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Monitor The Strategic Trends

Introduction:

 

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?


[READ THE FULL INTRODUCTION]

 

 

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

DVD

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

 DVD:

•2 MP3 files

•1 PDF Notes file

 

 

 

Subsea mining moves closer to shore

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Kiel, Germany (SPX) Feb 10, 2017
The demand for raw materials is rising continuously, forcing mining companies to use lower-grade ores and to explore at greater depths. This could lead to a decline in production in the coming decades. Many industrialized economies also depend on imports of metals for their high-tech industries. Some of these metals occur in ore deposits that are found only in a few countries. In order to
 

Record-breaking material that contracts when heated

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Nagoya, Japan (SPX) Feb 10, 2017
Machines and devices used in modern industry are required to withstand harsh conditions. When the environmental temperature changes, the volume of the materials used to make these devices usually changes slightly, typically by less than 0.01%. Although this may seem like a trivial change, over time this thermal expansion can seriously degrade the performance of industrial systems and equipment.
 

Most stretchable elastomer for 3-D printing

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Singapore (SPX) Feb 10, 2017
Due to its excellent material properties of elasticity, resilience, and electrical and thermal insulation, elastomers have been used in a myriad of applications. They are especially ideal for fabricating soft robots, flexible electronics and smart biomedical devices which require soft and deformable material properties to establish safe and smooth interactions with humans externally and internal
 

Researchers optimize the assembly of micro meso and macroporous carbon for Li-S batteries

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 10, 2017
Li-S batteries are considered as promising alternatives for Li-ion batteries in the new generation of energy storages, due to high specific capacity (1675 mAh/g) and energy density (2600 mWh/g) of sulfur. But the poor conductivity of sulfur and severe shuttle effect of reaction intermediates destory the stability of this system. A variety of porous carbon materials have been applied as sul
 

China exports surge tainted by fears of trade turmoil

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Feb 10, 2017
Chinese exports surged more than forecast in January, data showed Friday, in a fresh sign of improvement in the world's number two economy as leaders prepare for possible trade stand-offs with US President Donald Trump. The strong figures come as Beijing looks to position itself as leader of the global trade regime in anticipation of a US retreat under a protectionist Trump administration.
 

EU at pains to punish VW over 'dieselgate' scandal

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Feb 11, 2017
A year and a half after the Volkswagen "Dieselgate" scandal erupted, the European Union is struggling to punish the Germany-based auto giant for emissions cheating and ensure customers are compensated. In the United States, where authorities first exposed the wrongdoing, VW has already committed to pay $23 billion to aggrieved customers to settle lawsuits in addition to repairing the vehicle
 

Algorithms: the managers of our digital lives

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Feb 11, 2017
Algorithms are a crucial cog in the mechanics of our digital world, but also a nosy minder of our personal lives and a subtle, even insidious influence on our behaviour. They have also come to symbolise the risks of a computerised world conditioned by commercial factors. - A gift from a Persian scientist - Long before they were associated with Google searches, Facebook pages and Amaz
 

No sad endings for Japan's virtual romance fans

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 11, 2017
Japanese book editor Miho Takeshita is having an affair. But the recently married 30-year-old is not worried about getting caught - her boyfriend only exists on a smartphone. Takeshita is a fan of romance simulation games, a booming market in Japan that is winning the hearts of women looking for some unconventional loving. "It's very addictive," Takeshita said. "Even though the gam
 

Struggling retailers seek silver bullet in Amazon era

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
New York (AFP) Feb 10, 2017
Want a coffee while you shop? A glass of wine? Those are just few of the gimmicks being rolled out by retailers as they fight to boost store traffic - and ensure their survival in the Amazon era. Stores are testing artificial intelligence programs to guide shoppers through their aisles, and swipe-right, swipe-left games, that borrow from dating apps to offer them personalized pickings.
 

How algorithms secretly run the world

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 11, 2017
When you browse online for a new pair of shoes, pick a movie to stream on Netflix or apply for a car loan, an algorithm likely has its word to say on the outcome. The complex mathematical formulas are playing a growing role in all walks of life: from detecting skin cancers to suggesting new Facebook friends, deciding who gets a job, how police resources are deployed, who gets insurance at wh
 

French government gets renewable energy endorsement

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Brussels (UPI) Feb 10, 2017
A move by the French government to budget for more solar and hydropower projects on its grid was endorsed Friday by the European Commission. The French government said new solar initiatives would receive more than $9 billion in support over the next 20 years, while hydropower schemes are backed by a 20-year $530 million commitment. The European Commission said it endorsed an effo
 

Saab, Aalto University sign collaborative research deal

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Linkoping, Sweden (UPI) Feb 10, 2017
Saab and Finland's Aalto University have signed a 10-year collaborative agreement for research, especially in sensor technology. The agreement, worth about $21 million, strengthens past collaborative efforts with the school, Saab said. "For Aalto University, collaboration with Saab means a substantial injection of resources into the research in the field, and an opportunity to sh
 

In the US, Trump ushers in era of dramatic deregulation

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 10, 2017
Methane emissions, guns, river pollution, Wall Street: hand in hand with President Donald Trump, the Republican majority in Congress has begun to repeal Obama-era regulations opposed by big business. At the very beginning of his term, the billionaire Republican president signed an order freezing any new regulations close to being finalized, and requiring that for each new rule imposed two ot
 

Alberta backing bioenergy programs

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Edmonton, Alberta (UPI) Feb 10, 2017
The provincial government of Alberta said it was creating new jobs by offering funding to support bioenergy and a low-carbon future. The government said it was offering up to $45 million to support a bioenergy producer program aimed at deriving fuels from crops and livestock waste. The industry already powers the equivalent of 200,000 average households in Alberta and contributes
 

Dakota pipeline work resumes, US tribe heads to court

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎4:08:36 AMGo to full article
Chicago (AFP) Feb 10, 2017
Construction has begun on the final segment of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline in the northern United States, prompting a court challenge from a Native American tribe which says its religious rights are under threat. Energy Transfer Partners, the developer of the 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) oil pipeline, now expects to begin operation "in approximately 83 days," spokeswoman Vic
 

Republican ex-top diplomats propose a carbon tax

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 8, 2017
Several senior Republican statesmen, including former secretaries of state and the treasury department, proposed Wednesday a carbon tax as a way of fighting the threat posed by climate change. Their proposal aims to scrap former president Barack Obama's environmental regulations in favor of taxes on polluting emissions that could be returned to everyday Americans as cash. "Mounting evide
 

EU to phase out China solar panel duties

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) Feb 8, 2017
The EU said Wednesday it aimed to phase out anti-dumping duties on Chinese solar panel imports after 18 months, ending a bitter dispute with one of its largest trading partners. Stung by US President Donald Trump's protectionist stance, the EU has touted its free trade credentials and pledged closer cooperation with China in response. The EU imposed the duties in 2013 after European pane
 

US authorities clear pathway for Dakota pipeline

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 8, 2017
US authorities said Tuesday they will approve a permit to complete the controversial Dakota Access pipeline to reduce transportation costs and give US producers a boost as they compete against oil from Canada. The decision comes after months of protests by Native Americans and their supporters led the Obama administration to nix plans to build the pipeline close to native grounds. But P
 

Germany, France plan cross-border self-driving test zone

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Frankfurt Am Main (AFP) Feb 8, 2017
European neighbours Germany and France plan to test self-driving vehicles on a stretch of road linking the two countries, the transport ministry in Berlin said Wednesday. The route - aimed at testing "automated and connected driving in real cross-border traffic" - will stretch around 70 kilometres (43 miles), from Merzig in Germany's western Saarland state to Metz in eastern France. "M
 

