Texas Energy Report NewsClips Archive September 2017
Clips are in order from newest to oldest
Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 29, 2017
Lead Stories

Dallas Morning News

September 28, 2017

DMN: Will North Texas quakes grow bigger and more dangerous?

The Johnson County town of Venus, which experienced a 4.0-magnitude earthquake in May 2015 — the strongest quake ever recorded in North Texas — sits on an unpublished fault with the potential to produce an event 10 times as large and release 32 times as much energy. The report also concludes that there’s “substantial evidence” that underground disposal of wastewater from oil and gas operations caused those tremors. When will the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates and promotes the oil and gas industry, accept such compelling evidence? They pushedback against this study, issuing a statement that there was “no conclusive evidence” tying the wells to the earthquake. They’d also pushed back publicly against an earlier SMU-led study team’s report establishing a strong link between injection wells and a swarm of tremors in Azle in 2013.

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Washington Post

September 28, 2017

Zinke took $12,000 charter flight home in oil executive’s plane, documents show

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke chartered a flight from Las Vegas to near his home in Montana this summer aboard a plane owned by oil-and-gas executives, internal documents show. The flight, along with private flights during a trip to the Virgin Islands, could propel Zinke into the growing debate over the costs of travel by Cabinet secretaries, some of whom have chosen expensive charter jets and military planes at high expense to taxpayers over the cheaper option of flying commercial. In June, Zinke and his staffers took a four-hour flight from Las Vegas to Kalispell, Mont., aboard a private plane owned by the executives of a Wyoming oil-and-gas exploration firm, aviation and business records show.

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Daily Energy Insider

September 26, 2017

Diversification of power grid necessary to aid disaster outages, experts say during hearing

A panel of electric power experts agreed during a congressional hearing Tuesday that a diversification of power sources will benefit hurricane-stricken Texas and Puerto Rico, where electric power has been out for more than a week and where it may be months still before power is restored. “A grid that relies on a wide-variety of resources is a much more reliable grid,” Monica Lamb, director of regulated market for LO3 Energy, a company that uses the Internet of Things to rationalize home energy use, told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Energy Subcommittee during its fifth hearing in a series on “Powering America.” “Diversity allows certain assets to stay on line. These are the types of lessons we can apply going forward,” Arvin Ganesan, vice president for federal policy at trade group Advanced Energy Economy, told Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX), who asked the experts how the next generation of the power grid could improve reliability during disasters like Hurricane Harvey.

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Bloomberg

September 28, 2017

Tesla Is ‘Structurally Unprofitable,’ Chanos Says

Tesla Inc., a perennial target of short sellers, is “structurally unprofitable” with a “way too leveraged” capital structure, said famed investor Jim Chanos. “Three years ago, this company was supposed to be making money now,” Chanos, who’s betting against Tesla shares, said in an interview Thursday on Bloomberg Television. “Now it’s supposed to be making money by 2020. And I’m guessing by 2019, we’ll hear about 2025.” Chanos, who bet early on energy company Enron Corp.’s failure, said the electric-car maker run by Elon Musk is behind on autonomous driving technology and rushed the Model 3 to market to appease investors. SolarCity Corp., the solar installer Tesla acquired in a controversial deal last year, is about a $1 billion drain to shareholders annually, he said.

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North American Wind Power

September 20, 2017

Citi Commits To 100% Renewable Energy By 2020

Citigroup Inc. has announced plans to source renewable power for 100% of its global energy needs by 2020. The bank says it will consider on-site power generation, power purchase agreements for energy-intensive properties such as data centers and the appropriate use of renewable energy credits. It will also continue to focus on energy efficiency as a critical component of the strategy. Citi owns or leases over 57 million square feet of real estate, consisting of over 7,900 properties in 94 countries. Its new global base, currently under construction in New York City, is being targeted for LEED Platinum, the highest level of certification under the U.S. Green Building Council, according to the bank.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 29, 2017

Oil mixed but set for weekly gain

Oil prices were mixed on Friday, but both Brent and U.S. crude were set to chalk up another weekly gain as investors bet that efforts to cut a global glut are working and that the demand outlook is improving. U.S. crude was down 4 cents at $51.52 a barrel at 0450 GMT, having spent much of the session slightly higher. The contract is heading for a fourth consecutively weekly gain and is on track for a 9 percent advance this month. Brent rose 14 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $57.55 a barrel, heading for a fifth weekly climb and a 10 percent gain for September. The price gains, most of them in the last two-and-a-half weeks, have come as traders anticipated renewed demand from U.S. refiners that were resuming operations after shutdowns due to Hurricane Harvey. Major world oil producers outside the United States have also indicated they will stick with output cuts to limit supply.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

September 28, 2017

Corpus Christi introduces itself to Permian oil producers

Permian operators have long been exporting their expertise and technology to oil basins around the globe. Now, after 40 years, they’re increasingly exporting their crude as well. Since the 40-year-old ban on exporting U.S. crude was lifted at the end of 2015, exports have risen to an average 800,000 barrels a day, largely to Asia, Europe and South America. Much of that crude comes from the Permian. Pioneer Natural Resources reports it sends off a tanker full of its crude each month. The growing export market has midstream companies working to exploit it by expanding infrastructure or planning pipelines that will carry the crude to export terminals located on or planned for the Port of Corpus Christi. That trend drew representatives of the Port of Corpus Christi to Midland recently to introduce themselves and the port to West Texas.

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Courthouse News

September 27, 2017

Exxon Asks Judge to Throw Out Climate-Change Class Action

ExxonMobil and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asked a Dallas federal judge on Tuesday to dismiss a shareholder class action against them, arguing investors are piggybacking claims by several blue-state attorneys general that the oil giant concealed what it knew about climate change. The Irving-based oil company says the plaintiffs in the case are seeking a “free ride on the soiled coattails” of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation into its knowledge of climate change and global warming. In a 32-page motion to dismiss, ExxonMobil accuses the investors of copying “the baseless insinuations and irresponsible allegations” by Schneiderman’s office.

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Bloomberg

September 27, 2017

Surging Diesel Demand Is Underpinning Crude Oil’s Bull Market

Step aside OPEC, diesel is now driving up oil prices. With industrial activity surging worldwide, the fuel — known in the industry as ultra-low sulfur diesel or ULSD — is enjoying strong demand, accelerating total oil consumption growth in 2017 well above the 10-year average. And just as demand rose faster than expected, diesel supply was hit, prompting a rapid tightening. First in Europe: the Pernis refinery, owned by Royal Dutch Shell Plc and considered one of the region’s diesel machines, suffered a fire in July and shut down for several weeks. And then in the U.S., where Hurricane Harvey in late August temporarily knocked out a dozen refineries, disrupting both domestic supplies and distant export markets. “The oil market is currently driven by four letters: It’s ULSD, not OPEC,” said Olivier Jakob, managing director of consultant Petromatrix GmbH.

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Platts

September 27, 2017

Gas pipeline executive laments ‘wobble’ in US regulatory climate

Conflicting court decisions about federal authorities over natural gas pipelines, as well as recent state actions impeding water permits, create an unstable regulatory climate that could chase away investment, a top gas pipeline executive has warned. Those comments came as Trump administration officials this renewed talk of speeding pipeline permitting and as Energy Secretary Rick Perry Tuesday questioned whether national security questions were raised by states like New York blocking interstate projects. Speaking at a Tuesday evening forum at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, Stan Chapman, TransCanada executive vice president, began by detailing huge opportunities for the midstream gas sector in North America amid mounting estimates of technically recoverable reserves and the industry’s ability to offer low cost energy.

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Houston Chronicle

September 28, 2017

Oil producers say Hurricane Harvey’s impact won’t last long

For the most part, Texas oil executives aren’t too worried about the long-term impacts of Hurricane Harvey, a new survey shows. Earlier this month, 62 percent of the surveyed executives told the Dallas Fed any problems for their oil-production companies and energy service firms will have been fixed within six months. Less than a third expected to feel a slight impact in six months. For refineries and pipelines, which took the brunt of the storm, 55 percent expected a slight impact in six months; 24 percent expected a moderate impact. Some warned the problems could have been worse.

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CNBC

September 28, 2017

US drillers won’t generate ‘meaningful’ returns unless oil stays above $50 a barrel, says Moody’s

Oil prices below $50 are simply not going to cut it in the U.S. shale oil patch, Moody’s analysts say in a new research note. Exploration and production companies have managed to drive down their costs since oil prices crashed in late 2014. But Moody’s believes it will be difficult for drillers to cut much deeper, and any reductions will be offset by a rebound in the prices that oilfield services companies charge. For that reason, drillers won’t be able to make significant returns on the capital they plow into new production unless benchmark U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude oil and natural gas prices cooperate, Moody’s said.

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Houston Chronicle

September 27, 2017

After Harvey, BP’s Houston headquarters slowly humming back to life as repairs continue

A third of BP’s local workforce has returned to its Houston campus over the past few days, squeezing into makeshift workspaces as contractors repair a flood-damaged tower that will remain empty until early next year. Almost a month after Hurricane Harvey’s flood waters sluiced through its sprawling U.S. headquarters and flooded roads in the Energy Corridor, the British oil company has begun reopening a few office buildings, including the 390,000-square-foot Helios Plaza, home of BP’s natural gas and power trading arm, one of the largest businesses of its kind in the United States. In a sign that both BP and Houston’s energy industry continues to recover after Hurricane Harvey, hundreds of traders worked the phones and watched an array of numbers, models and charts fly across six-screen computer banks on BP’s trading floor on Tuesday, combing the country for available gas to deliver to utilities, industrial sites and refineries.

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Forbes

September 24, 2017

Clemente: Why U.S. Natural Gas Prices Will Remain Low

The incredibly powerful combination of fracking and horizontal drilling has sent U.S. natural gas supplies through the roof and prices through the floor. With marketed production increasing about 35% since 2008 to ~78 Bcf/d, prices have plummeted over 60% to around $3 per MMBtu. Check this U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) graphic to see just how historically low our gas prices really are, here. Last year brought the lowest gas prices we have seen since 1999 – and prices will remain low for as far as our modelers forecast. EIA just projected here that U.S. gas production will increase 1-2% per year in the coming decades, surging to 85 Bcf/d in 2020 and onto more than 100 Bcf/d by 2035 and even more in the subsequent years. This unstoppable rise in U.S. gas production stems mostly from an immense low cost resource base.

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NASDAQ

September 27, 2017

Saudi Aramco to venture into non-Saudi crude oil trading

Saudi Aramco’s trading arm will start trading non-Saudi crude oil to mainly feed its international joint ventures as the world’s largest oil exporter seeks to optimise profits, industry sources familiar with the move said. The expansion into crude comes as Saudi Aramco is working to boost its valuation ahead of the planned listing of up to 5 percent of its shares on one or more international stock exchange next year, in what could be the world’s biggest initial public offering. Set up in 2012 to market refined products, base oils and bulk petrochemicals, Aramco Trading Company (ATC) will expand into crude to mainly feed international Aramco joint ventures like the Motiva refinery in the U.S. and S-Oil in South Korea, the sources said. They declined to be identified because they weren’t authorised to speak to media.

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New York Times

September 28, 2017

World Needs New Offshore Oil Investments to Avoid Shortages-Hess

Higher investments in offshore oil production are critical to avoiding a supply squeeze by 2020, as expanding shale output will not match projected demand increases in the next few years, U.S. oil producer Hess Corp said on Thursday. The past four years of low oil prices have major producers pulling back on needed offshore investment, and the gap between supply and demand should help prices rebound, Hess Chief Operating Officer Greg Hill said at an energy conference at Rice University’s Baker Institute. “The world is going to have to invest in more than shale,” said Hill, whose company has projects in offshore Guyana, Gulf of Mexico, and Gulf of Thailand. Expanded offshore production “will play a critical role in avoiding another supply shock.”

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Houston Chronicle

September 26, 2017

Tribal leader irked by state deal with Dakota Access builder

The leader of the Standing Rock Sioux and an attorney for private North Dakota landowners believe the builder of the Dakota Access pipeline got off too lightly when it settled allegations by state regulators that it violated rules during construction. North Dakota’s Public Service Commission, which could have fined Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners hundreds of thousands of dollars but didn’t, has defended the agreement, saying its provisions are more meaningful than a fine. ETP says the agreement proves the company is a good corporate citizen. The PSC last year accused Energy Transfer Partners of not reporting to regulators the discovery of American Indian artifacts, which were not disturbed. The commission also was investigating whether crews removed too many trees and mishandled soil while laying pipe.

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Platts

September 25, 2017

Oxy to complete Corpus Christi VLCC loading facility by end 2018

Occidental Petroleum is aiming to complete by late 2018 a project to install multiple loading arms at its crude storage facility at Corpus Christi, Texas, allowing it to load VLCCs on a regular basis, Vice President for Midstream Terry Morrison said Friday. “With a current draft of 45 feet at the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, that project will allow us to load a VLCC with 1.2 million barrels to 1.4 million barrels at our Ingleside Energy Center facility,” Morrison said on the sidelines of the Energy Exchange Conference in Midland. At a greater water depth of some 66 feet and more, Oxy will be able to fully load a VLCC with a capacity of 2 million barrels, he said.

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Texas Monthly

September 20, 2017

Steffy: John Goodenough Plans to Make Gasoline Obsolete

The first thing I hear as I step off the elevator on the ninth floor of the University of Texas at Austin’s Engineering Teaching Center is the laugh. Ha-hah-hah-HA-HAAA! It ricochets down the hall from the office of John Goodenough, a man who has done more to change the electronics we use every day than anyone this side of Steve Jobs. His inventions have led to the batteries that power most cell phones and the short-term memory chips that enable computers to seamlessly navigate between emails, photos, and the latest Ariana Grande song. “He’s responsible for two of the most significant discoveries in our lifetime,” says Charles Tate, the chairman of the Houston-based Welch Foundation, which funds chemical research in Texas. Goodenough, who is 95, is trim, white-haired, and bespectacled. He doesn’t stand when I come in. He’s had two hip replacements—one good, the other not so good, he says, followed by the laugh. Though he’s soft-spoken, the laugh is an incongruous eruption that punctuates even the most serious discussions. Ha-hah-hah-HA-HAAA!

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Wall Street Journal

September 28, 2017

World’s Biggest Oil Company Promised Expats Idyllic Lifestyle—Then Fire Erupted

As dawn broke on Aug. 30, 2015, Nighat Razi’s neighbors were already screaming. Smoke was spreading through her building in an apartment complex for employees of Saudi Arabia’s state oil company. A smoldering electrical transformer had ignited car tires in the underground garage, and explosions rumbled through the complex. “We were hearing ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ ” said Senthilmurugan Balasubramanian, an Indian engineer. Ms. Razi and her husband, Ahmed, a geologist, found themselves trapped in the apartment with their three daughters. The black smoke filling the hallway outside their apartment made escape impossible. Outside, someone was frantically blowing a whistle. But no fire alarm sounded at the complex. There were no smoke detectors in the apartments, and no fire doors to prevent the spread of flames. A year earlier, the safety division of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., or Aramco, had flagged these very shortcomings, warning in an internal document that the complex had “major life-safety concerns” and shouldn’t be occupied.

