http://localhost:4503/content/ogj/en/blogs/health-safety-and-environmental.html2014-12-11T15:03:56.688ZHealth, Safety & EnvironmentalAdobe Experience ManagerNew consortium seeks to simplify biofuel certification standardsnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterBoeing and a Swiss group on Mar. 22 launched the Sustainable Biomass Consortium, a research initiative seeking to help develop and simplify biofuel certification standards. The Swiss group, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) recently created the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels.<br /><br />The consortium plans to use the roundtable’s sustainability standard to set regional benchmarks based on aviation biofuel projects. Various airlines already have tested biofuels. The consortium plans to work with groups implementing voluntary standards or regulatory requirements for biomass used in jet fuel.<br /><br />Research projects will commence in April, and the anticipated work during the next 2 years will include projects in China, Africa, the European Union, Latin America, North America, and the Asia-Pacific region.<br /><br />Billy Glover, vice-president of environmental and aviation policy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said the aviation industry needs sustainable biofuel development.<br /><br />“This consortium will help ensure we have a transparent way to collaborate among certification processes that guide us towards a more sustainable future,” Glover said.<br /><br />Sustainable biofuel development is a key element of the aviation industry’s strategy to lower its carbon emissions, he added. Meanwhile, unrest in the Middle East has driven up jet fuel prices, emphasizing the importance of alternate fuel sources.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-7125144539622626237?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-71251445396226262372011-03-23T15:02:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:21.495ZExxon’s Tillerson disputes comment by BP’s Dudleynoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterTension continues to surface regarding the Macondo well blowout and Gulf of Mexico oil spill nearly 1 year ago. ExxonMobil Corp. Chief Executive Rex Tillerson criticized comments made by BP PLC’s Chief Executive Bob Dudly at the IHS-CERA energy conference.<br /><br />On Mar. 8 in Houston, Dudley said industry can learn from safety issues identified since the Apr. 20, 2010, Macondo well control incident in 5,000 ft of water off Louisiana. The blowout caused an explosion that killed 11 people aboard Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible drilling rig.<br /><br />During a separate Mar. 9 news conference, Tillerson said the accident and spill primarily stemmed from management oversights by BP. Tillerson met with reporters following Exxon’s analyst meeting in New York.<br /><br />“I think those comments are a great disservice to this industry,” Tillerson said of Dudley’s remarks. “This conclusion that this is a bigger problem for the industry is just wrong.”<br /><br />Top executives of major oil companies rarely express negative comments about one another, but Tillerson openly disputed Dudley’s comments.<br /><br />“I think the industry manages this risk well. When you do things the proper way, these things don’t happen,” Tillerson said. He believes Exxon manages risk well, relying on a system it developed after the Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.<br /><br />Tillerson’s unhappiness with his BP counterpart's industry remarks is an unusual demonstration of tension between oil companies.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-9149084681966049391?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-91490846819660493912011-03-16T20:44:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:22.727ZFBR Capital: “No cookie-cutter process” for offshore drilling permitsnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterAnalysts are cautious about the pace that the US government might take in issuing deepwater drilling permits.<br /><br />The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement approved the first Application for Permit to Drill (APD) for the deepwater Gulf of Mexico since the Macondo well blowout in April 2010 and the resulting oil spill.<br /><br />“BOEMRE’s case-by-case evaluation of spill containment resources will not produce a cookie-cutter process for APD approvals, which are site specific and may require additional resources from operators,” FBR Capital Markets analyst Benjamin Salisbury said in a recent research note.<br /><br />He believes the resumption of deepwater permitting “marks the beginning of a long period of slow approvals.” This is because BOEMRE significantly increased the volume of work involved in its review, verification, and approval of each permit application.<br /><br />BOEMRE Director Michael Bromwich wrote an opinion article for the Houston Chronicle in which he said: “We need to ensure that our new drilling safety rules are fully complied with; we need to review certifications by professional engineers of every stage of the drilling process; and in many cases, we need to conduct more detailed environmental reviews. All of these steps are necessary and appropriate, but they extend the time needed to approve permits.”<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-6755592722526893374?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-67555927225268933742011-03-07T22:02:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:23.414ZRFF suggests putting deepwater risks in contextnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterResources for the Future, an independent economic research group, suggests that neither government or the oil and gas industry yet has adjusted to the high-risk context of deepwater operations. RAF recommends setting liability caps for individual wells at a level reflecting damages from worst-case spill scenarios.