Material can turn sunlight, heat and movement into electricity

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 08, 2017
Many forms of energy surround you: sunlight, the heat in your room and even your own movements. All that energy - normally wasted - can potentially help power your portable and wearable gadgets, from biometric sensors to smart watches. Now, researchers from the University of Oulu in Finland have found that a mineral with the perovskite crystal structure has the right properties to extract energy
 

Philippine ministers say mine closure order will cost jobs

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Manila (AFP) Feb 5, 2017
The Philippine environment minister's move to close some two dozen mines sparked concern Sunday among two of her colleagues, who said it could hit the economy and employment. The mining industry - accused of illegal tree felling and polluting rivers - has also questioned the order of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez. The Philippines is the world's top supplier of nickel ore and the mai
 

Hungary court orders retrial over 2010 toxic spill

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Budapest, Hungary (AFP) Feb 6, 2017
A Hungarian court on Monday ordered a retrial of 15 employees at an alumina plant who were cleared last year of criminal wrongdoing over the country's worst toxic spill in 2010. The court overturned the January 2016 acquittals of Zoltan Bakonyi, the former director of the MAL alumina plant in the western town of Ajka, and 14 employees. Prosecutors had appealed the original verdict, argui
 

Artificial wetland to clean Shanghai factory water

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Feb 7, 2017
French wastewater treatment company Suez said Tuesday it had been awarded a contract to design an artificial wetland to clean water from a petrochemical industrial zone outside Shanghai. Suez said the 36-hectare "dragonfly zone" will use "the treatment capabilities of the natural environment" to remove micropollutants from water after its discharge from a standard facility that it operates a
 

Coal ash selenium found in fish in NC lakes

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Durham NC (SPX) Feb 08, 2017
A new Duke University study has found high levels of selenium in fish in three North Carolina lakes receiving power plants' coal ash waste. "Across the board, we're seeing elevated selenium levels in fish from lakes affected by coal combustion residual effluents," said Jessica Brandt, a doctoral student in environmental health at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment, who led the study.
 

Defense mechanism employed by algae can effectively inhibit marine fouling

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Mainz, Germany (SPX) Feb 07, 2017
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have developed a method that reliably hinders hazardous seawater fouling and is effective, affordable, and easy on the environment. Fouling can occur, for example, as the result of the growth of bacteria, algae, or mollusks in harbor facilities, on boat hulls, and aquaculture netting. The resultant damage and consequential costs can be signif
 

Study traces black carbon sources in the Russian Arctic

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Vienna, Austria (SPX) Feb 07, 2017
According to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 35% of black carbon in the Russian Arctic originates from residential heating sources, 38% comes from transport, while open fires, power plants, and gas flaring are responsible for only 12%, 9%, and 6% respectively. These estimates confirm previous work for some areas of the European Arctic,
 

Volvo Cars posts strong earnings on record sales

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Stockholm (AFP) Feb 8, 2017
Swedish carmaker Volvo Cars, owned by Chinese group Geely, said Wednesday it posted a healthy profit rise in 2016, boosted by record sales and stronger finances. Net profit soared by 90 percent to 5.94 billion kronor (633 million euros, $628 million), while sales climbed by 10 percent to 164.04 billion kronor, Volvo said in a statement. The brand sold more than 534,000 cars in 2016, six
 

New material that contracts when heated holds great industrial potential

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Nagoya, Japan (UPI) Feb 8, 2017
Materials scientists in Japan have discovered a new material that contracts when heated, a rarity. The metal-ceramic composite material is composed of calcium, ruthenium and oxygen atoms. When heated, it shrinks 6.7 percent. It's a new record for negative thermal expansion, or NTE. In many modern industries - whether electronics, aeronautics or medical equipment - devices and t
 

Some OPEC members bucking trend

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
London (UPI) Feb 8, 2017
Members of OPEC exempt from a production agreement, and those producers who wanted such a break, are bucking rival trends, an industry survey finds. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries agreed to a collective production ceiling of 32.5 million barrels per day as of January. Some industry analysts continue to speculate over the level of compliance, however.
 

U.S. exploration and production activity rising

 
‎Friday, ‎February ‎10, ‎2017, ‏‎2:01:46 AMGo to full article
Houston (UPI) Feb 8, 2017
A review of exploration and production activity in the United States finds standing still is the worst case scenario for major oil and gas regions. A forecasting unit for S&P Global Platts produced an independent assessment of rig counts in the United States. Rig counts reflect exploration and production activity and serve as a metric to gauge confidence in a particular region. F
 

Toward all-solid lithium batteries

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Feb 03, 2017
Most batteries are composed of two solid, electrochemically active layers called electrodes, separated by a polymer membrane infused with a liquid or gel electrolyte. But recent research has explored the possibility of all-solid-state batteries, in which the liquid (and potentially flammable) electrolyte would be replaced by a solid electrolyte, which could enhance the batteries' energy density
 

Shaken, but not stirred

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Munich, Germany (SPX) Feb 03, 2017
A team of researchers led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich physics professor Immanuel Bloch has experimentally realized an exotic quantum system which is robust to mixing by periodic forces. When James Bond asks the barkeeper for a Martini ("shaken, not stirred"), he takes it for granted that the ingredients of the drink are miscible. If he were to place the order in a bar in t
 

Three magnetic states for each hole

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Dresden, Germany (SPX) Feb 03, 2017
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for Computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been publis
 

Thin, flexible, light-absorbent material for energy and stealth applications

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
San Diego CA (SPX) Feb 03, 2017
Transparent window coatings that keep buildings and cars cool on sunny days. Devices that could more than triple solar cell efficiencies. Thin, lightweight shields that block thermal detection. These are potential applications for a thin, flexible, light-absorbing material developed by engineers at the University of California San Diego. The material, called a near-perfect broadband absorb
 

Transparent gel-based robots can catch and release live fish

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Feb 03, 2017
Engineers at MIT have fabricated transparent, gel-based robots that move when water is pumped in and out of them. The bots can perform a number of fast, forceful tasks, including kicking a ball underwater, and grabbing and releasing a live fish. The robots are made entirely of hydrogel - a tough, rubbery, nearly transparent material that's composed mostly of water. Each robot is an assembl
 

First ever blueprint unveiled to construct a large scale quantum computer

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Sussex, UK (SPX) Feb 03, 2017
An international team, led by a scientist from the University of Sussex, have unveiled the first practical blueprint for how to build a quantum computer, the most powerful computer on Earth. This huge leap forward towards creating a universal quantum computer is published in the influential journal Science Advances (1). It has long been known that such a computer would revolutionise indust
 

Quantum phase transition observed for the first time

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Klosterneuburg, Austria (SPX) Feb 03, 2017
A group of scientists led by Johannes Fink from the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) reported the first experimental observation of a first-order phase transition in a dissipative quantum system. Phase transitions are something we often encounter in everyday life when we watch the change of the state of matter, for example the freezing of water at the critical temperatur
 

Understanding breakups

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Feb 01, 2017
As interest and demand for nanotechnology continues to rise, so will the need for nanoscale printing and spraying, which relies on depositing tiny drops of liquid onto a surface. Now researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing have developed a new theory that describes how such a nanosized droplet deforms and breaks up when it strikes a surface. The model, discussed in their publicatio
 

