Sapphire pays off USDA loan guarantee early
20 Aug 2013
Sapphire Energy Inc. has paid of its entire $54.5 million USDA loan guarantee. The company was awarded the guarantee in late 2009 under the USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program to support the construction of a fully integrated, algae-to-crude oil commercial demonstration facility in Columbus, N.M.
The Green Crude Farm was completed on time and on budget, and is currently producing renewable crude oil on a continuous basis. According to Sapphire, the operational crude oil farm has led to additional investment in the company and commercial partnerships. Sapphire repaid the remaining loan balance in full after receiving additional equity from private investors.
The company also recently announced that it is expanding its partnership with The Linde Group to commercialize a new industrial-scale conversion technology needed to upgrade algae biomass into crude oil. Together, the companies will refine the hydrothermal treatment process developed by Sapphire. That process sis currently operating at the pilot scale.
“I anticipate we’ll see the [U.S. EPA’s] RVO rule in third or fourth week in September, which will set the numbers for the renewable pool, advanced pool, biomass-based diesel pool and the cellulosic pool for 2014. Statute obligates it to be done by November 30… I don’t think it will get there, but I suspect it’ll be done by the end of the year.”
Advanced biofuel industry leaders: now is the time to unite
By Anna Simet | September 11, 2013
Industry leaders at the National Advanced Biofuel Conference & Expo had an adamant, clear-cut message for attendees: if there was ever a time to unite and work together as one force, that time is now.
During the kickoff general session, Advanced Biofuel Association President Michael McAdams urged biofuel industry members—whether biodiesel, renewable diesel, cellulosic or first-generation ethanol producers—to protect what they have built over the last 30 years. Specifically, the renewable fuel standard (RFS). “During the next several weeks, we’ll be in the throws [of the RFS’s fate],” he said.
AFBA Chairman and CEO of Sundrop Biofuels Wayne Simmons joined McAdams on stage, magnifying the significance of trade associations and their relationships with members, as well as essential camaraderie between members. “We have members in all different stages of development and are quite diverse…being a part of an industry association allows a company to really magnify its voice. There are a lot of diverse viewpoints, so there has to be a balance…we need to make sure we’re all integrated and focused the same way. We don’t want anyone in competition with each other; the best thing for everyone would be to produce more advanced biofuels.”
McAdams discussed a key July RFS hearing on Capitol Hill, which he described as “a bit theatrical,” and “tilted against higher blends of ethanol.” During the hearing, which played out seemingly well for the industry, both stakeholders and non-industry members in opposition of the RFS were intensely questioned.
On what’s in store in the wake of the July hearing, McAdams said there will be a potential legislative action no later than the first or second week of October in the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, the Senate has indicated it will potentially have a hearing end of September or early October. “I anticipate we’ll see the [
PEI research estimates E15 conversion costs for retail stations
By Erin Voegele | September 11, 2013
Responding to a request made by the USDA, the Petroleum Equipment Institute recently published results of its research into how much it costs to convert a station dispensing E10 to one that supplies E15. The results show the conversion costs are much lower than those projected by Big Oil, ranging from an average of $1,000 per station to just over $320,000, depending on specific upgrades needed.
According to information published by PEI, Todd Campbell, acting chief of staff for USDA Rural Development, provided PEI with several scenarios regarding the conversion of retail stations to E15 on Aug. 13 and asked for the organization’s response. In a Sept. 6 letter to Campbell, Robert Renkes, executive vice president of PEI, noted his organization conducted research from Aug. 22 to Sept. 5 via a survey of PEI members from across the nation, resulting in ballpark figures for each scenario.
Under the first E15 conversion scenario, all onsite equipment is compatible with E15, including underground storage systems, dispensers and hanging hardware. The conversion, however, might require labeling and signage changes. The PEI estimates the cost of those changes would average $1,167 with the respondents providing a median answer of $1,000.
