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20 December 2012

Obituary - Huw Lloyd Langton

I learnt yesterday that one of my favourite guitar players passed away. Huw Lloyd Langton got notorious through his work with Hawkwind, a collaboration that spanned a good number of decades. Master of spacey reverbs and long improvisations, he could create dense atmospheres but still produce songs for more straightforward listeners. I never had the opportunity to see Huw playing live, and now I'm sure I never will. Folk that worked with him paint a personality of kindness and openness, someone pleasant to do music with. Good bye Huw, you'll be missed.

09 December 2012

Petition for a Better Ubuntu

In this post I introduce an online petition addressed at Canonical requesting the removal from Ubuntu of all default data collection features. The following paragraphs detail a bit further the reasoning that lead me to create this petition. To immediately read and sign the Petition for a Better Ubuntu, please jump to Avaaz.

Not much has happened since I reported on the potential incompatibilities of Ubuntu 12.10 with the European data protection legislation. At the time I got the impression Canonical was not even in tune to personal data protection and the company remained almost silent on the issue, avoiding to address it directly. I find this somewhat strange, for Mark Shuttleworth, the company CEO founder, claimed to have the root password of all Ubuntu users some good weeks before that. When Ubuntu 12.10 was officially released it portrayed an important small change to the Shopping Lens, the addition of a privacy policy note. It addresses some of the concerns I raised, but at the same time confirms that personal user data is being collected and stored by Canonical. This is the crux of the matter and Ubuntu 12.10 effectively does it without user consent.

Update: The text of this petition has been kindly translated into French by Vince.

24 November 2012

Muse brings Peak Oil to the mainstream

Muse is a modern British progressive rock band, one of an handful that has harnessed commercial success during the past decade. They rank 9th in my Last.fm top, although time wise they just nearly make it into the top 25. The band released a new LP, the sixth of their career, about 2 months ago. So far I've been too busy to lend any attention to it, although friends already referenced it as well worth listen.

Thanks to our galician friends at Véspera de Nada I found out today that this LP is actually a reflection on the energy sustainability of modern society. Here's the trailer of The 2nd Law

03 November 2012

Alternative materials

Part of the use modern industrial society gives to energy is to gather and synthesise disperse matter into complex materials. Due to their solid state and relative stability at room conditions, metals have always had a central role in industrial societies. The processes of mining, transport, refining and casting are vital in the modern economy and demand huge quantities of energy. And this energy demand is proportional to scarcity and dispersion of the raw material in the Earth's crust. There's an interesting post by Ugo Bardi on this matter for a deeper review.

The energy transition modern societies are undergoing today can also be (and most likely will be) a transition into a different way of using matter. A possibility that has been explorer since the 1960s is the usage of carbon fibre composites to replace metals in a variety of applications. Strong and light, they have been promising a new Industrial Revolution for a long time. But while carbon fibres dispense much of the energy consumption of mining and refining processes, they still require relevant amounts of energy in its fabrication process; barring relevant innovation on this aspect, carbon fibre won't become an everyday material.

It so happens that Nature itself fabricates materials not that different from carbon fibre reinforced polymers. Trees produce their own polymers, cellulose and lignen, that are bound together into a material that has great resistance to compression and tension: wood.

08 October 2012

Legal questions on the Ubuntu Shopping Lens

Several developments have followed the announcement of the default inclusion of the Shopping Lens feature in Ubuntu 12.10. What seemed at first a surreptitious inclusion of adware in Ubuntu turned into a full blown row when Mark Shutleworth, founder of Canonical, the company that coordinates the Ubuntu development, lit afire the blogosphere claiming that the company had administrative access to every computer running Ubuntu. From there we got to know that even the users that could benefit from the feature are not happy, since the results can not be filtered or customised. A further consequence of this is the possibility of adult oriented products showing up in the results, which puts at risk Ubuntu's usage by children and in professional environments. Answering to all the backlash, Canonical has decided to include settings that allow the user to switch off the Shopping Lens, but it will still be switched on by default.

