Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

September 15, 2015

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Energy Policy.   In coming weeks the U.S. House of Representatives will likely vote on a bill to lift the nation’s four-decade ban on oil exports.  While some lawmakers argue that lifting the ban will eliminate market distortions, streamline petroleum production, and stimulate the domestic economy, others contend that it will rattle global financial markets facing heightened volatility and lower prices.  WSJ

Climate Change.  The Obama Administration’s lead climate change negotiator Todd Stern will meet with his Chinese counterpart in Los Angeles today, along with a group of local government officials from both nations.   The leaders intend to announce joint actions by cities, states, and provinces to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — a follow-up to the historic accord reached between President Obama and President Xi Jinping last November to significantly cut emissions. NY Times

Energy Policy.  Mexico has announced the minimum royalty payments it will require for companies that win drilling rights in its shallow-water field auctions later this month.  This announcement marks one of several important modifications to the auction process in an effort by the Mexican government to attract more bids than it did in its first auction last July.  Bloomberg

Oil.  The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. energy companies in the oil sector are bracing for a “financial reckoning” after more than a year of heavy borrowing in order to continue pumping oil.  The financial fallout could begin as early as this month for small drillers, as banks begin to re-evaluate how much companies’ oil and gas properties are worth as part of routine October credit line evaluations.  WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

September 14, 2015

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Energy Outlook.  Companies are investing in new technologies to deliver more crude output per drilled well, including a new technique called “refracking” that would allow the extraction of additional crude from wells previously drilled. One oil services firm estimates that roughly 10,000 horizontal oil and gas wells drilled over the past five years could be fruitfully refracked, boosting the amount of recoverable oil by up to 33% from initial estimates. WSJ

Oil.   A group of 66 oil and gas companies has written down the value of its drilling fields by a total of $59.8 billion so far this year, bringing total impairment charges for the sector to a record high in 2015.  Because companies typically write down assets when their values fall below the amounts recorded in their financial records, this suggests the price of leasing oil and gas fields — including the cost to drill and install necessary pipelines — has exceeded potential profits from the oil and gas extracted from the fields, at least in the short term.  WSJ

Climate Change.  A new study by researchers at Germany’s Institute for Climate Impact Research predicts that sea levels would rise by 200 feet if all of the world’s deposits of coal, oil, and natural gas were burned — and that half of this melting could occur in as little as 1,000 years.  A 200 foot sea level rise would engulf almost all of Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and the entire East Coast of the United States.  NY Times

Oil Outlook.   Production cartel OPEC revised its demand forecasts for 2016 to over 30 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2016 — up 1 million b/d from this year — on signs that U.S. oil production has begun to slow and other indications that low oil prices have boosted global oil consumption.  The revisions were released one week after the International Energy Agency reported that OPEC’s policy was finally affecting North American production. FT

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

September 11, 2015

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Oil Outlook.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently forecast that American producers will cut production of tight oil by nearly 400,000 barrels per day next year due to the sustained decline in global oil prices.  IEA predicts that production from non-OPEC countries will decline the most, giving Saudi Arabia more leverage over the market and an opportunity to boost its market share.  WSJ

Energy Outlook.  Charles Ebinger of the Brookings Institute writes in Forbes that the Obama Administration’s recent decision to allow energy exploration and drilling in the Arctic Ocean will ensure that the United States maintains its momentum toward energy self-sufficiency.  He notes that the Federal waters in offshore Alaska are thought to hold more resources than any other undeveloped U.S. energy basin, and may be one of the world’s largest sources of untapped oil and gas.  Forbes

Solar.  According to a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the U.S. solar industry is on track to grow at a record pace in 2015.  The report highlights that residential rooftop solar installations have increased by 70 percent from one year ago, and that 40 percent of all new electricity installations in the U.S. were for solar power over the first six months of this year.  WP

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

September 10, 2015

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Energy Policy.  A federal court denied a request by more than a dozen states yesterday to temporarily block the Obama administration’s carbon regulation, which calls for U.S. states to cut carbon emissions from the power sector, in part through a transition to renewable energy resources.  The decision represents an early victory for the EPA in the years-long court battle that is likely to ensue over the regulation.  WSJ

Oil Outlook.  The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that crude oil swaps between the U.S. and Mexico, which were approved last month by the U.S. Department of Commerce, are expected to be both economically and environmentally beneficial to both nations.  Specifically, the swaps will allow for a greater degree of operational efficiency due to key differences in the two countries’ quality of crude produced and petroleum refineries, while also allowing for an increased supply of lower-sulfur gasoline from Mexican refineries. EIA

Energy Policy.  At a Brookings event today, democratic hopeful Hillary Clinton asserted that, as president, she would not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempted to obtain a nuclear weapon.   Regarding the recent accord reached in July, Clinton commented that the U.S. should “seize this chance” to take the path of diplomacy, as walking away would be a far riskier course of action.  Brookings

Oil.  Matthew Winkler of Bloomberg View points out that the U.S. is the only country that has been able to take full advantage of the 14-month collapse in global crude prices.  Winkler attributes this to the Federal Reserve’s success in repairing the country’s credit after the financial crisis, which put Americans in a relatively strong position to take full advantage of the benefits of lower oil prices, such as lower energy costs for consumers and better profit margins for many manufacturing companies.  Bloomberg View

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

September 9, 2015

Top Stories

Oil Outlook.  According to the latest outlook from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, U.S. oil production fell to a near one-year low and is likely to continue declining through 2016 as long as crude oil prices remain depressed.  With OPEC producing above its target of 30 million barrels a day, investors are urging U.S. producers to keep cutting production in order to reduce oversupply in the market. EIA, WSJ

Energy Policy.  Under an agreement between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations submitted questions to Tehran in an effort to probe into various ambiguities associated with its past nuclear work.  Many Western officials believe that Iran previously worked to gather information on how to develop nuclear weapons — a point of contention among critics of the final nuclear deal reached in July, who contend that the accord failed to require Iran to fully account for its past actions. WSJ

Energy Policy.  California’s centerpiece legislation that requires the state to reduce its petroleum use by 50 percent by 2030 has sparked a fierce battle in the state, pitting oil industry representatives against environmentalists, and creating factions within the Democratic party.  The bill is currently faltering in the California Assembly due to opposition among moderate Democrats from economically suffering districts. NY Times

Coal.    Pilita Clark of the Financial Times discusses the viability of carbon capture as a mechanism to curb emissions of carbon dioxide from coal plants around the world, noting that many forward-looking climate models assume that the technology will be widespread in future years.  Clark notes that while the concept appears simple and compelling in theory, the technology has proven much more expensive and less efficient than originally expected.  FT