<br /><br />Lynn Scarlett, RFF visiting scholar and former deputy secretary of the interior, made this comment during a Feb. 15 luncheon symposium hosted by ConocoPhillips at its Houston headquarters.<br /><br />“One might argue it is rocket science,” Scarlett said of regulating drilling and production activities in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. “No project is business as usual.”<br /><br />RFF recommends that third-party insurance should be researched as a possible way to strengthen external monitoring of deepwater oil and gas operations. If insurance pools are used to assist smaller firms, fees should be related to risk, Scarlett said.<br /><br />She said both government and the private sector lacked capacity and practices for performing adequate risk assessments.<br /><br />‘You just don’t know what you don’t know,” Scarlett said, adding that risk assessment capacity and practices will be a key issue for both industry and regulators going forward after the April 2010 Macondo well blowout and resulting massive oil spill in the gulf.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-7790964116222717366?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-77909641162227173662011-03-02T16:04:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:25.816ZEU advocates stronger carbon-market securitynoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterThe European Commission is advocating that European governments strengthen security measures for the European carbon market. On Jan. 19, the commission suspended transactions because of repeated thefts that were reportedly worth millions of euros.<br /><br />The commission on Feb. 23 outlined a list of security recommendations that it has submitted to the EU Climate Change Committee. Allowances to emit carbon dioxide are traded on the carbon market.<br /><br />Connie Hedegaard, European Commissioner for Climate Action, said possible short-term actions include regularly reviewing security plans, reinforcing registry account policies and identity checks, and training registry users.<br /><br />“For the medium- and long-term, we reinforce efforts to identify solutions in cooperation both with member states and through a regular dialogue with stakeholders,” Hedegaard said. A March meeting is planned for stakeholders to discuss addressing stolen allowances.<br /><br />The commission soon plans to propose modifying the EU Registry regulation to provide a stronger legal protection to safeguard the integrity of the carbon market and to uphold the reputation of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-8168931279627290799?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-81689312796272907992011-02-23T18:05:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:27.236ZIndustry keeping tabs on funding request for US BOEMREnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterPresident Barack Obama requested $358.4 million to fund the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) in fiscal 2012. Oil companies operating in deepwater and offshore drilling contractors will be watching closely to see how Congress responds.<br /><br />Following the April 2010 blowout of the Macondo well and the resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, government officials have acknowledged BOEMRE, formerly the Minerals Management Service, historically was underfunded. Lack of funding reportedly has hindered the agency's regulatory oversight of oil and gas activities.<br /><br />Industry spokesmen have told OGJ that BOEMRE needs technically savvy inspectors and engineers who can keep up with deepwater drilling advances. BOEMRE also needs enough people to help streamline the approval process for deepwater drilling permits.<br /><br />The requested BOEMRE budget marks a 50% increase above the 2010 funding level after adjusting for the reorganization of the MMS. Additional funding would be used to hire more inspectors, engineers, scientists, and others to oversee industry operations and to review offshore safety systems.<br /><br />Industry agrees that BOEMRE needs more people. One issue that cannot be resolved by any budget request is the question of how to recruit and train additional BOEMRE inspectors so that they can be brought up to speed on the complex drilling equipment that they will be inspecting.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-8613909333191427473?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-86139093331914274732011-02-16T22:48:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:28.265ZReal-time IT becoming more important to drilling contractorsnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterReal-time drilling information is become more important to contractors and operators following the April 2010 deepwater Macondo well blowout and resulting explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible, speakers acknowledged at a recent energy forum in Houston.<br /><br />Investigators looking into the cause of the accident have questioned who had access to what drilling information about the Macondo well and the timing of that information. The blast killed 11 crew members, and the semi later sank. Industry and government jointly responded to a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. <br /><br />During a Feb. 2 panel discussion on consolidation within service companies, Amy Meyers Jaffe of Rice University’s Baker Institute suggested “the better players” among drilling contractors are going to offer top-notch information services.<br /><br />“I see a real push post-Macondo for real-time information,” said Jaffe. She moderated the panel discussion during an Energy Mergers and Acquisitions Forum sponsored by Mergermarket.