May 16, 2013 Zachary Shahan
Herman Trabish of Greentech Media has happened across a pretty interesting find — 97% of new electricity generation capacity in line to be added to the California grid in the second half (2H) of 2012 is from solar power projects.
This is according to the California Independent System Operator (the ISO), as published in the 2012 Annual Report on Market Issues and Performance. In total, 1,633 megawatts of generation capacity are in line to be added to the grid in 2H 2013. A whopping 1,581 megawatts (MW) are from solar projects. 52 MW are from biomass projects.
That’s a big shift from the first half of the year (and, well, all of previous history). Herman writes: “By the end of the first half of the year, the ISO will have added 3,391 megawatts of nameplate capacity, of which 2,296 megawatts will be natural gas, 565 megawatts will be wind and 530 megawatts will be solar.” Here’s a chart for a visual display of these points and the situation in 2012:
Image Credit: California ISO
Herman spent a lot of time discussing various factors related to natural gas in his post (I’d recommend checking it out). A few key points I’d pull out of it are as follows (images added):
1.Natural gas prices seem to have gotten too low to warrant investment in new natural gas projects. From the report: “The 2012 net revenue estimates for hypothetical combined-cycle and combustion-turbine units continued to fall substantially below the estimates of the annualized fixed costs for these technologies. For a new combined-cycle unit, net operating revenues earned from the markets in 2012 are estimated to be about $38 per kilowatt-year in Southern California, compared to potential annualized fixed costs of $176 per kilowatt-year.” (See 3 charts above.)
2.More periods like 2H 2013 to come — this is the future.
National Weather Service Enhanced Radar Image Loop
Sam Nelson, Reuters | Updated: 05/16/2013
Rainfall late this week into the weekend will further delay U.S. corn plantings that already have fallen to a record slow pace, an agricultural meteorologist said on Thursday.
"We're about to see delays in plantings once again," said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA Weather Services.
Keeney said the warmer and drier weather early this week is being replaced by rain and cooler temperatures later in the week, with the heaviest downpours of up to 3.5 inches expected in the northwest Midwest.
"They will have four or five days of delays," he said. "Then it will be drier and warmer late next week, but showers will move into the eastern Midwest."
Warmer and drier weather in many areas of the U.S. Corn Belt early this week allowed farmers in the fields, and very rapid planting progress is expected to have been made. Some observers are expecting seedings to be half or 60 percent complete by the end of this week, but still at a record slow pace.
As of Sunday, farmers had seeded 28 percent of their intended corn acres, up from 12 percent a week earlier but far behind the five-year average of 65 percent, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a weekly report on Monday.
The planting pace for corn was the slowest for this point in the year in USDA records dating back to the 1980s, lagging 1984, when farmers had seeded 29 percent of their corn.
The figure fell below the average estimate of 29 percent from analysts' surveyed by Reuters ahead of the report.
For soybeans, the USDA said planting was 6 percent complete, up from 2 percent a week earlier. But the pace was the slowest for the 19th week since 1984, when soybeans were only 4 percent seeded. The five-year U.S. average is 24 percent.
U.S. corn yields are unlikely to reach their full potential this year as the slowest planting pace on record shortens the
Scotland’s Rockstar Clean Energy Leadership — 39% Renewable Electricity Today, 100% By 2020, & More
May 15, 2013 Zachary Shahan
Scotland may not be as large as Germany or Australia or the US, but it certainly deserves a bit more attention when it comes to its clean energy leadership.
Scotland already gets over 30% renewable electricity — about 33% today according to the interviewee in the first video below; 39% of total electricity demand in 2012, according to the Scottish government. It has a 2020 target of 100% renewable electricity. And it also has an ambitious overall renewable energy target.
Notably, Scotland has some wonderful renewable energy resources — especially wind and tidal resources. But come on, who doesn’t have wonderful renewable energy resources? From sunshine to wind to geothermal to less popular types of renewable energy, countries around the world have clean, renewable resources they can tap to generate their own energy.
Check out these two videos below from Fully Charged for more on Scotland’s rockstar clean energy leadership (h/t NewEnergyNews):
May 16, 2013 at 7:05 am by Jennifer Hiller
EOG Resources, the company with the most acreage in the Eagle Ford Shale, reported its first-quarter earnings recently. And basically, EOG is making a lot of money in South Texas.
Mark Papa, CEO and board chairman of EOG, said the Eagle Ford continues to surprise “in an upside manner.”
