Absolute Energy Offers Drivers Relief at the Pump
Joanna Schroeder – May 22nd, 2013
As Memorial Day approaches marking the beginning of summer driving season, gas prices have spiked. Last week, gas prices went up .19 cents per gallon in Iowa with ending average prices at $3.70 per gallon. Spikes were even higher in Minnesota/St. Paul with prices averaging $4.21 across the state while the national average is around $3.60 per gallon.
In response Absolute Energy, an ethanol plant located on the Iowa-Minnesota border, is offering Minnesota drivers some relief at the pump in the form of ethanol. Absolute Energy is offering E85, (85 percent ethanol / 15 percent gasoline), in bulk to gas marketers impacted by the recent shut-down of three oil refineries for mostly seasonal reasons. According to E85Prices this week, the published average statewide E85 price is averaging $3.08 and has been reported to be as low as $2.39 per gallon in Eagan, Minn.
Rick Schwarck, CEO of Absolute Energy, said, “With gas prices spiking and ethanol plentiful in the Midwest, this will be the summer of the flex-fuel vehicle. Drivers of FFVs should be able to take advantage of serious savings at the pump by using E85. Not only will they be saving money, they will be choosing a fuel alternative that creates jobs and opportunities throughout Minnesota, Iowa and other states. E85 will drive us toward a cleaner, brighter summer sky thanks to lower greenhouse gas emissions while also strengthening our national security and economy.”
Obama's new Energy chief: Climate change ‘not debatable’
By Ben Geman - 05/22/13 11:03 AM ET
New Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz doesn’t want to spend his tenure battling over climate science.
“Let me make it very clear that there is no ambiguity in terms of the scientific basis calling for a prudent response on climate change,” Moniz told Energy Department employees shortly after his swearing-in.
“I am not interested in debating what is not debatable,” Moniz said in his remarks at the Tuesday ceremony. “There is plenty to debate as we try and move forward on our climate agenda.”
The comment was part of much wider-ranging remarks, available here, on Moniz’s overall agenda.
He also addressed the Energy Department’s missions around power grid resilience, oversight of the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, nonproliferation, scientific research and more.
Moniz is stepping into the Cabinet job at a time when President Obama has vowed new executive-level actions on climate.
Moniz, in a separate speech Tuesday, vowed to focus heavily on energy efficiency initiatives, which he called a vital tool in addressing greenhouse gas emissions.
Vicki Needham - 05/22/13 10:44 AM ET
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned Congress that the central bank's actions will be insufficient to stave off a drag on the economy caused by rising taxes and spending cuts.
Bernanke told the Joint Economic Committee on Wednesday that a bevy of fiscal policy issues are creating headwinds and will "exert a substantial drag on the economy this year."
The expiration of the payroll tax cut, other tax increases, budget caps on discretionary spending, billions in sequestration and the declines in defense spending will weigh on the economy, and the Fed won't be able to stop the effects.
"Taking them all together, they have the effect of being a drag on economic growth, perhaps more than necessary," he said.
With interest rates near zero, "monetary policy does not have the capacity to fully offset an economic headwind of this magnitude."
Bernanke told lawmakers that instead of focusing on near-term budget cutting, Congress must take "more aggressive action to address the long-term issues that puts the budget on an unsustainable path."
"The objectives of effectively addressing longer-term fiscal imbalances and of minimizing the near-term fiscal headwinds facing the economic recovery are not incompatible," he told the panel.
"To achieve both goals simultaneously, the Congress and the administration could consider replacing some of the near-term fiscal restraint now in law with policies that reduce the federal deficit more gradually in the near term but more substantially in the longer run."
Bernanke argued that the still fragile economic recovery would have been "much weaker without the aggressive monetary policy" of the Fed, but said that "monetary policy is not omnipotent" and is unable to do all the work to boost growth.
He said the after effects of the financial crisis, the ongoing fiscal crisis
May 22, 2013 at 12:49 pm by Jennifer A. Dlouhy
Wednesday’s congressional debate on the Keystone XL pipeline will be a forum for a host of other contentious topics, including climate change, oil spills and protectionist policy.
The debates will come as the House of Representatives takes up legislation to speed approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry diluted bitumen from Canadian oil sands developments to Gulf Coast refineries.
Although the bill sponsored by Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., probably will pass the House, it faces a presidential veto threat, and is unlikely to advance in the Senate anyway. Nevertheless, the legislation represents a new opportunity for Keystone XL’s congressional supporters to pressure the White House into approving TransCanada Corp.’s pipeline, eight years after the company first proposed it.
And to congressional Democrats — including some who support the pipeline — Wednesday’s debate is a chance to get lawmakers on record on politically sensitive issues surrounding the project.
