1. Oil prices flatten out as rising US output offsets OPEC worries.
After hitting $61 per barrel, the highest prices we’ve seen since 2015, oil is leveling off this week and holding steady. Oil prices saw little change today as political concerns in some OPEC nations offset projections for higher US oil production. Ongoing protests in Iran, combined with the recent detention of several princes in Saudi Arabia, have bolstered geopolitical concerns, stalling any significant price increases in the near future.
Brent futures gained 16 cents to settle at US$67.78 a barrel, and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude rose 29 cents, to settle at US$61.73 as of Monday.
2. Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund expired on December 31st, and is yet to be renewed.
For over 30 years oil companies have been levied a 9 cents-per-barrel tax on domestic crude oil and imported crude oil and petroleum products to build up a fund for federal oil-spill response efforts. The fund is Intended to help the US government respond quickly to accidents on land or offshore.
The fund generated an average of $500 million in federal revenue per year, according to the Government Accountability Office, and currently has at least $5.75 billion in reserve.
Although Congress chose not to renew the tax in December, they are considering reinstating it retroactively in an “extenders” bill that would revive several recently expired taxes. Industry officials noted that the U.S. Coast Guard or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could always ask Congress to reimpose it the levy if either felt it was needed.
3. The Middle East is looking to diversify its energy sources in 2018.
As we enter 2018, it’s important to realize that many Middle Eastern countries have started to look above ground for generating energy as a way to diversify away from crude oil.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman, are just a few of the countries that have set ambitious goals to boost the construction of clean energy facilities and the use of renewables in their energy mix in the long run. As global solar and wind costs continue to drop and make those energy solutions increasingly competitive, the Middle East is expected to continue to move ahead with renewable projects this year