Western sanctions against Russia seem to bite in today’s edition, as Moscow now wants its exports to be paid in roubles, not dollars, to reduce the hold the West has on Russian economy. A bit of excitement, compared to the eulogies media are giving on the Keystone pipeline’s vote this year. And also a ray of hope, especially for big gas players, as China’s LNG demand should confirm their investment strategy. 

Quote of the day

 “Calls by high-ranking Western leaders to isolate Russia (are) practically destroying the Russian banking sector, using modern ‘nuclear weaponry’ – dollar payments.” 

Andrei Kostin, chairman of Russia’s second largest bank VTB, in backing the rouble payment idea to reduce the West’s hold over the Russian economy, in the Reuters’ story Russia, wary of sanctions, wants exporters to be paid in roubles 


Lead stories

Russia, wary of sanctions, wants exporters to be paid in roubles 
Gleb Stolyarov, Reuters 
Russia, keen to dodge threatened Western sanctions against its companies over the Ukraine crisis, said on Wednesday it was looking at ways to make its major state-owned exporters such as energy giants receive payment in roubles.

Russian Slowdown to Shield Europe From Ukraine Gas Cuts 
Isis Almeida, Bloomberg 
European natural gas traders are betting Russia’s economy can’t afford to lose more than $100 billion if the crisis in Ukraine escalates, reducing the odds of a long-lasting supply cut to the former Soviet nation.  
***LB: Also in this story “Gas futures in the U.K., Europe’s biggest market, declined 19 percent since Russia invaded Crimea in February and tumbled last week to the lowest since 2010.”

Gazprom’s 24% Rally at Risk on Ukraine Gas Prepayment Demand
Halia Pavliva, Bloomberg 
OAO Gazprom’s 24 percent rally from this year’s low in March will probably end soon as the crisis in Ukraine threatens to disrupt the Russian gas producer’s exports, according to Sberbank Asset Management.

U.S. Agents Start Hunting for Sanctioned Russians’ ‘Shiny Toys’
Prashant Gopal, Bloomberg 
The Department of Homeland Security has begun a search for planes, yachts, mansions and other U.S. belongings of Russians facing Ukraine-related sanctions.

Biden’s son joining Ukraine gas company isn’t U.S. endorsement
Justin Sink, The Hill
Ukraine’s largest private gas producer has appointed Vice President Biden’s youngest son, Hunter, to a position on its board of directors. Burisma Holdings said Biden would head the company’s legal unit and provide support for the organization “among international organizations.”

China LNG demand a bright spot as producers weigh major investments 
Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, Reuters
China’s imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) are growing at a record pace as it aims to use cleaner fuels to cut smog in big cities, creating a powerful new source of demand that has the potential to reshape the market for the super-chilled gas.  
***LB: Also in this story “Rising Chinese demand gives LNG producers such as Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and Total a crucial new sales avenue as they weigh whether to go ahead with $180 billion in investments into potential new or expanded LNG projects.”

Energy secretary: US considering crude oil exports
Laura Barron-Lopez, The Hill
The U.S. is weighing whether lifting a decades-old ban on crude oil exports is viable in the current domestic production landscape, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said Tuesday.

McConnell puts Reid on the spot for Keystone 
Laura Barron-Lopez, TheHill
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said all Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has to do for the Senate to move forward on Keystone XL is change his attitude.

Keystone dead for year?
Laura Barron-Lopez , The Hill
The Senate’s inability to move forward with an energy efficiency bill on Monday has likely killed any chance of an upper chamber vote on constructing the Keystone XL pipeline this year.  
***LB: Also in this story ““Keystone is not going to become law under this president””.

Bills would beef up safety regs for spent nuclear fuel 
Benjamin Goad, The Hill 
Lawmakers are pressing to bolster regulations for spent nuclear fuel, contending that pools left to languish for decades at decommissioning plants could prove disastrous in the event of an accident or terrorist attack.

Industry says renewables can boost EU energy security
European trade bodies have called on Commission President José Manuel Barroso to recognise the role renewables can play in boosting EU energy security.  
***LB: Also in this story “The EU spent 545bn euros on energy imports in 2012, but this bill would have been 30bn euros higher without the use of renewables for electricity and heating.”

Alliance Trust Investments unveils ‘UK’s first’ risk profiled sustainable funds 
Alliance Trust Investments will launch two funds later this year to complete what it claims to be the first sustainable and responsible investments (SRI) fund range in the UK to be risk profiled.  
***LB: Also in this story “Foresight, Greencoat, NextEnergy, True Green, the Renewables Infrastructure Group, and John Laing have all launched multi-million pound green energy funds in the past year.”

Climate change poses growing threat of conflict in the Arctic, report finds 
Suzanne Goldenberg, the
Climate change poses a growing security threat and could cause conflict in the Arctic, a group of retired American generals and admirals said on Tuesday.  
***LB: Also in this story “The prospect of an ice-free Arctic by mid-century had set off a scramble for shipping lanes by Russia and China especially, and for access to oil and other resources.”

Climate Change Deemed Growing Security Threat by Military Researchers
Coral Davenport, The New York Times
The accelerating rate of climate change poses a severe risk to national security and acts as a catalyst for global political conflict, a report published Tuesday by a leading government-funded military research organization concluded.  
***LB: Also in this story “In addition, the report predicted that an increase in catastrophic weather events around the world will create more demand for American troops, even as flooding and extreme weather events at home could damage naval ports and military bases.”


