Zack Colman - 05/07/13 05:00 AM ET
Lawmakers who back natural-gas exports are trying to woo skeptical Democrats by arguing the sales would boost American power at the expense of Russia and Iran.
Russia has long dominated the market for natural gas in the Eastern hemisphere, with Iran being another major supplier. But booming production in the United States presents an opportunity to undercut those countries by selling more natural gas abroad, including to allies like Japan and India, boosters say.
Supporters of increased exports are increasingly citing the geopolitical benefits as they try to win over Democrats, many of whom fear shipping more natural gas abroad would cause price increases back home.
The issue will be front and center on Tuesday during a hearing of a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee that will feature testimony from two former Democratic senators — Byron Dorgan (N.D.) and Bennett Johnston (La.).
Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), who serves on the subcommittee, said the geopolitical aspect of the export debate has the potential to bring the two parties together.
Terry was part of a bipartisan coalition of current and former lawmakers that met over the weekend with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. He said the Turkish officials indicated they would buy natural gas from the United States — instead of from Iran — if they had the option.
“He told us that, if the U.S. would sell them natural gas, then he would buy it today, and he wouldn’t have to buy it from anywhere else,” Terry said of Yildiz. “That’s a way we can shore up an ally in an unstable region that we need as an ally.”
The House hearing on Tuesday will touch on 20 proposals under Energy Department (DOE) review that would green light exports to nations that lack a free-trade agreement with the United States.
Such deals face more ...
Published 6 May 2013
Southeast Asia is showing a rising number of high quality investment opportunities in renewable energy (RE) sources, according to a new report.
Produced by clean energy investment firm Armstrong Asset Management, the report entitled, Entering a New Phase of Growth: Renewable Energy in SE Asia, analysed the region for its potential for renewable energy, citing opportunities in solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, hydro and biomass or biogas, and interest from both debt and equity providers to invest in them.
Compared to the price for power generation from marginal fossil fuel on an unsubsidised base, renewable energy offers Southeast Asia clean and secure power at fixed long-term rates that are lower in price.
Here is an overview of the report’s findings, together with some highlights of the investment opportunities and why renewable energy is worth investing on. Some key points first:
•It is now cheaper to produce renewable energy in some Southeast Asia countries than bulk grid power from imported natural gas and fuel oil;
•The cost advantage of renewable energy continues to grow in SE Asia as pricing, environmental and security risks associated with imported fossil fuels are more accurately evaluated;
•SE Asia has excellent renewable resources but rely on a high level of fuel oil for power generation due to their sprawling geographies and inadequate grid infrastructure;
•ASEAN-5 (Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and Malaysia) will need to install between 168 and 192GW of new power generation capacity by 2025 to maintain its projected economic growth rate of 5.8%;
•Governments in all Southeast Asian markets are significantly expanding their commitment to renewable energy as a proportion of the energy mix.
From 2000 through 2006, however, the emerging markets of ASEAN-5 generally adopted a cautious approach to the development of renewable
Anadarko income falls after year-earlier tax settlement
May 6, 2013 at 3:28 pm by Bloomberg
A natural gas well in the Greater Natural Buttes (Photo: Anadarko)
Anadarko Petroleum Corp., the oil explorer that’s been expanding production in Colorado and Texas, said first-quarter profit declined after a $1.8 billion tax-related gain boosted earnings last year.
Net income fell to $460 million, or 91 cents a share, from $2.16 billion, or $4.28, a year earlier, The Woodlands-based company said in a statement on Marketwired Monday. Excluding certain one-time items, earnings rose 15 percent to $547 million, or $1.08 a share, 13 cents more than the 95-cent average of 28 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Anadarko is the U.S. oil and natural gas producer with the biggest market capitalization after ConocoPhillips among companies that don’t own refineries or a chemical unit. It has seen rising oil output from projects such as the Wattenberg field in Colorado and Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale, as well as gas output from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania. Anadarko’s exploration includes work in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Africa.
