Energy Roundup: Conflicts Over Shale Oil, Biofuel Takes Flight, and More

Last Updated Dec 30, 2008 9:01 PM EST

Oil and water don't mix for shale exploration -- After the Bush administration finalized leasing rules last month for two million acres of federal land for energy exploration, a rift has formed between two major industries in the American West: oil and water. One of the largest oil reserves in the world lies beneath the Rocky Mountains, but extracting it is costly and requires large quantities of water. But worries about cost, water use and low crude-oil prices won't stop oil companies from exploring, said an executive at Shell Oil. [Source: Los Angeles Times]

SEC adopts new regulations on oil and gas reserves -- The SEC announced new disclosure requirements for energy companies. The rule, which would become effective January 2010, requires energy companies to report their oil and gas reserves using an average price based on the prior 12 months, rather than a year-end price. To see the difference, consider that the average cost of a barrel of oil was $100 in 2008, more than double its likely cost at year's end. The new regulations would also require companies to show investors their probable, possible and proved reserves, while current rules only require the latter. [Source: Bloomberg]

Russian state gas company gives payment deadline to Ukraine -- Russia's state-gas company Gazprom said it will cease delivery of its natural gas to the Ukraine Thursday if it fails to pay back $2.1 billion in back payments. Today the Russian gas monopoly refused to accept a portion of the money. Eighty percent of Russia's European gas exports run through the Ukraine and have been disrupted by unrest in the region. [Source: New York Times]

Texas oil-pipeline expenses halved -- By abandoning an 80-mile pipeline from Port Arthur, Texas to Houston in exchange for a nine-mile version, Magellan Midstream Partners will cut its costs in half. The shorter project, at an estimated cost of $120 million, will run from the company's East Houston terminal to an existing pipeline of Explorer Pipeline by 2011. [Source: Reuters]

Air New Zealand sees successful biofuel test flight -- Air New Zealand today flew a test flight using a second-generation biofuel, calling it a "significant milestone" in sustainable aircraft fuels. The biofuel was a 50-50 blend of standard jet fuel and a synthetic fuel made from jatropha plant-seed oil, which powered the two-hour test ride from Auckland International Airport on a Boeing 747. [Source: The Age]

Tesla electric-car plans slow in recession -- Tesla Motors is hedging on its plans to complete a mass-market electric sedan factory because of the struggling economy, company CEO Elon Musk said. The luxury electric-car startup previously said all it needed to begin mass-producing its Model S was a $200 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. [Source: Earth2Tech]