Community & Environment

Local Fracking Bans Could Go Before Colorado High Court Soon

DENVER (AP) — Colorado's battle over who should regulate fracking could be on the fast track to the state Supreme Court. The Colorado Court of Appeals on Monday asked to bow out of lawsuits over Longmont's ban on fracking and a 5-year-moratorium in Fort Collins. The move would allow the Supreme Court to take the cases immediately, without waiting for the appeals court to hear arguments and make rulings. The higher court hasn't said if it will take the cases.

Feds Allow Shell to Drill for Oil in Arctic Ocean off Alaska

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The federal government on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell the final permit it needs to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska's northwest coast for the first time in more than two decades. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced that it approved the permit to drill below the ocean floor after the oil giant brought in a required piece of equipment to stop a possible well blowout.

Embattled South Jersey Gas Pipeline Plan Clears Hurdle

A contentious plan to build a natural gas pipeline has received a boost as it goes for a second time before the commission that regulates development in the New Jersey Pinelands. The Pinelands Commission staff on Friday gave the project a certificate of filing, which shows that the application from South Jersey Gas is complete and consistent with rules for developments in the protected area of the state.

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.

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.

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.

PG&E Pays California $300 Million Toward Penalty for Pipeline Incident

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California's biggest power utility says it's paid a $300 million penalty to the state's general fund for a 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed more than three dozen homes in suburban San Francisco. The payment announced Thursday by is part of a larger $1.6 billion penalty levied against Pacific Gas & Electric earlier this year for the blast in San Bruno.

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.

ExxonMobil Fined Following Probe into Refinery Incident

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California agency that investigates workplace accidents has cited and fined ExxonMobil more than $560,000 for workplace safety and health violations following a probe into February's explosion at a Los Angeles-area refinery.

ExxonMobil Fined Following Probe into Refinery Incident (1)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California agency that investigates workplace accidents has cited and fined ExxonMobil more than $560,000 for workplace safety and health violations following a probe into February's explosion at a Los Angeles-area refinery.

Great Lakes Gas Prices Up after Partial Refinery Shutdown

DETROIT (AP) — Prices at the pump remain up across the Great Lakes region because of the unexpected, partial shutdown of a large Indiana oil refinery. The BP Whiting Refinery in northern Indiana shut down the largest of three crude distillation units Saturday for what the company in a statement called "unscheduled repair work." BP says that the rest of the refinery is operating at reduced production.

Keystone XL Review Drags on 5 Times Longer than Average

WASHINGTON (AP) — For six and a half years, the White House has had a quick comeback to questions about its yet-to-be-announced decision on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline: Talk to the State Department.

BNSF Manager Named Inspector for ND Rail Safety Program

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A longtime manager of a railroad responsible for some fiery oil train crashes in North Dakota has been hired as an inspector for the state's new rail safety program. Karl Carson, a 23-year employee of BNSF Railway and a manager for the railroad since 2004, starts the $90,000-a-year state job next week conducting track and worker safety inspections.

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.

Power Plant Rules Blocked by Senate Committee; Floor Fight Ahead

WASHINGTON (AP) — A GOP-controlled Senate committee has approved legislation to block the Obama administration from putting in place tough new standards on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee gave voice vote approval to send the bill to the full Senate, where a filibuster battle awaits. A veto from President Barack Obama is all but assured.

California Oil Spill May Have Been Far Larger than Projected

LOS ANGELES (AP) — An oil spill from a ruptured pipeline near Santa Barbara, California, that fouled beaches for miles may have been far larger in volume than earlier projected. Plains All American Pipeline had estimated the May 19 spill at up to 101,000 gallons. But in documents released Wednesday, the Texas-based company said alternate calculations found the spill might have been up to 143,000 gallons. The company is continuing its analysis and the figures are preliminary.

EPAs Clean Power Plan Tougher Than Expected

The Obama administration unveiled a much-anticipated, controversial rule on the regulation of greenhouse gases from power plants on Monday. The first-of-their-kind limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants will actually require slightly tougher cuts than the original proposal. The EPA is calling for a 32% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from power plants below 2005 levels by 2030. That is up from the 30% target as part of last year’s proposal. However, the EPA did throw the industry, and its opponents in Congress, a bone.

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.

Scientist: Oil Slick Likely from Natural Seafloor Seepage

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Coast Guard officials were still trying to determine the source of a mysterious miles-long oil slick off California's Santa Barbara County shoreline, but a scientist said Thursday that it's likely the result of naturally occurring seepage from the sea floor. Authorities said the 3-mile sheen was harmless to people and beaches remained open — in contrast to the mass closure that occurred in May when a broken pipeline spilled 100,000 gallons of crude oil, fouling sands, seabirds and fishing areas in the same general area.

Opposing Sides Face Off at Keystone XL Pipeline Hearing

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — Opposing sides in the debate over the Keystone XL oil pipeline faced off Monday in front of the state regulatory panel that is considering for the second time in just over five years whether to approve the construction of the South Dakota portion of the long-delayed project.

Constitution Pipeline Re-Routed to Avoid Fragile NY Forest

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A section of the 124-mile route of the planned Constitution Pipeline has been redrawn to avoid a 1,000-acre private forest with fragile wetlands. Christopher Stockton, spokesman for the pipeline that will bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to New York City and New England, confirmed the route change Tuesday. Stockton says the change adds almost three miles to the route and affects 11 landowners who have signed right-of-way agreements.

Begin Again: Keystone XL pipeline back before South Dakota regulators

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The Public Utilities Commission is considering whether to approve for the second time in just over five years construction of the South Dakota portion of the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline. The hearing process started Monday. The state authorized TransCanada Corp.'s project in 2010, but permits must be revisited if construction doesn't start within four years. The commission is now considering the company's guarantee that it can complete the project while meeting the conditions of the 2010 approval. It's unlikely the panel will make a decision immediately.

Utility Board Approves Changes to NJ Pipeline Authorization

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — The state's Board of Public Utilities has approved two amendments to an earlier order authorizing a natural gas pipeline in southern New Jersey. The board greenlighted Wednesday the amendments concerning the proposed nearly 22-mile pipeline from Maurice River Township to Upper Township. It's the latest in South Jersey Gas' efforts to move forward with the project that has been on hold amid environmental concerns because the pipeline runs through part of the state's Pinelands preserve.

Shell Gets Permits for Limited Oil Drilling in Arctic Waters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Obama administration has given Royal Dutch Shell PLC approval to begin limited exploratory oil drilling off Alaska's northwest coast. The two permits issued Wednesday clear the way for drilling in Chukchi Sea, but with conditions. Shell can only drill the top sections of wells because the company doesn't have critical emergency response equipment on site to cap a well in case of a leak. That equipment is aboard a ship headed to Portland, Oregon, for repairs.

Report: Columbia Gas Followed Rules Prior to Hotel Explosion

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Investigators say Columbia Gas of Kentucky did not violate any safety rules at a Lexington hotel that exploded last year after a natural gas leak. The Kentucky Public Service Commission announced Wednesday that an investigation revealed that the gas company followed safety regulations regarding protection of meters from accidental damage.