For instance, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., wants the House to vote on an amendment that would add a provision stating that using oil sands crude would boost heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions as much as 4.3 million passenger vehicles. Waxman’s proposal also would make the streamlined approval of Keystone XL under the bill contingent on oil sands producers or TransCanda fully offsetting greenhouse gas emissions associated with the project.
Read more: Activists threaten massive protests if Obama approves Keystone XL
Other lawmakers are using amendments to highlight the risk of leaks along the pipeline’s path, after recent spills of diluted bitumen have proved more difficult to clean up than anticipated. TransCanada has acknowledged that oil sands-derived crudes can be driven to the bottom of turbulent water, sticking to rocks and making...
Global oil BOOM forcing Saudi Arabia 2 cut oil production
May 22, 2013 at 10:30 am by Jeannie Kever
Saudi Arabia has cut crude oil production this year and will have to cut it further if it wants to prevent a significant drop in the global oil price, according to the latest Global Crude Oil Outlook from Energy Security Analysis Inc.
The Massachusetts-based consulting firm said Saudi Arabia, perhaps with help from Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, will need to drop production by a million barrels a day from 2012 levels to defend $100 Brent crude, the global benchmark oil price.
The prediction is in line with a report from the International Energy Agency, which said last week that most of the world’s new oil production over the next five years would come from outside OPEC.
South Texas boom: Eagle Ford barrels hit record high
Much of that shift is due to the North American shale oil boom, according to the IEA, but also growing production in Brazil and Iraq.
The Energy Security Analysis outlook said Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar produced an average of 15.2 million barrels per day in the first quarter of 2013, down from an average of 15.8 million barrels per day in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Halfway through the second quarter of 2013, it said production appears to be about 15.1 million barrels per day.
Other OPEC countries are maintaining average production at 15.2 million barrels per day.
Saudi Texas: Oil’s new reign in Texas draws comparisons to the Kingdom
Looking forward, the report said, in order to prevent surplus inventories, producers along the Arab Gulf, excluding Iran and Iraq, will need to cut production during the second half of the year, despite expected lower production in Libya and Nigeria.
“OPEC can manage supply effectively this year, but not through benign neglect,” Sarah Emerson, energy principal at Energy Security Analysis Inc., said in a statement.
... the week ending May 17, 2013, 4 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 87.3 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging over 9.2 million ...
U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged over 15.2 million barrels per day during the week ending May 17, 2013, 4 thousand barrels per day below the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 87.3 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production increased last week, averaging over 9.2 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production increased last week, averaging 4.8 million barrels per day.
U.S. crude oil imports averaged over 8.1 million barrels per day last week, up by 507 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports have averaged 7.9 million barrels per day, 932 thousand barrels per day below the same four-week period last year. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 1.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 101 thousand barrels per day last week.
U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 0.3 million barrels from the previous week. At 394.6 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are above the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 3.0 million barrels last week and are near the upper limit of the average range. Both finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels last week and remained in the lower half of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories increased by 2.2 million barrels last week, and are in the middle of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 4.2 million barrels last week.
Total products supplied over the last four-week period have averaged 18.6 million barrels per day, down
Data Overview (Combined Table 1 and Table 9)
May 22, 2013
The USDA's May 10 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report contained supply and consumption projections for the 2013-14 marketing year for U.S. corn and soybeans. For the most part, the market focused on the projections of crop size, but according to University of Illinois agricultural economist Darrel Good, the most important information is in the projections of marketing year consumption.
"The U.S average corn yield is projected at 158 bushels per acre, below our calculation of trend yield near 161.5 bushels, and production is projected at a record 14.14 billion bushels," Good said. "The U.S. average soybean yield is projected at 44.5 bushels per acre, above our trend-yield calculation near 44 bushels, and production is projected at a record 3.39 billion bushels. The projected corn yield reflects the expectation that yield potential has been compromised by the likelihood that a much larger-than-average percentage of the 2013 crop will be planted later than is optimal for maximum yield potential. The soybean yield forecast reflects an opportunity to plant much of the crop in a timely fashion with much improved soil moisture conditions in many areas," Good said.
According to Good, the yield of both crops will be determined by weather conditions yet to unfold so considerable uncertainty will persist for another three months. In addition, the magnitude of planted acreage is not yet known with more information to be available in the USDA's June Acreage report.
"The consumption projections for both crops reflect judgment about the size of the market under conditions of ample supplies and much lower prices," Good said. "These projections are valuable because they provide context for evaluating the price implications of production potential as it unfolds over the next few months," he said.
For corn, use for ethanol and by-product production is forecast at 4.85
NIST Tech Beat: May 14, 2013
Chances are you know how many miles your car logs for each gallon or tankful of gas, but you probably have only a foggy idea of how much energy your house consumes, even though home energy expenditures often account for a larger share of the household budget.
This disparity in useful energy data is just one of several information gaps that must be bridged as the United States transitions towards residences that generate as much energy as they use over the course of a year—so-called net-zero houses.