<br /><br />William D. Marsh, Baker Hughes Inc. vice-president legal-Western Hemisphere, agreed that software and IT is becoming much more important to Baker Hughes and its competitors.<br /><br />Lackland H. Bloom, a managing director with J.P. Morgan, said that IT remains the domain of major service companies. He described “isolated circumstances” for information-services companies outside the oil and gas industry to gain exposure within the energy industry.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-7674362151951790054?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-76743621519517900542011-02-09T16:26:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:28.811ZSurvey shows 58% of polled companies have no emissions-measuring plannoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterA recent survey of 143 energy and utility professionals indicates 58% have no system to record carbon emissions. That's a slight improvement from 61% who responded the same way during 2010, reports Enviance Inc., a software provider for management of environmental, health, and safety compliance activities.<br /><br />Lawrence Goldenhersh, Enviance president and chief executive officer, said his company commissioned the survey for two consecutive years as a way to track changes about how companies handle their environmental and regulatory concerns. <br /><br />When asked about monitoring the US Environmental Protection Agency, 84% of those polled said they monitor changing EPA rules “as they happen.” Goldenhersh said this demonstrates a clear corporate commitment to stay ahead of EPA changing regulations.<br /><br />“It will be interesting to see whether the advent of cap and trade in California in 2012...will alter what companies consider necessary to meet the analysis and reporting requirements imposed by the SEC,” Goldenhersh said of the US Securities and Exchange Commission.<br /><br />California’s AB32 legislation will implement a price on carbon starting in 2012 (OGJ Online, Nov. 3, 2010).<br /><br />Enviance, a privately owned company n Carlsbad, Calif., reported its survey results during the EUEC conference in Phoenix. EUEC is an annual energy, utility, and environment conference involving environmental business leaders, energy executives, and government policymakers.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-4014142441511916797?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-40141424415119167972011-02-02T15:31:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:29.170ZRand: No direct benefit from US military development of alternate fuelsnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterIf the US military were to continue investing in alternate fuel development, researchers see no mission-specific, direct benefit to the nation’s armed forces, Rand Corp. concluded. The US Department of Defense asked the nonprofit research group to study the potential of alternate fuels for the Army, Navy, and Air Force.<br /><br />Rand researchers recommend the DOD and Congress reconsider whether defense appropriations should support the development of advanced alternate fuel technologies.<br /><br />“The Department of Defense consumes more fuel than any other federal agency, but military fuel demand is only a very small fraction of civilian demand, and civilian demand is what drives competition, innovation, and production,” said James Bartis, study author and Rand senior policy researcher.<br /><br />The Rand study identified liquid fuel produced via the Fischer-Tropsch process as the most promising option for affordably and cleanly meeting military fuel specifications. With carbon dioxide capture, the study found Fischer-Tropsch fuels made from a mix of coal and biomass generate lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions that are less than half of petroleum-based fuels.<br /><br />The military has invested in advanced technology to produce jet fuel from algae-derived oils. But Rand researchers said algae-derived fuel is more a research topic rather than an emerging option with which the military can run its operations.<br /><br />Most of DOD’s efforts in alternate fuel development has been geared toward providing technical viability rather than establishing a process that yields affordable, environmentally sound fuel production, Rand said.<br /><br />The US Department of Energy already knows about how hard it is demonstrate affordable, environmentally sound production. DOE has experienced this from its efforts in fuel cell and solar photovoltaic technology development, Rand researchers noted.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-3444192368394041607?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-34441923683940416072011-01-26T16:23:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:29.888ZTexas agency skips EPA hearingnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterThe most telling news coming out of a US Environmental Protection Agency hearing in Dallas was the absence of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). EPA’s Jan. 14 hearing concerned the federal takeover of permits for new or expanding Texas power plants, refineries and other industrial plants. <br /><br />"The state's position on proposed greenhouse gas regulations has been clearly articulated to the EPA and well documented in several pending court cases,” TCEQ said in an email statement to OGJ.<br /><br />“Our attempts to reason with EPA and efforts to have constructive discussions on our position and their authority under federal law have been ignored,” TCEQ said. “We look forward to pursuing our position in the court system, and we are confident that science and the law will prevail."<br /><br />The EPA and Texas state officials disagree about whether EPA legally can regulate GHG emissions such as carbon dioxide, and whether EPA has a right to issue GHG-gas permits in Texas when the state refuses to do so.