Tag Archives: Energy

Oil Prices Fall Again After Last Week’s Surge

Oil Prices Fall Again After Last Week’s SurgeE

American producers decimated

stock market crash drop decrease

(Reuters) – Crude oil prices rose on Monday as investors shrugged off a U.S. refinery strike and focused on a falling U.S. rig count that signaled lower production down the line.

“There were a lot of people on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to buy,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodity analyst at SEB.

“Brent has struggled sideways for a long time but it closed above the 20-day moving average on Friday for the first time since July, and the rig count is falling sharply. So now they think, maybe this is the time to buy.”

At 6:49 a.m. ET Brent crude futures were up $2.05 at $55.04 a barrel, after leaping as high as $55.62 and dipping as low as $51.41, as the bulls battled with the bears.

U.S. crude was up $1.50 at $49.74 a barrel, after touching an intraday high of $50.56 and slumping to $46.67.

Both contracts had rallied about 8 percent on Friday, fueled by month-end short-covering and a record weekly drop in the number of U.S. oil rigs employed, according to industry data from Baker Hughes. The count is now down 24 percent from its October peak.

“Most market observers have been surprised by the scale of the decrease, and expectations of U.S. oil output this year will no doubt be lowered accordingly,” analysts at Commerzbank said in a note. “The foundation for a steady price recovery in the second half of the year has thus been laid.”

However, in the short term the price increase has been exaggerated, as there is still considerable oversupply, they added.

Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodity markets strategy at BNP Paribas, said the bounce was mainly due to technical factors rather than any fundamental reason.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if this afternoon we sell into (the rally) because the global fundamentals in oil and the economy haven’t really changed much since last week,” he said.

On Sunday, workers at nine U.S. refineries and chemical plants went on strike in an effort to pressure oil companies to agree to a new national contract.

“So far only a handful of refineries have been affected, but the last time they went on strike like this, in 1980, it lasted for three months,” said Ole Hansen, senior commodity strategist at Saxo Bank.

Last week U.S. crude inventories hit a record high, and any dampening of refinery demand would likely push stocks higher as the slowdown in drilling has still not affected U.S. production, analysts said. [EIA/S]

“The market is likely too excited about falling rig counts,” analysts at Morgan Stanley said in a note on Monday. “The most productive rigs will likely remain as long as possible.”

ISIS seizes oil facility in northern Iraq, 15 workers missing

ISIS seizes oil facility in northern Iraq, 15 workers missing

ISIS terrorist Iraq

(Reuters) – Islamic State insurgents on Saturday seized a small crude oil station near the northern Iraqi city Kirkuk where 15 employees were working, and explosions in and around the capital Baghdad killed at least nine people.

Two officials from the state-run North Oil Co confirmed the militants seized a crude oil separation unit in Khabbaz and said 15 oil workers were missing after the company lost contact with them.

“We received a call from one of the workers saying dozens of Daesh fighters were surrounding the facility and asking workers to leave the premises. We lost contact and now the workers might be taken hostage,” an engineer from the North Oil Co told Reuters, using a derogatory acronym for Islamic State.

The radical jihadist movement seized at least four small oilfields when it overran large areas of northern Iraq last summer, and began selling crude oil and gasoline to finance their operations.

Islamic State insurgents attacked regional Kurdish forces southwest of Kirkuk on Friday, seizing some areas including parts of the Khabbaz oilfields.

Kurdish peshmerga forces sought to push back Islamic State in further fighting near Khabbaz on Saturday, Kurdish military sources said.

Khabbaz is a small oilfield 20 km (12 miles) southwest of Kirkuk with a maximum production capacity of 15,000 barrels per day. It was producing around 10,000 bpd before the attack.

Further south in Baghdad, two bombs in a central neighborhood and a farming district south of the capital killed at least seven civilians on Saturday, medics and police said.

Two soldiers were killed when a bomb exploded close to an army patrol near Taji, a predominantly Sunni Muslim rural district north of Baghdad.

At least 24 others were wounded in the explosions.