Actually, this may be just the tip of the iceberg. The inclusion of this commercial oriented feature, more over by default, has the potential to open an unheard of conflict in the FOSS universe.

Update:In consequence of the questions raised in this post I created a petition addressed at Canonical requesting the removal of automatic data collection features.

30 September 2012

September 2012 - a turning point for Portugal

This blog entry is an experiment. Instead of the usual text there's a sound recording to listen to. Below the fold are a few relevant links on the topic. Enjoy and please leave feedback on the feasibility of this blogging mode.

28 September 2012

A last good bye to Paul

Over the years I made a fair good number of "friends" over the internet. I use quotes because these are not the kind of folk you talk to when life is hard or with whom you go for a pint or two after work; most of them live thousands of kilometres away. These are folk with whom I exchange e-mails and forum comments, and by one reason or another mutual respect builds up to the kind of complicity that exists between real friends. I had the fortune to meet a few of them along the years, filling the gaps in my perception of their personality, many times in unexpected, but always positive, ways. But at best I get to see each of these folk once a year.

Earlier this week I learnt that one of my internet friends passed away. It was a news that left a special kind of void and logging in me.

25 September 2012

Ubuntu sailing into uncharted waters

Every time a new Ubuntu release is out there is always some controversy on this or that new quirk the developers of this distribution decide to take. With a release cycle of only 6 months that's all to be expected for, if you're willing to use the latest Ubuntu you simply have to accept the fact that you're by default also a tester. That's pretty much one of the tenets of FOSS, more so with a product that tries to be as innovative as Ubuntu. About 18 months ago, when the new desktop environment was introduced a good deal of backlash came up. Indeed the first Unity versions were difficult to understand and buggy; but today, after absorbing its logic and with most bugs dealt with, I can only say it clearly improved my productivity over Gnome 2. That's just the way it is: the latest Ubuntu release is a bleeding edge product and you are part of its maturation process; if you don't like it you can always opt for an older release.

But only one month away from the introduction of Ubuntu 12.10 a new Unity feature has been made public that can potentially change all this.

26 July 2012

Loose notes from a conference

Earlier this month I went to an Environmental Modelling conference in Leipzig to present an article on my current professional endeavours. On any field, conferences are mostly important for the networking you build, meeting people from literally all continents and finding new projects to work on. This particular conference was no exception on that regard, but apart from that, there were some interesting points in terms of software worthy of note. Below the fold is a loose collection of thoughts I brought back.

15 June 2012

Bundes-Europa oder Tod

Since early age I've been fascinated with politics and the eternal melee around the steering of the common future. In many ways it resembles chess, a game that I much appreciate, were each side lays a series of tactics supporting a final strategy. Last week we had a display of political chess at its best, justifying once more my passion. In chess sometimes a player that had been losing material and apparently getting cornered to his half board can pull out an unexpected play that by exploring some weakness in the opponent's back defence can give him back the initiative. It was more or less that that Angela Merkel achieved by directly calling for a European Federation last week, exploring the fact that François Holland, her main opponent today, had to associate himself with euro-sceptics in his road to the French presidency.

Irrespective of her faith in her words, as usual Angela Merkel got the timing wrong. She says the federation has to be built in the next 5 years, but Europe doesn't have even 5 months, it might not even have 5 days. This call for a European Federation should have been issued 4 years ago, in the wake of the credit freeze. The elections in Greece this Sunday may just mark another moment when events overcome Angela Merkel, sending her back to the defensive.

13 June 2012

Getting MySQL back after another Ubuntu upgrade mess up

In my first look on Ubuntu 12.04 I got the impression that everything went fine with the upgrade from version 11.10. And indeed during a few weeks things went as smoothly as before. Until last week. I had to test an old project and got complains about the database connection. This database is managed by MySQL, hence I tried to access it with MySQL Administrator, which, lo and behold, wasn't installed any more. Though zombie icons still remained within the launcher and main menu, all packages related to MySQL had been disabled by the upgrade. There you go Ubuntu, you did it again!

