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- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 28, 2015

How scary are your jack-o’-lanterns? Scarier than you think, according to the Energy Department, which claims the holiday squash is responsible for unleashing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Most of the 1.3 billion pounds of pumpkins produced in the U.S. end up in the trash, says the Energy Department’s website, becoming part of the “more than 254 million tons of municipal solid waste (MSW) produced in the United States every year.”

Municipal solid waste decomposes into methane, “a harmful greenhouse gas that plays a part in climate change, with more than 20 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide,” Energy says.

SEE ALSO: Department of Energy urges children to dress as solar panels for Halloween

What’s a Halloween-loving pumpkin carver to do?

Turn that pumpkin in to … energy?

Municipal solid waste can be used to harness bioenergy, the Energy Department says, which can help the U.S. become less dependent on carbon-based fuels while limiting stress on landfills by reducing waste. The agency has partnered with industry to develop and test two integrated biorefineries — “facilities capable of efficiently converting plant and waste material into affordable biofuels, biopower and other products.”

Neither of these proposed facilities is operational yet, but someday, all that squishy, orange squash could become clean, green energy. 

Until then, happy carving!


Read the transcript below, or watch the report here.


Fourteen years ago, Julia Redington joined Alaska’s oil and gas industry as a construction supervisor for Alyeska Pipeline Services Co.


Redington, wife of Iditarod musher Ray Redington Jr., is an Alaskan through and through — and knew early on she wanted to pursue a career in oil and gas. Now a director of projects at Alyeska, she calls the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) an ”engineering marvel.”

As an industry veteran with a prominent position in the field, Redington admits things have changed since she first began her career.

“There wasn’t a lot of women; quite often, I’d be the only one with the construction@@ crew itself,” Redington recalled. “But there’s been more and more. I’ve seen more craft, more women in craft, as well as in different positions in operations and maintenance.”

In a report released earlier this year, the American Petroleum Institute asked women what they considered most important when looking for a career. Among the top answers were health care benefits, job security and job satisfaction.

Both Redington and Sarah Erkmann, the external affairs manager for the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, say they’ve found all three of those factors in Alaska’s oil and gas industry.

“The opportunity to work in — especially in Alaska — in the industry that plays such an important role, you really feel like you’re doing something that benefits the entire state,” said Erkmann.

There’s a photo hanging in AOGA’s midtown Anchorage office — a more traditional representation of the oil and gas industry — men standing side-by-side with the backdrop of Alaska’s North Slope behind them. Those men make up 80 percent of the positions in the industry. But more and more, images of a woman sporting a hard hat and a smile are being used to reflect the changing workforce makeup.

“While we honor the work that these gentlemen have done and continue to do here in Alaska, that trend is changing a bit,” said Erkmann. “There’s definitely a move toward not only attracting more women into the industry but also mentoring women who currently work for the industry to rise through the ranks and do more.”

Those efforts include AOGA’s new social media campaign, “Meet the People of Alaska’s Oil & Gas Industry,” where local workers take over the association’s Instagram account.

Chrissy May, wildlife compliance manager for BP Alaska, and Kara Moriarty, AOGA’s president and CEO, are the two women who’ve been highlighted so far. Erkmann calls it a move to increase visibility and show work/life harmony is possible.

“As women in the industry, we work very hard, we do a lot on any given day, but we also have personal lives that we try to balance,” said Erkmann. “So Kara’s out as a football mom, making sure her kids have all their equipment on and are getting to practice; I’m taking my kids to piano lessons.”

Redington says that visibility has made a difference, evident in a recent trip to the movies with her two children.

“One of the previews, it was an ExxonMobil ad, about, ‘Do you wanna be able to build a bridge that’s able to repair itself?’ — and it went through a bunch of these scenarios,” Redington said, adding the ad was a call for more engineers in the industry. “My daughter was all excited and said, ‘Mom, do you do that? You’re an engineer.’ — And I said, ‘Well, I don’t, but you sure could.’”

It’s hard work, Redington says of her job, but enjoyable — so much so that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere; the plan is to retire at Alyeska.

That talk of job security comes at a time when Alaska’s looming state budget crisis has been brought on by low oil prices. To that, Erkmann says, “we’re definitely in a valley right now.” But she adds it shouldn’t be a deterrent to women wanting to join the workforce.

“Oil prices are stubbornly low, and so that’s creating some real challenges, not only for the state but also the industry,” said Erkmann. “But, over the long term, oil and gas is a career where you can truly, they say, hire and retire.”










Julia Redington has worked at Alyeska for 14 years.

Source: CNN Money

A Chinese investment firm is shelling out $1.3 billion to buy giant oil fields in Texas, reflecting growing interest from China in U.S. energy resources.

