Recent Articles

Brent Falls Amid Speculation Price Gains Excessive; WTI Steady

Filed in Prices by on 21 April 2014

Brent crude fell for a second day amid speculation that the biggest weekly rally since February on tension between Ukraine and Russia may be excessive. West Texas Intermediate was steady. Futures dropped as much as 0.5 percent in London . The U.S. and its European allies urged Russia to help calm the Ukraine crisis after four-nation talks produced an accord aimed at easing the worst standoff since the Cold War . WTI’s discount to Brent shrank as the Obama administration said it will postpone a ruling on the Keystone XL pipeline. “Oil futures went up quite a bit over the last week and now we’re seeing some selling,” Victor Shum , a vice president at IHS Energy Insight in Singapore, said by phone today. The Ukraine crisis “has added to geopolitical tension but no oil supply has been disrupted.” Brent for June settlement declined as much as 54 cents [...]

Iran Says It Would Redesign Heavy-Water Reactor as Concession to West

Filed in Iran by on 21 April 2014

Iran will redesign its Arak heavy water reactor to greatly limit the amount of plutonium it can make, the country’s vice president said on Saturday, marking a major concession from the Islamic Republic in negotiations with world powers over its contested nuclear program. The comments by Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi comes as the talks face an informal July 20 deadline to hammer out a final deal to limit Iran’s ability to build nuclear arms in exchange for ending the crippling economic sanctions it faces. Iranian state television quoted Mr. Salehi, who heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying Iran has proposed to redesign Arak to produce one-fifth of the plutonium initially planned for it. He said that will eliminate concerns the West has that Iran could use the plutonium produced at Arak to build a nuclear weapon. Mr. Salehi also said Iran has completed diluting [...]

14 Algerian soldiers killed in ambush

Filed in Algeria by on 21 April 2014

Attack on troops tasked with protecting polling stations appeared to carry message for returning president Insurgents ambushed an Algerian military convoy in the mountainous Kabylie region, killing 14 soldiers, the state news agency reported Sunday. The attack came two days after Algeria’s presidential election . The attack near the village of Iboudraren began at 10 p.m. Saturday with 11 soldiers being killed immediately and another three succumbing to their wounds, the agency said. A local official said a large group of insurgents hid on both sides of the road and opened fire with automatic weapons as the military bus drove by. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. The region has been the site of past clashes, including one three years ago that killed 13 soldiers at an army post. That attack was claimed by the Algeria-based Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. There [...]

China Premier Li Reiterates Plans to Boost Clean Energy

Filed in China by on 21 April 2014

China, the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy, reiterated plans to boost construction of solar and wind power plants along with projects to transmit electricity from the clean sources. The nation will also start construction of some key nuclear power projects in eastern coastal areas and “reasonable” hydropower plants, according to comments from Premier Li Keqiang posted on the central government’s website. The statement reinforces China’s commitment to look for alternative sources of energy as the nation’s policy makers grapple with improving the nation’s air and water supplies. The world’s largest carbon emitter is planning the energy projects to stabilize growth and adjust its energy structure after Li declared war on smog in a speech last month, vowing to shut coal-fired furnaces among other measures. Beijing’s air quality failed to meet government standards 52 percent of the time last year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said in March. Mainland [...]

Communist Party Strips China Resources Chairman of Leadership Position

Filed in China by on 21 April 2014

The chairman of state-owned China Resources Holdings Co. has been stripped of his position as the firm’s Communist Party chief as part of a corruption investigation, state media said Saturday. The decision to dismiss Song Lin from his leadership position was made by the party’s Central Organization Department, the official Xinhua news agency said in a brief report. Xinhua didn’t give further details. The party’s internal corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said earlier in the week in a short statement that Mr. Song was being investigated for “suspected serious violations of discipline and law,” phrasing Chinese authorities typically use to refer to suspected corruption. Representatives at the Hong Kong and Shenzhen offices of China Resources couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Mr. Song also couldn’t be reached for comment. In a statement posted to its website Friday, the company said that it was cooperating with the [...]

Japan posts largest-ever trade deficit

Filed in Japan by on 21 April 2014

Japan suffered its largest-ever trade deficit last fiscal year, underlining a wrenching structural shift for an economy long renowned as an export powerhouse. The gap between the value of Japan’s exports and that of its imports grew by more than two-thirds in the 12 months through March, to Y13.7tn ($134bn), according to government data released on Monday. It was the third consecutive fiscal year of deficits, the longest streak since comparable records began in the 1970s. Toyota , Hitachi and other large Japanese companies have enjoyed soaring profits as a result of the weaker yen, which has fallen by a fifth against other major currencies since November 2012. But the improvement has come less from increased exports than from flattered exchange rates on overseas sales. Japanese export volumes have barely risen and the yen value of goods shipped to foreign markets has increased much more slowly than the value [...]