My first reaction was simply to search for available packages, and indeed version 5.5 of MySQL is available in the repositories for this new Ubuntu release. I immediately proceeded to the install command, with it that starting a painful journey to get MySQL back on Ubuntu.

03 June 2012

The last ASPO conference

On the evening of the first day of the 10th conference of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil & Gas (ASPO), in Vienna, Rembrandt asked me if I'd write again the usual summary. My immediate answer was "No". Lack of time and motivation let me far from such undertaking. Hours later a title popped up in my mind; the dead time at airports and air planes provided the necessary space for the content.

The title "last conference" can be interpreted in varied ways. It can refer simply to the latest, it can also allude to this being the last ever, or even the last I'll ever attend. I haven't quite decided which is it. Below the fold is a short account of my feelings about ASPO 10, may it shed some light on the title.

14 May 2012

A very rare concert

I found this by chance a few days ago. It is the most interesting video I've seen in quite some time.

07 May 2012

First impressions on Ubuntu 12.04

It came to life on the 26th of April, it's name is Precise Pangolin.

23 April 2012

A Postcard from Portugal

After 7 months in Luxembourg, where my professional carer has been successfully relaunched, I returned to Portugal for this Easter. It was a time to review family and many friends, to rest and see a bit more of a country that can have many good experiences to offer. I brought back mixed feelings, while it is always pleasing to return home, the contact on the flesh with the present social context was rather depressing. Portugal has changed a lot these past months, the crisis has installed itself and spread like the plague. Most folk are being hit one way or the other and families that seemed to be in a comfortable situation when I left are now facing daunting difficulties. This text is a postcard from my visit to Portugal. It has no real photos, like a black and white documentary about war, I prefer using words to paint an hideous scenery.

18 April 2012

An obvious path for Science

I got an e-mail today with a link to a fresh publication in the Science journal. It is entitled "Shining Light into Black Boxes" and while it is mostly stating the obvious, it is quite a breakthrough in this sort of journal. Without further ado here's the abstract:
The publication and open exchange of knowledge and material form the backbone of scientific progress and reproducibility and are obligatory for publicly funded research. Despite increasing reliance on computing in every domain of scientific endeavor, the computer source code critical to understanding and evaluating computer programs is commonly withheld, effectively rendering these programs “black boxes” in the research work flow. Exempting from basic publication and disclosure standards such a ubiquitous category of research tool carries substantial negative consequences. Eliminating this disparity will require concerted policy action by funding agencies and journal publishers, as well as changes in the way research institutions receiving public funds manage their intellectual property (IP).

27 March 2012

Operating systems and philosophical users

Small details lost in the rhythm of the days. The many things that a small number cast to the very end of the daily news roll can tell. The following Ubuntu release is coming out in about one month; expectation is growing, especially because this will be a Long Time Support version, in principle somewhat more solid than regular releases, where developers always like to experiment a bit. These days I try to follow the Ubuntusphere a bit closer, in anticipation of what may be in the menu for the 26th of April.

It happens that another piece of software is making some fuss too. It is called Humble Bundle, a set of computer games wrapped in a somewhat childish package. Childish is also a synonym for simple, which permits these humble games to run on toy like gadgetry such as smart-phones. This bundle is not open source, not even free, but you can pay for it whatever you feel is right, and even choose to direct part of your payment to charity.

25 March 2012

Net Energy and Time: a critical review

This essay was originally written between December of 2010 and February of 2011. Soon after it was submitted to The Oil Drum, where it underwent a long process of review that greatly improved it; nevertheless it was archived without being ever published. Since its content could have had a negative impact on the scientific career of the folk mentioned, I decided to keep it at bay. One year on it seems now the time to bring it to light.