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Investors Business Daily

September 20, 2017

Luskin, Warren: Sorry, But Tesla’s Cool Electric Cars Can’t Compete As Long As Fracking Exists

If you were among the brave few who bought a Tesla Roadster in 2008, you purchased your government-subsidized $100,000-plus electric car when a barrel of oil cost as much as $162 in today’s dollars. “Peak oil” was an article of faith — as crude supplies ran out, ever-higher oil prices would destroy demand for the internal combustion engine and other fossil-fuel monstrosities. But now, if you’re one of the 500,000 wannabe Tesla owners who, according to CEO Elon Musk, has put down a $1,000 deposit on a $35,000 Model 3, the company’s new mass-market electric sedan, you’re probably just as familiar with a fashionable new green conceit. Now the article of faith is “peak demand” for oil, the idea that electric cars will soon make oil obsolete.

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Utilities Stories

Utility Dive

September 27, 2017

Arizona utility will use ‘reverse demand response’ to avoid renewables curtailment

If you are looking for a good deal on energy in Arizona, here’s a hint: around lunchtime in the month of March, it’s usually free. Arizona Public Service recently proposed a slate of efficiency and demand-side measures that include many of the usual suspects, along with new takes on traditional resources. The utility’s plan includes incentives for smart thermostats, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, energy storage and water heater timers — along with a new “reverse demand response” product that aims to balance system load with excess renewable generation. “Reverse demand response is really a reflection of our demand side planning and APS’ commitment to partner with customers to act as system resources,” explained Kent Walter, manager of customer technology and product development for the utility.

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Slate

September 27, 2017

After the Hurricanes, Can We Rebuild a Stronger, Greener Grid?

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, it destroyed the island’s sole electrical grid, killing more than 90 percent of the distribution network that connects consumers to their source of power. Experts currently estimate that much of the island won’t regain its connection for the next six months. And up north, Hurricane Irma’s historic winds put Florida in the dark, as 4 million utility accounts lost power from Miami to Tampa. A total loss of power like this is not just frustrating; it’s dangerous. Among other side effects, it jeopardizes health care, compromises clean water, and disrupts sewage systems. When a Florida nursing home neglected to evacuate its patients, 11 elderly residents died after the electricity went out and took the air conditioning with it. The local police department says an investigation is ongoing, but the deaths have been attributed to the unbearable heat.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Popular Mechanics

September 26, 2017

Are Evaporation Engines Really the Future of Renewable Energy?

There may be a new form of hydroelectric power on the horizon, and—according to its inventor, anyway—it has the potential to surpass other forms of renewable energy. Oh, and it’s remarkably simple. In a paper published today in Nature Communications, a Columbia University-led team outlined the energy production possible by harnessing electricity from water evaporating off the surface of a lake. Like wind and solar energy, this basic action is happening all around us, says coauthor Ozgur Sahin of Columbia. “Evaporation has the potential to be greater than wind power and closer to solar power,” he says. Here’s the gist. Say you place a generator (that kind of resembles a water mil) on top of a lake. As the sun hits the lake water, the steam rising up pushes a series of lightweight spokes in the wheel. This turns the generator, moving the energy to the grid on shore.

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Bloomberg

September 20, 2017

How Merkel’s Green Energy Policy Has Fueled Demand for Coal

Merkel aims to cut CO2 emissions by 40 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, and Germany has spent some 650 billion euros ($780 billion) on subsidies for green power in recent decades. But the country will at best get to 30 percent by 2020, according to Berlin climate researcher Agora Energiewende. Emission reductions “won’t be a near miss but a booming failure,” Agora researchers write. That’s not to say Merkel’s policy has been a failure. Wind power alone has spawned 143,000 jobs, according to the BWE wind industry lobby, versus 135,000 who work in the traditional power sector and coal mining. More than a third of Germany’s electricity now comes from wind, solar and biomass, up from a quarter four years ago. And Germany is ahead of the European average, with emissions down 27 percent from 1990 levels, versus 22 percent for the 28 members of the European Union.

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GreenBiz

September 21, 2017

Sweet: What’s the best way to buy renewable energy?

Buying renewable energy is getting easier. Large U.S. corporations signed contracts this year through Sept. 19 to buy more than 2000 megawatts of renewable power, up nearly 30 percent from last year, and up from just 70 megawatts in 2012, according to the Business Renewables Center. More than 100 large companies around the world — many based in the United States — have pledged to buy enough renewables to match 100 percent of the power they use. To achieve this, many companies are buying solar, wind or other renewable power directly from suppliers. Participants in VERGE17 in Santa Clara, California, this week discussed their companies’ various renewable-power pursuits.

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MIT Technology Review

September 22, 2017

First Evidence That Offshore Wind Farms Are Changing the Oceans

Offshore wind farms are becoming increasingly common in our oceans. In Europe, the goal is for them to supply over 4 percent of the continent’s electricity by 2030. And that’s triggering a wind power boom—the amount of electricity they generate is expected to increase 40-fold by 2030. Offshore wind turbines are huge—much bigger than their land-based counterparts. They can be over 200 meters tall—twice the height of the Big Ben clock tower in London—and generate up to nine megawatts of power. But most of their mass is in the concrete and steel bases that sit underwater. Naturally, these bases become home to complex ecosystems. In the North Sea, where most of the European farms are being built, these ecosystems are dominated by blue mussels. These feed by filtering phytoplankton from the water.

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Regulatory Stories

KPRC (Houston)

September 27, 2017

State air monitoring vehicles stayed in Austin during Harvey, Channel 2 Investigates discovers

Once Bakeyah Nelson with Air Alliance Houston started getting calls about a foul odor emerging from the Valero’s complex in Manchester, she decided to take a unique step in the aftermath of Harvey, “We felt that we wanted to capture our own data.” Nelson, the executive director of Air Alliance Houston brought in Entanglement Technologies from California to measure pollution levels and compare their findings to those by government agencies — like Texas Environmental Quality, the state’s commission on environmental quality. However, there was one problem, Channel 2 Investigates learned following the dramatic environmental impact of Harvey on the area, that Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) air-monitoring vehicles never made it to Houston, “It’s been sitting in Austin this whole time,” according to Brian Zabcik, with Environment Texas. TCEQ acknowledged to Channel 2 Investigates their air-monitoring vehicles had not been deployed in nearly four months. In fact, we found them sitting in an Austin parking lot nearly two weeks ago.

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Austin American Statesman

September 28, 2017

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asks senators to study Harvey recovery

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tasked nine Senate committees Thursday with studying ahead of the 2019 legislative session how the state can recover from Hurricane Harvey. “Since Harvey made landfall, I have said that this Texas-sized storm will require a Texas-sized response,” Patrick said in a statement. “My goal is for our state to become a national model in handling every aspect of disaster and the interim charges I am releasing today are the next step in achieving that goal.” House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, asked three House committees — Appropriations, Public Education and Natural Resources — two weeks ago to study the same issue.

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San Antonio Express News

September 28, 2017

EPA finds Harvey damage at Houston Superfund site

The Environmental Protection Agency is ordering companies responsible for cleaning up a Houston Superfund site flooded during Hurricane Harvey to immediately address damage to a protective cap and subsequent high levels of waste material detected in a sediment sample from the site. The EPA said Thursday night a sample collected by an agency dive team at the San Jacinto River Waste Pits Superfund site showed dioxins at 70,000 nanograms per kilogram. The EPA level for cleaning is 30 nanograms per kilogram.

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Utility Dive

September 27, 2017

As Perry slams state pipeline decisions, lawyers say DOE has little authority to intervene

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on Tuesday reiterated his call for the U.S. to rethink the boundaries of state and federal jurisdiction when siting energy infrastructure, particularly interstate pipelines. “Let’s say someone wants to build a new clean-burning natural gas power plant in Maine and they can’t get the gas to their location because they’ve got to go through a state that has a political, philosophical problem with building a pipeline across their state,” Perry said at a breakfast event for National Clean Energy Week. “How do we deal with that?” Perry’s comments came the day after he revived his call for the Department of Energy to explore using its national security authorities to prevent another Polar Vortex — an episode in 2014 when a cold weather snap forced outages at gas and coal plants throughout the Midwest.

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The Hill

September 23, 2017

Fales: Federal energy subsidies go to far more than nuclear and coal producers

Any intellectually honest discussion about energy markets requires acknowledging that all energy is subsidized, a fact that experts sometimes forget. In a Sept. 8 column for The Hill, for instance, one author argued that eliminating renewable energy incentives was key to increasing prosperity and that, short of eliminating renewable energy subsidies, our nation would suffer “through energy poverty … in the future.” But as Ronald Reagan said, “facts are stubborn things.” The coal and nuclear plants supposedly harmed by increasing amounts of renewable energy are also beneficiaries of government subsidies. And rather than renewables, cheap, abundant and subsidized natural gas is of much more concern to coal and nuclear facilities because these “base load” plants cannot react quickly to market signals like a new, efficient gas-fired energy facility, as the Department of Energy’s grid study recently concluded.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 28, 2017
Lead Stories

Austin American Statesman

September 27, 2017

Texas’ oil regulator took vacation amid Harvey

Texas’ chief oil and gas regulator was on vacation in the critical days surrounding Hurricane Harvey as her agency grappled with fuel shortages and scrambled to respond to refinery spills caused by the storm, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Kimberly Corley’s work calendar listed her as on vacation for 11 days in a two-week span before and after Harvey came ashore Aug. 25 as a Category 4 hurricane. The former Shell Oil executive was named in December 2015 as executive director of the Texas Railroad Commission, which is responsible for enforcement of the state’s oil and gas industry. Corley abruptly stepped down last week. Reached by phone Wednesday, she said she had been in Big Bend in West Texas. She said she was engaged in the storm response while away, adding that Harvey wasn’t mentioned in a meeting with the agency’s chairwoman that preceded her resignation.

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Texas Monthly

September 27, 2017

Earthquakes Return to North Texas

This summer two earthquakes shook North Texas within just weeks of each other. The U.S. Geological Society (USGS) recorded temblors in the Irving area of magnitudes 3.1 and 2.7, on August 27 and September 1, respectively. The USGS did not record earthquakes of that magnitude and frequency in the region since before 2016, according to a recently published seismological report. Earthquakes in North Texas have been correlated with drilling activities in the Barnett Shale geological formation, according to UT-Austin researcher Cliff Frohlich. A team of researchers from UT-Austin and SMU led by Frohlich released a report last May outlining the history of induced earthquakes in Texas, including the uptake of seismicity near the Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) from 2008 to 2013. The report definitively ascertains that the earthquakes felt near DFW were induced by human action because of “the absence of historical seismicity prior to injection, the proximity of the injection well to a known mapped fault, the onset of activity only six weeks after injection commenced in 2008, and the earthquake depths at and below the depth of injection.”

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Bloomberg

September 28, 2017

China to Require Minimum Alternative Energy Car Output in 2019

China will require automakers to comply with a cap-and-trade auto emission rule starting from 2019, marking an important step in the government’s efforts to phase out fossil fuel powered vehicles. Automakers making and selling passenger vehicles in China will be required to obtain a minimum new-energy vehicle credit score starting from 2019, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement posted on its website, Bloomberg News reports.

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IEEE Spectrum

September 26, 2017

Evaporative Power Has the Potential to Create Electricity for Large Parts of the U.S.

Researchers have hit upon an alternative to the well-known alternatives to fossil fuels: evaporation. A team of scientists from Columbia University in New York City has estimated that energy harnessed from water evaporating from U.S. reservoirs and lakes with a surface area of at least 0.1 square kilometer—not including coastlines or the Great Lakes—could yield up to 325 gigawatts of electric power at peak capacity, about 30 percent of the United States’ total installed generation capacity in 2015. Technology used to harvest the evaporative energy lowers the total rate at which water is lost to the air, and can be tuned to match demand, smoothing fluctuations in generation that are inherent to wind and solar power.

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Bloomberg

September 27, 2017

Big Oil Moves on Its Own to Cut Methane Pollution

An ExxonMobil subsidiary this week said it would root out methane leaks and upgrade production technology as part of an effort to manage industrial pollution, the latest move by an energy sector that’s beginning to take matters into its own hands while the Trump administration works to roll back Obama-era climate rules. The quiet announcement contrasts with recent events in Washington, where courts, Congress, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have been wrangling over the fate of two regulations meant to reduce methane emissions. One rule applies to new natural-gas facilities nationwide, while the other affects natural gas production on federal and Native American land. In July, a U.S. appeals court blocked the EPA from postponing implementation of the first rule. This week, a federal judge in San Francisco heard arguments on the Department of the Interior’s attempt to rollback the second rule. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has weighed in as well, voting earlier this month to strip funding for both regulations.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 28, 2017

Oil falls as US data shows mixed picture

Oil prices fell on Thursday, with U.S. crude giving up some of the previous session’s gains that were driven by a surprise fall in inventories, while Brent moved further away from recent 26-month highs. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude (WTI) dipped 7 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $52.06 a barrel by 0533 GMT after rising 26 cents in the previous session to just below 5-month highs. Brent was down 11 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $57.79 a barrel, slipping further away from Tuesday’s more than two-year high of $59.49 following a near 1 percent fall in the previous session. U.S. crude inventories fell 1.8 million barrels last week, the U.S. Energy Department said on Wednesday, versus forecasts for a 3.4 million-barrel build. The crude draw provided some support to oil prices as refiners came back online following Hurricane Harvey last month, but gasoline stocks surprisingly rose and stocks of distillates were down by less than anticipated.

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Houston Chronicle

September 27, 2017

Crude inventories dip as Harvey glut erodes

The nation’s commercial crude stockpiles fell by 1.8 million barrels last week, showing that the oil bottleneck created by Hurricane Harvey is beginning to loosen. The Category 4 storm knocked out nearly a quarter of the nation’s oil refining capacity along the Texas Gulf Coast, creating multiple weeks of crude inventory increases as refineries processed less oil. Most of the refining industry has restarted. The declining crude oil cache is partially offset by a 1.1 million barrel increase in gasoline stockpiles. But inventories for other refined products, such as diesel and propane also fell. So overall petroleum stockpiles declined by 5.1 million barrels from last week.

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Wall Street Journal

September 26, 2017

Texas Refineries Emitted Pollutants During Harvey-Related Shutdowns

The Harvey-related startups and shutdowns produced nearly four million pounds of emissions as of Monday, or about 10% of the entire state’s yearly unplanned emissions, according to company estimates to state regulators. That included about 49,000 pounds of the carcinogen benzene and around 80,000 pounds of the carcinogen 1,3-butadiene, according to the estimates. About one million more pounds of chemicals came from other malfunctions during the storm. … Hector Rivero, president and CEO of the Texas Chemical Council, which represents 100 facilities along the Texas Gulf Coast, said the vast majority of facilities shut down during the storm. “Their focus is on protecting people, allowing people to get to their homes, making sure plants are safe from an potential impacts,” he said. The companies likely won’t be fined for the pollution. Many states, including Texas, generally have exempted the enforcement of violating emission limits during malfunctions and unplanned startups or shutdowns.

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Bloomberg

September 27, 2017

Nocera: The Permian Basin Still Has an Awful Lot of Oil

I spent the weekend in Austin at the University of Texas, where I drove past what is arguably the most important oil well in American history, the Santa Rita No. 1. There are those who would bestow that title on the famous East Texas gusher at Spindletop, which spurred the rise of the oil industry in 1901. The Santa Rita No. 1 first hit oil 22 years later, after two arduous years of drilling, in Reagan County in West Texas. It proved that oil existed the Permian Basin, a 300-mile expanse stretching to southeastern New Mexico, and including Midland, Odessa and Fort Stockton in Texas, and Carlsbad, New Mexico. The Permian Basin quickly became the most important source of U.S. oil production. 1 Incredibly, that is as true today as it was in the Permian’s wildcatting heyday, which was roughly from the 1940s to the early 1970s. According to a new study by IHS Markit, a consulting and research firm, the Permian Basin today has between 60 billion and 70 billion barrels of recoverable oil, worth $3.3 trillion at current prices, as Bloomberg’s Joe Carroll noted in a story on Monday.

