Drumbeat: August 8, 2012
Posted by Leanan on August 8, 2012 - 10:56am
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The drought that's killing crops across the Midwest and sending corn prices to record highs has revived calls to end or ease the government's requirement that corn-based ethanol be blended with gasoline.
Current rules stipulate that nearly 10% of the nation's gasoline supply come from corn-based ethanol. To make that ethanol, up to 40% of the country's annual corn production can be required.
Oil dropped from the highest close in more than two months in New York amid signs of weakening demand in the U.S., the world’s biggest crude consumer, and slowing growth in Germany.
Futures fell as much as 0.9 percent, dropping for the first time in four days. Crude consumption declined 4 percent to 15.9 million barrels a day last week, the biggest percentage decrease in a month, data from the American Petroleum Institute showed. Gasoline usage was the lowest since February, according to the API figures. German industrial production declined in June, led by a drop in construction output, data from the Economy Ministry in Berlin showed today.
RICHMOND, Calif. -- Investigators were looking at how a small, seemingly insignificant leak at one of the country's biggest oil refineries quickly unraveled into an intense fire that sent acrid black smoke into the sky and hundreds of people to hospitals with health complaints.
The leak started as a drip at about 4:15 p.m. Monday, officials said. Chevron -- which is required to "immediately" notify the public of any gas leak, fire or oil spill, according to state law -- did not consider it an immediate danger to residents nearby.
LONDON (Reuters) - British prompt gas prices rose on Tuesday morning as low North Sea supplies left the system undersupplied despite healthy import levels of liquefied natural gas (LNG), analysts said.
"I think we have come to an agreement about pricing for gas supplies. The price should be based on actual market price of gas taking into account ... regional tariffs for the Armenian economy to maintain its efficient position," Sargsyan told reporters after talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.
SULAIMANIYAH, Iraq -- Iraq's self-ruled northern Kurdish region has resumed pumping crude oil earmarked for export through the central government's pipeline after halting it for four months over a payment row.
VIENNA (Reuters) - Austrian energy group OMV posted a 82 percent increase in quarterly operating profit on Wednesday, easily beating market forecasts, as production returned to nearly normal in Libya and crude oil prices fell, helping its refining margin.
Standard Chartered Plc fell the most in almost 24 years as an analyst estimated it may face costs of $5.5 billion after being accused of violating U.S. money laundering laws over its dealings with Iranian banks.
AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Syria's defecting prime minister Riyad Hijab is in Jordan, the country's information minister said Wednesday, ending speculation about his whereabouts.
(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has decided to let Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the largest Chinese commercial bank, open a branch in the country, a sign of growing economic ties between the world's top oil exporter and second-biggest oil consumer, local media said.
LONDON (SHARECAST) - Oil giant BP has announced that DCC, a sales, marketing, distribution and business support services group, has agreed to buy its liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) distribution business in the UK.
Lago Agrio means bitter lake, renamed from Nueva Loja by the areas first oil workers after Texaco’s US headquarters. And what Texaco left behind is certainly bitter. After dumping toxic waste directly into rivers, they were ordered to stop and instead built holding pits, of which over 1,000 still remain. They are unlined, meaning they overflow when it rains, and when it’s dry they seep toxic waste down into the ground and contaminate the water.
Amazingly this information is not widely available, so I decided to take a trip from Ecuador down the Amazon to Brazil, in order to research the effects of the oil industry on the land and its people.
Two hundred and twenty five bucks. In April 2008, Jeff Rubin, chief economist at CIBC World Markets, predicted a barrel of oil would cost $225 by 2012. With oil at $118, it was a controversial call.
The error of the peak oil alarmists was not understanding that the cure for high prices is high prices. When prices rise, this may indeed signal scarcity, but if so, it also provides a financial incentive to throw investment, ingenuity and effort at the problem. Moreover, a high price for one commodity makes alternatives more competitive by comparison.
Profound changes are possible with disruptive, yet highly uncertain, innovations such as ultra-light-weight vehicle materials; new electric vehicle battery technologies; low-cost, low-pressure storage for natural gas or hydrogen; or breakthroughs yielding lower cost, low carbon transportation fuel.
Yet despite sustained investment in technology and infrastructure, these fuel and vehicle advances are not assured. There are competing priorities in the pursuit of new fuel and vehicle technologies that are at once reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible. Striking a balance that meets individual and societal goals is the challenge at hand for both industry and government.
