Scientists in Japan and the US say they are moving closer to tapping a new source of energy: methane hydrate, a crystalline form of natural gas found in Arctic permafrost and at the bottom of oceans.

Proved oil reserves in the US increased a record 15% to 29 billion barrels in the latest report from the Energy Information Administration, based on reserve additions from 2011. Natural gas reserves were up almost 10%.

Expected growth in US shale oil production is estimated to cut imports of crude oil by water to 15% of the US oil supply by 2020 compared with 44% now.

An energy company operating in Ukraine said it completed the first of nine stages of hydraulic fracturing operations in search of natural gas. JKX Oil and Gas started a multistage hydraulic fracturing operation at its Rudenkovskoye area in eastern Ukraine was “probably the largest” shale oil operation of its kind in Europe.

Électricité de France (EDF), the world’s largest nuclear generator, began its withdrawal from the US nuclear industry, citing market changes brought about by cheap shale gas. EDF’s Chair and CEO Henri Proglio told the Financial Times that prospects for nuclear power were being undermined by the shale gas revolution, which had “completely reshaped the landscape of electric power generation in favour of gas.”

Italy’s energy company Eni made its largest petroleum find in recent years offshore of the Republic of Congo. Eni estimates 600 million barrels of crude oil and 700 billion cubic feet of natural gas are in place at this location.

The Arab Petroleum Investments Corp., which was set up by Arab crude oil producers, said the average price needed to balance the budget of OPEC members has risen from $99 per barrel in 2012 to $105 in 2013. The earnings of some OPEC members are declining amid higher domestic budgetary expenses.

Shell is to pull out of its oil activities in Niger Delta. The ‘recklessness’ and size of oil thefts—an estimated 60,000 b/day—are forcing Shell to half its activities in the West African country

TransCanada Corp. plans to go ahead with a $12 billion pipeline that will ship oil from Western Canada to the Canadian East Coast. The Energy East pipeline would have a capacity of 1.1 million barrels a day and be in service by the end of 2017. Export terminals would be built in the harbour or Saint. John, New Brunswick.

The US is on track to meet its greenhouse gas reduction target of 17% below 2005 levels by 2020, said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. About half of that progress comes from the natural gas boom and its substitution for coal-fired electricity generation.

Reaching driving age doesn’t hold the magical allure it once did for US teenagers, with fewer than half of them applying for a driver’s license when they reach legal age.

The world installed 31 GW of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2012 (an all-time annual high) that pushed global PV capacity above 100 GW. 30 countries now boast solar energy. Germany and Italy have the largest PV installed capacity, followed by China. The International Energy Agency estimates world PV capacity will more than triple by 2018 to 308 GW—at peak power, the generating equivalent of 300 large nuclear plants.

Three quarters of China’s 40 solar-grade polysilicon producers face closure as the Asian country looks to overhaul a bloated and inefficient industry, resulting in fewer  companies to compete against Germany and South Korea. Polysilicon is a key feedstock for solar panel production. Demand for solar panels has slowed since the global financial crisis, forcing governments worldwide to slash solar power subsidies, and leaving Chinese firms sitting on idle capacity and mounting losses.

Electricity generated from renewable sources in the UK in 2012 increased by 19% over 2011, according to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change. Renewable energy accounted for 11.3 % of total UK electricity generation, up from 9.4% in 2011. This increase was driven by increases in electricity generation from both onshore and offshore wind.

Germany is reducing exemptions that big power-using firms have enjoyed from electric grid fees following European Union criticism that they might amount to state aid as well as anger German consumers that industry was not sharing the cost of the shift to renewable energy. The exemptions, which affect sectors such as chemicals, metals, glass and building materials, began in 2011 and enabled German industry to remain competitive despite some of the highest electricity prices in Europe.

The largest European energy storage trial is underway in the United Kingdom. The Smarter Storage Network project will deploy a 6-megawatt/10 megawatt-hour lithium-ion battery at a primary substation in Bedfordshire, England to assess the cost effectiveness of energy storage. The 4 year project will also be used to balance the intermittency of wind and other renewables on the UK electric grid and ease capacity constraints.

with h/t Tom Whipple

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