Quote of the Week

[In commenting on India forcing ExxonMobil to renegotiate LNG prices]  “This trend is overall a negative for sellers, as they are forced to provide more flexibility to buyers’ needs to maintain their markets. The risk of price renegotiations will become more acute over the next couple years as spot LNG prices remain depressed, even if oil-linked prices rise. The elephant in the room will be how negotiations play out with traditional markets in Japan and Korea, and especially the Chinese national oil companies.”

Saul Kavonic, analyst with Wood Mackenzie

Graphic of the Week


1.  Oil and the Global Economy
2.  The Middle East & North Africa
3.  China
4.  Russia
5.  Nigeria
6.  Venezuela
7.  The Briefs

1.  Oil and the Global Economy

Oil prices rose steadily last week with US crude futures briefly topping the psychological barrier of $50 a barrel and with London futures closing at $55.62. Most analysts are talking about higher prices ahead. The IEA’s monthly report says that the global oil supply contracted in the past month and that demand remains strong. These judgments came despite the US hurricanes that shut down over 25 percent of US refining capacity and took a good, but as yet unknown, bite out US demand in the Southeastern US and along the Gulf Coast.

During the past week, the IEA, EIA, and OPEC all revised their expectations that demand for oil will be higher in the coming months. Refining problems in Mexico and Latin America have spurred US oil product exports sufficiently to replace demand from the US hurricanes that will likely require many months to recover. Hurricane damage to the Gulf Coast refineries and shipping facilities should be back to near normal by the end of the month.

The US Energy Information Administration released its international energy outlook last week, the first under the Trump administration. As could be expected the reference case scenario, which gets the most publicity, forecasts that global consumption of liquid fuels will continue to grow rapidly in the next 25 years. Global consumption of 95 million b/d in 2015 is expected to grow to 104 million in 2030 and 113 million in 2040. The IEA is already saying that global oil consumption will be at 98 million b/d by the end of this year and will grow to 99.8 million by the end of 2018.

Given that global demand is expected to grow by 1.4-1.5 million b/d every year in the short term, getting to 104 million b/d by the end of the next decade does not seem outlandish. The question is where prices will be in the next 12 years and whether there will be enough oil being produced after the drop in deep water production and shale oil production that is expected to come early in the 2020s to support the higher consumption that the EIA is expecting to develop.

The OPEC Production Cut:  For the minute, prices seem to be moving in the direction the OPEC has been seeking with its production cut freeze. With the world standard, Brent, moving from $45 a barrel in June to close at $55.62 last week, prices are up by $10 a barrel, but still a long way from the circa $100 a barrel that many OPEC members need to support their national budgets and aspirations. Goldman Sachs estimates that the two US hurricanes will cut demand by some 600,000 b/d in September. Now that we know the extent of the damage along the Gulf coast and in parts of Florida, it seems possible that gasoline demand will continue to be weak for several months.

Discussions among OPEC members as to whether to continue the production freeze beyond March 2018 are continuing. OPEC meets again in November to decide on this issue. Arguments can be made both ways as to whether a continuation of the freeze helps or hurts OPEC. The large, low-cost producers are losing market share from the freeze, while the poorer OPEC members are just hanging on. A decision may hang on where prices go in the next few weeks and whether any major geopolitical upsets intervene.

US Shale Oil Production: Rig counts typically respond to a change in oil prices with a lag of 16-20 weeks, while output tends to respond after an additional delay of five to six months. The number of rigs drilling for oil, which had been falling during the industry slump, started to increase again from May 2016, and oil output began to rise from October 2016. The first quarter 2017 saw 137 oil rigs added in the United States, while the second quarter 2017 saw 97 rigs added. The rig count leveled off in July and has been falling since August. If prices continue to rise past $50 a barrel which some operators claim is their breakeven point, although this is in dispute, we could be seeing the rig count rise again before the end of the year. But there are many factors in play. Recent reports from the Permian Basin, where the EIA expects most of the growth in shale oil production will take place, show an increasing percentage of gas coming from new wells

The most recent official news out of the Bakken fields in North Dakota is that oil production was only up by a small amount in July over June. The EIA expects that Bakken production will be up by an additional 10,000 b/d in September, but we will not have an accurate number until mid-November. Production in the Eagle Ford seems to have bounced back from the Hurricane which did little damage to the fields but left shut down much of the Gulf Coast oil infrastructure forcing a curtailment of production. Nearly all of the hurricane damage should be repaired by the end of the month. The very light crudes coming from shale oil are finding a good demand from overseas, both as dilutants for very heavy oils and for refining in locations that cannot handle heavy oil.