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Houston Chronicle

September 27, 2017

Exxon adds 22,000 acres in Permian Basin

Exxon Mobil has snapped up 22,000 acres in the Permian Basin since May, expanding its footprint in West Texas and New Mexico through undisclosed acquisitions. The Irving-based oil company said Wednesday it bought prolific oil land sitting on top of multiple layers of oil-soaked rock known as stacked pay zones, in the Delaware Basin and the Midland Basin.

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Energy Business Review

September 26, 2017

American Midstream begins crude oil delivery into Dakota Access Pipeline

Texas-based American Midstream Partners has started delivery of crude oil from the Bakken crude oil gathering system into the $3.8bn Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The 80.5km-Bakken crude oil gathering system located near Watford City in North Dakota has a production capacity of up to 40,000 barrels per day. American Midstream Partners says that its DAPL interconnect gives more options to high-value market alternatives and take-away capabilities for gathered barrels and volume brought via its trucking terminal. Strategically located, the connection provides producers the access to DAPL upstream of the delivery and storage hub at Johnsons Corner as per the midstream company.

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June-Warren-Nickles

September 22, 2017

What’s a zipper frac? Chinook’s new Montney completion system

Pure play Montney operator Chinook Energy says it is encouraged by a new fracking completion system that it plans to incorporate in future drilling. The company says that during the second quarter it successfully completed four wells at Birley/Umbach in northeast B.C. using a “zipper frac” technique. In a zipper frac, Chinook says adjacent wells are fracked in an alternating stage sequence. “This technique assists adjacent well fractures to avoid each other while maximizing the exposure of new reservoir rock,” the company explains. The wells were also completed using more frac stages and less proppant per stage, Chinook says, from 65 tonnes/stage to 55 tonnes/stage, as well as tighter frac spacing, from 65 metres to 52 metres.

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Wall Street Journal

September 26, 2017

Oil’s Move Higher Now Rests Squarely on U.S. Shoulders

Metals have been punished in recent days as Chinese data has disappointed, but oil is in full party mood. Brent crude was trading near $59 a barrel on Tuesday, its loftiest level since 2015, after rising nearly 4% overnight and putting it back into a bull market. That should raise some red flags—strong Chinese demand supported the oil market earlier this year when U.S. drivers weren’t getting out so much, and will be necessary to keep rebalancing the market, particularly if growth in the U.S. or Europe stumbles. Energy economists spent much of the spring fretting over weak U.S. oil consumption, which resulted in a massive gasoline glut. Those fears have largely evaporated. Americans returned to the road this summer, helped by lower prices and a tightening labor market.

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Houston Chronicle

September 27, 2017

DePillis: When polluting is in a company’s rational self-interest

This week, Harris County announced its intention to sue the French multinational chemical producer Arkema after volatile organic compounds exploded at its flooded plant in Crosby following Hurricane Harvey. The explosion sickened first responders with toxic fumes and exposed the surrounding area to untold amounts of contamination. Public officials allege that, having had ample warning about the approaching storm, the company could’ve taken measures to neutralize the dangers before everything went so terribly wrong. Arkema strongly disagrees, saying it took every possible precaution — but if Harris County is right, it wouldn’t be the first time a company weighed the benefits of doing the right thing and decided they didn’t outweigh the potential costs. That’s the conclusion of a remarkable case study just released by researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business on litigation faced by another chemical giant familiar to Houstonians: DuPont.

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Reuters

September 26, 2017

Cabot Oil & Gas settles fracking lawsuit with Pennsylvania families

Cabot Oil & Gas Co. [COG.N] has settled a lawsuit filed by two families in Dimock, Pennsylvania, who alleged their homes’ drinking water became contaminated with methane not long after the company began drilling for natural gas in 2007. The Ely and Hulbert families initially won $4.2 million in damages in a federal jury trial in Scranton last year, but Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson threw out the verdict as unjustified and ordered the parties to begin settlement talks. The terms of the settlement have not been made public. Leslie Lewis, the New York lawyer who represented the families, declined on Tuesday to comment on the terms.

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Peninsula Clarion (Alaska)

September 26, 2017

Hilcorp subleases Kenai airport hangar

Hilcorp will be using a hangar on the Kenai Municipal Airport for flights to its facilities on the west side of Cook Inlet.The privately-owned Houston, Texas-based oil and gas producer is subleasing a city-owned airport property on North Willow Street from commercial real estate landlords Schilling Rentals. Hilcorp — which became the largest producer in the Cook Inlet oil and gas industry after major producers Chevron and Marathon sold their interests in the region’s declining oil fields to it in 2011 and 2012, respectively — flies at least one plane, a DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, from the Kenai airport. According to the Kenai airport administration’s enplanement reports, Hilcorp flew 3,574 people from the Kenai airport in 2015 and 4,328 people in 2016.

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Dallas Morning News

September 27, 2017

Dallas man who fooled TV media, duped Texas investors also conned Californians, SEC says

Christopher Faulkner, the self-described “Frack Master” accused of committing an $80 million fraud in Dallas, has resurfaced in California with a new scheme, according to a federal lawsuit. The Securities and Exchange Commission said Faulkner “repackaged” the blueprint of his Dallas oil industry swindle and applied it to a real estate flipping scheme in Southern California. The Sept. 11 lawsuit, sealed from public view until a few days ago, claims that Faulkner and two business partners “duped investors into purportedly funding real estate projects.” A federal judge has ordered Faulkner’s business assets to be frozen.

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The Telegraph (UK)

September 25, 2017

Fracking fires up BP’s largest project of the year

BP has started production at the Khazzan project in Oman, the largest of the new projects it has scheduled for this year, as the oil major attempts to export its US fracking experience around the world. The $16bn gas project uses the same controversial drilling technique that has unleashed an energy revolution in the US. Fracking has been used to prepare around 200 wells that will tap gas three miles below the earth’s surface in extremely hard, dense rock. The project is expected to produces one billion cubic feet of gas a day. BP believes the daily volumes could rise to 1.5 billion cubic feet in the project’s second phase, which will include an additional 100 wells.

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Seeking Alpha

September 25, 2017

Farmer’s Almanac Winter Forecast Very Bullish For Natural Gas Prices

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has put out its upcoming winter forecast. It sees the West and South as colder than normal and the Northeast as mild. Natural gas futures prices are based on prices at the Henry Hub in Southern Louisiana. The Almanac’s forecast would be very bullish for that hub. If the forecast verifies natural gas prices could move up into the $4 range before the end of winter.

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Utilities Stories

Platts

September 27, 2017

Harvey’s rain caused coal-to-gas switching: NRG Energy

Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath dumped so much water on Texas that the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ second-largest generation owner had to switch two units at a big power plant from coal to natural gas, a step that had not been taken since 2009. That is one point made in a report by NRG Energy filed in advance of a Thursday meeting of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, which has at the top of its agenda Project No. 45772, “Issues Related to the Disaster Resulting from Hurricane Harvey.”

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Dallas Morning News

September 27, 2017

The Watchdog: Your updated 2017 guide to shopping for electricity in Texas

The system is rigged against consumers. Only the most mathematically-inclined customers willing to spend much time shopping, probing and creating spread sheets can figure out the best deals. For the rest of us, confusion leads to overpaying for electricity. PowerToChoose.org doesn’t work anymore. Electricity companies know that the lowest prices appear first in its search results. Some created impossibly low 1-cent kWh rates. The deals came with strict conditions that if not followed, raised rates considerably. I led a brief campaign against this sham, and the UC made a few changes. But low rates with many catches still clog higher search results. Electricity companies game the system; regulators can’t keep up. Here’s one example: some companies charge steep penalties if a customer doesn’t hit an exact kWh usage level each month right on the button: 2,000 kWh gets the promised price, but dare to use 2,001 and the monthly bill jumps. That’s preposterous.

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San Antonio Express News

September 27, 2017

Garcia: Farias steps back into public arena after kidney transplant

Joe Farias’s retirement didn’t take. Farias, 71, stepped down two years ago from the Texas House seat he held for five terms. His health had been deteriorating since a 2013 blood test determined that he had Stage 3 kidney disease. In August 2015, Farias suffered a near-death experience, blacking out and being rushed by ambulance to a hospital, where doctors discovered that his heart had nearly stopped beating. A few days later, on doctors’ orders, he resigned with more than a year left in his term. … In fact, Farias’s health has improved to the point that he’s regained the antsiness familiar to those who know this longtime South Side community activist. “Sitting on the porch and counting cars all day is not my cup of tea,” Farias said. So Farias is tentatively stepping back into the public arena by applying for a post on the five-member CPS Energy Board of Trustees, as the board prepares to fill the southeast-quadrant seat being vacated by the term-limited Derrick Howard.

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Dailly Caller

September 27, 2017

Shows: What The Media Won’t Tell You About Gulf Coast Hurricane Recovery

My friends on the Gulf Coast tell me that the power companies in Texas and Florida did a great job restoring electricity – even to the regions most devastated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. There isn’t a lot of media coverage of this, because the public, the press and politicians typically only focus on the electric companies when they’re failing. But I want to commend the utilities, and remind folks to appreciate their employees. Those utility workers, are men and women who spent many hours away from their families and loved ones, to ensure that people living in the aftermaths of Harvey and Irma could quickly get back to their own lives.

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Wall Street Journal

September 23, 2017

Puerto Rico’s Power Woes Are Decades in the Making

Earlier this month, Hurricane Irma sideswiped the island, knocking out power to about 70% of the customers of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or Prepa. The utility had made significant strides in restoring electricity when Hurricane Maria struck Wednesday, wiping out power to 100% of its customers. Ricardo Ramos, chief executive of Prepa, said that it could take months for power to be restored across the island. … Prepa’s problems have been decades in the making. Early in its history, it earned praise for powering Puerto Rico’s industrialization efforts in the 1940s and 1950s. But over time, it became less efficient, energy analysts say. Its generating plants, which rely on imported oil for about 60% of their energy production, are mostly obsolete and require major upgrades or outright replacement, said Miguel Soto-Class, president of the Center for a New Economy, a nonpartisan think tank in San Juan that has done in-depth analyses of the utility’s finances. Power outages are common. A fire at one of the utility’s plants in September triggered a blackout across the island that left many customers without power for days.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Futurism

September 19, 2017

Take a Look at This Electric Motorhome Powered by Solar Panels and a Battery Pack

Electric cars are already poised to take over our roads, but anyone looking to buy a motorhome is still stuck with only fossil fuel-powered options. That could soon change thanks to Dethleffs. The German motorhome manufacturer has just unveiled their e.home concept. The exterior of this futuristic RV is blanketed in 31 square meters (334 square feet) of solar panels, generating electricity to help fuel the vehicle’s electric powertrain. Its electric 80-kilowatt (107-horsepower) motor can be paired with several battery options. According to Dethleffs, the e.home’s maximum range is 280 kilometers (174 miles) rated on the New European Driving Cycle, while an EPA rating would likely put it closer to 225 kilometers (140 miles). However, both of those ranges are set without hauling weight. Dethleffs claims a fully outfitted e-home that’s hauling weight would have an estimated range of 165 kilometers (103 miles).

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Houston Chronicle

September 27, 2017

Tomlinson: Electric vehicles trigger search for lithium and cobalt

Automakers this summer touted plans to offer more electric vehicles, with Mercedes-Benz announcing it will spend $1 billion to add a battery factory to its plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Ford is investing $4.5 billion in electric vehicle production, Volkswagen has promised 30 electrified models, and Volvo plans to go all electric or hybrid by 2019. Even Porsche will offer a battery-powered sports sedan called Mission E in 2020. Automakers expect to sell 20 million all-electric vehicles in 2030, according to conservative estimates, prompting questions about where the raw materials will come from to make all of those batteries. Thinking about battery demand requires a new vocabulary. When it comes to liquid fuels, we talk about millions of barrels of crude oil. Battery demand is measured in gigawatt-hours of storage capacity.

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Bloomberg

September 21, 2017

Battery Storage Still Needs Solar for Growth

Batteries are hyped as the fix-it for clean-energy projects that can’t otherwise produce power around the clock. But they may need solar for growth. While costs have fallen about 40 percent since 2014, storage isn’t cheap. On their own, batteries don’t qualify for federal tax credits. But if a storage unit is charged at least 75 percent by solar, it can qualify for at least part of a U.S. subsidy enjoyed by those projects — the investment tax credit, according to David Burton, a New York-based partner at Mayer Brown LLP. The tax credit is one of the reasons why solar developers, including Panasonic Corp.-backed Coronal Group LLC, are exploring projects that also include storage units, said panelists this week at Euromoney Seminars’ North American Energy & Infrastructure Finance Forum in New York. Another reason: utilities usually prefer power plants capable of supplying reliable electricity at all hours.

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Inside Climate News

September 22, 2017

Solar Panel Tariff Threat: 8 Questions Homeowners Are Asking

The stage is nearly set for the Trump administration to slap tariffs on imported solar panels, after the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled on Friday that two bankrupt solar manufacturers had been harmed by the flood of competition from overseas. But the surge of low-cost panels from China and elsewhere, which the ITC said harmed manufacturers Suniva and SolarWorld, has been a boon to American consumers, making power from the Sun much more affordable. Installers and financiers of solar power systems have warned that a Trump administration effort to protect the moribund U.S. manufacturers would undercut the market, forcing sharp price increases after years of price declines for photovoltaic energy. And that, they warned, would also put tens of thousands of U.S. jobs and billions of dollars of investment at risk.

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Columbus Dispatch (OH)

September 23, 2017

Wind farms in Ohio pit environmentalists against some neighbors tired of noise, view

Wind farms are a big, and growing, business in Ohio. They’re a part of the state’s clean-energy economy that has gone from near zero to more than $1 billion worth of spending in the past 10 years, with the potential to grow fourfold if every announced project is built. But some neighbors view the turbines as an affront, spoiling the landscape with noise, the flicker of shadows from turbine blades and blinking red lights. This is the gut-level underpinning of a Statehouse battle over rules on where turbines can be placed, a debate that will determine how much building will be allowed to occur. On one side are the wind-energy industry, environmentalists and companies that want to increase the supply of clean power. On the other are some of the neighboring residents, along with a patchwork of conservative-leaning groups.

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 26, 2017

HC: Mystery sand looks attractive, but don’t touch — Harvey’s dunes may be hiding dangerous and deadly industrial waste.

As we look out at the citywide sandbox that Harvey’s floodwaters deposited throughout Houston, everyone should be wondering what dangerous materials now lurk under Buffalo Bayou Park’s newfound swirling dunes and the neighborhood yards transformed to sandy beaches. … So far, the TCEQ has punted. The commission is only testing the sediment near known hazardous sites or industrial facilities, Andrew Keese, a media spokesperson told Chronicle reporter Allyn West. For the time being, we’re left in the dark about our homes and parks. Thankfully, Rice University Professor Lauren Stadler is stepping up to study the chemical and microbial contaminants left behind from Harvey’s wake with funding from the National Science Foundation. Buffalo Bayou Partnership has also begun testing the sediment inside the park.

