Much as the green lobby would like otherwise, coal doesn’t seem to be going anywhere but upwards with prices reaching new records amidst renewed concerns about supply disruptions.

As our resident analyst Peter Strachan said during this week’s Good Oil Conference in Perth, the world is “skating on thin ice” where energy is concerned.

Years of underinvestment in new oil and gas exploration and development already had the world scrambling to find new supplies as it lurched its way out of the COVID pits before the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent sanctions which followed completely upended the cart.

European gas prices are currently trading more than four times higher the benchmark Brent crude oil price as Russia shuts off gas supplies in a transparent attempt to blackmail Europe into relaxing sanctions (propaganda notwithstanding).

And no, renewable energy isn’t anywhere close to ready for primetime yet, though it might make a credible play for the morning breakfast show.

This has of course led European nations and utilities scrambling to fill the gap by bringing back power generation that they thought they had left behind – after all, those coal generators were just sitting there.

And they weren’t alone, Asian countries have also done the same, which had the rather predictable effect of sending coal prices soaring.

This has resulted in record profits for the likes of Whitehaven and Glencore while contributing to Australia’s record $43.1bn trade surplus.

Of course, there are outliers with rumours that the loss-making Griffin Coal mine in Western Australia could be heading into receivership.

There is also a healthy dose of realism about just how long this coal frenzy will last with unions already starting to demand that coal workers be supported as the energy sector continues to transition towards renewables.

Coal clearly still has some legs but its demise is also equally inevitable. The only question is when.

Springtime coming for nuclear

Which takes us rather neatly into nuclear power, another beneficiary of the current energy crisis.

Harnessing the power of the atom has been controversial with many looking askance at some of the disasters – Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima come to mind.

It doesn’t change the fact that when everything works, which to be fair is the normal state of affairs, it is a clean source of energy that can keep the lights and heaters on 24/7.

And it is clear that countries are twigging on to this with Japan committing to not only restarting idled nuclear plants but also consider building new ones.

To top it off Germany has just this week backpaddled on its decision to phase out nuclear power, moving to keep two plants as back-up, though it would only bring them on when necessary.

A betting person would say that would be more likely than not given how a certain gas pipeline has been shut down for “repairs”.

Uranium plays are certainly betting on better days ahead and it really does look that springtime is here again for the sector.