Card tricks for beginners: In a deft, almost dazzling sleight of hand, global Big Oil has pulled off a classic bait and switch move in the Arctic. In comparison to the Goliat platform that begins producing Arctic oil from confirmed fields in the Barents Sea next month, Shell’s Polar Pioneer rig is an aged and rickety piece of machinery. UK Tar Sands Network writes.
Shell’s Polar Pioneer, the bright yellow rig that left Seattle for the Chuckchi Seas in June 2014 was built in 1985, is 400ft tall and has a holding capacity of 15,063 barrels of oil. While the Goliat FPSO is a new, state-of-the-art, cylindrical platform that’s 574ft tall, has a 17 storey elevator transporting its 120 workers to a cinema, hotel or gym and has a holding capacity of a million barrels of oil. It’s mooring lines are the biggest ever made at 3 feet wide.
In summer 2015, Shell were still only exploring for oil in American owned Arctic territories, whereas ENI the Italian oil and gas company had already long invested in a 60/40% deal with Norway’s Statoil in Goliat an off-shore oil field in the Barents Sea where oil had been struck in 2000.
The journey of Shell’s Polar Pioneer was full of much gripping drama as its ice-breaker failed and was forced to dock in Portland on July 25 where it was greeted by inspiring resistance. The campaign against Shell by numerous environmental and indigenous groups was loud and successfully gained important traction in conveying scientific facts and moral opposition to Arctic drilling into mainstream media and consciousness.
Meanwhile however, the Goliat platform had left the Ulsan shipyard in South Korea where it was built, on February 14, 2014. From here it sailed across the Indian Ocean, around South Africa, north to the British Isles and arrived at its destination in Hammerfest Southern Norway on April 17. Since then workers have been working around the clock to connect all the various technical operations eg. the colossal rig is powered via the world’s most powerful from-shore AC cable by the Norwegian electricity grid.
On June 5 the Norwegian government announced that it would divest $8bn of its $900bn sovereign wealth fund from coal.
The Goliat oil and gas field is the world’s northernmost development project and sits between the Russian sector of the Barents Sea and Greenland (Denmark). It’s expected to yield 34m barrels a year or 178m barrels over a 15 year period. Or, to put this into context, 2 to 3 days of the world’s oil consumption that’s estimated to be at 93m barrels a day.
On African Reuters today it was reported that the Goliat platform has yet to gain permission from the Norwegian authorities. “There is still some work left to do at Goliat,” Petroleum Safety Authority spokeswoman Eileen O’Connell Brundtland said. “As long as that remains unfinished, the authority will not give its consent, which is required to start operations.” This is in contrast to the ENI insider who announced to the FT yesterday that Goliat platform and production is “there, it’s connected, it’s done. It’s starting in a few weeks”
Oil insiders will reason that the Barents Sea is more temperate, ice-free and a safer place to conduct off-shore drilling but UK Tar Sands Network wants to strongly affirm that slowly sliding to a mindset where Arctic drilling becomes socially acceptable is in direct opposition to the bottom line – in order to remain under the 2degree global temperature rise all Arctic oil must stay in the ground.
Shell may well have announced that they’re pulling out of their Arctic drilling operations in Alaska (less than 24 hours after it was announced in the FT that ENI’s drilling operations are beginning in the Barents Sea) but UK Tar Sands Network, who stood in solidarity with Arctic nations resisting environmental destruction and fossil fuel extraction in the Chuckchi seas, emphatically repeats the message ‘Ni Ici Ni Ailleurs.’ Not here not anywhere.
Norway cannot meaningfully claim to be a pioneer in renewable energy solutions if it’s divesting from coal on the one hand while slinking into the Arctic while no one is looking.
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.
Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?”
Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.
Tip #1: Focus & Determination
Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.
Tip #2: Minimize Spending
One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!
Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal
You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.
Investing in Clean Energy
One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.
With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.
The Future of Green Biz
As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.
Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.
In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!
What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?
It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?
The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.
A Strategy, Instead of a Plan
But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.
The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.
A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth
But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.
Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push
While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.
The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.
But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.
This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.
Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.
In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.
It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.
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