Category Archives: 2009

211. The price of oil: 4 – a rising road ahead

st pauls cathedral city of london england banking financial crisis 2008As the world begins hesitantly to emerge from this downturn, when and how strongly the recovery will manifest itself is still unknown. There are huge uncertainties remaining.

So why should energy costs be rising again already? Last week’s post about the oil price shock of 2008 described a fall from a $147 peak last summer to $34 in February 2009.

In concluding, I noted that although a $60 oil price looks ‘low’ today, in relation to past prices, it’s still way above the average.

In fact, the oil price has only exceeded $60 for some 15 months across the whole of recorded history. What has happened to keep the oil price high?
Continue reading

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
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading

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.
Continue reading