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July, 2012 Archives
By LIAM DENNING July 22, 2012, 4:15 p.m. ET
Oil firms have to go where the oil (and gas) is. Increasingly, that place is the U.S.
Over half of global upstream oil and gas mergers and acquisitions since the start of 2011 targeted U.S. assets, up from an average of 37% in the prior four years, according to consultancy IHS Herold. Besides a relatively open market for energy assets, the shale boom has drawn in companies seeking reserves and know-how.
But this shift in the center of gravity for oil M&A poses a quandary for one group of important buyers: China's national oil companies, or NOCs.
Their traditional strength—the backing of Beijing—doesn't work in the U.S. When Washington derailed CNOOC's $18.5 billion bid for Unocal in 2005, much was made of the potential for vital U.S. resources and technology being transferred to the Chinese government at a time when peak oil fears were taking hold.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444097904577539313882482378.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
How Nat Gas Producers are Beating Low Prices
Ken Silverstein | Jul 22, 2012
As the country’s fortunes brighten, more oil and gas will be required to feed a recovery. While there’s a newfound abundance of both, the economics behind finding those resources and then delivering them are tricky.Share This Post
By MARK LEIBOVICH July 19, 2012
Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is starting a company that makes little electric cars. On a sweltering Friday in early July, GreenTech Automotive unveiled its signature vehicle — the MyCar — at a plant opening in the North Mississippi town of Horn Lake. McAuliffe was puttering backstage before the event with his pals Bill Clinton and Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi and archetypal Republican lobbyist.
The holding area was crowded and somewhat frenzied. People designated as V.I.P.’s kept streaming through, many in from China, where GreenTech is building an 18-million-square-foot facility. They arrived, dozens of them, via a Harrah’s shuttle bus with a big “Fun in Store for Those Who Ride” painted on the side. As Clinton prepared to go onstage, I asked him if he would ever consider buying a car from McAuliffe, who he once marveled could “talk an owl out of a tree.” “Absolutely, I would buy a new car from Terry,” he told me. “But a used car? I am not so sure about a used car.” He laughed and wheeled around and repeated the line to Barbour (“Listen to what I just told him . . . ”), while slapping his fleshy back.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/magazine/terry-mcauliffe-and-the-other-green-party.html?_r=1&ref=magazineShare This Post
By Kenneth R. Harney
July 22, 2012
WASHINGTON — It has been a controversial question in the home real estate market for years: Is there extra green when you buy green? Do houses with lots of energy-saving and sustainability features sell for more than houses without them? If so, by how much?
Some studies have shown that consumers' willingness to pay more for Energy Star and other green-rated homes tends to diminish during tough economic times. Others have found that green-certified houses sell for at least a modest premium over similar but less-efficient homes.
A new study involving an unusually large sample of homes sold in California between 2007 and early 2012 has documented that, holding all other variables constant, a green certification label on a house adds an average 9% to its selling value. Researchers also found something they dubbed the Prius effect: Buyers in areas where consumer sentiment in support of environmental conservation is relatively high — as measured by the percentage of hybrid auto registrations in local ZIP Codes — are more willing to pay premiums for green-certified houses than buyers in areas where hybrid registrations were lower.
The study found no significant correlations between local utility rates and consumers' willingness to pay premium prices for green-labeled homes. But it did find that in warmer parts of California, especially in the Central Valley compared with neighborhoods closer to the coast, buyers are willing to pay more for the capitalized cost savings on energy that come with a green-rated property.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/business/realestate/la-fi-harney-20120722,0,7849454.storyShare This Post
Review to assess integrity management and response protocols
By Dina O'Meara, Calgary Herald July 20, 2012
CALGARY — The Alberta government is set to launch a three-pronged investigation into oil and gas pipeline safety, noting the province’s’ economic success hinges on the ability to access markets for its energy products.
The review will target how companies manage pipeline integrity, safe crossings over water ways and spill response times and protocols, and will be completed by an undisclosed third party, provincial regulators and industry, said Energy Minister Ken Hughes.
“Alberta has a very strong and stringent regulatory framework but we need to be able to provide Albertans, Canadians and the international community with assurance that pipelines are safe,” Hughes said Friday, in Calgary.
“Let me be clear; if improvements are required I will make sure that they will happen,” he said.
“Let me also be clear that I will hold industry accountable.”
The action follows a series of high profile oil spills in the province, including a 480,000 litre spill of sour crude into the Red Deer River at the beginning of June, and an 800,000 litre spill in northwestern Alberta in May.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.vancouversun.com/business/energy-resources/Alberta+launch+pipeline+safety+inquiry/6966312/story.htmlShare This Post
By EDWARD WELSCH July 20, 2012, 2:50 p.m. ET
CALGARY, Alberta—Alberta Energy Minister Ken Hughes called for an independent review of pipeline safety in the province following a number of oil spills this year.
