Community & Environment

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.

In The News: EPA Says Fracking Not Widespread Problem in Drinking Water

The federal Environmental Protection Agency on June 4 released a much-anticipated study of whether hydraulic fracturing contaminates drinking water supplies, concluding that while there have been some cases of contamination, the issue is not widespread.

Judge Orders Colorado Oilman to Pay $16.8 million in Legal Fees

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Colorado oilman must pay $16.8 million to reimburse energy companies for legal fees they incurred defending his unsuccessful lawsuits against them, a federal judge has ordered. Jack Grynberg received national attention when he filed scores of lawsuits against natural gas and pipeline companies around the West in the late 1990s.

Gulf States Reach $18.7 Billion Settlement with BP over Oil Spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Officials in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana announced an $18.7 billion settlement with BP on Thursday that resolves years of litigation over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The settlement announcement comes as a federal judge was preparing to rule on how much BP owed in federal Clean Water Act penalties after millions of gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf. Individual states also were pursuing litigation. Most of those penalties were to be distributed among the states for environmental and economic restoration projects along the Gulf Coast.

Government: Obama Nominates New PHMSA Administrator

With Congress riled about PHMSA's slow implementation of the last pipeline safety law, the Obama administration has nominated a new administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration who lacks pipeline and hazardous materials experience. Nor has she ever been a regulator. Marie Therese Dominguez began in the Clinton White House and worked her way through administrative positions in the Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Postal Service and the Army, where she spent the last two years as deputy assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

California Oil Spill Gushed Like Hose 'Without a Nozzle'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Firefighters investigating a reported petroleum stench at a California beach last month didn't take long to find a spill — oil was spreading across the sand and into the surf. Tracing the source, they found crude gushing from a bluff like a fire hose "without a nozzle," records show.

Latest DOE Report Slams Canadas Oil Sands

Oil from Canada’s oil sands is about 20% more carbon-intensive on average than crude from elsewhere. That is the damming conclusion from a forthcoming new study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory and its partners. The study looked at a wells-to-wheels analysis, which takes into account greenhouse gas emissions along the entire supply chain, from extraction to transit, refining, and finally combustion by the end user.

PHMSA: Pipeline Operator Couldn't Reach Staff at California Spill Site

LOS ANGELES (AP) — As thousands of gallons of crude oil from a ruptured pipeline spread along the California coast, its operator was unable to contact workers near the break to get information required to alert federal emergency officials, records released Wednesday said. Personnel for Plains All American Pipeline needed the precise location of the May 19 spill and an estimate of its size before notifying the National Response Center, a clearinghouse for reports of hazardous-material releases, according to federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration documents.

ExxonMobil Halts 3 Oil Platforms Due to Santa Barbara Pipeline Spill

LOS ANGELES (AP) — ExxonMobil has been forced to halt operations at three offshore oil platforms because it couldn't deliver to refineries in the wake of a broken pipeline that spilled up to 101,000 gallons of crude on the Santa Barbara coast, the company said. Operations temporarily ceased last week because Santa Barbara County rejected its emergency application to truck oil to refineries, spokesman Richard Keil said Tuesday.

Shell Chemical Wins Air Permit for Proposed Marcellus Ethane Plant

MONACA, Pa. (AP) — Shell Chemical has been granted an air quality permit for a proposed petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania, a step the company called "a critical milestone" as it decides whether to build the multibillion-dollar project along the Ohio River. The state Department of Environmental Protection announced Monday that it had approved the company's air quality plan and several water-related permits for the site in Potter Township, Beaver County.

Ethanol Production May Be Approaching 'Blend Wall'

It’s onward and stubbornly upward for the U.S. ethanol industry, which shows little sign of slowing after a record year in 2014. Weekly ethanol production matched its record high in the first week of June, equaling output from the week ending December 19, 2014. At 992,000 bpd, production is up 20,000 bpd from last week and more than 100,000 bpd since the beginning of May.

Photos of Ruptured West Coast Pipeline Offer Clues of Reason for Leak

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Photos of the pipeline that spilled oil on the Santa Barbara coast show extensive corrosion and provide clues about the cause of the rupture, experts said. Corrosion visible around the crack, coupled with wear documented inside the pipe, led Robert Bea, a civil engineering professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, to believe the pipe burst during a pressure spike when the operator restarted pumps that had failed the morning of the May 19 spill.

Changes to PHMSA Rules Affect Wide Range of Inspections, Reports

The Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) published a new final rule amending the pipeline safety regulations for both gas (§192) and liquid (§195) in multiple subject areas. The final rule also made several editorial changes in the regulations. The changes are effective Oct. 1.

Presidents Report Finds Energy Infrastructure Needs Major Investments

The need for major changes to the nation’s energy infrastructure is why President Obama initiated a quadrennial cycle of energy reviews to provide a multiyear roadmap for U.S. energy policy. The result is the recent release of the initial installment of the first-ever Quadrennial Energy Review 2015 (QER) prepared by the White House task force.

