Chet Nagle, director, Black Bear Energy Corporation - 05/02/13 10:45 AM ET
In 2012, National Geographic told us, “Unlike CO2, methane affects human health, because it is a precursor of smog.” Now the Environmental Defense Fund tells us, “... each pound of methane is 72 times more powerful at increasing the retention of heat in the atmosphere than a pound of carbon dioxide.” So, what is this toxic greenhouse gas, methane? It’s natural gas, that stuff we get from “fracking.”
To be fair, good things come from the fracking boom like jobs drilling wells, new industrial plants, and the hope America may be energy independent one day. But Sherry Vargson is not enthusiastic. Chesapeake Energy fracked her Pennsylvania farm and now her tapwater fizzes with twice the methane that could cause an explosion. Chesapeake gives her bottled water, though that might end soon since gas production on her farm dropped dramatically and her monthly royalty checks have fallen from $1000 to $100. If that’s just natural, as Chesapeake says, let’s examine some other facts.
Energy companies get methane by drilling horizontally for a mile or more into deep shale and injecting chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water. That fractures the rock and releases gas, hence the name, “fracking.” One problem with this process is that fracking chemicals can enter drinking water wells. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes are already in the gas deposits and may also be in fracking chemicals. VOCs create ozone and cause headaches, loss of coordination, liver and kidney damage, respiratory and immune system damage, adrenal and pituitary tumors, and joint pain -- symptoms many have who live near gas wells in states like Colorado, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania.
Then there is leakage. Professor Robert Howarth of Cornell was first to study the impact of fracking on
Massachusetts Crushes Solar Goals, Aims Much Higher
May 2, 2013 Zachary Shahan
Massachusetts has already surpassed its goal of installing 250 megawatts (MW) of solar energy by 2017. Just a tad early, eh? Obviously, 250 MW was far too small of a goal, so the state is planning to increase the goal to 1,600 MW ( 1.6 GW).
Massachusetts rose to over 250 MW today from just 16 MW in 2009. While solar has been growing fast pretty much everywhere, Massachusetts has seen one of the fastest growth rates in the industry.
Massachusetts installed 198 MW of solar power in 2012 alone, the sixth most of any state.
According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Massachusetts already has about 4,500 solar professionals working in 229 companies.
Naturally, SEIA was happy about the increased target. “Governor Patrick should be commended as a solar champion. We thank him for his leadership,” Carrie Cullen Hitt, senior vice president of state affairs at SEIA, said.
So, how is Massachusetts (you know, The Sunshine State) such a solar power leader? The state (which is actually nicknamed “The Bay State”) offers a host of different solar incentives. From tax credits, to tax exemptions, to PACE financing, to utility rebates, it’s a true leader in this realm. The incentives are actually housed under several different solar programs, such as Solarize Massachusetts, Commonwealth Solar Green Communities, and Leading by Example.
With good solar growth, the industries supporting solar power have matured a bit. Combined with falling solar module prices globally, that resulted in prices coming down 29% in 2012. For much more on solar power in Massachusetts, check out the SEIA page on that state.
Also, for more on the proposed changes, check out the Massachusetts Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ “Solar Carve-Out” page.
May 2, 2013 at 6:46 am by Bloomberg
Statoil ASA (STL), Norway’s biggest energy company, said profits fell by 29 percent in the first quarter on lower oil and gas output in Norway, Brazil and as a terrorist attack shut a facility in Algeria.
Adjusted net income fell to 12 billion kroner ($2.1 billion) from 16.8 billion kroner a year earlier, the Stavanger- based company said today, missing an average estimate of 13.7 billion kroner in a Bloomberg survey of 16 analysts. Net income dropped to 6.4 billion kroner from 15.1 billion kroner in the first quarter of 2012, while sales declined to 162.2 billion kroner from 194.8 billion.
“We deliver financial results impacted by lower production and reduced prices,” Chief Executive Officer Helge Lund said in a statement. “We continue to deliver good industrial progress according to plan. As previously announced, production in 2013 will be lower than in 2012.”
