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March 14 2015

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Energy crisis: we are paying the price of power failure



That is the prospect now bearing down on the Government at a worrying pace. In itself, the temporary closure of Didcot B takes 1 per cent out of our generation capacity. Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary, was able to announce that he had been "assured by National Grid that there is no risk to electricity supplies". But frankly, that is no longer within his control. Our ageing fleet of nuclear stations is showing distinct signs of wear when measured against the necessarily rigorous standards of the industry. Both Heysham 1 and Hartlepool are out of action, while Hunterston B suffered similar problems earlier this month before resuming its contribution to the Grid.

The only bit of good news is that demand for electricity fell slightly in recent months - due mainly to rising fuel bills. However, if there is a severe winter and demand surges, then there is every possibility that National Grid's contingency plans - to incentivise businesses to cut demand during peak hours and to bring mothballed gas plants back into use - would become reality, though Government would strain every sinew to maintain domestic supply.

The obvious question is: how on earth have we got ourselves into such a parlous position? The answers are mainly political. When the electricity industry was privatised, sufficient attention wasn't paid to the long-term question of who would generate the power which was then to be traded and sold in a competitive market.

It probably seemed like a question for another day. The state-owned industry bequeathed a 25 per cent spare capacity margin to its successors. This created an incentive to close down plants rather than invest in replacements, because an over-supplied market meant low wholesale prices. The problem came to a head during my own time as energy minister, when nuclear British Energy needed rescuing from a rock-bottom market price.

Things were exacerbated by the Labour government's refusal, from which I dissented, to allow new nuclear plants to be built. Instead, a fiction was created that imported gas and heavily subsidised renewables would fill the gap left by declining nuclear and polluting coal, which was scheduled to disappear from the scene by 2015. It was nonsense in both economic and environmental terms.

At the most recent count, 30 per cent of our electricity was generated from gas, 28 from coal, 22 from nuclear and 17 from renewables. That still passes the test of a balanced energy policy on which Britain has sensibly relied for so long. But it is the prolonged failure to invest enough in new generation capacity that has caused the present problems.

The Coalition government has bitten the bullet on nuclear, but the Tory appetite has had to accommodate Lib-Dem distaste. The result has been painfully slow progress, while delicate consciences wrestled with whether guaranteeing an economic price once stations eventually come on line breaches the "no subsidy" mantra. The reality that nobody in their right mind would invest billions otherwise finally dawned.

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If Paddy Power feels like taking bets on the eponymous subject, I would suggest three to one against major power cuts this winter. Beyond the general election, however, the outcome of the race against time is wide open.

Brian Wilson is a former energy minister

http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/673980/s/422cea82/sc/7/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cnews0Cearth0Cenergy0C111746970CEnergy0Ecrisis0Ewe0Eare0Epaying0Ethe0Eprice0Eof0Epower0Efailure0Bhtml/story01.htm

March 05 2015

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The Government says it is trying to protect the North Sea - it needs to start proving it



Mr Fridman has since struck back at the UK government, branding the decision irrational and threatening to challenge it in court. LetterOne is playing up Mr Fridman's Ukrainian roots and playing down any connections to the Kremlin.

One thing is for certain: any sanctions against him, his partners or his business interests are, at this stage, purely hypothetical.

LetterOne claims that the DECC has known about the deal since early December but waited until 48 hours before the deal was completed before raising concerns.

The Russian tycoon argues that the UK government's concerns are misplaced. He says that the deal has been structured in a way that will insulate it from sanctions.

RWE Dea's British assets will be held by a trust based in the Netherlands. The assets will be transferred back to RWE (which can then sell them on the open market) if sanctions are imposed against Mr Fridman within a year of the deal closing. If sanctions are imposed after that, the assets will be sold and the proceeds will remain in the trust until such time as the sanctions are lifted.

The Rhum operations had no such protection.

Energy security is a troublesome subject and this one definitely cuts both ways.

The DECC is, of course, right to be concerned about fate of such strategic assets. The trust structure may be sound at the moment, but circumstances change. Who is to know how the sanctions against Russia and the negotiations between the various parties might evolve?

But there's also a logical inconsistency to the UK government's position.

The DECC has said that it is worried that sanctions might pose a threat to the continued and safe production of the UK's petroleum resources. But it has also raised concerns that the deal structure will circumvent potential sanctions. Which is it?

The Rhum example also swings both ways. A compromise was reached while Iranian sanctions remained in place.

And it's not like there's a crowd of companies clamouring to invest in the North Sea. In fact, many are pulling back. BP, Sinopec-Talisman, Tullow Oil and Premier Oil have all announced job cuts and impairments on their operations in the region.

The price of oil is languishing at around $60 a barrel. At that level, many marginal fields on the UK continental shelf are simply uneconomic.

George Osborne, the Chancellor, promised a tiny tax cut for the industry in the Autumn Statement. The hope is that he will go further in the Budget this month.

If he doesn't, then the DECC's decision to try and put the kibosh on the LetterOne deal will start to look a little hypocritical.

There's more than one way to damage energy security. Russian sanctions might disrupt UK oil and gas supply. But underinvestment definitely will.

Warren Buffett gives Tesco both barrels

Warren Buffett has been very rude about the supermarket giant Tesco. He's earned that right.

Well, really he's earned the right twice over: firstly, by building an unrivalled investment track record; and, secondly, by suffering one of his biggest ever losses on a stake in the UK supermarket group.

Over the weekend Berkshire Hathaway shareholders received their golden anniversary letter from the Sage of Omaha. The missive, like the 49 that preceded it, was wide-ranging and interesting.

But the section on Berkshire Hathaway's investment in Tesco was particularly noteworthy.

Buffett started off by pointing out that Tesco no longer featured in the list of Berkshire Hathaway's biggest investments.

At the end of 2012, Buffett owned 415m of Tesco's shares. In 2013, having "soured somewhat on the company's then-management", he sold 114m shares. He concedes now that he should have sold more.

"My leisurely pace in making sales would prove expensive," he said.

Indeed it would. 2014 was a dreadful year for Tesco. Sales fell, margins were squeezed, the chief executive left and an accounting scandal was uncovered.

Why does our central heating always stop working on one of winter's coldest days?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one known fact is that regular servicing of a gas central heating system will dramatically reduce the chance of breakdown, together with safeguarding us from the very serious dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. There is now a price comparison website that will give you quotes for boiler service and repair from local, Gas Safe registered fitters. Click on the following link to read more about Boiler Servicing.

