Could natural gas be the answer to London’s pollution concerns?

Over 8% of the deaths in some parts of London may be attributable to long-term exposure to man-made particulate air pollution, according to a new study from UK government body Public Health England.

The figures are highest for Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster (both at 8.3%), followed by Tower Hamlets, the local authority containing the international trading center of Canary Wharf (8.1%). In some rural parts of the UK the level is much lower, at around 2.5%.

Public Health England has called for policies to “encourage a shift from motorized transport to walking and cycling.” But making changes to the fuel mix could also provide substantial improvements. Read the rest of this entry »

Regulation & Environment: Crude-by-barge not as controversial as its rail counterpart

Almost anything that moves has been pressed into serving the transportation needs of the expanding US production profile. That includes barges. In this week’s Oilgram News column, Regulation & Environment, Herman Wang reviews the safety considerations that the crude-by-barge industry faces.

Read the rest of this entry »

Michigan comes to Australia: Chevron MD draws stark comparison on LNG wages

The state of Western Australia is almost half the size of Russia but home to only 2.5 million people, almost 2 million of whom live in and around the state capital of Perth.

The pleasant city has grown rapidly on the back of Australia’s resources boom. The region’s fast-growing mining, oil and gas industries have seen sleek new office towers rise above the city’s older Victorian heritage buildings, staffed by neatly attired office workers pacing purposefully to well paid jobs, A$4 ($3.76) ‘flat white’ coffees in hand.

So it was a resource industry-friendly city in which to hold the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s annual conference and trade show, which ran April 6-9 and attracted a record-breaking 3,600 delegates, making it – according to the organizers – the biggest oil industry conference in the southern hemisphere.

There was, however, one notable protest during the conference: a stunt pulled by members of the Maritime Union of Australia who buried a huge papier mache statue of Chevron Australia Managing Director Roy Krzywosinski head first in a pile of sand in front of the huge conference center. Two placards read simply “Chevron” and “Gorgon.”

Read the rest of this entry »

IEA points to supply risks outside OPEC

A real prospect that export flows out of Libya can start to ramp up in the coming weeks after the resolution of a nine-month-long standoff with rebels couldn’t come at a better time for OPEC it seems.

According to the International Energy Agency’s latest monthly report, OPEC’s 12 members will need to pump an average of 350,000 b/d more during the second half of 2014 to meet global oil demand after their output slumped to a five-month low in March.

Read the rest of this entry »

Santos tries a new tack in PR war over New South Wales CSG project

Australian upstream company Santos concedes it is coming a distant second in the public relations battle with environmental activists over the development of its coalseam gas reserves in the eastern state of New South Wales.

Santos is clearly exasperated with the lack of traction its message has been getting in the public debate, which is being driven by anti-CSG lobbyists including the Greens political party and high-profile conservative radio commentator Alan Jones.

The frustration being felt by Santos Vice President Eastern Australia James Baulderstone was almost palpable when I met him on the sidelines of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference in Perth this week. As he sees it, unless New South Wales can start to unlock its massive CSG reserves from as soon as 2017, the state is staring at an economic disaster. Read the rest of this entry »

Immigration reform debate not lost on US petrochemical industry

The US petrochemical industry has the money, the cheap feedstocks, the technology and the projects to boom in a way perhaps never seen thanks to shale gas.

What it lacks is enough skilled labor to see these projects through. And as industry players will tell you, that’s a huge problem.

“This problem isn’t going to go away,” Dow Chemical VP Jim Fitterling said at the recently held IHS World Petrochemical Conference in Houston. “In fact, it has the potential to get worse.”

Read the rest of this entry »

OPEC oil output in March: A reversal of recent trends

OPEC output took a significant decline in March, according to the latest Platts survey. It also marked a reversal of recent trends, wherein Saudi Arabia would normally make up for shortfalls out of other OPEC countries. But this time, Iraq output fell, as did that of Libya, but Saudi output declined as well. You can read Platts’ analysis here.

EIA analysis: big draw in gasoline inventories

A draw in gasoline stocks far beyond what had been predicted by analysts was one of the most notable numbers in this week’s Energy Information Administration’s weekly statistical report. You can see our analysis here.

Read the rest of this entry »

Citi vs. Chevron: two opposing views of the oil price future

In another of our occasional guest blog entries, Steven Kopits of Princeton Energy Advisors considers the clashing views of Citi Commodities Research and Chevron regarding the likely path of oil prices. Steve can be reached at steven.kopits@prienga.com.

The direction of oil prices is once again a hot topic. In a recent Barron’s article, Ed Morse, Citigroup’s head of global commodity research, forecasts a collapse in global oil prices to $75 /b over the next three to five years. By contrast, Chevron has announced that it is budgeting with $110/b oil for 2017, with the company’s CEO John Watson stating, “There is a new reality in our business… $100/bbl is becoming the new $20/bbl in our business… costs have caught up to revenues for many classes of projects.” And for good measure, he adds, “If $100 is the new $20, consumers will pay more for oil.”

Read the rest of this entry »

“Maddening” US ethanol prices mimic RINs volatility

US ethanol prices in 2014 have become what RINs were in 2013 — volatile and downright wacky.

In the opening three months of 2013, biofuels RINs went from the nerdy kid in freshman biology to a menacing and eccentric upper-classman that scared all the other kids in the cafeteria. The previously lesser-known renewable credits generated by physical gallons of biofuels became a household name of infamy as finger-pointing linked them to rising prices at the pump.

And if there’s one thing an array of industries, commodities, and political dealings have learned over the years, you don’t mess with prices at the pump.

Read the rest of this entry »