Daily Archives: January 25, 2010

Sheila McNulty

It is not surprising that the US government is moving slowly to enact climate change legislation. Politicians are known for catering to special interests, not speedy decision making. And there are many special interest groups who have something to lose from tough action on carbon emissions. While many in US business are among them, a rising number of executives are savvy enough to know the imperative of moving sooner rather than later.

A group of chief executives – 83 to be exact – from across US business, have sent a letter to President Barack Obama that they hope will jar him into addressing their concerns in this week’s State of the Union address. The letter, signed by companies ranging from Exelon to Virgin America to eBay to Nike, want the US to move quickly to enact comprehensive climate and energy legislation that will create jobs and enhance US competitiveness. Read more

By Izabella Kaminska

Back in December, when the Copenhagen Summit failed to produce a binding global agreement on tackling climate change, the European carbon market slumped.

On Monday, analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch point out that Phase II of the European Trading scheme may be facing greater challenges still.

Namely, it looks like the recession could see the scheme end up with more permits available than actual emissions — the situation which afflicted Phase I, and led it to expiring a failure in 2007. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

On FT Energy Source:

- China, setting the world’s oil prices

- Bye bye, US coal

- Was Massachusetts at all about climate?

- Key points from the BASIC countries’ climate meeting

- Shell pulls back on oil sands and Venezuela’s doubling reserves in Energy headlines

Further reading:

- Top 10 oil and gas discoveries of 2009

- Another private Barnett shale test shows air pollution

- Three bright new ideas in biofuels, solar and wind power

- ‘A year of transition’ for oil

- Why is a utility paying its customers? (Answer: Demand management)

- Biofuels data: Corn ethanol production

- Disorder in the houses of Opec

- The renewable power rebellion

- Energy lessons from Brazil

- An unfortunate juxtaposition
 Read more

Kate Mackenzie

A lot of the energy commentary on Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts assumes that it was some kind of verdict on climate change legislation.

The Bernstein coal note we wrote about earlier called it a death knell for the cap-and-trade efforts, while an editorial in Oil & Gas Journal links it to everything from healthcare to big government to the oil and gas industry.

Many Democrats also seem to have interpreted it this way, with signs of fear about proposed legislation abounding.

Maybe they’re wrong, though. As many political pundits have pointed out, the Democrats made the rather arrogant – but not altogether uncommon in politics – mistake of fielding a not-particularly-popular candidate, Martha Coakley, in a seemingly safe seat with a lacklustre campaign. That voters picked the other guy doesn’t necessarily mean they did so with a particular issue in mind. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Like many others, Bernstein Research analyst Hugh Wynne think the election of Scott Brown to a Massachusetts Senate seat last week is a death knell for cap-and-trade legislation, at least under this administration (we don’t necessarily agree with this assessment, but more about that later). And like others, he points to new EPA regulations as being an alternative source of curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Only instead of the EPA’s CO2 endangerment finding, it’s the proposed tightening of sulphur dioxide emissions rules that Wynne says could affect US coal-fired power plants so much that US demand for coal goes into ‘secular decline’. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Well, Goldman Sachs’ analysts think so. In their latest weekly commodities report, they point out that China’s 1.6m b/d rise in crude imports almost perfectly offsets a 1.5m b/d decline in the same, from the US:

They add (emphasis ours):

Furthermore, recent data on crude loadings suggest that close to 14 mn barrels of West African crude is being redirected from the West to the East. The surging Chinese demand for oil suggests that the drivers of not only consumption growth, but also world oil demand and prices, are shifting from the West to the East.

The IEA hinted at a similar dynamic in its latest monthly oil market report, pointing out that some Saudi Aramco grades were no longer available to European customers at all, in favour of Asian markets and domestic power consumption.  Read more

Kate Mackenzie

The world’s most powerful developing countries on Sunday said they would meet the UN’s January 31 deadline on the Copenhagen Accord. Or, specifically, that they intended to “communicate information on their voluntary mitigation actions” by the deadline.

Representatives from the four ‘BASIC’ countries (Brazil, South Africa, India, China) met yesterday in New Delhi to discuss their stance on the Accord, the non-binding agreement that they themselves played a key role in formulating last month in Copenhagen.

It was a mostly positive declaration in terms of progress on climate talks, as the UN was concerned that few countries (four, in fact) have so far signed up to the Accord. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

The statement from the January 24 meeting among representatives from Brazil, South Africa, China and India (via The Hindu):

The second meeting of Ministers of the four BASIC Group countries took place in New Delhi on January 24 2010. Earlier, the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh met with the four Ministers on the evening of January 23. The Ministers who participated in the meeting were H.E. Xie Zhenhua, Vice Chairman of the National Development and Reforms Commission from China, H.E. Carlos Minc, Minister for Environment from Brazil, H.E. Buyelwa Sonjica, Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs from South Africa and H.E. Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State (Independent Charge), Environment and Forests from India. The current G-77 Chair – Yemen – had also been invited but could not attend because of other commitments. Read more

Kate Mackenzie

Shell to look beyond tar sands (FT)

High hopes for Chevron turnround (FT)

China admits ‘open’ attitude over warming (FT)

States back EPA against industry on GHG finding (Argus)

Better Place set to receive $350m in vote of confidence for electric cars (NY Times)

UK cities face wrecking ball to meet climate targets (The Times)

Oil estimates in Venezuela doubled (NY Times)

Banks pull out of offsets after Copenhagen meeting (Guardian)

Russian investors to step back from TNK-BP role (FT)

Petrobras prepares site for 600,000 b/d refinery (Argus)

Cold snap leaves utilities with warm feeling (The Times)
 Read more