Statoil, of which Norway’s government owns 67 percent, is expanding abroad to raise production to more than 2.5 million barrels of oil equivalent a day in 2020 from 2 million barrels in 2012, with gains in U.S. output accounting for two thirds of that growth. The company has said production would fall in 2013 after it sold some Norwegian assets and on lower-than-expected growth of its U.S. shale gas output.
First-quarter production fell to 1.998 million barrels of oil equivalent a day from 2.193 million barrels a day in the same period last year, the company said. That beat the 1.985 million-barrel estimate from a survey of 9 analysts.
The company took a 4.9 billion kroner writedown on a contract at its Cove Point terminal.
Five Statoil employees were among the 38 killed in this year’s terrorist attack at In Amenas in Algeria, which is run by BP Plc, Statoil and Sonatrach. While the plant restarted in February, it won’t be back to full capacity before..
Energy Future reports $569 million first-quarter loss
May 2, 2013 at 6:40 am by Bloomberg
Energy Future Holdings Corp., the Texas power company seeking to restructure at least $32 billion of debt, reported its ninth consecutive quarterly loss.
The first-quarter loss widened to $569 million from $304 million a year earlier, the Dallas-based company said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission made public today.
Energy Future, formerly known as TXU, has struggled to generate profits since it was taken private six years ago in the largest leveraged buyout in history. Wholesale electricity prices have dropped on a decline in natural gas costs, which fell 86 percent from a 2008 high.
Total debt rose to $43.4 billion among all the company’s units, from $43.2 billion at the end of last year. Creditors rejected a pre-packaged bankruptcy plan to restructure debt held by one of its units, the company said April 15. The company had proposed a plan in which creditors would forgive debt held by its unregulated power unit in exchange for equity in Energy Future and $5 billion in cash or new debt.
KKR & Co., TPG Capital LP and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., leaders of the $48 billion buyout, said they would support the proposed Energy Future restructuring if they can retain a 15 percent equity stake in the company.
“We and the creditors have not reached agreement on the terms of any change in our capital structure and are currently not engaged in ongoing negotiations,” the company said in today’s filing.
Energy Future’s units include Luminant, which owns more than 15,400 megawatts of power plant capacity in Texas; TXU Energy, a retail electricity seller; and Oncor Electric Delivery Company, a regulated power-line unit that supplies electricity to more than 3 million homes and businesses.
May 2, 2013 at 6:00 am by Vicki Vaughan
Capital improvements and higher margins driven by the company’s use of discounted crude oil led refiner Tesoro Corp. to a 66 percent increase in profit in the first quarter, the company said.
Tesoro’s net income climbed to $93 million, or 67 cents a share, compared with net income of $56 million, or 39 cents a share, for the same period a year ago.
“We are pleased with our first-quarter results, which reflect a solid operating performance and continued execution of our strategic plan,” CEO Greg Goff said in a statement.
The results included one-time after-tax expenses of 6 cents a share mostly related to its planned acquisition of BP’s refining and marketing business in Southern California. When those costs are excluded, Tesoro earned $102 million, or 73 cents a share.
That beat analysts’ estimates, as polled by Bloomberg News, that the company would earn 72 cents a share. Analysts typically exclude one-time items.
Revenue rose to $8.2 billion compared with $7.8 billion for the year-earlier period, beating analysts’ revenue estimate of $6.6 billion.
Locally based Tesoro said its gross margins were boosted in the quarter because it was able to buy crude oil priced at a discount compared tobenchmark grades of oil.
Cory Garcia, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates’ Houston office, said the period “wasn’t a home-run quarter.” But it was “solid,” he said, especially considering that the first quarter tends to be weak for refiners.
“Despite the fact that they had maintenance at some of their refineries, they were still able to run fairly efficiently,” Garcia said, noting that Tesoro’s refineries in California “are more competitive relative to their peers, even the majors operating there, because they can run more heavy crude,” which the company can acquire at a discount.
The company’s operating income rose to $300 million compared with
Dave Lochbaum and Robert Cowin, Union of Concerned Scientists - 05/01/13 02:00 PM ET
U.S. nuclear power plants have been generating electricity for more than 50 years, but the nuclear industry and the federal government have yet to figure out what to do with nuclear waste, which remains dangerously radioactive for thousands of years. On April 25, a bipartisan group of senators — Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) — released draft legislation addressing this intractable problem.
