The Australian state of South Australia announced it will appoint a royal commission to determine if it should be the first state in the country to generate electricity from nuclear power.  Despite harbouring 25% of the world’s uranium, there have never been any nuclear reactors in Australia.

Global crude oil prices jumped from the mid-$40 a barrel mark to over $50 last week driven by the decline in the number of rigs drilling for oil in the US, which now have fallen by 25% since October as well as numerous announcements of cutbacks in capital expenditures by large and small oil companies. Many small shale oil drilling companies are expected to turn to new sources of finance such as hedge funds this spring when banks re-price the collateral used for lines of credit.

State owned Chinese National Offshore Oil Company announced that it would cut its capital spending by 26 to 35% year over year in 2015. This cutback is in line with actions taken by other major oil companies around the world.

In response to low crude oil prices, Norway’s Statoil and Chevron recently put off their Arctic drilling plans.

A study of 39,000 oil wells in the US indicates production growth will cease in the latter half of 2015 if the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil remains below $60 per barrel.

Suncor Energy announced it will push ahead with its planned Fort Hills oil sands project in the Canadian province of Alberta even as the price of oil falls.  The operation will begin producing oil at the end of 2017.

Oil traders are storing record amounts of crude oil in independent storage tanks in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Antwerp, the European continent’s oil-shipment hub.   The expectation is that in the near-term future oil prices will recover, thus creating a financial incentive to store oil in hopes of earning a higher return down the road.

A new survey by Deloitte of new oil projects suggests that 1.8 million barrels per day of new production will come on the global market in 2015. If this turns out to be true, world oil prices seem likely to continue to remain well below the $100 per barrel mark.

OPEC’s Secretary-General Abdulla al-Badri believes that crude oil prices have already hit bottom and thinks there is a real possibility they could climb to $200 per barrel in the future.

US coal generation rose to 39% of total U.S. electricity output in 2013 and 2014 after dropping to 37% in 2012 according to data from the country’s Energy Information Administration.

In the UK, the British Environment Agency gave Cuadrilla Resources permits to carry out shale gas exploration at its site in Lancashire, England.  Meanwhile, the Welsh parliament voted in favor of a measure to ban the shale drilling practice of hydraulic fracking.

The US city of Burlington, Vermont announced that 100% of its electricity is generated from renewable sources. Most of the power is generated by hydropower with another third coming from a biomass facility, which burns scrap wood to create steam for power. Wind turbines in a nearby town and the city’s airport’s solar arrays supply the remaining electricity.

The East African nation of Rwanda opened the region’s first utility-scale solar field. The 8.5 megawatt (MW) solar plant will supply power to 15,000 homes.

Governments around the world are beginning to take advantage of plummeting oil and natural gas prices by slashing the subsidies to this sector.  In China where the government sets the price of petrol, consumer prices have not been lowered as a result of lower crude prices and instead the government has added more taxes to keep the retail price high.  Only Saudi Arabia and Venezuela continue to keep the price of petrol below $1 per gallon.

Despite substantial subsidies to US consumers and producers of  electric vehicles there are currently just 286,390 plug-in vehicles on US roads today, according to the Electric Drive Transportation Association. In 2011 President Obama predicted there would be one million EVs on his nation’s roads this year. EV subsidies are expected to reach $8 billion by 2019.

General Motors, Nissan and Tesla independently announced they are targeting 200 miles on a single charge for their electric vehicles, thus establishing a new industry-wide target for a vehicle running solely on batteries.


with h/t Tom Whipple




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