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Country Analysis Brief: East China Sea

September 18, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: East China Sea
Source: Energy Information Administration

The East China Sea is a semi-closed sea bordered by the Yellow Sea to the north, the South China Sea and Taiwan to the south, Japan’s Ryukyu and Kyushu islands to the east, and the Chinese mainland to the west. Studies identifying potentially abundant oil and natural gas deposits have made the sea a source of contention between Japan and China, the two largest energy consumers in Asia.

The East China Sea has a total area of approximately 482,000 square miles, consisting mostly of the continental shelf and the Okinawa Trough, a back-arc basin formed about 300 miles southeast of Shanghai between China and Japan. The disputed eight Senkaku islands are to the northeast of Taiwan. The largest of the islands is two miles long and less than a mile wide.

Though barren, the islands are important for strategic and political reasons, as sovereignty over land is the basis for claims to the surrounding sea and its resources under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. China and Japan both claim sovereignty over the islands, which are under Japanese administration, preventing wide-scale exploration and development of oil and natural gas in the East China Sea.

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Country Analysis Brief: Australia

September 16, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Australia
Source: Energy Information Administration

Australia is rich in commodities, including fossil fuel and uranium reserves. It is one of the few countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that is a significant net energy exporter, sending nearly 70% of its total energy production (excluding energy imports) overseas, according to data from Australia’s Bureau of Resource and Energy Economics (BREE).

Except for crude oil and other liquids, Australia retains a surplus of all other energy commodities. Australia was the world’s second-largest coal exporter based on weight in 2012 and the third-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2013. Energy exports accounted for 24% of Australia’s total export revenues in 2012, according to BREE. The country holds the world’s largest recoverable reserves of uranium (about 32%, based on 2012 data) and is the third-largest producer and exporter of uranium for nuclear-powered electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association. Australia is a net importer of crude oil and refined petroleum products, although the country exports some petroleum liquids.

CRS — Clean Coal Loan Guarantees and Tax Incentives: Issues in Brief (August 19, 2014)

September 15, 2014 Comments off

Clean Coal Loan Guarantees and Tax Incentives: Issues in Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Coal represents a major energy resource for the United States. Coal-fired power plants provided approximately 37% of U.S. generated electricity (about 1.5 billion megawatt-hours) in 2012, while consuming over 800 million tons of coal. Power plants that use coal are also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, contributing approximately 28% of total U.S. CO2 emissions in 2012.

As part of federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, loan guarantees and tax incentives have been made available to support private sector investment in “clean coal.” Both loan guarantees and tax incentives were included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT05, P.L. 109-58). Mitigating CO2 emissions has also become the primary focus of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) efforts within the clean coal research and development program (now Coal R&D) within its Office of Fossil Energy. At issue for Congress is the extent to which the private sector has used the financial incentive tools available, and whether they are the right tools for promoting the development of technology to reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants.

International Energy Outlook 2014

September 10, 2014 Comments off

International Energy Outlook 2014
Source: Energy Information Administration

World markets for petroleum and other liquid fuels have entered a period of dynamic change—in both supply and demand. Potential new supplies of oil from tight and shale resources have raised optimism for significant new sources of global liquids. The potential for growth in demand for liquid fuels is focused on the emerging economies of China, India, and the Middle East, while liquid fuels demand in the United States, Europe, and other regions with well-established oil markets seems to have peaked. After a long period of sustained high oil prices, improvements in conservation and efficiency have reduced or slowed the growth of liquid fuels use among mature oil consumers. The changes in the overall market environment have led the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) to focus on reassessing long-term trends in liquid fuels markets for the 2014 edition of its International Energy Outlook (IEO2014).

Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan

September 5, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Sudan and South Sudan
Source: Energy Information Administration

Sudan and South Sudan, both located in northeastern Africa, became independent countries in July 2011, following a referendum in South Sudan where the people overwhelmingly voted for independence. Prior to the split, the unified Sudan was the second-largest oil producer in Africa in 2010, outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Since the split, Sudan and South Sudan’s production has declined, and together they ranked as the fourth-largest non-OPEC African oil producer in 2013. Disagreements over oil revenue sharing and armed conflict have curtailed oil production from both countries over the past few years.

Audit Report — Management of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Biosafety Laboratories

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Audit Report — Management of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Biosafety Laboratories (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Inspector General

Background
In response to the increase in infectious diseases and the threat of bioterrorism, the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories perform research with biological agents. To conduct this biological research, the Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) operate multiple laboratory facilities in accordance with various biosafety levels (BSL) established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The BSLs classify the containment level and risk associated with biological agents depending on the threat the agents pose to personnel and the environment. For example, BSL-1 is for low-risk agents; BSL-2 is for medium-risk agents; and BSL-3 is for those agents that cause serious and potentially lethal infections. Department and NNSA sites primarily perform BSL-1 and BSL-2 research; however, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) operates a facility with three BSL-3 laboratories while Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) is considering opening a facility with two BSL-3 laboratories. Extensive biological research is performed at LLNL and LANL for other Government agencies through the Department’s Work for Others (WFO) program.

In our report on Coordination of Biological Select Agent Activities at Department of Energy Facilities (DOE/IG-0695, July 2005), we reported that the Department had not developed a plan for construction and operation of its BSL-3 laboratories. Thus, it lacked assurance that capabilities were not being duplicated unnecessarily. As a result of our prior work and Presidential actions to streamline Government and reduce costs, we initiated this audit to determine whether NNSA managed its biosafety laboratories effectively. We limited our review to biosafety laboratories located at LLNL and LANL.

Results of Audit
We found that NNSA was considering a $9.5 million expansion of its BSL-3 and BSL-2 laboratory capabilities at LANL that may not be the most effective use of resources. Specifically, NNSA identified the development of a BSL-3 facility at LANL as its preferred alternative for meeting biosafety laboratory needs even though it had not fully considered the need for and cost effectiveness of additional capacity. Nor, had it developed a sound basis for measuring the utilization of existing facilities – a critical factor in determining the need for additional capacity. Despite the lack of information on the need for additional capacity and current laboratory utilization rates, LANL was also considering building a new BSL-2 facility.

In particular, NNSA proposed development of a facility with two BSL-3 laboratories at LANL. Additionally, LANL is in the early planning stage for constructing a new BSL-2 facility. The estimated cost to open LANL’s new BSL-3 and to construct/open BSL-2 capabilities was about $1.5 million and $8 million, respectively. Given current budget realities, plans to develop additional capabilities without fully demonstrating a need may not be prudent.

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Egypt
Source: Energy Information Administration

Egypt is the largest oil producer in Africa outside of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and the second-largest natural gas producer on the continent, behind Algeria. Egypt plays a vital role in international energy markets through the operation of the Suez Canal and Suez-Mediterranean (SUMED) Pipeline.

The Suez Canal is an important transit route for oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments traveling northbound from the Persian Gulf to Europe and North America and southbound shipments from North Africa and countries along the Mediterranean Sea to Asia. The SUMED Pipeline is the only alternative route nearby to transport crude oil from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea if ships were unable to navigate through the Suez Canal. Fees collected from the operation of these two transit points are significant sources of revenue for the Egyptian government.

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