Lowest oil & gas discovery in 20 yrs, US shale has been masking crude production fall in rest of world, global Divestment Day, big Apple solar play, Shell boss calls critics "naive": Week 7, 2015

Discoveries of new oil and gas reserves drop to 20-year low. This is the fourth consecutive year of falling discoveries, with no discoveries of giant fields.
“BP’s battles leave it vulnerable to a major move”: FT. “If ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson really wanted to, he could snap up BP in a single bite.”
Is there a bubble emerging in corporate bonds? Signs of distress on are appearing in EM companies after years of “often indiscriminate buying” of their bonds.
Are spy agencies funding climate research in hunt for weather weapon? A leading American climate scientist tells the AAAS that he believes so.
14.2.15.
Cameron, Clegg and Miliband all sign strong climate action pledge. They call for unabated coal phaseout and 2 degrees C binding treaty in Paris. Al Gore: “inspired leadership”.
13.2.15.
Climate talks: countries agree draft text for Paris treaty negotiations. Almost 200 countries finalise 86 page basis for negotiations. It includes net-zero carbon by 2050.
Global Divestment day: Hundreds of events in 48 countries spanning six continents. In the UK rallies and protests include London, Bristol, Oxford, Nottingham, Swansea and Edinburgh.
Achieving near-zero emissions in 2nd half of century is central to the Paris deal. So says UN climate chief Christiana Figueres at close of Geneva session. There are 15 options in the text.
US drill-rig count now down 30% since October. “The rig counts appear to be in free fall”, Bloomberg comments, amid “mounting evidence of an industry in distress”.
Brent rises above $60 as oil companies cut back.  EIA figures show US production at a record high of 9.23 mbd since the agency started collating data, in 1983.
Norwegian drill rig operator strikes off $1bn of orders with Petrobras. Seadrill says it no longer believes the company will go ahead with business agreed.
12.2.15.
US shale may not bounce back if oil price rises. If finance flows dry up, so will resurgent output.
Global oil layoffs pass 100,000. US shale is worst, but the pain is global as oil boom towns begin to turn into ghost towns.
Tesla plans to unveil battery storage for growing residential market soon. CEO Elon Musk says details are coming within a month or two.
Fracking “never felt sustainable”. In 2013, US shale was responsible for c.20% of world investment in oil, while only supplying 4% global production. Today? Grimmer.
Shell boss: fossil fuel critics are “naïve” but Big Oil has a “credibility issue”. Ben van Beurden speech to an industry gathering suggests industry is becoming “rattled” by carbon bubble.
Fossil-fuel companies hit back at divestment movement. Crude videos and websites such as “Big Greeb Radicals” push an extreme defence of status quo.
Koch-funded attack website focused just on solar. Its rationale: “Shining a light on the dark side of solar power. Billions blown on solar offer little bang for the bucks.”
“Note to Shell: Most of your critics don’t want a ‘sudden death’ for fossil fuels.” Ben van Beurden is resorting to straw man arguments, says Business Green.
Fracking will be allowed under UK national parks. Infrastructure bill amended to allow horizontal drilling from outside parks.
EDF delays investment decision on Hinkley Point until after election. Negotiations with potential partners stall over Chinese demands.
11.2.15.
US shale oil boom masks declining global supply. So Mark Lewis argues in the FT that when rig count translates into output, up will go the oil price: by Q3 or Q4.
“Oil prices may recover, but not LNG.” Low US prices favoured exports to high-price Asian countries. But slow growth in Asia and other factors will mean low LNG prices for a while.
Apple deal and tax change “could spark corporate solar stampede.” Apple is buying nearly $1bn of power from a First Solar project: the biggest ever solar PPA.
Belectric trials grid-balancing storage at UK solar farm. With a similar project underway in Germany, the company talks of storage bringing a “new era for renewables”.
“Storage is today where PV was six or seven years ago”. Says a consultant in this review of energy storage and the 362 MW or projects announced 2013-14. Largest 5 MW.
UK threatens retaliation if Austria takes legal action over Hinkley Point. HMG says it will take every opportunity to damage country, unless legal case over nuclear reactor, is dropped.
10.2.15.
Officials warn Paris won’t achieve 2 degrees target. But the treaty can set the direction of travel so clearly that the target can still be hit beyond via the sum of individual national action.
IEA forecasts $60 oil for another two years. “The price correction will cause the North American supply ‘party’ to mark a pause; it will not bring it to an end.”
US oil and gas water use threatens harvest. c $1.2bn (£790m) in maize, soy and wheat crops may be at risk in US states where competition is high.
UK spent 300 times more on fossil fuels then green energy. UK Export Finance tally for carbon £1.13bn, green energy £3.6m.
Oil divestiture will hurt college endowments, says oil industry. The Independent Petroleum Association of America commissions a report that studies past 50 years.
“Oil company employees should consider quitting their jobs.” It is becoming morally unacceptable for well-paid employees to carry on, says Jonathon Porritt.
A UK shale industry would be incompatible with 2C target. So says Kevin Anderson
Wind capacity additions exceed fossil-fuels in 2014. EWEA figures show 11.8 GW wind, up 3.8% YOY to 128.8 GW. Gas & coal additions: 5.6 GW. All RE: 79.1%.
SolarAid reaches 9 million Africans with 1.5 million solar lights. And a new campaign will aim to divert 5% of pioneering companies’ profits to proliferate such achievements.
9.2.15.
‘The survival of the planet itself is at stake”. So French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius tells UN climate talks in Geneva. Paris is crucial for world security, he says.
Duke Energy takes majority stake in REC Solar. Largest US utility makes $225m available for the developer to help commercial partners go solar.
“Brazil targets rooftop solar as hydro-dams run dry.” Two years of droughts have taken their toll. Government announces tax relief and incentives.
“Why solar eclipsing oil may first cause a year-long crash, then a 17-year bull market.” Jon D. Markman offers a variant opinion.