Tag: brief

Argentina’s YPF finalizes deal with Statoil to develop Vaca Muerta

19 Jan 2018   Argentina

Argentina’s state-run energy company YPF said Thursday it has finalized a deal with Norway’s Statoil to jointly explore and develop a block targeting Vaca Muerta, the country’s largest shale play. Statoil will take a 50% stake in Bajo del Toro, a 38,800-acre block in the southwestern province of Neuquen, home to most of the play’s acreage, YPF said in a filing with the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange. YPF said it will retain the rest of the shares in the block and continue as the operator. The companies first agreed to the project last August, pending further evaluation on both sides. The final step now is for YPF to get approval from the Neuquen government to farm in 50% of Bajo del Toro to Statoil, YPF said. It did not say how long this could take. Once the project starts, Statoil will pay $30 million to YPF and handle the […]

China’s major coal province to cut 23 million tonnes of capacity in 20

19 Jan 2018   China

China’s Shanxi province, responsible for about a quarter of the country’s total coal output, will cut its production capacity by 23 million tonnes this year as part of its efforts to streamline the sector, it said on Friday. Shanxi, which produced 832 million tonnes of coal in 2016, has been part of a national campaign to reduce coal capacity by around 500 million tonnes over the 2016-2020 period in order to bolster prices and improve efficiency in the sector.  In a report published on its official website, the northern Chinese province said it would intensify a restructuring program this year and try to shut down or consolidate mines with an annual production capacity of less than 600,000 tonnes.  Citing an official with the province’s land and resources office, the report said Shanxi had canceled 56 coal mining licenses in the past five years, resulting in production capacity cuts of 51 million tonnes per year.

TransCanada says Keystone XL interest strong enough to proceed

19 Jan 2018   Canada, Pipelines

Pipeline company TransCanada said Thursday that commercial commitments for about 60 percent of the capacity for its Keystone XL pipeline is enough to proceed. The company said it concluded the open season for commercial commitments to fill the Keystone XL pipeline. With 500,000 barrels per day in firm commitments for the next 20 years, TransCanada said the proposed project was positioned to proceed. “Interest in the project remains strong and TransCanada will look to continue to secure additional long-term contracted volumes,” the company stated. The announcement on commercial commitments is unchanged from a third quarter update. The 20-year commitments represent about 60 percent of the total design capacity. Referencing long-standing concerns about the Sandhills region in […]

Florida Democrat plays hardball on Trump’s offshore drilling plan

19 Jan 2018   Offshore

A Florida senator at the heart of the pushback on President Trump’s offshore drilling plans said he was blocking federal appointments in a move for clarity. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said he placed a hold on three nominees for positions in the Interior Department until Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke submits a new draft of a five-year lease plan for offshore drilling that preserves a moratorium on drilling in the eastern waters of the Gulf of Mexico. “In placing a hold on the nominees, Nelson has blocked the Senate from approving their nominations by a procedure known as ‘unanimous consent’ — or passage without a […]

Keystone XL Pipeline Obtains Enough Shipper Commitments to Proceed

19 Jan 2018   Pipelines

TransCanada still needs easements from landowners in the state and must secure water-crossing permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. TORONTO— TransCanada Corp. TRP 0.25% said on Thursday it has received enough commitments from oil shippers for its Keystone XL pipeline expansion and that work on the controversial project could begin in 2019. Oil companies are on board to ship 500,000 barrels a day for 20 years, “positioning the proposed project to proceed,” TransCanada said, but a spokesman said the company still hasn’t made a “final investment decision” on the project. The extension lacks key permits and remains bogged down in court in Nebraska. TransCanada still needs easements from landowners in the state and must secure water-crossing permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Calgary-based company also needs land rights and construction approvals from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the spokesman said, adding that there […]

API’s Jack Gerard to Step Down

19 Jan 2018   USA

After serving for 10 years as president and CEO of the API, Jack Gerard is calling it quits. Jack Gerard will step down as president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API), a national trade association which represents all aspects of the oil and natural gas industry, in August 2018. Gerard, who spent 10 years at the helm, will continue in his role and assist in the search for a new CEO until his contract expires in August. During his time as CEO, API saw its membership grow by almost 50 percent. “Serving the oil and natural gas industry during this historic time, when an American energy renaissance has made the U.S. the world’s leading producer and refiner of oil and natural gas, has been among the most fulfilling professional experiences of my career,” Gerard said. “I’m ready for my next challenge and want to ensure that API […]

2017 Was One of the Hottest Years on Record. And That Was Without El Niño.

19 Jan 2018   Climate

The world in 2017 saw some of the highest average surface temperatures ever recorded, surprising scientists who had expected sharper retreat from recent record years. Scientists at NASA on Thursday ranked last year as the second-warmest year since reliable record-keeping began in 1880, trailing only 2016. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses a different analytical method, ranked it third, behind 2016 and 2015. What made the numbers unexpected was that last year had no El Niño, a shift in tropical Pacific weather patterns that is usually linked to record-setting heat and that contributed to record highs the previous two years. In fact, last year should have benefited from a weak version of the opposite phenomenon, La Niña, which is generally associated with lower atmospheric temperatures. “This is the new normal,” said Gavin A. Schmidt, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies , the NASA group that […]

The planet just had its hottest 4 years in recorded history. Trump is dismantling efforts to fight climate change.

