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Energy

  • A Flagship U.S. Coal Project Gets Quashed

    Producers in the coal space are desperately looking for answers these days.Miners are trying to find ways to maintain profitability. In the face of falling prices for most grades of coal globally.The effects have been particularly strong in the U.S. Where environmental regulations, and abundant mine supply, have conspired to drop local prices to multi-year lows.And the industry was dealt another blow this week. When a key export project was denied by regulatory authorities, now putting this high-hopes work in jeopardy.The project is a coal terminal on the Pacific coast of Oregon. Advanced over the past two years by Australia's…

  • Dropping Oil Prices Threaten Moscow’s Budget

    Oil and gas are at the heart of the Russian economy and are largely responsible for keeping Moscow’s government budget in balance. But the recent decline in the price of oil from the North Sea and Texas has now spread to Urals crude, giving President Vladimir Putin one more economic headache.The price of Urals crude fell just below $100 per barrel on Aug. 18, an 18-month low. On Aug. 19, it dropped to less than $97 per barrel. These declines coincided with similar drops in the price of Brent crude from the North Sea and U.S. oil.The reasons are fairly…

  • Ten Facts About Coal You Probably Didn’t Know

    While I’ve been digging into a bunch of different commodities recently, there have been a number of interesting bits and bobs relating to coal that I’ve been squirreling away. Hence, here are ten tidbits that I wanted to share:1) Coal is currently used to meet 30% of global primary energy needs, which is the highest level since 1970. It is used to generate 41% of the world’s electricity and is used in the production of 70% of the world’s steel.2)  According to the World Resources Institute, almost 1,200 coal-fired power plants had been proposed globally in 2012, with China and…

  • Five Regions Where Big Oil Is Foolishly Chasing Profits

    Big Oil has been very successful at developing sophisticated technology to access oil in some pretty remote areas. Consider the technological skill necessary to drill several miles below the seabed at staggering depths, or the processing equipment needed to transform viscous bitumen into usable fuel – these are impressive feats of engineering and science. But after years of spending billions of dollars on these challenges, the world’s largest oil companies are running into a serious problem: Many of their projects are not profitable and won’t be anytime soon.The Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) has put together an impressive report that outlines…

  • Oil Companies Turning Away From The Middle East

    The violence and cutthroat politics of the Middle East, combined with declining oil and gas production levels, has triggered a subtle but significant shift away from what has long been the center of the energy industry to other regions around the world.The overall geopolitical situation in the Middle East has been deteriorating since the first major war between Arabs and Israelis in 1948. Conflicts are becoming more violent, weapons used are deadlier, and the number of casualties keeps rising. The two most recent conflicts in the region –the war in Gaza between Palestinians and Israelis -- claimed the lives of…

  • Is Foam About To Transform The Oil Recovery Business?

    The best way to get oil out of the ground may be to pump in foam.Scientists pumped foam into an experimental rig that mimicked the flow paths deep underground and found the foam was more effective than more commonly used materials, such as water and gas.Oil rarely sits in a pool underground waiting to be pumped out to energy-hungry surface dwellers. Often, it lives in formations of rock and sand and hides in small cracks and crevices that have proved devilishly difficult to tap. Drillers pump various substances downhole to loosen and either push or carry oil to the surface.Sibani…

  • Ukraine’s Next Crisis? Economic Disaster

    Ukraine’s next crisis will be a devastatingly economic one, as violent conflict destroys critical infrastructure in the east and brings key industry to a halt, furthering weakening the energy sector by crippling coal-based electricity production.The Ukrainian military’s showdown with separatists in the industrial east has forced coal mines to severely cut production or close down entirely. This has led to an electricity crisis that can only be staunched by cutting domestic production along with exports to Europe, Crimea, and Belarus -- or worse, getting more imports from Russia.In the coal centers of Ukraine’s industrial east—Luhansk and Donetsk—fighting has forced the…

  • How The Worsening Ukraine-Russia Crisis Will Affect Energy Markets

    The confrontation between Ukraine and Russia has entered a potentially dangerous new phase that could increase the likelihood of a dispute over energy supplies.On Aug. 15, Ukrainian authorities reported that they destroyed a convoy of armored vehicles that had pushed into Ukraine from Russia. The details were murky, but armored vehicles apparently entered Ukraine from Russian territory close to where a convoy of Russian aid trucks was located. Tensions over Russia’s attempt to send aid to eastern Ukraine had been brewing for days, as Ukraine suspected it was a cover for a shipment of military supplies to pro-Russian rebels. Ukrainian…

  • Energy For All – But Make Sure To Read The Fine Print

    Why We Need to Be Careful with How We Generalize Energy NeedsDoña Maria (pictured above) moved from being one of the 1.4 billion people without access to electricity to one of the several million people who now receive modest amounts of electricity from a solar home system (SHS), which have emerged as keystone technologies in international efforts to address energy poverty. Unfortunately, while the SHS contributes quality of life benefits, it has not helped to improve Doña Maria’s income levels. Stories such as this raise important questions: How might we begin to unpack the meaning of ‘needs’? Who has the…

  • Why Appalachian Coal Can’t Compete With Colombia

    Deep in U.S. coal country, people are suffering economically not just from the White House’s determination to reduce America’s dependence on coal, but also because of competition from an unlikely place: Colombia.To be sure, an abundance of cheap natural gas is responsible for most of economic hurt in mining states like West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. Record natural gas production from shale has given utilities a cheaper, and cleaner, fuel.  Also, as Republicans are eager to point out, environmental regulations have put a gradually tightening noose around the neck of Big Coal. With new limits on toxic emissions, and…