<br /><br />Effective this year, permit applications for industrial plant expansions must outline plans to use “best available control technology” to reduce GHGs. That stems from a 2007 US Supreme Court decision saying that the Clean Air Act authorizes limits on GHG emissions.<br /><br />State agencies in every state but Texas are issuing the permits or putting procedures in place to do so. But Texas refuses to take part, saying the EPA overstepped its authority by regulating GHG emissions.<br /><br />Meanwhile, the battle continues in federal court. Separately, the EPA is taking written comments until Feb. 14.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-7922240859172733201?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-79222408591727332012011-01-19T15:55:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:30.340ZDeloitte: Oil, gas industry faces well-organized cyber security threatsnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterOil and gas companies face cyber security threats, including well-organized efforts by criminal syndicates and terrorist groups. The cybercrime landscape has evolved into highly specialized criminals having sophisticated tools that can routinely evade many security controls, analysts said.<br /><br />Rich Baich of Deloitte& Touche LLP said the changing threat environment means companies need to evaluate their security strategies, concentrating on espionage and critical infrastructure vulnerabilities.<br /><br />“This isn’t an issue that is going to be solved by buying some technology,” Baich said.<br /><br />Speaking during a Dec. 15, 2010, webcast, Baich urged senior executives to build an effective cyber security program. Executives should ask themselves if their company has enough skilled employees or contractors to mitigate advanced, persistent cyber security threats, he said.<br /><br />Oil and gas companies are at high risk from web-based malware encounters and cyber attacks because they possess valuable, proprietary data on reserves and discoveries. High downtime cost and attack frequency rates necessitate strong cyber-security programs, Deloitte spokesmen said. <br /> <br />A Ponemon Institute last year released a study on annual costs of cyber crime. The study showed energy firms incurred the second-highest cyber-crime costs of surveyed industries. Ponemon polled 45 US firms. Only the defense industry reported cyber crime costs higher than the energy industry.<br /><br />Both defense and energy reported cyber crime costs of more than $15 billion/year. The energy industry figure includes all types of energy rather than just oil and gas.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-4431226202297142623?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-44312262022971426232011-01-13T15:29:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:30.621ZNOIA sees positive signs for tapping energy off Massachusettsnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterThe National Ocean Industries Association applauds the US Department of the Interior’s recent Request for Interest concerning renewable leasing off Massachusetts and the availability of the commercial lease for the Cape Wind offshore wind project. <br /><br />“I applaud Secretary [Ken] Salazar’s forward movement…on offshore renewable energy,” NOIA President Randall Luthi said in a news release. “It is gratifying to see the publication of the commercial lease for the Cape Wind project, which has undergone extensive studies, reviews, and litigation this past decade.”<br /><br />Luthi sees the Request for Interest “as a positive indicator that there will indeed be more such leases to come. “<br /><br />Acknowledging that offshore wind energy eventually will be helpful to the overall US energy supply, Luthi noted that analysts and others anticipate that it will be decades before offshore renewables “make a real dent in the domestic energy demand.”<br /><br />Luithi encourages Salazar to commit himself “equally, if not more so, to the efficient and timely permitting for offshore oil and gas projects that will produce energy now and provide more jobs today.” <br /><br />In November 2010, Cape Wind announced its first buyer. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities approved a contract in which Cape Wind plans to sell half of its power to National Grid, the state's largest electric utility.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-8799960368511088069?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-87999603685110880692011-01-05T17:35:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:30.948ZMore companies specializing in carbon capture technologiesnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterThe number of companies focused on comercializing carbon capture and storage has climbed steadily in recent years. For instance, Aker ASA and Aker Solutions established Aker Clean Carbon in 2008. <br /><br />Aker Clean Carbon was demerged from Aker Solutions so Aker Solutions could concentrate on its core oil and gas business, said Liv Monica B. Stubholt, Aker Clean Carbon chief executive. She spoke during a Dec. 6 North Sea CCS conference hosted by the British and Norwegian consulates general offices in Houston.<br /><br />Stubholt said Aker Clean Carbon provides technological expertise and project execution to energy companies. Aker Solutions developed “green technology” out of its traditional oil and gas business, she said.<br /><br />Recently, Aker Clean Carbon was awarded a contract to conduct a feasibility study for EnBW’s new coal power plant in Karlsruhe, Germany. Aker Clean Carbon will supply process design and estimates for the capital investment and operational cost of a CO2 capture unit.<br /><br />Elsewhere, Aker Clean Carbon is part of a consortium led by Scottish Power. The consortium is participating in the UK government’s competition to develop the UK’s first commercial carbon capture and storage project.