Topic A: Energy - Analysis, discussion & commentary on energy exploration, development and innovation
Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 1, 2014

U.S. to Pass Saudi Arabia, Become Biggest Liquid Petroleum Producer

The Financial Times reports that “the US is overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum, in a sign of how its booming oil production has reshaped the energy sector.”

US production of oil and related liquids such as ethane and propane was neck-and-neck with Saudi Arabia in June and again in August at about 11.5m barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries.”

“With US production continuing to boom, its output is set to exceed Saudi Arabia’s this month or next for the first time since 1991.”

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Merkel: Might Need To Rethink EU Energy Partnership With Russia

Reuters reports that “German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday there were good reasons to continue the European Union’s energy partnership with Russia for the time being but that might change if Moscow continues to violate basic principles.”

“Merkel, speaking at a news conference in Berlin with Finland’s Prime Minister Alexander Stubb, said that in the medium- to long-term it might be necessary to reconsider that energy partnership with Russia.”

“‘There are good reasons to continue the energy partnership with Russia,’ she said and noted that within the European Union different countries had different levels of dependency on supplies of Russian natural gas.”

“‘Nevertheless we have naturally to think about what we might have to change in the medium- to long-term as far as energy policies go if there is a continued violation of basic principles,’ she said, referring to respecting national sovereignty.”

Senators Request More Oil Train Notifications

The Associated Press reports that “four West Coast senators are asking the federal government to expand a recent order for railroads to notify state emergency responders of crude oil shipments.”

“The letter, sent Monday to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, says railroads should supply states with advanced notification of all high-hazard flammable liquid transports — including crude from outside the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana, as well as ethanol and 71 other liquids.”

“The letter was signed by Oregon senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, and California senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.”

PA Considers Oil and Gas Regulations

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that “environmental regulators have begun to decide what to change and what to leave in a substantial revision to the state’s oil and gas regulations they hope will take effect by the middle of 2016.”

“The hard choices are still to come.”

“Officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection presented their first thoughts Thursday about how they will adapt their draft rules for above-ground activities at oil and gas sites to address thousands of suggestions submitted by citizens, industry representatives and environmental groups during a public comment period this year.”

Commentary: China as World’s Energy Superpower

Nick Butler writes in the Financial Times: “The starting point for anyone wanting to understand how the world’s energy markets will develop over the next 20 years must be China. Companies, bankers, investors and those of us who try to follow the industry will have to shift our attention away from local circumstances in Europe or the US. What happens in both continents is interesting, but on the world scale it pales into insignificance. Even a very radical change in the European market — a real carbon price or a single common energy policy, or indeed the development of French and German shale gas — would be as nothing compared to the transformation that is coming, as China becomes the dominant force in every part of the energy business.”

Renewable Energy: How Utah Wind Could Power Los Angeles

The Associated Press reports that “a proposal to export twice as much Wyoming wind power to Los Angeles as the amount of electricity generated by the Hoover Dam includes an engineering feat even more massive than that famous structure: Four chambers, each approaching the size of the Empire State Building, would be carved from an underground salt deposit to hold huge volumes of compressed air.”

“The caverns in central Utah would serve as a kind of massive battery on a scale never before seen, helping to overcome the fact that — even in Wyoming — wind doesn’t blow all the time.”

“Air would be pumped into the caverns when power demand is low and wind is high, typically at night. During times of increased demand, the compressed air would be released to drive turbines and feed power to markets in far-away Southern California.”

Arkansas Senate Candidate: Midterms Will Determine U.S. Energy Policy

RealClearPolitics reports that “Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, running in one of the most competitive and consequential U.S. Senate races this year, said Thursday that the outcome of the midterm elections could determine ‘whether we will actually harness the energy resources that our country has.’”

“Speaking at an event sponsored by RealClearPolitics and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, the conservative lawmaker said a GOP-controlled Congress would likely approve the Keystone XL pipeline and review Environmental Protection Agency regulations, among other energy-related policies, and that he would support votes leading to greater gas and oil exploration.”

The event covers additional topics, too, including: Carbon tax, energy strategy, and the energy boom’s impact on the economic recovery.

Video: How Community Groups Generate Their Own Energy

The Guardian (UK) offers a video that visits “the growing community of energy groups to find out how they are changing the way we think about our energy system and our relationship with it. Carbon Co-op in Manchester, Green Prosperity in Hull and Repowering London are three examples of this community energy revolution.”

Poll: Better Communication Needed About Fracking Benefits

Rigzone reports that “The results of a CBC/Radio-Canada poll released in September showed that while those polled were relatively evenly split on whether fracking was important to the economy, most respondents were more concerned with things like growing the economy and creating jobs.

