Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to India has put the spotlight on the awakening Asian giant’s energy prospects. Clinton is counting on improving US-India relations to persuade the subcontinent to cut its oil imports from Iran. Depending on whom you read, India either is or is not prepared to cooperate. Meanwhile, India’s efforts to develop its own energy resources are showing the typical birth pangs. Coal of India, the government corporation that is the world’s largest producer, is still in a primitive state (above) but the Federal of India Chambers of Commerce and Industry is urging privatization. The country has now installed 3000 MW of wind power but a report from the Council on Energy, Environment and Water and the Natural Resources Defense Council doubts that solar targets can be met. Either way, as the Brisbane Times expresses it, “the giant energy maw must be fed.”
Thousands cheered in Japan as the announcement came that the country’s last nuclear reactor has been closed. Japan is not nuclear-free for the first time since 1970. Now the country is awaiting summer to see how the power system holds up. It is also devouring huge quantities of imported coal and liquid natural gas. Asks Bryan Walsh of Time, “Does this mean goodbye nuclear, hello more carbon?”
As Chesapeake Energy’s troubles mount, its largest shareholder, Southern Asset Management, is urging the board of directors to entertain offers to sell. Suzanne McGee of Fiscal Times calls CEO Aubrey McClendon “the poster boy of bad governance.” Gas future prices have finally risen slightly but the fracking industry continues to get it from both sides. While industry officials fear a price collapse, Yves Smith of EconoMonitor asks whether shale isn’t the next subprime mortgage meltdown? At the same time, Homeland Security reveals that gas pipelines have been under cyber-attack since last December.
Mergers and acquisitions continued to dot the energy skyline as MarkWest Energy will pay $512 million for Keystone Midstream and Crosstex Energy will pay $210 million for Clearfield Energy. Carl Icahn’s $2.6 billion offer for CVR Energy has also been accepted. After receiving permission from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to build at LNG terminal in Louisiana, Cheniere Energy has landed $580 in investment capital form two giant Asian companies. Meanwhile, Energy Conversion, a Detroit manufacturer of solar rooftop materials, has laid off 300 workers and is preparing to file for bankruptcy.
Finally, the Clean Energy Standard Bill, filed by retiring New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman, is receiving mixed reviews from environmental groups. Joseph Romm’s Climate Progress says it would lower carbon emissions by 44 percent, but the Sierra Club is skeptical, both because the bill acknowledges nuclear and supports natural gas. Apparently chastened by its $20 million flirtation with Chesapeake’s Aubrey McClendon, the Club is not opposing natural gas along with everything else. Most observers give the Bingaman effort very little chance of passage.