David Kirkpatrick

July 4, 2010

Obama gives $2B to two solar companies

As a nation we must find energy sources beyond petroleum. Chiefly because it’s a finite resource and will eventually — and that eventually may be a long ways off — run out. And it is the root of almost every vexing military and statecraft problem the United States faces. The problem is oil, gas and coal are so incredibly cheap and efficient compared to any feasible alternative.

Solar power has seen breakthrough after breakthrough (see the link in the sidebar under “interesting blog topics”) over the last several years, and many of these breakthroughs affect the current solar marketplace so it’s not all pie-in-the-sky activity. One way to ramp up improvements in solar efficiency and lower practical costs is to infuse the R&D process with enough money to not have to pick and choose among untested ideas. This investment from the government will allow Abengoa Solar and Abound Solar Manufacturing to implement large solar installations, create some jobs along the way, and, yes, continue to improve solar energy as a viable alternative to petroleum.

This is good news to blog about on Independence Day. Kudos to President Obama.

From the link:

US President Barack Obama announced on Saturday the awarding of nearly two billion dollars to two solar energy companies that have agreed to build new power plants in the United States, creating thousands of new jobs.

“We’re going to keep fighting to advance our recovery,” Obama said in his weekly radio address. “And we’re going to keep competing aggressively to make sure the jobs and industries of the future are taking root right here in America.”

One of the companies, Abengoa Solar, has agreed to build one of the largest solar plants in the world in Arizona, which will create about 1,600 construction jobs. When completed, this plant will provide enough  to power 70,000 homes.

The other company, Abound Solar Manufacturing, is building two new plants, one in Colorado and one in Indiana.

US President Barack Obama (R) tours a solar energy centre in Arcadia, Florida in 2009. Obama has announced the awarding of nearly $2 bln to two solar energy companies that have agreed to build new power plants in the US, creating thousands of new jobs

February 3, 2010

White House promotes nuclear plants

A very necessary — and belated for the Obama administration — move to start to wean the U.S. off foreign petroleum-based energy.

From the link:

President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget could provide a significant boost to the U.S. nuclear power industry, which has been stalled for decades. If approved by Congress, the budget would provide $36 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power plants, opening the way for around seven new nuclear power plants, depending on the final cost of each. The new guarantees are in addition to $18.5 billion in guarantees provided for in a 2005 energy bill.

The increased support for nuclear power marks a change for the Obama administration, which has opposed similar increases in the past. Some policy experts say it is part of a strategy to win Republican votes for a comprehensive climate and energy bill.

November 28, 2009

Want a reason to wean the US from OPEC?

How about bringers of democracy being “cursed” by a Saudi prince this week.

The link goes to MEMRI, an excellent resource into Mideast media — a resource I don’t tap into near often enough. Long ago I used to read through MEMRI’s offerings on a regular basis, but it’s been out of my usual rotation for a while and ought to get back in there.

From the first link, the intro:

In an op-ed in the Saudi daily Al-Watan, Saudi Prince Saud bin Mansour bin Saud bin ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz  took on Saudi and Arab liberals and reformists and the Western ideal of democracy. Without naming names, he said that these people were promoting Western democracy despite all its flaws and despite the fact that Islam is vastly superior. Calling democracy “demo-khratiyya” (i.e. “demo-mendacity”), the prince said that writers who criticized Saudi Arabia needed an “ideological bloodletting” to purge them of their corrupt ideas.

And here’s some of the prince’s rabbit pellets:

“Those who hasten to endorse the Western ‘openness’ – whose arrows appear gentle but [carry] a fatal load – have they forgotten our principles and our clarity? Have [these people] not noticed that the West is always marketing democracy as a secular and civil system, not a religious [system]? [Struck by] waves of political Alzheimer’s, they keep telling us that Islam is not democratic.

