Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych pledged a reshuffling of his embattled government Friday to ease the protests and violence rocking Kiev. The tentative deal may bring some temporary calm to Ukraine's capital, but it does little to relax the underlying tension between antigovernment protesters and Mr. Yanukovych's administration.
A continued wave of violence threatens Ukraine's role as a critical transit route for moving Russian natural gas into Europe. It could also scare off foreign investors interested in developing Ukraine's domestic supply of natural gas.
The unrest stems from disappointment with the government's inability to reach a deal to join the European Union. More recently, the ire is aimed at government corruption and strict laws aimed at curbing dissent.
But Ukraine's energy challenges underpin past instability and make a bad situation worse. By cutting a deal for discount gas with Russian President Vladimir Putin last November, Ukraine infuriated its pro-Europe contingent and entrusted its energy security to a fickle ally.
A new analysis of data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has shown that more crude oil was spilled in US rail incidents last year than during the previous 37 years, since the federal government began to collect data on rail spills.
The data suggests that in 2013 more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars. This includes the major derailment in Aliceville, Alabama on the 8th of November when 748,800 gallons spilt as the train derailed in a swampy area and burst into flames, but not yet the derailment in Casselton, North Dakota 30th of December, for which the PHMSA have yet to receive data, although it is estimated to be in the region of 400,000 gallons. Nor does this figure include spills that occurred in Canada, where the 6th of July derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec spilled an estimated 1.5 million plus gallons of crude oil.
In contrast to 2013, the total crude oil spilled from 1975, when federal records began, to 2012 was 800,000 gallons. In fact in eight of those years not one drop of crude oil was spilt, and in five only one gallon or less was spilt. (Related article: DOT-111 Safety Major Issue in Crude-By-Rail Debate) ( Continue… )
A group of energy experts released a thick report that details a laundry list of ways that the President can take executive action to push clean energy forward without the need for congressional action. Led by former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, the report published by the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE) was inspired by a meeting Ritter had with President Obama and other clean energy leaders last year, in which the President solicited advice on how he could lawfully accelerate the deployment of clean energy. Ritter’s document, “Powering Forward,” lays out over 200 recommendations.
The recommendations fall into five categories: energy efficiency; cleantech finance; natural gas production; integrating clean energy into the grid; and alternative fuels and vehicles.
RECOMMENDED: Top 10 states for clean tech
The recommendations vary from the not-very-new (use federal procurement to purchase energy efficient goods and services), the vague (streamline regulatory process X to speed up deployment of Y), and the all too often recommendation that calls for a new report that will issue future recommendations. (Related article: Harvard Research Team has Breakthrough on Battery Storage) ( Continue… )
Winter storm Janus is bringing the heaviest snowfall of the season – and some of the highest natural gas spot prices ever – to the Northeast United States.
The extreme weather shut down roads, closed schools, and grounded flights across New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, and elsewhere on the East Coast. Even as the snowfall eases, bitterly cold weather is expected to remain, which means little relief for utilities and grid operators scrambling to keep up with heating and electricity demands.
RECOMMENDED: Cheapest way to heat your home? Four fuels compared.
The supply-demand imbalance has already sent the spot price of some regions' natural gas soaring more than eight times its prestorm level. Consumers aren't likely to see a change that dramatic on their utility bills anytime soon, but these dramatic spikes do not bode well for long-term heating and electricity costs. ( Continue… )
Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said he viewed the increase in U.S. oil production as a new source of supply that will help stabilize oil markets. Oil from shale is providing a buffer against an unsteady Middle East market, but it's not too early to consider what happens to markets after the revolution.
Naimi said during a meeting in Riyadh with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz the increase in U.S. oil production was adding a level of stability to an international oil market unsettled by problems in the Middle East and North Africa.
"It is necessary to continue consultations between our two countries to expand the horizons of cooperation, including joint investments, and working with oil producing and consuming countries for the stability of the global market," a statement from the official Saudi Press Agency said. (Related article: The Fracking Revolution: Promise and Perils)
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its short-term market report that production from countries outside the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to increase by a record 1.9 million barrels per day this year. Most of that increase is expected from North America. By next year, U.S. oil production should break a 43-year-old record with 9.3 million bpd. ( Continue… )
A propane shortage in extreme cold weather Tuesday is raising concerns about rural Midwesterners who rely on the fuel to heat their homes.
Heavy snow is falling in southern Ohio and set to hit northeast Ohio while temperatures statewide are forecast to plunge to around zero overnight. The winter storm is set to raise demand for propane and heating oil, while making it difficult for truck drivers to deliver the fuel to an areas already suffering through a propane shortage.
