THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
Oil futures fell sharply, losing more than $2 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, on worries that news of a foiled terrorist plot targeting major airlines could slow air travel, hurting demand for jet fuel. Here’s Thursday’s roundup of energy-related news:
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ENDLESS SUMMER: Europe’s punishing drought has forced nuclear and hydroelectric power plants to limit their water usage, increasing reliance on fossil fuels and pushing energy prices higher, the Financial Times reports. Some climate scientists say such miserable summers will become the norm within 50 years.
COSTLY REPAIRS: BP believes repairs to Prudhoe Bay pipelines will cost at least $100 million, Reuters reports. ConocoPhillips said it would declare force majeure on its Prudhoe Bay oil shipments, meaning it will not be able to deliver some oil from the area. BP said it had no plans to follow suit, however, and has purchased enough crude to supply West Coast refineries. BP also said the western side of the field was still in operation, for now.
WAITING FOR FIDEL: Some major oil companies, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron, hope the end of Fidel Castro’s reign in Cuba will bring them compensation for assets seized by his nascent regime more than 40 years ago, the Associated Press reports. But most of those assets, including refineries, are in severe disrepair and are basically worthless, and the oil companies aren’t going to break their necks to get them back.
•More Nigerian Kidnappings: Militants kidnapped still more foreign oil workers in Nigeria, continuing a pattern of disruption that has shut down some 20% of the nation’s daily oil production of about 2.5 million barrels.
•Set a Course For Venture: Venture-capital investment in alternative energy rose 64% to a record $843 million in the second quarter, making it the third-biggest destination sector for VC cash, MarketWatch reports.
•Progress Regresses: Progress Energy, which has about 3 million electricity customers in Florida and the Carolinas, said it lost $47 million in the second quarter, compared with a $1 million loss a year ago.
•Schwarzenegger’s Dilemma: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to sign a bill limiting greenhouse-gas emissions, but state Democrats want the bill to be stronger, while many business leaders and fellow Republicans don’t like the bill at all, the AP reports.
•Brent’s Boon: Declining North-Sea production, combined with a surplus of crude oil in the U.S., has made U.K. Brent light, sweet crude more expensive than the West Texas Intermediate crude traded on the Nymex — a rare occurrence in recent decades, according to the Financial Times.