Category Archives: 2009

210. The price of oil: 3 – energy economics and the financial crisis

storm in the north seaThe highest ever oil prices.

The fastest and greatest fall in energy costs in economic history.

A lot has happened since early 2008 and my last essay on the oil price.

This article will explore events in the oil markets since then, and in the next I’ll take a look towards the future.

* * * * *

Early last year the oil price lay close to historic highs at almost $100 a barrel.

Supply was tight, I said, and getting tighter. Prices could fall to $60 later in the year if the credit crunch really bit. But long term, the trend was clearly upwards. And a world of $100, $200, $400 oil prices was not that far away.

world oil price jan 2006 to may 2009 energy information administration
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209. A dragon slain on Doomsday – Horsham 10 km

dragon in horsham park maze west sussex england by captain tarmac flickrDragons used to roam in St Leonard’s Forest, or so the local legend goes. Today it’s only runners, and me amongst them, burning with limbs afire in the 25th running of the Horsham 10 km.

We’re on my regular lunchtime route, or at least the tricky part of it, where the Lower Cretaceous clays of the lush Arun Valley rise eastwards towards the sandstone plateau of the forest.

horsham 10 km 2009 at horsham rugby club sussex england by roadsofstoneWe gather on Horsham Rugby Club’s playing fields in bright spring sunshine, and when the siren goes we head off dutifully around the touchline of the first team pitch.
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208. Radio Luxembourg

Play: Radio Luxembourg 208 Great Britain
radio-luxembourg-broadcasting-from-the-heart-of-europe208 — that was the number of radio, back then.

And as the spring daylight faded behind the bedroom curtains, the hour would finally come for the first hesitantly crackly sounds to arrive across a cooling atmosphere.

radio-luxembourg-208-charts-tonight-at-nineWith a single earphone invisibly in place, and my tiny transistor hidden deep beneath the covers, I could be happily in bed at bedtime and yet secretly lie wide awake through an entire chart show still to come.

Nightfall was moving slowly northwestwards across another summer evening. And Planet Earth’s biggest commercial radio station was playing with 1.3 million watts of power, bringing rock music to my ear from half a continent away.
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207. Running back on track — the train on Stratford’s Greenway

stratford-upon-avon-england-the-cantilever-bridge-apr-2009-by-roadsofstoneA sunny April morning, and the view across the River Avon from the cantilever bridge is fresh with scents of spring.

The Greenway lies cool and long before me — a mile of empty old railway track to bring me back to town. Except — it isn’t empty.

Far ahead, where only a dog walker, another runner or a mountain bike should be, I could swear I saw a train. And yet, this railway line closed 33 years ago.

I keep running, and disbelieving, but finally it’s true.

railway carriages cafe greenway stratford upon avon england 2009 roadsofstoneUp ahead, there’s a new piece of shiny track, carrying two old railway carriages where no carriages have stood for three decades or more.

A piece of railway history — a museum display, surely? But there’s something more afoot.
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206. The price of oil: 2 – a tragedy in the North Sea

bond-superpuma-helicopter-north-sea-c-ap-thesunco-ukI was going to write another article about the oil price today, but I’ll postpone that for now. Sixteen people died in a North Sea helicopter crash on Wednesday.

Their Super Puma helicopter had flown 150 miles from the BP Miller Platform towards Aberdeen, but came down just 13 miles from the coast at Peterhead.

Eight bodies were recovered from the scene. Another eight may never be found.
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205. Take back the city – Snow Patrol live at London’s O2 Arena

snow-patrol-live-at-the-o2-london-march-2009-c-gigwise-comI love this city tonight
I love this city always

It bears its teeth like a light
And spits me out after days

Snow Patrol — October 2008

A Northern Irish band playing London — on the night before St Patrick’s Day. It really has been been quite a week.

In Snow Patrol’s home town of Belfast, as in Omagh all those years ago, an outbreak of mindless violence has lent passion to the public desire for peace. Shootings carried out by dissident republicans of the ‘Real IRA’ and designed to break the peace process have proved to have the opposite effect.
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204. Sand, storm and shingle – from Rye to the sea

the-levels-at-dawn-rye-east-sussex-england-by-roadsofstone“All this area was once under the sea, you know” — old famous greeting, familiar to any geologist.

Dawn on the levels. Running across a grey, cool morning, stepping slow behind the heels of winter. And today, for once, that quote is really true.

A plan formed deep in the forests of night. To run from Rye to meet the sea.


I trot out from the hotel and head up the cobbled street. Beside the half-timbered merchants’ houses on Church Square, past The Flushing Inn and the old sweet shop, through Landgate’s arch and down to The Strand.

And that’s where the uncertainty begins. A channel lies in front of me, and the flat far horizon ahead. But which way should I run? Does the river flow east or west to the coast?
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