19 Jan 2018   Climate

2017 was among the hottest years ever recorded, government scientists reported Thursday. The year was the second-hottest in recorded history, NASA said, while scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 2017 was the third-warmest they have ever recorded. The two government agencies use different methodologies to calculate global temperatures, but by either standard, the 2017 results make the past four years the hottest period in their 138-year archive. “The planet is warming remarkably uniformly,” Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, told reporters Thursday. The renewed evidence of climate change, driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, comes as the Trump administration moves to open new areas for oil drilling and rolls back regulations that sought to reduce global warming, most prominently by moving to repeal the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The administration said it would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement last […]

ISO-New England: Maintaining reliability will become challenging as gas dependence rises

19 Jan 2018   USA

A new report from the ISO New England concludes the region’s dependence on natural gas could create serious problems in the event of a fuel shortage; as more gas-fired power plants come online the situation is likely to become more apparent. The study considered almost two dozen scenarios that included winter-long outages at four major energy facilities in the region and several other variables. The report concludes all but four scenarios result in fuel shortages requiring rolling blackouts. The results show that “trends affecting New England’s power system may intensify the region’s fuel-security risk,” the ISO concluded. Dive Insight: A recent coal snap that left the East Coast struggling with bitter temperatures illustrates much of the issue detailed in New England’s new report. In the northern United States, generators were forced to turn to coal and fuel oil to maintain supply, though regional grid operators were able […]

$70 Oil Cripples European Refiners

19 Jan 2018   Europe, Prices

In the latest indication of the strength of the recovery of global oil prices, European refineries are struggling to pay their crude bills as margins decline and demand weakens for some of their products, Bloomberg reports . The profit curve for fuel oil, used by shippers and power stations, has fallen the most dramatically. High inflows of diesel in the Middle East are making that fuel difficult to bank on as well. As a result of the capital crunch, refinery runs could become shorter, KBC Advanced Technologies, a research firm in the sector, says, though part of these fluctuations are owed to normal seasonal tendencies. “Oil demand usually slackens in the first quarter and into the second quarter, so sooner or later refinery intakes will have to slacken and the usual signal for that is lower margins,” KBC chief economist Stephen George said. The timing of the revised production […]

Shell, ITM Power to build world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis plant in Germany; €20M REFHYNE project

Shell and ITM Power will build the world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis plant at Rhineland refinery, Germany. With a peak capacity of 10 megawatts, the hydrogen will be used for the processing and upgrading of products at the refinery’s Wesseling site as well as testing the technology and exploring application in other sectors. The European partner consortium of Shell, ITM Power, SINTEF, thinkstep and Element Energy has now secured €10 million (US$12.2 million) in funding from the European Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH) for this project, which is labeled REFHYNE . The project’s total investment, including integration into the refinery, is approximately €20 million. Currently the Rheinland refinery, Germany’s largest, requires approximately 180,000 tons of hydrogen annually. The electrolyzer will provide bulk quantities of hydrogen to the refinery’s hydrogen pipeline system (currently supplied by two steam methane reformers). The new facility will be able to […]

Troubled Waters: Egypt and Ethiopia Wrangle Over Nile Dam

18 Jan 2018   Egypt, Ethiopia

The world’s longest river, a lifeline for hundreds of millions of people, is also fast becoming a fault line. Ethiopia’s ambitious $4.2 billion hydroelectric dam project on the Nile River’s main tributary is raising tensions with Egypt over how to share the essential resource, and exposing the rivalry between Cairo and an ascendant Addis Ababa for regional power. The main point of contention is Ethiopia’s plan to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s 74-billion-cubic-meter reservoir within three years of the dam’s planned completion in 2019—a pace that downstream Egypt argues will leave water levels in its floodplain dangerously low. “Egypt cannot live without the Nile,” Mohamed Abdel-Ati, Egypt’s minister of irrigation and water resources, said last month. “Egypt understands Ethiopia’s right to development but Ethiopia has to prove, practically, that the dam won’t harm Egypt.” Down Stream Ethiopia is building a hydroelectric dam on the Nile River’s main tributary, […]

Exxon Mobil signs deal for deepwater oil exploration off Ghana

18 Jan 2018   Ghana

Exxon Mobil Corp signed a deal with Ghana on Thursday to explore for oil in the Deepwater Cape Three Point offshore (DWCTP) oilfield. The signing followed direct negotiations between Ghana and Exxon Mobil without an open competitive tender due to the nature of the field, where the depth ranges from 2,000 to 4,000 meters, Ghanaian officials said. Ghana, which exports cocoa and gold, began commercial production of oil from its flagship Jubilee reserves in late 2010. Other firms drilling in the West African country include UK’s Tullow oil and Kosmos Energy. The Exxon Mobil deal is the first to be signed after the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea last September drew an ocean boundary favoring Ghana in a dispute with its neighbor Ivory Coast. Exxon Mobil, lead operator, holds an 80-percent interest in the DWCTP, while state-run Ghana National Petroleum Corporation holds 15 […]

