FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Nia Williams for Reuters:With Canadian benchmark crude near record lows, some major oil sands producers are starting to consider slowing output at their huge thermal operations in northern Alberta, a process fraught with technical and financial difficulties.Cutting production is one of the least appealing options for producers who have invested billions of dollars and years of work in carefully-engineered bitumen reservoirs and fear doing permanent damage to sites designed to operate for decades.Two producers, Cenovus Energy and MEG Energy – both among the most efficient producers in the patch – say they do not see the need to act yet, but have plans for reducing volumes if oil prices fell further and stayed there.Expensive technology needed to pump high-pressure steam to unlock bitumen deposits mean Alberta’s oil reserves – the world’s third-largest – have some of the highest overall production costs, well above the present price of around $18 a barrel for benchmark oil sands crude.The producers, however, focus on their operating costs, wary of high potential costs of cutting and later cranking up production and the risk of upsetting the delicate balance needed to pump out heated bitumen when wells get idled for too long.MEG Chief Executive Bill McCaffrey said the company could slow output by letting its Christina Lake oil sands reservoir enter natural decline if it was unable to cover variable cash operating costs of around C$4 a barrel for a sustained period.In the fourth quarter of 2015, when Canadian heavy crude averaged $27.7 a barrel, the revenue MEG got for a barrel of oil once blending, transportation, operating expenses and royalties are taken into account, was just over C$9. With benchmark Canadian crude trading around $10 a barrel lower so far this year, that revenue is almost certainly insufficient to cover the cash costs.Cenovus Chief Executive Brian Ferguson told Reuters earlier this month U.S. benchmark crude would have to stay below $27 a barrel well into 2017 for slowing production to make economic sense, but was prepared for such a possibility and had plans to reduce volumes if needed.For now, producers are looking at alternatives such as selling off pipeline, storage and production facilities to ease the financial squeeze caused by dwindling revenues.The companies have also been experimenting with maintenance schedules, allowing output to drop temporarily at some locations either by delaying equipment servicing or bringing forward planned maintenance turnarounds.Full article: Canadian oil sands firms mull once unthinkable: curbing output Oil Sands Producers, Losing Money, Consider Cutting Operations
Market Cap of U.S. Coal Companies Continues to Fall FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Christopher Coats for SNL:The combined market value of major publicly traded U.S. coal producers continues to erode, now standing at approximately $4.59 billion, or 4.7% less than in November 2015, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis.Since April 2011, the group of 13 U.S. coal producers has lost more than 92% of its value, with the companies’ combined market capitalization falling from $62.5 billion to $4.59 billion amid historically weak coal market conditions.Foresight Energy LP, which has struggled to resolve negotiations with the trustee of its 7.875% senior notes due 2021, showed a 68.6% drop from the last analysis to just $188.7 million in March. Foresight has extended negotiations with the trustee several times since the beginning of the year after a Delaware court ruled against the company in December 2015 in a case brought by the trustee of the bondholders. The latest extension of the negotiations expires March 22.Meanwhile, Peabody Energy Corp. showed a 78.9% drop from the previous period to just $46.4 million. The company recently issued a notice to investors indicating substantial doubt as to whether the company will be able to continue as a going concern and warned of a potential Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. In April 2011, Peabody was far and away the most valued U.S. coal producer with a market capitalization of $19.68 billion.Having filed for bankruptcy protection since November 2015, Arch Coal Inc. saw an expected decline, falling from $22.4 million to just $4.9 million on March 19. Like Alpha, Walter Energy Inc. and Patriot Energy before it, Arch is now in the process of navigating bankruptcy reorganization.Arch recently announced that it would suspend its efforts to secure a mining permit for the Otter Creek Coal reserves near Ashland, Mont., reflecting the difficult challenges it now faces as it moves forward.Full article ($): CONSOL bucks trend, but market value keeps eroding for most coal producers
