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This Week in Energy: Senatorial Plea for Fast Action on LNG Exports

Energy funding proposals and rejections this week in DC as Republicans attempt (unsuccessfully to slash and burn; more money for uranium enrichment at home; a desperate senatorial plea for fast action on LNG exports; clean-up on a Gulf of Mexico natural gas leak; the DOE’s latest report on the energy impact of climate change and what’s coming this weekend in our premium newsletter …

This week in energy in Washington DC, the House defeated a proposal to cut out funding for uranium enrichment technology under the aegis of the American Centrifuge Project led by Ohio energy firm USEC. This project is either a huge waste of money or vital to national security, depending on who you ask. The proposal would have cut $48 million in federal funding for USEC from a pending energy and water appropriations bill. The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess, Republican-Texas, who views the project’s funding as essentially a bailout package for a languishing uranium enrichment company. The project receives bipartisan criticism and support. Current funding for the project ends on 30 September 2013, but the project is slated for completion on 31 December. The USEC is working with the Energy Department to research, develop and deploy test centrifuge technology. The $48 million from the energy and water appropriations bill would cover the remaining three months of needed funding. The goal is to have USEC’s Piketon plant produce enough fuel to power dozens of nuclear power plants across the country. Proponents also argue that producing enriched uranium domestically will strengthen national security.

At the same time, the House rejected a series of Republican-led proposals to slash money for renewable energy research in what appears to be retaliation for the Obama administration’s move to close the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The House proposal called for only $30.4 billion ($3 billion less than last year) for Energy Department programs, including nuclear weapons maintenance. Essentially, the proposal sought to cut renewable energy spending in half.

US Senators have been especially busy this week, and they have LNG exports on their minds. A total of 32 senators (bipartisan) issued a letter to the Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz this week, urging him to fast track approval of LNG exports. “We appreciate the attention you have already given this topic since your confirmation last month,” the senators wrote. “However, were are concerned that the timeline for considering these applications may jeopardize our ability to retain a competitive position against other natural gas exporting nations who are also working diligently to export LNG. The fact is there is a global race for market share underway. American competitors have been at a disadvantage for the past year and a half because the DOE has delayed action on pending applications.

There are some 19-20 LNG projects still awaiting approval, but there is optimism that the DOE will approve perhaps half a dozen of them before the end of the year.

At the time of writing, workers were busy pumping mud into an old Gulf of Mexico well (dating back to the 1970s) south of Louisiana where a natural gas leak was leaving a rainbow sheen on the water’s surface.  The wellhead is at a platform 74 miles southeast of Port Fourchon, Louisiana. As of Tuesday, 9 July, the sheen was about four miles wide and three-quarters of a mile long. The well’s owner, Energy Resource Technology (acquired by Talos energy earlier this year) is working to plug the leak.

Another highlight this week is a FERC report attempting to demonstrate the impact of climate change on the energy sector, with a strong focus on Texas. The report suggests that:

•    thermoelectric power plants are at risk from decreasing water availability and increasing air and water temperatures
•    energy infrastructure along the coast is a risk from rising sea levels, increasing storm intensity, higher storm surge, higher flooding—all of which could disrupt oil and gas production, refining and distribution (for both oil and gas and electricity)
•    fuel transportation can be negatively impacted
•    availability of renewable energy sources could be negatively impacted

This week’s special report comes from Premium’s Inside Investor and takes a look at the Asian coal markets and why we believe there are fantastic opportunities in this beaten down market for investors. The full report is below.

And please don’t miss out on the chance to get our premium newsletter this week. We’ve got a great line-up of special reports for investors that look at new technology & trends in the energy sector and which companies are positioned to achieve superb gains in the future.

From the Inside Opportunities report:

Six Tech Advancements Changing the Fossil Fuels Game

Oil and gas is getting bigger, deeper, faster and more efficient, with new technology chipping away at “peak oil” concerns. While hydraulic fracturing has been the most visible revolutionary advancement, other high-tech developments are keeping the ball rolling—from the next generation of ultra-deepwater drillships, subsea oil and gas infrastructure and multi-well-pad drilling to M2M networking, floating LNG facilities, new dimensions in seismic imagery and supercomputing for analog exploration.

We look at 6 advances energy investors should be on top of:

•    Advanced Semi-Submersibles & 6th Generation Drillships
•    Subsea Processing
•    Multi-Well-Pad Drilling: Octopus in the House
•    Supercomputing & Seismic Dimensions Einstein Would Appreciate
•    LNG Technology Floating is not a Fantasy
•    M2M for Oil & Gas: Getting Smarter and More Connected
•    Who to watch (and own) – two companies that are set to benefit from these new advances

To read this and our other reports from this week (which you don’t want to miss) start a 30 day free trial to Oilprice.com Premium. You will get full access to our archive, there is no risk to you as you can cancel at any time in this 30 day period. Click here for more information.

That’s it for us this week - I hope you enjoy the below report and have a great weekend.

Best regards,

James Stafford
Editor, Oilprice.com

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