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June 1st, 2012 Archives
| Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2012, at 5:28 PM ET
Exxon Mobil’s reticence to come clean about fracking makes Chesapeake Energy look good. That’s a rare feat - and hardly one to brag about. The troubled gas firm is infamously opaque. But its openness on the risks of fracking puts larger rivals like Exxon Mobil and Chevron to shame. After another large minority vote from investors for more information on this controversial practice, Big Oil should follow its troubled cousin’s lead.
The fallout from fracking is no longer merely a worry for environmentalists. As much as a fifth of Exxon’s giant fossil fuel trove can only be accessed by using the drilling method, which creates mini-quakes to crack open fuel-laden rocks. So the threat of fracking-related mishaps or tighter regulation ought to concern its shareholders. Chevron too became one of America’s largest frackers after its 2011 takeover of Atlas Energy.
While gas and oil output from shale has been surging, threats to the industry have also been mounting. New York State and Canada’s Quebec province have both announced a moratorium on fracking and France has banned it outright. Chevron even had its shale exploration license canceled in Bulgaria after the nation turned against fracking.
Yet both Exxon and Chevron continue to give investors only bare-bones disclosure on such perils. Close to 30 percent of investors at Exxon Mobil are demanding more, up from around 28 percent last year. A chunky minority at Chevron - 27 percent - agreed.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.slate.com/blogs/breakingviews/2012/05/30/exxon_s_fracking_gag_makes_chesapeake_look_good_.html?wpisrc=sl_iphoneShare This Post
By LIAM DENNING May 31, 2012, 1:52 p.m. ET
Chesapeake Energy, with its plot twists and colorful characters, can sometimes seem like a cliffhanger soap opera.
One handle on where this story is going next is the company's net working capital. Defined as current assets less current liabilities, this offers insights into a company's efficiency and short-term liquidity. The latter is especially in focus, given Chesapeake's recent resort to an expensive $4 billion bridge loan to tide it over until it can sell several assets to reduce its heavy debt burden.
At the end of the first quarter, Chesapeake had a net working-capital deficit of $2.74 billion. In other words, short-term liabilities exceeded short-term assets. This had actually shrunk from a $3.91 billion gap at the end of 2011, but was still more than double the level at the end of March 2011.
Working-capital deficits aren't necessarily alarming if a company is growing rapidly and can access the necessary financing. But Chesapeake's deficit does set it apart and bears watching given the company's recent turmoil.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304821304577438430352622986.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012, 6:00 PM Updated: Friday, June 01, 2012, 8:15 AM
By Robert Schoenberger, The Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The shale gas boom hitting Ohio, Pennsylvania and several other states could provide a major advantage to manufacturers in the United States -- cheap energy that could significantly cut the costs to produce goods here, a group of economists said Thursday.
"By 2025, the manufacturing sector alone could save $11.5 billion in energy costs," Robert McCutcheon, an economist with consulting group PwC, said at a manufacturing summit hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. McCutcheon's company, formerly called PriceWaterhouseCoopers, released a study late last year predicting that as many as 1 million new U.S. manufacturing jobs could come from lower-cost energy.
"If we save $11.5 billion, that's investment capital that could be redirected elsewhere," McCutcheon added.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.cleveland.com/shalegas/index.ssf/2012/05/shale_gas_boom_could_bring_man.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 05/31/2012 11:20 am Updated: 05/31/2012 11:57 am
A BP engineering executive warned senior BP management early on in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill that internal models did not support estimates of the size of the undersea leak being provided to government officials and the public, according to company emails.
On May 15, 2010, Mike Mason, a vice president in BP's exploration and production technology division, wrote to Andy Inglis, chief executive of global exploration and production, warning him that the company's "data and knowledge" did not support the 5,000 barrel per day figure touted by executives as their best estimate of the size of the leak.
"We should be very cautious standing behind a 5,000 [barrel per day] figure as our modeling shows that this well could be making anything up to 100,000 [barrels per day]," Mason wrote in one of the emails, obtained by The Huffington Post.
The next day, Jack Lynch, BP's general counsel in the U.S., forwarded Mason's message to two BP executives leading the company's oil spill response: Doug Suttles, chief operating officer for BP's global exploration and production business, and David Rainey, a former BP vice president in charge of exploration in the Gulf of Mexico.
The emails suggest an internal struggle at the highest levels of BP over the issue of the well's flow rate, which became intensely controversial during the course of the spill. At the outset of the disaster, BP estimated the flow at just 1,000 barrels per day. By the end of the three-month spill, a government-led scientific team estimated that the well released an average of more than 50,000 barrels per day.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/31/bp-oil-spill-flow-estimates_n_1558993.html?ref=greenShare This Post
By SEAN COCKERHAM
Anchorage Daily News
Published: May 31st, 2012 10:42 PM
Last Modified: May 31st, 2012 10:43 PM
WASHINGTON -- The oil industry spent more than $1 million lobbying in Alaska in its effort to lower state oil taxes this year, including a $3,120 dinner in Washington, D.C., when the Alaska Legislature shut down for lawmakers' "Energy Break" trip to the nation's capital.
