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  • Another Export Route for Oil Sands Blocked

    A city council in Maine took action on June 21 that all but blocks off another export route for Canada’s oil sands. The South Portland City Council voted 6-1 to block the export of oil from its waterfront, citing concerns about local air and water pollution. The vote potentially kills off a larger plan by the oil industry to connect Alberta’s oil sands to the Atlantic Coast. South Portland, Maine is a key piece of the puzzle because it is home to the end of a pipeline that runs between the coast and Montreal. The pipeline currently only runs in…

  • California’s Progressive, Divisive Cap and Trade Plan

    California is claiming the environmental high ground by preparing to take the next step in its carbon reduction plan, but the result may leave drivers fuming. Starting on January 1, 2015, a cap and trade system will go into effect for all transportation fuels in California, including, of course, gasoline. Oil companies are predicting it will mean an immediate increase of at least 12 cents a gallon at the pump.Utilities and heavy manufacturers in the Golden State already have to pay to emit carbon through the Global Warming Solutions Act, passed in 2006 by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The act aims…

  • Whose Oil Will Quench China’s Thirst?

    As the heir-in-waiting to the title of world’s largest economy, China finds itself in a strange position in terms of its oil consumption. In September 2013, China became the biggest net importer of crude, beating out the U.S. for the first time. This came as no surprise, given how rapidly China’s thirst for oil has grown, although landing in top place happened a little ahead of U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) predictions that it would take place in 2014. However, where the U.S. has been shoring up its own internal production, China has lagged behind. Between 2011 and 2014, U.S.…

  • World Oil Production at 3/31/2014–Where are We Headed?

    The standard way to make forecasts of almost anything is to look at recent trends and assume that this trend will continue, at least for the next several years. With world oil production, the trend in oil production looks fairly benign, with the trend slightly upward (Figure 1).Figure 1. Quarterly crude and condensate oil production, based on EIA data.If we look at the situation more closely, however, we see that we are dealing with an unstable situation. The top ten crude oil producing countries have a variety of problems (Figure 2). Middle Eastern producers are particularly at risk of instability,…

  • Here's The First Big Change For A Critical Coal Spot

    All eyes are on Indonesia in the coal world right now. Whether they know it or not.The industry has been riveted of late on the price of thermal coal. Which has been edging lower in many markets--threatening to break through five-year lows.The question is: is coal putting in a bottom? Or is there further to fall?And much of that depends on Indonesia. Which has lately become the only source of supply growth going on the planet. With recent statistics showing that the nation's production for the first half of 2014 was up 7.6% from the same period of 2013--to 213…

  • The Coming Storm In The Middle East

    A new CIA drone base near Erbil, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, seems to have become America’s portal into the Syrian-Iraqi war – a war U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States will not enter. Late in the game, it seems Washington has awakened to the realization that a new, powerful force is threatening Middle Eastern oil supplies and seems to have an unstoppable momentum.  August oil futures are showing a spike in the price of crude, but that is more likely a reflection of the situation in Libya and Gaza. Caliph Ibrahim – better known as Abu…

  • The Changing Face of World Oil Markets

    Here’s the introduction to a new paper I just finished:This year the oil industry celebrated its 155th birthday, continuing a rich history of booms, busts and dramatic technological changes. Many old hands in the oil patch may view recent developments as a continuation of the same old story, wondering if the high prices of the last decade will prove to be another transient cycle with which technological advances will again eventually catch up. But there have been some dramatic changes over the last decade that could mark a major turning point in the history of the world’s use of this…

  • Industry Vows to Fight U.S. City’s Ban on Canadian Oil Sands

    Many residents of South Portland, Maine, were ecstatic over a recent decision by the city council to forbid the use of the city’s facilities to export Canadian oil sands.The council voted 6-1 on July 21 against allowing the use of the 236-mile Portland-Montreal Pipe Line to ship the Canadian oil to South Portland for export. The line is now used to move imported Portland-Montreal Pipe Line in the opposite direction, to Canada.“This is so exciting,” Mary Jane Ferrier, a spokeswoman for the group Protect South Portland, told the Portland Press Herald. “This is a big thing with impact far beyond…

  • Are Civilian Flights Over War Zones Safe?

    In the aftermath of the shoot-down over Ukraine of Malaysian Airways Flight 17 last week, and the deaths of its 298 passengers and crew, the question that many travelers are asking is: just how safe is international air travel these days? It’s a reasonable question given that 41 wars or armed conflicts are currently going on across the world at the moment.Most people would be hard pressed to name more than the major conflicts, the ones making headlines on CNN, Al-Jazeera and the BBC: Ukraine, Israel/Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan.Sad to say, but there are many more: Somalia; Nigeria (where an…

  • Is This "Lost World" Finally Opening For Exploration?

    There's a saying in exploration that there are only two ways to make a discovery.Either used advanced technology and techniques in a mature area. Or apply basic methods in a new terrain.One of the most interesting "new places" around the world is Madagascar. A nation that enjoyed a rich mining history in colonial times. But has seen little in the way of systematic modern exploration since.There was a brief period of openness here from 2002 to 2009. Which encouragingly, yielded some major mining developments like Sherritt's Ambatovy nickel mine, and the Fort Dauphin titanium project developed by Rio Tinto.But then…