“Net Energy and Time” is the title of an article by Nate Hagens and Hannes Kunz that attempts to assess how the lifetime of an energy system impacts its EROEI (a digest of this article was published by TheOilDrum). The main objective was to include stochastic risk in EROEI analysis – random or otherwise unpredictable events that may affect the expected output of an energy system. Considering a series of risks of this kind, Nate and Hannes slashed future energy returns, in a way proportional to the system expected lifetime. In parallel, future energy inputs were too reduced as a function of lifetime. The results of this analysis where markedly favourable to Fossil Fuels and especially negative for those systems that require most of the capital investment upfront, as is the case of many Renewable Energies.

This is a review of the “Net Energy and Time” article, pointing the factors that lead to such conclusions.

23 March 2012

Something new - Dive

Once in a while I like to listen to dotcomradio. Not only because it is a creation of a friend back from Portugal, but also because if features mostly simple and soothing vibes that go very well with work and certain states of mind. The music there is mostly new stuff, but always outside the main stream, making it even the more interesting. But this week the unexpected happened, out of the blue came this song that forced me to leave everything else I was doing and search relentlessly for its title and author. The offending track is below the fold.

21 March 2012

An old kind of gilt

Last week some very interesting news surfaced in the UK. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the government member responsible for the budget, whom in the continent we call Finance Minister, has presented some alternative ideas for the financing of his government. George Osborne of his name, seems to be interested in issuing government debt instruments, called gilts in Britain, of 100 years maturity. Rare, though nothing unheard of. But Mr. Osborne seems willing to go even further and commanded his staff to study the issuing of infinite maturity gilts. This simply means that such instruments cannot ever be redeemed, they perpetually pay interest to their holder. The media both in Britain and the continent reacted with bewilderment to the news, showing their usual struggle to cope with out of the ordinary news.

16 March 2012

Staring at the abiss with Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman was in Lisbon last week to receive three honoris causa PhD and openly advise Greece to leave the Economic and Monetary Union, something taken as a smooth advice to Portugal in the same direction. This is something that can only be accomplished by using the Lisbon Treaty mechanism to leave the EU. One must simply acknowledge this reality: many people would like to see the shattering of the Eurozone and the EU. Some of them wish it for pure xenophobic reasons; others would take it as the ultimate proof that the social state doesn't work. Others simply do not want what they see as a direct concurrent to the US dollar ever to succeed. And others still, simply do not understand the EU, and particularly the Eurozone. I like to think that Krugman, someone who contributed so much to Complexity Science, one of the fields on which I do research, falls in the latter class.

10 March 2012

My new search engine of choice: DuckDuckGo

Google has been my web search engine of choice for some 15 years. The first time I used it I was overwhelmed by the cleanness of the interface, the lack of advertisements and the quality of the results. Up until then I had a list of 3 or 4 search engines that I used for different purposes, sometimes with not at all satisfactory results, even when combining them together. Google proved to be an able search engine, no mater what thematics, and I joined the ranks of its followers. Ever since I have been consuming many of its other products: I was an early adopter of GoogleMail, of GoogleCalendar (back in the day when it would spread the panic with random service down events) and of Chromium. Though I'm pretty happy with these newer services, it is interesting to note how those characteristics that made me adopt Google unconditionally as a search engine are mostly gone today.

05 March 2012

Trouble with OpenStreetMap

I'm a big fan of OpenStreetMap (OSM), a collective effort to map the world on a voluntary basis. The idea is simple: anyone possessing a georeferencing system can collected data on the various features of their neighbourhood or the places they travel. This data can then be committed to a central repository and made available to everyone else in the world. With time the OSM data base has achieved a remarkable extension, detailing many parts of the world, especially the most populated of those. This data is also served freely by several instances around, you can try it at the project website OpenStreetMaps.org.