Colombia’s Crude Exports Fall Amid Unrest

18 Jan 2018   Colombia

Crude exports out of Colombia in recent years have averaged just over 600,000 barrels per day, with exports typically highest in January, before gradually descending through the year. To start this year, however, export volumes have dropped off considerably, as unrest rises up in the country once more. Exports are currently at 540,000 bpd so far this month, considerably adrift of year-ago levels: (Click to enlarge) The drop in exports comes amid the end of a temporary ceasefire between the Colombian government and the National Liberation Army (ELN), which expired last Tuesday (January 9) after 101 days. A number of attacks on energy infrastructure across the country have subsequently followed, as well as kidnapping . We have issued a number of impact alerts to our clients in the last week highlighting the most pertinent events. The Caño Limón – Coveñas pipeline experienced multiple attacks on January 10. The Caño […]

Shady triangle: Southeast Asia’s illegal fuel market

18 Jan 2018   Singapore

An alleged oil heist in Singapore that has already led to 20 arrests, the seizure of at least one tanker and allegations that thieves siphoned thousands of tonnes of fuel from Shell’s biggest refinery is shining a spotlight on an illegal trade worth tens of billions of dollars worldwide. Working routes in a triangle of sea anchored by Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore and encompassing the oil facilities of Malaysia, the smugglers take advantage of a difficult-to-patrol sea and enticing black market prices, experts say. The suspects in the latest case are accused of stealing oil from Royal Dutch Shell’s ( RDSa.L ) Pulau Bukom refinery, often during business hours, and distributing it around the region. Several of the men charged worked for Shell. Employees of a major Singaporean fuel trading company and a London-listed business that inspects and certifies cargos have also been charged. “Siphoning off […]

Pipeline Builders Try New Growth Strategy: Bigger Pipes

18 Jan 2018   Pipelines, USA

An effort by Energy Transfer Partners LP to expand its Mariner East 2 pipeline ran into local resistance, and Pennsylvania authorities halted construction earlier this month. Some of North America’s biggest new pipeline projects are already in the ground. As environmentalists and local activists make it extraordinarily difficult to build new oil and gas lines, energy companies are working around the opposition by supersizing old pipes that already crisscross parts of the continent. Executives at some of the biggest pipeline operators in the U.S. and Canada, including Enbridge Inc. ENB 0.08% and Kinder Morgan Inc., KMI 0.93% say they pivoted to the strategy as plans for new pipelines came under attack. For decades, new pipeline projects rarely drew attention, much less ire. “We used to just show up with a map,” said Al Monaco, president and chief executive of Enbridge. “Now we engage with the local communities and indigenous […]

IEA: Don’t Expect Much Oil From Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Before 2030

18 Jan 2018   Arctic

Despite the fact that part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been declared open to drilling, low oil prices and abundance of onshore shale deposits makes the Arctic currently less attractive for development, the Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), Fatih Birol, has told a U.S. Senate committee, adding that he didn’t expect substantial volumes of oil from that region before 2030 . “With the current context, it will be difficult to believe that there will be a substantial amount of oil production coming from that region before 2030, unless we see some surprises in the markets,” Birol told the Senate panel, as carried by Axios. “We’re going to start drilling in ANWR — one of the largest oil reserves in the world — that for 40 years this country was unable to touch,” U.S. President Donald Trump said after the passing of the tax […]

Trump’s Offshore Oil Plan Will Struggle to Lure Rigs From Guyana

18 Jan 2018   Guyana

A string of major discoveries offshore Guyana has drawn hundreds of millions of dollars in a quest for crude. (Bloomberg) — The world’s hottest offshore prospect for oil companies is off the coast of Guyana, where a string of major discoveries has drawn hundreds of millions of dollars in a quest for crude. The Trump administration is hoping to lure some of that investment to the U.S. with a proposal to sell leases in almost every inch of the nation’s outer continental shelf — including territory hugging the U.S. East Coast that share characteristics with Guyana, a tiny South American country. Geologists speculate that those U.S. waters could hold an equally tantalizing amount of crude oil and natural gas. But oil companies may not be willing to endure the high production costs and public opposition to find out. Gushers of litigation are more likely than gushers of oil. “The […]

New York City Will Divest Pension Funds from Fossil Fuel Companies

18 Jan 2018   USA

Today New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a goal to divest New York City’s pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years. This makes New York the first major American city to announce such a move. According to a statement, the city’s five pension funds have approximately $5 billion invested in over 190 fossil fuel companies. “New York City is standing up for future generations by becoming the first major U.S. city to divest our pension funds from fossil fuels,” said Mayor de Blasio. “At the same time, we’re bringing the fight against climate change straight to the fossil fuel companies that knew about its effects and intentionally misled the public to protect their profits.” Mayor de Blasio explained how the city was “bringing the fight” when he also announced the city will be suing the five largest investor-owned fossil fuel companies — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, […]

