Wednesday, April 4, 2018

GWPF Newsletter: Global Ocean Temps Keep Falling, Now Colder Than Before 2015/16 El Nino








Cuadrilla Completes Drilling Of UK’s First Horizontal Shale Gas Well

In this newsletter:

1) Global Ocean Temps Keep Falling, Now Colder Than Before 2015/16 El Nino
Run Clutz, Science Matters, 28 February 2018 
 
2) Cuadrilla Completes Drilling Of UK’s First Horizontal Shale Gas Well
Rigzone, 3 April 2018 


 
3) Cuadrilla Aims For Summer Start On Lancashire Fracking
North West Place, 3 April 2018
 
4) Green Policies Blamed For Rising Uk Electricity Prices: GWPF Calls For Inquiry
Global Warming Policy Forum, 3 April 2018 
 
5) New Coal War: China And Japan Compete For Hundreds Of New Coal Plants In Southeast Asia
Frederick Kuo, South China Morning Post, 1 April 2018 
 
6) Climate Change On Trial
Michael Kile, Quadrant, 29 March 2018


Full details:

1) Global Ocean Temps Keep Falling, Now Colder Than Before 2015/16 El Nino
Run Clutz, Science Matters, 28 February 2018 

Global ocean temperatures continue to fall and are now colder than they were before the record 2015/16 El Nino.

The best context for understanding decadal temperature changes comes from the world’s sea surface temperatures (SST), for several reasons:

The ocean covers 71% of the globe and drives average temperatures;

SSTs have a constant water content, (unlike air temperatures), so give a better reading of heat content variations;

A major El Nino was the dominant climate feature in recent years.

HadSST is generally regarded as the best of the global SST data sets, and so the temperature story here comes from that source, the latest version being HadSST3.  More on what distinguishes HadSST3 from other SST products at the end.

The Current Context

The chart below shows SST monthly anomalies as reported in HadSST3 starting in 2015 through February 2018.



Note that higher temps in 2015 and 2016 were first of all due to a sharp rise in Tropical SST, beginning in March 2015, peaking in January 2016, and steadily declining back below its beginning level. Secondly, the Northern Hemisphere added three bumps on the shoulders of Tropical warming, with peaks in August of each year. Also, note that the global release of heat was not dramatic, due to the Southern Hemisphere offsetting the Northern one.

A global cooling pattern has persisted, seen clearly in the Tropics since its peak in 2016, joined by NH and SH dropping since last August. An upward bump occurred last October, and again in January 2018.  Now the cooling has resumed in February with only the NH showing a slight increase.  As will be shown in the analysis below, 0.410C has been the average global anomaly since 1995 and this month remains lower at 0.349C.  SH erased the January bump while the tropics reached a new low of 0.155 for this period.

Global and NH SSTs are the lowest since 3/2014, while SH and Tropics SSTs are the lowest since 3/2012.

A longer view of SSTs

The graph below  is noisy, but the density is needed to see the seasonal patterns in the oceanic fluctuations.  Previous posts focused on the rise and fall of the last El Nino starting in 2015.  This post adds a longer view, encompassing the significant 1998 El Nino and since.  The color schemes are retained for Global, Tropics, NH and SH anomalies.  Despite the longer time frame, I have kept the monthly data (rather than yearly averages) because of interesting shifts between January and July.



Full post

2) Cuadrilla Completes Drilling Of UK’s First Horizontal Shale Gas Well
Rigzone, 3 April 2018 

Cuadrilla revealed Tuesday that it has successfully completed drilling the UK’s first ever horizontal shale gas well at its exploration site at Preston New Road in Lancashire.



The well was drilled through the Lower Bowland shale at a depth of approximately 8,858 feet below ground and extends laterally for around 2,624 feet through the shale gas reservoir. Cuadrilla confirmed that it plans to apply, “in the very near future”, to the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for the consent to fracture the well.

Work will now begin on drilling the second horizontal shale gas exploration well, through the Upper Bowland shale.

“Our completion of the UK’s first ever horizontal shale gas well is a major milestone towards getting Lancashire gas flowing into Lancashire homes as we lead the way on UK exploration,” Francis Egan, CEO of Cuadrilla, said in a company statement.

“From the data we have amassed so far we are optimistic that, after fracturing the shale rock, natural gas will flow into this horizontal well in commercially viable quantities demonstrating that the UK’s huge shale gas resources can be safely produced and contribute to improving the UK’s energy security,” he added.

Ken Cronin, United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) chief executive, said the completion of the UK’s first horizontal shale gas well was a major step on the road to the UK securing its own supply of natural gas for decades to come.

Full post

3) Cuadrilla Aims For Summer Start On Lancashire Fracking
Palace North West, 3 April 2018

Energy firm Cuadrilla has completed drilling the UK’s first horizontal shale gas well at its Preston New Road site in Lancashire, ahead of starting the fracking process by the start of the third quarter of this year, subject to Government approval.

Cuadrilla started horizontal drilling at the site in January, following a 2.7km-deep test well which the firm said showed the area had “excellent rock quality and high natural gas content”. It also has low overall clay content making it “well suited” to the fracking process.

