Blog Archives

Grain prices down; potash, uranium up #uranium #potash

30 Sep 2014
The StarPhoenix
Grain prices down; potash, uranium up
Agricultural index down in August
Commodity prices are a mixed bag for Saskatchewan producers, with most agricultural commodity prices down in August, including wheat, canola and hogs, while other commodities like cattle, uranium and potash are showing signs of strength, according to a bank commodity report released Monday.
Scotiabank’s commodity price index report indicated its agricultural index was down 6.7 per cent in August over the previous month, mainly due to declines in grain and livestock prices. “The decline was led by barley, pushed lower by very low U.S. corn prices, a competing grain for livestock and poultry,” the Scotiabank report said.
The silver lining for Saskatchewan wheat producers is that some higher-grade crops left over from last year are fetching good prices because of the large, but relatively low-quality wheat harvest this year.
“While the world wheat crop is also expected to be a record this fall, crop quality will be poor in the United States, Russia, France and Ukraine, boosting premiums for high-protein bread wheat,” Scotiabank said. “Excessive moisture will also take a toll on Western Canada’s wheat quality, but carryover volumes of higher-wheat from 201314 will add to Prairie farm income this year.”
On the mineral side, potash prices were up slightly, while uranium prices have hit bottom and are moving upward, Scotiabank said.
Spot market potash prices were at US$310 per ton in August, up only slightly from the January low of US$295 for standard-grade potash. However, Uralkali, which caused potash prices to plummet when it left the Eastern European potash cartel BPC last July, has increased granular prices in Brazil and across Latin America to US$380 per ton.
Uralkali also intends to boost contract prices to China by 10 per cent in the first half of 2015. As a result, China will exercise its options on Canpotex volumes, eager to purchase more tonnage before prices move up.
Canpotex — the overseas sales agent of Potash Corp, Agrium and Mosaic — is effectively soldout over the balance of 2014, Scotiabank said.
Record deliveries
Global potash deliveries were at record levels in the first half of 2014 and will likely increase by eight per cent to nearly 59 million tons in 2014. Canpotex producers have the bulk of the surplus capacity available for world markets. As a result, Potash Corp is recalling staff at previously curtailed operations in its Canadian mines and will consider raising its production to 10.5 million to 11 million tons in 2015 from 9.2 million tons this year.
Patricia Mohr, Scotiabank’s commodity specialist, said Potash Corp hopes to increase production now in the expectation of higher prices later. “They would like to have the volume gains, rather than substantially higher prices.”
Spot uranium prices have also lifted decisively off a US$28.25 per pound low in June to US$36.50 in mid September.
“Improving market sentiment reflects prospects for two nuclear reactor re-starts in Japan, more active midterm utility demand and production deferrals and curtailments,” Scotiabank said.

Nuclear construction surges in developing world #uranium

27 Sep 2014
The StarPhoenix
Nuclear construction surges in developing world
LONDON — Three years after Japan closed all of its nuclear plants in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown and Germany decided to shutter its industry, developing countries are leading the biggest construction boom in more than two decades.
Almost two-thirds of the 70 reactors currently under construction worldwide, the most since 1989, are located in China, India and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region. Countries including Egypt, Bangladesh, Jordan and Vietnam are considering plans to build their first nuclear plants, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance in London. Developed countries are building nine plants, 13 per cent of the total.
Power is needed as the economies of China and India grow more than twice as fast as the U.S. Electricity output from reactors amounted to 2,461 terawatt-hours last year, or 11 per cent of all global power generation, according to data from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the International Energy Agency. That’s the lowest share since 1982, the data shows.
“We see most of the constructions in the growing economies, in the parts of the world where you see strong economic growth,” Agneta Rising, the head of the World Nuclear Association in London, said Sept. 24 by email. “In many developed countries, there is a large degree of policy uncertainty concerning nuclear.”
China’s electricity consumption is forecast to jump 63 per cent by 2020 to 7,295 terawatt-hours from 4,476 terawatt-hours in 2011, while India’s demand is predicted to grow by 45 per cent from 2010 through 2020, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Over the same period, demand growth in 22 European members of the OECD is forecast to be 3.6 per cent.
Nations are diversifying their energy sources as Germany and other developed countries increase the use of solar and wind power to limit emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for floods, changing weather patterns and rising sea levels. They are also seeking to boost energy independence as the conflict in Ukraine threatens 30 per cent of Europe’s gas supplies.
China plans to complete 29 new reactors from 2018 through 2030, according to estimates by New Energy. That would more than double the country’s fleet to 49, according to World Nuclear Association data.
Shanghai Electric Group closed 5.1 per cent higher in Hong Kong Friday, a gain of 15 per cent from Sept. 19, after China Securities Journal reported China will allow construction to start on four coastal nuclear power projects with a combined capacity of more than 10 gigawatts.

