Community & Environment

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.

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.