Category Archives: Energy

Senate will see a new energy bill

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid will unveil an energy bill that will make offshore drilling safer and convert trucks to run on domestic natural gas.

The full Senate could begin consideration of Reid’s bill on Tuesday and Democrats would like to pass it by the early part of the following week.

With time running short ahead of a month-long recess starting Aug 6, Democrats abandoned efforts last week to put climate-control measures in the bill. Reid said then that he had no Republican votes for items such as carbon caps and mandates requiring utilities to generate some of their power from alternatives sources such as wind and solar.

Democrats would like to revisit climate control in September, but for now, they will compromise with the hope of passing the bill quickly.

If Republicans pick up seats, as expected, the effort to put a price on carbon and cut emissions could be stalled for years, which would also hamper the Obama Administration’s efforts to take a lead role at the world climate talks.

The natural gas trucks incentives could cost the government $4.1 billion, compared to the $19 billion price tag for an earlier bill. The energy efficiency measure known as Home Star will include $5 billion in incentives for plugging window leaks and insulating attics.

To pay for these measures, lawmakers may consider raising taxes on the oil and gas industry.

BP oil leak plugged

Morning in the Gulf of Mexico dawned with a healthy dose of cautious optimism, something that the Gulf hasn’t boasted in 88 days.

BP has successfully capped the oil leak of the Deepwater Horizon well.

BP is still conducting pressure tests to make sure the cap will hold, but so far, it looks like it will. BP is giving the cap another day before they declare the cap a success. Relief wells are still being dug to access the oil still in the well.

Building pressure indicates that the cap is holding. However, BP has cautioned that the leak may only be halted for 48 hours.

While there is no longer any oil leaking into the Gulf, there is still a massive clean up that needs to take place. Several different methods are being implemented in handling the oil that has already escaped.

Chevy Volt will have limited release

Recently, GM started turning a profit for the first time since 2007. It seems they’re trying to keep the ball rolling with the Chevy Volt.

GM will begin sales of its electric car at the end of the year. But, only 10,000 are set to roll of the line. To put that into perspective, GM sold 21,000 Malibus last month alone. In 2012, GM plans on increasing the production of the Volt to 30,000.

When the Volt was revealed as a concept car in 2007, a list was created on the Internet for potential buyers, sign here if you’d buy one. According to reports, the list is up to 53,000 names. But, putting your name on a list is not the same as dropping the cash for the car. GM spokesman Rob Peterson says that demand will almost certainly be higher than production.

Distribution will be in six states and Washington, D.C.

Dealers are preparing for servicing the new cars. The Volt comes with an updated OnStar system. Dealers are prepared to deal with calls addressing issues they’ve never heard before.

Nissan will release its Leaf, an electric car with a 100 mile range, to compete with the Volt. Nissan plans on producing 25,000.

While a price has not been set, dealers are taking deposits already. The expected price is around $40,000, which hits $32,000 after federal taxes credits for electric cars.

BP meets in Abu Dhabi

BP CEO Tony Hayward met with officials from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) during a routine visit.

Speculation of a stake purchase by a Middle East or Asian sovereign wealth fund gains ground, if BP wants to prevent a takeover after the financial beating they are taking from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Some say Saudi investors are seeking 10 to 15 percent of  BP.

Hayward said he was merely there to meet with investors.

BP has committed a $20 billion fund for the clean up and costs have already reached $3 billion. Analysts say BP’s stock may have found the floor. BP rose 9% in New York trade and reached their highest point since June 21st in London.

Tar balls have reached Texas, which means every gulf state has been touched by the disaster.

BP total up to $2 billion

BP announced they have spent $2 billion on the oil clean up so far. This includes “spill response, containment, relief well drilling, grants to the Gulf states, claims paid and federal costs”.

The stock has lost about half its value after April 19. BP created a $20 billion escrow account after pressure from the US government. It might not be enough.

Estimates for cleaning up the spill range from $11 billion to $100 billion.

BP started drilling two relief wells on May 2nd, but they are expected to be completed until August.

BP owns 65% of the well that’s spilling 60,000 barrels of oil into the Gulf.  Anadarko Petroleum, which owns 25% of the well, has been attempting to distance itself from BP, accusing its rival of reckless behavior.

Google looking to establish hive mind

With stocks falling and bouncing and the euro dropping to its lowest point in four years, it’s hard to be optimistic about business.