<br /><br />Aker Clean Carbon also is compiling a front-end engineering and design study for ENEL’s Porto Tolle CO2 Capture Unit Project. The FEED study is scheduled for completion during the first quarter of 2011.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-6196736165946084517?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-61967361659460845172010-12-29T17:31:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:31.401ZIs fracing becoming a household word?noemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterHydraulic fracturing received much publicity during 2010. Oil and gas companies along with service providers find themselves trying to educate the public about fracing amid rising criticism about the practice from certain groups.<br /><br />A new national survey shows that 45% of Americans said they already are very or somewhat aware of the controversy around fracing. Infogroup/Opinion Research Corp. polled 1,012 adults Nov. 26-28 for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute. <br /><br />Survey results said more than three out of four Americans polled would support tighter public disclosure requirements and studies of the health and environmental consequences of chemicals used in natural gas drilling.<br /><br />The Civil Society Institute said the survey interviews were weighted by four variables: age, gender, region, and race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total population, 18 years of age and older. In addition to the national survey, the group commissioned two separate surveys for New York residents and Pennsylvania residents.<br /><br />Kathryn Z. Klaber, president and executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, suggested the survey questions were “structured in such a way to generate predetermined outcomes.” Founded in 2008, the Marcellus Shale Coalition is an industry organization committed to the responsible development of the gas play.<br /><br />Klaber believes industry must continue to educate communities about the steps it’s taking to protect the environment. She said industry believes educated citizens and landowners make for the best partners, and she encourages any efforts that contribute to “fact-based debate.” <br /><br />The Colcom Foundation of Pittsburgh has set up a Marcellus Environmental Fund. Nonprofit organizations are being offered a total of $1 million in grants to study gas drilling practices used in the Marcellus shale development.<br /><br />“Who can you trust? There is a great deal at stake,” said John F. Rohe, vice-president of philanthropy for the foundation.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-8785838104002634226?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-87858381040026342262010-12-22T17:13:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:32.118ZOil and gas companies study drinking water wells in Texas, Pennsylvanianoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterSome oil and gas companies are starting to consider testing water wells before they drill oil and natural gas wells. This stems from the debate about whether hydraulic fracturing threatens the safety of drinking water.<br /><br />Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. faced water-contamination questions in Pennsylvania while Range Resources Corp. faced similar questions regarding its Barnett shale operations in Texas. The accusations have caused some within the oil and gas industry to question the quality of drinking water before any oil and gas drilling was done.<br /><br />Meanwhile, Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael L. Williams on Dec. 7 accused the US Environmental Protection Agency of “Washington politics of the worst kind” and of “grandstanding in an effort to interject the federal government into Texas business.”<br /><br />Williams made his comments after the EPA suggested that gas operations by Range Resources contaminated two water wells in southwest Parker County, Tex., where gas was found in the water. Range Resources issued a Dec. 8 news release saying research indicates its operations did not cause any methane in the water wells.<br /><br />For months, Range Resources worked with the RRC and others on extensive testing of both its gas wells and the water wells of concern.<br /><br />Cabot Oil and Gas said in an Oct. 19 release that it has proof that methane gas has been present in water wells around the Dimock Township, Pa., area for generations. Four Dimock-area water wells have methane levels in the water that exceeds levels suggested by the US Department of the Interior.<br /><br />“We do not believe that our operations caused the Dimock water-quality issues,” a Cabot spokesman said.<br /><br />All of this is causing oil and gas companies to consider testing the water before they drill.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-4300761846110829966?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-43007618461108299662010-12-15T21:07:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:32.399ZAnalyst contemplates fate of renewable energy tax creditsnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterRenewable energy tax credits were set to expire at yearend, but they might have beaten the odds. Proposed extenders for energy tax credits made it into a US Senate tax-extenders compromise.<br /><br />US President Barack Obama announced a tax deal late Dec. 6 in which he proposed to temporarily renew Bush administration tax cuts. On Dec. 9, Senate Democrates released a draft of a tax extenders compromise.<br /><br />In a Dec. 10 policy update note, FBR Capital Markets analyst Benjamin Salisbury said he doubts that conservatives will oppose the Bush tax cuts because of the energy extensions.<br /><br />The Senate tax-extenders draft includes a 1-year extension of the renewable energy cash-grant in lieu of investment tax credit. This applies to wind and solar. The draft also includes a 1-year extension of the ethanol excise tax credit.