Time to buy uranium? The best ways to play it #uranium

Time to buy uranium? The best ways to play it
Brenda Bouw
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Sep. 28 2014, 4:31 PM EDT
Last updated Sunday, Sep. 28 2014, 4:38 PM EDT
Patience could finally start to pay off for investors waiting for a revival of the uranium market that imploded in the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear disaster in 2011.
After the spot price hit a nine-year low of $28 (U.S.) this spring on oversupply concerns, dragging uranium equities down with it, many investors believe the commodity used to fuel nuclear power plants has finally hit bottom, as the demand picture brightens.
The price has risen about 30 per cent in recent weeks, to $36.50, driven by additional U.S. and European sanctions against Russia, a major uranium supplier, in its conflict with Ukraine. That threatens to put pressure on the global uranium supply, alongside a recent two-week strike at Cameco Corp.’s McArthur River and Key Lake operations in Saskatchewan.
Meantime, Japan is readying the restart of its nuclear program, while China continues its aggressive nuclear plant build-out as part of its strategy to cut pollution by developing cleaner energy sources.
“I think the worst is behind us in the uranium space,” said BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Edward Sterck.
While he doesn’t expect a big rally in uranium and is neutral on the overall sector right now, Mr. Sterck sees investors slowly returning to the space.
Some stocks to consider include Saskatoon-based Cameco, the largest publicly listed producer, and Uranium Participation Corp., which invests in the uranium concentrate known as U3O8.
Among 16 analysts that cover Cameco, six have a “buy” on it and 10 recommend it as a “hold,” according to S&P Capital IQ.
Dundee Capital Markets analyst David Talbot has a “hold” on Cameco, calling it “fairly valued.” He cites risks such as delays at its Cigar Lake project and a tax battle it’s having with Canada Revenue Agency related to its Switzerland-based subsidiary.
Mr. Talbot has “buy” on a handful of other uranium stocks such as Uranium Participation, for its pure exposure to the commodity, and developer Denison Mines Corp., a potential takeover target.
“There is value in a lot of these stocks that is not being represented in their share prices,” he said. “Off the bottom, there is some money to be made.”
Both Cameco and Denison are down more than 20 per cent over the past six months, as is the Global X Uranium ETF, which holds a basket of uranium stocks.
While the uranium price is rising, it’s still far from around $70 where it sat prior to March, 2011, when the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan melted down, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami. Japan eventually shut down all of its reactors amid safety concerns. Other countries, such as Germany, have turned against nuclear power since Fukushima.
While concerns among investors appear to be waning, some aren’t ready to buy into the sector.
Robert Sneddon, president and portfolio manager at CastleMoore Inc., doesn’t own uranium stocks in his funds and says he is neutral on the sector right now.
For investors who do want to get in, he suggests Cameco because it’s the market leader. The Global X ETF is an option for investors looking to play a handful of companies, although Mr. Sneddon notes Cameco accounts for nearly a quarter of that fund. He said investors may be better off buying the stock, thus avoiding Global X ETF’s management fee of 0.69 per cent.
John Stephenson, chief executive at Stephenson & Co. Capital Management, owns Cameco in his funds for its size in the recovering market and its dividend, which yields about 2 per cent. He believes the uranium market has stabilized, but that growth will be slow.
“You don’t have to move fast on this one,” he said. “It’s a long-term play.”
Disclosure: The author owns the Global X Uranium ETF.

