Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 28, 2015

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Oil.  The Conference Board of Canada estimates that the country’s oil industry will post a pretax loss of about 2.1 billion Canadian dollars this year due to slumping oil prices, compared with profits of nearly C$6 billion last year.  The think tank estimates that Canada’s oil industry will turn profitable as early as next year, however, as oil prices begin to increase and production from long-term oil sands projects continues to rise. WSJ

Energy Policy.  Mexico’s state oil company Pemex has received a license to import light crude from the United States in exchange for exports of Mexico’s heavier crude oil.   The license agreement marks a major milestone in United States energy policy, further loosening the contentious ban on exports of domestic oil. Reuters

Energy Outlook.  The New York Times reports that as energy policies, technologies, and markets shift to encourage the growth of renewable power plants, sectors such as rooftop solar, microgrids, and energy storage providers should prosper.  The industry has seen an uptick in investment and interest as regulators move to require the inclusion of storage in renewable energy developments and wholesale electricity markets.  NY Times

Energy Outlook.  Liam Denning of Bloomberg View notes that natural gas-fired power is enjoying a significant competitive advantage to nuclear power because it can be built more quickly, operates with more flexibility, and incurs significantly less liability.  Denning argues that these factors will cause an increasing share of the world’s nuclear capacity to be built in countries that have a good deal of government support for the energy industry — as illustrated by the fact that more than four-fifths of nuclear capacity under construction today is in countries like China, Russia, Korea, and India.  Bloomberg

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 26, 2015

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Oil Outlook.  U.S. imports of foreign oil have begun to rise again as domestic producers scale back production in the low oil-price environment and global stocks of crude remain abundant and relatively inexpensive.  The gap between U.S. and international prices has also begun to narrow, which suggests that crude oil imports will continue to climb into 2016.  WSJ

Climate Change.  Bloomberg reports that Americans’ views on climate change are quickly changing, with as many as three-fourths of Americans accepting the scientific consensus on the topic, including 59 percent of Republicans.  While several surveys have identified this shift in public opinion, there is much less consensus surrounding the need for policies to curb climate change.  Bloomberg

Energy Outlook.  Fatih Birol, an official from the International Energy Agency, warned that global oil supplies may tighten after mid-2016 and advised that countries craft their energy policies with this trajectory in mind.  Birol based his prediction on the likelihood that oil investments will decline for a second year in 2016 under current price levels, in addition to supply risks posed by geopolitical disruptions in the Middle East.  Reuters

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 21, 2015

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Energy Policy.  Two dozen states have filed lawsuits against Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations aimed at cutting U.S. carbon emissions, claiming that the agency exceeded its powers under the Clean Air Act by pushing utilities toward cleaner forms of energy instead of focusing on pollution controls at fossil-fuel-fired power plants.   This could be the start of a years-long legal and political battle over the initiative, as congressional Republicans plan to introduce measures in the coming weeks to block the rules as well.  WSJ

Energy Policy.  Although geopolitical developments may cause oil prices to deviate from their current level, price behavior over the last year suggests that they will stay at a $50 equilibrium.  Michael Lynch of Forbes argues that only serious changes in market fundamentals could change the new market clearing price for a sustained period of time, such as a strong demand recovery (which would result in a higher price) or a resurgence of US shale oil production (which would produce a lower price).  Forbes

Energy Outlook.  The New York Times reports that the sudden plunge in demand for commodities has had a chilling effect on economic activity in America’s heartland, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border.   The fall in prices for a variety of products, including crude oil, iron ore, and agricultural crops like corn and soybeans is reminiscent of the collapse of the technology boom in 2000 or the bursting of the housing bubble nearly a decade ago; further, price declines have been exacerbated by global growing pains, particularly in China and other emerging markets where demand for raw materials has dried up.   NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 20, 2015

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Oil & Gas.  U.S. gasoline prices dropped to fresh six-year lows today, falling nearly 10 percent since last month.  Weakening prices are largely attributable to concerns about rising inventories and lackluster global demand — both of which analysts expect to continue weighing on prices over the near term.  WSJ

Renewables.   Reuters reports that the U.S. clean energy industry has run into considerable resistance regarding the placement of transmission lines for carrying wind and solar power.   The rise of these interstate transmission lines marks a significant shift in U.S. electricity infrastructure, and will likely result in the federal government invoking eminent domain authority to resolve the issue.  Reuters

Climate Change.  A study from the National Survey on Energy and the Environment finds that the share of Americans doubting the existence of global warming has dropped from 24 percent last spring to 16 percent this fall.  Despite growing consensus about the existence of global warming, Americans remain divided about the cause of the issue and a willingness to do something about it — among those who accept the evidence of global warming, just 39 percent think that it is caused by humans, and an even smaller share are willing to pay for actions that would mitigate its effects.  Brookings

Coal.  Clyde Russel of Reuters notes that the coal industry appears to be finally accepting its diminished role in the U.S. energy mix and is beginning to change its strategy.  Looking forward, the industry will most likely focus on demand growth from users such as Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines, and will likely take more aggressive steps to balance supply with reduced demand in order to “sustain and endure” in the new energy landscape.  Reuters

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

October 19, 2015

Top Stories

Climate Change.  Today the White House announced that 68 new companies have joined the original signatories of the “American Business Act on Climate Change Pledge,” a key component of the Obama Administration’s efforts to garner corporate and Republican support for a global climate change deal this year in Paris.  In addition to signing the pledge of support, many of the businesses announced separate commitments to reduce their own climate footprints, including reductions in carbon emissions and water usage and increases in the use of renewable energy. FT

Oil & Gas.  A new report by the JP Morgan Chase Institute finds that Americans used nearly half of the savings on lower gasoline prices to not only buy more gasoline, but also upgrade to higher grades.  Binyamin Appelbaum of the New York Times’ Upshot column remarks that this finding is an example of irrational behavior, illustrating consumers’ tendency to “earmark” money for particular kinds of spending.   NY Times

Energy Policy.  The U.S. Interior Department has canceled two sales of Arctic oil and gas leases, effectively halting all drilling off of Alaska’s coast for the remainder of the President’s term in office. The Interior Department justified its decision on grounds that it had received no indications of industry interest for the upcoming sales; the American Petroleum Institute countered that dwindling investment in the region is primarily due to uncertainty about federal regulations.   Bloomberg

Oil & Gas.  Art Berman of Forbes argues that over-production in the oil sector can only be solved with lower prices.  Although he hopes upcoming credit re-determinations and year-end reserve write-downs will halt capital spending, demand growth will balance the oil market, and OPEC will cut production, he is pessimistic about the likelihood of these outcomes; as such, Berman states that the market will balance only if prices go “low enough for long enough” to stop the flow of external capital to producers and force them to live within their means. Forbes