Fracking In California Under Spotlight As Some Local Municipalities Issue Bans

Oil Rig Count Continues To Plunge, with a Baker Hughes rig survey reporting the number of rigs is down 30% from November. “America’s oil and gas drillers laid down 98 rigs last week, 84 oil rigs and 14 gas rigs. The number of rigs drilling horizontal wells into shale formations topped out at 1,372 in November. This week it’s down to 1,025. That 30%+ reduction is in line with the average 30% capex reductions announced by America’s independent drillers, with some like Continental Resources CLR +1.59% and Pioneer Natural Resources PXD +6.55% cutting capex by 50% and 45%, respectively.

The declines in rigs haven’t yet translated into lower U.S. oil production. This week domestic production was 9.2 million barrels per day, up 49,000 bpd over last week. But growth in U.S. oil output has slowed. Last week’s numbers showed a decline in production of 36,000 bpd.” [Forbes]

California scientists have released initial details of a telescope they are constructing to study ‘dark energy’. “The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope is being purpose-built to discover more about the force that is accelerating the expansion of the Universe.

The LSST will study 20 billion galaxies in order to calculate the recession rate through cosmic time.

Its camera will be built at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory near Palo Alto.” [BBC News]

A new book released by journalist Steve Levine is investigating the potential of battery investment and storage transforming the auto and utility industries. “This globe-spanning tale involves everyone from President Obama to China’s top technocrats to a collection of quirky “battery geniuses” (meet one,John Goodenough, in this excerpt). For the book, LeVine was granted extended access to the “Energy Innovation Hub” for batteries and energy storage created in 2012 by the Obama administration at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Ill.” [NY Times]