April 28 News: Interest in hybrids rises with gas prices; Blowout could spill 58 million gallons in Arctic; Big Oil profits soar

Interest in hybrid vehicles grows with gas prices

Hybrids are hot.

Web searches for information about hybrid vehicles at have shot up more than 100% year- to-date compared with a year earlier.

The increase is linked to soaring gasoline prices but still is “remarkable” especially considering that the number of hybrids featured on the auto information website has not risen, said.

The Web traffic numbers for subcompact and compact conventional gasoline engine cars rose 71% and 20% respectively during the same time frame.

Meanwhile, interest in trucks has fallen 17.6% and interest in large SUVs is down 13%.

The national average price of gasoline stands at $3.87 a gallon, up from $2.85 a gallon a year ago, according to the American Automobile Assn.

Blowout could spill 58 million gallons in Arctic

The federal agency overseeing offshore drilling in Alaska says the worst-case scenario for a blowout in the Chukchi Sea lease could result in a spill of more than 58 million gallons of oil into Arctic waters.

That’s about a quarter of the Deepwater Horizon spill, which put 206 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But it’s far more than Shell Oil “” the major leaseholder in waters off Alaska’s northwest coast “” says it could handle under its current response plan.

When applying for exploratory permits, Shell was required to prepare for a maximum spill of 231,000 gallons per day. The company says its fleet of on-site responders “” including boats, barges, skimmers, and a tanker that can hold 21 million gallons of recovered liquids “” can handle a spill of 504,000 gallons per day.

But according to the memo prepared by the Alaska office of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, a worst-case scenario blowout could initially discharge about 2.6 million gallons per day.

Exxon earns nearly $11 billion in 1Q

Exxon says it earned nearly $11 billion in the first quarter, a performance that will likely land it in the center of the national debate over high gasoline prices.

The world’s largest publicly traded company on Thursday reported net income of $10.65 billion, or $2.14 per share, in the first three months of the year. That compares with $6.3 billion, or 1.33 per share. Revenue increased 26 percent to $114 billion.

Analysts had expected earnings of $2.04 per share on sales of $112.6 billion, according to FactSet.

The quarter was Exxon Mobil Corp.’s best since earning a record-setting $14.83 billion in 2008’s third quarter. It comes at a time when some drivers are paying $4 or more for gas and President Obama is threatening the oil industry’s multi-billion tax subsidies.

Shell profits jump on higher oil price

Shell said current cost of supply (CCS) increased to $6.9bn (£4.1bn) in the first three months of the year from $4.9bn in a year earlier.

Oil prices are up around 40pc over the past year buoyed by tensions in North Africa and the Middle East.

Shell, the largest shipper of liquefied natural gas (LNG), also benefited from higher LNG prices following the Japanese earthquake. Demand the country is expected to growth following the current crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The results from Europe’s largest oil and gas company by market value compared well with rival BP. BP posted a 2pc fall in replacement cost net profit on Wednesday due to lower production after selling assets to pay for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Shell said oil and gas production for the first quarter fell 3pc compared with the 2010 period, due to divestments. However, production from new start-ups in the three months rose by some 230,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day.

ConocoPhillips 1Q earnings jump 43 percent

ConocoPhillips said Wednesday that first-quarter earnings rose 43 percent as higher oil and gasoline prices made up for a sharp decline in production.

The results weren’t as strong as Wall Street had expected, however, and shares fell almost 2 percent.

Conoco, the third-largest U.S. oil company, earned $3 billion in the first three months of the year. Production dropped, however, as the Houston company shed assets to focus on developing oil fields in North America.

Raymond James analyst Pavel Molchanov said Conoco picked a good time to rearrange its operations. The price of oil has risen so high “” 17 percent to nearly $107 at the end of March “” that companies like Conoco were able to earn more money while producing less oil. And higher prices also elevated the value of its assets.

“It’s a real seller’s market right now,” Molchanov said. Oil companies have “found it not only easy to sell properties but at prices that perhaps a year ago would have seemed unrealistically high.”

