Community & Environment

North Dakota Flaring Targets Challenged by Rapid Production Growth

Increases in North Dakota's crude oil production have resulted in increased associated natural gas production from oil reservoirs, especially in the Bakken region. Because of insufficient infrastructure to collect, gather, and transport this natural gas, about one-fifth of North Dakota's natural gas production is flared rather than marketed.

Blast Levels New Jersey Duplex; 1 Reported Dead

ELIZABETH, NJ (AP) — An explosion in northern New Jersey that leveled a duplex Wednesday, knocking a next-door neighbor out of bed, killing one resident and leaving two other people in critical condition with severe burns, officials said. In all, 14 people were taken to hospitals, including an 11-year-old who was one of the critically injured in the Elizabeth explosion, Mayor Chris Bollwage said. The names and ages of the victims weren't immediately released.

Ending Ban on Oil Exports Looms as Biggest Hurdle for Oil Industry

As President Obama smugly twiddles his thumbs and decides when he’ll put Keystone out of its misery, sides are being taken, mostly along political lines, in the real debate that will decide the fate of the domestic oil industry: ending the outdated 1975 ban on crude oil exports. Obama, of course, sees no need to lift the ban, though he says he might reconsider IF the oil industry gives up its tax breaks. As one expected, Hillary Clinton, presumptive Democratic nominee for president, also opposes ending the ban.

Appalachian Midstream Operators Face Myriad of Challenges

This has been a busy year of new challenges and issues facing the Appalachian oil and gas industry as rig count in the Appalachian Basin and elsewhere is down substantially compared to the previous two years. A significant challenge ahead for shale developers in a lower price environment is to continue to be active in finding land, drilling wells and getting the natural resource to market. This article concerns our most recent report, published in May, on the issues and challenges facing midstream operators in the Appalachian Basin.

Feds Want Tougher Rules for Pipelines after Series of Spills

Federal officials want tighter safety rules for pipelines carrying crude oil, gasoline and other hazardous liquids after a series of ruptures that included the costliest onshore oil spill in the nation’s history in Michigan.

Study: Dispersants Failed to Help Oil Degrade in BP Spill

WASHINGTON — The chemical sprayed on the 2010 BP oil spill may not have helped crucial petroleum-munching microbes get rid of the slick, a new study suggested. And that leads to more questions about where much of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill went. If the new results are true, up to half the oil can't be accounted for, said the author of a new study on the spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Analysis: Polarized Politics Dictated Obama Keystone Call

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's decision to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline has exposed an endlessly polarized Washington, and likely hardened its divides. Obama is now being praised to the skies by environmentalists and most Democrats, and denounced in apocalyptic terms by Republicans and the business community. And although environmental issues once produced bipartisan agreement in Congress, consensus on action to increase energy production or deal with climate change looks farther away than ever.

North Dakota Losing Appeal Among Drillers, Refiners

The performance of <em>Blood & Oil,</em> a soap opera based on the North Dakota oil boom, is not going well. The show saw its episodes trimmed by ABC amid tepid viewer interest. But the real life Bakken is also suffering from a lack of interest, a development that doesn’t bode well for the oil-producing region. The Bakken had been a key part of the U.S. shale boom over the past half-decade. But production peaked at 1.22 MMbpd in December 2014. Since then production has bounced around, with month-to-month fluctuations, but is slightly down from that high point reached almost a year ago.

1,000 Barrels of Crude Spill from Pipeline in Rural Oklahoma

BILLINGS, Okla. (AP) — A Tulsa-based pipeline company says about 1,000 barrels of crude oil has spilled from a pipeline in rural Oklahoma. Bruce Heine, a spokesman for Magellan Midstream Partners, said in an email Friday the oil was released about 6 p.m. Thursday from a Magellan pipeline that stretches from Enid to Ponca City. He said the spill occurred in a rural area near Billings and no injuries occurred.

Killing Keystone XL, Obama Says Pipeline Not in US Interests

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama rejected an application to build the Keystone XL pipeline Friday after 7 years of federal review, declaring the proposed project wouldn't serve U.S. national interests and would have undercut America's global leadership on climate change.

State Dept. Rejects TransCanada Request for Keystone Delay

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Wednesday it is continuing a review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, despite a request by the project's developer to suspend the review. If granted, a delay could have put off a decision on the high-profile project until the next president takes office in 2017. President Barack Obama has yet to say whether he would approve or reject the pipeline, but the Democrats running for president have all said they oppose it while Republican candidates support it.

Combating Noise in Gas Pipeline Transmission

Pipelines have been established for many years as the simplest and most economical way to transport high quantities of natural gas over long distances, moving gas from new shale fields and other production sources to LNG stations, local utilities, industrial plants and natural gas–fired electric power plants. Natural gas pipelines only consume an average of 2-3% of the gas’s potential energy to overcome frictional losses along the route, making them more cost-effective than the use of road or rail transport.

Keystone Backers Look to Obama's Successor to Make the Call

WASHINGTON (AP) — The company pleading for permission to build the Keystone XL pipeline looked beyond President Barack Obama on Tuesday in apparent hopes a future Republican president would green-light the project. But the administration signaled it was in no mood to hand off the decision to the winner of the 2016 election.