2.  The Middle East & North Africa

Iran: The Financial Times reports a crackdown on Iran’s 120,000 man Revolutionary Guards Corps. For decades, the Corps has become involved in owning and operating the leading industrial firms in the country. As could be expected, corruption has become widespread to the extent that it is hurting Iran’s economic growth. President Rouhani seems to have convinced the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, that things have gone too far and the Ayatollah has authorized the crackdown. The crackdown, which is being done quietly to avoid undermining the Guards’ position as the keeper of the state, has involved the arrest and purge of many leading Guards’ members.

Iran and Syria have signed new agreements to allow Iran to improve production and distribution of electricity in Syria. A 540-megawatt power plant is to be built in Latakia province, and the main power grid for Damascus is to be rebuilt. Some see Iran slowly taking over what is left of the Syrian economy.

Iraq: As the Islamic state loses control of the cities it has controlled for the last few years, the remnants of the organization are shifting their attention to southern Iraq which is the source of most of the country’s oil wealth.
Last week an attack on a restaurant near the southern city of Nassiriya killed 84 and wounded 100 in the deadliest attack in the area on record. Eight Iranian pilgrims were killed in the attack. With most of the Iraqi Army away fighting ISIL in the north, the largely Shiite south is becoming more vulnerable to the remaining ISIL forces.  In the absence of central government forces, local Sunni and Shiite tribes are becoming more powerful. Some fear that a civil war, worse than the one we already have, is in the offing.

After 100 years of exploiting Iraq’s oil, Royal Dutch Shell is ready to call it quits by withdrawing from two important Iraqi oil fields to focus on more profitable gas development elsewhere. Last week the company said it had agreed with Iraq’s oil ministry to turn over operations at Majnoon field to the government after unfavorable changes to fiscal terms. Iraq has been driving hard bargains with foreign oil companies operating in the country. Most foreign companies working there have been doing so in hopes that someday better deals would be available. Exxon pulled out of Iraq proper several years ago for the same reason.

The impending Kurdistan independence referendum could easily trigger all sorts of additional turmoil in the country. The threat posed by the referendum is already causing trouble between Baghdad and Erbil in prosecuting the war against ISIL.

Saudi Arabia: The Saudis appear to be delaying until 2019 the much-hyped IPO of a 5 percent interest in Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company. The government hopes the sale will bring some $300-$400 billion in revenue which will be used to diversify the Saudi economy away from dependence on oil. The Saudis have not yet decided on whether to sell their shares in New York or London which is delaying preparations for the sale.  There are many doubts about the value of the company which has yet to disclose any financial data or projections of prospects in the years ahead. The current selling price of crude is another obstacle to a successful sale.

Crown Prince bin Salman, with the help of his father the King, has begun a wide-ranging crackdown on opponents of the crown prince’s policies. During the past week, some 16-30 prominent people, including the son of a former king, were arrested in raids on their homes and held incommunicado. The crackdown represents a radical departure from the way non-violent dissidence by prominent Saudis was handled in the past. Some of those arrested were said to have expressed doubts about the Aramco IPO, the war in Yemen, and the break with Qatar. Political instability in Riyadh would be a world-shaking event and should be watched closely.

The Saudis are taking a new tack in their approach to forcing up prices. So far there has been a production freeze, but not a freeze on OPEC exports which has allowed many members to continue exports out of existing stocks while making small cuts in production. The Saudis are now talking about a cap on exports. Riyadh says it is open to a further extension of the OPEC production freeze.

3.  China

China’s economic growth slowed again in August with industrial production up only 6 percent from a year earlier as opposed to projections of 6.6 percent. Fixed asset investment was the lowest since 1999. Analysts are saying the lackluster growth reflects efforts to rein in credit expansion and reduce excess capacity in key industries. The closing of facilities that do not meet environmental standards is likely contributing to the slowdown. For decades China has enjoyed rapid economic growth with minimal attention to pollution which was allowed to run rampant in the name of economic growth. Times may be changing, as Beijing comes to realize it is killing itself with dirty air, water, and soil.

