Flying cars may be just two years away. US firm Terrafugia announced a full-size unmanned prototype TF-X is expected to be ready by 2018 and will be ready for commercial sale by 2024. The 4-person car has fold-out wings with twin electric motors attached to each end. The motors allow the vehicle to move from a vertical to a horizontal position, and will be powered by a 300 horsepower engine. The TF-X will have a cruising speed of 200 mph (322 km/h), along with a 500-mile (805 km) flight range.  The batteries can be recharged either from its engine or by plugging in to electric car charging stations. Being semi-autonmous,  passengers can simply type in their destination before taking off. Terrafugia says its aim is to provide ‘true door-to-door transportation,’ with the vehicle capable of being parked in a home garage like an ordinary car.

The deepwater sector of the crude oil industry may be in more trouble than the shale oil producers.  Deepwater projects. such as those undertaken in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil and in the Gulf of Mexico, take several years to complete and require hundreds of millions in investment before the first oil is produced. Deepwater projects that are not yet started are being canceled or postponed to await higher prices leaving much of the world’s oil service business in serious trouble. If prices ever recover to the level that will support high-cost deepwater production, it will take two or more years to launch new projects and several more years to complete them. Thus, we can expect very little production from these sources for another decade or more, if ever.

The European Commission presented an energy security package to the member countries of the European Union that would equip the region with the tools necessary to transition to a low-carbon future while ensuring the region is secured from potential supply disruptions of conventional energy options such as natural gas imports from Russia.

Norway is on the verge of a recession as low oil prices have shut down much of its production in the North Sea.  For several decades the northern European country has been heavily dependent on oil revenue to fuel its economic growth.

With its economy in shambles, oil dependent Venezuela announced it was raising its gasoline prices from 4 cents a gallon (the cheapest in the world) to 15 cents. This is the first gasoline price increase in nearly 20 years. The country’s central bank reported that Venezuelan inflation hit 180% in 2015, one of the highest rates in the world, while its economy contracted 5.7%.

Oil field services companies, badly hammered by the shut down of world crude oil production, are looking to restore their fortunes in the renewable energy sector. Petrofac recently partnered with General Electric to engineer, construct and install an electric power system to connect up to 336 megawatts of energy from the Galloper Offshore Wind Farm off the coast of Suffolk, England.

The US shale industry must come up with $1.2 billion in interest payments by the end of March as $30-a-barrel crude oil makes it harder for these companies to find the cash needed to keep paying off their debts. Almost half of the interest is owed by companies with junk-rated credit, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

For the first time in more than two decades, energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp. failed to replace all of the crude oil and natural gas it pumped out of the ground last year with new discoveries and acquisitions.

Demand for thermal coal is declining, a trend that appears to be “irreversible, according to investment firm Goldman Sachs in a new report on the global coal market. The industry’s future points to endless shuttered coal-fired power plants, mine closures, and bankruptcies. China, alone, expects to close 1000 coal mines this year. Going forward India will be the only major country to show an increased demand for coal. Coal demand in the US, Europe, China, and Japan will fall from here on out. Goldman says this commodity has very little hope of ever seeing a price rebound again.


with h/t Tom Whipple

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