Yantai Xinchao will acquire oil assets in the western Texas Permian Basin that are currently owned by Tall City Exploration and Plymouth Petroleum. The deal is part of a larger transaction between Yantai Xinchao and a second Chinese firm, according to a stock exchange filing on Saturday.

The purchase, which includes oil fields in the state's Howard and Borden counties, has already been approved by the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, the filing said.

Many smaller Chinese oil and gas companies are looking for deals abroad as a way to combat tough competition from giant state-owned energy firms, and tight government regulations back home.

China's largest state-owned oil and gas firms, meanwhile, are snapping up resources in countries including Mozambique and Kazakhstan.

The Permian Basin, one of the oldest oil fields in the U.S., has enjoyed a revival as shale gas exploration and other drilling technology has improved.

Yantai Xinchao shares were suspended from trading last Friday to allow for the asset restructuring and oil field purchase. The company expects shares to be halted for about one month, and plans to release periodic updates on the restructuring, according to another stock exchange filing.

The collapse in oil prices has so far claimed more than 200,000 jobs worldwide. Leading the bloodbath are the oilfield service giants; Schlumberger SLB +0.00% has axed more than 20,000 oilfield service workers, about 15% of its staff. Rival Halliburton HAL -1.56% is cutting 18,000, Weatherford International 14,000, and  Baker Hughes BHI -1.85% 13,000. Among the big integrated oil companies Royal Dutch Shell appears to have the highest total with 7,000 laid off.

And the pain has been felt much farther afield. Equipment giant Caterpillar CAT +1.41% has cut 5,000, Siemens 13,000. Makers of steel drilling pipe have been hit, as have miners of sand used in fracking and the manufacturers of rail cars used to transport crude oil.

The data behind the 200,000 tally has been painstakingly collected over the past year by  staff at Oklahoma City-basedContinental Resources CLR +0.00%, whose CEO Harold Hamm has made a point of not laying off any of his own direct employees. ExxonMobil is among the only other oil companies to not cut any employees so far. They are in the distinct minority.

“Companies are reacting aggressively to shorten the duration of the downturn,” says Steve Morse, a consultant with headhunting giant Russell Reynolds Associates. “These cuts are as dramatic as we’ve seen in this industry ever.”



Roughnecks on drilling rigs have been especially hard hit by the oil bust. (Photographer: Norm Betts/Bloomberg)

The industry bloodbath has coincided with the mothballing of more than 1,100 drilling rigs and a halving of capital spending. And there’s good reason to believe the pain isn’t close to over yet. Oil markets are still in glut. The Saudis have shown no indication that they will cut production. Iraq and Iran are set to grow their output even at current prices. According to a report from the Energy Aspects consultancy, “There are some suggestions oilfield crews could be sent home after Thanksgiving, as producers have given up on this year.”

Furthermore, the finances of exploration and production companies continue to erode. Earlier in the year private equity investors opened their wallets to help overleveraged drillers prop up their balance sheets. Distressed debt investors bought up billions more in junk bonds. But as share prices and bond prices have continued to plunge, the appetite to throw more good money after bad has dried up. As the value of reserves have plummeted, banks are slashing the amounts they are willing to lend. And the situation will get even worse in early 2016, as the oil price hedges that companies put in place back in 2014 to lock in higher returns expire.

Barring an oil price snapback, 2016 will be a year of restructurings, asset sales, and more layoffs. As Schlumberger CEO Paal Kibsgaard said on recent call with investors: “The likely recovery in our activity levels now seems to be a 2017 event.”

So what are laid off workers to think? Is there any hope of finding a new job in this environment?

There are some bright spots, says Steve Morse of Russell Reynolds Associates. The “downstream” or refining sector has been booming, benefitting from access to cheap oil. “It’s the opposite of the upstream,” says Morse. “We are helping clients in the downstream attract functional talent” that in recent years had been attracted to the more glamorous upstream companies.

And there’s also still plenty of opportunities for talented younger executives. “The companies we work with recall the 1980s” when oil prices collapsed and “the majors stopped hiring at the university level for eight years,” says Morse. And they are not going to repeat that hiring moratorium because they saw the longterm damage it did to their workforce. Two decades later they woke to the realization that their best executives were all approaching retirement age, with too few mid-career execs being groomed to replace them.

“What’s keeping us so busy now is succession planning,” says Morse. “Companies are careful to ensure that they have been training and promoting younger people.”

Morse suggests that laid off workers who are looking for new positions should expect to spend significant time building a new resume, especially if it’s been a few years since they last did so. “A resume should be two pages. It should denote with clarity not just what they accomplished but how they accomplished it,” says Morse. Applicants should be sure to describe specific project experience. Companies currently struggling with reallocating and restructuring assets would be very interested in hearing if an applicant has experience in moving 100 drilling rigs in two months, for example. Other areas in demand right now include cost management, risk management, supply chain, and especially capital reallocation and restructuring.

