Valero Energy Corp. is considering using barges and rail to move Canadian oil sands oil to the Gulf Coast as the US  government debates the future of the Keystone XL pipeline. A decision has now been delayed until at least July.

China uses almost as much coal in a year as the rest of the world combined, says the US Energy Information Administration. China’s consumption of the carbon-intensive fuel increased 9 percent in 2011, to 3.8 billion tons.

China’s oil demand in 2013 is expected to rise to 514 million metric tonnes, up 4.8 percent, a research institute affiliated with China National Petroleum Corp. said.

Russia has hit Ukraine with a $7 billion bill for natural gas deliveries just as Kiev took a step toward greater energy independence by signing a deal with Royal Dutch Shell PLC to explore for shale gas. The bill is for natural gas that Ukraine didn’t take in 2012 but that Russia says it is obliged to pay for under a “take-or-pay” clause in the contract.

Days of riots over the construction of a 310-mile natural-gas pipeline in  the East African nation of Tanzania have left seven people dead, but the development will continue. The riots mark an escalation of local tensions as the country attempts to start exploiting recently discovered offshore natural-gas reserves.

More natural gas has been found off Norway. Independent operator Faroe Petroleum said its latest gas discovery may hold as much as 126 million barrels of recoverable oil equivalent.

China’s state council announced that more than 60 new hydroelectric projects on three major rivers would move forward under the government’s 12th 5-year plan, which covers the years 2011-15.

The US Department of Energy has backed off President Barack Obama’s stated goal of putting 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015.  The Department admits that such a goal is unrealistic as consumer demand for hybrids and electric vehicles has been much weaker than expected.

Paris, the City of Light, is about to get dimmer. As of July of this year, all shops and offices in France will have to shut off their lights at night, under a government decree from the Environment Ministry. The decree is intended to save energy and “reduce the print of artificial lighting on the nocturnal environment.”

Ethanol-blended E15 gasoline approved for use in most US vehicles may damage car engines by harming fuel pumps, according to a study funded by oil refiners and automakers.

Spanish wind farms generated 6 terawatt hours of electricity in January, enough to power nearly every household in the country. The Spanish Wind Energy Association said wind energy accounted for 25% of all electrical production that month, more than both coal and nuclear power.

Bloomberg New Energy Finance has concluded that electricity from renewable wind energy is cheaper than electricity from new-build coal and gas-fired power stations in Australia. The research firm found new wind farms could supply electricity at a cost of $80/MWh compared with $143/MWh for new build coal, and $116/MWh for new build gas-fired generation.The Canadian government has filed an appeal of a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling in December that could derail parts of the province of Ontario’s green energy program. The WTO had ruled that Ontario’s program violates international trade rules because it forces companies selling renewable energy into the province’s electrical grid to buy a proportion of their equipment and services in Ontario. Japan and Europe had protested to the WTO about this discriminatory policy.


with h/t Tom Whipple

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