Jason Barton

Professional Information and Energy News

Archive for the ‘Energy’ tag

Crude Oil Leads A Broad Selloff

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There’s so much speculation in oil markets! This may be a necessary part of a properly functioning system, but when there is as much trading volume as there is today, combined with the kinds of automatic mechanisms described as being involved in last week’s selloff, it’s easy to understand why there is so much volatility.

FEBRUARY 6, 2010


A steep drop in crude-oil prices triggered declines across the commodities spectrum, as investors nervous about the pace of the economic recovery gravitated back to the dollar.

Crude fell 2.7% to $71.19 a barrel Friday. Here, PTT Exploration & Production operators collect oil samples in Thailand this past week.



“People are buying the dollar,” said Michael Gross, broker and futures analyst with OptionSellers.com. “Funds are liquidating everything else.”

The week’s wild commodity price swings underscore how investors aren’t totally committed to betting that the world economy is on an upward track.

Read the entire article here.

Higher Energy Prices Drive OECD Inflation

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LONDON—The annual rate of inflation in developed economies picked up as 2009 drew to a close, driven by higher energy prices.

The world’s developed economies emerged from a four-month brush with deflation in October. And prices were once again higher than the same month last year in November and December, an indication the global economy is in recovery.

Read the entire article here.

The West’s recession spurs China’s hunt for energy supplies in its own backyard

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Localizing energy sources is key to independence and security. The alliances forming between China and other countries also stretch far beyond the energy realm.

Jan 28th 2010 | ALMATY | From The Economist print edition

DURING his first visit to Kazakhstan in 1996, Jiang Zemin was reportedly amused to learn that his Central Asian neighbour, the ninth-largest country in the world by land mass, had a population of only around 15m. “You probably all know each other,” China’s then president is said to have quipped to his hosts. With its population of 1.3 billion, China naturally thinks on a grand scale. This is what the five countries of Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan—both admire and fear. Like Russia, looking to its own far east, they worry about Chinese expansionism.

But for most of the 18 years since the Soviet Union’s break-up, China has taken a back seat in the fierce competition between Russia and America for influence in this resource-rich region. In 2009, with the energy needs of its burgeoning economy continually growing, it woke up to new opportunities in its western backyard.

Booming China had not exactly been neglecting Central Asia, but its priorities had lain elsewhere. Since the global financial crisis left Russia and America struggling with their budgets, China has loosened its purse strings to offer Central Asia a helping hand. Its money has been welcome. From a Central Asian point-of-view, Chinese credit offers an additional advantage over the Western kind: it comes with no annoying political strictures.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

January 30th, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Energy conservation leads to higher bills

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This is a result of block pricing, which is similar to volume discounts. Reverse block pricing on the other hand, as the name suggests, charges higher prices per unit of energy for larger consumers. In places where it is used, whether for energy, water, or other precious resources, this system provides substantial incentive to reduce consumption.

January 24, 2010

PORTLAND, Maine—The Maine Public Utilities Commission is investigating a quirky problem for some commercial electricity customers: Their utility bills grow when they reduce consumption.

Commission Chairwoman Sharon Reishus says the situation is “inconsistent with Maine’s energy policy, which clearly encourages reduction of electricity use.”

The Portland Press Herald says the problem arises because of the way transmission and distribution rate classes are set up for commercial power customers.

Medium-sized companies may fall into the “small” company classification when their electricity use drops, putting them in a more costly rate category.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

January 30th, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Google establishes energy subsidiary

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SF Gate

Chronicle Staff Report

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Google Inc., the Mountain View search giant that has managed to get its fingers into books, video, news, operating systems, mobile handsets and more, set up an energy subsidiary last month dubbed Google Energy LLC.

Its lawyers at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposing to “act as a power marketer, purchasing electricity and reselling it to wholesale customers.”

“Applicant may also,” the filing continued, “engage in other, non-jurisdictional, activities to facilitate efficient trade in the bulk power markets.”

Energy trading? Like, say, Enron?

Not at all, according to Google spokeswoman Niki Fenwick.

Rather, the ability to buy wholesale electricity would make it easier for Google to achieve its goal, set in 2007, of achieving carbon neutrality. Companies typically must buy fossil fuel-based power straight from the utility grid. If Google secures FERC’s “market-based rate authority,” it could buy power from sources like solar and wind farms.