Older workers often have a tougher time finding new jobs in times like this. But there’s at least one area in which older petroleum engineers might have a leg-up on their younger peers — in old conventional oil fields. The shale drilling boom has been “unconventional” relative to the way oilfields were drilled 50 years ago. But now with oil prices so low companies are looking back into their all but forgotten inventory of conventional fields — where drilling and production costs can be lower than in the shales. “Conventional skills are again in demand,” says Morse. Even if the big public companies might still be in layoff mode, Morse says there has been an influx of private equity, raising funds and building leadership teams. All told, says Morse, he and his 47 headhunters in the oil and gas practice ”have been as busy in the last 10 months as anytime in the past two years.”

There’s a last bit of hope for those laid off this year (especially in Houston). About 15 years ago Enron collapsed and thousands were laid off. Many of them have gone on to great things, just like those laid off in this collapse. “Ex-Enron staffers have had great careers at other companies,” says Morse. “There’s a terrific oil and gas talent base and they will find opportunities.”

Find the original article here:

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 10.01.19 PM.png

Women are opposed to fracking because they "don't understand" and follow their gut instinct rather than the facts, according to a leading female scientist.

Averil Macdonald, the chairwoman of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, said that many women are concerned about fracking, yet often lack a scientific understand of the topic.

"Not only do [women] show more of a concern about fracking, they also know that they don't know and they don't understand," Prof Macdonald, who is emeritus professor of science engagement at the University of Reading, told The Times.

Controversial drilling process known as "fracking" may release harmful gases into the atmospherePhoto: Controversial drilling process known as "fracking" may release harmful gases into the atmosphere

"They are concerned because they don't want to be taking [something] on trust. And that's actually entirely reasonable.


"Frequently the women haven't had very much in the way of a science education because they may well have dropped science at 16. That is just a fact."

Prof Macdonald is leading a campaign to persuade women that the process is safe and will benefit Britain’s economy as well as help to meet climate change targets.

Anti-Fracking protest in NYCRally in NYC in conjunction with a world wide protest against gas drilling by hydraulic fracturing known as Fracking  Photo: ALAMY

Research has shown that men are nearly twice as likely to support fracking.

Only 31.5 per cent of women believe that shale gas exploration should be allowed in the UK compared with 58 per cent of men, according to a survey of almost 7,000 people by the University of Nottingham.

The research also revealed that women are much less likely than men to know which fossil fuel is produced by fracking. Shale gas was correctly identified by 85 per cent of men but only 65 per cent of women.


Prof Macdonald, who is a board member of Women in Science and Engineering, said that women were more likely to form opinions based on “feel” and “gut reaction”.

Merely showing them more facts demonstrating that fracking was safe would not change their minds, she said.

“Why are men persuaded? That’s because an awful lot of facts have been put forward,” she said.

Fracking opponents ignoring the poor, says Church A demonstrator stands in the road as police escort a lorry to a site run by Cuadrilla Resources outside Balcombe   Photo: Reuters

“[Men] will say, ‘fair enough, understand’. But women, for whatever reason, have not been persuaded by the facts. More facts are not going to make any difference.

"What we have got to do is understand the gut reaction, the feel. The dialogue is more important than the dissemination of facts.”

Professor Macdonald said that the instinct in women to protect children from threats helped explain the gap.

• Fracking in the UK: could it happen near you?

“Women are always concerned about threats to their family more than men," she said. "We are naturally protective of our children.

"I would similarly be concerned but I read the literature and I feel comfortable that I understand.

• Britain's shale fracking revolution comes with big risks

"What I hope is that I can make the women who are concerned comfortable that the myths they are worried about are myths.”

She said that there were too few women at senior levels in the shale industry, adding that she was disappointed to see that all ten of the executives who interviewed her for the role with United Kingdom Onshore Oil and Gas were men.

What do you think of Averil's position?

Screen Shot 2015-10-22 at 8.04.38 PM.png

When considering climate change, most people think wind turbines and solar panels are a big part of the solution. But, during the next 25 years, the contribution of solar and wind power to resolving the problem will be trivial — and the cost will be enormous.

The International Energy Agency estimates that about 0.4 per cent of global energy now comes from solar and wind.

Even in 2040, with all governments implementing all of their green promises, solar and wind will make up just 2.2 per cent of global energy.

This is partly because wind and solar help to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions only from electricity generation, which accounts for 42 per cent of the total, but not from the energy used in industry, transport, buildings and agriculture.