Mr. Hughes requested that Alberta's energy regulator, the Energy Resources Conservation Board, work with an independent third party to review pipeline safety and accident response, according to a government statement.
"The energy industry is the economic lifeblood of our province, and at the same time we want to ensure that Albertans have clean water, clean land and clean air," Mr. Hughes said. "Today we are taking significant steps to ensure this will be the case for decades to come."
Alberta is the largest oil- and gas-producing province in Canada and is crossed by nearly 250,000 miles of pipelines.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444330904577539150042810294.html?mod=WSJ_Energy_leftHeadlinesShare This Post
Let me share an remarkable story with you. It’s about coal: the people it harms, the arrogance the industry has developed over years of being coddled, and the way it’s all starting to fall apart.
Up to the northeast of Las Vegas, off of I-15, is the 48-year-old Reid Gardner coal-fired power plant, owned by NV Energy.
It spews lead, smog, mercury, and carbon dioxide, but for our present purposes, let’s focus on its gigantic ponds and piles of coal ash. Not only are they leaking chromium into the groundwater (see this report [PDF] for more on that), they blow great white clouds of coal ash across the community of Paiute Native Americans in the adjoining town of Moapa. Lots and lots of Moapa Paiutes are getting sick and dying. EPA is in the midst of considering whether to require expensive upgrades to the plant; the anti-coal movement is agitating to shut it down.
Anyway, that’s the background. So last week, a local Las Vegas NBC affiliate decided to do a news report on it. Here reporter Reed Cowan presents the Paiutes’ perspective, along with NV Energy’s contention that the coal ash does contain arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals, but that it is “technically not toxic.”
As you see at the end there, the intent was for this to be a two-part story, and for the second part to convey NV Energy’s perspective. Watch what happened:
To read the entire article go to: http://grist.org/coal/a-tragicomic-tale-of-coal-industry-incompetence-and-disregard/Share This Post
RALEIGH, N.C.—Duke Energy Corp.'s lead director said Friday her board jettisoned incoming CEO Bill Johnson because he withheld information from the company's board.
Her remarks agitated the head of the state's utilities commission. In a tense exchange, North Carolina Utilities Commission Chairman Edward S. Finley reminded Duke lead director Ann Gray that his board has the power to rescind its approval for the $26 billion merger of Duke and Progress Energy Inc., completed July 2, if it concludes that Duke misled state officials when it promised to make Mr. Johnson, formerly Progress's CEO, head of the combined utility.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444097904577539221033882142.html?Share This Post
July 20, 2012 Elizabeth McCarthy
Original source: http://www.cacurrent.com/storyDisplay.php?sid=6262
The Kern County Board of Supervisors July 17 unanimously approved development guidelines for photovoltaic solar projects proposed on productive farmland. The move is aimed at helping renewables developers better assess their financial risks at the start of the permitting process.
Kern County is the first county in the state to set land use parameters for photovoltaic developments on farm land.
“This would somewhat dis-incentivize [photovoltaic developers] from choosing productive farmland,” Lorelei Oviatt, county planning department director, told supervisors.
The guidelines “strike a balance between private property rights and the economic interests of the county,” said board chair Zack Scrivner. He noted that a farmer selling land to a solar developer is a private transaction, but loss of agricultural land means loss of annual jobs for farmworkers, impacting the county’s economy.
The land use blueprint is “a screening method for how a project could be considered for processing. It is not a screening method for approval,” Oviatt added.
The Kern County Farm Bureau and solar developer Recurrent Energy backed the guidelines, although they took issue with some provisions.Share This Post
Posted: 07/20/2012 01:00:00 AM MDT
By Mark Jaffe
The Denver Post
A solar plant in Alamosa built by Cogentrix LLC is up and providing electricity to Xcel Energy — but the closure of the factory producing the plant's solar panels has raised questions about its future.
The 30-megwatt plant, estimated to cost between $140 million and $150 million, received a $90.6 million federal loan guarantee from the Department of Energy.
Cogentrix is owned by Goldman Sachs, the New York-based investment bank.
Amonix, the maker of the concentrating photovoltaic panels used at the Cogentrix plant, announced Thursday it closed its 150-megawatt Nevada factory as part of restructuring to "parallel changing market conditions." It still has a 5 -megawatt factory in Hatch, N.M.
Lower demand for the high-tech solar panels, which use lenses to concentrate the sun's rays and boost panel output, led to the closure, Amonix said.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_21115641/colorado-solar-plant-may-be-affected-by-closureShare This Post
Published Sunday, Jul. 22, 2012
Frazzled by decades of fighting over the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, state and federal officials understandably want to sing "Kumbaya" and declare they have forged a breakthrough on balancing the Delta's environmental needs with the state's water demands.
