Argentina’s decision to seize YPF, the South American division of Spain’s Repsol, has riled markets around the world. Leaders in Brazil and Mexico expressed dismay that a fellow Latin American nation had reverted to the old banana republic days. Spain angrily vowed retaliation but in Buenos Aeries pasted-up posters declared “Spain angrily vowed retaliation but in Buenos Aeries pasted-up posters (above) declared “YPF is Ours.”
Scandal has suddenly engulfed Chesapeake Energy, America’s second-largest drilling company, as it was revealed that CEO and co-founder Aubrey McClendon has taken unauthorized loans of over $1 billion out of the company treasury. Chesapeake stock plunged to a three-year low on the news. Company officials promised that stockholders were protected in case McClendon defaulted on the loans but investors were not reassured. “The CEO serves himself first,” declared Forbes’ Francine McKenna.
The EPA entered the world of natural gas fracking by issuing regulations governing air and water emissions. The Agency tread lightly, however, aware of the election-year implications of disrupting America’s biggest energy boom. Drillers will be allowed to flare their gas until 2015, giving them time to purchase the necessary equipment. Reaction to the new rules was generally mixed, although Paul Tullis of Bloomberg speculates that the EPA may have avoided a more serious backlash from fracking opponents.
The effort to export liquid natural gas moved ahead smartly with federal approval of Cheniere’s LNG terminal at Sabine Pass, Louisiana, the first new facility in the US in 40 years. The Toronto Globe and Mail called it a “release valve” for North American gas surpluses. But Bert Kalisch, president of the American Public Gas Association, complained that selling gas abroad would raise the price for public utility customers in the US. And James Hall of Market Oracle saw a vast conspiracy by the oil companies to prevent a conversion of American vehicles to natural gas.
Finally, dueling reports are measuring the impact of a conversion to electric vehicles. The Union of Concerned Scientists claims that EVs will be cleaner than gas-powered cars, even if they are recharged by coal-burning power plants. Pike Research claims a $1200-per-year savings in gas, but Forbes’ Tom Konrad says he is skeptical. And UCS also says that the benefits of reduced pollution will be greater in cities than in rural areas. China has outlined ambitious plans for putting a million hybrids on the road by 2020 but South Africa has abandoned plans to develop the government sponsored Joule. If you’re looking for indicators here, the signs are still mixed.