But the main reason wind and solar power cannot be a major solution to climate change stems from an almost insurmountable obstacle: we need power when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing.

This has major implications for claims about costs.

For example, wind power, we are told repeatedly, will soon be cheaper than fossil fuels — or even, as a recent global news story claims, it is already cheaper than fossil fuels in Germany and Britain.

This is mostly a mirage; large-scale wind power will not work any time soon without subsidies.

As American business magnate Warren Buffett says: “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

The IEA estimates that the annual bill for global wind subsidies will increase in the next 25 years, not decrease or fall to zero.

One reason is that cheaper wind in Germany and Britain is true only for new construction. Most existing coal and gas suppliers cost about half or less than wind and could run for decades; instead, we half-close them to accommodate wind.

While new, cheap German wind-energy producers cost $US80 ($110) a megawatt hour ($US0.08 a kilowatt hour), the average German spot price last year was just $US33 a megawatt hour.

More important, wind is cheaper only when the wind blows. When the wind is not blowing, wind-generated electricity is the most expensive electricity of all because it cannot be bought at any price.

Installing more wind generators makes the electricity they produce less valuable. The first wind turbine brings a slightly above-average price per kilowatt hour. But with 30 per cent market share, since all wind producers sell electricity at the same time (when the wind blows), the electricity is worth only 70 per cent of the average electricity price.

Solar prices drop even faster at similar market shares. So wind and solar generators have to be much cheaper than the average price to be competitive.

Moreover, wind and solar make fossil-fuel-generated electricity more expensive. Some people may think that is a good thing; but, if our societies are to continue functioning in cloudy, windless weather, that means relying on some fossil fuels. The IEA estimates that 56 per cent of electricity will come from fossil fuels in 2040, with nuclear and hydro accounting for another 28 per cent.

Significant wind and solar usage reduces the number of hours gas and coal generation operates; with large fixed costs, this makes every kilowatt hour more expensive.

In a real electricity market, this would result in much higher electricity costs on windless evenings. But this is politically problematic, which is why markets are often constructed to spike much less.

In Spain, gas plants were used 66 per cent of the time in 2004 but only 19 per cent of the time now, largely because of more wind use. Because the plants must be kept running 57 per cent of the time to avoid losses, many are likely to close. Across Europe, possibly 60 per cent of all gas-fired generation is at risk.

Keeping the lights on means accepting much higher prices or emulating what many European governments are beginning to do: namely, subsidising fossil-fuel plants. For example, in 2018 alone, Britain will pay nearly £1 billion ($2bn), mostly to fossil-fuel-based generators, to keep back-up capacity available for peak power usage.

Building more wind and solar generating capacity with subsidies means societies end up paying three times for power: once for the power, once for subsidies to inefficient renewables and once more to subsidise our now-inefficient fossil fuels.

Many will say: “But at least we cut CO2.” That is true, although the reduction is perhaps only half of what is often touted because the back-up power needed to smooth intermittent wind and solar is often more CO2-heavy.

Moreover, we pay dearly for these cuts. In 2013, the world produced 635 terawatt hours of wind electricity and paid at least $28bn in subsidies, or $US76 per avoided tonne of CO2, and likely twice or more than that.

When the estimated damage costs of CO2 are about $US5 a tonne, and a tonne of CO2 can be cut in the EU for about $US10, we are paying a dollar to do less than 7c-13c of good for the climate.

And its positive impact on the climate is negligible.

Consider two worlds: in the first, all governments implement all their green promises, as indicated by the IEA, and increase solar and wind energy more than sevenfold by 2040; in the second, not one new solar panel or wind turbine is purchased during the next 25 years.

The difference in subsidy spending between the two worlds is more than $US2.5 trillion. Yet the difference in temperature increase by the end of the century, run on the UN climate panel’s own model, would be a mere 0.0175C.

One day, when the wind price has fallen much further and solar is almost as cheap as wind, significant investments in wind and solar could be a great idea. But even after decades of capital reallocation, these sources may account for a bit less than a quarter of our electricity.

In short, a world powered by solar and wind — one that has resolved the climate challenge — is very unlikely any time soon.

Bjorn Lomborg is an adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School and directs the Copenhagen Consensus Centre.

from Bloomberg


Energy companies are finally starting to come back into favor.

After enduring the longest oil-price collapse in more than a decade, crashing profits and an investor exodus, Europe’s biggest producers are regaining fans as analysts bet earnings bottomed last quarter and will now start to recover.


While Total SA, the region’s second-biggest oil company, will probably post the worst quarterly performance since 2009, it also has the highest proportion of buy ratings in a year, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Despite similarly bleak forecasts, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Europe’s No. 1, has the biggest share of buy recommendations since mid-2012 while BP Plc has the most since February.


