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Russia Denies It Has Given Ukraine An Ultimatum, Calls It "Utter Nonsense" | Zero Hedge

Russia Denies It Has Given Ukraine An Ultimatum, Calls It “Utter Nonsense” | Zero Hedge.

Just released from Vedomosti, google translated for most linguistic impact:

Russian Defense Ministry denies reports appeared that the Ukrainian military in Crimea delivered an ultimatum .

 

Today the agency ” Interfax-Ukraine” reported, citing a source in the Defense Ministry of Ukraine , that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia Alexander Vitko an ultimatum Ukrainian soldiers in the Crimea . According to the source agency , if, prior to 5:00 am Tuesday Ukrainian soldiers ” do not give up , start a real assault units and parts of the Ukrainian Armed Forces around the Crimea.”

 

The official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry called Message agency ” utter nonsense ” and said that any ultimatums Ukrainian military in the Crimea was not put.

 

Head of Naval Forces of Ukraine in Sevastopol Crimean authorities busy loyal soldiers about half ( in its territory is located a few buildings ), another half remains under control VMSU says Ukrainian officer , with no clusters of armed men and now there is no activity , but about the ultimatum he heard nothing.

Hmmmm, whom to believe…

Russia Denies It Has Given Ukraine An Ultimatum, Calls It “Utter Nonsense” | Zero Hedge

Russia Denies It Has Given Ukraine An Ultimatum, Calls It “Utter Nonsense” | Zero Hedge.

Just released from Vedomosti, google translated for most linguistic impact:

Russian Defense Ministry denies reports appeared that the Ukrainian military in Crimea delivered an ultimatum .

 

Today the agency ” Interfax-Ukraine” reported, citing a source in the Defense Ministry of Ukraine , that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet of Russia Alexander Vitko an ultimatum Ukrainian soldiers in the Crimea . According to the source agency , if, prior to 5:00 am Tuesday Ukrainian soldiers ” do not give up , start a real assault units and parts of the Ukrainian Armed Forces around the Crimea.”

 

The official representative of the Russian Defense Ministry called Message agency ” utter nonsense ” and said that any ultimatums Ukrainian military in the Crimea was not put.

 

Head of Naval Forces of Ukraine in Sevastopol Crimean authorities busy loyal soldiers about half ( in its territory is located a few buildings ), another half remains under control VMSU says Ukrainian officer , with no clusters of armed men and now there is no activity , but about the ultimatum he heard nothing.

Hmmmm, whom to believe…

How Ukraine Crisis Threatens Natural Gas, Oil  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

How Ukraine Crisis Threatens Natural Gas, Oil  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.

Follow above link to video…

How Ukraine Crisis Threatens Natural Gas, Oil

Kent Moors, executive chair at Global Energy Symposium, discusses the impact of the Ukraine crisis on global natural gas and oil markets on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse.”

How Ukraine Crisis Threatens Natural Gas, Oil  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

How Ukraine Crisis Threatens Natural Gas, Oil  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.

Follow above link to video…

How Ukraine Crisis Threatens Natural Gas, Oil

Kent Moors, executive chair at Global Energy Symposium, discusses the impact of the Ukraine crisis on global natural gas and oil markets on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse.”

The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine | Global Research

The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine | Global Research.

Global Research, March 02, 2014
Ukraine extreme-droite

According to the New York Times, “The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here as anotherflowering of democracy, a blow to authoritarianism and kleptocracy in the former Soviet space.” ( After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility,  NYTimes.com, March 1, 2014, emphasis added)

“Flowering Democracy, Revolution”?  The grim realities are otherwise. What is a stake is a US-EU-NATO sponsored coup d’Etat in blatant violation of international law.

The forbidden truth is that the West has engineered –through a carefully staged covert operation– the formation of a proxy regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

Confirmed by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, key organizations in the Ukraine including the Neo-Nazi party Svoboda were generously supported by Washington: “We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals. … We will continue to promote Ukraine to the future it deserves.”

The Western media has casually avoided to analyze the composition and ideological underpinnings of the government coalition. The word “Neo-Nazi” is a taboo. It has been excluded from the dictionary of mainstream media commentary. It will not appear in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post or The Independent. Journalists have been instructed not to use the term “Neo-Nazi” to designate Svoboda and the Right Sector.

Composition of the Coalition Government

We are not dealing with a transitional government in which Neo-Nazi elements integrate the fringe of the coalition, formally led by the Fatherland party.

The Cabinet is not only integrated by the Svoboda and Right Sector (not to mention former members of defunct fascist UNA-UNSO), the two main Neo-Nazi entities have been entrusted with key positions which grant them de facto control over the Armed Forces, Police, Justice and National Security.

While Yatsenuyk’s Fatherland Party controls the majority of portfolios and Svoboda Neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tyahnybok was not granted a major cabinet post (apparently at the request of assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland), members of Svoboda and the Right Sector occupy key positions in the areas of Defense, Law Enforcement, Education and Economic Affairs.

Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok

nuland in ukraine

US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland together Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (left)

Andriy parubiy.jpgAndriy Parubiy [right] co-founder of the Neo-Nazi  Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda) was appointed Secretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU). (Рада національної безпеки і оборони України), a key position which overseas the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. The RNBOU is central decision-making body. While it is formally headed by the president, it is run by the Secretariat with a staff of 180 people including defense, intelligence and national security experts.

Parubiy was one of the main leaders behind the Orange Revolution in 2004. His organization was funded by the West. He is referred to by the Western media as the “kommandant” of the EuroMaidan movement. Andriy Parubiy together with party leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a follower of Ukrainian Nazi Stepan Bandera, who collaborated in the mass murderer of Jews and Poles during World War II. Reuters / Gleb Garanich

Neo-Nazi march honoring Stepan Bandera

In turn, Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector delegation in the parliament, has been appointed Parubiy’s deputy Secretary of the RNBOU.

