Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

December 29, 2014

Top Stories

Oil.  Oil futures are down again after analysts determined that Libyan oil production outages will be limited in scope and have only a marginal impact on the world-wide supply glut.  While growing oil production in Libya is one of the key reasons for the current oversupply of oil, surging U.S. production has also been a big factor. WSJ

Energy Policy.  Matthew Wald of the New York Times discusses the EPA’s treatment of nuclear power in its proposed rule to reduce carbon emissions across the United States. The proposed rule uses a complex mathematical formula to set state-specific carbon emission reduction goals, and gives states a 5.8% “credit” toward these targets if financially at-risk nuclear plants are kept on-line. Many critics argue that this number is arbitrary and takes for granted current nuclear construction projects that may not be completed.  NY Times

Oil.  Tensions are growing between Canada and Latin America over limited capacity at heavy oil refineries along the Texas and Louisiana coasts – the primary location with the ability to process heavy oil. The lack of alternative markets suggests that these two regions will continue to fight to maintain their share of U.S. refinement for the foreseeable future.  Bloomberg

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

December 18, 2014

Top Stories

Energy Policy. After years of debate over a method of extracting natural gas, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that hydraulic fracturing will be banned in New York State. While fracking has been heavily promoted as a source of economic revival for the depressed communities along New York’s borders with Pennsylvania, this was ultimately outweighed by concerns over the health risks of fracking. NY Times

Oil. According to the Commerce Department’s quarterly report on travel and tourism spending released today, U.S. airfares have risen 5% between July and September, despite the 40% fall in international oil prices since mid-June. Although fuel is the airline industry’s biggest expense, companies have been slow to pass savings through to consumers because airlines lock in purchase prices far in advance through hedging arrangements designed to protect them from large fluctuations. WSJ

Oil. Oil prices resumed their months-long decline today after comments from Russia and OPEC leaders, and as progress was made toward resolving a Nigerian port strike that could bring more crude oil back to global markets. In particular, the U.S. benchmark contract was down 63 cents, or 1.1%, at $55.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

December 17, 2014

Top Stories

Solar.  China’s Commerce Ministry strongly criticized the United States’ decision on Tuesday to impose broader antidumping and antisubsidy tariffs on solar panels from China. Although the penalties are still subject to final confirmation next month from the International Trade Commission, the ministry released a statement today urging the U.S. to consider the negative repercussions of harming such a strategic emerging industry related to global sustainable development.  NY Times

Natural Gas.  Mitch McConnell announced in a statement yesterday that the new Republican-controlled Senate’s first act in January will be approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. While the bill will be open for both parties to offer energy-related amendments, Republicans may still find it difficult to win the 67 votes needed to override a veto from President Obama.  Reuters

Oil.  According to the Billion Prices Project, which scrapes the Internet daily to monitor changing prices online, oil may be dragging down prices faster than the official U.S. price index can capture. While the Labor Department’s official measure of consumer prices has shown a decline in the annual change in inflation from 2.1% this summer to 1.7% in October, the Project’s State Street PriceStats inflation series shows the annual change declining to 1%.  WSJ

Oil.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Tuesday that U.S. households are on track to spend the least amount of money on gasoline in 11 years. The price for regular gasoline in the U.S. has fallen 11 weeks in a row to $2.55 per gallon – down more than a dollar since its 2014 peak in April. The average household is expected to spend about $1,962 on gasoline in 2015 – $550 less than it did a year ago.  WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

December 16, 2014

Top Stories

Oil.  Oil prices fell below $59 per barrel for the first time since May of 2009 this morning — a demonstration of continuing market concerns about global demand, weakening emerging-market currencies, and slowing Chinese factory activity.  On the upside, some leading investment analysts predict that oil demand from commodity-producing markets in Latin American and the Middle East will soon increase due to sharp declines in commodity prices and weakening commodity currencies.  Reuters

Energy Outlook.  Reuters reports that in the four historical “episodes” in which oil prices declined sharply over a relatively short time, the price slumps were completed quickly and were accompanied by a disproportionately smaller downturn in U.S. drilling activity compared with the fall in prices.  While such comparisons may not accurately predict market activity with the current price slump, they suggest that U.S. drilling activity has substantial “inertia” with respect to price volatility.  Reuters

Oil.  Liam Denning of the Wall Street Journal questions the ability of political crises to re-balance global oil supplies in 2015, particularly as falling oil prices destabilize regimes in many oil-producing countries.  Denning concludes that while political shocks may jolt prices momentarily, structural shifts such as the shale boom and progress in energy conservation are likely to have a longer-term impact on oil prices.  WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

December 15, 2014

Top Stories

Climate Change.  Yesterday top officials from nearly 200 countries agreed to a global pact committing every country in the world to reduce emissions from fossil fuels. The climate pact includes no specific requirements or sanctions against nations who do not comply, but will rather rely on global peer pressure to compel countries to step up efforts to combat global warming.  NY Times

Oil.  A Bloomberg survey of 17 analysts suggests that Brent crude oil prices are poised to fall to as low as $50 per barrel in 2015 — more than 50% less than last June’s Brent price of $115.71 per barrel.  While some respondents predicted that current prices may be close to the “floor”, nearly five out of six respondents expect that prices will need to fall significantly further to clear the current supply glut.  Bloomberg

Energy Policy.  Charles Ebinger of the Brookings Institute testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee last week as part of a hearing about the Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 — the piece of legislation that enacted the current crude-oil exports ban. Ebinger asserts that hopes of US energy independence are misled, as lifting the ban will “lead to foreign policy benefits, increase U.S. GDP and welfare, and reduce unemployment”. Brookings

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