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Energy

Fracking’s Achilles’ heel

Fracking insurance

Of all of the ways the fracking industry might be brought to an abrupt end, the most innocuous may yet prove to be the most effective. The fracking industry already struggles to turn a profit in all but the sweetest of sweet spots in geologically favourable US shale plays.  But …

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The shale oil paradox

Fracking paradox

West Texan shale oil is booming once more, according to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in the Telegraph: “The Opec oil cartel is waking up to an unpleasant surprise. Shale output from the Permian Basin in Texas is expanding faster than the world thought humanly possible. “The scale threatens to neutralise output cuts …

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Not so smart meters

Smart Meter

The already delayed plan to install smart meters across the UK took another blow this week as the technology proved to be considerably less smart than has been touted.  According to Mark Thompson at the Yorkshire Post: “Big Six provider SSE said it had launched an urgent investigation into the …

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Big Oil: Whistling in the dark

End of the oil

Since the unexpected oil price crash in 2014, and the stubborn refusal of the markets to push oil prices much above $50 per barrel, the oil industry has resorted to the equivalent of whistling in the dark.  Industry press releases result in glaring headlines announcing the discovery of another century …

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Fracking toxic spills under-reported

Oil Spill

Up to 16 percent of hydraulically fractured wells accidentally discharge toxic fracking fluid, polluted water and hydrocarbons according to The Engineer: “The analysis, published in Environmental Science & Technology, is said to have identified 6,648 spills recorded across Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania over a 10-year period. “The …

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Fracking boss hints at profitability concerns

Profitability

Speaking at the UK Northern Powerhouse conference in Manchester earlier this week, Cuadrilla CEO Francis Egan tacitly acknowledged that there was no guarantee that hydraulically fractured UK shale gas would be profitable. In the course of a presentation to promote UK fracking, Egan claimed it would be madness for the …

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UK energy strategy on the edge

Failed energy strategy

Yesterday the UK government were at pains to point out just how important the digital economy is.  According to Gordon Corera at the BBC: “The UK is one of the most digitally dependent economies, with the digital sector estimated to be worth over £118bn per year – which means the …

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Oil and gas discoveries hit rock bottom

Oil Exploration

New oil and gas discoveries have fallen to levels not seen since the 1950s according to Ed Crooks and Andrew Ward in the Financial Times: “There were only 174 oil and gas discoveries worldwide last year, compared to an average of 400-500 per year up until 2013… “The slowdown in …

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What the death of Goldilocks looks like in practice

Modern Economics: Goldilocks is dead

In the Goldilocks children’s story, there is a bowl of porridge that is just right.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Central to modern economics is a similar idea about price.  The law (sic) of supply and demand says that there is always a Goldilocks price point where supply and …

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Fracking is cheap… as long as we don’t actually do it

High-tech fracking rig

Falling oil prices since 2014 devastated the US fracking industry, causing widespread bankruptcies and leaving a trail of ghost towns in their wake.  But according to the companies that are still standing, technological improvements have brought the cost of fracking down to the point that they can turn a profit …

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