Yarosh was the leader of the Brown Shirt Neo-Nazi paramilitary during the EuroMaidan “protest” movement. He has called for disbanding the Party of the regions and the Communist Party.

Dmytro Yarosh speech at Euromaidan (Centre)

The Neo Nazi party also controls the judicial process with the appointment of  Oleh Makhnitsky of the Svoboda party to the position of prosecutor-general of Ukraine. What kind of justice will prevail with a reknown Neo-Nazi in charge of the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine?

Cabinet positions were also allocated to former members of the Neo-Nazi fringe organizationUkrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO):

“Tetyana Chernovol, portrayed in the Western press as a crusading investigative journalist without reference to her past involvement in the anti-Semitic UNA-UNSO, was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. Dmytro Bulatov,known for his alleged kidnapping by police, but also with UNA-UNSO connections, was appointed minister of youth and sports.

Yegor Sobolev, leader of a civic group in Independence Maidan and politically close to Yatsenyuk, was appointed chair of the Lustration Committee, charged with purging followers of President Yanukovych from government and public life. (See Ukraine Transition Government: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, National Security, Economy, Justice and Education, Global Research, March 02, 2014

The Lustration Committee is to organize the Neo-Nazi witch-hunt against all opponents of the new Neo-Nazi regime. The targets of the lustration campaign are people in positions of authority within the civil service, regional and municipal governments, education, research, etc.  The term lustration refers to the “mass disqualification” of people associated with the former government. It also has racial overtones. It will in all likelihood be directed against Communists, Russians  and members of the Jewish community.

It is important to reflect on the fact that the West, formally committed to democratic values, has not only spearheaded the demise of an elected president, it has instated a political regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

This is a proxy government which enables the US, NATO and EU to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and dismantle its bilateral relations with the Russian Federation. It should be understood, however, that the Neo-Nazis do not ultimately call the shots: Under a “regime of indirect rule” they take their orders on crucial military and foreign policy issues –including the deployment of troops directed against the Russian federation– from the the US State Department, the Pentagon and NATO.

The World is at a dangerous crossroads: The structures and composition of this proxy government installed by the West do not favor dialogue with the Russian government and military.The RNBOU

A scenario of military escalation leading to confrontation of Russia and NATO is a distinct possibility. The Ukraine’s National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU) which is controlled by Neo-Nazis plays a central role in military affairs.  In the confrontation with Moscow, decisions taken by the RNBOU headed by Neo-Nazi Parubiy and his brown Shirt deputy Dmytro Yarosh –in consultation with Washington and Brussels– could potentially have devastating consequences.

However, it goes without saying that “support” to the formation of a Neo-Nazi government does not in any way imply the development of “fascist tendencies” within the White House, the State Department and the US Congress.

“The flowering of democracy” in Ukraine –to use the words of the New York Times– is endorsed by Republicans and Democrats. It’s a bipartisan project. Lest we forget, Senator John McCain is a firm supporter and friend of Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (Image right).

The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine | Global Research

The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine | Global Research.

Global Research, March 02, 2014
Ukraine extreme-droite

According to the New York Times, “The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here as anotherflowering of democracy, a blow to authoritarianism and kleptocracy in the former Soviet space.” ( After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility,  NYTimes.com, March 1, 2014, emphasis added)

“Flowering Democracy, Revolution”?  The grim realities are otherwise. What is a stake is a US-EU-NATO sponsored coup d’Etat in blatant violation of international law.

The forbidden truth is that the West has engineered –through a carefully staged covert operation– the formation of a proxy regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

Confirmed by Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, key organizations in the Ukraine including the Neo-Nazi party Svoboda were generously supported by Washington: “We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals. … We will continue to promote Ukraine to the future it deserves.”

The Western media has casually avoided to analyze the composition and ideological underpinnings of the government coalition. The word “Neo-Nazi” is a taboo. It has been excluded from the dictionary of mainstream media commentary. It will not appear in the pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post or The Independent. Journalists have been instructed not to use the term “Neo-Nazi” to designate Svoboda and the Right Sector.

Composition of the Coalition Government

We are not dealing with a transitional government in which Neo-Nazi elements integrate the fringe of the coalition, formally led by the Fatherland party.

The Cabinet is not only integrated by the Svoboda and Right Sector (not to mention former members of defunct fascist UNA-UNSO), the two main Neo-Nazi entities have been entrusted with key positions which grant them de facto control over the Armed Forces, Police, Justice and National Security.

While Yatsenuyk’s Fatherland Party controls the majority of portfolios and Svoboda Neo-Nazi leader Oleh Tyahnybok was not granted a major cabinet post (apparently at the request of assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland), members of Svoboda and the Right Sector occupy key positions in the areas of Defense, Law Enforcement, Education and Economic Affairs.

Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok

nuland in ukraine

US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland together Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (left)

Andriy parubiy.jpgAndriy Parubiy [right] co-founder of the Neo-Nazi  Social-National Party of Ukraine (subsequently renamed Svoboda) was appointed Secretary of the National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU). (Рада національної безпеки і оборони України), a key position which overseas the Ministry of Defense, the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, National Security and Intelligence. The RNBOU is central decision-making body. While it is formally headed by the president, it is run by the Secretariat with a staff of 180 people including defense, intelligence and national security experts.