EOG’s U.S. crude oil production increased 24,200 barrels per day over the fourth quarter of 2012, mostly thanks to the Eagle Ford.
Oil boom: Eagle Ford oil production hits record high
The company is getting a rate of return on its South Texas wells greater than 100 percent.
During the first three months of the year, EOG completed 27 “monster wells” with initial production rates higher than 2,500 barrels of oil per day. Nine of those wells started production higher than 3,500 barrels of oil per day.
“To summarize the Eagle Ford, this asset has the best large play economics in North America, and continues to provide upside production surprises,” Papa said.
EOG plans to drill 425 Eagle Ford wells this year, and while it plans wells across its acreage, it says its best property is in Gonzales County. A recent investor presentation said the company has 12 years of drilling.
Papa said the Eagle Ford (which is “steaming ahead”) and North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken Shale will be the major drivers of growing domestic crude oil production.
But he’s not concerned that the U.S. shale fields will overproduce, driving down crude oil prices.
“We think there’s only really two major driving forces of U.S. oil growth: Bakken and Eagle Ford,” Papa said. “Eagle Ford is going to surpass the Bakken likely this year as the biggest oil growth rate. Bakken is slowing down. Permian is really not on that fast of a track. And then there’s what I would classify as all others. And the all others are not growing at a very fast pace at all.
Gina Lollobrigida's Earrings, 74 Carat Yellow Diamond Set Records at Sotheby's
By Daniel Ford, Web Editor
Posted on May 15, 2013
Screen legend Gina Lollobrigida may have turned heads during her days as a sex symbol in the 1950s and 1960s, but her jewels—including a 74 ct. yellow diamond that once belonged to a Persian Shah—were the center of attention at Sotheby’s Magnificent Jewels sale in Geneva on May 14.
Lollobrigida’s collection sold for a total of $4.96 million, led by pair of natural pearl and diamond pendant earrings that fetched $2.39 million, setting an auction record for natural pearl ear pendants. The earrings beat the price paid for a pair of Elizabeth Taylor’s pearl earrings in 2011. A Bulgari diamond necklace and bracelet combination that Lollobrigida wore while accepting her 1961 Golden Globe sold for $783,851...
Associated Press | May 15, 2013
Updated: May 15, 2013 5:44 pm
GENEVA—A huge diamond unearthed in Botswana commanded an unearthly price of $26.7 million from Christie's auction house Wednesday amid the spring ritual of well-heeled bidders flocking or phoning in to Geneva's luxury sales.
The pear-shaped gem accounted for more than a quarter of the $102 million in sales rung up by Christie's Wednesday night, a night after Sotheby's had $78 million in sales.
"A perfect diamond commands a perfect price," Christie's trumpeted on Twitter of the record sale price for the largest D-color flawless diamond ever offered at auction — a whopping 101.73 carats that took 21 months to polish.
Jewelry, watches and other luxury items are sold every spring by the big auction houses at Geneva's elegant lakefront hotels — seemingly a world away from some European countries whose economies are shrinking as their governments enact often tough budget austerity measures to get a handle on their debts.
Sotheby's auction featured a diamond jewelry collection belonging to Italian screen actress Gina Lollobrigida that fetched $4.9 million, some of which she plans to donate to stem cell research.
The auction house said eight bidders fought for Lollobrigida's pair of diamond and natural pearl earrings, which finally sold for more than $2.3 million and set a new auction record for such an item.
The 85-year-old actress, who starred opposite Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra and other top actors in the 1950s and 1960s, said she was selling the jewelry partly to fund an international hospital for stem cell treatment.
Sotheby's also sold a 74.53-carat fancy yellow diamond that once belonged to Ahmad Shah Qajar, the shah of Persia from 1909 to 1925 and the last ruler of the Qajar dynasty. Its sale for nearly $3 million set both an auction record and a record price per carat — an eye-popping $40,061 per carat — for
The Canadian Press
Posted: 05/14/2013 3:18 PM | Comments: 0 | Last Modified: 05/14/2013 5:11 PM
REGINA - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says the province has game-changing carbon capture technology and he's trying to sell the idea to the world.
Wall spoke Tuesday at an annual carbon capture conference in Pittsburgh.
The premier says there was "very keen interest" from companies and other governments in a carbon capture project at the Boundary Dam power station near Estevan. The Saskatchewan government wants to commercialize the technology being tested at the plant.
Wall says the project will be tried out this fall and will "go live" as a generating facility next year.
