Archive for the ‘coal’ Category

Indian steel needs support, not tariffs, to fulfill output aspirations

India’s steel sector has been generally positive about new Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first 100 days in office, which he marked on September 3. Formerly the Chief Minister of Gujarat state for more than a dozen years, Modi presided over strong economic growth in that region, an achievement Indians are hoping to see extended across the entire country.

India has been crunching the gears economically for several years while its big rival China, unencumbered by the democratic process, has motored ahead. Steel projects have foundered due to difficulties in gaining land access–most notably Korean giant Posco’s planned 6 million mt/year capacity works in the south of India–while decrepit infrastructure makes transporting raw materials inside the country expensive and challenging.

Read the rest of this entry »

Miners become leaner and meaner to thrive in lower price environment

BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie is a multilingual, soft-spoken Scot who had a brilliant academic career before moving into industry. Rio Tinto’s urbane CEO Sam Walsh is a patron of the arts in Western Australia and is well-known for collecting antique jugs.

Neither men are what you might describe as “bruisers.” Yet both have rolled up their sleeves since taking charge a year or so ago, flexing their managerial muscles with the aim of turning their mining companies into much leaner and meaner organizations.

Read the rest of this entry »

Goodbye to all that: oil, empire and August 1914

The onset of the First World War underlined the seismic change that was engulfing every aspect of life in the early part of the 20th century. As Europe’s great powers tumbled over the precipice into a catastrophic four years of carnage, few could envision the role that powered transportation would play in the conflict, or the toll that mechanized, industrialized warfare would extract from its youth.

In a war that left such an indelible mark on society, oil would for the first time play a significant role. To that end, the First World War is a significant landmark in the formation of corporations that came to dominate the 20th century. The age of the majors had dawned.

Read the rest of this entry »

The “sharing” economy and its impact on raw materials

What would happen if the American consumer, the most voracious buyer the world has ever seen, becomes more efficient at purchasing?

That is the question that could shape our future economics as the sharing of goods and services continues to proliferate with the aid of smart phones and social media.

Will ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft put taxis out of business? Will Airbnb, which connects vacationers to people with rooms — or castles — to rent, put hotels out of business?

Read the rest of this entry »

Energy politics can be tough on Massachusetts politicians

Practicing politics in Massachusetts must be like steering a ship toward a safe harbor while running away from a hurricane. Certainly Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who is being battered by environmentalists, must feel that way.

Read the rest of this entry »

US Supreme Court opens the “BACT” door for EPA on CO2, but it could swing two ways

The US Supreme Court last week rejected the methodology the Environmental Protection Agency used to implement its first-ever regulations on carbon dioxide emissions, but did lay out a path the agency can follow to achieve the same end by using the Clean Air Act’s the “Best Available Control Technology,” or BACT, provisions.

And although the ruling could be viewed as a win for EPA, it may end up being a victory that does not advance the agency toward its ultimate goal.

Read the rest of this entry »

Letter from the IAEE meeting: competitive response

To visit an energy conference in New York, or perhaps anywhere in the United States, is to feel the full force of the shale gale that has swept across the US oil and gas industry, transforming the country’s domestic and foreign perspectives. Its founding fathers have achieved legendary status and are provided the veneration that only America appears capable of giving business leaders.

Shale is variously described as a “revolution,” even a “miracle.” Benjamin Schlesinger, president of Benjamin Schlesinger and Associates, went that one step further to state that “natural gas is a renewable fuel.”

This was the international conference of the International Association for Energy Economics held in New York from June 15-18, where it was clear that America is the cat that has got the cream. It is the crucible of the revolution in drilling technology that has reduced the cost of previously unrecoverable oil and gas resources to affordable levels, and it is beginning to export those technologies to the rest of the world. It no longer has to concern itself with existing and emerging import dependencies. Instead it is discussing the possibility that it may soon be a net exporter of oil.

Read the rest of this entry »

Can energy sources get bigger and slower in a world going the other way?

Robert Bryce is no easy-to-pigeonhole right-winger. “The Second Iraq War, costing more than $800 billion, will be remembered as one of the biggest strategic errors in modern US history,” he writes in his new book, Smaller Faster Lighter Denser Cheaper. That comes soon after he says “I’ve never believed in American ‘exceptionalism,’ whatever that dubious term might mean.”

The main premise of Bryce’s new book is that lots and lots of things are getting SmallerFasterLighterDenserCheaper, and he strings together those five words into one word frequently in his book.

Read the rest of this entry »

What is India’s BJP thinking about the country’s energy policy?

India’s oil and gas sector saw some unprecedented decisions taken last year under the Congress Party-led government.

These ranged from a partial deregulation of diesel prices to a new gas pricing mechanism that would have seen the wellhead price of gas double to over $8/MMBtu. However, the hike — which was ratified twice by the Cabinet — was never implemented as scheduled on April 1 due to India’s upcoming elections.

The Congress-led government last year also started revamping and streamlining upstream policy to incentivise exploration and production.

All in all, 2013 was a busy year for journalists as we struggled to keep pace with and understand all that was going on in India’s energy sector.

Read the rest of this entry »

The continuing demise of US fuel oil consumption

When commentators talk about the US cutting its oil consumption, they often cite the reductions in usage that were spurred by the first oil shock in 1973-1974. “See,” they say. “We did it back then, and we can do it again!”

resid

What they often fail to note is that one of the ways in which the US did dial back on its oil consumption is by drastically changing over its use of fuel oil for electricity generation to lots of other things: coal, natural gas, nuclear, alternatives. In 40 years, there have been plenty of things.

But the fact is if you’ve all but zeroed out your consumption of fuel oil, you can only do that once. That’s why the whole “we can do it again!” comes up short.

Read the rest of this entry »