Hess Sees 1Q Profit Soar, Reports Ghana Deep-water Find

Hess Corp. (HES) reported first-quarter earnings soared 73% as the oil and gas company’s exploration and production operations benefited from stronger oil prices, offsetting continued weakness at its refining and marketing business.

The New York-based oil company also said Wednesday that it had struck hydrocarbons at a deep-water field off the coast of Ghana. The results are preliminary, as the well is not finished yet, but the discovery, in addition …

Harry Reid wants Senate vote on oil incentives

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wants the full Senate to consider repealing oil and gas industry tax incentives next month.

Reid is backing President Barack Obama’s effort to repeal roughly $4 billion in annual tax incentives for the industry “” and potentially move that money toward renewable and clean energy projects.

He will bring up such a plan “as soon as I can do it procedurally in the Senate here,” he told reporters in a conference call Wednesday.

Obama “” in a letter to congressional leaders Tuesday “” said one way to address gas prices is eliminating those industry incentives and “invest that revenue into clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Grassley calls for united front on tax credits for wind energy

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley on Wednesday told wind-energy advocates in Des Moines that they should make a united push for continued tax credits in Congress to avoid political problems that face the ethanol industry.

“Ethanol is partly in trouble … because the ethanol industry is divided,” Grassley, R-Ia., told the Iowa Wind Energy Association conference. “We don’t want that in wind.”

Grassley said ethanol interests offered varying plans for tax credits, which didn’t help politically.

“For most people in Congress, the issue isn’t wind, it’s whether it should be left to the free market,” Grassley said.

The national deficit has brought concerns over various subsidies and worries about anything that is viewed as a tax increase, he added.

“I think there is tremendous ignorance about anything but the coal industry and nuclear in Washington, D.C.,” including a surprising number of members of Congress who call it “EE-thanol,” Grassley said.

Rusting Indian Wind Farms Allow Gamesa, Vestas to Challenge Suzlon at Home

Four new windmills made by Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA whirl beside a banana grove in India’s southern village of Kammalapatti, driven by a breeze that’s too soft to spin a group of older turbines standing idle nearby.

The Spanish manufacturer replaced 10 older machines for the wind farm’s owner, gaining a toehold in a nation with about 4,600 wind turbines more than a decade old, many of them rusty or too small for today’s power market, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Shantanu Jaiswal in New Delhi.

Europe’s wind-turbine makers are stepping up sales in India’s clean-energy rust belt, anticipating a boom in one of the bigger “repowering” plays that Gamesa says may be worth $3.8 billion in sales. The challenge is in taking work from Suzlon Energy Ltd. (SUEL), the dominant local supplier, and in getting funds in a market still depressed by the financial crisis.

BP reveals nine per cent rise in US wind capacity

BP’s first-quarter profits may have dipped owing to the ongoing costs of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but the company’s results show an 8.9 per cent increase in its wind power capacity in the US.

The world’s second largest oil company yesterday unveiled profits of $5.481bn (£3.32bn) for the first three months of this year, down from $5.598bn this time last year.

Part of this drop was attributed to the $400m charge of cleaning up the Gulf of Mexico, which is in addition to the $40.9bn the company has already earmarked to cover the costs of the disaster.

BP has launched lawsuits against its partners Transocean, Cameron and Halliburton seeking to reclaim much of this.

The Deepwater rig exploded on 20 April last year, spilling almost five million barrels of oil into the sea, and 267,960 claims have been submitted for compensation, 107,955 of which have been paid and 4,343 denied. The remaining 155,662 are currently being processed.

Although the financial results focused on the disaster, BP announced that it had increased its US wind power capacity by almost nine per cent, from 711MW this time last year to 774MW.

No binding climate deal at Durban, warn US, EU

There will be no binding deal on emissions at this year’s UN climate summit as the South African hosts and other economic powers are simply “not ready,” the United States and Europe said on Wednesday.

“It is not a necessary thing to have right away,” top US climate official Todd Stern said after European Union counterpart Connie Hedegaard admitted hopes of a breakthrough pact in Durban are already dead.

“The good news is that there is a general recognition of the necessity of a legally-binding agreement,” EU climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard said.

“The bad news is no legally-binding agreement deal will be done in Durban.”