In August production of 10 non-ferrous metals fell 2.2 percent, the first year-on-year drop since December 2015. China has launched an aggressive campaign to curb choking smog in its northern regions, promising to close more factories and enforce bigger emission cuts in coming months, along with random spot checks to ensure targets are met. In Shandong Province, some 30 independent oil refineries have been shut since mid-July, plus an unspecified number of chemical plants making propylene oxide, PVC and rubber tires have been closed.

The most important news of the week was that China is joining the UK, France, and Norway in banning the vehicles powered by fossil fuels. German Chancellor Merkel also has suggested that Germany may follow its European neighbors on the fossil-fuel vehicle ban. With sales of 28 million vehicles last year, China’s switch to electric power obviously would mean a major drop in the demand for petroleum products. The Chinese market is so big that most major car manufacturers around the world are looking to develop electric cars for the Chinese market. With the change in environmental policies in Washington, Beijing may now be leading the world in efforts to clean up the environment.

4. Russia

Russia, like Saudi Arabia and most of the other cartel members, entered the production cut deal at a very high level of production, which took much of the sting out of the cuts. In the last quarter of 2016, Russia’s production hit a post-Soviet era high, while year over year in 2016, production grew to 10.96 million b/d, from 10.72 million b/d in 2015.  Russia’s pledge in the OPEC/non-OPEC deal was to shave off 300,000 b/d from the October 2016 level, which was the highest in almost 30 years.

In comparison, the Saudis agreed to cut production by nearly 500,000 b/d and is fulfilling its pledge. For a while, the Saudis attempted to demonstrate leadership by over-complying with their pledge but recently have cut back to merely complying. Some are noting that seasonal factors are helping Moscow comply with its production pledge as production normally slows in cold weather.  Platts calculations have total Russian oil production for August down 337,000 b/d from the 11.24 million b/d production in October, the month that OPEC uses to gauge compliance.

Last June, Rosneft and Kurdistan Regional Government signed several cooperation, investment and production sharing agreements regarding hydrocarbon exploration, production, infrastructure, logistics, and trading. Rosneft also obtained the right to access to Kurdistan’s oil pipeline to Turkey with a capacity of 700,000 b/d.  Rosneft’s Swiss-based trading arm Rosneft Trading S.A. agreed to buy crude oil from Iraqi Kurdistan until 2019.

5. Nigeria

Although it faces pressure to join OPEC’s production cuts, Nigeria will resist any attempt to cut its oil output because it needs time to make sure its production gains are sustainable according to Oil Minister Kachikwu.

Sabotage to its pipelines in 2016 reduced Nigerian oil production by an average of 700,000 b/d and brought oil production as low as 1.3 million b/d from the planned 2.2 million. The sabotage cost the country some $13 billion in revenue during the year. A coalition of militants in the Niger Delta who had previously vowed to attack Nigerian oil and gas pipelines if their demands were not met by October 1st, has agreed to rescind their threats to resume attacks. Abuja held meetings with the coalition, after which the group declared its loyalty to the Pan Niger Delta Forum, which is negotiating with the federal government to increase the proportion of oil revenues used to develop the oil-rich delta.

Nigeria is planning to close down three major refineries for repairs. All three have been processing oil at well below design capacity for years due to lack of good maintenance. The situation has become so bad that the only solution is to close the plants and completely rehabilitate them. This will likely take years so that in the meantime, Nigeria will become even more dependent on imported oil products.

6. Venezuela

There are no signs that the situation is getting any better. The new US sanctions are making it more difficult for PDVSA to order crude for its refineries. Especially painful is the regulation that US oil company Citgo which is owned by PDVSA can no longer repatriate earnings to Venezuela.

The Maduro government is supposed to be negotiating with the opposition in the Dominican Republic, but opposition leaders say it is only a show.  On Friday, Venezuela published the price of its oil in Chinese currency to free itself from the “tyranny of the dollar.”  The government told oil traders it will no longer accept or offer US dollars in payment for crude oil and fuels. As a result, traders have started converting dollars into euros, and PDVSA’s foreign partners operating in the country may have to switch to euros as well.

Venezuela is scheduled to make $3.2 billion payments in October and November while PDVSA only has some $2 billion to make payments. Many believe that the country will muddle through the rest of the year. The Chinese have given up on Venezuela after having loaned them some $60 billion, but Moscow seems to be willing to support the Maduro government in return for mortgages on the country’s assets.

PDVSA is thought to be producing some 1.9 million b/d, but is finding it more difficult to import the dilutants needed to make its oil exportable, and to keep its refineries operating.

7.  The Briefs (date of article in Peak Oil News is in parentheses)

In Norway, the Conservative party yesterday won re-election for the first time since 1985, in a vote where oil policies took center stage, as befits Europe’s largest oil and gas producer. It was a narrow win, however, for Erna Solberg’s tax-cutting, oil industry-stimulating platform. To win, the Conservative Party joined forces with the populist Progressive Party as well as two smaller parties from the center-right.  As a result, the industry may suffer some blows. (9/13)

Swiss trading houses are muscling in on the global market for liquefied natural gas, until now the preserve of energy giants, and expect to grab a $10 billion share of the rapidly growing business this year. Trafigura, Gunvor, Vitol and Glencore are all shaking up a decades-old system dominated by Western oil majors and state energy producers which sell LNG directly to large consumers on long-term contracts. They plan 2017 shipments that will be more than triple the 2015 level. The big buyers remain largely locked into long-term deals designed to ensure the producers get a return on their multi-billion dollar LNG investments, but that won’t last forever. (9/13)

Russia’s largest oil producer, Rosneft, expects oil prices to average between $40 and $43 per barrel next year and is preparing for such prices.  A Rosneft official said the recent rise in oil prices was due to a weak dollar instead of efforts by OPEC to combat the global crude supply glut. (9/12)

India has won a price cut on a 20-year liquefied natural gas deal with global giant ExxonMobil Corp in a rare contract renegotiation, a bad sign for producers in a heavily oversupplied global market. In a trade-off for ExxonMobil, India’s Petronet LNG will increase its volumes from the Gorgon LNG project in Australia by an extra 1 million tons a year to about 2.5 million tons a year, but at cheaper rates than initially agreed in 2009.

India reached a 14-year low in fuel demand as the effects of a massive flooding event that unfolded over the past few weeks become clearer. National oil demand fell by 6.1 percent as Indians in select areas tend to their homes to measure the water damage from stronger than usual monsoon rains. (9/13)

India will offer larger areas with higher oil and natural gas reserves in the next auction of discovered fields later this year as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government seeks to curtail rising crude oil imports. (9/15)

China’s auto sales continued to increase in August, evidence of the steady growth of the world’s largest car market, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed Monday. Some 2.19 million vehicles were sold last month, up 5.3 percent year on year, maintaining momentum in July that saw sales rise 6.2 percent. (9/12)

The North Korea resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council on Monday should slash oil supplies to the isolated nation by 30% — a level which would have significant impact on the country — but is unlikely to have much impact on regional supply and demand balances, while monitoring of the compliance will be a major challenge. (9/13)

Offshore Egypt, drilling services company Baker Hughes, a GE company, said during the weekend it secured a contract from Petrobel, a joint venture between a subsidiary of Italian energy company Eni and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corp., for work on underwater production systems for the Zohr field. (9/12)

Kenya vs. plastics: According to estimates from the IEA, plastics production will account for 4.9 million b/d in oil demand growth until 2040, followed by aviation and freight fuels. The bad news for oil is that a number of green initiatives around the world are targeting plastics. The latest such initiative came from Kenya. Last month, the East African country introduced what is considered one of the toughest bans on plastic bags globally. (9/14)

Argentina, traditionally one of the most prominent oil and natural gas markets in South America, is increasingly turning towards alternative forms of energy, with the government exploring shale gas and renewable options as it looks to diversify its power market.  In 2016 Argentina produced an average of 619,000 b/d, a 27 percent decrease on 2006 levels. In contrast, consumption has increased by 44 percent to 687,000 b/d.  This resulted in Argentina moving from a net exporter of crude oil to a net importer in 2008. (9/14)

In Brazil, as many as 17 companies have registered to bid next month in two rounds of exploration license awards in its pre-salt layer. Brazil is eager to award new exploration licenses in the most promising blocks in its pre-salt layer as it tries to boost its economy and attract more foreign investment. (9/15)