Gaps—and strategies to overcome them—are summarized in Strategies to Achieve Net-Zero Energy Homes: A Framework for Future Guidelines, a new publication* from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) based on the discussions at a 2011 workshop convened by the agency.
One such strategy, proffered by experts who attended the workshop, is to require that energy costs be listed in all real-estate transactions.
"This means incorporating energy in the appraisal process, and the valuation of principal, interest, taxes, and insurance (PITI), so that it incorporates energy cost considerations to become the valuation of principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and energy cost considerations (PITIE)," the report says.
The report breaks out three categories of challenges: design, technology and equipment, and the needs and behaviors of homeowners and the building industry.
With regard to design, one workshop recommendation is to establish a scoring system for new and used homes so that prospective buyers can "compare energy, durability, indoor air quality, accessibility, and other factors relative to their needs."
In net-zero energy homes, energy loads will be substantially lower than current heating and cooling equipment is built to deliver and existing product performance standards are designed to test. According to the
Quick, everyone invest heavily on LNG before the BOOM BUSTS!
Anyone see a BUBBLE?
... "The cost of buying solar is now cheaper than buying from the grid, even with zero subsidies," says UBS utilities analyst David Leitch...
Some Australian businesses installing commercial scale solar power systems can now source electricity cheaper than from the mains grid.
According to an article on The Australian, the economics of solar have improved so much in recent years, commercial solar is being installed without major subsidies.
Quoting figures from AGL, The Australian states the number of commercial scale solar installations has jumped from 550 in the first four months in 2012 to 1,460 in the same period this year.
The reason for the jump isn't so much to do with the environmental aspect, which can have benefits in terms of customer perception; but more to do with bottom line results.
"The cost of buying solar is now cheaper than buying from the grid, even with zero subsidies," says UBS utilities analyst David Leitch.
Australian commercial solar installer Energy Matters says if businesses are paying more than 20c/kWh for daytime electricity consumption, a system sized to generate equivalent to that consumption will provide a payback time of between 5 and 7 years; "after which time, the electricity you generate is essentially free".
Also a significant player in the residential solar sector, Energy Matters' commercial arm installs systems for businesses, schools and community organisations across Australia from 20 kilowatts to 1 megawatt capacity.
Energy Matters recently announced it was commencing work on a 290kW solar power system for foodservice giant Bidvest; which will be one of the largest purely privately funded solar installations in Australia.
Commercial scale solar arrays still represent a significant capital investment, "so it is important to know what you are buying and from whom," says Energy Matters; which offers a free commercial solar guide to assist businesses discern value-for-money proposals from sales spin.
Planting surge sinks corn futures
Dow Jones Newswires05/21/2013 3:32pm
U.S. corn futures settled at a four-week low Tuesday, after a surge in corn plantings last week eased concerns that planting delays this spring could reduce the new crop's output.
Corn futures for July delivery at the Chicago Board of Trade settled down 9 1/2 cents or 1.5% at $6.40 a bushel, the lowest close for the front-month contract since April 24.
U.S. farmers sowed corn at a feverish pace last week as warm, dry weather allowed producers throughout the Midwest to return to their fields, a government report showed Monday. Cold, wet weather from Nebraska to Ohio earlier this spring had caused a slow start to plantings, raising worries of tighter corn supplies after the fall harvest.
VIDEO: Critical Weather for Corn Planting
On Monday afternoon, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the corn crop was 71% planted as of Sunday, up sharply from 28% a week earlier. The one-week percentage gain in seedings matched the record of 43 percentage points set in 1992.
Wheat futures were pulled lower by the decline in corn prices and expectations for ample world wheat supplies this year. Analysts expect production to rebound from last year's drought-reduced levels in areas like the former Soviet Union.
Soybean futures ended mixed, with nearby futures jumping on tight current supplies and strong demand from domestic processors.
CBOT July wheat settled down 4 3/4 cents or 0.7% at $6.80 1/2 a bushel, the lowest close for the front-month contract since April 2. July soybeans rose 13 3/4 cents or 0.9% to $14.78 1/4 a bushel.
USDA Crop Progress
Released May 20, 2013, by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), Agricultural Statistics Board, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Corn futures near two-week low as USDA data show jump in plantings
May 21, 2013, 2:14 PM
Corn futures were poised to log their lowest close in almost two weeks on Tuesday after a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that plantings of corn jumped for the week ended Sunday, from a week earlier.
July corn CN3-0.16% traded at $6.35 per bushel, down nearly 15 cents, or 2.3% on the Chicago Board of Trade. If prices close around this level, that’ll mark the lowest settlement for a most-active contract since May 8, according to FactSet data.
