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Energy has a direct impact on the economic well-being of a country. Whether from olive oil, pitch, coal, petroleum, nuclear, or alternatives like wind and solar, energy has been the driving force in civilization. There is no shortage of energy. The questions are:
-How much are we willing to pay for it?
-Will governments allow us to use the available resources?




24/7 Energy News Coverage


Energy News - Energy Technology

  Energy Business - Energy and the Environment


Behold a Black Horse


Price R 249.00

Behold a Black Horse:

 Economic Upheaval and Famine


by Dr. Chuck Missler

The third of the “Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse” brings inflation and famine on an unprecedented scale.
•What is the real cause of inflation?
•What are the real causes of famine?

Most famines are the direct results of government’s deliberate decisions. Germany sank into the most severe hyperinflationary period in recorded history after printing 1.3 trillion marks: that translates to about 4 trillion in today’s dollars. Ironically, that is almost exactly the same amount of money the United States government has printed since 2008. What are the implications for us today?

How can one use Bayes’ Theorem in “reverse probability”? (Can you form a hypothesis based on experience, common sense and whatever data are available; then test the hypothesis not by what has happened before, but by what comes after?)

The theorem has proved its worth, such as in 2012 when it was used to successfully predict the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in all 50 states before the final vote counts were available.

Join Dr. Chuck Missler in the Executive Briefing Room of the River Lodge, New Zealand, as he explores the identity of the third of the Five Horsemen of Revelation.

This briefing pack contains 2 hours of teaching

Available in the following formats


•2 MP3 files

•1 PDF Notes file




Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Seoul, South Korea (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
Cracks sank the 'unsinkable' Titanic; decrease the performance of touchscreens and erode teeth. We are familiar with cracks in big or small three-dimensional (3D) objects, but how do thin two-dimensional (2D) materials crack? 2D materials, like molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), have emerged as an important asset for future electronic and photoelectric devices. However, the mechanical properties

The power of attraction

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Thuwal, Saudi Arabia (SPX) Jan 18, 2017
Engineered nanometer- and micrometer-scale structures have a vast array of uses in electronics, sensors and biomedical applications. Because these are difficult to fabricate, KAUST researchers are trying a bottom-up philosophy, which harnesses the natural forces between atoms and molecules such that microstructures form themselves. This approach, a departure from the usual top-down approac

New low-cost technique converts bulk alloys to oxide nanowires

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Atlanta GA (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
A simple technique for producing oxide nanowires directly from bulk materials could dramatically lower the cost of producing the one-dimensional (1D) nanostructures. That could open the door for a broad range of uses in lightweight structural composites, advanced sensors, electronic devices - and thermally-stable and strong battery membranes able to withstand temperatures of more than 1,000 degr

Treated carbon pulls radioactive elements from water

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Houston TX (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
Researchers at Rice University and Kazan Federal University in Russia have found a way to extract radioactivity from water and said their discovery could help purify the hundreds of millions of gallons of contaminated water stored after the Fukushima nuclear plant accident. They reported that their oxidatively modified carbon (OMC) material is inexpensive and highly efficient at absorbing

Magnetic moment of a single antiproton determined with greatest precision ever

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Mainz, Germany (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
As self-evident as it is that matter exists, its origins are just as mysterious. According to the principles of particle physics, when the universe was originally formed equal amounts of matter and antimatter would have been created, which then should have destroyed each other in a process that physicists call annihilation. But in reality, our universe shows a manifest imbalance in favor o

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Austin TX (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
Asegun Henry wants to avert the worst effects of climate change by finding new forms of renewable energy and improving the materials that contribute to energy use. "The way we produce electricity today pollutes the environment," said Henry, a mechanical engineering professor at Georgia Tech. "My research is primarily centered on converting us from a fossil fuel-based infrastructure to a renewabl

Essen, Germany wins greenest city honors

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 20, 2017
The city of Essen in German was honored with a green-city award by a European body for transforming itself from a steel to an environmental leader. "This award is recognition of Essen's great efforts to establish itself as a city in transformation; overcoming a challenging industrial history to reinvent itself as a green city," Essen Mayor Thomas Kufen said in a statement. "We strive to

Statoil finds faults after safety review

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 20, 2017
Norwegian energy company Statoil revealed Friday that operational and maintenance oversight could be stronger in a review of offshore incidents last year. Statoil in October lost control of a well at the Troll field and later that month reported a hydrogen leak because of external corrosion of a pipe at the Mongstand processing complex. No injuries were reported in either inciden

Asia Pacific to gain edge in low-carbon growth

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 20, 2017
It will be the economies in the Asia Pacific region that could gain the global edge in clean energy technology in the age of protectionism, a consultant said. Donald Trump vowed to make the United States energy independent by unraveling what his advisors see as burdensome regulations enacted by his predecessor, Barak Obama. While making reference to a need for alternative options, most

Schlumberger notches win in Norway

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Houston (UPI) Jan 20, 2017
In a sign of further market recovery, oilfield services company Schlumberger said it secured its second batch of work of the year from Norway's Statoil. Schlumberger subsidiary OneSubsea said it secured from Statoil a contract to help build and develop subsea production systems for the Utgard natural gas complex in the North Sea. OneSubsea President Mike Garding said the work wil

Samsung probe finds faulty batteries triggered fire

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Seoul (AFP) Jan 20, 2017
A Samsung probe into the exploding batteries that forced the electronics giant to scrap its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones has found irregularly sized batteries caused overheating, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday. The South Korean conglomerate was forced to discontinue its flagship Note 7 after a chaotic recall that saw replacement phones also catching fire, with the debacle costing the c

Renewables a big boost for GE's profits

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Fairfield, Conn. (UPI) Jan 20, 2017
Gains in the renewable energy sector and deals in exploration and production helped boost fourth quarter profits substantially, General Electric said Friday. GE said its earnings during the fourth quarter increased to about $3.5 billion, against the $2.6 billion reported during the same period last year. By sector, the company's renewable energy sector saw total revenues increase 29 per

Chinese growth, tight markets lift oil prices

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Jan 20, 2017
A slight gain in the Chinese economy followed by a week of data supporting market balance sentiments lifted crude oil prices early Friday. Crude oil prices moved in volatile territory for much of the week, with full percentage increases followed by corresponding decreases the following session. Markets moved in wide swings in response to market reports from the Organization of Petroleum

Chinese growth slows in 2016 with outlook uncertain

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Jan 20, 2017
Chinese growth hit its weakest rate for more than a quarter-century last year but while Friday's data pointed to stability in the world's number two economy, Beijing faces an uncertain outlook that could see a trade stand-off with Donald Trump. After a tumultuous start to 2016, a flood of stimulus ensured the government hit its annual growth target and even recorded a quarterly pick-up for t

Society set for head-on collision with driverless cars

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎22, ‎2017, ‏‎9:22:19 PMGo to full article
Davos, Switzerland (AFP) Jan 20, 2017
Evangelists for driverless cars see a bright future coming down the road: thousands of lives saved, countless driving hours freed up, cityscapes transformed with traffic jams vanquished. But the new technology also threatens millions of jobs and raises a slew of ethical dilemmas - prospects that were on the minds of business chiefs and politicians meeting at the World Economic Forum this we

Graphene's sleeping superconductivity awakens

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Cambridge, UK (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
Researchers have found a way to trigger the innate, but previously hidden, ability of graphene to act as a superconductor - meaning that it can be made to carry an electrical current with zero resistance. The finding, reported in Nature Communications, further enhances the potential of graphene, which is already widely seen as a material that could revolutionise industries such as healthca

New research helps to meet the challenges of nanotechnology

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Swansea, UK (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
Research by scientists at Swansea University is helping to meet the challenge of incorporating nanoscale structures into future semiconductor devices that will create new technologies and impact on all aspects of everyday life. Dr Alex Lord and Professor Steve Wilks from the Centre for Nanohealth led the collaborative research published in Nano Letters. The research team looked at ways to

A toolkit for transformable materials

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
Metamaterials - materials whose function is determined by structure, not composition - have been designed to bend light and sound, transform from soft to stiff, and even dampen seismic waves from earthquakes. But each of these functions requires a unique mechanical structure, making these materials great for specific tasks, but difficult to implement broadly. But what if a material could c

For white-collar staff, AI threatens new workplace revolution

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Davos, Switzerland (AFP) Jan 19, 2017
If your job involves inputting reams of data for a company, you might want to think about retraining in a more specialised field. Or as a plumber. After industrial robots and international trade put paid to many manufacturing jobs in the West, millions of white-collar workers could now be under threat from new technology such as artificial intelligence (AI). The issue of how best to fa

'Hyperloop' rail study for Slovakia-Czech connection

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
San Francisco (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
A US startup pursuing Elon Musk's vision for near-supersonic rail transport announced Tuesday an agreement on a feasibility study for a "hyperloop" system connecting two European cities. Hyperloop Transit Technologies (HTT) said that it had reached an "exploratory agreement" with the Czech city of Brno on a super-fast rail connection with Bratislava, Slovakia. The bigger vision was to c

New study will help find the best locations for thermal power stations in Iceland

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Gothenburg, Sweden (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
A new research article, with lead authors from the University of Gothenburg, gives indications of the best places in Iceland to build thermal power stations. In Iceland, heat is extracted for use in power plants directly from the ground in volcanic areas. Constructing a geothermal power station near a volcano can be beneficial, since Earth's mantle is located relatively close to the crust

Chip-sized, high-speed terahertz modulator raises possibility of faster data transmission

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Medford MA (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
Tufts University engineers have invented a chip-sized, high-speed modulator that operates at terahertz (THz) frequencies and at room temperature at low voltages without consuming DC power. The discovery could help fill the "THz gap" that is limiting development of new and more powerful wireless devices that could transmit data at significantly higher speeds than currently possible. Measure

Rooftop Solar in the Spotlight at the World Future Energy Summit Solar Expo

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Abu Dhabi, UAE (SPX) Jan 18, 2017
Rooftop solar energy will help drive renewable energy to the next stage of its development in the Middle East and South Asian markets, according to leading industry figures at the World Future Energy Summit and the Solar Expo in Abu Dhabi. Renewable energy, particularly solar, is making rapid progress in the region, with organisers estimating that buyers at WFES have more than 200 gigawatt

Faster recharging batteries possible after new insights

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Bath, UK (SPX) Jan 20, 2017
Faster recharging lithium batteries could be developed after scientists figured out why adding charged metal atoms to tunnel structures within batteries improves their performance. Rechargeable lithium batteries have helped power the 'portable revolution' in mobile phones, laptops and tablet computers, and new generations of lithium batteries are being developed for electric vehicles and t

BHP, Vale agree date to settle Brazil mine disaster claim

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Sydney (AFP) Jan 19, 2017
Mining giants BHP Billiton and Vale said Thursday they have struck a deal with Brazilian prosecutors to negotiate by June 30 the settlement of a 155 billion reals ($47.5 billion) claim over the fatal Samarco mine collapse. Samarco - which is co-owned by the two firms - is facing the massive legal claim for clean-up costs and damages after the November 2015 tragedy in which 19 people died.