Additional scenarios addressed by the PEI include one that assumes the underground storage tank is not E15 compatible, one that assumes a retrofit kit is needed to make the onsite dispensers compatible the fuel blend, and another that considers the expense of converting a site that must use a retrofit kit to make the dispenser E15 compatible, but does not require the replacement of hanging hardware. Additional scenarios assume both dispensers and underground storage systems need upgrading, or that existing dispensers are replaced with new E-15 listed dispensers. The research also addressed the cost to install a stand-alone E15 disp
Feds consider ban on new coal plants that lack expensive carbon controls
September 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm by Bloomberg
New coal plants would need to install expensive equipment to limit climate-change emissions under a proposal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is close to issuing, according to people familiar with the plan.
The EPA agreed to revise a similar proposal from last year in response to opposition by utilities and coal producers who said it would effectively kill coal as a power source. The new version will be structured differently, though offers little solace to plant operators, according to the people who have been briefed by officials and asked not to be identified before the public release.
The rules, the subject of intense lobbying by the industry, are under review by White House officials, and could be reworked before the Sept. 20 scheduled release. The revised standard would retain a provision letting utilities phase-in the capture technology over time, one person said.
Relying on carbon capture to limit coal emissions is challenging because the technology is unproven and it’s too expensive, according to the industry.
Alisha Johnson, a spokeswoman for the EPA, declined to comment.
“They are going to have to be very artful, given the stage of development of the technology, it’s apparent costs and the fact that the government is subsidizing it,” said William Bumpers, a lawyer at Baker Botts LLP in Washington who deals with EPA rules. “That doesn’t strike me as commercially viable.”
Bumpers said he didn’t know what EPA planned to do.
The administration was forced to rework the first rules on greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants after legal experts questioned its approach in setting one standard for coal and natural-gas plants. Coal emits about twice the carbon dioxide as natural gas when burned to make power.
Carbon-dioxide emissions since the Industrial Revolution have led to a warming of the Earth’s temperatu
Short-Term Energy Outlook Release Date: September 10, 2013
Next Release Date: October 8, 2013 (10 a.m.) | Full Report | Text Only | All Tables | All Figures
•Monthly average crude oil prices increased for the fourth consecutive month in August 2013, as supply disruptions in Libya increased and concerns over the conflict in Syria intensified. The U.S. Energy Information Administration's (EIA) forecast for Brent crude oil spot price, which averaged $108 per barrel during the first half of 2013, averages $109 per barrel over the second half of 2013 and $102 per barrel in 2014, $5 per barrel and $2 per barrel higher than forecast in last month's STEO, respectively. Projected West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices average $101 per barrel during the fourth quarter of 2013 and $96 per barrel during 2014. Energy price forecasts are highly uncertain and could differ significantly from the projected levels. The current values of futures and options contracts suggest the lower and upper limits of the 95% confidence interval for the market's expectations of monthly average WTI prices in December 2013 at $86 per barrel and $131 per barrel, respectively.
•In August, unplanned disruptions among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers reached an estimated 2.7 million barrels per day (bbl/d), the highest level since at least January 2011 (see EIA Estimates of Crude Oil and Liquid Fuels Supply Disruptions and Status of Libyan Loading Ports and Oil and Natural Gas Fields). Of this volume, 0.6 million bbl/d was attributable to non-OPEC producers, while OPEC producers accounted for the remaining 2.1 million bbl/d of outages. OPEC disruptions reached the highest level since at least January 2009, when EIA began tracking this information.
•EIA's forecast for the regular gasoline retail price averages $3.44 per gallon in the fourth quarter of 2013, 11 cents per gallon higher than in last month's STEO. The annu
Energies Market Overview insidefutures
Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Weed Ending September 6, 2013
U.S. crude oil refinery inputs averaged about 15.9 million barrels per day during the week ending September 6, 2013, roughly the same as the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 92.5 percent of their operable capacity last week. Gasoline production was flat compared to the previous week, averaging 9.1 million barrels per day. Distillate fuel production was also unchanged last week, averaging about 5.0 million barrels per day.
