Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Motorists taxed on car efficiency by 2010

By Renee Viellaris, September 15, 2008,

MOTORISTS could be taxed for driving pollution-pumping vehicles under a Federal Government plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

A Vehicle Fuel Efficiency discussion paper released by the Rudd Government yesterday laid out a number of "potential measures", which also included reducing the cost of state registration and stamp duty charges for energy-saving vehicles.

The paper comes as the Government has committed to including transport in its emissions trading scheme, which will increase the cost of fuel when it is introduced in 2010.

In a bid to help motorists battling prices at the bowser, the Government has pledged to shoulder fuel increases at the pump by every cent they rise under an ETS - but only for three years.

The report, which called for public feedback by November, said emissions from the transport sector were the nation's third largest.

With more than 14 million registered vehicles on the roads, it was also one of the fastest-growing sources of carbon pollution in Australia.

"There is no silver bullet for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector (and) instead we need a structured and measured approach to this issue," the report said.

"The Australian Government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme will be the primary mechanism for reducing carbon dioxide emissions on an economy-wide basis.

"Reforms to address fuel efficiency will need to be complementary to the scheme to help reduce travel costs and carbon emissions for Australian motorists."

It put forward the potential for financial rewards and disincentives for motorists who bought new cars.

"(Consider) the development of a framework to realign state and territory stamp duty and/or registration for light vehicles on a sliding scale based on carbon dioxide emissions," it said.

"(Consider) a balanced set of direct financial incentives (rebates) and disincentives (surcharges) for the purchase of new vehicles based on the carbon dioxide emissions performance of a vehicle."

It also proposed the potential for a mandatory carbon dioxide standard for new light vehicles.

It comes as Climate Change Minister Penny Wong attends a four-day meeting in Argentina ahead of new international negotiations on climate change.

The talks aim to expedite United Nations negotiations.

And Environment Minister Peter Garrett also announced yesterday an extra $7.5 million - on top of the $23 million already pledged - would be directed at saving the Great Barrier Reef.

He said up to $4.5 million would help monitor water quality in rivers and wetlands, $2 million would pay for new water quality technologies and $1 million would be offered to traditional owners to conserve turtles and dugongs.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oil plunges below US$92 in Asia on US credit fears

Tuesday September 16, 2008, The Star online

SINGAPORE: Oil prices plummeted Tuesday in Asia, falling below US$92 a barrel as investors feared the U.S. credit crisis that brought down brokerage giant Lehman Brothers will drag on global economic growth and restrain demand for crude.

Light, sweet crude for October delivery tumbled US$3.77 to US$91.94 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange midday in Singapore.

The contract fell US$5.47 overnight to settle at US$95.71, the first time oil closed below US$100 since March 4.

In a stunning turn of events Monday on Wall Street, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., a 158-year-old investment bank, filed for bankruptcy after failing to find a buyer and Merrill Lynch & Co. agreed to be bought out by Bank of America Corp.

"People are selling everything. It's a bit of panic,'' said Jonathan Kornafel, Asia director for market maker Hudson Capital Energy in Singapore.

"We may not have seen the end of demand destruction. It's scary what going on economic-wise right now, and that's why oil is selling off.''

The Dow Jones industrials lost 504 points, or 4.4 percent, on Monday in their worst point drop since the September 2001 terrorist attacks, and Asian stock markets tumbled Tuesday.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson tried to calm markets, saying the American people can remain confident in the "soundness and resilience in the American financial system.''

Crude fell despite an attack by militants on an oil-pumping station operated by the local unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC in southern Nigeria with dynamite and other explosives Monday which killed at least one guard in the third day of heavy battles between the armed forces and militants fighters.

Shell said one guard died and four others suffered injuries in the battle, which prompted an evacuation of some facilities in the southern region.

No details were given about any effect on oil production.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the region's main militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack. Since it emerged nearly three years ago, the group has mostly focused on hobbling Nigeria's oil industry, bombing pipelines in hopes of forcing the federal government to send more revenues to the impoverished oil-producing south.