For some time I have been using the OSM data as base layer for the web GIS applications I work with, taking advantage of handy libraries like OpenLayers facilitate their use. Especially during prototyping it is quite convenient, but even in later stages can be useful as well, considering the amount of data it provides for some places: buildings, cultural sites, transport infrastructure and more. Recently I employed OSM data on a European wide project focused on urban planning and the outcome was quite unexpected.

28 February 2012

Poverty in the USA

The video below contains some unbelievable stuff. Children going to bed without food and folk eating rats. The well established consciously condemning the poor to death. Not really a surprise that is happening in the USA, that democracy where only two parties can win: liberal and even-more-liberal. It is sad, really sad, to see how educated human beings can treat each other.

The home of the brave, where once you loose your job you loose everything else: medical care, home, energy, hot water, mobility, dignity. This is what a country without a Social State looks like, and this is what the liberals are trying to accomplish in Europe, with the tragic help of hesitant and drifting conservatives.

22 February 2012

Electricity consumption in Portugal collapsing

When Portugal committed together with the other members of the European Union to the 20-20-20 targets in 2006 it would be perhaps difficult for its political leaders to imagine that they would reached so soon. Six years later energy consumption in Portugal is declining in almost all fronts, the European Energy Policy has become largely irrelevant in this state. In recent days it became known another staggering figure, last month electricity consumption fell 6.3%, the largest contraction on record. This figure already has in account consumption seasonality and climatic variations, being thus set aside any transitory effects.

14 February 2012

Tactics and Strategy at the Strait of Hormuz

Afonso de Albuquerque arrived at the Indian Ocean in 1506 commanding a squadron of five war vessels integrated in Tristão da Cunha's Armada. In the summer of 1507, after the conquest of Socotra, the Armada's main objective, Afonso de Albuquerque parted on its own commanding a fleet of six vessels and 500 marines to take the easternmost island at the entrance of the Persian Gulf, called by local folk Hormuz. Defeating a garrison of 15 000 men with his artillery, Albuquerque took Hormuz and commissioned the construction of a fortress. Though not exactly making the narrowest point of the passage between the Persian and Oman Gulfs, this island would eventually lend its name to one of the most important choke-points of the Indian Ocean, at the time the principal commercial pathway of commodities from Asia to Europe. With him Afonso de Albuquerque had brought from Lisbon a sealed letter from the King appointing as Vice-King to the East Indies, replacing Francisco de Almeida, whose strict naval prowess strategy didn't fancy the territory thirsty King. A period of indecision ensued, with most naval officers in the region initially refusing Albuquerque's rule and Hormuz was lost. In 1515, in his final days as Vice-King, Afonso de Albuquerque stormed Hormuz once again, taking it for good without military resistance; the fortress, that lasts to this day, was finally completed, sealing the command over the commerce in the region.

After the Portuguese came the Persians and then the English; the importance of the fortress waned, but of the Strait of Hormuz itself, if anything, it has only increased. Commodities flow in the opposite way these days, but unlike the luxury and exoticism of the past, today they are vital inputs to the world economy.

07 February 2012

Answers to the Renewable Energy Consultation

In Computing circles there is this old concept of Deadline Oriented programming. Just a metaphore for those moments when one has to make things work in very creative ways to meet that dreaded day of delivery. In my Faculty years I used such programming paradigm in a few occasions.

These days such practices are imposed by the vicissitudes of the daily routine. Today closes the Consultation on Renewable Energy and up to this evening I hadn't written a single sentence. A deadline oriented answer was in order, with the main topics laid down in telegraphic manner. Below the fold is the “source code”.

03 February 2012

Mismatch with the Natural Gas Market

So its cold. Very cold. The daily morning walk from home to office is becoming a considerable challenge, no matter the amount of clothing, there's always that bit of skin exposed to the glacial breeze. At sun rise the thermometer can be as low as -15º, with this temperature the light wind cuts like a knife. There's a good side to it though, the anti-cyclones the Arctic has been presented us with have cleared the skies. Fiat lux, after months of grey weather it is like a balsam for your soul, especially with all the snow and ice still covering the ground, the brightness immerses you.