Coal revival cripples Germany’s $130 billion green drive #uranium

Coal revival cripples Germany’s $130 billion green drive
Cecilia Jamasmie
September 22, 2014
Germany is likely to miss its 2022 climate targets and greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants, as the country’s use of coal continues to increase.
Only last year the share of electricity generated from coal in Europe’s biggest economy hit the highest in 24 years. The country also opened more coal-fired power plants in 2013 than any other time in the past 20 years as it moves towards a target set three years ago, which aims to have all nuclear power stations shut down by 2022.
Germany’s energy revolution —or “Energiewende”— has come at a high price. According to Bloomberg, it has so far added more than $134 billion (100 billion euros) to the power bills of households, shop owners and small factories.
But falling coal prices seem to have wet the government’s appetite for the fossil fuel, to the point that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has recently announced it considers coal-based power plants as “indispensable” for the foreseeable future.
“Despite the massive expansion of renewable energies, achieving key targets for the energy transition and climate protection by 2020 is no longer realistic,” Thomas Vahlenkamp, a director at McKinsey & Co. in Dusseldorf, Germany, told Bloomberg.
“The government needs to improve the Energiewende so that the current disappointment doesn’t lead to permanent failure,” the adviser to the industry added.
German utilities plan to start new hard-coal plants with 5,606 megawatts of capacity this year and next, data from Bonn-based national grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur show. That compares with a target of at least 10,000 megawatts from new solar and wind installations in 2014 and 2015 under Germany’s renewable energy act, which took effect Aug. 1. Solar output reached a record 24,244 megawatts on June 6, according to EEX.

“Managing Environmental and Health Impacts of Uranium Mining” – a plain-language report for stakeholders #uranium

Learning from mining’s past

18 September 2014

The full report Managing Environmental and Health Impacts of Uranium Mining (2014) is available at: or here Uranium mining for stakeholders


Public perception of uranium mining is largely based on the poor, unregulated practices of the industry’s earliest days. But the industry has learned from its past, and modern practices and regulatory regimes have transformed uranium mining into one of the most highly regulated and safest forms of mining in the world today, writes Robert Vance.

Although prospects for the global growth of nuclear generating capacity have declined somewhat since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in 2011, overall they remain good. New uranium mines will thus be needed to meet the increased demand for the uranium that accompanies such growth. However, in many countries, negative perceptions of uranium mining based on the legacies of past practices linger, and a lack of awareness of present-day mining practices and the management of mining impact can hinder the development of additional mines.

These are the considerations behind the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency’s Managing Environmental and Health Impacts of Uranium Mining, a plain-language report for stakeholders, enabling them to assess mine development proposals based on technical information about the uranium industry today. Lessons learned from decades of experience and development from the industry’s legacy issues were the driving force behind the move toward today’s regulated industry where all impacts of uranium mining are considered and managed across the full life cycle of a mine. A recently published summary of the report, Perceptions and Realities in Modern Uranium Mining, sets out long-term goals for any country considering hosting uranium mining for the first time.

Discovered in 1789 in the mineral pitchblende, by the mid-1800s uranium was valued for the brilliant yellow colour and green fluorescence it gave to glass, and confirmation of its radioactive properties in 1895 stimulated further interest. It was first mined in large quantities to meet strategic military requirements following World War II.

By the early 1970s, the impacts of early uranium mining operations on the health of workers, the environment and local communities became increasingly evident. Societal pressure, typically driven by the unions representing miners, led to a number of investigation boards, commissions of enquiry and health studies that outlined the extent and impact of historic mining operations, which lacked proper operational and waste management practices. From these investigations and associated research, modern mining and milling practices were born.

For example, the practices of the early strategic mining era allowed for tailings and waste rock to simply be placed in low-lying areas, such as streams or lakes convenient to the processing facility, with no consideration given to proper containment of the waste, the chemical composition of the material or the effects on water quality in and around the mine site. Instead of operations with virtually no waste management planning, today leading practice mining involves multistage effluent treatment processes with engineered, purpose-built waste management systems.

