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Top 5 stories

1) Global oil price jumps on Yemen attack – while US oil glut risks $20 per barrel 

Brent crude prices jumped to almost $60 per barrel this morning following Saudi Arabia’s bombing of targets in Yemen, various outlets including Reuters, Bloomberg and WSJ reported.

Bloomberg pointed out that this was the biggest five-day gain since 2011.

While Yemen contributes less than 0.2% of global oil output, its location puts it near the center of world energy trade, Bloomberg explained.

The airstrikes raised concerns that fighting in the oil-rich Middle East was out of control and spreading, Reuters writes.

Meanwhile, in the US, oil in storage reached new peaks after rising for the 11th week in a row – with the potential to push US oil to as low as $20 per barrel – a Bloomberg video shows.

But despite the glut, WSJ reported the weakening dollar continues to fire up a rally of the US oil price to the verge of $50 a barrel for the first time since March 9.

2) Shell’s Arctic drilling rigs en route as regulation decision is pending

Any day now, the US government  is set to announce whether it will reaffirm a seven-year-old government auction of oil leases in the Chukchi Sea — a decision critical to Shell’s plans to resume drilling in those Arctic waters this summer, the Alaska Dispatch News writes.

The local press highlights that even before the pending decision, Shell has begun moving its drilling rigs Noble Discoverer and Polar Pioneer (shown below) to the region, even though it must secure a raft of government approvals first.

Both of the rigs are en route to Seattle, where there has been community pushback over the port’s decision to let Shell have its Arctic Drilling base there, amid green groups launching a lawsuitA Seattle Times editorial, however, commends the economic arguments for Shell’s lease agreement.

3) Japan courts controversy for supporting coal with climate funds, while Abbot attempts to block US, UK, and French coal export finance

Japan is continuing to finance the construction of coal-power plants in India and Bangladesh with money earmarked for climate change, despite mounting protests, AP has discovered.

Meanwhile, a leaked paper showed that the Abbott government has put itself on a collision course with the US, France and the UK, over government funding for coal-fired power plants abroad – the Sydney Morning Herald reports.

Meanwhile in the markets Australian thermal coal prices — the benchmark for the giant Asian market — have fallen as traders worry over the outcome of crucial contract talks with Japanese utility companies, the FT reports.

Oilprice.com writes that weak chinese demand could undermine entire global coal market, while a Forbes contributor argues that Indian coal demand could see Austrialian coal prices rise.

4) US coal slump tracked

Vice and Grist covered the Carbon Tracker Initiative’s new report on the decline in US coal, with Grist summing up in its headline “The coal industry is so totally screwed”.

The CTI report found more than 260 US coal mines closed between 2001 and 2013, and since 2009, the market value of the US coal sector has dropped by 76%.

Vice reported that US official figures show while coal is still the single biggest fuel in US power plants, its share of the market has dropped from more than 50% of electric production in 2000 to less than 40% last year.

5) Coalition government has spent billions on clean energy – and created jobs

The UK has invested approximately £37 billion in renewable energy since 2010, and that there is more to come over the rest of this decade, according to a new report out by DECC, Clean Technica reports.

The UK low carbon economy was worth £122bn in 2013 and has been growing at 7% a year, Business Green writes. The sector supports over 460,000 jobs, which equates to around 1.5 of every 100 UK jobs, it continues.

Meanwhile, work starts on £25m east Hull business park tipped for green energy giant CS Wind, which could create 200 jobs, local press report.

In other news

The Hebei-based unit of PowerChina has started work on the 49.5-MW Dawood wind power plant in Pakistan’s province of Sindh.

Eleven Native American communities in the US are planning to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies on tribal lands, with help from government grants, reports Clean Technica.

Maryland senate passes bill to declare fracking an ‘ultrahazardous activity’, Climate Progress reports, while the Canadian government rejects a ban on fracking proposed in Ontario.