Drumbeat: November 30, 2010

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait Seek Gas to Supplant Use of Oil for Power

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, and neighbor Kuwait seek to add natural gas supply to avoid burning crude and refined products to generate power, officials from the two nations’ state oil companies said.

“We are picking up gas exploration,” Ahmad Al-Sa’adi, vice president of gas operations at Saudi Aramco, said today at a conference in Doha, Qatar. “Any liquid fuel we are burning comes at the expense of our exports.”

Saudi gas demand rising at 5-6 pct a year-Aramco

Saudi Arabia’s gas demand is growing 5 to 6 percent annually but the world’s top oil exporter is trying to curb domestic consumption, an executive from state oil giant Saudi Aramco said on Tuesday.

“Annual growth is around 5-6 percent and is going to continue at this level as things stand now,” Ahmed Al-Sa’adi, vice president of gas operations at Aramco, told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Doha.

“There is a lot of effort in adopting energy efficient programmes to curtail demand,” he said when asked about what could contribute to a drop in demand.

OPEC November Oil Output Fell 0.3%, Led by African Producers, Survey Shows

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ crude-oil output fell in November, led by Nigeria, where attacks by armed groups are reducing production, a Bloomberg News survey showed.

Production slipped 80,000 barrels, or 0.3 percent, to an average 29.05 million barrels a day, according to the survey of oil companies, producers and analysts. October output was revised higher by 120,000 barrels. Production by members with quotas, all except Iraq, dropped 80,000 barrels to 26.7 million, 1.855 million above their target.

NY State Assembly Passes Hydraulic Fracturing Moratorium

The New York State Assembly passed a bill late Monday banning new hydraulic fracturing in the state until May 2011 to allow time for further study of the oil and natural-gas drilling technique.

The state senate approved the ban in August, and Gov. David Paterson is widely expected to approve the measure. The bill bans state regulators from issuing new drilling permits for wells that would use hydraulic fracturing until May 15 “to afford the state and its residents the opportunity to continue the review and analysis of the effects of hydraulic fracturing on water and air quality, environmental safety and public health.”

Europe’s scramble for gas sees controversial hydraulic fracturing cross the Atlantic

In the US, gas-extraction in the Marcellus Shale has been linked to pollution and social conflict. Now Halliburton, Chevron and Exxon, among others, want to bring the so-called ‘fracking’ process to Europe.

Shell, Gazprom to Deepen Russian Ties, Develop Internationally

Alexey Miller, Chairman of the Gazprom Management Committee, and Peter Voser, Chief Executive Officer of Shell, signed a protocol on strategic global cooperation. This agreement establishes basic guidelines for the companies’ broader collaboration.

Today’s Trends: Australia Natural Gas Production Rises

Australia’s natural gas production has grown over the past decade as operators continue to uncover conventional natural gas, particularly in the offshore Carnarvon and Browse basins offshore Western Australia, and unconventional gas resources such as coal seam gas reserves in eastern Australia.

Bulgaria urges fiscal leeway for Nabucco financing

SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria urged the European Union on Tuesday to allow countries in the Nabucco pipeline to write off bank guarantees they are to extend from their fiscal deficits, to show the gas link is a priority for Brussels.

Enbridge in pipeline talks with aboriginals

CALGARY — Enbridge Inc. is in discussions with aboriginal communities along the route of its proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, offering them a potential equity stake in the controversial project.

MPs, natives press for oil-tanker ban

Liberal and New Democratic MPs have joined with West Coast native groups in an attempt to block an export pipeline carrying oil-sands crude, urging the Conservative government to pass a ban on super-tanker traffic along northern British Columbia’s coast.

China and Russia ‘circling like vultures’ over BG’s and Shell’s Kazakhstan energy projects

China and Russia are “circling like vultures” over BG Group and Royal Dutch Shell’s energy projects in Kazakhstan, according to US diplomatic papers revealed by WikiLeaks.

Nigeria hit by fuel shortage as depot owners, truckers strike

Lagos (Platts)– Nigeria was Tuesday hit by a fresh round of fuel shortages after petroleum product depot owners and fuel truck drivers began a one-week warning strike by to press their demands for a government bailout.

India’s coal shortage to deepen next year

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s coal deficit will deepen sharply next year, its coal minister said on Tuesday, forcing Asia’s third largest economy to import more of the fuel on which it relies.