The shape of melting in two dimensions

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Oak Ridge TN (SPX) Feb 03, 2017
Snow falls in winter and melts in spring, but what drives the phase change in between? Although melting is a familiar phenomenon encountered in everyday life, playing a part in many industrial and commercial processes, much remains to be discovered about this transformation at a fundamental level. In 2015, a team led by the University of Michigan's Sharon Glotzer used high-performance comp
 

1,000 times more efficient nano-LED opens door to faster microchips

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Eindhoven, Netherlands (SPX) Feb 03, 2017
The electronic data connections within and between microchips are increasingly becoming a bottleneck in the exponential growth of data traffic worldwide. Optical connections are the obvious successors but optical data transmission requires an adequate nanoscale light source, and this has been lacking. Scientists at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) now have created a light source t
 

Radiation level in Fukushima plant at record high

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 3, 2017
/> Radiation levels inside a stricken reactor at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant have hit a record high capable of shutting down robots, in the latest challenge to efforts aimed at dismantling the disaster-hit facility. Radiation levels inside the plant's No. 2 reactor were estimated at 530 sieverts per hour at one spot, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said Thursday after analysing images t
 

France's Areva picks up Japanese investors

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) Feb 3, 2017
France's troubled nuclear energy company Areva announced Friday that two Japanese companies would take equity stakes as part of its restructuring as investors approved a state bailout. Shareholders approved almost unanimously a capital increase that will see the French state inject 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) into the parent company Areva SA. The French government is already the majo
 

Facing Trump trade threats, Mexico eyes new partners

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Mexico City (AFP) Feb 3, 2017
/> Facing US President Donald Trump's protectionist threats, Mexico is looking to expand trade ties with Europe and Asia, but reducing its dependence on the massive US market will be tough. Mexico and the European Union agreed on Wednesday to speed up negotiations to modernize an existing free trade pact in which 53 billion euros ($57 billion) in goods were exchanged in 2015. At the sam
 

China accuses US of violating WTO rules: media

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Feb 4, 2017
Beijing accused Washington of "protectionism" and violating global trade rules on Saturday, Chinese media reported, after the United States imposed hefty tariffs on certain Chinese steel imports. The US Department of Commerce on Thursday imposed duties ranging from 63 percent to 190 percent on Chinese exporters that it accuses of selling their products at below fair value or of being unfair
 

Chinese FM to visit Australia in wake of Trump tiff

 
‎Monday, ‎February ‎6, ‎2017, ‏‎6:12:32 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) Feb 3, 2017
/> China announced on Friday that Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit Australia next week, raising the prospect of stronger bilateral ties as US President Donald Trump unsettles the global diplomatic landscape. Wang will travel to Australia and New Zealand from Tuesday to next Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said during a press briefing. It will be Wang's first foreign visit
 

How X-rays in matter create genetoxic low-energy electrons

 
‎Thursday, ‎February ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎5:16:31 AMGo to full article
Sendai, Japan (SPX) Feb 01, 2017
Researchers led by Kiyoshi Ueda of Tohoku University have investigated what x-rays in matter really do and identified a new mechanism of producing low-energy free electrons. Since the low-energy electrons cause damage to the matter, the identified process might be important in understanding and designing radiation treatment of illnesses. X-rays are one of the most important diagnostic tool
 

Action is needed to make stagnant CO2 emissions fall

 
‎Thursday, ‎February ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎5:16:31 AMGo to full article
Stanford CA (SPX) Feb 01, 2017
Without a significant effort to reduce greenhouse gases, including an accelerated deployment of technologies for capturing atmospheric carbon and storing it underground, and sustained growth in renewables such as wind and solar, the world could miss a key global temperature target set by the Paris Agreement and the long-term goal of net-zero climate pollution. The finding, published in the
 

Infrared links could simplify data center communications

 
‎Thursday, ‎February ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎5:16:31 AMGo to full article
University Park PA (SPX) Feb 01, 2017
Data centers are the central point of many, if not most, information systems today, but the masses of wires interconnecting the servers and piled high on racks begins to resemble last year's tangled Christmas-tree lights disaster. Now a team of engineers is proposing to eliminate most of the wires and substitute infrared free-space optics for communications. "We and others tried radio freq
 

The world's first heat-driven transistor

 
‎Thursday, ‎February ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎5:16:31 AMGo to full article
Linkoping, Sweden (SPX) Feb 01, 2017
"We are the first in the world to present a logic circuit, in this case a transistor, that is controlled by a heat signal instead of an electrical signal," states Professor Xavier Crispin of the Laboratory of Organic Electronics, Linkoping University. The heat-driven transistor opens the possibility of many new applications such as detecting small temperature differences, and using functio
 

Academics build ultimate solar-powered water purifier

 
‎Thursday, ‎February ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎5:16:31 AMGo to full article
Buffalo NY (SPX) Feb 01, 2017
You've seen Bear Grylls turn foul water into drinking water with little more than sunlight and plastic. Now, academics have added a third element - carbon-dipped paper - that may turn this survival tactic into a highly efficient and inexpensive way to turn saltwater and contaminated water into potable water for personal use. The idea, which could help address global drinking water shortage

 

 

News About Oil And Gas

 

 

Dakota pipeline work resumes, US tribe heads to court

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
Chicago (AFP) Feb 10, 2017 - Construction has begun on the final segment of the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline in the northern United States, prompting a court challenge from a Native American tribe which says its religious rights are under threat.

Energy Transfer Partners, the developer of the 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) oil pipeline, now expects to begin operation "in approximately 83 days," spokeswoman Vicky Granado told AFP on Thursday.

The segment's route under the Missouri River and man-made Lake Oahe in North Dakota was the subject of months of protests, as Native Americans and their supporters argued it ran the risk of potentially polluting the water.

The Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, whose reservation is near the waterway, asked a federal judge to issue a temporary restraining order halting construction on the grounds that the pipeline would harm its ability to perform religious rites.

"The pipeline will desecrate the waters upon which Cheyenne River Sioux tribal members rely for their most important religious practices," the court filing said.

"And in view of the threat to the tribe's and its members' constitutional right, this court may not wait until the oil is slithering under the Tribe's sacred waters. The law entitles the Tribe to relief as soon as the government acts to threaten their rights."

The Cheyenne River Sioux want work stopped while its lawsuit filed jointly with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe proceeds through the courts.

The US Army Corps of Engineers -- having approval authority over the pipeline's underwater route -- cleared the way on Tuesday for the project to be completed.

Under the administration of Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, the Corps had called for further review and halted construction. But President Donald Trump ordered officials to reconsider.

Protesters began camping out near the pipeline's river crossing starting in April last year, in order to physically prevent construction, at times violently clashing with authorities and pipeline company workers.

The company has claimed the project is safe, and that there are already other pipelines operating safely under the disputed waterway.

US District Court Judge James Boasberg was expected to set a court hearing to consider arguments on the Cheyenne River Sioux's motion.

 

 

Oil sharply higher on OPEC compliance

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Feb 10, 2017 - Crude oil prices moved sharply higher in early Friday trading after a report from the IEA found an OPEC effort to balance the market was starting to work.

Crude oil prices moved sharply lower to start the week after a steady string of reports found the market recovery that emerged late last year was leading to growth in the North American energy sector. A rally surfaced midweek on signs of market balance.

A report Friday from the International Energy Agency found most of the growth in crude oil production from countries outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was coming from North America and Brazil. Nevertheless, OPEC was more or less in compliance with an agreement to trim production in an effort to balance the markets.

