Investment banks want to hire 10 supertankers to store crude oil at sea, seeking to profit as futures contracts get more expensive later in the year. The cost of storing on supertankers works out at about 80 to 90 cents a barrel each month. (1/10, #4)

  •          According to a senior Saudi official, oil demand could fall by 23 to 45 percent due to the global financial crisis, but investments should be increased to ensure supplies are maintained. World demand fell by 50,000 b/d in 2008, and could fall by 450,000 b/d this year, the US Energy Information Administration said in a December report. The last time world petroleum demand fell was in 1983, part of four years of straight declines in oil consumption. (1/10, #5)
  •          The Saudi Arabian Oil Co.-owned supertanker hijacked by pirates mid-November has been released and all 25 crew members are safe, the vessel’s operator confirmed Saturday. (1/10, #6)
  •          Analysts predict Venezuela’s economy is headed for a worse year than the government admits, as falling oil prices stall growth and inflation soars – 30.9 percent in 2008.  Lawmakers assumed $60-a-barrel oil prices when drafting this year’s budget. The average price for Venezuela’s basket of crude oil and refined products stood at $37.62 a barrel Friday (1/10, #8)
  •          Exxon Mobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson for the first time called on Congress to enact a tax on greenhouse-gas emissions in order to fight global warming. Tillerson said that a tax was a “more direct, a more transparent and a more effective approach” to curtailing greenhouse gases than other plans popular in Congress and with the incoming administration. (1/9, #13)
  •          US oil and gas drilling expenditures soared to a record $226.4 billion in 2007, more than doubling the previous record of $109.8 billion a year earlier, the American Petroleum Institute said on Jan. 5.  (1/6, #16)
  •          The steep drop in crude oil prices is likely to trigger cuts in exploration and production spending throughout the sector in 2009. (1/10, #11)
  •          Schlumberger, the world’s largest oil field services firm, will cut 1,000 jobs, or about 5 percent of its workforce in North America, where a 20 percent decline in the number of rigs drilling for oil and gas have hurt its business. Oilfield service companies that help energy companies drill for and produce oil and natural gas will need to cut more jobs as they struggle to cope with a 40 percent drop in budgets for US exploration and production. (1/10, #11)
  •          Canada‘s once booming oil sands industry is cooling fast as the plunging oil price undermines investment. More than US$60 billion worth of projects to extract oil from the bitumen-rich sands of northern Alberta have been delayed in the past three months, according to a study of industry figures by The Times. (1/5, #15)
  •          Shell remains committed to investing in Canadian oil sands after putting on hold the expansion of the second phase of the Athabasca project in Alberta. (1/10, #13)
  •          The US EIA estimates that heavy maintenance, poor demand and weak margins will slash crude oil processing at U.S. refineries by 500,000 barrels a day to a 12-year-low of less than 14.1 million barrels a day. (1/10, #14)
  •          President-elect Obama asked Congress “to act without delay” to pass legislation that included doubling alternative energy production in the next three years and building a new electricity “smart grid.”