VW ex-boss denies prior knowledge of pollution cheating

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Berlin (AFP) Jan 19, 2017
Former Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn said Thursday that he did not know the beleaguered German auto giant was engaging in systematic emissions cheating until shortly before the scam broke. Winterkorn told a parliamentary committee into the "dieselgate" scandal that "total clarity was and is the order of the day", and that he was still trying to understand how the scandal could have happe

China-backed trade pact gains as Trump threatens to ditch TPP

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Davos, Switzerland (AFP) Jan 19, 2017
Asia will push ahead with a Chinese-supported free trade agreement if Donald Trump follows through on pledges to ditch the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), global leaders in Davos were told Thursday. Speaking at the World Economic Forum, a panel of regional experts said Asia must be prepared for a world in which the United States will take a back seat in global trade while China assumes a bi

US closes probe into fatal Tesla autopilot crash, no defect found

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Jan 19, 2017
The US Transportation Department closed Thursday its investigation into a fatal crash involving a Tesla car on autopilot, saying no defects were found in the system, including the emergency braking feature. No "safety-related defect" was identified in May's crash on a Florida highway, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spokesman Bryan Thomas told reporters. "The investigatio

New Zealand stimulates electric vehicle market

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Wellington, New Zealand (UPI) Jan 19, 2017
New Zealand's government said Thursday it was setting aside more than $2 million to help stimulate the electric-vehicle market in the country. Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins said more than a dozen projects will be targeted with a $2.5 million fund to incentivize the electric vehicle market. "The funding will provide up to 50 percent funding for projects that will de

Australia defends end of MH370 search, future hunt not ruled out

‎Friday, ‎January ‎20, ‎2017, ‏‎8:24:51 AMGo to full article
Melbourne (AFP) Jan 17, 2017
Australia's transport minister Wednesday defended the suspension of the undersea hunt for MH370, after relatives of passengers slammed the decision, and added that it could resume if "credible new evidence" emerges. Australia, Malaysia and China - where most of the 239 on board the missing Malaysia Airlines jet came from - on Tuesday pulled the plug on the massive operation in the souther

Populus dataset holds promise for biofuels, materials, metabolites

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Oak Ridge TN (SPX) Jan 18, 2017
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have released the largest-ever single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) dataset of genetic variations in poplar trees, information useful to plant scientists as well as researchers in the fields of biofuels, materials science, and secondary plant metabolism. For nearly 10 years, researchers with DOE's BioEnergy Scie

Light source discovery 'challenges basic assumption' of physics

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Strathclyde, UK (SPX) Jan 18, 2017
A widely-held understanding of electromagnetic radiation has been challenged in newly published research led at the University of Strathclyde. The study found that the normal direct correspondence between the bandwidths of the current source and emitted radiation can be broken. This was achieved by extracting narrowband radiation with high efficiency, without making the oscillation of the curren

Microbiologists make big leap in developing 'green' electronics

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Amherst MA (SPX) Jan 18, 2017
Microbiologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst report that they have discovered a new type of natural wire produced by bacteria that could greatly accelerate the researchers' goal of developing sustainable "green" conducting materials for the electronics industry. The study by Derek Lovley and colleagues appears this week in mBio, the American Society of Microbiology's premier journa

Red-handed: China province admits faking economic data

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
A Chinese official has admitted his province falsified its economic data for years, state media said Wednesday, vindicating long-held suspicions that China has been cooking the books. The announcement by the governor of the industrial province of Liaoning comes as the world's second-largest economy prepares to release 2016 data that is tipped to show the slowest growth in more than a quarter

Davos darling Xi not practising what he preaches: analysts

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
Xi Jinping's hymn to globalisation at Davos may have won acclaim from the meeting's well-heeled elite, but Chinese experts say it was distinctly out of tune with an administration that is increasingly closed and hostile to the outside world. In his highly anticipated keynote speech Tuesday, Xi insisted China was committed to "opening up" and said there was "no point in blaming economic globa

Obama puts offshore North Carolina on wind energy map

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 17, 2017
Thousands of acres offshore North Carolina are set aside for potential wind energy in one of the final moves under the Obama presidency, the government said. "This is a significant milestone for North Carolina and our country as we continue to make progress on diversifying our nation's energy portfolio," Walter Cruickshank, the acting director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, s

German MPs to grill VW ex-boss over 'Dieselgate'

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Berlin (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
Disgraced former Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn faces a grilling by German lawmakers Thursday, as accusations grow of top executives at the beleaguered auto giant colluding to cover up emissions cheating. The former CEO's testimony will be "particularly important" in light of the latest allegations against the VW group, said Herbert Behrens, who heads a special parliamentary committee inv

Over 80% of US firms feel less welcome in China: survey

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
More than 80 percent of American companies feel China is less welcoming to foreign businesses than in the past, a US business lobby group reported Wednesday, as trade tensions surge between the world's top two economies. Slowing growth, rising protectionism, and unfair policy treatment for non-Chinese firms have led a vast majority - 81 percent - of respondents to the American Chamber of C

Firms push hydrogen as top green energy source

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Davos, Switzerland (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
Over a dozen leading European and Asian firms have teamed up to promote the use of hydrogen as a clean fuel and cut the production of harmful gasses that lead to global warming. Convened on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum, the first Hydrogen Council brought together 13 firms, among them top carmakers BMW, Daimler, Honda, Hyundai and Toyota as well as leading industrial gas companie

Audiobooks see boom in digital, multitasking age

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
New York (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
Curling up with a paperback may be a forgotten luxury for many thanks to today's busy lifestyles, but listening to a book on the go, while shopping or jogging, is fast becoming the new norm. Gone are the cumbersome cassette sets that could cost three times as much as an old-fashioned book and often featured only excerpts to cut down on costs. Now, audiobooks are just a click away and can

China's richest man warns Trump against trade war

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Davos, Switzerland (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
China's richest man, Hollywood investor Wang Jianlin, warned Donald Trump Wednesday against dragging the entertainment industry into a trade war - saying his country's millions of movie-lovers are key to the future of cinema. The Chinese billionaire joined a chorus of concern from international business chiefs gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week over the pro

China 2016 growth slides to 26-year low: AFP poll

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
China's growth slipped to its slowest rate in more than a quarter of a century in 2016, an AFP survey has forecast, as analysts see mounting risks for the world's number two economy with Donald Trump heading for the White House. While the Asian giant is a key engine of the global economy, affecting businesses and employment across the planet, its leaders are trying to shift from reliance on

First 'Silk Road' train arrives in UK from China

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
London (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
After an 18-day, 12,000-kilometre (7,450-mile) intercontinental journey, the first freight train from China arrived in Britain on Wednesday. The lengthy journey is the latest manifestation of China's drive to strengthen trade links with western Europe along a modern-day "Silk Road" trade route. The yellow and red locomotive bearing a Deutsche Bahn logo arrived at Barking in east London,

HSBC will likely switch jobs to France on Brexit: CEO

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
London (AFP) Jan 18, 2017
HSBC bank would likely switch 1,000 jobs to Paris from London, with Britain planning to leave the EU single market under Brexit, chief executive Stuart Gulliver told Bloomberg Television. Speaking from the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort Davos, Gulliver said in an interview that "about 1,000 jobs which are carrying out activities which are covered by European legislation... woul

North American rebound sends oil prices lower

‎Thursday, ‎January ‎19, ‎2017, ‏‎3:53:59 AMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Jan 18, 2017
An expected rebound in North American oil activity offset reported declines elsewhere to send crude oil prices sharply lower early Wednesday. Crude oil is in the middle of a week of high volatility, characterized by sharp declines after Saudi Arabia pulled in the reins on a multilateral production deal, only to be followed by sentiment that the same production deal was having the desire

Unusual physics phenomenon could improve telecoms, computing

‎Monday, ‎January ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎12:23:52 AMGo to full article
San Diego CA (SPX) Jan 13, 2017
Researchers at the University of California San Diego have demonstrated the world's first laser based on an unconventional wave physics phenomenon called bound states in the continuum. The technology could revolutionize the development of surface lasers, making them more compact and energy-efficient for communications and computing applications. The new BIC lasers could also be developed as high

Cheery robots may make creepy companions, but could be intelligent assistants

‎Monday, ‎January ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎12:23:52 AMGo to full article
University Park PA (SPX) Jan 13, 2017
Cheery robots may give people the creeps and serious robots may actually ease anxiety depending on how users perceive the robot''s role in their lives, according to an international team of researchers. In a study of robot use in a retirement home, senior citizens were more likely to consider an assistant robot as socially attractive and intelligent when they thought its demeanor was cheer

How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 tons

‎Monday, ‎January ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎12:23:52 AMGo to full article
Vienna, Austria (SPX) Jan 13, 2017
Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of labor and material. A very resource efficient alternative construction method called "Pneumatic Forming of Hardened Concrete (PFHC)" was invented at TU Wien by Dr. Benjamin Kromoser and Prof. Johann Kollegger at the Institute of Structural

Researchers use nature's weaving formula to engineer advanced functional materials

‎Monday, ‎January ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎12:23:52 AMGo to full article
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Jan 13, 2017
For the first time, UNSW biomedical engineers have woven a 'smart' fabric that mimics the sophisticated and complex properties of one nature's ingenious materials, the bone tissue periosteum. Having achieved proof of concept, the researchers are now ready to produce fabric prototypes for a range of advanced functional materials that could transform the medical, safety and transport sectors

NIST physicists 'squeeze' light to cool microscopic drum below quantum limit

‎Monday, ‎January ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎12:23:52 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Jan 13, 2017
Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have cooled a mechanical object to a temperature lower than previously thought possible, below the so-called "quantum limit." The new NIST theory and experiments, described in the Jan. 12, 2017, issue of Nature, showed that a microscopic mechanical drum - a vibrating aluminum membrane - could be cooled to less than one



News About Oil And Gas



Russia: Few economic burdens with oil above $40

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
Moscow (UPI) Jan 9, 2017 - Russia needs clear economic policies to prevent shocks from oil prices, though stability is expected at $40 per barrel, a development minister said.

The Central Bank of Russia in late December reported a net contraction for full-year 2016, though the level of decline was less severe in the latter half of the year. The oil-dependent economy faced dual strains from the low price of oil and economic sanctions, but Russian Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin told business daily Kommersant the situation is improving as crude oil prices increase.

Russia is party to a plan outlined by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to curb production. The move is meant to offset the supply-side strains that pulled oil prices below $30 in early 2016.

"The approved three-year budget demonstrates that under the conservative scenario for the next three years with oil prices of $40 per barrel public finance will be stable without extra tax burden," the Russian minister said. "The key task of the economic policy is not in trying to guess about the situation on oil markets but in having a clear set of steps in case of any, even the most, uneasy external conditions."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the national budget for 2017 was pegged on oil priced at around $40 per barrel. The price for Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, was around $56 per barrel in early Monday trading.

Herman Gref, the CEO at Sberbank, one of Russia's largest banks, said the nation's economy was resilient enough to handle a moderate downturn in crude oil prices.

Despite agreed cuts, OPEC said it expects Russia to produce an average 11.1 million barrels per day this year, against the estimated 11.05 million bpd for 2016. Russia has a poor track record of compliance with managed declines, though Putin's personal involvement in the sector could show the country is serious about bringing the market back toward balance.

In October, Moody's Investors Service revised its outlook for Russian banks to stable from negative on signs of emerging recovery.



Oil-state of Oklahoma still under financial pressure

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
Oklahoma City (UPI) Jan 9, 2017 - The revenue stream for the shale-rich state of Oklahoma shows lingering, but easing, pressure from the energy sector downturn, the state treasurer said.

Oklahoma is one of the more prolific producers of crude oil in the United States, accounting for about 4 percent of the nation's total. A downturn in crude oil prices in early 2016 put negative pressure on state coffers and State Treasurer Ken Miller said Oklahoma was still playing catch-up.

"Gross receipts to the Treasury show the ongoing impact of the prolonged downturn in the energy industry," he said in a statement. "However, the overall rate of decline has slowed during each of the past three months as oil and gas gross production collections have shown moderate increases."

Crude oil prices moved toward the mid-$50 per barrel range after members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries last year agreed to limit collective production starting in January. Oil prices dropped below $30 per barrel in early 2016.

After the OPEC production agreement was reached, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who last year called for a state Day of Prayer for the struggling energy industry, said the deal was a net win for the market.

In December, Oklahoma's government said gross tax collections from oil and gas production were up $5.3 million, or 15.6 percent, from the previous month. Compared with last December, tax collections are up 4.4 percent. For the year, however, Miller's office said oil and gas production tax collections of $350.2 million were down 26.1 percent from the previous year.

The three other major sources of tax revenue for the state -- income, sales, and motor vehicle taxes -- showed declines in collection year-on-year. The state unemployment rate in November, meanwhile, was higher at 5.1 percent than the national average for the fifth month in a row.



North American rig count rises

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
Houston (UPI) Jan 9, 2017 - Exploration and production activity in North America surged 12 percent in the month that followed OPEC's output deal, an oilfield services company said.

Baker Hughes Inc. reported the total number of rigs actively drilling or exploring for oil and natural gas internationally was up four, or less than a half percent, from the November count of 925. From December 2015, the international rig count was down 15 percent.

Rig counts serve as a loose gauge of how willing companies are to spend on exploration and production. Counts have moved sharply lower since 2014, when oil prices started their steady decline below $100 per barrel.

Crude oil prices dropped below $30 per barrel in early 2016, but recovered to around $56 per barrel because members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed in November to a managed decline aimed at correcting an over-supplied market.

The subsequent rise in crude oil prices may have the unintended result of bringing operators back to the more expensive basins in the United States and Canada. North American production added to the surplus behind the downturn for oil prices.

Baker Hughes reports a total Canadian rig count for December at 209, an increase of 20 percent from the previous month. The total U.S. rig count was up just over 9 percent to 634, an increase of 54 rigs from November.

