Utility Week

Utility Week 28th November 2014

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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National media Taxpayers to fund fracking test boreholes Hundreds of government-funded boreholes are set to be drilled across Britain to try to persuade the public that a shale gas boom can be developed safely. Sensors in the boreholes will detect possible water pollution or earthquakes caused by fracking and the information would be made public. "We will be taking the pulse of the sub-surface environment and will reveal if things are going wrong, but also if they are going right," said professor Mike Stephenson, direc- tor of science and technology at the British Geological Survey, which would drill the boreholes. "The aim is to reassure people that we can manage the sub-surface safely." The Observer, 22 November North Sea oil tax revenues slump The UK Treasury's tax take from ageing North Sea oil fields has more than halved over the past year as falling crude prices and dwindling reserves have hit drillers hard. Data published on Friday showed that revenue from North Sea oil profits collected through the petroleum revenue tax have slumped 62 per cent year on year up to the end of October, to £413 million from just under £1.1 billion. The Daily Telegraph, 21 November 'Sophisticated' Regin spyware spotted An "extremely complex" and "stealthy" spying program called Regin has been stealing data from ISPs, energy companies, airlines and research and development labs, a security company has said. With a "degree of technical competence rarely seen", Regin had probably taken years to develop, Symantec said. Most likely, it was written by a nation state to serve its spying agencies' needs. BBC News, 24 November S SE's Peterhead gas-fired power unit, contracted by National Grid to help guard against the increased risk of blackouts this winter, failed the test run it was paid £250/MWh to carry out on 21 November. The test was scheduled to take place over the day ending at 19.50, but National Grid data shows that maximum available output from the plant unexpect- edly fell from 780MW to zero shortly aer 14.00. Neither SSE nor National Grid would comment on the outright generation achieved by the plant before its availability was abruptly cut. "We cannot comment in detail on the proving test, but we will be discussing the results with SSE," a spokesman for National Grid told Utility Week. The story, broken on utility- week.co.uk on Thursday, was widely picked up by national newspapers including the Financial Times and The Daily Telegraph. It prompted a storm of criticism, with one commen- tator, Liberum Capital analyst Peter Atherton, telling the Telegraph the test failure was "embarrassing". The 32-year-old plant is under contract with National Grid to provide back-up genera- tion this winter. To ensure security of supply, National Grid has set a monthly test for each of the three units contracted as back-up. The other two are RWE's Littlebrook and Scottish Power's Ryehouse. "They should have awarded the contract to a more reliable plant," one UK power trader said of the Peterhead outage. JA SSE's Peterhead fails winter back-up test Seven days... Sewer blockages Recent CCWater research has revealed the extent of the prob- lem of sewage blockages. 300,000 Number of sewer blockages in the past year £70m Estimated cost of clearing block- ages by UK water companies More than 2/3 of blockages are caused by oils, fats, tissues and nappies going down sinks, drains and toilets <50% Proportion of cus- tomers who know what is safe to put down the drains Story by NUMbErS 4 | 28th NovEmbER - 4th DECEmbER 2014 | UtILItY WEEK "Our agreement is an important step forward for the CCS sector, and I look forward to further UK-Canada co-operation" Energy minister Matthew Hancock welcomes the joint agreement with Canada's Department of Natural Resources to work together on research and knowledge-sharing surrounding carbon capture and storage "It is a gross waste of money that will ultimately be borne by the bill payers" Co-founder and chief financial officer of First Utility, Darren Braham, says the company is deeply concerned that Smart Energy GB intends to press ahead with a £25 million nationwide campaign to promote smart meters in 2015, despite the expected delay to the rollout until the following year

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