U.S. crude exports expected to strengthen in 2018 amid robust demand

18 Jan 2018   exports, USA

U.S. crude exports should jump this year, driven by robust demand from customers in Europe and Asia, analysts and traders said on Wednesday at an energy conference in Houston. Exports could reach 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) this year, up about 45 percent over last year, on rising refining and petrochemical demand for U.S. light sweet crudes, according to consultancy Energy Aspects. “The second half of the year is when (oil) production growth overwhelms,” said Amrita Sen, co-founder and chief oil analyst at Energy Aspects. “Gulf Coast exports will be strong,” she said in remarks at the Argus Americas Crude Summit. Greater integration between refining and petrochemical operations is one driver of demand for the nation’s oil, she said. Another is specification changes in refined fuels, such as the International Maritime Organization’s sulfur reduction mandate for marine fuels, according to Sen. “We are going to […]

Scott Pruitt Aims to Accelerate His Efforts to Remake the EPA

18 Jan 2018   USA

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt plans to use his second year on the job to accelerate efforts to remake the agency, saying he wants to speed its permitting processes and transform a culture he says is bureaucratic.  In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Pruitt outlined the changes he is looking to make in year two: repealing and rewriting Obama-era rules for power plant emissions, speeding up the EPA’s permit review process, implementing weekly performance assessments across the agency and fostering a public debate about climate change.

Mr. Pruitt has long questioned the scientific consensus that human activities are a significant factor in rising global temperatures and severe weather, and pose a potential existential threat to life on Earth in decades to come.  Discussing his plans for the year, Mr. Pruitt emphasized the importance of moving quickly. “There’s tremendous opportunity to show really significant results to the American people in a really short time frame,” Mr. Pruitt said.

In his first year on the job, the former Oklahoma attorney general swiftly repealed several of former President Barack Obama’s signature policies and encouraged President Donald Trump to pursue a withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. Mr. Trump announced his intention to exit from the agreement in June.  Mr. Pruitt has memorialized the moment in his office with a framed photo of the two of them in the Rose Garden and the president’s autograph on Mr. Pruitt’s prepared remarks, “Scott—Great Job!”  Going forward, Mr. Pruitt wants to use metrics to measure the weekly performance of every EPA office and wants final permit decisions completed within six months. He already has a multicolored pyramid diagram outlining his plan to streamline the agency’s bureaucracy and organizational workflow.

US uranium producers seek Trump action to restrict imports

18 Jan 2018   Nuclear

Two US uranium producers are asking President Donald Trump to crack down on imports from Russia and central Asia in the name of US national security, arguing the country has lost its ability to meet the needs of its nuclear weapons stockpile, naval vessels, and power plants.  In a petition filed with the US commerce department, Energy Fuels and Ur-Energy said the US industry had been decimated by competition from state-backed producers in Kazakhstan, Russia and Uzbekistan. They also warned that China was emerging as an increasingly important uranium producer and exporter.

The step comes just weeks after the Trump administration labeled China and Russia as the US’s two major rivals in a National Security Strategy and as Mr Trump gears up to announce new trade measures against Beijing.  It coincides with recent moves by Washington that have benefited the uranium mining industry, including a move to scale back the size of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah which has a number of uranium mines abutting it.  It also comes amid a continuing firestorm in conservative media over what Mr Trump and others have alleged was rival Hillary Clinton’s role in helping to approve the 2010 sale of major domestic producer Uranium One to Russia’s Rosatom. Investors in Rosatom had made donations to the Clinton Foundation.

PG&E launches new $130M program to accelerate EV adoption in Northern and Central California; 7,500 chargers

18 Jan 2018   Electric Cars

To help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles in California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has launched its new EV Charge Network program. Partnering with business customers and EV charging companies, PG&E will install 7,500 EV chargers at condominiums, apartment buildings and workplaces across Northern and Central California, including at sites in disadvantaged communities. Under the EV Charge Network program, PG&E will pay for and build all electric service infrastructure requirements from the transformer to the EV parking space, which often accounts for 60% to 80% of the total project cost, for participating sites. PG&E will also provide a subsidy to the participant for the EV charger equipment costs. Participants in the EV Charge Network program choose whether they wish to bill drivers for using the charging stations, or they can offer the service free-of-charge to drivers. They can also establish access rules to the EV chargers through […]

German offshore wind farm closer to powering mainland

18 Jan 2018   Germany, Wind

Construction of a wind farm in the German waters of the Baltic Sea, set to supply power for 400,000 homes, is ahead of schedule, the head company said. German utility E.ON said Wednesday that construction of its Arkona wind farm is moving into its second phase a bit early, with the 60 foundations already set in place for their Siemens turbines. The 60-turbine wind farm is set about 22 miles off the coast of Germany. Construction of the actual turbines is under way and the offshore infrastructure is set for cabling and connection to the substation. The company deployed the 60 so-called monopiles in September. Foundations for a common substation were installed the month prior and the entire project could start […]

