Environment

House OKs Lifting 40-year-old US Ban on Oil Exports

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defying a White House veto threat, the Republican-controlled House on Friday approved a bill to lift a 40-year-old U.S. ban on crude oil exports. The House approved the bill on a 261-159 vote. Supporters said an ongoing boom in oil and gas drilling has made the 1970s-era restrictions obsolete. Lifting the export ban would lower prices at the pump, create jobs and boost the economy, said House Speaker John Boehner.

Judge Gives Final Approval for $338 Million Oil Train Settlement

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A U.S. bankruptcy judge Friday approved a $338 million settlement fund for victims of the fiery 2013 oil train derailment that claimed 47 lives in Quebec, clearing the way for payments to victims by year's end. Judge Peter Cary announced his approval after Canadian Pacific dropped its objection to the settlement plan and after a Canadian judge gave conditional approval Thursday. He praised attorneys for working together to get a substantial settlement in place as quickly as possible.

Officials: Gas Facility Explosion Leaves 3 Workers Dead

GIBSON, La. (AP) — An explosion at a Louisiana natural gas facility Thursday left three workers dead and two seriously injured, police said. The explosion happened about 11 a.m. at a facility owned by the Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co., a subsidiary of major natural gas supplier Williams Partners, authorities said. The facility is located on a small highway near the oil and gas city of Houma.

Risk-Based Design of Pipelines, Risers

The production and transportation of hydrocarbon products involves complex process systems with components that are exposed to extreme operational and environmental conditions. To ensure safe and continuous operation, it is important to identify probable risk sources and assess the integrity of the pipeline to avoid accidental or catastrophic failures.

SoCalGas Engages Stakeholders Early, Often in Pipeline Safety Projects

In the current phase of the pipeline safety enhancement plan (PSEP), SoCalGas and San Diego Gas & Electric will test and replace about 1,000 miles of pipe throughout the system. While much of the construction work takes place in fairly remote locations, a significant portion is found in busy populated areas. Whether the work is in cities or unincorporated counties, in urban or rural space, customers and the local community are affected. Long before we received approval for PSEP, we knew community and customer outreach would be a critical factor for success.

Keystone XL Developer Seeks Different Approval for Route

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — TransCanada is taking steps to circumvent one of the major roadblocks in Nebraska to the building of the Keystone XL pipeline. But in seeking approval Monday for the same contentious route through the state, the company could create another round of lengthy delays in an already drawn-out process.

Study: No Fracking Bonanza for California's Monterey Shale

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A U.S. Geological Survey report out Tuesday downgrades the fracking potential of California's vast Monterey Shale oil deposits. The study is the latest to lower a 2011 federal energy estimate that billed the Monterey Shale as a game-changer for U.S. oil, with what was then estimated at 13.7 Bbbls of recoverable oil overall. Instead, the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) new study said, the most oil-rich portion of the giant shale formation holds just 21 MMbbls of oil that can be recovered by intensive methods, such as hydraulic fracturing, better-known as fracking.

US, States Finalize $20 Billion Settlement with BP over Gulf Oil Spill

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Justice Department and five states have finalized a settlement worth more than $20 billion arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, federal officials announced Monday. The deal resolves all civil claims against BP and ends five years of legal fighting over the nearly 134 million-gallon spill. It requires the company to commit to a widespread cleanup project in the Gulf Coast area aimed at restoring wildlife, habitat, water quality and recreation.

Feds: Proposed Pipeline Rules could Have Prevented Accidents

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — New federal rules proposed for pipelines that carry oil and other hazardous liquids could have prevented more than 200 accidents since 2010, including a Michigan rupture that ranks as the costliest onshore spill in U.S. history, federal officials said. The U.S. Transportation Department proposal announced Thursday covers more than 200,000 miles of hazardous liquids pipelines that crisscross the nation — a network that expanded rapidly over the past decade as domestic oil production increased.

Natural Gas Production Records from Idaho Well Made Public

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The first batch of production records from a natural gas well in Idaho have been made public following a new rule approved by lawmakers. The Idaho Department of Lands earlier this week released the monthly records that span from February 2013 to July for a well named State 1-17 in southwest Idaho and operated by Houston-based Alta Mesa. Records show the well is producing a comparatively small amount of natural gas — 290,000 cubic feet in July. The gas is being sent to Intermountain Gas and used in the nearby town of New Plymouth.

