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How Fracking Changed the Economics of Oil Production Around the World

James Meadway, chief economist at the New Economics Foundation, explains the interrelated economics behind China’s 'Black Monday' stock market crash, Middle Eastern oil and US fracking.

The 'fracking revolution' has transformed the economics of oil production globally, with the US becoming a bigger producer than Saudi Arabia and – after decades of dependency on oil imports – even being able to export some of its surplus production.

US shale oil is unusual, too, in being privately owned: most of the world’s oil reserves (over 70 percent) are in state hands. Like the North Sea 30 years ago, in a world dominated by state-owned companies and publicly owned reserves, US shale could look like a new frontier for private operators on the search for fat profits.

EU Ombudsman Investigating Industry-Dominated Fracking Expert Group

The European Ombudsman has opened a case into the European Commission's industry-dominated Expert Group on the risky and dangerous practice of fracking for natural gas.

The Ombudsman, responsible for investigating complaints about maladministration in EU institutions and bodies, is looking into allegations that the Commission “wrongly allowed members associated with the shale gas industry to act as chairmen of the European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction.”

Despite massive public opposition to fracking, the Commission established the European Science and Technology Network on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Extraction last July with a mandate to recommend the most appropriate fracking techniques and technologies for Europe.

David Suzuki: Climate Deniers All Over the Map

This is a guest post by David Suzuki.

A little over a year ago, I wrote about a Heartland Institute conference in Las Vegas where climate change deniers engaged in a failed attempt to poke holes in the massive body of scientific evidence for human-caused climate change. I quoted Bloomberg News: “Heartland's strategy seemed to be to throw many theories at the wall and see what stuck.”

A recent study came to a similar conclusion about contrarian “scientific” efforts to do the same. “Learning from mistakes in climate research,” published in Theoretical and Applied Climatology, examined some of the tiny percentage of scientific papers that reject anthropogenic climate change, attempting to replicate their results.

In a Guardian article, co-author Dana Nuccitelli said their study found “no cohesive, consistent alternative theory to human-caused global warming.” Instead, “Some blame global warming on the sun, others on orbital cycles of other planets, others on ocean cycles, and so on.”

On 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina Former New Orleans Resident Questions African-American Leaders Siding With Climate Deniers

c Julie Dermansky

This is a guest post by Evlondo Cooper, senior fellow with the Checks and Balances Project, cross-posted with permission. 

New Orleans has many nicknames: The Crescent City, The Birthplace of Jazz, and The Big Easy. It’s also my hometown but Hurricane Katrina cast me out. In 2005, I was an investigator for the New Orleans district attorney’s office who was invested in making a great city even better. Along with hundreds of thousands of others, I had to flee New Orleans.

This month is the 10-year anniversary of Katrina and its devastating punch, which we now know was made far worse by pollution-driven climate change. I juxtapose its devastation with the potential solutions as this month marks the release of President Obama’s signature Clean Power Plan, which would cut the very pollution that made Katrina so much worse.

100 Days Before The UN Climate Talks – Reasons To Be Cheerful. And Reasons Not To

This article by Alice Bell, writer and researcher on science, technology and the environment, has been reposted from The Road to Paris.

It’s less than 100 days before the big UN climate talks in Paris. How does that feel? Concerned, excited, or just a bit meh?

Are we kneeling at the seat of history? Are we finally about to save the planet? Or is it all the same business as usual which we know is already hurtling us to six degree warming? Here’s four reasons to feel good about the Paris climate talks, and four reasons for concern.

Big Oil Can Survive Low Prices, The Climate Can’t

This is a guest post by Lukas Ross from Friends of the Earth.

Last week seemed like a bad time to be Big Oil.

As the world’s biggest energy companies announced their quarterly results, billions in profits still managed to disappoint shareholders. ExxonMobil and Chevron both missed their targets, Shell prepared for steep spending cuts, and BP took a well-deserved hosing on news of its latest Deepwater Horizon penalty.

The price of crude, half of what it was a year ago, definitely made for some lower numbers. But does bad news for the oil industry mean good news for the climate? Absolutely not.

How Shell Lobbied to Stop EU Renewable Energy Targets

This has been cross-posted from Energydesk.

A group of the EU’s largest energy companies – including oil and gas giants Shell and Norway’s Statoil – formed an alliance to lobby against a new EU renewable target according to documents seen by Energydesk.

The lobbying group may surprise few, but comes after it was revealed that Shell started lobbying the EU two years earlier for a policy which favoured gas over renewables, claiming “Gas is good for Europe”.

That claim, however, came before the Ukraine crisis raised concerns about gas supply in EU countries.

Costa Rica Aims For Carbon Neutrality By 2021, But Plans $1.5 Billion Oil Refinery

This is a guest post by Diego Arguedas Ortiz.

Costa Rica’s plan to build a $1.5 billion oil refinery, a joint venture with China’s state-owned petroleum company China National Petroleum Corporation, continues to cast doubt on the country’s path toward a low-carbon future and the feasibility of its self-imposed goal of being carbon neutral by 2021.

The project — sold to the public as a mechanism to lower oil costs in the Central American republic — is financed by a $900-million loan to Costa Rica from the China Development Bank and another $600 million provided by both countries.

The project has sparked a heated national debate on energy policies, the congruency of the nation’s environmental discourse and the thoroughness of its own feasibility study.

Richard Tol's Gremlins Continue to Undermine His Work

This is a guest post by Brandon Shollenberger 

Global warming is, if you'll forgive the pun, possibly the most heated topic of debate this century.  While most debate over it focuses on extreme weather, sea level rise and climatic events, there is another part.  This is the part that focuses on the economics of global warming.  That is, how will global warming affect our wallets?

At the forefront of this debate is Richard Tol, professor of economics at the University of Sussex.  His work on the economics of global warming is relied upon by climate skeptics like Matt Ridley, who has used it to argue, “Climate change has done more good than harm so far and is likely to continue doing so for most of this century,” based on graphs like:

Former Dept. of Justice Official Says Exxon News Worsens Liability Picture

This is a guest post by Dan Zegart, Senior Fellow at the Climate Investigations Center

The former Department of Justice lawyer who led the watershed lawsuit against tobacco companies, says that the news out today about oil giant ExxonMobil knowing as early as 1981 about the threat posed by climate change could worsen the fossil fuel industry's liability picture.