Oil under siege in Libya, Iraq [Recharge]

Oil fields caught in the crossfire in Libya and Iraq; A coal mine tragedy in Ukraine; Shifting winds in US energy policy. Catch up on global energy with Recharge.

Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters
Smoke rises from the Ajil oil field as Shi'ite fighters stand near their military vehicles in Al Hadidiya, south of Tikrit, en route to the Islamic State-controlled al-Alam town.

Recharge is a weekly e-mail digest of energy news and analysis written by Monitor reporters David J. Unger and Jared Gilmour.

Force majeure“Theft, looting, sabotage, and destruction” rendered 11 Libyan oil fields nonoperational Wednesday, according to the country’s national oil company. Africa’s largest oil reserves are caught in the crossfire as a branch of the Islamic State further destabilizes an already chaotic post-Qaddafi Libya. Meanwhile in Iraq,IS has reportedly set fire to oil fields as Iraqi troops attempt to retake Tikrit. These growing threats to major producers counteract an oversupplied oil market otherwise destined for another price dip.

Zasyadko: Wednesday’s explosion at the Zasyadko coal mine in eastern Ukraine doesn’t appear to be directly linked to fighting in the region, but it’s clear the conflict has taken its toll on the region’s coal industry – a vital fuel source in a country grasping for some kind of energy security. The tragedy overshadowed slight progress in averting a shut-off of Russian natural gas supplies this week. The real challenge will come as Kiev, Moscow, and Brussels sit down to negotiate what happens after the current, temporary gas deal expires at the end of this month.

111(d): In Washington, a new Republican-led Congress put on a full-court press this week against the Obama administration’s plans for a leaner, cleaner energy sector. In a slew of hearings on Capitol Hill, GOP lawmakers took aim at the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, saying the ambitious carbon rules threaten jobs and grid reliability. Obama’s energy policy has generally favored renewables growth and emissions reductions over recent years. Now, Republicans and some Democrats are looking to place the booming oil and gas sector at the center of the country’s energy future.

In the pipeline


Drill deeper

The EU's other 'Union': Can energy unite Europe?
[The German Marshall Fund via The Christian Science Monitor]
“For the Energy Union to work, Brussels needs to quickly convince member states to support a durable European solution to their energy challenges, even if it means putting up with the bureaucracy inherent to EU decision-making,” writes Kristine Berzina of The German Marshall Fund. “Framing the Energy Union in terms of ‘true solidarity and trust’ is not enough. Brussels needs to show concrete benefits.”

Why $100 Oil Won't Be Coming Back for a Long Time [Bloomberg]
It was supposed to be shale’s weakness: Wells produce a quick burst of oil after drilling, followed by a drop off in output. But in a low price environment that weakness has become a strength, and analysts say the “nimble” nature of low-investment, quick-return shale makes it the swing producer. Oil prices could stay low – between $50 and $75 a barrel – for several years, analysts say, and shale will be the force that pushes prices down when they rise.

Japan’s Growth in Solar Power Falters as Utilities Balk
[The New York Times]
Post-Fukushima, Japan turned away from nuclear and looked to the sun for clean power. But electric utilities there are skeptical they can manage the glut of solar power Japanese entrepreneurs hope to put on the grid. The country’s quest for a new clean energy source might hinge on how committed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to making solar competitive with the fossil fuels, which have picked up the slack for Japan’s 50 closed reactors.

Energy sources

  • Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang via Reuters: "We will strive for zero-growth in the consumption of coal in key areas of the country ... Environmental pollution is a blight on people's quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts."
  • UK Energy Minister Matthew Hancock: "Together with Mexico’s energy ambitions and the UK’s wealth of experience and expertise, now more than ever there are unparalleled opportunities for partnership across business and education."
  • European Commission: "The EU and its Member States are committed to a binding target of an at least 40% domestic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 compared to 1990, to be fulfilled jointly ..."


Government investment in energy RD&D as percent of GDP, 2013
(from AEIC’s “Restoring American Energy Innovation Leadership”)

The AEIC of the Bipartisan Policy Center

Recharge is a weekly email digest of energy news and analysis written by Monitor reporters David J. Unger and Jared Gilmour.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.