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by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 01:15:53 PM EST
Transocean books $1bn Macondo charge - FT.com

Transocean, the owner of the drilling rig at the centre of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, fell steeply into the red last year and announced a $1bn charge for the accident, in what analysts said was the first indication the company was preparing to settle.

The world's largest driller of deepwater wells attributed the annual net loss of $5.63bn to a $5.2bn non-cash charge resulting from a goodwill impairment associated with its drilling unit and an estimated $1bn loss from the spill, both of which were booked in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Transocean said the estimated $1bn charge for the spill was a reasonable assessment "at this time", but cautioned that the figure could be adjusted as new information came to light.

The company is locked in a bitter battle with BP and others over liability for the disaster in April 2010, which killed 11 workers and spilt more than 4m barrels of oil into gulf waters from the ruptured Macondo well.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:50:55 PM EST
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BBC News - EU warning on energy competition

The European Commission has warned eight countries to increase energy competition or face legal action at the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Bulgaria, Cyprus, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia and Estonia have so far failed to comply with EU rules.

The commission demands countries separate the production of electricity or gas from its distribution to allow more competition.

States have until 3 March to comply. Competition

"Opening energy markets for competition is key to competitiveness of the EU economy as a whole," the Commission said in a statement.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:55:27 PM EST
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Parliament split over energy efficiency bill ahead of key vote | EurActiv

The draft Energy Efficiency Directive is likely to need backing from the European Parliament in a plenary vote at the end of March before the Assembly can speak with one voice in upcoming negotiations with the 27 EU member states.

Hopes for accelerated negotiations immediately after the draft bill is voted in the Parliament's energy and transport committee (ITRE) tomorrow (28 February) will probably be dashed, several MEPs told EurActiv.

An 82-page compromise proposal on the draft bill, tabled by Green MEP Claude Turmes (Luxembourg), has not pleased all legislators, although it received backing from all political group representatives. 

This is despite a shared view that the directive should help bring benefits in terms of CO2 reductions and lower the EU's dependence on oil imports.

Markus Pieper MEP, the chief negotiator for the European People's Party (EPP), the largest political group in the European Parliament, said the assembly's views will be clearer after a vote in plenary, scheduled for 28 March.

"It is important that all MEPs in Parliament have the opportunity to comment on the compromise package," Pieper said. "It is a requirement of democracy to firstly vote collectively and then secondly to negotiate with other institutions."

Pieper, however, said he did not expect significant changes, since the hardest discussions between MEPs have already taken place.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:55:31 PM EST
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Wind energy companies fear UK government's commitment is cooling | Environment | The Guardian

Billions of pounds' worth of investment in Britain's energy infrastructure is on hold or uncertain because of concerns over the government's commitment to wind energy.

In an exclusive survey, the heads of some of the world's biggest wind companies, which have been considering setting up factories, research facilities and other developments in the UK, have told the Guardian they are reviewing their investments or seeking clarification and reassurances from ministers on future energy policy in the wake of growing political opposition to wind energy that culminated in this month's unprecedented attack on the government's policies in a letter signed by more than 100 Tory MPs.

General Electric (GE) Energy's managing director, Magued Eldaief, told the Guardian his company's proposed wind manufacturing investment - amounting to at least £100m directly but worth much more in its knock-on effect to the economy - was "on hold" pending ministers' decisions on future reforms to the energy market.

"Our investment is on hold until we have certainty and clarity regarding the policy environment that we are in," Eldaief said. "One of the most important things for us is political certainty, so we can justify the business and investment case for a facility in the UK. But we think there are some [political] headwinds which do not help, especially in terms of the subsidies discussion."

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:55:36 PM EST
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Donald Trump promises £10m to fight wind farm construction in Britain - Green Living - Environment - The Independent

Fresh from a dispute with environmentalists over his golf resort on the Aberdeenshire coast, the billionaire Donald Trump has revealed plans to hand £10m to anti-wind farm campaigners.

The American property tycoon has become vociferous in his opposition to wind farms since plans were revealed for 11 turbines to be built off the coast from his £750 million complex of holiday homes, hotels and golf courses.

In a letter to the first minister Alex Salmond, Mr Trump blasted the "horrendous machines", and claimed he could win a "very large lawsuit" if he were to challenge their construction.

