The Bullroarer - Tuesday 17th February 2009

SMH - Why we need higher oil prices

The oil price crash has helped cushion consumers during these early stages of the global recession and will play a role in the eventual recovery, but you don't have to be a "peak oil" believer to see that the hydrocarbon industry needs a lot more investment if we're to avoid another damaging price surge when global growth gets back to 4% or so.

A large part of the blame for the latest oil bubble can be laid at the feet of the previous oil price collapse when the black stuff was barely able to hold double figures. Investment in exploration and maintenance collapsed.

Now OPEC members talk of wanting an oil price of about $US70 or $US80 a barrel - a not unreasonable figure. It's enough to encourage conservation and alternative energy research as well as oil exploration and steady supply. It also would restore some spending power to the post-bubble oil nations, most obviously Russia.

SMH - Shell flexes muscle behind Arrow

THE oil company Shell is not about to slink away from the coal-seam gas industry in Queensland if confirmation that it has secured a site for a liquefied natural gas project on Curtis Island is any indicator.

The Australian - BG offers $8 a share for Pure, Arrow left behind

BG’s sweetened offer of $8 cash a share – valuing Pure at just under $1 billion - trumps Arrow’s recently increased offer of $3 and 1.57 of its shares per Pure share. Arrow, Royal Dutch Shell’s Australian joint venture partner, is competing against BG and others for Australia’s coal seam gas reserves ahead of the planned construction of up to five liquefied natural gas processing plants at Gladstone in Queensland.

ABC - Calls for Weddell to go solar

The Northern Territory Environment Centre is urging the Northern Territory Government to make the new city of Weddell Australia's next solar city.

As a solar city, Alice Springs residents are given financial incentives to install solar cells, and produce their own power to sell back to the grid. The Environment Centre's Stuart Blanch says the same initiatives should be used for the proposed new city of Weddell, 15 kilometres south of Palmerston.

The Australian - Warming 'much more rapid' than climate panel predicted

DIRE warnings of future devastation sparked by global warming have not been dire enough, climate scientists warn. Just over a year ago, the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a report warning of rising sea levels, expanding deserts, more intense storms and extinction of up to 30 per cent of plant and animal species.

But recent studies suggested the report significantly underestimated the potential severity of global warming over the next 100 years, a senior member of the panel warned yesterday.

Crikey - Fires spark a new front in the culture wars

On the Tuesday after the worst of the fires former CSIRO bushfire expert David Packham launched a ferocious attack on environmentalists, blaming them for the deaths because, he said, they opposed widespread fuel-reduction burning. He wrote that the “folk of the bush have lost their battle to live a safe life in a cared-for rural and forest environment, all because of the environmental fantasies of outraged extremists and latte conservationists”.

Packham’s attacks were carried in The Australian newspaper whose editors could immediately see the opportunity presented by the fires to extend their long-running culture war. Environmentalists had replaced communists as the principal enemy in neo-conservative demonology after fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

frogblog - ECNZ: gold plated or robust?

One of the biggest arguments in favour of our failed electricity market reforms was the assertion that it was run by bureaucrats and engineers, and was thus gold plated. Flowing from that was the assertion that thus, we were paying far too much for our energy and that breaking it all up and letting business people run it would be more efficient and much, much cheaper for consumers. What a load of cr@p that turned out to be.

First, let me say that back in the day, we had the second most efficient electricity system in the world. Power was cheap and abundant. We got away with being one of the least energy efficient economies in the OECD because of this wealth. Not long after the market reforms, prices rose sharply and Jeanette explained what was happening.

The Australian - Western Australia reignites Inpex gas row

PREMIER Colin Barnett will apologise to Japanese mining giant Inpex for "one of the most embarrassing episodes in Western Australia's resources history" when he flies to Japan today to patch up relations with the nation's second-biggest trading partner.

Mr Barnett said Western Australia's relationship with Japan had been neglected for years as the previous state government focused its attention on China. He said the Inpex debacle -- it dumped a $15 billion West Australian gas project last year -- was one of the results.

Griffith Hack - Smart meters get a lot smarter

Smart meters attached to a premises typically communicate with a utility providing electricity to the premises, and sometimes with devices powered within the premises to give detailed information about what electricity has been consumed and when. Smart meters, which falls under the umbrella of cleantech, or clean and sustainable technologies, have been put forward as a significant way to reduce electricity consumption because electricity consumption can be viewed real-time and devices turned off.

Smart meters are also allowing utilities to provide more flexible tariff rates, with significantly adjusted tariffs according to current network loading. A big step forward is linking these devices (or at least the information they generate) to the Internet.

ABC - Legume to bio-fuel trial underway on Sunshine Coast

A trial planting of legumes to produce bio-fuel is underway on the Sunshine Coast. The pongamia pinnata plant has seeds that can be used to make bio-diesel. Esma Armstrong from the Maroochy Landcare Group says the crop will be grown on disused cane fields.

ABC - Climate change to cause dark night of the shoal

Climate change will cause key species of fish to migrate towards the poles, badly depleting many commercial fisheries, scientists say. "The impact of climate change on marine biodiversity and fisheries is going to be huge," said study lead author William Cheung, of the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, eastern England.

The research team used a high-powered computer model, based on knowledge of 1,066 species of fish, their habitat and climate change, to predict what might happen by 2050 according to three scenarios for global warming.

frogblog - Internet blackout gathers steam

The Creative Freedom Foundation’s internet blackout campaign is gathering steam, and very rightly seeks to pressure Cabinet into killing off the new s92a of the Copyright Act, due to come into force next week.

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