EPA drastically underestimates methane released at drilling sites

Filed in Climate, Shale Gas by on 21 April 2014

Drilling operations at several natural gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania released methane into the atmosphere at rates that were 100 to 1,000 times greater than federal regulators had estimated, new research shows. Using a plane that was specially equipped to measure greenhouse gas emissions in the air, scientists found that drilling activities at seven well pads in the booming Marcellus shale formation emitted 34 grams of methane per second, on average. The Environmental Protection Agency has estimated that such drilling releases between 0.04 grams and 0.30 grams of methane per second. The study , published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, adds to a growing body of research that suggests the EPA is gravely underestimating methane emissions from oil and gas operations. The agency is expected to issue its own analysis of methane emissions from the oil and gas sector as early as Tuesday, which [...]

Keystone Pipeline Fate Now in Hands of Nebraskan Jurists

Filed in USA by on 21 April 2014

The focus of the Keystone XL debate has shifted from a fierce lobbying war in Washington to Lincoln, Nebraska , where the state Supreme Court has been asked to weigh a legal challenge to the pipeline. The U.S. State Department, which is responsible for reviewing whether the project is in the nation’s interest, said April 18 that it would delay making a recommendation until questions about the way the route was approved through the prairie state are resolved. That could spare President Barack Obama from having to decide on a project that splits supporters of his in the environmental and labor movements before an important congressional election in November. “Once again, the administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country,” Terry O’Sullivan, general president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America , said in an e-mail. “It’s clear the administration needs [...]

U.S. Gasoline Prices Rise to 13-Month High in Lundberg Survey

Filed in Prices by on 21 April 2014

The average price for regular gasoline at U.S. pumps jumped 8.5 cents in the past two weeks to a 13-month high of $3.6918 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc. The survey covers the period ended April 18 and is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, California-based company. Prices are the highest since March 22, 2013. The average is 15.55 cents higher than a year ago, Lundberg said. Gasoline has risen 39.74 cents a gallon since bottoming out in February and is up 43 cents this year. “The most important factor right now in this rise is crude oil, which rose by a very similar amount to the street-price move,” Trilby Lundberg , the president of Lundberg Survey, said in a telephone interview yesterday. “From here, we will probably see very little increase, if any, with the big caveat of course being crude. [...]

Daimler/BYD Joint Venture Unveil Plans for All-Electric Car for China

Filed in China by on 21 April 2014

the German automotive group, Sunday unveiled plans to build an all-electric vehicle with its Chinese partner , a further sign foreign operators are under pressure to meet demands by the Chinese government for a massive increase in electric cars to fight air pollution. The Chinese government has a target of putting 500,000 electric or plug-in hybrid cars on the road by 2015, but the industry would have to sell about 450,000 plug-in cars during the next two years to achieve that target. The shortfall is putting more pressure on auto makers to step up investments in electrified vehicles—such as the Daimler-BYD cars. Thomas Weber, Daimler’s board member in charge of research and development, told reporters that this new model is “undoubtedly one key pillar of our electric vehicle strategy for China.” The new electric car, called the Denza, is entitled to subsidies from both the central [...]

Shale drillers with fewer, but better sites rewarded on Wall Street

Filed in Shale Oil by on 21 April 2014

A new breed of energy company is a hit with investors using a mantra long scorned in the oil-and-gas business: Small is beautiful. When the U.S. energy boom began almost a decade ago, the companies leading the way believed bigger was better. They amassed huge land holdings so they could drill thousands of wells—and then struggled as the freed through hydraulic fracturing pushed down prices. Like their bigger rivals, the upstarts frack to tap previously untouchable oil and gas deposits in dense shale formations. But these companies have focused on the right property instead of the most property—and raked in big stock paydays as a result. For the most part, neither the less-is-more upstarts, nor the bigger-is-better graybeards are bringing in more than they spend to drill and frack. The difference is that Wall Street no longer is throwing cash at established shale players holding loads of acreage. “It’s [...]

Lifting U.S. oil export ban would mean greater dependence on foreign oil

Filed in USA by on 21 April 2014

The United States today is a large net importer of crude oil and refined products . And, yet the story that the country can somehow export crude oil as a foreign policy measure to help reduce Ukraine’s dependence on Russia won’t die. Oil executives and their surrogates keep bringing it up, and unsuspecting reporters amplify a message that has absolutely no basis. The reason for this oil industry public relations blitz on the Ukraine is rooted in the industry’s desire to end a decades-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports–one which the industry hopes to persuade Congress and President Obama to overturn. There is, in fact, a case regarding market efficiency for overturning the ban, but this is NOT the one the industry is using in its public relations campaign. Here’s why: The major effect of lifting the ban would be to allow domestic producers to sell lighter grades [...]

Hydraulic Fracturing: Staying Afloat in Times of Tightening Water Supply

Filed in Shale Oil by on 21 April 2014

One of the criticisms levied against hydraulic fracturing, particularly during recent periods of drought, is the amount of water used in the process. However, energy companies are seeking to reduce water use during hydraulic fracturing, even as research shows more water is used in other activities. The numbers put things into perspective. The amount of water used to frack a well varies, but most reporting entities put the figure in a range of about 3 to 6 million gallons of water. In Pennsylvania, the average amount of water per well is about 4.4 million gallons, according to State Impact Pennsylvania, a reporting project of National Public Radio (NPR). Using a range of 3-5 million gallons of water per well in the Marcellus Shale, the State College Borough Water Authority calculated that about 12-20 million gallons of water were used in the formation each day. In Texas, the estimated average [...]