About 5 percent of all rigs working in the United States are deployed in North Dakota, the No. 2 oil producer in the country, behind Texas. Crude oil production from North Dakota peaked in 2014, when oil was trading near the $100 per barrel mark, at 1.2 million barrels per day, but faltered since oil dipped below $30 per barrel early this year.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission said that, since OPEC's agreement, oil and gas operators are shifting from running the minimum number of rigs to incremental increases throughout 2017, so long as oil prices remain above $50 per barrel.

The Texas Alliance of Energy Producers estimates total crude oil production for November was 93.7 million barrels, about 8.3 percent less than the prior year. That gauge was taken before OPEC's production agreement was reached.



Oil prices dip on North American recovery

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Jan 9, 2017 - Crude oil prices moved sharply lower before the start of trading in New York as signs emerged of a strong North American energy sector recovery.

Crude oil prices entered 2017 at 18-month highs, but faltered in sessions that followed because of uncertain direction in the broader energy market. Prices moved lower Friday, meanwhile, as economists parsed through U.S. labor figures, with an analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas describing the nation's economy as moving in a "fragile state."

Crude oil prices have remained more or less above $50 per barrel since the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed in November to limit output to bring markets back to a healthy level of supply and demand. The rise in crude oil prices, however, has brought energy companies back to work in the more expensive Canadian and U.S. oil reservoirs.

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported a total Canadian rig count for December at 209, an increase of 20 percent from the previous month. The total U.S. rig count was up just over 9 percent to 634, an increase of 54 rigs from November.

A rise in North American production helped push the market toward the supply side and cut crude oil prices by more than half from 2014 to early 2016. The price for Brent crude oil was down 2 percent about an hour before the markets opened in New York to $55.95 per barrel. The front-month price for U.S. oil, West Texas Intermediate, was down from Friday's close by 2 percent to $52.92 per barrel.

Last week, the American Petroleum Institute said it continued to see pressure on the nation's energy sector, a sentiment confirmed a Oklahoma State Treasury that reported declines in some of the tax receipts from oil and gas production.

The API said the total number of wells drilled and completed during the fourth quarter was down 8.8 percent compared to the previous quarter. That decline was less severe, however, than the 21 percent decline reported during the same period in 2015.

"Even with the decline, our nation has established itself as the world leader in the production and refining of oil and natural gas," Hazem Arafa, the head of API's statistics department, said.



More staff reductions for Maersk Oil

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
Copenhagen, Denmark (UPI) Jan 9, 2017 - Danish energy company Maersk Oil said it was cutting staff from one of its offices as part of the broader reorganization started last year.

Danish group A.P Moeller-Maersk split in two in September, with its oil-related business spinning off to focus on the British, Danish and Norwegian waters of the North Sea.

Maersk Oil said it was working to improve its efficiency under the reorganization by cutting about 160 positions from one of its Danish business units.

"We recognize that this announcement will be unsettling news for them," Chief Operating Officer Martine Rune Pedersen said in a statement. "It is however a necessary step in order to remain competitive in the Danish North Sea and the wider Maersk Oil business."

In June last year, the company had advanced on a restructuring plan by sidelining top executives and by then had already announced plans to cut about 40 positions from its regional offices.

A week after the September split, Maersk Oil said it was making cuts in its technology and project group and parting ways with additional top executives.

Trade union officials last year said Maersk cuts were a blow to an industry already coping with a downturn in the North Sea. British energy company BP in 2016 reduced its North Sea headcount as it moved to streamline operations during the market downturn. Royal Dutch Shell, which acquired British energy company BG Group in early 2016, continued to cut staff as it streamlined the operations for the combined entity last year.

Maersk said its reorganization efforts will continue to evolve over the coming months, though some of the efforts will be completed during the first quarter.

"What we are announcing today will ensure our long term future in a sustainable manner and it is a step in our efforts to support the Maersk Oil North Sea ambitions," Patrick Gilly, a managing director for Danish operations, said.



More oil flowing from Kurdish north of Iraq

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
Erbil, Iraq (UPI) Jan 9, 2017 - Results from a well in the Kurdish north of Iraq that was sidelined by lower crude oil prices are promising so far, Norwegian energy company DNO said.

DNO said testing from the Peshkabir-2 well in the Kurdish north yielded about 3,800 barrels of oil per day. The company said the well was planned for 2015, but lower crude oil prices and delayed payments from the Kurdish government caused planning setbacks.

Crude oil prices dropped from above $100 per barrel in 2014 to below $30 per barrel in early 2016, but have held above the $50 mark since late last year. The low price of crude oil limited revenue streams for exploration and production, but DNO said the market was showing signs of recovery.

"We are very encouraged by what we have seen so far in this well," Executive Chairman Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani said in a statement. "Certainly our subsurface and drilling teams have started the year on the right foot."

The rebound in crude oil prices followed an agreement in November by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit output starting in January. Iraq agreed to cut about 210,000 bpd from its production, though the central government in Baghdad said the semiautonomous Kurdish government wasn't doing its share.

Iraq in the past had balked at production restrictions, arguing it needed a steady revenue stream to support the fight against the terror group calling itself the Islamic State. Most of the fighting against the terror group has been centered near the Kurdish north.

The Norwegian energy company holds a majority stake in the license area drilled, alongside the Kurdish government, with a 20 percent stake. British company Genel Energy holds the remaining interest.



Petrol taxes drop globally despite climate change: study

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Jan 9, 2017 - The average tax on petrol in 157 nations fell 13 percent from 2003 to 2015, even as the world acknowledged the need to slash greenhouse gases from fossil fuels, researchers reported Monday.

Over 13 years, consumption of gasoline rose in countries that lowered taxes or raised subsidies, they said in a study published in the journal Nature Energy.

Though only a third of the nations analysed took such measures, this was enough to tilt the global total in the direction of a net drop in gas taxes.

"Despite all the commitments to fight climate change, governments are failing to discourage fossil fuel consumption," said lead author Michael Ross, a professor from the University of California at Los Angeles.

"At the global level, we are moving in the wrong direction," he told AFP.

Under the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change, 196 nations vowed to cap global warming at under two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) -- a goal that scientists say is achievable only if the world economy moves rapidly to cleaner energy.

With only 1 C (1.8 F) of warming so far, Earth has seen a crescendo of heat waves, drought, flooding and storm surges, driven by rising seas.

Experts have long argued that cutting subsidies for oil, gas and coal -- and creating incentives, such as taxes, to curb their use -- are essential tools for that transition.

The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UN's climate science panel and the International Energy Agency (IEA) have all advocated such measures.

But fossil fuel subsidies remain colossal: nearly half a trillion dollars (470 billion euros) in 2014, according to the IEA, with the IMF reporting $333 billion (315 billion euros) in direct consumer subsidies in 2015.

- Oil exporters blamed -

Factor in so-called environmental and social costs -- health destroyed by pollution, damage to ecosystems -- and the true bill is widely considered to be several times higher.

But trying to get a handle of how much countries tax or subsidise gasoline was a hugely challenging task, the researchers said.

"Many taxes and subsidies are indirect or hidden in the budgets of state-owned enterprises," said Ross.

Some countries announce reforms and then fail to carry them out.

To get a global overview, Ross and his team first compiled a monthly log of 13 years of retail gasoline prices in 157 countries. The list of countries accounts for 97 percent of the world population, and 98 percent of greenhouse gases.

Then, using early 2003 as the benchmark, the researchers looked to see which countries, in 2015, had raised or lowered gasoline taxes or subsidies.

"The problem tends to be oil-exporting countries," Ross said, pointing to Nigeria, Algeria, several Arab Gulf nations and Angola.

He also pointed to the United States, where -- despite relatively high taxes -- "the federal tax on gasoline was last raised in 1993."

The US remains the world's top oil consumer.

China's rapid transition toward clean energy -- even as it continues to build new coal-fired power plants -- is driven in large measure by concerns over respiratory health and traffic congestion, Ross said.

"China leaps out as the country that has, by far, made the most significant reforms," he said.



Dallas Fed: Energy sector slump a 'small shock'

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
Austin, Texas (UPI) Jan 6, 2017 - A stronger U.S. dollar and last year's decline in the energy sector could be a "small shock" that weakens economic expansion, a Texas economist said.

A November decision from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit production starting in 2017 helped establish a $50 per barrel floor under crude oil prices, which in early 2016 dipped below the $30 mark.

In late December, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas economist Keith Phillips said that weakness in the state economy that started in 2016 has given way to a sense of stability in the energy and manufacturing sectors. The outlook for expansion in 2017 was "slightly better," he said.

Recovery has been slow for Texas. The Dallas Fed said, nevertheless, there should be a 1.5 percent growth in employment for 2016, an upward revision from a previous estimate of 1.2 percent.

Anton Cheremukhin, a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, said there were pressures remaining on the broader economy nevertheless.

"The most recent energy plunge, coupled with the strengthening of the dollar, could be the small shock that temporarily defuses the competitive pressure and prolongs the current expansion," he wrote.

Minutes from the December meeting of the U.S. Federal Reserve revealed a sense of optimism based in large part on strong labor figures across the country and modest gains in inflation, which is still below the 2 percent objective.

In Texas, the steady rise in crude oil prices has supported increased spending on exploration and production. The independent Texas Alliance of Energy Producers estimated about 205,675 people in Texas were working in the exploration and production side of the industry, about 32.8 percent less than the peak in December 2014

Cheremukhin said there are few indications to suggest a recession is right around the corner. Some measures, like wage growth and personal consumption spending, are below what they would be in a recessionary prelude.

"Nevertheless, the U.S. economy is in a fragile state and a large enough shock could throw the economy into a downturn," he wrote.



Rex Tillerson goes to Washington, gets mixed review

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Jan 6, 2017 - The U.S. nominee for secretary of state and former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson must address his close ties to Russia, a Senate Democrat said.

Tillerson and Exxon this week parted ways in an effort to address potential conflicts of interest between his financial ties to one of the biggest oil companies in the world and becoming the nation's top diplomat. Having never served in public office, the transition team said Tillerson is qualified based on his ability to navigate geopolitical issues as a businessman.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during an appearance on MSNBC he was concerned by Tillerson's close ties to Russia.

Tillerson worked closely with Russian oil company Rosneft, a target of U.S. sanctions, and received distinguished awards from Russian President Vladimir Putin. Coons said he was concerned because protecting shareholder value and the interests of the American people are two very different things.

"We talked at some length about whether he was willing to embrace the use of sanctions if they are strong, if they're multilateral, if they're enforced effectively for the advancement of human rights and American interests," Coons said. "He was generally positive in his response on that."

Arizona Sen. John McCain, a Republican, was less cautious, telling reporters he'd support Tillerson's nomination when "pigs fly," though an aide to the former presidential candidate later walked back that comment.

A profile of Donald Trump's Cabinet picks by the Brookings Institution said Tillerson was endorsed by top former security strategists, but his "personal relationship" with Putin may make for problems during the confirmation process.

On the president-elect's use of Twitter as his means of issuing policy statements, the Delaware senator was less nuanced.

"I raised with Mr. Tillerson my grave concerns that if President Trump doesn't rely on his secretary of state [and] secretary of defense, and conducts his own foreign policy in 3 a.m. Twitter wars, that we may end up in a real war," he said.



Gas prices last year were the lowest in 12 years

‎Yesterday, ‎January ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎3:23:06 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Jan 6, 2017 - A federal survey of retail gasoline prices in the United States in 2016 found consumers paid the lowest average price at the pump last year in 12 years.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said the average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the country last year was $2.14, 12 percent lower than the previous year and the lowest annual average price since 2004.

Crude oil prices moved from above $100 per barrel in 2014 to below $30 per barrel in early 2016 and EIA said that was the main contributor to lower gasoline prices last year.

"In nine of the 10 cities for which EIA collects weekly retail price data, gasoline prices did not exceed $3.00 per gallon," the report read.

The West Coast is the most expensive market in the country in part because of higher state and local fuel taxes. Of the cities surveyed by EIA, Los Angeles had the highest gas prices on average last year, peaking at $3.11 per gallon in early January after a series of regional refinery outages

Southern states bordering the Gulf of Mexico, meanwhile, tend to have the lowest gas prices nationally. Of the cities surveyed by EIA, Houston had the lowest prices on average last year, with a peak of $2.10 in mid-June.

