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from Breakingviews:

Coal’s ascendancy to leave ailing U.S. miners in pit

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By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Coal’s ascendancy looks set to leave already ailing U.S. miners stuck in a pit. Within five years, the black rock is likely to replace oil as the world’s top energy source, according to the International Energy Agency. That should be good news for America’s miners, which are sitting on 28 percent of the planet’s coal. But they’re ill placed to do well from the boom.

America’s reserves equate to several hundred years of the nation’s current coal consumption. They’re also about 50 percent larger than Russia’s, which has the second-largest set of seams. Combined, the two countries burn about 1.2 billion tonnes of King Coal a year, equivalent to the 16 percent increase in global consumption the IEA expects by 2017.

America’s coal industry is being left out of the party, however. It’s already hurting. Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal lost close to half their market value in 2012. The Obama administration’s tighter air control rules are only a small part of the problem. Natural gas remains cheap and is expected to further cut demand for coal in generating electricity by another 14 percent by 2017.

from Breakingviews:

U.S. doesn’t need Washington for economic stimulus

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By Agnes T. Crane and Christopher Swann
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

America doesn’t need Washington for an economic stimulus. President Barack Obama lobbied Congress for a $50 billion investment in infrastructure as part of the fiscal cliff battle, but it’s been stymied by gridlock. A contentious corner of the energy industry is having much more success, though. Shale gas and oil production pumped three times that amount into the economy in 2012, with more to come. It won’t cure America’s ills, but it should ease the pain.

from Breakingviews:

Corporate carbon bubble may start to deflate

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By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Next year could see markets start to wake up to a proper carbon bubble: the inflated value of hydrocarbon-heavy corporates.

from Hallie Seegal:

A local obstruction in the fracking pipeline

 

There are high hopes that the natural gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will boost the economy and bring the United States closer to energy independence, but if the energy industry expects to break new ground and fulfill a growing demand anytime soon, they need to make friends with the people who reside near the drilling rigs.

Two new reports out last week point to the potential of how fracking, the process whereby a highly-pressured mixture of water, sand and chemicals is blasted through underground shale rock formations to release natural gas, could positively benefit our economy. One study projects that natural gas will account for nearly one-third of total U.S. energy produced by 2040, and the other one, a government commissioned report which the Obama administration is expected to partially base its shale gas policy on, shows natural gas exports providing revenue to the struggling economy under every condition considered.

from Breakingviews:

Freeport deal triangle gets cozier and cozier

By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold’s foray into energy keeps getting cozier for the top executives involved. The U.S. mining group’s market value has plunged $6 billion following news of its planned purchase of Plains Exploration & Production and McMoRan Exploration. Yet Jim Bob Moffett, Freeport’s chairman, and James Flores, chief executive of Plains, will come out ahead.

from Breakingviews:

SandRidge CEO sets bar even lower for oil patch

By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Tom Ward, chief executive of troubled oil and gas explorer SandRidge Energy, has set the bar even lower for the oil patch. He is not the first energy boss to live large at shareholders’ expense. But his extravagance at the nearly $3 billion U.S. company would make even TV villain J.R. Ewing blush. Angry owners are right to want him out.

from MuniLand:

Obama goes long renewable energy

President Obama is putting some wind in the sails of the transformation of solar energy to an industrial scale. Lost in the pre-election frenzy in July was this announcement:

The Obama administration announced a plan on Tuesday to open public land in six southwestern states to speed up the development of solar energy, while blocking projects in areas deemed environmentally sensitive.

from Global Investing:

Golden days of the Turkey-Iran trade may be gone

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Global Investing has discussed in the past what a golden opportunity the Iranian crisis has proved for Turkey. Between January and July 2012 it ratcheted up gold exports to Iran ten-fold compared to 2011 as inflation-hit Iranians clamoured for the precious metal. Since August exports appear to have been routed via the UAE, possibly to circumvent U.S. sanctions on trade with Teheran.

The trade has been a handy little earner. Evidence of that has shown up in Turkey's data all year as its massive current account deficit has steadily shrunk. On Friday, official data showed the Turkish trade gap falling by a third in October from year-ago levels. And yes, precious metal exports (read gold) came in at $1.5 billion compared to $322.4 million last October. In short, a jump of 370 percent.

from Thinking Global:

America’s geopolitical gusher

ISTANBUL -- Fatih Birol, the International Energy Agency’s chief economist, is not prone to hype. So industry executives listen when he calls the surge of U.S. oil and gas production “the biggest change in the energy world since World War II.”

“This is bigger even than the development of nuclear energy,” said Birol in an interview just minutes after he had briefed dozens of the world’s leading energy players and policy makers over breakfast at the fourth annual Atlantic Council Energy and Economic Summit here on the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2012. “This has implications for the whole world.”

from Breakingviews:

Obituary: Ewing was archetype of Reagan-era excess

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By Rob Cox and Christopher Swann
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

(Parts of the following obituary were first erroneously published on March 21, 1980).

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