The coal shortage will be 104 million tonnes in the next fiscal to March 2012, Sriprakash Jaiswal said, a jump of 23.8 percent from the current year’s estimate.

Rural poor to get INR 1400 subsidy for LPG connection

On the prevailing LPG shortage, Mr Bhargava further said that by December 15th, distribution will be normalized. He attributed the shortages to festive demands, unseasonal rains in many parts, higher demand from the North due to the winter demand besides panic booking by consumers and said oil marketers are working on a war footing to normalize the supply.

Mr Deora said the country will have to import 3.9 million tonne or 32% more cooking gas this fiscal to meet the growing demand and pointed out that the number of LPG connection has grown nearly three times since 1999 when there were only 3.81 crore consumers, to 12.2 crore now.

Mexico Supreme Court to hear Pemex law challenge

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s Supreme Court on
Tuesday will hear a challenge to regulations that would allow
the state oil monopoly Pemex to sign contracts with private
companies, as some lawmakers try to block a bid to open up the
sector.

“They are discussing it, it’s in today’s order,” a court
spokeswoman told Reuters on Tuesday.

Iraqi Kurds: Oil Laws by June 2011 Or Won’t Join Government

The semi-autonomous government of Iraq’s Kurdistan region wants new hydrocarbon and revenue-sharing laws by June 2011 as a condition of its participation in a new Iraqi administration, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s minister for natural resources said Tuesday.

A Look Back at The 2010 Hurricane Season

This Atlantic hurricane season was marked by intense storm activity which however resulted in little disruption across the United States. While the season spawned 12 hurricanes, none hit land on U.S. shores. Latin America was not so lucky, especially Mexico which was rocked by Hurricane Karl. We in the U.S. have the position of the jet stream this year to thank for our good fortune, as it diverted many of the storms back to sea.

Special Report: Nuclear’s lost generation

There’s a hole in the nuclear workforce, not just in Finland but across the Western world. For the moment, the operator of the Olkiluoto 3 plant, power utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO), is getting by with its most experienced staff. As those workers retire, though, the skills shortage could become a crisis.

“The nuclear industry has been in the desert for years and years and the question is how to revamp it and how to revamp human resources,” says Colette Lewiner from Cap Gemini, a consultancy firm which raised concerns about the aging nuclear workforce in a report in 2008 and has warned “there will be no nuclear power renaissance” without efforts to tackle the problem. “The industry needs to ramp up and it needs to do it quickly.”

Progress Energy Aims To Restart Nuclear Plant In Early 2011

Progress Energy Inc. said Tuesday it hopes to restart its Crystal River nuclear power plant in Florida early next year after a year-long unscheduled outage to make repairs.

Bulgaria, Russia sign MOU for nuclear plant firm

(Reuters) – Bulgarian power utility NEK and Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding to set up a project company for the Balkan country’s second nuclear plant in Belene.

In nuclear energy, smaller is better

A growing cadre of scientists and executives is promoting the idea of small, modular reactors (SMRs) as the way out of the current impasse. And the nuclear industry’s biggest players are signing up.

Japan to revise nuclear energy policy framework

TOKYO — The Japan Atomic Energy Commission decided Tuesday to revise the 2005 framework for nuclear energy policy in view of recent changes including growing demand for nuclear power generation to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, government officials said.

Integrating Wind and Water Power, an Increasingly Tough Balancing Act

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Pacific Northwest Smart Grid Demonstration, the largest of 16 U.S. Department of Energy pilot projects, is under way in five Northwest states. It seeks ways to balance the region’s huge base of hydroelectric power with its fast-expanding collection of wind farms.

Dr David Fleming: 1940-2010

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of Dr David Fleming, who passed away peacefully in his sleep last night while visiting a friend in Amsterdam. David was a huge inspiration to me personally, as to many others, and is one of the few people I have met who I considered close to being a genius. He was also one of the funniest, kindest and most thoughtful people I have ever had the honour to know. His passing will leave a large void in our lives. And he never did get his bloody book finished!

(Dr. Fleming contributed articles on tradable energy quotas and nuclear power to The Oil Drum.)

Ecology North calls for gas-shortage plan

A Yellowknife-based environmental lobby group is calling on the territorial government to work out a gas-shortage action plan after many local pumps ran dry last week.