Minnesota’s Marquee Solar Event
The Midwest Solar Expo is bringing together solar leaders from across the Midwest to advance dialogue on key issues, provide insight on the latest industry trends and best practices, and serve as a nexus between the solar industry and the public.
May 16, 2014
Minneapolis, Minnesota   

EMA’s 18th Annual Meeting 
Join the Environmental Markets Association and environmental industry professional for two days of dynamic sessions, two nights of networking receptions, and countless opportunities to increase your business contacts. 
October 22 – 24, 2014
Santa Monica, CA 


Pollution plagues China’s Baoding despite bid to clean up act
David Stanway, Reuters
Seven years ago, the Chinese city of Baoding launched an ambitious “low-carbon” plan using renewables like solar power to light its streets and heat residential buildings, putting it at the forefront of the country’s battle to cut pollution.

Clean energy and conservation cuts in budget broken promises, say (Australian) agencies 
Oliver Millman, 
The government has been accused of breaking its word by cutting key clean energy and conservation programs in the budget, amid fears that renewable energy projects will be forced to go overseas for funding or perish.

Natural Gas/Coal 

Coal rules will devastate, say biz groups
Timothy Cama, The Hill 
The Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon dioxide limits for new power plants will devastate the economy by leading to a steep surge in energy prices, the coal industry and its allies warned. 
***LB: Also in this story “In comments to the EPA that were due on Friday, the American Coal Council said the new standards would essentially take coal off the market as a power source for new plants.” 

Oil Search Sees Exxon LNG Project Shipments Starting Shortly
James Paton, Bloomberg
Oil Search Ltd., Exxon Mobil Corp.’s partner in a $19 billion liquefied natural gas export project in Papua New Guinea, expects shipments to Asia to start shortly with the initial cargoes sold on the spot market.

Petronas in talks on further Canada LNG stake sale, Q1 profit dips 
Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional (Petronas) is in talks with several companies to sell a 10-12 percent stake in its planned $11 billion Canadian liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal, the state firm said on Wednesday, as it announced a fall in its first-quarter net profit.

Encana returns to first-quarter profit on higher gas prices 
Rebecca Penty, Bloomberg 
Encana Corp., Canada’s largest natural gas producer, returned to a first-quarter profit as prices for the heating and power-plant fuel rose.

Former Aussie coal magnate stages major comeback with $150m acquisition
Cecilia Jamasmie,
Nathan Tinkler, the Australian electrician turned mining entrepreneur, has made a surprise return to the coal market buying Peabody Energy’s (NYSE:BTU) Wilkie Creek mine in Queensland in a $150 million deal.


Gamesa Wins 100-Megawatt Wind Turbine Order in China
Alex Morales, Bloomberg
Gamesa Corp Tecnologica SA won an order for 100 megawatts of wind turbines from a unit of General Nuclear Power Group in China’s Yunnan province, its third order in two months in the world’s biggest market for the machines.

RWE profit tumbles as German energy upheaval grinds on
Christoph Steitz, Reuters
RWE, Germany’s second-biggest utility, said first-quarter operating profit fell by almost a fifth, offering no prospect for a fast recovery from a power sector shakeup that has more than halved the company’s market value in four years.

Austrian Utility Plans to Mothball Several Power Plants
Jan Hromadko, The Wall Street Journal 
Austrian electricity utility Verbund AG Wednesday announced plans to mothball or permanently shut around 2.5 gigawatt of power generation capacity to minimize losses at the power plants that are being squeezed out by subsidized renewable energies.

(Poland’s) PGE Sees Profit at Up to $3 Billion as Power Prices to Increase 
Maciej Martewicz, Bloomberg 
PGE SA, Poland’s biggest utility, expects profits to climb to a record in coming years as the country’s accelerating economic growth is set to boost demand for electricity and increase power prices.

Why the power grid will remain reliable without coal plants
John Moore and Allison Clements, (blog) 
In the grip of the polar vortex, much of the nation experienced an extremely cold winter. The good news is that despite record electricity demand and some of the coldest weather in 20 years, power companies and grid operators kept the lights and heat on.

Sharp rise in percentage of onshore windfarms being rejected
Adam Vaughan, the Guardian
The percentage of onshore windfarms being rejected rose dramatically in the UK last year, leading the renewable energy trade body to accuse the Conservative party of “heavy-handed intervention” in the planning process.


5 crowdsourced clean tech energy projects to watch
Christina DesMarais, 
Crowdfunding can give a new boost to clean tech projects that might otherwise fail to attract attention from traditional sources of funding. Instead of relying on government or billionaire investment in huge companies, lots of environmentally conscious people are investing in clean tech startups that are gambling to win.


(Australia’s) Coalition plans to devolve protection of water supplies to the states
Oliver Millman, 
The federal government wants to hand safeguards protecting water supplies from large coal mining projects to the states and territories, in a move bitterly opposed by the Greens, environmental groups and the former independent MP Tony Windsor. 

MAP: The World’s Water Scarcity Problem Is Bad And Getting Worse
Richard Ingham, Anthony Lucas, AFP
The next time your throat is as dry as a bone and the sun is beating down, take a glass of clean, cool water. Savor it. Sip by sip.


COLUMN-China the hidden culprit behind Australia’s tough budget
Clyde Russell, Reuters
Many Australians will castigate the country’s new conservative government for a tough first budget that saw cuts to welfare and hikes to taxes, but some of the blame lies with China.  
***LB: Also in this story “Australia’s two biggest export earners are iron ore and coal, and they will be joined by liquefied natural gas (LNG) once the seven projects currently under construction are operating.”

Gore blames Koch brothers for GOP position on climate
Mario Trujillo, The Hill
Former Vice President Al Gore blamed Republicans’ fear of crossing the mega-donor Koch brothers for the GOP’s skepticism on climate change.

Rubio clarifies climate change comments
Alexandra Jaffe, The Hill
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) acknowledged that the Earth’s climate is changing but asserted that legislative policy proposals can’t defuse the impacts of climate change during a Tuesday appearance at the National Press Club.


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