2 – Oil & Energy News (HOT!!)
Instead of publishing the long awaited proposals for the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) last week, HM Government outlined the next steps in the implementation of the UK’s national heating strategy, first published last year.
The proposals make grim reading for the UK’s oil heating industry. Heating oil is effectively set to disappear from the UK’s energy mix by 2025. Around 900,000 homes in England, 430,000 homes in Northern Ireland, an estimated 120,000 homes in Scotland and 113,000 homes in Wales currently depend on heating oil in the UK. Most of these homes are in rural areas, beyond the reach of the gas network. A smaller number of homes in rural areas are dependent depend upon other fuels for space and water heating, including LPG and solid fuel. And if the government is to be believed, all those homes are going to have to find something else to replace their existing heating systems with over the next decade or so.
Underlining the extent of the crisis now facing the UK oil heating industry, DECC’s proposals didn’t even mention B30K Bioheating Oil. Developed by OFTEC and championed by its Director General, Jeremy Hawksley, B30K was at one point described as a ‘drop in’ replacement for traditional kerosene fuelled heating oil systems. Its omission, serves to add weight to the concerns expressed by some, over the ability of OFTEC to lobby effectively on behalf of the industry it purports to represent.
Speaking at the publication of the proposals, Energy & Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey said, “If we can increase the use of low carbon heating in our homes, businesses and across our economy, we can help reduce our dependence on costly carbon intense fossil fuels. Last year we launched the UK’s first ever heat strategy, to get us on the right pathway to decarbonisation and today we have published an update on the progress we have made so far, alongside a new set of actions specifically targeted at industrial heat, urban heat networks and heat in buildings.
“Many homes and businesses across the UK have already switched away from fossil fuels and are using kit like biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal panels to provide heat, thanks to Government support, and I want to ensure even more householders and organisations get on board.”
At rural installations, ground source and air source heat pumps appear to the technology of choice for future heating systems – displacing existing oil fired central systems in the process. By 2017, it is projected that ground and air source heat pumps will have overtaken heating oil. Oil fired central heating systems are set to all but disappear by 2025.
Ironically, the proposals come just weeks after OFTEC claimed many renewable technologies were ill-suited to replace existing oil fired systems. Noting the already high levels of fuel poverty in rural areas, ‘independent’ research commissioned by OFTEC allegedly showed that air source heat pumps would typically cost more than £300 a year more to run than a modern, condensing oil fired boiler. The same research also revealed that whilst ground source heat pumps could save heating oil users over £100pa, the payback period for homeowners and householders switching from an oil fired system was almost 123 years.
OFTEC did not offer an immediate, formal response to DECC’s proposals. However, on Twitter, OFTEC did say it hoped a recent presentation made to the House of Common’s Energy Select Committee would change DECC’s thinking. But as one experienced oil boiler technician readily admitted, ‘…it doesn’t matter what the Select Committee decide or don’t decide… knowing what you know, would you opt for an oil fired boiler today?’
The giant tanker, called Zarga, is due to dock in Milford Haven, Wales, carrying 266,000 cubic metres of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The arrival follows the weekend docking of the Mekaines tanker – also from Qatar – at the Isle of Grain in Kent.
Together the vessels carry enough gas to power Britain for 12 hours.
A third Qatari tanker is due to arrive on Friday, while a vessel from Trinidad also set sail for Britain on Saturday.
The unseasonal cold snap has increased demand for heating and electricity and gas stocks are down to 10% of capacity.
“We get our supplies from a diverse range of sources and the market is proving to be highly responsive to the UK’s needs,” Energy Minister John Hayes said.
He reassured Britons there would be no danger of shortages, and that the energy regulator and the National Grid were closely monitoring the situation.
“The UK’s gas needs continue to be met,” he said.
Concerns were raised on Thursday when it emerged that Britain had only enough stored gas to meet two days’ demand.
Things got worse on Friday when one of the key European supply pipelines – from Belgium – was suddenly shut down after a component failed.
The pipeline was back in operation later on Friday afternoon, but gas doubled in price on the UK’s energy markets.
The price fell back again but the incident highlighted Britain’s dependence on imported gas.