Motorists stockpiled gasoline after the Merv Hardie ferry was pulled from service for more than a week because of low river levels.

Sustainable energy a way out of power crisis in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The crisis of energy shortfall, being faced by Pakistan, can be properly addressed by relying on sustainable energy and long-term and short-term measures should be taken in this regard, it was stressed during a conference on “Power Generation Systems and Renewable Energy Technologies,” at International Islamic University (IIUI) on Monday.

25 killed by flooding, landslides in Venezuela

Flooding and landslides unleashed by torrential rains have killed 25 people in Venezuela, forced thousands from their homes and idled an oil refinery.

The death toll rose on Tuesday as authorities reported 12 additional deaths in Caracas and nearby states. Officials say more than 5,000 people have been forced to flee their homes.

GM hiring to push electric effort beyond

General Motors Co. said on Tuesday it would hire 1,000 engineers and researchers in Michigan over the next two years to develop more electric cars and hybrids as it launched its battery-powered Chevrolet Volt.

“Volt clearly demonstrates that we are well on our way and it is especially true when it comes to the electrification of the automobile,” GM Chief Executive Dan Akerson said at a ceremony marking the start of production of the plug-in hybrid.

What Energy Secretary Chu Says on Solyndra, the Decline in Green Investing

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu hosted a conference call yesterday for reporters. He emphasized the need for the U.S. to maintain its lead on innovation in the energy sector given the rise of China’s growing energy needs and its commitment to cleantech.

Fossil fuels future: feast or fantasy?

I don’t pretend to have the expertise to say who is right, but I do remember the global oil “glut” of the 1980s that resulted from a runup in energy prices in the 1970s. It took the air out of the renewable energy industry here in the U.S., and European countries like Denmark and Germany forged ahead in the development of wind turbine technology. Yet within another 15-20 years, surging global demand had burned off the glut and energy prices were rising again. If we are indeed heading into another short-term oversupply situation, it may be well to remember that a short-sighted policy response to the last one cost America its leadership in what is today one of the world’s fastest-growing new manufacturing industries.

Is Mark Ruffalo really on a terror watch list?

“His name is not in any of our bulletins,” Maria A. Smith, the spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “There is no list, we never even had a list.”

Truth Needn’t be Scary

The attempt at arguing $225/barrel oil means people can no longer afford insulin is both a strawman and a red herring, as well as a thinly disguised argument in favor of maintaining the status quo. Decent public transportation in walkable cities instead of Lexus payments–as well as not taking on mountains of unnecessary consumer debt in the first place–would allow people to afford their insulin. More importantly, if they were to stop eating processed death foods and washing them down with high-fructose corn syrup that has a few cancer agents plus a neurotoxin and an endocrine disrupter thrown in for color, flavor and preservation they might not need the insulin in the first place. And, of course, getting off their duff once in a while would be a big help too.

Could Britain’s gas stocks run out this winter?

(Reuters) – The British gas market could be caught short this winter as an early cold snap sees suppliers tapping into storage a month earlier than last year, eating into stocks needed for when demand usually peaks early in the year.

Wholesale gas traders started withdrawing from Rough — Britain’s only long-range storage facility — two weeks ago and supplies have been sinking since to about 17 percent below levels seen this time last year, data from network operator National Grid showed.

The premature and pronounced drain on the site under the North Sea, which holds the vast majority most of Britain’s back-up gas, could spell supply jiters early next year.

“If you do the numbers, storage will be empty some time in early February if it stays this cold,” said Jason Durden, energy trader at Energy Quote JHA.

U.K. Natural Gas Declines From 21-Month High as Supply Rises; Power Falls

U.K. next-month natural gas declined from its highest level since February 2009 as National Grid Plc forecast increased supply. Power tracked the fuel lower.

National Grid forecast the U.K.’s pipelines will hold 367 million cubic meters at 6 a.m. tomorrow, almost 20 million more than at the start of today. The grid manager forecast demand will rise to 433 million cubic meters by that time, 89 million more than normal for the time of year.

Natural Gas Futures Decline on Abundant Supplies

Gas futures dropped as inventory levels in the week ended Nov. 19 were 9.5 percent above the five-year average, wider than a 9.3 percent surplus the previous week, the Energy Department said on Nov. 24. Colder-than-normal weather may blanket most of the eastern and central U.S. from Dec. 4 through Dec. 8, according to Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Maryland.