Crude oil prices declined sharply in early 2016 in response to a glut of oil in the global market. A late 2016 decision from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to trim production starting in January pushed crude oil prices back above $50 per barrel late in the year. Oil prices are now making a run at $60 per barrel, or roughly 70 percent higher than on this date last year.

Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price for gasoline at $2.37 per gallon for Friday, about 8 percent higher than last week. Several states started the year with an increase in fuel taxes, which contributed to the spike in retail prices.

AAA reported that gasoline demand typically declines in January and that could bring some relief to the pump.



Putin: We're not a member of OPEC

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
Moscow (UPI) Dec 23, 2016 - Russia's president said his country would meet its obligations in terms of crude oil production, but stressed Friday that Russia is not a member of OPEC.

Russia is on pace to average about 11 million barrels of oil production per day this year, about 1.8 percent higher than last year. If accurate, Russian production for the year would be at or near a post-Soviet record.

Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to cut production by about what it expects in demand growth next year. Most of that cut depends on non-member state cooperation and relies in large part on Russia to be effective at easing the supply-side strains that dragged oil prices to below $30 per barrel in early 2016.

In an interview with Russian broadcasters, President Vladimir Putin said cooperation with the agreement is beneficial to all parties involved.

"We will further cooperate with OPEC, meaning that we will meet the obligations, but we are not a member-state of the cartel and we are independent while being in contact with them and meeting assumed obligations," he said.

Russia's energy minister in the past has expressed support for static production. Before the OPEC deal was reached in November, Putin said the country was ready to "freeze production" at current levels.

Russia set up an advisory panel that would monitor compliance with the OPEC agreement. Russia said it would cut about 300,000 barrels of oil per day from output, with is more than half of the combined agreements from non-OPEC members.

A report this week from economists with Societe Generale said Russia has a poor track record when it comes to managed declines. Economists there said they're "very skeptical" about Russia's participation in the deal, but said Putin's personal investment in the cut could indicate a willingness to cooperate.

Russia's economy was damaged by the low price of oil. Putin in his press conference said real gross domestic product declined 3.7 percent. Though still under pressure, the president said the nation's economy was recovering.

"In November, national GDP inched up," he said. "Overall for the year we are expecting a decrease in GDP in the range of 0.5 percent - 0.6 percent."



Libyan oil boss in Cairo after production gains

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
Cairo (UPI) Dec 23, 2016 - After boasting of gains in oil production this week, the chairman of a Libyan oil company discussed how Egyptian companies could work in the country.

Mustafa Sanalla, the chairman of Libya's National Oil Corp., met in Cairo with Egyptian Oil Minister Tareq el-Molla to discuss joint work opportunities and ways "to benefit from the expertise of the Egyptian companies in some relevant works in Libya."

Egypt is a global leader in terms of natural gas consumption and relies currently on imports to meet domestic demand. Italian energy company Eni has been robust with new activity and exploration, scoring a victory with Egyptian government consent to start developing the Zohr natural gas field offshore, which the company said may be one of the biggest discoveries in the world.

Sanalla's office said the chairman tried to familiarize his Egyptian counterparts with the Libyan oil and gas sector and some of the difficulties the country may be facing.

"And as the Libyan oil sector is in need of numerous and huge projects in maintenance, rehabilitation, and future expansions in different fields in order to achieve production targets which need considerable efforts, Sanalla welcomed the entrance of the Egyptian companies pursuant to the official laws and the applicable contractual procedures of the state of Libya," the NOC explained.

Sanalla met on the sidelines of his visit to Cairo with delegates from the Italian energy company.

The NOC this week confirmed the western Sharara and El-Feel oil fields were reopened and connected to pipelines after a blockade that lasted almost two years.

"For the first time in nearly three years all our oil can flow freely," Sanalla said.

Combined, production capacity for both fields is 420,000 barrels of oil per day. Industry sources reporting to OPEC said crude oil production from Libya has doubled since August to about 600,000 bpd as national forces gained control over oil ports in the country.



More reserves uncovered offshore Norway

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
Stavanger, Norway (UPI) Dec 23, 2016 - After reporting production gains, the Norwegian government confirmed a discovery Friday of at least 25 million barrels in its waters of the North Sea.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said it confirmed a discovery for Aker BP in a wildcat well 4 miles away from the closed Frigg field in the North Sea. A wildcat well is one drilled into an area not previously known to hold oil or natural gas reserves.

Based on preliminary data, the NPD put the estimated size of the discovery at between 25 million and 75 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalents.

"The licensees are assessing the discovery along with other nearby discoveries with a view towards potential development," the government regulator said in a statement.

The Norwegian subsidiary of BP joined Norwegian energy company Det norske in June to announce plans to create Aker BP, an independent company they said would be the largest Norwegian independent oil and gas producer. Norwegian oilfield services company Aker, which owned 49.9 percent of Det norske, was included in the arrangement.

Aker BP emerged as a consolidated entity Dec. 1, saying it has "considerable" ambitions for the Norwegian continental shelf. By 2023, the company said it could producte more than 250,000 barrels of oil equivalents per day.

Norway is among the leading oil and natural gas suppliers to the European economy apart from Russia. Preliminary data for November show an average production of 2.15 million barrels of oil, natural gas liquid and an ultra-light product called condensate, which is about 2 percent higher than figures from October.

Average daily production of oil from Norway was 1.74 million barrels, about 9 percent higher than the NPD reported last year and 11 percent higher than expected. Oil production is about 5 percent above the prognosis so far this year.



Next U.S. Gulf of Mexico lease sale will be online

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Dec 23, 2016 - The next lease sale planned by the U.S. government for oil and gas reserves in the Gulf of Mexico will be streamed live on the Internet, an agency said.

On March 22, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to stream the next lease for the rights to drill into 48 million acres of territorial waters off the coast of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

"Livestreaming the sale enables BOEM to deliver pertinent bid information immediately to a much broader national and international audience," the agency explained.

Environmental advocates had complained moving the lease online would silence the voice of dissent. Demonstrations were held in March 2016 at the Superdome in downtown New Orleans to protest plans for the leasing of maritime acreage in the Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drillers.

The March 22 sale is the twelfth and final offshore sale for the Gulf of Mexico under a five-year lease plan outlined by President Barack Obama. The outgoing president enacted a ban recently that put some Arctic and Atlantic basins off limits to drillers. His successor, Donald Trump, has put forward a more assertive oil and gas policy than Obama.

BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said in a statement the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico remain a fundamental component of the U.S. energy economy.

"As one of the most productive basins in the world, the Gulf of Mexico remains an important component of our domestic energy strategy to create jobs, foster economic opportunities, and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil," she said in a statement.

Estimates from the U.S. Energy Information Administration put total oil production from the Gulf of Mexico at around 1.6 million barrels per day, which represents about 20 percent of the total output.

Recently analysis from consultant group Wood Mackenzie said that more than half of the new volumes of oil next year could come from deepwater basins, where the bottom line shows potential at less than $50 per barrel for oil.



Oil prices dip in pre-Christmas trading

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Dec 23, 2016 - Lingering supply-side strains and traders looking for quick profits as the year draws down pushed crude oil prices into negative territory early Friday.

Trading is light this week as investors take time away for the long year-end holiday season. Friday is the last trading session before the Christmas holiday.

Crude oil prices gained ground in Thursday trading after a report from the U.S. Commerce Department found gross domestic product had improved more than previously expected. U.S. labor figures continue their streak as an indicator of a strong U.S. economy, though retailers and consumer spending showed strains in the latest batch of data.

Oil prices moved up above the $50 per barrel mark after members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to cut production starting in January. It won't be until early 2017 until official data confirm compliance and already some parties to the agreement are rattling investor's nerves.

In a year-end press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country would do its share to ensure oil markets are balance, but stressed Russia was not a member of OPEC.

In light trading, the price for Brent crude oil slipped 0.6 percent to start trading in New York at $54.72 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, was down 0.7 percent to open at $52.60 per barrel.

The price reaction to OPEC's deal could inadvertently offer support for more U.S. crude oil production, which helped tip the market toward the supply side. North Dakota, the No. 2 oil producer in the country, already reported some output gains and while Texas, the No. 1 oil producer, is still posting declines, the latest state data is from the month before OPEC signed off on the agreement to cut production.

Prices could be influenced later in the trading day after oilfield services company Baker Hughes releases data on rig counts for the week, which serve as a loose barometer of exploration and production activity. Recent increases serve as a sign that some level of recovery is underway.



Russian oil company starts new work in Serbia

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
Belgrade, Serbia (UPI) Dec 23, 2016 - A Russian oil company said its division in Serbia has opened up a new reserve area with the goal of moving from drilling to development next year.

Gazprom Neft said it worked with its Serbian counterparts to open up the Northern Idos field with recoverable reserves of 6.8 barrels of oil equivalent.

"Development drilling at the Northern Idos field is expected to begin in 2017," the Russia oil company said.

Alexei Vashkevich, who heads an exploration division at Gazprom Neft, said Serbian reserves were complex, but drilling rates so far in Serbia have been successful at least 80 percent of the time. Gazprom Neft said its Serbian subsidiary was its most important international asset.

Russia is among the major oil producers that's not a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries that agreed to cut output starting in January. Last week, Russian Oil Minister Alexander Novak said representatives from 12 oil companies in the country agreed to work together to monitor the terms of an agreement. All companies are ready to cut production, he said.

Russian oil company Lukoil said recently it's received no directives to cut production from its operations in Iraq, an OPEC member that lobbied for an exemption from the production deal. Gazprom Neft works in the Badra oil field in eastern Iraq, which holds around 3 billion barrels of oil in place.

Serbia last year warmed to Russian plans to pipe natural gas to Eastern European countries through Turkey.



U.S. leaders question need for Strategic Petroleum Reserve

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Dec 23, 2016 - Members of a House energy panel said they wanted a federal investigation into whether or not the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve should be maintained.

The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve was established in 1975 in response to the oil embargo enacted by Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. With a design capacity of more than 720 million barrels, it's the largest emergency supply of oil in the world.

Emergency drawdowns in the past were coordinated around international events like the first Gulf War and the onset of civil war in Libya, as well as domestic catastrophes like Hurricane Isaac in 2012. A test sale of oil from the SPR was conducted in 2014 and laws passed recently in the United States permit further sales.

Last year, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said she was frustrated with lack of funding necessary to modernize the SPR. Her ire followed support for a bipartisan Senate measure that would use SPR as a cash reserve to help keep the federal highway trust fund afloat.

In a letter to the Government Accountability Office, members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee said additional studies into the SPR are needed. Members called for an examination of "cost-effective" options to protect the U.S. market from supply shocks "including whether or not the SPR should be maintained and, if so, the optimal configuration, management and operations, including commercialization and privatization of federal assets."

Congress has approved up to $2 billion to modernize the SPR, of which $375 million has been appropriated. Given the level of investments, the House panel said the GAO should look at more cost-effective ways to address U.S. energy security needs.

Shifts in U.S. midstream infrastructure, or oil and gas pipelines, have reduced the SPR's ability to add barrels to the market, they said.

"These findings suggest that the SPR may have difficulty meeting its energy security mission," the letter to the GAO read.

The onset of the U.S. shale oil and gas era added significantly more barrels to the domestic market. Total U.S. crude oil production in 1975, when the SPR was established, was around 8.3 million barrels per day thanks in part to oil from Alaska. Output dropped to 5 million bpd in 2008 and peaked at 9.4 million bpd last year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates 2017 production will average 8.8 million bpd next year.

As a member of the International Energy Agency, the United States is obligated to hold stocks equivalent to 90 days of oil imports in order to ensure energy security in the event of a disruption. Among the issues raised by the House panel was "U.S. participation in the IEA."



Libya sets sights on build in oil production

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
Tripoli, Libya (UPI) Dec 21, 2016 - A national oil company in Libya said two major oil fields are now reconnected to pipeline infrastructure and oil is flowing freely for the first time in years.

The National Oil Corp. confirmed the western Sharara and El-Feel oil fields were reopened and connected to pipelines after a blockade that lasted almost two years. NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said in a statement the reopening came as a result of national efforts following years of civil conflict.

"There were no payoffs and no backroom deals," he said. "For the first time in nearly three years all our oil can flow freely."

Sanalla said the milestone would bring another 175,000 barrels of oil per day to national production within a month and another 270,000 bpd within three months. Combined, production capacity for both fields is 420,000 bpd, the chairman said.