Gas Prices Continue To Surge, Reach $4 In Some Cities

Filed in Prices by on 21 April 2014

Gas prices continue to move sharply higher as the Memorial Day driving seasons approaches. Nationwide, the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas has reached $3.667. A month ago, the price was $3.538 according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. The average price of a gallon of premium has crossed $4 nationwide to $4.010. The prices increases are geographically uneven. In some large cities, regular has already risen well above $4. As higher prices spread, so do questions about the damage gas prices could do to the economy. California is the largest state in the U.S. with about 12% of the population. The price for an average gallon of regular there has topped $4.199. In some California cities,  the situation is worse. The price of an average gallon of regular is $4.288 in Los Angeles, and $4.274 in San Francisco. Many of the other states which have [...]

Deadly gun attack in eastern Ukraine shakes fragile Geneva accord

Filed in Ukraine by on 21 April 2014

At least three people were killed in a gunfight in the early hours of Sunday near a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian separatists, shaking an already fragile international accord that was designed to avert a wider conflict. The incident triggered a war of words between Moscow and Ukraine’s Western-backed government, with each questioning the other’s compliance with the agreement, brokered last week in Geneva, to end a crisis that has made Russia’s ties with the West more fraught than at any time since the Cold War. The separatists said armed men from Ukraine’s Right Sector nationalist group had attacked them. The Right Sector denied any role, saying Russian special forces were behind the clash. Failure of the Geneva agreement could bring more bloodshed in eastern Ukraine, but may also prompt the United States to impose tougher sanctions on the Kremlin – with far-reaching consequences for [...]

Douglas Westwood Says the Oil Industry Needs a Common Voice

Filed in Oil Supply by on 21 April 2014

Douglas-Westwood (DW), a UK-headquartered provider of energy business strategy, research and commercial due-diligience services, explained why “The Oil Industry Needs a Common Voice” in its latest edition of DW Monday. There is a major gap between the realities of oil & gas and the public understanding of its fundamental importance to society. To many, filling the SUV (sport utility vehicle) is just a tax on driving and natural gas an overpriced monthly charge on home ownership. Few realize the sheer scale of the industry, its huge financial commitment and the dedication of the people involved in its day-to-day operations. Oilman, like banker, has become a dirty word.  All too often the reasons for the industry to make the headlines are the very negative ones, such as the human and environmental tragedy of Macondo and long before that the recently commemorated Piper Alpha disaster .  But there are another group [...]

Has crude oil production already peaked?

Filed in Peak Oil by on 21 April 2014

“Wait a minute,” you must be saying. “Haven’t we been hearing from the oil industry and from government and international agencies that worldwide oil production has been increasing in the last several years?” The answer, of course, is yes. But, the deeper question is whether this assertion is actually correct. Here is a key fact that casts doubt on the official reporting: When the industry and the government talk about the price of oil sold on world markets and traded on futures exchanges, they mean one thing. But, when they talk about the total production of oil, they actually mean something quite different–namely, a much broader category that includes all kinds of things that are simply not oil  and that could never be sold on the world market as oil. I’ve written about this issue of the true definition of oil before.  But Texas oilman Jeffrey Brown has been [...]

Obama signs law to bar Iran diplomat from serving in U.N. post

Filed in Iran by on 19 April 2014

President Barack Obama signed a law on Friday that effectively bars an Iranian diplomat from serving as an envoy at the United Nations because of suspicions he was involved in the 1979-81 Tehran hostage crisis. Obama signed a law passed by the U.S. Congress that blocks any individual from entering the United States who has been found to have been engaged in espionage or terrorist activity against the United States or if that person may pose a threat to U.S. national security. The United States had already said it would not grant a visa to Iran’s proposed U.N. ambassador, citing the envoy’s links to the 1979-1981 hostage crisis. Obama had come under strong pressure not to allow Hamid Abutalebi into the country to take up his position in New York. The U.S. government objects to Abutalebi because of his suspected participation in a Muslim student group [...]

Bombs kill 4 in shopping street of Iraqi capital

Filed in Iraq by on 19 April 2014

Iraqi police say two bombs planted on a street full of shoppers in Baghdad have killed four people and wounded eight. They say the explosions took place in the capital’s predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Dora on Saturday morning. Later, police said a roadside bomb killed two soldiers on patrol and wounded five people in Tarmiyah, 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Baghdad. Health officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters. No one immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attacks, but Sunni insurgent groups have stepped up attacks across the country since last year in hopes of undermining the Shiite-led government. The uptick in violence comes as Iraqis prepare to hold a crucial parliamentary election on April 30.