U.S. crude oil imports averaged about 8.0 million barrels per day last week, down by 238 thousand barrels per day from the previous week. Over the last four weeks, crude oil imports averaged over 8.1 million barrels per day. Total motor gasoline imports (including both finished gasoline and gasoline blending components) last week averaged 401 thousand barrels per day. Distillate fuel imports averaged 99 thousand barrels per day last week.
U.S. commercial crude oil inventories (excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve) decreased by 0.2 million barrels from the previous week. At 360.0 million barrels, U.S. crude oil inventories are near the upper limit of the average range for this time of year. Total motor gasoline inventories increased by 1.7 million barrels last week and are in the upper half of the average range. Finished gasoline inventories and blending components inventories increased last week. Distillate fuel inventories increased by 2.6 million barrels last week but remain near the lower limit of the average range for this time of year. Propane/propylene inventories decreased by 0.1 million barrels last week and are in the middle of the average range. Total commercial petroleum inventories increased by 4.1 million barrels last week.
Total products supplied over the last four-week period averaged 19.0 million barrels per day, up by 1.7 percent from the same period last year. Over the last four weeks,
'50 dirtiest' US power plants emit more greenhouse gases than South Korea
A new study by an environmental group suggests that reining in a handful of America's coal-fired power plants would have a major impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
By Mark Clayton, Staff writer / September 10, 2013
Fifty US power plants emit more greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels than all but six nations, says a new report.
The study by Environment America paints a bulls-eye on the nation’s biggest coal-fired power plants, suggesting that reining in a relatively small share of America's 6,000 electric generating facilities could have a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions.
The report comes as the Obama administration is preparing the nation’s first-ever greenhouse gas emissions regulations for US power plants, which could be released as soon as this month. The administration’s goal is to have power plant emissions regulations in place by 2015, and the new study provides a window into which plants could face steep federal fines unless they slash emissions or close.
Of the country's 6,000 coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, wind, and solar electric-generating facilities, a small sub-group of mostly coal-fired power generators produces more than its share of the nation’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared with the electricity it produces, the report found. The "50 dirtiest" power plants generated nearly 33 percent of the US power sector's carbon dioxide emissions in 2011 but only about 16 percent of its electricity.
US power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the country, responsible for 41 percent of the nation’s carbon dioxide pollution, the report states. But the "50 dirtiest" stand out for emitting more than 2 percent of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide pollution – which would place them at No. 7 if they were a country, behind Germany and ahead of South Korea.
The top CO2-emitting power plant in the US – Power Plant Scherer in Juliette
Solar Panel Is Next Granite Countertop for Homebuilders
By Justin Doom - Sep 11, 2013 2:25 AM MT
Solar panels are the next granite countertops: an amenity for new homes that’s becoming a standard option for buyers in U.S. markets.
At least six of 10 largest U.S. homebuilders led by KB Home include the photovoltaic devices in new construction, according to supplier SunPower Corp. (SPWR) Two California towns are mandating installations, and demand for the systems that generate electricity at home will jump 56 percent nationwide this year, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.
“In the next six months, homebuilders in California and the expensive-energy states will be going solar as a standard, and just incorporating it into the cost of the house like any other feature,” Jim Petersen, chief executive officer of the PetersenDean Inc., the largest closely held U.S. roofing and solar contractor, said in an interview.
Lashing panels to roofs during construction is about 20 percent cheaper than after a house is built. Homeowners who can afford the extra $10,000 to $20,000 cost in return for free power threaten the business of traditional utilities such as Edison International of California or Kansas’ Westar Energy Inc.
Power companies are losing business because they can’t cut their rates in line with the tumbling prices of residential solar systems. Those cost about $4.93 a watt in the first quarter, down 16 percent from a year earlier, according to the Washington-based solar association. That was sparked by the 18 percent slump in prices for solar panels and related hardware in the same period.