Parubiy was one of the main leaders behind the Orange Revolution in 2004. His organization was funded by the West. He is referred to by the Western media as the “kommandant” of the EuroMaidan movement. Andriy Parubiy together with party leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a follower of Ukrainian Nazi Stepan Bandera, who collaborated in the mass murderer of Jews and Poles during World War II. Reuters / Gleb Garanich

Neo-Nazi march honoring Stepan Bandera

In turn, Dmytro Yarosh, leader of the Right Sector delegation in the parliament, has been appointed Parubiy’s deputy Secretary of the RNBOU.

Yarosh was the leader of the Brown Shirt Neo-Nazi paramilitary during the EuroMaidan “protest” movement. He has called for disbanding the Party of the regions and the Communist Party.

Dmytro Yarosh speech at Euromaidan (Centre)

The Neo Nazi party also controls the judicial process with the appointment of  Oleh Makhnitsky of the Svoboda party to the position of prosecutor-general of Ukraine. What kind of justice will prevail with a reknown Neo-Nazi in charge of the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine?

Cabinet positions were also allocated to former members of the Neo-Nazi fringe organizationUkrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense (UNA-UNSO):

“Tetyana Chernovol, portrayed in the Western press as a crusading investigative journalist without reference to her past involvement in the anti-Semitic UNA-UNSO, was named chair of the government’s anti-corruption committee. Dmytro Bulatov,known for his alleged kidnapping by police, but also with UNA-UNSO connections, was appointed minister of youth and sports.

Yegor Sobolev, leader of a civic group in Independence Maidan and politically close to Yatsenyuk, was appointed chair of the Lustration Committee, charged with purging followers of President Yanukovych from government and public life. (See Ukraine Transition Government: Neo-Nazis in Control of Armed Forces, National Security, Economy, Justice and Education, Global Research, March 02, 2014

The Lustration Committee is to organize the Neo-Nazi witch-hunt against all opponents of the new Neo-Nazi regime. The targets of the lustration campaign are people in positions of authority within the civil service, regional and municipal governments, education, research, etc.  The term lustration refers to the “mass disqualification” of people associated with the former government. It also has racial overtones. It will in all likelihood be directed against Communists, Russians  and members of the Jewish community.

It is important to reflect on the fact that the West, formally committed to democratic values, has not only spearheaded the demise of an elected president, it has instated a political regime integrated by Neo-Nazis.

This is a proxy government which enables the US, NATO and EU to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and dismantle its bilateral relations with the Russian Federation. It should be understood, however, that the Neo-Nazis do not ultimately call the shots: Under a “regime of indirect rule” they take their orders on crucial military and foreign policy issues –including the deployment of troops directed against the Russian federation– from the the US State Department, the Pentagon and NATO.

The World is at a dangerous crossroads: The structures and composition of this proxy government installed by the West do not favor dialogue with the Russian government and military.The RNBOU

A scenario of military escalation leading to confrontation of Russia and NATO is a distinct possibility. The Ukraine’s National Security and National Defense Committee (RNBOU) which is controlled by Neo-Nazis plays a central role in military affairs.  In the confrontation with Moscow, decisions taken by the RNBOU headed by Neo-Nazi Parubiy and his brown Shirt deputy Dmytro Yarosh –in consultation with Washington and Brussels– could potentially have devastating consequences.

However, it goes without saying that “support” to the formation of a Neo-Nazi government does not in any way imply the development of “fascist tendencies” within the White House, the State Department and the US Congress.

“The flowering of democracy” in Ukraine –to use the words of the New York Times– is endorsed by Republicans and Democrats. It’s a bipartisan project. Lest we forget, Senator John McCain is a firm supporter and friend of Neo Nazi Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok (Image right).

New Study Shows Total North American Methane Leaks Far Worse than EPA Estimates | DeSmogBlog

New Study Shows Total North American Methane Leaks Far Worse than EPA Estimates | DeSmogBlog.

Fri, 2014-02-14 12:40SHARON KELLY

Sharon Kelly's picture

Just how bad is natural gas for the climate?

A lot worse than previously thought, new research on methane leaks concludes.

Far more natural gas is leaking into the atmosphere nationwide than the Environmental Protection Agency currently estimates, researchers concluded after reviewing more than 200 different studies of natural gas leaks across North America.

The ground-breaking study, published today in the prestigious journal Science, reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has understated how much methane leaks into the atmosphere nationwide by between 25 and 75 percent — meaning that the fuel is far more dangerous for the climate than the Obama administration asserts.

The study, titled “Methane Leakage from North American Natural Gas Systems,” was conducted by a team of 16 researchers from institutions including Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and is making headlines because it finally and definitively shows that natural gas production and development can make natural gas worse than other fossil fuels for the climate.

The research, which was reported in The Washington PostBloomberg and The New York Times, was funded by a foundation created by the late George P. Mitchell, the wildcatter who first successfully drilled shale gas, so it would be hard to dismiss it as the work of environmentalists hell-bent on discrediting the oil and gas industry.

The debate over the natural gas industry’s climate change effects has raged for several years, ever since researchers from Cornell University stunned policy-makers and environmentalists by warning that if enough methane seeps out between the gas well and the burner, relying on natural gas could be even more dangerous for the climate than burning coal.

Natural gas is mostly comprised of methane, an extraordinarily powerful greenhouse gas, which traps heat 86 times more effectively than carbon dioxide during the two decades after it enters the atmosphere, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, so even small leaks can have major climate impacts.

The team of researchers echoed many of the findings of the Cornell researchers and described how the federal government’s official estimate proved far too low.

“Atmospheric tests covering the entire country indicate emissions around 50 percent more than EPA estimates,” said Adam Brandt, the lead author of the new report and an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University. “And that’s a moderate estimate.”

The new paper drew some praise from Dr. Robert Howarth, one of the Cornell scientists.