National Grid has not been forced to use any of its emergency powers to cut gas to industry and redirect it to domestic consumers.
The energy consumer Ofgem said: “While gas supplies are tight at the moment and there is no room for complacency, Britain does benefit from a diverse range of gas supplies and National Grid has many tools to manage the system and to prevent householders’ supplies from being disrupted.”
The fuel crisis comes as it emerged that gas imported from the US will heat as many as 1.8 million UK homes from 2018.
British Gas owner Centrica said the 20-year contract, worth £10bn, would play an important role in ensuring the UK’s energy security.
The first shipments, from the Sabine Pass liquefaction plant in Louisiana, are not due until September 2018.
The deal with Cheniere Energy Partners for 89 billion cubic feet of annual liquefied natural gas (LNG) volumes is the first time that the UK has entered into a formal gas import agreement with the US.
Gas Stockpile Drain Prompts Price Rise Fears
Households have been forced to increase their heating usage as the freezing weather continues, pushing the demand for gas to 20% higher than normal in March.
Gas stocks were reportedly just 10% full at Britain’s largest storage facility on Thursday night, compared to 49% this time last year.
Energy prices will soar if Britain is forced to make up the shortfall by importing more liquefied natural gas from elsewhere, an energy expert has warned.
Andrew Horstead of the energy consultancy Utilyx told the Times: “There is immense pressure on the existing infrastructure.
“We are almost maxed out from imports through pipelines. The big concern is that there is very little flexibility left in the system.”
He added that Britain would struggle to cope if a technical problem caused an unscheduled North Sea gas field to shut down.
Matt Osborne, risk manager at energy consultancy and brokerage firm Inenco, told Sky News that wholesale prices had spiked about 20% overnight, prompting the industry to respond quickly.
On Friday morning gas prices for within-day delivery then jumped more than 50% above Thursday’s close following the closure of the pipeline linking Belgium to Britain after a pump failed at Bacton, Norfolk.
Downing Street said Prime Minister David Cameron is “confident” that the UK’s gas needs will continue to be met.
A spokesman said: “The absolute key thing on this is that supplies are not running out.
“The gas market is how we source our supplies and that market continues to function well.
“The Prime Minister’s key concern is that gas supplies continue. It is absolutely clear that supplies are not running out.”
Asked if the Prime Minister was confident that this would remain the case, the spokesman replied: “Absolutely confident.”
Britain is more vulnerable than other countries to gas shortages because of its limited storage capacity, which holds just 15 days’ worth of energy supplies.
But a Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) spokesperson insisted that “gas supplies are not running out”.
The spokesperson said: “Storage levels are low at the moment – as you’d expect towards the end of winter – and the UK gas market is tight.
“But the market is responding as it is designed to do – gas prices are rising and supply is being maintained accordingly.
“Gas storage would never be the sole source of gas meeting our needs, so it is misleading to talk purely about how many days’ supply is in storage.”
However, the gas fears come as the head of the energy giant SSE warned of the “very real risk” of the lights going out in Britain.
Ian Marchant said the Government was underestimating the problem, as he announced plans to cut back on power generation at five sites because the stations are either uneconomic or coming to the end of their lives.
He said: “It appears the Government is significantly underestimating the scale of the capacity crunch facing the UK in the next three years and there is a very real risk of the lights going out as a result.”
He said the energy watchdog Ofgem had recently expressed real concern about the reduction of the UK’s generation capacity margin that would follow expected plant closures in the next few years, predicting a 1-in-12 chance of the lights going out.
Mr Marchant added: “It is unlikely that the majority of the reductions in generation capacity and the delays to new investment we have announced today will have been included in this analysis.
“(This) highlights that the situation is likely to be even more critical than even they have predicted.”
The DECC spokesperson added: “We are in close contact with National Grid, who are able to step into the market to source gas and increase incentives on gas suppliers if they think there is a risk of a supply shortfall.”
Germany might be telling the world not to blame it for Cyprus’ bailout plan, but one analyst told CNBC that Russia could avenge the loss of billions of dollars it has invested and deposited on the island by cutting Germany’s energy supply
As the Cypriot parliament prepares to vote on a controversial and unprecedented proposal to levy a tax on bank accounts held on the island, the deal has been described as a covert move by Germany and its euro zone partners to tackle what they perceive as Russian money laundering in Cyprus.