“The market knows we can handle just about anything Mother Nature can throw at us this winter,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst with PFGBest in Chicago. “We haven’t seen a price level that has caused natural gas production to fall off dramatically.”

Hedge Funds Raise Natural Gas Wagers to Four-Month High

Hedge funds increased bullish bets on natural gas to the highest level in four months on speculation that lower-than-normal temperatures will bolster heating demand and trigger withdrawals from record stockpiles.

Oil Falls on Speculation European Union May Have to Bail Out More Members

Oil dropped from the highest price in two weeks amid concern that the European Union may have to bail out more member states after Ireland agreed to a rescue package from the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

Futures fell as much as 1 percent as the euro weakened against the dollar. The cost of insuring against default on Portuguese and Spanish debt climbed to records yesterday after Ireland secured financial aid this weekend. Oil also retreated on speculation that measures to slow China’s economy will damp crude demand in the world’s largest energy user.

Cold begins to have chilling effect on gas prices

Retail gasoline prices should decline across much of the country as demand ebbs with the arrival of the winter months.

The national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline was $2.857 on Monday, according to AAA, Wright Express and Oil Price Information Service. That’s about 1.5 cents lower than it was a week ago but about 23 cents higher than a year ago.

Societe Generale Raises 2011 Brent Oil Forecast 9.4% to $93.10 a Barrel

Societe Generale SA, France’s second-biggest bank, raised its forecast for Brent crude oil prices in 2011 by 9.4 percent because of rising demand for fuel from emerging markets such as China.

Brent crude will average $93.10 a barrel next year, up from the previous forecast of $85, according to a report e-mailed report by the commodities research team led by Paris-based Frederic Lasserre. The bank also increased its estimate for oil demand growth in 2011 to 1.6 million barrels a day from 1.4 million. Prices will also climb as the U.S. Federal Reserve’s second round of purchases of U.S. treasuries, known as quantitative easing, pushes the dollar lower.

European Gasoline Barges Fall; Gasoil Futures Crack Widens: Oil Products

European gasoline barges dropped on declining Brent crude costs. Prices gained 4.4 percent this month. Gasoil’s crack, or premium to Brent, widened. Futures prices were little changed.

Taweelah-Fujairah taps turned on

Abu Dhabi-based Dolphin Energy said today it has completed the 244 kilometre Taweelah-Fujairah gas pipeline, which will provide gas to two power stations in the north of the United Arab Emirates.

Russia puts South Stream price tag at 15.5 bln euros

(Reuters) – Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom said its South Stream gas pipeline project from the Caspian to Europe will cost 15.5 billion euros, well above previous estimates of around 10 billion euros.

“In current prices, the seabed portion will cost 10 billion euros, and the on-land portion in Europe around 5.5 billion,” Gazprom said in an article posted on its web site on Tuesday.

Russia’s 2010 budget spending may fall 400-500 bln rbls below plan – ministry

Russia’s budget spending may fall by 400-500 billion rubles in 2010 compared with the budget plan while unspent funds will be channeled back into the Reserve Fund set up to cushion the federal budget against a fall in oil prices, Deputy Economic Development Minister Andrei Klepach said on Tuesday.

Russia eyes Qatar

Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom is in talks about expanding in Russia and into rival gas exporter Qatar, deputy chief executive of Gazprom, Alexander Medvedev, said today.

Dubai Receives First Liquefied Natural Gas Cargo From Qatar, Shell Says

Dubai received its first cargo of liquefied natural gas from Qatar yesterday, said John Barry, vice president for technical and production in the Middle East and North Africa for Royal Dutch Shell Plc.

Iraq delays first census since 1987 over land row

BAGHDAD – Iraq postponed once again its first full census in more than two decades on Tuesday as it struggles to end a longstanding dispute between majority Arabs and minority Kurds over land and oil.

Nigeria summons Shell, Halliburton execs over graft

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s anti-corruption police said on Tuesday they wanted to interview the country heads of Shell and U.S. oil services firm Halliburton as part of investigations into two separate bribery cases.

Russia LUKOIL to invest $900 mln in W.Africa ’11-’12

(Reuters) – LUKOIL, Russia’s No.2 oil producer, plans to invest about $900 million in West Africa in 2011-2012, investor relations head Andrei Gaidamaka said on Tuesday.