Libya is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries exempt from an agreement to cut production starting in January. The agreement is aimed at restoring balance to a market favoring the supply side. Before the announcement from the NOC, OPEC said Libya and Nigeria, another producer with an exemption, contributed most to production gains in November.

Industry sources reporting to OPEC said crude oil production from Libya has doubled since August to about 600,000 barrels per day as national forces gained control over oil ports in the country.

"Free from OPEC output restrictions, Libya has effectively been given carte blanche to increase oil production to its pre-2011 crisis level of 1.6 million bpd," PVM's Stephen Brennock wrote.

Sustaining that level, however, would depend on all of Libya's facilities, not just Sharara and El-Feel.

Libyan oil production has been fluid since the end of the era of Moammar Gadhafi. Production averaged 470,000 bpd in 2014 before slowing to a trickle. If NOC estimates are accurate, however, the new output would the about what OPEC's smallest producer, Gabon averaged for total production in November.



Norway's Statoil rolls out more legacy milestones

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
Stavanger, Norway (UPI) Dec 22, 2016 - Following an uptick in oil production, and after boasting of legacy output this week, Norway's Statoil said one of its fields has passed 2 billion barrels.

Explored first in the 1970s and put into production in 1986, the Norwegian energy company said its Gullfaks reservoir has delivered 2.6 billion barrels of oil.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate signed off on the extended use of the so-called B platform on the Gullfaks field through the end of 2035. In asking for extension, Statoil early this year said the field could be profitable at least through 2031, and potentially longer if the right conditions are in place.

Development for Gullfaks could add another 18 million barrels of oil equivalent to net Norwegian production. Compression methods utilized to squeeze more fossil fuels from the basin could add another 22 million barrels of oil equivalent to Gullfaks output.

Early this week, Statoil boasted that its Troll field in the North Sea reached its 1 billionth barrel of oil after 20 years in production. The company said that, despite sidelining some operations this year, the combined production from the Troll field so far represents about $150 billion.

Statoil said production has been relatively flat over the last few years, but the company forecasts another eight to 10 years of production left in the field in the Norwegian waters of the North Sea. Gullfaks production could last into the early 2040s.

Norway is among the leading oil and natural gas suppliers to the European economy apart from Russia. The government reported preliminary data for November show an average production of 2.15 million barrels of oil, natural gas liquid and an ultra-light product called condensate, which is about 2 percent higher than figures from October.



Oil and the Arctic: what is at stake

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎27, ‎2016, ‏‎12:18:44 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Dec 21, 2016 - A US-Canadian move to block new leases for oil or gas drilling in sovereign Arctic waters is designed to protect an area already severely disrupted by climate change.

A quick tour of the Arctic and what is at stake:


The Arctic Circle, which starts 66.5 degrees north of the equator, marks an area where on at least one day of the year there will be no light or no night -- and that period is longer, the further north you go.

It covers more than 20 million square kilometres (7.7 million square miles), an area bigger than Russia, cutting through northern Canada, Alaska, Russia, Scandinavia and Greenland. About a third of the area is land.

The part of the Arctic Ocean permanently covered by ice has been diminishing steadily for several decades due to global warming, making the region more accessible to shipping, and thus oil and gas extraction.

The record low ice cover -- 3.41 million square kilometres in September 2012 -- was 44 percent below the 1981-2010 average.

Some of the ocean falls under the national jurisdictions of the countries it borders, but most is not subject to any national laws or regulations.

An Arctic Council created in 1996 to address territorial and political disputes has so far only dealt with peripheral issues such as protocols for sea rescue and oil spills.


The biggest threat -- driven by the burning of fossil fuels -- is climate change, which has pushed temperatures in the Arctic up twice as fast as the worldwide average.

Scientists have calculated that global oil, gas and coal projects already under construction or in operation will push Earth past the threshold of dangerous global warming, heating the planet by more than two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial era levels.

Developing even a portion of the Arctic's massive as-yet-untapped gas and oil reserves would exacerbate climate change even further.

The region's human communities and wildlife -- from polar bears to bowhead whales, from seals to sea birds -- are also at risk.

Dozens of distinct indigenous cultures within the Arctic depend directly on the ocean and its wildlife for food and income.

Oil production, and spills, difficult to clean up in icy conditions, could threaten livelihoods by damaging fragile ecosystems. Dirty fuel from ships operating in the Arctic is also a source of pollution.

Climate change, meanwhile, has already had a major impact on these mostly coastal communities, some of which are literally falling into the sea.


The US decision designates the vast majority of its waters in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas -- an area covering some 50 million hectares (125 million acres) -- as "indefinitely off limits" to offshore oil and gas leasing. Canada said all its Arctic waters were off limits.

Both the United States and Canada have aggressively developed other fossil fuel resources in the last two decades -- gas extracted via "fracking" and oil from tar sands, respectively.

The same is not true for Russia and Norway, whose economies depend heavily on oil, some of which is taken from the Arctic Circle.

"The economy-energy balance of the US is not the same as for Russia and Norway," notes Laurent Mayet, France's representative to the Arctic Council.


In September 2015, Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell abandoned exploratory drilling operations in the Alaskan Arctic, saying not enough oil and gas had been discovered to make extraction worthwhile. The licence had been granted by the Obama administration.

The British company Cairn Energy likewise gave up on its forays, said Pierre Terzian, head of French consulting firm Petrostrategies.

"There were no imminent prospection projects" before the joint US-Canadian announcement, Terzian told AFP. "Why go into the Arctic when there is plenty of oil and gas elsewhere that is technically less expensive to extract and does not carry as much risk in terms of image?"

French group Total has gone further, renouncing the exploitation of oil fields in the Arctic.

"The best insurance for the Arctic is a low price for oil," Terzian added.






Not So Prolific: U.S. Shale Faces A Reality Check

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
London, UK (SPX) Dec 14, 2016 - The collapse of oil prices has forced the U.S. shale industry to slash production costs. In order to improve the "breakeven" costs for the average shale well, the industry has deployed three general strategies: improving techniques and technology, such as drilling longer laterals or using more frac sand; focusing drilling on the sweet spots; and demanding lower prices from oilfield service companies. All three of those strategies led to a decline in the breakeven price for a shale wells.

But while the industry plays up the efficiency gains, highlighting enhanced technology and better management, merely focusing on the sweet spots has been "nearly twice as important as better technology in reducing well costs," as The Post Carbon Institute (PCI) notes in a report published on Monday, "2016 Tight Oil Reality Check." This is a process known as "high-grading." In fact, the so-called efficiency gains over the past two years are a lot less impressive once you dig into the causes.

Speaking at the National Oil-equipment Manufacturers and Delegates Society (NOMADS) in Houston a few months ago, IHS Markit's associate direct for Plays and Basins, Reed Olmstead, poked holes in the notion that the industry has dramatically upended the cost of shale production. He broke down the cost reductions into a few categories: "One of these factors is high-grading, where operators are drilling only the better acreage," said Olmstead.

"This item accounted for about 35% of the break-even price reduction." Arm-twisting oilfield service companies accounted for another 40% of the lower break-even price. Meanwhile, operational efficiencies - the things that would ensure cost reductions are sustained over time - only accounted for 20 percent of the savings, while learning in the field made up an additional 6 percent of the cost reductions.

In other words, about three-quarters of the cost reductions have come from trends that will not ultimately improve the overall recovery of oil. First of all, oilfield service companies will start demanding higher prices as drilling rebounds, which will lead to a rebound in drilling costs.

But more importantly, even the much-ballyhooed advancements in technology and drilling techniques are a mirage, at least when it comes to the overall recovery of oil from a shale basin, PCI argues in its report. Indeed, shale companies have come up with innovative ways to make shale wells more productive, but while drilling longer laterals and improving the recovery of the average well is great for an individual company, it doesn't necessarily mean that more oil will ultimately be recovered from the entire basin.

"Longer horizontal laterals with higher volume treatments drain more area and reduce the ultimate number of wells that can be drilled without interference," the report concludes. Sucking more oil out of an average well will simply frontload recovery - instead of the same oil being recovered from more wells over time, it is being recovered much more quickly from fewer wells.

The same is true for high-grading - drilling the best spots today makes it appear as if the basin is getting more productive, leaving the markets with the impression that the shale play can produce indefinitely. But maybe we are just burning through finite reserves at an accelerated rate.

Even if production is to continue to rise, it will require steadily higher crude oil prices. Not only will the underlying resources deplete faster from accelerating recovery, but producing the best oil during times of low prices means that "progressively higher prices will be needed, along with much higher drilling rates, to access poorer quality portions of shale plays and maintain production." We are producing cheap oil today, leaving costly oil for tomorrow.

The implications of these findings are multiple. First, the rebound in shale production from higher prices might not be as impressive as organizations like the EIA expect. The sweetest of sweet spots are already produced or are currently being drilled, leaving less desirable locations left for when prices rise.

More importantly, shale production will not grow indefinitely as the EIA and many other analysts predict. The EIA expects shale output to grow for decades to come, hitting 11.3 million barrels per day in 2040, up from roughly 8.6 mb/d today. And that is the EIA's Reference Case, not even its more optimistic take on what might happen.

PCI sees these projections as fanciful. For example, the Bakken would need to double production to more than 2 mb/d, a scenario that "lacks credibility," PCI says. The scale of drilling required is not realistic, and even today, "well interference is already evident in the former top producing county, Mountrail, indicating that available locations are running out," the report finds.

The Bakken would need to see at least double the current maximum of 2,000 new wells drilled per year, which is not only an unlikely development, but would lead to even worse problems of well interference, negating some of the gains that could be achieved from additional wells.

PCI says that the EIA's "optimism bias" for production is extremely high for not just the Bakken, but also the Niobrara and even for a few of the highly-touted formations in the Permian Basin, such as the Wolfcamp. The EIA is overestimating what can be recovered from nearly all the major shale basins in the country, PCI argues.

Overall, the notion that shale production can continue to rise for another 25 years is doubtful. And given that policy decision are being made on such assumptions - the incoming Trump administration is under the impression that it can drill its way to "energy independence" - the errors at the EIA could have serious implications for the U.S.



Rex Tillerson: from oil diplomat to secretary of state

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
New York (AFP) Dec 13, 2016 - As chief of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson honed many of the skills inseparable from the exercise of high-level diplomacy: navigating complex geopolitics and pushing tough negotiations with friends and foes around the world.

The question now facing the 64-year-old Texan, as President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state, is whether he can bring those skills to serve American interests, and break free from the oil industry that shaped him over a lifetime.

As the Republican Trump himself put it, in announcing his choice of the chief executive for top diplomat on Tuesday, "his relationships with leaders all over the world are second to none."

One of those relationships -- with Vladimir Putin, who awarded him Russia's "Order of Friendship" in 2013 -- was likely a key asset in Trump's view, as he pushes for a detente with Moscow.

But Tillerson's Russia ties have raised hackles across the US political spectrum, and threaten to severely complicate his approval by the Senate, against the backdrop of intelligence indicating Moscow interfered to try to sway the election for Trump.

Senator John McCain was among those voicing concern: "Vladimir Putin is a thug, bully and a murderer, and anybody else who describes him as anything else is lying," he said ahead of Tillerson's nomination.

And if Trump sees Tillerson as a dynamic deal-maker whose contacts are a precious asset for his administration, environmentalists have voiced serious concern at the prospect of an oil industry veteran representing the United States in global climate negotiations.

- 'Parallel quasi-state' -

Born in Wichita Falls, Texas, Tillerson -- a lifelong Boy Scout -- joined ExxonMobil in 1975, as a young engineer fresh out of college, and has never worked anywhere else, steadily rising through the ranks to become CEO in 2006.

After a decade spent overseeing the company's business activities in more than 50 countries, the silver-haired married father of four had been due to retire in March.

Steve Coll, author of a 2012 investigative book about ExxonMobil, wrote in The New Yorker that Tillerson's life was profoundly influenced by the oil giant, an organization that promotes almost all its leaders from within.

Coll describes how ExxonMobil perceives itself -- as a transnational power independent of the US government, and possessed of its own foreign policy that seeks to create the best conditions for oil and gas production.

In furthering that policy, Tillerson has effectively been "running a parallel quasi-state," Coll says, "fashioning relationships with foreign leaders that may or may not conform to the interests of the United States government."

That included defying the State Department to cut an oil deal in Iraqi Kurdistan, or working in partnership with authoritarian regimes despite a stated company policy of promoting human rights.

But Coll's investigation also describes Tillerson's record at ExxonMobil as one of professional integrity.