Islamist militants kill 30 in attacks around Iraq

Filed in Iraq by on 19 April 2014

Suspected Sunni Muslim militants killed at least 30 people around Iraq on Thursday including 12 soldiers in an assault on a remote army base in the north, deepening insecurity with a national election just two weeks away. Sectarian bloodshed has increased since the Shi’ite Muslim-led Baghdad government began an offensive against insurgents, some of them affiliated with [...] Raheem Salman of Reuters reports : Suspected Sunni Muslim militants killed at least 30 people around Iraq on Thursday including 12 soldiers in an assault on a remote army base in the north, deepening insecurity with a national election just two weeks away. Sectarian bloodshed has increased since the Shi’ite Muslim-led Baghdad government began an offensive against insurgents, some of them affiliated with al Qaeda, dug in around Falluja and Ramadi in the western province of Anbar. [...]

Sunni Discontent Fuels Growing Violence In Iraq’s Anbar Province

Filed in Iraq by on 19 April 2014

 Iraqi Sunni masked protesters burn tires to block the main highway to Jordan and Syria, outside Fallujah, Iraq, on Dec. 30, 2013. Violence has returned to Iraq’s Anbar province, with discontented ordinary Sunnis joining forces with al-Qaida-linked militants battling the Iraqi government. AP Violence has reignited in western Iraq, with Islamist fighters taking over much of Anbar province three months ago. A renegade al-Qaida group has set up its headquarters in Fallujah – the city where hundreds of U.S. soldiers died a decade ago, trying to wrest it from insurgent control. But this time, the enemy isn’t the U.S. and it’s not just extremists fighting. Ordinary Sunnis in Anbar, furious at what they call years of discrimination by the Shiite-dominated government, have joined the militants’ battle against the Iraqi army. There’s another difference: This group has better training and weapons , drawing strength and fighters from the [...]

Bomb in Shopping Street in Iraqi Capital Kills 3

Filed in Iraq by on 19 April 2014

Officials in Iraq say a bomb planted on a street full of shoppers in the capital, Baghdad, has killed three people and wounded five. Police officers say the explosion took place in the capital’s predominantly Shiite neighborhood of al-Ameen on Friday morning. Health officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists. No one immediately claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, but Sunni insurgent groups have stepped up attacks across the country since last year, in a bid to undermine the Shiite-led government. The uptick in violence comes at a crucial time, as Iraqis prepare to hold parliamentary elections on April 30, the first such vote since U.S. forces left Iraq in 2011.

Kidnapping, attacks cripple northern Iraq oil sector

Filed in Iraq by on 19 April 2014

Militants have disabled Iraq’s northern export pipeline since March, and are now targeting other energy infrastructure. Anti-government militants have detonated the pipeline feeding crude to the Baiji refinery and have kidnapped the head of the Haditha refinery, as northern Iraq’s energy sector increasingly suffers from their push to destabilize Iraq.Less than two weeks before pivotal national elections, the anti-government fighters – which include the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), an al-Qaida splinter group, as well as other Sunni Muslim militias and tribes – have succeeded in creating chaos that…

Analysis: Iraq-Turkey treaty restricts Kurdistan exports

Filed in Iraq by on 19 April 2014

If Turkey allows Kurdistan to export oil without Baghdad’s permission, it would likely break a treaty with Iraq, adding a huge layer of legal risk to KRG oil sales. Nearly five months after the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) finalized a strategic energy agreement with Turkey, the deal has lost momentum: more than 1.5 million barrels of crude from Kurdistan have been pumped into tanks by the Turkish shore, ready for sale to international buyers – but they remain unsold.One key reason for the holdup is that Turkey may not lawfully be able to facilitate autonomous KRG exports unless Baghdad agrees, according to an international treaty between Iraq and…

Libya expecting oil sector to recover

Filed in Libya by on 19 April 2014

Libya’s oil sector may be able to make up for losses incurred by a rebel blockade as soon as production and export levels return to normal, a spokesman said. The central government in Tripoli brokered a deal April 6 with eastern rebel leaders to re-open export terminals. An eight-month blockade from rebels seeking more autonomy for the region known as Cyrenaica cut Libya’s oil export potential drastically. Mohamed al-Harari, a spokesman for Libya’s state-run National Oil Corp., told pan-Arab daily news agency Asharq al-Awsat the ports of Ras Lanuf and Sidra could open next month following further talks with rebel leaders. “Talks must resume to open the remaining ports,” he said in an interview published Thursday. “We have suffered great losses from this [crisis], but we will be able to make up these losses once production and export levels are back to normal.” The re-opened ports, Zuetina and Harega, [...]

Refining sector strong in March, API said

Filed in Oil Supply, USA by on 19 April 2014

API Chief Economist said U.S. refineries produced more petroleum products than the nation’s economy needed last month. The production of gasoline and other products increased in March. Gasoline production in particular increased 4.7 percent year-on-year to 9.3 million barrels per day, a level the American Petroleum Institute said was a record for the month of March. “March brought strong demand for both gasoline and distillate fuel, but refinery production actually outstripped demand for all four major products,” Felmy said in a statement Thursday. “Fortunately, the rest of the world is also eager to buy the output of U.S. refineries.” Legislation enacted in the wake of the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s restricts crude oil exports from the United States, though other products are delivered. API has lobbied for a reversal of the ban. The organization said U.S. petroleum deliveries, a measure of demand, [...]