Offshore Mexico, Cnooc Ltd. is searching for partners to develop deep-water oil prospects as the Chinese giant extends its global reach. After bidding alone for exploration rights in Mexico’s first-ever deep-water auction in 2016, Cnooc is seeking deals known as farm-outs, a common type of joint venture where a stake in an oil prospect is exchanged for help with drilling and production. (9/16)

For Cuban operations, an effort to raise up to $4.8 million to help fund drilling fell well short of its goal, Melbana Energy Ltd. said. Melbana is one of the few Western companies with an established footprint in Cuba. (9/12)

Alberta expects conventional oil and gas investment to rise by 40 percent in 2017, but to be partially offset by a larger-than-expected drop in non-conventional investment, which is now seen to decline by 14 percent. (9/15)

In Canada, the parties behind tripling the capacity of the existing Trans Mountain oil pipeline western coast haven’t yet completed what they need to for the environment, a regulator found. The National Energy Board said it completed a pre-construction audit and found planners haven’t yet laid out plans regarding safety and environmental protection during the build process. (9/16)

In southwestern Alberta, raging wildfires have prompted Shell to shut down 24 natural gas wells and pipelines around them. Other companies, including Questfire Energy and West Lake Energy, were also shutting in gas-producing facilities. (9/14)

The US oil rig count declined by seven last week to 749, said Baker Hughes Inc. With gas rigs down by one, the total oil and gas rig count now stand at 936 rigs, still up 430 rigs from the year prior. (9/16)

ANWR: The Trump administration is quietly moving to allow energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in more than 30 years, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, with a draft rule that would lay the groundwork for drilling. (9/16)

Bankruptcy: Seadrill Ltd., one of the world’s largest offshore drilling companies, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the Southern District Texas court as part of a plan to restructure roughly $10 billion in debt. The Bermuda-based company is controlled by Norwegian shipping magnate John Fredriksen and operates a fleet of 68 rigs and drillships for customers including Total, Petrobras Brasileiro and Exxon Mobil. (9/13)

Energy traders and natural gas pipeline companies on Friday hailed a US federal regulator’s decision to overturn New York’s denial of a water permit for building the Millennium Pipeline in the state.  Environmental groups and other opponents of fracking blasted the decision, saying it violated the state’s authority. (9/16)

Demand: Even before Hurricane Harvey shut down more than 20 percent of US refining capacity, US diesel, jet fuel, and heating oil stocks had dropped during the summer months for the first time since record-keeping began in 1982.  That was thanks to a surprisingly high summer demand for all three products. (9/16)

The Haynesville: Natural gas producers are beginning to yield dividends from a bid to reverse declining production in one of the region’s seemingly forgotten shale plays–the Haynesville of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. Production from the Haynesville is already up by nearly 15% over the last 12 months, when the rig count has tripled.   Interest in the play comes in spite of relatively weak internal rates of return there, which have averaged just 11% over the last year vs. 14% in both the Utica and the Marcellus. (9/16)

SPR: Hurricanes Harvey and Irma demonstrate the importance of keeping the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said, in a not-so-subtle rebuke to President Donald Trump. The reserve is a stockpile that can hold more than 700 million barrels of crude. Trump’s budget proposal this year called for selling half the reserve, saying it was no longer useful in a time of US oil surpluses. (9/16)

Fracking ban? The Delaware Basin River Commission, a joint federal-state entity, on Wednesday voted to move ahead with a rulemaking that would prohibit horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing across a large swath of eastern Pennsylvania, as well as the states of New York, Delaware and New Jersey. (9/14)

The Jones Act: Gas prices would be lower today in most parts of the US were it not for shipping restrictions enshrined in a 97-old-year shipping law called the Jones Act, which strictly prohibits the free flow of trade by water between US states. The 1920s-era law requires sea trade between any US ports to be carried on US-built ships that are US-owned, US-flagged and with a crew made up of at least 75 percent US citizens. These restrictions have, over time, shrunk the US oceangoing merchant-marine fleet to the point that it’s now just 5 percent of the size it was in 1960. (9/12)

The seven-day Jones Act waiver announced Friday by the Department of Homeland Security in recognition of the severity of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma prompted a flurry of activity for non-US flagged Medium Range tankers loading gasoline on the US Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast to sail to Florida. (9/14)

Our consumption of sand is outpacing our understanding of the economics and environmental impacts of extracting, transporting, and consuming it, finds research published last Thursday in the journal Science. Out of the complexity of the global sand trade has emerged something of a butterfly effect, in which an economic decision in one place can wreak social and environmental havoc on the other side of the world. (9/16)