Over the course of the year the company's shares fell 43.5pc. Berkshire Hathaway lost $444m on its investment. It has now sold out of its position.

Even after 50 years at the helm of Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett is trying to learn from his mistakes and pass those lessons on to his investors.

What did he learn from the Tesco fiasco?

"In the world of business, bad news often surfaces serially: you see a cockroach in your kitchen; as the days go by, you meet his relatives."

http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/568776/s/43f62509/sc/7/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cfinance0Cnewsbysector0Cenergy0Coilandgas0C114457550CThe0Egovernment0Esays0Eit0Eis0Etrying0Eto0Eprotect0ENorth0ESea0Eoil0Ebut0Eis0Eit0Bhtml/story01.htm

March 03 2015

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Swansea Bay tidal lagoon 'appalling value for money', says Citizens Advice



The planned £24.5bn nuclear plant at Hinkley Point has been offered £92.50/MWh for 35 years. If built, the tidal lagoon would be "per unit of output, the most expensive significant renewable energy project in Britain", Citizens Advice said.

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It urged ministers to allocate the finite green energy subsidy budget to the most cost-effective projects.

In its response to a Government consultation on the planned negotiations, the charity said the process would repeat mistakes made in talks over Hinkley, with an "opaque negotiating process, lack of scrutiny of cost effectiveness and excessive politicisation of the decision".

It suggested both projects were "boondoggles" that were in favour due to "skilful lobbying and political friends", with "worrying implications for the consumers who will be obliged to pay for it all".



Artist's impression of the proposed tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay

Tidal Lagoon Swansea Bay has previously said it would require less than 1pc of the Government's annual subsidy budget, implying a total of less than £60m a year, and that the subsidy price for a second, larger lagoon could call significantly to be on a par with Hinkley.

A spokesman for the company said: "It makes complete sense for an island nation with high tidal range to embrace the emergence of tidal lagoons. In a single step, this project takes us to a place where electricity from the tides can be cost competitive with nuclear and gas. And it kick-starts an industry that will deliver tens of billions to the national economy."

A DECC spokesman said it would consider Citizens Advice's consultation response.

http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/673951/s/43a65faf/sc/10/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cfinance0Cnewsbysector0Cenergy0C114267480CSwansea0EBay0Etidal0Elagoon0Eappalling0Evalue0Efor0Emoney0Esays0ECitizens0EAdvice0Bhtml/story01.htm

February 28 2015

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Wales to get power to ban fracking and lower voting age to 16



The National Assembly for Wales, Cardiff Bay. Photograph: Dimitris Legakis/Rex Features

Wales will be handed the power to ban fracking and allow voting at 16 under a devolution package that is due to be unveiled today by David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

The powers are expected to be granted under what the government is calling the St David's Day agreement. They were promised following the referendum on Scottish independence.

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However, it remains to be seen whether the deal will satisfy the Labour-run Welsh government and Plaid Cymru, whose leader Leanne Wood has warned that Wales should not accept an offer that is "second-rate" compared with the deals being given to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"We're told that we're a family of nations - it's time Wales was treated as an equal," she said this week, calling for Wales to receive the same level of funding as Scotland.

Downing Street released no specific details of the powers in advance, but the Guardian understands they will include more control over energy policy and constitutional matters, as well as the ambition of settling the long-running debate about how much funding Wales gets compared with Scotland.

In particular, it will allow a moratorium on fracking to be imposed by the Welsh government, which has already indicated it would like to do so through a motion in the assembly.

Scotland has already decided it will outlaw fracking when it receives similar devolved powers after the election, leaving England as the main target for fracking companies. The Welsh government will also get control over energy projects capable of generating up to 350MW, giving it power over the controversial construction of onshore wind farms.

It is also understood Wales will be allowed to bring in votes at 16, as in Scotland, having indicated in 2012 that it would like to do so. Labour has already said it will implement this policy in England if Ed Miliband wins power, but the Conservatives are not in favour.

Under the new constitutional powers, the Welsh assembly will get the power to rename itself, control its size and decide some matters related to elections.

However, policing powers and welfare will remain undevolved, and no further tax powers are expected to be handed over. Under the Wales Act, which passed in December last year, a referendum can now be held to give Welsh ministers the power to vary income tax, but this is opposed by Labour and has not yet happened.

The St David's Day package will be unveiled by both Cameron and Clegg as the government publishes a command paper it describes as a "significant constitutional moment for the UK as a whole".

Prior to the agreement, Cameron said: "This is the latest step in finding lasting settlements across the country to make our United Kingdom stronger and fairer. We are delivering on devolution in every part of the UK.

"We want to deliver new powers to Wales so that more decisions are taken closer to the people and give greater responsibility to the Welsh assembly. That means those who spend taxpayers' money must be more responsible for raising it."

Clegg said it was "another landmark on the journey of decentralisation".

Stephen Crabb, the Welsh secretary, told the House magazine: "It won't be the last word on devolution in Wales, but hopefully [it will be] a significant milestone. It's to create a longer-term settlement, rather than short-term fudges and fixes."

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/feb/27/wales-get-power-ban-fracking-lower-voting-age-16

February 26 2015

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Research shows slow uptake of BIM products



The use of BIM models is not close to where it needs to be, with less than a quarter of building services contractors and consultants selecting construction products with BIM information available, according to research from Durapipe UK.

With the mandatory requirement for BIM on all public sector buildings, with a capital value over £5m, from May 2016, Durapipe said it is concerning that one in four of respondents stated they do not believe the technology to be important.

Thirty nine per cent of those questioned however, explained that they do occasionally use BIM models, suggesting that they are preparing for compliance with the new procurement process.

Durapipe building services brand manager Des Dolan said: "There has been so much noise about BIM over the last year or so, with all companies in the supply chain keen to outline their strategies and solutions, so we were very surprised to find out that the number of companies actually using BIM models is so small.

Why does our central heating seem to always fail on the coldest day of the year?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one certain fact is that a regular annual service of a gas boiler will dramatically reduce the likelihood of failure, together with safeguarding us from the very serious dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. There is now a price comparison website that will give you quotes for boiler service and repair from local, Gas Safe registered fitters. Clicking on the following link will give you more information on Gas Boiler Servicing.