Advanced U.S. Weapons Flow to Syrian Rebels

Filed in Syria by on 19 April 2014

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have supplied Syrian rebel groups with a small number of advanced American antitank missiles for the first time in a pilot program that could lead to larger flows of sophisticated weaponry, people briefed on the effort said. The new willingness to arm these rebels comes after the failure of U.S.-backed peace talks in January and recent regime gains on the battlefield. It also follows a reorganization of Western-backed fighters aimed at creating a more effective military force and increasing protection for Christian and other religious minorities—something of particular importance to Washington. This shift is seen as a test of whether the U.S. can find a trustworthy rebel partner able to keep sophisticated weapons out of the hands of extremists, Saudi and Syrian opposition figures said. The U.S. has long feared that if it does supply advanced arms, the weapons will wind up with radical [...]

Egypt: Cabinet – No Rise in Electricity, Diesel’s Prices

Filed in Egypt by on 19 April 2014

Following the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Cabinet Spokesman Ambassador Hossam el-Qawish said that the subsidy system will be restructured in a way that does not affect the limited income brackets. He further urged the citizens to rationalize consumption in electricity He asserted that there are no rises in prices of electricity or diesel, adding that next summer would not witness a lot of blackouts. He pointed out that there would specific times for blackouts until a radical solution to the electricity crisis is reached. Copyright © 2014 Egypt State Information Service. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media ( allAfrica.com ). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here. AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals , representing a [...]

South Sudan: Dozens dead as group opens fire in U.N. base

Filed in Sudan by on 19 April 2014

At least 58 people were killed Thursday when a group of armed civilians pretending to be peaceful protesters delivering a petition to the United Nations in South Sudan  forced their way into a U.N. base sheltering some 5,000 civilians and opened fire, the world body said. Among those killed in the attack on the base in Bor in northern Jonglei state were 46 internally displaced persons and 12 attackers, according to the U.N. Mission in South Sudan. No U.N. staff were killed, they said.  Another U.N. spokesperson said about 100 had been injured. Two U.N. peacekeepers were wounded repelling the armed intruders, the U.N. said. The United Nations has reinforced security at Bor, and South Sudan’s government has sent troops to secure the base. More than 1 million people have fled their homes since  fighting erupted in the world’s youngest country in December between troops backing President Salva Kiir and soldiers loyal to his sacked Vice President [...]

Nigeria: U.S. to Help Nigeria On Crude Oil Theft

Filed in Nigeria by on 19 April 2014

The United States Ambassador to Nigeria yesterday said his country was willing to help Nigeria tackle crude oil theft. Mr James Entwistle said this at the opening of this year’s edition of a multi-national military exercise in Lagos, codenamed Obangame Express 2014. He said a report has been prepared on a request made by Nigeria on ending crude oil theft. “As many of you are aware, last September, when President Jonathan and President Obama met in New York, we were asked to help your government in the struggle against oil bunkering. We sent out an inter-agency delegation and have delivered a report to your government,” he added. The ambassador said: “US remains absolutely committed to collaborating with and supporting Nigeria in its ongoing efforts to increase maritime safety and security in the region.” Earlier, Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin told journalists that the Navy [...]

Soil pollution another alarm for China’s development

Filed in China by on 19 April 2014

Chinese people are helpless and accustomed to frequent severe smog, and this week they suffered another big blow when it comes to the environment they live in.  According to a report released by the government on Thursday, about 16.1 percent of soil and 19.4 percent of farm land in the Chinese mainland is polluted.  Human industrial and agricultural activities are the main source of the pollution, the report said.  Scientists found that soil pollution has already affected people’s lives, resulting in excessive residue in agricultural products and contaminating ground water through permeation.  The report is another alarm for the country.  A series of environmental pollution issues have happened in recent years. Beijing, Shanghai and other major cities are often shrouded with heavy smog. Some villages are known as cancer villages, as the incidence of cancer is extremely high in those places due to environmental pollution

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Is This The End Of China’s Coal Boom?

Filed in China, Coal by on 19 April 2014

“ The End Of China’s Coal Boom ,” is a new, must-read chart-filled report from Greenpeace. It documents the response of China to the almost unimaginable  life-shortening  air pollution caused by its rapid growth in coal use. One of its charts highlights the stunning statistic that over half of the growth in  global  carbon pollution in the past decade has come just from China’s increase in coal! But that kind of growth of coal has more than just climate impacts. It is “draining the country’s arid west of precious water resources,” as Greenpeace itself  noted . And then there is the air pollution. Climate Progress has  pointed out  “when eight-year-olds  start getting  lung cancer that can be attributed to air pollution, you’ve got a problem. When  smog forces  schools, roads, and airports to shut down because visibility is less than 50 yards, you’ve got a problem. When a  study [...]

