NASA confirms that a 2 mile wide comet, discovered by amateur Russian Astronomers, is coming our way. The comet is know as ISON. According to NASA:
“Comet ISON appears on course to achieve sungrazer status as it passes within a solar diameter of Sun’s surface in late 2013 November. Whatever survives will then pass nearest the Earth in late 2013 December,” NASA astronomers explained in a posting. ‘Astronomers around the world will be tracking this large dirty snowball closely to better understand its nature and how it might evolve during the next 15 months’ “The comet, which is estimated to be nearly two miles wide, will likely be one of the largest comets to ever pass Earth. While there is a chance that ISON will disintegrate when it approaches the sun, some astronomers say heat from the sun will vaporize ices in its body, creating what could be a spectacular tail.”
I think that a bright object in the sky at the end of December may remind some of another bright object in the sky several thousand years ago.
A summary of the Russian Federal budget was posted by Reuters in July of this year. It said that Russian crude oil had to be sold at or above $116 per barrel or the budget would show a deficit for the year. A cursory look at the Ural blend (Russian Trading System, comparable to the WTI or Brent) crude pricing for the year suggests that it probably fell short of the goal. To get some feel for whether or not they accomplished the price requirement, understand that the Ural and Brent crude price indices have been essentially the same for 2012. The posting tables the Draft Three Year Budget:
DRAFT THREE-YEAR BUDGET 2013-2015 (in trillion roubles unless
Year 2012 2013 2014 2015
Break-even oil price ($) 116.2 113.9 106.0 105.4
Average oil price ($) 115 97 101 104
Nominal GDP 60.6 65.8 73.4 81.5
Revenues 12.7 12.4 13.6 15.2
Expenditures 12.7 13.4 14.1 15.3
Deficit (% GDP) – 0.1 1.5 0.6 0.11
Non-oil deficit (% GDP) 10.6 10.1 8.9 8.6
$1 = 31 rubles
By 2015, the draft budget forecasts break even price at $105.4.
Both Poland and Romania have shale oil and natural gas potential and are known to be evaluating whether it can be profitably exploited. This is a real threat to Russia. Any development of Western European shale is a major problem for Russia. Like crude oil sales, natural gas sales are a major source of income for Russia. Russia currently provides most of the natural gas and much of the oil to Western Europe. Russia has not been reluctant to shut off supplies. In 2009 a dispute between the Ukraine and Russia over unpaid bills resulted in shutting off natural gas to the Ukraine. Other countries felt the effect with low pressure or no pressure in their pipelines. While the official story was about unpaid bills there was a belief that Russia’s real reason was to warn neighboring countries not to join NATO. They probably are prepared to put pressure on these nations to persuade them to not develop shale gas or oil.
Below is a 2009 map of the Russian natural gas pipelines supplying European nations.
Stefano Casertano, managing director of the Berlin based “The Energy Affairs Company” posted “From Fracks to Riches” on the Stratfor website. A number of countries are dependent on sale of oil and natural gas to provide the revenue to balance their budgets. In addition to the numbers above for Russia, Casertano lists what he says are the crude oil prices (in dollars per barrel) to achieve the needed revenue for several other countries as follows:
The US economy can get an enormous boost from an ample supply of low priced fossil fuels. The fear is that the President does not really see this boost as aligning with his political objectives. He can use his rigged fracking safety study group to impose many “safety” restrictions as a means to cut short this very beneficial exploitation of our shale. The consequence of slowing or even stopping the US shale boom will be appreciated by Russia and OPEC.
The price standard for US crude oil is West Texas Intermediate (WTI). WTI is called light and sweet referring to its density and relatively low sulfur content. It is often considered the premium crude and historically has been the benchmark for global oil pricing. Brent Crude from the North Sea and an OPEC Reference Basket are other standards by which crude is valued. WTI should carry a wellhead price premium over other crude sources. But about two years ago, Brent and WTI prices began separating and the price today, 26 December 2012,(at 4 pmEST) for Brent per barrel is $108.80 and WTI is $88.75. The Wikipedia chart below shows the historic trend since the beginning of 2001 through the later part of 2012. (Click on Charts for clarity.)