That's what you'll likely hear Wednesday when Gov. Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar are expected to announce a deal to restore wetlands, recover imperiled fish and restructure the plumbing of this troubled estuary.
Take it with a grain of salt.
Although Brown and Salazar have a deal, it's a deal with crucial details deferred. What they have is a "trust us" framework that keeps the ball rolling but easily could be knocked out of balance by whoever succeeds them in the state Capitol or the White House.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/22/4646320/delta-water-deal-defers-key-details.htmlShare This Post
Special to The Bee Published Sunday, Jul. 22, 2012
Southern Californians have a reputation for wasting water. But that's more fiction than fact. We're actually a model for wise water use. Thanks to conservation and efficiency, the city of Los Angeles uses no more water today than it did 40 years ago, despite adding 1 million residents. And the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's new water plan shows how we Southern Californians can avoid the false choice between healthy rivers and a healthy economy simply by continuing to use our water resources more wisely.
Nearly 50 percent of Los Angeles' water supply comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers converge and flow out to the ocean. The Bay-Delta ecosystem is important for many reasons. It's the largest estuary on the West Coast of North America and the source of most of the salmon south of the Columbia River. It supports an important recreational economy, thousands of fishing industry jobs, millions of waterfowl, cranes and other birds along the Pacific flyway, and thriving farming communities in and around the Delta.
It takes a lot of energy to move that water south to Los Angeles. The State Water Project pumps water out of the Delta, down the Central Valley and up a 2,000-foot lift over the Grapevine. Pumping all this water accounts for 2 to 3 percent of all of California's total electricity use, contributing to greenhouse gas pollution and sucking far more water out of the rivers in the Delta than the fish and wildlife there can withstand.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/22/4646312/reducing-las-reliance-on-delta.htmlShare This Post
Published Sunday, Jul. 22, 2012
The groundwater that is the lifeblood of many Central Valley farms is imperiled if farmers continue to use it at current levels, according to new research.
A recently released study warns that the current depletion rate of the Central Valley aquifer – the large store of underground water the region's farmers use for irrigation – is unsustainable, and will continue to be so despite the surety that wet years will eventually follow dry ones.
The study paints a stark picture of how much water has been removed from the aquifer. In the mostly drought-defined years of 2006-09, farmers in the southern end of the Central Valley used enough groundwater to fill the equivalent of Lake Mead, said Bridget Scanlon, lead researcher in the study and senior research scientist at the University of Texas. The study plumbed both the Central Valley and Texas aquifers and used data from NASA satellites and thousands of wells.
The study is timely given that California's recently ended rainfall year was very dry, and drought has seized a large portion of the country this summer. To date, nearly 1,300 counties in 29 states have been declared natural disaster areas by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which qualifies area farmers for low-cost emergency loans.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/22/4648322/valley-groundwater-threatened.htmlShare This Post
High levels of hexavalent chromium, a toxic heavy metal, add to the hurdles Cadiz Inc. faces in its plan to ship water to the Southland.
By Bettina Boxall, Los Angeles Times
July 21, 2012
The Mojave Desert groundwater thatCadiz Inc.wants to sell to Southland suburbs contains hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen, in amounts that are hundreds of times greater than the state's public health goal for drinking water.
The presence of the toxic heavy metal, which occurs naturally in the aquifer Cadiz proposes to tap, could force the company to undertake expensive treatment, driving up the cost of the project and ultimately the price of its water.
The chromium contamination is one of several concerns raised by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which owns and operates the 242-mile-long Colorado River Aqueduct that Cadiz would use to transport its supplies to customers.
Metropolitan has also informed Cadiz that the aqueduct space the company is counting on may not always be available, especially during dry years when demand for the Cadiz water would likely be the greatest.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-cadiz-chromium-20120721,0,2245495.storyShare This Post
firstname.lastname@example.org Published Sunday, Jul. 22, 2012
California is the nation's electric vehicle capital, hands down.
We buy them: 4,645 electric car purchases in 2011, representing nearly 57 percent of the national total, according to Santa Monica-based Edmunds.com.
We build them: Tesla's electric sedan, the Model S, is assembled in Fremont.
We're preparing for them: Electric charging stations are being built up and down the state, as are hydrogen fueling stations for fuel cell vehicles.
Despite that, electric vehicles – EVs for short – have not yet created a multibillion-dollar, job-filling juggernaut statewide.
By most estimates, the industry has created a few thousand jobs statewide over the past decade, a drop in the bucket in a state that employs millions. And 4,645 EV sales in California last year represent a tiny percentage of nearly 1.3 million new vehicle sales in California in 2011.
Those immersed in the industry have a simple response: Just wait.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/07/22/4646208/california-is-nations-key-player.htmlShare This Post