Opening oil exploration to the East Coast

The African Continent’s west coast has long been an oil rich haven for oil companies from the west to exploit, yet now with the continual discoveries of oil rich deposits in the east, companies are turning their attention to countries like Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique to source large quantities of Africa’s oil reserve.

Dr Drill on the case in the search for oil at new frontiers

Exploration during the brief summer season this year was tantalising: indications of oil and gas in two wells. As yet, there is no commercial find. But now that a “petroleum system” has been proved in this vast area, big enough to hold three North Seas, other companies know that a major strike is just a matter of time – and Greenland is only one of the new frontiers emerging in the search for oil.

We keep hearing that “there is nowhere left to look for oil” and “all the big fields have been found”. Yes, many parts of the world have been thoroughly explored, but a decade of high oil prices has encouraged a return to frontier wildcatting, the buccaneering end of a staid industry. Where else should bold chief executives and smart investors be looking?

BP hails milestone in Canadian oil sands plan

LONDON (AFP) – British energy giant BP has welcomed key progress in its controversial plan to extract oil from Canadian sands, with a company spokesman on Tuesday describing the step as a “significant milestone”.

Canadian group Husky Energy, BP’s joint-venture partner, said on Monday that it was giving the go-ahead for the project’s first phase.

Woodside Delays Pluto LNG Start, Raises Cost Estimate 7% to $13.5 Billion

Woodside Petroleum Ltd., Australia’s second-largest oil producer, said its Pluto liquefied natural gas venture will cost A$900 million ($867 million) more and start about six months later than previously projected.

China bars US official from American’s appeal

BEIJING – A Beijing appeals court barred U.S. diplomats from attending a hearing Tuesday for an American geologist sentenced to eight years in prison for obtaining information on China’s oil industry that the government says are state secrets.

Russia’s oil export duty to rise 4.5 pct to $303.8 per T from Dec. 1

Russia’s crude oil export duty will increase 4.5 percent to $303.8 per ton from December 1, a governmental decree published on Tuesday said.

The export duty on oil produced in East Siberia will amount to $108 per ton from the current $98.8 per ton. The same export duty will be levied on North Caspian oil.

Petronas to Pay $9.7 Billion Shell-Sized Dividend as Oil Production Falls

Malaysian state oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd. will pay the government a dividend of about 30 billion ringgit ($9.5 billion) this fiscal year and focus investment on extending the life of the nation’s reserves, Chief Executive Officer Shamsul Azhar Abbas said.

Nigeria: Strike creates long lines at gas stations

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — A strike by Nigerian gas tanker drivers is creating long lines at gas stations in Africa’s top oil producer and crippling activity in its cities.

Igwe Achese, chairman of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the tanker drivers started a seven-day strike Monday to protest the Nov. 9 killing of a driver at a joint police-army checkpoint in northern Nigeria and the seizure of two tankers by the army.

Billionaire Fredriksen Bets $2 Billion on Rigs After BP Spill

Billionaire John Fredriksen’s Seadrill Ltd. invested $2 billion in the past two months on oil rigs, leading a jump in orders as safety concerns after BP Plc’s Gulf of Mexico disaster spur demand for newer platforms.

New Outrage in the Gulf

Specifically, in 1990, shortly after Exxon’s 750,000-barrel Alaska catastrophe, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act to funnel up to $28 million in research money annually to pre-empt and respond to possible disasters, as the oil industry “pushed the frontier of deepwater drilling.” This money wouldn’t come from the general coffers, but rather a trust fund, covered by a 5-cent per-barrel tax collected from the oil industry.

But over the ensuing 20 years, the report states, the piggy bank got raided: Congress never appropriated even half the $28 million, shifting the money elsewhere, leaving the the Coast Guard, Minerals Management Services, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency—the four agencies charged by the law to combat the spill threat—with technology that hadn’t been updated much in nearly two decades.

US: China rise a ‘Sputnik moment’ for clean energy

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A senior US official called China’s growing innovation a “Sputnik moment” that should spur the United States to ramp up investment in clean energy, despite a shift in Washington on climate change.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu likened a series of Chinese milestones — including the development of the world’s fastest supercomputer — to the Soviet Union’s landmark 1957 satellite that led the United States into the Space Race.