<br /><br />Salisbury notes the draft did not include new incentives for natural gas vehicles as advocated by Texas businessman T. Boone Pickens.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-1317947659747444635?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-13179476597474446352010-12-08T22:40:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:32.664ZFood industry contributes to fracturing fluid formulationnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterHalliburton has introduced a hydraulic fracturing fluid formulation made with ingredients obtained from food suppliers. And no, the fluid is not considered edible.<br /><br />Compounds used in fracing are under scrutiny as some members of Congress question its safety. The use of fracing in the US dates back to the 1940s. Currently, the development of shale plays and horizontal drilling has increased demand for frac services.<br /> <br />Halliburton said its CleanStim fluid system provides excellent pumpability, proppant transport, and retained conductivity. Laboratory tests showed over 90% retained conductivity after 24 hr of flow. The fluid can be applicable over a broad temperature range providing up to 30 minutes pumping time at 225° F.<br /><br />CleanStim involves a gelling agent, crosslinker-buffer, breakers and a surfactant. Frac crews mix the CleanStim formulation with water at the job site.<br /><br />Crews on conventional gelled frac jobs can use the CleanStim fluid. In addition, CleanStim components can provide friction reduction for water frac treatments commonly used in shale, Halliburton said.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-179881260336125052?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-1798812603361250522010-12-02T16:36:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:32.914ZEPA reportedly delays E15 decision on older vehiclesnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterThe US Environmental Protection Agency reportedly has delayed making a decision on the use of gasoline with 15% ethanol in cars and pickup trucks built from 2001 to 2006.<br /><br />As of Nov. 23, Oil & Gas Journal had received no official statement from EPA regarding the delay as reported by some other media outlets.<br /><br />The American Petroleum Institute greeted the reported delay as welcomed news while the Renewable Fuels Association expressed disappointment.<br /><br />RFA Pres. and Chief Executive Officer Bob Dinneen encouraged EPA to extend due diligence to testing for all cars and pickups, regardless of age. RFA is a trade association for the US ethanol industry.<br /><br />“We believe the fuel testing to date clearly demonstrates the efficacy of E15 as a motor fuel for all light-duty vehicles," Dinneen said.<br /><br />API Downstream Director Bob Greco said API previously suggested EPA should extend its review 6 months or more to allow scientific testing to be completed on the effects of E15 on the engines of older vehicles.<br /><br />He noted the US oil and natural gas industry is the biggest consumer of ethanol and other biofuels.<br /><br />“We support a realistic and workable Renewable Fuel Standard and the responsible introduction of increased biofuels in a manner that protects consumers,” Greco said. “However, rushing to allow more ethanol before we know it is safe could be disastrous for consumers and could jeopardize the future of renewable fuels."<br /><br />On Oct. 13, EPA partially waived its 10% limit on ethanol, allowing up to 5% more for model year 2007 or newer cars and light trucks. DOE said testing was under way on E15’s use in 2001-06 model year vehicles, and the agency had expected to announce a decision this month. But as of Nov. 19, that decision reportedly has been delayed for up to 30 days.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-3627028325681260924?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-36270283256812609242010-11-23T22:05:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:33.257ZOil companies review their safety policies following Macondo spillnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterOil and gas industry executives surveyed by Delotte LLP were about evenly split regarding whether changing US offshore regulations actually will improve drilling safety.<br /><br />Of 201 executives polled earlier this month, 41% said yes while 42% said no. The rest said they don't know. <br /><br />Regarding future corporate health and safety policy, 57% said their companies are more likely to review and update HSE policy as a result of BP PLC's Macondo well blowout and the resulting explosion and fire on Transocean Ltd.'s Deepwater Horizon semisubmersible. The accident triggered a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.<br /><br />Nearly 60% of those polled said any improvements in drilling safety will come from the industry itself rather than from government regulations or third-party insurance and financing requirements.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-1790667394156534839?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-17906673941565348392010-11-18T16:03:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:33.585ZMacondo oil spill highlights gulf coast vunerabilitiesnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterHurricanes and oil spills along the Gulf of Mexico typically bring renewed attention to the region’s disappearing wetlands and its fragile barrier islands. Countless people saw many pictures of oily brown pelicans and their stained nesting grounds in the aftermath of the Macondo well blowout and subsequent oil spill. <br /><br />An inaugural World Delta Dialogues conference in New Orleans during October focused on the Mississippi River Delta where an estimated 25 sq miles/year erodes into open water. Some 350 people, including representatives from oil companies, attended the conference organized by America’s Wetlands Foundation.