China, blighted by pollution and long known for churning out cheap manufactured goods, is looking to dominate the high-end of a major growth market: solar power. Under a new program, China is pushing the industry to mass market high-performance solar cells so far used mainly in high-tech products like satellites. Making these cells more affordable will likely further boost a sector that has already disrupted global electricity generation. (9/14)

Wind JV: China and the UK have teamed up to develop the next generation of offshore wind power capacity, with a focus on identifying the best locations for the new installations and making them more resilient to harsh weather conditions including typhoons and earthquakes. The UK’s Natural Environment Research Council said research teams from the two countries would work together on five projects. (9/12)

Coal to Ukraine: The first batch of US coal sent to Ukraine could open additional doors for bilateral energy trade, according to Minister Volodymyr Omelyan after declaring a state of emergency because of coal blockades in eastern Ukraine. (9/16)

Nuke shutdown: Both generating units at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami were shut over the weekend as Hurricane Irma moved along Florida’s coast, while one reactor at its two-unit St. Lucie plant, also located on the Florida coast, shut Monday after the storm had passed. Crews are working to restart all three units, a process that can take about a day. (9/12)

South Korea is eyeing independence from nuclear energy, to be implemented gradually over the next six decades. As part of this shift away from nuclear power and into renewables, the government has shut down a nuclear power plant built in the 1970s and temporarily suspended the construction of two new ones. There are 24 nuclear reactors in operation across the country and another four under construction. (9/16)

Iranian and Syrian media have reported the signing, by officials from the two countries, of several agreements that would allow Iran to improve the production and distribution of electricity in war-torn Syria. One agreement reportedly includes the building of a 540-megawatt power plant in the Latakia province, while another targets the restoration of the main control center of Syria’s power grid. (9/14)

EV + peaking: According to the British National Grid, the growing use of electric vehicles could increase electricity peak demand by 3.5 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. This will occur since sales of EVs are expected to be more than 90 percent of all British car purchases by 2050. (9/15)

EVs in China: China is preparing to announce the date from which internal combustion engine car sales will be banned, joining Norway, France, and the UK, among others, that have declared a complete shift to electric vehicles. A ministry is working with regulators on the timetable of the phasing-out. The deadline could be set for more than two decades from now. China has moved to the forefront of the EV revolution, producing 375,000 EVs last year. This constituted 43 percent of global electric car production. (9/12)

EV conundrum: European car bosses gathering for the Frankfurt auto show are beginning to address the realities of mass vehicle electrification, and its consequences for jobs and profit, their minds focused by government pledges to outlaw the combustion engine. As the latest such announcement by China added momentum to a push for zero-emissions motoring, Daimler, Volkswagen and PSA Group gave details about their electric programs that could give policymakers some pause. Planned electric Mercedes models will initially be just half as profitable as conventional alternatives, Daimler warned – forcing the group to find savings by outsourcing more component manufacturing, which may, in turn, threaten German jobs. (9/12)

Diesel vs. EVs: In Germany, threats by politicians to ban diesel cars from cities have scared off customers, and sales of new models plunged 14 percent in August from a year ago, Germany’s federal motor vehicle agency said. As sales of diesel-powered cars decline in Europe, the continent’s car makers, heavily invested in the technology, are scrambling to offset the shortfall. Electric cars, often seen as the future of the industry, aren’t the solution—at least not yet. European auto manufacturers polled by The Wall Street Journal said demand for electric vehicles remained too small for them to replace diesel cars anytime soon. (9/13)

Battery push: A123 Systems LLC, a developer, and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and systems, has invested in Solid Power Inc., a developer of solid-state battery technology. The Solid Power batteries provide substantially higher energy than conventional lithium ion (2-3X greater) while also enabling lower cost systems due to the potential for eliminating many of the costly safety features typically associated with lithium-ion systems. (9/15)

Venezuelans tend to keep rabbits as pets and do not view them as a source of meat. Venezuelan President Maduro has devised a “rabbit plan” to counter the economic war he says is being waged against his government by “imperialist forces”. The president urged crisis-hit Venezuelans to breed rabbits and eat them as a source of animal protein. Venezuela is facing record levels of child malnutrition amid persistent food shortages. (9/14)