Morning Volt for 05/24/2017

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‘Gas Apocalypse’ Looms Amid Power Plant Construction Boom


The glut of cheap natural gas from a single, gigantic, shale basin that straddles the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest has sparked a massive construction boom of power plants. Dozens have been built in the past two years alone.There’s just one problem: There isn’t nearly enough electricity demand to support all the new capacity. And as wholesale electricity prices plunge, industry experts are anticipating a fire sale of scores of plants in the region.

OPEC Is Dead

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, The Week

Oil prices have plummeted since the Great Recession. The price of a barrel of oil peaked at nearly $150 in the summer of 2008. Today, the price has skidded below $50.It’s an understatement to say that this is a major development. It has had enormous financial consequences, helping to juice an otherwise sputtering global economy. It has had environmental consequences, of course. And it has had geopolitical consequences, since many countries depend on oil for a big chunk of their revenue, particularly authoritarian countries that use oil money to keep the people happy despite the…

US Plan to Sell Oil Reserve Shows Declining Import Needs


President Donald Trump’s proposal to sell half of the U.S. strategic oil reserve highlights a decline in the biggest oil user’s reliance on imports – and a weaning off OPEC crude – as its domestic production soars.The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) SPR-STK-T-EIA, the world’s largest, holds about 688 million barrels of crude in heavily guarded underground caverns in Louisiana and Texas.

China’s Coal Fleet Will Soon Be More Efficient Than America’s

K. Fehrenbacher, GTM

China is taking on a colossal energy transformation. But it’s not just happening in the renewable energy sector. It’s also happening in coal.Along with developing sprawling new wind and solar farms, China is investing heavily in the most efficient coal technologies. In fact, new plants under construction in the country are dramatically more efficient than anything currently operating in the U.S., according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.

Shale Is Just a Scapegoat for Weaker Oil Prices

Jason Schenker, Bloomberg View

When the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries gathers in Vienna this week, members and non-OPEC oil producers are likely to extend the production cuts put in place in November as a way to shore up prices, which have been choppy this month. Whatever the final details look like, a mix of oil-bullish policy and jawboning are likely to be on the menu.

Nuclear Power Subsidies Must End

William Shughart, Washington Times

Should utility bills and taxes be used to subsidize money-losing nuclear power plants so they can compete with renewable energy and low-cost natural gas?New York and Illinois, bowing to pressure from a powerful nuclear utility, believe the answer is yes. Several other states, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania, may follow suit, arguing that the subsidies will save nuclear power-plant jobs and help electric utilities meet environmental mandates to reduce carbon emissions.

Why Are Global Warming Alarmists Afraid of Nuclear Power?

R. Tracinski, Federalist

In the New York Times, David Leonhardt praises China and India for cutting carbon dioxide emissions, despite the fact that Hundreds of millions of people in both China and India live in poverty, unable to afford basicsdecent food, shelter, medical care, and educationthat Westerners take for granted.Pause here for a moment to reflect on the progressives of The New York Times, in their superior compassion and love of humanity, congratulating desperately poor foreigners on choosing to remain poor.

Wind Project in Wyoming Envisions Coal Miners as Trainees

Diane Cardwell, NYT

Goldwind Americas, an arm of a leading wind-turbine manufacturer based in China, has been expanding its business in the United States. It has been careful to seek out local, American workers for permanent jobs on the wind farms it supplies.Now it is trying to extend that policy to an unlikely place: Wyoming, which produces more coal than any other state and has hardly welcomed the march of turbines across the country, even imposing a tax on wind-energy generation.

Will Tesla’s Tiles Finally Give Solar Shingles Their Day in the Sun?

Jeremy Hsu, SA

Elon Musk has built a formidable personal brand on futuristic visions of driverless cars and space travel. But the Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Tesla CEO could soon make a very real impact in a much-nearer futureand much closer to homesimply by helping U.S. homeowners harness the power of sunlight. This summer Tesla aims to begin installing solar cell roof tiles that look and act like ordinary shingles.

Why Is Latin America So Obsessed With Mega Dams?

John Vidal, Guardian

The rains had been monumental throughout April 2014. By early May, the operators of the 219 MW Cachoeira Caldeiro dam being built in Brazil’s remote Amap state knew that levels on the Araguari river were dangerously high. If some water was not released fast, the whole thing might collapse. There would be no danger to people because any run-off would be absorbed by two other dams downstream, the hydropower company thought.But communications failed and no one warned the small town of Ferreira Gomes, nestled on the banks of the Araguari nearly 50km away.

OPEC’s New Plan

Michael McDonald, Breaking Energy

With the cartel’s meeting in Vienna drawing closer by the day the question on everyone’s mind is: What will OPEC do? After the Saudi agreement with Russia, it is clear production cuts will be extended and OPEC has only three choices: decrease, maintain, or increase output.

Saudi vs Shale: The Breakeven Myth

Irina Slav, OilPrice

Saudi Arabia is well known for its super low production costs for oil. In fact, its oil is almost the cheapest to extract. Only Kuwait sports even lower costs, according to a ranking by Rystad Energy and CNN. And yet, the Kingdom has been at the forefront of production cut efforts as it obviously can’t cope with the current price levels.According to a Wall Street Journal breakdown of production costs per barrel for 13 large producers, Saudi Arabia can extract a barrel of crude at US$8.98, just a little bit less than Iran, at US$9.08. To compare, the cost per barrel of U.S. shale comes in at…

Trump’s New Budget Cuts the EPA by 32 Percent

Andrew Follett, Daily Caller

President Donald Trump’s budget request to Congress calls for cutting Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) funding nearly 32 percent.EPA officials told The Daily Caller News Foundation the proposed budget, released Tuesday, prioritizes protecting air and water quality over fighting global warming, which was a key focus of the Obama administration. The budget also devolves many EPA programs to state environmental protection officials.

The Rise of the Amateur Oil Sleuths

Georgi Kantchev, Wall Street Journal

On a recent Sunday evening, Samir Madani had dinner with his family in suburban Stockholm, did the dishes and put his two children to bed.Then he opened his laptop and started crunching U.S. oil import data late into the night.

Kuwait: Deeper Cuts Are on the Table

Tsvetana Paraskova, OilPrice

OPEC is committed to restore the balance of the oil market and is not ruling out any option for discussion at the upcoming meeting on Thursday, including considering deeper cuts, Kuwait’s Oil Minister Essam al-Marzouq said in an exclusive interview with Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) published on Tuesday.

The Cancer in the Bones of the Oil Industry

Michael McDonald, Breaking Energy

Almost everyone is happy when oil prices fall and consumers save money at the pump. However, there is a difficulty with oil prices falling too far too fast which is almost never brought up. Everything that has a beginning has an end, and this includes the oil industry. There will come a day when the world’s oil demand will peak and the oil industry will begin its slow decline into history. When this day will come is still the subject of much debate; but whether in 20 years or 80, it is coming.

The Great US Oil Export Boom

Jude Clemente, Forbes

Once unthinkable, in December 2015 the U.S. decided to lift the nation’s 40-year ban on crude oil exports driven by a boom in domestic drilling and production. Until then, our crude exports just went to Canada, awarded an exemption to import U.S. petroleum.Now, some 17 months later, the shift that the U.S. has brought to the global oil market continues to reverberate.

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