Exploration to Increase in 2018 but Investment Constraints Remain

17 Jan 2018   Oil Supply

Exploration activity will increase in 2018, but market uncertainty and the need to manage debt levels will remain key constraints to investment. That is the view of oil and gas analysts at BMI Research, who highlighted that a recent three year downturn had forced exploration and production (E&P) companies to reduce spending and improve cost management. The sector is benefiting from a resurgence in cash flow amid higher oil prices and E&P companies are preparing to ramp up activity this year to expand their portfolio, targeting a number of new frontier markets, according to BMI. Despite increasing confidence, however, E&P companies will continue seeking a balance between increasing spending on new projects, reducing leverage and increasing shareholder distributions, BMI analysts said in a brief research note sent to Rigzone. “We believe that spending caution will prevail over the coming months as companies maintain financial discipline,” the analysts stated. BMI’s […]

2018: A Breakout Year For Clean Energy

17 Jan 2018   Renewables

There was significant progress in the transition to cleaner energy in 2017, and 2018 should see more of the same. New solar installations will top 100 GW this year, with China likely to make up about half of that total, according to a new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), which lays out some key predictions for 2018. However, beginning this year, BNEF says that new countries will become relevant in the race for clean energy, including sizable solar installations slated for Latin America, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Falling costs and proliferating installations of wind and solar are underpinning the sector’s growth. At the same time, cheaper inputs mean that developers can get more gigawatts of clean energy per dollar invested, which explains why the headline investment figure appears to not be growing by all that much. There were some eye-popping figures and notable progress […]

Sheen spreading from Chinese site of Iranian oil tanker sinking

17 Jan 2018   China, Iran

The oil slick spreading from the site of the sunken Iranian oil tanker Sanchi is getting bigger and moving north, Chinese maritime authorities said. The Chinese State Oceanic Administration said that, as of Monday, the slick was about 9 miles long extending southwest from the site off the coast of China and another 11 miles east of the site. Sheen in aerial photos published in Chinese media was patchy. The official Xinhua News Agency reported the main sheen was growing and prevailing winds and currents were pushing it north. The Sanchi was carrying about 1 million barrels of a light form of crude oil called condensate when it crashed into a Chinese freighter on Jan. […]

More resources found in gas-rich Papua New Guinea

17 Jan 2018   New Guinea

Working in a partnership with Australian and Japanese partners, Exxon Mobil said new hydrocarbons were found while drilling in gas-rich Papua New Guinea. A regional affiliate of Exxon is working in a partnership with Oil Search and JX Nippon at the P’nyang South asset. Oil Search started drilling in the petroleum license in October and Exxon said it could finally declare a discovery of hydrocarbons that extends the boundaries of an existing field. Exxon already works with the government of Papua New Guinea on plans to develop the gas discovered in the P’nyang field, situated in the country’s Western Province. The new discovery adds to the potential for natural gas and liquefied natural gas. “We are currently […]

Norway Grants Record 75 New Offshore Exploration Leases

17 Jan 2018   Norway

“The number of licenses is the highest ever awarded in a licensing round on the Norwegian continental shelf. Access to new, prospective exploration acreage is a central pillar in the government’s petroleum policy,” Energy Minister Terje Soeviknes said in a statement. Forty-five were in the North Sea, 22 in the Norwegian Sea, and eight others in the Barents Sea. Thirty-four firms were awarded leases and 19 of them earned the rights to lead their corresponding projects. Statoil, which is based in Norway, won 31 leases, while BP’s subsidiary scored 23. Thanks to costs cuts and large oil discoveries made before the oil price crash, Norway will be able to sustain its oil and gas production over the next five years. But reduced exploration drilling and lack of big discoveries in the past two years spell trouble for Western Europe’s biggest oil and gas producer after 2023, authorities […]

Shell ventures back into solar

16 Jan 2018   Solar

Royal Dutch Shell agreed on Monday to acquire a stake in a U.S. solar company, 12 years after exiting the sector, in the latest in a series of deals to grow beyond its core oil and gas business. The Anglo-Dutch company also gave the green light for its first major new project in the North Sea in six years, signaling a cautious return to spending following three years of belt tightening in the face of lower oil prices. Shell agreed to buy a 43.86 percent stake in Silicon Ranch Corporation from funds linked to Partners Group for up to $217 million. It follows on the heels of British rival BP, which last month also re-entered the solar sector with the $200 million investment in Lightsource. Nashville, Tennessee-based Silicon Ranch develops, owns and operates solar plants across the United States with a capacity of 880 megawatts. Shell […]

Shell Bids a Long Goodbye to Middle Eastern Oil

Royal Dutch Shell RDS.B 1.35% PLC is giving up on its last oil fields in Iraq, leaving the world’s second-biggest oil company with a dwindling footprint in the Middle East—a region it helped build into a petroleum powerhouse. Shell said Monday it is selling for an undisclosed amount a stake in the West Qurna 1 oil field in Iraq to Japan’s Itochu Corp. ITOCY 0.77% , the latest step in a gradual retreat from the region. The company is also expected to give up its holding in Iraq’s Majnoon oil field later this year, though it will retain its natural-gas interests in the country. Shell’s departure from Iraqi oil assets marks one of the final chapters in a slow pullback from the Middle East’s vast fields of petroleum. Shell pumped as much as 450,000 barrels of oil in […]