Workers with no training, working in crowded, chaotic conditions with no ventilation in the early uranium mines suffered from high radiation exposure with serious long-term health impacts, as well as high rates of injury and mortality. Today, in contrast, a well-trained workforce operates within a geotechnical and structurally designed, well-ventilated and monitored working environment with qualified mine engineers and dedicated safety supervisors to monitor and oversee operations.

These changes have built on the lessons learned over several decades, and have ultimately led to the emergence of stronger regulatory/government oversight and inspections, including increasing consequences via the force of law for poor performance or non-compliance. Today’s leading practice uranium mine and mill sites, and other types of nuclear facilities, are regulated by an independent agency that reports to the head of state or parliament and its elected officials and ideally operates under a judicial or quasi-judicial process, making decisions in an open and transparent manner.

Successful companies have developed strategies to handle both the positive and negative impacts of mining and processing on communities and the environment. This has occurred with the close cooperation, communication and participation of local communities. Dialogue between the community, the company and the government is vital, with the end goal of ensuring that no additional legacy mining and milling sites, or health and environmental issues, are created. Although many legacy sites have been remediated, typically at great expense, work remains to be done in some countries. Experience shows that planning for closure before opening a mine greatly reduces remediation costs.

Countries beginning uranium mining for the first time have the opportunity to benefit from past experience in other countries, but it will take time to develop the capacity required to promote the development of leading practice mining. Developing, staffing and maintaining a leading practice mine regulator requires both time and resources.

The report outlines five life cycle phases of a uranium mine: design, construction, production, rehabilitation and final handover of the property back to the authorities. For each operation, there are a range of issues to address in order to minimise health, safety and environmental impacts to acceptable standards. The report divides operational challenges into key historic challenges and modern life cycle parameters. It underlines that any approach must be tailored to the individual situation of the operation in question as generic approaches are not universally appropriate.

As the regulatory regime evolved and the industry adapted and developed innovations to meet emerging requirements and issues, a number of parameters have been introduced into leading practice operations that were seldom, if ever, used or even considered during the mine life cycle in the early stages of the industry. These additional aspects of mine development, operation and closure are today considered crucial to effectively managing the potential health, safety and environmental impacts of the operations. With the implementation of these mine life cycle parameters and regulatory requirements, leading practice uranium mining has become a forerunner in safety and environmental management.

Public consultation is currently a key parameter. Early military era mining operations were conducted with a degree of secrecy, with stakeholders rarely, if ever, informed of mining plans, development and related issues. Today, an effective public consultation process is an important part of leading practice uranium mining, keeping all stakeholders informed throughout the mine life cycle but also providing an opportunity for stakeholders to engage in a dialogue with producers and regulators. A knowledgeable and supportive public will facilitate the timely review and licensing of new mines. Public fear and resistance will do just the opposite.

Environmental planning and monitoring throughout the life cycle of the mine ensures that the planned life cycle performance is achieved through to the post-decommissioning period, minimising the environmental effects to acceptable standards and avoiding impacts on local populations.

These greatly improved modern mining practices are the combined result of learning from past practices, implementing stringent regulatory requirements to achieve societal expectations and successfully applying innovative approaches developed by companies to meet, and in many cases exceed, these regulatory requirements.

Robert Vance

Comments? Please send them to

Robert Vance is a senior expert in the Nuclear Development Division of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency.

The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the OECD/NEA or of the governments of its member countries.

The full report Managing Environmental and Health Impacts of Uranium Mining (2014) is available at:

Russian sanctions “Putin” pressure on uranium supply #uranium

Russian sanctions “Putin” pressure on uranium supply

Gold Stock Trades
September 20, 2014


  • Spot uranium price rebounding strong over the past few weeks, rallying more than $3 per lb or more than 10% in a short timespan.
  • End users such as the nuclear utilities with deep pockets need safe and secure long term supplies from stabile jurisdictions.
  • Recent sanctions with Russia could already be putting pressure on uranium supply. Europe and the U.S. relied on cheap uranium from Russia for decades.
  • What happens when the cheap uranium runs out? Look for off take agreements, M&A and strategic equity investments in junior uranium miners.
  • Sanctions on Russia and Putin could be putting pressure on the supply side of uranium.

