A Libyan defense force charged with making sure the nation's oil sector is secured said it was strengthening its lines along the western and southern borders given regional instability. A decision to use force to help ensure the territorial integrity of Mali, to Libya's south, prompted al-Qaida militants to storm a natural gas facility near the Algerian border. Libya's own energy sector is trying to recover from civil war in 2011 and oil production has since rebounded to close to pre-war levels. Libyan oil production was halted during NATO-led conflict, forcing a brief spike in crude oil prices. Should the Sahel descend into further chaos, the coming wars may be more than the international markets can handle.
France, the former colonial power, responded to a Malian request for military support to help thwart the advance of rebels from the lawless north of the country. Those rebels, some of which had fought in the Libyan conflict, claimed authority over the north of Mali after an early 2012 political coup in Bamako. The Malian conflict has since paralleled the NATO response in Libya, with African, U.S. and British engagements expected to some degree. In response, Algerian militants aligned with al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb stormed the In Amenas natural gas complex in eastern Algeria, seizing Western and Algerian employees there in one of the worst hostage situations in years.
"Due to the events in the region, the Petroleum Faculty Guard has taken a series of actions to enhance and reinforce the protection of oilfields, faculties and employees in the west and south region of Libya," the statement from the Libyan force read.(Relevant Article: Algeria Hostage Crisis - Look to Mali for Answers)
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According to the latest monthly report from OPEC, Libyan oil production as of December is about 120,000 bpd shy of its pre-war output level of 1.6 million bpd. Last month, Eni's CEO Paulo Scaroni gave the Libyan energy sector an $8-billion vote of confidence with plans for new exploration in the country over the next 10 years. The Italian government was one of the first to recognize an interim government in Libya during the war and Eni is now responsible about 30 percent of the country's energy production. ( Continue… )
In his Inauguration 2013 address Monday, President Obama may have satisfied some of those who say energy and environment issues are too-often overshadowed by the crisis du jour.
Climate change was not far behind the Inauguration 2013 speech's top-billed issues of economic collapse, a decade of war, and the debate over health care. Roughly a thousand words in, Obama made a long-term case for energy innovation, and was unequivocal in positing environmental protection as a mandate set forth by the nation's founding fathers.
"We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity," Obama said. "We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."
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The president singled out climate-change skeptics, and critics who oppose investment of taxpayer dollars in private, clean-energy companies. ( Continue… )
Iran is one of the world’s top fuel oil exporters, despite sanctions; the US is poised to overtake Saudi Arabia in terms of “hydrocarbon” production; Pakistan has enough oil to become a second Dubai …
It’s a propaganda race to see who can come out on top—at least in the media. Muddling through media reports that are definitively political along an East-West divide can be confusing. So let’s look at it without the political compass.
Last month, the US mainstream media barraged us with simplistic reports about how the US will soon be producing more oil than Saudi Arabia—making America the world’s top producer. Left out of this story was the fact that the math was a bit skewed: the US may end up producing more total hydrocarbons than Saudi Arabia soon (say, by 2020), but not crude oil, which is what really counts.
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This month, Iran joins the campaign with its own missive, courtesy of state-run media, PressTV. Iran claims to be among the world’s biggest exporters of fuel oil despite Western sanctions. (Related Article: Oil Industry Cycles Offer Good Investment Opportunities) ( Continue… )
The transition to cleantech – some would call it a revolution – inevitably entails change, which implies risk. In turn, this implies that some things will fail.
We’ve already seen more than a few failures, and we’ll no doubt see many more.
As long as the successes outweigh the failures, that’s all that ultimately matters. Indeed, sometimes failure actually enables later successes.
As Thomas Edison has been quoted, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And, then finally — ta-da! — he discovered an approach that worked for the incandescent lightbulb, thereby changing the world forever.
But, sometimes failures can get in the way of success – particularly, if they’re the wrong kind of failures. ( Continue… )
We have been hearing a lot about escaping the fiscal cliff, but our problem isn’t solved. The fixes to date have been partial and temporary. There are many painful decisions ahead. Based on what I can see, the most likely outcome is that the US economy will enter a severe recession by the end of 2013.
My expectation is that credit markets are likely see increased defaults, as workers find their wages squeezed by higher Social Security taxes, and as government programs are cut back. Credit is likely to decrease in availability and become higher-priced. It is quite possible that credit problems will adversely affect the international trade system. Stock markets will tend to perform poorly. The Federal Reserve will try to intervene in credit markets, but if the US government is one of the defaulters (at least temporarily), it may not be able to completely fix the situation.
Less credit will tend to hold down prices of goods and services. Fewer people will be working, though, so even at reduced prices, many people will find discretionary items such as larger homes, new cars, and restaurant meals to be unaffordable. Thus, once the recession is in force, car sales are likely to drop, and prices of resale homes will again decline.
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Oil prices may temporarily drop. This price decrease, together with a drop in credit availability, is likely to lead to a reduction in drilling in high-priced locations, such as US oil shale (tight oil) plays. ( Continue… )
Energy storage is still the rage in cleantech. But after the collapse of A123 and Beacon, and the spectacular failure on the Fisker Karma in its Consumer Reports tests, fire in Hawaii with Xtreme Power’s lead acid grid storage system and with NGK’s sodium sulphur system, and now battery problems grounding the Boeing Dreamliners, investors in batteries are again divided into the jaded camp, and the koolaid drinker camp. Not a perjorative, just reality. New batteries and energy storage is still one of the juiciest promised lands in energy. And still undeniably hard. Basically, investors are relearning lessons we learned a decade ago.
