Topic A: Energy - Analysis, discussion & commentary on energy exploration, development and innovation
Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 10, 2015

Is LNG Fulfilling Promise?

Bloomberg reports that “Five years ago, energy companies hungry for the next big thing began planning as many as 90 terminals to send natural gas around the globe.”

“Now, it seems the world only needs five more.”

“Consulting firm IHS Inc. says only one in every 20 projects planned are actually necessary by 2025 as weakening Asia economies, cheap coal, the return of nuclear power in Japan and the ever-expanding glut of shale supply in North America temper demand for the power-plant fuel, putting tens of billions of dollars worth of export projects at risk.”

“Barring an unusually cold winter in Asia, global LNG supply will outstrip demand by next year, said Trevor Sikorski, an analyst at Energy Aspects Ltd. in London. Seven new plants in Australia will flood the market over the next two years. Cheniere Energy Inc. is planning the startup of its Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana this quarter.”

OK: U.S. Senator Wants to End Renewable Energy Tax Credits

The Tulsa World reports that “A federal tax credit instrumental in the development of Oklahoma’s wind energy sector but irritating to natural gas producers and the coal industry is in U.S. Sen. James Lankford’s sights.”

“Lankford [introduced] legislation Wednesday to phase out the renewable energy production tax credit over the next 10 years. The credit subsidizes all renewable energy production, including hydro, biomass and geothermal, but has particularly attracted the attention of lawmakers, and especially conservatives, in recent years because of wind power’s growing strength in the marketplace.”

“’The (production tax credit) was put in place to encourage new innovations and supply our country with diverse energy,’ Lankford said in a written statement. ‘I am a fan of an all-of-the-above energy strategy, and I certainly support wind as a large part of that goal. The wind industry has made major strides over the past two decades, and they have proven their industry to be efficient and self-sustainable. There is no need for the taxpayer to continue to subsidize a wind start-up tax credit.’”

U.S. Drivers Spending Gasoline Savings

The Washington Post reports that “American drivers haven’t enjoyed prices this low, for this long, in at least five years. By most economic thinking, that should be a big boost to the economy, because when they’re paying less at the pump, consumers have more cash to spend elsewhere.”

“For much of this year, though, economic data suggested that boost wasn’t as big as you’d expect. Americans reported they were taking the money they would have been spending on gas and saving it, or paying down debt. Economists speculated that consumers weren’t convinced low prices were here to stay, so they were reluctant to spend the windfall.”

Topic A: Energy

Fueling U.S. Communities

BP reinvests every dollar earned in the U.S. back into the American economy. In 2014 alone, BP generated $135 billion in economic value in the U.S. And BP plays a significant role in the communities where its employees live and work, earning recognition for its support of the Olympics and Paralympics, U.S. military veterans and STEM education.

All told, BP has a bigger economic presence in the U.S. than it does in any other country. And the size and scope of BP’s U.S. presence underscores its commitment to America.

Good News for Coal: It Can’t Get Much Worse

Bloomberg: “Here’s some good news for a downtrodden U.S. coal industry: next year can’t get much worse after a disastrous 2015.”

“Most utilities that are able to switch to cleaner burning and cheaper natural gas have already done so, resulting in coal losing 10 percent, or 80 million tons, of demand, BB&T Capital Markets said in a report Tuesday.”

“President Barack Obama’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, which were implemented this year, spurred a rash of coal-fired power plant closures. Meanwhile, natural gas prices that have dropped 37 percent in the past year made that fuel more attractive than coal for electricity generation. In July, gas eclipsed coal as the primary fuel for power for the second time in U.S. records.”

“The best-case scenario for coal in 2016 is that demand is flat or even slightly higher, while the worst case is for it to slip another 2-4 percent, according to Levin.”

Renewable Energy Seeks Additional Sources

The Associated Press reports that “on a typical summer weekend, hundreds of boats glide across the shimmering surface of Iowa’s Lake Red Rock, the state’s largest body of water.”