I have found that I have blogged about Google quite a bit. It is my favorite Big Brother. I find it’s global dominance somewhat charming, and I have a secret desire to work there.

They allow dogs in the office. They bring in goats to cut the grass. Now, Google owns bees.

With four new hives, Google intends to raise awareness about Colony Collapse Disorder. It also supplies the employees with fresh honey and wax. Google’s executive chef, Marc Rasic, posted an article on the Google Blog explaining why it was important to have these bees on the grounds.

Honey extraction and beekeeping is left to volunteers. Cooking classes and candle-making sessions will be offered in the fall.

BP set to cap oil spill and maybe go bankrupt

As BP celebrates the successful cutting of the pipe, bonds have fallen sharply as markets consider BP more likely to default. The downfall began after the “top kill” plan failed to stop the oil leaking in the Gulf of Mexico. BP bonds have continued to fall, even though the shares recovered on Wednesday.


The rating agency, Fitch, cut BP’s credit rating and threatens continued downgrades as the cost of the leak gets higher. Fitch cut BP’s rating by one notch, from AA+ to AA, though that’s still one of the highest investment credit ratings.

The real trouble is that bond markets are pricing BP’s debts at levels with “junk” rated companies. The US is asking BP to reserve money for clean-up costs.

BP has said it would pay for the construction of six sand barriers off the coast of Louisiana to protect wetlands. BP would also like to start collecting the oil from the surface to try and use it.

Arizona immigration: economic version

The recently enacted Arizona Illegal Immigration Law, known as Senate Bill 1070, has come under quite a bit of scrutiny over the past few weeks. Boycotts of the state have been declared. Some people have canceled other vacation plans and decided it’s a good time to visit the Grand Canyon.

To hear more about the legal arguments, you can tune into any cable news station. As far as impacting the economy, a new development has arisen.

The Los Angeles city council threatened a boycott on Arizona to protest the law. Arizona has responded by offering to return the favor. Arizona power plants supply Los Angeles with 25% of its electricity. Arizona Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce wrote to the LA mayor, saying he’d be “happy to take those electrons off your hands.”

While the commission does not have the authority to cut off power, the letter served to remind LA of the ramifications of following through with their boycott. If Los Angeles is serious, they would have to seek a quarter of their power elsewhere.

Estimates say Arizona could lose $10 million to $56 million if the boycott happens.

Interior agency divided to oversee offshore drilling

Bad news for any conservative that wants a smaller government. The Obama administration announced plans to split up the Interior Department agency that oversees offshore drilling. Confirmed on Twitter, one agency will inspect oil rigs and enforce safety, while the other will oversee leases and royalties. The current agency in charge of all this is the Minerals Management Service. Critics say the MMS having control of these attributes of the industry is a conflict of interest.

No word yet on how many new government jobs it will create, but it sure isn’t going to get rid of any. This move is motivated, obviously, by the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. More reforms are expected to be on the way.

British Petroleum attempted to lower a dome over the spill over the past week. The attempt failed. BP will try again, using a smaller dome. Oil execs met on the Hill today in a Congressional hearing. They passed the blame along as angry protestors shouted in the background. The rig was owned and operated by drilling firm Transocean and leased by BP.

The head of BP America told the Senate he believed a safety device called a blowout protector had been modified.

Transocean said there was no reason to believe the blowout protector was at fault. He put the blame on the failure of a cement oil-well casing, built by Halliburton. Plenty of blame to go around, it seems.

Offshore energy

Wind power is coming to a coast near you. On the tail end of the offshore oil rig explosion, an offshore wind farm has been approved for Nantucket Sound.

The project has divided Cape Cod for nine years, finally approved by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. It will be the first of its kind in the United States. With the approval of this project, Salazar mentioned he hoped future projects would run a bit smoother. The debate was more about the location of the wind farm, rather than the implementation.

Rep. Scott Brown called Nantucket Sound, the decided location, a national treasure that should be protected from industrialization. It’s not just conservatives who oppose the idea. The late Senator Ted Kennedy thought the project would spoil the seascape. Native Americans have said the turbine blades will desecrate the view of the sunrise that is part of their prayer ceremony.

The plan calls for 130 wind-powered turbines to be erected in the shallow waters of Nantucket Sound (visible from the Kennedy compound at Hyannisport).

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