Topic A: Energy - Analysis, discussion & commentary on energy exploration, development and innovation
Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 13, 2015

Local Fracking Support Grows in Colorado

The Greeley (CO) Tribune reports that “while the issue of whether local governments can supersede state regulations may well see its day in the state Supreme Court, and debates over the safety and benefits of fracking continue to heat up in Colorado, a cadre of grassroots citizen groups in support of the oil and gas industry has sprouted up in northern Colorado. Amid the he-said/she-said, point-counterpoint debates related to scientific studies and empirical proof, these pro-industry groups are focusing on educating the public to the benefits of locally produced oil and gas.”

“Moratoriums or bans have been enacted in Boulder County, Lafayette, Broomfield, Boulder and in Fort Collins and Longmont, where litigation filed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association is in the appeals process. In Loveland, voters defeated an initiative last year to impose a one-year moratorium.”

Analysis: U.N. Draft of Negotiating Text for Paris Climate Talks

Tim Profit of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University writes in the Huffington Post that last week “the United Nations unveiled a first draft of the negotiating text for climate talks later this year in Paris. That text has been reduced from more than 80 pages to 20 and will be further revised in Bonn, Germany, Oct. 19-23, to advance a final global climate deal in Paris.”

“The many proposals in parentheses — referencing items still to be negotiated — include details and a deadline for a long-term goal for reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions: to keep the increase in worldwide temperatures since pre-industrial times below 2 degrees Celsius. On the basis of the 146 climate pledges made thus far that goal is unobtainable, according to Climate Action Tracker, an independent scientific analysis produced by four research organizations. It indicates that, if implemented, those pledges would result in aggregated global warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels.”

“The pre-amble of the draft agreement recognizes the relationship among climate change, poverty eradication, and sustainable development and takes into account the vulnerabilities and needs of the least-developed countries. It also notes issues on which disagreement may arise: time frames, the extent to which commitments to the agreement are binding, and building of climate resilience in the poorest and the most at-risk countries.”

Fed Says Layoffs to Come in Rockies Oilfields

Bloomberg reports that “oil and natural gas explorers in the Rocky Mountains plan to fire more workers and reduce already-shrunken drilling budgets amid expectations the energy slump will persist for at least another year.”

“Energy producers in the seven U.S. states covered by the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank are being squeezed by tightening financial conditions and are reducing drilling activity in response, according to a statement from the bank Friday.”

“The oil industry worldwide has cut more than 200,000 jobs in the 16 months since crude markets began to collapse under the weight of a glut of supplies from U.S. shale fields and the Persian Gulf.”

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.

Wyoming: One State’s Plan to Cut Carbon

The Casper Star Tribune reports that “when it comes to the debate over climate change, the inclination in Wyoming has long been to fight. Gov. Matt Mead proudly touts his administration’s legal battles with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over emission standards in stump speeches. In the country’s top coal producing state, the line is generally a crowd pleaser.”

“But amid a historic downturn in the coal market and tightening air quality regulations, Mead and other state policymakers are increasingly stressing a new tactic in the climate fight: support for carbon cutting research.”

“The approach is not exactly new. The University of Wyoming has spent some $84 million on carbon capture and sequestration research over the last eight years. Nor does it signal a new acceptance of climate science by state officials. Mead has promised to continue the legal fight against the EPA’s new carbon standards for coal-fired power plants.”

Owner Fighting To Save Coal Industry

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “Robert Murray has taken his fight for the survival of the U.S. coal industry — an industry that he believes will have room for only one other company besides his — to court.”

“’We’re under attack for total elimination of the use of coal, the mining of coal, coal mining jobs’ and those that depend on them, Mr. Murray said in an interview last week. ‘It’s no question that the regulatory rampage of the Obama administration has accelerated and that has resulted in more litigation against the government.’”

“Murray Energy, the nation’s largest privately held underground mining company, is leading the charge in eight lawsuits against various federal agencies.”

Survey: How Industry Employers, Job Seekers Affected by Commodity Prices

Rigzone reports that “The oil and gas industry is in the midst of what has been dubbed ‘a new normal cost environment’ spurred by the global low price for oil which has been ongoing for several months. Findings from Rigzone’s recent surveys targeting both job-seekers and employers reveal how the industry’s employers and job candidates are affected by lower commodity prices.”

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.


House Vote Means Oil Industry Win

Fuel Fix reports that “the House passed legislation authorizing widespread crude exports on Friday, delivering a major victory to energy companies lobbying for the freedom to sell oil around the world.”

“But their success may be short-lived, because getting the trade policy change through the House was actually the easy part. The real test is in the narrowly divided Senate, where stand-alone export legislation is unlikely to advance and supporters are mulling an array of strategies — and potential deals — to advance their cause some other way.”

“In the 261-159 House vote Friday, 26 Democrats joined 235 Republicans to support the legislation, which would undo 40-year-old trade restrictions that block most raw, unprocessed U.S. crude from being sold outside the country. Nine Democrats abstained. Six Republicans voted no, including some with home-state refining interests: Michael Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Walter Jones of North Carolina, Frank LoBiondo of New Jersey, Patrick Meehan of Pennsylvania, Tom Rice of South Carolina, and Chris Smith of New Jersey.”

The Associated Press adds: “Lifting the export ban would lower prices at the pump, create jobs and boost the economy, said House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.”

“’In my view, America’s energy boom has the potential to reset the economic foundation of our economy and improve our standing around the world,’ Boehner said.”

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.’”

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.

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.”

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.”

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.”

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