The ratings show faith in the producers’ ability to weather the commodities rout, which has seen Brent crude tumble by 40 percent in a year and company valuations shrink to at least three-year lows. More analysts now believe that the industry’s sweeping spending cuts, job losses and shuttered output will be sufficient to bolster oil prices and foster profit growth.


“It is possibly a case of being darkest before the dawn,” Lydia Rainforth, a London-based analyst at Barclays Plc, said by e-mail. A pullback in production and delays to projects “make some form of recovery inevitable” in the oil market, she said.


Shell’s B shares, the most widely traded, have increased 15 percent this month, heading for the best performance since April 2008, after previously falling 30 percent this year. Total has gained 12 percent, while BP is up 13 percent, the biggest jump since October 2011. Energy companies are the best performers on the MSCI World Index this month after languishing at the bottom for most of the year.


The rebound comes after the companies made spending cuts to help them ride out the downturn. Drillers have reduced investments in exploration and production by a record 20 percent this year, International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol said Oct. 6. Companies also have divested assets, scrapped staff incentives and renegotiated contracts to lower costs.


“Across the board, we see companies working very hard to cut capital and operating expenditure levels and the speed at which this is going is very high,” Occo Roelofsen, Amsterdam-based leader of the oil and gas practice at consultants McKinsey & Co., said by phone Oct. 15. “A lot of business units are starting to cope with the new situation relatively fast as they start to adjust to the new normal.”


While the cutbacks help to buoy balance sheets and cash flow, they hamper explorers’ ability to add oil resources. Shell’s reserves and production have dropped in three of the past four years, while BP’s output has declined about 18 percent since the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill that forced the company to sell assets to pay for the damages.


As cuts bite, companies are making dividends a priority over production growth. Shell Chief Executive Officer Ben Van Beurden said this month he’s “pulling out all the stops” to safeguard shareholder payouts that Shell has maintained since the end of the Second World War.


Oil’s 16-month dive has been brutal, wiping out $397 billion from the value of the 23 companies in the Stoxx Europe 600 Oil & Gas index and driving down earnings.


Total will post adjusted profit of $2.5 billion in the third quarter when it reports on Oct. 29, according to the average of five analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the lowest since the fourth quarter of 2009. Profit at BP, reporting Oct. 27, will drop to $1.3 billion, the lowest in at least five years, while Shell will report $3.3 billion, near the lowest since 2013, analyst estimates show.


Results will subsequently improve, said Ahmed Ben Salem, a Paris-based oil analyst with Oddo & Cie. As a result of spending cuts, the oil companies’ break-even price -- the level at which they can make a cash profit -- is at about $80 a barrel and will fall to $60 by 2017 from $100 last year, he said, without giving an oil-price forecast.


“Oil companies are doing the job and adjusting to this lower-price situation,” Ben Salem said. “They’re resetting their companies to be leaner and more cost-effective, which will only benefit them in the future.”


To contact the reporters on this story: Rakteem Katakey in London at; Angelina Rascouet in London at To contact the editors responsible for this story: James Herron at Amanda Jordan.

Special by Roberto Bocca, World Economic Forum

On Friday, CEOs of 10 leading oil companies came together to commit to tackle climate change, ahead of the Paris COP21 summit later this year. But can big oil really become a part of the climate solution?

Some skepticism is understandable. Of the three pillars of a successful energy system — security, affordability and sustainability — the industry has been more adept at responding to consumer demands for security and affordability than addressing concerns over sustainability. Some may wonder if big oil is trying to secure a seat merely to slow the process down.

I believe we should listen and examine how these CEOs plan to address the issue. As a former employee, I know that oil companies are used to thinking big and acting big — bigger than most companies in most sectors, and often bigger than many states. Energy companies have top-class engineers and scientists; they have innovated for decades to find oil and gas in the most difficult conditions; and if they fully commit their ingenuity and drive the search for technological solutions to climate change, transformational changes are possible.

Oil- and gas-related products are at the heart of many of our individual and industrial activities. For decades, oil companies and their millions of workers across the value chain have done what we, as society, have demanded of them: deliver products to improve the ways we feed, clothe and move ourselves around. In the process, these companies have contributed to improving standards of living, furthering global economic development and generating resources for states to sustain the social contract.

As has become clear, these activities involve externalities that are not adequately embedded in the cost of products. Some oil companies have resisted this realization for longer than others. Some have perceived a competitive advantage in talking up their environmental concerns, others in playing them down.

The significance of this week's announcement is that such climate positioning is no longer seen as a way of differentiating company strategy. Rather, it has become part of pre-competitive conversations and actions. It shows that companies in the industry from most parts of the world now realize the importance of limiting global temperature increases to 2 degrees. Companies in very different stages of their approach to climate are joining forces, in some cases turning the page from denial to collaboration, on a matter of vital importance to humanity's future.

