Community & Environment

Strategy Report Points to Improved Safety, Smart Pigs

With liquids pipeline incidents down by half since 1999, even as their use to transport crude oil pipeline has increased, there is little doubt among experts about what has led to this success on the safety front – preventive maintenance and integrity management programs.

In the News: Crude Oil Prices Poised to Drop Further

Since the oil price collapse, global oil production has risen, not fallen. Since the fateful Nov. 27, 2014 OPEC meeting, aggregate production from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Iraq is up 2 MMbop/d – far more than demand. November is also when the U.S. inadvertently became the swing oil producer. Prices have not yet fallen far enough or for long enough for an appreciable U.S. supply adjustment to occur. It may not be far off, especially if oil prices fall further with new Iranian supplies, says a study from IHS Energy that notes:

Government: PHMSA Sets Standards for State Excavation Policies

House members of both parties drubbed the latest top PHMSA official to appear before Congress to answer questions about lagging pipeline safety rule implementation.

Beyond Compliance: Reducing Major Incidents, Creating Business Value

In the five years since the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, operators have undergone progressively tighter regulatory restrictions in both offshore and onshore environments. Along with restructuring the Department of the Interior to include the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), more than seventeen reforms have been implemented since the 2010 accident, targeting everything from well-design to maintenance reviews to safety culture.

Buzz on Drones: Theyre Coming to the Energy Sector

Few trends have been bigger or more exciting to watch in the last decade than the rise of drones. From serious applications like warfare to more quirky ones like pizza delivery, the world is still clearly just starting to figure out how drones can profitably be used. That background makes the recent chatter about the opportunity for drone use in commercial oil and gas applications an extremely interesting trend to watch.

Pipeline Expert Peter Lidiak Ready for New Challenge

At the American Petroleum Institute’s spring pipeline conference in Savannah, GA one bit of news in particular grabbed attendees’ attention when it was announced that Pipeline Director Peter T. Lidiak was leaving his post after serving as API’s go-to pipeline executive since 2005. Lidiak, who joined API in 2000, is one of the nation’s leading experts on crude oil pipelines, testifying before countless congressional and agency hearings in Washington, D.C. and having a hand in practically any issue involving pipelines.

Pipeline Expert Peter Lidiak Ready for New Challenge (1)

At the American Petroleum Institute’s spring pipeline conference in Savannah, GA one bit of news in particular grabbed attendees’ attention when it was announced that Pipeline Director Peter T. Lidiak was leaving his post after serving as API’s go-to pipeline executive since 2005. Lidiak, who joined API in 2000, is one of the nation’s leading experts on crude oil pipelines, testifying before countless congressional and agency hearings in Washington, D.C. and having a hand in practically any issue involving pipelines.

Survey: IT Experts Confident of Ability to Detect Critical Attacks

A new survey of over 400 energy executives and IT professionals in the energy, oil, gas and utility industries found that most energy security professionals were extremely confident in their ability to detect a cyber-attack on critical systems, with 86% stating they could detect a breach in less than one week.

World News: China and Russia Begin Work On Power of Serbia Pipeline

Russia’s Gazprom and China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) have confirmed that construction is underway on the 4,000-km Power of Serbia Pipeline that will deliver up to 38 Bcma of gas to China. The first joint of pipe for the Chinese sector of the project was recently welded near the city of Heibe in the northern Heilongjiang Province bordering Russia, according to CNPC. Russia started building its section of the 2,500-mile eastern route last year. The pipeline is due to become fully operational in late 2017.

Key Issues Taken on at Pipeline Conference

Pipeline & Gas Journal’s 11th annual Pipeline Opportunities Conference brought in 400 attendees from throughout North America, all focused on getting the most up-to-date information regarding the oil and natural gas industry. In addition to a full day’s worth of conference presentations and roundtables, guests had ample time to network during the even held March 24 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Houston’s Galleria district.

NACE President Seeks to Diversify Services for Rapidly Growing Membership

Raised in Pittsburgh, Jim Feather, NACE International’s 2015 president, says he grew up “not only with the steel metallurgy industry in my blood but also in my nostrils.” And while Feather did work directly in the steel industry as a sophomore through a co-op program at Carnegie-Mellon University, even then he could see “the writing on the wall” concerning steel’s long-term future in the United States.