<br /><br />Entergy Corp., a nuclear power provider, used the conference as a forum to release a study entitled “Building a Resilient Energy Gulf Coast.” America’s Energy Coast and America’s Wetlands Foundation supported the study. Entergy helped commission the study done by McKinsey & Co. and Swiss Re.<br /><br />Global warming, rising sea levels, subsidence, and stronger, more frequent hurricanes all make the gulf coast vulnerable, said Wayne Leonard, Entergy chairman and chief executive officer. He called the study a “call to arms” for governors, lawmakers, and oil and gas companies. <br /><br />The study examined potential benefits of various options, including changes in levees and coastal building codes along with changes in offshore drilling practices and production platform standards.<br /><br />The study examined coastal counties and parishes along Texas, Coastal Mississippi, and Alabama where energy is key to the economy. A study executive report said that the gulf region averages losses of $14 billion/year, and that those losses are expected to climb in coming years.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-7145673841534789191?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-71456738415347891912010-11-10T17:27:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:34.084ZGov. Schwarzenegger links GHG proposition, baseballnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterAn Oil & Gas Journal blogger usually cannot find a legitimate way to write about baseball, but California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger opened the door with his celebratory comments regarding state election results, specifically the overwhelming defeat of Proposition 23.<br /> <br />That proposition would have suspended the scheduled 2012 implementation of California’s law calling for reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Had California voters approved Proposition 23, they would have stalled Assembly Bill 32 from becoming effective until the state’s current 12.4% unemployment rate falls to 5.5% for 1 year.<br /><br />"Today, we have beaten Texas again," Schwarzenegger said. "Speaking to No on 23…World Series or an election, I'll always take California over Texas.”<br /><br />Valero Energy Corp., and Tesoro Corp., both based in San Antonio, Tex., along with Flint Hills Resources of Wichita, Kan., contributed heavily in support of Proposition 23. Valero and Tesoro, which both have multimillion-dollar payrolls in California, argue AB 32 threatens jobs and will trigger higher electric and natural gas rates for California residents.<br /><br />It’s possible the governor spoke too soon. Although the San Francisco Giants won the World Series by defeating the Texas Rangers, the story might not be over just yet on the fate of AB 32. Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott and others might try to stop AB 32 from being implemented.<br /> <br />California Watch, a project of the nonprofit Independent Center for Investigative Reporting, says that Abbott and his counterparts in Alabama, Nebraska, and North Dakota are contemplating a legal challenge against AB 32 by claiming that it interferes with the right to freely conduct interstate commerce.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-3579609183573346826?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-35796091835733468262010-11-03T15:36:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:34.333ZOklahoma finds lead exposure in children of oil field workersnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterFour children were exposed to lead poisoning through threading compound that was brought home on the clothing of their parents, oil field workers, reports the Oklahoma Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (OCLPP).<br /><br />Commonly called pipe dope, some types of threading compound contain 30-60% lead. The Oklahoma State Department of Health said three oil field workers left drilling sites and laundered their work clothes at home. Two of the four children were siblings.<br /><br />“There could be more undocumented cases as a result of oil field workers taking lead home,” said Fahad Khan, OCLPPP surveillance coordinator. “Given the health hazards associated with pipe dope containing lead, employers and worksites should also consider effective alternative options like lead-free biodegradable pipe dopes or dope-free connections.” <br /><br />The Oklahoma lead exposure cases involved children ranging in age from 6-22 months during 2006-09. Blood lead tests documented their exposure.<br /><br />Environmental lead levels were documented in the clothes, shoes, and furniture of their parents, indicating “take-home” lead exposure. Elevated environmental lead levels also were found inside washing machines used to launder family clothing and work clothing.<br /><br />Health department officials recommend oil field workers do not enter their homes until they have taken showers and changed into clean clothes and shoes. A worker dressed in work clothes should not pick up a child, and work clothes should be kept separate from family clothing.<br /> <br />US Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards call for employers to provide for the cleaning of protective work clothing to prevent lead dispersion. The OCLPPP recommends employers and worksite mangers work with the Oklahoma Department of Labor’s Safety Pays OSHA Consultation Division and the Mid-Continent Exploration & Production Safety Network to ensure that exposure of lead in pipe dopes does not extend beyond the work site.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-8953947862671947216?