Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

January 7, 2016

Top Stories

Oil Outlook.  Oil prices dropped below $34 today — the lowest level since April 2004 — due to concerns that market turmoil in China would hamper the country’s demand for crude.  China is the second-largest consumer of oil in the world, accounting for around 12% of global demand; while demand growth has remained positive as China continues to build its strategic petroleum reserves, investors are concerned that China’s faltering manufacturing sector and broader slowdown could taper demand moving forward.  WSJ

Energy Policy.  TransCanada is suing the United States government for more than $15 billion in compensation over the Obama administration’s decision to block its Keystone XL pipeline project.  The company has filed charges in two separate suits, arguing that the President’s refusal to approve the pipeline was “arbitrary and unjustified” under the North American Free Trade Agreement and that the President exceeded his powers under the U.S. constitution.  FT

Oil.  Reuters reports that China is building underground caverns as a new way to store its expanded strategic oil reserves.  The underground storage facilities are up to two-thirds cheaper and considerably more secure compared with exposed above-ground tanks in crowded coastal regions — which should help the nation build up strategic petroleum reserves to meet up to 90 days’ worth of net import demand.  Reuters

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

January 6, 2016

Top Stories

Energy Outlook. Consultancy Wood Mackenzie predicts that there will be a “ramp up” in mergers and acquisitions in the energy industry this year, regardless of any movement in oil prices.  While a wider industry restructuring was notably absent in 2015 (and somewhat subdued compared with M&A activity in previous years), Wood Mackenzie expects that sellers — particularly hard-hit smaller companies — will soon become pressured to strike deals in light of limited financing options.  FT

Oil.  The Wall Street Journal reports that Libya’s oil industry is at increased risk of attack by the Islamic State, having had at least five oil tanks set on fire in recent conflicts.  The oil industry in Libya — which is home to Africa’s largest crude oil reserves and has the potential to produce as much as 1.5 million barrels a day — has been subject to increasing violence over the past year, as rival militia groups attempt to gain control of the country and destroy its main source of revenue.  WSJ

Energy Outlook.   U.S. manufacturing activity contracted for a second consecutive month in December, signaling that demand growth may be weakening into the new year.  While energy markets largely focused on supply-side developments throughout 2015, concerns surrounding demand in the United States and China as well as a slowdown in emerging markets are likely to escalate in 2016. Reuters

Oil Outlook. Helen Thomas of the Wall Street Journal argues that the global oil-field services sector is unlikely to make any improvements for the foreseeable future.  With prices at a fresh 11-year low, oil and gas producers will need to make additional cuts to all spending plans and look for new ways to cut costs for ongoing projects; moreover, Thomas argues that even if prices recover, producers are likely to be more hesitant to ramp up new projects and expand operations for some time.  WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

January 5, 2016

Top Stories

Oil Outlook.  China’s imports of crude oil are forecast to expand by 8% to 7.2 million barrels a day in 2016, and may support crude oil prices despite persistent oversupply in global markets.  Chinese import demand is projected to continue expanding as the nation grows its strategic petroleum reserves and relaxes rules to allow private refiners —commonly known as “teapots” — to import crude oil.  Bloomberg

Energy Policy. Bloomberg reports that the oil industry has so far thrived under the Obama Administration’s policies, citing record production volumes and several policy successes such as rights to drill off of the Atlantic coast and the removal of the oil export ban.  By contrast, many oil industry leaders argue that the Administration has imposed “strangling regulations” and that the U.S. energy renaissance happened “in spite of the Obama administration, not because of it” —  illustrating a critical divide in the national conversation surrounding energy policy.  Bloomberg

Energy Outlook.  Hamad Mohammed of Reuters writes that the recent escalation of conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran eliminates the possibility that OPEC will agree to curb production in an effort to lift the price of oil in the foreseeable future.  Some industry analysts speculate that the renewed strain between Saudi Arabia and Iran could exacerbate fights for market share, adding to downward pressures on global crude prices.  Reuters

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

January 4, 2016

Top Stories

Energy Outlook.  The Energy Information Administration reports that the energy component of the S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index fell 41% in 2015.  The fall of energy commodities was notably sharper than that of industrial metals, grains, and precious metals components, which fell by 24%, 19%, and 11%, respectively. EIA

Oil Outlook.  An escalation of conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the weekend has raised fresh concerns about geopolitical risks in the Middle East, which is home to over half of the world’s reserves of crude oil.   While oil prices spiked only temporarily over the weekend, continued and mounting regional conflicts are likely to cause considerable price volatility moving forward.  WSJ

Solar.   Max Bearak of the New York Times discusses the potential for solar power and small business loans to help India leapfrog the traditional coal-dependent energy development path and move straight to renewable energy sources.   Bearak notes that the spread of solar home systems — now offered by more than 40 companies in India — and alternative financing models could help to make solar power a more viable option for those living without access to the existing electricity grid with little additional income to finance new infrastructure. NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

December 28, 2015

Top Stories

Energy Outlook.  Eight U.S. energy producers have made additional cuts to their already-tight 2016 budgets, suggesting that energy companies expect oil and gas prices to remain subdued throughout the year ahead.  Energy producers are also taking substantial impairments on their assets to adjust for the eroded value of their drilling properties, another sign that companies expect energy prices to stay low.  WSJ

Energy Policy.  Saudi Arabia unveiled plans to cut its government expenditures for the first time in a decade and sharply increase domestic fuel prices as an attempt to cope with the crude oil price slump.  The Saudi Arabian government — which receives about 90% of its fiscal revenue from oil exports — posted a budget deficit of $98 billion in 2015 (15% of its GDP).   Bloomberg

Energy Outlook.  Justin Lahart of the Wall Street Journal notes that 2016 may see a considerable uptick in domestic energy demand, as Americans are likely to begin spending — rather than saving — the continued windfall from low prices.  Lahart notes that because prices have been relatively “low” now for more than a year, Americans will probably no longer think of energy savings as a temporary relief, and adjust spending patterns accordingly.  WSJ

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