"When you start to see the market not paying attention to what's going on around it, the fundamentals are not being closely looked at,'' Kornafel said.

"This drop since mid-July seems a bit overdone.''

Crude has fallen about US$55 - or 37 percent - from its all-time trading record of US$147.27 reached July 11.

In other Nymex trading, heating oil futures fell 8.08 cents to US$2.7104 a gallon, while gasoline prices dropped 7.0 cents to US$2.4914 a gallon.

Natural gas for October delivery fell 8.4 cents to US$7.29 per 1,000 cubic feet.

In London, October Brent crude fell US$2.33 to US$90.27 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Brazil declines Saudi invitation to join OPEC

Meanwhile in Sao Paulo Brazil declined a recent invitation from Saudi Arabia to join OPEC, citing plans to refine, not export, crude oil from its recently discovered deep water reserves, top energy officials said Monday. (Tuesday monring Malaysian time).

Mines and Energy Minister Edison Lobao said Brazil determined it doesn't need the cartel, because it plans to boost oil income by refining crude into products like gasoline for export abroad, the state's Agencia Brasil news agency reported.

Paulo Roberto Costa, a high-ranking executive with Brazil's state-run Petroleo Brasileiro SA oil company, confirmed the government had decided not to join OPEC.

"Brazil won't be a big exporter of oil, that's already defined,'' Costa told Agencia Brasil at the Rio Oil & Gas Expo 2008 industry conference in Rio de Janeiro.

"Brazil was invited to participate in OPEC and did not accept because our priority is refining here and exporting derivatives.''

Analysts say the reserves - found in the last year thousands of meters (feet) under the ocean floor and several hundred kilometers (miles) off the Rio de Janeiro coast - may contain 55 billion barrels of oil, enough to catapult Brazil to superpower oil status.

By refining its own oil, instead of shipping it abroad to be refined, Lobao said Brazil will generate more money and jobs at home.

The country is undergoing an economic boom but still has one of the world's deepest divides between rich and poor.

Under orders from President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a commission of government ministers is examining possible changes in the nation's oil law.

Silva insists profits from the new oil discoveries be used to fight poverty and improve education.

Agencia Brasil said the Saudi OPEC invite came at a "recent'' meeting of oil producing nations, but gave no other details. OPEC met last week in Vienna.

Brazil last month declined an invitation extended by Iran to join the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Lobao did not specify why at the time, saying only that Brazil had "other priorities.''

Also Monday, Petrobras said it awarded contracts to build 10 new floating production, storage and offloading units to develop its new fields.

Petrobras will rent two units to produce 100,000 barrels a day by 2014, and will build eight others to produce up to 120,000 barrels a day by 2016, according to a company statement.

A spokesman declined to give disclose how much the contracts were worth or with whom they'd been signed.

U.S. traded shares of Petrobras plunged 11.7 percent to US$40.35 in New York on Monday, amid a global stock meltdown and oil prices that closed below $100 a barrel for the first time in six months. - AP

Oil tumbles, but when will petrol prices follow?

By Harry Wallop, Consumer Affairs Correspondent , 15/09/08,

The price of oil has fallen below $100 a barrel for the first time in nearly six months, as the likelihood of a severe global recession increased in the wake of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

# Oil markets escape Hurricane Ike mayhem

The price fell more than $4 to $97 US dollars a barrel. The last time the price was below $100 was April 2.

Petrol forecourts in Britain are now under pressure to cut the price of unleaded petrol and diesel, motoring groups said. They warned that drivers had missed out on the full benefit of the oil price fall earlier this summer, when it came down from its peak of $147 a barrel.

The fall in the price of oil came as investors digested the collapse of Lehman Brothers. With investors betting that the chaos on Wall Street would cause the credit crisis to deepen – and economies around the world to use less oil – investors started to sell the commodity.

The sell-off was also prompted by reports that suggested the damage from Hurricane Ike was less than feared.

The storm destroyed at least 10 oil and gas platforms and damaged pipelines in the Gulf of Mexico – only a small amount of the 3,800 production platforms in the Gulf. Three years ago, a series of hurricanes knocked out more than 100 platforms.