“A curse on anyone who wants to enforce this demo-khratiyya on all political and constitutional issues. A curse on all those dictatorships that masquerade as demokhratiyya in order to destroy what they define as third-world countries!

“It should be remembered that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the Custodian of the Two Holy Places, and that the sons or residents of the homeland have never been denied their rights. Our country’s structure is perfect [thanks to] Islam, which has established the [concept of] shura [i.e consultation] and the protection of rights, freedom, justice and anything [else] of value, as laid down by this generous religion.”

March 11, 2009

OPEC’s production cuts — working?

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:08 pm

Maybe, maybe not. Oil was heading up, but took a hit today. I’m guessing OPEC has very little real teeth right now for whatever reason. If you believe some of the industry analysts, it looks like compliance within member nations of the cartel for the production cuts isn’t so great.

Here’s my latest post at EnerMax covering this very subject.

From the link:

One area of concern for OPEC, and of interest to petroleum sector analysts, is the level of compliance with the new, lower production quotas among OPEC nations. One analyst says, “OPEC is still having trouble meeting current quotas,” and that cheating remains a problem for OPEC. Qatar’s oil minister, Abdullah Bin Hamad al Attiyah, says he is satisfied with compliance describing the commitment among OPEC nations for the production cuts as, “very good.” This sentiment was echoed by Iran’s OPEC governor Mohammed Ali Khatibi who says, “Adherence is better than everybody expected, 80 percent, 90 percent.”

Khatibi adds, “Up to 2030, we have to build capacity for 45 million barrels a day, just for compensating the (natural) decline. In addition to that, we need to respond to future demand. The current price cannot encourage any investment, everybody expects a better price. The question is how we can achieve this.”

This confidence from OPEC members is not shared by petroleum industry analysts. One analyst says the rally in the price of oil and OPEC influence is “overdone.” The analyst continues, “OPEC is still having trouble meeting current quotas and cheating remains an issue.”

February 5, 2009

Oil and gas news from Davos

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:37 am

Here’s a blog post I did for EnerMax on an oil and gas investment report from the World Economic Forum in Davos. The consensus from industry leaders is the current low petroleum prices are affecting investment.

From the link:

The World Economic Forum in Davos hosted a presentation by leaders in the international oil sector. The consensus from energy leaders is the current price of a barrel of oil at around $40 is too low to prompt enough oil and gas investment for future demand. BP’s Tony Howard said a fair market price is somewhere between $60 and $80 per barrel of light, sweet crude.

Howard added the current low price of oil is due to little, or no, economic growth in most parts of the world and the subsequent short-term demand destruction. He said a higher market price for oil would help OPEC nations to balance their budgets and invest in oil to guarantee future supplies as demand ramps back up with a global economic recovery.

December 1, 2008

Oil in the $40s

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 7:28 pm

We’ll see how deep this well is. Under fifty a barrel and still dropping. A relative of mine with something of a dog in this fight is predicting a floor of around $25 a barrel for light, sweet crude. Like I said, we shall see.

From the link:

Oilprices on Monday fell below $50 a barrel for only the second time this year after Opec delayed a further production cut until mid-December.

The oil cartel, which controls 40 per cent of the world’s production, said demand was weakening fast with the global economic crisis but it agreed to wait until a meeting in Oran, Algeria, on December 17 to further reduce its output.

In late trade, Nymex January West Texas Intermediate fell $5.15 to $49.28 a barrel.

ICE January Brent fell $5.52 to $47.97 a barrel.

Abdalla El-Badri, Opec secretary-general, said the cartel was heading for a cut. “We are all geared towards a cut in Algeria…There will be action there.”

The cartel has promised to lower its production by about 2m barrels a day in the past two months but analysts said it had so far cut about 1m-1.2m b/d.

November 12, 2008

Amex hoping for the dole, GM sinking and oil back in fifties

Here’s a little buffet of economic news —

The latest hopeful for corporate socialism? American Express after reorganizing as a bank holding company.