Brent crude futures, a global benchmark, fell 4.9 percent from a year earlier to average $112.64 a barrel in the first quarter. Gas futures traded in New York averaged $3.48 per million British thermal units in the quarter, a 39 percent increase from a year earlier.
Monday’s earnings report was issued after the close of regular trading on U.S. markets. Anadarko rose 1.2 percent to $87.62 at the close in New York.
PHOTOS/ The Big Picture: Today's Hot Pics!
The former Fugee packs some extra musical fire power at the Sirius-XM Satellite Radio studios in New York.
Bernie Becker and Ramsey Cox - 05/06/13 06:59 PM ET
The Senate on Monday approved legislation that would for the first time allow states to collect billions of dollars in online sales tax revenue from out-of-state purchases.
The 69-27 vote is a major victory for retail groups and state governments, who for years have fought to close what they see as a loophole that allows as much as $23 billion in annual taxes from online sales to go uncollected.
“I’ve been saying it for the past 12 years,” lead sponsor Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) said ahead of the vote. “This bill is about fairness, it’s about leveling the playing field for brick-and-mortar shops.”
The measure split Republicans senators, as 22 Republicans voted no in addition to five Democrats. Nineteen Republicans supported the measure.
Supporters said the overwhelming vote in the Senate will give the bill momentum as it heads to the House. They hope to get a bill to President Obama’s desk by the end of 2013.
Opponents, including some well-known conservative groups and the online retailer eBay, have vowed to keep up the fight in the House, where the path forward is less clear. They argue forcing small businesses to play tax collector for other states would be a huge burden, and that the bill would open retailers up to increased audits and compliance costs.
“Today the Senate is voting on whether to take a few more inches off the little guy,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said. “I fear that what we’re going to do is crush some of those start-ups. ... This is a deeply flawed piece of legislation, [and] this debate will continue.”
The bill, which is backed by online powerhouse Amazon, empowers states to collect taxes on purchases made online by consumers in their states from out-of-state retailers. Under current law, states can only collect from companies that are physically located within their borders.
Ramsey Cox and Bernie Becker - 05/06/13 01:32 PM ET
The Senate is poised to approve legislation that would give states greater authority to collect sales taxes on goods sold online by out-of-state retailers.
Filibuster-proof majorities have already signaled their support for the bill in a series of procedural votes, and the upper chamber is scheduled to vote on final passage of the Marketplace Fairness Act shortly after 5:30 p.m.
Senate passage will be seen as a major victory for retail groups and state governments, who have fought for years for a bill they say will close a long-standing loophole and return as much as $23 billion in lost revenue.
The bill would empower states to collect taxes on purchases made online by consumers in their states from out-of-state retailers. Under current law, states can only collect from companies that are physically located within their borders.
Supporters say that bipartisan Senate approval will give S. 743 momentum in the House. But even though the legislation has the support of several prominent GOP governors, the bill’s path in the Republican-controlled lower chamber remains uncertain.
Opponents, including some well-known conservative groups and the online retailer eBay, have vowed to keep up the fight in the lower chamber, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), has outlined a host of concerns about the measure.
But Goodlatte and other leading Republican lawmakers, like Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), have also suggested that the current set-up leaves brick-and-mortar businesses at a disadvantage.
Some senators in states without a sales tax tried blocking progress on the bill, arguing it would burden retailers in their states by forcing them to collect taxes for other state governments. Conservatives opposing the measure say it’s “a job-killing tax hike.”
Major oil sands producer: We need Keystone pipeline
By Ben Geman - 05/06/13 12:31 PM ET
A big player in Canada’s oil sands believes the Keystone XL pipeline will eventually be needed to keep expanding production of the resource.
“Long-term, we do need Keystone to be able to grow the volumes in Canada,” Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. President Steve Laut tells The Globe and Mail.
The comment could provide political ammunition to environmental groups battling TransCanada Corp.’s proposed pipeline.
Keystone opponents argue it will be a catalyst for expanding oil sands production, thereby worsening greenhouse gas emissions.
As The Globe and Mail piece notes, Laut’s view breaks with other industry officials and a U.S. State Department analysis, which found that building Keystone wouldn’t have much affect on overall production growth.