TransCanada Ready To Begin Work on B.C. Gas Pipeline

TransCanada made a positive final investment decisionfrom LNG for the proposed Pacific NorthWest (PNW) LNG liquefaction and export facility in the Port Edward district of British Colombia. “This development is a significant step forward,” said Russ Girling, TransCanada's president and chief executive officer. The move advances the company’s $46 billion capital growth plan, which includes more than $13 billion in proposed natural gas pipeline projects in support of the emerging LNG industry on the B.C. coast.

Oil, Gas Operators Managing Risks When Energy Prices are Down

Today, let’s imagine that we are a company producing oil and gas in the Eagle Ford Shale, the Permian Basin, and the Denver-Julesburg Basin in Colorado. We own and operate well pads, pipelines flowing from wells to facilities treating those flows, and bigger pipelines which take our products to sales points and “ring the cash register.”

Crude by Rail Boosts West Coast Supply as Regional Production Falls

While U.S. crude oil production increased by nearly 3.2 MMbpd from 2010 to 2014, production in the West Coast region decreased by 100,000 bpd, continuing a long-term decline, EIA data showed. With no major crude oil pipelines connecting the West Coast to other parts of the country, refineries on the West Coast adjusted by increasing imports of foreign crude oil, reaching an average of 1.1 MMbpd over the past five years.

California Oil Spill Cleanup Cost Reaches $62 Million

GOLETA, CA — The cost of cleaning up the oil spill that fouled beaches last month on the California coast has reached $62 million so far, pipeline company Plains All American Pipeline said Wednesday. Costs are running at $3 million a day, and there is no timetable for when the cleanup will be complete, the company's on-scene coordinator, Patrick Hodgins, told The Associated Press. The Plains All American is responsible for footing the bill after a pipeline break near Santa Barbara forced the closure of two state beaches and prompted a fishing ban in the area.

Developing Engineering-Based Integrity Programs for Pipelines, Plants

Integrity assessment has always been a part of operations and maintenance activities. As plant piping and pipeline infrastructure has aged, industry first developed basic tools, and as their importance became apparent, these tools improved to meet those increasing needs.

PG&E Completes Cast-Iron Replacement, Earns Safety Certifications

Since Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) finished replacing all 835 miles of cast-iron pipeline in its system ahead of its 2014 year-end goal, the company has turned its attention to further modernizing its infrastructure with the latest gas-safety technology and by building a skilled workforce. The decommissioning of cast-iron pipe, which began in 1985, covered enough distance to run from Seattle to San Francisco, and has been followed by implementation of one of the most comprehensive modernization programs in the nation.

Pipeline Firm Told California Oil Spill 'Extremely Unlikely'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Texas company whose ruptured pipeline created the largest coastal oil spill in California in 25 years had assured the government that a break in the line while possible was "extremely unlikely" and state-of-the-art monitoring could quickly detect possible leaks and alert operators, documents show. Nearly 1,200 pages of records, filed with state regulators by Plains All American Pipeline, detail a range of defenses the company established to guard against crude oil spills and, at the same time, prepare for the worst should a spill occur.

Former BP Cleared of Lying about Oil Spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal jury has found a former BP executive not guilty of making false statements to investigators in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Prosecutors said David Rainey, the former vice president of Exploration for the Gulf of Mexico, in the early days of the spill, manipulated calculations to match a far-too-low government estimate of the amount of oil spewing into the Gulf following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. However, defense attorneys said Rainey's figures were made honestly and that he had no reason to lie.

EPA: No widespread Harm to Drinking Water from Fracking

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and natural gas has not caused widespread harm to drinking water in the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Thursday in a report that also warned of potential contamination of water supplies if safeguards are not maintained.

Ruptured Santa Barbara Pipeline Badly Corroded, Report Says

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A pipeline rupture that spilled an estimated 101,000 gallons of crude oil near Santa Barbara last month occurred along a badly corroded section that had worn away to a fraction of an inch in thickness, according to federal regulators. The preliminary findings released Wednesday by the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration point to a possible cause of the May 19 spill that blackened popular beaches and created a 9-mile slick in the Pacific Ocean.

Opportunities Burning Bright for Natural Gas, AGA Chairman Says

At least for his new role as 2015 chairman of the American Gas Association Terry D. McCallister doesn’t have far to travel. The 59-year-old natural gas executive who is chairman and CEO of WGL Holdings and Washington Gas Light Co., the 165-year-old utility company that services the Potomac region, has plenty on his plate these days, as this interview found, so time is at a premium.

Government: House Leaders Sound Alarm over Slow Pipeline Safety Regulations

Key House members berated the federal pipeline safety agency in advance of upcoming efforts by Congress to reauthorize federal pipeline safety laws. Leaders of the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials were harshly critical of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for failing to complete numerous rulemakings stemming from the 2012 Pipeline Safety Act. Hearings in the subcommittee took place April 14. That unhappiness could result in more onerous safety regulations for natural gas transportation companies.

In The News: Obama Gives Final Approval to Cove Point LNG Terminal

The Obama administration on May 7 granted final approval to a $3.8 billion natural gas export facility in Calvert County, MD – the first gas export site on the East Coast. Environmentalists sued within hours to stop the project.