A few months ago, I believed uranium would bounce off lows and make a powerful move higher. The spot uranium (OTCPK:URPTF) price is beginning a rebound rallying more than $3 per lb over the past few weeks.

I alerted my readers to the reality that end users of uranium are concerned about geopolitical stability and are actively looking for safe and long term secure supplies of U3O8. Any hiccup in production could significantly impact global supply.

Although there is abundant amounts of uranium in North America and Australia most of the production comes from unstable areas such as Kazakhstan, Niger and Russia. The recent sanctions with Russia could have a major impact on pricing.

Russia through Rosatom operates Kazakhstan production which is the largest supplier of uranium to the world. Europe and the US are some of the largest consumers of nuclear and have relied on cheap Russian uranium for decades.

What happens when the cheap uranium runs out especially at a time when demand is growing? A price spike with triples and quadruples in the uranium miners (NYSEARCA:URA).

China is leading the nuclear renaissance where they may build hundreds of reactors over the coming generation. Despite Japan and Germany’s knee-jerk reaction to abandon nuclear temporarily after Fukushima, demand for uranium is rising.

Now only a few years later, Japan may turn back on their nuclear reactors and Germany may have to look at turning back on its nuclear reactors this winter especially if Russia turns off the natural gas taps. The anti-nuke crowd may grow increasingly out of favor when the German population is freezing and in the dark.

End users may have to move quickly to secure supply from the junior uranium miners rather than rely on Russia. The major uranium producers such as Areva (OTCPK:ARVCF), Cameco (NYSE:CCJ) and Rio Tinto (NYSE:RIO) have already been shutting down high cost marginal mines due to the low uranium spot price. Don’t underestimate black swans with Cameco which is dealing with labor challenges and technical obstacles in the Athabasca Basin.

In conclusion, expect the uranium price rebound to continue as end users buy in the spot market and look to secure deals with emerging producers. Don’t be surprised to see more off take agreements and strategic equity investments in junior uranium miners.

Disclosure: I do not own any stocks mentioned in article.

Philanthropies, investors pledge $50-billion fossil fuel divestment #uranium

Philanthropies, investors pledge $50-billion fossil fuel divestment


Published Monday, Sep. 22 2014, 6:42 AM EDT

Last updated Monday, Sep. 22 2014, 6:47 AM EDT


The Rockefellers, who made their vast fortune on oil, and other philanthropies and high-wealth individuals on Monday will announce pledges to divest a total of $50-billion (U.S.) from fossil fuel investments.

The Global Divest-Invest coalition will announce new pledges and members one day before 120 heads of state address the United Nations on how their countries will contribute to a global effort to halt a dangerous rise in temperatures.

Since the divestment movement launched three years ago, some 650 individuals and 180 institutions, including 50 new foundations, which hold over $50-billion in total assets, pledged to divest from fossil fuels over five years using a variety of approaches.

One of the signatories is the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. Stephen Heintz, an heir of Standard Oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, said the move to divest away from fossil fuels would be in line with his wishes.

“We are quite convinced that if he were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy,” Heintz said in a statement.

Since January, 2014, commitments by campuses, churches, cities, states, hospitals, pension funds, and others in the United States and abroad doubled, from 74 to 180, according to philanthropic giving consultancy Arabella Advisors.

One of the higher profile education institution divestments came in May, when Stanford University said it will no longer use any of its $18.7-billion endowment to invest in coal mining companies.

While some smaller liberal colleges have made divestment announcements, some larger institutions have been reluctant.

The University of California voted last week to maintain its investments in fossil fuels, frustrating a student-led effort to divest its portfolio in oil, natural gas and coal.

South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an anti-Apartheid figure who has been a strong voice on the need for economic divestments, will add to Monday’s announcements in a recorded video announcement in which he will call for a freeze on all new fossil fuel exploration.

“We can no longer continue feeding our addiction to fossil fuels as if there is no tomorrow, for there will be no tomorrow,” he said.

