Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

US shale gas arrives in Scotland today

September 27, 2016

The SNP’s idiotic environmental policies means that Scotland has to import shale gas from the US even though there is plenty available locally. North Sea revenues for Scotland have collapsed and Scottish energy policy is a self-inflicted wound. In Europe generally, it is misguided, meaningless, environmental constraints on energy policies which have been a major contributor to holding back the economic recovery.

The low oil price in 2016 has effectively postponed any new independence referendum for a few years to come. Without North Sea revenues Scotland – if it wants to be an independent EU country – would be the “poor man of Europe” for 2 decades.

Image result for Scotland north sea revenue collapse

graphic: market oracle

BBC: 

The first shipment of US shale gas is arriving in Scotland amid a fierce debate about the future of fracking in the UK.

A tanker carrying 27,500m3 of ethane from US shale fields is due to dock at Grangemouth, the refinery and petrochemicals plant owned by Ineos.

The company said the gas would replace dwindling North Sea supplies and secure the future of the plant’s workforce.


 

An independent Scotland could probably not join the EU until 2030

June 25, 2016

Scotland’s desire to remain a part of the EU is not so easily satisfied even if a new independence referendum is carried out rapidly. Three different timetables (which can partly be in parallel) have to mesh.

  1. Exit process for UK from EU
  2. Independence process for Scotland from the UK
  3.  Application and accession process for an independant Scotland into the EU.

Looking at these 3 timetables, I reckon the earliest an independent Scotland could enter the EU in its own right would be around 2030.

Brexit now sets in motion an exit process for the UK from the EU. The only deadline is that the process will be completed 2 years after the UK invokes Article 50. However it is up to the UK to invoke Article 50. So the start point is flexible and is solely in the control of the UK government of the day. Even if Cameron is replaced by another Prime Minister, it will be up to his new government and the UK parliament to decide when they are comfortable enough to start the ball rolling (because then the 2 year deadline will apply). There is no reason for the UK to give up too early its current time pressure advantage which will pass to the EU once Article 50 has been invoked. I see the earliest that a UK government is prepared for this will be around March 2017. That would give an exit being effective in March 2019.

March 2017 is probably the earliest a new referendum on the independence of Scotland could be held. Using the timetable put forward by the SNP for the 2014 referendum, it would then be March 2019 before Scotland was an independent nation. This may be a little too optimistic both for when the referendum could be held and for the time required for the legal measures necessary. Whether the UK parliament could be handling the bills necessary for exiting the EU simultaneously with passing the bills for Scotland’s exit from the UK is also doubtful. Nevertheless I assume a referendum could be held by March 2017.

To apply for EU membership, Scotland would need to have, and be able to show, a “stable” economy and stable, established institutions. With the best will in the world, this is going to require at least 3 years (and probably more) as an independent nation. Assume anyway that Scotland can submit an application for membership sometime around 2022/2023. The minimum time needed for accession of a new member has been the 3 years for Finland and Sweden. It is more usually of the order of 10 years with countries with weaker economies taking longer. It is not unreasonable to assume that a newly independent Scotland would need 7 years for accession.

Accession times to the European Union (pdf)

And that would take us to 2030 for an independent Scotland’s accession to the EU.


 

Independent Scotland would have been in dire straits now

January 14, 2016

This morning Brent oil fell to less than $30 for the first time in 12 years.

During the Scotland independence campaign, the Scottish National Party based its projections and campaign on an oil price of $113 going forward and that would have provided revenues of about £7 billion per year.

SNP assumption - actual Brent oil price

At current prices the oil revenue accruing to the Scottish budget would be less than £0.1 billion compared to the planned for £7 billion per year. Back in July 2015, the expected revenue (at $45/barrel) was reduced to be about £0.16 billion per year (£800 million in 5 years). This is just the impact of price. Considering the reduction in market share and reduced volume, the revenue is likely to fall well short of that and not much more than £0.08 billion per year (£400 million over 5 years).

With actual oil revenues at just 10-15% of what was assumed, an independent Scotland would now be close to default and a declaration of bankruptcy. At least Scotland is a little more diverse and not quite as dependent on oil revenues as Norway is. But Norway is now dipping heavily into the huge oil fund it has stashed away over the good years. But even with the fund, the Norwegian kronor has lost about 30% of its value in the last year. Scotland, of course, has no such fund to fall back upon.

It seems highly unlikely that there will be any new independence referendum in Scotland until either

  1. the budget oil dependence is reduced drastically, or
  2. the oil price is over $60 per barrel.

 

Is the Scottish Nationalist Party inherently racist?

