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Halliburton, Baker Hughes merge; Keystone XL returns; US, China go green [Recharge]

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J. Scott Applewhite/AP/File

(Read caption) Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana stands behind Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) at the Capitol in Washington. Senator Landrieu is pushing for the Senate to vote on approving the Keystone XL pipeline this week.

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From Halliburton's big deal with Baker Hughes to US-China climate accords, each weekend Recharge examines the big ideas in global energy. Subscribe for free.

Oil's futureOil prices have fallen 29 percent in less than five months, prompting pared-back investments in shale and a merger between oil-field giants Halliburton and Baker Hughes. But oil is unlikely to stay cheap forever. The International Energy Agency's latest outlook suggests low prices will be short-lived, with demand for oil expected to increase 37 percent by 2040.

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XL: Debate over the Keystone XL pipeline resurfaced as the US Congress began its lame duck session Wednesday. Sen. Landrieu (D) of Louisiana – looking for a win before her December runoff – pushed the Senate for a vote on the long-delayed pipeline. Minutes later, Rep. Cassidy (R) – her runoff opponent – introduced identical legislation in the House. The White House has signaled it would consider a veto.

Recommended:Keystone XL: 5 basic things you should know

Breakthrough: China and the US unveiled an ambitious climate agreement at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. The deal bolsters US emissions cuts, and commits China to reaching peak emissions by 2030. Some observers said it wasn't bold enough to stem global warming, while GOP lawmakers said they were "distressed" by the promise of deep carbon cuts. Still, any agreement between the world's two biggest emitters is a breakthrough, and could build momentum ahead of 2015 climate talks in Paris.

In the pipeline

  • Tuesday, Nov. 18: WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House passed Rep. Cassidy's Keystone XL bill Friday, and the Senate will take up Sen. Landrieu's identical bill as early as Tuesday. At last count, it appeared Landrieu was one vote short of a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority – though she said in a floor speech she was confident she could rally 60 votes to pass it.

Drill deeper

Coal versus climate in Australia [Al-Jazeera]
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has kept climate change off the formal agenda at the G20 summit his nation is hosting this weekend. It's partly because Australia is the world's second-largest exporter of carbon-heavy coal, and caps on carbon emissions threaten to stifle its mining industry. Abbott has scrapped Australia's carbon trading scheme and defunded renewable energy programs.

Climate deal shines sun on Bay Area solar [San Francisco Chronicle]
“[The US-China climate agreement] of course is all long term, but even if these agreements are weak on the details, they’re incredibly important to industries like solar," says Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar Energy Industries Association. "They give investors and consumers confidence in the industries’ future."

Everything You Need to Know about the U.S.-China Climate Change Agreement [Scientific American]
Leaders of the world's heaviest polluters have agreed to scale back emissions, and Scientific American takes a look at the nitty-gritty of the deal – from the rate at which each country is looking to reduce emissions, to how big an impact it'll have on the climate. China and the US together account for 40 percent of greenhouse gases, so reductions from both have the potential to move the needle on global warming.

Energy sources

  • IEA: "The short-term picture of a well-supplied oil market should not disguise the challenges that lie ahead as reliance grows on a relatively small number of producers. Regional oil demand trends are quite distinct: for each barrel of oil no longer used in OECD countries, two barrels more are used in the non-OECD. Increased oil use ... drives demand higher, from 90 million barrels per day (mb/d) in 2013 to 104 mb/d in 2040 ..."
  • US District Court Judge Carl Barbier : "BP’s motion [to reconsider a ruling that found BP "grossly negligent" in the Deepwater Horizon spill] represents a belated attempt to exclude testimony elicited in part by its own cross-examination ... BP’s Motion to Amend the Findings, Alter or Amend the Judgment, or for a New Trial ... is DENIED."
  • EIA: "Brent crude oil spot prices averaged $87/bbl in October, the first month Brent prices have averaged below $90/bbl since November 2010. EIA projects that Brent crude oil prices will average $83/bbl in 2015, $18/bbl lower than forecast in last month's STEO [Short Term Energy Outlook]."

From Keystone XL to Halliburton to international climate talks, Recharge delivers global energy's big ideas to your inbox each Saturday. Subscribe for free.