The Obama administration is weighing whether to grant a permit for Keystone, which would bring oil from Alberta’s oil sands projects across the U.S. border en route to Gulf Coast refineries.
Judge seeks fast action on challenge to SEC oil disclosure rule
By Ben Geman - 05/06/13 10:52 AM ET
A federal judge hopes to move quickly on industry litigation challenging Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules that will force oil, gas and mining companies to disclose payments to foreign governments.
The case is proceeding in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit because appellate judges ruled in late April that the case should begin there.
In a Friday order, District Judge John Bates said he’ll consider the industry challenge to the 2012 rule based on the same briefs that were previously filed before the appeals court. He ordered the industry groups and the SEC to file them with the lower court by May 10.
The process laid out Friday is the latest development in a legal fight that pits the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against the SEC. Click here and here for more on the case.
Solar = Disruptive Technology (Graph)
I recently ran across this interesting graph on reddit:
Click to embiggen.
The title of the article in which the graph was housed (similar to mine above) was: “Solar Energy: This Is What A Disruptive Technology Looks Like.”
I think the graph is pretty clear — while the price of retail electricity, residential natural gas, and crude oil have all remained fairly constant in the past few decades (in inflation-adjusted terms), the price of solar has rolled down a long, big hill. And, the good news is, it’s still rolling.
For a bit more detail on the methodology, Brian McConnell, a software engineer and the creator of The Joule Standard, explains:
Using data from the Energy Information Agency, I pulled together a history of retail prices for natural gas, crude oil, gasoline and residential electricity, all adjusted for inflation. For each energy source, I converted the prices to $/gigajoule, using conversion factors from engineering tables. (For example, a million cubic feet of natural gas contains 1.083 gigajoules of energy content).
Next, using data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and other sources, I looked up the price history for solar power, in terms of dollar per Watt of system capacity (a standard unit of measure for solar). With this data, I built a cost model to translate the cost of a solar cell into $/gigajoule. The basic idea is to amortize the system cost over its useful life, and divide this by the average amount of power it generates per month. This allows the cost of solar to be compared directly to other sources.
The comparison shows quite clearly that the cost effectiveness of solar power is increasing exponentially. In 1977, solar cells cost upwards of $70 per Watt of capacity. In 2013, that cost has dropped to $0.74 per Watt, a 100:1 improvement (source: The Economist). On average, solar power improves 14% per year in
Solar PV Module Prices Have Fallen 80% Since 2008, Wind Turbines 29%
May 6, 2013 Zachary Shahan
I know most of you have seen such graphs many times, but I can’t resist sharing another one every once in awhile. And the truth is, a lot of people are completely oblivious to this. Those who follow cleantech news know the strong trend, but the common person certainly doesn’t. Do everyone a favor — share this graph with your friends!
Wind Power Prices Also Dropping
Wind turbine prices have followed a similar (if not quite as extreme) trend. Since 2008, wind turbine prices have fallen 29%. Wind power is more mature than solar. It is already the cheapest electricity option in many or even most places. You can see in the graph below that it had most of its massive price drops in the 1990s.
The full BNEF presentation those graphs come from was a presentation at the Clean Energy Ministerial in Delhi, India on April 17, 2013.
Stay tuned, because I’ve got a post coming in about one hour that goes very well with these, but takes things even a step further.
Statoil says higher petroleum tax risks harming investments
Posted on May 6, 2013 at 6:58 am by Bloomberg
Workers on Statoil's Maersk Developer platform in the Gulf of Mexico (Photo: Helge Hansen/Statoil)
Statoil ASA (STL) said the government’s unexpected move to raise taxes on oil companies risks harming investments and casts doubt over the long-term predictability of the framework for offshore production.
The government yesterday said it will limit the so-called upflift on cash flow to 22 percent from 30 percent and raise the special petroleum tax to 51 percent from 50 percent, keeping a top tax rate of 78 percent. The increase will raise total taxes by about 3 billion kroner ($520 million) a year, the government said yesterday.