The areas in which we can hope to see progress include increasing the efficiency of operations, solutions to gas flaring, and carbon capture and storage. This week's announcement sets out an agreed common path and commitments to share knowledge and learn from one another to upscale best practices and develop "next" practices to improve the industry's performance as a whole.

We may not be totally clear yet on how it will work, but the commitment itself is a genuinely new development in the oil and gas industry. These CEOs are not only putting their signatures to an agreement but also their faces, publicly committing themselves as much as their companies, employees and value chains. With the commitment of these CEOs comes the motivation and inspiration for hundreds of thousands of employees to be part of the solution.

While advocating against cynicism, I believe we need to hold these CEOs accountable to their promise and encourage them to deliver on the hopes they have raised. The same mechanisms that created the pressure to make this commitment — from consumers, investors and governments — will need to be deployed to monitor follow-through.

The world is changing quickly. Oil companies that started in a world of abundant resources now find themselves operating in a world driven by the abundance of data. All industries have to adapt to digitalization, the global spread of communications technology, the ability to leverage information and demands for transparency. These trends create scope for the oil industry to make rapid progress and to communicate their progress to all stakeholders.

Most projections indicate that oil — and even more certainly, gas — will be around for the next few decades. So, while the quest for alternative sources of energy must continue, what the industry does in the meantime matters greatly.

As we build up to the COP21 climate summit, we know that states can't fix the problems of climate on their own. We need, and expect, the public sector and private sector to take responsibility, to define their roles and be proactive. The clock is ticking.

What do you think?  Can big oil be a part of the solution?

Roberto Bocca is Head of Energy Industries and a member of the executive committee of the World Economic Forum.

(Photo: Mark Ralston, AFP/Getty Images)

October 15, 2015


Facebook bigwig Sheryl Sandberg implored the thousands gathered Thursday in Houston to "stay in tech," bemoaning the fact that more women don't pursue technology careers and offering guidance to help women vault into leadership roles.


Her final message for the crowd of 12,000, mostly women, at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing conference this week at the George R. Brown Convention Center downtown: "Stay in for the women who follow you. Stay in for my 8-year-old daughter."


Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer and author of "Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,'' talked about practicing confidence and assertiveness.


"Confidence and leadership, these are muscles. You learn to do it," she said, encouraging "small acts of assertiveness."


The attendees, who came to conference from across the globe, were there to hire, network, find jobs and promote women in fields where their numbers come up the shortest. Computer scientists Anita Borg and Telle Whitney founded the conference in 1994 in the name of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, a renowned computer scientist who worked on an early computer prototype during World War II among other contributions at a time when women in the field were scarce.



The conference moves each year, but this year organizers chose Houston for its central location and accommodations for 12,000.


Discussion sessions during the three-day conference ranged from technical skills and problem solving, to helping women present themselves more confidently and a guide to surviving maternity leave.


Mayor Annise Parker attended the conference's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) lunch on Thursday.


Outside of The Confidence Conundrum session on Thursday, women lined up down the hallway hoping to get into the full room. Panelists and the audience discussed being called aggressive at work and balancing their natural tendencies with the assertiveness and language required in a male-dominated workplace.


"Our society has a lot of messages for women from when we're very young to put our hands down and be quiet," Sandberg said later. We have to stop calling little girls bossy, she said.


"We don't call little boys bossy because we expect them to lead."


The Anita Borg Institute, which hosts the conference, reported that in technical fields the number of women drops by half from entry-level to the executive level. In 2011, women made up 26 percent of the science, technology, engineering and math workforce. Several women in discussion sessions mentioned being the only woman on a team at work. But the number of people at the conference doubled from last year's event in Phoenix.


In the Houston area, there were about 46,000 women in computer, engineering and science jobs, versus 160,000 men, according to 2014 census data.


Maria Briceno, a senior at the University of Houston, said the school is slowly gaining more women in its undergraduate program. Just a few years ago most undergraduate graduating classes had no female computer science majors, she said. Now most of her classes have three or four women.

In workshops during the conference she found herself offering her input more and encouraged to do so.


"I think this conference really pushes you to speak out and be more confident," she said.

Companies from Facebook and Google to Macy's, Wal-Mart and Bank of America were on hand Thursday recruiting women for jobs in technology. Now most companies need employees with skills in coding and technology, not just ones that label themselves as tech companies.


"Every company that was once a retailer or finance company is now a technology company," said Rachelli Materum, director of talent acquisition for Macy's.


Last year, the company hired 15 people from the conference. Materum said it's important for Macy's to recruit here because they're up against technology giants and people with skills like coding don't always look to other places for those jobs.