A 3-kilowatt system, enough to power a typical mid-size home, costs less than $15,000 and can be rolled into a mortgage, said Tom Werner, CEO of San Jose, California-based SunPower.
“You embed it into your home mortgage, you’re cashflow positive month one,” he said.
That’s similar to how some buyers decided to p
Energy East pipeline may create 10,000 jobs, study says (video)
TransCanada Corp. hired Deloitte to conduct economic analysis of proposed pipeline
Posted: Sep 10, 2013 8:44 AM AT
Last Updated: Sep 10, 2013 10:49 PM AT
TransCanada Corp.'s proposed west-east pipeline could create 10,000 jobs and generate $10 billion in additional GDP during the development and construction phase, according to an economic analysis released on Tuesday.
The project could generate an additional $25.3 billion in GDP during its estimated 40 years of operation and sustain 1,000 direct full-time jobs, the independent report prepared by Deloitte & Touche found.
Energy East could also generate $10 billion in tax revenues for all levels of government over the life of the project, which is expected to extend beyond 40 years with regular maintenance, Deloitte projected.
"Energy East is a critical infrastructure project for all Canadians because it will enhance our country's energy security, allow us to receive greater value for our important natural resources and will create tangible economic benefits for communities across the country," TransCanada's president and chief executive officer Russ Girling said in a statement.
The Calgary-based company released the report it commissioned on its proposed $12-billion Energy East Pipeline project on Tuesday morning.
All six provinces along the pipeline's proposed route are projected to see job creation, economic growth and increased tax revenues.
The Deloitte report shows 2,300 direct full-time equivalent jobs will be created during the three-year development period and 7,700 during the three-year construction phase.
That combined six-year period could add $10 billion in GDP across the country, Deloitte found, based on Statistics Canada's input/output model, which measures direct, indirect and induced economic effects of large industrial projects and activities in Canada.
Alternatives to Keystone, Oliver says
Shep, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is a member of the Democratic Party which would suggest that he's more likely to 'say no to the living-wage veto'
Ethanol Rises Versus Gasoline Amid Concern on Corn Availability
By Mario Parker - Sep 10, 2013 3:12 PM MT
Ethanol advanced against gasoline on concern that demand for corn as the harvest begins will raise prices for the grain, boosting the cost of making the additive.
The spread, or discount, tightened 7.97 cents to 84.07 cents a gallon as futures jumped for December corn. Ethanol stockpiles have been at record seasonal lows this year since March, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
“Everybody’s so hungry for new corn that there’s going to be a line to buy,” said Jason Ward, an analyst at Northstar Commodity Investments LLC in Minneapolis. “There’s legitimate concern from the ethanol producer that he’s going to be able to source corn.”
Denatured ethanol for October delivery rose 1.3 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $1.895 a gallon on the Chicago Board of Trade. Futures have dropped 14 percent this year.
Gasoline for October delivery declined 6.67 cents, or 2.4 percent, to $2.7357 a gallon on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract covers reformulated gasoline, made to be blended with ethanol before delivery to filling stations.
“Ethanol stockpiles are very low and the spread with gasoline is very wide,” Ward said. “That makes ethanol look attractive.”
Inventories slipped 0.2 percent to 16.2 million barrels in the week ended Aug. 30 from the previous week, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show. That was the lowest level since July 5.
Production tumbled a third week to 819,000 barrels a day, the smallest run rate since March, according to the Energy Department’s statistical arm.
Imports have averaged 22,000 barrels a day this year, up from 17,000 during the same period in 2012, EIA data show.
Ethanol is made mostly from corn in the U.S., with one bushel making at least 2.75 gallons of the renewable fuel.