Susan Crosthwaite, a spokeswoman for Communities Against Turbines Scotland (CATS), said the money could be a game-changer in the battle against wind farms, and repudiated suggestions that Mr Trump's new-found opposition could be self-interested. "I think he genuinely cares about Scotland," she said. "We don't agree with everything Donald Trump stands for, but we do agree on this issue.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:56:37 PM EST
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He is something of a wind-farm himself, albeit legions less productive than the technological ones.

"Beware of the man who does not talk, and the dog that does not bark." Cheyenne
by maracatu on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 07:51:19 PM EST
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When I was a kid in England, our most common name for a fart was a trump.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2012 at 02:20:44 AM EST
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"Who's trumped?" is an expression I remember from my schooldays there.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 28th, 2012 at 04:45:18 PM EST
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Anti-wind propaganda doesn't only need subsidies, it's now taking on charitable status.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2012 at 02:19:49 AM EST
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Perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but announcing that you're going to transform the UK anti-wind lobby into astroturf might not go down too well. Perhaps it might trigger a shift in opinion.

On the other hand...

Wind turbines bring in 'risk-free' millions for rich landowners | Environment | The Guardian

The boom in onshore wind power, likened to a "new industrial revolution", is being dominated by a small number of private landowners who will share around £1bn in rental fees over the next eight years.

Rental payments vary and are secret but, say property agents speaking in confidence to the Guardian, landowners can now expect £40,000 a year "risk-free" for each large turbine erected on their land.


if Scottish landowners are doing the modern equivalent of driving off the crofters to get a better return by running sheep...

this would indicate the urgency of local tax reform to ensure that a slice of the profits go to local government rather than exclusively to land owners.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 28th, 2012 at 04:41:55 AM EST
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I'm no expert on many jurisdictions, but there are all manner of property and business taxes which already go to local governments. they usually include road use payments during construction, and other such items.

the spreading of royalties to nearby property owners is not evolved enough, which the industry should find ways to increase. (sometimes they have.)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Feb 28th, 2012 at 05:48:06 AM EST
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they usually ALSO include road use...

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Feb 28th, 2012 at 05:48:56 AM EST
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Japan Considered Tokyo Evacuation During the Nuclear Crisis, Report Says - NYTimes.com
In the darkest moments of last year's nuclear accident, Japanese leaders did not know the actual extent of damage at the plant and secretly considered the possibility of evacuating Tokyo, even as they tried to play down the risks in public, an independent investigation into the accident disclosed on Monday.

The investigation by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, a new private policy organization, offered one of the most vivid accounts yet of how Japan teetered on the edge of an even larger nuclear crisis than the one that engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. A team of 30 university professors, lawyers and journalists spent more than six months on the inquiry into Japan's response to the triple meltdown at the plant, which followed a massive earthquake and tsunami last March 11 that shut down the plant's cooling systems.

The team was granted extraordinary access, in part because of a strong public demand for greater accountability. Its members conducted interviews with more than 300 people including top nuclear regulators and government officials, as well as the prime minister during the crisis, Naoto Kan. The Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation was founded by a respected public intellectual, Yoichi Funabashi, a former editor in chief of the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's biggest dailies.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:57:27 PM EST
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European Neanderthals were on the verge of extinction even before the arrival of modern humans
New findings from an international team of researchers show that most Neanderthals in Europe died off around 50,000 years ago. The previously held view of a Europe populated by a stable Neanderthal population for hundreds of thousands of years up until modern humans arrived must therefore be revised.

This new perspective on the Neanderthals comes from a study of ancient DNA published February 25 in Molecular Biology and Evolution.

The results indicate that most Neanderthals in Europe died off as early as 50,000 years ago. After that, a small group of Neanderthals recolonised central and western Europe, where they survived for another 10,000 years before modern humans entered the picture.

The study is the result of an international project led by Swedish and Spanish researchers in Uppsala, Stockholm and Madrid.

"The fact that Neanderthals in Europe were nearly extinct, but then recovered, and that all this took place long before they came into contact with modern humans came as a complete surprise to us. This indicates that the Neanderthals may have been more sensitive to the dramatic climate changes that took place in the last Ice Age than was previously thought", says Love Dalén, associate professor at the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm.

by Nomad on Mon Feb 27th, 2012 at 02:58:35 PM EST
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