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




24/7 Energy News Coverage


Energy News - Energy Technology

  Energy Business - Energy and the Environment


Behold a Black Horse


Price R 249.00

Behold a Black Horse:

 Economic Upheaval and Famine


by Dr. Chuck Missler

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

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

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

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

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

This briefing pack contains 2 hours of teaching

Available in the following formats


•2 MP3 files

•1 PDF Notes file




Japan high court rules nuclear reactors can restart

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Tokyo (AFP) March 28, 2017
A Japanese appeals court on Tuesday ruled that a pair of nuclear reactors halted by a lower court order can be restarted, in a victory for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's energy policy. Japan shut down all of its reactors after the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011, relying on imported fossil fuels to power its economy. Due to public opposition, only a handful have since been restarted. But A

NIST physicists show ion pairs perform enhanced 'spooky action'

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 29, 2017
Adding to strong recent demonstrations that particles of light perform what Einstein called "spooky action at a distance," in which two separated objects can have a connection that exceeds everyday experience, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have confirmed that particles of matter can act really spooky too. The NIST team entangled a pair of beryllium

Clarifying how lithium ions ferry around in rechargeable batteries

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Seoul, South Korea (SPX) Mar 29, 2017
Although most of our electronic devices, like mobile phones, laptops and electric vehicles use lithium rechargeable batteries, what is going on inside them is not fully understood. Researchers from the Center for Molecular Spectroscopy and Dynamics, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) succeeded in observing in realtime the ultrafast dynamics of lithium ions with femtosecond time resolut

The world's largest diamond foil

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Nuremberg, Germany (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Material researchers of Friedrich-Alexander Universitat Erlangen Nurnberg (FAU) have come a step closer to their goal of providing large diamond foils for practical applications. In a test reactor, they have succeeded in producing the world's largest diamond foil with a diameter of 28 centimetres. Diamond foils can be used as ultimate wear protection in industrial applications and for research i

Researchers plan simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Oak Ridge TN (SPX) Mar 29, 2017
With the advent of laser technology in the 1960s, materials scientists gained a new tool to both study and modify materials. Today, lasers allow researchers to manipulate materials on atomic and subatomic levels, leading to new materials and a host of other applications. For instance, by controlling laser wavelength, intensity, and pulse duration, researchers can modify metals to exhibit u

Artificial photosynthesis steps into the light

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Houston TX (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Rice University scientists have created an efficient, simple-to-manufacture oxygen-evolution catalyst that pairs well with semiconductors for solar water splitting, the conversion of solar energy to chemical energy in the form of hydrogen and oxygen. The lab of Kenton Whitmire, a Rice professor of chemistry, teamed up with researchers at the University of Houston and discovered that growin

Nanomaterials that makes harvesting sunlight easier

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
London, UK (SPX) Mar 29, 2017
Using sunlight to drive chemical reactions, such as artificial photosynthesis, could soon become much more efficient thanks to nanomaterials. This is the conclusion of a study published today led by researchers in the Department of Physics at Imperial College London, which could ultimately help improve solar energy technologies and be used for new applications, such as using sunlight to break do

Colstrip bill risks shutting door to Montana's renewable power future

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Billings MT (SPX) Mar 29, 2017
A Montana Senate bill slated for a committee vote would deter future investment in Montana's underutilized renewable energy resources. Senate Bill 338, introduced by Sen. Duane Ankney (R - Colstrip) would force Puget Sound Energy and Talen Energy, the co-owners of Colstrip Generation Station's Units 1 and 2, to pay tens of millions of dollars to compensate for the impending closure of the units.

Renewable energy has robust future in much of Africa

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Berkeley CA (SPX) Mar 29, 2017
As Africa gears up for a tripling of electricity demand by 2030, a new Berkeley study maps out a viable strategy for developing wind and solar power while simultaneously reducing the continent's reliance on fossil fuels and lowering power plant construction costs. Using resource mapping tools, a University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory team assessed the

China's Tencent takes 5% stake in Tesla: SEC filing

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Washington (AFP) March 28, 2017
China's giant Tencent Holdings has taken a five percent stake in the Tesla electric car company as it moves to ramp up production, according to an official filing Tuesday. Tencent paid about $1.8 billion for the small share of Elon Musk's company, according to the document filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Chinese technology company runs WeChat, the world's

Mega-wind farm offshore Denmark clears hurdle

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 28, 2017
Danish plans to build one of the larger wind farms in European territorial waters are in line with competition and environmental goals there, a governing body said. Denmark in February told the European Commission it was offering state-backed premiums for the price of electricity to support the Kriegers Flak offshore wind farm. Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner in charge of

Program to be axed saves energy in LA buildings

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Paris (AFP) March 28, 2017
Voluntary efficiency programmes - including one targeted for elimination by the Trump administration - have led to energy savings of up to 30 percent in commercial buildings in Los Angeles, researchers have reported. Describing their study as the first large-scale analysis of green certification schemes for big buildings, a pair of researchers from the University of California at Los Angel

China Southern, American Airlines announce tie-up

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Shanghai (AFP) March 28, 2017
American Airlines on Tuesday confirmed it will purchase $200 million in China Southern Airlines stock, the first step in a planned "long-term relationship" between two of the world's biggest carriers. American Airlines, the world's largest by scheduled passengers carried, will buy 8.83 percent of the Hong Kong-listed shares of China Southern, which is fourth globally and the biggest in Asia.

WTO hands China partial win over EU in poultry spat

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Geneva (AFP) March 28, 2017
China won a partial victory at the World Trade Organization on Tuesday in a dispute over tariffs imposed on its poultry products by the European Union. Between 2006 and 2009, Brussels set up a wide range of tariffs on poultry imports. The EU then cut separate deals with Brazil and Thailand to reduce costs on imports from the two countries. Beijing claimed it deserved the same deal

West Africa oil potential growing

‎Today, ‎March ‎29, ‎2017, ‏‎59 minutes agoGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 28, 2017
After posting a perfect record in discoveries off the West African coast, Australian energy company FAR Ltd. said its footprint was expanding with a new buy-in. Working through a subsidiary, FAR Ltd. said it was buying into basins off the coast of Gambia from ERIN Energy Corp., which has headquarters in Houston. The Australian company under the terms of the agreement, which still requir

Chemists ID catalytic 'key' for converting CO2 to methanol

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Upton NY (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) and converting it to useful chemicals such as methanol could reduce both pollution and our dependence on petroleum products. So scientists are intensely interested in the catalysts that facilitate such chemical conversions. Like molecular dealmakers, catalysts bring the reacting chemicals together in a way that makes it easier for them to break and rearrange their

Promising results obtained with a new electrocatalyst that reduces the need for platinum

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Helsinki, Finland (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Platinum is a very expensive metal and it is therefore one of the bottlenecks hindering the growth of renewable energy. Platinum is used as the catalyst in electrolysers that store electric energy as chemical compounds, and it also plays an important role in fuel cells, catalytic converters and many chemical processes used in industry. A group of Aalto University researchers led by profess

Building a market for renewable thermal technologies

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
New Haven CT (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Though a mature technology, renewable thermals occupy a small niche in Connecticut - and in the U.S. at large. A new Yale-led study analyzes the market potential of this technology across the state and provides key insights into spurring consumer demand. According to the analysis, led by the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY), renewable the

Argon is not the 'dope' for metallic hydrogen

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Hydrogen is both the simplest and the most-abundant element in the universe, so studying it can teach scientists about the essence of matter. And yet there are still many hydrogen secrets to unlock, including how best to force it into a superconductive, metallic state with no electrical resistance. "Although theoretically ideal for energy transfer or storage, metallic hydrogen is extremely

Uber putting self-driving cars back on the road

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
San Francisco (AFP) March 27, 2017
Uber on Monday said its self-driving cars were being put back in action on roads after a weekend crash prompted the ridesharing giant to halt testing. Self-driving Uber cars went back to work in San Francisco in the morning there and were to return to streets in Arizona and Pennsylvania later in the day, Uber said an email response to an AFP inquiry. The on-demand ride service grounded i

New Stanford study calls for US solar policy reform

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Stanford CA (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
The rapidly expanding solar energy industry could meaningfully contribute to curbing climate change only if governments and the private sector approach it more economically and efficiently, according to a new Stanford study. Researchers from Stanford's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance encourage the United States to reconsider a wide variety of its solar energy policies in

Printable device points toward sensor-laden robot skin

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Boston MA (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
In this age of smartphones and tablet computers, touch-sensitive surfaces are everywhere. They're also brittle, as people with cracked phone screens everywhere can attest. Covering a robot - or an airplane or a bridge - with sensors will require a technology that is both flexible and cost-effective to manufacture in bulk. A team of researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligenc

A simple route to developing new sensors

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Atlanta GA (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have found a material used for decades to color food items ranging from corn chips to ice creams could potentially have uses far beyond food dyes. In a study published March 23 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers described how a class of water soluble liquid crystals, called lyotropic chromonic liqui