Keystone Decision Delayed by U.S. Over Nebraska Route

Filed in USA by on 19 April 2014

The Obama administration said it delayed a decision on the Keystone oil pipeline over uncertainty about the route in Nebraska , which may push final action on the project until after the November election. Republicans and some Democrats in Congress immediately criticized the delay. Eight federal agencies that had until early May to comment on the proposed pipeline will get more time, according to a statement today from the State Department, which is conducting the review. The notice didn’t include a new deadline. President Barack Obama has said he will make the final decision after the review is completed. The decision “amounts to nothing short of an indefinite delay” of the project, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Mary Landrieu , a Louisiana Democrat, said in a statement. Representative Lee Terry , a Nebraska Republican, criticized the move, saying Obama had “punted a tough decision in the name [...]

Keystone XL Decision Likely to Come After Midterm Elections

Filed in USA by on 19 April 2014

The Obama administration is extending its review of the Keystone XL pipeline, citing ongoing litigation in Nebraska over the project’s route through the state, according to people familiar with the matter. The State Department is allowing more time for government agencies to weigh in on the project–a review process that was expected to end in early May, State Department officials told congressional staff on Friday. It is unclear how much more time the State Department will allow for input, but it is likely to push a final decision on the pipeline–which has been under review by the Obama administration for more than five years–until after November’s midterm elections. TransCanada Corp. wants to send oil through a pipeline from Canadian oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries in the U.S. The pipeline project has stirred opposition from environmental groups, which warn it could lead to oil spills and [...]

PetroChina Unit to Buy Remaining Stake in Alberta Oil-Sands Operation

Filed in Canada, China by on 19 April 2014

CALGARY—A unit of Chinese state-run oil producer Co. will purchase the 40% stake it doesn’t already own in an oil-sands operation in northern Alberta for 1.32 billion Canadian dollars (US$1.2 billion) from Corp. , the Calgary-based company said Thursday. The move, first announced nearly two years ago, completes a 2010 deal that initially gave PetroChina subsidiary Brion Energy Corp. a 60% stake in the 250,000 barrel-a-day project, known as Dover. The acquisition of the remaining stake had been held up by a provincial regulatory process and a now-settled dispute with a Native American group. “We have today opted to sell our remaining ownership in projects operated by Brion Energy,” Athabasca Chief Executive Sveinung Svarte said. Representatives for Brion weren’t immediately available for comment. The acquisition gives PetroChina its second wholly owned oil-sands project in Canada, and perhaps its last. The deal was agreed to before the Canadian federal government [...]

Once-In-A-Decade Surge In Oil Inventories Chalked Up As ‘Anomaly’

Filed in Oil Supply, USA by on 19 April 2014

 A once-in-a-decade surge in U.S. oil inventories had traders scratching their heads this week. U.S. crude-oil supplies rose by 10 million barrels last week, the biggest one-week gain since 2001, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But much of the increase happened on the West Coast, far from the gushing wells in North Dakota and Texas. ClipperData, which tracks oil imports, says the massive jump in oil stockpiles comes down to a big coincidence. Four tankers delivered Colombian crude to West Coast refineries last week, leading to a 1.5-million-barrel boost in Colombian exports to the region, which stretches from Arizona to Alaska, according to ClipperData. “I think it’s an anomaly week, which is not unusual on the west coast,” said Abudi Zein, ClipperData’s chief operating officer. “It’s a very volatile region in terms of imports.” ClipperData tracks U.S. oil and petroleum-product imports and domestic shipments using [...]

Texas Upstream Petroleum Economy Sustains Record Run

Filed in Oil Supply, USA by on 19 April 2014

This opinion piece presents the opinions of the author. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Rigzone. The upstream oil and gas economy in Texas ventured further into uncharted territory in February, as rapidly increasing production, higher wellhead prices, and revised statewide employment numbers boosted the Texas Petro Index (TPI) to a record 300.6. “Texas producers increased oil output by more than 22 percent in February compared to February 2103, and natural gas production was up about 1.0 percent,” said Karr Ingham, the economist who created the TPI and updates it monthly. “Combined with higher wellhead prices for both commodities, the value of oil and gas produced in Texas during February increased by more than $2.85 billion in the past year to about $10.63 billion.” Ingham noted that Texas producers recovered about 2.75 million bbls per day of crude oil during February, “the most since 1980.” Ingham said [...]

Hydraulic Fracturing: Staying Afloat in Times of Tightening Water Supply

Filed in Peak Oil by on 19 April 2014

One of the criticisms levied against hydraulic fracturing, particularly during recent periods of drought, is the amount of water used in the process. However, energy companies are seeking to reduce water use during hydraulic fracturing, even as research shows more water is used in other activities. The numbers put things into perspective. The amount of water used to frack a well varies, but most reporting entities put the figure in a range of about 3 to 6 million gallons of water. In Pennsylvania, the average amount of water per well is about 4.4 million gallons, according to State Impact Pennsylvania, a reporting project of National Public Radio (NPR). Using a range of 3-5 million gallons of water per well in the Marcellus Shale, the State College Borough Water Authority calculated that about 12-20 million gallons of water were used in the formation each day. In Texas, the [...]

