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What We Are Reading: BPC’s Energy Project

We hope you are finding some time to get out of the office as August recess rolls on. We have been keeping up with some news and reports related to energy and compiled them below for you. Enjoy!

Mexico Opens Energy Sector to Private Investors

By Juan Montes, The Wall Street Journal

“Mexican lawmakers late Wednesday completed an historic opening of the country’s energy sector to private investors after 76 years of state monopoly, in a move with far-reaching implications for the sector and the country’s economy.

“Completion of the overhaul is a political victory for President Enrique Peña Nieto, who made it the cornerstone of a reformist agenda intended to improve Mexico’s competitiveness and stimulate economic growth. The victory seemed unthinkable to many when he took office in December 2012. Over the past quarter century, every Mexican president had tried but failed to secure political support to diminish the state energy monopoly.

“The opening of the energy sector is the culmination of a decades-long effort to liberalize the Mexican economy that began in 1982, when then-President Miguel de la Madrid took the first steps toward ending decades of state control. Energy had remained as the one important economic sector still in state hands.” Read the article here.

A Path to Reduce Methane Emissions from Gas Systems

By Dr. Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Energy

“As part of his Climate Action Plan, President Obama called for a comprehensive, interagency strategy for cutting methane emissions. Since then, the Department of Energy (DOE) has hosted a series of roundtable discussions with government, industry, non-profit, union and environmental leaders to help identify opportunities, share technical solutions and coordinate best practices to reduce these emissions.

“Today, after the final roundtable discussion, DOE announced steps to help modernize the nation’s natural gas transmission and distribution systems in ways that will enhance competitiveness and safety and mitigate methane emissions.” Read more about the Energy Department’s Initiative to Help Modernize Natural Gas Transmission and Distribution Infrastructure here.

Mid-Year RIN Update

By Nick Paulson, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois

“Today’s post provides an update on Renewable Identification Numbers [RINs] by looking at updated estimates for RIN carry-in and generation numbers for 2014 through the first six months of the year. These estimates are then used to examine potential compliance scenarios for the RFS in 2014 as the market continues to wait for final rulemaking from the EPA… Adjusting for retirements for non-compliance purposes and combining these with carry-in estimates provides projections useful for examining possible RFS mandate compliance scenarios in 2014. If the mandate levels in EPA’s proposed rulemaking for 2014 are upheld, the current pace of RIN generation suggests that a surplus of both advanced and renewable RINs will be available for carry-in to 2015. Examining a scenario at the original statutory mandate levels suggests a deficit of advanced RINs, a small surplus of D6 RINs, and an overall deficit to rollover into 2015.” Read the update here.

Will Sanctions Against Russia Hurt Energy Firms?

By Matthew Rocco, Fox Business

“Despite warnings from Schlumberger, analysts don’t expect Western sanctions against Russia to have a wider impact on the energy industry. On Tuesday, Schlumberger issued a brief statement that U.S. and European sanctions targeting Russian companies will have a “limited” financial impact on the company. Schlumberger said it has adjusted operations in response to the sanctions, and it continues to work with its Russian customers. Schlumberger also said it will continue to ensure its activities are in compliance with applicable regulations.” Read the article here.

Mexico Hastens Energy Overhaul

By Anthony Harrup and Laurence Iliff, The Wall Street Journal

“Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, overseeing a sluggish economy that has dented his approval ratings, said he would speed up implementation of the country’s opening of its oil and gas industry. Mr. Peña Nieto, who signed new laws Monday that will guide the opening of the energy market to the private sector for the first time in 76 years, said his government would speed up the creation of a new power-grid operator independent of the state electric utility. It will also speed up the creation of a new natural gas-pipeline system administrator and the rules and regulations needed to apply the new energy laws.” Read the article here.

Getting from here to there – energy technology transformation pathways in the EMF27 scenarios

By Volker Krey, Gunnar Luderer, Leon Clarke, and Elmar Kriegler; Climatic Change, April 2014, Volume 123, Issue 3-4

“Based on a large number of energy-economic and integrated assessment models, the Energy Modeling Forum (EMF) 27 study systematically explores the implications of technology cost and availability for feasibility and macroeconomic costs of energy system transformations toward climate stabilization. At the highest level, the technology strategy articulated in all the scenarios in EMF27 includes three elements: decarbonization of energy supply, increasing the use of low-carbon energy carriers in end-use, and reduction of energy use. The way that the scenarios differ is in the degree to which these different elements of strategy are implemented, the timing of those implementations, and the associated macroeconomic costs. The study also discusses the value of individual technologies for achieving climate stabilization. A robust finding is that the unavailability of carbon capture and storage and limited availability of bioenergy have the largest impact on feasibility and macroeconomic costs for stabilizing atmospheric concentrations at low levels, mostly because of their combined ability to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Constraining options in the electric sector such as nuclear power, wind and solar energy in contrast has a much smaller impact on the cost of mitigation.” Read it here.

The long, hard slog to unlock the potential of geothermal energy

By Katie Fehrenbacher, Gigaom

“Enhanced geothermal systems are exciting because they can create geothermal wells where there weren’t naturally occurring wells already. Similar to fracking, the systems use technology to pump water underground (either into a drilled well or an opening in the Earth), to produce new cracks in rocks and to maintain pressure to get hot water or steam flowing. And as with fracking, the tech breakthrough, in theory, could help open up geothermal power around the world.” Read the article here.

Global manufacturing and the future of technology

By Erica R. H. Fuchs, Science Magazine

“The global locus of manufacturing has been changing dramatically over the last three decades, driven by industrializing nations, most prominently China. Classical economics suggests that global productivity gains achieved by shifting the location of manufacturing will outweigh the losses. But shifts in the global locus of manufacturing may affect not just production costs, but the nature and pace of technological change.” Read the article here.

Improvements Needed in EPA Efforts to Address Methane Emissions From Natural Gas Distribution Pipelines

By the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Inspector General

“We recommend that the EPA (1) work with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to address methane leaks from a combined environmental and safety standpoint, (2) develop a strategy to address the financial and policy barriers that hinder reductions from the distribution sector, (3) establish performance goals, (4) track distribution sector emissions and use that data to help determine if future regulation would be appropriate, and (5) assess whether data from ongoing studies should be used to update distribution sector emission factors.” Read the report here.

DOE Will Implement Natural Gas Export Overhaul

By Geof Koss, CQ Roll Call

“The Energy Department will move ahead with its plan to drop conditional approvals for liquefied natural gas exports to nations that lack free trade agreements with the United States, despite reservations from industry groups. The plan would drop the long-standing practice of conditionally approving exports to non-trade partners and instead issue final decisions for projects that have completed the review requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (PL 91–190).

The proposal prompted a wave of comments from all sides of the export debate — including industry groups that urged the agency to make broader procedural changes — but DOE said the bulk of the submissions were beyond the scope of the plan.” Read the blog post here.

Poll: Voters Expect Grid Attack but Hope for Best

By Emily Holden

“According to a Morning Consult poll, 75 percent of voters think there’s at least a 50-50 chance that the energy industry will be the target of a major cyber attack within the next few years. But most think the situation is being handled. Almost half—49 percent—think the sector is ‘somewhat prepared,’ and another 10 percent say it is ‘very prepared.’ On the other hand, nearly a third—31 percent—say the industry is ‘not too prepared’ and another 10 percent say it isn’t prepared at all.” Read more on the poll here.

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