How food and water are driving a 21st-century African land grab
We turned off the main road to Awassa, talked our way past security guards and drove a mile across empty land before we found what will soon be Ethiopia's largest greenhouse. Nestling below an escarpment of the Rift Valley, the development is far from finished, but the plastic and steel structure already stretches over 20 hectares – the size of 20 football pitches.
The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1,000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 200 miles to Addis Ababa and flown 1,000 miles to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East.
Ethiopia is one of the hungriest countries in the world with more than 13 million people needing food aid, but paradoxically the government is offering at least 3m hectares of its most fertile land to rich countries and some of the world's most wealthy individuals to export food for their own populations.
POLL - OPEC to keep oil production targets steady
LONDON (Reuters) - OPEC will keep oil production
targets on hold this month but could raise output later year as
the world recovers from recession, pushing up demand for fuel, a
Reuters poll showed on Monday.
Fourteen analysts were unanimous in saying the Organization
of the Petroleum Exporting Countries would roll over its
existing commitment to pump no more than 24.84 million barrels
per day (bpd), equivalent to about 30 percent of global demand.
ADNOC eyes 50% boost to drilling
The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) will increase oil and gas drilling by 50% this year to sustain and enhance output, a senior company official said today.
Diesel shortage paralyzes Egypt's highways
Diesel fuel shortages continued throughout Egypt on Sunday, causing cars and buses to form 500- meter-long queues at some gas stations, as supply quantities were cut by half in many areas of Cairo and the provinces. Several fights between drivers over limited supplies of diesel fuel were reported, with police having to intervene in some cases.
Lyondell files restructuring, rejects Reliance
MUMBAI/NEW YORK (Reuters) - LyondellBasell filed a restructuring plan on Monday, rejecting a takeover bid from India's Reliance Industries that valued the bankrupt petrochemicals firm at $14.5 billion.
Gulf braces for huge petrochemicals expansion
The Gulf is undergoing massive capacity expansion in petrochemicals and will soon account for a lion's share of world's ethylene production, investment bank Alpen Capital has said in its new report.
Arroyo warned vs bypassing Congress in dealing with Mindanao power crisis
Opposition senators on Monday warned President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo against bypassing Congress in addressing the energy crisis in Mindanao.
Senator Francis Escudero said failure to seek the approval of the both the Senate and House of Representatives would make the contracts entered into by the government voidable.
The first wind farm in Venezuela will be installed in June and July this year
The towers of the 24 wind turbines of the first wind farm in Venezuela will be installed in June and July this year, said Stella Lugo, Governor of Falcon state, where the wind farm is built. The wind farm Paraguana will have 100 megawatts in its final phase.
The power plant is part of Venezuela policy to diversify its energy sources for electricity production, which now depends on more than 70% of hydropower.
Zimbabwe: Full-scale ethanol production on the cards
Government has set up a team of experts to finalise modalities on full-scale commercial blending of petrol and ethanol produced from sugarcane at Triangle in Chiredzi to ease petrol importation pressures on the fiscus.
The ethanol plant at Triangle resumed production in 2008 following refurbishment and last year produced over a million litres of fuel grade ethanol.
It Came From the Sea
Since mapping the human genome 10 years ago, J. Craig Venter has found plenty of work. The biologist now is burrowing into DNA in as many forms as he can discover, in organisms from the sea and deep underground. His goal: to use the building blocks found in naturally occurring DNA to make synthetic cells. He and his partners at Exxon Mobil Corp. and BP PLC believe genetically engineered life forms hold great promise for energy and other industries.
China lawmakers call for more crude, fuel reserves
BEIJING (Reuters) - China should step up efforts to build up state reserves of crude oil and refined fuel to enhance the country's energy security, state media cited lawmakers as saying.
National crude demand would exceed 550 million tonnes by 2020, compared with about 400 million tonnes in 2009, National People's Congress member Chen Geng told the China Energy News in an interview published on Monday.
Chen, also a former general manager of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), the country's top oil producer, said it was unlikely China would increase domestic oil production above 200 million tonnes in the next 10 years.
"That means we have to import about 350 million tonnes of oil by then," he told the newspaper.
Oil Advances to Two-Month High Above $82 on Economic Optimism
(Bloomberg) -- Oil rose to a two-month high above $82 a barrel in New York amid growing confidence that the economic recovery is proceeding and set to bolster fuel demand.