The USDA’s Crop Progress report released late Monday showed that 71% of the corn crop was planted as of the week ended May 19. A week earlier, plantings were at just 28%. The percentage was still well below the five-year average of 79% and 95% for the same period a year ago, data show.
The report showed “substantial catch up” due to better weather conditions, said analysts at Cowen Securities, in a note Tuesday. “With the pace of planting demonstrated this past week, we continue to believe that farmers should be able to make up a substantial portion of lost time in the next few weeks.”
The analysts reiterated their “cautious outlook” on agricultural shares, noting that they still expect a large corn crop.
Even so, “until the next harvest for corn and soybeans, domestic supplies will be very, very tight,” American Restaurant Association President David Maloni wrote in The Maloni Report, a daily newsletter covering food service-related commodity markets. “This should be supportive of nearby grain futures deep into the summer.”
Maine passes bill limiting ethanol blending, conditions apply
By Holly Jessen | May 21, 2013
Gov. Paul LePage of Maine recently signed a bill effectively limiting corn-ethanol blends to 10 percent. However, it will take action in two other area states before it becomes a reality.
LD 453 prohibits retailers from selling gasoline “that contains corn-based ethanol as an additive at level greater than 10 percent by volume.” The bill only goes into effect if two other New England states also pass similar laws. The list of New England states includes Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ricky Long.
Two other anti-ethanol bills have floundered in the Maine Senate, with one effectively dead and the other up for possible reconsideration after a “do not pass” vote. LD 105, a bill to allow retailers to sell E5, a decrease from the current E10 requirement, was killed in the Senate, according to Darek Grant, secretary of the Maine Senate.
LD 115, which seeks to ban the sale of corn-based ethanol completely (provided two other New England states pass similar laws), failed a previous Senate vote. However, a motion to reconsider was made and accepted. The decision to reconsider the vote or not has been tabled, Grant said, so it’s unknown if that bill will prevail or not.
May 22 2013
Florida legislators passed a bill this year to repeal the state law that requires most gasoline sold in the state to include 10 percent ethanol. The bill, awaiting action from Gov. Rick Scott, would be largely symbolic, because federal law still requires that gasoline be mixed with ethanol or other biofuels.
Opposition to the mandate has united some unlikely allies in the oil industry and environmental community.
Senior editorial writer Paul Owens recently conducted an email interview with Charles Drevna, an ethanol critic and president of the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers.
Q: What is the Renewable Fuel Standard? Is it meeting its objectives?
A: The federal Renewable Fuel Standard, established in 2005 and expanded in 2007, requires that increasing volumes of biofuels be blended into U.S. gasoline, with the goals of protecting the environment and reducing dependence on foreign oil.
But growing ethanol feedstock to meet the RFS destroys natural habitats and converts wild lands to farmland at an alarming rate. The process of producing ethanol depletes water resources and causes higher greenhouse gas emissions than producing fossil fuels, and is expected to for years to come.
And these are not sacrifices that must be made in the name of energy security. Gasoline demand has been declining since 2007, and increased production of North American oil and natural gas is mitigating concerns about imported energy.
Q: How does the mandate impact consumers?
A: Ethanol contains 33 percent less energy than gasoline, meaning that as more ethanol is forced into fuel, vehicles will cover fewer miles per gallon, and consumers will need to fill up more often.… In boats and other smaller engines — such as those in motorcycles, lawnmowers or generators — ethanol can quickly cause the corrosion of metal parts (including carburetors), degradation of plastic and
May 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm by Emily Pickrell
Renewable fuel standards are distorting the refining industry in ways lawmakers didn’t foresee when they set the mandates, industry representatives said Tuesday at a Houston conference.
Import of renewable fuel from Brazil, production fraud and and a misinterpretation of rules governing the use of a 15 percent ethanol blend called E15 are among the problems that have arisen from existing renewable fuel standards, said Charles Drevna, president of American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.
He spoke at the North American Refined Products conference sponsored at the Saint Regis Houston by Platts, an energy information service.
Most domestic ethanol is made from corn, but imports of cheaper, sugar-based ethanol from Brazil have cut into demand for ethanol from domestic producers.
The resulting glut in domestic capacity has prompted producers to advocate a 15 percent ethanol content in gasoline.
“E15 is the best answer for the corn ethanol industry,” said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “It is plagued with overcapacity and E15 is seen as the answer.”
But refiners and some consumer advocates contend older vehicle engines can’t handle the higher blend.
The first renewable standard, which Congress passed in 2005, required all fuel sold in the United States for transportation to contain a specified minimum volume of fuel produced from renewable sources.
Then the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 set minimums that must increase over time for four different categories of biofuels .
The requirements have distorted the market, Drevna said.
“The dialogue should be to repeal the renewable targets and let the market decide,” Drevna said. “The renewable fuel is difficult to comprehend when you are in the business and see the impacts it has.”
Refiners oppose requirements to blend more renewables into