Statoil, which is 67 percent owned by the Norwegian state, said today that the changes will cut operating cash flow by below 500 million kroner this year and increase to full effect after four to five years. It will reduce tax deductions by 38 million kroner for 1 billion kroner invested, the Stavanger- based company said.
“The proposed change in the Norwegian petroleum tax reduces the attractiveness of future projects, particularly marginal fields, and raises questions regarding the predictability and stability of the fiscal framework for long-term investments on the Norwegian continental shelf,” said Torgrim Reitan, chief financial officer of Statoil, in a statement.
Cheniere: LNG facility ahead of schedule
Posted on May 6, 2013 at 6:53 am by Associated Press
Tugboats pull an LNG tanker to Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass terminal in 2008. (Nick De La Torre / Houston Chronicle)
BATON ROUGE, La. — Cheniere Energy Inc. says construction is ahead of schedule on the first two units of its Sabine Pass liquefied natural gas facility, with around 26 percent of the work complete as of March 31.
The company told The Advocate the Cameron Parish facility’s first two production units are expected to begin producing LNG in late 2015.
Meanwhile, two additional units have received all of the necessary Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and U.S. Department of Energy approvals. The company is in the process of securing the financing to build those units.
The company borrowed $5.9 billion to build the first two units.
April EV & Hybrid Sales Report
May 5, 2013 Zachary Shahan
Unfortunately, the report below doesn’t include Tesla sales, but it still rounds up April 2013 sales for the other hybrid and electric vehicles for sale in the US. Have a look and let us know your thoughts!
Compared to April 2012, not many automakers can be too happy about their hybrid and electric vehicle sales. Basically, just Nissan and Ford have something to cheer about, and they certainly do!
Ford hybrid and EV sales were up 567.8% in April 2013 compared to April 2012 — 8,628 sales compared to 1,292. The bulk of the sales were for the Ford Fusion Hybrid (3,625, or 365.94% more than April 2012′s 778) and the Ford C-Max Hybrid (3,197; not on the market in April 2012). But the Lincoln MKZ (884 sales, 122.67% higher than the 397 sold in April 2012), Ford C-Max Energi PHEV (411; not on the market in April 2012), Ford Fusion Energi PHEV (364; not on the market in April 2012), and Ford Focus Electric (147; not on the market in April 2012) also boosted the companies green vehicle sales.
The Nissan Leaf, still riding the sales surge created by its considerable price drop, rolled off the lot 1,937 times in April 2013, 423.51% more than the 370 figure from April 2012.
Mitsubishi was the only other company to see a sales increase, with a modest 127 units of its Mitsubishi i sold, 60.76% more than the 79 sold in April 2012.
However, everyone else saw a downshift in views.
•GM had 12.08% fewer views in April 2013 compared to April 2012, with the Chevy Volt dropping 10.67%.
•Honda had a 12.08% drop over the same time period.
•Porsche had a 60.77% drop.
•Toyota had a 12.27% drop.
Overall, hybrids and electric vehicles (combined) grew 12.84% in April 2013 compared to April 2012. For the year to date, however, they are down 14.43% compared to 2012.
As you should be able to see in the table above,
The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, May. 05 2013, 7:00 PM EDT
General Electric Co. executive Steve Bolze is in charge of a huge range of the conglomerate’s businesses, ranging from nuclear power to wind turbines to gas-powered engines. His purview, as president of GE Power & Water, even includes water technology such as purification and desalination. Mr. Bolze was in Toronto recently to talk about how cheap and plentiful natural gas is changing the power business, and how Canada is in the sweet spot for unconventional fuel.
How have low gas prices affected your power business?
Gas prices are going to remain at a lower point than anybody would have forecast four or five years ago. This is not a two-year cycle or a five-year cycle. We see this as a 30-year-plus cycle. We are going to invest accordingly. If I look at product development and technology advancement, gas turbines and compressors are really the biggest space in investment in GE.
How does Canada fit into that?
The macro trend in the world is centred around unconventional fuels and unconventional resources. What you have in Canada is the third-largest unconventional [fuel] resource on the planet. So people are watching. It is one of our fastest-growing regions and one where we have to apply more of a developing mindset in terms of how we invest and how we allocate resources.
