Southern Africa Looks To Prosper From Rich Coal Resource

Ships being loaded at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal. Courtesy Richards Bay Coal TerminalSouth Africa has plenty of coal reserves. Above, Ships being loaded at the Richards Bay Coal Terminal. Courtesy Richards Bay Coal TerminalOne of the most energy-starved regions on the planet, southern Africa, is gearing up to build a fleet of more than a dozen coal plants to eliminate rolling power cuts. South Africa, Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania are all in the process of putting together agreements with independent contractors to build coal-fuelled thermal electric plants. If there’s one thing that southern Africa has plenty of, it’s coal. According to the Southern Africa Development Community’s master plan for energy, proven coal reserves are about 32 billion tonnes of economically recoverable reserves; the estimated total resources are more than ten times that figure. –Gavin du Venage, The National, 25 April 2015

Without abundant fuel and power, prosperity is impossible: workers cannot amplify their productivity, doctors cannot preserve vaccines, students cannot learn after dark, goods cannot get to market. Nearly 700 million Africans rely mainly on wood or dung to cook and heat with, and 600 million have no access to electric light. As the International Energy Agency recently put it in a recent report, “increasing access to modern forms of energy is crucial to unlocking faster economic and social development in sub-Saharan Africa”. Yet the greens want Africans to hold back on the cheapest form of power: fossil fuels. –Matt Ridley, The Times, 27 April 2015

You’ve got to hand it to Alan Rusbridger: he’s a great contrarian indicator. The editor of The Guardian launched his valedictory campaign to demand divestment from fossil fuels with a wrap-around promotion and the paper’s full moral force. The usually left-wing Guardian was going out of its way to help the plutocrats make money, a job usually reserved for us here at the FT. Investors should have listened, thanked Mr Rusbridger, and done the exact opposite. It turned out he was a perfect contrarian indicator. He picked a six-year bottom in the US benchmark oil price, West Texas Intermediate. He lit a carbon-based bonfire under crude prices: WTI’s now up 30 per cent, the biggest rally over such a short period since 2009 (and before that, 2002). –James Mackintosh, Financial Times, 27 April 2015

If the [fossil fuel] divestment campaign succeeds, the example of tobacco shows the likely effect. As a sector it’s been shunned by many investors for a long, long time, while demand from addicts around the world has held up nicely. As a result, tobacco shares have been the best-performing investment over the past century for those willing to buy in (the same applies to lots of “sin” stocks: a higher cost of capital implies a higher return for those who supply the capital). –James Mackintosh, Financial Times, 27 April 2015

The United States is poised to flood world markets with once-unthinkable quantities of liquefied natural gas as soon as this year, profoundly changing the geo-politics of global energy and posing a major threat to Russian gas dominance in Europe. “We anticipate becoming big players, and I think we’ll have a big impact,” said the Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary. “We’re going to influence the whole global LNG market.” Mr Moniz said four LNG export terminals are under construction and the first wave of shipments may begin before the end of this year or in early 2016 at the latest. –Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Daily Telegraph, 27 April 2015

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    For many years, I have wished that everyone else would become more wealthy than me, because then it would be their turn to send [i]me[/i] money.

    Go Africa!


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