North Dakota oil boom keeps getting the wrong kind of attention

Filed in Oil Supply, USA by on 19 April 2014

Despite already dealing with a slew of issues ranging from a housing shortage to an increasing crime rate, North Dakota officials now have another problem grabbing headlines: illegal dumping.  On May 11, several news outlets reported that 200 hundreds bags of radioactive material were found in an abandoned building in Noonan, a small northwest town in North Dakota. It is likely the largest case of illegal dumping in state history, twice the size of the amount found in Watford City three week earlier.  Continental Resources, one of the largest Bakken producers, immediately cut ties with RP Services LLC, the company state officials blamed for the Watford City dump.  The bags were filled with filter socks, or oil socks, which are made from absorbent material and used to filter waste water. Luckily, there’s not enough radiation emitted by the socks to be truly harmful.  According to the Wall Street Journal, the state acted swiftly and implemented new regulations starting in June that require companies to use containers to store these filter socks on site.

Pro-Russian Insurgents Balk at Terms of Pact in Ukraine

Filed in Ukraine by on 19 April 2014

KIEV, Ukraine — An American-backed deal to settle the crisis in eastern Ukraine fell flat on Friday as pro-Russian militants vowed to stay in occupied government buildings, dashing hopes of a swift end to an insurgency that the authorities in Kiev portray as a Kremlin-orchestrated effort to put Ukraine’s industrial heartland under Russian control. But the agreement, reached in Geneva on Thursday by diplomats from the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the United States, appeared to arrest, at least temporarily, the momentum of separatist unrest in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east. Armed pro-Russian militants, who have seized buildings in at least 10 towns and cities since Feb. 6, paused their efforts to purge all central government authority from the populous Donetsk region. It was clear all along that for the pact to have a chance of success, the Kremlin would have to pressure the militants to leave the buildings they had [...]

Gazprom sends Russia’s first-ever Arctic crude cargo to international market

Filed in Russia by on 19 April 2014

Russian gas giant Gazprom has sent the first cargo with crude produced at the Prirazlomnoye offshore field — the country’s only Arctic offshore hydrocarbon project — to the international market, the company said Friday.  ”ARCO, or Arctic Oil, the new sort of crude produced offshore the Russian Artic has for the first time been supplied to the international market,” Gazprom said in a statement.  The start of the Arctic crude deliveries has strengthened Russia’s role as an international oil supplier, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said in the statement.  ”We have raised the flexibility and stability of [Russian] crude supplies basically to any part of the world,” Miller said.

Shell Plans Russian Expansion With Putin Support for Sakhalin-2

Filed in Russia by on 19 April 2014

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) plans to expand the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project in Russia’s Far East , the country’s only producer of liquefied natural gas, as it seeks to boost its presence in the Asian energy market. Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden won a promise of support for the plan from President Vladimir Putin today at a meeting at the Russian leader’s residence near Moscow. Putin is pushing to add oil and gas routes for Russia to supply Asia, to tap growing demand and ease the country’s reliance on Europe. Shell and state-run OAO Gazprom, its partner in the Sakhalin venture, are looking at expanding capacity by 50 percent before a new wave of supply reaches markets. “We are very keen to grow our position in the Russian Federation,” van Beurden said to Putin today. “We look forward with anticipation and confidence on a very [...]

U.S. Oil Futures Finish at Six-Week High

Filed in Prices by on 18 April 2014

Oil futures advanced to a six-week high Thursday as traders turned their focus from rising U.S. stockpiles to the continued drawdown of supplies from a storage hub in Oklahoma, where the benchmark U.S. contract is priced. Light, sweet crude for May delivery settled up 54 cents, or 0.5%, at $104.30 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the highest price since March 3. Prices rose 0.5% on the week. Brent crude on the ICE futures exchange lost 7 cents, or 0.1%, to settle at $109.53 a barrel. Prices are up 2% for the week. Both the Nymex and ICE trading floors are closed Friday. U.S. crude-oil stockpiles rose by 10 million barrels last week, the biggest one-week increase since 2001, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. However, supplies fell in Cushing, Okla., a key storage hub and the delivery point for the Nymex contract. Cushing stocks [...]

Natural Gas Makes Biggest Gain in Two Months

Filed in Prices by on 18 April 2014

Natural-gas prices on Thursday posted their biggest one-day gain in two months after a smaller-than-expected increase in U.S. inventories reignited fears that supplies are too low. Producers added 24 billion cubic feet to stockpiles in the week ended April 11, less than the 34 billion cubic feet average forecast by analysts and traders in a Wall Street Journal survey. Gas supplies are coming off an 11-year-low after a frigid winter boosted demand to burn it for home heating. The slow rise for inventories since the arrival of warmer weather is raising questions about whether producers will replenish the country’s stockpile in time for next winter. Prices shot up after the data, with gas for May delivery ending up 4.7% at $4.741 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was the biggest percentage gain since Feb. 19. “We’re talking about a massive storage deficit that [...]