Corn for December delivery climbed 5.5 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $4.69 a bushel in Chicago. September corn slipped
Obama chooses 'peaceful solutions' in address on Syria
By Justin Sink - 09/10/13 09:28 PM ET
President Obama on Tuesday said he would seek to avoid a military strike as the crisis over Syria’s chemical weapons turned dramatically away from Congress and toward negotiations at the United Nations.
“I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions,” Obama said in a prime-time address from the White House’s East Room.
The president made a forceful case that striking Syria would be justified, laying out what the administration argues is credible evidence that President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against civilians in an Aug. 21 attack.
“What kind of a world will we live in if we see a dictator brazenly violate international law and we look the other way?” Obama said.
But he made it clear that instead of seeking authorization from Congress for a strike — which the House and Senate seemed unlikely to approve — he would pursue a diplomatic solution through the United Nations.
The president’s address capped a day when events moved at breakneck pace and Democrats and Republicans fought furiously over whether they amount to a triumph or humiliation for the U.S.
As the commander in chief embraced a diplomatic solution variously claimed to be an American, Russian or Polish idea, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the new direction “validates what the president is doing” and added, “I think this is a victory for President Obama, if it is real.”
Republicans, conversely, accused the president of letting Syria off the hook with a deal that could not work and of seriously eroding American influence in the Middle East.
The prospect of Syria relinquishing its weapons came “along just in time to bail President Obama out of a losing situation,” said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), an early opponent of military action.
“It gets him off the hook of painting himself in the corner he did, drawing the red line that he did and then not acting,” said Inho
Although progress is well behind schedule, recent hot, dry weather is now promoting a swift corn harvest.
“Parts of the south Delta are 85-90 percent finished harvesting by the first few days in September, but that tails off north of Highway 82,” Larson said.
Dennis Reginelli, Extension agronomics crops agent, said yields in the Noxubee County area have been varied but generally good.
“We are harvesting good yields at this point with dryland averaging 180-230 bushels per acre,” he said. “Timely rains helped keep dryland and irrigated fields closer in production. Some years there are 80-100 bushels more per acre in irrigated fields. This year, the difference is closer to 20 bushels per acre.”
Brian Williams, assistant Extension professor of agricultural economics, said although prices are the lowest they have been since 2010, they remain fairly good from a historical perspective, especially with strong yields predicted.
“Many of the analysts are expecting the U.S. crop to be a record this year. December futures are running around $4.61 per bushel,” he said. “As recently as late June, we had prices for September futures exceeding $6 per bushel.”
Corn growers overcome challenges; crop nears record yield
by MBJ Staff
Published: September 10,2013
ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — Mississippi growers’ determination to plant corn last spring is paying off as harvests approach 2012’s record yields of 165 bushels per acre.
Persistent rains and low temperatures in the spring delayed planting, slowed emergence and contributed to less than desirable final stands. Cool weather through May also slowed corn growth and maturity by about two weeks throughout the season.
Jerry Singleton, area agent in Leflore County with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said he is almost afraid to say how good the yields appear to be.
“I think averages are going to be over 200 bushels per acre on some irrigated farms,” he said. “The early rains made it hard to get into fields, either to plant or apply nitrogen in a timely manner, but after that, conditions were just right and not too hot.”
Erick Larson, state Extension corn specialist, said the crop is proving to be more productive than expected.
“Overall, corn yields have been extremely positive, which is a very pleasant surprise for both dryland and irrigated fields, but harvest progress is well behind normal and especially behind last year’s exceptionally early crop,” he said. “Some areas benefitted from timely summer rainfall, but the most significant factor enhancing corn yields was uncommonly mild night temperatures during June and July. This allowed corn plants to utilize energy much more efficiently for grain production.”
Larson said corn maturity is determined by heat unit accumulation. Late plantings and a cool spring combined to delay this crop’s maturity.