"The deadline for compliance is little over 12 months away so uptake needs to increase and fast; companies need to get to grips with BIM quickly and embrace the technology if they are to be competing for tenders this time next year."

http://www.hvnplus.co.uk/news/research-shows-slow-uptake-of-bim-products/8679143.article?referrer=RSS

February 24 2015

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California unveils changes to better protect drinking water from oil industry projects



Pumpjacks operate at the Kern River oil field in Bakersfield, California. An ongoing state and federal review has determined the state has repeatedly authorized oil-industry injection into aquifers. Photograph: Jae C Hong/AP

California is proposing broad changes in the way it protects underground water sources from oil and gas operations, after finding 2,500 instances in which the state authorized oil and gas operations in protected water aquifers.

State oil and gas regulators on Monday released a plan they sent the US Environmental Protection Agency last week for bringing the state back into compliance with federal safe-drinking water requirements.

An ongoing state and federal review has determined the state has repeatedly authorized oil-industry injection into aquifers that were supposed to be protected as current or potential sources of water for drinking and watering crops and livestock.

Why does our gas boiler seem to always stop working on the coldest day of the year?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one known fact is that a regular annual service of a gas boiler will greatly lower the risk of breakdown, together with safeguarding us from the very serious dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. There is now a price comparison website that will give you quotes for boiler service and repair from local, Gas Safe registered fitters. Click on the following link to read more about Gas Safety Certificates.

Related: Fracking is depleting water supplies in America's driest areas, report shows

An Associated Press analysis found hundreds of the now-challenged state permits for oilfield injection into protected aquifers have been granted since 2011, despite growing EPA warnings about oilfield threats to the state's underground water reserves.

"It's a problem that needs our very close attention and an urgent path forward," Steve Bohlen, head of the state department of conservation's oil and gas division, told reporters Monday.

Bohlen said 140 of those 2,553 injection wells were of primary concern to the state now, because they were actively injecting oil-field fluids into aquifers with especially designated good water quality.

State water officials currently are reviewing those 140 oil-field wells to see which are near water wells and to assess any contamination of water aquifers from the oil and gas operations, Bohlen said.

The EPA had given the state until Friday to detail how it would deal with current injection into protected water aquifers and stop future permitting of risky injection.

The plan submitted by the state outlines plans and timelines for dealing with current risks. The proposal also recommends regulatory changes for oversight of oil and gas operations and water aquifers.

An AP analysis of state records showed 46% of those 2,553 oil-field injection wells were approved or began injection after 2011, despite the state's drought and what were then increasing federal warnings that California was not doing enough to protect potential underground water sources from contamination by oil fields.

California regulators said they believe that the actual percentage is lower than state records show, but they added they do not know how much lower.

California is the country's third-largest oil-producing state.

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/09/california-plan-protect-drinking-water-oil-companies

February 22 2015

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Fuel prices will fall further and faster, says David Cameron



Speaking in Prime Minister's Questions, Democratic Unionist Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) told Mr Cameron: "You will be aware that the public and small businesses across the UK have had to endure very high fuel bills in recent years when oil prices averaged over 100 US dollars a barrel.

Why does our heating system decide to fail on the coldest day of the year?. I presume that it's just sod's law, but one sure fact is that annual servicing of a gas boiler will dramatically reduce the likelihood of breakdown, in addition to safeguarding us from the very serious dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. A new price comparison website has been launched that gives you quotes from registered "Gas Safe" engineers in your area. Clicking on the following link will give you more information on Landlord Gas Safety Checks.

"Last week, (Chancellor George Osborne) indicated that some action would be taken against fuel companies.

"Can you outline what action?"

Mr Cameron replied: "I think we should welcome this fall in oil prices. We're beginning to see prices fall quite substantially at the pumps but I agree with him we want to see that go further and faster.

"Some of it will depend on the buying strategies that the fuel companies have but we will make sure the Competition Authority, the Government, does everything it can to make sure those fuel prices are are passed on."

http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/673980/s/424f1e41/sc/7/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cnews0Cearth0Cenergy0Cfuel0C113452160CFuel0Eprices0Ewill0Efall0Efurther0Eand0Efaster0Esays0EDavid0ECameron0Bhtml/story01.htm

February 16 2015

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Rheem Graduates its 5,000th Tankless Training Participant



Why does our boiler always break down on one of winter's coldest days?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one sure fact is that a regular annual service of a gas central heating boiler will definitely lower the likelihood of failure, in addition to safeguarding us from the very serious dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. A new price comparison website has been launched that gives you quotes from registered "Gas Safe" engineers in your area. Click on the following link to read more Micks Blog.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - Nov. 7, 2014, The Rheem Water Heating Division in Montgomery, Ala., celebrated the graduation of its 5,000th Generation III Tankless Training Program professional: Ed Phillips, master plumber and owner of Ed Phillips Plumbing in College Station, Texas.

With the release of Rheem's Generation III tankless gas products in 2010, the company updated its training program to provide both apprentice contractors and the most seasoned professionals with the applicable knowledge needed to install, diagnose, and service Rheem tankless gas units. The program offers hands-on training modules including: Installation, Application, Diagnostics and Service.

"The tankless training program is proud to be an incredibly hands-on program where everyone attending the program gets a unit to practice on," said Mike Siuda, director of tankless sales and marketing. "The program and its graduates--more than 1,250 a year on average--are exceptional."

About Rheem (www.rheem.com)

Rheem is privately held with headquarters in Atlanta and U.S. operations in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Indiana, North Carolina and Texas. In its 89th year of operation, the company is a global manufacturer of residential and commercial heating and cooling systems; tank, tankless, solar and hybrid heat pump water heaters; controls, swimming pool and spa heaters; commercial boilers and commercial refrigeration equipment. The company's premium brands include Rheem, Raypak, Ruud, Richmond and Splendid, as well as commercial refrigeration brands Russell, Witt, ColdZone and Kramer, which are part of the company's Heat Transfer Products Group (HTPG) division. Rheem products have been recognized with countless industry and consumer awards for reliability, innovative design and high quality.

February 14 2015

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Hinkley Point new nuclear power plant: the story so far



EDF said the first new nuclear plant should be ready to power Britons cooking Christmas dinners in 2017.

Meanwhile, the push for new nuclear suffers an early setback as Greenpeace wins a High Court challenge against ministers' decision to give the go-ahead. The court rules that consultation on the decision was "seriously flawed" and the Government is forced to reconsult on the plans.

August 2007: EDF Energy and Areva submit their power plant design, the EPR, to begin safety checks by regulators.

January 2008: New nuclear gets formal backing from the Government. John Hutton, then-Business Secretary, says he hopes the first new plant will be completed "well before 2020".