Tillerson's relationship with Putin is believed to have been central to his success as CEO.

- Easing of sanctions? -

The two met in the 1990s when Tillerson was supervising a project on Sakhalin Island, and strengthened their ties when Putin took power following Boris Yeltsin's resignation in December 1999.

Over the years, Tillerson "has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger," said John Hamre of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The friendship was crowned by a historic agreement Exxon signed in 2011 with Russian public energy giant Rosneft to explore and drill in the Arctic and Siberia -- a project facilitated by the melting of Arctic ice due to global warming.

The deal, at first valued at $3.2 billion, could potentially generate a hefty $500 billion depending on oil discoveries -- but has been put on hold by Western sanctions against Russia.

Tillerson has been a vocal opponent of sanctions as a foreign policy instrument and would, as secretary of state, be in a position to benefit his lifelong employer by advocating an easing of sanctions against Russia.

"We always encourage the people who are making those decisions to consider the very broad collateral damage of who are they really harming with sanctions," he argued at a 2014 shareholders' meeting.

Tillerson's position as the holder of some $150 million in Exxon shares -- liable to fluctuate based on his actions as top diplomat -- creates a significant potential for conflict of interest, although he would presumably be required to divest his holdings.

- 'No friend of the planet' -

Among the burning issues awaiting Tillerson beyond Russia are ties with China, the protracted Syrian conflict, Trump's vow to review the Iran nuclear deal and to pull out of both the TPP Pacific rim trade deal and the Paris climate agreement.

Beyond his advocacy for free trade, Tillerson's broader political views are largely unknown, but environmentalists are raising a red flag over ExxonMobil's past activism on the issue of climate change.

Several US states, supported by environmental activists, are suing the oil giant for allegedly deceiving the public about the role of fossil fuels in global warming.

Tillerson himself is credited with steering ExxonMobil towards public acceptance of the science of climate change. He came out in favor of a carbon tax in 2009, which his predecessor Lee Raymond fought, but he also resisted cutting investment in the search for new oil wells.

Environmental group 350.org dubbed the nomination "unfathomable."

"We cannot let Mr. Trump name the world's largest oil company in charge of our international climate policy. Mr. Tillerson may be a friend of Mr. Putin, but he is not a friend of the planet," it charged.






As oil prices go, so go gas prices, AAA says

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Dec 13, 2016 - With crude oil prices on a sustained rally in the wake of deals cut by major producers, U.S. gas prices likely won't decline, analysis finds.

Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.21, snapping a 14-day streak of increases. The national average price is up 1 percent, or about 2 cents per gallon, from last week.

The price for Brent crude oil, which serves as the global benchmark, is up more than 4 percent from last week. Prices are increasing in the wake of agreements reached between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers to cap oil production at certain levels. The move is designed to put a floor under oil prices, which fell below $30 per barrel in early 2016 because supply far outweighed demand.

Brent crude oil was moving in on $56 per barrel early Tuesday. In its weekly retail market report, AAA attributed most of the increase in gas prices to OPEC.

"Retail prices have steadily increased following the news of the OPEC agreement, but the effectiveness of the deal and continued market impacts will hinge on all countries implementing the agreed to production levels," the motor club's report read.

The degree to which parties to the agreement hold the line won't be fully apparent until early 2017. A report from the International Energy Agency said, however, that OPEC was already producing at a record high, though markets are moving more on theoretical potential than fundamental figures.

The West Coast retail market, which is the most expensive market in the country, was the only region to see a decline in gas prices for the Lower 38. The Great Lakes market, meanwhile, remains the most volatile in the country and Michigan took the distinction of recording the highest spike in prices at 9 cents per gallon from last week.

Part of the regional pressure is due to November issues at BP's refinery in Whiting, Ind., which is the largest in the area.

AAA said a lot depends on OPEC, though retail prices are still just 1.8 percent, or 4 cents per gallon, more than this time last month.

"Traders will continue to watch how OPEC and non-OPEC members move forward with the terms of the agreement starting in 2017," the report read.

The highest recorded national average was $4.11 per gallon in July 2008.



Oil prices up, but gains softening

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Dec 13, 2016 - Crude oil prices opened Tuesday in positive territory as the OPEC-fueled euphoria continues, though gains may be softening as a limit starts to emerge.

The price for crude oil is up more than 30 percent from one month ago as traders take stock of market dynamics evolving since members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers agreed to limit production starting Jan. 1.

Parties to an agreement solidified the terms of an arrangement during the weekend to cut 1.2 million barrels per day from total production starting Jan. 1, though the deal counts on non-member states for about half of that. Non-members "proposed to adjust their oil production, voluntarily or through managed decline," OPEC said in a weekend statement.

Olivier Jakob, managing director of Switzerland-based consultant Petromatrix, said in an emailed report that recent rallies started strong, but faded through the trading day. A failure to hold to early gains may be a sign that long-term horizons for crude oil are flattening out.

The price for Brent crude oil opened in weak territory in overnight trading, surged as high as 1 percent, but opened up 0.7 percent to start the trading day in New York at $56.03 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was up 0.6 percent to open at $53.15 per barrel.

Speaking during a meeting with his Russian counterpart in Tehran, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh offered comments suggesting the rally may be reaching its limit.

"There are already indications that the price of oil is rising in global markets," he was quoted by state-funded broadcaster Press TV as saying. "Predicting the prices is difficult but I am certain that the prices will remain between $50 and $55 per barrel."

Some headwinds may be emerging as market indicators suggest supply-side pressures remain. A monthly report from the International Energy Agency finds OPEC members are producing at record highs as the Jan. 1 implementation day approaches.

The IEA suggests OPEC's move may be part of an effort to find a Goldilocks price for oil -- one that's not so low that it crimps investments and economic momentum, and not so high that it brings producers rushing back into more expensive basins like U.S. shale.

"These high-cost producers, who assume that the cuts at the very least guarantee a floor under prices, might think twice before taking the risk of sanctioning new investments," its report read.



Russia to study Iranian oil fields

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
Tehran (UPI) Dec 13, 2016 - Iran and Russia tightened their embrace in the energy sector through an agreement to study the prospects for oil fields near the Iraqi border, directors said.

Directors from the National Iranian Oil Co. and Gazprom Neft, the oil division of Russian energy company Gazprom, met in Tehran for the signing of agreements to study two oil fields in the Iranian border with Iraq.

"Changuleh - which sits on Iran's border with Iraq - is already proving to have become one of Iran's emerging top oil project prizes," Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV reported.

Iran is working to bring foreign investors back to an energy sector previously shuttered by sanctions imposed for its controversial nuclear sector. Iran and Russia have established energy ties, with the latter supplying some of the fuel needed to power the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran.

Norwegian oil company DNO in November said it would examine the possibilities for the development of the western Changuleh oil field, which is estimated to hold more than 2 billion barrels of oil in place.

The agreement with Russia follows a decision from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member states to curb production starting in January. Much of the agreement hinges on cooperation from non-member states like Russia and Iran is the only OPEC member given room for more production.

Speaking from the sidelines of a signing ceremony, Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said he expected crude oil prices would hold steady at around $55 per barrel in response to the production agreement.

"All signs show the prices will rise and this is while none of the producers have reduced their production by even one single barrel," he said.

The production agreement enters into force Jan. 1. It won't be until early 2017 that actual production figures for January are reported to OPEC.



No free oil rides, IEA says

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Dec 13, 2016 - Production agreements from some of the top oil nations in the world don't necessarily mean the return to the glory days of $100 oil, a Paris-based agency said.

Crude oil prices have held steady above the $50 per barrel mark since members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and fellow producers agreed to cut output by as much as OPEC economists expect in terms of oil demand growth next year. The agreement enters into force in January, though producers are already pumping oil at record levels.

OPEC agreed to a cut of 1.2 million barrels per day from total production starting Jan. 1, though the deal counts on non-member states for almost half of that volume. According to terms outlined during the weekend, non-members "proposed to adjust their oil production, voluntarily or through managed decline."

Crude oil prices are at historic highs as investors view the arrangement as an end to the supply-side constraints that pushed oil to below $30 per barrel this year, cut into the pocketbooks of some of the biggest energy companies in the world and led to widespread industry layoffs.

Implementation won't be reflected until early 2017 when OPEC publishes its next monthly market report. Already, the Paris-based International Energy Agency suggests it may be a difficult deal as levels are well above what OPEC established as a high end for production.

In its monthly market report for December, the IEA said the next few weeks could determine the strength of OPEC's word and the sustainability of the rally in oil prices.

"Success means the reinforcement of prices and revenue stability for producers after two difficult years; failure risks starting a fourth year of stock builds and a possible return to lower prices," the report read.

If oil prices move too high, some of the shale oil producers in the United States could return to work and add to the supply-side pressures that dragged markets lower this year. U.S. shale oil boomed when oil was around $100 per barrel in 2014.

Economists at the IEA said that, looking at the future markets, oil prices are on pace for a short, but sharp, increase, but the momentum levels out deeper into 2017 and beyond.

"OPEC also appears to be signaling that high-cost producers should not take for granted that they will receive a free ride to higher production," the IEA's report read. "These high-cost producers, who assume that the cuts at the very least guarantee a floor under prices, might think twice before taking the risk of sanctioning new investments."



Leaked BP report reveals safety lapses: Greenpeace

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
London (AFP) Dec 13, 2016 - British oil giant BP faces safety shortfalls at its operations that could spark serious accidents, according to a leaked internal report published Tuesday by Greenpeace.

The confidential document alleged BP had weaknesses in the way it manages critical information and incident reporting at its refineries and oil rigs, thereby increasing the risk of accidents, according to Greenpeace.

The environmental campaign group added that two of BP's failures had almost sparked fatal incidents that were together still costing it $180 million (170 million euros) per year.

The leaked study was carried out in August 2015 and was based on interviews with 150 personnel across nine BP sites around the world.

The report found there were around 500 recent incidents, of which 75 were directly linked to poor information.

The list of errors ranges from missing blueprints to wrongly-installed anti-blowout devices.

BP has experienced "repeated near-misses" as a result of those errors, with at least one serious incident at a US oil refinery, the report added.

The group's ability to prevent problems was so weak that there was a real risk of leaks or explosions -- and this problem "requires urgent attention", the document stated.

The leaked report also alleged that BP's information management policies are lagging behind major competitors like Chevron, ConocoPhilips, Royal Dutch Shell, and state-owned Malaysian giant Petronas.

The news surfaced one week after BP confirmed a $9-billion investment in a new oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP remains in the spotlight over safety following the deadly 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill catastrophe in the region.

"Nearly seven years have passed since the Deepwater Horizon disaster and BP's sloppy approach to a crucial aspect of safety hasn't changed," said Charlie Kronick, senior climate advisor at Greenpeace UK.

"For a company that's been trying to drill in some of the world's most fragile environments this is completely unacceptable."

The London-listed energy major however insisted that it was committed to safety.

"BP is committed to safe, reliable and compliant operations," it said in a brief statement. "This particular report focused on potential enhancements to how BP manages engineering data.

"It is not an analysis of any operational incidents, and any suggestion that this report indicates BP is wavering from its safety commitment is wrong."

The Gulf of Mexico oil disaster badly tarnished BP's reputation and cost it a total of $61.6 billion. The company axed thousands of jobs and sold billions of dollars of assets in order to meet the clean-up bill.

In April 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 men off the coast of Louisiana and caused 134 million gallons (507 million litres) of oil to spew into Gulf waters.







Oil recovery may be emerging in North Dakota

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
Bismarck, N.D. (UPI) Dec 12, 2016 - If state records are accurate when measured against industry data, the rig count in North Dakota gained significant ground after a weekend OPEC agreement.

North Dakota, the No. 2 oil producer in the United States, serves as a relatively good metric to gauge industry sentiment as it provides rig numbers on a daily basis. Rig counts themselves provide a loose barometer as they indicate activity in the exploration and production side of the energy sector, though rig counts don't necessarily equate to expected gains in output.

Nevertheless, state data could indicate the appetite is building. State data show 40 rigs actively exploring for or producing oil and natural gas as of early Monday morning. If both sets of data are aligned, that would be a 25 percent increase over what oilfield services company Baker Hughes reported Friday.

There may be discrepancies as the state reported 38 rigs in service Nov. 11, which would suggest only a slight increase in activity. The state reported crude oil production in September, the last full month for which data are available, at 971,658 barrels per day on average, far below the all-time high of 1.2 million bpd reported two years ago.