November 13, 2015

The natural corollary for any “nationalist” party is a discrimination against “non-nationals”. In fact it is very difficult to be a “nationalist” without also being xenophobic. In many countries in Europe the nationalist parties are very often also anti-immigrant and inherently racist to varying degrees. Nationalist, racist parties are usually on the far-right and often have a Nazi or a neo-Nazi past

Ruth Wodak …… divided these parties into four groups: “parties [that] gain support via an ambivalent relationship with fascist and Nazi pasts” (e.g., in Austria, Hungary, Italy, Romania, and France), parties that “focus primarily on a perceived threat from Islam” (e.g., in the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Sweden, and Switzerland), parties that “restrict their propaganda to a perceived threat to their national identities from ethnic minorities” (e.g., in Hungary, Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom) and parties that “endorse a fundamentalist Christian conservative-reactionary agenda” (e.g., in Poland, Romania and Bulgaria)

Occasionally the nationalists come from the far-left as with Syriza in Greece or the far-left parties in Portugal. The Scottish Nationalist Party is about as far left as you can get without being just another Communist Party. But it is now becoming clear that the SNP also has a nucleus of not only xenophobic but also anti-semitic views. In the latest instance the party and the party leader have had to apologise abjectly for one of their member’s “grotesque” anti-semitic views.

Daily MailA Scottish Nationalist MSP was at the centre of a race-hate storm last night after sharing an anti-Semitic image online which was compared to the ‘very worst of Nazi propaganda’. Sandra White made a humiliating apology to a Jewish group which condemned the ‘bizarre and hateful’ image she circulated to her thousands of followers on social media website Twitter.

But campaigners said that she should be disciplined for ‘retweeting’ the disturbing cartoon. A petition, which had 500 supporters last night, was launched by campaigners calling on the Glasgow Kelvin MSP to quit. ………. As the row intensified last night, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon apologised to the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (ScoJec) for the ‘abhorrent’ post, which Mrs White insisted she had accidentally retweeted.

That this is not an isolated incident is apparent from the recent headlines:

Oil price destroys viability of Scottish independence

August 24, 2015

The Scottish National Party (SNP) once had budgeted on the basis of oil price being $115/ barrel. Then at the time of the referendum they assumed a price of not less than $100/barrel giving a tax revenue of not less than £7 billion per year which would offset the “subsidy” that Scotland gets from the rest of the UK of about £9 billion per year. This tax revenue drops to zero with a North Sea oil price of less than $50/ barrel.  But the breakeven price for oil producers is even higher:

Forbes (Jan 2015)Some prospects, including almost all activity West of Shetlands, are considered unprofitable below $100 per barrel. Mature oil wells struggle to be viable below $60, so BP has decided that 200 jobs and 100 contractors’ roles would go following a review of its North Sea operations managed out of Aberdeen, Europe’s oil and gas capital. Looking ahead, BP forecasts the oil price to remain in the $50 to $60 price range for next three years. ………

Either way, BP’s take has darkened the mood in the British and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea. However, it isn’t the first to announce job cuts. If anything, BP’s move is pretty predictable given the company has been quite clear about reducing employee headcount.

Shell, Statoil and Chevron have made similar announcements while ConocoPhillips has also been clear about a need to “streamline operations.” As operators downsize, oilfield services companies would invariably feel the pinch from independent upstarts to market leader Schlumberger.

But reality is biting hard. It is now more likely that Brent oil price will be trapped between $30 and $40 for the next 2 -3 years. Costs of production in the North Sea have not come down much compared to the sharp decline in US production costs of oil from fracking. And now Iranian oil will take its market share. At these prices the North Sea oil producers will be losing money on each barrel produced. Production is likely to be scaled down sharply and investment will drop to a trickle. Onshore jobs involved in both exploration and production (Norway, Holland, Scotland) must decrease. The Norwegian and Scottish production will bear the brunt of this turndown. Norway has built up a huge reserve fund and can weather a storm but not a permanent downturn, The UK economy can take the hit but an independent Scotland would be very hard hit. The introduction of shale fracking in England – which could take advantage of the the production cost reductions achieved in the US – could not only mitigate the risk but add a new source of jobs and tax revenue. The largest cost reductions in the production of oil from shale have come in the non-unionised part of the industry. There is considerable oil shale in Scotland as well, but I expect the SNP and the UK unions to be far too short-sighted and to do their damndest to prevent the introduction of fracking.

Nasdaq brent oil 10 year chart Aug 2015

Nasdaq brent oil 10 year chart Aug 2015

At less than $40/barrel, the SNP would need to create some very strange, fantasy budgets to prove the viability of an independent Scotland. Perhaps they could just nationalise everything and print money.