September 2008: EDF buys British Energy, owner of Britain's existing nuclear power plants, for £12.5 billion and unveils plans to build four new nuclear reactors in the UK.

October 2008: EDF begins consultation with local residents about building a new nuclear plant adjacent to the existing Hinkley Point B power plant in Somerset.

The existing Hinkley Point nuclear site.

March 2009: Hinkley Point C in Somerset is officially nominated as a potential site for a new nuclear power station by the Government.

May 2009: British Gas owner Centrica takes 20 per cent stake in EDF's UK nuclear fleet and acquires option for 20 per cent stake in new nuclear plants.

October 2010: Coalition Government confirms Hinkley Point as one of eight sites approved for new nuclear.

November 2010: EDF is forced to defend its environmental record as it relocates a colony of badgers off the land earmarked for Hinkley Point.

EDF was criticised for relocating badgers away from the proposed Hinkley site.

February 2011: Mr de Rivaz says 2011 must be a "year of delivery" for new nuclear and that Hinkley Point can be ready in 2018 if the Government moves quickly to introduce "market reform" - in practice, new subsidies.

March 2011: Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is badly damaged by earthquake and tsunami, leading to a meltdown and explosions. Chris Huhne, the UK's energy secretary, commissions an urgent review into the safety of proposals for new nuclear in the UK.

Why does our boiler seem to always fail on one of winter's coldest days?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one certain fact is that a regular annual service of a gas boiler will greatly lower the likelihood of failure, together with safeguarding us from the deadly dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. There is now a price comparison website that will give you quotes for boiler service and repair from local, Gas Safe registered fitters. Click on the following link to read more Here.

The Health and Safety Executivce and Environment Agency say their assessment of the proposed new reactor designs will be delayed as a result.

Explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan

May 2011: Review by Mike Weightman concludes Britain's strategy of new nuclear plants can proceed but puts forward a series of recommendations to adapt the safety approval process in light of the Fukushima disaster.

October 2011: EDF submits 55,000-page planning application for Hinkley Point C to the Planning Inspectorate. Mr de Rivaz sets a target of the end of 2012 to take a final investment decision on the project.

EDF staff with the 55,000-page planning application.

December 2011: Government admits the first new reactor will now not be built until 2019.

February 2012: Initial preparatory works begin at the Somerset site.

May 2012: Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, confirms that talks have begun with EDF over the terms of subsidies for Hinkley.

Under Government plans EDF will receive a fixed "strike price", guaranteeing it a certain price for each unit of power the new plant generates - irrespective of the market price.The difference between the market price and the guaranteed price will be "topped up" with subsidies paid for by energy consumers.

August 2012: Vincent de Rivaz, EDF Energy chief, confirms he wants a deal by the end of 2012. He says the company is also "opening the search" for more investors to join the project, but denies this is because Centrica is rumoured to be considering quitting.

Vincent de Rivaz, EDF Energy chief executive

December 2012: EDF's reactor design gets safety approval, while Mr de Rivaz admits the company will not take final investment decision by the end of the year.

February 2013: British Gas owner Centrica pulls out of new nuclear plans, citing spiralling costs and delays. Nick Luff, Centrica finance director, says: "I'm sure EDF are very confident in their cost predictions and their timetables... We still think there is uncertainty."

Centrica blamed rising and uncertain costs of the project

March 2013: Talks over subsidies stall as the Treasury intervenes in price negotiations with an offer well below level EDF was seeking.

EDF begins laying off staff at Hinkley Point C while chief executive Vincent de Rivaz warns staff the negotiations are at a "critical" stage and "very challenging".

Meanwhile planning permission for Hinkley is granted by Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary.

Illustration of the proposed Hinkley Point C plant (pic: EDF Energy)

July 2013: EDF group chief executive Henri Proglio says it expects to take a decision on building Hinkley Point by the end of the year.

October 2013: Government announces provisional agreement of deal with EDF Energy over subsidies for the project, the cost of which is revealed to have reached £16 billion.

The Government agrees EDF should receive a guaranteed a price of £92.50 - twice the current market price of electricity - for each megawatt-hour of power that the reactors generate over a 35-year period.

The subsidies, which are heavily criticised by some, will be funded through levies on all consumer energy bills.

EDF says that Hinkley will now not produce its first power until 2023, subject to taking a final investment decision in July 2014.

"In 2023, this project will arrive exactly when the country will need it," Vincent de Rivaz says.

David Cameron hails the agreement as "a very big day for our country: the first time we've built a new nuclear power station for a very long time".

December 2013: EC launches state aid investigation into the subsidies for the project, which it says could reach £17bn and may be unnecessary.

March 2014: EDF admits its July deadline for taking a decision will not be met as the EU investigation drags on.

May 2014: EDF begins the second stage of preparatory works at the site including building roundabouts and construction roads.

September 2014: Austria vows it will bring a legal challenge against any decision by the EU to approve Hinkley Point.

October 2014: EC gives state aid approval for the project and says the plant will in fact cost £24.5 billion.

December 2014: EDF says it wants to take a decision by the end of March 2015.

February 2015: EDF appears to abandon the March deadline, saying only that a final investment decision is "possible in the next few months" and warning of long list of outstanding issues including agreeing deals with the Government and with investors.

"We are in the final phase of negotiations, but that phase can take a considerable amount of time, depending on the number of problems left to resolve," Jean-Bernard Levy, EDF group chief executive, says.

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Britain's ties with Abu Dhabi threatened by oil deal deadlock



Rights to operate oil fields in the Persian Gulf are few and far between, with national oil companies controlling the bulk of the region's vast reserves. Although international companies can operate in high-risk countries such as Iraq, their access to most of the region which contains 60pc of the world's reserves is restricted. The danger is that by pushing too hard a bargain both BP and Shell could damage the relationship that Britain has nurtured over decades with Abu Dhabi's powerful Al-Nahyan royal family. Worse still they could potentially be frozen out of future oil deals in the emirate.

Britain's entire relationship with Abu Dhabi has arguably been built on access to oil. As early as the 1930s, the Foreign Office was determined to ensure that British companies would have a virtual monopoly to explore and develop oilfields thought to exist in the strip of Arabia known then as the Trucial States. Abu Dhabi granted its first oil concession in 1939 to the British-controlled Trucial Coast Development Company. In 1953, D'Arcy Exploration, a forerunner of the conglomeration of companies that would eventually morph into today's Shell, was granted the first contract to search for oil offshore in its coastal waters. It would eventually see rig platforms replace pearl fishing "dhows" which had been the mainstay of the Bedouin economy.