Twenty percent of total deposits of the Cypriot banking system are held by Russians and many Russian businesses are registered in Cyprus, making any plan to levy a 15.6 percent tax on deposits over 100,000 a moot point for Russia. The country has also given Cyprus a $3.3 billion loan that Cyprus wishes to extend.
Russia’s leaders have already condemned the European bank levy proposal, with President Vladimir Putin calling it “unfair, unprofessional and dangerous” on Monday. On Tuesday, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev added to the growing Russian frustration over the move. “Quite strange and controversial decisions [are] being made by some EU member states. I mean Cyprus. Frankly speaking, this looks like the confiscation of other people’s money,” Medvedev said on Monday.
Steve Keen, professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney, told CNBC that Russia could retaliate against the perceived proxy attack on its citizens, and their money.
“If you try to target the Russians, and there’s President Putin acting under the image of the ‘strong man’ of Russia, why would he not then decide to shut down gas supplies to Germany until that was righted?
“If you’re going to attack money laundering then attack it directly, don’t make Cypriot peasants and small businessmen collateral in your campaign against Russian oligarchs. Declare the campaign rather than doing it under the carpet like this too,” he added.
With 36 percent of Europe relying on Russia for its gas supply, the threat or act of limiting supplies gives Russia a powerful card to play should it wish to push home a political point against Germany.
However, that’s a highly unlikely scenario, according to Seth Kleinman, head of energy strategy at Citigroup’s global commodities research team in London. “It has kind of happened in the past … you have seen Russia cut flows of gas to Europe,” but not lately, and not now, Kleinman said.
“It is an explosive political situation,” Nick Spiro, head of Spiro Sovereign Strategy, told CNBC. “This is a rubicon which should have never been crossed…This bailout agreement has Germany’s political fingerprints all over it,” Spiro told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box.”
“If Germany’s aim was that the larger deposit holders, the Russian ones, were going to bear the brunt of this, then obviously it’s backfired,” he added.
Steve Keen told CNBC that the proposal was tantamount to “blowing the brains out of capitalism” and such a proposal would destroy the euro and the idea of a monetary system.
“It’s mind-boggling that German bureaucrats and politicians can think that this is a sensible way to share the pain,” Keen said. “If you destroy the trust that depositors have in their bank accounts, you fundamentally destroy the oil of capitalism.”
“This is an absurd decision which has to be blocked somehow. If the Russians block it or the Cypriots block, somebody has to block it,” he said, ahead of a crucial debate in the Cypriot parliament over whether to ratify the plan.
Approving the plan is central to Cyprus receiving a 10 billion euro bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) but as yet, the outcome of the vote is uncertain.
The Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades reportedly told German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Union’s economics affairs commissioner Olli Rehn on Monday that he would stand by what was agreed at a euro zone finance ministers’ meeting last week but “insisted that EU partners offer some additional help,” a state spokesman, Christos Stylianides, told state radio on Tuesday.
Stylianides added that President Anastasiades is also likely to talk to the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, on Tuesday.
Against a backdrop of protests in Cyprus and sharp declines in global equity markets on Monday, the German finance minister attempted to deflect blame from his country, saying the solution had not been a German idea and that he was open to it being changed.
“The levy on deposits below 100,000 euros was not the creation of the German government,” Wolfgang Schuble told reporters in Berlin on Monday. “If one reached another solution we would not have the slightest problem,” he added. On Tuesday, however, Schuble said that Germany pressed for a “bail-in” of Cypriot depositors to protect European taxpayers.
Reprinted with permission, 31 August, 2012. Requested addition from original editor added below on Sep 5, 2012.
Now that it’s the 31st August and we are leaving the summer behind once again, the news that home heating oil is continuing to rise is probably not much of a surprise to anyone, but when the forecasts are detailed, homeowners are highlighting their shock that they are wasting so much money unnecessarily.
Home heating oil has averaged increases in the UK at 24% per year for the last 3 years and 31% per year in Ireland.
