Bragging rights: So who is the world’s top oil producer?

Earlier this month, BP’s latest Statistical Review unintentionally reopened a debate into whether the US has regained the crown as the world’s top oil producer after decades of being out-gunned by Saudi Arabia and Russia.

Ostensibly a straight-forward measure of which country tops the leaderboard on oil output, BP’s widely-read yardstick has the US eclipsing both Saudi Arabia and Russia for the first time last year since 1975. Fueled by booming shale oil, BP said, US oil output hit 11.64 million b/d last year, a narrow but decisive margin over Saudi Arabia’s 11.51 million b/d.

The devil is in the detail, however, and BP’s numbers raise the long-standing and slippery issue of what actually counts as oil.

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Quantifying crude in Russia proves complicated: At the Wellhead

In this week’s Oilgram News column, At the Wellhead, Nadia Rodova digs beyond the scant information about Russian oil production and gives more clues about the true state of the industry there.

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Gimme some sugar: Looking for some sweet news for one of agriculture’s cornerstones

There’s a war being waged that you can’t fail to have noticed. The focus is an allegedly addictive white powder that has been with us for centuries, but is attracting ever greater ire from politicians, governments and health campaigners. For some producers active in the industry, many of them based in exotic locations like South and Central America, they are unaccustomed to such attacks, and are struggling to counter the bad press and occasionally hysterical calls to stamp out their industry. And it’s all coming at a time when business just isn’t as profitable as it used to be — and there’s precious little sympathy on show.

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Despite expectations, could the US put more crude into reserves?

The ongoing US oil boom has compelled some lawmakers and analysts to question the need to keep so much crude stockpiled and sparked speculation that a government sale of tens of millions of barrels could be imminent. But could new rationale for how much crude the US keeps in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve actually increase the amount of crude in the US stockpile?

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The evolution of a petroleum geologist after the Scopes Monkey Trial

If it hadn’t been for a famous trial 90 years ago next month, John Scopes might never have embarked on a 35-year career as a petroleum geologist.

But whatever Scopes’ track record was at finding oil and gas, history has kept mum — because his stamp on the world came not from hydrocarbons but as the defendant at the center of what became known as the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Dayton, Tennessee that began July 10, 1925, and pitted the Bible against the theory of evolution and highlighted the science-versus-religion debate which flourishes to this day.

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US power landscape prepares for markets, demand to heat up with summer

Summer for the power markets typically means volatility as demand shoots up with hot weather and prices bounce around as generators and traders try to provide the energy where it is needed.

Before each summer, grid operators across the United States gear up for the season by letting the stakeholders know how they are preparing in their summer outlooks. The outlooks share what the grid operators are expecting for peak loads and how much generation capacity will be available to meet the demand. For the power markets, preparing for the season means getting a handle on these outlooks and where prices are ahead of summer.

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US corn belt senators accuse government of setting biofuels mandate too low: Regulation and Environment

The US Renewable Fuel Standard’s inevitable day in court got a preview airing the week ending June 19th, as Corn Belt senators — echoing complaints from their biofuel industry constituents — accused the Obama administration of illegally setting the 2014, 2015 and 2016 volumes below statutory levels.

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Europe voices concerns over China’s increasing aluminum exports

A significant increase in Chinese aluminum exports to Europe over the first four months of 2015 has seen industry concerns grow as China looks to step up lobbying for market economy status (MES) by the end of 2016. It’s a move that would make it much harder for Europe to protect itself against low-price Chinese exports.

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Oil demand is recovering, but are we susceptible to irrational exuberance?

The world seems to be using more oil now that it is 40% cheaper than a year ago and especially so in countries enjoying some economic growth momentum.

Depending on who you are listening to, the US, China, India and the Middle East are cited as the main drivers of demand growth in 2015, with consumption in Japan and the Eurozone improving from a low base last year, in line with their economic recovery.

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California’s renewable power saga is just beginning

In the first quarter of this year, with unseasonably warm dry weather tamping down wind flows in California, the amount of power generated by the state’s 44 wind farms fell off by around 35% compared to the first quarter of 2014, according to data filed with the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Energy Information Administration compiled by Platts.

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