In the Energy Race, Echoes of Sputnik

With some House Republicans gunning for the stimulus bill, especially the portion that went to the Energy Department, the energy secretary went on a pre-emptive offensive of sorts on Monday in advance of the Republican takeover over the chamber, telling an audience at the National Press Club that that money was merely a down payment.

Can business leaders create clean jobs?

The problem is, the free market hasn’t taken care of our energy sector. We don’t have a consistent, comprehensive energy plan. The bad news is that a lot of countries are spending more on energy R&D than the U.S. does. The good news is that nobody is there yet. No one is so far down the pike that it wouldn’t make any sense for us to start. I can’t imagine anything that would do more for U.S. competitiveness than if we could make a breakthrough in clean, cheap energy.

Peak Coal Is The Next Energy Crisis You Need To Start Paying Attention To

While everyone knows about the threat of peak oil, peak coal is looming, but for somewhat different reasons.

Peak coal would be the product of an adjustment in demand brought on by green energy programs worldwide, according to a presentation by Kjell Aleklett is the president of The Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas.

HP leads the way in sustainable energy efforts

Engelina Jaspers, VP of Environmental Sustainability, HP, explains that the company is committed to its plan to reduce energy usage and has already accomplished several goals in its overall plan to become the leading IT firm in energy sustainability.

The company’s approach towards sustainable energy is unique. Not only does HP focus on reducing the amount of energy used in the production and manufacturing of their products, they have also reduced the GHG emissions in the supply chain as well as the product usage side.

Cracker Barrel Drives Electric Vehicle Pilot Project

LEBANON, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Cracker Barrel Old Country Store has always tried to offer the genuine hospitality and honest value associated with times past, and now the popular family restaurant is looking to the future with its new pilot project – installing Blink electric vehicle (EV) chargers, provided by ECOtality, Inc., at select restaurant locations across Tennessee.

Electric Cars to Reach 20% of U.K. Vehicle Sales by 2016, Grid CEO Says

Electric cars will make up 20 percent of U.K. auto sales by 2016 as drivers take advantage of government subsidies and lower fuel costs, according to National Grid Plc Chief Executive Officer Steve Holliday.

“Our base scenario has a million electric cars on the road in 2020,” Holliday, who runs the U.K.’s power grid, said in an interview in London. This would mean about one in five of all cars sold in the U.K. from 2016 will be electric, he said.

London’s latest transit strike hobbles commuters

Commuters forced to take to their cars created traffic jams that nearly paralyzed parts of downtown London as thousands of union workers stayed home. Bewildered tourists wandered subway and railroad stations. And some people trying to get to work gave up in disgust.

“I could take a bus, but it would take me hours,” said London resident Shadie Allyn, a telephone operator who spent five hours trying to get to work before deciding she’d had enough. “Everyone depends on the Tube. They shouldn’t be allowed to strike. It’s ridiculous.”

U.S. ethanol production to rise as EPA sets share

(Reuters) – Ethanol sales in the United States are expected to rise to 13.95 billion gallons (54.27 billion liters) in 2011 from 12.95 billion gallons this year, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Monday.

The agency, in its annual setting of the renewable fuel standard, said ethanol and other renewable fuels must account for at least 8.01 percent of the motor fuels sold in 2011 at U.S. service stations to comply with a federal mandate.

Farmers Find Organic Arsenal to Wage War on Pests

DAVIS, Calif. — Mark Van Horn, director of the student farm at the University of California, is nearly lost as he walks through a yellow cloud of wild sunflowers around the edge of a field of tomatoes and sweet corn.

They aren’t here for their beauty or as a cash crop — they are a key pest control strategy down on the organic farm.

Greenpeace Sues Chemical Makers, Alleging Spy Effort

Contractors working for Dow Chemical and Sasol North America, a chemical manufacturer, hired private investigators to conduct a two-year corporate espionage campaign against the environmental group Greenpeace, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday in federal district court in Washington.

The investigators stole documents from locked trash bins, tapped phones and hacked into computer networks, and operatives posing as activists infiltrated Greenpeace offices and meetings, the suit claims.

Islands See ‘End of History’ as Goals Slip at UN Climate Talks

The Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu risk extinction from rising seas because nations aren’t stepping up commitments to cut greenhouse gases, a bloc of 43 island countries said as United Nations climate talks began in Mexico.