Their proposed bill, which mirrors the recommendations of the president’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, would lay the groundwork for an interim storage facility that would hold nuclear waste until the government builds a permanent repository. No argument with that.
But their draft, unfortunately, suffers from a glaring omission: It fails to improve waste management practices at nuclear power plants across the country. Even under the rosiest scenario, it will take years to site and build an interim storage facility. In the meantime, ever-growing quantities of nuclear waste will remain at nuclear plants for a long time.
Why is that a problem? Plant owners—who never expected to have to deal with large amounts of radioactive waste on site—are not storing it as safely as they should or could. The blue ribbon commission failed to address this critical issue in its final report, and if the senators stick strictly to the commission’s recommendations, their legislation will do little or nothing to lessen this threat to public safety.
More than 30 years ago, nuclear plant owners and the Department of Energy (DOE) struck a deal. The owners agreed to pay into what’s called the Nuclear Waste Fund to help finance DOE construction of a permanent geological repository for nuclear waste by
May 1, 2013 at 10:26 am by Emily Pickrell
Tugboats pull an LNG tanker to Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass terminal in 2008. (Nick De La Torre / Houston Chronicle)
What a difference a decade makes, when it comes to liquefied natural gas.
The U.S. is expected to become one of the top exporters of liquefied natural gas in the next five years, with new export facilities becoming the catalyst for a steady stream of shipments to Asia, according to a Moody’s report issued Wednesday.
The first such domestic export facility, Cheniere Energy’s Sabine Pass Liquefaction in western Louisiana, is expected to come online in 2015.
The impact this increase will have on natural gas prices and markets is mixed.
Exports: Surge in US natural gas pushes other countries to diversify
The increase in exports may impact natural prices domestically, as chemical producers and manufacturers that use natural gas as a feedstock will be competing with liquefied natural gas producers. But liquefied natural gas producers in the U.S. are unlikely to face much competition from international producers, because of the higher price internationally for natural gas.
The increase in exports will be a boon to companies like Chesapeake Energy, as it increases the demand for natural gas and will likely push up the price. The forward price for natural gas closed Monday at $4.42 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The arrival of U.S. liquefied natural gas producers is not expected to create sudden shifts in value of international companies investing in this country, because of the long time periods involved. For example, British utility provider Centrica recently agreed to a 20-year, $5.5 billion deal to buy liquefied natural gas from Cheniere Energy at its Sabine Pass facility.
“Since LNG is a slow-moving business dominated by large, highly-rated companies, we do not
Zack Colman - 05/01/13 12:05 PM ET
The Obama administration will likely approve a limited number of politically controversial natural gas export projects despite some fears on Capitol Hill about a massive expansion, according to a Moody's report released Wednesday.
It said the Energy Department (DOE) would likely approve three out of the 20 applications under review for exporting natural gas to nations that lack a free-trade agreement with the United States. One such application already has received the go-ahead from the DOE.
Those projects have alarmed some lawmakers, who are tussling over whether to allow a major expansion of natural gas exports.
The DOE must determine deals to non-free trade countries are in the national interest under federal law, meaning they must clear a more stringent standard than contracts with free-trade nations.
Given the process at the DOE and the time it takes to build export facilities, Moody's said the United States won't be a major player in the international market until 2020.
Republicans and some Democrats want to send more natural gas to non-free trade nations, arguing doing so would add jobs and generate revenues. But several Democrats worry that too rapid an increase would drive domestic energy prices upward.
The report comes as House lawmakers are preparing to dive into the geopolitical implications of exporting natural gas. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will also hold a series of natural gas “roundtables” this month, one of which will focus on exports.
A bulk of the liquefied natural gas shipped from the United States will likely head to Asia and will help other nations secure lower-cost contracts, Moody's said.
While the United States doesn’t figure to become a player in the global natural gas trade until the next decade, its expected emergence already is having an impact, the
May 1, 2013 at 6:56 am by Vicki Vaughan
Just a day before Valero Energy Corp. was set to spin off its retail division, the company said Tuesday it may execute another separation by forming a master limited partnership.
“After we complete the spinoff of our retail business,” Valero CEO Bill Klesse said, “we will evaluate a master limited partnership for our growing portfolio of logistics assets.”
