U.K. Offers Cheaper Water to Attract Shale Drillers
Britain’s water utilities are ready to give discounts for drillers needing supplies for fracking oil and natural gas wells. A reduction would help make the technique to extract hydrocarbon reserves more profitable in Britain, where municipal water rates often are two-thirds higher than in the U.S. Water supplies are crucial to drillers because fracking one well requires 5 million gallons on average. Cheaper water along with tax breaks and government aid will support Prime Minister David Cameron’s goal to draw investment for petroleum production in the U.K. as wells in the North Sea go dry.
American Electric CEO Expects Cheap Gas and Fickle Coal
American Electric Power Co., the biggest consumer of coal, sees stable natural gas prices and continued unpredictability in the cost of coal as plants are put out of commission to meet tighter pollution standards. CEO Nick Akins said on an interview that he does not see a major shift in the price of gas within the next decade because of the success of natural gas explorations. American Electric’s coal consumption has dropped to about 55 million tons a year from a peak of 80 million in 2007. Akins adds that the company’s future resource will be natural gas.
Shunfeng PV Surges on Suntech Unit Bid
Shunfeng Photovoltaic International Ltd., a Chinese solar panel maker, climbed to the highest price in Hong Kong since its initial public offering in 2011 after bidding for the main unit of Suntech Power Holdings Co. The stock surged as much as 20% to a record HK $3.95 and traded at HK$3.83. Shunfeng paid a deposit of $82 million to the administrator of Wuxi Suntech, which is refundable should the bid fail. Shunfeng plans to fund the acquisition by raising debt or capital or by forming a joint venture. It may also use its own resources or a combination of all the options.
Sidelined Inspectors Leave Gaps in Safety Monitoring
The partial shutdown of the U.S. government has sidelined thousands of inspectors who monitor everything from air and water pollution as well as safety hazards in most areas of the working industry. Officials say they are directing resources to the most critical functions to handle imminent health and safety risks. Federal law requires agencies to retain workers whose jobs are deemed necessary to protect life and property. Even so, government regulators say that skeletal staff has a higher risk of missing hazards as the cutbacks mean safety regulators cannot do routine inspections of high-hazard workplaces such as chemical and nuclear plants.