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Union of Concerned Scientists

September 26, 2017

Who Not to Pick for the EPA’s Science Advisory Board

In its effort to fill fifteen positions on the Science Advisory Board, the EPA has posted a list of 132 nominees to be a part of the esteemed EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB). The SAB is a group of over forty scientists, experts in a range of disciplines, who provide peer review and expert advice on EPA issue areas. While many of the nominees are highly qualified and distinguished in their fields, there are a handful of individuals that are extremely concerning due to their direct financial conflicts, their lack of experience and/or their historical opposition to the work of the EPA in advancing its mission to protect public health and the environment. … Take Dr. Michael Honeycutt, lead toxicologist at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, for example. Industry representatives, including at the American Chemistry Council, ExxonMobil, and the Texas Oil and Gas Association launched a campaign to get Honeycutt appointed to the CASAC in 2016, which fortunately was unsuccessful. Now Honeycutt’s name is on the list for the SAB.

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Washington Post

September 27, 2017

Zinke says his workers are disloyal. They say his personnel moves break the law.

As Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke blasted many within his department for being disloyal to the Trump administration’s agenda this week, the agency’s inspector general’s office continued a probe into whether officials acted inappropriately when they abruptly reassigned dozens of senior workers. Deputy Inspector General Mary Kendall is working “to determine if the U.S. Department of the Interior followed appropriate guidelines and best practices in the reassignment of Senior Executive Service employees,” according to spokeswoman Gillian Carroll. The reassigned workers include Joel Clement, a climate scientist who was removed from his job as director of policy analysis and reassigned to a revenue accounting position for which he has no experience. Clement became a whistleblower when he publicly complained about his switch from his longtime role, in which he assessed climate impact on Alaska Native communities.

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Grist

September 26, 2017

Why does Ryan Zinke keep saying fracking is a sign of “God’s sense of humor?”

Interior Secretary Zinke loves domestic energy production, but not as much as he loves repeating weird, jokey assertions about domestic energy production. For example, he keeps trotting out the same line about fracking, a natural gas extraction process that he’s pushed to reinstate on public lands. In a speech at the Reagan Ranch Center in Santa Barbara, California, on April 15: “God’s got a sense of humor. He gave us fracking. And all of a sudden, we have more energy than anybody. But we’re going to use it right.” At the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, Texas, on May 1: “And, you know, I always say God’s got a sense of humor — he gave us fracking. And fracking is a game-changer — certainly a global game-changer.”

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New York Post

September 27, 2017

US expected to lift shipping restrictions for Puerto Rico hurricane relief

uerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Wednesday he expected the federal government to waive the Jones Act, which would lift restrictions on ships that can provide aid to the island ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He said he has been speaking with members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who have supported an emergency waiver. “We expect them to waive it,” Rosselló told CNN, noting that there was a seven-day waiver after Hurricane Irma, which was much less damaging to the US commonwealth.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 27, 2017

Lead Stories

Bloomberg

September 26, 2017

The Oil Ghost Towns of Texas

If Texas’s Permian Basin is Exhibit A for the U.S. oil boom that refuses to die, then the Eagle Ford, a smaller shale patch some 400 miles to the east, represents all those places that have been left behind. It’s not that the oil rigs totally disappeared after crude prices abruptly collapsed in 2014. But it’s awful quiet. The wells here aren’t the kind of gushers that make it attractive to keep pumping at $50 a barrel. As the shale drillers moved on to richer fields, the South Texas landscape became pockmarked with abandoned structures. This nimbleness—the ability to just pack up and leave at a moment’s notice—may give U.S. oil companies a competitive advantage against their more rigid state-run OPEC rivals, but there is a human cost to it all.

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Futurity

September 25, 2017

Filter cleans 90% of pollution from fracking water

Scientists have created new kind of filter that can remove more than 90 percent of hydrocarbons, bacteria, and particulates from contaminated water produced by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations. The work turns a ceramic membrane with microscale pores into a superhydrophilic filter that “essentially eliminates” the common problem of fouling. The researchers determined one pass through the membrane should clean contaminated water enough for reuse at a well, significantly cutting the amount that has to be stored or transported. The filters keep emulsified hydrocarbons from passing through the material’s ionically charged pores, which are about one-fifth of a micron wide, small enough that other contaminants cannot pass through.

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Chem.Info

September 22, 2017

Why Investors Are Rushing To Develop Sand Mining Projects

The growth of hydraulic fracturing operations in the U.S. provided an economic boon to the areas sitting atop vast shale oil and natural gas deposits, from North Dakota to Appalachia to Texas and Oklahoma. But fracking also helped a region hundreds of miles away: the Upper Midwest, which is home to the coarse variety of sand — known as frac sand — needed to crack shale rock formations and access the hydrocarbon fuels within them. Both the fracking and the frac sand industries suffered after oil prices tumbled in late 2014, and although prices since stabilized, The Wall Street Journal reports that sand operations in Wisconsin, Illinois and elsewhere continue to struggle and appear unlikely to return to their pre-2014 heyday.

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Electric Light and Power

September 26, 2017

IHS Report: Rush to Renewables Sacrifices Resiliency and Jobs

Here’s a shot across the bow of renewable enthusiasts across the grid: The clean energy boom and forced coal-fired plant retirements are going to cost U.S. ratepayers billions of dollars extra and reduce jobs while doing very little to cut carbon emissions. So says a feisty new report by IHS Markit, written with the blessing of some of the nation’s top business, nuclear energy and investor-owned utility entities. It takes sharp aim at the renewables and shale gas revolutions going on in the power grid industry, claiming that the numbers clearly don’t add up to benefit consumers despite varied regulatory and investment pushes for environmentally cleaner fuel mixes. In fact, the IHS report argued, the opposite is happening. “In the past three years, the disharmony between public policies and market operations has worsened and devalued the U.S. electric supply portfolio,” the report reads. “Increasingly, the U.S. electricity supply is being shaped by subsidies and mandates for favored technologies and fuel sources based on flawed cost assessments typically involving simple levelized cost analyses that ignore the power supply-cost implications of balanced electricity demand and supply in real time.”

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Texas Energy Report

September 27, 2017

Dallas’ Waste Control Specialists Gets New Fed Contract for Los Alamos

A Dallas company that’s been worried about its future has a new government contract worth nearly $20 million to dispose of low-level radioactive waste in Texas that comes from one of the top nuclear research labs in the nation. The US Department of Energy’s Environmental Management Los Alamos Field Office on Tuesday awarded Waste Control Specialists nearly $20 million for a two year minimum contract to store waste in Andrews County from the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Waste Control Specialists (WCS) was the subject of a 2016 civil antitrust lawsuit by the US Department of Justice to stop a planned merger with Utah-based EnergySolutions; a federal judge last June also blocked the merger. EnergySolutions was purchased in 2013 by the private equity firm Energy Capital Partners, which is based in New Jersey but maintains an office in Houston and last month agreed to buy Houston’s power generator Calpine Corporation in a $5.6 billion deal that includes outside investors.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 27, 2017

Brent oil edges up, near 26-month high amid supply concerns

Brent oil prices rose on Wednesday, hovering around a 26-month high hit in the previous session, after U.S. data showed an unexpected drop in crude stocks as refineries boosted output and amid threats from Turkey to cut crude exports from Iraq. Brent crude for November delivery was up 20 cents, or 0.34 percent, at $58.64 a barrel, as of 0418 GMT. It settled down 1 percent on Tuesday, after earlier hitting $59.49, its highest since July 2015 and more than 34 percent above a 2017 low. U.S. crude for November delivery rose 28 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $52.16, having settled down 0.7 percent after hitting a five-month high of $52.43 in the previous session.

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Houston Chronicle

September 26, 2017

Houston’s Flotek hurt by Irma’s impact on oranges

Houston oilfield services firm Flotek Industries is suffering from Hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida’s citrus crops. That’s because Flotek increasingly bases its business model on chemical fluids derived from oranges that are used in hydraulic fracturing and oil field production to extract more oil and natural gas liquids from wells. While much of the energy sector was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Flotek took more of a blow from Irma. The company said Irma may have damaged about 50 percent of Florida’s most recent citrus crops.

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Arab News

September 26, 2017

Can a ‘Super Basin’ in Texas eclipse the Ghawar?

There is no geological formation known to mankind bigger than the Ghawar in Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest onshore oil field. The Ghawar was discovered in 1948, and was put into production in the 1950s. It is responsible for pumping around half of the oil that Saudi Arabia produces on any given day. As of 2012, the field has estimated remaining proved oil reserves of 75 billion barrels, more than all but seven other countries, according to the US Energy Information Administration. But a research firm is arguing that the Ghawar might not enjoy its prime position forever as the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico holds 60 billion to 70 billion barrels of yet-to-be pumped crude oil.

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Reuters

September 26, 2017

Chesapeake sees 15 percent drop in third-quarter output as Harvey hurts

Chesapeake Energy Corp said on Tuesday it expects a 15 percent drop in third-quarter production, partly blaming Hurricane Harvey, which forced the company to stop work in the Eagle Ford shale region of Texas. Hurricane Harvey tore through Corpus Christi in southern Texas late in August, disrupting operations of energy companies in the region as it drenched the area with historic rains that killed more than 60 and displaced about 1 million people. Chesapeake had warned that Harvey would impact its business and said on Tuesday it expects current-quarter production to be about 542,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), lower than the 638,100 boepd it reported a year earlier.

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Oil & Gas 360

September 22, 2017

Dallas Fed Reports Oil and Gas Employment Up

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas has released its September Energy Indicators, outlining the activity in oil and gas in Texas. According to the Dallas Fed, oil and gas employment in Texas expanded in August by 1,700 jobs, reaching a total of about 218,500. This change has been due to additions in support activities, which added 2,200 jobs in Texas in August. Overall oil and gas employment in the country totals 403,600, meaning Texas accounts for 54% of the U.S. total. These additions to employment have corresponded to increases in production, as the massive Permian basin continues to grow. The Dallas Fed reports that Permian production rose by 62,300 BOPD to 2.52 MMBOPD. Current numbers suggest the Eagle Ford also is growing, though the Fed reports that estimates may be revised downward on the effects of Harvey as more data becomes available.

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Reuters

September 25, 2017

U.S. energy secretary asks oil industry to study carbon capture technology

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Monday asked an oil industry advisory council to help find ways for oil drillers to exploit technology that captures carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, by injecting the carbon dioxide into the ground to help drill for oil. Perry, whose department has cut funding for research into ways to make carbon capture and utilization technology commercially viable, said he wants to hear from industry how to widely deploy the “exciting” technology. “Integrating technology and deploying CCUS (carbon capture utilization and storage technology) at scale still remains a commercial challenge,” Perry said at a meeting of the National Petroleum Council, a 200-member group of industry representatives that advise the energy secretary. He spoke beside Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

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CityLab

September 20, 2017

Stein: What Will Happen to the Gulf Coast If the Oil Industry Retreats?

There’s no doubt that moving the bulk of America’s oil and gas infrastructure away from the Gulf would be a mammoth task. The oil and gas production and transportation system is complex and interdependent, relying on thousands of entities working in unison around the clock. There is also a question as to whether other coastal states would be as welcoming to the buildup of pipelines that inevitably leak or refineries that spew toxic fumes into the neighborhoods they inhabit. Still, it’s not unheard of for oil and gas companies to desert their infrastructure when profitability has dried up. This country is littered with the vestiges of once-booming oil and gas operations.

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Houston Chronicle

September 22, 2017

In-demand career roles support energy industry

Community colleges communicate and work closely with area companies to learn what jobs/careers they need to fill. Because of this, colleges can give students training they need to enter the workforce quickly, with the skills necessary to fill jobs. “There is a great demand for process operators and for skilled workers in the areas of instrumentation, analyzer technology, welding and electrical, all of which we offer associate degrees and certificates,” said Jeff Parks, dean of business and technology at San Jacinto College. How long it takes students to complete the training and enter the workforce for these careers can vary, because some students also are working full-time jobs, which limits the number of classes they can take in a term. Some certificates can be earned in one to two terms, while associate degrees can take four terms and a summer session.

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Houston Chronicle

September 26, 2017

Crude by rail could hamper future U.S. pipeline investments, study says

Even though it’s more expensive, carrying oil on rail lines rather than on pipelines has some advantages that could keep pipeline investments smaller in the future, according to a new study by two professors at the University of Chicago. If the cost of putting oil on the rail lines had increased by just $1 a barrel, for example, the Dakota Access Pipeline could have had an additional daily capacity of somewhere between 29,000 and 74,000 barrels. That correlation comes as rail transportation has become a more flexible option for oil companies than pipelines, which require companies to sign shipping contracts of a decade or longer.

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Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

September 25, 2017

President of state’s oil and gas association says industry on path to recover after hurricane

Todd Staples, president of the Texas Oil & Natural Gas Association, said the state of Texas is still recovering from Hurricane Harvey — and that includes the oil and gas industry. But Staples said the preparation and response from the industry after the storm wiped out 20 percent of the nation’s oil refining capacity kept the impact to a minimal. Now, Staples said, things are heading in the right direction. “The impact to our country was very minimal, considering just how devastating the storm was,” Staples said. “We told people, without a doubt, you’re going to have disruptions in the fuel supply system. We were very transparent in saying that when you have this level of capacity that’s offline, things are going to be a little bit different for a few days. But product was being delivered to markets, and that was the thing.”

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KIII (Corpus Christi)

September 23, 2017

U.S. Coast Guard, Texas GLO testing overturned boats since Harvey

Aransas Pass continues to rebuild after Hurricane Harvey, including getting overturned boats out of the water. But submerged boats pose an environmental threat that can only be seen underwater: fuel spillage. The US Coast Guard is assisting the Texas General Land Office in cleaning up oil coming from overturned or submerged boats. In Aransas Pass, a private contractor hired by the two groups set up an oil boom around two shrimp boats then dove deep to survey any damage.

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CNBC

September 22, 2017

Refinery demand, not OPEC, is the key to keeping oil prices above $50 a barrel, analysts say

Oil exporters meet in Vienna on Friday to discuss their pact to cut production, but many analysts are not focused on Austria this week. Instead, they’re watching refineries around the world for signs that the oil price rally can continue. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude hit a nearly four-month high at $50.81 on Thursday, despite three straight weeks of rising stockpiles in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which shut a quarter of U.S. refining capacity. On Friday, international benchmark Brent crude oil was trading within $2 of its 2017 high of $58.37. This comes as the market focus has flipped from how quickly OPEC can drain a global glut of crude oil to how hungry the world remains for fuel. A major catalyst for the recent run-up was improved forecasts for 2017 global demand from the International Energy Agency and OPEC.

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Utilities Stories

Denton Record-Chronicle

September 26, 2017

One step back, another forward: Denton hobbled in exit from coal-fired power

Denton cannot walk away from coal-fired power anytime soon, likely leaving more work for the city and its energy consultants. The Denton Public Utilities Board will review the next round of work expected from Deloitte and Enterprise Risk Consulting on Monday. The consultants propose additional analyses for Denton Municipal Electric that are expected to cost $345,000. In addition, the PUB will be briefed on the future operations of Gibbons Creek Steam Electric Station, the coal-fired power plant near Bryan. A previous deal to sell the 40-year-old plant fell through. “Negotiations failed over the course of the summer,” said Mayor Chris Watts.