Meanwhile, in the Northeast, utilities and grid operators are bracing for rising natural gas demand as temperatures plunge and heavy snowfall is in the forecast.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich declared a state of emergency over the weekend to expedite shipments of propane and heating oil as stretches of extreme cold have depleted supply. The declaration temporarily waives hours-of-service regulations, allowing fuel-truck drivers to work longer hours than normally permitted. Governor Kasich also called on the Ohio National Guard to assist in local efforts.
RECOMMENDED: Cheapest way to heat your home? Four fuels compared.
“This will help get propane companies resupplied so Ohioans who use propane to heat their homes can stay warm, while also doing it safely," Kasich said in a statement Saturday. "We’re also working closely with county officials to look out for people whose supplies might be getting low." ( Continue… )
Drilling for oil in California dates back to the late 19th Century, allowing it to become the country’s top producer by the beginning of the 20th. One hundred years later, California still ranks third, but its aging fields have been in decline for decades.
Yet the state is sitting atop the largest tight oil formation in the United States. The Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas may be leading the resurgence in U.S. oil production, but the reserves sitting in California’s Monterey Shale dwarf those of its more notable counterparts. The interest in the Monterey Shale is heating up, with the legislature passing a controversial law last year to put in place the state’s first regulations over hydraulic fracturing. The Director of the California Department of Conservation claims the “regulations include the strongest and most comprehensive public protections of any oil- and gas- producing state,” while still allowing the industry to move forward with drilling. (Related article: Total Prepares for $50m Investment in British Shale)
The Monterey Shale holds an estimated 13.7 billion barrels of unproven technically recoverable oil resources – about three times the reserves believed to be in the Bakken formation in North Dakota. Despite these prodigious resources, safely tapping them will be incredibly difficult. Deborah Gordon at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace outlines in an important new report several significant obstacles that may prevent a Bakken-like bonanza in California. ( Continue… )
For a while, it looked like some of the world's biggest economies might actually decouple development from ballooning energy-related greenhouse gas emissions – eeking out growth while lowering their carbon output or at least keeping it in check.
But with the global economy slowly rebounding from the Great Recession, the developed world's carbon emissions are doing the same. And they're rising as warnings about the risks of burning carbon-heavy fuels become more urgent. World leaders have 15 years to decarbonize their energy supplies before the risks of climate change become intractable, according to a newly leaked draft report from the United Nations.
The cost of renewables continues to drop, and public support for lowering carbon emissions remains strong. An unexpected technological breakthrough could rapidly accelerate a transition to clean energy. But, for now, emissions show no signs of slowing, even in places where efforts to decarbonize are strongest.
Energy policies around the world offer too much support for oil, gas, and coal, and do too little to encourage a transition to wind, solar, and other renewable energies, according to the draft UN report, which was leaked to The New York Times and Reuters. ( Continue… )
During trading on the London stock exchange Wednesday, stock in Genel Energy took a nose dive after it announced imminent exports of Kurdish oil from Turkey. While western Iraq is in the hands of al-Qaida, recent trends suggest there's no safe investment refuge even in the Kurdish north.
Genel Energy, led by former BP boss Tony Hayward, said exports of crude oil from its operations in the Kurdish region of Iraq are "expected to commence in the near future."
Last week, the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq announced it expected 2 million barrels of its crude oil would be exported from the Turkish sea port of Ceyhan by month's end. That volume should double by the end of February and eventually top the 10 million barrel mark by December. (Related article: Wave of Violence Threatens Ambitious Iraqi Oil Goals)
Hayward's company said it expected good things in Iraq following what he said was a "transformational year" for Genel Energy. A recent deal reached between the KRG and Turkey, in conjunction with the completion of an independent Kurdish oil pipeline, "has paved the way for steadily rising oil export volumes from Taq Taq and Tawke over the course of 2014." ( Continue… )
Consumer prices rose 0.3 percent in December – its highest increase since June – largely on a surprising uptick in gas prices.
Last month saw an unusually high number of drivers on the road for a time when most people are curled up by the fire. That put upward pressure on gas prices and in turn inflated the consumer price index (CPI).
Gas prices have remained largely flat since then, as the infamous polar vortex kept most of the nation indoors. But drivers could see more pain at the pump come later this month when refiners begin seasonal maintenance.
"Generally, when winter comes around people aren’t driving as much," says Michael Green, a spokesman for AAA, the national motor club based in Heathrow, Fla. "No one wants to drive when its dark and cold and icy outside, so they buy less gasoline." ( Continue… )