Energy in the pipeline

Malcolm Wicks is the Energy Minister. This month he is turning a valve in South Wales which completes the final stage of a pipeline which has been built stretching 196 miles from Milford Haven to Gloucestershire. The pipeline will carry gas from Milford Haven but as there is no natural gas there it will use liquefied natural gas fuel which will be landed in giant tankers at the port and then converted into gas and sent along the pipeline. It has taken three years to build the pipeline and cost over £1 billion, but as we do need energy we now have a pipeline that will be able to carry one fifth of our gas needs.

The building of the pipeline has not been without controversy as it created noise dust and other environmental damage, crossing the Brecon Beacons, rivers, railways and roads. There have been protests, arrests, demonstrations and court hearings, as people protested on environmental grounds, safety grounds (a pipeline like this would not be allowed within three miles of human habitation in the USA) but the protests have been without success as the pipeline is now built.  

I am sure that as Mr Wicks turns the valve he will say how important this pipeline is in securing our energy supplies. He will not dwell on how rapidly things have changed from when we laid pipe lines from the North Sea to our coastline to transport our own natural gas. Now we depend on a pipeline carrying 20% of what we need which in turn depends on supplies of liquefied gas being landed at Milford Haven, mainly from the Middle East. 

This is a large and impressive engineering project but it is not going to secure any energy in itself. A few years ago a much larger and more impressive engineering project built a pipeline to carry natural gas from the gas fields of Argentina over the Andes Mountains (quite a bit higher than the Brecon Beacons) to Chile. Its overall distance was more than 800 miles and it was built to secure Chile’s natural gas supplies.  Argentina has the third largest natural gas deposits in South America and had in Chile a natural customer that needed natural gas, hence the pipeline across the Andes.

But natural gas consumption in Argentina has risen in past years and as a result despite increasing production the Argentines lowered gas exports to Chile in 2004 to ensure that they had sufficient for the domestic market. This lowering of gas exports to Chile as continued and has been augmented by an increasing high natural gas export tax, paid by Chile. 

As a result Chile is now rewriting its energy policy, looking for dependable fuel supplies.   The British pipeline may in turn run dry of the gas suppliers in the Middle East find a better market for their fuel, or if they decided that they need it all for themselves. 

So, just because you have a pipeline it does not mean that you will always have the gas with which to fill it. £1 billion would have bought many solar systems, photovoltaic systems, heat pumps and wind turbines. Those who control the sources of energy have always been princes but they will be the monarchs of the new energy age and Mr Wicks would do well to remember that energy, like charity, will always begin at home. 

3 Responses

  1. Robert your analysis of Argentina and it’s fuel production and consumption rising at a much steeper rate, is interesting in the context of the latest tensions between UK and Argentina over Falkland Island sovreignty. Apparently sparked by oil exploration opperations which are to commence with an exploration rig now sailing on it’s way from Scotland with some friendly Royal Navy Ships and predictions of 60 Billion Barrels of oil potential acccording to the SUN newspaper.

    “…natural gas consumption in Argentina has risen in past years and as a result despite increasing production the Argentines lowered gas exports to Chile in 2004 to ensure that they had sufficient for the domestic market…” Kyriakides 2007

  2. The free market for energy and deregulation means that we have also removed more gas than we have needed in the UK from gas reserves in the UK and has been transported accross to mainland europe through interconnectors. Now the UK needs gas to be brought here from middle east ! And yes £1 Billion couild buy/subsidise a lot of Solar panels which would create tens of thousands of jobs in an industry to support this meaning more money to re-circulate internally in the UK economy.

    But Robert that isn’t the aim of the game is it ?

    The aim of the game is quite well explained in Duck Soup (1933) The Marx Brothers. The Hymn to Freedonia !

    “…The last man nearly ruined this place. He didn’t know what to do with it. If you think this country’s bad off now. Just wait ’til I get through with it …”

    Further explained in 1984 the aim is to ensure we do not everything we need or want but keep on working and buying things we think we want or need and then there are wars and it is a continuous volatile cycle around an equilibrium oif supply and demand of energy, goods, and services.

    Overall the government minority of those who govern has to maintain this equilibrium of supply and demand to stay in business a government to govern the majority, so that a minority elite at the top control and live in luxary whichever political system is in play whether that be facism, communism, capitalism, radical Islam, catholic, protestant, etc whatever always it will be the same an elite minority giving dictats to a majority deciding what they will do, and sometimes this majority is in delusion that they have freedom of will and speech but this is not the reality.

    • Or even

      Rufus T Firefly

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