“This study is one of many that confirms that EPA has been underestimating the extent of methane leakage from the natural gas industry, and substantially so,” Dr. Howarth wrote, adding that the estimates for methane leaks in his 2011 paper and the new report are “in excellent agreement.”

In November, research led by Harvard University found that the leaks from the natural gas industry have been especially under-estimated. That study, published inthe Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, reported that methane emissions from fossil fuel extraction and oil refineries in some regions are nearly five times higher than previous estimates, and was one of the 200 included in Thursday’s Science study.

EPA Estimes Far Off-Target

So how did the EPA miss the mark by such a high margin?

The EPA’s estimate depends in large part on calculations — take the amount of methane released by an average cow, and multiply it by the number of cattle nationwide. Make a similar guess for how much methane leaks from an average gas well. But this leaves out a broad variety of sources — leaking abandoned natural gas wells, broken valves and the like.

Their numbers never jibed with findings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy, which approached the problem by taking measurements of methane and other gas levels from research flights and the tops of telecommunications towers.

But while these types of measurements show how much methane is in the atmosphere, they don’t explain where that methane came from. So it was still difficult to figure out how much of that methane originated from the oil and gas industry.

At times, EPA researchers went to oil and gas drilling sites to take measurements. But they relied on driller’s voluntary participation. For instance, one EPA study requested cooperation from 30 gas companies so they could measure emissions, but only six companies allowed the EPA on site.

“It’s impossible to take direct measurements of emissions from sources without site access,” said Garvin Heath, a senior scientist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a co-author of the new analysis in a press release. “Self-selection bias may be contributing to why inventories suggest emission levels that are systematically lower than what we sense in the atmosphere.” (DeSmog haspreviously reported on the problem of industry-selected well sites in similar research funded by the Environmental Defense Fund.)

Worse than Coal?

There was, however, one important point that the news coverage so far missed and that deserves attention — a crucial point that could undermine entirely the notion that natural gas can serve as a “bridge fuel” to help the nation transition away from other, dirtier fossil fuels.

In their press release, the team of researchers compared the climate effects of different fuels, like diesel and coal, against those of natural gas.

They found that powering trucks or busses with natural gas made things worse.

“Switching from diesel to natural gas, that’s not a good policy from a climate perspective” explained the study’s lead author, Adam R. Brandt, an assistant professor in the Department of Energy Resources at Stanford, calling into question a policy backed by President Obama in his recent State of the Union address.

The researchers also described the effects of switching from coal to natural gas for electricity — concluding that coal is worse for the climate in some cases. “Even though the gas system is almost certainly leakier than previously thought, generating electricity by burning gas rather than coal still reduces the total greenhouse effect over 100 years, the new analysis shows,” the team wrote in a press release.

But they failed to address the climate impacts of natural gas over a shorter period — the decades when the effects of methane are at their most potent.

“What is strange about this paper is how they interpret methane emissions:  they only look at electricity, and they only consider the global warming potential of methane at the 100-year time frame,” said Dr. Howarth. Howarth’s 2011 Cornell study reviewed all uses of gas, noting that electricity is only roughly 30% of use in the US, and describing both a 20- and a 100-year time frame.

The choice of time-frame is vital because methane does not last as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, so impact shifts over time. “The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from last fall — their first update on the global situation since 2007 — clearly states that looking only at the 100 year time frame is arbitrary, and one should also consider shorter time frames, including a 10-year time frame,” Dr. Howarth pointed out.

Another paper, published in Science in 2012, explains why it’s so important to look at the shorter time frames.

Unless methane is controlled, the planet will warm by 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius over the next 17 to 35 years, and that’s even if carbon dioxide emissions are controlled. That kind of a temperature rise could potentially shift the climate of our planet into runaway feedback of further global warming.

“[B]y only looking at the 100 year time frame and only looking at electricity production, this new paper is biasing the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions between natural gas and coal in favor of natural gas being low,” said Dr. Howarth, “and by a huge amount, three to four to perhaps five fold.”

Dr. Howarth’s colleague, Prof. Anthony Ingraffea, raised a similar complaint.

“Once again, there is a stubborn use of the 100-year impact of methane on global warming, a factor about 30 times that of CO2,” Dr. Ingraffea told Climate Central, adding that there is no scientific justification to use the 100-year time window.

“That is a policy decision, perhaps based on faulty understanding of the climate change situation in which we find ourselves, perhaps based on wishful thinking,” he said.

For its part, the oil and gas industry seems very aware of the policy implications of this major new research and is already pushing back against any increased oversight of its operations.

“Given that producers are voluntarily reducing methane emissions,” Carlton Carroll, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, told The New York Times in an interview about the new study, “additional regulations are not necessary.”
Photo Credit: “White Smoke from Coal-Fired Power Plant,” via Shutterstock.

New Study Shows Total North American Methane Leaks Far Worse than EPA Estimates | DeSmogBlog

New Study Shows Total North American Methane Leaks Far Worse than EPA Estimates | DeSmogBlog.

Fri, 2014-02-14 12:40SHARON KELLY

Sharon Kelly's picture

Just how bad is natural gas for the climate?

A lot worse than previously thought, new research on methane leaks concludes.

Far more natural gas is leaking into the atmosphere nationwide than the Environmental Protection Agency currently estimates, researchers concluded after reviewing more than 200 different studies of natural gas leaks across North America.

The ground-breaking study, published today in the prestigious journal Science, reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has understated how much methane leaks into the atmosphere nationwide by between 25 and 75 percent — meaning that the fuel is far more dangerous for the climate than the Obama administration asserts.

The study, titled “Methane Leakage from North American Natural Gas Systems,” was conducted by a team of 16 researchers from institutions including Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and is making headlines because it finally and definitively shows that natural gas production and development can make natural gas worse than other fossil fuels for the climate.