Novel oil spill cleanup technology tested

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Worcester MA (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Tests conducted last week of a novel technology that can greatly accelerate the combustion of crude oil floating on water demonstrated its potential to become an effective tool for minimizing the environmental impact of future oil spills. Called the Flame Refluxer, the technology, developed by fire protection engineering researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) with funding from the

Researchers make flexible glass for tiny medical devices

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Salt Lake City UT (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Brigham Young University researchers have developed new glass technology that could add a new level of flexibility to the microscopic world of medical devices. Led by electrical engineering professor Aaron Hawkins, the researchers have found a way to make the normally brittle material of glass bend and flex. The research opens up the ability to create a new family of lab-on-a-chip devices

HK subway operator to help run UK's South West Trains

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
London (AFP) March 27, 2017
Hong Kong subway operator MTR Corporation has been picked to help run South West Trains, one of Britain's biggest rail franchises, the government said on Monday. MTR will operate SWT services alongside British train and bus company FirstGroup over the next seven years, the Department for Transport (DfT) announced in a statement. Their new joint venture First MTR South Western Trains Limi

Samsung to sell refurbished safety-recalled Note 7 phones

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) March 27, 2017
Samsung announced Monday it would sell some Note 7 smartphones that were recalled for safety reasons as refurbished devices, in an effort to manage its stockpile in an "environmentally friendly" manner. The South Korean giant, the world's largest smartphone maker, said it would sell Note 7s as "refurbished phones or rental phones," after consultations with regulators in various markets.

EU clears Dow-DuPont chemicals mega-merger

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Brussels (AFP) March 27, 2017
The EU on Monday approved a $130 billion mega-merger of US agro-chemicals giants Dow Chemical and DuPont, paving the way for major consolidation in a sensitive sector for farmers and the environment. The decision by antitrust regulators was subject to Dupont selling "major parts" of its global pesticides business, said the European Commission, the EU's executive arm. "Due to significant

China's Li in New Zealand for trade talks

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Wellington (AFP) March 26, 2017
New Zealand said Sunday it did not plan to "choose sides" on trade between the United States and China, as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived for a visit focused on the issue. Wellington in 2008 became the first developed nation to sign a free trade agreement with Beijing and China is now New Zealand's second-largest commercial partner, with two-way trade worth NZ$23 billion ($16.2 billion)

New study defines best materials for carbon capture, methane selectivity

‎Yesterday, ‎March ‎28, ‎2017, ‏‎7:25:55 AMGo to full article
Houston TX (SPX) Mar 27, 2017
Natural gas producers want to draw all the methane they can from a well while sequestering as much carbon dioxide as possible, and could use filters that optimize either carbon capture or methane flow. No single filter will do both, but thanks to Rice University scientists, they now know how to fine-tune sorbents for their needs. Subtle adjustments in the manufacture of a polymer-based car

Tech world debate on robots and jobs heats up

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Washington (AFP) March 26, 2017
Are robots coming for your job? Although technology has long affected the labor force, recent advances in artificial intelligence and robotics are heightening concerns about automation replacing a growing number of occupations, including highly skilled or "knowledge-based" jobs. Just a few examples: self-driving technology may eliminate the need for taxi, Uber and truck drivers, algorith

One in four children will live with water shortages by 2040: UNICEF

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
United Nations, United States March 22, 2017
Approximately one in four children worldwide will live in regions with extremely scarce water resources by 2040, UNICEF said in a report Wednesday. In research released on World Water Day, the United Nations children's agency warned that in just over two decades nearly 600 million children will be living in areas with severely limited safe water sources, as population growth and surging dema

Scientists aim to create self-propelling liquid, a new kind of matter

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 24, 2017
Researchers at Brandeis University in Massachusetts are inching close to the creation of a new kind of matter - a self-propelling liquid. Scientists at Brandeis' Materials Research Science and Engineering Center are trying to develop a new class of materials and machines powered by unique biomechanical properties. They detailed their latest breakthrough - the discovery of an adaptable

Energy demand metrics indicate strong U.S. economy

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 24, 2017
Metrics measuring consumer demand for fuels and related products in the United States were indicative of an improving economy, a trade group said. The American Petroleum Institute reported total petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, gained 0.1 percent to 19.7 million barrels per day, its highest level since 2008. Total motor gasoline deliveries, a measure of consumer demand, was up

China win for Apple as court overturns iPhone ruling

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Beijing (AFP) March 25, 2017
A Beijing court has overturned a ruling that Apple's iPhone 6 violated a Chinese manufacturer's patent which saw the US tech giant ordered to cease selling the smartphone in China. In May last year the Beijing intellectual property bureau had ruled that Apple violated design patents of Chinese maker Shenzhen Baili with its iPhone6 and iPhone 6 Plus, and would be barred from selling those mod

Keystone approval spells headache for Canada's Trudeau

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Ottawa (AFP) March 25, 2017
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was quick to welcome Washington's approval Friday of a major new pipeline from Canada into the United States, but observers say it creates political headaches for his administration. Trudeau has sought to strike a balance between two competing policies - supporting Canada's oil and gas sector, which is the sixth largest in the world, and slashing global-warming

New York skyscrapers adapt to climate change

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
New York (AFP) March 26, 2017
With a skyline crowded with ever-more luxury towers, the construction of another Manhattan skyscraper wouldn't normally be remarkable. But the American Copper Buildings going up on the East River - a complex of two towers with 764 apartments, panoramic views and a huge entrance hall with a doorman - is different. Planned just after deadly Hurricane Sandy ravaged New York in October 201

When helium behaves like a black hole

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Burlington, VT (SPX) Mar 23, 2017
A team of scientists has discovered that a law controlling the bizarre behavior of black holes out in space - is also true for cold helium atoms that can be studied in laboratories. "It's called an entanglement area law," says Adrian Del Maestro, a physicist at the University of Vermont who co-led the research. That this law appears at both the vast scale of outer space and at the tiny scale of

Futuristic clock prepared for space

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Pasadena CA (JPL) Mar 23, 2017
No one keeps time quite like NASA. Last month, the space agency's next-generation atomic clock was joined to the spacecraft that will take it into orbit in late 2017. That instrument, the Deep Space Atomic Clock was developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. On Feb. 17, JPL engineers monitored integration of the clock on to the Surrey Orbital Test Bed spacecraft

'Super sponge' promises effective toxic clean-up of lakes and more

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Minneapolis, MN (SPX) Mar 23, 2017
Mercury is very toxic and can cause long-term health damage, but removing it from water is challenging. To address this growing problem, University of Minnesota College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences (CFANS) Professor Abdennour Abbas and his lab team created a sponge that can absorb mercury from a polluted water source within seconds. Thanks to the application of nanotechnology

Florida eco-friendly town opens for business

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Punta Gorda, United States (AFP) March 22, 2017
With a farm-to-table restaurant, driverless shuttles, homes built with the latest green techniques and a massive solar farm to offset energy use, Florida's first sustainable town is now open for business. The buzz about Babcock Ranch, an eco-friendly city of the future and the largest development of its kind in the United States, drew more than 15,000 people out this month for a peek. "W

Wastewater key to solving global water crisis: UN

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Paris (AFP) March 22, 2017
Recycling the world's wastewater, almost all of which goes untreated, would ease global water shortages while protecting the environment, the United Nations said in a major report Wednesday. "Neglecting the opportunities arising from improved wastewater management is nothing less than unthinkable," said Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, one of several UN bodies behind the report issu

Water carriers in Madagascar bear brunt of global crisis

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Antananarivo (AFP) March 22, 2017
As usual, they get up before dawn and, one by one, place their cans in a neat row at the base of the water pump, ready for another long day of waiting and carrying. For the water carriers of Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar, distributing water is a daily physical struggle that has been worsened by regional drought and climate change. "Today I arrived here at 5:00 am. It is now 8:3

Scientists evade the Heisenberg uncertainty principle

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Madrid, Spain (SPX) Mar 23, 2017
State-of-the-art sensors, such as MRIs and atomic clocks, are capable of making measurements with exquisite precision. MRI is used to image tissues deep within the human body and tells us whether we might suffer from an illness, while atomic clocks are extremely precise timekeepers used for GPS, internet synchronization, and long baseline interferometry in radio-astronomy. One might think these

Visualizing nuclear radiation

‎Monday, ‎March ‎27, ‎2017, ‏‎7:27:32 AMGo to full article
Kyoto, Japan (SPX) Mar 23, 2017
Extraordinary decontamination efforts are underway in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accidents in Japan. The creation of total radioactivity maps is essential for thorough cleanup, but the most common methods, according to Kyoto University's Toru Tanimori, do not 'see' enough ground-level radiation. "The best methods we have currently are labor intensive, and to measure surface radiati

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎11:52:09 AMGo to full article
Raleigh NC (SPX) Mar 23, 2017
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a technique that uses light to get two-dimensional (2-D) plastic sheets to curve into three-dimensional (3-D) structures, such as spheres, tubes or bowls. The advance builds on earlier work by the same research team, which focused on self-folding 3-D structures. The key advance here is that rather than having the plastic fold al