Written by Jason

January 9th, 2010 at 10:52 am


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After a Century of Growth, U.S. Fleet Entering Era of Decline

Lester R. Brown

America’s century-old love affair with the automobile may be coming to an end. The U.S. fleet has apparently peaked and started to decline. In 2009, the 14 million cars scrapped exceeded the 10 million new cars sold, shrinking the U.S. fleet by 4 million, or nearly 2 percent in one year. While this is widely associated with the recession, it is in fact caused by several converging forces.

Future U.S. fleet size will be determined by the relationship between two trends: new car sales and cars scrapped. Cars scrapped exceeded new car sales in 2009 for the first time since World War II, shrinking the U.S. vehicle fleet from the all-time high of 250 million to 246 million. It now appears that this new trend of scrappage exceeding sales could continue through at least 2020. (See data.)

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

January 7th, 2010 at 8:02 am

Interior chief adds hurdles for drilling on public lands

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Increased involvement by concerned citizens, and the ability to voice our ideas in the use of public lands, seem like excellent improvements to the system. Government strangling industry does not seem so positive. As with any tool, it’s all in how we use it.


Jan. 6, 2010, 8:02PM

WASHINGTON — Energy companies seeking to drill for oil and gas on public lands in the U.S. will face stiffer environmental scrutiny and new regulatory hurdles under changes announced Wednesday by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The new policies limit the federal government’s practice of fast-tracking some drilling proposals by exempting them from detailed environmental studies.

The changes also direct the Bureau of Land Management, which oversees more than 260 million acres of federal land, to conduct on-site assessments and seek expanded public input on proposed oil and gas leases.

Salazar said the changes were designed to ensure a “thoughtful” approach to energy development on federal lands and represented a rejection of Bush-era policies that made “our public lands essentially the candy store of the oil and gas industry, who could walk in and take whatever they wanted.”

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

January 7th, 2010 at 7:54 am

Total Will Buy Texas Gas-Field Stake

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There’s no doubt that these are extremely valuable resources that should be utilized. If we can be conservative in our energy use, we can hold off on exploiting resources like shale-gas, oil sands, and deep-sea resources, we can continue to develop the technology needed for extraction until it is much more efficient, economically, energetically, and ecologically.

JANUARY 4, 2010

French Oil Firm to Pay $2.25 Billion for 25% of Chesapeake Project as It Pursues U.S. Opportunities


French oil company Total SA will pay $2.25 billion for a stake in a Texas natural-gas field, in the latest sign that international energy giants are scrambling to catch up after missing out on the large U.S. gas discoveries of the past decade.

Total will get a 25% stake in Chesapeake Energy Corp.’s operations in the Barnett Shale, the biggest U.S. gas field by annual production. The discovery of the Barnett near Fort Worth, Texas, in the early 2000s launched a nationwide drilling boom that uncovered huge pockets of gas in Louisiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Getty ImagesA Chesapeake gas well in the Barnett Shale formation south of Fort Worth, Texas. International firms that largely abandoned the U.S. are now trying to cash in on gas discoveries there.



Under terms of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the month, Total will pay Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake $800 million in cash and also will pay $1.45 billion of Chesapeake’s Barnett drilling costs over the next three years. The companies said they are also considering joint ventures in South Texas and in Canada.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

January 4th, 2010 at 8:55 am

Brazil’s Cosan Rises as Sugar, Ethanol Prices Climb

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By Paulo Winterstein

Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) — Cosan SA Industria & Comercio, the world’s biggest sugar-cane processor, gained to a 15-month high as the price of the sweetener rose in New York and demand for fuel pushed up ethanol prices in Chicago.

Cosan rose 3 percent to 24.40 reais in Sao Paulo trading, the highest level since September 2008.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

December 29th, 2009 at 8:49 am

Brazil’s Petrobras In Ethanol Cooperative Pact With Petrochina

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The triangle of resource and labor exchanges between China, Brazil, and the United States merits close monitoring. When I began my PhD three and a half years ago, an unrealized goal was to learn Mandarin. Learning the languages of math, biology, physics, and chemistry, while continuing with Portuguese and Spanish, took a bit too much time for learning another language, which is fine as I already do more than enough traveling. Bringing biofuels to China even further into that mix adds an interesting dimension. The possibility of technology transfer and information sharing would be a much more efficient use of energy than China importing Brazilian ethanol.

DECEMBER 23, 2009, 11:06 A.M. ET

RIO DE JANEIRO (Dow Jones)–Brazil oil giant Petrobras and its biofuels subsidiary Petrobras Biocombustivel have signed a memorandum of understanding, or MOU,, with China’s Petrochina International Co. Ltd. (PTR) to cooperate in the ethanol sector.

Read the entire article here.

Written by Jason

December 24th, 2009 at 12:28 pm