One of our businesses is water technology and treatment [and] most challenging projects in the world are in Canada. Technology solutions which are world class are being adapted and prototyped and implemented here first. Canada is really at the epicentre of a lot of what is going on [in the power business]. That is why we are investing here.
What are the key technological advances in the gas turbine business?
May 6, 2013 - 8:09AM
European carbon prices posted their biggest-ever weekly gain after German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged action on the bloc's plan to delay supply of permits.
The December futures contract advanced 22 per cent since April 26 to close at 3.78 euros ($4.90) a metric ton on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange, the highest since April 16. The contracts jumped as much as 23 per cent today, and trading volume doubled to 27 million tons from yesterday's levels.
Prices plunged to a record 2.46 euros last month after the European Parliament rejected a plan to postpone the sale of some permits over the next three years and reintroduce, or backload, them to the market in 2019 and 2020. Prices have slumped 50 per cent from a year ago as the euro area's second recession since 2008 cut demand for permits, exacerbating a glut.
“This is a strong boost, it's exactly what the market needed,” Milan Hudak, an analyst at Virtuse Energy sro in Prague, said by e-mail. “Even though this is a strong signal from Germany, backloading will not happen sooner than in 2014 and we still don't know the final version of it.”
Europe's emissions-trading system imposes limits on about 12,000 power plants and factories. The program allocates permits to polluters that must surrender enough allowances to cover their discharges of carbon dioxide or pay fines. Lower prices mean it can be cheaper for companies to buy emission rights rather than invest in climate-friendly technologies.
Germany's clean-energy law must be overhauled with “great intensity” after the country's elections on Sept. 22 and action should also be taken in the carbon market as lower-than-expected economic growth led to falling prices for certificates, Merkel said today at a Protestant church event in Hamburg.
“Something also has to be done on backloading,
Sunday, May 5, 3:46 PM
Israel’s reported airstrikes in Syria — and the threat of a retaliatory strike by the Syrian government — are likely to accelerate decision-making within the United States, where the Obama administration was already moving toward a sharp escalation of U.S. involvement in the two-year-old crisis.
Senior officials said the deployment of U.S. troops to Syria remains unlikely. But they have indicated that a decision will come within weeks on options ranging from the supply of weapons to the Syrian rebels to the use of U.S. aircraft and missiles to ground President Bashar al-Assad’s own airpower by destroying planes, runways and missile sites inside Syria.
Neither Israeli nor U.S. officials confirmed a Sunday morning attack that reportedly hit a weapons shipment in Syria — including sophisticated missiles and air defense equipment — about to be transferred to Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
But Obama, in an interview broadcast just hours later on Sunday, said that Israel is justified in preventing the provision of weapons to Hezbollah.
“We coordinate very closely with the Israelis, recognizing that . . . they are very close to Syria, they’re very close to Lebanon,” Obama said in the interview, recorded Saturday with Spanish-language Telemundo, after an earlier Israeli attack reported late Friday.
Throughout the Syrian crisis, the administration has repeatedly voiced the belief that Syria was already awash in weapons and that sending more would not tip the balance in favor of the rebels.
Now, in part because of growing confidence in the rebel Free Syrian Army, “the national security team and the diplomatic team around the president” favor escalation, overcoming the caution expressed by Obama’s political advisers, according to a senior Western
11 hours ago • Christopher Martin Bloomberg News
More than half the states with laws requiring utilities to buy renewable energy - including Arizona - are considering ways to pare back those mandates after a plunge in natural gas prices brought on by technology that boosted supply.
Sixteen of the 29 states with renewable portfolio standards are considering legislation that would reduce the need for wind and solar power, according to researchers backed by the U.S. Energy Department. North Carolina lawmakers may be among the first to move, followed by Colorado and Connecticut.
The efforts could benefit U.S. utilities such as Duke Energy and PG&E as well as Exxon Mobil, the biggest U.S. oil producer, and Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. coal mining company. Those companies contributed to at least one of the lobby groups pushing the change, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, a Madison, Wis.-based nonprofit group. It would hurt wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems and First Solar Inc., which develops solar farms.