The AA warned that petrol prices on UK forecourts have not fallen as quickly as oil, with average unleaded petrol down from July's peak of 119.7p to only 112.8p at the weekend.

Average diesel prices have fallen from 133.3p to 124.2p. This compares to the 34 per cent fall in the oil price.

The AA said that petrol prices needed to fall by another 4 pence in the coming days, or motorists would lose out once again.

Luke Bosdet, a spokesman for the motoring group, said: "I am not hopeful. Petrol retailers have a history of dragging their feet."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Govt offers 2,000 permits and subsidised diesel to avert balik kampung travel crisis

PETALING JAYA: It is still uncertain whether all of the 2,000 temporary bus permits will be taken up despite the Government’s latest diesel subsidy offer to bus operators.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Ashfar Ali said he could not comment on whether school, factory and charter bus operators would lease out their buses, even with the subsidised diesel allocation.

Bus rush: An official of a bus company at the Hentian Putra bus terminal in Kuala Lumpur making a ‘time out’ sign with his hands as he tries to control the crowd rushing to buy bus tickets yesterday to balik kampung during the coming Hari Raya festive period. — AZMAN GHANI / The Star

“Some are willing to take on shorter routes while others are not willing at all,” he said.

He said he would have to study the details of the move announced by Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Samad before commenting further.

Some 1,900 temporary licences were issued to school, factory and charter buses last year to cope with the Hari Raya crowd, but this year, there had been few takers so far despite the Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Noh Omar setting aside 2,000 temporary permits.

Today, Noh is meeting with bus operators in Kuala Lumpur to resolve this looming crisis that could leave tens of thousands of people who travel by bus back to their hometowns to celebrate the Hari Raya Aidilfitri in a quandary.

Bus operators had earlier said that it was “not economically feasible” to lease school, factory and charter buses, as the costs of operations were high.

Ashfar, prior to government's announcment assured there would be 300 to 400 extra buses to cater to the balik kampung crowd, but it was insufficient to meet the demand.

“Usually, we have about 21% extra buses to fill in for buses that are undergoing maintenance. We roll out all of them during festive periods,” said Ashfar.

It is learnt that many express bus operators were previously unhappy that they are only receiving between 4,000 and 5,000 litres of subsidised diesel per bus on average.

By Teh Eng Hock - The Star 4 September 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bus operators to get subsidy for Raya

PUTRAJAYA: Bus operators will be offered diesel subsidy of 9,000 litres for each additional express bus used between Sept 15 and Oct 15 during the balik kampung rush for the Hari Raya festival.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad said the decision was made by the Cabinet Wednesday to ensure there would be enough buses for Malaysians to go home for the festive season.

He added that the Government would be spending between RM100mil and RM150mil in subsidy.

Shahrir said the Cabinet was expecting an additional 2,000 express buses on the road with the move to offer the subsidy.

"This is in addition to the 30% surcharge and discounted toll charges to ensure Malaysians have enough transportation to get home.

"Last year there were about 1,900 additional buses during the festive season and we are expecting more this year with this move," he told reporters Wednesday after attending the launch of Bernama's web television by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi here.

The Cabinet decision was made based on complaints by bus operators that there would be a lack of buses this Hari Raya as school and factory bus operators refused to lease out their buses.

Bus operators had also said that the 30% surcharge allowed by the Government for the Hari Raya season, effective for one month from Sept 15, was inadequate to give the express bus operators sufficient capital to lease additional buses.

Shahrir added that Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Minister Datuk Noh Omar was expected to give more details on the Cabinet decision.

On whether there would be another announcement on the fuel price this month, Shahrir said he hoped that there would be a Hari Raya gift as the global oil price had dropped recently.

"In fact the announcement made late last month was supposed to be made this month as planned but when the world oil price dropped and Merdeka Day approached the Government decided to announce it last month itself.

"The same may happen this month too; we will announce (early) if there is good news," he said.

Source : The Star

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