“The placid 15,000-acre lake was created in the 1960s after the government built a dam to prevent frequent flooding on the Des Moines River. Now the cool waters behind the dam are attracting interest beyond warm-weather recreation. A power company wants to build a hydroelectric plant here — a project that reflects renewed interest in hydropower nationwide, which could bring changes to scores of American dams.”

“Hydroelectric development stagnated in the 1980s and 1990s as environmental groups lobbied against it and a long regulatory process required years of environmental study. But for the first time in decades, power companies are proposing new projects to take advantage of government financial incentives, policies that promote renewable energy over fossil fuels and efforts to streamline the permit process.”

“‘We’re seeing a significant change in attitude,’ said Linda Church Ciocci, executive director of the National Hydropower Association, a trade group.”

Video: ‘Economics and Geopolitics of Natural Gas’

ICYMI via MIT Energy Initiative: “Sabancı University Istanbul International Center for Energy and Climate (IICEC) organized a talk on Economics and Geopolitics of Natural Gas by Prof. Sergey Paltsev, a Senior Research Scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, USA, and Deputy Director of the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. Prof. Paltsev also works with the MIT Energy Initiative. Sabancı University Energy Technologies and Management (ETM) MSc students, energy industry executives, and high level representatives from energy related associations were brought.”

Topic A: Energy

BP: Energizing the American Economy

For the past decade, BP has invested more than $90 billion in the United States — more than any other energy company. Its presence is felt in communities across the nation, from the northern tip of Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico, and from New York City to the California coastline.

The numbers tell the story: 17,000 employees in the U.S. and another 170,000 jobs supported in 2014; $135 billion pumped into the American economy; and $21 billion spent with thousands of vendors.


DOE Chooses UC Berkeley to Lead U.S.-China Energy and Water Consortium

The University of California reports that “UC Berkeley, in partnership with UC Irvine and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was awarded a five-year, multi-million dollar international research consortium that tackles water-related aspects of energy production and use. Three additional UC campuses – UC Davis, UC Merced and UCLA – and Massachusetts-based Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)-US also are part of the collaboration.”

“The consortium, announced by the U.S. Department of Energy, is one of several technical tracks under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center (CERC), which was launched in 2009 by President Barack Obama and former Chinese President Hu Jintao to accelerate the transition to an efficient, low‐carbon economy while mitigating the long‐term threat of climate change. The energy-water track was announced in November 2014.”

Supreme Court: Demand Response and Wholesale Electricity Markets

The Energy Collective reports that “Demand response (DR) is a critically important tool for creating a more flexible power grid. The Department of Energy recently concluded that DR can enable greater deployment of renewables and reduce new transmission investment. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reported that DR lowers wholesale power prices and enhances reliability during extreme weather. New market entrants like Google, which has partnered with utilities to enroll Nest owners in DR programs, have the ability to make DR a ubiquitous resource. But the fate of a key financing and deployment mechanism for DR is now in the hands of the Supreme Court.”

Webinar: U.S. Wind Energy Trends

ICYMI: “Pew hosted a webinar for the Clean Energy Business Network titled ‘Industry Trends in the U.S. Wind Energy Sector.’ The webinar reviewed the findings of two recent U.S. Department of Energy studies: the 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report and the 2014 Distributed Wind Market Report. which feature detailed analyses by Jose Zayas, director of the Wind and Water Power Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.”

See slides from the presentation here.

Topic A: Energy

Six Things You May Not Know About BP In America

1. It holds the largest number of leases in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico and is the gulf’s largest investor over the past decade.

2. It operates the massive Prudhoe Bay field, which it discovered in 1968, and is playing a significant role in helping the state of Alaska advance its liquefied natural gas project.

3. It is — through its onshore business in the lower 48 states — aggressively competing in unconventional plays across Texas, Colorado, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

4.It operates a trio of refineries, located across the northern tier of the U.S., which now have a collective daily refining capacity of 744,000 barrels of oil.

5. It invented paraxylene, a raw material used by its three petrochemical plants to make a range of products, from soda bottles to X-ray films.

