Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 9, 2015

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Energy Outlook.  President Obama is meeting with Caribbean leaders today in efforts to reaffirm American influence in the region, as well as press the leaders to pursue alternative energy solutions that would loosen Caribbean reliance on oil from Venezuela — a country with which the U.S. has recently had strained relations.  American officials say they are eager to work with Caribbean partners in order to demonstrate commitment to a region that they concede has often felt “ignored” by the United States.  NY Times

Energy Policy.  Today Iran’s supreme leader stated that he is pessimistic about completing the framework nuclear deal reached last week between the Tehran government and other world powers.  While he didn’t entirely rule out the possibility that an accord could be reached by June 30, his comments reflect the wariness that he and other Iranian hard-liners have expressed over any deal with the U.S. and other Western powers.  WSJ

Oil.  Anticipating a recovery in the price of crude oil, the largest independent producer of oil and natural gas said it would substantially increase the number of rigs on crucial U.S. shale acreage in 2017.  This rig forecast represents a strong sign that producers believe in the long-term viability of drilling for shale oil, despite sharp scale backs over the past year.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 8, 2015

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Energy Outlook.  Two large European oil majors have announced a merger in efforts to offset the negative downturn in oil prices by cutting overlapping costs.  Nick Butler of the Financial Times discusses the expected restructuring of the oil and gas industry in years ahead, noting that consolidation is likely across many different types of companies — large and small, within the U.S. shale industry, and even in the state-owned sector.  FT

Oil.  Saudi Arabia increased its crude output to 10.3 million barrels a day in March, signaling unexpected strong demand from its customers.  The kingdom’s oil minister Ali Al-Naimi announced that production will continue at this level going forward, suggesting that the country is determined to ride out the price slide without making any cuts in output as the market rebalances.  WSJ

Energy OutlookAccording to the Energy Department’s short-term energy forecast, motorists will pay the lowest prices in gas this summer since 2009 — $2.45 a gallon from April through September, compared with $3.59 a gallon over the same period last year.  The forecast also anticipates that the average American household will spend $700 less on gasoline in 2015 compared to 2014 — savings which will especially benefit lower-income consumers that spend a relatively higher percentage of their incomes on energy.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 7, 2015

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Energy Policy.  Israel has strengthened its efforts to persuade the U.S. and other world powers not to sign a final nuclear deal with Iran until the terms are dramatically changed.  While the current deal requires Iran to eliminate approximately two-thirds of its installed centrifuges,  Israel sees Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to its national security and wants the program completely dismantled.  FT

Energy Outlook.  According to a report by the Rocky Mountain Institute, utility sales in the U.S. Northeast may be cut in half — by as much as $34.8 billion — by 2030 as customers increasingly turn toward alternatives to traditional utility-supplied electricity.  Solar rooftop systems could particularly drive this drop, as they are likely to continue rising in popularity amid falling panel costs and new leasing programs that offer installation with no upfront customer payment.  Bloomberg

Oil.  Senators from Washington State have spearheaded a legislative effort to address the skyrocketing number of crude oil train wrecks and explosions occurring over the last two years.  The proposed legislation sets new rail standards that require improvement to train cars such as thermal protection, full-height head shields, shells more than half an inch thick, pressure relief valves, and electronically pneumatic brakes.  Forbes

Energy Policy.  The Obama administration has launched a broad public initiative to demonstrate that inaction on climate change will be hazardous to communities, specifically to public health.  For example, the President and top White House advisors have recently made announcements and held round-table discussions stressing that climate change is a present threat whose repercussions extend far beyond injuries from extreme weather calamities, and will likely also result in more asthma attacks, heat-related deaths, and allergens in the air. WSJ

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

April 6, 2015

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Oil. Shipments of oil by train have subsided in recent months amid safety problems and the slump in oil prices.  In particular, the price differential between U.S. crude and foreign crude makes many oil-train shipments too costly — even though refiners prefer shipping oil by train as a way to avoid long-term contractual pipeline agreements. WSJ

Natural Gas.  Natural gas prices retreated to within 7 cents of their 2012 lows after warmer weather forecasts lowered expectations for demand in the oversupplied market.  While experts predict upcoming weather will accelerate this seasonal drop in demand even further, supply-side factors — such as falling stockpiles of natural gas and a drop in the number of drilling rigs — may work to balance the market.  WSJ

Energy Outlook. The Financial Times reports that the recent nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers may amplify the global supply glut by allowing the country to restore previous levels of oil and gas exports.  However, several large oil companies have noted that the country will need to offer better terms for exploration contracts given the new low-price, cost-cutting environment.  FT

Climate Change.  Nick Butler of the Financial Times writes that many major oil and gas companies are undergoing substantial reviews of their climate change policies in attempts to (1) define a coherent and consistent message, (2) plan for regulations amid policy uncertainty, and (3) build reputation and company morale.  Butler argues that because these companies are taking climate change so seriously, they will likely incorporate transitions toward low-carbon fuels into their long-term strategies to remain competitive in light of changing market forces.  FT

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

Top Stories

Coal. Both of the working proposals in the House and the Senate to renew the charter of the Export-Import Bank would reverse bank guidelines that prevent financing for overseas power plants that do not adopt green technology. Proponents of the change say that a reversal of the rule would give the coal industry a needed boost, while opponents say the coal industry’s involvement underscores the bank’s bias towards particular industries. The Hill

Oil. The Libyan government announced yesterday that it was formally lifting an export ban on two key oil ports, paving the way for the return of sizable exports after nearly a year. The decision will provide further relief to oil markets that have eased in recent days after Iraqi disruptions failed to materialize. WSJ

Climate Change. Eli Lehrer says that conservatives should adopt a new strategy in the battle over global warming that uses the issue to pursue policies they support. Lehrer says conservatives should push policies such as “subsidy-free zones” in areas impacted by climate change and efforts to better prepare U.S. facilities for the consequences of severe weather. National Review