Organic electronics can use power from socket

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎11:52:09 AMGo to full article
Linkoping, Sweden (SPX) Mar 23, 2017
Organic light-emitting devices and printed electronics can be connected to a socket in the wall by way of a small, inexpensive organic converter, developed in a collaboration between Linkoping University and Umea University. Printed electronics and organic light-emitting devices now perform at levels sufficient for a number of eco-friendly, energy-efficient applications. Previously the ide

Molecular 'treasure maps' to help discover new materials

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎11:52:09 AMGo to full article
Southampton, UK (SPX) Mar 23, 2017
Scientists at the University of Southampton working with colleagues at the University of Liverpool have developed a new method which has the potential to revolutionise the way we search for, design and produce new materials. The researchers used sophisticated computer modelling to map how molecules assemble and crystallise to form new materials - each molecule leading to a myriad of possib

Pulverizing electronic waste is green, clean - and cold

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎11:52:09 AMGo to full article
Houston TX (SPX) Mar 23, 2017
Researchers at Rice University and the Indian Institute of Science have an idea to simplify electronic waste recycling: Crush it into nanodust. Specifically, they want to make the particles so small that separating different components is relatively simple compared with processes used to recycle electronic junk now. Chandra Sekhar Tiwary, a postdoctoral researcher at Rice and a researcher

Community in chaotic Jakarta goes green to fight eviction

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎11:52:09 AMGo to full article
Jakarta (AFP) March 20, 2017
Brightly coloured wooden and brick houses line a clean riverside path amid trees and vegetable gardens, a tranquil scene in the normally chaotic Indonesian capital Jakarta. Residents have transformed the "kampung", as traditional neighbourhoods are known in Indonesia, into a model of clean and green living in an effort to fight off the threat of eviction. Tongkol kampung was once much



News About Oil And Gas



Norway's Statoil top bidder for U.S. offshore licenses

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 23, 2017 - As one of the companies with the largest take in a U.S. offshore auction, Norway's Statoil said it reset its Gulf of Mexico position as the market improves.

Statoil was the high bidder on 13 of the tracts up for sale in the latest auction for the rights to drill in the U.S. waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Of the more than two dozen companies with successful bids, Statoil was near the top with company bids of more than $51 million.

The company was the successful high bidder in all but two of the leases it targeted in the central waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Erik Haaland, a spokesperson for Statoil, told UPI in response to emailed questions that the company is moving on U.S. opportunities as market conditions improve.

"We are pleased with having the winning bid for 13 blocks and will now mature these prospects," he said. "The deciding factor to bid was that we see potential for value in these blocks."

Haaland added that, following a string of bad luck with wells it operated there, Statoil "took a break" from the Gulf of Mexico to take a lessons-learned approach to development.

Lease sales last year brought few bidders to the table because of market conditions weakened by historically low crude oil prices. Markets have since stabilized in part because of a production agreement managed by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management secured nearly $275 million in high bids for acreage offshore Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the results of the auction show U.S. economic recovery will hinge in part on energy development.

"Expanded Gulf production is critical to America's economic and energy security, and will play a greater role as we move to break our dependence on foreign oil and strengthen the nation's energy independence," he said in a statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump has put emphasis on the oil and gas sector since taking office, paving the way for increased pipeline infrastructure during his first months in the White House.

U.S. companies Exxon Mobil and Chevron were in the top five with 20 and 19 successful bids respectively. Royal Dutch Shell tied for first with Exxon.

Last year, Statoil production from its offshore portfolio in the United States averaged 60,000 barrels per day. By 2020, the company aims to double that, making the Norwegian oil company one of the top 5 producers from the U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexcio.



Fretting over U.S. economic fate dings oil prices

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 23, 2017 - Crude oil prices drifted lower in early Thursday trading as investors remained cautious about U.S. economic trajectory ahead of a pivotal vote on health insurance.

Crude oil prices faced lingering pressure in the previous session on signs of ongoing supply-side pressures despite efforts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to offset the glut through managed declines.

Official U.S. data show a build of 1.3 million barrels in crude in oil inventories compared with last week. U.S. crude oil production, meanwhile, continues to show strength with oil at around $50 per barrel, adding 20,000 barrels per day from the previous week to reach 9.1 million barrels per day.

Broader markets may be unsettled Thursday as investors watch for developments from the Republican effort to replace the Affordable Care Act, the signature healthcare measure from President Barack Obama. The measure is facing stiff opposition from the some of the members of the Republican Party.

"Oil traders will watch the vote of the American health care act today and the fate of the bill may be an indicator of the ability of President Donald Trump to drive through his agenda on tax cuts and infrastructure spending," Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst for the PRICE Futures Group, said in a daily newsletter.

After posting modest gains overnight, the price for Brent crude oil was down about 0.3 percent in the minutes before the opening bell in New York to trade at $50.47 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was down 0.4 percent to $47.86 per barrel.

Olivier Jakob, managing director of Switzerland-based consultant Petromatrix, said in a daily newsletter that Brent crude oil was hovering around its 200-day moving average.

"In the near-term, we favor a trading range between $47.00 and $52.00 per barrel for WTI," Jakob wrote in the newsletter.

The price for Brent crude oil had hovered near $55 per barrel for most of the year on optimism surrounding OPEC production cuts. The price for oil came under pressure mid-March following steady reports of gains in oil storage and production in the United States, the world's leading economy.

Markets in general may face stronger headwinds on U.S. labor figures. The U.S. Labor Department reports first-time claims for unemployment for the week ending March 18 up 15,000 from the previous week. The less-volatile four-week moving average was 240,000, an increase of 1,000 from the previous week.



China's CNOOC hit by market downturn

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 23, 2017 - After reporting steep declines in yearly oil and gas revenue, Chinese company CNOOC said Thursday its focus on cost control was relentless.

China National Offshore Oil Corp. turned in one of its worst performances in five years with oil and gas revenues down 17 percent from 2015.

When oil prices hit historic lows last year, CNOOC, the country's largest producer, lowered its production forecast for 2016 by 3.5 percent and pledged to put cost control and efficiency at the forefront of its agenda.

"The company unrelentingly pursued a management concept centered around cost control and improved efficiency, maintained prudent financial policies, and realized sound and steady growth in every business," Chairman and CEO Yang Hua said in a statement Thursday.

The company said last year that spending would be cut by 11 percent from 2015 levels. In its annual statement, CNOOC said capital spending cuts were sharper at 26.3 percent year-over-year.

Most major oil and gas companies are expecting improvements this year as the market recovers from last year's slump. In 2016, CNOOC said it realized an average oil price of $41.40 per barrel, a decline of 19.3 percent from 2015.

The price for Brent crude oil, the international benchmark, was trading around $51 per barrel in early Thursday trading. Crude oil prices were under pressure in early March after China lowered its economic growth estimate.

In terms of output, CNOOC boasted that it made 14 commercial discoveries and ended 2016 with 3.9 billion barrels of oil equivalent in net proved reserves.

"Oil and gas reserves made by independent new discoveries in offshore China continued to maintain at a higher level," the company stated.



Putin insists Europe needs expanded gas pipeline

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 23, 2017 - An expansion to a Russian gas pipeline running offshore to Germany makes sense given production declines in Europe, Russia's president said.

Russian natural gas company Gazprom is one of the dominant suppliers of natural gas for the European economy. The company aims to increase its footprint with the expansion to its twin Nord Stream natural gas pipeline system that runs through the Baltic Sea to Germany and then onto the European market.

Gazprom started calling for tenders to lay the sections of the planned pipeline in the deep waters of the Baltic Sea in early 2016 and maintains the additional components could be in service at some point in 2019.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a meeting with officials with Germany energy company BASF, a partner to Gazprom, that expanding Nord Stream was a logical solution for the European market.

"Given the growth in consumption [of natural gas] in Europe and the decline in production by our European partners, Nord Stream 2 is an absolutely natural project," he was quoted by Russian news agency Tass as saying.

A January report from S&P Global Platts found European demand for natural gas accelerating against declining production, putting a focus on the need for more exports.

In January, Gazprom said European regulators were needlessly standing in the way of access to the OPAL gas pipeline to Germany. Access to OPAL may be necessary if the Russian natural gas company is to twin Nord Stream.

A Polish antitrust authority last year found plans to expand Nord Stream might lead to restriction of competition because of Gazprom's dominant position in the country's gas market, a decision that eventually limited Gazprom's deliveries through OPAL.

Putin said expanding Nord Stream should not be seen as a move to limit the competition of any transit country or company.

"We are ready to maintain ties with all our partners, including Ukraine as a transit country," he said.

Most of the natural gas Russia sends to Europe runs through Soviet-era pipelines in Ukraine. Contractual and geopolitical disputes between Moscow and Kiev have added a layer of risk to Russia's legacy natural gas transit routes.



Oil-, gas-rich Norway expects sluggish economic growth

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 23, 2017 - There are signs that pressure from a declining energy sector is fading, though Norway's economy is not on pace for major growth, the government said Thursday.