The spending, which ranged from wining and dining Alaska legislators to statewide advertising campaigns, came in just three months as the industry and Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell made a heavy but unsuccessful push to convince the Alaska Legislature to slash how much the state taxes the profits made by the oil companies.
"We consider our effort to inform Alaskans about the need for comprehensive oil tax reform as part of our mission as the business trade association for the industry in Alaska, so it is well worth the time and expense," said Kara Moriarty, executive director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.adn.com/2012/05/30/2485737/oil-lobby-spent-1m-plus-to-influence.htmlShare This Post
Posted: 05/31/2012 9:35 pm
Journalist and author, 'Reckoning at Eagle Creek' and 'In the Sierra Madre'
Fifty years ago this spring, The Atlantic published a chilling expose on how reckless strip mining had "totally transformed one of earth's terrain features." The eastern Kentucky author methodically described the process of shovels and bulldozers that would "slice off the top of the mountain to recover all of the highest seam" of coal, reducing the mountain to a "colossal rubble heap."
Harry Caudill didn't pull any punches: He called it the "rape of the Appalachians" in 1962, and his groundbreaking essay on strip mining mountains soon reached millions of Americans in Reader's Digest, and then as a chapter in his book, Night Comes to the Cumberlands.
Half a century later, the "rape of the Appalachians" is in full force, carried out through an admittedly failed regulatory process that refuses to abolish one of the most egregious mining practices in U.S. history.
And a half century later, despite decades of subsequent articles -- in 2001, author Jeremiah Purdy updated Caudill's "rape of the Appalachians" in an American Prospect article, as did Michael Shnayerson in Vanity Fair in 2006 -- books, studies, public hearings, films, and two generations of protest movements, mountaintop removal -- and the devastating impact of all strip mining across the country -- remains one of the great denials in the nation today.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/the-appalachians-mining_b_1561093.html?ref=greenShare This Post
The Huffington Post | By David Sands
Posted: 05/31/2012 1:43 pm
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is far from energized about a proposed ballot measure that would obligate the state's utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025.
The Associated Press reports that although the governor has yet to take a formal stand on the issue, he has concerns about the financial viability of using wind, solar, hydropower and biomass to meet Michigan's energy needs.
"I'm not sure on the face of it that it makes a lot of sense," Snyder told the AP during an interview at the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual Mackinac Policy Conference. The business interest group announced at the same conference that it opposes the measure.
An organization called Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs is conducting a petition drive to put the proposal before voters in November. They're asking Michiganders to adopt the renewable energy plan as an amendment to the state's constitution. The group claims the measure would bring $10 billion in investment to Michigan, promoting job growth without significantly increasing energy prices.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/31/renewable-energy-michigan-25-by-2025-rick-snyder_n_1559315.html?ref=green&ir=GreenShare This Post
POWERnews May 31, 2012
Planning reserve margins in California and Texas will be "tight" this summer, and New England generators could face uncertain supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the North American Electric Reliability Corporation's (NERC's) newly released 2012 Summer Reliability Assessment finds.
The 195-page assessment forecasts that between June 1 and Sept. 30, a majority of NERC's assessment areas will have sufficient resources to meet summer peak demands. However, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the grid operator that serves about 85% of Texas, shows planning reserve margins of 13.5%, below NERC's reference margin level of 13.75%. And in California, planning reserve margins of 15.2% are barely above NERC reference margin levels by 0.1% for the summer.
"Insufficient reserves during peak hours could lead to an increased risk of entering emergency operating conditions, including the possibility of curtailment of interruptible loads and even rotating outages of firm loads," said the international regulatory authority established to evaluate the reliability of the North America bulk power system.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.powermag.com/POWERnews/4693.html?hq_e=el&hq_m=2454801&hq_l=6&hq_v=b60407b3b2Share This Post
Posted: 06/01/2012 12:00 AM
Regulation has become a suspect word in the minds of many. But that's not the case with the historic new building efficiency standards approved unanimously by the California Energy Commission on Thursday.
The standards have been greeted with universal approval and appropriately so. The building industry, environmentalists and utility firms helped fashion the new rules and enthusiastically embrace them.
The new standards for residential construction are 25 percent more efficient than the ones they replace and 30 percent more efficient for commercial construction.
Under them, beginning in 2014, home builders will be required to fit new houses with solar ready roofs, more efficient windows, insulated hot water pipes and whole house fans among other common sense improvements.
Nonresidential buildings will also have to have solar ready roofs under the standards, employ cool roof technologies and install high performance windows that maximize the use of "daylighting,"
To read the entire article go to: http://m.sacbee.com/sacramento/db_266268/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=IRIbKDKcShare This Post
email@example.com (Mark Glover)
Posted: 06/01/2012 12:00 AM
The California Energy Commission on Thursday approved what it called nation-leading efficiency standards for new homes and commercial buildings.
Approved by a 4-0 vote, the upgraded standards include improved windows, insulation, lighting, air-conditioning systems and other features to reduce energy consumption in California homes and businesses by a projected 25 percent or more, compared with previous standards approved in 2008.