On the Blogs: Maker of Kleenex Turns to Wind Farms in Oklahoma and Texas for One-Third of Electricity Needs FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Nawindpower.com:Kimberly-Clark Corp., the maker of Kleenex, Huggies and Depend, says it will purchase 245 MW of output from two new wind power projects located in Texas and Oklahoma.The company says that the renewable energy supplied by the wind farms is equivalent to about one-third of the electricity needs of its North American manufacturing operations and will enable the company to surpass its greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction goal four years earlier than anticipated.Kimberly-Clark has entered into long-term power purchase agreements to take 120 MW, or 78%, of electricity to be generated by the Rock Falls Wind project, being developed by EDF Renewables in northern Oklahoma, and 125 MW (42%) of the electricity to be generated by the Santa Rita Wind Energy Center, being built by Invenergy in West Texas. The renewable energy supplied by the two wind farms will enable Kimberly-Clark to reduce its GHG emissions by up to 550,000 metric tons annually.The Rock Falls Wind project will be operational by the end of 2017, and the Santa Rita facility is expected to begin commercial operation by the second quarter of 2018. Renewable Choice Energy helped broker the two agreements, the company notes.More: Kimberly-Clark Commits To Wind In Sustainability Push
Spain on track for record low coal-fired generation in 2019 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The collapse in Spanish coal-fired generation this year has made the country’s planned coal phaseout program look academic, data from the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, or ENTSO-E, shows.Spanish coal-fired generation is likely to have its lowest share of the generating mix ever in 2019, having covered just 6% of it up until the end of August as the impact of CO2 costs, competitive gas prices and increasing renewables force it out.Spain has around 10 GW of operational coal plants left. Much of this looks set to close mid-2020 under the EU’s industrial emissions directive, while the remainder should be gone by 2025.As in the U.K., however, the technology is already surplus to requirements for large periods of time. Only four coal units generated any electricity in the first half of September, with output averaging around 15 GWh/day — a fraction of the 133 GWh/day a year earlier. Of the four, only the 562-MW Abono 2 unit was in operation for the full two weeks under review, down from nine a year earlier.Abono, operated by EDP – Energias de Portugal SA, is one of four plants lined up to continue operating after the June 2020 cutoff for plants to either carry out pollution control upgrades or close down permanently.According to Spanish coal industry group Carbunion, Abono and EDP’s other plant at Soto de la Ribera have captive industrial customers adjacent to the plants that make ongoing operations more viable. Of the other three plants generating in in September, Viesgo Infraestructuras Energeticas SL’s Puentenuevo is expected to close next year, Teruel is slated for closure, while the future for As Pontes 3 remains uncertain.More ($): Fundamentals draw sting from Spain’s coal phaseout
Chevron to take massive write-down due to Appalachian shale woes FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Chevron Corp. announced Dec. 10 it expects to take a noncash, after-tax impairment charge of $10 billion to $11 billion in the fourth quarter, with more than half of that figure related to Appalachia shale assets.The California-based supermajor plans to cut funding for various natural gas-related investments, including Appalachian shale assets and the Kitimat LNG project in Canada, as it evaluates its strategic alternatives for these assets, including possibly selling them. Noting that it expects weaker commodity prices for the long term, Chevron said it is also taking an impairment charge related to its Big Foot offshore oil project in the Gulf of Mexico.The company on Dec. 10 unveiled a $20-billion capital spending and exploration budget for 2020, spanning upstream and downstream investments, including projects in the Permian Basin, the Gulf of Mexico and Kazakhstan.The company said it will need approximately $11 billion to sustain and grow currently producing upstream assets. This includes about $1 billion for international unconventional development and $4 billion for Permian development. Chevron said previously that it intends to ramp output further into the next decade, with a focus on building out shale operations in the Permian Basin. Chevron hopes to boost its Permian production to 600,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by 2020 and to 900,000 boe/d by the end of 2023.Approximately $5 billion of the upstream program is planned for major capital projects underway. Global exploration funding is expected to be about $1 billion. Additionally, Chevron is earmarking roughly $2.8 billion for its downstream business.[Amanda Luhavalja]More ($): Chevron to take $10B write-down on U.S. shale-related assets, mulls divestitures