The state government last month blamed lower crude oil prices for the decline in output. The price for West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, is up 23 percent, or roughly $10 per barrel, from one month ago. WTI was trading up about 4 percent in early Monday trading.

Crude oil prices are rallying on the back of a series of agreements reached between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-member states to hold production at a certain level starting in January.

That deal has brought crude oil prices to a point where some companies are re-engaging in some of the U.S. oil deposits constricted by a weak market early this year. Based on a low-end estimate of $50 per barrel for WTI, S&P Global Platts said in an emailed report that some U.S. oil producers are expected to reap the rewards of the OPEC-fueled rally in oil prices.



Donald Trump: I'll solve the Dakota Access pipeline question

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Dec 12, 2016 - If it's not "solved" by the time he's scheduled to take office in January, the U.S. president-elect vowed quick action on the Dakota Access oil pipeline.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in early December said it would not approve an easement for further construction on the pipeline to bridge Lake Oahe in North Dakota. Jo-Ellen Darcy, an Army assistant secretary for civil works, said the decision stemmed in part from water-quality concerns expressed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.

State regulators and industry leaders say there's not enough pipeline capacity to carry all of the oil produced from the region, leaving rail as the primary alternate transport method. Several derailments of trains carrying oil from North Dakota proved deadly over the past few years.

Donald Trump, who is slated to assume the U.S. presidency in mid-January, told Fox News during the weekend he'd step into the process if it's required.

"Let me not answer the Dakota [oil pipeline question] because perhaps that'll be solved by the time I get there, so I don't have to create enemies on one side or the other," he said. "But I will tell you when I get to office, if it's not solved, I'll have it solved very quickly."

He did not elaborate on what "solved" implied.

Energy Transfer Partners, a company in which Trump once invested, and Sunoco Logistics Partners, the two companies behind the pipeline's construction, said the decision from the Army Corps of Engineers was a delay tactic from President Barack Obama, whose administration ruled against the Keystone XL oil pipeline on environmental grounds.

Pipeline developers are pressing their case in court, pointing to July permits from the Army Corps for construction in the area of concern. According to a report in The Hill, a judge in the District Court for the District of Columbia said additional briefs from both the tribes working to halt construction and the companies behind the projects are due in February.



New discovery may lead to the development of super premium gasoline

‎Wednesday, ‎December ‎14, ‎2016, ‏‎5:22:33 AMGo to full article
Chicago IL (SPX) Dec 13, 2016 - In contradicting a theory that's been the standard for over eighty years, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have made a discovery holding major promise for the petroleum industry. The research has revealed that in the foreseeable future products such as crude oil and gasoline could be transported across country 30 times faster, and the several minutes it takes to fill a tank of gas could be reduced to mere seconds.

Over the past year, using high flux neutron sources at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), an Illinois group led by Yang Zhang, assistant professor of nuclear, plasma, and radiological engineering (NPRE) and Beckman Institute at Illinois, has been able to videotape the molecular movement of alkanes, the major component of petroleum and natural gas.

The group has learned that the thickness of liquid alkanes can be significantly reduced, allowing for a marked increase in the substance's rate of flow.

"Alkane is basically a chain of carbon atoms," Zhang said. "By changing one carbon atom in the backbone of an alkane molecule, we can make it flow 30 times faster."

The group's discovery disproves a well-known theory that Princeton University professors Walter Kauzmann and Henry Eyring formed in the late 1940s. They had predicted that all alkanes have a universal viscosity near their melting points. Zhang said the theory had been cited over 3,000 times.

However, a rather distinct odd-even effect of the liquid alkane dynamics was discovered. The odd-even effect in solid alkanes is taught in almost every introductory organic chemistry textbook, i.e., the difference in the periodic packing of odd- and even-numbered alkane solids results in odd-even variation of their densities and melting points.

However, the same effect was not expected in liquid alkanes because of the lack of periodic structures in liquids.

"The classical Kauzmann-Eyring theory of molecular viscous flow is over simplified," Zhang said. "It seems some chemistry textbooks may need revisions."

The Illinois scientists had the technological advantage of super high-speed (at the pico-second, 1 trillionth of a second) and super high-resolution (at the nano-meter, 1 billionth of a meter) "video cameras" making use of neutrons to take movies of the molecules.

"A neutron 'microscope' is the major breakthrough in materials research and we use it to look at everything. There are things we've never seen before," Zhang said.

The research, "Dynamic Odd-Even Effect in Liquid n-Alkanes near Their Melting Points," has been published in the German publication Angewandte Chemie International Edition. The reported research discovery is fundamental to understand and improve a wide spectrum of chemical processes, such as lubrication, diffusion through porous media, and heat transfer.



Fate of North Dakota pipeline may fall to Trump

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
Cannon Ball, United States (AFP) Dec 5, 2016 - Native Americans and their supporters expressed cautious optimism Monday after the US Army nixed plans for a controversial oil pipeline crossing in North Dakota, with many fearing their victory could be short lived.

While the decision marks a win for the months-long protest movement that stood its ground even as the freezing winter set in, it could be undone when Donald Trump moves into the White House in January if his administration chooses to grant the pipeline the final permit it needs.

"There are still some remaining questions," said Dallas Goldtooth, one of the leaders of the protest camp in the North Dakota plains, where thousands have camped to block the planned route of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

"The biggest one of all is to see what a Trump administration will do," Goldtooth told AFP, calling the mood among Native Americans and the environmentalists backing their campaign "very, very cautious."

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is concerned about potential water pollution and says the pipeline's route endangers areas with sacred historic artifacts.

But President-elect Trump's transition spokesman said Monday the incoming administration was supportive of the 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) oil pipeline, which would snake through four US states.

"That's something we support construction of," communications director Jason Miller told reporters on Monday.

"We'll review the full situation when we're in the White House, and can make appropriate determinations at that time."

- Trump meetings -

The Republican billionaire, who reportedly owns a stake in the pipeline's operator Energy Transfer Partners, planned to meet Monday with North Dakota congressman Kevin Cramer.

Cramer was critical of the US Army Corps of Engineers' decision Sunday to deny the final permit necessary to complete the project in North Dakota.

"(The) unfortunate decision sends a very chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country," Cramer said in a statement.

Trump's transition team has also met with North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, another pipeline supporter.

"Mr. Trump expressed his support for the Dakota Access Pipeline, which has met or exceeded all environmental standards set forth by four states and the Army Corps of Engineers," Hoeven said last week in a statement.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, an engineering and construction management agency that is in charge of federal waterways, decided Sunday against granting a permit to bury the pipeline under the Missouri River, the source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux.

"The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing," Jo-Ellen Darcy, the US Army's assistant secretary for civil works, said in a statement.

- Fight 'far from over' -

Energy Transfer Partners criticized Barack Obama's administration, calling the Army's decision "purely political."

"Over the last four months the Administration has demonstrated by its action and inaction that it intended to delay a decision in this matter until President Obama is out of office," the company said in a statement.

Standing Rock Sioux chairman Dave Archambault insisted that the tribe was not opposed to the pipeline, just its route, saying he hoped the incoming Trump administration and other elected officials "respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point."

"We are not opposed to energy independence, economic development, or national security concerns but we must ensure that these decisions are made with the considerations of our Indigenous peoples," he said in a statement.

The conflict between the tribe and pipeline operators Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners has galvanized North American native tribes and supporters, who have camped in the thousands near the construction site, some since April, in an effort to block it.

The standoff has prompted violent clashes with law enforcement, as well as sympathetic protests nationwide, with celebrities, politicians and environmental activists joining the cause.

Some 2,000 US military veterans joined the protest over the weekend in a symbolically important move before a deadline for demonstrators to vacate the area on Monday.

On Monday morning, the mood at the protest camp was muted after a prior day of celebration.

"Everybody is well aware that the fight is far from over. But it's a tremendous moment for this campaign," Goldtooth said.



BP keeping focus on North Sea

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
London (UPI) Dec 5, 2016 - British energy company BP said it was embarking on a drilling campaign in the southern waters of the North Sea that could uncork a new natural gas reserve.

BP said it was drilling, alongside its regional partners, beneath a mature basin in the southern North Sea. If successful, the company said it could open up a new area of potential gas development in the region.

Regional President Mark Thomas said the company is certain that the potential for natural gas exists in the area.

"What we don't know is whether, if gas is found, long-term production can be proven economic from this deeply buried reservoir horizon," he said in a statement.

Even though some areas are running dry, BP said the North Sea remained a central component of its portfolio. The company plans to drill up to five exploration wells over the next 18 months and 50 development wells over the next three to four years and estimates total regional production will reach 200,000 barrels per day by the end of the decade.

The gas announcement comes one week after the company took on some of the interest held by Norwegian energy company Statoil in the Jock Scott reserve basin and an additional stake in the Craster prospect, held by Canadian energy company Nexen in the North Sea.

Thomas said in late November that teaming up with regional players meant the potential for new life for the remaining reserves in the North Sea.

Lower crude oil prices, relatively unchanged from one year ago, but more than 40 percent below the level from two years ago, have forced some oil and gas companies to cut back on exploration and production activity, particularly in the maturing North Sea.

BP reported third quarter profits were down nearly 50 percent from last year as lower crude oil prices continue to put pressure on revenue streams.



Dakota Access Pipeline partnership cries foul

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
Dallas (UPI) Dec 5, 2016 - The partnership behind the Dakota Access Pipeline said a weekend decision to block further construction was political interference from Washington.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said during the weekend it would not approve an easement for further construction to bridge Lake Oahe in North Dakota. Jo-Ellen Darcy, an Army assistant secretary for civil works, said the decision stemmed in part from water-quality concerns expressed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota.

"Although we have had continuing discussion and exchanges of new information with the Standing Rock Sioux and Dakota Access, it's clear that there's more work to do," she said in a statement. "The best way to complete that work responsibly and expeditiously is to explore alternate routes for the pipeline crossing."

The planned 1,172-mile pipeline could have a peak capacity of about 470,000 barrels of shale oil per day. State regulators in North Dakota say there's not enough pipeline capacity to transport the amount of crude oil coming out of the Bakken and Three Forks oil reservoir.

Energy Transfer Partners and Sunoco Logistics Partners, the companies behind the pipeline's construction, said it was clear the federal government was delaying the project until the end of President Barack Obama's term in office.

"In spite of consistently stating at every turn that the permit for the crossing of the Missouri River at Lake Oahe granted in July 2016, comported with all legal requirements, including the use of an environmental assessment, rather than an environmental impact statement, the Army Corps now seeks to engage in additional review and analysis of alternative locations for the pipeline," the partners said in a statement.

A federal appeals court in October backed a lower court's ruling that construction could proceed in the face of challenges to the extent of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' consultation with tribal groups concerned about the sanctity of sacred sites.

The U.S. Departments of Justice, the Army and the Interior issued an order temporarily halting pipeline construction in the Lake Oahe area, the place at the center of the tribe's concerns, earlier this year

Jack Gerard, the head of the American Petroleum Institute, the industry's strongest lobbying group, said the fate of the pipeline may rest in the hands of President-elect Donald Trump.

"I am troubled, though not surprised, that the Obama administration is again putting politics over sound public policy and ignoring the rule of law," he said.

Trump himself intervened in the business decisions of Carrier Corp. The manufacturer of heating and ventilation systems agreed to keep some of jobs at a plant in Indiana, rather than moving them to Mexico.

The 1,110-foot crossing of the Missouri River is the last hurdle for the completion of the Dakota Access pipeline.



Rally in oil prices knows no quarter

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Dec 5, 2016 - With few short-term factors standing in the way of bullish market sentiments, crude oil prices continued their steady march past $55 per barrel early Monday.

Crude oil prices are up more than 15 percent, or nearly $10 per barrel, from last week in response to a decision from members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to hold production steady at around 32.5 million barrels per day starting in January.

The agreement is meant to pull a market tilted toward the supply side back into balance. A rush of oil from U.S. shale basins in part kept the markets flush with oil at the start of this year and pulled oil prices below the $30 per barrel mark.

A research note published by Morgan Stanley said there are few things standing in the way of a sustained rally for crude oil prices.

"Other than a complete deal collapse, we don't see many catalysts to reverse the recent rally," the report read.

The price for Brent crude oil continued its streak into early Monday trading, gaining 1 percent from the previous close to start the day at $55 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, was up 0.9 percent to open in New York at $52.09 per barrel.