The amended standards are due to take effect on Jan. 1, 2014, applying to new construction of houses and buildings. The standards also will apply to major building additions and retrofits.
"These standards are the strongest in the nation … giving us the most efficient buildings in the nation," said Commissioner Karen Douglas. "The package that the commission approved is the greatest savings increment that the commission has ever achieved in a standards update in over 30 years."
The CEC said energy efficiency standards it has approved have saved Californians more than $66 billion in electricity and natural gas costs since 1978.
To read the entire article go to: http://m.sacbee.com/sacramento/db_99258/contentdetail.htm?Share This Post
More than 1,500 MW added
Bill Opalka | May 29, 2012
Utilities are embracing more solar system than ever in their portfolios, not just with third-party installations by businesses and homeowners, but through their own acquisitions of projects.Share This Post
By Mark Jaffe The Denver Post 05/28/2012 - 8:41 PM EDT
When it comes to solar electricity, California and New Jersey led the way in 2011, according to the Solar Electric Power Association's annual rankings.
In 2011, 62,500 photovoltaic systems were installed, according to the survey, and a total of 1,500 megawatts were added to the grid. That represented a 120 percent increase from 2010.
Pacific Gas & Electric was the top-ranked utility, with 287.7 megawatts of installed solar capacity. Southern California Edison and Sacramento Municipal weighed in with another 138.5 megawatts and 52.8 megawatts, respectively. That gave California utility-installed capacity of 479 megawatts for the year.
New Jersey's Public Service Electric & Gas Co. was No. 2 on the list, with 181.3 megawatts.
Xcel Energy's Colorado subsidiary, the state's largest electricity provider, was eighth, with 51.3 megawatts.
To read the entire article go to: http://business-news.thestreet.com/denver-post-energy/story/california-new-jersey-top-associatons-survey-solar-energy/1Share This Post
A new study looking at key aquifers beneath the Great Plains and California's Central Valley suggests that areas of Texas and Kansas are drawing groundwater at an unsustainable rate.
By Pete Spotts / May 30, 2012
Key farming regions in the US are drawing water from underground sources at unsustainable rates, with slightly more than one-third of the southern Great Plains at risk of tapping out its sources within the next 30 years.
Those are among the conclusions of a study of the nation's two major aquifers – one underlying the high plains, the other beneath California's Central Valley – published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Concerns over the loss of groundwater in these areas aren't new. But the researchers say the tools they've used build a detailed picture of these critical water sources – how the amount of water they contain varies with time, location, and regional climate patterns – could allow for more nuanced approached to local water management.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/2012/0530/Southern-Great-Plains-could-run-out-of-groundwater-in-30-years-study-findsShare This Post
Posted: 05/31/2012 4:16 pm
American writer based in London
It's the next big thing you've never heard of: environmentally friendly fuels so structurally similar to petroleum, they "drop in" to existing technology and infrastructure. Companies currently researching and developing this new generation of biofuels claim that their processes extract value from naturally occurring resources without wreaking environmental havoc. Their raw materials, or "feedstock," range from sugar cane processing waste to algae and bacteria. But what's even more exciting than drop-in biofuel's green potential?
Jobs, right now. In late 2011, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and Sundrop Fuels announced the construction of a $450 million biofuels refinery to create "the world's first renewable green gasoline that's adaptable to existing pumps, pipelines, engines and transportation infrastructure." Construction on the initial phase of Sundrop's facility will take place this year, with a 50 million gallon per year refinery due for completion in 2014. Its Alexandria, La., site will benefit from 150 well-paid manufacturing and research and development jobs, with the potential for 1,300 indirect jobs for the Central Louisiana region.
To realize an operation of this scale, a number of pieces had to fall into place. In this case, it took a combination of resource availability, the right technology, investment, state aid and legislation. Geographically, Alexandria is well positioned to access to Sundrop's feedstock: natural gas coupled with wood byproducts from renewable forests are made into fuel using Sundrop's proprietary conversion technology and ThyssenKrupp Uhde's High Temperature Winkler gasification process. Venture capital and a significant investment from Chesapeake Energy, Louisiana's biggest natural gas company, provided funding, while Louisiana's Economic Development (LED) team actively pursued Sundrop with performance-based grants, tax credits, subsidies, and a robust workforce development program. Not every state incentivizes alternative fuel investment, and LED achieved its objective without using federal funds.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/colleen-becker/drop-in-biofuels_b_1556162.html?ref=greenShare This Post
Posted: 05/31/2012 9:10 am
Author, 'Oil and Finance: The Epic Corruption Continues'
In April, the CME Group, the largest commodity exchange group in the country, comprising the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMerc), and the Commodity Exchange Inc. (Comex) blasted the president's plan to put regulators in charge of margin requirements for oil futures and warned the move risked raising prices.
The CME went on to pontificate, "The Administration's proposal to use margin requirements to control cash prices is misplaced. Taking away from the exchanges the ability to manage margins would make the markets less efficient, less tied to fundamental, and would create the potential to push the hedges out of the market which would make oil more expensive for all consumers."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/raymond-j-learsy/commodity-exchanges-prime_b_1558801.html?ref=green&ir=GreenShare This Post