Scots lost the referendum but may soon be ruling England

March 24, 2015

The 2015 UK General Election is only about 6 weeks away and is turning out to be much more interesting – and entertaining – than I had anticipated. It was in September last year that independence for Scotland from the United Kingdom was rejected – in the event much more decisively than was generally expected – but not the overwhelming rejection that was first anticipated when the referendum was agreed to by the UK Parliament. (55.3% No against 44.7% Yes). The Scottish National Party (SNP) was the main driver for the referendum and for independence and their leader Alex Salmond had to step down as party leader with a bloody nose.

But now with the elections just weeks away, the Labour party has collapsed in Scotland (where the Conservatives are already almost extinct), UKIP has risen in England and the Liberal Democrats have become schizophrenic and irrelevant. The natural party for the Liberal Democrats to cooperate with in 2010 would have been Labour. But since that would not have given an overall majority, they went to bed instead with their natural and historic enemy  – the Conservatives. Which of course lies at the root of their current schizophrenia and the defection of their left wing to the Greens.

The most likely scenario now is that the Scots (via SNP) will effectively be ruling England after the election. Of course the SNP will not be the governing party but they may well be the determining voice in a minority Labour government. And since the SNP is generally further to the left of mainstream Labour, it will help to empower Labour’s more extreme members and may even help to bring in the support of some of the old communists. We could have an ironic – and highly entertaining – situation in the next Parliament. UKIP and the Conservatives could be desperately fighting for the devolution of England and a separate English parliament. Of course they would be no chance of any referendum on EU membership. The English (UKIP, Conservatives, Lib Dems) may have to plead (with SNP and Labour) for a referendum by 2020 for English devolution.

Of course there are many possible outcomes and 6 weeks is an eternity in an election campaign but the numbers provide the entertainment.

  1. Current Parliament (650 seats, 326 needed for majority)
  2. Conservatives 307, Liberal Democrats 57 (coalition 364)
  3. Labour 258, Irish DUP 8, SNP 6, others 14.

But a “very possible” result now is that the next parliament will be totally hung. The only working majority even remotely possible will be with the SNP and Labour together – though it may not be an absolute majority. Paradoxically, this could be a stronger mandate for the SNP both in Scotland and in the UK than any independence could have brought. For the Conservatives there is no redemption with the Lib Dems or with UKIP. They would have to gain seats in England compared to 2010 to prevent this or some similar scenario. And that does not look likely. Based on one forecast model, it could look like this:

UK 2015 possible

UK 2015 possible

So Alex Salmond leading a “Red” Ed Miliband even further left – and surely by the nose – is entirely possible. Scotland could effectively become a “one party democracy”. Perhaps Alex Salmond could emulate Lee Kwan Yew (though he does not quite have the same vision or intellectual stature)! Unlike Lee Kwan Yew, who never had a direct say in the Malaysian parliament, Salmond could extract his full pound (kilogram) of flesh in the UK Parliament. Labour would not be able to achieve any legislation, even if it was just for England, without the Scots.

Maybe the Scots will – of their goodness – eventually allow the English a devolution referendum.

(The hung parliament may well be “democracy in action” but it will also be a manifestation of “levelling down” to the lowest common level. And the lowest common level excludes any possibility of excellence).

Some interesting times ahead!

 

Swedish Foreign Minister warns of the “Balkanisation of Britain”

June 5, 2014

Carl Bildt was once Sweden’s Prime Minster and was the UN’s envoy to the Balkans and is now the Foreign Minister. Not uncontroversial since he has many business interests ranging from Russia to Africa but generally radiates confidence and competence with a not insignificant measure of arrogance.

For a Foreign Minister he can be quite undiplomatic at times (not that it is always wrong to be undiplomatic). He has now poked his nose into the Scottish referendum and warns of the Balkanisation of the UK if Scotland decides to vote for Independence. He has a point of course. It would only be a matter of time before Wales, Ulster, the Channel Islands –  but perhaps not the Falklands – would all choose to go their own separate  ways into insignificance:

The Scotsman: SWEDEN’S foreign minister has claimed that Scottish independence would lead to the ‘Balkanisation’ of Britain.

 Carl Bildt also warned that a Yes vote would have ‘far-reaching consequences’ for the rest of Europe, in comments that echoed those made by former UK Defence Secretary Lord Robertson, in which he claimed that Scottish independence would have ‘cataclysmic’ geopolitical consequences.

Mr Bildt told the Financial Times that there would be ‘unforeseen chain reactions’ in Europe and the United Kingdom if Scotland voted for independence on September 18th.