"But we're getting close enough now where SaskPower officials are starting to welcome earnest consideration to join this consortium and invest, you know, bring some of those capital dollars to our province," said Wall.
Carbon capture involves gathering carbon dioxide from power plants and injecting it deep into porous rock formations so it doesn't add to greenhouse gas emissions.
The plan at Boundary Dam is to capture up to 90 per cent of CO2 emissions. Most of the CO2 will be sold to oil and gas companies that use it to push more oil out of the ground in what's called enhanced oil recovery.
Saskatchewan has put about $1.1 billion to the carbon capture project and the federal government has ponied up $240 million.
The province, which relies heavily on coal-fire power plants, needs carbon capture to work. Coal currently provides more than 50 per cent of Saskatchewan's electricity and the province has an estimated 300-year supply, according to SaskPower's website.
"In the years ahead, when the federal regulations require that certain coal plants simply can't operate anymore, what are we going to do? Are we going to shut them all down and
That project aims to capture up to 90 per cent of CO2 emissions
Brad Wall pitches carbon capture to large US firms
The Canadian Press
Posted: May 14, 2013 3:35 PM CST
Last Updated: May 14, 2013 5:03 PM CST
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says his province has game-changing carbon capture technology, something he hopes to market around the world.
Wall spoke Tuesday at an annual carbon capture conference in Pittsburgh.
The premier said he sensed interest in a government-sponsored project at the Boundary Dam power station near Estevan, Sask.
That project aims to capture up to 90 per cent of CO2 emissions.
Most of the CO2 captured from Boundary is to be used to push more oil out of the ground in what's called enhanced oil recovery.
Wall said Saskatchewan wants to sell the technology. He added there was interest at the conference.
Carbon capture — or sequestration — involves gathering carbon dioxide produced at power plants and injecting the gas deep into porous rock formations so it doesn't add to greenhouse gas emissions.
Jurisdictions such as Saskatchewan that depend heavily on coal-fired power plants are relying on carbon capture and storage to work.
The province plans to reduce 2006 levels of greenhouse gases by 20 per cent by 2020.
May 15, 2013 at 7:06 pm by Bloomberg
Billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens added shares in oil and natural gas producers Apache Corp. and Goodrich Petroleum Corp. to his energy fund during the first quarter, along with a stake in technology company Apple Inc.
Pickens’ Dallas-based BP Capital Management LP bought almost 125,000 shares of Apache valued at $9.6 million in the three months ended March 31, according to a filing Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The fund boosted its stake in Goodrich by more than 500,000 shares to give it a holding in the company worth $9.4 million.
Apache, based in Houston, has been the third-worst performer on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Index this year. On May 9, the company said it plans to sell $4 billion of assets this year and announced a program to buy back as many as 30 million shares. The moves follow a $16 billion acquisition spree in 2010 through 2012.
Goodrich, also based in Houston, has climbed 40 percent this year. The company has properties in Texas and Louisiana, including assets in the Eagle Ford and Haynesville shale formations, according to its website.
BP Capital bought new stakes in 14 companies, including refiners such as Marathon Petroleum Corp. and Phillips 66. It also added a holding in Halcon Resources Corp., whose chief executive officer is Floyd Wilson, formerly of Petrohawk Energy Corp. The fund’s new stake in Apple, a departure from its energy focus, is valued at about $221,000.
Pickens’ fund sold its stakes in eight companies, including producers such as Southwestern Energy Co. and Range Resources Corp., as well as drilling contractor Transocean Ltd.
The fund’s top holding by market value is Pioneer Natural Resources Co. BP Capital added more than 43,000 shares in the company to give it a stake worth $12.9 million, the filing showed.
The value of
Bently Biofuels receives federal grant
May 15, 2013
Bently Biofuels of Gardnerville was one of two Nevada companies to receive advanced biofuels support from the United States Department of Agriculture recently.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Wednesday $14 million in fourth quarter and increased production bonus payments to 162 producers to support the production and expansion of advanced biofuels from a variety of non-food sources, including waste products.
Bently and Las Vegas-based Biodiesel, which both make biodiesel from waste vegetable oil, were recipients of a portion of those funds.
Bently received $17,362 in payments and Biodiesel of Las Vegas received $5,400.
A portion of Bently’s payment is in recognition of Bently’s increase in production of biodiesel from prior years.
“I am pleased that in Nevada the refineries that use this program are creating a useable fuel out of waste oil,” said Sarah Adler, Nevada State Director of USDA Rural Development. “It has been important to provide this support to smooth out the revenue cycle in this developing industry.”