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Mother Jones

September 23, 2017

Thompson: Why the Symbolism Behind Coal Is Still So Powerful

Coal. Guns. Freedom. I saw these three words on a little sticker affixed, discordantly, to the window of a car in a small Colorado town. It struck me as funny at first: Coal and guns being elevated to the status of platonic ideals or, even more loftily, the refrain of a bad country song. All it was missing was Jesus, beer and Wrangler butts. A few days later, though, as I sat on a desert promontory overlooking northwestern New Mexico, the sticker didn’t seem so funny. As the sunrise spilled across sagebrush plains and irrigated cornfields, it also illuminated a narrow band of yellow-brown clouds on the horizon. The clouds were smog, a soup of sulfur dioxide, particulates, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants emanating from the smokestacks of the coal-burning Four Corners Power Plant and San Juan Generating Station, on either side of the San Juan River Valley.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

RTO Insider

September 25, 2017

Overheard at Infocast’s Texas Renewable Energy Summit

AUSTIN, Texas — Renewable energy developers, energy providers, end users, renewable manufacturers and others gathered last week for the Infocast Texas Renewable Energy Summit, where attendees heard discussions on the challenges ERCOT faces in building transmission, adding renewable resources and ensuring grid reliability. No CREZ in Sight for Permian Basin’s Energy Production: A rebound in oil and gas production in West Texas’ Permian Basin has prompted a call for more transmission, but Texas is unlikely to repeat the $7 billion Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission investment, speakers said. Midstream load has “come alive again” in the Permian, said Brad Schwarz, Hunt Power’s director of system planning. He said that has led to producers wanting to access the grid with “a significant amount of load” — 15 to 20 MW — within about a year. “In an area that is typically not meant to serve that amount of load, just getting through ERCOT’s approval process will take that 12 to 18 months,” Schwarz said.

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Forbes

September 20, 2017

Kelly-Detwiler: Solar Plus Storage Projects Will Increasingly Offer Resiliency

Early this month, Generate Capital, a sustainable infrastructure finance company, and Sharp Electronics Corporation’s Energy Systems and Services Group announced the commencement of a six-site solar plus storage project at the Santa Rita Union School District (SRUSD) in Salinas, California. The project will include more than a megawatt (MW) of solar arrays, combined with 1.2 megawatt-hours (MWh) of Sharp’s SmartStorage on-site energy storage. This initiative will be supported through the state’s reinvigorated Self-Generation Incentive Program, which offers significant incentives to bring more storage to the California power grid. The SRUSD will be able to cut energy costs (during some months, as much as 70-80% of the district’s electricity needs will be met by the systems).

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 26, 2017

Rep. Green criticizes EPA’s “slow response and lack of transparency” on Superfund site

Houston Congressman Gene Green criticized EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt Tuesday for his agency’s delayed response to a toxic spill from a Superfund site in Pasadena during flooding from Hurricane Harvey. In a letter to Pruitt, Green, a Democrat, asked he make public the EPA’s actions at the U.S. Oil Recovery site and explain when it was first made aware of the spill. “The apparent slow response and lack of transparency from your agency is already causing harm, by fostering fear and distrust,” he wrote. The Associated Press reported last week that the firm managing the Superfund site, along with the Harris County Pollution Control Service Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, all warned EPA about the spill beginning August 29.

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Washington Post

September 26, 2017

The Energy 202: Oil industry afraid about what Trump might do on NAFTA

So far, President Trump has given the oil and natural gas industry quite a bit of what it wants. In a call to reporters just two days after Trump’s surprise election, the American Petroleum Institute, the largest U.S. oil and gas lobbying group, laid out its wish list for the new administration. API said it wanted Trump to reconsider the stop on the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. Check. It said it wanted federal regulations to be reviewed “holistically.” Check. One of Trump’s many job-creating promises during the campaign was to make it easier for companies to extract and deliver fossil fuels, so making good on these requests was a win-win for the White House and industry.

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Bloomberg

September 25, 2017

Perry Tells Climate Hecklers That Fossil Fuels Save Lives

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry has a message for those seeking to link climate change with this year’s devastating hurricanes: Fossil fuels are saving lives. Perry’s address to oil industry executives Monday was interrupted by hecklers protesting the Trump administration’s skepticism of climate change and rollback of regulations to address the threat. The former Texas governor told a meeting of the National Petroleum Council in Washington that they should be proud of what they do — not sheepish. … “It upsets me when some guy stands up and says, ‘What are you going to do, you’re killing people,’” Perry said to applause. “No sir. You want to kill people you take energy away from them and you see how those north African countries will be treated.”

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Public News Service

September 21, 2017

Watchdogs Take Global-Warming Message to Texas Cities

Laredo – In the wake of devastating damage from Hurricane Harvey along the Texas Gulf Coast, the consumer group Public Citizen is touring cities across Texas to talk about climate change. The tour is designed to engage students, scientists, activists, elected officials and the public in a conversation about how to deal with global warming at a local level. The watchdog group’s press officer, Luis Castilla, is the primary speaker on the tour. He says Texans need to be aware that unless action is taken, the type of economic and environmental damage done by Harvey could become the norm rather than the exception. “We believe that climate change is the defining issue of our time,” he says. “We believe that the solutions to solve this crisis are already at hand. We’re trying to create a conversation so folks can get in contact with their elected officials, and we’re hoping this creates change at the municipal level.”

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Gears of Biz

September 22, 2017

Texas sees pipelines, infrastructure as energy leverage

Investing in pipelines and port infrastructure could help bolster the U.S. leadership position on the global energy stage, a Texas official said. Ryan Sitton, an official with the Texas Railroad Commission, the state’s energy regulator, said the U.S. position as an energy leader was supported by good infrastructure and improved operational efficiency. This, he said, is why energy-hungry countries in Asia are looking at the United States to satisfy their appetites. “If we continue to invest in our ports, pipelines and refineries, our generation’s legacy will be establishing the United States as a global energy powerhouse,” he said in a statement.

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Dallas Morning News

September 23, 2017

As U.S., Mexico talk tougher on NAFTA, worries grow in Texas

It wasn’t NAFTA that persuaded Anurag Kumar to base part of his tech company’s offices in Mexico, but it sure helped. Kumar liked that Guadalajara, the western Mexican city where a majority of his staff would set up shop, was young, cosmopolitan and had a plethora of hungry, highly educated, English-speaking developers looking to break into the city’s booming tech scene. Setting up an office for his Austin-based software development company, iTexico, in a North American time zone would cut costs but keep an ease of communication and travel. “For them, it’s like flying to a local city — the proximity, the cultural alignment … the ease of travel,” Kumar said of his American clients.

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The Hill

September 22, 2017

Trump officials adopt ‘base’-first strategy on nuclear and coal

The Trump administration has found a new strategy for pushing coal and nuclear power over wind and solar. In a shift from the Obama administration, Trump officials are putting a high priority on what is known as “baseload” power in the electric grid. That change has the effect of favoring coal and nuclear power, which can be generated consistently around the clock, no matter what the weather is. Some Trump officials are now considering policies that would let those baseload power plants charge higher prices than their competitors. They are also citing the need to ensure a reliable and resilient electric grid when shaping the regulatory agenda.

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Associated Press

September 21, 2017

North Dakota settles with Dakota Access pipeline builder

North Dakota regulators on Wednesday approved an agreement settling allegations that the Texas-based builder of the Dakota Access pipeline violated state rules during construction. The agreement worked out by attorneys for the Public Service Commission and Energy Transfer Partners calls for development of a “how-to” manual and the planting of more than 100,000 trees, but it doesn’t include either a $15,000 fine or a $15,000 “payment” proposed earlier by regulators. ETP also is not required to admit to any liability under the deal. “This really is not as much about the monetary amount as it is about awareness and influencing future behavior,” Commissioner Brian Kroshus said, adding that he believes the provisions of the settlement will cost ETP in excess of $100,000.

This article appeared on the Penn Energy website

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The Missoulian (Western Montana)

September 27, 2017

Zinke: One-third of Interior employees not loyal to Trump

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Monday that nearly one-third of employees at his department are not loyal to him and President Donald Trump, adding that he is working to change the department’s regulatory culture to be more business friendly. Zinke, a former Navy SEAL and congressman from Montana, said he knew when he took over the 70,000-employee department in March that, “I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag.” In a speech to an oil industry group, Zinke compared Interior to a pirate ship that captures “a prized ship at sea and only the captain and the first mate row over” to finish the mission. … Besides moving employees, Zinke said he wants to speed up permits for oil drilling, logging and other energy development that now can take years.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips  September 26, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

September 25, 2017

In World’s Hottest Oil Patch, Jitters Mount That a Bust Is Near

Steve Pruett has seen more than his share of booms in three decades in the oil business. None, though, as strange as the one gripping the Permian Basin right now. The telltale signs are the same as always, with companies like his desperate for skilled workers to man the drilling rigs that pierce the horizon in west Texas. What’s unusual, and unnerving, is that the Permian is still thrumming with activity after prices cratered for the stuff it pumps out. Crude is trading for around $50 a barrel, but this is the hottest oil patch anywhere on Earth, a swing producer influencing the trajectory of global markets and threatening OPEC. That either means the industry has become so incredibly efficient that production can continue to rise even if prices don’t, or that it’s throwing money after a mirage. Pruett, chief executive officer of Midland, Texas-based Elevation Resources LLC, is more and more concerned about the latter. “Oil men are innately optimistic,” he said, “and sometimes our optimism is our own worst enemy.”

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Dallas Morning News

September 25, 2017

What’s the Permian’s untapped potential? Try $3.3 trillion at current oil prices

The Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico holds 60 billion to 70 billion barrels of yet-to-be pumped crude oil, according to a study by IHS Markit Ltd. The Permian region’s so-called recoverable resources would be enough to supply every refinery in the U.S. for 12 years and have a market value of about $3.3 trillion at current prices for West Texas Intermediate oil, the domestic benchmark. IHS spent three years studying output data from more than 440,000 wells to calculate the amount of crude remaining within the sprawling, mile-thick rock formation that pumps more oil than any other U.S. field, the London-based researcher said in a statement Monday. “The results change the game for this basin and for geologists’ interpretations,” said John Roberts, executive director of global subsurface content operations at IHS Markit.

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UPI

September 25, 2017

Gazprom steals spotlight from Exxon Mobil

Russian energy company Gazprom was ranked by S&P Global Platts as the top financial performer of the year, ending the reign for Exxon Mobil. Only two U.S. companies were in the Top 10 list of the biggest financial performers, and Exxon’s move from No. 1 to No. 9 was the first time in 12 years it wasn’t ranked at the top. U.S. refiner Valero Energy Corp. was ranked No. 8, down from the No. 3 spot last year. Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston, told Platts that government support may explain the change in rankings. “In an environment like we have had this past year, those companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron who are exposed to the commodity price environment, you would expect them to fall behind versus those companies that have a government license to make a profit,” he said.

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Houston Chronicle

September 25, 2017

Perry ‘frustrated’ with anti-fossil fuel movement

Energy Secretary Rick Perry delighted in poaching companies from California while governor of Texas. Now he is going after the west coast state once again, saying he is “frustrated” with their opposition to oil and gas development. “They are anti-fossil fuel,” he said at a meeting of the National Petroleum Council in Washington Monday. “At some point in time California is going to come to its senses. Perry is making a push to modernize and expand the pipelines and other infrastructure that move oil and natural gas around the country, fighting back against a swelling anti-fossil fuel movement that has grown up in response to climate change.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 26, 2017

Oil extends gains; Turkey threatens to cut oil flow

Oil prices extended gains on Tuesday, with Brent crude hitting a 26-month high, supported by Turkey’s threat to cut crude flows from Iraq’s Kurdistan region to the outside world. London Brent crude for November delivery was up 46 cents at $59.48 a barrel by 0356 GMT after settling up 3.8 percent on Monday. Earlier it hit $59.49, the highest since July 10, 2015. U.S. crude for November delivery was up 15 cents at $52.37, after hitting $52.43, a five-month high.

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Reuters

September 25, 2017

Oil hits highest since July 2015; producers say market rebalancing

Oil prices soared more than 3 percent on Monday, with Brent hitting its highest in more than two years, after major producers said the global market was on its way to rebalancing, while Turkey threatened to cut oil flows from Iraq’s Kurdistan region toward its ports. The November Brent crude futures contract settled up$2.16, or 3.8 percent, at $59.02 a barrel, its highest since July, 2015. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for November delivery rose $1.56, or 3 percent, to settle at $52.22 a barrel, the highest since April. “It’s all driven by the idea that the production cut is starting to work and the rebalance is underway,” said Gene McGillian, director of market research at Tradition Energy in New York.

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Reuters

September 25, 2017

Chevron to invest $4 billion to boost Permian Basin output

Oil major Chevron Corp will next year invest around $4 billion to ramp up its crude production in the Permian Basin area of the United States, a company executive said on Monday. Ryan Krogmeier, Chevron’s vice president of crude supply and trading, told the S&P Global Platts APPEC conference in Singapore that the company would increase its output from the Permian Basin, largely situated in Texas and New Mexico, to over 400,000 barrels per day over the next few years. “We will be investing roughly $4 billion, next year, of capital in the Permian Basin, and we plan to grow production over the next several years to well in excess of 400,000 bpd,” he said.

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Wall Street Journal

September 25, 2017

OPEC’s Efforts Pay Off: Oil Is Back in Bull Market

U.S. oil prices returned to bull-market territory while the global benchmark hit a two-year high, as investors gained faith that OPEC will successfully shrink a global supply glut. A drumbeat of bullish data in September, including the International Energy Agency’s upward revision to its demand outlook, has lifted prices. Investors have become more confident that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will continue cutting production and that its efforts are helping bring oil’s supply and demand into balance. “It looks as though the market started to get convinced that the rebalancing is actually happening,” Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd. said in a note Monday.

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Bloomberg

September 25, 2017

Citi Says Get Ready for an Oil Squeeze

Those in the oil market fearing a flood of OPEC supply next year will probably be better off preparing for a shortage, according to Citigroup Inc. Five countries in the group — Libya, Nigeria, Venezuela, Iran and Iraq — may already be pumping at their maximum capacity this year, Ed Morse, the bank’s global head of commodities, said in an interview. Rather than a surge in output, there’s a risk of a market squeeze emerging as early as 2018, driven by those nations because of weaker investment in exploration and development, he said. “Fear in the market has been that OPEC production will rise dramatically,” said Morse. However, “there could be a supply gap emerging, which could point to a tighter market,” he said in Singapore on the sidelines of the S&P Global Platts APPEC Conference.

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Houston Chronicle

September 25, 2017

CB&I shutters plant damaged by Harvey; 455 lose jobs there

Energy engineering and construction company CB&I is closing its Beaumont fabrication shop and cutting jobs after the facility suffered “sustained irreparable damage” from Hurricane Harvey. CB&I is eliminating 455 jobs at the plant, but The Woodlands-based company said about 90 percent of those workers are being relocated to different facilities or job sites in Freeport, Lake Charles, La., and other areas. CB&I said the job cuts were made without advance notice last week because it took time to realize the severity of the flooding damage at the facility. But CB&I emphasized that it is working to place as many of the workers as possible at other locations.

