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ExxonMobil’s Arctic ambitions threatened by sanctions on Russia

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Oil giant ExxonMobil may have to put its controversial ambitions for operations in the Russian Arctic on ice because of the political situation in Ukraine, it has been revealed.

The firm currently plans to commence drilling for oil in the Kara Sea, north of Siberia, in August. These plans were only made possible thanks to its accord with the Russian state-owned oil company OAO Rosneft.

However, on Monday, Rosneft’s CEO Igor Sechin was added to the US sanctions list, as the crisis in Ukraine escalated.

“With Sechin being sanctioned it may complicate relations for Rosneft with Western companies”, Mattias Westman, who oversees about $3.3 billion in Russia assets as CEO of Prosperity Capital, told Bloomberg.

“Maybe some transactions will be threatened as a result and perhaps Russia will counter and they will be less keen for American companies to work on Arctic projects.”

ExxonMobil has refused to comment on the developments, while Rosneft insists that its “shareholders and partners, including those in America” will not be affected by the sanctions.  

It is expected that other oil giants will also be affected by the sanction. BP owns an almost 20% stake in Rosneft. 

ExxonMobil’s troubles are significant, but are only the latest in a long list of difficulties experienced by oil companies hoping to exploit the Arctic region.

These difficulties are perhaps best typified by the experiences of Royal Dutch Shell.

Since 2005, Shell has spent around $4.5 billion (£2.7 billion) exploring for oil off the Alaskan coast, but is yet to drill a single well.

In that time it has seen a drilling rig run aground and lost a federal court battle over the validity of its leases in the Chukchi Sea, all the while under pressure from campaigners and investors to end its Arctic ambitions.

The remote Kara Sea well, the first to be born of the Rosneft alliance, is expected to cost ExxonMobil some $600m (£357m). It could potentially deliver enough oil to fill 9 billion barrels, according to some estimates. 

Environmental campaigners hold many concerns over the safety of Arctic oil drilling. Should an oil spill or marine disaster occur in such remote regions experts warn that response teams would have little hope of reaching the scene before considerable damage is done to the pristine Arctic environment.

Conservative MP and environmentalist journalist Zac Goldsmith is among those who say the pursuit for Arctic oil is “profoundly reckless. He argues that oil companies are continuing to ignore the risk of oil spill despite warnings from recent history.

The infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 occurred near US Arctic waters, but in conditions much more hospitable for response teams. An estimated 250,000 sea birds, 2,800 sea otters, 300 harbour seals, 22 killer whales and thousands of fish were still killed. 

In 2013, Greenpeace activists protested against Russia’s first offshore Arctic oil rig and were subsequently held in Russian jails for 100 days. That rig launched its first shipment, albeit behind schedule, earlier this month.

Photo: Minale Tattersfield via Flickr

Further reading:

US unprepared for Arctic oil spill, study warns

‘Arctic 30’ oil rig in Russia launches first shipment

Russia and Shell’s dangerous liaison threaten the Arctic region

ExxonMobil remains convinced that the world needs fossil fuels – despite climate risks

ExxonMobil in landmark agreement to report climate risk after investor resolution

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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