The horizontal well, which stretches for around 800 metres, will allow Cuadrilla to release the natural gas in the rock through hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping water at very high pressures to break the rock.

While fracking proposals have received strong opposition, Cuadrilla and other shale gas explorers have maintained that using the natural resource could significantly add to the UK’s energy supply, and reduce the need to import the gas from other countries.

Cuadrilla has now also started work on a second horizontal shale gas exploration well, and has planning consent to drill up to four of these wells on the site.

The company now plans to apply to the Secretary of State for the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy for a permit to fracture both wells from July this year.

Initial flow tests on both wells will last for around six months, and Cuadrilla plans to have these connected to the local gas grid network in 2019.

Cuadrilla chief executive Francis Egan said: “Our completion of the UK’s first ever horizontal shale gas well is a major milestone towards getting Lancashire gas flowing into Lancashire homes as we lead the way on UK exploration.

“From the data we have amassed so far we are optimistic that, after fracturing the shale rock, natural gas will flow into this horizontal well in commercially viable quantities demonstrating that the UK’s huge shale gas resources can be safely produced and contribute to improving the UK’s energy security.”

Full story
 

see also: 

Ivan Fallon: Fracking for gas could provide UK with less to fear from Russia 

Juliet Samuel: To prevent a troubling reliance on Russian gas we must start fracking


4) Green Policies Blamed For Rising UK Electricity Prices: GWPF Calls For Inquiry
Global Warming Policy Forum, 3 April 2018 

The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) today noted that Opus Energy has in the last week written to its customers increasing prices by 7.5% even to those on fixed term contracts, blaming increases in subsidies to renewables, and other related government energy and climate policies. [1]

Combined with a price increase in March 2017 for the same reasons, Opus has now had to increase its prices by about 11% within a year because of policy costs.[2]

This development confirms remarks made by Iain Conn, CEO of Centrica, in October last year, that energy policies are now responsible for a large part of the price of electricity, and that greater transparency was required from government. [3]

GWPF director Dr Benny Peiser said: “One after another, energy companies are beginning to break cover and blame poorly designed policies for increasing bills, not fundamental energy costs. Ministers must come clean about this. The government stopped publishing detailed price impact studies for its energy and climate policies in 2014. What are they hiding? They simply must start publishing this data again.”

Dr Peiser added: “Actually this is a big opportunity for government. The Treasury recently announced a moratorium on renewable energy subsidies, but this is not enough to prevent excessive burdens on consumers. With customers and even energy suppliers becoming increasingly unhappy with the policy costs, this is the right moment to announce an inquiry into retrospective measures to reduce energy policy costs.”

Notes for Editors

1. https://www.thegwpf.com/content/uploads/2018/04/Opus-Energy-Price-Increase-letter.pdf

2. For further details see:  https://www.thegwpf.com/policies-are-to-blame-for-rising-uk-electricity-prices/

3. https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/10/interview-centrica-ceo-iain-conn-on-theresa-mays-price-cap/

5) New Coal War: China And Japan Compete For Hundreds Of New Coal Plants In Southeast Asia
Frederick Kuo, South China Morning Post, 1 April 2018 

Southeast Asia’s appetite for coal has spurred a new geopolitical rivalry between China and Japan as the two countries race to provide high-efficiency, low-emission technology. More than 1,600 coal plants are scheduled to be built by Chinese corporations in over 62 countries. It will make China the world’s primary provider of high-efficiency, low-emission technology.



A joint report by Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and CoalSwarm indicates that Southeast Asia will be the new epicentre of coal production. Asia accounts for 85 per cent of new coal power development in the world’s top 20 coal producing countries, with China as the leader of the pack. However, while tighter restrictions on domestic coal plants have been imposed by the central government to curb pollution, Beijing has pushed the development of high-efficiency, low-emission coal plants across Southeast Asia as part of the “Belt and Road Initiative”.

As China is expanding its influence, Beijing’s foremost strategic competitor in Asia, Japan, is being forced to step up efforts to combat its shrinking influence in the region. The booming energy sector of Southeast Asia, especially coal, is proving to be the new front line in the geopolitical rivalry between Asia’s two industrial giants.

China’s coal drive is part of a larger energy-driven investment policy that follows its attempt to reduce carbon emissions by clamping down on the coal industry and pledging to increase investments in renewables. However, Chinese energy planners have realised they cannot relinquish coal as a major power source for the foreseeable future. The country remains highly dependent on coal, with coal sources accounting for roughly 73 per cent of China’s electricity production in 2014, according to World Bank numbers. Instead of abandoning coal, China is developing cleaner and higher-efficiency coal plants – and, as a boon to its plan for greater regional influence, aims to export the technology abroad.

To that end, the China Development Bank and China Export Import Bank last year lent US$25.6 billion (HK$200.92 billion) to global energy projects. This figure surpassed even the US$22.6 billion provided by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

From a market perspective, Beijing’s plan to become the world’s primary high-efficiency, low-emission technology provider comes at the right time. Coal consumption across Asia is slated to outpace that of China over the next 20 years, coupled with an absolute increase in global coal demand over the next seven years. The more than 1,600 coal plants scheduled to be built by Chinese corporations in over 62 countries will make China the world’s primary provider of high-efficiency, low-emission technology.