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NPR

September 20, 2017

Report By Oil Group Suggests Hundreds of Vertical Wells Damaged By Bigger Horizontal Wells

A report from members of the Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance suggests horizontal drilling and fracking has economically damaged at least 450 older vertical wells in Kingfisher County alone. The report by the group of oil and gas producers — which formed during the 2017 Legislative Session in opposition to other industry groups over gross production taxes and long-lateral drilling bills — suggests so-called “well bashing” is widespread “and that damage has cost producers and royalty owners throughout the state,” The Oklahoman‘s Adam Wilmoth reports: “I believe nearly every vertical well in Kingfisher County will be negatively impacted by horizontal frack jobs at some point,” OEPA founder Mike Cantrell said. “We’re just trying to get people to get fair value for their property up front before the damage is done.” The study shows that 80 percent of the affected vertical wells are outside the well unit boundaries, meaning royalty owners from the damaged wells do not benefit from the new horizontal wells.

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Texas Tribune

September 25, 2017

Report: Sand miners disturbing threatened West Texas lizard’s habitat

Sand mining operations in oil-rich West Texas have disturbed at least 292 acres of a threatened lizard’s habitat this year — and could impact up to 23,000 acres, according to an advocacy group’s analysis published Monday. The dunes sagebrush lizard, a vulnerable species that calls the Permian Basin home, has long faced threats to its habitat from oil and drilling operations. Companies that mine fine-grain sand for hydraulic fracturing pose an additional threat, especially because several operations have been planned along a stretch of West Texas land considered a prime habitat for the lizard.

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Midland Reporter-Telegram

September 22, 2017

Hi-Crush digs deep into West Texas sands

Houston’s Hi-Crush Partners is digging deep into West Texas, and celebrating the opening of its frac sand mine at Kermit. “We’re pleased we’re able to generate good-paying, stable jobs and excited to be Kermit,” Laura Fulton, chief financial officer, said in a phone interview. The new mine is expected to create 60 direct and 20 contract jobs, though those contract jobs are considered permanent jobs with companies contracted to perform some processes for Hi-Crush, Fulton said. Hi-Crush officials estimate the new mine could have an economic impact of at least $20 million.

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Houston Chronicle

September 25, 2017

Exxon Mobil moves to reduce methane from oil and gas operations

Exxon Mobil Corp. is launching a new effort to reduce methane emissions and leaks from its U.S. oil and gas operations, attempting to become an industry leader in curbing releases of the potent greenhouse gas. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, escapes from oil and gas wells and leaky pipelines and contributes to climate change. Those emissions are viewed as the “Achilles heel” of natural gas, an otherwise cleaner-burning fuel that produces less carbon dioxide, another greenhouse gas, than coal or oil. Exxon Mobil’s move comes as it’s under scrutiny by environmentalists and politicians, who have suggested that the company conducted research on climate change over the decades and withheld evidence that fossil fuels helped accelerate the rise in global temperature – allegations that it denies.

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Argus Media

September 22, 2017

US execs see stable crude prices ahead

Crude prices are likely to near $50/bl through this year and next, a panel of chief executives of US independent producers said. The price will swing between gains and losses around $50/bl as supply and demand gradually returns to balance and producers, particularly those in the US unconventional industry, seek to stay within cash flow. A host of other factors like lack of manpower and equipment such as US shale fracturing fleet will keep them from quickly ramping up activity. “We don’t run our business today hoping for $60-$70/bl oil,” Chesapeake Energy’s chief executive Doug Lawler said, speaking at a conference organized by the federal reserve banks of Kansas City, Kansas, and Dallas, Texas.

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San Antonio Business Journal

September 22, 2017

Andeavor Logistics moves Western Refining Logistics merger forward

San Antonio-based pipeline and storage terminal company Andeavor Logistics is moving to complete a merger with Wester Refining Logistics by the fourth quarter. In an amended registration statement filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, Andeavor Logistics LP (NYSE: ANDX) reported that the company plans to exchange a 0.5233 share of its stock for every share of Western Refining Logistics LP (NYSE: WNRL) common stock. If approved by regulators, Andeavor Logistics can set a date for Western Refining Logistics shareholders to vote about the merger.

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Houston Business Journal

September 21, 2017

Halcón selling off remaining Williston assets to focus on Delaware Basin

Houston-based Halcón Resources Corp. (NYSE: HK) announced Sept. 20 it reached two cash deals to sell its non-operated assets in the Williston Basin. A $6 million sale closed in August, and a separate $104 million deal is expected to close within 60 days, according to a press release. The buyers were separate private companies. Once the latest deal closes, the borrowing base on Halcón’s senior secured revolving credit facility will be reduced to $100 million. Also, the completion of the latest deal will mark Halcón’s transition into a pure-play Delaware Basin-focused company.

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Bloomberg

September 25, 2017

Turkey Warns Iraq Kurds It Can ‘Close the Valves’ on Oil Exports

Turkey can choose to “close the valves” on oil exports from Iraq’s Kurdish region through the Turkish port of Ceyhan, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned as Kurds voted Monday in a referendum on independence from Iraq. The landlocked Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq can ship as much as 700,000 barrels a day through the pipeline to Ceyhan on the Mediterranean. The Turkish president’s comments served as a reminder that Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government depends on good relations with neighboring Turkey for most of their oil sales and revenue. Turkey, which has its own restive Kurdish minority, opposes the Kurdish independence referendum in Iraq. “Let’s see where the regional government will flow its oil, through which channels and where it will sell it,” Erdogan said in Istanbul on Monday. Turkey, which is both a customer and a conduit for Kurdish oil, is ready to intervene as it did in Syria, he said, referring to a cross-border military operation last year. “We may arrive one night, suddenly.”

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New York Times

September 25, 2017

American Oil Worker Is Kidnapped in Yemen

An American oil worker was abducted from his car by unidentified gunmen on a busy street in the Yemeni capital, his wife and colleagues said on Monday. The American, Danny Lavone Burch, 63, had spent years in Yemen working as an engineer at a Yemeni oil company when he was abducted on Saturday morning. “They did it in broad daylight in front of everyone,” Nadia Forsa, Mr. Burch’s wife, said by phone from Sana, the capital. Many Westerners have been abducted over the years in Yemen, a poor country on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula that has long been roiled by civil conflicts. … Mr. Burch’s LinkedIn page said he graduated from Kilgore College, in Texas, and had most recently worked as a mechanic and cement technician at Safer, a state-owned oil company. He had converted to Islam, married Ms. Forsa, who is from Yemen, and had three children, ages 7, 9 and 12, according to his wife and colleagues.

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Wall Street Journal

September 21, 2017

Total Buys Maersk Oil for $5 Billion

Total SA TOT 0.31% has agreed to acquire Danish conglomerate A.P. Moeller-Maersk AMKBY 2.36% A/S’s oil unit for $4.95 billion, signaling a renewed appetite for deals in the global oil-and-gas industry. The deal will help the French energy giant bolster its position among the world’s largest oil companies, potentially boosting its earnings and cash flow and shoring up its ability to pay dividends. By 2019, Total now says its production will reach 3 million barrels a day of oil and gas—a level achieved by only a handful of private companies including Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM 1.33% and Royal Dutch Shell RDS.B 0.83% PLC. Total currently produces around 2.5 million barrels a day.

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Houston Chronicle

September 25, 2017

BP begins pumping natural gas in giant Oman field

Natural gas has begun flowing through BP’s operations in the prolific Khazzan field in Oman, the company’s biggest project startup so far this year. The first phase of the project – which includes 200 gas wells connected to a gas processing facility – could produce 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to Oman. BP believes it will eventually drill around 300 wells in the region, and could increase the field’s output there to 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day, the British oil company said Monday.

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Wall Street Journal

September 25, 2017

China to Cut Oil Exports to North Korea

China said it will reduce oil exports to North Korea in accordance with United Nations sanctions, squeezing an important source of economic support as Pyongyang pushes to build up its nuclear arsenal. Starting Jan. 1, exports of refined petroleum to North Korea will be limited to 2 million barrels a year, while exports of natural gas will be banned entirely, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement posted on its website late Friday. China will also ban textile imports from North Korea, the ministry said, cutting off another key source of revenue for Pyongyang after Beijing banned imports of North Korean coal earlier this year.

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Utilities Stories

RTO Insider

September 24, 2017

Analysts Debate Potential Vistra Coal Retirements

Vistra Energy’s acknowledgement last month that it may retire some of its coal fleet sparked a lively debate among speakers at Infocast’s Texas Renewable Energy Summit last week. Like other coal and nuclear units in ERCOT, the plants operated by Luminant, Vistra’s generating division, are often priced out of a market in which cheap gas has sent energy prices to record lows. Luminant’s three 1970s-era coal-fired plants — Big Brown, Martin Lake and Monticello, which total almost 5.3 GW of capacity — have capacity factors ranging from 44 to 59%, leading to speculation that some or all the plants may be retired. During the company’s second-quarter call in early August, CEO Curt Morgan told analysts, “Any decisions related to optimization of Luminant’s generation fleet will likely be made in the fourth quarter.”

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World Nuclear News

September 20, 2017

Russia and Paraguay forge closer nuclear power ties

Russia and Paraguay have signed an agreement on cooperation for peaceful use of nuclear power. The document was signed yesterday, in Vienna, during the 61st International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference, by Alexey Likhachov, director-general of Rosatom, and César Cardozo Román, minister and executive secretary of the National Radiological and Nuclear Control Agency of Paraguay. … Paraguay is not known to have any nuclear power ambitions, but it has some uranium. In May 2015, Texas-based Uranium Energy Corporation was granted regulatory approval to advance its Yuty in-situ leach uranium project in southeast Paraguay from the exploration phase to justifying its mining potential.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

San Antonio Business Journal

September 22, 2017

VIA lands federal grant to add electric-powered buses to fleet

VIA Metropolitan Transit will soon add two more pollution-free, battery-powered electric buses to its fleet. The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded VIA a $1.75 million grant that will enable the San Antonio-based public transit agency to two replace diesel buses with electric buses. The DOT funds came from the Federal Transit Authority’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Grant Program, U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, announced Friday morning.

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National Law Review

September 22, 2017

DOE Studies Impact Of Drought On Biomass Products

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have linked changes in rainfall and other environmental stressors during crop growth to potential deleterious effects on biofuel production. The study demonstrates that the effect of weather conditions on crop yields can significantly impact the downstream processing of those crops for biofuel production. Researchers compared the production of biofuel from switchgrass harvested after a major drought to switchgrass harvested after normal precipitation. The switchgrass crop that experienced major drought conditions contained significantly higher levels of soluble sugar.

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Visual Capitalist

September 15, 2017

The Massive Impact of EVs on Commodities

What would happen if you flipped a switch, and suddenly every new car that came off assembly lines was electric? It’s obviously a thought experiment, since right now EVs have close to just 1% market share worldwide. We’re still years away from EVs even hitting double-digit demand on a global basis, and the entire supply chain is built around the internal combustion engine, anyways. At the same time, however, the scenario is interesting to consider. One recent projection, for example, put EVs at a 16% penetration by 2030 and then 51% by 2040. This could be conservative depending on the changing regulatory environment for manufacturers – after all, big markets like China, France, and the U.K. have recently announced that they plan on banning gas-powered vehicles in the near future.

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Regulatory Stories

Platts

September 22, 2017

US DOE to award $36 mil toward carbon capture research

US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on Friday launched a federal program that will provide $36 million in financial assistance to advance carbon capture technologies. The funds, provided through the Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy, will support cost-shared research and cultivate projects to continue development of carbon capture technologies at either the engineering scale or to a commercial design. “Carbon capture technologies are one of the most effective ways we can continue to leverage the sustainability of our nation’s fossil fuel resources while advancing environmental stewardship,” Perry said in a statement.

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Victoria Advocate

September 19, 2017

Harvey cripples waterway for commerce

The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway at the Colorado River is impassable after Hurricane Harvey, leading some to worry that products from the Crossroads aren’t making it to the global market efficiently. Specifically, the waterway’s west lock on the Colorado River near the community of Matagorda is closed to both commercial and recreational traffic. There, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates a total of 800,000 cubic yards of sediment flowed down from the upper Colorado River. The agency is dredging on both sides of the lock and hopes to add a third dredge soon, agency spokesman Mike DeRusha said. … Ports in Victoria and Calhoun counties are passable, but, like Fowler suspected, they are shallower.

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Rio Grande Guardian

September 19, 2017

Port of Brownsville continues efforts to deepen ship channel

A major component in the Port of Brownville’s efforts to expand and become globally competitive with a prominent deep-water seaport begins with deepening the shipping channel from 42 feet to 52 feet, which would bring bigger cargo ships and more business. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) approved the proposal in November 2014 after evaluating the project for many years, but required congressional authorization to be eligible for federal funding. The U.S. Congress passed the Water Resources Development Act in 2016, which authorized the Brazos Island Harbor Channel Improvement Project to deepen the shipping channel at the Port of Brownsville.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 25, 2017
Lead Stories

The Intercept

September 22, 2017

How Exxon Mobil may soon have greater sway over science used in EPA policies

EXXON MOBIL MAY soon have a greater hand in shaping the science used to develop major environmental regulations. The published list of potential names for the Science Advisory Board and the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee includes many industry representatives and consultants. The panels are typically composed primarily of independent academics and researchers charged with reviewing agency science and advising the Environmental Protection Agency on major policy decisions. While industry has always had a voice on those panels, comments from the Trump administration and the potential new appointees suggest the balance may soon change in favor of greater power for regulated companies, particularly the oil and gas industries. The long list of potential new advisory board members includes officials from Exxon Mobil, Phillips 66, Alcoa, Noble Energy, Total, and the American Chemistry Council, a lobbying group for the chemical industry. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will make the final determination to select the members of the panels.

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Houston Chronicle

September 23, 2017

HC: Economic storm on the horizon — The rise of battery-powered cars threatens disaster for Houston’s oil and gas economy.

Halfway around the globe, a storm is brewing that will pose a greater threat to our oil and gas industry than Hurricanes Harvey or Ike, or even a massive storm surge right up Houston Ship Channel. The danger: China wants to stop buying gasoline. Specifically, at an automotive conference in Tianjin, the nation’s vice minister of industry and information technology stated that the government is planning on a total phaseout of vehicles powered by fossil fuels. This announcement follows similar plans from Britain and France to ban sales of diesel and gasoline cars by 2040. That’s decades away, but the world is undeniably moving towards a future where the internal combustion engine is a thing of the past. Houston, this is the big one. As the auto industry approaches an electric revolution, we need to start considering how this will affect our petroleum-based economy.

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Reuters

September 22, 2017

Phillips 66 Partners to buy Bakken assets from Phillips 66

Phillips 66 Partners LP (PSXP.N) said on Friday it would buy pipeline and other assets from parent Phillips 66 (PSX.N) in a $2.4 billion deal that strengthens the master limited partnership’s presence in the prolific Bakken basin. The acquisition, Phillips 66 Partners biggest to-date, sent the company’s shares up 4.8 percent in morning trading, on pace for their best intra-day percentage gain in over a year. The company is acquiring a 25 percent interest in two of the refiner’s pipelines in the Bakken basin – Dakota Access LLC and Energy Transfer Crude Oil Company LLC – and a 100 percent interest in the Merey Sweeny LP coke processing unit.