OPEC seems to be moving in line with the six-month agreement since implementation began in January.

"This first cut is certainly one of the deepest in the history of OPEC output cut initiatives," the IEA reported.

The price for Brent crude oil was higher than the close of trading Thursday by 1.8 percent to $56.64 per barrel about a half hour before the start of trading in New York. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for crude oil, was up 1.7 percent to $53.89 per barrel.

The IEA cautioned, however, that markets were still in "a wait-and-see mode" as crude oil inventories are flirting with record highs despite steady declines over the last few months.

Brent crude oil prices closed Monday at $55.02 per barrel.

Broader markets may be breathing a sigh of relief on the geopolitical front after U.S. President Donald Trump embraced the so-called "One China" policy and thereby calmed recent tensions in the Asia-Pacific. The Trump administration has so far rattled investor nerves over a series of stances on issues related to China, trade agreements and Iran.

Analysts at broker PVM, meanwhile, continued to express pessimism about the economic policies from the Trump administration. Stephen Brennock said in an emailed report that an adjustment on border taxes could backfire for a U.S. economy looking for more support from the energy sector under Trump if U.S. trading partners "respond to Washington's protectionist policies with their own tit-for-tat levies."

 

 

On oil markets, a report says to wait and see

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Feb 10, 2017 - Even though OPEC members are largely complying with a production deal, the net market condition still favors the supply side slightly, the IEA said Friday.

According to the International Energy Agency, members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries are reporting an initial compliance rate of 90 percent to a managed production decline agreement. OPEC agreed to limit production starting in January in an effort to balance a market that was favoring the supply side.

Initial reports rely on reports directly from the countries themselves and secondary source estimates aren't yet completed for January.

"OPEC nevertheless appears to have made a solid start to what is a six-month process," the IEA reported. "This first cut is certainly one of the deepest in the history of OPEC output cut initiatives."

Iran is the only OPEC member with room to grow, while Libya and Nigeria are exempt from the agreement. Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has cut its production beyond a benchmark and is pushing the entire group toward its goals.

Outside of OPEC, the IEA said production from Brazil, Canada and the United States is expected to add a collective 750,000 barrels of oil per day to the market in 2017. On the demand side, IEA estimates economic growth in countries like China and India means the appetite for oil is growing. That suggests the overall market is tightening.

Olivier Jakob, managing director of Switzerland-based consultant Petromatrix, said in an emailed report that many of the short-term changes in market dynamics "are not coming per se from an improving view of demand growth in 2017 but from higher than expected demand in 2016."

The IEA wouldn't offer a forecast for total OPEC crude oil production for the first six months of the year. If compliance holds, it would imply a global draw on crude oil inventories, but the IEA cautioned that inventories are at record highs.

"At the end of the year they were still 286 million barrels above the five-year average level and by the end of first half of 2017, they will remain significantly above average levels," the report read.

The IEA said caution is prevailing on the broader energy market as traders watch for production growth from some countries not party to the OPEC agreement, like the United States. This, the agency said, explains why crude oil has traded in a narrow band in the mid-$50 range since mid-December.

"The oil market is very much in a wait-and-see mode," it said.

 

 

Rio Tinto hires from oil and gas talent pool

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
Melbourne (UPI) Feb 10, 2017 - Rio Tinto, one of the world's largest metals and mining companies, said it was bringing in top former oil executives to join its front office staff.

Rio Tinto said it was immediately appointing former Centrica Chief Executive Sam Laidlaw and former Sasol Ltd. Chief Executive David Constable to non-executive positions on its board of directors. Former Shell Chief Financial Officer Simon Henry joins the board July 1.

"The new directors broaden the experience of the board, bringing considerable expertise in the resources sector and an international perspective, having enjoyed long careers in executive roles with multinational businesses," Rio Tinto said in a statement. "All three also have significant experience as non-executive directors with leading listed companies."

Shell in particular has been retooling since it merged last year with British energy company BG Group.

Henry was with Shell for more than 30 years and appointed as CFO in May 2009. He gave no reason when announcing plans in December to leave Shell. The company said Jessica Uhl, whose previous work entailed oversight over parts of Shell's shale business in North America as well as gas exploration, takes over for Henry starting in March.

For Rio Tinto, the company is coming off a strong production performance for the fourth quarter. The company's chief executive said the company would focus on cost reductions and fiscal discipline in 2017.

Chairman Jan du Plessis said the new additions would give support to the company's strategies moving forward.

"With diverse expertise across successful international engineering, resources and financial businesses, I have no doubt that their insight and hands-on experience will strengthen the board," he said.

 

 

U.S.-Mexican energy trade a bright spot

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Feb 10, 2017 - U.S. crude oil exported to Mexico is one of the more lucrative commodities for North American energy trade, the U.S. Energy Department reported.

A daily briefing from the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration reported that total energy exports to Mexico last year was one of the more valued exports in North America.

While the situation could change in the future because of amendments to rules governing U.S. crude oil exports, the EIA said Mexico is currently second only to Canada when it comes to total trade in energy products.

"For 2016, the value of U.S. energy exports to Mexico was $20.2 billion, while the value of U.S. energy imports from that country was $8.7 billion," the government brief read.

Last year, energy products represented around 9 percent of all U.S. exports to Mexico and 3 percent of all U.S. imports from Mexico. The United States last year sent on average a half million barrels of crude oil per day to Mexico. Meanwhile, Mexico is the fourth-largest exporter or crude oil to the United States, behind Venezuela.

Total Mexican crude oil production has been on the decline, however, and the country has started shipping more of its oil to the European and Asian economies. U.S. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has pledged to make his country energy independent while at the same time reconfiguring regional trade deals and promoting tighter border restrictions.

Before Trump's inauguration, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Mexico's economy was already facing headwinds because of a "highly complicated global backdrop." Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto faced pressure at home, meanwhile, when retail gasoline prices spiked up to 20 percent after the government left the sector open to market dynamics to start 2017.

U.S. gasoline exports accounted for nearly half of the Mexico's gasoline consumption for the first 10 months of last year. The EIA said that the value of petroleum products exported to Mexico in 2015, the last full year for which data are available, was more than $16 billion.

 

 

Worker missing after New Orleans pipeline explosion

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
New Orleans (UPI) Feb 10, 2017 - One worker for Phillips 66 is unaccounted for and two others were injured after an explosion on a gas pipeline near New Orleans, the company said.

The company confirmed in a joint statement with officials at St. Charles Parish in New Orleans that a 20-inch gas pipeline exploded at the Paradis plant about 30 minutes outside of New Orleans.

Three Phillips 66 employees and three contractors were on-site at the time of explosion, reported first at around 7 p.m.

"Two of the contract workers were injured and taken to area hospitals for treatment," the joint statement read. "One Phillips 66 employee remains unaccounted for."

St. Charles Parish officials evacuated about 60 homes in and around the vicinity of the explosion. The company said the pipeline has been isolated, leaving whatever is left inside the pipeline to burn off.

Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne told reporters the fire was high pressure and high intensity. Phillips 66 said the pipeline was carrying raw natural gas liquids to the Paridis plant in Louisiana.

State police were quoted by the Times-Picayune as saying the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Champagne said he's "not sure" if a valve or gasket failed on site.

Eight people died, dozens were injured and 38 homes were destroyed in the September 2010 explosion caused by the rupture of a 54-year-old gas line in San Bruno, Calif. Utility company Pacific Gas & Electric Co. paid more than $500 million to settle claims arising from the blast.