And in what is now becoming an yearly routine the gas supplies from Russia got disrupted once more. This time there's no fundamental economic or political dispute, no bad tempered leaders or tough negotiations, it is simply too cold. Russian stakeholders had to choose between honouring their contracts or let their folk die of hypothermia. I guess it wasn't a hard choice.

Nevertheless, some stakeholders seem to be living in a parallel universe, where none of this is real.

30 January 2012

Housing in China

For some time there has been this slow, but constant, flow of news on the Chinese housing market. A runaway construction spree that has created entire cities out of nothing, to be left largely empty of people. Days ago a friend sent me a link to the video reproduced below that portraits this reality in detail. The term “ghost city” is not an hyperbole, it really exists in China, and not just in one or two places. This piece can only be classified as a good example of reporting journalism, perhaps rare, but refreshening. Nevertheless, is the Chinese housing market really just a speculative bubble or is there something deeper at work here?

24 January 2012

The Hydrogen dream

Last week I went to Longwy's university campus, the Institut Universitaire de Technologie (part of the University of Lorraine), for a conference on renewable energies and energy efficiency. It was an event integrated in an InterReg project for innovation, called Tigre, gathering institutions from Lorraine, Saarland, Luxembourg and Wallonie. It kicked off with a session on Tri-generation, and went on with parallel sessions on waste Biomass and on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells. I opted for the later, feeling really curious on the present state of research on this field.

Cesare Marchetti proposed hydrogen (H2) as a large scale energy vector almost fifty years ago. Then the concern was mainly to find a simple enough way to feed transport systems with what seemed to be a fountain of energy about to come from the expanding Nuclear park. The Nuclear dream is largely gone, but hydrogen lives on. Is it about to come true as a piece in the transition puzzle to a post-fossil fuel world? That's what I was expecting to know.

20 January 2012

Chorus: Austerity isn't working

A week ago we had another strike by the rating agencies, this time Standard and Poor's. Closing a week that had been relatively successful for the European debt market, the continent was once more bombarded with a swarm of downgrades. Nine states saw their grade derided, with France and Austria loosing AAA status and Italy kicked out of the A area into BBB+. Over the weekend we had the usual cries from political leaders, employing hard words but soft action. Nevertheless this week further signs of relief in the debt market came about: Portugal was able to auction 11 month maturity bonds with interest below 5%, better than before the aid request, Austria was able to auction 50 year bonds for what it seems only the second time in its history and interest rates in the secondary market for Italian bonds have entailed a slow but constant decline. The defense against the rating agencies put up by the ECB seems to be finally yielding results.

But something less visible has remained from last week's attack: the analysis upon which Standard & Poor's supposedly based its downgrades. The company vised particularly the blind Austerity policy followed by the Council, joining the body of voices claiming it is leading Europe to a dead end. This is an interesting and useful outcome of the unsuccessful strike, that echoed through the last days. Le Monde published a wrap up that is worth looking closer.

19 January 2012

Interview with Tarja Cronberg

Below is a video published this morning by the EUObserver with an interview to the Green European Parliament member Tarja Cronberg, who is the head of the Parliamentary Iran delegation and an expert on Nuclear technology. Cronberg is very directly opposed to further sanctions on Iran and seems convinced that it can lead to a military conflict in the Strait of Hormuz. Moreover, she says that harsher sanctions will likely lead to a rally of the population around the present political regime, rather than the weakening of the Ayatollahs' power. Instead of being concerned with particular consequences on the EU states most reliant on Iranian oil, Spain, Italy and Greece, the consequences to the world economy of a conflict around Hormuz can be much deeper and far reaching in her view.

It is good to see politicians thinking outside the box laid down on them by the media, especially by those seeded in the Anglo world. Irrespective of the final outcome of the sanctions being planed it is important to understand that OECD economies will hardly come out of it unscathed.

