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Energy Roundup: Sahara Solar Plan, U.S-China Climate Talks, Nabucco Gas Pipe Accord Signed, and More

Backers of Sahara solar power plant project sign initiative -- A dozen major companies including Siemens, German insurer Munich Re and utilities RWE and Eon signed a renewable energy initiative Monday aimed at developing electricity via solar power plants and wind farms in the Sahara desert. The Desertec Industrial Initiative is the first small step in what promises to be a technically complex and politically sticky process to supply Europe with 15 percent of its electricity needs. [Source: FT, Renewable Energy World]

Chu, Locke head to China for climate change talks -- U.S. energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke will meet with Chinese state officials this week to find ways to address climate change and promote trade opportunities in renewable energy. Chu and Locke also are expected to press China to lower tariffs on clean energy technology. [Source: Reuters]

Turkey, EU nations OK gas pipeline agreement -- Leaders of Turkey and four European nations have signed a milestone agreement to develop a gas pipeline from the Caspian Sea to Western Europe. The Nabucco pipeline aims to wean Europe from Russian natural gas and was prompted over concerns of gas shortages, which were experienced last year. [Source: Voice of America]

Exxon ramps up natural gas Piceance project -- ExxonMobil, using new gas gathering, treatment and monitoring facilities, is busy increasing drilling activity at its Piceance project despite low natural gas prices. While other producers have slowed down in the wake of falling natural gas prices and a global credit crunch, Exxon has increased its drilling activity and is running seven rigs in the Piceance Basin in Colorado. [Source: Houston Chronicle]

Electric car sales could surpass gas-powered vehicles in U.S. -- A University of California, Berkeley study released Monday estimates electric car sales could rise dramatically in the next two decades if consumers don't have to buy the batteries that power the cars. Electric car sales could reach 86 percent of U.S. light vehicles sales in 2030, the study said. [Source: Reuters]

Second-quarter drilling falls 46 percent from a year ago-- Drilling activity in the U.S. exploration and production industry has fallen for the second quarter in a row, according to American Petroleum Institute's report released Monday. Exploratory drilling activity fell 63 percent and the number of development oil and gas wells dropped 46 percent from the same year-earlier period. [Source: API]