News Roundups

Gas companies are abandoning their wells, the end of oil, and more

Daily stimulus and recovery news headlines from September 18, 2020.

UN chief: don’t ‘throw away’ stimulus money on fossil fuels

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called Thursday on governments not to “throw away” economic stimulus funds by supporting fossil fuel industries that contribute to global warming.

Speaking at a virtual conference on climate change, Guterres noted that countries have “a choice of two paths” as they mobilize trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money for economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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U.S. Oil Fund Faces Merged Suits Over Covid-19, Price War Risks

Nutit A.S. suffered the largest alleged losses and will be the lead plaintiff in consolidated class complaints alleging United States Oil Fund LP kept important Covid-19 and price war information from investors, a New York federal court ruled.

Nutit, Heritage Investment Corp., and other shareholders allege U.S. Oil failed to disclose alleged risks to the fund when it submitted statements to the Securities and Exchange Commission in February and March.

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Is it the end of the oil age?

Oil fuelled the 20th century—its cars, its wars, its economy and its geopolitics. Now the world is in the midst of an energy shock that is speeding up the shift to a new order. As covid-19 struck the global economy earlier this year, demand for oil dropped by more than a fifth and prices collapsed. Since then there has been a jittery recovery, but a return to the old world is unlikely. Fossil-fuel producers are being forced to confront their vulnerabilities. ExxonMobil has been ejected from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, having been a member since 1928.

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Gas Companies Are Abandoning Their Wells, Leaving Them to Leak Methane Forever

The story of gas well No. 095-20708 begins on Nov. 10, 1984, when a drill bit broke the Earth’s surface 4 miles north of Rio Vista, Calif. Wells don’t have birthdays, so this was its “spud date.”

The drill chewed through the dirt at a rate of 80 ½ feet per hour, reaching 846 feet below ground that first day. By Thanksgiving it had gotten a mile down, finally stopping 49 days later, having laid 2.2 miles of steel pipe and cement on its way to the “pay zone,” an underground field containing millions of dollars’ worth of natural gas.

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Opinion: After Oil: Throwing Money at Green Energy Isn’t Enough

The geopolitical and geo-economic forces wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, as examined previously in this series, are likely to slow the transition to a more sustainable global energy mix. Fortunately, the pandemic has also resulted in governments gaining vastly greater influence over whether this shift stalls or accelerates.

To push ahead, governments will need to go beyond simply devoting stimulus funds to cleaner energy, however welcome that is. Ultimately, policies will be more important than government spending in creating an environment in which all actors have sufficient incentive to advance the energy transition.

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