ROSEN Sponsors Roundtable on Linear Threats

The ROSEN Group brought key industry stakeholders together for a roundtable on the topic of “Linear Threats in Pipelines” on May 28. The event attracted over 100 attendees from throughout North America and Europe who were hosted at the ROSEN facility in Gahanna, OH. The roundtable began with an official welcome by ROSEN Executive Vice President Chris F. Yoxall, who emphasized the importance of “why we are here.” He addressed the goal and set the tone for the day – bringing together all stakeholders to collectively work on common topics of interest.

FERC Issues Pair of Oil Pipeline Audits

On June 17, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Division of Audits and Accounting, Office of Enforcement (DAA), issued two audit reports involving oil pipelines, the Colonial Pipeline Company Docket No. FA14-4 and Enterprise Products Partners, L.P., Docket No. FA14-1. The Enterprise audit focused on Mid-American Pipeline Company, LLC (MAPL), a subsidiary of Enterprise. These reports are significant because they demonstrate that the FERC audit staff is taking a comprehensive look at oil pipeline accounting and rate issues along with enhanced scrutiny of affiliate issues.

In the News: NiSource, Columbia Pipeline Group Now Separate Companies

NiSource Inc. and Columbia Pipeline Group announced July 2 separation of the two companies was completed through a distribution of all the common stock of CPG held by NiSource to its shareholders. NiSource, based in Merrillville, IN, is one of the largest natural gas utility companies in the United States with over 3.5 million customers in seven states under the Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. The company also provides electric distribution, generation and transmission services for 500,000 NIPSCO customers in northern Indiana.

Government: Pipelines Hope GOP or Courts Fix New Wetlands Rule

Republicans in Congress are working to pass legislation setting aside a new EPA and Army Corps of Engineers joint rule which makes it more expensive to build pipelines in areas containing streams and other small bodies of water. The rule would require pipelines - or anyone wanting to build in these tributaries and ponds - to first do site analysis and then, potentially, obtain a Clean Water Act permit. That is time-consuming and can be expensive. The EPA published the new so-called Waters of the U.S. – (WOTUS) rule in May which goes into effect Aug. 28.

Part II: Presidents Report Finds Need to Bolster Vulnerable Infrastructure

<em>Editor’s note: This second of a three-part series on the first-ever presidential Quadrennial Energy Review 2015 focuses on the safety and vulnerabilities of transportation, storage and distribution (TS&D) infrastructure and methane emissions</em>. Natural disasters pose a significant safety risk to the nation’s TS&D infrastructure. In 2012, there were 11 weather disasters in the United States costing $1 billion, second only to 2011 for the most on record. Insurance data in the QER reports $22 billion in total losses from weather events in 2013, excluding self-insured losses.

PRCI Welcomes Pipeline Community to Tech Development Center

Research development organization Pipeline Research Council International (PRCI) officially opened its new Technology Development Center at a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour Wednesday. “We want you to think of this place as yours,” PRCI President Cliff Johnson told attendees, many of whom represented pipeline and service companies. “How would you use this space?” The 30,000 square-foot facility broke ground July 7, 2014 on a 10-acre campus northwest of Houston with about half of the area earmarked for a state-of-the-art pull-test facility.

Price Gregory President Discusses Accomplishments, Semi-Retirement

Price Gregory President Michael Langston recently announced his retirement after a 35-year career in the pipeline construction sector. Langston joined H.C. Price in 1981. Following a merger between H.C. Price and Gregory & Cook Construction, Price Gregory was formed. Price Gregory was later purchased by Quanta Services and Langston was named president of the company.

Company Blamed for 31-Acre Sinkhole Sues Oil Company

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The company blamed for a 31-acre sinkhole that forced 350 rural Louisiana residents out of their homes has sued Occidental Petroleum Corp., claiming that negligent drilling and production contributed to the damage. Texas Brine Co. said Occidental and Oxy USA Inc. should have to cover more than $100 million in damages that Texas Brine has paid or will have to pay. Occidental did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit, filed Thursday in Assumption Parish.

