Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

November 11, 2014

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Energy Outlook. Despite recent increases in borrowing costs, the slump in oil prices has caused several energy companies to pay off their existing debt or seek refinancing through U.S. debt capital markets.   Some investors have expressed concern that additional drops in oil prices will trigger a wave of debt restructurings among highly indebted companies; others suggest that this is an opportunity to profit by buying back energy bonds at a discount.  FT

Natural Gas.  A second natural gas supply agreement between Russia and China has increased pressure on many planned natural gas projects in the U.S., Canada, and Australia amid increased competition, rising costs, and the potential for lower prices.  Because the new deal increases the possibility of a glut in global energy markets in early 2020, companies seeking approval for future liquefied natural gas plants are likely to be delayed.  Bloomberg

EPA.  Bob Sussman, former Senior Policy Counsel to the EPA Administrator, discusses an EPA notice issued on October 28th addressing areas of vulnerability in the Clean Power Plan.  Sussman suggests that in the final ruling, the EPA is likely to relax the rule’s interim goals but may actually increase overall emissions-reductions targets for 2030.  Brookings

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

November 10, 2014

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Oil.  OPEC Secretary-General Abdullah al-Badri issued a statement today asking markets not to panic over the recent plunge of oil prices, saying that the current price situation will “fix itself”.  Mr. el-Badri indicated that he didn’t foresee a cut to OPEC’s oil production — the organization is set to meet on November 27th to discuss the matter.   Reuters

Energy Security.  Russia’s large natural giant Gazprom signed a major deal with China today to build a pipeline connecting China to Russia’s Siberian energy fields.  Although the pipeline will take years to build, the deal is causing many Europeans to fear that future Russian energy supplies will be diverted from Europe to Asia as part of Russia’s strategic plan to strengthen its geopolitical position.  NY Times

Oil.   The offshore oil industry — which faces some of the highest production costs across all types of oil deposits —  is moving into a “cyclical downturn” due to the worldwide fall in crude oil prices.   The recent price drops are causing a temporary oversupply of oil in many of these offshore oil rigs, which places additional downward pressure on the prices they can charge for oil.  WSJ

Climate Change.  Andrew Revkin discusses a recent paper about the relationship between party ideology and common debates surrounding climate change, noting that rejections of climate science are often muddled with rejections of proposed policy solutions.  For example, the study found that conservatives tended to agree more with a scientific statement about climate change when the proposed policy solution emphasized the free market instead of increased government regulation.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

November 7, 2014

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LNG.  Falling world oil prices and the prospect of cheap LNG exports from the United States have made many planned LNG projects around the world uncompetitive.  Most of these projects are in Australia and Canada where LNG is sold mostly to Asian markets at oil-linked prices; if these projects are shelved and future supply is curbed, U.S. LNG — which is not linked to oil prices — is likely to maintain a competitive edge for the foreseeable future.  WSJ

Oil. The Financial Times projects that the net global economic effect of weaker oil prices will be positive because oil-consuming countries are more likely to spend their increased real income than oil producers are likely to cut back.  The benefits will be greatest in China, the Eurozone, and Japan, while losses will be greatest among net oil producers including Russia and many members of OPEC — particularly Venezuela and Nigeria.   FT

Energy Policy.  In a letter to President Obama, Brookings Scholar Charles K. Ebinger calls for the President to act on energy policy by opening Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste disposal, creating policies that promote green-energy research and development, and approving the Keystone XL pipeline.  In his final statement, Ebinger suggests that the President “level all playing fields” by cutting all direct and indirect tax benefits for fuels across the board in exchange for a uniform nation-wide carbon tax.  Brookings

Energy & Environment News

Energy & Environment News

November 6, 2014

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Energy Policy.  Next year’s GOP-led Senate is likely to address many key energy and environmental policies including the Keystone XL pipeline, curtailing the EPA’s carbon emissions regulations, and reviews of natural gas exports.  Political analysis experts report that there will be a more positive tone for industries under the new GOP leadership, but movement on most of these major issues will be incremental at best.  WSJ

Coal.  New research by the Natural Resources Defense Council asserts that every ton of coal purchased in China imposes $43 in social costs on the country.   The research supports arguments for an energy policy — such as a national carbon tax — that brings these costs into China’s coal pricing mechanism.  Chinese officials were receptive to these findings, but expressed skepticism about policy action in the near term.  NY Times

Natural Gas.  After voters in the city of Denton, Texas moved to ban fracking within city limits in Tuesday’s election, oil industry executives and Texas regulators filed two separate lawsuits against the ban.  One of the lawsuits asserts that the ban is a violation of private property rights of the mineral owners who receive royalties from natural gas production; the other lawsuit contests that the ban undercuts the responsibilities of state regulators.  NY Times

Climate Change.  Brookings scholar Devashree Saha asserts that sub-national efforts led by states and localities are helping to “lay the blueprint for large-scale climate action”, but that the federal government needs to lead a comprehensive effort to address climate change.  Amid Congressional gridlock and political dysfunction, Saha argues that the actions of these sub-national actors are currently the best hope of addressing climate change and continuing momentum towards a low-carbon economy.  Brookings

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

November 5, 2014

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Natural Gas.  Voters in Denton, Texas — a county in the center of an historically energy-friendly state — approved a measure to ban fracking of oil and gas during yesterday’s elections.  So far, more than 400 measures by cities and counties nationwide have been passed to control or ban fracking practices. Bloomberg

Oil.   Oil prices plunged yesterday after Saudi Arabia decided to lower official selling prices for U.S. customers in December.  Neil Hume of the Financial Times argues that the market’s intense focus on Saudi Arabia’s oil pricing policy is unwarranted — Hume asserts that wide lack of understanding about the oil market and negative confirmation bias among investors is also placing great downward pressure on oil prices.  FT

Oil.   A major U.S. energy company in Texas signed a contract to sell ultralight U.S. oil to foreign buyers without explicit approval from the U.S. government — a move that increases pressure on the Federal government to address the decades-old crude oil export ban.  The company bypassed government approval by following guidelines established in two confidential rulings last summer which allowed two separate companies to export lightly refined oil.  WSJ

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