A best-case scenario for OPEC members may be a so-called Goldilocks value for oil, one that's not so low that it crimps economic growth for producers and not so high that it reinvigorates U.S. shale oil production.

Traders will be renewing their focus on rig counts to gauge the industry's response to the exponential rise in crude oil prices. Baker Hughes publishes weekly rig count activity and a report Friday will be the first that reflects activity since OPEC's agreement last week in Vienna.

The average U.S. rig count for October was up 35 from the previous month to 544.

According to Morgan Stanley, OPEC may have underestimated the response from U.S. shale oil producers to a higher price point. Already, some companies have grown resilient to lower oil prices as efficiencies improve.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in early November that it expected domestic oil production to decline from 8.8 million bpd this year to 8.7 million in 2017. The estimate for 2017 was outlined before OPEC's production agreement and was more than 100,000 bpd higher than the forecast from the previous month.



Iranian MPs declared victory with OPEC deal

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
Tehran (UPI) Dec 5, 2016 - Members of the Iranian parliament said Monday they signed a letter of appreciation that, in effect, declared victory with last week's OPEC production deal.

Iran under the terms of an agreement signed last week in Vienna will cap oil production at 3.79 million barrels per day. That's 123,000 bpd less than what the government reported to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in October, but 107,000 bpd less than reported by secondary sources.

Of the countries agreeing to limits, Iran is the only one that has room for more production. Saudi Arabia, one of Iran's main adversaries, cuts the most by volume with 486,000 bpd starting in January.

Members of the Iranian parliament on Monday signed a letter of appreciation, with the official Islamic Republic News Agency reporting the members were declaring victory with the new quota.

"It was a difficult task for the Iranian officials [in Vienna] to persuade OPEC members to agree with the increase in the Iranian oil production rate," the report read.

Libya and Nigeria are exempt for the agreement and any contribution from Indonesia was moot because its OPEC membership was suspended.

OPEC's agreement is meant to erase the surplus of oil on the market that was blamed for lower crude oil prices during most of 2016. The agreement signed in Vienna said there is a "firm and common ground" among member states that collaboration between members, as well as non-member states like Russia, to restore balance in the market.

Iran did not report its production levels for September directly to OPEC. Iran in the past has expressed reservations about cooperating with any production cap proposals, saying it needed to regain a market share lost to sanctions. Two years ago, Iran was producing closer to 2.7 million bpd.

The OPEC agreement was followed by a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for another 10 years. The measure targets energy and other Iranian industries, though the U.S. president can ease restrictions. Many of the measures were suspended when the United Nations verified this year that Iran was complying with the terms of the multilateral agreement.



Kurdish government short on oil export payments

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
Oslo, Norway (UPI) Dec 5, 2016 - Companies working in the Kurdish north of Iraq said they were paid collectively more than $50 million for oil exports through Turkey, but still owed more.

Swedish energy company DNO said it was paid $36.2 million toward September exports of crude oil from the Kurdish north through Turkish ports. About $6 million of that payment goes toward outstanding debt.

The company is sharing the funds with its partner, Genel Energy. DNO said it produced an average of 112,897 barrels of oil per day from its Tawke field in the Kurdish north and all almost all of that was exported through Turkey.

Gulf Keystone Petroleum, which operates the Shaikan oil field in the Kurdish north, said it received $15 million for crude oil exports through Turkey. The company, which did not provide export volumes, said it was still working on resolving debts outstanding since May.

The reporting comes as delegates gather in London for a Kurdish oil and gas conference. The event is billed as "the gateway" to the Kurdish oil and gas industry, which has been shielded in large part from the fight against the Islamic State terrorist group. Regional and allied forces are working to retake the nearby city of Mosul from the Islamic State.

Before the conference, the Kurdish Ministry of Natural Resources said its oil- and gas-dependent economy was a vital contributor to the funds necessary to support the fight against the Islamic State.

"After two very challenging years, the Kurdistan Region's oil and gas sector has a more positive outlook, with investment starting to pick up and prepayments for oil exports continuing," the ministry said. "The Kurdistan Region continues to export around 580,000 bpd of crude oil."

In late July, DNO made an unsolicited offer to take over Gulf Keystone Petroleum, which is focused on a restructuring effort it said could support a near-term goal of raising production from 40,000 bbpd to 55,000 bpd.



Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong targets Australia's Duet

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
Sydney (AFP) Dec 5, 2016 - Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong Infrastructure on Monday offered Aus$7.3 billion (US$5.4 billion) for an Australian energy group, just months after his bid for the country's largest electricity network was blocked on security grounds.

The Hong Kong billionaire's unsolicited and conditional Aus$3 per share offer for the Duet Group, an energy utility asset owner, represented a near-28 percent premium on its closing share price on Friday.

The move sent the stock more than 16 percent higher to Aus$2.73 in late afternoon trade Monday, although there was no certainty the approach would go any further.

"The boards of the Duet Group are currently evaluating the proposal and at this time security holders are advised to take no action as there is currently no certainty the proposal will proceed further," the target company said in a statement.

The Australian newspaper said China's State Grid and Singapore Power were believed to be working on a counter offer for Duet, which if true could spark a bidding war.

Duet owns electricity and gas networks in Victoria state as well as Western Australia's main gas transmission line.

The bid is Li's latest attempt this year to bolster his Australian business after suffering a blow when a proposal to buy the country's largest electricity network, AusGrid, was halted by the federal government in August.

Canberra rejected the move on national security grounds after introducing tougher rules for the sale of major Australian state-owned infrastructure to private foreign investors.

Chinese government-owned State Grid Corporation was also rejected, with reports at the time suggesting Canberra was concerned about Li's links to senior government officials in China.

Analysts believe approval for the new deal from the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), could again prove troublesome amid heightened public debate about strategic assets falling into overseas hands.

"While we see Duet's assets as potentially less concerning from a national security perspective than Ausgrid, we believe FIRB approvals remain a significant barrier to a deal proceeding," RBC Capital Markets analyst Paul Johnston said in a client note.

The diversified Cheung Kong Infrastructure already has significant investments in Australia's energy sector, including in electricity networks in Victoria and South Australia.

The Hong Kong-listed company is a global player in infrastructure, with operations in China, Britain, the Netherlands, Portugal, New Zealand and Canada.







Once-mighty Chesapeake continues divestment streak

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
Oklahoma City (UPI) Dec 5, 2016 - Once one of the stronger shale gas companies in the United States, Chesapeake Energy said it closed on a $450 million deal to sell some of its shale acreage.

Chesapeake said it sold off 78,000 acres, of which more than half was considered core acreage, in the Haynesville shale area in Louisiana to an undisclosed private company for $450 million. The 250 wells currently in production are yielding about 30 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.

"In addition, Chesapeake is marketing approximately 50,000 net acres located in the northeastern part of its Haynesville shale operating area, which the company also expects to close in the 2017 first quarter," the company said in a statement.

Chesapeake in early February said it retained the services of long-time counsel Kirkland & Ellis to help manage debt and strengthen its balance sheet, though it said it had no plans to pursue bankruptcy. The company it was targeting between $1.3 billion and $1.8 billion in spending for 2016, a 57 percent reduction from last year.

In August, the company left the Barnett shale basin in Texas, which Chesapeake said could result in an increase in operating income by up to $300 million per year through 2019.

By exiting Barnett, the company built a negative cash-flow profile, which could help transform Chesapeake into a top-tier exploration and production company.

Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler said the company so far this year has signed or closed on divestments worth $2 billion.

"With our long-term target of $2 billion to $3 billion in debt reduction, we will continue to look for opportunities to accelerate value through the sale of additional non-core assets in 2017 and beyond," he said.

Aubrey McClendon, who died in a March car crash, helped establish Chesapeake as a shale oil and natural gas pioneer before he was ousted through an investor rebellion in 2013. Under his tenure, the company became one of the largest natural gas producers in the United States.



Manmade earthquakes in Oklahoma on the decline

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
Stanford CA (SPX) Dec 02, 2016 - New regulations in Oklahoma that call for reductions in the amount of wastewater being injected into seismically active areas should significantly decrease the rate of manmade, or "induced," earthquakes in the state, Stanford scientists say.

"Over the past few years, Oklahoma tried a number of measures aimed at reducing the rising number of induced quakes in the state, but none of those actions were effective," said Mark Zoback, the Benjamin M. Page Professor at Stanford's School of Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences.

While wastewater from oil and gas drilling have been disposed of through underground injection in this area for many decades, induced seismicity was not a problem until the volumes being injected were massively increased, starting around 2009. In the past six years, billions of barrels of wastewater were injected into the Arbuckle formation, a highly permeable rock unit sitting directly on top of billion-year-old rocks containing numerous faults.

Research Zoback and his graduate student Rall Walsh published last year established the correlation in space and time between the areas where the massive injection was occurring and the induced earthquakes. They showed how pressure buildup resulting from the wastewater injection can spread out over large areas and trigger earthquakes tens of miles from the injection wells.

In light of these findings, the state's public utilities commission - called the Oklahoma Corporation Commission --last spring called for a 40 percent reduction in the volume of wastewater being injected. The bulk of that wastewater comes from oil production in several water-bearing rock formations that had not been extensively drilled until a few years ago.

A new physics-based statistical model developed by Stanford postdoctoral fellow Cornelius Langenbruch and Zoback, and detailed online this week in the journal Science Advances, predicts that the continued reduction of injected wastewater will lead to a significant decline in the rate of widely-felt earthquakes - defined as quakes measuring magnitude 3.0 or above - and a return to the historic background level in about five years.

"When the volume of wastewater injection peaked in 2015, Oklahoma was experiencing two or more magnitude 3.0 earthquakes per day. Before 2009, when wastewater injection really started ramping up, the rate was about one per year.

"Several months after wastewater injection began decreasing in mid-2015, the earthquake rate started to decline," Langenbruch said. "There is no question that there is a significantly lower seismicity rate than there was a year ago."

Unfortunately, even though the rate of induced quakes will continue declining, the probability of potentially damaging earthquakes like the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck the town of Pawnee in September (the largest to have occurred in Oklahoma in historic time) will remain elevated for a number of years, the Stanford scientists say.

"As long as elevated pressure persists throughout this region," Zoback said, "there will be an increased risk of triggering damaging earthquakes."



Shale state of Oklahoma says 'thank you' to OPEC

‎Tuesday, ‎December ‎6, ‎2016, ‏‎4:44:58 AMGo to full article
Oklahoma City (UPI) Dec 2, 2016 - The shale oil and natural gas sector in Oklahoma is on better footing now that OPEC has agreed to cut its production, the state's governor said.

Oklahoma is one of the most significant producers of crude oil in the United States, accounting for about 4 percent of the nation's total. It hosts some of the largest deposits of shale oil in the country and the trading hub in Cushing is considered the most significant entity of its kind in North America.

Shale states like Oklahoma have faced economic hardships in part because the low price of oil made it expensive to work in the cost-intensive basins in the state. Gov. Mary Fallin said the decision by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit production was welcome news for her state.

"Our oil and gas producers and the thousands of Americans they employ have done a great job of persevering during difficult times," she said in a statement. "Thanks to their hard work, innovations and efficiencies, America is better positioned to compete and win in the world energy market."

The price for West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark based on the oil stored at the Cushing oil terminal in Oklahoma, is up more than 7 percent from the start of the week on the back of OPEC's announcement.

OPEC set a target production of 32.5 million barrels per day "in order to accelerate the ongoing drawdown of the stock overhang and bring the oil market rebalancing forward."

A surge in crude production from U.S. shale, Russia and a post-sanctions Iran helped push markets heavily toward the supply side, sending oil prices crashing below the $30 mark in early 2016. WTI started trading Friday below its high point for the year, however.

WTI closed at $51.59 per barrel on Oct. 18, five days after Oklahoma's governor called for a state day of prayer for the oil sector. Fallin said the government recognized oil and gas companies have made significant contributions to the economy, as well as having a "faith-based impact."

Analysts said the OPEC agreement is designed more to correct the supply-side pressures building in the oil market than about stimulating crude oil prices. If prices move too high, producers will rush into shale-rich states like Oklahoma and potentially tilt the market scales back toward the supply side and erase the recent trends in crude oil prices.

Oklahoma reported tax collections from oil and natural gas production in October at $35.1 million, an 8.9 percent increase from the same month last year. The improvement marks a first for the shale-rich state in almost two years.

"It's not yet time to sing 'Happy Days Are Here Again,' but this month's gross production number is welcome news," State Treasurer Ken Miller said in a statement.








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