Auditing and consulting firm Deloitte says 1/3 of all oil firms globally risk going bankrupt this year. This conclusion is based on a review of more than 500 publicly traded oil and natural gas exploration and production companies across the world. The roughly 175 companies at risk of bankruptcy are more than $150 billion in debt.

After 5 years of no shipments due to the nuclear sanctions imposed by Western nations, Iran is beginning to ship crude oil to Europe. The first four tankers are taking oil to Spain, Russia and France. In addition Iran has commenced shipping crude oil to Japan.

Four oil producing nations this week agreed to freeze their output at January levels if other countries will follow suit.  The four nations are Russia and 3 OPEC members (Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela). The countries are hoping that their action will be followed by other oil producers around the globe and ultimately lead to a large increase in the price of oil which is currently sitting around $30 a barrel. Iraq said it was ready to commit to a production freeze if a deal was reached among other producers. Iran, however, said it will not follow as it is now free to export oil for the first time in 5 years. Iran wants to raise crude oil production and exports to one million barrels a day. Energy analysts believe that a production freeze will not impact oil prices in an over-supplied market.  They say a price increase could only come about if there were widespread sharp production cuts.

In 2014 the European Union imported 58% of its energy needs, the 11th consecutive year in which energy imports accounted for the majority of EU consumption. Broken down by fuel type, EU dependence on foreign natural gas, petroleum products, and solid fuels are at 67.2%, 87.4%, and 45.6% respectively.

Thousands of electric vehicle charging stations are coming to the US city of San Diego and surrounding areas. 10 EV chargers will be installed at each of 350 business locations and multi-family communities, thereby deploying a total of 3,500 separate chargers. In addition there will be special charging rates that will provide incentives to EV drivers to charge their cars when electricity supply is plentiful and energy prices are low, such as in off-peak hours. Drivers will further be encouraged to charge their vehicles at those times of the day when solar power is at its height, enabling solar energy to be fed straight into the vehicles.

The Canadian province of Ontario is offering subsidies up to $14,000 to assist consumers in purchasing electric vehicles. The subsidy includes $1000 toward a home electric car charger and $3000 for larger electric motors. There are currently about 5,800 electric vehicles in Ontario.

European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association reports sales of new battery-electric, extended-range and plug-in hybrid vehicles increased to 146,161 units the European Union in 2015, a 109% increase on 2014. The Netherlands accounted for 30% of these sales. Next were Germany (23,481 EVs), the UK (28,715) and France (22,867).

Electric vehicle sales in the US have been sluggish as they try to compete with sub-$2 a gallon gasoline prices.  In 2011, President Obama announced a goal of one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015. The latest figures show sales are below 300,000 units. Moreover, EV sales growth was negative in 2015 and one “muscle car”, the Ford Mustang, sold more units than the entire EV market combined. EVs suffer because of the much longer time it takes to recharge their batteries compared with the few minutes it takes to refuel a fossil fuel vehicle.

The Union of Concerned Scientists tells us how electric vehicles perform in cold climates.


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