Wind farm turbines take toll on birds of prey #uranium

Wind farm turbines take toll on birds of prey
by: Graham Lloyd
From: The Australian
September 22, 2014 12:00AM
EAGLES, falcons and other raptors make up to a third of the estimated 1500 birds killed each year at Australia’s biggest wind farm.
The finding of an independent report for Macarthur Wind Farm operator AGL follows 12 monthly searches of 48 turbines at the 140-turbine operation in Victoria that found 576 bird carcasses.
After adjusting for birds eaten by scavengers between searches and the total 140 turbines, Australian Ecological Research Services estimated each turbine killed about 10 birds a year.
The analysis said this would include 500 raptors a year.
AGL has confirmed that 64 bird fatalities were found during the official searches and an ­additional 10 carcasses were found near turbines by maintenance personnel, landowners or ecologists when not undertaking scheduled carcass searches.
The total included eight brown falcons, seven nankeen kestrels, six wedge-tailed eagles, one black falcon, two black-shouldered kites and one spotted harrier.
But an AGL spokesman said the report had “shown no significant impact on threatened ­species”. The company said overall ­estimates of bird and bat mortality “are subject to several sources of bias which may result in inaccurate estimates”.
The report recommended more frequent searches of a smaller number of turbines to get a more accurate assessment.
Australian Ecological Research Services said there were several reasons for the high percentage of raptors killed. They were at higher risk of collision with turbine blades possibly due to a combination of factors such as the altitude they mostly fly at, the proportion of time spent flying and flying ­behaviour.
“Raptors tend to glide slowly and are constantly looking downward for potential prey, rather than flying in a single ­direction and looking where they are heading,” the report said. “This may increase their risk of flying through the rotor-swept area of turbines.
“Other studies have also suggested that raptors are more ­likely to collide with turbine blades than many other avian species due to their morphology and foraging behaviour.”
Anti-windfarm campaigner Hamish Cumming said: “If someone shot this many birds they’d be fined and jailed and there would be public outrage.
“But, somehow, we’re expected to just accept it if they are killed by a wind farm.
“And before anyone rolls out the tired old mantra of ‘statistics show more birds get killed flying into suburban windows’, just tell me when was the last time a wedge-tailed eagle flew into your lounge room window?”

Canada set to fuel U.S. emission reduction efforts #uranium

Canada set to fuel U.S. emission reduction efforts
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Sep. 18 2014, 7:01 PM EDT
Last updated Thursday, Sep. 18 2014, 7:03 PM EDT
U.S. efforts to reduce emissions from its coal-dependent power sector could be a boon to Canadian producers, as the two federal governments committed Thursday to greater integration of the electricity system.
Even as the Obama administration stalls on the highly contentious decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Natural Resources Minister Greg Rickford committed at a meeting in Ottawa to increase collaboration in energy research, regulation and trade.
“We have an energy infrastructure that is very, very tightly linked and it is very important that we together look at how it develops,” Mr. Moniz told a news conference.
Under proposed regulations issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), states must reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in their power sectors and will have a variety of means to achieve that reduction, which is primarily aimed at coal-fired power plants. Canadian utilities are gearing up to sell power from low-emission sources such as hydro, wind and nuclear.
During meetings with Mr. Moniz, Mr. Rickford reiterated the Harper government’s desire to see the Keystone pipeline approved. But that decision is in the hands of Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama, and won’t be made until a Nebraska court rules on a challenge to the state’s granting of a permit.
Both sides are eager to move the bilateral energy conversation beyond the bitterly contentious issue of the stalled pipeline. The two cabinet ministers signed an agreement promising greater co-operation in areas such an environment protection in the unconventional oil and gas sector, the further development of an efficient and clean cross-border system, and the increased use of natural gas in the transportation system.
Mr. Moniz’s visit is the first by an American energy secretary since 2006. On Friday, he is scheduled to meet with leaders from the Canadian energy sector – including TransCanada Corp. and Calgary-based environmental group, Pembina Institute – to get their input into a major energy policy review that he is heading.
Both the oil and gas and electricity sector are urging the administration to streamline the environmental review process that is required for cross-border energy infrastructure projects, including pipelines and transmission lines, that must receive presidential permits.
Mr. Rickford applauded the fact that Mr. Moniz would travel to Ottawa to get input from Canadian energy producers on a U.S. policy review. His visit “speaks to the integral nature of our energy relationship over all, not the least of which involves one of the most sophisticated and modern electricity grid systems known the world over,” the minister said.
In a submission to Mr. Moniz’s energy review, the Canadian Electricity Association – which represents producers – urged the Department of Energy to reduce the time it takes to approve new transmission lines, and to ensure the EPA regulations explicitly allow states to import power from Canada to meet their needs.
“There is significantly growing opportunity for exports of Canadian electricity into the U.S.,” association president Jim Burpee said in an interview. But he said it is critical that the Americans do not raise new barriers to that trade, either at the state or federal level.
The two energy ministers also spoke of the importance of showing energy leadership in the world, to support the Ukraine and Europeans that rely heavily on Russia for their gas supplies.
Critics in the U.S. argue that the Obama administration should end the 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports in order to reduce reliance by European allies on Russia. Mr. Moniz said the government is reviewing whether to lift the prohibition but stressed that, despite rapidly growing production, the United States will remain a major importer of crude for the foreseeable future.