The USDA said the announcement was one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“These payments represent the Obama administration’s commitment to develop an energy strategy that reduces America’s dependence on fossil fuels and foreign energy,” Vilsack said. “Producing advanced biofuels is a major component of the President’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy that is designed to take control of America’s energy future, in part, by developing domestic, renewable energy sources.’
The funding is being provided through USDA’s Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels, which was established in the 2008 Farm Bill. Under this program, payments are made to eligible producers based on the amount of advanced biofuels produced from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch
Biodiesel production up in first quarter
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 11:22 AM
Iowa's biodiesel plants operated at 54 percent capacity in the first quarter, producing 42.7 million gallons, the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association reported.
By comparison, biodiesel production in the state was at 41.9 million gallons in the first quarter of 2012.
The association, which is seeking legislation to create a B10 price differential to boost sales, said in a press release that the industry has seen "a strong move" toward B5 blends. There are currently 12 biodiesel plants in the state, nine of which reported production.
Iowa's biodiesel plants set a new record in 2012 by producing 184 million gallons of biodiesel, up from the previous record of 169 million gallons in 2011.
Price-fixing probe in Europe targets BP, Statoil, Shell, others
May 14, 2013 at 11:49 am by Harry R. Weber
Several major oil firms, including BP, Statoil and Royal Dutch Shell, have been caught up in a price-fixing probe in Europe.
The European Commission said that on Tuesday it raided the workplaces of companies that provide services to the crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels sectors.
While the commission didn’t name the companies involved or the countries where the unannounced inspections took place, BP, Statoil and Shell confirmed that they are among the subjects of the probe. Statoil said one of the inspections occurred at its office in Stavanger, Norway, while Shell said its offices in London and Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, received visits.
BP, based in Britain, and Statoil, based in Norway, said they are cooperating with the probe. Shell is based in the Netherlands.
In a statement on its website, the European Commission said the companies may have colluded in reporting distorted prices to a price reporting agency to manipulate the published prices for a number of oil and biofuel products.
The commission also alleges that the companies may have prevented others from participating in the price assessment process, with a view to distorting published prices.
Read more: Industry executives expect regulatory costs to soar
European antitrust rules prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices and abuses of a dominant market position, the commission said.
The commission said even small distortions of assessed prices may have a huge impact on the prices of crude oil, refined oil products and biofuels purchases and sales, potentially harming consumers.
Contact your senators
Contact Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky
Contact Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev
Organizing for Action hits GOP for blocking EPA nominee
Julian Hattem - 05/15/13 06:09 PM ET
The nonprofit group created out of President Obama's reelection campaign is targeting Senate Republicans over their opposition to his nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Organizing for Action (OFA) on Wednesday pressed supporters to call out Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee a day ahead of the panel's second attempt to confirm Gina McCarthy, Obama's nominee to be EPA administrator.
"These climate deniers in the Senate are trying to block a bipartisan nominee for EPA administration," the group said in a graphic posted to Twitter.
"For these deniers, is simply voting on an EPA administrator too hot to handle?"
Last week, Republicans on the panel boycotted a vote on McCarthy, leaving Democrats unable to reach a quorum and forcing them to abandon the effort to send the nominee to the full Senate.
The committee is scheduled to reconvene at noon on Thursday to vote on McCarthy, who currently directs the EPA's air and radiation office.
In a letter to her GOP colleagues rescheduling the vote, Chairwoman Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) claimed, "Gina is a highly qualified nominee... We need her strong, bipartisan, common-sense approach to lead the EPA."
Democrats have considered modifying Senate rules to prevent Republicans from filibustering McCarthy and other nominees, a maneuver dubbed the "nuclear option."
... In coming days the Interior Department is expected to propose a rule on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the method by which a high-pressure mix of water, sand and chemicals is injected into rock formations to release hydrocarbons.
The rule, which has already been criticized by Republicans, will likely require energy producers to disclose the chemicals they use and impose standards on integrity of wells and water that returns to the surface after the process.
Republican lawmakers questioned the effect of the impending regulations on Indian tribes.
"I just hope you realize that any new regulations are likely to exacerbate delays and costs and hinder tribes," Barrasso told the secretary.
The new fracking rule "is really important to tribes," added Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.). "They need to be able to hydraulically fracture. So how these rules will come out will be very important, and I want your commitment that you will work with the states and the tribes on a rule that works."