The former UN special envoy to the Balkans between 1999 and 2001 said: “I think it’s going to have far more profound implications than people think. The Balkanisation of the British Isles is something we are not looking forward to.

“It opens up a lot, primarily in Scotland but also in the UK. What are the implications for the Irish question? What happens in Ulster?”

Mr Bildt also hinted that a victory for the Yes campaign could lead to the UK having to renegotiate some of its own EU membership terms. 

“The vote is one thing,” he added. “But there will then be a fairly painful period of separation and how is that going to affect the EU relationship? I assume there will have to be renegotiation of votes.” ……….. 

………… He likened the UK to ‘an island adrift in the Atlantic’ if it left the EU.

And the Swedish politician commented that both the EU and independence referendums showed that the debate in Europe was in the process of moving away from the Eurozone crisis to a more political phase.

“The main challenges in the past five years have been economic ones,” he explained. “Looking ahead for the next five years, it is political challenges in the east fairly obviously and also in the west fairly obviously.”

Three decades of needless “green” energy has cost some 15 million jobs in Europe

June 2, 2013

It has been a pointless waste. Just to pander to the superstition that controlling carbon dioxide emissions can control global temperature.

Temperatures have been flat since 1997 while human emissions of carbon dioxide have risen around 30%. Carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere have also increased but have had little impact on global temperature – if any at all.

graphic Bert Rutan via WUWT

graphic Bert Rutan via WUWT

graphic source: WUWT

The last three decades have seen the vilification of carbon dioxide and the combustion of fossil fuels but it has been a pointless and expensive exercise. The profligate subsidies in favour of renewable energy and the shameless taxation of fossil fuel use and the consequent increase of energy prices have made their contributions to the economic slowdown and loss of jobs – particularly in Europe. The cowardly adoption of political correctness and of “green” energy is proving expensive – and has been quite needless.

Today electricity prices in Europe are at least 50% higher and perhaps twice as high as they need to be. The curbing of fossil fuel use and the hysteria about nuclear power together with the renewable profligacy are responsible for that. The cost of electricity is a fundamental parameter in our economies which feeds its way into every aspect of economic activity. It is the availability of affordable electricity which has been the driver of growth for over 100 years. A simple estimate of the growth that has been prevented by having unnecessarily high electricity prices gives the cost as being about 15 million jobs within the European Union.

Gerald Warner writes in The Scotsman: (my emphasis)

…. As the bottom falls out of the man-made climate change industry, those who were among its most bullish investors at the height of the scam are now covering their positions in a bear market.

Great damage was done to this much-hyped imposture by Climategate (“Hide the decline!”), by the discredited “hockey stick”, by the farce over “melting” Himalayan glaciers and the “decrease” in the polar bear population from 5,000 in 1970 to 25,000 today. Yet what has chiefly discredited the climate change superstition is the basic, inescapable fact that there has been no global warming since 1997.

The official face-saving response is that this is a “pause” in an otherwise menacing trend – a pause of a decade and a half. The warmist fanatics will freeze to death in their solar bunkers before they will admit defeat; but the more worldly wise, especially scientists anxious to preserve a vestige of academic credibility, are now striving to effect a withdrawal in good order.

Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change began to ratchet down its more extravagant predictions as early as 2007. In 2010 the Royal Society reviewed its stance on the Anthropogenic Global Warming theory and assumed a more neutral position. Since then, it has been like the retreat from Moscow: last month Oxford scientists, albeit in Delphic language, moderated forecasts of climate disaster. …..

….. The global warming hysteria began in the 1880s but was discredited when its prediction that CO2 would increase the mean global temperature by more than 1C by 1940 was not borne out. What gave it fresh life over the past two decades was the realisation by governments that it could provide a pretext for taxing citizens to unprecedented levels and by private entrepreneurs that government subsidies could supply a dripping roast. Of all the damage that politicians have inflicted on the public, the “green” scam has been among the most extreme.

The Renewables Obligation, introduced in Scotland in 2002, was scheduled to end in 2027, by which time UK energy customers will have been robbed of £32 billion. It has now been extended to 2037 for new projects. By 2011 Ofgem confirmed that 10 per cent of every electricity bill went towards “renewables”. Proliferating wind turbines are blighting the landscape despite being a wholly inefficient source of energy. Turbines operate at just 24 per cent of capacity – for more than a third of the time at only 10 per cent – and conventional power stations have to remain in service as backup: two energy systems pointlessly working in tandem. ……

…… South of the Border a modicum of sanity has entered government thinking since UK energy minister John Hayes’ “Enough is enough” remarks. In England and Wales turbines are falling out of favour. 