If you purchase €3000 worth of oil for this winter (2012) in Ireland for example, it would only have cost you €1600 in August 2009. This is nearly a doubling (94% increase) of the cost in a short space of time, a STAGGERING increase.
If home heating oil was to continue rising at only 10% per year (which would be much lower than historical rises currently at 31% per year), your €3,000 annual oil bill would become €6,000 a year by 2020, just over 7 years away. If home heating oil continues at the current 31% p.a., you would be paying €18,000 for your winters oil in 7 years time. If you add up that spending over those 7 years, it would buy you two brand new BMW 3 series cars OR 20 exotic holidays.
And, if that didn’t open your eyes, you should contemplate that in 1999, your €3,000 oil bill (2012) would have cost you only €280 and in 2004, it was €380; and it has been climbing every year since. Between 2002 and 2008, home heating oil increased by 78% (avg 13% p.a.) and it increased 94% (avg 31% p.a.) between 2009 and 2012.
This €3,000 oil bill (2012) would mean the house holder would spend approximately €456,000 on home heating oil over the next 30 years if home energy inflation was only 10% per annum, which would be very optimistic as it has averaged 19% each year for the last 10 years. If we apply the “actual” inflation of home heating oil for the last 10 years, then your current €3,000 oil bill will become approx €10,000 a year (or €840 a month) by 2020, in 7 years time, a staggering oil cost over the next 30 years of €1.4 Million. This means your oil bill could be several times bigger than your total mortgage loan and could even become bigger than your monthly mortgage repayments.
Homeowner Bernard Kane, said, “I spend more than than €3,000 a year currently, a lot more, this will amount to more money than my total mortgage loan, I’m shocked, I’ve never seen the numbers compiled like that before, but what can I do?”
Industry experts are predicting that homeowners who don’t make changes to their homes in the next 3-4 years may find themselves in a new poverty trap and unable to afford to make the changes if left too late. This will be even more acute if there is another oil price shock which is very possible from the conflicts that are going on at the moment. Hard pressed mortgage payers will just see their ability to pay their mortgage as getting ever more difficult placing more problems back on banks as people choose to heat their homes first, as they did in the bust of 2008.
Surface Power, a company whose free energy central heating technology is been deployed heavily in fixing this problem in the UK and Ireland commented; “this situation is already real for people out there. It is now just as common to take a 25L drum to fill it with home heating oil for €1.16/L at the local petrol station as it is to fill your car with petrol.”
“We are currently designing and supplying customer home renovation projects from all parts of the world so this is a problem everywhere. The amount of homes converting to our daylight energy based central heating systems is growing at an alarming rate and that’s only because our technology is delivering the results. It is actually quite easy to save this money and to convert your home. We have experts you can call in to do a free survey who will leave you with the detail on how much you can save in pounds, shillings and pence”
“By adding one of these daylight central heating systems in a typical detached house, you will release future home heating oil savings of approx €228,000 over the next 30 years and that’s if home heating oil was to drop to 10% inflation from its current historical 31% p.a. At 15% inflation, those savings become €620,000, so we are talking about serious amounts of money leaving the home unnecessarily. All these systems are managed and monitored online in the cloud, we don’t believe that the solar thermal industry in this day and age should be using vague phrases like “up to 70%” of your hot water or “up to 30%” of your heating bill. That waffle belongs back with the dinasours. Clearly, that could mean anything from 1% or 5% or pick a number. We only believe in hard cold facts and underpinning data using delivered heat meter calculations.”
Surface Power who are now being recognised as the industry leader in light based central heating technology have developed a patented central heating system science which only uses captured daylight as it’s energy source. Speaking to customers in Ireland, where the weather could be described as “challenging” to say the least are clearly thrilled with their experiences, with all we talked to citing savings in excess of predicted expectations. One customer told us, they hadn’t spent a single cent on heating anything since April with large amounts of hot water on tap, rain or shine, it made no difference. Surface Power state they operate through a network of professional installers and a typical solar central heating and hot water system is approx €15,000 installed, it uses no fuel except light, is designed to work with poor weather such as in Ireland & the UK; and will yield savings over its life in excess of €228,000 for the homeowner @ 10% inflation, €620,000 at 15%, etc. Who knows what oil will cost in 10 years or whether we will have any ?