As much as $600 million in Valero’s midstream assets could be put into a master limited partnership, Chief Financial Officer Mike Ciskowski told analysts in a conference call.
That could generate $125 million to $150 million annually in EBITDA (earnings before taxes, interest, depreciation and amortization), Roger Read, senior analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, said in a note to clients.
Under current tax laws, Valero could drop pipelines, terminals, docks and rail facilities into a publicly traded master limited partnership, spokesman Bill Day said.
It’s also possible that Valero’s 10 ethanol plants could be rolled into an MLP, Day said.
Locally based Valero has been aggressively buying rail cars to ship cheaper crude oil to its plants. It expects to own 9,000 rail cars by the end of next year. It doesn’t own major pipelines, but has smaller gathering systems at some of its refineries, Day said.
A master limited partnership must pay out most of its profits to shareholders, helping it avoid most corporate income taxes and keeping its borrowing costs low.
On Wednesday, Valero will spin off its retail arm, giving its investors one share of new company CST Brands Inc. for every nine Valero shares they own. CST’s stock will begin trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday.
Klesse mentioned the possibility of forming a master limited partnership on Tuesday as part of the company’s first-quarter earnings announcement.
The company said higher refining margins in all of its regions except the
May 1, 2013 at 7:35 am by Jeannie Kever
Continuing to profit from lower-priced U.S. shale oil, Phillips 66 announced Wednesday first-quarter earnings of $1.4 billion, or $2.23 per share.
That’s more than twice the profit from the first quarter of 2012, although it’s not an exact comparison — Phillips 66 split off from ConocoPhillips in May 2012, so the two companies were combined for the first quarter of last year.
At that time, they reported first-quarter earnings of $636 million.
Greg Garland, chairman and CEO of Phillips 66, attributed the new company’s strong results to favorable chemicals and refining margins.
“We also are investing in the continued growth of our business,” he said in a statement. “Our plans for a new natural gas liquids fractionator on the Gulf Coast reinforce our commitment to the American energy landscape and highlight our unique opportunities across the downstream value chain.”
Phillips 66 operates 15 refineries and a large chemical business, Chevron Phillips. It also operates a midstream business, DCP Midstream.
The refining segment recorded first-quarter earnings of $922 million, and adjusted earnings of $909 million. Adjusted earnings were $455 million higher than the first quarter of 2012, primarily reflecting higher gasoline and distillate market crack spreads, the company said.
The company reported processing 221,000 barrels per day of Eagle Ford, Bakken and Mississippian Lime crudes. Those numbers represented a 120,000 barrel-per-day increase over the first quarter of 2012.
The chemicals earnings were $282 million, up $65 million from the first quarter of 2012.
Phillips 66 has been busy this spring, jumping on a number of trends intended to boost its value. In addition to announcing plans for a 100,000-barrel-per-day natural gas liquids fractionator in Old Ocean, near the company’s refinery in Sweeny, in March it filed plans with..
May 1, 2013 at 7:10 am by Zain Shauk
Chesapeake Energy Corp. reported earnings of $15 million in the first quarter of 2013, results that were hampered by poorly priced natural gas contracts.
The nation’s second-largest natural gas producer after Exxon Mobil Corp. said it lost $94 million because of its hedges, which are contracts for future production that the company secured as a form of insurance against volatile prices.
Chesapeake’s hedges meant that it received an average of $2.13 per thousand cubic feet of natural gas, down from even one year ago, when it earned $2.35 per thousand cubic feet of the resource at a time when prices were falling to their lowest levels in a decade.
Currently, natural gas sells for more than $4 per thousand cubic feet, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The Oklahoma City-based company also said it incurred an $83 million charge because of employee and retirement expenses that came about because of recent employee buyout deals and a separation agreement with its co-founder and former CEO Aubrey McClendon.
Still, the results were up from a year ago, when Chesapeake lost $71 million because of falling natural gas prices.
Chesapeake made some production gains in the first three months of 2013, increasing overall output by 9 percent from the same period a year ago. It produced the equivalent of about 4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in the first quarter, up 1 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012, the company said.
That daily production rate included a 56 percent percent jump in Chesapeake’s oil production from the same period a year ago. The company now puts out about 103,000 barrels per day of oil, a figure that is up 6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2012.
