Ukraine gas talks stall; Oil prices slide; A step toward 'clean coal' [Recharge]

Gas talks between Russia, Ukraine, and the EU are at a standstill as Ukraine prepares for winter; Oil prices continue their slide on stable supply and weakening demand; A Canadian utility opens the world's first commercial-scale carbon capture and storage plant. Catch up on the latest in global energy with Recharge. 

Valentyn Ogirenko/Reuters/File
Gas pipes are pictured at Oparivske gas underground storage in the Lviv region of Ukraine. Ukrainians are preparing for a winter without Russian gas.
Jake Turcotte/Staff

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Cold frontRussia, Ukraine, and the EU failed to close a deal this week that would temporarily resume gas flows to Ukraine. Kiev is reversing flows from western neighbors, but those same countries have seen their Russian supplies drop under mysterious circumstances. As winter nears, Ukrainians aren't taking any chances; They're stocking up on blankets, sealing up windows, and chopping extra wood.

Double digits: Suddenly, the world has more oil than it knows what to do with. The prolonged slide in crude prices has sent gas prices to four-year lows for US consumers, but it is unwelcome news for Russia and Iran. Their energy-based economies are already battered by international sanctions and cannot sustain long stretches with oil below $100. It points to bad news for the global economy as well.

CCS: "Clean coal" may be derided as mere PR for the world's most polluting fuel, but the vision of coal power with all the energy upsides and fewer climate downsides came a step closer to reality Thursday with the opening of the world's first commercial carbon capture and storage plant. If it can demonstrate viability on a large scale, the technology would serve a vital role in global efforts to combat climate change.

In the pipeline

Drill deeper

Fracking in the US: The story of one man's oil well
[The Christian Science Monitor]
US shale gets personal for writer William Sargent when wildcatters offer him thousands of dollars to recover oil from his Texas well with CO2 flooding. Torn between energy prosperity and environmental concerns, Sargent flies to Texas from his Massachusetts home, hoping to make up his mind and see the boom firsthand.


How Green Is Europe? [The American]
"'Germany produces half of energy with solar.' That was the recent headline on a German website of news in English, and it would have duly impressed anybody whose understanding of energy matters extends to just such headlines," writes Vaclav Smil, an interdisciplinary analyst and author. "But the headline, totally wrong, was also a perfect example of why it is so important to deconstruct the reports about green Europe."

Perovskite Offers Shot at Cheaper Solar Energy
[The Wall Street Journal]
Perovskite, a lower-cost alternative to silicone, could be the next big thing in solar. The compoud is quickly catching up to silicon, jumping from 10 to 20 percent efficiency in two short years. Its efficiency and flexibility are why scientists are calling it a potential game-changer for solar power.

Energy sources

  • BNEF: "About $175 billion was spent globally on renewable energy projects during the first three quarters, up 16 percent from the same period last year, with Chinese solar investment at a record ..."
  • EIA: "The sun could be the world’s largest source of electricity by 2050, ahead of fossil fuels, wind, hydro, and nuclear ... "
  • Naftogaz: "Naftogaz of Ukraine has signed an agreement with Statoil for deliveries of natural gas. The first such agreement between Naftogaz and Statoil, it expands the pool of gas suppliers to Ukraine and also opens a new market for Statoil."

From Ukraine gas to oil prices to climate change, Recharge delivers global energy's big ideas to your inbox each weekend. Subscribe for free.

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