Morocco Prepares $4.6B Gas Project Tender

16 Jan 2018   Morocco

Morocco is preparing to launch a tender for a natural gas project worth US$4.6 billion, the country’s Energy Minister Aziz Rabbah said in a Bloomberg interview. The gas will be used for power generation, he added. The project will involve the construction of a gas processing plant, Rabbah also said, noting that the government has already selected the financial and technical consultants for the undertaking. Morocco has proved reserves of some 1.44 billion cubic meters of natural gas, according to the CIA World Factbook, with production at less than 100 million cu m as of 2015. There are hopes, however, that it could become an international player on the gas market. One UK company is so optimistic about Morocco’s natural gas production potential that it last year even started divesting from other locations to focus its attention on Morocco. Sound Energy said last October that it would focus exclusively […]

Total plants flag offshore Brazil

16 Jan 2018   Brazil, France

French energy company Total said it’s now a premier player in the oil basins off the coast of Brazil after finalizing a partnership with a state energy company. Total and state-controlled Petróleo Brasileiro, known commonly as Petrobras, announced Monday they finalized a $1.95 billion strategic partnership that gives the French company at least 20 percent of the rights to licenses in the lucrative Santos oil basin off of Brazil’s coast. Using floating production vessels, Total said it’s gained a stake in four fields that could combine for 250,000 barrels of oil production per day. About 100,000 bpd is already in production and the rest is expected to come on line gradually through 2019. Much of the oil from the offshore basins is […]

ELN Attacks Another Colombian Pipeline As Ceasefire Ceases

16 Jan 2018   Colombia

Colombia’s Transandino pipeline stopped operating on Sunday after a bomb planted by ELN rebels caused a crude spill into a nearby river, according to a joint announcement by Ecopetrol and the military. The National Liberation Army (ELN) is reported to be restarting its militancy against state forces and oil infrastructure after the end of a critical ceasefire to facilitate talks that would end 53 years of war. The bomb on the 306-kilometer pipeline exploded late Saturday in the Narino provice, but has not affected exports so far. Crude production near the Colombian border is also steady despite the attack on the 85,000-bpd line, the government said. Official estimates say ELN still has the backing of 2,000 fighters, who have killed two police officers and a soldier since January 9. An Ecopetrol contractor repairing damage to the Cano-Limon pipeline has also been missing since Saturday. The military suspects that the […]

Utility Jobs Lost as New Power Plants Need Fewer Workers

16 Jan 2018   USA

It generally takes five times as many coal mining and power plant workers to generate a megawatt hour of electricity as wind-farm operators, according to BW Research Partnership, an economic and workforce consultancy. As coal and nuclear power plants around the U.S. close due to competitive pressures, the number of people employed in making electricity is shrinking. Older power plants are being retired at an unprecedented pace as power producers wage a fierce fight for market share . They are being supplanted by newer power plants fired by natural gas, as well as wind and solar farms, which often are simpler to operate and require fewer workers. The Center for Energy Workforce Development, a group backed by six major utility industry groups, estimates that total direct utility employment has fallen to 505,000 from 550,000 since 2006. That is eroding a stable source of well-paying jobs, especially in rural areas, […]

BP’s $60 Billion Gulf Spill Tab Rises as Lawsuits Wind Down

16 Jan 2018   Offshore

Company expects $1.7 billion charge in fourth-quarter results Payments from deadly accident now seen at $3 billion for 2018 BP Plc raised the amount it will pay this year for the Deepwater Horizon accident as thousands of lawsuits related to the biggest oil spill in U.S. history start to wind down. The 2010 explosion at a well in the Gulf of Mexico threatened BP’s existence after 11 people were killed and millions of barrels of oil spilled into the sea. While the latest liabilities will add to the more than $60 billion of penalties the company has already racked up, Chief Executive Officer Bob Dudley will see an end in sight to the largest court battles. The London-based company will record a new $1.7 billion charge in the fourth quarter of 2017 and pay $1 billion of that bill in 2018, it said in a statement Tuesday. The remainder […]

Major automakers urge Trump administration: don’t ditch NAFTA

16 Jan 2018   USA

Global automakers on Monday urged the Trump administration not to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement and expressed hope the United States, Canada and Mexico can successfully conclude a modernized and improved trade pact. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA) Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne, who announced last week plans to shift heavy pickup truck production from Mexico to Michigan by 2020, said he hoped the Trump administration would “retune” some of its trade talk demands. Trump has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA, which is heavily utilized by automakers that have production and supply chains spread across the three countries. Marchionne, speaking at a news conference at the Detroit auto show, said FCA’s truck production shift in part “goes a long way I think in addressing some of President Trump’s concerns about the dislocation of production capacity out of the United States.” That decision reduces the risk […]

Shell OKs first UK North Sea project in six years

16 Jan 2018   North Sea

Royal Dutch Shell gave the green light on Monday for an expansion of the Penguins oil and gas field in the UK North Sea, its first major new project in the ageing basin in six years. Shell said the development, which includes the construction of a floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel, reaffirmed the Anglo-Dutch company’s commitment to the region after it sold around half of its assets there last year. “Penguins demonstrates the importance of Shell’s North Sea assets to the company’s upstream portfolio,” said Andy Brown, director of Shell’s oil and gas production, known as upstream. The FPSO is expected to produce up to 45,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d). Shell shares were 0.3 percent lower at 1145 GMT. The Penguins redevelopment is the first major project Shell has announced since 2012, when it made a final investment decision for the […]