In Falluja in the western province of Anbar, hospital sources said five people, including two children, were killed during Iraqi army shelling of Islamic State positions. They said at least 44 others were wounded, including 19 civilians.

It is difficult to confirm reports from hospitals in the area, which is mostly controlled by Islamic State militants.

Islamic State has declared a medieval-style caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria to rule over all Muslims, and it poses the biggest challenge to the stability of OPEC member Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.

(Reporting by Mustafa Mahmoud in Kirkuk, Stephen Kalin in Baghdad; Writing by Ahmed Rasheed; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Court, not Congress, raises pressure on Obama To Approve Keystone Pipeline

Court, not Congress, raises pressure on Obama To Approve Keystone Pipeline

By Elana Schor, politico.com

Miles of pipe ready to become part of the Keystone Pipeline are pictured. | AP Photo

President Barack Obama may be closer than ever to deciding the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline.

That has more to do with the Nebraska Supreme Court than pressure from congressional Republicans, whose Friday passage in the House of a bill to push forward the long-delayed pipeline fell well short of a veto-proof majority.

The Nebraska court preempted the House vote by issuing its ruling early Friday that upheld the state’s law that fast-tracked a new route for the $8 billion oil project. The ruling effectively forces the the Obama administration to resume its years-long review that will ultimately determine whether Keystone is in the nation’s interest.

Keystone Pipeline Map
Keystone Pipeline Map

Related: What Is The Keystone Pipeline And Why Important To Americans?

As expected, the House easily passed its bill that would circumvent that process, but only 28 Democrats joined Republicans, putting the ‘yes’ votes in the lower chamber at 266. That’s five more than the last time the House passed a Keystone measure, but dozens of votes short of the support needed from Democrats to guarantee the bill would overcome the veto that the White House has promised.

Undeterred, Republicans vowed to force Obama to uncap his veto pen for only the third time in six years.

“What we’re trying to do is get to the point where the president has to make a decision,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, the Texas Republican who chairs the Rules Committee. “If he says he’s going to [veto] it, let’s give him a chance.”

The White House reiterated its veto threat on Friday after the Nebraska court ruling, saying Congress wouldn’t stand in the way of the review being conducted by the State Department. “We are going to let that process play out,” Obama spokesman Eric Schultz said.

But how long that process will take is not clear, and a 2004 executive order gives Obama no deadline to decide on a border-crossing permit for the $8 billion Alberta-to-Texas pipeline even after the State Department issues its recommendation.

Pipeline supporters’ chances of winning a veto showdown with Obama appeared slim on Friday, even after a court ruling that Keystone backers had hoped might sway new Democratic votes.

Of the 28 House Democrats who voted with all but one Republican on Friday to force Keystone approval, three are new in the yes camp: Reps. Brad Ashford (D-Neb.) and Gwen Graham (D-Fla.), both freshmen, and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who has previously said he supports the pipeline in principle.

Two other Democrats, Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), who had voted against Keystone in November after offering support two years ago, moved back into the yes column on Friday.

Still, Republicans need roughly 290 to override an Obama veto, a mark the Democrats vowed they would never reach.

“We’ll definitely be able to uphold a veto,” said New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone, the Energy and Commerce Committee’s top Democrat. “I’m confident.”

Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the Natural Resources Committee’s top Democrat, predicted that a strong minority front to uphold a Keystone veto would set the tone for the entire 114th Congress.

“This is going to play out in a variety of other issues as we go along,” be it on education, highway trust fund or otherwise, Grijalva said in an interview. “While they have historic numbers, if the president moves to veto, we’re still in position to keep the worst from happening. … It’s not just XL now, it’s about party unity now as well.”

Five of the 31 House Democrats who voted to approve the pipeline in November have since left Congress. In the Senate, where the pro-Keystone bill is set to clear its first procedural hurdle Monday ahead of what likely to be a contentious open amendment debate, Republicans appear to be four votes short of the 67 needed to override a veto.

“I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid told Nevada radio station KNPR on Friday, adding he is “confident the president will veto it and, good, I hope he does.”

Republicans counter that all they need is time for the pro-Keystone arguments on economic and energy-security benefits to peel more Democrats away from Obama.

“Labor Dems are starting to turn the corner here,” one House GOP leadership aide said by email, “and I suspect the pressure to support this bipartisan jobs project back home will continue to grow.”

Unions that have long urged approval of Keystone seized on the Nebraska decision in urging Democrats to push the pipeline forward.

“The greenlight for the Nebraska route should certainly cause some Democrats to pause and realize the roadblocks they’ve been hiding behind are falling away,” Laborers International Union of North America General President Terry O’Sullivan said in a statement. “There’s really no excuse for a no vote.”

For Keystone sponsor TransCanada, whose pipeline proposal sparked the political tempest over climate change, jobs and the tradeoffs between economic growth and environmental protection, the Nebraska court case represented a major victory.

The company’s CEO, Russ Girling, told reporters Friday that the State Department’s process would resume about halfway through the 90-day window it has to render a “national interest” ruling on Keystone, meaning that final approval could come within “the next couple of months.”

But State spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters today that she could not offer specifics on when the Keystone review would wind down, saying only she did not expect the process to last beyond the end of Obama’s term in 2016.

As for Congress’ effort to push a veto showdown over Keystone with Obama, Girling was more circumspect.

“We’ve tried to not to get involved in the political process,” the TransCanada CEO said, “but what we’ve said as well is that we welcome all opportunities to put this to a positive conclusion.”

Sen. Schumer lays out battle over Keystone pipeline

Sen. Schumer lays out battle over Keystone pipeline

Keystone Pipeline
Keystone Pipeline

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Democrats have enough votes to support the president if he vetoes a bill to begin construction on the Keystone XL pipeline.

“I think there will be enough Democratic votes to sustain the president’s veto,” said Schumer, the number three Senate Democrat, on “Face the Nation” Sunday.

Related: What Is The Keystone Pipeline, And Why Is It So Important?

The Senate narrowly defeated a bill to fast track construction of the pipeline after the House passed it in November. After the vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, pledged it would be the first bill he takes up when Republicans assume control of the Senate later this month.

Despite Schumer’s belief that President Obama would veto the bill, he said that when it comes to the floor, Democrats still plan to offer a series of amendments to make it “more of a jobs bill.”

“Our Republican colleagues say that this is a jobs bill but that really is not true at all. By most estimates it would create several thousand temporary construction jobs and only 35 permanent jobs,” Schumer said.

The amendments his party might offer include requirements that the steel used in the pipeline be made in America and that the oil that is transported through it be used in America. They would also likely introduce an amendment to create clean energy jobs.

“Why create very few jobs with the dirtiest of energy from tar sands when you can create tens of thousands more clean jobs using wind and solar?” Schumer said. “Our Republican colleagues are doing what they always do: they’re appeasing a few special interests — in this case oil companies and pipeline companies and not really doing what’s good for the average middle class family in terms of creating jobs.”

As for how the amendments could affect the president’s response to the bill, he said, “These amendments will make it better but certainly not good enough at this point in time.”

Early gift: Gas below $2 at some stations in 24 states

Early gift: Gas below $2 at some stations in 24 states

Just in time for the holidays, gas prices drop to below $2 a gallon in some parts of the country. Linda So reports.

low gas prices
(Photo: Valerie Mosley, Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Just in time for a holiday road trip, gas prices in many places in middle of the country have dipped below $2 a gallon.

And here in Missouri, close to the geographic center of the USA, is where drivers can find the cheapest gas as of Friday, according to GasBuddy.com.

“As of this morning, there are 24 states with prices under $2 a gallon. But Missouri is lowest,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s senior petroleum analyst.

In Springfield, gas prices at some locations have dipped to $1.96 for a gallon of regular unleaded. They’ll continue to drop for a while, DeHaan said.

Some surrounding towns like Republic and Nixa typically have even lower prices than Springfield. The last time gas hit $1.99 a gallon in Missouri was June 2009.

“It’s not guaranteed, of course. But we think they’ll drop a little more, 5 to 15 cents a gallon,” he said.

Areas east of Nashville, Tenn., also are reporting prices of less than $2.

“The gas at my exit, Stewarts Ferry Road (off Interstate 40), is $1.99,” said Doak Turner of Nashville. “Three stations next to each other is great!”

American Automobile Association travel analysts estimate that current gas prices, which are at their lowest since 2008, are likely to drop as much as 7 cents by Christmas and possibly 7 more cents by New Year’s.

Because of higher fuel taxes, some states won’t crack the $2 barrier, DeHaan said.

Thirteen states, many in the South, have gas taxes of less than 40 cents a gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute. Seventeen states’ gas taxes are more than 50 cents a gallon.

Among the states with the highest gas taxes: California at 68.87 cents, New York at 68.65 cents and Hawaii at 66.29 cents. The rock-bottom lowest gas tax? Alaska at 30.8 cents a gallon. The federal portion of that pie is 18.4 cents.

In Chicago, where DeHaan is based, the price of regular unleaded was $2.74 a gallon. Illinois’ gas tax is 57.5 cents a gallon vs. 35.7 cents in Missouri.

“I wish, but it’s not going to happen,” DeHaan said of $2 gas in the Chicago area. “There’s no way oil producers would continue producing at 99 cents a gallon. At that price, it’s more expensive for them to just pump the oil.”

But prices below $2 are possible in some high-tax states. Some Citgo stations in Western Michigan, where taxes are 57.43 cents of the per-gallon price, popped below $2 Tuesday.

“My manager came in and changed it. Everyone went crazy,” said Jessica Henke, a Citgo employee in Greenville, Mich. “I had one lady come in and hand me $10 to fill up her truck. She couldn’t believe it.”

Regular unleaded gas prices peaked this year in late June at about $3.70 a gallon nationwide, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. This week the nationwide average is $2.55.

The most recent gas-price plunge was triggered in September when Saudi Arabian oil officials voluntarily cut crude oil prices, DeHaan said.

The average car has a 12- to 15-gallon tank, so customers are keeping at least $14 to $17 more in their pockets now compared with six months ago. SUV and truck owners, the ones with even bigger tanks, are feeling even richer after a trip to the pump.

“It doesn’t take me much gas to go back and forth to work,” said Kathleen Sagitano, who was filling up on $1.99 gas at Fuel City in Dallas. “But still, if I can fill my tank up just once a week, that’s awesome! It’s really great. Now I wish I had a four-door truck.”

That’s the double-edged sword for many economists. People feel better off when gas prices are lower because they have more money left at the end of the week, but cheap gas also brings back a longing for bigger, less-efficient vehicles and more travel, which in the long run can hurt the environment.

Don’t expect these exceptionally low prices to last, DeHaan said. Refineries will begin switching to a more expensive summer blend of gasoline in mid-spring, which they do every year to reduce air pollution, and that higher-priced fuel will work its way to the pumps by June 1.

Contributing: Jordan Buie, The Tennessean; Christopher Zoladz, WZZM-TV, Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich.; and Carla Wade, WFAA-TV, Dallas-Fort Worth.

DIA: North Korea Planned Attacks On US Nuclear Plants

DIA: North Korea Planned Attacks On US Nuclear Plants

Five commando units trained for strikes, sabotage

nuclear power plant energy electricity

North Korea dispatched covert commando teams to the United States in the 1990s to attack nuclear power plants and major cities in a conflict, according to a declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report.

The DIA report, dated Sept. 13, 2004, reveals that five units of covert commandos were trained for the attacks inside the country.

According to the report, the “Reconnaissance Bureau, North Korea, had agents in place to attack American nuclear power plants.”

The document states that the North Korean Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, the ministry in charge of the military, “established five liaison offices in the early 1990s, to train and infiltrate operatives into the United States to attack nuclear power plants and major cities in case of hostilities.”

“One of the driving forces behind the establishment of the units and infiltration of operatives was the slow progress in developing a multi-stage ballistic missile.”

North Korea is known to have at least two long-range missiles capable of hitting the United States, the Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile, and the KN-08 road-mobile ICBM, which has not yet been flight tested.

The report indicates that power plants would be targeted for attack “in the event of hostilities between the United States and DPRK” – the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea.

The Reconnaissance Bureau is part of the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces and is in charge of the estimated 60,000 North Korean special operations commandos.

The heavily redacted report is what is known as a raw intelligence report, consisting of information possibly provided to the United States by a defector or agent, or possibly obtained from electronic surveillance.

Reconnaissance Bureau commandos have undertaken terrorist operations in the past in South Korea and other locations.

But the DIA report is the first intelligence document indicating North Korea had planned attacks inside the United States and dispatched agents for the operations.

Disclosure of the report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, comes amid threats by presumed North Korean agents to conduct September 11-style terrorist attacks against U.S. movie theaters.

The threats coincided with efforts by North Korea to prevent the showing Dec. 25 of the Sony Pictures film “The Interview,” a comedy involving a fictional plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The U.S. government determined that the massive hack targeting against Sony, which stole an estimated 100 terabytes of data including unreleased films, has been determined to be the work of North Korean hackers or those working for the regime of Kim Jong Un.

S.Y. Lee, a Department Homeland Security spokesman, declined to comment on the 2004 document.

A DHS official said the department is aware of the threat to attack movie theaters.

“We are still analyzing the credibility of these statements, but at this time there is no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot against movie theaters within the United States,” the official said.

The official said DHS will adjust its security procedures to protect Americans.

“This includes continued, regular information sharing with our state, local, federal and international partners, builds on ongoing work, such as enhanced protection at federal facilities,” the official said, adding that the public is encouraged to report suspicious activity to law enforcement agencies.

The FBI, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, said it was unaware of the DIA intelligence report on North Korean commando teams. In a July 9, 2012 letter, the FBI stated that it was unable to find any file records on North Korea’s Reconnaissance Bureau.

An FBI spokesman had no immediate comment. A DIA spokesman did not return emails seeking comment on the documents.

A second DIA document reveals that an American defector identified only as “Jackson” and as a former Air Force officer was working inside North Korea for the Reconnaissance Bureau.

The 1998 document stated that the officer had been “captured by North Korea” and was teaching North Koreans “U.S. Special Forces tactics, English [language], and interrogation techniques as chief of psychological operations studies at Madonghui Military College to North Korean seaborne snipers.”

The American also “visited the 52nd Seaborne Sniper Battalion to teach U.S. Special Forces tactics, American English, and interrogation techniques since before 1983,” the report said, noting that the training was carried out under the Reconnaissance Bureau.

The reference to “American English” is an indication the training may have been preparation for the future dispatch of North Korean snipers to the United States.

Mark Sauter, a security adviser to corporations and long-time North Korea watcher said the documents clearly raise alarms about whether North Korea could follow through on threats to conduct 9/11-style terrorist attacks.

“What they’ve done by the Sony hack is shown they’re certainly willing to attack a U.S. corporation,” said Sauter, who obtained the documents. “Now they’re threating a physical attack along the lines of 9/11 and it is certainly possible they could have agents inside the United States capable of carrying out terrorist attacks.”

“North Korean agents have committed terrorist attacks and kidnappings around the world,” said Sauter, a former Special Forces and infantry officer. “Why wouldn’t they send agents to the homeland of their biggest enemy?”

Sauter noted that it took the U.S. government weeks to determine that North Korea was capable of hacking a major company. “It would be a mistake for the government now to assume North Korea is not capable of launching a terrorist attack in the U.S.,” he said. “They may or may not have the desire to attack the U.S. homeland now or in the future, but there’s a good chance they have at least some capability.”

Bill Cowan, a former Army Special Forces officer, agreed and called the document an alarming disclosure.

“This demonstrates the North Koreans have capabilities most of us didn’t realize they had,” Cowan said. “It talks about them being on U.S. soil to carry out attacks and that takes the threat to a whole new level. And they’re probably still here.”

Past Reconnaissance Bureau operations included the bombing in Rangoon, Burma in 1983 in an attempt to kill then-South Korean President Chun Do-hwan. Three senior South Korean government ministers were killed in the attack.

Bureau commandos also carried out the attack on South Korea’s presidential Blue House in 1968 in an attempt to assassinate then-President Park Chung Hee, father of current South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

The Reconnaissance Bureau also is in charge of covert operations to infiltrate South Korea through tunnels and seaborne insertion of intelligence personnel.

North Korean intelligence activities in the United States have been limited.

In 2003, the FBI arrested Korean-American businessman John Joungwoong Yai, who was identified as a North Korean agent. He pleaded guilty to financial charges and served two years in prison.

Yai was paid for sending reports to North Korea through China based on publicly available sources. He had been tasked by North Korean officials to locate a North Korean agent who had defected.

Documents in the case revealed plans by North Korea to try and plant one of its agents inside the U.S. government.

Lower crude prices challenge Keystone pipeline

Lower crude prices challenge Keystone pipeline

USA TODAY

Backers of the Keystone XL pipeline became emboldened recently by the prospect of a Republican-led Congress finally pushing the project through.

But can dropping crude prices punch a hole in the controversial project?

Related: What is the Keystone Pipeline?

The cost of benchmark West Texas Intermediate oil dropped to $74.42 a barrel on Thursday — a 25% drop from the triple-digit highs it reached this summer. Federal analysts have warned that producers in the Canadian oil sands — slated to be a top consumer of the pipeline — will need oil prices to stay between $65 and $75 a barrel to make production there economically feasible.

“Assuming prices fell in this range, higher transportation costs could have a substantial impact on oil sands production levels — possibly in excess of the capacity of the proposed project,” said a U.S. State Department report on the pipeline released in January.

The 1,179-mile pipeline extension would carry tar sand oil from Canada to Nebraska, then be transported to refineries in Texas. It could carry some 830,000 barrels each day. President Obama has said he’ll approve the project only if it doesn’t “significantly exacerbate” the problem of carbon pollution. His administration is still studying the project.

But some members of Congress, led by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., are moving ahead with efforts to immediately authorize Canadian firm TransCanada to build the pipeline. Lawmakers could vote on the issue as early as next week.

“We’re in this interesting place where we have this push by Congress for the project at a time when the marketplace is telling us we don’t need this new oil,” said Anthony Swift, a staff attorney for the National Resources Defense Council, who has opposed the project. “The reality is tar sands crude only makes sense in the world of expensive oil. That’s not the world we’re likely to be in in the near or immediate future.”

Needed or not, the sands-oil reserves in Alberta in Western Canada will likely continue producing crude into the foreseeable future, said Dinara Millington, vice president of research at Canadian Energy Research Institute, a Calgary-based independent, not-for-profit research group.

The break-even price to develop new greenfield projects at the reserves is at around $85 per barrel, so current crude prices could deter new projects, she said. But existing producers can continue pumping oil there at relatively low costs, Millington said. The oil-sands produce around 2.1 million barrels a day.

Also, conventional producers farther west in British Columbia and Saskatchewan will also be able to use the pipeline, bolstering its demand, she said.

“There’s enough demand and supply fundamentals to make the economic case for the pipeline to be built,” Millington said.

Customers to the pipeline have long-term contracts in place — some as high as 25 years — and its construction or use will not be impacted by the rise and fall of crude prices, Shawn Howard, a TransCanada spokesman, said in an email. He points out that customers did not shy away from the project when crude hit lows of $33 and $37 a barrel in 2009.

“Interest from customers to ship and receive oil through both Keystone XL remains strong and we continue to have a waiting list if space on Keystone XL becomes available,” Howard said.

Still, the fact that crude is relatively cheap and there’s more of it today than in recent years should shelve the project altogether, Swift said.

“We are in a dramatically different environment than we were in when Keystone was proposed in 2008,” he said. “We don’t need to consider paying that (environmental) cost.”

Google’s Ivanpah Solar Project: Seeking Federal Grants 3 Times That Of Solyndra

Google’s Ivanpah Solar Project: Seeking Federal Grants 3 Times That Of Solyndra

by

 The Ivanpah solar project, partly owned by Google, is now seeking a $539 million federal grant to help pay off a controversial $1.6 billion loan it has already received from taxpayers.

The project, notorious for frying birds in midair with intense solar rays that are reflected within an array of mirrors, joins Solyndra on a list of failing “green” projects funded by the controversial, giant Obama administration federal stimulus of February 2009.

In July 2012, scientist Lindsay Leveen wrote at Breitbart News that Ivanpah risked being “Solyndra times three” because the sheer scale of the investment was not justified by the amount of energy the new solar project was expected to produce.

Related: Solyndra Solar Panel Scandal

“My reasoning is that the 392 megawatt (nominally 400 megawatt) power station will cost 3 billion dollars to build…the higher cost figure of the PV [photovoltaic] solar farm might be 1.4 billion dollars, which is 1.6 billion dollars less than the BrightSource project [at Ivanpah],” Leveen wrote.

“The level of wasted investment in Ivanpah is three times the amount of wasted tax payer money we gave to Solyndra. That is why Ivanpah equals Solyndra times three.”

Fox News reports that the company blames cloudier-than-expected weather for Ivanpah’s poor output and notes: “…taxpayers will receive none of the millions in revenues the plant will generate over the next 30 years.”

US Oil Exports Hit 57 Year High

US Oil Exports Hit 57 Year High


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The accelerating United States energy boom allowed America to record its highest level of oil exports in 57 years and its second highest level since 1920 in the month of July.

After becoming the world’s largest producer of natural gas in 2010, the United States also became the world’s largest producer of petroleum last month. With U.S. production and exports driving crude oil prices down and forcing other producers to crank up production to maintain cash flow.

The U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) has been compiling statistics on American and international energy trends since 1920. For 40 years through 2010, domestic energy production had been steadily trending down. But since the beginning of 2010, fracturing of shale to exploit “tight oil” has allowed the U.S. liquid fuels production to double to 8.5 million barrels per day (bpd) through July, 2014.

Oil tanker ship ocean cargo

The rate of increase in the three months since July is truly staggering, as U.S. production leaped from 8.5 million bpd to an estimated 9 million bpd, according to Stratfor Global Intelligence.

The American supply shock to the upside has caused the price of oil to plummet by 25% in the longest streak of continuously falling prices in 13 years. International oil producers panicked as their export revenue withered. According to Stratfor, Libya cranked up production from about 200,000 bpd to more than 900,000 bpd. Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Iraq also hit the accelerator pedal on production increases.

To put the impacts of the 3.5 million bpd annualized rate of global production increase in perspective, the International Energy Agency only projected that worldwide oil demand would grow by 700,000 bpd in 2014.

The only OPEC members with enough financial flexibility to reduce oil production voluntarily are the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Libya, Algeria, Iraq, Iran, Nigeria and Venezuela all need to maximize oil output (at high prices) to finance their budgets and social spending programs. But rather than leading in cuts, Saudi Arabia is prioritizing a greater market share over higher prices, according to Stratfor.

The 401,000 bpd level of U.S. crude oil exports in the month of July must have risen over the last three months in line with production increases. Facing a domestic oil glut, President Obama loosened the four-decade ban on U.S. oil exports on July 24. Prior to the ruling, most U.S. crude oil exports were limited to Canada. But it appears some oil exported to Canada was quietly re-exported to Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and Singapore.

Support for energy production in the U.S. will continue to grow as the price of gasoline continues to fall. At a sub-$3 a gallon price, energy analyst Sue Chang estimated that American consumers will save about $250 million per day. With the summer driving season over and the typical winter drop in demand beginning, the price of gasoline is expected to drop even further. This could provide a happy boast to discretionary income during the holiday shopping period.