Why Carbon Capture, Storage not Taken Off Yet

For all of the talk about green energy one fact still remains clear: fossil fuels are going to continue to be used in enormous quantities for decades to come. From China and India to the United States and Canada, the world is flooded with growing markets looking for new sources of fossil fuels and developed markets coming up with new ways to extract those fossil fuels. India, for instance, is on track to double its use of coal as a main source of energy over the next 20 years.

ILI Offers Technology that Will Continue to Advance

There are about 3.5 million kilometers of oil and gas pipelines worldwide needing regular cleaning, inspection and maintenance, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA).

TransCanada Asks US to Suspend Pipeline Application Review

TORONTO (AP) — After waiting seven years for a decision, the company behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas has asked the U.S. State Department to suspend its review of the project. The move comes as the Obama administration increasingly appeared likely to reject the pipeline permit application. TransCanada said Monday it had sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting that the State Department suspend its review of the pipeline application. Until recently, it would have been unimaginable for the Calgary, Alberta-based company to ask for a delay.

In the News: California Tightens Responses to Future Energy Spills

Just months after a pipeline rupture dumped 20,000 gallons of oil into the ocean on Oct. 8 near Santa Barbara, CA, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a package of bills aimed at preventing and better responding to future spills. Brown said he signed the bills “in order to more fully protect our inland and coastal communities and environments from the harm of oil spills.”

Government: Senate Hears Criticism of Upcoming Gas Transmission Proposal

INGAA CEO Don Santa showed increasing frustration with PHMSA’s continued failure to move forward with important pipeline safety regulations. At Senate hearings Sept. 29, he said gas transmission pipelines are hesitant to make extensive safety investments now since those investments could be proved inadequate or wrong-headed once PHMSA finally publishes an upcoming safety rule containing numerous changes dictated by the 2011 Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act.

ConocoPhillips Gets Approval for Production Site inside Alaska Federal Reserve

ConocoPhillips gained approval to build the first oil production facilities at a federal reserve in Alaska. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management approval allows the company to construct an 11.8-acre drilling pad and other infrastructure within the reserve. The project boosts the possibility of adding oil to the 800-mile-long Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, designed to ferry 2 MMbpd of crude from the North Slope. It is currently at about 25% capacity due to production declines.

Interior Department Curbs Future Arctic Offshore Drilling

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The Interior Department announced Friday it is canceling future lease sales and will not extend current leases in Arctic waters off Alaska's northern coast, a decision that significantly reduces the chances for future Arctic offshore drilling. The news follows a Sept. 28 announcement by Royal Dutch Shell that it would cease exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas after spending upward of $7 billion on Arctic exploration. The company cited disappointing results from a well drilled in the Chukchi and the unpredictable federal regulatory environment.

Oil Companies Pledge Support for Paris Climate Deal

STOCKHOLM (AP) — The chief executives of 10 of the world's biggest oil and gas companies have pledged support for an "effective" deal to fight global warming at a Paris conference next month. In a statement Friday, the CEOs of BP, Shell, Saudi Aramco, Total, Repsol, Statoil, Eni, Petroelos Mexicanos, Reliance Industries and BG Group said they recognize greenhouse gas emissions trends are inconsistent with the ambition to keep warming below a level many consider dangerous. Burning coal, oil and gas for energy is a key emissions source.

Fed Review Boosts Ocean Gas Plan; Foes Seek NY Governor's Veto

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A company that wants to build an ocean terminal off the coast of New York and New Jersey to import LNG said Wednesday that a federal review supports its claim the $600 million project is safe and economically necessary. Roger Whelan, CEO of Liberty Natural Gas, told The Associated Press that the final environmental impact statement from the U.S. Coast Guard bolsters its contention that the project to import natural gas to the New York metropolitan region during peak demand times should go forward.

ANSI/API Recommended Practice 1173 Released; What Does It Means for Pipeline Safety?

On July 8, 2015, the American Petroleum Institute (API) released the first edition of ANSI/API Recommended Practice (RP) 1173 Pipeline Safety Management Systems. As an ANSI designated standards document, the RP became the national standard for pipeline safety management systems (PSMSs) in the U.S.

New Integrity Solutions Facing Many Same Old Problems

The protection of oil, gas and refined product pipelines against natural events such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis, not to mention human actions including construction excavations, illegal tapping and terrorist sabotage, is an ongoing concern for operators around the world. However, in the United States, the top three causes of pipeline failure reported by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) are construction excavations, corrosion and equipment failure (Figure1).

Far More than Money at Stake

How do you measure the cost of a pipeline spill? The answer: you can’t. That’s what the upper management of Plains All-American Pipeline is learning these days. It’s been a bad year for the Houston-based outfit that, through a series of acquisitions, has quickly become one of the nation’s largest independent midstream operators with over 18,000 miles of oil products pipelines.

Mastering Inspection of Challenging Pipelines

Pipelines are a valuable asset and need protection. In order to achieve this, a modern pipeline integrity management program usually includes regular inspections followed by integrity assessment, and if required, repair and rehabilitation measures.

Where do Oil Majors Really Stand on Climate Change?

Oil majors have been present in the renewable energy space for years. But with momentum building around the Paris COP21 climate talks at the end of the year, their focus has changed. Traditional energy players are positioning themselves in the debate on carbon pricing and emissions reductions, rather than wind and solar. Greater engagement by oil companies should be welcomed as cooperation between the public and private sectors will be critical to moving the conversation forward both in Paris and beyond.

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.