The 18th Conference of Parties (COP) in Doha achieved little in the way of results. The renewed Kyoto Treaty was only signed by 37 of the 194 nations in attendance and nothing beyond vague promises of monies to be given by the developed countries to the poor countries for the past and future damage resulting from global climate change.
The vague promises were to provide, beginning in 2020 at least $100 billion a year to poor countries, help in coping with the “devastating effects” of climate change and “extreme weather.” In COP17 there was a promise of monies for this purpose but it never materialized. Now in COP 18, delivery of those funds have been put off until 2020. No nation has volunteered to provide all or part of the funds. This will obviously be brought up again at COP19 where, if the economy is no better globally than it is now, it is likely to only be vague promises again.
The “devastating effects of climate change” is the new mantra. This is the fall back position for those who would want to control our energy usage in view of the 16 year run of no discernable increase in global temperatures while atmospheric CO2 increased roughly 30%. That debunks the “CO2 is causing man-made global warming” theory. And it is reasonable to assume that Solar Cycle 25 will be even less active that the current Cycle 24, thus extending the years of no increase and it might even result in a global temperature decrease.
The 18th Conference of Parties (COP) met in Doha, Qatar from 26 November to 7 December. Initially the purpose of these COPs was to monitor the Kyoto treaty which was designed to control greenhouse gas emissions. The people who set up this treaty hoped that it would give global governance of world’s energy to the UN bureaucracy. It has failed to do that. The Kyoto Treaty expires on 31 December 2012. Undeterred, the attendees replaced it with Kyoto II. The response to Kyoto II by the COP 18 attendees was underwhelming. And this new version has even less chance of accomplishing their desired result.The COP meetings have a new raison d’etre that alleges that the developed nations have damaged or will damage the undeveloped nations and thus owe them reparations. The idea is that developed nations send money to the UN who then decide what to do with it. Surpassed only by a few despots such as Duvalier and Amin, UN bureaucrats have mastered the art of siphoning money out of similar programs into their own Swiss bank accounts. The “OIL FOR FOOD” program is an example. Do you want give your money to the UN? I don’t. Continue reading
The 12th of December was a cold day in the UK. Power demand was up, about 20% more than normal. How much contribution to the total load did renewable wind power provide—–0.6%. That amounts to about 3% of the wind renewable’s rated capacity. The fact that these wind farms failed to come through when the weather was cold is nothing out of the ordinary. It happens all over the world. The wind farms also fail to provide power in the hotest weather. This is owing to the fact that during very cold and very hot weather, the wind is very likely not blowing. Read this posting from the Institute for Energy Research to see performance during weather extremes.
The Brits are mandated to have, by 2020, 30% of their electrical energy provided by renewables. For the year 2011, renewables provided 9.7% of the total. Wind’s contribution to that was 4.4% and solar’s 0.1%. To read the full posting “Just Enough To Boil The Kettle” the blog that provided most of this information, click here.
I wish them the best, which means, that they elect politicians that recognize that the current course is unsustainable.
NASA has published the path that the Mars Rover, Curiosity, has taken since its August landing in the Gale Crater through the end of November, 2012. The distance traveled is about 500 meters. NASA says that the Gale Crater is approximately the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined, two small US States. In the Center of the crater is Mount Sharp, some 3.4 miles high above the crate floor. (Click on photo to enlarge.)
NASA tells of some of the work being done by Curiosity: “ It was at the easternmost waypoint on this map on Nov. 30, 2012. It worked on scoops of soil for a few weeks at the drift of windblown sand called “Rocknest.” The place called “Glenelg” is where three types of terrain meet. The depression called “Yellowknife Bay” is a potential location for selecting the first target rock for Curiosity’s hammering drill.” The next target will be Mount Sharp.
The NASA photo below is of Glenelg.