 

 

Iran on Total's radar for future growth

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
Paris (UPI) Feb 9, 2017 - Future investments geared toward growth include signing agreements to work with Iran on its giant South Pars gas field, French supermajor Total said.

Total released results for the fourth quarter, saying its net income of $8.3 billion last year represented the "highest profitability" of any of its peers. As a result, the company said it was increasing its return on dividends by 1.6 percent.

Patrick Pouyanne, the company's chairman and CEO, said in a statement the year ahead looked promising as crude oil prices recover from a low point of around $27 per barrel last year to the mid-$50 range so far this year. Production growth last year was around 4.5 percent.

"The group is preparing for future growth with the signing of major deals in Brazil with Petrobras, in Uganda and in Iran on the giant South Pars 11 project," the CEO said in a statement.

Total is among the major European energy companies moving into the Iranian energy sector with the recent signings of memoranda of understanding with its Iranian counterparts. Austrian energy company OMV in late January hosted representatives from Iran's Dana Energy Co., a player in exploration and development, to sign new arrangements for potential work.

The U.S. government increased the sanctions pressure on Tehran following recent missile tests and President Donald Trump has threatened to move away from a multilateral nuclear deal that brought sanctions relief to Iran. For its part, Tehran said Washington was making a mistake by sidelining itself from the opening of the Iranian energy doors.

Elsewhere, Total said its strong balance sheet gave it the opportunity to look for new spending opportunities and potential acquisitions. The market still presents challenges and Pouyanne said his company would continue to work to drive down production costs.

Looking ahead, the company said investments were moving into "the sustainable range" at between $16 billion and $17 billion for the year.

 

 

US authorities clear pathway for Dakota pipeline

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) Feb 8, 2017 - US authorities said Tuesday they will approve a permit to complete the controversial Dakota Access pipeline to reduce transportation costs and give US producers a boost as they compete against oil from Canada.

The decision comes after months of protests by Native Americans and their supporters led the Obama administration to nix plans to build the pipeline close to native grounds.

But President Donald Trump supported the 1,172-mile (1,886-kilometer) oil pipeline, which would snake through four US states, and ordered officials to reconsider.

The Army Corps of Engineers, which has approval authority, said Tuesday that it had "completed a presidential-directed review" and planned to grant permission for the pipeline to cross government land at the Missouri River and man-made Lake Oahe reservoir -- the final sticking point, which will effectively allow the last stretch of the pipeline to be completed.

The reservoir is the drinking water source for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which objects to the pipeline's routes.

The tribe vowed to challenge The Army's decision in court, and called on supporters to head to Washington on March 10 for "a Native Nations march."

"We ask that our allies join us in demanding that Congress demand a fair and accurate process," tribe chairman Dave Archambault said in a statement.

"Our fight is no longer at the North Dakota site itself. Our fight is with Congress and the Trump administration."

The Dakota Access pipeline would connect the Bakken and Three Forks oil production areas in North Dakota to an existing crude oil terminal near Pakota, Illinois.

In addition to the risk to its water, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe had also claimed the project endangered areas with sacred historic sites and artifacts.

Additionally, it claimed that it was not appropriately consulted during the process, and that a proper environmental review was required.

Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline's operator, has denied the tribe's claims, saying the pipeline is safer than the current transport methods of rail and truck, and that archeological experts it hired had failed to find sacred artifacts along the pipeline route.

- Opponents vow to fight on -

North Dakota leaders who have supported the project promptly backed the Army's decision.

"This is a key step toward the completion of this important infrastructure project, which has faced months of politically-driven delays," North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum in a statement.

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, who also praised The Army's decision, said the acrimonious process had nevertheless raised some questions.

"Going forward, we need to review the permitting process to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard and that a fair, certain and legal process has been followed," Hoeven said.

The pipeline has been the subject of intense protests in North Dakota and around the country, galvanizing hundreds of Native American tribes, environmental groups and their supporters.

Protesters had also camped on land near the pipeline's path just north of the tribe's reservation in order to physically block its completion -- at times clashing violently with authorities.

Tom Goldtooth, executive director of the Indigenous Environmental Network -- a group that had a strong presence at the North Dakota protest, charged that The Army's decision on Tuesday went against protocol and the established legal process.

"It disregards more than 100,000 comments already submitted as part of the not-yet-completed environmental review process," Goldtooth said.

 

 

Rice takes deeper look at unconventional oil and gas

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
Houston TX (SPX) Feb 10, 2017 - Understanding how oil and gas molecules, water and rocks interact at the nanoscale will help make extraction of hydrocarbons through hydraulic fracturing more efficient, according to Rice University researchers. Rice engineers George Hirasaki and Walter Chapman are leading an effort to better characterize the contents of organic shale by combining standard nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) - the same technology used by hospitals to see inside human bodies - with molecular dynamics simulations.

The work presented this month in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance details their method to analyze shale samples and validate simulations that may help producers determine how much oil and/or gas exist in a formation and how difficult they may be to extract.

Oil and gas drillers use NMR to characterize rock they believe contains hydrocarbons. NMR manipulates the hydrogen atoms' nuclear magnetic moments, which can be forced to align by an applied external magnetic field. After the moments are perturbed by radio-frequency electromagnetic pulses, they "relax" back to their original orientation, and NMR can detect that. Because relaxation times differ depending on the molecule and its environment, the information gathered by NMR can help identify whether a molecule is gas, oil or water and the critical size of the pores that contain them.

"This is their eyes and ears for knowing what's down there," said Hirasaki, who said NMR instruments are among several tools in the string sent downhole to "log," or gather information, about a well.

In conventional reservoirs, he said, the NMR log can distinguish gas, oil and water and quantify the amounts of each contained in the pores of the rock from their relaxation times - known as T1 and T2 - as well as how diffuse fluids are.

"If the rock is water-wet, then oil will relax at rates close to that of bulk oil, while water will have a surface-relaxation time that is a function of the pore size," Hirasaki said. "This is because water is relaxed by sites at the water/mineral interface and the ratio of the mineral surface area to water volume is larger in smaller pores. The diffusivity is inversely proportional to the viscosity of the fluid. Thus gas is easily distinguished from oil and water by measuring diffusivity simultaneously with the T2 relaxation time.

"In unconventional reservoirs, both T1 and T2 relaxation times of water and oil are short and have considerable overlap," he said. "Also the T1/T2 ratio can become very large in the smallest pores. The diffusivity is restricted by the nanometer-to-micron size of the pores. Thus it is a challenge to determine if the signal is from gas, oil or water."

Hirasaki said there is debate on whether the short relaxation times in shale are due to paramagnetic sites on mineral surfaces and asphaltene aggregates and/or due to the restricted motion of the molecules confined in small pores. "We don't have an answer yet, but this study is the first step," he said.

"The development of technology to drill horizontal wells and apply multiple hydraulic fractures (up to about 50) is what made oil and gas production commercially viable from unconventional resources," Hirasaki said. "These resources were previously known as the 'source rock,' from which oil and gas found in conventional reservoirs had originated and migrated. The source rock was too tight for commercial production using conventional technology."

Fluids pumped downhole to fracture a horizontal well contain water, chemicals and sand that keeps the fracture "propped" open after the injection stops. The fluids are then pumped out to make room for the hydrocarbons to flow.

But not all the water sent downhole comes back. Often the chemical composition of the organic component of shale known as kerogen has an affinity that allows water molecules to bind and block the nanoscale pores that would otherwise let oil and gas molecules through.