The research, which was reported in The Washington PostBloomberg and The New York Times, was funded by a foundation created by the late George P. Mitchell, the wildcatter who first successfully drilled shale gas, so it would be hard to dismiss it as the work of environmentalists hell-bent on discrediting the oil and gas industry.

The debate over the natural gas industry’s climate change effects has raged for several years, ever since researchers from Cornell University stunned policy-makers and environmentalists by warning that if enough methane seeps out between the gas well and the burner, relying on natural gas could be even more dangerous for the climate than burning coal.

Natural gas is mostly comprised of methane, an extraordinarily powerful greenhouse gas, which traps heat 86 times more effectively than carbon dioxide during the two decades after it enters the atmosphere, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, so even small leaks can have major climate impacts.

The team of researchers echoed many of the findings of the Cornell researchers and described how the federal government’s official estimate proved far too low.

“Atmospheric tests covering the entire country indicate emissions around 50 percent more than EPA estimates,” said Adam Brandt, the lead author of the new report and an assistant professor of energy resources engineering at Stanford University. “And that’s a moderate estimate.”

The new paper drew some praise from Dr. Robert Howarth, one of the Cornell scientists.

“This study is one of many that confirms that EPA has been underestimating the extent of methane leakage from the natural gas industry, and substantially so,” Dr. Howarth wrote, adding that the estimates for methane leaks in his 2011 paper and the new report are “in excellent agreement.”

In November, research led by Harvard University found that the leaks from the natural gas industry have been especially under-estimated. That study, published inthe Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, reported that methane emissions from fossil fuel extraction and oil refineries in some regions are nearly five times higher than previous estimates, and was one of the 200 included in Thursday’s Science study.

EPA Estimes Far Off-Target

So how did the EPA miss the mark by such a high margin?

The EPA’s estimate depends in large part on calculations — take the amount of methane released by an average cow, and multiply it by the number of cattle nationwide. Make a similar guess for how much methane leaks from an average gas well. But this leaves out a broad variety of sources — leaking abandoned natural gas wells, broken valves and the like.

Their numbers never jibed with findings from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Department of Energy, which approached the problem by taking measurements of methane and other gas levels from research flights and the tops of telecommunications towers.

But while these types of measurements show how much methane is in the atmosphere, they don’t explain where that methane came from. So it was still difficult to figure out how much of that methane originated from the oil and gas industry.

At times, EPA researchers went to oil and gas drilling sites to take measurements. But they relied on driller’s voluntary participation. For instance, one EPA study requested cooperation from 30 gas companies so they could measure emissions, but only six companies allowed the EPA on site.

“It’s impossible to take direct measurements of emissions from sources without site access,” said Garvin Heath, a senior scientist with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and a co-author of the new analysis in a press release. “Self-selection bias may be contributing to why inventories suggest emission levels that are systematically lower than what we sense in the atmosphere.” (DeSmog haspreviously reported on the problem of industry-selected well sites in similar research funded by the Environmental Defense Fund.)

Worse than Coal?

There was, however, one important point that the news coverage so far missed and that deserves attention — a crucial point that could undermine entirely the notion that natural gas can serve as a “bridge fuel” to help the nation transition away from other, dirtier fossil fuels.

In their press release, the team of researchers compared the climate effects of different fuels, like diesel and coal, against those of natural gas.

They found that powering trucks or busses with natural gas made things worse.

“Switching from diesel to natural gas, that’s not a good policy from a climate perspective” explained the study’s lead author, Adam R. Brandt, an assistant professor in the Department of Energy Resources at Stanford, calling into question a policy backed by President Obama in his recent State of the Union address.

The researchers also described the effects of switching from coal to natural gas for electricity — concluding that coal is worse for the climate in some cases. “Even though the gas system is almost certainly leakier than previously thought, generating electricity by burning gas rather than coal still reduces the total greenhouse effect over 100 years, the new analysis shows,” the team wrote in a press release.

But they failed to address the climate impacts of natural gas over a shorter period — the decades when the effects of methane are at their most potent.

“What is strange about this paper is how they interpret methane emissions:  they only look at electricity, and they only consider the global warming potential of methane at the 100-year time frame,” said Dr. Howarth. Howarth’s 2011 Cornell study reviewed all uses of gas, noting that electricity is only roughly 30% of use in the US, and describing both a 20- and a 100-year time frame.

The choice of time-frame is vital because methane does not last as long in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, so impact shifts over time. “The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from last fall — their first update on the global situation since 2007 — clearly states that looking only at the 100 year time frame is arbitrary, and one should also consider shorter time frames, including a 10-year time frame,” Dr. Howarth pointed out.

Another paper, published in Science in 2012, explains why it’s so important to look at the shorter time frames.

Unless methane is controlled, the planet will warm by 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius over the next 17 to 35 years, and that’s even if carbon dioxide emissions are controlled. That kind of a temperature rise could potentially shift the climate of our planet into runaway feedback of further global warming.

“[B]y only looking at the 100 year time frame and only looking at electricity production, this new paper is biasing the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions between natural gas and coal in favor of natural gas being low,” said Dr. Howarth, “and by a huge amount, three to four to perhaps five fold.”

Dr. Howarth’s colleague, Prof. Anthony Ingraffea, raised a similar complaint.

“Once again, there is a stubborn use of the 100-year impact of methane on global warming, a factor about 30 times that of CO2,” Dr. Ingraffea told Climate Central, adding that there is no scientific justification to use the 100-year time window.

“That is a policy decision, perhaps based on faulty understanding of the climate change situation in which we find ourselves, perhaps based on wishful thinking,” he said.

