Reuters blog archive

from The Great Debate:

When U.S. natural gas is shipped overseas, it will cost the 99 percent

Pier at Dominion's Cove Point LNG plant is seen at Maryland's Chesapeake Bay

The Department of Energy appears to be following a “Nigerian strategy” with respect to the nation’s recent windfall of natural gas.

Washington’s policies will benefit the 1 percent who own or run energy companies -- and translate into higher costs for most Americans. If you can get a marginally higher price by selling off a valuable natural resource, the department seems to believe, you should do it.

So far, the Energy Department has OK’d every export application that has managed to navigate its complicated approval process. As more natural gas is exported, however, the more foreign appetite for natural gas will bid up U.S. prices, the faster American gas reserves will be depleted and the quicker the U.S. energy-based manufacturing recovery will be choked off.  But all these potential problems seem to count for little when measured against the bottom lines of global energy companies.

There is, in fact, an odd cacophony within the Energy Department.  Each year its Energy Information Agency produces a much-anticipated roundup and forecast of U.S. energy production. Its newest version suggests only modest growth in U.S. gas exports. By 2040, the agency expects liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) exports -- the only way to send gas to countries without pipeline connections -- will increase by only 3.5 trillion cubic feet, accounting for less than 10 percent of projected 2040 output. (Liquefied natural gas has been cryogenically chilled to the approximate density of crude oil. It requires special tankers and expensive “regasification” facilities on the importer’s end.)

from The Great Debate:

Danger and delay on dirty bombs

When highly radioactive material that can be used in a “dirty bomb” is moved to or from a hospital in New York City, it is done in the dead of night on cordoned streets with high security.

In Mexico two weeks ago, a truck moving a large canister containing radioactive material was hijacked at a gas station -- where it had been parked with no security. The cobalt-60 that was stolen from the vehicle and then extracted from its protective lead shield is so potent that it is considered a significant national security threat under U.S. guidelines.

from The Great Debate:

The Case Against Natural Gas Exports

President Barack Obama has made middle-class jobs and natural gas two of his top second-term policy objectives. Both could be undermined if his Department of Energy (DOE) continues to approve gas industry applications for exporting American gas.

There is already a move in Congress to remove DOE’s authority, so approvals can move even faster, and the oil and gas industry has thrown all its lobbying muscle behind this effort to steamroll through the permission process.

from Reuters Money:

Should you pre-pay your winter heating bill?

USA-ENERGY/HEATINGOILIf you’ve been pulling out your sweaters lately, you know the first heating bill of winter isn’t far behind.

This year, the average household will pay $986 for heat, or 2.5 percent more than they did last year, according to predictions from the Department of Energy. It will be way worse for people in the northeast, who are expecting a colder winter than usual, and for people who use oil to heat their homes. They will pay an average of $2,125, according to the energy department outlook. Ouch! That might sting worse than the winter cold.

from Environment Forum:

Could “putting the cow inside the plant” make a new biofuel?

SWITZERLAND/The Next Big Thing in biofuel might involve genetically engineered plants that digest themselves, making it cheaper to turn them into fuel. That's one of the new ideas that Arun Majumdar finds fascinating. As the head of the U.S. Energy Department's ARPA-E -- the path-breaking agency that aims come up with efficient, green energy solutions -- Majumdar said this concept is one of a few dozen that are in the development stage now.

Majumdar let his enthusiasm show as he described this project at the Reuters Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit on Thursday. He was talking about a project in its early stages at Massachusetts-based Agrivida.