"Kerogen is the organic material that resisted biodegradation during deep burial," Hirasaki said. "When it gets to a certain temperature, the molecules start cracking and make hydrocarbon liquids. Higher temperature makes methane (natural gas). But the fluids are in pores that are so tight the technology developed for conventional reservoirs doesn't apply anymore."

The Rice project managed by lead author Philip Singer, a research scientist in Hirasaki's lab, and co-author Dilip Asthagiri, a research scientist in Chapman's lab, a lecturer and director of Rice's Professional Master's in Chemical Engineering program, applies NMR to kerogen samples and compares it to computer models that simulate how the substances interact, particularly in terms of material's wettability, its affinity for binding to water, gas or oil molecules.

"NMR is very sensitive to fluid-surface interactions," Singer said. "With shale, the complication we're dealing with is the nanoscale pores. The NMR signal changes dramatically compared with measuring conventional rocks, in which pores are larger than a micron. So to understand what the NMR is telling us in shale, we need to simulate the interactions down to the nanoscale."

The simulations mimic the molecules' known relaxation properties and reveal how they move in such a restrictive environment. When matched with NMR signals, they help interpret conditions downhole. That knowledge could also lead to fracking fluids that are less likely to bind to the rock, improving the flow of hydrocarbons, Hirasaki said.

"If we can verify with measurements in the laboratory how fluids in highly confined or viscous systems behave, then we'll be able to use the same types of models to describe what's happening in the reservoir itself," he said.

One goal is to incorporate the simulations into iSAFT - inhomogeneous Statistical Associating Fluid Theory - a pioneering method developed by Chapman and his group to simulate the free energy landscapes of complex materials and analyze their microstructures, surface forces, wettability and morphological transitions.

"Our results challenge approximations in models that have been used for over 50 years to interpret NMR and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) data," Chapman said. "Now that we have established the approach, we hope to explain results that have baffled scientists for years."

Research paper

 

 

Methane levels have increased in Marcellus Shale region despite dip in well installation

 
‎Yesterday, ‎February ‎12, ‎2017, ‏‎5:14:11 AMGo to full article
Philadelphia PA (SPX) Feb 10, 2017 - Despite a slow down in the number of new natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale region of Northeast Pennsylvania, new research led by Drexel University finds that atmospheric methane levels in the area are still increasing. Measurements of methane and other air pollutants taken three years apart in the rural areas of Pennsylvania that have been the target of natural gas development over the last decade, revealed a substantial increase from 2012 to 2015.

"Methane is increasing globally, but the rate of increase for this region is much more rapid than global increases," said Peter DeCarlo, PhD, an assistant professor who studies atmospheric chemistry in Drexel's College of Engineering and College of Arts and Sciences, who led the study.

"The rapid increase in methane is likely due to the increased production of natural gas from the region which has increased significantly over the 2012 to 2015 period. With the increased background levels of methane, the relative climate benefit of natural gas over coal for power production is reduced."

Since the first shale gas wells were drilled in the Marcellus Shale Basin, a region that diagonally bisects the state from the northeast to the southwest, there have been concerns about what unlocking the new stores of fossil fuel by an unconventional method, called hydraulic fracturing, could mean for the environment. Nearly a decade later, researchers are still working to understand just how the chemicals released and the chemicals used to release them are lingering in the water and air.

This study, which was published in the journal Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, is the latest in a series conducted by DeCarlo and the Drexel Air Resources Research Lab, indicates that levels of atmospheric methane in the region are likely linked to increased natural gas production, rather than the number of new wells drilled in the area. The researchers did not observe this increase for other pollutants, such as carbon monoxide. This suggests that different gas extraction activities - drilling versus production - produce different chemical emissions, according to DeCarlo.

Data from this study was compared to the team's 2012 findings in the same area, which was the first effort to measure background levels of various atmospheric pollutants associated with shale gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. The team traversed the area using Drexel's Mobile Laboratory, a Ford cargo van equipped with all the equipment necessary for measuring concentrations of chemicals and particles in the air at 1-10 second intervals while driving.

This sort of ground-level monitoring is a useful way to collect data because the sample air is the same that residents of the area are exposed to. The team covered a large portion of the northeast region of Pennsylvania that included parts of Bradford, Clinton, Columbia, Luzerne, Lycoming, Potter, Susquehanna and Tioga counties and northeast and north central Pennsylvania.

"Our 2015 field study covered a larger spatial area and was funded to focus on pipeline and pipeline technology," DeCarlo said. "But we also overlapped with the 2012 study area and were able to cross check the background concentrations of several pollutants and found the methane levels were higher while the carbon monoxide levels were lower in the overlap regions."

Initial measurements in 2012 showed methane levels at 1960 parts per billion - roughly 50 parts per billion higher than would be expected in a rural area without natural gas development. Three years later that concentration jumped another 100 parts per billion. Atmospheric concentrations without natural gas development rose at 6 parts per billion, so this increase is quite substantial compared to the global increase, according to DeCarlo.

Overall natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale region has climbed to 16 billion cubic feet per day, which is twice as much as any other unconventional natural gas resource in the country, according to the researchers. Over the last three years alone, production of natural gas from the region more than doubled, despite the fact that there were about half as many new wells drilled in 2015 as there were in 2012, according to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection figures cited in the paper.

"Though the rate at which new wells are being drilled and completed has slowed down, the overall infrastructure, and production has increased," DeCarlo said. "That means that the volume of gas moving through pipelines, compressor stations and processing plants is increasing. If the leakage rate of methane is constant per cubic foot of gas, it would not be surprising that the background methane has increased as much as it has while other pollutants like carbon monoxide, which is more associated with drilling and trucking, are showing a decline."

This finding could also suggest that measures taken by natural gas producers to decrease leakage from well completions, while still necessary, are not sufficient to reduce methane leakage in the Marcellus Shale region. And with the bulk of environmental protection regulations from the PADEP focusing on ground water contamination, it is possible that atmospheric emissions from the natural gas infrastructure could persist until research can more clearly identify the source of the leaks and identify the impact of specific emissions on public health.

The team also used the methodology developed for this study to analyze data from other studies such as the SENEX campaign, undertaken by NOAA researchers from a research aircraft in 2013. The new methodology lays out a roadmap for analysis that can be applied to datasets from other groups and will allow researchers to monitor the background levels of various pollutants in the region as natural gas extraction continues.

"This study is a snapshot from three years development in the Marcellus Shale region," DeCarlo said.

"While it has clearly demonstrated trends in various pollutant emissions and subsequent atmospheric background levels, continued monitoring in these regions in Pennsylvania are required to track the continued impact of natural gas development and production infrastructure on sparsely monitored areas of the state."

Research paper

 

 

Arctic oil production more than doubled, Russia says

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
Moscow (UPI) Jan 30, 2017 - Russian oil company Gazprom Neft said its production from a field in Arctic waters more than doubled from levels reported in 2015.

The company said total production from the Prirazlomnaya oil field in the Russian waters above the Arctic Circle totaled 15.7 million barrels for full-year 2016, an increase from the 5.8 million recorded the previous year.

Prirazlomnoye is the first and only field in production in the Russian Arctic. Commercial oil production started in late 2013 and the first batch of oil for delivery was sent in April 2014.

Advocacy groups like Greenpeace have been critical about oil operations in the extreme climates of the Arctic north, saying an oil spill in the region would be catastrophic and difficult to control.