North Sea industries could adapt and thrive during oil field maturation

16 Jan 2018   North Sea

Tearing down the infrastructure from aging North Sea oil and gas fields could generate a stream of revenue for the industry as a whole, a consultant group said. Royal Dutch Shell started the process of taking down legacy operations at the Bravo production platform in the North Sea last year. The Bravo platform supported Brent oil field development, but was closed down in 2014. Field maturation has forced the idling of several production platforms and Shell is in the midst of a multi-million-dollar plan to take them down. The British government estimated it could cost about $77.3 billion to decommission offshore infrastructure. Energy consultancy Westwood Group said up to $100 billion in spending on […]

Norway’s $1.1 Trillion Wealth Fund Looks For Riskier Investments

16 Jan 2018   Norway

Just over a year ago we noted that, after being forced to withdraw at least $15 billion to fund 2017 budget deficits, the $860 billion Norwegian sovereign wealth fund announced that it was going all in on the global equity bubble to try to make up the difference. The change resulted in 75 percent of the fund’s capital being allocated to global equities, up from the then current 60 percent. The central bank’s board, which oversees the fund, on Thursday recommended an increase in the equity share to 75 percent from 60 percent. That will raise the expected average annual real return to 2.5 percent over 10 years and to 3.5 percent over 30 years, compared with 2.1 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, under the current setup. The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund said that it expects an annual return of only 0.25 percent on bonds over the next […]

UK power system prices go negative Sunday as wind booms, demand weakens

16 Jan 2018   United Kingdom, Wind

Higher wind generation and lower demand drove UK power system prices into negative territory over the weekend, according to traders and National Grid data. The daily minimum system sell price was minus GBP68.43/MWh at 07:30am London time Sunday, according to National Grid. Minimum SSP prices were negative in four consecutive settlement periods Sunday morning, it said. The SSP and system buy prices are calculated and published on National Grid’s website. These imbalance prices are used for the settlement of energy imbalances incurred by participants due to differences between volumes of energy a participant contracts for, and volumes actually generated or consumed. “Short answer for the negative system prices on Sunday was the wind as [National] Grid has to pay wind [farms] to turn off,” a trader said. The trader cited strong wind as well as imports from the Continent as factors driving the negative prices, adding that demand was […]

Self-driving cars raise fears over ‘weaponisation’

15 Jan 2018   China, Electric Cars

Autonomous vehicles are in danger of being turned into “weapons”, leading governments around the world to block cars operated by foreign companies, the head of Baidu’s self-driving car programme has warned. Qi Lu, chief operating officer at the Chinese internet group, said security concerns could become a problem for global carmakers and technology companies, including the US and China. “It has nothing to do with any particular government — it has to do with the very nature of autonomy,” he said on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show last week.

“You have an object that is capable of moving by itself. By definition, it is a weapon.” Increasingly, self-driving technology is seen as advancing faster than regulators can keep up with. Regional and national governments are grappling with the issue of when to allow autonomous cars on to their roads and under what conditions. Multinational companies will have a “high bar” to meet local policy requirements for autonomous driving, Mr Lu said. “The days of building a vehicle in one place and it runs everywhere are over. Because a vehicle that can move by itself by definition it is a weapon.” Baidu is investing heavily in Apollo, its open-source autonomous car software, as it looks to diversify away from its core business of internet advertising into artificial intelligence.

At CES, it unveiled Apollo 2.0, which offers improved security, alongside a new $200m fund to invest in south-east Asian efforts to improve autonomous driving. It has already agreed partnerships with US chip companies, including Intel and Nvidia, as well as American and European carmakers Ford and Daimler. In China it is working with local auto manufacturers JAC and BAIC, who plan to start producing autonomous vehicles based on Apollo as soon as next year.

Race to build a million-mile car becomes a reality

15 Jan 2018   Electric Cars

Futuristic images of cars were splashed across the Consumer Electronics Show this week, as the world’s largest tech gathering ogled the concept cars of the coming driverless era. But there is one crucial detail that was not mentioned in the fancy presentations: the new cars may need to last for a million miles. “This is a topic we are working heavily on,” says Johann Jungwirth, chief digital officer at Volkswagen.

Durability and longevity will be essential for self-driving vehicles, he explains, because they will be part of transportation fleets that are in near-constant use. “I can see the vehicle life going up to 500,000 or even 1m miles or more,” he says, adding that refurbishment programs will help extend vehicle life. “That is one criteria that is becoming more important in the future.” This shift will represent a massive disruption for carmakers, as the advent of autonomous fleets of electric vehicles has the potential to upend their traditional business models.