New Pipeline Safety Rule Pending after Increase in Accidents

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A long-delayed rule to strengthen safety requirements for pipelines that move oil and other hazardous liquids will be unveiled this month following a recent surge in accidents, the U.S. government's pipeline safety administrator said. More than five years in the making, the rule will determine if extra safety measures that are required in environmentally sensitive and populated areas should be expanded to new locations.

Judge Poised to Sign Off on Oil Train Disaster Settlement

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A $338 million settlement fund for victims of a fiery train derailment that claimed 47 lives in Quebec is poised for final approval, but payments could be held up by a legal challenge from one of Canada's largest railways. Canadian Pacific, which opposes the settlement fund, declined to contribute because it contends others were responsible for the tragedy. If the settlement is approved, Canadian Pacific would be left open to lawsuits while those the railroad considers to be responsible would be shielded from further legal battles by the agreement.

Land Management Approves Route for Nevada Pipeline Expansion

The Bureau of Land Management approved the route of a natural gas pipeline that will be built by Paiute Pipeline Co. to connect Elko, NV with El Paso’s Ruby Pipeline, north of town. The project will expand available capacity of gas delivered to Elko by installing 35 miles of 8-inch pipeline from the city to Ruby Pipeline LLC’s Wieland Flat Compressor Station.

Control Room Management Best Practices

The oil and gas industry is constantly changing, no more so than over the past several years with new technology, new production hot beds and new developing markets to deliver product to. These changes have set the stage for new opportunities and challenges for the midstream industry, particularly when it comes to the pressure of transporting commodities from the production fields to market. Pressure to do it faster but also safer.

Key House Panel Votes to Lift 40-Year-Old US Ban on Oil Exports

WASHINGTON (AP) — A key House committee endorsed a bill Thursday to lift the four-decade-old ban on crude oil exports, setting up a likely vote by the full House on a bill President Barack Obama opposes. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the legislation, 31-19, with three Democrats joining 28 Republicans to back the bill. The White House opposes the bill, arguing that a decision on whether to end the ban should be made by the Commerce Department, not Congress.

White House Opposes GOP Bill to Lift Oil Export Ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House said Tuesday it opposes a House Republican bill to lift the four-decade-old ban on crude oil exports. A decision on whether to end the ban should be made by the Commerce Department, not Congress, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. Earnest also took a shot at House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans pushing to end the oil export ban, which was imposed in the 1970s as the United States responded to an Arab oil embargo that sparked inflation and prompted long lines at gas stations.

Kevin Bodenhamer Sets Lofty Standard for Engineers

What more can you say about Kevin Bodenhamer other than he has had a career that most people in the pipeline business can only dream of having. His professional accomplishments can fill a whole page so let’s start with the resume: • 1979-1993, engineer, supervising manager for Cities Service/Occidental Petroleum/Trident NGL. • 1993-1998, manager, Mid-America Pipeline Co. • 1998-2002, director, Williams Cos. • 2002-2013, vice president, senior vice president, Enterprise Products. • 2013-2015, vice president, chief engineer, Willbros Engineers Inc.

Interior Dept.: High-Risk Oil, Gas Wells Checks Lack Funding for Inspections

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management lacks sufficient resources to inspect high-risk oil and gas wells on federal land as a drilling boom continues in Wyoming, Colorado and other states, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday. The Obama administration has proposed a fee on oil and gas drillers that would allow the land management agency to hire more than 60 inspectors, but the proposal has not gained traction in Congress.

US Virgin Islands Sues Oil Company over Shuttered Refinery

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Virgin Islands has filed a lawsuit against American oil company Hess Corp. for more than $1 billion, alleging the firm abandoned a massive oil refinery it had pledged to run through the year 2022. Within hours of the filing Monday, the Hess subsidiary that owns the refinery announced that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, allowing it to pursue the sale of the refinery for use as a simple storage facility — the outcome that the territory's government had sought to prevent.

Court: Environmental Study Still Required for Sandpiper Oil Pipeline Certificate

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has reversed regulators' decision to grant a certificate of need for the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline, saying Monday that state regulators must complete an environmental impact statement before the certificate can be issued. The appeals court sent the issue back to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to conduct an environmental review and reconsider whether a certificate should be granted.