“Given the fact that fracking has been shown to bring about significant job creation and economic development for municipalities nearby, the results of the poll seem to indicate that the energy industry could do a better job of communicating with the public regarding the fiscal benefits of fracking. What is at question, according to economist Karr Ingham, is how they should do that.”

“Currently, the industry seems to be struggling to get the message out, Ingham – who created the Texas Petro Index (TPI) for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers – admitted, adding that it doesn’t help that groups against the oil and gas industry are constantly on the attack.”

Oil industry Group Proposes Standards for Crude-Train Testing

The Associated Press reports that “the oil industry’s lead trade group released new standards on Thursday for testing and classifying crude shipped by rail after prior shipments were misclassified, including a train that derailed in Canada and killed 47 people.”

“As with earlier orders from the federal government, the industry standards leave it to individual companies to decide how often to test crude in order to gauge its danger.”

“The American Petroleum Institute said the standards were crafted in cooperation with regulators and the rail industry.”

Global Carbon Emissions Hit Record High

New York Times: Global emissions of greenhouse gases jumped 2.3 percent in 2013 to record levels according to a new report released by the Global Carbon Project. It is the “latest indication that the world remains far off track in its efforts to control global warming.”

“The emissions growth last year was a bit slower than the average growth rate of 2.5 percent over the past decade, and much of the dip was caused by an economic slowdown in China, which is the world’s single largest source of emissions.”

“In the United States, emissions rose 2.9 percent, after declining in recent years.”

“’You can no longer have some countries go first and others come in later, because there is no more time,’ said Glen P. Peters, a scientist at the Center for International Climate and Environmental Research in Oslo, who helped compile the new numbers. ‘It needs to be all hands on deck now.’”

p6ghnvqv 1411008284 Global Carbon Emissions Hit Record High

Chart from The Conversation

Which Carbon-Mitigation Policies Work?

The Economist “has made a stab at a global comparison of carbon-mitigation efforts. Chart 1 is the result. It ranks 20 policies and courses of action according to how much they have done to reduce the atmosphere’s stock of greenhouse gases. We have used figures from governments, the EU and UN agencies.”

20140920 FBC707 1 Which Carbon Mitigation Policies Work?

“A health warning: the policies and actions on our list are not strictly comparable. Some are global, some regional and some national. Some are long-standing; some new. A couple are not policies at all, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to the closure of polluting factories and to inefficient state farms reverting to grassland, locking up carbon.”

Corporations Step in to Take Action on Climate Change

New York Times: “With political efforts to slow global warming moving at a tortuous pace, some of the world’s largest companies are stepping into the void, pledging more support for renewable energy, greener supply chains and fresh efforts to stop the destruction of the world’s tropical forests.”

“Forty companies, among them Kellogg, L’Oréal and Nestlé, signed a declaration on Tuesday pledging to help cut tropical deforestation in half by 2020 and stop it entirely by 2030. They included several of the largest companies handling palm oil, the production of which has resulted in rampant destruction of old-growth forests, especially in Indonesia.”

“The corporate promises are the culmination of a trend that has been building for years, with virtually every major company now feeling obliged to make commitments about environmental sustainability, and to report regularly on progress. The companies have found that pursuing such goals can often help them cut costs, particularly for energy.”

Wyoming Wind to Power LA?

ABC News reports that “an alliance of four companies proposed an $8 billion project Tuesday that within a decade could send wind power generated on the plains of Wyoming to households in Southern California.”

“If approved and financed, the sprawling venture would produce clean power equivalent to the output of a large nuclear power plant by creating one of the country’s largest wind farms near Cheyenne, a huge energy storage site inside Utah caverns and a 525-mile electric transmission line connecting them.”

“‘This would certainly be one of the most ambitious and expensive energy infrastructure projects we have seen,’ said Travis Miller, an industry analyst for investment research giant Morningstar Inc. ‘Energy storage, paired with renewable energy, has been the holy grail of utilities and energy companies.’”

Solar Projects Roadmap Released by California, U.S.

The Associated Press reports that “State and federal officials sought Tuesday to bring order to California’s boom for renewable-energy plants in the Mojave and other southern California deserts, releasing a roadmap covering 22.5 million acres that designates some areas for large-scale solar, wind and geothermal plants and others for conservation of desert habitat and animals.”

“’We have amazingly special places here,’ U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a news conference at a desert wind farm near Palm Springs with U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and other officials releasing the multi-agency draft plan.”

“By taking a look at the desert as a whole, Jewell said, the plan’s designers are ensuring ‘the areas that should be protected are set aside. The areas that should be developed are streamlined’ for building utility-scale renewable energy plants.”

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