Global Energy News Roundup: May 23

Newsroundup42-471x315The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on Forum on Energy and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

Senate Confirms Moniz as Energy Secretary
Ernesto Moniz was sworn in as the 13th Secretary of Energy on May 21, 2013. His early include advancing President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy; maintaining nuclear deterrent and reducing nuclear danger; and promoting U.S. leadership in science and clean technology. In his first speech, Moniz said his first briefing on liquefied natural gas would happen on May 22, and he committed to reviewing existing studies and determining where additional data would be needed before proceeding to an “expeditious,” “case-by-case” determination of whether the applications are in the public interest. Additional studies may be needed for that process, but none are planned at the moment, he said.
Sources: Associated Press, E&E (1,2)

Japan Atomic Power Calls NRA Determination of Active Fault Unfair
The President of Japan Atomic Power, Mr. Yasuo Hamada, calls the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s determination on the safety of the Tsuruga plant premature. He argues that Japan Atomic Power was not invited to take part in a meeting where experts concluded that the plant was located on an active tectonic fault and therefore unsafe. Nuclear power plants are not allowed to build or operate on active faults. The conclusion by the experts means that the Tsuruga plant must be decommissioned. This will be a heavy blow for Japan Atomic Power.
Source: The Japan Times

Southeast Asian Nations Continue Preparations for New Nuclear
Pongkrit Siripirom, director of Thailand’s Bureau of Safety Regulation under Thailand’s Office of Atomic for Peace, says the government should still develop the safety and regulatory frameworks necessary for commercial nuclear power even as the initial 2026 target has been delayed. Elsewhere in the region, Vietnam plans to produce 2,000 megawatts of new nuclear power by 2020, Indonesia hopes to build its first reactor in 2016 and Malaysia is conducting a nuclear power plant feasibility study. In each case, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Asian Nuclear Safety Network will provide assistance. The Asahi Shimbun has also reported that Japan and India will restart official negotiations on a nuclear energy agreement. The negotiations stalled following the Fukushima accident and will have to address concerns that India is not a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Sources: BusinessWeek, Asahi Shimbun

Federal Panel Rejects Environmental Challenge to Plant Vogtle
A panel of three judges from the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC denied a challenge to the NRC’s license and design-certification for Plant Vogtle in Georgia. Nine environmental groups contended that the NRC failed to properly account for Fukushima lessons when granting approval for the project. In the panel’s decision, U.S. Circuit Judge Harry Edwards states, “NRC thoroughly analyzed the environmental consequences of severe accidents for Vogtle.” NRC’s February 2012 approval of the licenses to build the new Plant Vogtle reactors was the first of its kind in over 30 years.
Source: Associated Press              

DOE Approves Second Export License; Third to Come Soon
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) conditionally authorized a second company on May 17 to export natural gas to countries that do not have free-trade agreements with the United States. DOE’s decision would allow Freeport LNG Expansion LP and FLNG Liquefaction LLC to export liquefied natural gas from Quintana Island, Texas. According to Senator Murkowski, it is likely that the approval process will be faster. At a news conference on May 21, Murkowski reported that Chris Smith, DOE’s acting assistant secretary for fossil energy, told Murkowski that the department would grant conditional approval for the latest project in Louisiana within months, but that the ultimate timeline rests with incoming Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.
Sources: E&E (1,2)