In today’s edition, Russia steels the limelight again, with Vladimir Putin’s trip next week to China in search of support, especially since talks with Ukraine and Europe show no progress. Also, Canada seemed to protect its interests first, and apply sanctions on Russia after. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, President Obama is considering an approach that would require a cut, in two stages, of 25 percent in emissions for power-plants – a way to test the law in this respect, which can be interpreted in various ways.
Quote of the day
“The aim of this visit is not to discuss the Ukraine issue. You can’t describe China’s position (on Ukraine) as one of support for Russia or lack of support for Russia. It’s a very complex issue and China has not taken sides.”
Zhang Deguang, honorary chairman of the Foreign Ministry-backed China Foundation for International Studies and a former Chinese ambassador to Russia, in the Reuters’ story Cold-shouldered by West, Putin will hope for some China sympathy
Russia and Ukraine gas talks stall
Jack Farchy, Kathrin Hille and Roman Olearchyk
Russian president Vladimir Putin made a fresh appeal to European countries to step up efforts to resolve a gas dispute with Ukraine, highlighting the lack of progress less than three weeks before a threatened supply cut.
Cold-shouldered by West, Putin will hope for some China sympathy
Ben Blanchard and Thomas Grove, Reuters
Increasingly isolated by the West over Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin will hope for a sympathetic ear on a visit next week to China, which is also being more assertive in its territorial disputes with smaller neighbours.
Canada trimmed Russia sanctions to protect business interests
David Ljunggren and Euan Rocha, Reuters
Canada broke with the United States and did not impose sanctions on two key allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin because the pair had Canadian business interests, according to sources familiar with the matter.
***LB: Also in this story “Canada has not moved against Sergei Chemezov, who heads state-owned industrial and defense conglomerate Rostec, and Igor Sechin, CEO of oil giant Rosneft. Both men, who are close to Putin, have business ties to Canada.”
Russia could privatise Rosneft stake this year – paper
Russia could privatise a 19.5 percent stake in top oil producer Rosneft this year or in 2015, earlier than planned, Russia’s Vedomosti newspaper quoted government sources as saying on Friday.
Obama Said to Consider Power-Plant Rule That Tests Law
Mark Drajem, Jim Snyder and Jonathan Allen, Bloomberg
The Obama administration is considering cutting greenhouse-gas emissions from power plants by reaching beyond the plants themselves — an unusual approach that could run afoul of anti-pollution laws.
***LB: Also in this story “According to two people familiar with the discussions, the administration is considering an approach that would require a cut of 25 percent in emissions in two stages. ”
China Targets 70 Gigawatts of Solar Power to Cut Coal Reliance
China, the world’s biggest carbon emitter, plans to speed up solar power development, targeting a more than tripling of installed capacity to 70 gigawatts by 2017 to cut its reliance on coal.
Drought and Hurricanes Bigger Threats for World’s Top Companies
Justin Doom, Bloomberg
Drought, hurricanes and rising seas are becoming more significant threats to the world’s biggest companies and the risk is accelerating, according to the Carbon Disclosure Project.
***LB: Also in this story “Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ:US) said sales (HPQ:US) slipped as much as 7 percent after floods in Thailand in 2011 led to a shortage in disc-drive components.”
Noble Profit Triples as Volatility Raises Trade Margins
Yuriy Humber, Bloomberg
Noble Group Ltd., Asia’s biggest commodity trader by revenue, said first-quarter profit more than tripled as higher price volatility helped boost margins and losses from its agriculture unit narrowed.
***LB: Also in this story “Noble is allocating more resources to its more profitable energy and metals units and selling control in the agriculture division to China’s Cofco Corp. for $1.5 billion.”
Whitworth Buys 3.5% Holding in B/E Aerospace Amid Review
Beth Jinks and Julie Johnsson, Bloomberg
Relational Investors LLC, the activist fund co-founded by Ralph Whitworth and David Batchelder, disclosed a stake of about 3.5 percent in B/E Aerospace Inc. (BEAV:US) as the maker of aircraft seats conducts a strategic review.
***LB: Also in this story “It also has made a foray into the oil and gas equipment-distribution business.”
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Obama Said to Put Personal Push Behind EPA Emission Rules
Lisa Lerer and Julianna Goldman, Bloomberg
U.S. President Barack Obama plans to personally unveil proposed carbon-emissions rules for power plants, elevating climate change policy as a top tier issue for his final two years in office, according to two people familiar with White House strategy.
EPA toughening oil refinery regulations
Benjamin Goad, The Hill
The Environmental Protection Agency moved Thursday to beef up air quality regulations for oil refineries, an action officials said would cut toxic emissions by 5,600 tons per year.
California carbon slips to $11.73 as traders eye auction
Rory Carroll, Reuters
California’s benchmark carbon contract slipped 8 cents from its close one day earlier to settle at $11.73 a tonne on Thursday as traders positioned themselves ahead of Friday’s state-run allowance auction, where permits are expected to clear near the floor price.
NZ carbon jumps 25 pct on unexpected rule change
Stian Reklev, Reuters
Carbon permits in New Zealand’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) jumped 25 percent to close at a five-month high of NZ$3.90 ($3.37) on Friday, as traders reacted to an overnight rule change that is likely to tighten supply.
