Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 7th 2017 Contents SEPTEMBER 7 • 2017 guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
INTERNATIONAL ENERGY | BG7
France to ban oil, gas
output on home soil
in symbolic step
France's government has unveiled a
law to ban all production and explo-
ration of oil and natural gas by 2040
on the country's mainland and over-
The move is largely symbolic, however, as
France's oil and gas production represents just
1 percent of national consumption---the rest
Current drilling permits will not be renewed,
according to the bill formally presented in a
Cabinet meeting Wednesday. France currently
has 63 oil and gas drilling projects on its ter-
The ban, which the government claims is a
world first, is part of a larger plan to wean the
country's economy from fossil fuels, encourage
clean energy and fulfil France's commitments
under the Paris Climate Agreement to curb
French President Emmanuel Macron praised
it as "an important step to fulfil our interna-
The bill, which was elaborated by Environ-
ment minister Nicolas Hulot, also includes a
definitive ban on all shale gas exploration and
extraction. Until now, only hydraulic fractur-
ing, a process known as fracking, was banned.
All other potential methods are now to be pro-
hibited as well.
Hulot had already announced in July that
France will stop producing power from coal
---now five per cent of total output---by 2022.
In parallel, the country wants to reduce the
proportion of its power from nuclear energy
to 50 per cent by 2025, from the current 75
percent. Hulot said it is important for France
to maintain its leadership on climate-related
issues following the Paris Agreement signed
"I have absolute faith in the capacity of
renewable energies to become progressively
a very important source to fulfil our energy
, he said in a news conference.
Greenpeace France said in a statement the bill
sets a "good goal" but doesn't go far enough.
The environmental organization notes that the
extension of an offshore exploration permit in
French Guiana was maintained.
In this case, Hulot said the existing permits
"will be maintained to avoid legal conflicts."
Francis Duseux, president of the French oil
lobby UFIP, said it would have been better to
keep producing oil and gas in France rather than
rely exclusively on imports, because in any case
France's economy will still rely on fossil fuels
in 2040. "Energy transition will take time," he
said on Europe 1 radio.
Duseux estimated that oil drilling on French
territory supports 4,500 to 5,000 jobs. (AP)
Norway's plan to shield oil compa-
nies from UN fees if they produce
oil far from land in environmen-
tally sensitive Arctic regions is
in line with long-standing tax policies, the
Oil and Energy Ministry said on Wednesday.
Opposition parties accused the right-wing
government on Tuesday of failing to inform
parliament clearly about a plan to let compa-
nies deduct any UN charges for Arctic pro-
duction more than 200 nautical miles (370
km) from land against tax.
The Oil and Energy Ministry said the de-
ductions promised were consistent with Nor-
wegian tax policies for oil companies.
Under the 1982 UN Convention on the Law
of the Sea, states must pay up to seven per
cent of revenue from oil, gas or other minerals
produced from their continental shelves more
than 200 nautical miles offshore.
The money will go to a fund to help devel-
oping nations. The UN provision is dormant
because there has been no production so far
from land, even though some countries in-
cluding Canada and Norway are exploring for
oil more than 200 miles offshore.
Extracts of letters published by Reuters on
Tuesday showed the right-wing government
told oil and gas companies bidding for blocks
far offshore in the Arctic that any such special
costs "will be deductible in the calculation of
the petroleum tax".
On Wednesday, the Ministry sent Reuters
documents showing that similar language had
been used in a licensing round for blocks fur-
ther south in 2011, when a centre-left coalition
government was in power.
Some opposition parties, campaigning
ahead of a national election on September
11, said the fragile environment in the Arctic
needed special protection and parliament
should have been consulted before offering
the tax deductions.
The Law of the Sea leaves it up to govern-
ments to decide how to raise the special fees
under Article 82, with the option of passing
on the costs to companies.
The secret to switching the global
energy system entirely to renewa-
bles may lay in the universe's most
Hydrogen has drawn backing from big en-
ergy companies from Royal Dutch Shell Plc to
Uniper SE in addition to carmakers BMW AG
and Audi AG. They're supporting research into
how the element can be used to store energy for
weeks or even months beyond what lithium-ion
batteries can manage.
While industry's investment in hydrogen is
small at just $2.5 billion over the last decade, the
work offers an answer to the elusive question
of how electricity could be kept for use in the
future. Batteries increasingly are shifting power
from day to night, but they tend to go flat after
a few weeks. Hydrogen can be kept indefinitely
in tanks. That would allow, for example, voltage
collected from solar panels in the summer to
be used in winter.
"The years 2020 to 2030 will be for hydro-
gen what the 1990s were for solar and wind,"
said Pierre-Etienne Franc and vice president
of advanced business and technologies at the
French industrial gas maker Air Liquide SA and
initiative secretary of the Hydrogen Council,
a trade group promoting the work. "It's a real
The technology to use hydrogen as energy
storage is well known, although not yet demon-
strated in a commercial setting. Excess power
from wind or photovoltaics would drive elec-
trolysis, separating water into its component
hydrogen and oxygen elements. The hydrogen
captured by that process could, whenever need-
ed, feed natural gas power plants or fuel cells
to make electricity. Industrial plants like oil
refineries can also use hydrogen for chemical
To date, the energy industry has focused
mainly on hydrogen's potential in fuel cells,
which use the element in a chemical reaction to
generate electricity. On power-storage, most of
the money is going into batteries like the lithi-
um-ion cells widely used in mobile phones and
laptop computers. But those tend to lose charge
if not topped up and discharged frequently.
Hydrogen storage is attractive because it
preserves energy for longer periods. The only
real alternative at the moment is pumping water
onto a hilltop reservoir, where it can dammed up
until grid managers are ready to let it flow down
through hydropower turbines. That so-called
pumped storage requires the right geography.
If hydrogen could be made to store energy
cheaply enough, it would allow utilities to scale
back on fossil fuel plants by making it easier
for the grid to handle intermittent power flows
from wind and solar farms. For example, about
$3.4 billion of revenue was lost in China last
year because wind farms were forced to re-
main idle because of congested electric lines.
Norway defends tax deductions on Arctic drilling
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