California Oil Bill Defeated at Least for Time Being

A landmark energy bill in California was watered down after facing significant opposition from the oil and gas industry. The California legislature was considering a bill that would have slashed the state’s petroleum use by 50% by 2030, but the Democrats decided to drop the provision in order to keep the larger bill alive. After seeing the bill pass the State Senate earlier this year, the legislation ran up against a deadline this week for the end of session. However, with strong opposition from the oil and gas industry, the State Assembly could not gather enough votes.

Pipe Staged Ahead of Permits for ND Oil Pipeline

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Pipe is being staged in four states for a proposed $3.8 billion pipeline from western North Dakota to Illinois. The piles of pipe are being placed in anticipation of permits for the project by regulators in the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois. Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners is proposing the pipeline that would move about 450,000 bbls of North Dakota crude daily. Officials say it's the biggest-capacity pipeline proposed to date to move North Dakota crude.

Crude Oil Swaps with Mexico Could Provide Economic, Environmental Benefits

U.S.-Mexico crude oil swaps approved last month by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security will likely involve exchanges of U.S. light sweet crude for Mexican heavy sour crude that is already being exported to the United States.

Ensuring Quality Contractor Workforce Through Standardized Training

At the first-of-its-kind Distribution Contractors Association/American Gas Association (DCA/AGA) Utility Contractor Workshop in Chicago, presenters and attendees were single-minded in their focus on one goal: to ensure the growing contractor workforce has the requisite knowledge to safely build the nation’s gas distribution infrastructure while expanding the contractor workforce to meet the needs of utility main replacement and expansion programs. With plans at many utilities to accelerate programs aimed at replacing aging pipeline systems, meeting this goal is more important than ever.

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.

Ex-Exxon Executive Discusses Lauch of 'Clean' Oil Sands Project

After decades of exhaustive attempts to overcome the dirty reputation of oil sands, we finally have an environmentally-friendly and low cost method to tap into these vast resources in the state of Utah – good news both for Mother Nature and all oil and gas investors. MCW Energy Group’s CEO, former Exxon president of the Arabian Gulf region, R. Gerald Bailey, talks about his hunt for an innovative technology that simultaneously makes money and cleans up the environment, and the race to capitalize on Utah’s vast oil sands resources.

Big Cities Scramble in Preparation for Possible Oil Train Disaster

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — They rumble past schools, homes and businesses in dozens of cities around the country — 100-car trains loaded with crude oil from the Upper Midwest. While railroads have long carried hazardous materials through congested urban areas, cities are now scrambling to formulate emergency plans and to train firefighters amid the latest safety threat: a fiftyfold increase in crude shipments that critics say has put millions of people living or working near the tracks at heightened risk of derailment, fire and explosion.

Canadas Oilfield Service Sector Battered by Low Prices

In some ways the numbers don’t look that bad. For a group of 25 diversified, publicly traded Canadian oilfield service (OFS) companies, combined revenue of nearly $9 billion in the first six months of 2015 was only 22.1% lower than $11.53 billion for the same period in 2014. With oil prices down 50 percent for the first half of 2015, a revenue decline of 22.1% looks misleadingly attractive.

Clean Up of Mississippi River to Begin after Tow Boat Collision Spills Oil

COLUMBUS, Ky. (AP) — Clean up crews planned to go into the Mississippi River on Friday in Kentucky after a collision between two tow boats caused an oil spill that prompted the closure of that part of the river. The collision Wednesday evening near Columbus, KY, damaged at least one barge carrying clarified slurry oil. The cargo tank ruptured, causing thousands of gallons of oil to spill into the river, the U.S. Coast Guard said. No injuries were reported. The river was closed Thursday from mile-markers 938 to 922, Petty Officer Lora Ratliff said.

EIA Says Effects of Removing Crude Export Limits Depend on Price, Resource Assumptions

A new study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on the potential implications of allowing more crude oil exports finds that effects on domestic crude oil production are key to determining the other effects of a policy change. Gasoline prices would be either unchanged or slightly reduced. Trade in crude oil and petroleum products would also be affected.