The Norwegian government reported this week that preliminary production of oil, natural gas liquids and other products were up 2 percent from January. Total oil production for February averaged 1.6 million barrels and was about a half percent higher than expected.

Apart from Russia, Norway is one of the main suppliers of oil and natural gas to the European market. Nearly all of its offshore production is exported.

Norway's office for statistics reported that, generally speaking, the economy has been in a cyclical downturn because of pressures from the petroleum industry since late 2014, though there are signs of growth for 2017.

"No strong growth is foreseeable for the next four years, nonetheless," the government report read.

Full-year 2016 gross domestic product increased 0.8 percent, its slowest rate since the global financial crises from the last decade. Emerging growth was apparent, however, as fourth quarter GDP increased by an annualized 1.3 percent.

For investments in the energy industry, the government reported declines began before last decade's recession and continued into late 2016 as low crude oil prices curbed spending. Employment in the petroleum sector, meanwhile, is down 24 percent from its peak in early 2014, though declines there slowed down last year.

"The ripple effects of activity in the petroleum industry are substantial, and the reduction in employment in several supplier industries has been correspondingly sharp," the report read. "Our projections show that the reduction in jobs directly and indirectly associated with petroleum sector demand is about seven times the reduction in the petroleum industry itself."

Norge Bank, the country's central bank, this month left its key rate unchanged at 0.5 percent. In a statement of justification, the bank said inflation would be lower than it expected, which implies the Norwegian economy is becoming isolated.



Oil breakthrough for Mexico with Eni discovery

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 23, 2017 - Italian energy company Eni said Thursday it confirmed the potential for oil offshore Mexico in the first drilling campaign by a foreign company since 2013.

Eni said it confirmed the presence of oil in the Amoca-2 well, located in the shallow waters in the Campeche Bay near Mexico's southern tip.

CEO Claudio Descalzi said the discovery is a first for his company in Mexico and the first by a foreign company since national energy reforms were enacted in 2013.

"This important discovery comes in a country where Eni has not yet operated and confirms our exploration capabilities," he said in a statement.

The company said the reserve potential from the Amoca-2 well was still being examined, but it estimated the prospects were high.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto moved through reforms to draw private investors to the state energy sector after more than 70 years of a monopoly controlled by state-run Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex. The reforms could bring in up to $415 billion in investments over the next 20 years as the country establishes links to the rest of the world.

Mexico aims to produce around 3.5 million barrels per day by 2025. For Eni, the company said it's evaluating the option to put its fields there on the fast-track to development. It created its Mexican subsidiary in 2015.



Husky Energy responding to minor Alberta oil spill

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 23, 2017 - Canadian oil company Husky Energy said it was ready to start restoration efforts immediately, after reporting a minor oil spill in southwest Alberta.

Husky estimated a release of about 150 barrels of oil from its Moose Mountain operations in southwest Alberta. In terms of volume, the release is less in gallons than an average residential swimming pool.

The company said the release was discovered one week ago, adding it was still examining the cause of the incident.

"The cleanup will be completed in the days ahead and restoration work will be initiated immediately," a company statement on the incident read. "There is no flowing water at this location and additional precautions have been taken to ensure any runoff is diverted around the cleanup area."

About 1,500 barrels of oil were released near the banks of the North Saskatchewan River after a pipeline ruptured in late July. Husky said its monitoring systems there recorded a pressure anomaly, but no leak, on the pipeline system the night before the spill.

The heavier type of oil found in Canada has the potential to sink in water and mix in with river sediment, making cleanup operations complex.



Libya sets goals for higher oil production

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 23, 2017 - Libya aims to increase crude oil production at some of its fields by 55,000 barrels to the extent that conditions permit, the nation's main oil company stated.

Officials with Libya's National Oil Corp. met with representatives from Italian energy company Eni and Mellitah Oil & Gas, which ranks itself as the largest in Libya in terms of production.

The NOC said all parties discussed increasing production at the Abu Attifel and al-Remal oil field by 55,000 barrels within the next few weeks "as per the scheduled plan and to the extent that resources permit."

Eni lists the fields in its portfolio and counts Mellitah as the operator. Oil is fed from the complex to the coastal terminal at Zuetina and then onto the export market via tanker. Production has been limited for Eni because of ongoing conflict in Libya.

Martin Kobler, the U.N. special envoy to Libya, said Thursday he had grave concerns about persistent reports of grave human rights violations in the country as the violence continues.

"It is high time to put an end to the gross violations being committed across Libya," he said, adding perpetrators may be hauled before the International Criminal Court.

Mustafa Sanalla, the head of the NOC, has nevertheless held a series of meetings with international oil companies with a steadfast interest in Libya. According to him, production is around 700,000 barrels per day and could reach 800,000 barrels per day by the end of April. Next August, he said, the goal is to reach 1.1 million barrels per day, a level consistent with pre-conflict output.

"We are doing our best to increase production despite all the obstacles and circumstances," he said in a statement.

Libya is exempt from an arrangement organized by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to limit production in an effort to balance an over-supplied market because it needs the revenue to support national security efforts.



UN Security Council again eyes sanctions on South Sudan

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
United Nations, United States (AFP) March 24, 2017 - The UN Security Council voiced alarm Thursday about the deepening humanitarian crisis and famine in South Sudan, with the United States, Britain and France raising anew the idea of sanctions and a weapons embargo.

Attacks on humanitarian and UN missions, serial rapes, recruitment of child soldiers and famine: Six years after independence, "all the optimism that accompanied the birth of South Sudan has been shattered by internal divisions, rivalries and the irresponsible behavior of some of its leaders," said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

"Despite the alarm sounded by the United Nations and the international community over this crisis, the government has yet to express any meaningful concern or take any tangible steps to address the plight of its people," said Guterres, who participated in the council meeting on South Sudan.

The UN chief denounced "a refusal by the leadership to even acknowledge the crisis or to fulfill its responsibilities to end it."

While concern about continued fighting, atrocities and the worsening humanitarian crisis seemed to be unanimously shared, at issue is what the Security Council can do to compel the forces of President Salva Kiir and those of his rival Riek Machar to restore a cease-fire and political dialogue under a 2015 peace agreement.

The United States, which unsuccessfully pushed for an arms embargo in December, raised that possibility again Thursday, supported by Britain and France.

"We are outraged by the events unfolding in South Sudan," said Michele Sison, the US deputy representative to the United Nations. The United States had backed the country's independence from Sudan in 2011.

"We have had warning after warning about the prospect of future mass atrocities," she said.

"Last December some colleagues in the Security Council argued that pressure would be counterproductive because it would block the political process but there has been no progress since December, instead the situation has deteriorated," she lamented.

- 'Deliberate starvation tactics' -

Sison appeared to be taking the position of the prior Barack Obama administration, which had sought a ban on weapons sales.

According to the US diplomat, the government's obstacles to humanitarian work in the famine-struck areas "may amount to deliberate starvation tactics."

"An arms embargo is one tool the council could use to address the continued violence," Sison urged, pointing out that the council could also impose sanctions on the officials responsible.

The 15-member council rejected a proposed resolution including an arms embargo and sanctions against certain leaders in December, after failing to get the nine votes necessary for adoption.

Angola, China, Egypt, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Senegal and Venezuela abstained.

Britain's foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, who chaired the council meeting Thursday, said an arms embargo proposal would be submitted to the council, without specifying a timeframe.

According to data cited by Guterres, 100,000 people in South Sudan are already suffering famine. A million others are near starvation and some 5.5 million could face starvation within the next few months.

After gaining independence from Sudan in 2011, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and 3.5 million people displaced, despite the deployment of some 12,000 UN peacekeepers.

Half of those displaced have fled to neighboring countries, many of them to Uganda. More than 220,000 are sheltered on UN sites.



A new model for capillary rise in nano-channels offers insights into fracking

‎Friday, ‎March ‎24, ‎2017, ‏‎12:11:07 PMGo to full article
Washington DC (SPX) Mar 23, 2017 - In the last decades, hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," a method of oil and gas extraction, has revolutionized the global energy industry. It involves fracturing rock with a pressurized liquid or "fracking fluid" (water containing sand suspended with the aid of thickening agents) to draw out small oil and gas deposits trapped in stone formations.

After the water molecules of the fracking fluid are injected into these formations, they rise up the stone walls of the small channels where they have flowed. They can then undergo "imbibition," a type of diffusion that involves them being absorbed via nano-pores into the neighboring pockets where the oil and gas reside. As the water molecules are absorbed, the oil and gas molecules are displaced and can then be pumped to the surface. This activity is driven by the capillary force between the water and oil, which results from the tension generated at the interface or point where the two fluids meet.

Scientists have typically calculated the expected level of capillary rise in these conditions with the Lucas-Washburn equation, a mathematical model whose earliest parameters were first devised nearly a century ago. The challenge, however, is that that the equation has not been completely accurate in predicting the actual rise observed in nano-capillary laboratory experiments.

