Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 30, 2015

Top Stories

Climate Change.  California Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order yesterday requiring California reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 in efforts to speed up the state’s already ambitious emissions reduction program.  This tough new interim target represents an effort to motivate industry players to act immediately, and positions California as a leading force in the global effort to address climate change.  NY Times

Oil.  Saudi Arabia is burning through its foreign reserves as it attempts to maintain current spending levels despite revenue losses stemming from persistently low oil prices.  The Kingdom is currently offering bonuses to military personnel, for example, despite warnings from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that Gulf states should attempt to cut extraneous spending on wages and subsidies in order to preserve monies abroad.  FT

Energy Policy.  Kevin O’Marah asserts that President Obama should be permitted authority to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) because the deal would not only improve global supply chain performance, but also establish a rule of law governing the environmental, labor, and public health impacts of the continually evolving business world.  Specifically, he argues that the TPP will help key stakeholders engage in long-run horizon planning and strategic network modelling, which will in turn enable smarter use of resources and faster economic growth.  Forbes

Oil.  Daniel Gilbert of the Wall Street Journal argues that takeovers in the oil industry will become increasingly prevalent amid rising oil-exploration costs and shrinking valuations of small- and medium-sized players.  In many cases, it has become cheaper for the world’s largest crude producers to replace reserves by purchasing other companies rather than developing new oil products;  Gilbert asserts that although another wave of “megamergers” is unlikely at this moment, companies will likely make smaller deals to fill gaps in their holdings or build on existing strengths.  WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 29, 2015

Top Stories

Energy Policy. Philip Wallach of the Brookings Institute reviews recent legal and political developments relating to the Obama’s Administration’s “Clean Power Plan” — a rule that, when finalized, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector by phasing-out coal-fired power plants across the nation.   Wallach notes that while the proposed regulation faces legal challenges on numerous fronts, most recent activity centers on issues of federalism between Republican state leadership and the EPA.  Brookings

Energy Outlook.  Recent data from Canada’s national energy regulator indicates that the country’s crude-oil exports hit a new peak of 3.1 million barrels of oil per day in January despite the drastic decline in prices.  Looking ahead, conventional crude oil production in Canada is expected to decline this year, while crude sourced from oil-sands projects is projected to increase significantly as new oil-sands projects come on-line.  WSJ

Energy Outlook.  Shipping companies around the world are leveraging “big data” to improve operations and reduce fuel consumption, saving money and cutting greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously shipping more freight. These operational improvements — which began under the high oil-price conditions of the last decade — led to a substantial loss in oil demand; while lower fuel costs will likely slow this push for fuel-efficiency improvements, the overall trend is likely to continue.  Reuters

Coal.  Michael Levi of the Council on Foreign Relations argues that the world’s global energy system will likely rely on coal-fired power for decades, even if the natural gas boom eventually spreads from the United States to the rest of the world.  Levi argues that the cheap and plentiful nature of coal resources requires that governments step in to “tip the balance” toward cleaner energy sources — whether through new regulations or market solutions, such as a carbon tax.  The Atlantic

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 28, 2015

Top Stories

Climate Change.  A new study published by the Nature Climate Change journal finds that moderate global warming over the past two centuries is linked to weather extremes such as heat blasts and intense rainstorms, and that these weather events will likely become more frequent and intense as the earth’s temperatures continue to rise. While other studies have linked extreme weather conditions to human-influenced climate patterns, this study is among the first to predict future patterns.  NY Times

Oil.  Reuters reports that heightened geopolitical tensions in the Middle East — particularly in light of the impending Iran–U.S. nuclear deal — are having immediate effects on oil prices as traders weigh political risks against rising supply stocks.  As a result, oil prices have been increasingly volatile recently; while reports that Iran seized a U.S. cargo vessel caused a temporary spike today, a weaker dollar and newly released stockpile data continue to push prices downward.  Reuters

Energy Security.  Nick Butler of the Financial Times discusses the prospect of an EU “Energy Security Board” as a possible mediator for highly complex energy policy debates.  Butler argues that the Board would (1) guarantee that security of supply remains a priority, (2) ensure that policies are designed and planned on a long-term basis, and (3) create a platform for various arms of the government to communicate and collaborate on aspects of energy policy.  FT

Oil.  Luay al-Khatteeb of Brookings asserts that the reemergence of low and volatile oil prices after three years of stability represents structural changes occurring in the market rather than normal inefficiencies of supply/demand readjustment.  He predicts that unless current world oil production decreases by at least 4 percent, prices are likely to remain at around $60 a barrel — a level where most producers will earn reasonable profit margins and the U.S. as a whole will benefit from improved balance of payments and greater market share.  Brookings

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 27, 2015

Top Stories

Oil.  Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in U.S. oil futures — a popular investment tied to the oil market — have experienced notable investor outflows recently, causing many to worry about the new pressure this may place on the already vulnerable oil market.  Investment analysts warn that if oil prices begin to decline again while money pours out of crude-oil ETFs, a “serious financial washout” is possible within the market.  WSJ

Oil.  The recent crude oil price crash has forced major oil companies to take broad steps to cut costs, including reconfiguring their operations and relationships with key suppliers and governments.  The Financial Times notes that these changes may leave many companies better off in the long-run, as they are likely to be more profitable when prices begin to rise again.  FT

Energy Policy.  Tim Boersma of the Brookings Institute discusses recent anti-competition allegations against Gazprom, highlighting the preliminary findings and political tensions surrounding the charges.  Boersma notes that because the EU competition policy is being applied to a part of the EU gas market that lacks fully developed markets for trade and competition, there are questions about the degree to which Gazprom can be blamed for the lack of market development in these countries.  Brookings

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 24, 2015

Top Stories

Oil.  Canadian energy giant TransCanada is requesting the U.S. government’s permission to construct an additional 200-mile pipeline across the U.S.-Canadian border — a clear indication that the company is not backing down on its oil-shipping plans despite the 7-year delay in approving its Keystone XL pipeline.  The proposed $600-million pipeline aims to transport up to 300,000 barrels of North Dakota crude per day and, if approved, would go into service in 2020.  WSJ

Oil.  The United States Geological Survey released a comprehensive report today that highlights a link between oil and gas operations and thousands of earthquakes across 17 U.S. regions.  One of the most notable findings indicates that earthquakes in Oklahoma are now hundreds of times more common than they were a few years ago due to hydraulic fracturing — a drilling technique that injects a high-pressure mix of water and chemicals into the ground to break rock formations and release gas.  NY Times

Energy Policy.  As the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to unveil its final set of rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions,  leading American electric power companies — the nation’s largest source of emissions — worry that they may face power failures in the process of transitioning from coal to cleaner power sources.  Consequently, because the rules will close hundreds of heavily polluting coal plants, officials believe there could be blackouts across the country if energy companies are not able to build new sources of electricity quickly enough.  NY Times

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