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San Antonio Express News

September 24, 2017

EPA clarifies earlier FEMA statement on Texas toxic sites

The Environmental Protection Agency said Sunday it has recovered 517 containers filled with unidentified, potentially hazardous material found floating in or washed up along Texas waterways after the devastating floods from Hurricane Harvey receded. The agency’s statement sought to clarify an earlier media release saying the containers were recovered from highly contaminated toxic waste sites. EPA said that statement issued Friday night by the Federal Emergency Management Agency created confusion by conflating two separate issues. The FEMA media release summarizing the federal response Harvey’s historic floods said EPA had “conducted assessments of 43 Superfund sites and recovered 517 containers of unidentified, potentially hazardous material.” The Associated Press reported about the statement Saturday afternoon, after EPA’s press office did not responded to questions sent by email to top staffers the night before.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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New York Times

September 24, 2017

Parker: Why Texas Is No Longer Feeling Miraculous

Call it the season of Texas’ discontent. Of course there was Hurricane Harvey, which blasted the coastline, leaving cities flooded and an estimated $180 billion in damage. But Harvey is just the headline. There’s also the dysfunctional, ideologically driven State Legislature, which spent the last weeks of this year’s session debating, of all things, who gets to use which bathroom. Then there’s the oil and gas sector, which, as it has so many times before, expanded into a bubble and then, as global energy prices sank, popped, taking thousands of jobs with it. Texas’ woes are interconnected. Rising energy prices allow politicians to take their hands off the legislative wheel. Less attention to smart, controlled growth at the state and local level allowed unchecked sprawl along the coast. And now declining revenues will make it harder for the state to address its very real needs, assuming the Legislature can get its act together. The silver lining to this tale? It finally seems to be dawning on people that low taxes, less regulation and more oil are no substitute for actually governing.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 25, 2017

Oil holds gains as producers say market rebalancing

Oil prices came under pressure from a strong dollar, but kept most of their gains from the previous session as major producers meeting in Vienna said the market was well on its way towards rebalancing. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and several other producers have cut production by about 1.8 million barrels per day since the start of 2017, helping lift oil prices by about 15 percent in the past three months. … Oil prices came under pressure from a strong dollar, but kept most of their gains from the previous session as major producers meeting in Vienna said the market was well on its way towards rebalancing. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and several other producers have cut production by about 1.8 million barrels per day since the start of 2017, helping lift oil prices by about 15 percent in the past three months. Kuwaiti Oil Minister Essam al-Marzouq, who chaired Friday’s meeting of the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, said output curbs were helping cut global crude inventories to their five-year average, OPEC’s stated target. London Brent crude for November delivery was down 4 cents at $56.82 a barrel by 0614 GMT, near the highest since March. U.S. crude for November delivery was down 10 cents at $50.56, but not far off recent four-month highs.

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Reuters

September 22, 2017

U.S. oil drillers cut rigs for third week in a row: Baker Hughes

U.S. energy firms cut the number of oil rigs operating for a third week in a row as a 14-month drilling recovery stalled as companies pared back on spending plans when crude prices were softer. Drillers cut five oil rigs in the week to September 22, bringing the total count down to 744, the least since June, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday. That put the rig count on track for a second month of losses in a row and also its biggest monthly decline since May 2016. It was also on track for its first reduction in rigs over a three-month period since the second quarter of 2016.

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Odessa American

September 22, 2017

Permian Basin gains six rigs

The rig count in the Permian Basin increased by six in the week ending Friday, according to the latest count by Baker Hughes, with 386 rigs active in the region — all drill primarily for oil. Nationally, the oil and gas rig count also decreased by one to a total of 935 rigs. A year ago, 511 rigs were active. The count shows that 744 rigs sought oil, a net decrease of five, and 190 explored for natural gas, a net increase of four this week.

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Reuters

September 24, 2017

Valero restarts Port Arthur Texas refinery coker: sources

Valero Energy Corp has restarted the coker at its 335,000-barrel-per-day (bpd) Port Arthur, Texas, refinery, about four days after a fire on a feed tank shut the unit, said sources familiar with plant operations. The refinery’s large crude distillation unit (CDU) is feeding the coker, bypassing the heavily damaged tank, but is running at reduced rates, the sources said. The small crude unit remains shut and the tank may take months to repair. The wall of the coker feed tank partially melted from the heat of the Tuesday blaze in the residual crude contained inside, the sources said. An adjoining tandem tank was also damaged. No injuries were reported due to the fire, which was extinguished about an hour and a half after it broke out.

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Houston Chronicle

September 23, 2017

Natural gas boom has reduced greenhouse gas emissions, led to cleaner air

In the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, there are plenty of lessons to be learned. One of them, which we’ve seen time and again but never fails to inspire and reassure, is that the worst of circumstances bring out the best in the American people. From risking their own safety to rescue neighbors to donating generously to support the long recovery, Americans are meeting adversity with resilience and kindness. Another lesson is that preparedness and coordination make a difference. Based on experience from previous storms, the U.S. natural gas and oil industry safely shut down and restarted offshore and onshore production, pipelines and refineries in order to minimize both environmental threats and supply disruptions. Despite sustaining a direct hit, energy supply has bounced back quickly. The data-driven, research-based approach the industry used to safely weather the storms is the same one we apply every day to other challenges, including climate change. Often lost in the debate about this serious, complex issue is the fact that the U.S. actually has achieved remarkable success. We lead the world in both reduction of carbon emissions and in the production and refining of natural gas and oil.

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Houston Chronicle

September 22, 2017

Texas jury rules against Talisman in $100M Eagle Ford fraud case

A small Houston energy company was awarded nearly $100 million in damages by a Texas jury that found Canada’s Talisman Energy violated their partnership agreement and committed accounting fraud. The district court jury in La Salle County sided with Matrix over the multibillion-dollar company in the Eagle Ford Shale dispute that dated back to 2011. Talisman was later acquired by Spanish energy giant Repsol in 2015 in an $8.3 billion deal. Talisman, now known as Repsol Oil & Gas Canada, can still appeal the jury decision. Matrix is a very small, privately owned energy company in Houston that’s represented by The Kim Law Firm, of Houston. The argument centered on Talisman allegedly violating their joint operating agreement.

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Bloomberg

September 24, 2017

Average U.S. Gas Price Drops 7 Cents as Refineries Bounce Back

The average price of a gallon of regular-grade gasoline fell 7 cents nationally over the past two weeks, to $2.62. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that the drop comes as flooded refineries continue to come back online after devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey. Lundberg says she expects prices will continue to fall in the next few weeks.

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Reuters

September 22, 2017

Buckeye Partners’ Puerto Rico oil terminal still closed after Maria

Buckeye Partners LP’s Yabucoa oil terminal in Puerto Rico remained closed on Friday, the company said, days after Hurricane Maria left a trail of destruction and at least 25 people dead across the Caribbean. The U.S. oil storage and transportation company did not say if the tanks at the 4.6-million-barrel terminal were damaged by the storm, which made landfall near Yabucoa, but it said a full assessment of the facility is under way. “We are working to maintain the safety and well-being of our Yabucoa, Puerto Rico employees,” it said in a statement.

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Seeking Alpha

September 22, 2017

Zernov: Transocean Scraps 6 Floaters, Writes Down $1.4 Billion

Transocean (RIG) has just announced that it decided to retire UDW floaters GSF Jack Ryan, Sedco Energy, Sedco Express, Cajun Express and Deepwater Pathfinder, as well as the deepwater floater Transocean Marianas. The company will take a $1.4 billion impairment charge. To me, this is not a surprise. Earlier, I wrote “Transocean Is Much Smaller Than You Think”, arguing that the “true” number of rigs was 36 compared to the pro-forma 50 at that time. After the decision to buy Songa and its backlog, Transocean felt free to announce retirement of six floaters. I’m sure there’s more to come. In fact, I believe that the whole Transocean’s drillship fleet that was built in 1998 – 2001 will be ultimately retired. Older semi-subs also have little chance to survive. Drillships Deepwater (1998) Pathfinder and GSF Jack Ryan (2000) are retired, but Discoverer Deep Seas (2001), Discoverer Enterprise (1999), Discoverer Spirit (2000), GSF C.R. Luigs (2000), Deepwater Discovery (2000), Deepwater Frontier (1999) and Deepwater Millennium (1999) are left cold stacked. There’s no reason to hold on to them other than accounting consequences that such a retirement would provoke. The $1.4 billion write-down is a vivid example telling you why you should not look at the price/book ratio of drillers nowadays.

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Oil Price

September 22, 2017

Colorado Landfills Contain Radioactive Substances From Oil Sector

Landfills in Colorado have begun to fill their space with low-level radioactive substances from oil and gas activities, state health officials have said, according to the local news site the Daily Camera. After a series of meetings with local officials, state authorities have concluded that unknown amounts of radioactive material have been stored at landfills throughout the state. Local authorities are currently trying to prohibit the practice altogether by strengthening their oversight mechanisms. “There is some of it that is just going to solid waste landfills…It is probably, mostly, staying in state,” the state health agency’s director Gary Baughman said during the Wednesday meeting.

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Houston Chronicle

September 21, 2017

U.S. oil company cash flow, production climbed in second quarter, EIA says

Higher oil prices and rising production padded the bottom line for dozens of U.S. oil companies in the second quarter, the Energy Department said. In the April-June period, 55 American drillers, which operate in major U.S. shale plays, the Gulf of Mexico, collected $11.9 billion from selling oil and gas, the largest amount since the third quarter of 2015.

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Houston Business Journal

September 21, 2017

DowDuPont starts up new ethylene-related projects near Houston

DowDuPont (NYSE: DWDP), formed by the recent merger of Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont, announced Sept. 21 that its Materials Science business started up two recently completed projects in Freeport, south of Houston. The new integrated world-scale ethylene production facility and Elite enhanced polyethylene production facility will continue to ramp up and are expected to reach full rates in the final quarter of the year. Construction was complete on the ethylene facility in March and on the polyethylene facility in June. The projects are central components of Dow’s U.S. Gulf Coast investments, part of the company $12 billion in U.S. growth investments over a 10-year period.

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Wall Street Journal

September 22, 2017

OPEC’s ‘Problem Children’ Are Holding Down Oil Prices

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is scrambling to contain output from its strife-torn members Libya and Nigeria, where surging production could threaten to derail the oil cartel’s efforts to withhold crude supply and raise its price. Libya and Nigeria were exempt from OPEC’s agreement last year to join with Russia and other producers to cut about 2% of the world’s oil production. The countries’ oil industries at the time were crippled by civil unrest and weren’t expected to recover soon. Both have since struck deals with militants, allowing the spigots to be turned on again.

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Dallas Morning News

September 24, 2017

SEC suspends trading in shares of Dallas company over Harvey relief claims

The Securities and Exchange Commission has suspended trading in the shares of a Dallas-based company over its claims of helping with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Regulators said that trading in Grupo Resilient shares is suspended for the next two weeks, through Oct. 5. Grupo was previously known as Paradise Ridge Hydrocarbons and trades under the ticker symbol GRUI. According to the federal agency, the decision was in response to a Grupo claim in a news release that the company added a “FEMA approved contractor” to the board of its subsidiary and that it was sending workers and mobile broadband trailers to assist in relief efforts. … The company describes itself as a “diversified publicly traded holding company focusing on equity crowdfunding, infrastructure, energy, real estate, technology and wellness projects.”

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Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 22, 2017

Tomlinson: Too much energy creates a challenge for Texas electricity grid

Texas produces more energy than we know what to do with, and some electricity generators say that could cause serious problems in the future. From fossil fuels to renewable sources, the state has an embarrassment of riches. The huge energy surpluses drive electricity prices so low that most of Texas’s coal-fired power plants are losing money, nuclear power is struggling, and new wind farms will be hard to finance when tax credits expire in 2020, according to experts who spoke at the Texas Renewable Energy Summit in Austin last week. With little or no profits, generators say they have no incentive to build new power plants, which they say could lead to a future electricity shortage. Many want an overhaul of the wholesale electricity market so they can make higher profits.

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El Paso Times

September 20, 2017

Agreement slashes EP Electric rate increase request

El Paso Electric’s proposed rate increase got slashed under a tentative agreement between the utility and the city of El Paso. Under the agreement, which still must be approved by the Texas Public Utility Commission, El Paso Electric will raise rates by $14.5 million, or an overall 2 percent increase. That’s $28 million less than the utility’s original $42.5 million request filed in February. For residential customers, the average increase will be $3.50 per month in the winter, and an average of about $5 per month in the summer, or an overall increase of 5 percent, according to El Paso Electric officials.

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The Hill

September 21, 2017

Officials warn Puerto Rico could be without power for 6 months

Puerto Rico could be without electricity for up to six months following Hurricane Maria, the mayor of the island’s largest city warns. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told MSNBC on Thursday that the U.S. territory’s 3.5 million people are “looking at four to six months without electricity” after Maria, a Category 4 storm, swept across the island yesterday. “The San Juan that we knew yesterday is no longer there,” she added. A spokesman for Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Wednesday that “we are 100 percent without power” following Maria.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 23, 2017

Goggin: Wind, other renewable energy sources are the answer to climate change

With more than 22,000 employees in Texas, America’s wind energy industry feels the pain inflicted by Hurricane Harvey. Wind companies have pledged $1 million to Habitat for Humanity to help Texas communities recover from the disaster. But wind energy is helping Texas recover in other ways as well. Our industry has invested more than $38 billion in Texas wind projects, which pay landowners more than $60 million annually in lease payments. For many farming and ranching families, that additional income allows them to stay on their land. Texas has also become a world leader in manufacturing the energy technologies of the 21st century, with 40 factories building wind turbine parts. Several thousand Texans work as wind turbine technicians – America’s fastest growing job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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Oil Price

September 20, 2017

The Race For The “Holy Grail” Of Renewables

In February, AES Energy’s Escondido battery storage facility in California was hailed as the largest one to date, with a capacity of 30 MW/120 MWh. Now, Tesla is building a bigger one—100 MW/129 MWh—in Australia. On the face of it, it’s a race for the bigger battery storage system. But there’s much more to it than that. The race is on for increasingly reliable, grid-scale, quick-to-install energy storage solutions that will make the shift to all-renewable power much more realistic. In this, factors such as renewable-friendly regulation and integration of storage systems with renewable power generation capacity can tip the energy transformation scales. California is one of the places to be if you’re a renewables fan. Its authorities have ambitious plans in this regard, eventually hoping to replace all fossil-fuel generation capacity with renewables. Wholly reliable grid-scale storage systems are crucial for this strategy, and they are becoming increasingly popular in the state.

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Regulatory Stories

Dallas Morning News

September 23, 2017

Texas energy regulators may have broken law by reaching consensus behind closed doors, experts say

The executive director of the agency that regulates Texas energy received a choice: Turn in her resignation or get fired. Problem was, the elected commissioner who made the demand did not have official approval from her colleagues. The encounter this week laid bare longstanding dysfunctions at the Railroad Commission of Texas. One of the agency’s three commissioners, Ryan Sitton, accused the commission’s chairwoman, Christi Craddick, of acting beyond her authority and violating a law that prohibits backroom decision-making. It’s not clear that Craddick’s action crossed the line; Sitton has asked the state attorney general for an opinion. But the agency’s commissioners — including Sitton and Craddick — do have a history of operating in ways that legal experts say may violate the Texas Open Meetings Act.