However, the ruler of the impoverished emirate at that time, Sheikh Shakbut -- who was eventually ousted with the help of British political officers by his brother Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan -- died, still bitter that he had been fiddled by the British. The current Al-Nahyan clan - which has since amassed vast wealth from the development of Abu Dhabi's hydrocarbons after the fields were opened up the 1970s -- has not forgotten the slight to the largely ineffectual Sheikh Shakbut. In renewing the long-term onshore concessions, they are determined to get the best deal possible for access to their country's precious oil resources and not repeat the mistakes made by their great uncle.

Such is the importance of the deal for the sheikhdom, that The Daily Telegraph understands negotiations between several international oil companies that expressed an interest in partnering the state-run Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco) have been personally handled by the powerful Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Destined to one day rule Abu Dhabi and succeed his half-brother, Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahyan as leader of the United Arab Emirates, "MBZ" as he is known, is unlikely to forget being snubbed by either BP or Shell if a deal cannot be reached. Although Abu Dhabi received a total of 11 bids from oil companies for the concession, it would clearly like to retain the involvement of the British oil giants instead of turning to second tier operators from Asia. Abu Dhabi could easily strike a deal with China National Petroleum Corporation, or even Rosneft, that would potentially have wider geo-strategic consequences for the region and Britain's interests.

However, influential voices on the emirate's Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) still favour retaining both Shell and BP, which have been involved with Adco from moment it was reconstituted in 1978. Why does our boiler always fail on one of winter's coldest days?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one recognised fact is that a regular annual service of a gas boiler will greatly reduce the likelihood of breakdown, in addition to safeguarding us from the deadly dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. There is now a price comparison website that will give you quotes for boiler service and repair from local, Gas Safe registered fitters. Clicking on the following link will give you more information Boiler Repair.A few years later the remainder of its shares not owned directly by Abu Dhabi were divided between BP, Shell, Total, Mobil, Exxon and Partex. It is this operating concession which expired last year.

Abu Dhabi also benefits from the close ties that have been built around the strategic involvement of BP and Shell in the emirates. Investors from the UAE are among the most active in the UK with assets as diverse as Manchester City Football Club and significant blood stock interests in Newmarket. However, the relationship has also recently seen notable disappointments. In 2013, direct lobbying by Prime Minister David Cameron failed to secure a multi-billion pound Typhoon fighter jet order.

While Shell and BP appear to be playing a game of cat and mouse with Abu Dhabi over renewing the concession, French oil giant Total surprised the market by announcing that a deal to renew its own contract had been reached. In a bold move described by its new chief Patrick Pouyanné as a "blockbuster", Total is likely to have paid the $2.2bn upfront demanded by "MBZ" to secure the agreement, which gives it access to 2bn barrels of crude and propels it to the front of the queue for other lucrative projects in the emirate.

Some reports have suggested that Total will receive a fee of around $2.85 per barrel produced, much higher than $1, which had previously been the terms of the original agreement. Its 10pc stake in the concession will account for 7.5pc of the company's upstream growth, with the plan to eventually boost production to around 1.8m barrels per day (bpd) as part of the UAE's overall plant to raise its total oil capacity to 3.5m bpd. Total's agreement is also a major boost for the French diplomatic effort in the emirate.

However, the deal has also raised the stakes for Britain's two leading oil companies and potentially the Government, which is conscious that failure to secure a deal would weaken the country's status in the wider UAE.

A person directly involved in the French talks with the crown prince told The Daily Telegraph: "He doesn't ask twice."

http://telegraph.feedsportal.com/c/32726/f/568776/s/435eeb9a/sc/7/l/0L0Stelegraph0O0Cfinance0Cnewsbysector0Cenergy0C114114290CBritains0Eties0Ewith0EAbu0EDhabi0Ethreatened0Eby0Eoil0Edeal0Edeadlock0Bhtml/story01.htm

February 13 2015

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Gas price cut delays 'leave 12 million homes paying more'



Citizens Advice calculated that the 6.8 million British Gas customers affected would pay an extra £3.95 each in the period between the company's 5 per cent price cut being announced on January 19 and coming into effect on February 27.

SSE delayed its price cut by the longest period, three months, with lower tariffs not coming into effect until the end of April.

Affected SSE customers would pay an extra £7.21 each over the period, Citizens Advice said.

Meanwhile delays in the price cuts for ScottishPower would cost its customers £2.80, npower £2.80 and EDF 37p, the organisation calculated.

Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive, said: "The latest price cuts are an empty gesture by most suppliers. If energy companies really wanted to pass on savings to their customers they should have reduced prices further and immediately not leave households struggling over the coldest weeks. E.ON did cut bills straight away and others firms should do the same.

"The recent cold snap means people are spending much more on heating their homes now than at any other time of the year. With suppliers expected to make bigger profits this year prices need to come down further and prepay customers should be offered a debt holiday."

Why does our central heating decide to fail on one of winter's coldest days?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one recognised fact is that regular servicing of a gas boiler will greatly lessen the chance of failure, in addition to safeguarding us from the deadly dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. A new price comparison website has been launched that gives you quotes from registered "Gas Safe" engineers in your area. Click on the following link to read more CLICK.

A British Gas spokesman said: "We wanted to help our customers by cutting prices by as much as we could and at the earliest opportunity, to reflect falls in our overall costs for 2015.

"Our price cut will save more than 6 million customers an average of £37 off their dual fuel bill, which is the largest saving of the major suppliers. This shows our absolute commitment to pricing competitively, with customers at the forefront of our minds."

Energy Price Comparison Tool - Find the best gas and electricity deal for you with our handy tariff comparison tool. Switch online in minutes.

February 12 2015

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French oil giant Total to slash UK jobs at Lindsey refinery



Coryton, which was sold by BP to Petroplus in 2006 for $1.4bn (£841m), once supplied between 10pc and 15pc of the UK's petroleum products.

Downstream petroleum industries such as refineries and petrochemicals plants in the UK have suffered from high operating costs and steady declines in demand for conventional fuels.

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In 2013, Ineos threatened to close down the giant Grangemouth refinery and petrochemicals complex in Scotland after racking up losses in the region of £600m over the past four years. In December, the plant was reportedly losing about £10m a month due to the combination of high labour costs and dwindling feedstocks.

"Total has developed a viable plan for the future of Lindsey Oil Refinery," said general manager Jacques Beuckelaers. "The refinery operates in the most competitive market in Europe, which itself is facing strong international competition, rising costs, falling petrol and diesel consumption, and continued overcapacity."