Oil now makes up 16 percent of Chesapeake’s production, up from 11 percent in the first quarter of 2012. Natural gas accounts for 76 percent of Chesapeake’s..
Monday, April 29, 2013 - 11:11pm
Tom ChervenyWest Central Tribune
BIRD ISLAND — Renville County could become host to the first large-scale commercial project to produce hydrogen from wind in the U.S.
Norfolk Wind Energy of Bird Island and Emerald H2 of Minneapolis entered into an agreement to develop the project, the companies announced Monday.
Norfolk Wind Energy is a community wind project of farmers and landowners in the area south of Bird Island. They are seeking to erect wind turbines with a capacity to produce 40 megawatts of electricity, with the opportunity to eventually expand to 100 megawatts, according to Dave Scheibel of Bird Island, its founder and president.
Emerald H2 of Minneapolis holds rights to a technology that is believed to be more efficient at using electricity to produce hydrogen from water than systems now in use, according to Scheibel.
Norfolk Wind would use electricity generated by the wind during periods of time where there is low electrical demand to produce hydrogen, said Scheibel. Electricity produced during other periods would be transmitted to the grid and sold to a utility customer.
The proposed project would be the first to demonstrate whether hydrogen can be produced from wind-produced electricity on a large scale. The proposed project would include a capacity for using 10 megawatts of wind-generated electricity to produce 500,000 kilograms of hydrogen.
Emerald H2 and Norfolk Wind are currently in discussions with a distributor to sell the hydrogen to industrial customers within a 100- to 150-mile radius of Bird Island. Hydrogen is used in a wide range of industrial applications, from oil refining and altering stainless steel to producing polymers, solvents and even the fats for margarine.
If this proves viable, Scheibel said the hope here is to eventually use the hydrogen to make anhydrous ammonia. In effect,
Fracking rules coming 'in weeks,' says Interior chief Jewell
By Zack Colman - 04/30/13 01:47 PM ET
Draft federal rules on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be released in a matter of “weeks, not months,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday.
The draft rules have undergone “sufficient change,” Jewell said during a media call. They’ll go through a public comment period once revealed.
Interior decided in January to rewrite the rules that would govern fracking on federal lands.
The controversial drilling method involves injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into tight-rock formations to tap oil and gas reserves buried deep underground.
Environmentalists are concerned that fracking pollutes groundwater and have called for strong regulations to protect drinking reservoirs.
The draft rules are expected to establish new requirements for maintaining well integrity and managing so-called flowback water. They will also force drillers to disclose chemicals they use during the fracking process.
The oil and gas industry contends fracking is safe, noting that states have regulated the practice for decades.
The industry is pushing back against the rules, which it says would be duplicative and would fail to account for geological differences between states.
Jewell, for her part, has said a “one-size-fits-all” approach to regulating fracking won’t work.
Jackie Weidman, Guest Blogger on Apr 30, 2013 at 2:10 pm
BP announced its 2013 first-quarter profits this morning, reporting earnings of $4.2 billion — down 10 percent from this time last year but higher than analysts’ forecasts.
Here are some key facts about BP’s profits:
•The company is sitting on nearly $28 billion in cash reserves.
•In the first three months of 2013, BP spent $834 million buying back its own stock.
•Meanwhile, worldwide oil production decreased to 2.3 million barrels per day, 5 percent lower than the first quarter of 2012.
•BP’s CEO Bob Dudley raked in $2.7 million in 2012.
•In 2012, BP gave over $400,000 in federal campaign contributions, with 59 percent going to Republicans. They also spent nearly $9 million on lobbying.
•The company received an estimated $300 million annual tax break for 2011.
April 20th marked the third anniversary of BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and spewed 210 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of 87 days.
In November 2012, BP agreed to pay a $4.5 billion settlement in criminal charges related to the spill: the largest criminal penalty in history. But a separate, and much larger civil trial, is still underway for Clean Water Act violations and is expected to continue well into this year. Record-setting fines for this trial could reach up to $17 billion if BP is found guilty of gross negligence. On top of that, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi are seeking an additional $34 billion for economic and property damage under the Oil Pollution Act.