At, based in San Francisco, 26 percent of the engineers are women, she said. For Macy's it's particularly important to have a female perspective, she said.

"Our core customer is a woman, so to have a woman's perspective reflected in developing (the website and apps), it's really important," Materum said.


Calle Carter, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College, was interviewing for several internships at the conference.


"We're exposed to a lot more opportunities for computer science than we would at school," she said.


Avni Baveja was hired at technology company Cisco after attending the 2008 conference. This week she was back at the much larger event with about 300 female coworkers. She said having women at the company helps Cisco recruit and retain more talented women.


She also noted that many more men attended this year than in 2008.


"When you talk to the younger women and students, you feel like your being here makes a difference for them," Baveja said.


Sarah Scully, Business Writer

Houston Chronicle (exclusive subscriber-only content)

A group of 11 leading energy utilities from around the world have published a major new report detailing how 50 electricity technologies could play a role in meeting international climate change targets.

The 68-page report has been developed by the Montreal-based Global Sustainable Electricity Partnership (GSEP) and is designed to provide negotiators at the upcoming Paris Summit with a reminder of the crucial role a power sector that accounts for a quarter of global carbon emissions will have in tackling climate change.

GSEP is backed by American Electric Power, EDF, Eletrobras, ENEL, EuroSibEnergo, Hydro-Québec, Iberdrola, Kansai Electric Power Company, RusHydro, RWE and State Grid Corporation of China, which together delivered around one-third of the world's electricity last year, of which about 60 percent was generated with no direct CO2 emissions.

According to International Energy Agency estimates, global electricity-related carbon emissions intensity will have to fall by 90 percent by 2050 if the world is to limit temperature rises this century to 2 degrees Celsius. The agency also has said such a drastic reduction in emissions will require $20 trillion of investment in the power sector through 2040.


COP21 policymakers are well positioned to help accelerate the development and deployment of innovative technologies with effective policies.


The GSEP report, Powering Innovation for a Sustainable Future, argues these emissions goals can be met through a combination of existing and emerging technologies.

The report examines 25 electricity generation technologies, 11 systems technologies such as smart grid innovations and energy storage systems and 14 energy use technologies, such as more efficient lighting. It concludes there is room for a significant expansion in the use of low carbon technologies.

For example, it notes current global hydropower production only exploits one-third of economically viable hydropower resources and also highlights how "onshore wind power is already competitive in high-wind regions without any direct support mechanism" even before the imminent cost reductions that will result from future technological innovation are taken into account.

Similarly, the report details how optimizing solar manufacturing plant design and progress in converters to enhance the performance of PV systems could bring the cost of ground-mounted PV systems down to $1 per Watt-peak (Wp), "substantially enlarging the scope for the development of PV power." And it predicts new generation nuclear reactors could be available by the 2040s, adding that "future fourth-generation fast neutron reactors, which use fuel far more efficiently, will supplant the current technologies."

The report is accompanied by an open letter to the Paris negotiators from the 11 electricity providers, arguing that a supportive and stable international policy environment will help accelerate the rollout of clean technologies.


Global electricity-related carbon emissions will have to fall by 90 percent by 2050 if the world is to limit temperature rises this century to 2 degrees Celsius.


"Energy efficiency and technological innovation in the electricity sector are essential to both reduce emissions and improve the quality of life of citizens around the world," the letter stated. "COP21 policymakers are well positioned to help accelerate the development and deployment worldwide of energy efficiency measures and of innovative technologies with effective policies."

It also sets out a plan arguing any Paris Agreement should embrace four core principles that will help drive the deployment of clean technologies: a commitment to deliver "secure, stable, clear, consistent and long-term policies"; a systemic approach to decarbonizing electricity systems; the promotion of public-private partnerships; and urgent progress on clean tech R&D.

"Together, we are leading the way in the global effort to avoid, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by optimizing technologies in the right mix, amount, time and place," the letter stated. "By systematically optimizing and applying the full portfolio of advanced technologies as they become commercially available, we believe that sustainable progress can be made over time to help meet global climate challenges."

This story first appeared on: BusinessGreen


CNBC | Reuters|  October 15, 2015


Oil slipped more, nearing $49 per barrel on Thursday, staying weak after a jump in U.S. stockpiles shown in industry data the day before.  Brent eased 59 cents to $48.56 a barrel by 9:27 a.m. EDT (1327 GMT). On Wednesday it hit a low of $48.71, the weakest since Oct. 5.  U.S. crude fell 86 cents to $45.78 a barrel, after settling down 2 cents at $46.64 on Wednesday.

