Ten of the world’s largest oil companies plan to invest an average of $100 million annually over the next 10 years in low-carbon technologies, the companies announced last week. The Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, which includes state-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co., Royal Dutch Shell PLC and BP PLC, said its investments will initially focus on carbon capture and storage technology and efforts to reduce methane emissions from the oil-and-gas industry.

The hype over an OPEC production freeze which has been driving crude oil prices up since last spring is no longer moving prices higher. OPEC and Russia must come up with a significant production cut in the next three weeks or be faced with lower prices until supply and demand come back into balance from economic forces. The final OPEC meeting to approve a price cut is only three weeks away (November 30th) and so far no progress has been made at preliminary meetings that were intended to work out details.  Most OPEC members would like to see Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Arab allies make the bulk of the cuts, something which Saudi Arabia is unwilling to do.  If there is no agreement to cut production, then some experts see oil prices falling to a range of around $40 a barrel. To spark a price rebound, significant cuts would have to be made as more oil is scheduled to come onto the market in the next year.

A new report says that Iran has increased its crude oil export volume to a new high of 2.6 million barrels per day. About half of Iran’s oil exports are going to China and India.

Brazil’s energy secretary said Brazilian crude oil production is increasing and that the South American country has plans to continue expanding production for “the next few years.”

It appears China has cut its domestic coal production by too much, too quickly, to clean up its polluted air. As a result, the government is scrambling to overcome a coal shortage to produce the power needed to heat homes. Coal is being imported at a record pace and China is also increasing its coal production to try to make up for the shortages.

Finland is considering banning all coal-fired electric generation stations by 2030. Coal-fired power generation accounted for 7% of Finland’s electricity production last year.

In Norway, government-owned Statoil is gearing up for the development of the Trestakk discovery in the North Sea. Confirmed in 1986, the discovery holds about 76 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalent.

The West African country of Ghana’s says it is close to a deal to “mortgage” its petroleum reserves to Chinese development banks — in exchange for massive loans needed to build production equipment.

The price of natural gas may surge to $20 to $25 per million British thermal units in the northeastern US this winter, the highest in the world, as pipeline bottlenecks limit supplies during frigid weather. Prices have collapsed across the rest of the globe amid tepid demand growth, rising exports and a plunge in crude oil prices earlier this year. Competition for pipeline access into New England is poised to intensify as the power grid, already getting more than half of its supply from gas, becomes even more reliant on the fuel as coal-fired plants shut in the US.

The International Energy Agency said technological improvements (such as carbon capture and storage) are required if natural gas is to serve as a long-term fuel for humanity.

Maxwell Technologies, Inc., a leading developer and manufacturer of ultracapacitor-based energy storage and power delivery solutions, announced the first commercial application of lithium-ion capacitors, developed in conjunction with China’s largest rail manufacturer. The technology will be used for rapid electric energy regeneration in the trolley system in the capital city of Hunan province in China. Compared to traditional ultracapacitors, lithium-ion capacitors triple energy density and reduce the total weight of the energy storage system by 50%.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that plug-in electric cars will displace 13 million barrels of crude oil a day by 2040.

A new report from Navigant Research says that global sales of 48-volt systems for electric vehicles are expected to reach 9 million in 2025. As more regions look to implement higher fuel efficiency standards, vehicle manufacturers are investing in new technologies to ensure they are able to comply with future legislation. Low-voltage electrification technologies offer a less costly solution, particularly for larger vehicles. The report says A 48-volt mild hybrid is estimated to provide 70% of the benefit of a high-voltage hybrid at 30%  of the cost, while boosting electrical power available in the vehicle from 2.5 kilowatts to 10 kW.

Navigant Research predicts automatic engine stop-start systems in automobiles based on 12-volt electrical systems will reach near-universal adoption in Europe and North America by the end of this decade.





with h/t Tom Whipple

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