“Growers across Mississippi planted corn over a lot wider time frame than normal, and many intended acres were not planted due to frequent spring rains. Corn planting began in early March and continued until late May in some instances,” he said. “Cool spring temperatures also slowed crop maturatio
USDA Says Corn Silage Harvest Starts in South Dakota
September 10, 2013
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – South Dakota’s corn silage harvest has started in some areas and farmers are preparing equipment for row crop harvest.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service says in its weekly crop report that the barley harvest was at 97 percent last week.
Corn at the dough stage was 98 percent, just ahead last year and the 94 percent average. Corn at the dented is behind average but about where the crop was last year.
Soybeans dropping leaves were at 28 percent, well behind 74 percent last year and the 41 percent average.
The third cutting of alfalfa was 80 percent complete, ahead of last year and average.
Mr. Mayor, say no to the living-wage veto
By D.C. City Councilman Vincent Orange (D) and Amy Traub - 09/10/13 02:30 PM ET
Washington DC needs jobs. When D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray made this point at a press conference this week, he may not have realized he was making a strong case in favor of the Large Retailer Accountability Act.
Consider the status quo. Right now, we allow large and profitable companies to get away with paying so little that their employees can’t afford to make ends meet. The low wages undermine the foundations of our economy. Workers don’t have enough money to spend on food, transportation, and other basic expenses, leaving local businesses without a customer base. The jobs that could have been sustained by employees’ consumer spending instead wither away. This dynamic explains a good deal of what’s happening in many of Washington’s neighborhoods – and in the nation as a whole.
Families living in or near poverty spend nearly all of their income just to meet their basic needs, and when these employees receive an extra dollar in pay, they are likely to spend it immediately, spurring local job growth. A study by Demos found that if the nation’s big retail companies paid their lowest-wage employees at least $25,000 per year for a full-time, year-round work (a figure close to the $12.50 an hour required by the D.C. legislation) the economy would grow, GDP would increase by billions, and 100,000 or more new jobs would be created nationwide.
The study also found that the cost of a wage increase to consumers would be just cents more per shopping trip, on average.
And what about Walmart’s threat to not open three planned new stores in D.C. if the city requires it to pay its employees enough to live on? A 2007 study by economists at the University of California Berkeley Labor Center found that when a new Walmart store opens in a county, new jobs are not necessarily created. Instead, better paying retail jobs are replaced with lower-paying ones. At
Valero implores Obama administration to waive ethanol mandate
September 10, 2013 at 5:47 pm by Bloomberg
By Mario Parker
Valero Energy Corp., the world’s largest independent refining company, called on the Obama administration to waive the country’s biofuel target immediately, saying the cost to reach it has skyrocketed.
“We need the waiver now,” Valero Chief Executive Officer Bill Klesse, said in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, dated yesterday. Valero is also the third-largest U.S. ethanol producer, after Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) and Poet LLC.
Refiners are required by law to use 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol in 2013. Renewable Identification Numbers are attached to each gallon of ethanol to track compliance. Once the additive is blended into gasoline, refiners can retain the certificate to show compliance or trade it to another party. RINs prices have risen more than eight-fold so far this year.
Ethanol group: Don’t believe ‘slick’ oil industry (video)
RINs have increased because of falling gasoline demand and higher biofuel consumption targets, Klesse said in the letter.
Gasoline demand will drop 0.5 percent next year, according to a forecast today from the Energy Information Administration, the Energy Department’s statistical arm. The Renewable Fuels Standard, set in 2007, calls for 14.4 billion gallons of ethanol to be used in 2014, up 4.3 percent from this year. The target increased 4.5 percent this year from 13.2 billion in 2012.
“You have the flexibility to waiver volumes which will lower the price of RINs now, will lower the cost to the consumer and make the marketplace fair,” Kleese said.
Corn-based ethanol RINs slipped 1 cent to 67 cents today, compared to 7 cents in January, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Advanced RINs, which cover biodiesel and Brazilian sugarcane-based ethanol, slipped 2 cents to 74 cents. That’s up from 37 cents in January.
Ethanol is typically
Listen to Sec. Vilsack’s full address to Growth Energy here: