Last updateFri, 05 Feb 2016 4pm


U.S. Oil Inventories Now at Record High

Several factors have played a part in pushing U.S. crude oil prices below $30 per barrel, including high inventory levels of crude oil, uncertainty about global economic growth, volatility in equity and non-energy commodity markets, and the potential for additional crude oil supply to enter the market. Crude oil and petroleum product inventories, both domestically and internationally, have been growing since mid-2014 and are above five-year averages for this date.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, total U.S. commercial crude oil inventories as of January 29 were 503 million barrels, 132 million barrels above the 2011-15 January average. This marks the first time that U.S. inventories exceeded 500 million barrels.

FERC Approves $3.2B Sabal Trail Pipeline Project

Sabal Trail Transmission, LLC, a joint venture of Spectra Energy Partners, LP, NextEra Energy, Inc. and Duke Energy, received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct and operate the Sabal Trail interstate natural gas pipeline project. This approval authorizes Sabal Trail, subject to certain conditions, to proceed with final preparations to commence construction in the coming months to meet a May 1, 2017, in-service date.

Once complete, the 516-mile pipeline would have the capacity to deliver approximately 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to the Southeast U.S., including firm transportation services to Florida Power & Light Company and Duke Energy of Florida. 

Oil Prices Could Surge 50% by Fourth Quarter

Analysts from Goldman Sachs are “projecting prices will climb more than $15 by the end of 2016. New York crude will reach $46/bbl during the fourth quarter, while Brent in London will trade at $48 in the same period, the median of 17 estimates compiled by Bloomberg this year show. A global surplus that fueled oil’s decline to a 12-year low will shift to deficit as U.S. shale output falls,” Bloomberg reports.

“U.S. production will drop by 620,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd), or about 7%, from the first quarter to the fourth, according to the Energy Information Administration. Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency forecasts total non-OPEC supply will fall by 600,000 bopd this year. That may pave the way for a rebound as lower prices have stimulated global demand.” 

CSB: Poor Chemical Storage to Blame for Deadly Texas Blast

On April 17, 2013, a fire and explosion occurred at the West Fertilizer Company (WFC), a fertilizer blending, retail, and distribution facility in West, Texas. The violent detonation fatally injured 12 emergency responders and three members of the public. Local hospitals treated more than 260 injured victims, many of whom required hospital admission. The blast completely destroyed the WFC facility and caused widespread damage to more than 150 offsite buildings.

The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) concludes that the construction of the bins and other building materials as well as the lack of an automatic sprinkler system plausibly contributed to the detonation. Furthermore, CSB believes every level of government is to blame for lack of regulation in the storage of ammonium nitrate. 

California Awarded Funds to Overhaul Water & Wastewater Infrastructure

The EPA announces $182 million in funding to be used across California for water quality projects that will reduce water pollution, improve municipal drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, make projects more sustainable by increasing water and energy efficiency, and provide technical assistance to communities. California’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund provides financing in the form of low-interest loans for municipal wastewater treatment projects, while the state’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund provides financial assistance for drinking water infrastructure improvements.

Since the inception of California’s clean water and drinking water revolving funds programs in 1988 and 1996, respectively, the EPA has awarded more than $4.6 billion in federal funding. The Agency estimates that $271 billion is needed to address the nation’s aging and failing wastewater infrastructure, of which $26 billion is needed in California. 



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