The Daily Beast recently detailed the extreme health effects related to pouring 1.8 million gallons of toxic chemicals into the ocean in the wake of the spill. Corexit, a “dispersant,” was used to keep oil from reaching the Gulf Coast shorelines. In the
April 30, 2013
Amonix Inc. is no stranger to setting peak efficiency records with its concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems. As a matter of fact, it just set a new record that successfully converted more than 36% of direct sunlight into electricity. This new achievement breaks the old record Amonix established in May 2012 of 34.2% peak efficiency.
Amonix has been the leading designer and manufacturer of concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar power systems for quite some time. This result continues Amonix’s long history of leading the world in solar module efficiency, having been the first to convert over ⅓ of the sun’s energy in May 2012, and the first to break 30% module efficiency in 2011.
Amonix’s latest-generation CPV technology started in late February with outdoor testing, and ran until April of this year. The results from this period showed a peak operating efficiency of 36.2% measured on March 14, 2013, with a DNI of 876 W/m2, an ambient temperature of 16°C and instantaneous wind speed of 1 m/s.
Throughout the entire testing period, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) gave the Amonix module an outdoor efficiency rating of 34.9%, a new world record, under international standard operating conditions for concentrator photovoltaics of 900 W/m2, 20°C ambient temperature and 2m/s wind speed. This broke the previous 33.5% rated efficiency record also set by Amonix in May 2012.
The new module design incorporates Boeing Spectrolab 40% high-efficiency solar cells with Amonix’s proprietary CPV technology to achieve world record performance.
The Amonix Founder and CTO, Vahan Garboushian, is naturally very pleased with the new CPV system:
Amonix’s proprietary technology platform allows us to continue driving rapid performance improvements in our CPV system. The advances we have demonstrated over the last 2 years have all been with the
April 30, 2013, 12:05 p.m. EDT
Canergy selects Chemtex for the development of their 25 million gallon a year cellulosic biofuels facility to be located in the Imperial Valley of California.
BRAWLEY, CA & Wilmington, Apr 30, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via COMTEX) -- via PRWEB - Canergy, LLC, an advanced biofuels company based in California that is focused on the production of ultra-low carbon intensity ethanol from sustainable non-food energy crops, is pleased to announce that it has selected Chemtex, a leader in chemical engineering and renewable processes, and Beta Renewables, a global leader in cellulosic bio-fuels, for the development of their 25 million gallon a year cellulosic biofuels facility to be located in the Imperial Valley of California. Construction of the new facility is targeted to begin in Q1, 2014 pending successful completion of permitting and financial activities. The facility is expected to be operational in 2016.
Tim Brummels, Canergy's CEO, said, "We are excited to be moving this project forward. California is the country's largest retail gasoline market and this first project's biofuel will facilitate obligated parties compliance with California policy directives to reduce their carbon footprint through 2020. We have completed extensive research and have concluded that PROESA(R) Technology is both ready now and is the most advanced and competitive cellulosic platform in the marketplace today. We are also excited to have CHS Inc., a leading global energy, grains and foods company, working with us as a development partner in the project."
John Litterio, Director of Renewable Fuels Marketing for CHS, said, "CHS is a leading ethanol marketer with global trading offices in the United States, Brazil and Europe. Our financial strength, logistical expertise, risk management services and 30+ years of biofuels experience wl
Senators seek WTO challenge over European ethanol tariffs
By Ben Geman - 04/30/13 10:40 AM ET
A bipartisan group of 14 farm-state senators is pressing the Obama administration to challenge new European duties on U.S. ethanol imports before the World Trade Organization.
In a letter to U.S. trade officials, the lawmakers call the penalties announced in February “unprecedented” and say that European officials failed to make the case that any specific producers or marketers are engaged in “dumping.”
“We believe this rule sets dangerous precedent for trade and trade remedies in advance of the well-publicized start of important trade talks between the United States and the European Union, and will dramatically and unilaterally change the boundaries and limits of international anti-dumping law,” states the April 29th letter to acting U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis and acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank.
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), #$%$ Durbin (D-Ill.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) and eight others signed the letter.
European officials in February announced they would impose a tariff that amounts to $83.03 per metric ton of U.S. ethanol entering the European Union, according to U.S. ethanol groups that oppose the penalties.
