The global oil industry continues to contract because of the plunge in world crude oil prices. Graves & Co. reports the industry has cut 250,000 jobs and $100 billion in capital spending this year. Baker Hughes says that the US rig count is 54% lower than in a year ago.

It is estimated there will be $2.2 trillion worth of stranded assets that the global oil industry will be stuck with, should the governments of the world decide that we would all be better off if a substantial portion of the planet’s oil, gas, and coal reserves should be left in the ground.

Cheniere Energy Inc. announced its plans to export the first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the lower 48 US states in early 2016. The company will begin producing LNG in January at its Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana, with the inaugural cargo expected four to six weeks later. Shipments will probably go to Lithuania and Western Europe.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by 2050 80% of worldwide electricity should be low carbon. Today it is 30%, most of it generated by hydro and nuclear.

Currently about 621-million Africans have no access to electricity. Four out of five people on the continent rely on wood and charcoal for cooking. According to current trends, it will take Africa until 2080 to achieve universal access to electric power. And by 2050 Africa’s population will have doubled to at least 2-billion people.

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) says Africa is currently among the leading global markets for modern renewable energy sources with the leading countries being Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa. IRENA believes the continent could more than quadruple renewable energy use to 22% by 2030, up from 5% in 2013.  A recent study by the organization found Africa holds some of the best renewable energy resources in the world such as biomass for cooking and geothermal, hydro, solar and wind to generate electricity.

Energy subsidies cost Saudi Arabia more than $100 billion a year and the desert kingdom is now considering cutting back on them. As part of its budget preparations the country is reviewing its subsidy programs but as of yet no decisions have been made as to whether energy prices will be raised for the general population or for only industrial users. The International Monetary Fund estimates that Saudi Arabia spends $107 billion a year on subsidies, including $86 billion on crude oil and $10 billion on natural gas. However, the country is facing an expected budget deficit of more than $100 billion this year because of the low global oil price and has been warned that its huge financial reserves could run out in less than five years if it fails to take steps to reduce its spending and increase revenues.

A study by asset management firm Lazard says energy storage technologies are now cost-competitive with conventional grid electricity in certain markets. Energy storage is a preferred option for replacing the need for major new transmission lines or for circumstances where microgrids are needed. Energy storage not only can provide electricity during downtimes, but it can obviate the need to build new power plants. In addition it can increase the reliability of the grid. Lazard expects the cost of battery storage to decline significantly over the next five years, due to rising penetration of renewable energy, specific government policies to promote storage and the high cost of maintaining the transmission lines on the grid.

Kia Motors of South Korea revealed plans to have a new hydrogen fuel cell vehicle ready for mass production in 2020. Initial production will stand at 1,000 units a year, with Kia ramping up production as demand for fuel cell vehicles increases. The fuel cell stack will be similar in size to a 2 liter internal combustion engine and Kia predicts it will travel more than 500 miles before needing to be refueled. By that time Kia is likely to be competing with Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and Audi for the hydrogen vehicle consumer.


with h/t Tom Whipple

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