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Best of the Blogs, Energy: Shell Makes $550 Million Deal With Family of Late Billionaire Dan Duncan


Plus, New Natural Gas Wealth Means Historic Change for Israel

MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL This column highlights the most interesting and useful business and financial commentary on energy from around the Web every Tuesday.

Link: Shell Towers Deal Would Be 'Safe' Place for Duncan Money

"A potentially huge deal in which the family of late billionaire Dan Duncan is reportedly paying about $550 million for Shell Oil's (RDS-B) downtown headquarters would provide a solid investment in an uncertain economy, observers said Monday.

"'It's almost as if they don't care about the price they pay,' Fasulo said. 'They see the government printing money, uncertainty in Europe, the possibility of a double dip recession. They just want to put their money someplace safe.'

"Duncan founded Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD), which is housed downtown in Enterprise Plaza at 1100 Louisiana. An affiliate of privately held EPCO, founded in 1968 by Dan Duncan, owns that building."

New York Times: Green
Link: Fracking Did Not Sully Aquifers, Limited Study Finds
A new study enters the debate over the safety of hydraulic fracturing: researchers report that naturally occurring paths in the rock bed in northeastern Pennsylvania allowed some contaminants to migrate into shallow drinking aquifers. They found no direct connection between the contamination and shale-gas drilling operations in the region, however.

"Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into horizontal gas wells deep underground to crack open shale and extract natural gas. The use of the process has expanded in recent years in the northeastern United States and is under way in Poland, China, Australia and New Zealand.

"'There's a huge gap between the different debates that take place relative to actual scientific evidence,' he said. 'We're really in the beginning of understanding the impact of shale gas on the environment.'"

National Geographic: The Great Energy Challenge
New Natural Gas Wealth Means Historic Change for Israel
"Israel's northern port city of Haifa has been a crucial energy center for decades; refineries dating back to the British Mandate in this land have long processed the oil sent by pipeline or shipped here from abroad. Today, rigs are working off Haifa's coast to tap the first major fossil-fuel reserve ever found in Israel's territory, a store on which it hopes to build a far more independent energy future.

"'If it's played right, it's an economic opportunity for Israel, in public health and environmentally,' says Brenda Shaffer, an expert on energy policy and management at the University of Haifa. But she strikes a note of caution, especially because the enormous size of Israel's energy prize has led, inevitably, to planning for sale of natural gas abroad. 'Energy export is always a two-headed sword,' Shaffer says.

"'This is going to change the overall way of the economy of Israel,' says Shaul Zemach, director general of Israel's Ministry of Energy and Water Resources. 'It's like a domino-it's going to have a domino effect on all of the markets.' Quite simply, he said, it's a 'game changer.'"

Wall Street Journal: Driver's Seat
: Gas Prices Creep Upward After Weeks of Steady Decline

"If the price of gas seemed a little high toward the tail end of your July 4 road trip, it wasn't your imagination. After declining for several weeks the price of a gallon of gasoline is rising.

"The average price per gallon for regular gas is $3.38 compared with $3.33 a week ago, according to travel group AAA. The change continues what has been an unusual year for fuel-pricing trends. Gasoline in the US typically gets more expensive with the approach and arrival of the summer driving season, which begins around Memorial Day. But this year the price peaked over $3.90 in April and has been falling ever since."

Autoblog Green
Link: EVs do more environmental harm than good, author argues

"A visiting scholar at UC Berkeley has published a book that argues that electric vehicles hurt the environment more than they help it and that EVs are more of a marketing symbol than a way to cut greenhouse gas emissions, Wired reported.

"Zehner, a former General Motors (GM) employee, also argues that EV prices aren't likely to fall much further because the technological advances related to their production have already been achieved. The book casts a vote for public-transportation improvements as a better way for governments to help the environment than funding electric-drive technology."

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