"The height of the capillary rise that was observed in these experiments was lower than what the Lucas-Washburn model would have predicted," explained Anqi Shen, a doctoral student at China's Northeast Petroleum University who works closely with Yikun Liu, a professor at the university. "Understanding what was causing this deviation became an important point of focus for my colleagues and me."

The researchers describe their findings this week in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.

"Many explanations have been offered for the lower-than-expected capillary rise. One area of discussion has focused on the viscosity of the fluid. Another has been the sticky layers of oil that form on the walls of the capillaries and narrow their diameter, which is an issue that we have also explored," Shen said, whose work is also funded by the Major Projects Program for the National Science and Technology of China.

"We looked at many factors and found that the surface roughness of the capillaries was the main reason for the lower-than-expected result. Specifically, we realized that the model could better determine the actual level of capillary rise if we adjusted the parameters to account for the frictional drag that is caused by the inherent roughness of the surface of the capillary walls. When we saw how this made the model more accurate, we knew that we could not ignore it," Shen said.

Moreover, the miniscule size of the capillaries means that even small increases in surface roughness can make a significant impact on calculations.

"Factors that might be ignored in normal conditions can have significant effects on a micro or nano level. For instance, a relative roughness of 5 percent, in a tube with a radius of 100 cm where the obstacle height is 5 cm hardly affects the fluid flow in the tube. However, with a tube radius of 100 nm and obstacle height of 5 nm, it could significantly affect the fluid flow in the tube," Shen said.

Currently, there are only a few labs carrying out nano-capillary rise experiments. As a result, Shen and her colleagues could only work with the results from one laboratory in the Netherlands. Going forward, they intend to verify their mathematical formula by examining its effectiveness at simulating the results of other experiments.

Although Shen's research focuses on oil and gas development, she and her colleagues hope that their work can be of use to scientists working in other fields.

"Capillary rise is a basic, physical phenomenon that occurs in soil, paper, and other biologically relevant realms," Shen said. "Understanding how it is potentially affected at the nano-capillary level by frictional drag could shed light in a variety of scientific disciplines."

The article, "A model for capillary rise in nano-channels with inherent surface roughness," is authored by Anqi Shen, Yikun Liu, Xiaohui Qiu, Yongjun Lu and Shuang Liang. The article will appear in the Applied Physics Letters March 21, 2017 (DOI: 10.1063/1.4977773).



Russia reacts to steep drop in oil prices

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 14, 2017 - The dramatic drop in crude oil prices is in large part because of "aggressive" output in the United States, but OPEC still factors in, a Russian minister said.

Crude oil prices declined 5 percent Wednesday after a federal U.S. report revealed dramatic gains in crude oil storage and production levels. The U.S. shale oil boom that evolved over the last decade put negative pressure on crude oil prices, leading to an ultimate plunge below $30 per barrel last year. That compared with a period three years ago where oil above $100 per barrel was relatively common.

Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin was quoted by Russia news agency TASS as saying the resiliency of U.S. shale to lower crude oil prices was putting a ceiling on the price of oil.

"The reasons for decline of oil prices include several factors -- quite aggressive production growth in the United States, and rumors associated with a possible change of OPEC tactics," he said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is about three months into a six-month agreement to keep production steady at around 32.5 million barrels per day. Libya and Nigeria are exempt from the agreement because of a need for oil revenue to finance national security operations and Iran has room to grow in order to regain a market share lost to sanctions. Compliance with the deal is strong, though several analysts have said the devil is in the details.

"OPEC production cuts -- which notably fall short of the original target envisaged by the organization -- appear to serve mainly as a psychological support to oil prices," Leonardo Maugeri, a senior fellow with the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard University, said in a recent note.

On the rumors surrounding OPEC's next move, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy Charles McConnell told Russian news agency Sputnik the production group may be holding its ground.

"I think [the production cut deal] will be extended," he said, adding it likely won't have a dramatic impact on crude oil prices.

The terms of the agreement, signed in November and enacted in January, said the deal could be extended for another six months to take into account prevailing market conditions.

"This rumor, of course, affects expectations," Oreshkin said.

Russia is party to the production agreement as a non-OPEC member, though its contribution has been fluid.



Production gains seen in some OPEC members

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 14, 2017 - Secondary sources reporting to OPEC said member states operating outside a production deal increased production last month by more than 80,000 barrels per day.

Crude oil prices were moving lower in early Tuesday trading after the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries released a market report for March showing how well a move to curb about 1.2 million barrels per day from the market was holding.

The deal was brokered in November and called for a collective ceiling of 32.5 million barrels per day. Secondary industry sources told OPEC economists that, collectively, the 13 members produced 31.9 million barrels per day in February.

Libya and Nigeria are exempt from the arrangement because of the need to steer oil revenue toward national security efforts. Industry sources reported Libyan production declined 111,000 barrels per day as conflict reignites in the so-called oil crescent.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said Tuesday it's seen reports of "summary executions, hostage-taking, arbitrary detentions, torture, as well as widespread raids of civilian homes" in the conflict zones in Libya.

Offsetting the decline from Libya, Nigeria reported a gain of 58,000 barrels per day. Iran has allowances for production gains as it seeks to retake a market share lost to sanctions and secondary sources reporting an increase from January of 36,100 barrels per day to 3.8 million barrels per day.

Saudi Arabia, the de facto head of OPEC, has boasted of its lead position among member states cutting production. Secondary sources reported a Saudi decline of 68,100 barrels per day, though the country directly reported a gain of more than a quarter million barrels per day to move the kingdom back over 10 million barrels per day.

"While output fell last month (based on secondary sources), it is a clear signal that the Saudis do not want to carry the brunt of the OPEC cuts forever," Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst for the PRICE Futures Group, told UPI.

Iran and Libya did not offer direct communication to OPEC for February.



Drop in crude oil prices keep U.S. gas prices low

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 14, 2017 - A drop in crude oil prices was a relief for U.S. consumers who saw retail gas prices drop in kind, but the relief may be short-lived, a market analysis finds.

Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded at $2.29, a slight drop from the previous day and the eleventh consecutive day for a decline. That follows a dramatic drop last week in crude oil prices, which account for the bulk of what consumers pay at the pump.

"Gas prices may continue to drop in the near future due to declining crude oil prices and a well-supplied market, but will begin to creep up again over the next month due to seasonal refinery maintenance and the May 1 required switchover for producing summer-blend gasoline," the motor club's weekly retail market report read.

Crude oil prices held steady at around $55 per barrel for most of the year, but a steady build in U.S. crude oil inventories and production broke the streak. That put negative pressure on gas prices, though the summer blend of gasoline, which requires additional environmental safeguards for warmer summer months, is more expensive to make and will have the opposite effect.

Drivers in the West Coast cope with the most expensive market in the Lower 48 states and refinery maintenance there was putting a crimp on supplies, adding insult to injury. Price increases were modest in the region, though California broke through the $3 per gallon mark to post a state average price of $3.01, the highest in the Lower 48.

The Great Lakes states region, meanwhile, was an anomaly, with prices declining despite at least three Illinois refineries moving through unplanned maintenance phases before the switch to summer gasoline. Despite the pressure on supplies, Indiana gas prices declined 4.5 percent from last week, the greatest regionally, to reach $2.15 early Tuesday.

A federal report from last week predicted a national average price for the year at $2.40 per gallon and $2.44 per gallon for 2018. The February national average was $2.30 per gallon.



Enbridge gets an earful over northern Michigan underwater pipeline

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 14, 2017 - Pipeline company Enbridge faced scrutiny over the integrity of a pipeline system in Michigan, though a director said a Mackinac Straits system was sound.

Enbridge has faced tough questions from residents in the northern part of Michigan's lower peninsula worried about the integrity of Line 5, a twin 64-year-old pipeline system traversing the Straits of Mackinac.

Last year, State Rep. Candice Miller introduced the Great Lakes Pipeline Safety Act, which would've forced the closure of the company's Line 5 pipeline system. If the pipeline burst, she said more than 700 miles of the shoreline of the Great Lakes could be impacted.

Kurt Baraniecki, a director of integrity programs, told the state Pipeline Safety Advisory Board that internal reviews of the pipeline found few areas of concern despite some sections where an anti-corrosive coating has worn off.

"I believe this pipeline is in as good of condition as it was on the day it was installed," told The Detroit Free Press.

Two of the state's Great Lakes intersect at the straits, creating a turbulent maritime environment. A Michigan pipeline task force report requires Enbridge to carry full insurance, create a public pipeline safety board and disclose safety reports.

Enbridge, in an overview of Michigan operations, notes there's never been a leak on the Line 5 system in its 60-year history.

Baraniecki said a report identifying gaps in the pipeline's coating were incorrect in their classification of a corrosion layer. A vice president in charge of U.S. operations, Brad Shamla, added less than 1 percent of the bare pipeline was exposed.

"There are other things besides corrosion -- even if it is half a percent," pipeline safety board member Chris Kelenske was quoted as saying. "From where I sit, any percent above zero is not good."



Crude oil prices move lower on OPEC production data

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 14, 2017 - Oil prices moved lower Tuesday, with the price for Brent threatening to break under $50 per barrel after OPEC revealed data on production cut compliance.