Not so in Scotland. ……. 

Local objections to wind farms are routinely overruled by central government (that would be the listening, accountable Scottish Nationalist government). At the end of last year only ten out of Scotland’s 32 local authorities admitted to knowing how many wind turbines were sited in their areas.

They could cover every inch of Scottish soil with Martian whirligigs and the lights will still go out, due to the SNP’s refusal to replace Hunterston B, due to close in 2016, and Torness, closing in 2023. All this to satisfy a superstition: if all mankind stopped producing CO2 (try selling that idea in China and India), 96.5 per cent would remain. The climate Anabaptists will never recant, but their mad creed is doomed all the same.

Wind turbines and solar energy have their place in the energy mix we should use.  But not at the expense of fossil fuel and nuclear use.

Surprise! 99.8% of Britishers on the Falklands wish to stay British!!

March 12, 2013

While there seems to be very little merit in the Argentine claim to the Falkland Islands (they didn’t discover the islands, they didn’t settle there permanently and they haven’t invested there), the results of the vote by the Falklanders showing that 99.8% wish to remain British is little more than an exercise in packaging.

The numbers for the referendum are interesting:

  • Population – 2841
  • Registered voters – 1649
  • Turnout 92%
  • Votes counted 1517 (excluding 1 spoiled vote)
  • Votes for 1514 (99.8%)
  • Votes against 3

But this reminds me of a Sales Manager I once worked for who managed to convince his new bosses during his annual performance review that he was due a massive bonus because he had achieved a “100% market share of his market”.  He taught me a great deal about what “selling” was all about!

But there is no denying that 99.8% of Britsishers on the Falklands wish to stay British.

I don’t suppose it would be very difficult to identify the 3 people who voted against.

(Alex Salmond should learn his lesson for the referendum on Scottish independence due in the autumn of 2014. As of now only some 20% of the expected electorate are likely to support him in breaking away from the UK and having to reapply to the EU for membership. If he can just make sure that non-permanent residents (say people with less than 3 or 5 generations born in Scotland) and those who have the majority of their assets outside Scotland don’t get to vote, he could  get a much larger market share of his market. He does not stand much chance unless he manages  – more by crook than by hook – to restrict the vote to just his supporters and even if he does – he still won’t win.)

Of course the real interest in “owning” the Falklands – for Argentina and for Britain – is the proximity to Antarctica, the basis it provides for territorial claims and the access it ensures. Territorial claims in  Antarctica have been frozen since 1961 till when 7 nations had registered claims. Currently the entire Argentinian claim falls within the British Antarctic Territory and it must be terribly frustrating for Argentina to find the UK leveraging its ownership of the Falklands all the way to the South Pole.

Antarctic territorial claims(graphic - http://geography.osu.edu/grads/jdavis/fig1.jpg)

Antarctic territorial claims
(graphic – http://geography.osu.edu/grads/jdavis/fig1.jpg)

falklands and antarctica (BBC)

falklands and antarctica (BBC)

“Offshore wind power is not affordable” – KPMG

November 15, 2011
Any Old Wind That Blows

There are some simple and rather obvious matters that the “green” lobbies prefer to ignore.

  1. In spite of twenty years of subsidies wind power is still not commercially viable without subsidy. Solar thermal power plants enjoy feed in tariffs some 3 times higher than the cost of conventional fossil power generation. Wherever renewables have been used to any extent, electricity prices for the consumer have increased.
  2. Intermittent sources of power (which cease when the wind does not blow, or blows too hard or when the sun does not shine at night or when clouds appear) are – by definition – unreliable. They do not add to the reliable, base-load, generating capacity that any electricity grid requires and must be backed up.  In Scotland for example – as Professor Colin McInnes points out – wind power capacity now exceeds nuclear capacity but only produces about one-third of the energy.
  3. Electricity is energy in motion and cannot be stored as electricity. For any electrical grid, at any instant, generation must, perforce, equal demand – and pumped storage schemes are merely devices to try and ensure such balance. Since the outages of wind and solar power are unpredictable (though it is generally predictable that solar power will not be available at night), and cannot be relied on to meet load demand fluctuations, “balancing power” (usually from gas turbines) must be arranged for whenever wind or solar capacity is added.
  4. In addition to the direct subsidies, whenever wind or solar power is available at times when there is low load, the subsidised regime forces the turning-down of other capacity – to the detriment of that capacity – and adds to the total cost of the grid.
Now – finally – some of the real numbers are beginning to be acknowledged but not, of course, by the green lobbies. KPMG has produced a new report “Thinking about the Affordable” and Power Engineering International reports that:
(more…)

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