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-89539478626719472162010-10-27T15:24:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:34.630ZBaker Institute studies wind, fossil fuel power generationnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterUS wind power generating capacity primarily has displaced natural gas-fired generation so far, yet a recent study by the Baker Institute for Public Policy at Rice University concludes that increased wind-generation capacity is likely to result in more investment in gas-fired generation capacity.<br /><br />“A number of studies have shown that the expansion of wind has thus far displaced natural gas more than coal,” said a study entitled “Wind Power in the United States: Prospects and Consequences” by Peter R. Hartley, a Rice economics professor and scholar of energy economics for the Baker Institute.<br /><br />But he sees this as being a short-term situation because gas is a good complement to renewable sources that are highly variable.<br /><br />“In the longer run, the intermittency of wind and the fact that wind generation satisfies base-load demand more than intermediate or peaking loads should discourage investment in base-load coal and nuclear capacity,” he said.<br /><br />Wind power generating capacity installed in the US has grown at about 30%/year since 2000, he said. US wind generation currently is concentrated in Texas and the Midwest.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-1061082135764868141?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-10610821357648681412010-10-20T21:36:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:36.018ZNigerian Oil Minister is first woman OPEC ministernoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterNigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Alison-Madueke has scheduled an Oct. 14 gathering with the media at the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting in Vienna. She is the first woman OPEC minister although women, including Kuwait’s Siham Razzouqi, previously have led national delegations at OPEC meetings.<br /><br />Alison-Madueke has had her work cut out for her since she was appointed Nigeria’s oil minister earlier this year.<br /><br />While visiting the Baker Institute at Rice University in Houston recently, she acknowledged the energy business is undergoing rapid changes, particularly in its response to environmental concerns and regulations.<br /><br />During the OPEC meeting, she is expected to push for a larger oil quota for Nigeria. Meanwhile at home, Alison-Madueke is responsible for implementing her government’s plan to provide 10% of petroleum revenue to communities in the Niger Delta, her home region.<br /><br />She told OGJ that she believes the administration of Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan had made some headway in reducing hostility by militants toward international oil companies. Saying she understands the views of both international oil companies and Nigeria’s citizens, Alison-Madueke said she advocates an open dialogue between both sides regarding demands for increased local control of oil revenue.<br /><br />A former executive in Nigeria with what is now Royal Dutch Shell PLC, she studied at Howard University in Washington and received a master’s degree in business administration from Cambridge University.<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-296772592496248163?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-2967725924962481632010-10-13T15:10:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:36.533ZBaker Institute studies Bolivia's lithium potentialnoemail@noemail.orgPaula Dittrick, OGJ Senior Staff WriterA couple years ago, Bolivia was described by some as “the Saudi Arabia of lithium” in reference to an evolving market for batteries for future electric vehicles. A recent study by Rice University’s Baker Institute on Public Policy notes questions linger about Bolivia’s possible role in the lithium industry.<br /><br />“The supply picture is quite complex, not only globally, but specifically in Bolivia,” said David Mares, Baker Institute scholar for Latin American Energy Studies and a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego.<br /><br />“There are multiple issues that have to be resolved before Bolivian production, still 10 to 15 years down the road by some estimates, could enter the market, particularly given the quality of Bolivian lithium, the country’s lack of infrastructure, and an unstable political environment,” he said.<br /><br />Unlike oil and gas markets, lithium is not consumed as it works in batteries. The battery industry likely will be able to recycle the lithium once a battery dies, although Mares estimates the lithium recycling infrastructure is 5-10 years away from being commercially available.<br /><br />Bolivia has no lithium extraction and processing industry so it would have to partner with others or develop indigenous technology, the Baker Institute researcher noted. Potential international investors might include oil and gas companies.<br /><br />“The government has invited Japan Oil, Gas & Metals Corp., Mitsubishi, and Sumitomo from Japan; LG Chem Ltd. and Korea Resources Corp. from Korea; Brazil’s Ministry of Science and Technology; and France’s Eramet SA and Bollore” to advise Bolivia about lithium projects, Mares said.<br /><br />Bolivia’s participation as a lithium supplier will be interesting to watch unfold. As Mares notes, “The government is already committed to a $1 billion investment plan in hydrocarbons to pick up the slack caused by natural gas policies that are seen as unfriendly to private investment.”<div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/tracker/3971727697137101136-57904131087999120?l=ogj-hse.blogspot.com' alt='' /></div>tag:blogger.com,1999:blog-3971727697137101136.post-579041310879991202010-10-06T17:33:00.000Z2011-07-12T19:35:37.251Z 500

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