15 January 2012

Oil price forecasts for 2012

This week a friend of mine asked about oil prices for 2012. As usual by this time of the year newspapers and investors alike thrive to have an outlook for the following twelve months, more or less trying to devise how their portfolios may fare. I always find this a bit awkward, the dynamics underlying markets like that of crude oil have little relationship to the rhythm of the Earth's revolution around the Sun. But somehow there is this idea that markets have a sort of fresh start in the beginning of a new year. Hence, usually well informed people put out their forecasts around this time, so as to prove how well informed they are. It just happens that for 2012 the most disparate projections exist, either of a fall in oil prices or of a price boom.

Instead of pointing out who is wrong or is right in this story, the importing thing is to understand that both visions can be correct, both can develop through out 2012.

11 January 2012

Public Consultation on Renewable Energy

The folks at the Energy Commission are already thinking about Energy Policy beyond 2020. After the 20-20-20 targets there is a much longer term goal of reducing CO2 emissions by over 85% up to 2050. So right now the Energy Commision is starting to think the policies that should further reduce our emissions in the decade between 2021 and 2030. In this context they are asking everyone to participate in a public consultation, with the main goal of understanding if the policies driving us up to 2020 are still viable for the decade ahead. To make things easy the Energy Commission provides a convenient online form. The deadline for answering is the 7th of February.

07 January 2012

Video: “You Are Here: The Oil Journey."

Below the fold is a not to be missed video by the Post Carbon Institute. It is a fictional work with an argument written by Richard Heinberg, Peak Oil's proser. A parable of what cheap oil gave to the industrial societies in the XX century and what peak oil may take away in the XXI century. I do not exactly agree with the assessment that alternative energies cannot provide the same sort of services in similar quantities. To my judgement the challenges are much more the social evolutions we'll have to undertake to guarantee that the transition takes place smoothly: a monetary system compliant with an economy that doesn't grow exponentially, adapting markets to favour long term investments, a different concept of mobility, a different kind of agriculture. Cheap oil was good while it lasted, but what may come after it may not necessarily be worse.

In any case, congratulations to the Post Carbon Institute for this excellent effort.

05 January 2012

Pre-salt in Angola is for good

A small piece of news quitely surfaced yesterday that could have an important impact on future oil production. Simply put: hydrocarbons where found in pre-salt layers in Angola's waters. This is the confirmation of the expectations some industry agents (especially Petrobras) had built in recent years around the possibility of an Atlantic wide pre-salt resource. The Danish company Maersk was able to recover oil of “good quality” from a well in a block in the Kwanza Basin, part of a joint venture with Sonangol and Svenska (these are blocks that had been commissioned prior to the large auction that took place last month). In its statement to the press Maersk quoted a potential production figure of 3 000 barrels per day from this well.

03 January 2012

A look at Iran's Economy

Between the last log on Iran and yesterday the Rial lost 10% of its value, just to regain about the same terrain today. Meanwhile there's an ever growing bellicose discourse on the naval chess around the strait of Hormuz. In this log I'll look into Iran's economy and try to understand the possible consequences of the sanctions imposed last weekend by the US and to be followed suit by the EU. It doesn't pretend to be in any way a thorough account of Iran's social-economic fabric, simply a collection of points that are relevant in the present crisis. The data presented here was collected mostly from Wikipaedia and the World Factbook.

02 January 2012

Former IEA Econmist: Peak Oil within the decade

Last week the French newspaper Le Monde published the English version of an exclusive interview with Olivier Rech, former economist of the International Energy Agency (IEA). Between 2006 and 2009 he was responsible for the Agency's petroleum production models, that make the basis of the reference publication World Energy Outlook (WEO), released every year in November. This document outlines the energy scenarios on which every government of the OECD builds up their energy policies. Government agencies, research institutes and private companies also rely by and large on the IEA's publication. Remarkably, the words of Rech today lay out a scenario entirely different from those the IEA has been publishing.