Crude advanced for a second day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the group of nations using the euro is ready to rescue Greece should the government struggle to fund its deficit. Hedge-fund managers and other large speculators increased their bets on oil prices rising for a third week, according to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
India’s ONGC May Borrow $10 Billion to Buy Assets
(Bloomberg) -- Oil & Natural Gas Corp., India’s biggest energy explorer, may borrow $10 billion over the next decade as it competes with rivals from China and South Korea to buy oil assets overseas to meet domestic fuel demand.
Essar Group Said to Plan $3 Billion Debt, Equity Sale
(Bloomberg) -- Essar Group, owned by Indian billionaires Shashi and Ravi Ruia, plans to raise $3 billion overseas to fund acquisitions and expand its oil, power and steel businesses, two people familiar with the matter said.
CNPC sees China oil output up 1-2% in 2010
China's crude oil output will rise by 1-2 percent this year, Yu Baocai, vice president of China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC), said on Sunday.
The forecast is slightly below a previous estimate of 2 percent given in a CNPC research report but above the 0.5 percent growth target issued by China's planning ministry, the National Development and Reform Commission, in its 2010 economic plan.
Saudi Arabia to promote private sector: Saudi king
RIYADH - Top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia has been largely unaffected by a global financial crisis and will continue to encourage private sector growth and pursue a moderate oil policy, King Abdullah said on Sunday.
Total to Invest in EDF LNG Terminal Near Site of Shut Refinery
(Bloomberg) -- Total SA, under fire from unions for the planned closure of its Dunkirk refinery in northern France, will invest in a 1 billion euro ($1.4 billion) liquefied natural gas terminal nearby that’s being spearheaded by Electricite de France SA.
Basra has a 'good feeling' about vote
Turnout is 60% in the southern Iraqi city. Many voters express optimism about the nation's fifth post-Hussein elections. But some fear rivalries could spill into violence.
Shell, PetroChina Offer $3 Billion for Australia’s Arrow Energy
(Bloomberg) -- Royal Dutch Shell Plc and PetroChina Co. made an offer worth more than A$3.3 billion ($3 billion) to acquire Arrow Energy Ltd., the holder of Australia’s biggest coal-seam gas acreage, triggering a record gain in the shares.
Queensland Coal Producers to Bid for QR Coal Network
(Bloomberg) -- Queensland coal producers will bid for the state government’s rail network and counter a planned A$3 billion ($2.7 billion) initial share sale of the assets, the local resources council says.
Goldman Sachs partner Jeffrey Currie goes against the flow
The Goldman Sachs oil research team, which reports to Currie, who is global head of commodities research, consistently tops forecasting league tables. But in early 2008 it made an uncharacteristically poor call. Oil analyst Arjun Murti forecast oil could spike to $200 a barrel in two years if spurred by a 1970s-style oil crisis event. Murti’s claim carried weight as he correctly predicted oil’s rise to over $100 a year earlier.
Sasol’s First-Half Profit Falls 52% as Oil Declines
(Bloomberg) -- Sasol Ltd., the largest producer of motor fuel made from coal, said first-half profit fell 52 percent as the rand strengthened against the dollar and as the price of competing crude oil declined.
Kairiki Energy Seeks Partners for 600 Million-Barrel Oil Field
(Bloomberg) -- Kairiki Energy Ltd., an Australian oil explorer whose shares have tripled in the past year, is seeking partners to develop a crude field in the Philippines with potential reserves of 600 million barrels.
China positive toward resolving gas field dispute
BEIJING — China has a positive attitude toward addressing a dispute with Japan over gas field development in the East China Sea, Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said Sunday. ‘‘The attitude of China is positive, not negative,’’ Yang said at a press conference on the sidelines of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament.
What’s wrong with exploiting nature?
The filmmakers interview local indigenous people whose lives have been disrupted by the works. Where once this was an isolated, tranquil landscape, it is now scarred by strip mining and the air in some areas reeks of ‘stink bomb’ fumes from the extraction process. But this is just the latest instance of the industrialisation of wilderness. What gives these indigenous inhabitants the right to the unfettered use of this land? While it is right that oil companies should leave the land in a state where it can be used for other purposes afterwards, there is nothing wrong with making use of natural resources.
Energy Group Proposes North Sea Electricity Super-Grid, FT Says
(Bloomberg) -- A group of 10 companies including Areva SA and Siemens AG will propose a plan today for a North Sea electricity “super-grid” connecting the U.K., Germany and Norway, the Financial Times reported, citing the group.