Batteries are just hard. Investing in them is hard. Commercialization of batteries is hard. So why is it so difficult to make money in new battery technology?
Above and beyond the numbers, there are a number of commonalities related to the commercialization and venture financing life cycle of battery technologies that seem to differ to some degree from other venture investments in IT or even other energy technologies. Having looked at probably 100+ deals over the years, and on the back of an deep study we did a couple of years ago on benchmarking valuations in energy storage, here’s our take on the why.
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Timing – Battery technology commercializations have historically tended to be one of the slower commercialization cycles from lab stage to market. Startups and investors in batteries have a long history of underestimating both the development cycle, capital required, and the commercialization cycle, as well as underestimating the competitiveness of the market. ( Continue… )
A year ago, President Obama, under pressure from a deadline set by House Republicans, rejected the application of TransCanada for the Keystone XL pipeline that would pump Canadian crude from Alberta to the American gulf coast.
With a new decision on the Keystone XL pipeline due in the first quarter of 2013, according to the State Department — a date that may slip according to some observers — it is useful to assess the actual effects of not building the Keystone pipeline on Canadian oil production and North American energy markets. (Read More: Obama Under Increasing Pressure to Make Keystone XL Decision)
Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline was touted as a big win for environmentalists, who had set their sights on Keystone XL as a big target. As Bill McKibben often quotes NASA scientist James Hansen, using the entire resources of Canada’s oil sands would mean “game over for the climate.” Once complete, Keystone XL would have a capacity of up to 1.1 million barrels of diluted bitumen per day – 54% of Canada’s total bitumen production (note: bitumen is the crude product from production in the oil sands). So, for groups like McKibben’s 350.org, the goal of stopping the pipeline was to slow and eventually stop the exploitation of Canada’s tar sands. The thought was that if environmentalists could stop the building of the Keystone pipeline, they could prevent Canada from having a market for their oil, and thereby production would slow and eventually stop.
Oil Sands Production Continues to Increase
In 2011, I wrote that “the balance of evidence shows that permitting the Keystone XL pipeline will not be good for American energy security, economic stability, or environmental sustainability.” For me, the risks of climate change are a clear threat to national security, and deserve action sooner rather than later. It should be clear that we can either pay now to reduce emissions, or we pay later in the form of dangerous weather, rising seas, and threats to our security. One year later, however, the evidence so far shows that production in the oil sands continue to increase, while the blocking of Keystone has led to some very unpredictable outcomes. ( Continue… )
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in its report for January said the United States in 2013 may post the highest oil supply increase among non-member states. U.S. oil production should increase by 490,000 barrels of oil per day this year to reach an average of 10.4 million bpd. OPEC said much of the production increase should come from more drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and the oil boom under way in North Dakota. Production from member states Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, declined. Riyadh said recently it wasn't trying to manipulate the commodities market and, given the downbeat assessment of the U.S. economy, it may be congressional leaders that eventually face the ultimate blame for economic woes despite the oil boom.
OPEC in its January report said it expected U.S. oil supply to increase in 2013. This sentiment was supported by increased drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil supply levels in North Dakota, meanwhile, continued to set records while onshore production in Texas showed what the cartel said was "healthy growth." U.S. oil supply in 2013 is expected to increase by nearly 5 percent to 10.44 million bpd, which OPEC said was the highest projected increase for non-member states.(Related Article: Peak Oil and the Future - What Can we Expect in 2013)
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For OPEC members, overall crude oil production was down more than 1.5 percent from November figures to settle at 30.37 million bpd in December. The cartel said production fell in Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Riyadh had defendedallegations it was trying to manipulate commodity markets when it cut its own crude oil production by nearly 5 percent. The oil-rich kingdom has kept markets stabilized in the past, mostly recently when Libya was shut out of the oil markets by war. But given the increase in production from non-OPEC members, and following reports from Citigroup the kingdom may become a net importer, Riyadh may simply be making room for emerging oil majors like the United States. ( Continue… )
As part of an ongoing series of conversations about building America's energy future, the Monitor hosted a roundtable discussion in Washington on Dec. 12, 2012 with several clean-energy experts. The video below is an excerpt from panelist Richard Caperton, the director of clean energy investment at the Center for American Progress, a Washington-based progressive educational institute. Mr. Caperton speaks about his vision for a bipartisan clean-energy policy in America. The discussion was sponsored by Areva, a Paris-based energy company.
The Detroit auto show is rife with attention-grabbing displays, but they rarely involve time travel.
VIA Motors seemed to at the Detroit auto show Monday when it featured Thomas Edison – portrayed by an actor in holographic form – lending wisdom to Bob Lutz, retired General Motors executive and a driving force behind the Chevy Volt electric car.
"Now it's your turn to share the light," the projected electric light-bulb pioneer told Mr. Lutz in an exchange that preluded the unveiling of VIA's latest line of converted-electric trucks, vans and SUVs.
The stunt underscored the automakers' panache for head-turning displays, and hinted at the less-flashy innovations taking place under the hoods. The heart of the Detroit auto show may be automotive eye-candy, but some automakers highlighted new approaches to energy use in an industry that consumes a lot of it.
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For VIA, fleet vehicles – those used as taxis, buses, and by large companies – were a target of energy savings. The company has developed an extended-range electric cargo van that it expects will achieve 100 miles per gallon with near zero emissions. ( Continue… )