Last week the World Bank reported that about one in seven people across the globe still live without electricity. The global electrification rate rose to 85% in 2012 from 83% in 2010, pushing the number of people without access to electric power down to 1.1 billion from 1.2 billion. India made significant advances, but progress in sub-Saharan Africa continued to be slow. The World Bank cautioned that traditional indicators can overestimate energy access because power supplies are limited or unreliable for many communities and especially rural areas. For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, 90% of people are judged to have access to electricity because of widespread grid connections, but the streets are dark most nights and few households can use their electrical appliances.

Coal mining companies are announcing large layoffs of employees in the US states of Ohio and West Virginia. These companies are reacting to strong competition from the natural gas industry and its less expensive energy for electric power plants.  In addition these firms face a global coal glut and tougher environmental regulations in the US.

The International Monetary Fund released a report last week which estimates that global consumers should be paying an additional $5 trillion a year to pay for the hidden costs of producing and using fossil fuels such as environmental and health damage.  The $5 trillion figure amounts to about 6% of global GDP. The IMF believes that policy makers should be levying more taxes or similar policies that force fossil fuel users to pay for the true costs of such fuels. This in turn would lead to reduced or more efficient consumption. The IMF also points out that government fuel subsidies are creating air pollution by handing out vast amounts of oil products at below cost in order to keep constituents quiescent.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer, but fuel shortages have paralyzed the country that just a year ago was declared Africa’s largest economy. At gas stations in Lagos cars are queued for a kilometer down the road creating gridlock. Similar scenes are being repeated at almost every petrol station across Nigeria.

ExxonMobil said it made what it described as a significant crude oil discovery in the deep waters about 120 miles offshore the Atlantic coast of Guyana in South America.

US crude oil exports to Canada provided a crucial relief valve for US producers this year, according to a new report from data provider Genscape Inc. Almost 19 million barrels were shipped from the US Gulf Coast to Canada’s east coast from the beginning of the year through early May. Without those shipments, oil storage terminals in Corpus Christi, Texas, would have run out of capacity by now.

The National Energy Board and the Northwest Territories Geological Survey reported that as much as 200 billion barrels of shale oil could be lying beneath Canada’s Northwest Territories in two separate fields.

In the United States, petroleum is by far the most-consumed transportation fuel. But in 2014 the share of fuels other than petroleum for US transportation has increased from 4% of total consumption to 8.5%. The increase can be attributed primarily to increased blending of biomass-based fuels with traditional vehicle fuels along with the growing use of biodiesel, electricity and natural gas in the transportation sector.

The US state of Oregon is about to become the first state in that country that plans to tax car owners not for the fuel they use, but for the miles they drive. The program is meant to help the state raise more revenue to pay for road and bridge projects at a time when money generated from gasoline taxes are declining across the country, in part, because of greater fuel efficiency and the increasing popularity of hybrid and electric cars.

A joint report by the International Energy Agency and the World Bank finds the share of renewable energy in the global production of electricity grew slightly from 17.8% in 2010 to 18.1% in 2012.

President Obama’s 2009 promise to have 1 million electric or hybrid cars on US roads by 2015 has been an abysmal failure according to Bloomberg as private and government purchases of such vehicles have only reached 31% of the president’s original goal.

with h/t Tom Whipple

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