In The Pipeline 7/20/11

My math is always a little shaky, but it you carry the one . . . you still wind up about a million short of the President’s “goal” of 1 million electric vehicles by whenever Los Angeles Times (7/19/11) reports: When it comes to sales of electric vehicles, Nissan’s Leaf is charging ahead…Nissan Motor Co. has sold 4,134 of the battery-powered electric cars this year. General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet, by comparison, has sold 2,745 of its Volt car, which is technically a plug-in hybrid because it runs on electricity for about 40 miles before a gasoline-fueled generator kicks in to extend the vehicle’s range…Fans of the pure electric vehicles, rather than plug-in hybrid models such as the Volt, should be pleased, said Mike Omotoso, an auto industry analyst at J.D. Power & Associates…”The Leaf outselling the Volt helps the EV movement. The more Nissan sells, the more Leafs people will see on the road, and that might encourage others to take the plunge and buy an electric vehicle,” he said…Indeed, the electric car market is about to grow. Nissan and Chevrolet are ramping up production. In addition, other automakers have battery electric and plug-in offerings set to hit dealerships over the next 18 months, including the Mitsubishi iMiEV, the Ford Focus Electric, the Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid, the Honda Fit EV and a plug-in hybrid version of the Honda Fit, according to market analysis firm Automotive Lease Group…Leaf sales are helped by a lower cost — a sticker price starting at $33,630 compared with the Volt’s $41,000. And the Leaf has an added benefit for California buyers. It qualifies for a carpool-lane sticker, whereas the Volt is not expected to get that certification until midway through the 2012 model year. Both vehicles qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit.

Winning the Future: China dives three miles down into the Pacific to catalogue their under water treasures — natural resources Wall Street Journal (7/20/11) reports: China plans an ultradeep dive by a manned submersible beneath the Pacific that would propel it past the U.S. in a race to explore potentially vast mineral resources in the deepest parts of the world’s oceans…The Jiaolong—named after a mythical sea-dragon—left China on board an oceanographic research ship on July 1. It arrived on Saturday at its destination in the northeastern Pacific, between Hawaii and North America, where it is to attempt a dive to 5,000 meters, or about 16,400 feet, according to state media reports…The state-run Xinhua news agency on Saturday quoted Liu Feng, the director of the diving trials, as saying the sea was too rough to attempt the first of its planned four dives before Wednesday. “We’ll use this time to do our preparatory work down to the last detail, and as soon as sea conditions improve, we’ll start sea trials,” he was quoted as saying…Xinhua quoted Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration, on Saturday that a “marvel” of Chinese manned submergence would occur in the next 15 days. The administration, which is overseeing the mission, didn’t respond to a request to comment.

Continued: Chinese company buys Canadian oil-sands developer for $2.1 billion Wall Street Journal (7/20/11) reports: Cnooc Ltd., China’s biggest offshore oil and gas producer, said Wednesday that it agreed to acquire Canadian oil-sands developer OPTI Canada Inc. at a cost of about US$2.1 billion…The deal is the latest of a string of Chinese energy acquisitions in Canada, although it comes just weeks after the collapse of a planned $5.5 billion shale gas deal after Encana Corp. and PetroChina Co. failed to agree on terms…Cnooc said in a statement it will make the purchase through its wholly owned unit Cnooc Luxembourg SA. The deal, under which Cnooc will buy OPTI’s outstanding shares for $34 million and acquire its debt of a little over $2 billion, will be completed in the fourth quarter, but is subject to regulatory approval in Canada and China…On July 14, OPTI filed for Canada’s version of bankruptcy protection after its senior bondholders agreed to a debt-for-equity swap…”The transaction strengthens our Canadian presence in the oil sands business. We believe that upside potential of the assets will facilitate local energy supply and our production growth in the long term,” said Cnooc Chief Executive Yang Hua…The principal assets of OPTI Canada are a 35% working interest in the Long Lake oil sands reserve and three other project areas located in the Athabasca region of Alberta…The Athabasca region holds an estimated 170 billion barrels of a type of heavy crude oil that requires heat, steam or chemicals to extract it from sandy deposits…OPTI Canada’s working interest share, before royalties, of raw bitumen reserves and resources on its oil sands leases is estimated to be 195 million barrels of proved reserves, the statement said. These reserves and resources are estimated to be sufficient to support about 430,000 barrels per day of bitumen production.