For its part, the oil and gas industry seems very aware of the policy implications of this major new research and is already pushing back against any increased oversight of its operations.

“Given that producers are voluntarily reducing methane emissions,” Carlton Carroll, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute, told The New York Times in an interview about the new study, “additional regulations are not necessary.”
Photo Credit: “White Smoke from Coal-Fired Power Plant,” via Shutterstock.

The energy transition tipping point is here – SmartPlanet

The energy transition tipping point is here – SmartPlanet.

The economic foundations supporting fossil fuels investments are collapsing quickly, as the business case for renewables such as solar and wind finds a new center of balance.

I have waited a long time—decades, really—for a tipping point in the energy transition from fossil fuels to renewables beyond which there can be no turning back. Fresh evidence pertaining to many themes I have explored in this column over the past three years suggests that tipping point is finally here.

Oil and gas

Underlying the abundance hype over tight oil, tar sands and other “unconventional” sources of liquid fuel has been a dirty little secret: They’re expensive.

The soaring cost of producing oil has far outpaced the rise in oil prices as the world has relied on these marginal sources to keep production growing since conventional oil production peaked in 2005. Those who ignored the hype and paid attention to the data have known this for years. I have detailed this evidence repeatedly (for example, in “The cost of new oil supply,” “Oil majors are whistling past the graveyard,” and “Trouble in fracking paradise”), but now the facts are earning mainstream recognition.

The Wall Street Journal recently pointed out that oil and gas production by Chevron, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell has declined during the past five years even as the companies spent more than a half-trillion dollars on new projects. Chevron’s costs alone have jumped 56 percent since 2010.

A marvelous new presentation by Steven Kopits, Managing Director of the Douglas-Westwood consultancy, details oil supply, demand, cost and price trends with merciless precision. If you can take an hour to watch Kopits’ presentation I highly recommend it, as it’s the most comprehensive perspective you’ll find on the global dynamics of oil.

 

oil-majors-capex-and-production-kopits.png

The graphic above shows how capital spending (capex) by the world’s publicly listed oil majors has increased by more than a factor of five since 2000, while their production of oil has fallen back to the 2000 level after a few years of very modest increases. In Kopits’ earthy metaphor, the companies kept watering the plant but it just wouldn’t grow anymore—precisely as the peak oil model predicted.

 

In late February, Bloomberg finally addressed the most problematic issue in shale gas and tight oil wells: their incredible decline rates and diminishing prospects for drilling in the most-profitable “sweet spots” of the shale plays. I have documented that issue at length (for example, “Oil and gas price forecast for 2014,” “Energy independence, or impending oil shocks?,” “The murky future of U.S. shale gas,” and my Financial Times critique of Leonardo Maugeri’s widely heralded 2012 report).

The sources for the Bloomberg article are shockingly candid about the difficulties facing the shale sector, considering that their firms have been at the forefront of shale hype.

The vice president of integration at oil services giant Schlumberger notes that four out of every 10 frack clusters are duds. Geologist Pete Stark, a vice president of industry relations at IHS—yes, that IHS, where famous peak oil pooh-pooher Daniel Yergin is the spokesman for its CERA unit—actually said what we in the peak oil camp have been saying for years: “The decline rate is a potential show stopper after a while…You just can’t keep up with it.”

The CEO of Superior Energy Services was particularly pithy: “We’ve drilled all the good stuff…These are very poor quality formations that I don’t believe God intended for us to produce from the source rock.” Source rocks, as I wrote last month, are an oil and gas “retirement party,” not a revolution.

The toxic combination of rising production costs, the rapid decline rates of the wells, diminishing prospects for drilling new wells, and a drilling program so out of control that it caused a glut and destroyed profitability, have finally taken their toll.

Numerous operators are taking major write-downs against reserves. WPX Energy, an operator in the Marcellus shale gas play, and Pioneer Natural Resources, an operator in the Barnett shale gas play, each have announced balance sheet “impairments” of more than $1 billion due to low gas prices. Chesapeake Energy, Encana, Apache, Anadarko Petroleum, BP, and BHP Billiton have disclosed similar substantial reserves reductions. Occidental Petroleum, which has made the most significant attempts to frack California’s Monterey Shale, announced that it will spin off that unit to focus on its core operations—something it would not do if the Monterey prospects were good. EOG Resources, one of the top tight oil operators in the United States, recently said that it no longer expects U.S. production to rise by 1 million barrels per day (mb/d) each year, in accordance with my 2014 oil and gas price forecast.

Coal and nuclear

When I wrote “Why baseload power is doomed” and “Regulation and the decline of coal power” in 2012, the suggestion that renewables might displace baseload power sources like coal and nuclear plants was generally received with ridicule. How could “intermittent” power sources with just a few percentage points of market share possibly hurt the deeply entrenched, reliable, fully amortized infrastructure of power generation?

But look where we are today. Coal plants are being retired much faster than most observers expected. Thelatest projection from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is for 60 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power capacity to be taken offline by 2016, more than double the retirements the agency predicted in 2012. The vast majority of the coal plants that were planned for the United States in 2007 have since been cancelled, abandoned, or put on hold, according to SourceWatch.

Nuclear power plants were also given the kibosh at an unprecedented rate last year. More nuclear plant retirements appear to be on the way. Earlier this month, utility giant Exelon, the nation’s largest owner of nuclear plants, warned that it will shut down nuclear plants if the prospects for their profitable operation don’t improve this year.

Japan has just announced a draft plan that would restart its nuclear reactors, but the plan is “vague” and, to my expert nose, stinks of political machinations. What we do know is that the country has abandoned its plans to build a next-generation “fast breeder” reactor due to mounting technical challenges and skyrocketing costs.