Data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute showed U.S. crude stocks rose by 9.4 million barrels in the week to Oct. 9 to 465.96 million, versus analyst forecasts for a 2.8 million barrels build.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration releases official government data on crude inventories at 11 a.m. (1500 GMT), one day behind schedule due to the Columbus Day holiday on Monday.

Some analysts pointed to further weakness in the months ahead with a possible eventual interest rate rise in the United States pushing the dollar higher, which makes oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

So here is the set up: In December the Fed will hike rates and OPEC will not cut output. In Q1 of 2016, global oil inventories rise further and oil prices will drop," Bjarne Schieldrop chief commodity analyst at SEB in Oslo told the Reuters Global Oil forum.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries meets in December. The produer group is expected to hold to its policy of maintaining market share, highlighted by Saudi Arabia's push into Russia's regional market.

The world's big oil exporters pumped more than half a billion barrels more crude than needed in the first nine months of this year, industry data gathered by Reuters and major energy market forecasters show.

In the first nine months of 2015, China's crude imports rose 8.8 percent to 248.62 million tons.

Traders said that Brent had found some support above $49 due to the strong Chinese imports.

BMI Research, part of the Fitch ratings agency, said in a note that China's crude oil imports would continue to grow over the next five years at an average annual rate of 3.2 percent.

"This will be a result of higher refinery run rates to produce gasoline and continued strategic stockpiling activity up to 2020, which will help to override macroeconomic headwinds to domestic crude demand," it said.


Photo: Sergei Karpukhin | Reuters | A worker inspects valves and pipes at an oil gathering station in Russia.

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015


Andy East

Austin American-Statesman Staff


The state will collect $2.6 billion less than anticipated in taxes over the next two years largely because of sluggish oil prices, Comptroller Glenn Hegar said Tuesday.


Tax revenue will total $110.4 billion — still more than the spending called for by the Legislature, which was capped at $106.2 billion. The revised estimate released Tuesday forecasts a $4.1 billion drop in tax revenue from oil and natural gas production and regulation, compared with the fiscal year that ended in August. But revenue from other sectors of the Texas economy will temper the downturn in oil prices, Hegar said.


The projection is based on an estimated per-barrel price of oil of $49.48 during this fiscal year and projects the price-per-barrel to increase to $56.25 in 2017. Crude oil is trading at $46.58.


“Oil prices are extremely hard to predict,” Hegar said. “A lot of people try, but it’s not only a national but also an international market and small amounts of news can significantly change the price daily.”


View the story on the Web here: Texas to see a $4.1 billion drop in tax revenue from oil and gas |

Pink Petro Staff

UBS Says $70 Oil

Posted by Pink Petro Staff Oct 13, 2015
UBS Analyst, October 13 2015 | CNBC

103072302-GettyImages-119323077.530x298.jpgLast week's price rise, totaling roughly 10 percent, was initiated by the large drop in U.S. oil rigs in early October. U.S. oil-directed rigs fell to a five-year low of 614 a few weeks ago, according to Baker Hughes, and then to 605 on Friday.

Further, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that U.S. crude production dropped by 120,000 barrels per day to a 12-month low of 9.01 million barrels per day in September from August. The EIA also raised its oil-demand growth forecasts for 2015 and 2016, while cutting 2015 non-OPEC supply growth. U.S. oil demand continued to expand at a solid pace, up 3.5 percent year-on-year to 19.98 million barrels per day in July.

Finally, senior executives made a number of upbeat comments about the oil price at an industry conference in London. Among others, Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, described this year's oil-investment cuts as the biggest in the history of the sector, with spending on upstream projects down at least 20 percent

Is the oil rally for real?

Geopolitical developments have also contributed, with market participants rebuilding an oil-price risk premium attached to potential production outages in the Middle East. Fighting in Syria (and Russia's intervention there), plus attacks by ISIS on production facilities in northern Iraq — all of this has raised the risk of outages occurring.

Growth in non-OPEC crude oil supply slowed “substantially” this year and is likely to remain flat or turn negative in the next, Al Sada said in an e-mailed statement on Sunday. “Call on OPEC oil is expected to become healthier,” to 30.5 million barrels a day in 2016 from 29.3 million in 2015, he said, citing increasing demand from both developed and emerging markets.

Current low prices have “caused oil companies to reduce their capital expenditure by almost 20 percent this year from $650 billion in 2014,” he said. “This trend of reducing investment in the oil industry could result in production shortfalls down the line.”

Brent crude, a global pricing benchmark, slipped 8.2 percent this year and tumbled 41 percent in the last 12 months. The contract closed Friday at $52.65 a barrel in London. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has exceeded its oil-output target of 30 million barrels a day for 16 consecutive months. OPEC and non-OPEC officials are to meet at an expert level in Vienna later this month to discuss the market, Al Sada said.