Gazprom Neft said a stationary rig at the site is designed specifically to ensure the risks of a spill are minimized to the greatest extent possible.

"Safety is foremost in all operations, with loading commencing only once 30 separate safety requirements are all complied with," the company stated. "The offloading line for the pumping of oil to tankers is equipped with an emergency shut-down system, allowing offloading to be terminated instantaneously."

Oil from the Arctic field is considered high-density and used typically for road construction and some aerospace industries.

The production growth last year from Prirazlomnoye follows a Russia pledge to join in efforts steered by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance the market. An oversupply of oil, led in part by U.S. shale oil production, pushed crude oil prices to historic lows in early 2016.

 

 

EIA: Mexico a top U.S. gas export destination

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Jan 27, 2017 - Even as the Trump administration threatened to tighten U.S.-Mexican trade policy, an Energy Department review said Mexico will remain a top fuel export market.

A meeting between the U.S. president and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, was canceled after the White House took steps toward heightened security measures along the shared border. Donald Trump said Mexico should pay for the effort and threatened tighter trade policies in response to Pena Nieto's balk.

Trump's effort at countering what his administration sees as an unfair trade relationship with Mexico comes as Pena Nieto aims to reform the nation's energy sector through a privatization scheme.

Before Trump's inauguration, Angel Gurria, the secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, said Mexico's economy was already facing headwinds because of a "highly complicated global backdrop."

Pena Nieto faced pressure at home when retail gasoline prices spiked up to 20 percent after the government left the sector open to market dynamics to start 2017. A review from the U.S. Energy Department's Energy Information Administration, meanwhile, finds Mexico depends heavily on the United States to make up for the lack of supplies to meet its refinery demand.

In a profile, the EIA said Mexican reform efforts could eventually sway internal market dynamics, but for now, "Mexico will remain a major destination for U.S. exports."

EIA said that, by its estimate, U.S. gasoline exports accounted for nearly half of the Mexico's gasoline consumption for the first 10 months of last year. For the United States, the Mexican market represented more than half of total gasoline exports for the same time frame.

The OECD said it expected the Mexican economy to grow at around 2.3 percent this year and manage only a 0.1 percent gain next year.

The deregulation that caused gas prices to spike at the start of 2017 is part of a broader reform program meant to open the country up to outside oil investment for the first time since 1938, when the Mexican government took control of the country's oil industry and sidelined foreign investments.

 

 

Oil prices flat, caught in tug-of-war

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Jan 30, 2017 - Crude oil prices started Monday in weak rally mode amid a tug-of-war in a market characterized by competing supply narratives.

The price for Brent crude oil moved briefly into negative territory in a possible response to last week's figures from oilfield services company Baker Hughes on exploration and production trends.

The company, which was acquired in part last year by the oil and gas division of General Electric, reported an increase in U.S. rig activity for a twelfth week. A rally sparked by a decision from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to trim output pulled crude oil prices out of a long drought, but brought some producers in expensive shale off the bench.

Oil prices may be recovering in a correction of sorts after Friday's movement on rig counts. Brent crude was relatively unchanged about an hour before the start of trading Monday, up just 0.07 percent to $55.56 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price, was up 0.15 percent to $53.25 per barrel.

Tamas Varga with broker PVM said Monday's movement is reflective of the trend so far this year.

"These are extraordinary times during which oil prices seem to be driven by daily sentiment," he said in an emailed note. "A rally of a day or two is followed by a sell-off as market players react to seemingly important news."

Monday's early stalemate on price direction may be part of an emerging ceiling on oil prices. So far, crude oil prices have yet to move out of the mid-$50 range despite large inter-day movements.

Crude oil was balanced against declines in the European market. The FTSE 100 in England was off by 54 points, while Germany's DAX index was down nearly 70. Declines there may reflect a broader sense of unease that followed U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial travel restrictions.

Elsewhere, Russia, which is party to the multilateral production decline agreement led by OPEC, reported significant gains in output from its only oil field in production in Arctic waters, Prirazlomnoye. Russian oil company Gazprom Neft said total production from the field was 15.7 million barrels for full-year 2016, an increase from the 5.8 million recorded the previous year.

 

 

Both sides of the border praise Keystone XL

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Jan 27, 2017 - U.S. and Canadian trade groups said building the Keystone XL oil pipeline to southern U.S. ports was critical for the region's energy infrastructure.

Pipeline company TransCanada announced it re-submitted an application to build the cross-border Keystone XL oil pipeline after memoranda signed by U.S. President Donald Trump prioritized oil and gas networks as strategic interests.

The White House under President Barack Obama sidelined Keystone XL on environmental concerns as the heavier form of crude oil designated for the pipeline is viewed as more carbon-intensive and potentially more of a danger if spilled than other grades of oil.

Jack Gerard, the president of the American Petroleum Institute, praised Trump for advancing a modernized vision of North American infrastructure.

"We applaud President Trump's commitment to promoting our nation's energy infrastructure and creating jobs," he said in a statement.

Gerard estimates building Keystone XL, which would stretch from Alberta to the southern U.S. coast, would create "tens of thousands of jobs." A review by the State Department under Obama put the estimate in the thousands.

In announcing plans to re-submit its application to build the pipeline, TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling said the company is moving in step with regional environmental interests because pipelines are less of a threat than rail, a transit method used now to make up for the lack of pipeline capacity in North America.

"Enhanced standards and the utilization of the most advanced technology will help ensure KXL will be built and operated to uphold our fundamental commitment to safety and the communities we serve," the company said.

Planned in part as an export artery, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said Keystone XL breaks a landlock for a Canadian energy sector that depends almost exclusively on the U.S. market.

"We need to be able to access markets in all direction, east, south and west, for Canada to be the responsible global-supplier of choice," CAPP President and CEO Tim McMillan said.

Canada has pushed to diversify its export options away from the United States. Pipeline company Kinder Morgan secured recent approval to triple the capacity of its Trans Mountain oil network to western Canadian ports.

In early January, Alberta Premier Rachel Notely said breaking Alberta's landlock with Trans Mountain fixes "a problem that has dogged our province for decades."

 

 

Iran ships condensate to Japan

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
Tehran (UPI) Jan 27, 2017 - State-backed media in Iran reported Friday that the country has started shipments of an ultra-light form of oil to the Japanese market.

Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV cites a director at the National Iranian Oil Terminals Co. as saying about 160,000 barrels of the light oil known in the industry as condensate was shipped to Japan from the South Pars field in the Persian Gulf.

"In September, indications grew that condensate had already found a special position in Iran's exports," the report read. "Iran announced in December that it was already expanding the market for its condensate, which can be used to make both fuel and plastic."

Condensate is not classified as crude oil and therefore not counted toward the managed production decline agreement coordinated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Iran is nevertheless exempt from that agreement.

Japan relies on foreign oil and gas to meet its domestic demands as it has few resources of its own. Condensates from U.S. shale basins were considered a priority for Japan early last year just months after Washington lifted a 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports.

The Japanese shipment follows more advancement for European energy companies into an opening Iranian energy sector. Austrian energy company OMV said it signed a memorandum of understanding with representatives from Iran's Dana Energy Co., a player in exploration and development, to review new arrangements for potential work.

OMV was one of the early movers into an Iranian energy sector that opened up in the wake of a multilateral nuclear deal that brought sanctions relief in exchange for scaled-back nuclear ambitions. European counterparts like French supermajor Total have also waded into the Iranian energy sector by signing memorandums of understanding of their own.