February 11 2015

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Hard To Clean Up Wastewater Spills From Oil Wells Into N.D. Stream



Wastewater is arguably worse for the environment than oil, killing vegetation and leaving farmland sterile for generations. Some say the state isn't doing enough to get its spill problem controlled.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

In all the debates over oil drilling and transporting oil, there's one thing that everyone agrees on; accidents can happen. People in the industry say they take every precaution, and the risk is worth the gain. Critics say damage to the environment can be disastrous. N.D. has just seen its worst spill since an oil boom began in that state. It's not oil leaking but wastewater from drilling. Emily Guerin reports.

EMILY GUERIN, BYLINE: When oil comes out of the ground after fracking, a lot of water comes up with it. That water is really salty, as much as 13 times saltier than ocean water, and can contain chemicals, oil and radioactive material.

(SOUNDBITE OF WATER RUNNING THROUGH HOSE)

GUERIN: That's the sound of wastewater being sucked out of a truck before it's sent back underground into an injection well. Some companies use pipelines to carry that wastewater because it can be cheaper and less of a nuisance for neighbors. But when a pipeline breaks, the results can be catastrophic. Joanne Njos is walking along Blacktail Creek, a small stream that cuts through her farm just north of Williston, N.D. In early January, the pipeline company Meadowlark Midstream discovered that one of its pipelines had broken underground about a mile west of here, leaking nearly 3 million gallons of wastewater into Blacktail Creek. Njos looks down at the rusty colored water in the creek.

JOANNE NJOS: This is pure, pure salt. I mean, it's so bad you've got to brush your teeth afterwards. Try it.

GUERIN: OK, I'll try it. (Spitting out water) Yeah, it's really salty. John Morgan is a spokesman for Meadowlark Midstream. And he says the company takes wastewater spills very seriously.

JOHN MORGAN: We control to the best of our ability the environmental impact. And we're actively working to ensure containment and clean up the affected area.

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GUERIN: But wastewater is notoriously tricky to clean up, harder even than oil. And the salt in it can sterilize the soil for decades. Dave Glatt is with the North Dakota Department of Health and oversees spill cleanup and enforcement. He says wastewater spills are his biggest concern.

DAVE GLATT: If we don't get a handle on this, if we don't have appropriate remediation technologies, we'll have a landscape that's kind of pockmarked with all these dead zones.

GUERIN: According to state data, between 2004 and 2013, the spill rate per well more than doubled. Last year, the state passed rules requiring companies to verify they installed pipelines correctly. But that didn't stop the most recent spill. Dave Glatt again.

GLATT: I can see where the public would say, who dropped the ball on this? How come our state government isn't protecting us?

GUERIN: It appears part of the issue is that the state doesn't have enough inspectors. And even if it did, companies are not required to monitor or inspect pipelines for leaks, although lawmakers are considering changing that. That's not just in N.D. Wastewater pipelines are virtually unregulated across the country. Back on the Njos's land, we drive back to the house. Joanne worries about the wildlife and grasses coming back from this spill. She loves that creek.

NJOS: Oh, in the spring when the water runs, I just stand outside. And you can hear that rushing water. The grandkids like to put little sticks and stuff in there to watch it just float away.

GUERIN: The last time this happened, it took years for the creek to come back to normal. And that spill was only a third of the size of this one. For NPR News, I'm Emily Guerin in Williston, N.D.

GREENE: Emily reports for Inside Energy, a journalism collaboration covering America's energy issues.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

February 10 2015

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SNP fabricated reasons for fracking ban, says expert



But SNP minsters already have control over the planning system and they contacted all 32 Scottish councils making clear they should not consider an application for an unconventional oil or gas development.

This prompted accusations that the two parties were engaged in a dangerous game of political one-upmanship over which could be seen to be the most hostile to fracking ahead of the general election, regardless of the consequences for the economy.

Ineos, the owners of the loss-making Grangemouth petrochemical plant, have unveiled £640 million plans to use fracking to propel it "back into the premier league of energy" after it nearly closed down in 2013.

Stewart Maxwell, a senior Nationalist MSP, told the BBC's Sunday Politics show the ban did not jeopardise the plant's future and more research into fracking was required, but struggled to say what was not in the panel's report.

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Tory energy spokesman, said Mr Maxwell's vague responses and Prof Younger's comments showed the SNP's decision was "all about politics and nothing about science".

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Fracking involves pumping water and chemicals underground at high pressure to shatter rock formations and release shale gas. The expert panel's 98-page report, published last July, concluded it could deliver major economic benefits but the best reserves were in the most populated areas.

Prof Younger, who is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and the author of more than 350 publications, said the Scottish Government had welcomed the report as "very thorough, very well done, this is the sort of evidence base we're looking for."

"All of a sudden, out of the blue, we start hearing about gaps and further things they need to look into on environment and health. I tell you what - it's all made up. It's pretendy (sic)," he told the Sunday Politics.

"This is completely feigned. It's completely false and I just feel violated as a professional, having worked on that committee to suddenly be treated like a political football like this. It's very, very degrading."

Fergus Ewing, the SNP's Energy Minister, said the fracking ban would last as long as it took to conduct a public consultation and research into the impact on the environment and public health.

Mr Maxwell insisted the panel's report did not provide all the evidence required but could not specify what was missing.

He claimed it did not address the public health impact but the interviewer pointed out this was tackled in the document. Pressed on his error, he then claimed that many experts disagreed with its findings.

Although residents are consulted on any planning application, Mr Maxwell said: "I don't believe that the people of Scotland want us to just go ahead without listening to what they have to say."

Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Tory energy spokesman, said: "It's absolutely clear that it's all about politics and nothing about science.

"If we're having an evidence-based approach, as we should be, and a science-led approach, as we should be, we should listen to the evidence and listen to the scientists. So this is all about politics. It's because the Labour Party were pushing the SNP on this issue."

A Scottish Government spokesman said its "moratorium and planned public consultation on unconventional oil and gas has received support from both industry and environmental NGOs - on either side of the debate.

"We have taken a cautious, considered and evidence-based approach to unconventional oil and gas and fracking."

February 09 2015

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Pipe Center open technologically advanced distribution centre



Pipe Center has officially opened Measham distribution centre (DC) - a technologically advanced distribution facility in Wolseley UK's supply chain.

The 142,000 sq. ft. facility has given Pipe Center the ability to deliver across its entire network on a next-day basis and created 54 new job opportunities.