Crude oil prices traded in a narrow band around $55 per barrel for most of the year since January after deal was coordinated by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to curb output in an effort to offset supply-side strains.

OPEC's agreement, which counts non-member states like Russia as contributors, put a psychological floor under crude oil prices. The duration of the price band around $55 per barrel improved the economics for expensive basins like U.S. shale oil, and gains in production there put a ceiling over the price of oil.

Last week, production and supply gains from the United States pushed crude oil prices down 5 percent. Tuesday, it was OPEC's turn, with Saudi Arabia telling OPEC economists its production for February increased by about a quarter million barrels per day to move above 10 million barrels per day.

Oil prices were trading in positive territory overnight, but swiftly moved lower after OPEC released its latest monthly market report.

"The report that Saudi Arabia is raising output was enough to squash the meager recovery," Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst for the PRICE Futures Group, told UPI.

The price for Brent crude oil was lower than the previous close by 1 percent to trade at $50.82 per barrel about a half hour before the start of trading in New York. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for the price of oil, was down 1.3 percent to $47.76 per barrel.

The price for Brent crude oil is down nearly 10 percent, or close to $7 per barrel, from its peak this year.

Prices may be influenced late in the day when the American Petroleum Institute releases data on crude oil inventories in the United States for the week. Data from the world's leading economy is key for investors betting on future price movement.

Official U.S. data is released Wednesday, and S&P Global Platts expects federal data will show a build of 3.5 million barrels, roughly half the level reported last week and less than the 4.3 million barrels reported on average over a four-year period.

Elsewhere, Platts Futures Editor Geoffrey Craig said investors may be making bets on direction from the U.S. Federal Reserve. A rate hike would strengthen the value of the U.S. dollar and subsequently influence crude oil prices.

"Traders will be trying to discern what the Fed's probable course of action will be for the rest of the year; any hint of dovish [low-interest-rate] leanings by monetary authorities could shake currency markets and affect energy prices," he said in an emailed report.



Europe vetting comments on Russia's control over gas

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
Brussels (UPI) Mar 13, 2017 - All interested parties are invited to offer comments on whether or not Russian natural gas company Gazprom is playing by the rules in Europe, the European Commission said in a report on Monday.

Gazprom is the dominant Russian natural gas company and one of the top suppliers to the European economy. Most of its supplies to Europe run through Soviet-era networks in Central and Eastern Europe.

A report from the European Commission finds Gazprom is more or less committed to fair competition in the region by selling its gas at a competitive price.

"Gazprom cannot act on any advantages concerning gas infrastructure, which it obtained from customers by having leveraged its market position in gas supply," the commission stated.

A Polish company known by its initials PGNiG issued a complaint to European justice officials that said Gazprom was not in compliance with rulings on the regional gas market, namely the Russian company's access to the OPAL pipeline. According to the Polish company, Gazprom is striving for "complete dominance" over parts of the European energy market.

Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner in charge of competition policy, said Gazprom has largely addressed many of the commission's competition concerns.

"We now want to hear the views of customers and other stakeholders and will carefully consider them before taking any decision," she said in a statement.

The commission said that if Gazprom is found to be operating outside its commitments, it could face a fine of up to 10 percent of its global turnover.

Two years ago, the European Commission said it was concerned Russia was breaking anti-trust rules in the region by working to partition Central and Eastern European gas markets.



AMEC Foster Wheeler agrees to $2.6B takeover by Wood Group

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
London (UPI) Mar 13, 2017 - Wood Group will purchase AMEC Foster Wheeler for $2.6 billion in a move that will combine two of Britain's largest energy services.

In a statement announcing the acquisition, Wood Group leaders said the takeover is a boon to the company's business strategy and its relationships with clients.

"The combination will create an asset-light, largely reimbursable business of greater scale and enhanced capability, diversified across the oil and gas, chemicals, renewables, environment and infrastructure and mining segments," Wood Group chairman Ian Marchant explained.

BBC News reports the deal will create an entity with a combined value of $6.1 billion. Shares for both companies received a boost after the deal was disclosed, with AMEC and Wood seeing a 14.7 and 4.4 increase, respectively.

"The all-share structure of the offer allows our shareholders to benefit from the significant synergies and other strategic benefits that are expected to be realized from the combination," AMEC chairman John Connolly said in a press release.

The acquisition follows a recent drop in Wood Group's revenue, which coincided with cuts in staff. Marchant suggested the deal with AMEC will help alleviate those losses.

"Delivering significant sustainable synergies will also result in a leaner and more competitive combined group, creating value for shareholders," he added.



Broader pressures remain, though Texas energy sector recovering

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
Dallas (UPI) Mar 13, 2017 - There were twice as many oil and natural gas discoveries recorded in Texas in February than during the previous month, a state regulator reported.

The Railroad Commission of Texas stated that, as of March 10, the total state-wide rig count of 392 represented slightly more than half of all the activity in the country. Rig counts serve as a loose barometer to gauge industry confidence in a particular region.

Oil prices have improved to the point that companies are spending more on exploration and production. The commission, the state's energy regulator, said it issued 991 original drilling permits in February, up from the 573 reported last year.

There were two oil discoveries and two natural discoveries made in the state last month, compared with one each from January. Nevertheless, the commission reported a preliminary production rate for crude oil of 74.2 million barrels for all of December, the last full month for which it published data, down from the 76.7 million barrels reported for the previous month.

Texas is the No. 1 oil producer in the country and saw its economy come under pressure from a market downturn last year characterized by historically low crude oil prices. Karr Ingham, an economist at the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, said the basic components of market recovery are evident, the price for oil and gas has improved, exploration and production activity is gaining, but other measures like total production and employment are still lower than they were a year ago.

Housing affordability is also an issue, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Median household income in the five years ending in 2015 increased 14 percent, while existing-home sale prices rose 34 percent during the same period.

"Declining housing affordability in the state has eroded the cost-of-living advantage, calling into question whether Texas can maintain its long-term economic and population growth that has often led the nation," economist Laila Assanie said in a statement.



Business confidence improving for oil-rich Russia

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
Moscow (UPI) Mar 13, 2017 - With crude oil prices improving over last year's slump, a market report finds most companies in Russia are expecting modest recovery.

A November forecast from the International Monetary Fund found the Russian economy had absorbed the shocks from the dual strains of lower crude oil prices and sanctions imposed because of the Kremlin's role in lingering conflict in Ukraine.

Crude oil prices sank below $30 per barrel and were holding steady above $55 per barrel for most of the year, though supply-side pressures from the United States have dragged on oil price momentum recently.

As an economy with a stake in the energy game, Samuel Agass, an economist at analytic group IHS Markit, said business confidence in Russia's private sector is the highest it's been since 2013.

"These are signs that the Russian economic upturn will likely gain further momentum over the year ahead," he said in a statement.

In February, the board of directors at Russia's Central Bank said they were keeping their key rate unchanged at 10 percent, adding "internal and external developments" had diminished the appetite for rate cuts this year. Bank Gov. Elvira Nabiullina said the rate of inflation is expected to be close to its low-end outlook of around 5.5 percent this year.

Russia relies heavily on oil and natural gas for revenue and, after a budget shortfall in February, the country's Finance Ministry said it expected to receive around $1.5 billion in oil and natural gas revenue this month.

Agass said survey data show the net balance of firms are expecting new business and new hires, with most of the companies expressing confidence of sustained economic recovery.

"That said, business confidence is still subdued in comparison to both the current worldwide average and historical outlook data, suggesting not all private sector companies are convinced the upturn in the Russian economy can be sustained," he said.



OPEC cuts not having dramatic effect for members

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎16, ‎2017, ‏‎4:54:16 AMGo to full article
Vienna (UPI) Mar 13, 2017 - Parties to an OPEC-led effort to bring the oil market back to a healthy balance between supply and demand have more work to do, an industry analyst said.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in November agreed to hold production to around 32.5 million barrels per day, a collective cut when counting data from Indonesia, which is no longer a member of the group. Russia and several other producers are contributing as non member states, though Russia's compliance has come under question.

Based on direct communication between OPEC economists and producers, cuts so far are above the benchmark, though secondary industry sources reported cuts below the level agreed to in November.

Leonardo Maugeri, a senior fellow with the Geopolitics of Energy Project at Harvard University, said in a recent note that focusing on those figures may be "misleading." OPEC production between October and January, when the deal went into force, increased to the point that the member states that are contributing need to cut 2 million barrels per day more than they are currently.

"And things are even worse for those 12 non-OPEC producers that agreed to make oil output cuts together with OPEC," he wrote. "Their commitment was not overwhelming -- as a whole, less than 600,000 barrels per day -- yet their level of compliance with that target was less than 60 percent in February."

A month ago, Olivier Jakob, managing director of Switzerland-based consultant Petromatrix, said OPEC's goals through the duration of the six-month agreement depend in large part on how much production comes from members operating outside the deal.