"We're opposed to these mandates, and 2013 will be the most active year ever in terms of efforts to repeal them," said Todd Wynn, task force director for energy of the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a lobby group pushing for the change. "Natural gas is a clean fuel, and regulators and policymakers are seeing how it's much more affordable than renewable energy."
Hydraulic-fracturing technology opened aging reservoirs for natural gas drilling, driving prices down about 72 percent from their record 2005 high. That's making more expensive wind and solar power projects harder for utility regulators to justify, according to ALEC and its allies, which include the Heritage Foundation in Washington.
"The shale revolutions are not just having ramifications politically and
Julian Pecquet - 05/05/13 01:37 PM ET
Vice President Joe Biden, the president's point man on gun control, vowed Sunday that the White House and its supporters “will prevail” in the fight for tougher background checks, despite last month's legislative defeat.
Biden laid out his case in the Houston Chronicle, the newspaper of record in the city where the National Rifle Association (NRA) is holding its annual members meeting. The vice president and potential 2016 presidential candidate told a group of law-enforcement officials last week that he plans to revive the push for expanded background checks after a bipartisan effort from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) failed on a 54-46 vote, short of the 60-vote threshold needed to pass.
“We fell short on our first effort to pass Manchin-Toomey in the Senate, but we will not be deterred by one setback,” Biden wrote. “We have an obligation to make sure that the voices of victims, not the voice of the NRA, ring the loudest in this debate.”
Biden said he was galvanized by political developments since last month's vote. Sen. Jeff Flake's poll numbers have collapsed since he voted against the measure – the Arizona Republican described his popularity as “just below pond #$%$” – and Sens. Mary Landrieu and Kay Hagan, Democrats from Louisiana and North Carolina, have seen polling bumps.
“For too long, members of Congress have been afraid to vote against the wishes of the NRA, even when the vast majority of their constituents support what the NRA opposes,” Biden said. “That fear has become such an article of faith that even in the face of evidence to the contrary, a number of senators voted against basic background checks, against a federal gun trafficking statute and against other common-sense measures because they feared a backlash.”
“Today, those very senators are discovering that the
Mexico-Panama gas line proposal
Friday, 03 May 2013 09:00
THE REVIVAL of a project to run a pipeline from Mexico to Panama will be presented to Barack Obama this weekend...
Ben Geman 05/05/13 06:00 AM ET
Activists are quietly forging ahead with their campaign for carbon taxes despite long odds on Capitol Hill.
Bob Inglis, a former GOP House member from South Carolina, is part of a very loose collection of policy wonks and advocates fighting to change the politics of taxing emissions.
“It’s a longer-term play here,” Inglis said.
Inglis, who launched the “Energy and Enterprise Initiative” at George Mason University last year, sees several forces converging that will enable a carbon tax to surface in a broader fiscal policy deal.
It would happen, he said, by “immaculate conception,” but not until 2015 or 2016.
“It will be nobody claiming paternity for it. It will just develop on its own,” Inglis said in an interview Thursday.
Proposals to impose taxes on emissions from burning coal and oil have been around for years.
But they’ve gained new traction and fresh opposition of late, owing to the collapse of cap-and-trade legislation in 2010, the Beltway search for new revenue sources and the renewed attention to climate change.
Advocates range from longtime backer Al Gore to Inglis to Art Laffer, one of the godfathers of conservative economics. They all back a “revenue-neutral” carbon tax that would be offset by reductions in personal taxes.
Other proposals call for using a tax on various industry sectors — such oil and coal producers or power companies — to pay for deficit-reduction, consumer rebates, green energy programs or some combination.
Tyson Slocum, head of the energy program at the left-leaning group Public Citizen, said there are discussions occurring in “multiple types of formats” and “involving a lot of different kinds of stakeholders.”
None of it is going very far right now.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said in late 2012 the administration would “never” propose a carbon tax.
And the entire House GOP leadership has signed