One major solar installer added that he has recently decided to switch to installing Surface Power’s central heating and hot water technology instead of heat pumps after surveying some customers and he commented; “This really is a breakthrough, it’s simply impossible to deny the performance evidence and the price point for a system that uses no fuel except light from cloud; and that is a much better deal for my customers. Coupled with the manufacturer being part of the installation process, it really inspires confidence. It’s not surprising that they have customers raving about it. My own house will have one installed shortly.” said James Gorham
Editor addition requested; 5th September; addition from James Gorham,
Please note, thank you for using my original comments to you but I feel you watered it down too much, I couldn’t have been clearer when you talked to me. I am large scale installer of other types of energy efficient heating systems, up to the A rated homes that I supply for my clients right across Ireland. Following careful consideration, going forward I will strongly advise all my clients to avail of the Surface Power S P 501 Solar collector for their central heating and hot water requirements, mainly due to the fact that this is the best system I can find out there in the market place right now, with a host of stats to back up this position as the number 1 solar collector in the world. I’m only happy in the knowledge that my Clients will be installing the most energy efficient system available.
Note from Original Editor, James, Happy to add your comment, have requested all blogs to add it in as well. D.S.
Overall, one thing is for sure, this subject cannot be ignored anymore, home heating costs have the power to turn a modest home into a poverty stricken one if nothing is done and a repeat of 2008 where mortgage payments were last on the list and came after heat, light, petrol and food could be on the cards again. Home heating oil is always a good yardstick, when oil goes up, gas and petrol goes up. When gas goes up so does electricity.
Reprinted with permission, 31 August, 2012.
A 9% increase in oil prices and a 20% rise in gas prices pushed the Bord Gáis energy index 8% higher last month.
The Bord Gáis energy index now stands at a record high of 157 and is 11% higher than this time last year.
John Heffernan, a power trader at Bord Gáis Energy, said that oil prices closed about the significant $120 a barrel price on nine days during February. ”For the first time governments and financial institutions are starting to raise concerns about the effect this may have on consumer spending, the fragile economic growth and inflation,” he said,
He added that rising energy costs threaten to weaken the European economy by reducing the purchasing power of companies and consumers.
The oil element of the energy index rose by 9% to 169 last month. Bord Gáis said that oil prices hit new record highs in both euro and sterling as tensions between the West and Iran increased. It said the markets continue to factor in the possibility that these tensions could lead to a situation where global oil supplies are disrupted and this is pushing oil prices higher.
The natural gas element of the index jumped by 20% to 221. ”Day-ahead” prices hit their highest level in over six years on the UK gas trading hub due to the severe weather experienced in Europe and concerns over Russian gas supplies in the first week of February. During the cold snap, Europe sought exports from the UK to compensate for reduced deliveries from the East which put further pressure on prices.
Bord Gáis said that the coal element of the index was down 7% to 125 with European coal prices falling as stockpiles and European generators and terminals remained high.
The electricity element of the index rose by 5% to 125 as a combination of higher gas prices and carbon prices increased wholesale electricity prices. Bord Gáis said that as most of the electricity used in Ireland is produced by burning gas, internationally traded gas prices heavily influence Irish wholesale electricity prices.
Mr Heffernan said that oil prices will continue to be driven mainly the market’s perception of tensions between the West and Iran, while foreign exchange movements will also influence prices.
THE PRICE of crude oil is slowly retreating this morning after an overnight rally sent its cost to the highest it had been in 43 months.
Prices had surged last night after a report of a pipeline explosion in Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, with investors fearing that the blast could lead to a significant shortage.
In New York the price of a barrel peaked at $128.40, a jump of $5.74, the highest price it had seen since July 2008.
Prices had already been rising over fears of unrest in the Middle East and the continuing fears over Iran and the possibility of an escalation in the nuclear conflict there.
The price has since abated in Asian trading, however, as the Saudi Arabian authorities denied the reports of the blast. In London, oil for delivery in April had slid back to $124.99 this morning.