EU initiative to test growing seaweed at existing offshore wind farm FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Recharge:A world-first effort to grow seaweed at an offshore wind farm will launch off Belgium this year.The Norther wind farm in the North Sea will host the two-year Wier & Wind project that will deploy seaweed production equipment between its 44 MHI Vestas turbines. The EU-backed Dutch-Belgian initiative says seaweed farming could optimise otherwise unused space at the ever-larger offshore wind projects being built off Europe and beyond.Seaweed specialist and project partner AtSeaNova claimed demand for seaweed is set to rocket, thanks to its sustainable, healthy credentials and versatility.“Seaweed is the biomass of the future. It can be used for many large-scale applications, such as food, animal feed and biomaterials,” the company said. “There are too few suitable locations along the coast to meet the increasing demand. Wind farms at sea would be a suitable alternative.”Seaweed harvesting is slated to begin in the second quarter of next year at Norther, which at 370MW is Belgium’s largest offshore wind farm and entered service last year for its owners, Belgian energy provider Elicio, and a joint venture between Dutch utility Eneco and Mitsubishi.The Wier & Wind project is the latest move in a growing effort to harmonise offshore wind development with aquaculture. China last year unveiled plans for unified offshore wind and fish farming off Shandong province.[Andrew Lee]More: World-first bid to grow ‘food of the future’ seaweed at offshore wind farm
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Texas’ booming energy market is attracting interest from overseas, including Japanese investors. Two Japanese energy companies have in recent weeks made their first investments in the U.S. renewable energy sector, looking to capitalize on expected continued growth in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. market, while a third Japanese company has expanded its U.S. presence by investing in its second renewable energy asset in Texas.On July 10, Kansai Electric Power Co. Inc. teamed up with Michigan-headquartered utility company CMS Energy Corp. to acquire the 525-MW Aviator Wind Project in Coke County, Texas, from Ares Management Corp. The deal closed Aug. 6. CMS owns 51%, Kansai Electric owns 48.5% and Ares funds own the remaining 0.5%.The Aviator Wind project is the first renewable energy holding in the U.S. for Osaka-headquartered Kansai Electric. The company has partial ownership interests in two operating gas-fired plants in the PJM Interconnection LLC region. It has also invested in onshore wind farms in Finland and Ireland, according to a news release, as well as the Triton Knoll and Moray East offshore wind farms supplying the U.K.The new investments mark the latest step in Japan’s growing involvement in overseas energy projects. A number of Japanese energy companies have invested in the European offshore wind sector for nearly a decade. In its home islands, Japan by 2030 wants renewable energy resources to make up 22% to 24% of its power supply, primarily from solar and offshore wind.Tokyo Gas Americas Ltd., a new subsidiary of Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd., on July 29 announced the acquisition of the 500-MW Aktina Solar Project (Ramsey) in Wharton County, Texas, from Nashville, Tenn.-headquartered private developer Hecate Energy. The deal, which closed Aug. 5, is the first international solar project that Tokyo Gas has seen through from construction to completion. The first phase of the Aktina project is expected to be in commercial operation in mid-2021, and its output will be sold into the ERCOT market.On Aug. 5, J-POWER USA Development Co. Ltd., a unit of Tokyo-based Electric Power Development Co. Ltd., announced its second U.S. renewable energy project with AP Solar Holdings LLC, a Texas-based developer. Called Charger Solar, the 400-MW facility will be located in Refugio County, Texas, midway between Houston and San Antonio. Construction is set to begin in the second quarter of 2021, with the project in operation in 2023. In April, the two companies said they had teamed up to develop a 350-MW solar project, to be in operation in 2022, in Wharton County, Texas, supplying ERCOT’s Houston zone.[Michael Lustig]More ($): Japanese utilities expand presence in U.S. renewables sector Japanese utilities see expansion opportunities in booming Texas electricity market