The pair spoke after a two-day meeting of the so-called Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), a gathering of the world’s 17 largest economies aimed at advancing efforts to cut greenhouse emissions, increase the supply of clean energy and mitigate global warming.

Stern said discussion focused on whether the UN summit would even articulate the goal of a legally-binding agreement “in the coming years.”

Russia Says It Won’t Be Forced by the UN to Fund Poor-Nation Climate Aid

Russia said it won’t be forced by the United Nations to contribute to about $30 billion being raised through 2012 to finance climate-change-adaptation projects in poor nations.

“Volumes and forms of its contribution into financing climate actions will be defined by the Russian Federation,” Alexander Frolov, an environmental official in the Russian government, said in a letter dated yesterday to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn.

Developed nations are required to pay the funding, not Russia, which is “undergoing the process of transition to a market economy,” Frolov said in the letter to Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC. UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, in December noted the funding commitment of developed counties.

NH Senate considers repealing cap-and-trade

The public is getting its chance to tell a Senate committee what it thinks about a House bill that ends New Hampshire’s participation in a 10-state cap-and-trade initiative.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is holding a hearing Thursday on a bill passed by the House to repeal the state’s cap-and-trade program that is part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

New Hampshire is one of 10 Northeastern states participating in the program aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Under the program, generators must reduce pollution or bid at auction for allowances giving them the right to produce certain amounts of carbon dioxide.

Proceeds from the auction are used for energy efficiency programs. Critics complain electric users are funding efficiency programs that don’t directly benefit them.

U-Va. says it will exercise ‘available exemptions’ on climate change records request

University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan says the school plans to use “all available exemptions” under the state’s freedom of information act as it responds to a formal legal request from a conservative group seeking e-mails and documents written by a former university climate scientist.

The American Tradition Institute’s Environmental Law Center has askedthat the university turn over the documents related to the work of Michael Mann, a former U-Va. professor who now works at Pennsylvania State University.

They hoped that the public information request would force the university to turn over the same documents sought by Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) with a civil subpoena.

Cuccinelli is trying to force the university to turn over the documents because he says he wants to see whether a fraud investigation is warranted into Mann’s research, which has shown that the earth has experienced a rapid, recent warming.

17 Responses to April 28 News: Interest in hybrids rises with gas prices; Blowout could spill 58 million gallons in Arctic; Big Oil profits soar

  1. JCH says:

    What is ExxonMobil supposed to do? Sell at a loss? Close its gas stations?

    They make a huge amount of money because they move a huge amount of product. Their margins are not unreasonable at all. If they could manipulate the market, barrel prices would not have dropped in the recession and they never would have had a terrible year where they only made a paltry 26 billion.

    They get swept along just like the rest of us.

  2. Prokaryotes says:

    The contango game: How Koch Industries manipulates the oil market for profit

    Each single oil company has to switch to renewable generation and push for the large scale deployment of electric and hybrid vehicles. Everything else is destined to fail and create havoc and doom.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Of course the oil companies should not only have their subsidies removed, but they should pay a surtax.

    This won’t happen, and not just because of oil industry political influence. The wealthy class in this country- including tech billionaires, like Gates- is heavily invested in oil and gas. It’s a captive market with limited supply and a huge upside, and they love those steady returns, with no real fear of competition.

    It’s a classic market failure, and can only be addressed through aggressive executive action. Kind of like what Roosevelt did in 1942.

  4. Green Caboose says:

    Well, JCH, the question is what the government should do. Perhaps ExxonMobile should actually pay corporate taxes and not benefit from tax subsidies. I mean, we keep being told by the powers that be that the biggest problem in the history of the world is the US deficit. And we are constantly told that we have to slash future social security and medicare benefits to make up for the deficit. Maybe ExxonMobile could contribute to the cause?

  5. John says:

    Since the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the same rights as individuals then corporations should be subject to an Alternate Minimum Tax just like us individuals. I would suggest 10% of earnings before write offs.

  6. Michael T says:

    Another new video from the “Climate Denial Crock of the Week” series:

    Unwinding “Hide the Decline”

  7. Sunshine says:

    Now available – Al Gore’s latest book, “Our Choice” has a new and unusual presentation – an app for iPad (and iPhone); very interactive info graphics. Too cool. Special introductory price of $4.99.