Indeed, Bloomberg said the decline, coming after a spokesman for the Saudi interior ministry rose about $110 per barrel, meant the price of oil could be set to decline on a week-by-week basis for the first time in a month.
The oil market is particularly volatile at the moment because of an unusually tense situation where a number of countries face potential disruptions to their supplies.
The European Union, for example, has placed an embargo on imports of oil from Iran, which in turn has threatened to close access to the Strait of Hormuz, a vital channel for the shipment of oil to the wider world.
Oil prices are still very close to the record high of $147 and consumers are already starting to prepare themselves for the inevitable.
Iranian officials predicted that global oil prices would soar by 50 per cent in the wake of EU sanctions as the country’s oil minister declared exports to “some countries” would be cut off
In what will be seen as evidence of brinksmanship, Iran’s parliament postponed debate on a proposal immediately to halt oil deliveries to the EU, which accounts for 20 per cent of Tehran’s exports of crude.
Despite postponing the parliamentary debate, Rostam Qasemi, Iran’senergy minister, promised that exports to some countries, which he did not name, would be ended “soon”.
Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Tehran on a three-day mission to investigate the suspected military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programme to a flurry of anti-Western invective.
A damning report released by the body in November accused Iran of military-related atomic activities for the first time.
The visit comes when Iran’s relationship with the West is a fraught as at any time in recent years after the regime reacted with fury to a decision by the EU and the US this month to sanction the country’s central bank and oil sector.
With the sanctions carrying the potential to trigger a deep economic crisis in the country, Iran has responded with a mixture of belligerence and conciliation.
That the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s prime minister, has allowed the inspectors in at all has angered hardliners.
Demonstrator met the inspectors at Tehran’s airport carrying photographs of a nuclear scientist assassinated in the city earlier this month.
Ali Akhbar Salehi, the Iranian foreign minister who is seen as relatively moderate, spoke of his optimism about the IAEA’s visit, promising that all the inspectors’ questions would be answered.
“We have nothing to hide and Iran has no clandestine activities,” he said.
But the hawkish speaker of parliament, Ali Larijani, was more hostile, threatening that Iran would sever relations with the IAEA if it showed that it was a “tool” of the West.
The EU is phasing in its sanctions on importing Iranian oil over six months to allow economically troubled Greece, Italy and Spain, Tehran’s biggest European customers, to find alternative markets.
By seeking to pre-empt the sanctions, Iran had hoped to prove that the EU would suffer the more painful consequences from an embargo. A pre-emptive step could also cost some European energy firms who have paid for Iranian oil in advance more than a billion pounds But there is little doubt that Iran would suffer too. Although China and India could conceivably take up the excess oil, they would only do so at a heavily discounted price.
Ahmed Qalabani, the deputy oil minister, boasted that measures to curtail exports would send oil prices soaring to between $120-150 a barrel, up from $108 yesterday.
“We will not leave enemies’ sanctions unanswered and we will impose other sanctions on them in addition to closing Iran’s oil supplies to Europe,” said Mohammed Karim Abedi, a senior Iranian legislator, who added that an ban on oil sales to the EU would last between five and 15 years.
Iran stand-off could trigger oil price spike
Fears of another oil price spike are climbing as the war of words between the West and Iran intensifies.
By Emma Rowley, and Garry White
The worst-case scenario is that the ratcheting tensions will end in a military confrontation that would close the Strait of Hormuz, the strip of water between Iran and Oman that represents the world’s most important shipping lane.
Roughly 40pc of the world’s seaborne traded oil passes through the waterway, so the suggestion that traffic could be hindered has inevitably lifted the oil price. Brent crude, London’s benchmark oil, advanced 5.9pc last week.
The threat has arisen as Iran responds to Western sanctions designed to make it end a nuclear programme said to be aimed at producing an atomic bomb.
New Year’s Eve saw Barack Obama, the US President, sign an act banning foreign financial institutions that do business with the Iranian central bank from trading in the US, which has refused Iranian oil since 1979.
Meanwhile, the EU – which takes about a fifth of Iran’s oil exports – is close to imposing its own sanctions.