Financing secured for 2GW Al Dhafra solar project in Abu Dhabi FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Gulf News:The funding is now in place for the world’s biggest solar power project, being built in Abu Dhabi. The 2 GW project in Al Dhafra has received financing from seven international banks.TAQA (Abu Dhabi National Energy Company) is developing the plant along with Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, EDF Renewables and Jinko Power.The Al Dhafra Solar Photovoltaic (PV) facility is located about 35 kilometers from Abu Dhabi city, and will supply power to Emirates Water and Electricity Company (EWEC). Once operational, it will be the world’s largest single-site solar power plant, using approximately 4 million solar panels to generate enough electricity for approximately 160,000 homes across the UAE.Earlier in the year, the competitive bidding for the project led to one of the “most competitive tariffs for solar power”, set at Dh4.97 fils/kWh, which upon financial closing, was further brought down to Dh4.85 fils/kWh. This was primarily from hedging and financing cost improvements.TAQA will own 40 per cent of the project, while the other three will have 20 per cent stake each. Commercial operations are scheduled for 2022.The plant will deploy the latest in “crystalline, bifacial solar technology” that will enable it to provide “more efficient electricity by capturing solar irradiation from both the front and backside of the [solar] panel”.More: World’s biggest solar power plant project in Abu Dhabi secures funding
Historically the vast majority of energy subsidies have gone to developing fossil fuel resources. But that is beginning to change as part of the Obama Administration’s goal of cutting back on subsidies to the hugely profitable oil industry. In 2011, while $2.5 billion of tax dollars subsidized the fossil fuel industry in the form of tax breaks, some $16 billion went into subsidies for renewables and energy efficiency. Photo cred: ThinkstockEarthTalk®E – The Environmental MagazineDear EarthTalk: Renewable energy production in the solar and wind markets currently receives about $7 billion in government subsidies annually, but is still not competitive against fossil fuels on a large scale. To what extent should the U.S. continue to prop up these industries as they compete against dirty energy? — Jack Morgan, Richmond, VAGiven the importance of abundant amounts of energy for Americans, the federal government tends to subsidize all forms of energy development, including fossil fuels and renewables. A recently released report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that in 2011 the federal government spent $16 billion of our tax dollars in subsidies for the development of renewable energy and increased energy efficiency, and only $2.5 billion in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry in the form of tax breaks. But this breakdown in favor of larger subsidies to alternative renewables is a recent product of President Obama’s stated goal of cutting back on subsidies to the hugely profitable oil industry.Historically the vast majority of energy subsidies have gone to developing fossil fuel resources and reserves. The CBO notes that until 2008 most energy subsidies went to the fossil fuel industry as a way to encourage more domestic energy production. A report by the non-profit Environmental Law Institute (ELI) confirms that, between 2002 and 2008, the federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. “Subsidies to fossil fuels—a mature, developed industry that has enjoyed government support for many years—totaled approximately $72 billion over the study period, representing a direct cost to taxpayers,” reported ELI. “Subsidies for renewable fuels, a relatively young and developing industry, totaled $29 billion over the same period.”Even though subsidies to the oil industry may be down substantially from what they once were, the Obama administration and many others would like to see any such subsidies to the oil industry stripped completely. This past March the U.S. Senate rejected the so-called “Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies” bill that would have eliminated several of the tax breaks still enjoyed by the five largest oil companies—and use some of the proceeds to extend expiring energy tax provisions including tax breaks for renewable energy, electric cars and energy-efficient homes.A September 2011 report from DBL Investors, a San Francisco-based venture capital fund specializing in renewable energy, backs up environmentalist calls for increased subsidies for renewables by showing how early subsidization of other energy keystone sources helped secure their respective dominant places in the energy marketplace. The report calculates that, in the U.S., nuclear subsidies accounted for more than one percent of the federal budget in their first 15 years, and that oil and gas subsidies made up one-half of one percent of the total federal budget in their first 15 years. Subsidies for renewables, in contrast, have constituted only about one-tenth of a percent, the report concludes.While the pendulum of energy subsidies may be swinging in favor of renewables in the last year or two, such momentum can be lost easily if lawmakers don’t extend various incentives and credits that have helped drive it.CONTACTS: CBO, www.cbo.gov; ELI’s “Estimating U.S. Government Subsidies to Energy Sources: 2002-2008,” www.elistore.org/Data/products/d19_07.pdf; DBL Investors, www.dblinvestors.com.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine ( www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: [email protected] Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.