As if having an oversupply of attractive women is not enough, it was announced that Venezuela has the largest oil reserves of OPEC nationsCNBC (7/20/11) reports: OPEC’s proven crude oil reserves rose 12.1 percent in 2010 to 1.19 trillion barrels led by Venezuela, which has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the group’s largest reserves holder, OPEC said in its Annual Statistical Bulletin…The latest figures are unlikely to quell scepticism about reserves estimates from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, some of which analysts say may be exaggerated although the producers deny doing so…OPEC’s growth in oil reserves was mainly due to Venezuela, whose holdings climbed to 296.5 billion barrels from 211.2 billion in 2009, the report said. Top OPEC exporter Saudi Arabia’s reserves were steady at 264.5 billion barrels…Iran and Iraq also boosted their reserves last year. In October, Iran increased its reserves to 150 billion barrels within a week of an upward revision by Iraq, ensuring that Tehran continued to rank above Baghdad…”OPEC has a fantastic history of competitive reserves upgrades,” said Bill Farren-Price, analyst at Petroleum Policy Intelligence…Reserves are one of the criteria OPEC has used in setting output targets. Iran and Iraq were rivals in the past over OPEC quotas, and OPEC in the next few years is expected to tackle the issue of bringing Iraq back into the quota system. Iraq is exempt at present…Iraq boosted its reserves to 143 billion barrels last year, up 24 percent, the report said. Iraq has said its reserves increased as work by international oil companies started to yield results.

Sure, because the real problem here is position limits.  How in the world do Commissioners O’Malia and Sommers tolerate Gensler? E&E News (7/19/11) reports: Lawmakers who point to oil futures trading as a key culprit behind this spring’s uptick in gas costs will get a chance to delve more deeply into the politics of pump prices at a Thursday hearing on the Obama administration’s new nominee to join the Commodity Futures Trading Commission…Appearing before the Senate Agriculture Committee on the first anniversary of the financial reform law that he helped steer through Congress, CFTC nominee Mark Wetjen is expected to face questions from both sides of the aisle on the implementation of that statute’s futures trading limits. As gas prices climbed toward an average of $4 per gallon earlier this year, Democrats clamored for CFTC action to curb oil speculation, charging Wall Street hedgers with driving up costs for everyday consumers as a response to frequent GOP attacks on U.S. EPA pollution regulations…Amid that political back-and-forth, Wetjen was nominated to take the place of Michael Dunn, who is seen as a swing vote on oil futures regulation (E&E Daily, May 13). A former top adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Wetjen would appear to represent a more reliable pro-Democratic vote for CFTC chief Gary Gensler but could face pressure to moderate his views on speculative trading to avoid putting his confirmation at risk…Gensler sought to assure the Agriculture panel last month that CFTC would act “as soon as we humanly can” on a mandate in the financial reform law to set limits on oil and other commodities trading. But committee Democrats were not pleased by the commission’s plans to delay regulation that was initially set to take effect this summer, telling Gensler — and likely Wetjen — as much.

Hey, if you’re going to get paid to lie, you might as well be good at it. EDP (7/19/11) reports: Neil Wallis, managing director of consumer agency the Outside Organisation and former News of the World executive editor, became the ninth person to be arrested in connection with the scandal on Thursday…The 60-year-old, who was deputy editor under Andy Coulson’s editorship, was detained in a dawn raid on his west London home and questioned for several hours at Hammersmith police station…The EDP has discovered that Wallis, who joined Outside Organisation in October 2009 as a senior consultant, was used by the UEA following the Climategate scandal which broke out in 2009 following the leak of thousands of emails which climate change sceptics claimed showed data had been manipulated in favour of man-made climate change…A UEA spokesman confirmed Wallis did give them advice following the scandal which last year saw Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit cleared by a committee of MPs of hiding or manipulating data to back up his own science…The revelation came on another extraordinary day in the phone hacking scandal as Rebekah Brooks finally resigned as chief executive of News International amid growing political and commercial pressure on the company and owner Rupert Murdoch prepared to use adverts in national newspapers today to apologise for the NoW’s “serious wrongdoing”.

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