Cuts from OPEC so far are not enough to reduce global crude oil supplies, he said, but just enough to keep the situation relatively unchanged from last year. By the estimates of his group, total global crude oil supplies would be slightly higher than last year during the first half of the year if OPEC's production levels through January hold through the duration of the agreement.

Maugeri said the market situation is such that oil production has increased for most players not party to the multilateral production agreement. North America, Brazil and North Sea producers combined for around 1 million barrels per day more over September figures, by his account.

"OPEC and non-OPEC cuts are not enough to re-absorb the world's excess supply," he stressed.



Coming soon: Oil spill-mapping swarms of flying drones

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
Buffalo NY (SPX) Feb 28, 2017 - Thousands of ants converge to follow the most direct path from their colony to their food and back. A swarm of inexpensive, unmanned drones quickly map an offshore oil spill. Each extremely complex task is accomplished by individuals following very simple rules. But to make the drones do it, a bit of nature's magic must be captured in a mathematical formula.

"Nature may not proactively use mathematics, nor does it have foresight. It behaves in ways driven by feedback, implicit drive for adaptation, and a certain degree of apparent randomness," said Souma Chowdhury, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the University at Buffalo's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "But we can look at what kind of mathematical principles define that behavior. Once we have that, we can use it to solve very complex problems."

Chowdhury is pioneering a way to program a team of drones to quickly map an oil spill. His computational efforts, in a paper which he co-authored with UB students Zachary Ball and Philip Odonkor, were presented in January at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Science and Technology Forum. The study, called "A Swarm-Intelligence Approach to Oil Spill Mapping using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles," optimized and simulated a five-drone swarm that can map a nearly one-kilometer wide spill in nine minutes.

To make that work, Chowdhury had to overcome the lack of communication bandwidth typical of a flying ad hoc network and the short battery life of off-the-shelf drones.

Following the principles partly inspired by the dynamics of a flock of birds, Chowdhury devised a method for the drones to quickly record whether they are over water, oil or the edge of the spill. In addition, the drones assume that the space around the oil they have spotted is also oil, although that is recorded as less than certain. This simple information is shared with the other drones in the swarm, as opposed to sharing actual images or video, which would require too much bandwidth.

"Communication is the foundation of any swarm," he said.

As the drones move from point to point over the spill, they avoid going over space that other drones have already covered. Thus, with five drones making observations every five seconds, the size of the spill can be determined quickly. The drones also fly to their base, on a boat, when their batteries get low. The drones that replace them on the search already have the information from all the other drones, so they avoid previously mapped locations. "The thematic focus of my lab is developing computational design approaches that take inspiration from nature," Chowdhury said.

The low computer power - each drone can operate with a $35 Raspberry Pi computer - keeps costs low. Chowdhury's approach accomplishes a complex task using simple agents.

"There is no need for human interaction during its entire mission," he said. "That's the big deal."

Another big deal is the cost. Chowdhury's approach assumes simple, affordable drones, which makes it accessible to many more people. "This task can be accomplished by off-the-shelf drones that cost under $1,000. All they need is to have a simple drone-mountable camera system and use our software," he said.

Collision avoidance is another challenge for the swarm, and here too, Chowdhury is following nature's simple rules. In recent work reported by the University of Queensland, researchers watched very carefully how parrots never crashed into each other. They observed through tunnel experiments that they always veer to the right, a simple rule that keeps every member of the flock safe.

Chowdhury's lab is exploring how using similar principles, drones can pre-emptively turn a certain angle to the right when they sense another flying member of the swarm. He is writing that in a companion paper to be submitted to another international conference later this year.

Swarming drones could be used elsewhere, such as mapping forest fires or other natural disasters. It's possible they could be used to help locate people trapped after an earthquake by changing the type of cameras used.

Research paper



Total teams up with Brazil's Petrobras

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
Brasilia, Brazil (UPI) Mar 1, 2017 - French energy company Total announced alongside its Brazilian counterpart, Petrobras, both sides were teaming up in a $2.25 billion joint venture agreement.

"These new partnerships together with a reinforced technological cooperation should create significant synergies and values, mutualizing our operational excellence and further reducing costs on our joint projects for the benefit of both companies," Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne and Petrbras CEO Pedro Parente said in a joint statement.

Total's payments to Petrobras include $1.6 billion in cash. The Brazilian company, known formally as Petroleo Brasileiro, handed over enough of a stake in some of its more lucrative fields so that Total is a minority partner.

The Brazilian company said the joint venture agreement with Total aligns with a five-year plan to improve its financials and mitigate risks. For Total, the partnership gives it a solid footing in field developments, including the offshore Santos basin.

Total's fourth quarter adjusted net income was up 16 percent year-on-year, though full-year income was down 21 percent from 2015. This week, the company said it was capitalizing on improved energy market conditions by selling off mature assets in Gabon, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, to Anglo-French company Perenco for $350 million.

Petrobras said in 2015 that it aims to move past a "sad chapter" after taking a massive loss in a graft scandal. In December, after selling off some of its subsidiaries in Mexico for a combined value of $385 million, the company said its divestment program was about $1 billion short of the target for the year.



Oil prices inch up cautiously in data waiting game

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
New York (UPI) Mar 1, 2017 - Crude oil prices fought off competing production narratives in early Wednesday trading to inch higher, but U.S. supply data could set the tone later in the day.

Crude oil prices moved in wide swings Tuesday, the last trading day for February, as markets continued to search for clear direction. Gains in U.S. crude oil production are offsetting efforts by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance an oversupplied market with managed production declines.

Saudi Arabia is leading the pack among OPEC members with declines, though production from outside the group, notably from Russia, has been relatively stable since the start of the year. Russia is party to the OPEC agreements that triggered the managed declines, though its contribution has been relatively fluid as it has many players in the oil game.

Meanwhile, production from the North Sea, a waning area for producers, is up for the second year in a row. A research note from broker PVM finds operating costs are substantially lower than three years ago.

Crude oil prices moved up only marginally as traders waited for formal supply data from the U.S. government. The price for Brent crude oil was up 0.44 percent about a half hour before the start of trading in New York to $56.76 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark price for oil, was up 0.37 percent to $54.21 per barrel.

Data from the American Petroleum Institute found U.S. crude oil inventories increased 2.5 million barrels for the week ending Feb. 24. If confirmed by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, that could indicate supply strains are building, though storage data may be skewed as U.S. refineries start shifting operations to make a summer blend of gasoline.

Elsewhere, U.S. supermajor Exxon Mobil said Wednesday it plans to spend about $22 billion this year, a 16 percent increase from last year. Total spending on things like exploration through the rest of the decade will average $25 billion per year and production growth could be as high as 750,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Crude oil prices have traded in a narrow band around $55 per barrel for most of the year despite wide swings in day-to-day levels. Moody's Investors Service said early in the day it was maintaining a forecast for both Brent and WTI at between $40 and $60 per barrel.



What about offshore, oil industry asks Trump

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Mar 1, 2017 - Despite general White House support for the oil and gas sector, a trade group said more than 90 percent of the reserves offshore remain off limits to producers.

In his first address to Congress as president, Donald Trump highlighted an economic policy that emphasized American-made growth.

"We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access pipelines," he said. "And I've issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel."

Trump has already signed executive measures that called for a fast-track approval process for pipelines that would feed U.S. export hubs on the southern coast. Both pipelines stalled under Trump's predecessor.

Randall Luthi, the president of the National Ocean Industries Association, praised the president for his ambitious agenda on U.S. oil and natural gas. A robust U.S. energy industry, Luthi said, would create "thousands" of potential new jobs while at the same time generating "billions" of dollars of new government revenue.

"However, there is much work to be done, and undone, before we can unlock our offshore resource," he said in a statement. "Due to federal actions of the past eight years, nearly 94 percent of our nation's offshore resources are off limits to oil and gas exploration and development."

As part of a joint move in December with the Canadian government, U.S. President Barack Obama used his authority under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to ban oil and gas work in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the coast of Alaska, as well as Atlantic coast areas.

A report from the federal U.S. government said Arctic basins in particular may be attractive to explorers. Those basins hold about 22 percent of the world's undiscovered conventional oil and natural gas resources, though developing them is costly to the point that work is prohibitive.

Federal U.S. estimates find total oil production from the Gulf of Mexico, meanwhile, is expected at 1.63 million barrels per day this year, down 100,000 bpd from previous estimates. Next year, production grows to 1.77 million bpd, lower than previous estimates by 90,000 bpd.

From the environmental side of the energy debate, Greenpeace Executive Director Annie Leonard said Trump was threatening the rights of indigenous Americans and clean water with his approval for Dakota Access, a pipeline that was the target of months of protests in North Dakota.

"Trump claimed tonight that he wants to help communities in the United States, but what he won't acknowledge is how his policies and his words are already having a devastating impact," she said in a statement.

Overall, the American Petroleum Institute, an oil and gas trade group, said the U.S. energy sector supports three times as many jobs as renewable energy. By her records, Abigail Ross-Hopper, the CEO and president of the Solar Energy Industries Association and former U.S. federal offshore regulator, one out of every 50 new jobs created in the United States last year came from solar energy industries.