Latest in Pressure Cycle Induced Fatigue Crack Growth Modeling

Recent high-profile pipeline incidents have increased awareness of integrity threats associated with legacy seam-welded pipe. Additionally, expectations from the public, regulators and pipeline operators to effectively manage these threats have increased. Pipeline operators use guidance published in PHMSA’s TT05 – Low Frequency ERW and Lap Welded Longitudinal Seam Evaluation– to model the effect of pressure cycle-induced fatigue on the growth of crack flaws to determine the optimum integrity re-assessment date prior to their growth to a critical level.

Carbon Emission Regulations Could Jeopardize LNG Projects

Natural gas is increasingly being viewed as one of the most important sources of fuel in the coming decades. That is why Royal Dutch Shell, an oil major, made a huge bet onLNG when it decided to purchase BG Group, which has major holdings in LNG projects in Australia and East Africa.

Permits Granted for Bakken Pipeline Beneath ND Lake

The North Dakota Public Service Commission unanimous backed a Hess Corp. crude oil pipeline that will run under Lake Sakakawea. The $105 million project will convert an 8-inch pipeline to transfer Bakken crude oil along a 2.4 mile section of pipe buried 6 feet under the lake bottom in 1992.

Greener-Than-Thou Vermont Accused of Exporting Its Energy Problems

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — When Vermont became the first state to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in 2012, Gov. Peter Shumlin said the ban was "in keeping with our environmental ethic and our protection of our natural resources." But the state is likely on the verge of a big increase in the use of fracked gas from Canada.

Regulators Ask Appalachian Power to Keep Up Infrastructure at Closed Plant

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia regulators have asked Appalachian Power to maintain infrastructure at a closed coal-fired power plant that could one day be used to convert the facility to natural gas. Fully demolishing the Kanawha River Plant would rule out such a conversion, the Public Service Commission said in an order issued Tuesday. "We're just starting to understand the implications of the order," Appalachian Power spokeswoman Jeri Matheney said Wednesday. "We're going to have look at these costs and the feasibility of complying with the order."

DOEs Gant: Shifting Energy Policy to Stewardship of Abundance

Although we are already 15 years deep into the 21st century and women working at the top rungs of professional life no longer turn heads, when it comes to the “hard” numbers-crunching parts in the global economy – science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – women still get asked why they selected this way to earn a buck. This same question is occasionally put to Paula Gant, holder of a doctorate degree in economics and the deputy assistant secretary for oil and natural gas in the federal Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy.

Administration Proposes More Safety Valves for Gas Lines

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The Obama administration moved Wednesday to significantly expand a requirement for utilities to install inexpensive safety valves on gas lines across the nation following deadly fires and explosions going back decades that officials and safety advocates said could have been avoided. The Transportation Department proposal would cover new or replaced natural gas lines serving multi-family dwellings, small businesses and homes not already covered under a 2009 mandate.

EIA: Annual Energy Outlook Through 2040

The latest Annual Energy Outlook 2015 (AEO2015) prepared by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) presents long-term annual projections of energy supply, demand and prices through 2040. This analysis focuses on six scenarios: a reference case, low and high economic growth cases, low and high oil price cases, and the high oil and gas resource case.

Effects of Clean Power Plan on Natural Gas Markets, Pipeline Infrastructure

The Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) establishes state-by-state carbon emissions rate targets that it projects will reduce U.S. electricity sector carbon emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. Some stakeholders, including the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), have raised concerns that states might rely heavily on natural gas generation for CPP compliance, creating stress on gas pipeline capacity and ultimately affecting electric system reliability.

Canadas Carbon Emissions Rules Spark Hope for Keystone

TransCanada Corp. has written to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arguing that new Canadian rules on emissions should persuade him to approve the construction of the much-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. The proposed $6.4 billion project would carry an estimated 830,000 bpd of Canadian crude oil per from Hardisty, Alberta, to Steele City, NE, then link up with Keystone’s existing line, which would take the oil on the final leg to the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

Environmentalists Want California to Stop Offshore Fracking

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Environmentalists called on California Gov. Jerry Brown to halt plans for months of hydraulic fracturing in the waters off Southern California, warning that it could lead to chemical pollution or an oil spill. State regulators this month approved nine permits for operator Thums Long Beach Co. for so-called fracking operations between August and December in Long Beach Harbor.