6. It is the leading marketer of natural gas in North America, selling enough natural gas in the U.S. and Canada to cover the combined daily needs of France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

Exploration Chill to Come in Canada?

Bloomberg reports that “as Canada’s oil patch grapples with a price shock, pipeline delays and rising tax rates, the federal election could add another barrier to recovery by reining in a key incentive for development of new wells.”

“Two of the three major parties jostling for power in the Oct. 19 vote are campaigning against “fossil fuel subsidies” and propose tightening the rules for a tax deduction that allows oil-and-gas producers to write off exploration costs against profits entirely in the year they’re incurred.”

“Justin Trudeau’s Liberals and Tom Mulcair’s New Democratic Party would both restrict use of the Canadian Exploration Expenses (CEE) deduction, which Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives expanded in their pre-election budget. The top oil industry group, meanwhile, argues the tax measure is key to the sector’s expansion.”

Report: Jobs Could Grow with Energy Efficiency

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “a coalition of environmentalist groups and trade unions expressed optimism Wednesday that even a coal-dependent region like Pittsburgh could significantly grow jobs while transitioning away from fossil fuels and toward investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

“But the report highlighted a mismatch between when those jobs will be created and for how long they will last.”

“Jobs created by the renewable sector will more likely be more temporary, more nonunion and lower paying than those currently in the fossil fuel industry, said Mick Power, membership and campaign coordinator for the U.S. Climate Action Network and author of the report.”

OK Governor: States Best Positioned Solve Energy, Water Issues

The Oklahoman reports: “Touching on hot-button issues such as triggered earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin said [that] states are best positioned to come up with solutions involving energy development and water usage.”

“Fallin, the incoming chairwoman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, said many good policy ideas start at the local level. She was the lunchtime keynote speaker at a joint meeting of the commission, the Ground Water Protection Council and the National Rural Water Association.”

“Fallin said energy and water interests worked together a few years ago when concerns were raised over the chemical contents of hydraulic fracturing fluid. The fluid is mostly water but can contain small or trace amounts of chemicals. The result was, an online registry that is used in some form by 24 states.”

Renewable Energy Stands to Gain in Africa

The Guardian (UK) reports that “almost a quarter of Africa’s energy needs could feasibly be supplied by renewables within the next 15 years, according to a new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) yesterday.”

“The report, which provides a roadmap for renewable energy deployment on the continent, found that a variety of modern renewable technology options could more than quadruple the contribution of renewables to Africa’s energy mix compared to the five per cent used in 2013, taking renewables share to 22 per cent of the mix.”

“The report identifies four modern renewable energy technologies that could play a major role in the continent’s energy mis: hydropower, wind, solar power, and modern biomass systems for cooking.”


Citigroup to Reduce Coal Financing

Bloomberg reports that “Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest U.S. bank, said it will cut back on financing for coal mining projects, in the latest blow to the industry that’s viewed as a key contributor to global warming.”

“Citigroup said its credit exposure to coal mining had ‘declined materially’ since 2011 and that the trend would continue into the future. The policy applies to companies that use mountaintop removal methods as well as coal-focused subsidiaries of diversified mining companies, according to the New York-based company’s Environmental & Social Policy Framework guidelines posted online Monday.”

“’This new policy reflects our declining exposure and our continued commitment to managing environmental and social risks and opportunities,’ Elizabeth Patella, a Citigroup spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement.”

Oil Industry Gets Close to Repeal of U.S. Ban on Petroleum Exports

“After watching the price of oil and the size of their profits plunge, a dozen top executives from some of the nation’s largest oil exploration companies flew to Washington late last winter on an urgent mission: push Congress and the White House to allow unlimited exports of American crude oil,” the New York Times reports.

“Now, their long-shot lobbying effort to repeal the 40-year-old export ban has gathered considerable momentum. Approval by the House is expected in the coming weeks and two Senate committees have already endorsed the idea.”

“The White House and Senate Democrats may still move to block it, but the fact that the legislation is even moving ahead in an era of extreme gridlock affirms the deep-pocketed oil industry’s durable power in nation’s capital.”

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