October 3, 2016: Energy Matters: Conventional

Courtesy of American Energy Society



- OPEC has reached a (precarious) agreement - it will limit oil output (from 33.24 million bpd to 32.5 million bpd). But the new OPEC agreement has started to unravel. A deal looked possible when Saudi Arabia agreed to cut 500,000 bpd and allowed Iran a temporary exemption from a production cap. But Iran wanted an ironclad exemption, and then Libya and Nigeria demanded (and received) a similar exemption. Iraq responded by categorically opposing exemptions for any country, especially Iran. Russia is so frustrated that it is threatening to withdraw completely. Saudi Arabia might have the most at stake: its finances are a mess; the kingdom has the highest budget deficit among the world's 20 biggest economies; its first international bond issue has been delayed; and, the US Congress just voted to allow Americans to sue the country for its citizens involvement in 9/11. 

The US continues to produce more oil per day than any other country. Its increase in output is more than the sum of the collective increase for the whole of OPEC. 

 Natural Gas

 - The export of LNG by the US is full of surprises. Some export destinations have been unexpected, such as the UAE, Jordan and Kuwait; or, exports to Asia - originally expected to be a primary destination - have been slow. The biggest surprise is that more than 57 percent of total exports are going from Cheniere's Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana to South America. AES Premium Members have access to the LNG Monthly 2016 report.


 - When coal companies get a permit to mine, they also have to put up some sort of financial assurance like a surety bond or letter of credit to cover the projected cost of cleaning up the land, as required by federal regulations. But some states allow a coal company to cover these clean-up costs with a provision called self-bonding, a financial promise to use their own funds to pay for clean-up. In reality, it provides an escape mechanism that allows a company to avoid payment. 

- The top 4 states that allow self-bonding by coal companies (in thousand tons):
1. Wyoming (321,019)
2. West Virginia (80,345)
3. Illinois (47,125)
4. Pennsylvania (44,560)
Note: Kentucky and Montana do not allow self-bonding.

Note II:  The US Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is starting the rule-making process to "strengthen the regulations of self-bonding" in response to "the increased market volatility in the coal industry." AES Premium Members have access to the OSMRE statement.


 - 31 countries have nuclear power plants and they produce about 11 percent of total global electricity. About a dozen countries depend on nuclear for at least a third of their power, including France (75 percent), Hungary and Ukraine (50 to 55 percent). Nuclear produces about 20 percent in the US and Britain (not counting the new Hinkley Point plant, set to come on line in 2025.)