Duke Energy Corp. (DUK), CMS Energy Corp. (CMS), American Electric Power Co. (AEP) and other energy companies must face antitrust lawsuits by natural gas buyers alleging they manipulated prices during California’s energy crisis more than a decade ago, a federal appeals court ruled today.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco today reversed a lower court’s dismissal of claims against companies and reinstated a group of antitrust lawsuits, saying the allegations weren’t pre-empted by federal law. The energy firms are accused in the cases, consolidated in federal court in Las Vegas, of manipulating prices from 2000 to 2002.
The appeals court concluded in its ruling that the U.S. Natural Gas Act, which provides the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with jurisdiction over certain rates practices, doesn’t stand in the way of buyers pursuing state-law antitrust cases over energy prices. During the power crisis, prices rose 10-fold, businesses and consumers endured rolling blackouts, and California’s two largest utilities became insolvent. Read more
House Republicans said President Barack Obama is taking too long to decide on the Keystone XL pipeline as they defended a bill that again seeks to force a decision on one of the nation’s most-political energy debates.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s panel on energy and power held a hearing yesterday on legislation that would allow the pipeline to be built without Obama’s approval. The committee may vote on the bill next week. The Senate isn’t considering a similar measure.
TransCanada Corp.’s (TRP) $5.3 billion pipeline, which would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to U.S. refineries near the Gulf of Mexico, has been among the most prominent energy fights for the past two years. The hearing shows the issue probably will remain so until the Obama administration makes a final decision. Read more
The IEA reduced its estimate by 45,000 barrels a day, predicting that world consumption will increase by a “subdued” 795,000 barrels a day, or 0.9 percent, to 90.58 million barrels a day this year. European demand will slump by 340,000 barrels a day. Still, an imminent recovery in refinery operations after maintenance and political threats to supply mean “it may be too early to call a bear market,” the IEA said.
“Europe remains by far the worst affected of all the large oil consumption regions, as the ravages of the bleak macroeconomic backdrop continues to take its toll,” the Paris- based group said in its monthly oil market report. Read more
West Texas Intermediate halted a three-day advance as the International Energy Agency lowered its forecast for oil demand and U.S. crude inventories climbed to a 22-year high.
Futures were little changed in New York, paring an earlier loss of as much as 0.5 percent. The IEA downgraded its estimate for global consumption for a third month and predicted the weakest demand in Europe since the 1980s. Citigroup Inc. said today that downward pressures on crude prices have grown. U.S. stockpiles increased last week to the highest level since July 1990, a government report showed yesterday.
“Demand remains subdued and supplies are adequate,” said Andrey Kryuchenkov, an analyst at VTB Capital in London, who predicted that WTI will struggle to climb above $98 a barrel this month. Read more
The complex is designed to process yellowcake — uranium in its raw form — and is located in the city of Ardakan, state television said. Named Shahid Rezainejad, it will produce about 60 tons of yellowcake annually, Press TV and other state media reported. The country also started operations in the Saghand mines, where it will extract uranium from a depth of 350 meters (1,100 feet), according to the reports.
“Western nations want to have a monopoly on science and technology, they didn’t want our nuclear technology to flourish,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in today’s ceremony at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran in Tehran. “You couldn’t stop us from developing the technology,” he said. “Nobody will be able to put the brakes on Iran’s nuclear progress.” Read more