An artist's rendition of the ITER Nuclear Fusion Generator under construction in France. 35 nations (including the US) are collaborating to build the world's largest Tokamak, a magnetic fusion device that has been designed to prove the feasibility of fusion as a large-scale and carbon-free source of energy based on the same principle that powers the Sun and stars. For more on fusion development, see the article below under Sustainable and Renewable Energy.

Natural Gas in Underground Storage

The weekly EIA Natural Gas Storage Report advised today that there was a draw of 137Bcf from Underground Storage for the week ending 1/31/20.

This is 6Bcf above the forecast of a 131Bcf draw, the average prediction of sector analysts and traders in the Dow Jones Newswires weekly survey. This compares with a draw of 34Bcf last year and a 119Bcf draw for the five-year average. Storage is 615Bcf above last year for the same week and 199Bcf above the 5-year average. Working gas in storage stands at 2,609Bcf. (Read More ...)

Natural Gas Pricing


As of 9:47AM CST, March 2020, (the prompt month) Natural Gas was trading at $1.86, +$0.02 from one week ago and the 1-Year Spread average was $2.15, -$.01 from one week ago.

Crude Oil Pricing


As of 9:06AM CST, March, 2020, (the prompt month) Light, Sweet Crude on the NYMEX was at $50.69, -1.80 from one week ago.

Crude Oil Inventory


US crude inventories (EIA) increased by 3.4 million barrels to 435.1 million for the week ended January 31st, according to data released yesterday morning by the US Dept of Energy. Traders in the Reuters poll projected an increase of 2.8 million barrels.

U.S. Rotary Rigs


According to the Baker Hughes Count, US Rotary Rigs targeting Natural Gas were -3 at 112 for the week ending January 31st and -86 from last year.

Rigs targeting Crude were -1 at 675. There are 172 fewer rigs targeting oil than last year. Canadian Rigs were +3 247 and +4 from last year. US Rigs drilling move up 1% to 86% of all drilling activity, the highest percentage in the past 20 years.

Geopolitical


U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Department of Defense Announce Pathfinder Initiative to Protect U.S. Energy Critical Infrastructure: February 3, 2010, WASHINGTON. D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) jointly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to partner on a new Energy Sector Pathfinder initiative. The goals of this initiative are to advance information sharing, improve training and education to understand systemic risks, and develop joint operational preparedness and response activities to cybersecurity threats.

The Energy Sector Pathfinder initiative builds on previous Pathfinder initiatives across government and the private sector. The Pathfinder program is an exploratory programs scoped to address the technologies, challenges, and threats facing a specific critical infrastructure sector, adapted to its regulatory environment, maturity, and existing relationship with the United States Government. The Energy Sector Pathfinder will explore challenges facing America’s energy critical infrastructure and strengthen interagency collaboration on preventing and responding to the constantly evolving cyber threats.

“Through this agreement, we will strengthen the partnership between DOE, DHS, and DoD to enable intergovernmental cooperation and bolster our ability to proactively address cyber threats to critical energy infrastructure, and to respond effectively should those threats materialize,” said DOE Assistant Secretary of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response, Karen S. Evans. “The Department of Energy is committed to working with our partner agencies to secure U.S. critical energy infrastructure.”

“The Department of Homeland Security and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency are committed to being partnership-forward organizations, in that we rely on our relationships across all infrastructure sectors and across all levels of government to advance (Read More ...)

Weather

The AccuWeather 1-5 Day Outlook forecasts above-normal temps for the entire US with the exception of the Caalifornia, and much of the Central US, including north  Texas, which are expected to be at normal or below-normal temps.

The 6-10 Day Outlook forecasts above-normal temps for the the Eastern half of the US, and below-normal temps for the Western states. Swath of normal temperatures will run down the center of the country.

The 11-15 Day Outlook forecasts above-normal temps for the Southeast and Texas, while the Northwestern quarter of the country will be at below-normal temps. The Southwest, center of the country and Northeast are projected to be at normal temps.

The 30-Day Outlook shows normal temps for the East, from  east Texas up through New England. The Western states are projected to be at normal  or below-normal temps.

The 90-Day Outlook shows above-normal temps for southern Florida, Eastern California, Oregon, Washington state and Nevada. The balance of the country is expected to be at normal temps except for Minnesota and North and South Dakota, which are expected to be at below-normal temperatures. 

Severe Weather: More than 30,000 customers had no electricity across the Deep South on Thursday morning, according to www.poweroutage.us. A similar number were blacked out by severe storms on Wednesday afternoon and evening. High winds blew down scaffolding at a hotel construction site in New Orleans, the Associated Press reported. Intense storms reportedly spawned several tornadoes in Mississippi during the afternoon, though none produced widespread structural damage or were blamed for injuries. Totnado Watches remain in effect through the Southeast and a Winter storm is headed to the Northeast and Midwest.

New Engtland will see heavy snow and ice. Heavy rains are expected through the weekend in the mid-Atlantic states
(Read More ...)

Sustainable and Renewable Energy   


5 Big Ideas for Making Fusion Power a Reality: Startups, universities, and major companies are vying to commercialize a nuclear fusion reactor.

The joke has been around almost as long as the dream: Nuclear fusion energy is 30 years away...and always will be. But now, more than 80 years after Australian physicist Mark Oliphant first observed deuterium atoms fusing and releasing dollops of energy, it may finally be time to update the punch line.

Over the past several years, more than two dozen research groups—impressively staffed and well-funded startups, university programs, and corporate projects—have achieved eye-opening advances in controlled nuclear fusion. They’re building fusion reactors based on radically different designs that challenge the two mainstream approaches, which use either a huge, doughnut-shaped magnetic vessel called a tokamak or enormously powerful lasers.

What’s more, some of these groups are predicting significant fusion milestones within the next five years, including reaching the breakeven point at which the energy produced surpasses the energy used to spark the reaction. That’s shockingly soon, considering that the mainstream projects pursuing the conventional tokamak and laser-based approaches have been laboring for decades and spent billions of dollars without achieving breakeven.

In Cambridge, Mass., MIT-affiliated researchers at Commonwealth Fusion Systems say their latest reactor design is on track to exceed breakeven by 2025. In the United Kingdom, a University of Oxford (Read More ...)

This Week's Key Take-Away


Texas Power Generation: Did Coal Get Blown Away By Wind? The precipitous drop in coal-based power generation in Texas, from 32% of consumption in 2017 to 20% in 2019, has been hailed as the most significant step in decarbonizing electricity production in Texas. The narrative in the media has suggested that the rapid demise of coal has resulted from the growth of wind power. 

The data suggest a more complex narrative. While wind has grown considerably, especially early in the last decade, the decline of coal has largely been due to a resurgent natural gas industry.The data for Texas’ power production over the last three years indicates that coal has instead been replaced largely through the growth of natural gas and only to a small extent due to wind. Specifically, the growth of high efficiency combined cycle natural gas production has driven most of the surge to replace aging coal assets.

Coal-based power generation is expected to continue to slide as more coal-fired power plants are retired in favor of renewables (wind and solar) and, more frequently, natural gas-based power generation.

However, the growth of natural gas has not been smooth and contrary to the recent trends, growth of natural gas has not directly caused the shift in the energy mix of Texas. A longer snapshot of consumed electricity over the last 12 years paints a more complicated picture. Between 2007 and 2019, onshore wind has grown from making up 3% of power generated to 20%, or a 17% growth, while over the same period, coal-based power generation has fallen from 37% to 20%. (Forbes)