ANALYSIS - Smart grid spending powers ahead in Asia
SEOUL/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Japan, South Korea and China are investing about $9 billion this year in infrastructure and information technology to make electricity networks more efficient, creating lucrative opportunities for niche technology and equipment providers.
The "smart grid" system, through computerised monitoring of electricity flowing through a power grid, allows utilities to automatically manage electricity usage in a way that is more reliable and flexible.
Asia's spending on smart grids is expected to outpace the United States, with China alone seen investing $7.3 billion in the sector this year, according to Zpryme, a market research firm based in Austin, Texas.
Will smart meters help reduce energy bills?
Smart meters that monitor exact energy usage multiple times a day, resulting in accurate bills, have to be in all households by 2020, the government said last year. It is hoped they will also cut carbon levels by encouraging householders to pay more attention to energy usage and make more effort to control it. So should you switch to a smart meter now, and will it really save you money?
EBay Highlights Conservation as a Benefit of Buying Used
On the site, green.ebay.com, and in the ads, eBay makes the case that buying something used is as environmentally correct as conservation and recycling.
“Most people think you have to make a product in a certain way with a certain set of ingredients for it to be green,” said Amy Skoczlas Cole, director of eBay’s green team. “What we’re saying is you don’t have to make this new product at all.”
Australia: Why didn’t I get my personal financial ‘stuff’ sorted earlier?
The age pension makes up a third of the annual Federal Budget and is set to increase at double the inflation rate to reach $45 billion in four years.
Future governments will look to scale down this commitment as the number of future taxpayers declines.
It is clearly obvious that managing this expectation gap of future retirees is an understatement. With rising inflation and living costs and fundamental changes such as a reaching "peak oil" and the question of who knows whether the age pension will be around in 10 to 20 years from now, only add to challenges in managing the expectation of these future retirees.
A social conscience
Steve Earnshaw is talking the talk and walking the walk as the spokesman for Transition Timaru. Feature writer Claire Allison met the environmentally aware orthopaedic surgeon.
The painful limits of localism
Every field of endeavour produces its classic conundrums, the tough nuts it never quite cracks. For centuries, engineering sought the secret of perpetual motion. Applied physics keeps looking for an efficient means of storing electrical power. In democratic politics our age is not the first to struggle to devolve decision-making without throwing sand into the wheels of big national plans: to reconcile bottom-up with top-down.
Solon Shares Jump After Report Says State Aid May Be Approved
(Bloomberg) -- Shares of Solon SE, the German maker of solar panels, jumped as much as 21 percent following a report that the unprofitable company may get state aid guarantees.
Small biofuel farm bears fruit
If the vision of father and son farmers Christian and James Twigg-Smith becomes reality, acres of now-fallow sugar cane land will be growing crops again.
But rather than producing food, the land would be used to grow fuel oil.
About two years ago they planted jatropha, an oil-rich nut native to South America, on 250 acres in Keaau on Hawaii island. They have leased another 750 acres that could be put into production if the crop is successful.
Deal to Save Everglades May Help Sugar Firm
When Gov. Charlie Crist announced Florida’s $1.75 billion plan to save the Everglades by buying out a major landowner, United States Sugar, he declared that the deal would be remembered as a public acquisition “as monumental as the creation of the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone.”
Standing amid the marshes at the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in June 2008, Mr. Crist said, “I can envision no better gift to the Everglades, the people of Florida and the people of America — as well as our planet — than to place in public ownership this missing link that represents the key to true restoration.”
Nearly two years later, the governor’s ambitious plan to reclaim the river of grass, as the famed wetlands are known, is instead on track to rescue the fortunes of United States Sugar.
Asia seen as growth driver for voluntary CO2 market
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Fear of Western-imposed carbon tariffs on goods and services from Asia is likely to drive growth in offsetting emissions by large firms in the region, a voluntary carbon market executive said.
The market, worth $705 million in 2008 and likely much less in 2009, relies on businesses to voluntarily manage their carbon emissions, for example from the energy they use to produce and transport goods around the globe.
The Maldives Buys a New Island – That Floats
Sea level rise creates new business opportunity and “green jobs” that we’ll see more of, borne from the effects of climate change, as sea levels rise. The first floating island has just been commissioned this week by the sinking island nation of the Maldives, from Dutch Docklands, whose past work includes part of the artificial islands comprising The World off the coast of Dubai.