From the link:

American Express Co. is seeking $3.5 billion in funds under the government’s plan to directly invest in financial firms, according to a Wednesday report in The Wall Street Journal citing unnamed sources.

Earlier this week, American Express received approval from the Federal Reserve to become a bank holding company, which is a similar structure to traditional commercial banks. The credit card company now has access to financing from the Fed and the ability to grow a large deposit base.

The increased funding opportunities through government programs, including the potential $3.5 billion investment, could be a huge boost to American Express as one of its primary sources of funding has nearly disappeared amid the ongoing credit crisis.

Crude has dropped below $56 a barrel.

From the link:

The Energy Department said it expects U.S. consumption of petroleum to drop more severely than any time since 1980 next year, with gasoline use dropping by another 3 percent. Its Energy Information Administration on Wednesday said 2009 petroleum consumption is projected to sink by a further 250,000 barrels per day, or 1.3 percent, more twice that projected in its previous outlook.

Also on Wednesday, the International Energy Agency said more than a trillion dollars in annual investments to find new fossil fuels will be needed for the next two decades to avoid an energy crisis that could choke the global economy.

Light, sweet crude for December delivery fell nearly 6 percent, or $3.50 to settle $56.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest closing price since January 2007. Oil prices have plunged more than 60 percent in four months from record highs near $150 in July.

And last, but certainly not least, among debate on whether to bail out the Big Three US automakers, General Motors stock closed at its lowest point since 1946 — yes, that’s not a typo nineteen FORTY six.

From that link:

Shares of General Motors plunged another 13% on Tuesday to a 65-year low, closing below the $3 mark for the first time since 1946.

The stock closed Tuesday down 44 cents to $2.92, its lowest close since April 1943.

The Dow Jones industrial average component has lost nearly 40% of its value since Thursday. Shares began their slide on Friday when GM warned that it could run out of cash and posted a $4.2 billion loss.

On Tuesday, the battered automaker unveiled plans to idle nearly 2,000 hourly workers who build engines, transmission systems and body panels, during the first quarter of 2009, according to company spokesman Tony Sapienza. That reduction follows the news, disclosed Friday, that GM will idle another 3,600 hourly workers.

Making matters more complicated, GM will have to keep most of these hourly workers on the payroll during the current labor contract, which runs through September 2011.

October 16, 2008

EnerMax blogging

Filed under: Business, Media, Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:40 pm

I’ve started blogging at EnerMax on innovations and news in the oil and gas industry. You can find my first effort here. It covers the opening of Iraq’s petroleum fields to international oil and gas investment.

I do a lot of solar blogging here, mostly because I’m very interested in putting some panels on my sun-drenched roof, but I have a deep interest in all aspects of the energy and power generation industries. At EnerMax I’m part of a team so you might not be able to figure out which posts are mine, but do hit that site for my regular take on the oil and gas end of energy.

October 15, 2008

Oil drops below $76

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:50 pm

Oil is at a 13-month low below $76 per barrel. Analysts are saying it could go as low as $50.

I had a conversation with a friend very knowledgeable about the petroleum commodity markets and he honestly thinks it could easily go as low as $25 per barrel before stabilizing. I’d laugh this off, but he’s been quite correct in the past.

From the link:

Oil prices slid Wednesday on concerns that a massive bank bailout by the U.S. and Europe won’t keep the global economy from slipping into a severe slowdown.

Beyond fears that demand would slow, expectations that the latest snapshot of U.S. crude supplies would show additional builds also weighed on markets.

Light, sweet crude for November delivery was down $2.69 to $75.94 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange by afternoon in Europe. The contract fell $2.56 to settle at $78.63 on Tuesday.

“People are worried that the world economy is heading for recession,” said Gerard Rigby, an energy analyst at Fuel First Consulting in Sydney. “The bailout may save the banks, but companies are still laying off workers and demand is going to suffer.”