Grid competition

Nuclear and coal plant retirements are being driven primarily by competition from lower-cost wind, solar, and natural gas generators, and by rising operational and maintenance costs. As more renewable power is added to the grid, the economics continue to worsen for utilities clinging to old fossil-fuel generating assets (a topic I have covered at length; for example, “Designing the grid for renewables,” “The next big utility transformation,” “Can the utility industry survive the energy transition?” “Adapt or die – private utilities and the distributed energy juggernaut” and “The unstoppable renewable grid“).

Nowhere is this more evident than in Germany, which now obtains about 25 percent of its grid power from renewables and which has the most solar power per capita in the world. I have long viewed Germany’s transition to renewables (see “Myth-busting Germany’s energy transition“) as a harbinger of what is to come for the rest of the developed world as we progress down the path of energy transition.

And what’s to come for the utilities isn’t good. Earlier this month, Reuters reported that Germany’s three largest utilities, E.ON, RWE, and EnBW are struggling with what the CEO of RWE called “the worst structural crisis in the history of energy supply.” Falling consumption and growing renewable power have cut the wholesale price of electricity by 60 percent since 2008, making it unprofitable to continue operating coal, gas and oil-fired plants. E.ON and RWE have announced intentions to close or mothball 15 GW of gas and coal-fired plants. Additionally, the three major utilities still have a combined 12 GW of nuclear plants scheduled to retire by 2020 under Germany’s nuclear phase-out program.

RWE said it will write down nearly $4 billion on those assets, but the pain doesn’t end there. Returns on invested capital at the three utilities are expected to fall from an average of 7.7 percent in 2013 to 6.5 percent in 2015, which will only increase the likelihood that pension funds and other fixed-income investors will look to exchange traditional utility company holdings for “green bonds” invested in renewable energy. The green bond sector is growing rapidly, and there’s no reason to think it will slow down. Bond issuance jumped from $2 billion in 2012 to $11 billion in 2013, and the now-$15 billion market is expected to nearly double again this year.

new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute and CohnReznick about consumers “defecting” from the grid using solar and storage systems concludes that the combination is a “real, near and present” threat to utilities. By 2025, according to the authors, millions of residential users could find it economically advantageous to give up the grid. In his excellent article on the report, Stephen Lacey notes that lithium-ion battery costs have fallen by half since 2008. With technology wunderkind Elon Musk’s newannouncement that his car company Tesla will raise up to $5 billion to build the world’s biggest “Gigafactory” for the batteries, their costs fall even farther. At the same time, the average price of an installed solar system has fallen by 61 percent since the first quarter of 2010.

At least some people in the utility sector agree that the threat is real. Speaking in late February at the ARPA-E Energy Summit, CEO David Crane of NRG Energy suggested that the grid will be obsolete and used only for backup within a generation, calling the current system “shockingly stupid.”

Non-hydro renewables are outpacing nuclear and fossil fuel capacity additions in much of the world, wreaking havoc with the incumbent utilities’ business models. The value of Europe’s top 20 utilities has been halved since 2008, and their credit ratings have been downgraded. According to The Economist, utilities have been the worst-performing sector in the Morgan Stanley index of global share prices. Only utilities nimble enough to adopt new revenue models providing a range of services and service levels, including efficiency and self-generation, will survive.

In addition to distributed solar systems, utility-scale renewable power plants are popping up around the world like spring daisies. Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar “power tower” at 392 megawatts (MW),  just went online in Nevada. Aura Solar I, the largest solar farm in Latin America at 30 MW, is under construction in Mexico and will replace an old oil-fired power plant. India just opened its largest solar power plant to date, the 130 MW Welspun Solar MP project. Solar is increasingly seen as the best way to provide electricity to power-impoverished parts of the world, and growth is expected to be stunning in Latin America, India and Africa.

Renewable energy now supplies 23 percent of global electricity generation, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, with capacity having doubled from 2000 to 2012. If that growth rate continues, it could become the dominant source of electricity by the next decade.

Environmental disasters

Faltering productivity, falling profits, poor economics and increasing competition from power plants running on free fuel aren’t the only problems facing the fossil-fuels complex. It has also been the locus of increasingly frequent environmental disasters.

On Feb. 22, a barge hauling oil collided with a towboat and spilled an estimated 31,500 gallons of light crude into the Mississippi River, closing 65 miles of the waterway for two days.

More waterborne spills are to be expected along with more exploding trains as crude oil from sources like the Bakken shale seeks alternative routes to market while the Keystone XL pipeline continues to fight an uphill political battle. According to the Association of American Railroads, the number of tank cars shipping oil jumped from about 10,000 in 2009 to more than 230,000 in 2012, and more oil spilled from trains in 2013 than in the previous four decades combined.

Federal regulators issued emergency rules on Feb. 25 requiring Bakken crude to undergo testing to see if it is too flammable to be moved safely by rail, but I am not confident this measure will eliminate the risk. Light, tight oil from U.S. shales tends to contain more light molecules such as natural gas liquids than conventional U.S. crude grades, and is more volatile.

Feb. 11 will go down in history as a marquee bad day for fossil fuels, on which 100,000 gallons of coal slurry spilled into a creek in West Virginia; a natural gas well in Dilliner, Pa., exploded (and burned for two weeks before it was put out); and a natural gas pipeline ruptured and exploded in Tioga, ND. Two days later, another natural gas line exploded in the town of Knifely, Ky., igniting multiple fires and destroying several homes, barns, and cars. The same day, another train carrying crude oil derailed near Pittsburgh, spilling between 3,000 and 7,500 gallons of crude oil.

And don’t forget the spill of 10,000 gallons of toxic chemicals used in coal processing from a leaking tank in West Virginia in early January, which sickened residents of Charleston and rendered its water supply unusable.