Zack Colman - 04/30/13 12:33 PM ET
A federal reassessment of oil-and-gas resources in North Dakota found the state holds twice as much shale oil — and three times as much gas — than was previously estimated.
Technological advancements have made the unconventional fossil fuels in North Dakota’s Three Forks formation “technically recoverable,” the Interior Department's United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced Tuesday.
And by rolling Three Forks into the Bakken shale formation, the region that spans North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana could now produce 7.4 billion barrels of oil, 6.7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 0.53 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.
Compared to 2008 estimates, that's triple the amount of shale gas and double the amount of shale oil that the region could yield.
“These world-class formations contain even more energy resource potential than previously understood, which is important information as we continue to reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of oil,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.
Jewell stressed in a Tuesday media call that some of the reserves “may not be economically recoverable,” but that new technologies made it possible to tap the hydrocarbons.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is largely responsible for the U.S. domestic energy boom. The drilling method accesses “unconventional” fossil fuel deposits by injecting a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals into tight shale formations.
Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.), an oil-and-gas industry supporter on Capitol Hill, lauded the estimate. He predicted it would draw more energy firms to the region.
“This new USGS study further confirms and reinforces the fact that the Williston Basin is a sustainable, long-term play warranting strong private-sector investment for decades into the future,” said Hoeven,
Zack Colman - 04/30/13 11:41 AM ET
Saudi Arabia’s oil chief said Tuesday that he expects newfound fossil fuel reserves in the United States will further integrate — rather than isolate — the nation into the international market.
“I believe these reserves will lead the United States into a much deeper engagement in world energy markets,” Saudi Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Ali al-Naimi said at a Washington, D.C., event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The recent discovery of a wealth of U.S. fossil fuels has many lawmakers heralding a not-too-distant future free of oil imports from the Middle East, Venezuela and other nations.
Al-Naimi said talks of North American energy independence is “naïve and simplistic,” explaining such discourse “fails to recognize the interconnected nature of global energy markets.”
Since the United States consumes more oil than it produces, it still makes sense for the United States to import some of it because prices are set globally, al-Naimi said. He said that helps explain why U.S. imports of Middle East oil still rose last year despite frequent boasts of North American energy independence on Capitol Hill.
On the possibility of the United States hoarding its fossil fuel supplies for domestic consumption, al-Naimi therefore said, “I don’t believe that is in anybody’s best interest, and I don’t think that will happen.”
Many lawmakers feel the same way.
Some have touted increasing exports — especially for liquefied natural gas — as a way to generate more federal revenues and jobs. Even further, some see exports as a tool to free allies from relying on less friendly suppliers.
April 30, 2013
Energy storage may be the next big thing in cleantech, and in the energy sector as a whole. We have never had much energy storage in place across the world. Instead, we have built a tremendous amount of backup capacity. With the variability of wind and solar, their increasingly low costs, and the desire to have a renewably powered world, the drive for cost-effective storage has picked up in pace. And many new solutions seem to be on the horizon. Furthermore, as the market expands, economies of scale allow the manufacturing costs to drop considerably.
A new report from IMS Research, which is part of IHS Inc, finds that the market will grow from under $200 million in 2012 to $19 billion by 2017. That’s quite explosive growth.
The report, “The Role of Energy Storage in the PV Industry,” also finds that Germany will lead that growth. (Who’s surprised?)
“Following the introduction of an energy storage subsidy in Germany, global installations of PV storage systems are forecast to grow by more than 100 percent a year on average over the next five years, to reach almost 7 gigawatts (GW) in 2017 and worth $19 billion,” IMS Research writes. “Germany will account for nearly 70 percent of storage installed in residential PV systems worldwide in 2013.”
Germany’s energy storage subsidy, which is starting on May 1 (tomorrow), may not be ideal, but it is certainly a start. “IHS predicts that the subsidy will promote rapid growth in the German residential sector, and result in almost 2 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of effective storage capacity being installed during the next five years.”
The reason storage in Germany is looking so promising, beyond the storage incentive, is that the feed-in tariff for solar power has gotten so low that it is lower than residential electricity rates. So, a homeowner saves more money by using solar power on location than selling it. But