After the hearing, Jewell, in just her fifth week on the job, told reporters "it's still weeks, not months" until the proposal is released.
Legislators also expressed concern to the secretary about the effect of cuts from sequestration on Indian reservations and problems stemming from a 2009 Supreme Court ruling that restricted the federal government from taking tribes' land into trust.
Jewell called the state of government-run schools on reservations "an embarrassment" that would not be helped by sequestration.
She told reporters afterwards, "We have a number of schools that are identified as in poor condition. That's not what we aspire to be in our responsibility for Indian education."
Julian Hattem - 05/15/13 04:40 PM ET
A Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing quickly turned into a referendum on energy development on Indian lands on Wednesday.
As Republicans on the panel pressed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to allow Indian tribes to develop oil and natural gas resources, the department chief reiterated the administration's commitment to developing renewable energy alongside fossil fuels.
In her prepared testimony, Jewell said "the Department is committed to assisting tribes in expanding on Indian lands renewable, low cost, reliable and secure energy supplies as well as safe and responsible oil and gas development in accordance with tribal objectives."
On some Indian reservations, claimed Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), "oil and gas and coal reserves held in trust by the United States for the tribe, for its members, represent by far the number one best opportunity for prosperity for that tribe in that location."
Barrasso, the committee's top Republican, added, "We should be asking the tribes, not the Sierra Club or the policy wonks in some think tank or some university, what they want to do with their homelands."
"I think our government needs to work with native people in developing their resources, managing their resources in a responsible manner so that they can grow their economies and help their citizens as well as grow their communities," said Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). "I think that's vitally important."
"There's a lot of potential for renewable energy in Indian country," retorted Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), who advocated for a distributed generation model that generates electricity from small sources not connected to a larger grid.
"Those technologies are good for the environment," he added.
In coming days the Interior Department is
Dems warn sequester will lower federal oil and gas revenue
By Zack Colman - 05/15/13 02:58 PM ET
The sequester will cost the federal government money by delaying oil and gas lease sales on public lands, Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee said Wednesday.
The automatic, across-the-board spending cuts will result in a loss of $150 million in federal revenue through slower permitting at the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and canceled lease sales for oil and gas development, Democrats said in a report.
“Instead of saving money, the sequester is costing Americans money and job opportunities as the Bureau of Land Management is forced to slow down approval of oil and gas drilling permits and cancel lease sales to meet the spending reductions required by the sequester,” the report said.
The BLM will process between 300 and 400 fewer drilling permits and issue 150 fewer leases because of the sequester, the report said. The bureau also has already canceled two lease sales because of the cuts, it noted.
On top of that, Democrats said two coal sales would not occur this year because of the budget reductions, saying the Treasury Department would take a hit of between $50 million and $60 million.
The $85 billion worth of government-wide spending cuts left little discretion as to how agencies could implement reductions, irritating department heads and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
The sequester will also restrict air pollution monitoring, wildfire management and hazardous and nuclear material cleanup, the Democrats' report said.
May 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm by Amy Myers Jaffe
Out in the Middle East, more than just Qatar is starting to feel the pinch of the US shale revolution. Saudi Arabia will find new competition for its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and other feedstock exports from U.S. exports of NGLs. The trend is likely to accelerate in the next few years, according to new studies. Tremendous market changes in petrochemical feedstock prices and trade flows are on the horizon due to the emerging tight oil play in the United States. The United States is poised to become a larger exporter of NGLs to Asia, with large ramifications for Middle East export refining and petrochemical businesses.
Natural gas liquids (NGLs) represented nearly half of “oil” liquids production from US shale formations in 2012, according to a new study. A new report from the Baker Institute by author Alan Troner concludes that NGL production could soon hit a near-term limit of how much condensate can be blended into localized light crude streams or shipped to Canada to facilitate oil sands shipments, leaving a possible “NGL hell” where price differentials could collapse significantly. Troner argues in his study that the growing U.S. NGL surplus, which might extend out at least to 2018, could become the ying to Asia’s demand yang, potentially changing the previously attractive economics of Saudi LPG exports and regional naphtha trading.
Energy Intelligence Group’s Barbara Shook agrees, noting in a recent presentation that ethane will be cheaper than naphtha for petrochemical manufacturing, prompting the announced construction of five new ethane crackers to be built on the US Gulf coast in the second half of this decade.
Just as the upstream potential of shale gas is bumping up against infrastructure constraints on natural gas exports, the US tight oil play may also be held back by the timing of key infrastructure development. Several