No return

At this point you may think, “Well, this is all very interesting, Chris, but why should we believe we’ve reached some sort of tipping point in energy transition?”

To which I would say, ask yourself: Is any of this reversible?

Is there any reason to think the world will turn its back on plummeting costs for solar systems, batteries, and wind turbines, and revert back to nuclear and coal?

Is there any reason to think we won’t see more ruptures and spills from oil and gas pipelines?

What about the more than 1,300 coal-ash waste sites scattered across the United States, of which about half are no longer used and some are lacking adequate liners? How confident are we that authorities will suddenly find the will, after decades of neglect, to ensure that they’ll not cause further contamination after damaging drinking water supplies in at least 67 instances so far, such that we feel confident about continuing to rely on coal power?

Like the disastrous natural gas pipeline that exploded in 2010 and turned an entire neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., into a raging inferno, coal-ash waste sites are but one part of a deep and growing problem shot through the entire fabric of America: aging infrastructure and deferred maintenance. President Obama just outlined his vision for a $302 billion, four-year program of investment in transportation, but that’s just a drop in the bucket, and it’s only for transportation.

Is there any reason to think citizens will brush off the death, destruction, environmental contamination of these disasters—many of them happening in the backyards of rural, red-state voters—and not take a second look at clean power?

Is there any reason to believe utilities will swallow several trillion dollars worth of stranded assets and embrace new business models en masse? Or is it more likely that those that can will simply adopt solar, storage systems, and other measures that ultimately give them cheaper and more reliable power, particularly in the face of increasingly frequent climate-related disasters that take out their grid power for days or weeks?

Is there any reason to think the billions of people in the world who still lack reliable electric power will continue to rely on filthy diesel generators and kerosene lanterns as the price of oil continues to rise? Or are they more likely to adopt alternatives like the SolarAid solar lanterns, of which half a million have been sold across Africa in the past six months alone? (Here’s a hint: Nobody who has one wants to go back to their kerosene lantern.) Founder Jeremy Leggett of SunnyMoney, who created the SolarAid lanterns, intends to sell 50 million of them across Africa by 2020.

Is there any reason to believe solar and wind will not continue to be the preferred way to bring power to the developing world, when their fuel is free and conventional alternatives are getting scarcer and more expensive?

Is there any reason a homeowner might not think about putting a solar system on his or her roof, without taking a single dollar out of his or her pocket, and using it to charge up an electric vehicle instead of buying gasoline?

Is there any reason to think that drilling for shale gas and tight oil in the United States will suddenly resume its former rapid growth rates, when new well locations are getting harder to find, investment by the oil and gas companies is being slashed, share prices are falling, reserves are getting taken off balance sheets and investors are getting nervous?

I don’t think so. All of these trends have been developing for decades, and new data surfacing daily only reinforces them.

The energy transition tipping point is here, and there’s no going back.

Photo: Vladimir Cetinski, iStock Photo

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Feb 28, 2014

Chris Nelder

Chris Nelder is an energy analyst and consultant who has written about energy and investing for more than a decade. He is the author of two books on energy and investing, Profit from the Peak and Investing in Renewable Energy, and has appeared on BBC TV, Fox Business, CNN national radio, Australian Broadcasting Corp., CBS radio and France 24. He is based in California. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure

The well is running dry for big oil – Jeff Reeves's Strength in Numbers – MarketWatch

The well is running dry for big oil – Jeff Reeves’s Strength in Numbers – MarketWatch.

JEFF REEVES’S STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Archives | Email alerts

March 3, 2014, 6:00 a.m. EST

The well is running dry for big oil

Opinion: Supply, efficiency and demand concerns weigh

By Jeff Reeves


Bloomberg

Last week, I mused on the death of cars and big-picture factors working against the auto industry, including urbanization and declining driving rates in younger Americans.

Now, I’ll trot out my crystal ball again and offer you another prediction: This is the beginning of the end for Big Oil, too.

Now before you jump down my throat for trolling you again with hyperbole, I will state up front that I don’t expect Exxon Mobil XOM -0.31%  , BP BP -1.82%  and ChevronCVX +0.29%   to disappear tomorrow any more than I expect I-95 to start sprouting daisies.

But as with the decline of automobile ownership — and in part because of it — we may also be witnessing a protracted decline in major energy stocks and fossil fuel demand.

That’s bad for big oil, and bad for investors in these stocks.

Efficiency and alternatives sap demand

The first big reason big oil is in trouble: Oil demand keeps dropping.

Technology continues to help us do more with less and implement cleaner alternatives to crude oil.

Consider that U.S. oil demand fell to a 16-year low in 2012 despite energy-hungrygadgets and the addition of some 40 million people to the total population.


U.S. Energy Information Administration

Also consider that fuel oil demand was the lowest on record in 2013 and has been steadily declining since the 1970s as the energy source has fallen out of favor for cleaner, greener options.

It’s not just the U.S., either. Even with a bullish outlook for the global economy fueling oil demand this year, the IEA has boosted consumption targets a meager 1.3% as efficiencies in the West offset faster-growing demand in emerging markets.

However you slice it, global crude oil appetites simply aren’t what they used to be. Even energy-hungry emerging markets aren’t making up for the weak demand in the developed world.

The easy supply is gone

I don’t pretend to know when supplies in the ground will run out, or whether we are truly living after the era of “peak oil.”

But one thing is clear: Oil production is getting much more costly as easy-to-access fields are drilled dry, and new production is reliant on more difficult and costly extraction for the fossil fuel.

Take the shale oil boom. Margins are lower thanks to the cost of production. The story is the same for oil sands production , same for offshore drilling, same for oil in Africa as opposed to oil in Canada.

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