Natural gas / Coal
Russia’s Lukoil to drill for tight gas deep beneath Saudi desert
Reem Shamseddine, The Daily Star (Lebanon)
Russia’s Lukoil is set to drill deep for unconventional gas in Saudi Arabia’s challenging “Empty Quarter” desert region early next year after a decade-long hunt for conventional deposits that has proved futile.
WestSide in Talks With Potential Rivals to Landbridge Offer
James Paton, Bloomberg
WestSide Corp., the target of a A$178 million ($166 million) takeover bid from China’s Landbridge Group Co., said it’s in talks with companies that may lead to a higher offer for the coal-seam gas explorer.
Dominion LNG Export Project Clears U.S. Environmental Review
Brian Wingfield, Bloomberg
Dominion Resources (D) Inc.’s plan to export liquefied natural gas cleared a U.S. environmental review, a key step toward final approval as supporters in Congress seek to expedite overseas shipments of the fuel.
Tom Albanese lays out plans to fix Vedanta’s problems
James Wilson, The Financial Times
Tom Albanese has laid out his plans for leading Vedanta Resources, insisting the diversified energy and mining group can rectify a series of operational and licence problems that have dogged its recent performance.
Pain of private equity’s TXU disaster fades amid renewed interest
Henny Sender and Ed Crooks, The Financial Times
In 2007 David Foley, head of energy investing for Blackstone, passed on joining in the biggest leveraged buyout of all time: the $48bn bid for TXU, the Texas utility. Just over a fortnight ago his decision was vindicated.
***LB: Also in this story “Private equity investment in energy, including oil and gas, power plants, utilities, and renewables such as wind farms, dropped from $19.3bn worldwide in 2012 to $13.1bn last year”
Hong Kong’s NWS says to sell $612 mln Macau power stake to Beijing
Hong Kong’s NWS Holdings Ltd plans to sell its interest in a Macau power supplier to a China state-owned company in a deal worth $612 million, as the transport-to-energy operator focuses on water and related businesses.
Netherlands’ largest offshore wind farm powers forward
Jessica Shankleman, BusinessGreen
Plans for the biggest Dutch offshore wind farm to date have taken a major step forward after the consortium of developers behind the 600MW scheme signed 2.8bn euros worth of contracts.
Tesla Model S is like a rocket to the future
David Ebner, The Globe and Mail
Driving the Sea to Sky Highway out of West Vancouver, cresting above Horseshoe Bay and arcing northward to Whistler, the Tesla Model S feels like the future.
Elon Musk sees nearly unlimited demand for energy storage
David R. Baker, SF Gate
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk said Wednesday that the world will need to build several lithium-ion battery factories to meet a “quasi-infinite demand for energy storage.”
Tesla Edges Out Toyota as California’s Top Auto Employer
As quietly as one of its electric cars, Tesla Motors Inc. (TSLA) has become the biggest auto-industry employer in California.
Lawmakers file conference report on $8.2B water bill
Keith Laing, The Hill
Lawmakers have filed a conference report on an $8.2 billion bill to boost U.S. ports and waterways, setting the stage for final passage of the measure next week.
U.S. Sewer Costs Increase 5.5 Percent in 2013, Industry Survey Reveals
Brett Walton, Circle of Blue
Clean water is getting more expensive. Average sewer charges for U.S. households increased 5.5 percent in 2013 to $US 435 per year, according to an annual survey from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, a group that represents the wastewater industry.
Drought may slash US corn gains
Tim Radford, Climate News Network
Corn yields are on the increase in the United States − but so is the crop’s sensitivity to drought. Scientists calculate that, as things stand, crops could lose 15 percent of their yield within 50 years. And if the trend toward drought-sensitivity continues, as much as 30 percent of the yield could be lost as the world warms and droughts become more frequent or more severe.
Tepco to Begin Piping Groundwater Into Sea to Avoid Irradiation
Jacob Adelman, Blommberg
Tokyo Electric Power (9501) Co. will begin releasing groundwater from its Fukushima site into the sea as soon as next week, a diversion aimed at stopping the water from becoming contaminated by the plant’s wrecked nuclear reactors.
Examining How Marine Life Might Adapt to Acidified Oceans
Elizabeth Grossman, environment360
As the world’s oceans grow more acidic from increased absorption of atmospheric carbon dioxide, marine scientists are confronting a key question: How well can organisms like mollusks, crustaceans, and corals adapt to these more corrosive conditions?
IMF Pegs Canada’s Fossil Fuel Subsidies at $34 Billion
Mitchell Anderson, TheTyee.ca
While Canada slashes budgets for research, education and public broadcasting, there is one part of our economy that enjoys remarkable support from the Canadian taxpayer: the energy sector.
Canada: Pipeline firms will pick up spill costs
Pipeline companies will be liable for all costs and damages from a spill, regardless of fault or negligence under a new law, the Canadian government announced Wednesday, as it appears set to approve a controversial pipeline.
Ban cigarette filters to curb hazardous tobacco waste, say researchers
Ban cigarette filters. Start a deposit-return scheme for used butts. Hold manufacturers responsible for clean-ups. Place warnings on packets about the impact of simply flicking one’s used cigarettes away.