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29 November 2016

Leaving the EU implies automatic exclusion from the EEA?

Image from Wikipaedia.
This question is slowly percolating through the wall of noise around the UK's exit from the EU. More attentive folks are wondering if to leave the European Economic Area (EEA) a formal notification is required. I.e., if beyond triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, in order to fully exit its social and economics commitments the UK needs to trigger Article 127 of the EEA Agreement.

This question is highly relevant for a simple reason: membership of the EEA was not voted in referendum, therefore the UK institutions - Government, Parliament and House of Lords - are not morally obliged to any particular course of action in this regard. If leaving the EU does not automatically exclude the UK from the EEA, it will then remain a full member of the so called "Common Market" with all the rights and obligations it entails.

05 September 2016

Presenting the Fix Ubuntu script set

The upgrade from Ubuntu 14.04 to 16.04 has been the most problematic between Long Term Support (LTS) releases of this Linux distribution that I have experienced. The system itself is stable enough (apart from the usual hiccups with cutting edge hardware) but when it comes to applications problems mount. I have had difficulties using almost every one of the programmes I most rely on. In the majority of cases the root cause is an important loss of features and functionality.

Every time I install or re-install Ubuntu 16.04 there is now a long list of tweaks and fixes to do in order to achieve a minimally usable desktop system. I eventually developed these fixes into a set of shell scripts to automate these tasks. I am now releasing a first tentative version of this script set gathered in a project christened Fix-Ubuntu. More details under the fold.

16 July 2016

Letter to readers

Dear readers,

The past two months I have been fighting a serious health condition. At this moment I am almost fully recovered and well off any sort of risk. However, a number of weeks away from work have complicated my calendar, compounding a backlog of things yet to achieve that now impend on the next few months.

As expected in the aftermath of this sort of events the general course of one's life is up for reconsideration. I fell I am now at a critical junction in my career and must carefully weight the next steps. There is a window of opportunity right ahead, that if fully missed might mean an early end to my time as a researcher.

Therefore I took the decision of entailing an extra effort to make the most of my present professional situation and maximise its possible outputs. While research is not all roses, this is definitely the sort of career I wish to follow.

An immediate consequence of this decision is the suspension sine dia of the press review. As can be guessed by the various gaps in recent times, it has become increasingly difficult to produce a weekly edition. In truth I can no longer guarantee the regularity maintained heretofore.

I myself know very well the disappointing feeling of seeing a regular content stream one got used to going off the air. And for that I present my apologies. However, I can assure this was a well pondered decision.

This is not the end of this blog, writing is to me a matter of necessity. Occasional commentary on the course of events will certainly continue to come, not only on energy but also on the other matters covered in this space.

Here I leave a short list of news sources that I used regularly to prepare the press review:

19 June 2016

Press review 19-06-2016 - Decomissioning

The Brent index has been trading within a band around 50 $/b as increasing consumption trends meet increasing global economic and political uncertainties. Daesh spilt more blood in OECD countries with terror attacks in the US and again in France. But in the Middle East the caliphate is clearly loosing ground, especially in Iraq, where the US seems to have definitely chosen the Shiite site of the war.

However, markets are mostly concerned these days with the referendum in the UK regarding its membership of the European Union. The shocking murder of a Labour MP days ago underlines the dramatic moments lived in the country around this decisive moment. Even though the UK is not part of the Eurozone and not part of Schengen space, most foreign analysts and pundits are taking this referendum as an omen on the future of the European Union itself.

And next Sunday there is a new parliamentary election in Spain, which is shaping up to produce a left front government, not very different from the situation in Portugal. This coming week is the most important moment for the European Union since the Lisbon treaty was signed. For bad or for worse, the EU might well enter a completely different course just a few days from now.

08 June 2016

Photo-Voltaics is not an energy sink in Switzerland

Energy Policy recently published a study conducted on the EROEI of Photo-Voltaics (PV) technologies installed in Switzerland. The end result is a remarkably low figure of 0.8:1, well below any EROEI assessments ever conducted on this energy technology.

Such a figure naturally made the delight of those campaigning against renewable energy, who take at face value any hints of negative performance. However, from this study a number immediately stands out: average lifetime energy yield of 106 kWh/m2/a. As it turns out, a closer look at this single figure is enough to disprove the hypothesis of PV being an energy sink in Switzerland.

04 June 2016

Press review 04-06-2016 - Spike under the radar

The Brent index traded again above 50 $/b in various occasions throughout the week. However, the benchmark would close Friday pretty much were it started on Monday, perhaps showing that this fourth leg of the 2016 rally is running out of steam. Corporate news dominated the press pages, with another failed OPEC meeting largely relegated to the background.

There is now a good deal of discussion going around a coming petroleum price spike. The unfolding decline in world extraction is becoming pretty obvious with some analysts and pundits even risking to put dates on a return to high prices. While it is true that Brent has rallied for five consecutive months, there are still the above ground stocks to go through. Prior to this hypothetical spike another important event must take place: a shift of the futures curve into backwardation. That will be the first sign of a tightening market, flagging the need for stocks outflows.

28 May 2016

Press review 28-05-2016 - Still in contraction

Compared to the last this was a quiet week. The mainstream media is still trying to explain how its "lower for longer" mantra failed so miserably, but to what pure facts is concerned the pace slowed down. Brent continued its rally, but with considerably less volatility. It traded above 50 $/b for a few hours on Thursday, producing some hastened headlines.

Nigeria remains the most visible and worrying story in the petroleum world. The government appears powerless at this moment to stop the rebels hitting the country's petroleum infrastructure. Events seem to be spiralling out of hand with a relevant impact on the international petroleum market.

In Venezuela petroleum extraction is holding above 2 Mb/d, however, the socio-economic situation is so deteriorated that some sort of political disruption seems now inevitable.