  •          While tough times afflict the stocks of major energy firms, the industry could be on the verge of the biggest round of mergers since 10 years ago when oil sold for less than $10 a barrel. When the dust cleared, Exxon bought Mobil, BP bought Arco and Chevron purchased Texaco. With a market cap of about $400 billion  Exxon Mobil remains about $200 billion richer than Wal-Mart as the largest company in the world — even after shedding about $100 billion in value since last July. (1/10, #12)
  •          Exxon Mobil is sitting on a massive pile of money.  Thanks to record oil prices over the last few years and a cautious investment strategy that drew fire from critics, the company has nearly $40 billion in cash reserves. It has another $225 billion in repurchased stock tucked away for a rainy day.  That’s enough money to pay a nearly 60 percent premium, in cash, for every share of its next largest competitor – Royal Dutch Shell. (1/6, #15)
  •          ExxonMobil Refining & Supply announced that it is planning to invest more than $1 billion in three refineries to increase the production of ultralow-sulfur diesel by about 6 million gpd. (1/8, #13)
  •          Canada’s oil sands industry admits it has “dropped the ball” in keeping the public informed about the environmental effects of its energy developments, the head of the sector’s largest lobby group said Thursday. A recent survey showed 46 percent of respondents do not believe the energy sector has done a good job balancing the environment and the economy, while 22 percent do. (1/9, #16)
  •          Iraq‘s crude oil exports averaged 1.85 million barrels a day in 2008, some 13.5% more than in 2007. (1/8, #5)
  •          Shenhua Group Corp., China’s biggest coal producer, began operating the nation’s first plant to turn coal into fuels (coal-to-liquids) to boost output of gasoline and diesel. Shenhua Group is the only domestic company authorized to develop coal-to-fuels plants in China after the government limited such projects in August to conserve coal resources. (1/6, #22)
  •          China aims to increase its coal production by about 30 percent by 2015 to meet its energy needs, the government said.  Such an increase is likely to fuel concerns over global warming. (1/9, #8)
  •          China imported 3.59 million barrels a day of crude oil in 2008, an increase of 9.6% from 2007 levels. (1/10, #10)
  •          China’s domestic oil output is expected to increase by only 5 percent between 2010 and 2015, rising from 3.8 to 4.0 million barrels per day. The government forecasts that by 2020 China would need 10 million barrels per day to keep its economy going, 43 percent more than what consumed in 2007. So Beijing will have to rely on imports for 60 percent of its oil demand by 2020, up from 50 percent now. (1/8, #8)
  •          China‘s top refineries will reduce production in January to the lowest in 2-½ years after sizable cuts in the past two months, due to weak fuel demand during the economic slowdown. (1/8, #10)
  •          Korea Gas Corp., the world’s biggest buyer of liquefied natural gas, said domestic gas sales dropped for a third month in December as slower economic growth sapped demand from power producers.  (1/8, #10)
  •          The Bush administration said it would not issue interim targets for higher vehicle fuel efficiency, leaving it up to the incoming Obama administration to steer auto companies toward better mileage standards. The guidelines must be issued no later than April 1 so auto companies have time to engineer 2011 models. (1/8, #12)
  •          Oil majors that derive a large part of their income from production in OPEC member states are finding the cartel’s production cuts are hampering growth prospects in some of their most promising geographical areas. (1/7, #7)
  •          Armed men attacked a Nigerian oil platform belonging to ExxonMobil early last week, the latest sign that criminal gangs are extending their reach. Gunmen in a flat-bottomed vessel raided the facility, which lies some two hours by boat off the coast, shortly after midnight. They also attacked a nearby barge and an oil services vessel. (1/7, #11)
  •          Toyota Motor Corp is to halt production at its Japanese plants for 11 days in February and March as a sharp slide in U.S. sales has left dealers’ lots full of unsold cars. (1/6, #14)
  •          Japan’s domestic auto sales fell last year to their lowest level since the mid-1970s as recession squashed already weak consumer demand in the last few months of the year. Thus 2008 marked the fifth straight year of declines. (1/5, #14)
  •          In October, the secretive Texas company EEStor was granted a trademark for “EESU”, which stands for Electrical Energy Storage Unit and refers to their unique ceramic battery. The battery is purported to be low cost, lightweight, extremely energy dense, rapidly chargeable, and has a functionally infinite lifecycle. All these attributes are each many times superior to lithium-ion batteries. (1/5, #18)
  •          A Colorado company that developed a process using bacteria to convert wood to fuel has raised $34 million to build its first biorefinery. The company plans to build a small plant in Boardman, Ore., where it will use poplar wood from a tree farm. (1/10, #17)
  •          A Welsh renewable energy company has teamed up with ship propulsion experts to design a new marine turbine which they believe will be better at generating power from the tides. (1/10, #18)