Another heat wave is forecast to blanket much of the United States this week. We already have a drought to deal with. Could a power outage like the recent ones in India be next here if temperatures don't cool off? The answer is a resounding yes.
So rather than wait for another big blackout like the one in the Northeast nearly eight years ago, we need to put a big emphasis on fixing our country's "ancient" power grid.
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain is missing a huge potential for electricity savings by companies as the government focuses on a higher-profile effort to upgrade residential property and raise standards for home appliances and light bulbs, a draft government report shows.
LAS VEGAS — The politics of renewable energy headed the agenda in battleground Nevada on Tuesday, as Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar opened a fifth annual green energy conference with the announcement that a 12-square-mile wind energy farm in rural White Pine County will begin producing electricity.
OTTAWA — A dependence on fossil fuel resources is making the country vulnerable to a planetary “mega trend” toward low-carbon energy that “will affect the whole of Canada’s economy,” Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver was told in newly released internal briefing notes.
Dubai Municipality plans to use solar technology to reduce its consumption of traditionally produced electricity and water by 20 per cent over the next five years.
A proposal for a Chinese hydropower project is threatening to derail relations between India and China.
There are fears in India that the project, involving a 38,000-megawatt dam near the "Great Bend" of the Yarlung-Zangbo-Brahmaputra, may potentially reduce the volume of water flowing into India and Bangladesh.
Millions of Americans may be drinking water that is contaminated with dangerous doses of lead. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) knows it; state governments know it; local utilities know it. The only people who usually don’t know it are those who are actually drinking the toxic water.
When our nearest neighbors in Maine (two miles away) saw us for the first time after the winter, they said, “Oh, you’re still here.” I wasn’t sure if it was a statement or a question, but I was sure that many doubted our ability to cope with the shift from a suburban New Jersey life to an off-the-grid cabin in the woods of Maine for a year.
Oystein Wiig, a co-author of the new paper, has been studying Spitsbergen bowheads for 20 years. One reason it’s important to know that the critically endangered whales winter in the western part of the strait, he said in an e-mail, is that oil exploration may begin there in the future.
No comprehensive scientific study on the Arctic Ocean has been conducted by this administration, yet the most dangerous form of drilling is about to take place there.
Norway’s supply industry has major moneymaking opportunities by developing new technologies for field development in the Arctic, according to Intsok.
The foundation heads a project for promoting oil and gas sector industrial cooperation in Arctic waters between Russia and Norway.
High summer temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest have boosted electricity demand, helping natural gas end July by rebounding 69 percent from a 10-year low in April.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union and small island states criticised the United States on Tuesday for backing away from a U.N. goal of limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F).
They urged almost 200 governments to stick to the target, one of the few agreed goals in international climate policy, even though U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said it was unworkable.
OSLO (Reuters) - The United States reaffirmed support for a U.N. goal of limiting global warming after criticism from the European Union and small island states that Washington seemed to be backing away.
"The U.S. continues to support this goal. We have not changed our policy," U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern said in a statement on Wednesday.
LONDON (Reuters) - Almost 200 countries face the tough task of agreeing a new global climate deal by a deadline of 2015, forcing all nations to curb emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases.
LONDON/OSLO - Green economic growth rather than strict targets for cutting greenhouse gases needs higher priority if the world is to reach a deal to fight climate change by a 2015 deadline.
The World Bank said on Monday it plans to buy carbon credits from pig farms in the Philippines, helping farmers generate extra income by setting up environment friendly waste treatment facilities.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - What do olives stones shipped from the Mediterranean to Sweden and a wooden bed have in common? They can both count as part of EU efforts to limit the amount of carbon leaking into the atmosphere and, as such, they are hotly contested.
(Reuters) - Forest and farmland together cover more than three quarters of EU territory, but their role in capturing and releasing carbon emissions is not fully documented. Proposals to tighten the way emissions from agricultural and forest land are calculated will be debated over the coming months in Brussels.
The following outlines the situation so far.
A new analysis of worldwide temperatures over the past 60 years has found more evidence that global warming is already upon us, and is responsible for extreme heat waves -- such as the ones in Russia in 2010 and in Texas and Oklahoma last year.
Naturally, this refocuses attention on the current U.S. drought. Left out of the discussion, however, is another, equally serious and already pressing consequence of human- induced climate change: sea-level rise. On all coasts, we face a huge and building threat from too much water.