Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders
Last year, the U.S. government renewed the Production Tax Credit, a 1.9 cent-per-kilowatt-hour credit for electricity generated by wind turbines — a critical factor in the financing of new wind farms. But the extension only runs through the end of this year, when Congress will have to take up the issue again. That kind of uncertainty causes headaches for power companies, as well as wind turbine makers such as Randy Zwirn, the CEO of Siemens Power Generation, who says the industry needs a longer lead time.
The hype around carbon emission policy coming out of Washington is nothing but talk, according to Dynegy CEO Bruce Williamson. The top executive of one of the nation’s largest independent power producers pulled no punches at the Reuters Energy Summit when it came to his view of leadership — or the lack of it — coming from politicians these days on U.S. environmental policy.
There’s no shortage of talk in Alberta about the potential for nuclear energy to fuel the oil sands rush, especially as a private company run by two high-powered Calgary businessmen makes a big sales pitch on the idea.
Petro-Canada Chief Executive Ron Brenneman’s not so sure.
Brenneman said at the Reuters Energy Summit that nuclear may be part of the solution as the oil sands industry looks to cut the use of scarcer and scarcer natural gas. Eventually. Maybe.
“It’s not clear to me that this is as elegant a solution as it might appear on paper,” he said.
It’s the so-called in situ projects that are at issue, not the mining ones. The technology to produce the crude involves pumping steam into the ground, which loosens up the tar-like bitumen so it can be pumped to the surface in wells.
Petro-Canada uses that method at its MacKay River project in northeastern Alberta.
It is considering another one called Lewis.
However, the company is planning to move first with its Fort Hills, Alberta, mining project in hopes the technology for generating steam improves.
Besides eyeing nukes, the industry is moving toward devising ways of generating steam without natural gas. These include burning waste products from the gooey oil, like petroleum coke or asphaltenes.
Nuclear power plants have to be of a certain girth to make them viable, and even then it hasn’t been proven that they can push steam over far enough distances to reach numerous projects, he said.
In addition, it could be 15-20 years before such a plant could be built in a province that has always shunned the technology, Brenneman said.
The buzz around ethanol and its potential to help ease dependence on foreign energy supplies here in the US is reaching a fever pitch. But don’t count the CEO of refiner Alon as one of its cheerleaders. At the Reuters Global Energy Summit, Jeff Morris lays out a laundry list of shortcomings for the alternative fuel.
Refiner Alon, like others in the downstream oil business, has seen margins for processing oil skyrocket over the past few years. Here CEO Jeff Morris talks about the company’s plans to expand capacity at its plants and add complexity, which will allow it to squeeze even more money out of the process by producing more gasoline and diesel.
Oil prices have been at record highs in recent years and billions of dollars are pouring into the coffers of oil producing nations that make up OPEC, the group that supplies 40 percent of world oil. Yet that has not stopped them worrying about the environment, OPEC Secretary General Dr Abdullah al Badri told the Reuters Global Energy Summit in London.”The environment is a concern,” he said. “We are living on the same planet.”
Calpine’s descent into bankruptcy attracted plenty of interest for its power plants – some of the newest, most efficient gas-fired units in the country. But CEO Robert May describes how he looks at the landscape, and how the company fared in selling assets as its moves toward the conclusion of its bankruptcy proceedings.
Surfboards, hippies and the Summer of Love…and now the green movement. California is known as a trendsetter for the US, and environmental policy is just the latest area the “Golden State” can claim to be a bellwether, according to Calpine CEO Robert May.
It’s been a lively year to say the least for Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical’s CEO. Press reports about plans from private equity and banking consortiums to take over his company sparked a jump in Dow shares. An investigation into where those rumors may be coming from led him to fire two senior executives for conversations with bankers from JPMorgan about a deal — the contents of which are under dispute in a series of lawsuits that has dragged him as well as JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon to the center of the spat. So what does he take away from the rocky experience?