 

 

Lebanon committed to oil, gas transparency

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
Beirut, Lebanon (UPI) Jan 27, 2017 - Transparency is a top priority for a Lebanese government looking to bring bidders back to its offshore oil and gas reserves, the energy minister said.

Lebanon this week filed a request to join the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, a body that aims to cast light on how countries manage their oil, gas and mineral resources. Energy Minister Cesar Abi Khalil said that, as the country opens itself up to foreign energy investors, accountability was essential.

"At the beginning of the new term [of office], transparency is our main focus," he was quoted by The Daily Star in Lebanon as saying.

The effort follows a decision to put five offshore oil and gas blocks up for auction in Lebanon's Exclusive Economic Zone by the end of February. State profits, the minister said, would be decided after the bidding process is completed.

Decrees put forward by the Lebanese government outline a model for revenue sharing, something that derailed previous efforts to court foreign investors. Three years ago, Beirut postponed an offshore natural gas auction after rancor erupted over the amount of revenue Beirut would get from energy companies.

The Lebanese government estimates there are 95 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 750 million barrels of oil in its territorial waters. The country, meanwhile, has been at odds over maritime borders in the Mediterranean Sea. According to the Lebanese newspaper, Israel has been the hold out in U.N.-mediated efforts to settle border disputes.

A review of Lebanon's economy completed by the International Monetary Fund finds prospects improved after the country formed a new government last year. Growth remains subdued as the country copes with spill-over from the Syrian conflict, but lower crude oil prices offset some of pressure.

 

 

More drilling anticipated for New Zealand

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
Melbourne (UPI) Jan 30, 2017 - Australian energy company Melbana said Monday it was anticipating drilling success closer to home in New Zealand while keeping its eye on Cuban reserves.

Melbana, which rebranded itself last year through a name change from MEO Australia, said it was planning to drill at the Pukatea-1 prospect onshore New Zealand during the third quarter.

According to Melbana, Pukatea is a "low-cost [and] commercially robust" drilling opportunity with an estimated 12.4 million barrels of oil equivalents in prospective reserves.

Oil is the fourth-largest export for New Zealand, bringing in around $700 million each year in royalties and taxes. The government said there are around 149 million barrels of oil reserves remaining in fields already in production.

Elsewhere, the company touted itself as one of the few Western companies and among the early movers in the Cuban energy sector, working closely with the Cuban national oil company, known informally as CUPET, on tapping into onshore oil and gas reserves.

The first of three oil plays outlined by Melbana in Cuba's onshore Block 9 contain the potential for about 8 billion barrels of oil in place. Cuba produces about 80,000 barrels of oil per day.

U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive directive in October that could open Cuba to a role in institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, which Washington said could provide an advantage to the Cuban economy.

A thaw in relations between the two former Cold War foes began in 2014, though President Donald Trump said he may reverse many of his predecessor's efforts with Cuba.

Melbana ended the fourth quarter in with a strong cash position of about $4 million.

 

 

Lundin cleared for more drilling offshore Norway

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
Stavanger, Norway (UPI) Jan 30, 2017 - The Norwegian government signed off on plans for appraisals of one of the larger oil fields in its territorial waters, Edvard Grieg

The Petroleum Safety Authority of Norway said it signed off on Lundin Petroleum's plans to drill an appraisal well on the oil field situated in the Norwegian waters of the North Sea.

Lundin in mid-January reported that its reserve estimates as of December had increased considerably in part because of its stake in Edvard Grieg.

"The reserves upgrade on Edvard Grieg is driven by drilling results to date which indicate more oil-in-place in the western flank of the field than originally foreseen," the company said in a statement.

Lundin gained some leverage Norwegian waters last year when regional major Statoil spent $538 million to acquire an 11.9 percent stake in the company.

In a preliminary statement on plans for 2017, Lundin said nearly all of its $1.1 billion in development spending for the year was targeting reserves in Norway and most of that was targeting operations tied to the larger Johan Sverdrup field and Edvard Grieg.

Edvard Grieg production was 26 percent higher for Lundin than during the second quarter and the company said it was confident enough to raise its full-year forecast for production by about 7 percent at the low end. Lundin is scheduled to release its year-end report on Wednesday.

The appraisal well in Edvard Grieg is in shallow waters, will start March 1 and last 44 days, the safety authority said. Oil was first pulled out of Edvard Grieg in November 2015.

 

 

InterOil lobbies for proposed Exxon acquisition

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
Port Moseby, Papua New Guinea (UPI) Jan 30, 2017 - An energy company with a sole focus on gas in Papua New Guinea said it was urging its shareholders to vote in favor of a merger with Exxon Mobil.

InterOil Corp. published brief statements from advisory companies touting the benefits of the proposed transaction with Exxon.

Exxon emerged the victor after rival Oil Search Ltd. dropped out of the bidding process for InterOil in July. Exxon countered a bid backed by French energy company Total with a improved multibillion-dollar offer. More than 80 percent of the InterOil shareholders voted in favor of the proposed transaction Sept. 21.

InterOil's sole focus is on the natural gas in Papua New Guinea. It said its holdings in the Elk-Antelope field there is on one of the largest undeveloped gas fields in Asia.

Exxon offered a set payment for each trillion cubic-foot equivalent of resources in the Elk-Antelope basin in Papua New Guinea, subject to a cap of 10 trillion cubic feet.

InterOil in September said it was waiting for a court to review objections to the planned merger. In an update last week, the company said it resolved some of the concerns, including the value of its Elk-Antelope fields in Papua New Guinea. Exxon offered a set payment for each trillion cubic-foot equivalent of resources in the Elk-Antelope basin, subject to a cap of 10 trillion cubic feet.

InterOil said the deadline to vote by proxy for the Exxon offer expires Feb. 10. The company said Exxon's acquisition of InterOil was valued at more than $2.6 billion.

 

 

Enbridge Energy Partners still reviewing its options

 
‎Tuesday, ‎January ‎31, ‎2017, ‏‎11:43:17 AMGo to full article
Houston (UPI) Jan 27, 2017 - Enbridge Energy Partners said it expects its near-term profitability to remain within guidance, but external pressures mean a strategic review is necessary.

The company said Friday its guidance of adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of between $1.8 billion and $1.9 billion for 2016 was likely. The company, a top North American oil and gas distributor, said it was nevertheless continuing a strategic review into the second quarter.

"Despite significant progress on the cost structure, our natural gas gathering and processing business has been impacted by a continued cyclical downturn," Enbridge Energy Partners President Mark Maki said. "Therefore, we are taking necessary actions to support the partnership's near-term financial position and evaluate further strengthening measures through our strategic review."

At the trough of the market downturn last year, Maki said his company had a "high level of confidence" about its continued performance, but added vetting was underway for a wide range of options for durability.

The company at the time said mergers, joint ventures and reorganizations were among the options for its natural gas business.

Meanwhile, the company said it would continue to work under the broader Enbridge umbrella on advancing its proposed pipeline networks in North Dakota, one of the top shale producers in the United States. Maki's company, however, said reduced drilling in North Dakota and a decision last year to suspend efforts on the Sandpiper project designed for the Great Lakes states led to reduced revenue projections.

Nevertheless, Maki said the company's entire liquids pipeline business was performing well, both operationally and financially.

 

 

Russia: Few economic burdens with oil above $40

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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'

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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

 
‎Tuesday, ‎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 -

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.

- ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS -

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.

- NOT ON THE SAME PAGE -

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.

- NOT WORTH THE TROUBLE? -

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.

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