Measham features cutting edge technology such as a Kasto automated tube storage system.

The bespoke Kasto system has boosted storage capacity by 20% and reduced the distance warehouse operatives have to travel when picking.

HighJump, a warehouse management system, processes all warehouse tasks and offers superior tracking and traceability of inventory, further maximising efficiencies and reducing costs.

Narrow aisle trucks work directly with HighJump and forklift trucks and their operators are automatically directed to the correct location.

Optimised storage and improved stock management allows branches to offer an even broader range of products, including Bondloc, Geberit, Ideal Stelrad, Spirax Sarco, and Marla Tube Fittings, in line with Pipe Center's market-leading distribution status.

Pipe and Climate Center managing director Andy Wighton said: "We have created one of the most dynamic and advanced distribution centres in the industry that will help us achieve customer service excellence.

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"Measham DC is ideally placed geographically and fits with our supply chain strategy to be as efficient as possible. It optimises our distribution capability for Pipe and Climate Center so we can offer our customers next day delivery, and accommodates our exciting growth ambitions for the next 10-15 years."

February 08 2015

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Demanding Higher Wages, Refinery Workers Strike Shell Oil



United Steelworkers members are on strike at refineries and chemical plants that process 10 percent of the nation's gasoline, diesel, heating oil and jet fuel.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

It's been 35 years since the last major strike at this country's oil refineries and chemical plants. But that streak is over. Union workers are off the job at a handful of facilities that process 10 percent of the country's gas, diesel, heating oil and jet fuel. Times have changed. Plants are now so automated they can operate for a while without workers. But if this strike widens or drags on, it could affect the low gas prices drivers and companies have been enjoying. Houston Public Media's Andrew Schneider reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Lyondell, you can't hide. We can see your greedy side.

ANDREW SCHNEIDER, BYLINE: Nearly 4,000 refinery workers went on strike nationwide this week. More than a hundred of them gathered Tuesday just outside a skyscraper in downtown Houston. The strikers met at the LyondellBasell Tower, operational headquarters for the Dutch refining company. The workers, members of the United Steelworkers of America, were going to begin a demonstration just as the company's top executives were going to hold their quarterly conference call with stock analysts. But then the group decided to start its march early. Lee Medley is a pipefitter at the Shell Deer Park refinery near Houston and president of United Steelworkers Local 13-1.

LEE MEDLEY: Well, first and foremost, the industry walked away from the table. That led to the strike quicker than anything. It's hard for us to vote on something when they walk away from the table.

SCHNEIDER: Negotiations broke down between the union and Shell Oil over the weekend. In the Houston area alone, steelworkers have walked off the job at two Shell plants, two Marathon facilities and the LyondellBasell refinery. The union is pushing for higher wages. But Medley says a bigger concern is workplace safety. The union says the companies are requiring excessive overtime, which can reduce workers' sleep time and contracting out skilled jobs to unskilled workers less familiar with safety rules.

MEDLEY: I was born in Texas City. I've been in this area working in refineries for 35 years now. My kids were raised here. So it's us in the community. We live here. So if they're hurting safety, they are putting my family and my friends at risk.

SCHNEIDER: What's it likely to mean for consumers? Kenneth Medlock is senior director for the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University. He says the impact is minimal for now.

KENNETH MEDLOCK: Inventories for crude and products are just sky-high right now. Yeah, there's actually plenty of cushion for the market to be able to absorb any sort of short-term shutdown in production.

SCHNEIDER: But if the two sides can't reach an agreement, the strike could spread to other union sites. And if it lasts as long as eight to 10 weeks, inventories would start to run down. Another concern - refineries need to start retooling in March to shift production of gasoline to summer blends. Kevin Troutman is an attorney with the Houston office of Fisher & Phillips, covering employment law issues for energy companies. He says that companies are in a better position to withstand a prolonged strike than the workers.

KEVIN TROUTMAN: Things are more automated throughout the industry now than they were 30 years ago. They can bring in either management employees or experienced workers from elsewhere. You don't need as many workers to continue to operate as you would have 30 years ago because of technology.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

Why does our boiler seem to always break down on one of winter's coldest days?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one certain fact is that a regular annual service of a gas central heating boiler will definitely lower the likelihood of failure, as well as safeguarding us from the very serious dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. A new price comparison website has been launched that gives you quotes from registered "Gas Safe" engineers in your area. Click on the following link to read more Here.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) We say fight back.

SCHNEIDER: Neither Shell, Marathon nor LyondellBasell would agree to comment for this story other than to say the negotiations are still ongoing. No end to the strike appears in sight. For NPR News, I'm Andrew Schneider in Houston.

Copyright © 2015 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

February 07 2015

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Safe-Play Stocks, Bonds and Gold Sink After US Hiring Surge



"Safety" wasn't safe Friday.

A blockbuster U.S. jobs report sent investors fleeing their traditional places of comfort: dividend-paying stocks, as well as bonds and gold. The selling left major indexes slightly lower.

When nervous investors crowd into safe-haven assets, it's known on Wall Street as a "flight to safety." Instead, it was a flight from safety Friday as investors grew more confident that the economy would grow.

"The January employment report was strong across the board," said Michelle Girard, an economy at RBS Securities, in a note to clients. "The data were clearly very healthy."

Gold fell more than 2 percent. The yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped to 1.95 percent from 1.81 percent as investors sold off the ultra-safe investment.

Utility stocks, one of the best-performing parts of the market over the last year, took a beating. The Dow Jones utility index, a collection of 15 power companies, had its worst day since August 2011, plunging 4 percent.

January's jobs report startled investors with evidence that the job market is closer to full health. U.S. employers added 257,000 jobs last month and wages jumped by the most in six years. The gains were far better than expected.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 60.59 points, or 0.3 percent, to 17,824.29. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 7.05 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,055.47 and the Nasdaq composite fell 20.70 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,744.40.

Understanding why a strong jobs report could push the stock market lower requires some counterintuitive thinking.

Unlike their counterparts in Europe and Asia, who are lowering interest rates, U.S. central bankers could lift rates as soon as June. Strategists say the surprisingly robust jobs report gives the Fed more ammunition to justify a rate increase sooner rather than later.

"There's an underlying nervousness in this market built on cheap money," said Russ Koesterich, global chief investment strategist at BlackRock.

The current near-zero interest rates have been a key factor driving the stock market's dramatic rise since March 2009. By keeping rates low, the Fed has made bonds appear more expensive than stocks. If interest rates rise, a richly-priced stock market would tend to be less attractive to investors, strategists say.