Bombadil bassist Daniel Michalak played through the pain until it wasn’t possible anymore. In 2008, the tuneful indie rock quartet from Chapel Hill, N.C., was steadily gaining momentum. The group released a debut album, A Buzz, A Buzz, on Ramseur Records, the independent label owned by longtime Avett Brothers manager, Dolph Ramseur. A growing cadre of fans was also starting to flock to the band’s energetic live shows, which blended quirky expansive folk with melodic, piano-driven throwback psychedelia.But as Michalak—who suffers from a neural tension condition—gradually lost the use of his hands, it became obvious the band could no longer continue.“We were going full-steam ahead, but it soon became apparent that Daniel was overdoing it,” says Bombadil drummer James Phillips during a recent phone interview. “The pain in his arms got to the point where he was pretty much incapable of doing anything.”The band’s future looked grim. They decided to stop touring indefinitely and members soon moved to various locations across the country. The desire to play together, though, never really waned. Material already recorded came out as 2009’s Tarpits and Canyonlands, and by the next year, after sharing musical ideas consistently via email, the group convened in Phillips’ new home of Portland, Oregon, to record another album—2011’s All That the Rain Promises. Shortly after, the group received an invitation to open for the Avett Brothers.Through rest and physical therapy, Michalak has gotten his condition under control. It’s enabled Bombadil to be on the road consistently since last fall. The prolific studio band, which also includes guitarist Bryan Rahija and Stuart Robinson on piano, is getting ready to release a new album next month. Metrics of Affection was recorded in an old house that the band members now share in Durham, N.C.Lyrically, the effort is surprisingly straightforward and personal for a band who’s always been honest yet at times emotionally cryptic; something Phillips attributes to “experiencing the disappointment of stopping and getting older.”Michalak unloads some blatant insecurity in “Learning to Let Go” that would almost be cringe-worthy if the song weren’t so catchy. He also laments the frustration of his condition (“Even the best docs and psychiatrists can’t help”) through spoken word, as the British Invasion meets hip-hop in “Isn’t It Funny.”“We all have diverse interests in music,” Phillips adds. “Because Daniel couldn’t use his hands he was looking for different ways to make music. He became inspired both by the attitude of hip-hop and the production strategies—making beats and loops on his laptop without using his hands.”While Bombadil continues to toy with their own sonic boundaries, the group’s foundational dynamics remain intact. With Rahija now off the road pursuing a graduate degree, the band has been reduced to a piano trio and forced to accentuate vocal harmonies—the element that has always been their best first impression.“All of us take singing very seriously and want to be better than we actually are,” Phillips says. “We’re trying to tell stories and share feelings with the music. You have to do that with singing and melody at the forefront.”Bombadil performs at Snug Harbor in Charlotte, N.C., with the Overmountain Men on June 21. The band will also play the Camel in Richmond, Va., on July 26, and an album release show at the Lincoln Theatre in Raleigh, N.C., on July 27.Americanarama Rolls into the SouthAn icon and a pair of roots music innovators are teaming up for one of the most anticipated tours of the summer. Visiting amphitheaters across the country, the Americanarama: A Festival of Music will feature Bob Dylan sharing headlining duties with Wilco and My Morning Jacket. The tour includes this triumvirate of Americana heroes with generational differences but similar tendencies towards evolution. Dylan, the 1960s folk bard of yesteryear, has gone through many musical shifts to get to his current state as a scrappy, blues-rock-based song-and-dance bandleader. Expect to hear a few classics, but know that he leans on his later material, which in current context is a good thing. Wilco and My Morning Jacket first emerged seemingly focused on alt-country revivalism, but with subsequent albums and years on the road, both bands have journeyed far beyond the parameters of twang into various realms of experimental rock. At different points in the tour, the three bands will be joined by either British folk hero Richard Thompson or outlaw country torchbearer Ryan Bingham. Stops in the region include Atlanta (June 29), Nashville (June 30), Columbia, Md. (July 23), and Virginia Beach, Va. (July 24).