Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

January 13, 2015

Top Stories

Energy Outlook. The Energy Information Agency’s Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts slower growth in domestic oil production in 2016, reflecting the long-term impact of weak oil prices.  The agency projects Brent crude oil prices to remain weak this year at an average of $58 per barrel, but raised its expectations for 2015 global demand growth.  EIA

Energy Policy.  The Keystone XL Senate floor debate in coming weeks will likely serve as a “showcase”  for energy and environmental issues including climate change science, the role humans play in the course of climate change, and the 42-year-old ban on crude oil exports. Republicans and Democrats remain split on most issues, while there is some bipartisan agreement on measures such as energy efficiency in buildings.  NY Times

Energy Outlook.  As international crude oil prices approach fresh 6-year lows, China — the world’s largest oil importer — imported a record level of crude oil in December in attempts to fill its strategic and commercial reserves. Amrita Sen, a chief oil analyst at Energy Apsects, warned that China’s oil product demand will likely slow as Chinese consumption becomes more efficient and less oil intensive and the pace of new refinery production slows.  FT

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

January 12, 2015

Top Stories

Oil.  Four critical U.S. crude oil refineries — accounting for more than one-fifth of the total refining capacity of the East Coast and Midwest regions — were closed by fire and cold weather over the weekend. Industry analysts predict that these refinery incidents may provide a “boost” to the slumping oil products market, although the overall impact will likely be muted due to growing inventories.  Reuters

Nuclear.  Nick Butler of the Financial Times notes that 2015 is likely to be a “critical year” for the nuclear industry, as Japan begins phasing-in its nuclear reactors and countries around the world decide whether or not to commit to new nuclear plants.  Many forthcoming projects are at risk of being delayed or canceled due to financing concerns and a lack of independent appraisals of new technologies.  FT

Energy Policy.  Brookings’ Planet Policy blog reviews a recent paper which estimates the employment effects of a nitrogen oxide cap-and-trade program for electric utilities and large manufacturers. The author, Mark Curtis, found that the cap-and-trade program did lead to a substantial reduction in emissions, but that employment in the manufacturing sector dropped by 1.3 percent as a result of the program.  Brookings

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

January 9, 2015

Top Stories

Keystone XL.  The Keystone XL Pipeline cleared two key legal hurdles today as a Nebraska state court ruled in favor of the project and the House of Representatives passed legislation to approve it. The Senate will begin debates next week — but the White House has indicated that even after the Nebraska ruling, it remains opposed to the Keystone bill. WSJ

Natural Gas.  A new study finds that recent Ohio earthquakes were partially caused by hydraulic fracturing — more commonly known as fracking.  The fracking process built up subterranean pressures that repeatedly caused slippage in an existing fault near the wells. A representative for Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources said that the wells “remained in production but that further fracking has been banned”.  NY Times

Oil.  According to analysts at Wood Mackenzie, a corporate research firm, 1.6% of the world’s oil supply — approximately 1.5 million barrels-per-day — would be cash-negative at crude prices of $40 a barrel.  Additionally, the firm noted that oil producers would be more likely to store oil than shutdown production at this price.  Reuters

Renewable Energy.  Despite the recent slump in oil prices, investment in wind, solar, biofuels, and other low-carbon energy technologies increased by 16% in 2014, the first growth since 2011.  The surge in new funding was due to trends including China’s recent commitment to renewables, offshore wind project commitments that were years in the making, and electric car investments made prior to the oil-price decline.  Bloomberg

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

January 8, 2015

Top Stories

Energy Finance.  Investors in high-yield debt issued by riskier oil and gas companies are in danger as borrowers seek “second lien” loans secured against their assets. Moodys — a leading credit-rating agency — found that many energy bonds include provisions with weaker investor protections, allowing the companies to take on additional debt and leave unsecured bondholders vulnerable to losses in the case of default.  FT

Oil.  U.S. oil producers are beginning to cut back on the number of drilling rigs as oil prices continue to decline — an early indication that the oil industry is in the early stages of a downturn. Despite these reductions, large-scale layoffs are not yet expected as producers will likely need to continue drilling existing rigs to retain leases or keep revenues up.  NY Times

EPA.  Senior EPA climate change official Janet McCabe said that states who do not submit customized plans under the new Clean Power Plan will be forced to comply with a federal “model rule” to cut their carbon emissions. McCabe indicated that the model rule was created due to an expectation that some states will refuse to submit plans. NY Times

Energy Policy.  Mexican state-owned oil producer Pemex has submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Commerce to import light crude oil. The company said that the proposal would reduce transportation costs and improve refining margins at Mexico’s refineries, while also maximizing the refining potential at U.S. refineries best equipped to handle heavy crude from places like Mexico and Venezuela.   WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

January 7, 2015

Top Stories

Oil. Weekly inventory data released today shows that supplies of refined petroleum products rose more than expected last week.  These large increases in product inventory suggest that refineries are continuing to turn the crude-oil surplus into a petroleum-product surplus, despite the fact that demand has not risen enough to absorb growing supplies.  WSJ

Energy Policy. 
In an interview with Reuters, top aide to President Obama John Podesta said that the White House “does not feel pressure to loosen restrictions on U.S. oil exports further and views debate over the issue as resolved for now”.  Podesta also noted that additional climate change measures — such as methane emission restrictions — will be introduced prior to the President’s State of the Union address.  Reuters

EPA. 
The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it would issue a trio of climate-change regulations this summer, as well as a federal plan to impose rules on states that don’t adopt their own.  The regulations, which include rules to govern carbon emissions from power plants, represent the cornerstone of President Obama’s climate change agenda —and a top target for congressional Republicans.  WSJ

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