That dynamic was reflected in utility stocks Friday. Utilities typically pay investors consistently high dividends and tend to fluctuate less than other stocks, giving them a bond-like quality. That makes them appealing to investors seeking income and less risk.

Why does our central heating always break down on one of winter's coldest days?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one recognised fact is that annual servicing of our gas central heating boiler will dramatically reduce the chance of breakdown, in addition to safeguarding us from the deadly dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. A new price comparison website has been launched that gives you quotes from registered "Gas Safe" engineers in your area. Clicking on the following link will give you more information Our Site.

"It's much more difficult to justify these high prices for utility stocks with yields rising like this," Koesterich said.

Despite Friday's downturn, it was a good week overall for investors. The Dow ended up 3.8 percent and the S&P 500 climbed 3 percent. Stocks have now reclaimed the ground they lost in January.

The price of oil also rebounded this week on signs that crude production is slowing. U.S. crude jumped 7 percent, its biggest gain since February 2011, during the Arab Spring and turmoil in Libya.

On Friday, U.S. crude rose $1.21 a barrel, or 2.4 percent, to close at $51.69 a barrel. The jobs report suggested to investors that demand for fuels could rise.

Brent, the international standard, gained $1.23, or 2.2 percent, to end at $57.80 a barrel in London.

The price of oil is still down by about half from last June because of a glut in global supplies.

In other metals trading, silver fell 50 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $16.69 an ounce and copper fell a penny to $2.59 a pound.

In other futures trading on the NYMEX:

-- Wholesale gasoline rose 3.4 cents to close at $1.559 a gallon.

-- Heating oil rose 3.3 cents to close at $1.839 a gallon.

-- Natural gas fell 2.1 cents to close at $2.579 per 1,000 cubic feet. It was the eighth down day for natural gas out of the last 9, pushing natural gas to its lowest level since June of 2012.

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Cheshire house builder in court after joiner badly injured in fall



A house building firm has been sentenced after a joiner suffered serious injuries when he fell five metres from the second floor of a new development in Alderley Edge.

The 25-year-old from Congleton, who has asked not to be named, was knocked unconscious in the fall down a staircase void and was in hospital for six days as a result of his injuries.

Cheshire Housebuilders Ltd was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) following the incident at its Oak Park development on Heyes Lane in Alderley Edge.

Macclesfield Magistrates' Court heard the joiner had been laying floorboards on the second floor of a five-bedroom detached house when the incident happened on 25 September 2012.

Another worker was using the forks on a telehandler to lift a stack of roof beams onto the second floor when they swung out of control and struck the joiner. He was knocked down a two-metre square staircase void to the ground below.

His injuries included a fractured wrist, arm and punctured knee. He also needed stitches to his lower lip and tongue.

The HSE investigation found that there were no handrails or other safety measures in place around the void, despite the company's own health and safety document highlighting this requirement.

There was also no crash decking beneath the joists to catch the workers if they fell through the gaps while they fitted the floorboards.

Cheshire Housebuilders Ltd, of Byley Road in Byley, was fined £10,000 and ordered to pay £3,633 in prosecution costs after pleading guilty to a breach of the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Kevin Jones said:

"The joiner suffered serious injuries in the incident but he could easily have been killed in a fall of that distance.

"The workers should never have been allowed to fit floorboards to the second floor before safety measures had been put in place, such as a handrail around the void for the stairs.

"Cheshire Housebuilders identified the need for these measures in its own health and safety document but there was absolutely no point in having the document unless it was going to act on it."

Falls from height are the biggest single cause of workplace deaths in the construction industry. Information on improving safety is available at www.hse.gov.uk/construction.

Notes to Editors:

1. The Health and Safety Executive is Britain's national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk

2. Why does our central heating decide to fail on the coldest day of the year?. I guess it's just sod's law, but one certain fact is that annual servicing of a gas central heating system will definitely lower the chance of breakdown, as well as safeguarding us from the deadly dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. A new price comparison website has been launched that gives you quotes from registered "Gas Safe" engineers in your area. Clicking on the following link will give you more information Boiler Service.Regulation 6(3) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005 states: "Where work is carried out at height, every employer shall take suitable and sufficient measures to prevent, so far as is reasonably practicable, any person falling a distance liable to cause personal injury."

3. HSE news releases are available at http://press.hse.gov.uk/

http://press.hse.gov.uk/2015/cheshire-house-builder-in-court-after-joiner-badly-injured-in-fall/

February 06 2015

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Energy firms 'to make extra £37 per household this year'



The Big Six suppliers have all announced modest reductions to their standard gas tariffs, of between 1.3 per cent and 5.1 per cent, over recent weeks.

But politicians and consumer groups seized on the Ofgem figures as proof that companies could afford to go further.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "The inadequacy of recent energy price cuts is now clear. Low wholesale costs are allowing energy companies to increase profits whilst barely cutting energy prices.

"The ball is now back in the energy firms' court to actually compete with each other on further and deeper price cuts."

Ofgem's estimates of a supplier's pre-tax profit margin:

Ed Davey, the energy secretary said: "People want to see bigger savings on their energy bills - not bigger profits going to the Big Six."

Caroline Flint MP, Labour's shadow energy secretary, said: "These figures show that the profits of the big energy companies are set to soar on the back of big reductions in wholesale costs and tiny cuts to household bills."

The Treasury has already launched an investigation into whether energy companies are passing on the full benefit of lower wholesale costs.

Why does our heating system always stop working on the coldest day of the year?. I presume that it's just sod's law, but one certain fact is that a regular annual service of our gas central heating system will definitely reduce the chance of failure, together with safeguarding us from the very serious dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. There is now a price comparison website that will give you quotes for boiler service and repair from local, Gas Safe registered fitters. Click on the following link to read more This Website.

But Laurence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, the energy industry body, said studies showed that Ofgem's figures "time and again have proven to be unreliable" and given "the misleading impression that there are massive profits to be made".

He pointed to an industry-commissioned report showing that Ofgem's forward-looking estimates had been consistently wrong over the past four years, in some cases overstating likely earnings by as much as 200 per cent.

Industry analysts also point to lower predicted figures for the Big Six.

Forecasts suggest Britain's biggest supplier, British Gas, is likely to report pre-tax profits of about £50 per household when it announces its 2014 results next month, and could be on track to increase that by a more modest 10 per cent this year.

Energy Price Comparison Tool - Find the best gas and electricity deal for you with our handy tariff comparison tool. Switch online in minutes.

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