US takes aim at ISIS oil, New sanctions on Russian energy, CO2 levels at new high

The US will aim to cut off Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL) oil sales as part of its broader effort to 'degrade and destroy the Islamic State'; New Western sanctions on Russia energy aim to 'shut down' its most prized oil and gas projects; Record high carbon dioxide levels will add urgency to upcoming global climate talks. Read the latest on energy around the globe with the Monitor's Recharge. 

Manu Brabo/AP/File
An oil field under control of Kurdish militias is shown near the town of Deriq, in a Kurdish area of Syria, near the border with Iraq. The Islamic State militants rely on oil smuggling, human trafficking, theft and extortion to finance its operations, according to US intelligence officials and private experts.

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Well-oiled: The US is targeting oil sales by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL). In addition to more air strikes, the US said Wednesday it would expand efforts to undermine financing for the Islamic State – much of which comes from smuggling oil in tanker trucks to sell in Syria, Turkey, and Kurdistan, according to various reports. But disrupting those sales, without permanently damaging the region's oil infrastructure, is easier said than done.

Arctic freezeNew Russia sanctions strike at the heart of Russian President Vladimir Putin's energy empire, aiming to "shut down" deepwater, shale, and Arctic oil operations. By further limiting Russia's access to Western capital, they threaten the South Stream pipeline, too. Combined with sliding oil prices, Moscow will have some soul searching to do as it looks to the future of its energy-based economy.

396: Carbon dioxide levels in Earth's atmosphere increased at the fastest rate in 30 years last year, reaching an average global CO2 concentration just shy of 400 parts per million, according to the annual World Meteorological Organization Greenhouse Gas Bulletin released this week. It comes just weeks ahead of international climate talks in New York, and will add a heightened sense of urgency to efforts to decarbonize the planet's energy supply.

In the pipeline

Thursday, Sept. 18: WASHINGTON and THE INTERNET – Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko will address US Congress and meet with President Obama in Washington. Mr. Poroshenko will likely push for an expanded transatlantic energy partnership and call on the US to ease restrictions on energy exports.He will also deliver an address at the Atlantic Council, which will be webcast.

Thursday, Sept. 18: EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND – Scots vote in a highly anticipated referendum on independence from the United Kingdom. Energy looms large in the debate. Three things to know in advance:

1. If Scotland votes 'yes' to independence, it will take with it North Sea oil reserves that make up most of UK oil production. Those reserves are dwindling, but pro-independence forces say there's plenty left to fuel an independent Scotland; Others are much more skeptical.

2. BP and Shell are the major players in the region, and are against independence, citing the need for investment certainty.

3. Electricity plays a role in the debate, too. Subsidies for Scottish wind and tidal power are spread across the UK, and it's unclear how those would be paid for should it secede.

Thursday, Sept. 18 to Friday Sept. 19: JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – Electra Mining Africa hosts the Powering African Industry Conference. Electricity prices are expected to increase by 8 percent annually in South Africa, and many industrial power users (miners, especially) struggle with unstable supply. Many are turning to alternative off-grid energy and energy efficiency best practices for solutions.

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Drill deeper

Ohio Senator: GOP majority would get Obama ‘to the table’ on Keystone XL [The Christian Science Monitor]
A GOP Senate could push energy legislation through the chamber for the first time since 2007, Republican Sen. Rob Portman said at a Monitor-hosted breakfast in Washington Thursday. That could include forcing President Obama's hand on Keystone XL and oil exports. Two months before the election, a Republican takeover of Congress is looking increasingly likely.

With Gas Cut Off, Ukraine Looks West [The New York Times]
“The situation is very difficult,” Andriy Kobolev, the head of Ukraine’s state energy company, Naftogaz, told the New York Times. “Since we have no choice, no other solution, we’ll find a solution and have to live with the amount of gas we will have.”

Nigeria's growing number of female oil bosses [BBC]
Long dominated by multinationals, Nigeria is pushing for an "indigenization" of its oil production – the world's 14th-largest. Female entrepreneurs are building on the movement, breaking into an industry that remains overwhelmingly male.

Energy sources

EIA's Adam Sieminski: "The United States is expected to provide nine out of every ten barrels of new global oil supplies in 2015."

UNEP: "The Earth's protective ozone layer is well on track to recovery in the next few decades thanks to concerted international action against ozone depleting substances ..."

Stanford University: "Like chefs in a kitchen, state governors, legislators, and public utility commissioners have been testing an array of recipes, to increase the deployment of solar, wind, and other renewables, to cut energy use in homes and businesses, to improve the operation of the grid, to expand financing, and, overall, to improve the efficacy—and economics—of clean energy."


How your refrigerator has kept its cool over 40 years of efficiency improvements:

While energy use decreased more than three-fourths, refrigerator volume increased, and price (in $2010) decreased by two-thirds [over the last 40 years].

– Appliance Standards Awareness Project

From Islamic State oil sales to solar innovation to climate change, Recharge delivers global energy's big ideas to your inbox each weekend. Subscribe for free.

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