Iran: Rouhani talks peace, outreach at army parade

Filed in Iran by on 18 April 2014

Iran’s president underscored his moderate policies and outreach to the West in a speech Friday during a military parade on the country’s National Army Day. Referring to the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the world powers over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran has shown it has no hostile intentions toward anyone in the world, including the United States, which has long been considered an enemy. “During the talks, we announced to the world and we say so again … we are not after war, we are after logic, we are after talks,” Rouhani said. He touted Iran’s diplomatic outreach and said the backing of the military and the nation was crucial. “Support by the armed forces and support by our brave people have empowered the officials in charge of the talks on the diplomatic front.” The Iranian president made no mention [...]

Farmers Seeking Heat Relief Signal Brazil Climate Peril

Filed in Brazil by on 18 April 2014

Brazil may see a mass migration of crops and farm workers from huge swaths of currently tillable lands to more temperate zones as global warming takes hold, according to leading climate experts in the country. Longtime Brazilian climate researcher Hilton Silveira Pinto points to the drought that’s cutting grain and coffee output this year as an indicator that rising global temperatures may already be impacting the country’s crops. “This is a taste of what is to come in the future,” said Pinto, a professor at the Center for Meteorological and Climate Research Applied to Agriculture at the University of Campinas. A study co-authored by Pinto that looks at projected warming trends shows Brazil’s soybean production may drop by as much as 24 percent and wheat output as much as 41 percent by 2020 as climate change reduces areas where the crops can grow. Because Brazil is increasingly helping to [...]

Shell finds gas offshore Malaysia

Filed in Singapore by on 18 April 2014

Shell said Thursday it encountered a major deposit of natural gas while drilling in the deep waters off the coast of Malaysia. Shell said it encountered a gas column measuring 1,476 feet thick while drilling its Rosmari-1 well in deep Malaysia waters. “With further exploration planned, the finding is a positive indicator of the gas potential in an area of strategic interest for Shell,’ the company said in a statement . Shell has a controlling interest in Rosmari-1 in partnership with Malaysia’s state-owned energy company Petronas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports Malaysia has about 83 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves and is No. 3 in the world in terms of exports of liquefied natural gas behind Qatar and Indonesia. Exxon Mobil Corp. in February said it started production at the Damar field off the coast of Malaysia, which has a projected capacity of 200 million [...]

More production expected from top U.S. oil shale basins

Filed in Shale Oil by on 18 April 2014

 Oil production from some of the top shale basins in the United States is expected to increase by 70,000 barrels per day next month, the Energy Department said. In a weekly update , the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said it expected the gains to come from the combined output from the Bakken, Niobrara, Permian and Eagle Ford shale basins. EIA said it expected the Permian basin in the southern United States to show the most growth, while a spring thaw in Northern Plains states may disrupt some activity in the Bakken region between mid-April and June. EIA said flat oil prices and rising costs meant energy companies may pull back on future spending on exploration and development in the shale basins, though increasing drilling efficiency may offset the loss. Nevertheless, EIA said annual reports from oil and natural [...]

Gulf Coast crude oil inventories reach record level

Filed in Oil Supply by on 18 April 2014

Crude oil inventories on the U.S. Gulf Coast (USGC) reached 207.2 million barrels (bbl) on April 11, a record high. The elevated inventory levels are the result of the continuing strong crude oil production growth, the opening of TransCanada’s Marketlink Pipeline, and a drop in crude oil inputs at USGC refineries as a result of seasonal maintenance. EIA weekly crude oil inventory data include inventories at tank farms, refineries, and in pipelines. Total working crude oil storage capacity on the USGC totaled 273.3 million bbl as of September 30, 2013 (the most recent date for which that number is available). Tank farm storage accounted for 200.5 million bbl of that capacity, and storage at refineries accounted for 72.9 million bbl. EIA does not include a pipeline capacity number in its working storage capacity estimate. While USGC crude oil inventories typically build during the beginning of the year, this year’s [...]

U.S. Energy Rigs Unchanged at 1,831, Baker Hughes Says

Filed in Oil Supply by on 18 April 2014

Rigs targeting oil and natural gas in the U.S. were unchanged this week at 1,831, according to Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) Oil rigs declined by seven to 1,510, data posted on the company’s website show. The gas count increased by six to 316, the Houston-based field services company said. Miscellaneous rigs rose by one to five. The total count gained 52 rigs in the first quarter as producers ramped up drilling in shale formations from North Dakota to Texas, boosting domestic crude output to the highest in a quarter-century. The boom helped the nation meet 87 percent of its energy needs in 2013, the highest since 1985, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. “The prolific rise in domestic crude oil production volume has resulted in a steep fall in U.S. petroleum imports,” Bloomberg Industries analysts Vincent Piazza and Gurpal Dosanjh said in a report yesterday. “Net imports [...]