Because policymakers still regard coal as more affordable than renewables, Southeast Asia’s industrialisation continues to consume large amounts of it. To lift 630 million people out of poverty, advanced coal technologies are considered vital for the region’s continued development while allowing for a reduction in carbon emissions.

Clearly, the countries providing this technology will inevitably expand their sway with regional governments. As a consequence, a race between Tokyo and Beijing over the construction of coal plants is already under way.

China is currently in the lead, having overtaken Japan in 2000 as Asia’s leading exporter of coal industry equipment. It remains the largest technology supplier to India and the second-largest investor in coal projects in Vietnam, behind Japan. It is also constructing Bangladesh’s first clean coal plant.

These developments reflect Beijing’s advantage in providing the necessary coal funding. China has been “greening” for years, developing renewables and carbon capture technologies at breakneck speed, while also investing more aggressively in the region than Japan at a time when most multinational banks have restricted coal funding. The results speak for themselves. Between January 2010 and March 2017, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation was involved in five financing deals while Export-Import Bank of China inked seven.

But Japan is not exactly twiddling its thumbs, either. Since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Tokyo has ramped up coal use and has raced ahead in clean coal technology development. Japan now boasts the world’s most efficient coal-fired plant, which uses less coal to produce more electricity. Seizing on this competitive advantage, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has tried to capitalise on these capabilities in a bid to increase Japan’s reach across Southeast Asia – and in China’s backyard.

Through the Japan-led Asian Development Bank, Tokyo has pledged US$6.1 billion for projects throughout the Mekong as well as for various other projects from Vietnam to Myanmar, providing an alternative to China’s regional designs.

What’s more, Japan will soon receive a boost from the Trump administration through the Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership. The partnership could be a game-changer in terms of Sino-Japanese energy competition, with a joint commitment by Tokyo and Washington to promote high-efficiency, low-emission deployment throughout South and Southeast Asia. With the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the doldrums, the new partnership is designed to counter Beijing’s energy diplomacy through a more coherent bilateral push.

This may well be only the beginning. US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has repeatedly emphasised that coal will be a key part of the Trump administration’s policies.

Full post 

see also GWPF coverage of Southeast Asia’s coal boom

6) Climate Change On Trial
Michael Kile, Quadrant, 29 March 2018

With the international political, financial and reputational stakes so high, it was only a matter of time before climate change appeared in the dock, handcuffed to its partner in prognostication, the dodgy discipline of extreme weather attribution.

Attribution, n., the art of evaluating the relative contributions of multiple causal factors to a change or an event, according to one’s prejudices.

To make sense of the climate change scene today, it is best to begin with the end game: the orthodoxy’s search for an argument, however abstruse, that will stand up in court. It needs one sufficiently “robust” to ensure developed countries—still effectively on trial in the United Nations, where a protracted “loss and damages” claim awaits resolution—and fossil fuel companies are legally liable to pay multi-billion-dollar “climate reparations” to the alleged victims of “carbon pollution”, be they in the developing world or in the path of a natural disaster.

Indeed, the credibility of the “relatively young science” of extreme weather attribution, the legitimacy of its ambition to “tease out the influence of human-caused climate change from other factors”, the whole alarmist movement and fate of the UN’s Green Climate Fund, all crucially depend on delivering such a legal argument.

How did we get to this point? When the climate change meme was planted successfully in the collective mind a decade ago as the most serious existential threat facing humankind, the orthodoxy wanted it to stay there. A sense of public anxiety had to be maintained, despite the risk of apocalypse fatigue syndrome.

So it created an Attribution of Climate-related Events (ACE) initiative. The international research agenda gradually shifted to the tricky territory of extreme weather attribution.

ACE’s first workshop was held on January 26, 2009, in Boulder, Colorado, at the Pei-designed National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Mesa Lab. Attendees included Myles Allen (Oxford University), Martin Hoerling (NOAA, USA), Peter Stott (UK Met Office, Hadley Centre), Kevin Trenberth (NCAR) and David Karoly (University of Melbourne). Its objective was to:

develop a conceptual framework for attribution activities to be elevated in priority and visibility, leading to substantial increases in resources (funds, people, computers) and both a research activity and a framework for an “operational” activity, that sets forth a goal of providing a lot more concrete information in near real time about what has happened and why in weather and climate.

ACE later released a four-paragraph statement. Its mission would be: “to provide authoritative assessments of the causes of anomalous climate conditions and EWEs” (extreme weather events), presumably for government agencies and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013/2014 Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).

But just how “robust”—one of the orthodoxy’s favourite adjectives—was the climate modelling underpinning this grand design? How could it be sold to the public, given the challenging uncertainties? ACE participants agreed they would need “increased real-time numerical experimentation activity” and something else too, a narrative that would ensure public interest.

To succeed, everyone would have to sing from the same song-sheet. There would have to be consistent use of terminology and close collaborative teamwork “to maintain an authoritative voice when explaining complex multi-factorial events such as the recent Australian bushfires” (my italics).

Full post


The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at www.thegwpf.com.

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