Ford Goes ‘All In’ on Electric Cars

15 Jan 2018   Electric Cars

Automaker swapped CEOs last year after falling behind Tesla Mach 1 SUV among 16 battery-electric vehicles planned by 2022 Ford Motor Co. will more than double spending on electrified vehicles, amplifying its investment in a segment that the auto industry sees growing from what’s now just a fraction of the market. The carmaker will shell out $11 billion bringing 40 electrified vehicles to market by 2022, Jim Farley, president of global markets, said during a presentation at the Detroit auto show. That’s up from the $4.5 billion that Ford said in late 2015 it would invest through the end of the decade. “This $11 billion you’re seeing, that means we’re all in now,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford told reporters in Detroit. “The only question is will the customers be there with us and we think they will.” After electric-vehicle darling Tesla Inc. surpassed Ford in market value last year, […]

Romania Poised To Ramp Up Gas Output

15 Jan 2018   Romania

Meanwhile, Romania, long in the shadow of European majors despite being the EU’s third-largest gas producer, is poised to step up the game and ramp up its gas output as soon as possible. While traditionally Romania has been an onshore-producing country, its Black Sea deepwater fields bid fair to finally propel the country into the club of gas exporters. This will entail overcoming numerous challenges, be it lack of infrastructure or malign government interference—how Bucharest will resolve these will predetermined its success. Romania prides itself in having an oil and gas history that goes back more than 150 years. Romania joins other nations in claiming it had built the first oil refinery ever. It also claims that Bucharest was the first city to be illuminated with kerosene lamps. By the beginning of the 20 th century, Romania was globally among the leading oil producers—the history of WWII speaks volumes […]

Rig Count Shoots Up As Oil Nears $70

13 Jan 2018   Prices, USA

The number of active oil and gas rigs rose this week, according to Baker Hughes data , increasing by 15 total rigs, bringing the total rigs to 939, which is an addition of 280 rigs year over year. The number of oil rigs in the US increased by 10, while the number of gas rigs increased by 5. The number of oil rigs stands at 752 versus 522 a year ago. The number of gas rigs in the US now stands at 187, up 136 a year ago. At 11:35am EST, the price of a WTI barrel was trading down $.34 (-0.53%) to $63.46, while the Brent barrel was trading down $0.30 (-.43%) to $68.96. Both benchmarks are up week on week, but down from Thursday levels which saw Brent over $70. This week marks four straight weeks of gains. Despite the oil price rise, US crude oil production […]

Kenya Cuts Share Of Oil Revenues To Local Communities

13 Jan 2018   Kenya

Kenya has decided to allocate 20 percent of future oil revenues to the communities where crude oil has been discovered, cutting the share from an initial proposal to give local counties and communities 30 percent of future oil income, a senior Kenyan government official told Reuters on Friday. In November 2017, Kenya planned to give 30 percent of oil revenues to the local communities, backtracking on a previous proposal to cap revenues at specific amounts in what analysts saw largely as a political move. In a first draft of the oil revenue bill, Kenya’s government had indeed proposed 30 percent of oil income to go to local governments and communities, but it later withdrew the proposed legislation, citing “typographical errors”, according to Reuters. Now Kenya plans to submit a new bill to Parliament in February, with the 20-percent oil revenue for the places where oil is located divided between […]

U.S. drillers add most oil rigs in a week since June: Baker Hughes

13 Jan 2018   Shale Oil, USA

 U.S. energy companies added 10 oil rigs this week, the biggest increase since June, as crude prices rose to their highest levels in three years, prompting drillers to return to the well pad. The total rig count rose to 752 in the week to Jan. 12, the most since September, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday. The U.S. rig count, an early indicator of future output, is much higher than a year ago when only 522 rigs were active after energy companies boosted spending plans in 2017 as crude started recovering from a two-year price crash. The increase in U.S. drilling lasted 14 months before briefly stalling in the second half of last year as some producers trimmed their 2017 spending plans after prices turned softer over the summer. “Drilling activity may not be up every week, […]

Come see how bad drilling will be for New Jersey, state tells Zinke

13 Jan 2018   Environment, USA

Visit New Jersey to hear from those that will lose out if Florida is the only state pulled from offshore drilling plans, a senator told the interior secretary. Some Republican state leaders along the eastern U.S. shore have joined the chorus of Democrats in expressing frustration with an offshore drilling program proposed last week by the U.S. Interior Department. Coming after the watering-down of safety measures enacted after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, the lease proposal drew fire when it put waters from Florida to Maine on the table after President Barack Obama called for a ban on drilling in some territorial waters in one of his last executive actions. The proposal was criticized further when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke pulled Florida from consideration after a brief meeting with Florida Gov. Rick Scott . Democrats, including Sen. Bill Nelson , D-Fla., a possible […]

Oil drillers in Canada boost rigs to 10-month high: Baker Hughes

13 Jan 2018   Canada, Shale Oil

Energy firms in Canada almost doubled the number of rigs drilling for oil this week to the highest level in 10 months as producers returned en masse from Christmas breaks and crude prices remain around three-year highs. Drillers added 87 oil rigs during the week ended Jan. 12 bringing the total count up to 185, the highest level since March 2017, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday. That was the biggest weekly increase since drillers added 89 rigs during the same week in 2017. Energy firms in both the United States and Canada have mostly increased the number of rigs operating since the summer of 2016 as U.S. crude prices climbed over the key $50 a barrel level that analysts said would prompt drillers to return to the well pad. [RIG/U] U.S. crude futures traded around $64 […]