Thursday 3 March 2016

Victims of $36 Oil, Home & Abroad

PMQs is an opportunity for MPs to get into their local papers; so fair play to Andy McDonald (Lab, Middlesbrough) for bemoaning the demise of 'Five Quarter Energy', a company from his part of the world, whose goal he said "was the extraction of gas from coal deep under the North sea ... totally decarbonised"(!)  To be fair, Cameron was poorly briefed and thought the question was about Carbon Capture & Storage, and he replied with a defence of the government's righteous decision to pull the plug on CCS.  So McDonald was pissed off with the answer he got.

An easy mistake to make, though, because Five Quarter had been thrashing around all over the place trying to find something vaguely to do with gas-on-Teesside.  They've taken down their website now, leaving just a "last-one-to-leave-please-turn-off-the-lights" notice: but in the past two years they have claimed to be working on:
  • underground coal gasification
  • a 1,000 MW gas-fired power plant (sic) 
  • an 'LNG decarbonisation plant' (whatever that is)
  • ... and CCS (hence the PM's confusion)
In short, they had no real idea what they wanted to do (except that it would be "totally decarbonised"), which is no way to raise money.  But, according to McDonald, "the Government failed to provide a supporting statement to secure foreign direct investment".  
Sorry Andy: even gullible foreign investors aren't taken in by pitches as scatter-gun as Five Quarter's.  Price of oil = $36.  Say no more.

Actually, right now there is no end of direct foreign investment prospecting going on in the UK.  I can report that wherever there is a remotely plausible UK energy infrastructure project or asset in prospect, teams of Chinese and Korean would-be investors are crawling all over it.  Whoever has been out selling the UK in the far east - Osborne, I suppose - has done a decent job.  At the very least, a bunch of airlines, hotels, taxi drivers and *ahem* consultants are doing very nicely from it.  Whether these orientals end up actually investing ... well, the jury is out.  I see the French have just deferred their decision on Hinkley again - another project with Chinese interests. 

Still, $36 puts the mockers on many an energy project.  Today I heard an argument (from a sage and senior energy executive) that was new on me: the prospect of war in the Middle East speaks to an even lower oil price.  Now traditional reasoning was that war would mean the price went up - disrupted supplies, etc.  But yer man was arguing that wars cost money, so Saudi and Iran would need to keep pumping out ever more of the black gold.

I take this as just a way of articulating the fashionable, deeply bearish sentiment.  Still - even lower than £36 ...



Graeme said...

Something similar is going on with some mining stocks - the worse the news from China gets and the closer we get to recession, the better RTZ seem to do in terms of share price.

Unknown said...

Interesting perspective, thanks Nick.

dearieme said...

You seem to be subtly implying that £=$. Not yet, old horse.

Nick Drew said...

happy to oblige, Leo

missed your point completely there, dearieme - must have had a few too many at lunchtime

Sebastian Weetabix said...

It's a curious point of view to suppose a proper full-on heavy metal kinetic shooting war would depress oil prices; I should have thought smashed pipelines, bombed refineries & ports and wellheads on fire would be more the order of the day. Remember the first gulf war?

You don't even need an expensive airforce to smash a pipeline. One mentalist Jhadi with a pipe bomb, boom-boom (pun fully and excruciatingly intended).

Anonymous said...

A clusterf***.

"was the extraction of gas from coal deep under the North sea ... totally decarbonised"(!)

Dear God, where do they dig them up from - lav MPs that is, truly it is the 'Age of stupid' or 'the Age of brain dead = Socialists'.

What is glaringly obvious, whether it be; our nugget of a PM, his f***wit mate in the Treasury, the patsy senior girly minister of the DECC, National grid, energy utilities no one but no one can, would, could be ever able to make any sort of major decision.

In this age of stupid, where everyone is a manager but no one lays claim to be bosses, no one can be hung but then, nothing ever happens!
Thus, and the can is kicked further down the road.

In the meantime, 'we'....ah actually 'those' gibbering gibbons posing as managers, dictate through anonymous writ - orders to close generating plant and everyone washes their hands of such spineless idiocy, "it's not my fault blame the LCPD, EU, Tories, lavs, Tories, lavs blah, blah, blah".......

What we also witness, is that, the green lobby has enormous pull, a small vociferous idiot claque of the green agitators who have no clue on anything least of all science and engineering get their way and Britain is being gradually forced out of business, no matter how the spot price of Brent crude meanders.
There is no such thing close to 'peak oil' and there is coal in abundance and gas..............

Yet.... FFS we are still wasting £billions on constructing less than useless archaic, ephemeral technology (bird mincers) which our forbears (mainly the Victorians) dismissed as soon as they found how to harness steam power.

Crude oil price /barrel going to $36, we should be cheering but we can't, it only brings into sharp focus the paucity of UK energy policy because it pushes into the future all prospects of building effective new build plant generation.

Stuffed are the turkeys - the consumer and industry goes off shore.

Desperation, it takes all the energy out of me.

Albert Bullwinkle said...

They were talking about the same thing here, extracting the gas from the coal under the River Dee by burning it underground, but the usual tree huggers, marsh screamers, RSPB, Wirral environmental mafia came out shouting and screaming and I think it was quietly dropped, we know their is oil about so when oil prices rise then know doubt they will be back testing again, I think the biggest joke of all is the gas fields in the Irish sea one field feeds the gas power stations at Flint and Runcorn but the gas is coming from off Southport and the Rhyl flats but is cleaned at the old colliery site at Point of Ayr, the joke being it doesn't come anywhere near Liverpool and you can guess why,oil I won't mention that