Japan’s predicament a boon for future of energy exporters #uranium

Japan’s predicament a boon for future of energy exporters
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Sep. 17 2014, 6:28 PM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Sep. 17 2014, 6:34 PM EDT
This is another of an occasional series from The Globe and Mail’s Brian Milner, who visited Japan to assess the results of dramatic efforts to revitalize the world’s third-largest economy.
One commercial office building in Tokyo’s busy Uchisaiwaicho district is notable for its constant police presence. That’s because it’s the headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), provider of power to nearly 30 million people and one of Japan’s more reviled companies.
TEPCO gained its spot in the Hall of Shame over its dreadful handling of the Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011, as well as subsequent revelations of poor maintenance and safety flaws and anger over the slow pace of compensation. Huge anti-nuclear demonstrations followed, and the public outcry has scarcely abated. As recently as its annual meeting in June, management had to fend off activist shareholders demanding a permanent end to nuclear power.
Japan energy sources
Now, a year since the complete shutdown of the rest of Japan’s 48 reactors for safety checks, those demands have taken on new urgency. The Nuclear Regulation Authority, the government’s watchdog, has given the green light for another utility, Kyushu Electric Power Co., to restart two reactors at its Sendai plant in southwestern Japan. Other utilities are seeking the go-ahead to turn another 18 reactors back on.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe needs to get at least part of the country’s substantial nuclear capacity back on line to cut a soaring energy import tab – including hefty government subsidies – that makes Japanese industry less competitive and presents one more obstacle to his recovery strategy. Power-generating costs shot up more than 40 per cent between 2010 and 2012, and that was despite falling demand. Costs have only gone higher since then.
Efforts to reduce electricity consumption are evident everywhere. During Tokyo’s typically hot summer months, air conditioning is lowered in most buildings and shut off in lobbies and unused offices. Many office workers depart by 6 p.m., as power was cut.
As many as a dozen reactors may remain out of service for good, and some experts say the total could be far higher because of serious safety shortcomings. Other reactors will require expensive upgrades and retrofits that will take years to complete before they can be switched back on. And even the Sendai restart could still be blocked by local officials, who are well aware that a majority of Japanese still oppose any return to a nuclear power option.
This will spell bad news for investors in TEPCO – which is controlled by the government fund that bailed it out – and other utility stocks. But it’s good news for global energy prices. TEPCO and other utilities are aggressively pursuing long-term supplies of liquefied natural gas, and Japan intends to be a player in shale-gas developments in Mexico and elsewhere.
Further down the road, the Japanese hope to exploit what are believed to be vast deposits of methane hydrate deep below the seabed around Japan as a major source of natural gas. But high extraction costs remain an obstacle. And if officials think the public is furious about nuclear power, wait until they start tampering with the marine environment.
So at least for now, exporters of thermal coal and natural gas don’t have to worry either about nuclear restarts or new technologies disrupting their lucrative market.
%d bloggers like this: