Daily Archives: June 4, 2009

Sheila McNulty

For years, Dale Brooks has confined most drives in his electric vehicle to quick neighborhood trips around his Houston home.

An obsolete US law has long limited the speed limit for neighborhood electric vehicles at 25 miles per hour. They can only go faster in states that adopt their own laws overriding the federal one.

Texas has finally joined their ranks. As of September 1, even neighborhood electric vehicles will be able to drive up to 45 miles per hour. In a state like Texas, criss-crossed by highways, that is key to promoting the use of this clean vehicle.

For people like Mr Brooks, the law is long overdue.

Kate Mackenzie

Western wind turbine manufacturers are unlikely to benefit from Chinese wind turbine contracts, according to Reuters. There are reports of complaints about “localisation” rules and a Chinese preference for turbines with capacity of 1GW and above that has the effect of favouring Chinese companies.

In an economic downturn protectionist sentiment tends to rise, and the renewable industry is no exception. There are reports of industry concern that Chinese manufacturers will take an ever bigger role in supplying renewable equipment for the west, too.

While investment in renewable energy suffered in some of the world’s wealthiest countries last year, it is thriving in the BRICs. China is becoming a big consumer of renewable energy: last year it added more solar capacity than any other country bar the US, and it has overtaken Japan as the biggest manufacturer of PV components. It is also reportedly introducing a preferential tariff for utilities for power that comes from utilities. But it is also pursuing rapid growth in manufacturing capacity of solar panels and wind turbine components.

Kate Mackenzie

Goldman Sachs and the unrecognised energy crisis

Markets: Oil rises as Goldman turns bullish

Jeff Rubin interview: ‘When you spend more on fuel than food, an economic contraction will follow’

‘Demand is in the toilet’

Fireworks as Kurdish oil flows

Heritage Oil: Industry guesses at other party


Elsewhere:

Higher oil prices already impacting inventories (247 Wall St)

Dead whale found on bow of tanker (Reuters)

Greenhouse gases and our perception of risk (Christian Science Monitor)

Iran enlists China for South Pars gas project (The National)

Clean energy funding trumps fossil fuels (Green Inc/NY Times)

Sweden picks site to bury nuclear waste for 100,000 years (AFP)

A battery fueled by air (Economist)

Kate Mackenzie

There is a lot to look at in a new note from Goldman Sachs’ commodities team: a WTI price target of $85 for the end of 2009; a forecast that we are now in the beginning of a four-part bull rally.

More interestingly, the note talks about the ‘unrecognised energy crisis’ and concludes that underlying demand must fall in the OECD countries if the BRICs are to maintain their growth.

But first, the current environment: The $65+ rally under way now, they say, is a normalisation of “pricing dislocations caused by the credit crisis”.

In oil markets, Nymex July West Texas Intermediate rose $1.03 to $67.15 a barrel while ICE July Brent added $1.27 at $67.15 a barrel.

Goldman Sachs, Wall Street’s largest commodities dealer, raised its oil price target for the end of 2009 to $85 a barrel, from a previous projection of $65 a barrel, and said prices could flirt with the $100 level by the end of 2010.

“The recent rally in WTI prices is likely to be but the first stage in the oil price rally that we expect will accompany a recovery in economic activity,” said Jeffrey Currie, commodity strategist at Goldman Sachs.

Stephen Schork of the Schork Report sums up the energy demand picture in the US succinctly on Thursday:

So there you go, refiners did not make a lot of product last week because demand is in the toilet.

That assessment comes after an unexpected build in US crude inventories – the first in a month — saw oil prices do this on Wednesday:

WTI Nymex Crude prices

It’s no surprise, really, given that the weekly build in crude stocks came in at 2.9m barrels versus a market consensus for a drawdown of some 1.4m barrels. This was largely down to a large jump in crude oil imports for the first time in a month.

The real issue though is the ongoing build we’re seeing in distillate stocks.

Carola Hoyos

From the rumour mill somewhere on a desert highway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai: When Heritage announced yesterday that it was indeed in preliminary merger and acquisition discussions, oil industry folks began to speculate who the suitor could be.

One clue was in the statement, which noted any deal would be seen as a reverse takeover under rules of the UK, where Heritage is listed. A subsequent statement said the company concerned was “not subject to the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers”.

That prompted one banker, stuck on the outside of any deal looking in, to suggest an un-listed company was the dance partner.

A separate industry insider, also not involved and a continent away from the banker and the deal, said that he would bet on Perenco being the one. That would allow Heritage to grow and Perenco to become listed and would also most likely lead to a rights issue.

However the enlarged company’s assets would span the globe from Peru to Uganda to Iraq, so the synergies weren’t immediately clear. And then there remained the delicate challenge of working out which of the two pioneering companies’ leaders would be left sitting in the chief executive’s chair once the music stopped.

Related story:

Heritage Oil in reverse takeover talks (FT, 03/06/09)

James Fontanella-Khan

- Heritage Oil in reverse takeover talks
Oil discoveries in Uganda and Iraq attract buyers (FT)

- Putin warns on Europe gas transit
Kremlin asks EU to help Ukraine pay for gas (FT)

- Higher energy costs drain Northumbrian
Northumbrian reported a 10% fall in pre-tax profits (FT)

- Energy groups lured by Ghana’s Kosmos
Ghanaian oilfield assets valued at $3bn-$6bn by analysts (FT)

- Energy minister says Ukraine will pay for May gas on time
‘Money will be found’ says Ukraine’s energy minister (Platts)

- US Chamber wants courts to kill state carbon trade
Congress works on a national plan to give free permits (Bloomberg)

- India’s Reliance halts petrol sales to Iran
Move to help avoid possible restrictions on US sales (Economic Times)

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