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28 June 2013

Press review 28-06-2013

I'll start this review with concerning news from Portugal. Earlier in the week several French newspapers reported that the budget deficit for the first quarter of 2013 could surpass 10% of GDP. Friday the national statistics institute (INE) confirmed a deficit of 10.6%. It includes aids to one of the country's largest banks, amounting to more than 1% of GDP, but it is still an ugly figure, the largest since the international aid programme was set in place 2 years ago. Thursday the fourth general strike in the same period was held, with armies of workers and unemployed taking to the streets. The government claims that the 5.5% of GDP target for the year's deficit is still attainable, but no one really believes it.

22 June 2013

Press review 22-06-2013

"There are relevant signs that Portugal will explore natural gas", that's how the State Secretary for Energy put it this week. In a follow up interview the Minister of Economy further detailed that 40 M€ have already been invested to assess the potential of the southern coast off the Algarve and that estimates of success stand now at 30%; exploratory drilling should start in 2014.

Speculation on natural gas reserves off the Algarve has been around for years, but this is the first time a government seems genuinely interested. The coverage by the Portuguese press has been so far rather poor; with no technical data reported, it is hard to distinguish this move from previous hypes on local fossil fuel production. One thing is certain though, whatever happens off the Algarve it won't benefit Portuguese consumers, all profits are to be taken solely by exploring companies themselves; they don't seem even obliged to sell the gas in the country.

Four or five years ago the hype was much stronger on the prospects of petroleum resources in deep waters of the western coast. Exploratory work commenced in 2012 and so far no one has judge it suitable to invest the hundreds of millions of euros required for a drilling campaign. I'll follow the situation in the Algarve with the same scepticism.

15 June 2013

Press review 15-06-2013

I have been quite busy lately and travelling a lot, time has been scant for in depth analysis of the press. In order to avoid another week in blank here is a quick round up of relevant news in the energy world.

Desertec made quite a splash a couple of weeks ago with the recognition that transmission lines from the Magreb to Europe are not going to happen easily, if ever. On the one side this is a result of the negligent foreign policy towards our closest neighbours; on the other hand this is a natural outcome of the internal renewable energy expansion in Europe. The project may continue, but now focused on local markets. The press has made no reference to the wind component of the project; the Atlas being one of the strongest wind resources in the world it is likely that it will too go forward, rest to know when.

01 June 2013

Press review 01-06-2013

I've been busier than usual the past few weeks and even following news has become difficult, thus shortened and belated press reviews. Several times in the past I've written that the conflict in Syria will end up re-designing the Near East boundary map and above all whom has control over which slice of land. The past few days the lifting of the weapons embargo from the EU to the Sunni has dominated the news. Under the surface however, the table seems definitely turning in favour of the Shia side.