Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

February 12, 2015

Top Stories

Natural Gas.  The price of natural gas for March delivery is up slightly (0.1%) due to increasingly cold weather forecasts over the next few weeks.  Given that half of U.S. homes use natural gas for heat, winter cold is traditionally a big driver in demand for this resource.  WSJ

Oil.  While low oil prices will continue to benefit U.S. consumers and the broader economy this year, economists surveyed by the WSJ predict that slower business investment will offset some of these gains.  They contend that cheap oil is a double-edged sword for the economy in that as falling prices squeeze earnings, the energy sector will scale back on capital spending — as evidenced by energy producers’ sharp recent cuts in purchases of new rigs, drilling machinery, and other supplies.  WSJ

Climate Change.  A survey released by the American Chamber of Commerce in China reveals that pollution is a growing issue for foreign companies operating there.  For example, companies reported encountering trouble in attracting and retaining executives to work there for the first time in the survey’s 17-year history because of the growing perception that large Chinese cities have become less hospitable places to live and work as a result of the high pollution levels.  NY Times

Energy Outlook.  According to a new report, universities that shed their investments in fossil fuel stocks could hurt the value of their endowments.  A series of stock indices reveals that funds without energy-sector stocks underperform those with them by as much as 0.7 percent, according to the analysis.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

February 11, 2015

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Energy Outlook.  European utilities shut down more coal and natural gas power plants last year than in any year since 2009, mostly due to falling demand for electricity and a tighter market for carbon under the EU’s cap-and-trade program.  The pace of plant closures is expected to increase moving forward, with more ambitious emissions reduction goals and likely price increases for carbon allowances.  Bloomberg

Energy Policy.  The House of Representatives is expected to pass a bill today forcing the Obama administration to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.  While most congressional Republicans and some Democrats support the bill, it will likely not garner the two-thirds majority necessary to override a guaranteed veto from the President.  NY Times

Oil.  A leading oil-field service provider announced plans to lay off roughly 7 percent of its workforce, or up to 6,400 workers, in response to plummeting oil prices and an increasingly challenging market environment.  These companies that drill and complete wells onshore and offshore are typically the first and worst hit when producers decommission rigs and cut investments in exploration and production.  NY Times

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

February 10, 2015

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Oil.  The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported today that a rebound in the price of crude oil seems inevitable, adding its voice to the chorus of experts also agreeing that the global glut – which drove down prices in the first place – is abating.  IEA predicts that the recent wave of spending cuts by oil producers coupled with the sharp decline in the number of crude oil rigs will slow the nation’s oil-output growth, thereby raising prices.  EIAWSJ

Biofuels.  Recent analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds that slowing global warming will cost about two-thirds more without the use of biofuels.  Amid concerns about the availability of land for future biofuel needs, some scientists argue that improvements in agricultural productivity will render biofuels practical moving forward, while many other scientists remain skeptical.  NY Times

Energy.  A major California utility company applied yesterday for regulatory approval to build and own 25,000 electric car charging stations in California, which would quadruple the existing number in the state with the largest electric car market. The utility, based in San Francisco, hopes to build these stations on both commercial and public properties using money earned from a small hike in the monthly bills of its 5 million electric customers.  Forbes

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

February 9, 2015

Top Stories

Oil.  In OPEC’s monthly oil-market report, the organization predicted that demand for its crude will rise this year as the U.S. produces less oil and consumes more gasoline.  This statement accompanied a larger report justifying the cartel’s strategy in November to keep producing oil while allowing prices to slip, confirming speculation about the organizations’ strategy to hurt rivals — like the United States — rather than cut production to keep prices high.  WSJ

Energy Policy.  A new report from the Department of Energy found that the U.S.’ natural gas infrastructure would only require “modest incremental additions” of pipeline capacity in order to manage the additional load forecasted under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan proposal.  This research weighs against concerns that there would be insufficient pipeline capacity to support the proposed increase in natural gas generation — weighing in favor of the EPA’s plans to regulate carbon emissions from coal plants.  WP

Climate Change.  According to a poll conducted last month by the New York Times, Stanford University, and the nonpartisan environmental research group Resources for the Future, Hispanics are far more likely than whites in the U.S to view global warming as a problem that affects them personally and to support policies such as taxes and regulations on greenhouse gas pollution aimed at curbing global warming.  These results may have significant implications for the 2016 presidential campaign, as both Republican and Democratic prospective candidates seek to win votes from this growing segment of the population.  NY Times

Energy Markets.  The oil industry has emerged as a “new player” on the debt-risk watch list, particularly amid the falling oil price and steep increase in the total level of debt carried by the oil industry. Financial products linked to oil are also at risk — with several investment analysts noting that the current situation bears similarities to the housing crisis of 2008.  Forbes

Energy and Environment News

Energy and Environment News

February 6, 2015

Top Stories

Oil.  Oil prices posted the largest one-week gain in three years after a turbulent week.  While market participants predict that prices could be finally bottoming out amid expenditure cuts and reduced drilling activity by major oil companies,  analysts caution that prices could slip again due to an oversupplied market and few signs of increasing demand.  WSJ

Climate Change.  A new study reveals that emissions reductions reported by U.S. manufacturers between 1990 and 2008 resulted from process improvements rather than U.S. manufacturers “offshoring” environmentally harmful processes to countries with lax pollution laws – a conclusion reached in many previous previous studies on the same topic.  The author created an index of technological change that fell as quickly as actual emissions in the analysis, suggesting that emissions reductions were due to technological changes within industries, rather than shifting output among industries.  Forbes

Energy Policy.  The White House received federal railroad legislators’ final draft of new regulations governing standards and operating procedures for tank cars that haul crude oil and other flammable liquids.  The proposed regulations —  which come in response to a series of oil-train accidents that began in July 2013 — call for tank cars to be replaced or retrofitted on a faster schedule to make them more puncture-resistant during derailments.  WSJ

Oil.  Despite the fact that diesel-power vehicles can deliver up to 30 percent better fuel economy than their gasoline counterparts, less than 1 percent of the passenger vehicles sold in the United States run on diesel, compared to 50% of vehicles sold by European car manufacturers. There are three main reasons for this trend: diesel-power cars often cost a few thousand dollars more than cars that run on gasoline, diesel fuel costs more and the price can vary widely within a few miles, and diesel vehicles require the periodic addition of an additive called AdBlue.  NY Times