the Government's policy agenda, Acting Opposition Leader Julie Bishop has warned that there are real risks a new tax on condensate, a form of light crude oil, could be passed on to pensioners and families in the form of higher gas prices.

The Australian Online revealed on Tuesday that independent senator Nick Xenophon would not support the FuelWatch plan to force retailers to lock in prices for 24 hours, prompting a concession from the Government yesterday that it was prepared to listen to amendments. - Nat's energy policy is financial madness

The National Party's new energy policy is a tribute to cronyism and makes no economic sense, Green Party Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says.

"It ignores our biggest energy problem, transport fuels and the rising cost of oil, and relies on 'drill and hope'. No one with any common sense would invest in more subsidies to fossil fuels when New Zealand is so well endowed with renewable energy.

"Removing the energy efficiency standards that have saved consumers $148 million on their power bills so far, in favour of 'encouragement', will take us backwards.

"Their announcement, as new policy, a $1000 grant for solar water heating is something the Greens have already secured with Government and is already operating.

"The policy has no security of supply where fossil fuels are concerned."

SMH - Cue the sun: polluters back a solar system

A PROPOSAL to build the world's biggest solar power station in the outback within three years has been backed by some of the nation's biggest polluters, including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Woodside Petroleum.

The solar thermal plant would generate 250 megawatts of electricity at peak times, enough to power about 100,000 households, at a start-up cost of almost $1 billion.

National Business Review (NZ) - National says more gas burning power stations possible

National would overturn a ban on new thermal power stations so more gas-generated power could be produced to ensure the country did not suffer blackouts.

Labour said the party's announcement showed a lack of commitment to combat climate change.

NZ Herald - Backyard turbines in energy proposal

Backyard wind turbines could become more common in rural areas under a proposed national policy on electricity generation.

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard and Energy Minister David Parker yesterday announced the proposed statement for renewable electricity generation. It would encourage the small-scale development of renewable electricity generation projects to cut back on the reliance of rural communities on the national grid.

Transport and Logistics News - Fuel price drop may not save airlines

Qantas and Virgin Blue could expect a brighter future if oil prices stay where they are, while a weaker Australian dollar may cast some clouds over it, according to analysts. - The World's Economy Is Now An Internet Economy

Magnet - Fuel for thought

Today, the average trawler is spending about 30 per cent of earnings on fuel despite a rebate of around 38 cents per litre.

Fritz Drenkhahn, President of South East Trawl Fishing Industry Association (SETFIA), said fuel is a huge issue, and ideas and input from fishermen were needed.

“Back in the mid 1980s we had a similar scenario where fuel was about 30 percent of costs, but we didn’t have any quota, so you could fish your way out of it.

“In the mid 90s successful operators had six to seven percent of earnings going back to fuel,” he said.

South Coast Register - Fuel prices put the brakes on family holidays

An NRMA survey released last week showed high petrol prices were having major impacts on holiday budgets, with families saying they would not travel so far, and spend less while on holidays.

“It was assumed that petrol prices would impact on the tourism industry but nobody expected the traditional Australian family holiday to have changed so much,” said NRMA president Alan Evans

The Australian - Less consumer anxiety about inflation as fuel costs ease

CHEAPER petrol in recent weeks has eased inflationary expectations away from the highest levels in 15 years.

ABC - New MLA Purick lashes govt over transport, research

One of the Country Liberals' new members of Territory parliament says the lack of public transport in Darwin's rural area is a contributing factor in youth depression.

ABC - The war in the Caucasus: looking underneath the propaganda blanket

Another major consideration is the geopolitics of pipelines. Georgia plays a key role as a transit state in the US-led transnational Ceyhan energy project aimed at offering a transport route for Caspian and Central Asia oil that would bypass Russia. Adding to that, Georgian ports are also used for the transit of energy resources. This represents an economic challenge to the Russians who strive to become the energy superpower, by becoming the principal deliverer of energy resources.

ABC - Hopes for producing first local gas in Tasmania

A Brisbane company is hoping to become the first to produce gas in Tasmania.

Pure Energy Resources is exploring for coal seam gas at Fingal in Tasmania's north-east.

Results from drilling at Fingal last year show strong gas content in the coal.

But Steve Beardsall, of Pure Energy Resources, says it needs to be commercially viable.

"Tassie at the moment has no indigenous gas, so we'd be the first producer of gas in Tasmania," he says.

ABC - 20pc less water expected in 2030

A New South Wales Government report is predicting climate change could result in a 20 per cent reduction in available water in some areas by 2030.

One from the H(erald S)un - General Motors VP says Australia must end oil dependence

Australia must move quickly to end its dependence on imported oil for transport to capitalise on the country's massive bank of alternative energy sources. LPG should be the first step, followed by everything from compressed natural gas to hydrogen and even solar power for plug-in electric cars, according to the energy expert at the world's largest carmaker.

"If I did have that magic wand in Australia I would definitely focus on energy diversity," Larry Burns, the vice-president for planning at General Motors, said in Melbourne yesterday. "I would ask myself 'Do I need to be importing any petroleum at all into this country?'. Why would you want to not import petroleum, with all the money that flows out of your economy? Why wouldn't you want to control your own destiny."

Burns is responsible for long-term research and planning at GM, a role which seems him deeply involved in future transport choices and a world beyond petroleum. He talked about everything from petrol-electric hybrid cars to high-tech diesel engines, electric cars with on-board generators and, eventually, fuel-cell cars which generate their own power using hydrogen as the fuel.

GM Holden is already committed to a range of energy upgrades on its locally-made Commodore, starting at cylinder de-activation to cut fuel use in low-drain situations and running through to hybrids and diesels, but is yet to announce a firm timetable or product plan.

He'll have to change his name to "Larry Doesn't Burn" if he keeps talking like this.

Yeah, well ... as the wise person said: don't listen to what men say, look at what they do.

Easy to talk that stuff up, but presumably they (GM Australia) are still aiming to flog as many petrol-powered ICE cars as they can for as long as they can. I'm sure "cylinder de-activation to cut fuel use in low-drain situations" is just the best thing since automatic kettles, and is going to save the world, and end our addiction to oil.