The Secretary-General of OPEC said that the upcoming meeting in Algiers on September 26-27 to discuss world crude oil prices will be an informal one and that no decisions will be made.  OPEC, which lives on oil revenues, would like to see prices much higher, but it is becoming apparent to the markets that oil exporters are not prepared to restrict production at this time. Many oil traders believe that a crude price rebound to above $60 a barrel would simply trigger an increase in US shale oil production, wiping out any cuts that OPEC might make.

The International Energy Agency reports that we are now seeing the longest period of decline in investment in the global energy industry in nearly 50 years. The Agency notes that there is a broad shift towards spending on renewable energy, some of which is being pushed by government policies and the rest by economics.  Investment banker Goldman Sachs says the decline in investment will not affect crude oil production capacity until about 2020 and that we should not expect a major rebound in prices due to oil shortages until then.

Saudi Arabia has retaken the position of the world’s top crude oil producer from the US, according to the International Energy Agency. The Saudis have added an extra 400,000 barrels a day of output from low-cost fields since May while 460,000 barrels a day of higher cost production has been shut down in the US.

The large Kashagan oil field in Central Asia has taken 16 years and more than $50 billion to bring to the verge of production. Yet it could take another decade to reach its potential, with initial output at half the forecast level. The Caspian Sea project was designed for a world of $100 a barrel oil prices. It is expected to re-start this fall, just at the time when world oil prices have fallen almost by half. The project has suffered from its remote location, its immense depth, and high levels of corrosive toxic gas causing numerous pipeline leaks.

India’s gasoline consumption is growing rapidly as millions of additional households purchase automobiles and motorcycles amid growing prosperity. Gasoline consumption this summer increased nearly 15% from a year earlier.

The International Energy Agency said solar installation costs have declined 60% since 2010.

In China, a new high-speed railway line between Zhengzhou (in central Henan Province) and Xuzhou (in eastern Jiangsu Province) has begun to operate. This brings the total length of high-speed rail track in the Asian country to over 20,000 kilometers. Trains running on the new 360-kilometer-long track travel at a speed of 300 km per hour.

US  manufacturer Proterra introduced a new electric bus, the Catalyst E2 series, named for its Efficient Energy (E2) storage capacity of 440 – 660 kilowatt-hours. Its range of 194 – 350 miles means the Catalyst E2 series is capable of serving the full daily mileage needs of nearly every US mass transit route on a single charge.

The US government is publishing autonomous vehicle guidelines this week. This is the federal government’s first attempt to regulate the emerging technology, which is already on the road in some parts of the country. The US is asserting its right to approve the computer software that operates self-driving vehicles. The Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles have the goal of bringing  symmetry among the states for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles. They also introduce a 15-point safety assessment for manufacturers developing and deploying automated vehicle technologies that range from data recording and sharing of information, to vehicle cybersecurity protocols.



with h/t Tom Whipple

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