  8. sault says:

    In the wake of the record oil industry profits, if the Democrats cannot win on the subsidy issue, then our political discussion and process in this country is more broken than I thought. $4B is a drop in the bucket, but every dollar cut or raised in revenue now also has an avoided interest payment associated with it as well.

    $30-40B/year for ethanol blending subsidies to refiners (paying large refiners like Koch and Exxon to follow the law) and even the ethanol production subsidies add up to some real numbers. 100B/year in tax breaks for the rich, $200-400B/year for military operations in the Middle East…and many tens of billions keeping our military in a Cold War posture in Germany, Italy, Japan and Turkey. Take that funding and just buy electric cars for everybody and use the rest to turn this country into an economic green energy juggernaut.

  9. Colorado Bob says:

    In Iowa, farmers suspended corn planting last week because of wet, chilly conditions, making this year’s planting the slowest in a decade.

    Three percent of Iowa’s corn crop had been planted through Sunday, well behind the 28% planted that is normal for this date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday.

    A year ago, with unusually warm, dry weather over most of Iowa, 61% of the state’s crop had been planted by this date.

  10. Colorado Bob says:

    In Ohio, for instance, the National Weather Service reported Wednesday that this April has already been the wettest on record for Cincinnati, with almost 1 foot of rain recorded. The city receives 3.4 inches of rain in a typical April.

    Burlington, Vt., has had 6.77 inches of rain in April, making this the city’s wettest April on record. Nearby Lake Champlain has set a new all time record high.

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    Since last Friday –
    Out of a possible 11,326 stations, 1,133 daily precipitation records have been set in 6 days.

  12. Robert In New Orleans says:

    Is the extreme weather we are seeing now a taste of things to come?

    What will it be like in five, ten, twenty years from now?

    How much extreme weather can people stand before they start to snap?

    How many disasters will government at all levels be able to deal with?

    Can the general public be told the honest truth about global warming/climate destablization with out mass hysteria/panic breaking out?

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    How many disasters will government at all levels be able to deal with?
    The president of Columbia said last week that they are being overwhelmed.

    Coffee Advances to 14-Year High in New York on Supply Concern

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    New Zealand –
    Wairoa town was hit with 332mm of rain from midnight Tuesday to 3pm yesterday, MetService spokesman Bob McDavitt said.

    Around Mahia, the intensity of the rain was at a level seen only once every 100 years.

  15. Colorado Bob says:

    CHICAGO, April 28 (Reuters) – Tornadoes and violent storms destroyed 200 chicken houses that held up to 4 million chickens in Alabama, state officials said on Thursday.

    In addition to the destroyed houses, which each hold up to 20,000 chickens, another 180 were damaged.

  16. Ziyu says:

    Some climate denier posted this message saying that oil didn’t receive subsidies. How do I answer this?
    “All industries are permitted to recover capital costs through depreciation of fixed investments. All natural resource companies ( e.g., forest products, mining ) are allowed to recover the replacement cost of their raw materials through the depletion allowance. Are you referring to the deduction of intangible drilling costs? That is, of course, nothing more than a timing issue and, in any event, is only permissible for relatively small operators. The Intangible Drilling Expense deduction is only a form of accelerated depreciation ( the costs of drilling a well to casing point— like any capital expenditure— will be capitalized and subsequently depreciated if the IDE deduction is eliminated ).

    The popular assertion of the existence of “tax breaks” unique to fossil fuel companies does not bear up under scrutiny. This is a perfect example of how the infinite repetition of a lie ends up being accepted as true by the uninformed and gullible. It’s a classic Big Lie.”

    The part about the whole depletion thing seems to check out but I’m not sure. Can anyone give me answers to this?

  17. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I just heard your NPR re-broadcast here, and some flack from the NOAA was asked if climate change could have anything to do with the tornado disaster. He jumped right out to flatly deny it. Surprise, surprise! I just fear that even more time will be lost when the truth is no longer deniable, and many people will be so riven with rage at the incessant lying that is delivering us to disaster, that they will waste even more time in impotent fury at the wickedness of it all.