New Norwegian Sea drilling expected

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
Stavanger, Norway (UPI) Mar 1, 2017 - Statoil was granted preliminary approval to start a new drilling campaign near an existing oil and gas field in the Norwegian Sea, the government said.

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate granted Statoil the license to use a deepwater drilling rig for an appraisal well about 6 miles southwest of the Norne field.

"The permit is contingent upon the operator securing all other permits and consents required by other authorities prior to commencing drilling activity," the regulator said.

Norne became a gas exporter to the European market in 2001 and was the first reserve area on the Norwegian continental shelf to use a production ship. When the first production licenses were granted in the late 1980s, Statoil said production costs were among the lowest globally offshore operations.

Twelve people died after a helicopter crashed in 1997 on its way to the Norne production ship.

Statoil is Norway's leading energy company and almost all of Norway's oil and natural gas offshore is exported to the European economy, which is eager to secure more reserves as it looks to break Russia's grip on the energy sector.

The latest figures from the Norwegian government show total preliminary production figures for January at about 2 percent less than December, though total gas sales were higher.

A January review of the European energy market from S&P Global Platts found gas demand for the European Union increased about 6 percent from 2015.



After oil deal, Russia backs Libyan autonomy

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
Moscow (UPI) Mar 1, 2017 - Weeks after wading into its oil sector, and on the eve of a state visit, a Kremlin spokesman said Libya should be free from foreign intervention.

"Russia would like Libya to once again become a full-fledged state after a barbarous foreign interference in this its internal affairs which led to disastrous consequences as far as the existence of the Libyan state and the future of the Libyan people go," Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters.

Libya is recovering from years of civil conflict after a NATO-led offensive following an uprising against the regime of Moammar Gadhafi. This year, Austrian energy company OMV said the political and national security situation in Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, had improved enough to start production at two of the country's larger oil fields.

After meeting with the head of Russian oil company Rosneft in London last year, the director of the National Oil Corp. of Libya said a joint deal laid the foundation for a Russian role in the country's oil sector. Rosneft is going through privatization, but remains partially owned by the Russian government.

"Working with NOC, Rosneft and Russia can play an important and constructive role in Libya," NOC Chairman Mustafa Sanalla said at the time.

Libya is exempt from an OPEC-led effort to offset an oversupplied market with managed production declines. Its crude oil production of 675,000 barrels per day in January is well below historic peaks, but 10 percent higher than the previous month.

Libyan government officials are expected in Moscow later this week. Peskov said there are no plans for an official visit between them and Putin.

"We are interested in the early restoration of strong power in Libya so that the process of restoring the state could begin," he said.



Iran inks oil agreements with Austria

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
Vienna (UPI) Mar 1, 2017 - An Iranian leader reached an agreement with his Austrian counterparts to cooperate on oil field development, Iranian state media reported.

The official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that Sorena Sattari, a vice president for science and technology for Iran, is on a state visit to Vienna.

"According to Parviz Karami, an advisor to Sattari, five agreements on science and technology as well as documents on bilateral cooperation in the fields of oil and modern energies have been signed by the two sides," IRNA reported.

OMV is one of the early movers back into the Iranian energy sector among European companies. The company in January signed new arrangements for potential work with Iran's Dana Energy Co., a player in exploration and development.

In January, the Iranian Oil Ministry included OMV on a list of 29 foreign oil and gas companies that are qualified to take part in any upcoming tenders for exploration and production. European companies like OMV and French supermajor Total waded into the Iranian energy sector early by signing agreements last year.

Iran is the only member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries allowed to produce more oil under the terms of an agreement meant to offset the supply-side strains that pushed crude oil prices to historic lows last year.

An overview of the ease of doing business in Iran from the British government finds the Islamic republic is "the biggest new market to enter the global economy" in more than a decade.

The Iranian vice president's advisor said the visit to Vienna was in line with a five-year plan to stimulate bilateral cooperation.



Italian energy company Eni recovers after spending cuts

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
Milan, Italy (UPI) Mar 1, 2017 - Italian energy company Eni said it managed to turn a corner after trimming investments last year to turn in its first quarterly profit in more than a year.

"The 2016 results mark the successful conclusion of a radical transformation process," CEO Claudio Descalzi said in a statement. "Over the past three years, Eni has restructured to withstand one of the most complex environments in the history of the oil industry, while strengthening its growth prospects and preserving a robust balance sheet."

Eni reported a net profit of $484 million during the fourth quarter, a year after taking an adjusted net loss of nearly $320 million.

The company is coming off a string of successes. In February, the company said it started production at an oil facility off the coast of Angola in record-setting fashion. Its East Hub project in deep Angolan waters utilizes an offshore floating production vessel and is capable of generating up to 80,000 barrels of oil per day.

In December, the company secured the bulk of the new exploration and production concessions offered by the Egyptian government during the latest bidding round. Eni made its first gas discovery in the Zohr field in August 2015 and quickly described it as the largest ever made in regional waters and potentially the largest in the world.

In a strategic plan for the period ending in 2020, Eni said it estimated its production would increase 3 percent per year for the period. Most of that would come from new projects and optimization from assets already in service, despite a plan to cut capital spending on exploration by 10 percent.

"Exploration remains a fundamental value driver for the company," Descalzi said. "Throughout the plan, Eni expects to deliver new discoveries of 2-3 billion barrels of oil equivalent, almost two times the discoveries of the previous plan, by drilling around 120 wells in more than 20 countries."



New offshore contract for struggling Subsea 7

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
London (UPI) Feb 28, 2017 - Subsea 7, a company offering service support for oil and gas field development, said it landed a contract of at least $50 million for offshore Australia.

The company, which has its headquarters in the United Kindgom, announced a contract from Cooper Energy Ltd. that was valued at between $50 million and $150 million to help develop the Sole gas field off the coast of Victoria.

Andy Woolgar, a managing director for the region for Subsea 7, said the contract shows his company's competence in pipeline installations and other offshore infrastructure requirements.

"We look forward to leveraging this established and proven record in pipeline fabrication and offshore installation to help Cooper Energy as it develops its offshore gas resources," he said in a statement.

The contract is indicative of recovery in spending on exploration and production that's followed stabilizing crude oil prices. A decision by members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to cap output at 32.5 million barrels of oil per day set a tacit floor under oil prices at $50 per barrel.

Subsea 7 entered June with an announcement that a contract for offshore Brazil was canceled about six months early, leaving it without a day-rate contract in one of the more vibrant offshore sectors.

Last year's downturn forced many in the industry to cut back on spending and lay off staff. Royal Dutch Shell trimmed more than 2,000 jobs from its payrolls last year as the industry struggles to move through the downturn.

Citing "difficult" market conditions in the middle of 2016, Subsea 7 cut its labor force by more than 1,200 in an effort to adjust to the new market era of lower oil prices.



Gas prices steady before seasonal spike

‎Thursday, ‎March ‎2, ‎2017, ‏‎10:44:48 AMGo to full article
Washington (UPI) Feb 28, 2017 - U.S. retail gasoline prices are following oil markets by staying more or less even, but that will change mid-March with a new blend of gas, analysis finds.

Motor club AAA reports a national average retail price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline at $2.28 for Tuesday morning, a price point that's fluctuated by fractions of a percentage point for most of February.

Crude oil prices account for most of what shows up at the pump for consumers and those markets have been relatively stable despite wide day-to-day movements. The price for Brent crude oil, the global benchmark, started February at $55.79 per barrel and was trading at around $55.75 per barrel in early morning trading.

Crude oil prices are trading in a narrow band around $55 per barrel amid competing narratives on the global market. Members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries put a set limit on overall production to offset an oversupplied market. That move pulled crude oil above $50 per barrel last year, but also improved the economics in expensive areas like U.S. shale and U.S. oil production has increased in response.

On the refinery side, federal data show the West Coast market is tight with gasoline inventory levels dropping. AAA in a market report said the West Coast remains the most expensive market in the country because of lingering maintenance issues at area refineries. Drivers in California are paying the most for gas in the Lower 48 at $2.94 per gallon.

The Great Lakes region, meanwhile, maintains its claim to the most volatile market in the country, with Indiana posting a weekly decline in gas prices at 10 cents per gallon and Ohio posting a 7 cent increase per gallon.

"Regional pump prices will likely remain volatile in the coming weeks as refiners begin to make the switch from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline," AAA reported.

The summer blend of gasoline is more expensive to make because more environmental steps are necessary to counter higher evaporation and emissions during warm summer months.

A federal report form early February predicted a national average price of $2.27 per gallon for this month and $2.33 for March. For the year, the government expects a national average of $2.39 per gallon.



Dakota pipeline work resumes, US tribe heads to court

‎Sunday, ‎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

‎Sunday, ‎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

‎Sunday, ‎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

‎Sunday, ‎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

‎Sunday, ‎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

‎Sunday, ‎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

‎Sunday, ‎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

‎Sunday, ‎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

‎Sunday, ‎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

‎Sunday, ‎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








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