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Associated Press

September 25, 2017

Texas’ top oilfield regulator resigns amid internal discord

The abrupt resignation of Texas’ chief oil and gas regulator has exposed high-level rifts within an agency recently given millions in additional dollars to step up inspections, with one Republican leader accusing the powerful chairwoman of running a “dictatorship.” Kimberly Corley, a former Shell Oil executive, submitted her resignation Thursday as executive director of the Texas Railroad Commission. She has held the position since 2016 after being hired the previous year and was a widely praised pick within Texas’ oil and gas industry, which critics have accused of being too cozy with state regulators. Corley did not return phone messages Friday and state officials would not comment on what forced her departure.

This article appeared in the Ft. Worth Star Telegram

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Dallas Morning News

September 23, 2017

What’s happening with Hurricane Harvey repairs and the state’s rainy day fund

If Texas needs funds quickly to handle the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, state leaders have several options. Gov. Greg Abbott has rebuffed calls by some Democratic lawmakers that he call a special session to tap the rainy day fund. If there are no drawdowns, it’s expected to grow to almost $11 billion by September 2019, the end of the current budget cycle. “We need to first understand what obligations we’re going to have, how much they will amount to, and decide upon the best strategies to pay for them,” the Republican governor explained recently.

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Houston Chronicle

September 22, 2017

New maps show how contaminated Houston surface water was following Hurricane Harvey

New data from the Houston Department of Health and Human Services suggests that some areas exposed to Hurricane Harvey’s flood water recorded higher than normal amounts of E. coli just as of last week. Surface water near Barker Reservoir and water from Brays Bayou on I-610 contained 58 times the maximum level of E.coli deemed appropriate, Lisa Montemayor, environmental investigator for the city, told Chron.com Tuesday. These tests were taken from wastewater between Sept. 4 and 11. “The higher the count, the greater the likelihood that other waterborne pathogens are present,” Montemayor added. “E. coli enters flood and surface waters from a number of sources including sewer back-ups, storm water runoff that carries bacteria from animal and pet waste, flooded wastewater treatment plants, and failing septic systems. In the case of Harvey, we had regional flooding that inundated our infrastructure and flooded two major treatment plants.”

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Yahoo! News

September 24, 2017

Trump slaps travel restrictions on North Korea, Venezuela in expanded ban

President Donald Trump on Sunday slapped new travel restrictions on citizens from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad, expanding the list of countries covered by his original travel bans that have been derided by critics and challenged in court. Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia were left on the list of affected countries in a new proclamation issued by the president. Restrictions on citizens from Sudan were lifted. “Making America Safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet,” Trump said in a tweet shortly after the proclamation was released. Iraqi citizens will not be subject to travel prohibitions but will face enhanced scrutiny or vetting.

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KFDA (Amarillo)

September 25, 2017

Texas State Senator Kel Seliger seeking re-election

Texas’ Permian Basin/Panhandle State Senator Kel Seliger has announced that he will seek re-election to the Texas Senate. Senate District 31 spans 37 counties in the Permian Basin and Panhandle, including the cities of Amarillo, Midland, Odessa and Big Spring. Seliger was named a Fighter for Free Enterprise four times by the Texas Association of business for promoting a healthy Texas business climate, and he is “A Rated” by the NRA.

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The Hill

September 21, 2017

Court dismisses lawsuit over Obama-era fracking rule

A federal appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit over the validity of a hydraulic-fracturing regulation instituted by the Obama administration. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a lawsuit over the rule is unnecessary because the Trump administration is working to repeal the rule. The court also vacated a lower judge’s ruling that the Bureau of Land Management had overstepped its bounds by trying to regulate fracking. The court ruled that it would not consider the merits of the rule — and instead overturned a lower court’s decision to do so — because the government is working to undo it.

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The Hill

September 18, 2017

Snape: Senate energy bill is misguided gift to Trump’s dirty fossil fuel agenda

As we clean up after Harvey and Irma and nervously expect more climate change-fueled superstorms, it is worth emphasizing that the United States currently has no global warming strategy. That’s right — despite a scientific consensus that greenhouse pollutants make us more vulnerable to extreme weather, the Trump administration has dropped out of the Paris climate agreement, refused to implement the Clean Power Plan and drastically increased support for coal mining and oil and gas drilling across the country. The U.S. Senate could make it even worse. One bill in particular, S. 1460, introduced by Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) this summer, advances President Trump’s dirty fossil fuel agenda in countless ways.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 22, 2017
Lead Stories

Texas Tribune

September 21, 2017

Texas railroad commissioner wants AG to weigh in on board chair’s actions

Two days after Texas Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton and the board’s chair, Christi Craddick, clashed publicly at a state meeting, Sitton is asking Attorney General Ken Paxton to weigh in on his colleague’s actions. And Craddick is accusing Sitton of seeking “an opportunity for political gain.” In a tense exchange Tuesday that was captured on camera, Sitton accused Craddick of trying to oust the agency’s executive director, Kimberly Corley, without consulting him or the commission’s third member. “This isn’t a dictatorship,” Sitton snapped at Craddick during the exchange. In a statement Thursday, Craddick acknowledged she “had a private conversation with the executive director regarding this matter.”

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The Telegraph (UK)

September 19, 2017

UK’s oil industry ‘entering final decade of production’

The North Sea oil industry is entering its final decade of production, according to new academic research that rejects Alex Salmond’s claims during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign of an impending second boom. An Edinburgh University study of output from offshore fields estimated that only around 10 per cent of the UK’s original recoverable oil and gas remains untapped. Official figures published last week found that oil production increased by 2.9 per cent last year following a recovery in the price. However, capital expenditure dropped by around 20 per cent and it has emerged there were 60,000 job losses in the industry last year, 20,000 more than expected. It also concluded that fracking will be barely economically feasible in the UK, especially in Scotland, because of a lack of sites with suitable geology. The researchers warned that the UK will soon have to import all the oil and gas it needs.

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American Security News

September 21, 2017

In wake of hurricanes, 85 percent of Americans favor an improved energy grid

After millions were left without electricity and other energy disruptions occurred in the aftermath of recent hurricanes, the Morning Consult for the National Mining Association (NMA) conducted a poll Sept. 7-11 that found 85 percent of American voters think the U.S. should make diversifying its energy grid a priority. When Hurricane Harvey hit, it disrupted natural gas production and interrupted the operations of pipelines. Many nuclear power plants were forced to close down before Hurricane Irma hit. Additionally, the damaging hurricanes left millions of without power for days and weeks. Diversifying the energy grid would prevent such complications from occurring on such a large scale in the event of natural catastrophes, an NMA release said.

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Oil Price

September 21, 2017

Moors: The Frac Sand Industry Has A Big Problem

As you know, everything is bigger in Texas – ranches, oil fortunes, trucks, you name it. But there’s a certain court case that’s becoming a really big thing… even by Texan standards. Last week in San Antonio, Texas State Senator Carlos Uresti testified in a bankruptcy hearing. The process follows from the 2015 insolvency of FourWinds Logistics. … Now, FourWinds didn’t manufacture frack sand. It traded it. The company established a market in a high-demand product and then served as a middleman between manufacturer and end user. This is what makes this Texas court case new. These are the first criminal charges to arise from the trading in a necessary component of a drilling process. Now the company could have gone under due to the rapid decline in demand for sand that followed from falling oil and gas prices. But what put FourWinds in the crosshairs of the legal system was the allegedly deceitful and misleading way in which it attempted to raise money.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 22, 2017

Oil prices steady ahead of OPEC meeting on supply cut extension

Oil prices held steady in early Asian trade on Friday as the market waited to see whether major oil producers would extend supply cuts beyond March at a meeting in Vienna later in the day. International benchmark Brent crude futures were at $56.40 a barrel at 0046 GMT, down 3 cents, or 0.05 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 7 cents, or 0.14 percent, at $50.62 per barrel. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and other producers are set to meet in Vienna at 0800 GMT on Friday to discuss a possible extension of an oil supply cut deal to prop up prices.

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Wall St. Journal

September 22, 2017

Natural Gas Settles Lower on Larger-Than-Expected Inventory Build

Natural gas prices fell for the third straight session Thursday, as inventories grew more than expected for the second straight week. Futures for October delivery fell 14.8 cents, or 4.8%, to $2.946 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices extended losses after the latest U.S. Energy Information Administration report showed that inventories grew by 97 billion cubic feet in the week ended Sept. 15, more than the 89 bcf expected by analysts and traders surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

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Rigzone

September 21, 2017

ExxonMobil Starts Fuels Production at Baytown, Beaumont

Exxon Mobil Corp. has begun producing fuels at reduced rates at its Baytown and Beaumont refineries as the coastal Texas region continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey, the company stated Thursday afternoon. “We are making good progress safely restoring our operations to pre-storm levels,” Jerry Wascom, president of ExxonMobil Refining and Supply Co., said in a written statement. “We have brought in gasoline, diesel and jet fuel from other regions to supplement our own production to ensure a quick return of reliable supply to our customers. ExxonMobil also reported that crude oil and refined product pipelines operated by ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. to and from Baytown refinery are in service. In addition, it stated that pipelines from Baytown to San Antonio and Irving, Texas, have returned to full service and terminals in those locations have reopened.

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Oil & Gas Financial Journal

September 20, 2017

Capitalizing Permian opportunities

OGFJ met with David Dewhurst, chairman and CEO of Falcon Seaboard Diversified Inc. and former Lieutenant Governor of Texas, for a one-on-one interview in August. Dewhurst, a Houston native, and the company he co-founded, Falcon Seaboard Resources LLC, launched the $145 million Falcon Seaboard Permian Fund I LP in late July with sights set squarely on, as the name suggests, acquiring acreage in the Permian Basin. Dewhurst talked to us about the fund and seeking outside investments for the first time, as well as his background in both the oil and gas industry and government service. … OGFJ: Some say despite the high acreage costs, technological advances in drilling and completion make the play economic even sub-$40/barrel. Do you think this holds true regardless of OPEC moves and what may be an upward trend in services costs? DEWHURST: Some do say this, but it appears challenging to be economic across large parts of the Permian in sub-$40/barrel oil. Again, it’s a question of rock, precision drilling, maximizing EURs and being a low-cost producer. And all that can be affected by OPEC moves and upward trends in service costs. Hopefully, OPEC has seen first hand what happens to their national economies in a low-price environment, but the industry has to monitor this carefully. I think we are a mistake or two away from lower prices, and a lot of work and some luck to get prices back into the mid-$50s. I don’t use “hope” as a strategy. We lease acreage where we are a low-cost producer.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

September 20, 2017

Ohio increases fines to $2.3M against pipeline developer

Ohio’s environmental regulators have more than doubled the proposed fines against a company building a natural gas pipeline from West Virginia to Michigan, saying Wednesday the two sides are at an impasse. The fines now stand at $2.3 million and stem from what the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says are numerous water and air pollution violations during construction of the $4.2 billion Rover Pipeline. The twin pipelines are being built across Ohio to carry natural gas from Appalachian shale fields to Canada and states in the Midwest and the South. Dallas-based developer Energy Transfer Partners, which also was behind the Dakota Access oil pipeline, has resisted attempts at resolving the fines, said Craig Butler, director of Ohio’s Environmental Protection Agency.

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Reuters

September 21, 2017

Platts plans to publish U.S. crude prices in Asia as imports rise

Oil pricing agency S&P Global Platts said on Thursday it planned to publish U.S. crude prices at the close of the Asian trading day starting in December as U.S. exports to the region have risen. The Platts announcement follows the launch last year by rival price agency Argus Media of U.S. Gulf Coast crude prices for the Asia-Pacific. The two companies are competing to establish a benchmark for oil flows on the trade route that has opened up after Washington lifted a decades-old ban on crude exports at the end of 2015. About a third of the United States’ crude exports, or more than 56 million barrels, landed in Asia in the first half of 2017, Platts said in a note on its website.

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Houston Chronicle

September 19, 2017

Tomlinson: Texas and OPEC sure are starting to look a lot alike

Texas is finding itself more like a member of OPEC every day, facing many of the same challenges. Operators in the Permian Basin pumped 2.4 million barrels of oil a day in 2016, more than nine of the 14 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, according to the Texas Oil and Gas Association. That number will be higher this year and even higher in 2018, according to ESAI Energy, an oil and gas consulting firm. Oil from the Permian Basin’s shale rock is among the cheapest in the world to extract, according to industry analysts. New capital investments in the Permian is expected to rise from $8 billion in 2016 to over $40 billion in 2021 as Texas pumps more and more oil, according to the Texas Oil and Gas Association.

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San Antonio Express News

September 21, 2017

CEO of San Antonio’s Valero, wife to be honored with heart disease research endowment

The president and CEO of San Antonio-based refiner Valero Energy Corp. and his wife will be honored Saturday night at the 2017 President’s Gala of UT Health San Antonio with the establishment of the Lacie and Joe Gorder President’s Endowment in Heart Disease Research. Each year the gala raises more than $500,000 to support the university’s clinical, research and educational initiatives. The couple are interested in helping children born with heart defects, according to a press release Wednesday.

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Wall St. Journal

September 21, 2017

Lower U.S. Oil Prices Are a Shot in the Arm for Crude Exports

U.S. oil is trading at the biggest discount to the global price in two years, helping extend a boom in exports of crude from American shale fields to refiners in Europe and Asia. After Hurricane Harvey hammered the Gulf Coast last month, the price of Nymex crude sank to as much as $6.30 a barrel below its European counterpart, Brent—the widest gap since August 2015. Harvey has passed, but analysts say the storm will reshape global crude flows for months. The difference between U.S. oil and Brent, the international benchmark, at $5.88 as of Wednesday, is key in determining when it is profitable to ship oil from U.S. ports to places overseas.

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UPI

September 20, 2017

Texas sees gains from gas exports to Mexico

Sending natural gas across the border to Mexico opens the door for an “incredible opportunity” for Texas, a commissioner at a state energy regulator said. Ryan Sitton, a commissioner at the regulatory Texas Railroad Commission, met with state officials and private sector representatives to discuss how reforms in Mexico’s energy sector could help Texas. “We have an incredible opportunity in Texas to provide Mexico with much-needed energy resources while stimulating our own economy,” Sitton said in a statement.

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Forbes

September 17, 2017

Clemente: Three Liquefied Natural Gas Charts For Fall

The LNG boom now faces the gaining influence of huge commodity trading houses, namely, Swiss firms Vitol, Glencore, Gunvor, and Trafigura – ranked in order as four of the world’s top seven commodity traders. These nimble behemoths are changing the business that was long dominated by Western oil majors and state energy producers that have sold LNG directly to consumers on large quantities and long-term contracts. For now, traders will help the traditional LNG producers by finding new buyers in emerging markets, easing a glut that is pressuring margins. But ultimately, these and other traders have set their sights on supplying not only the fastest-growing Asian consumers, like China, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, but also the traditional largest buyers, such the power utilities in Japan and South Korea.

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Bloomberg

September 22, 2017

Shale Billionaire Hamm Slams ‘Exaggerated’ U.S. Oil Projections

Billionaire oilman Harold Hamm says the government was way too optimistic with its prediction of more than 1 million new barrels a day in U.S. production, and the snafu is “distorting” global crude prices. This year’s rise is likely to be closer to about 500,000 barrels, far off an initial forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, according to Hamm, the chairman of Continental Resources Inc. and a pioneer in the shale industry. The EIA projection is “just flat wrong,” failing to take into account a new discipline among U.S. drillers, Hamm said in an interview Thursday on Bloomberg TV. “We have capability of producing a whole lot, but you have to get a return on investment,” he said, adding, “that’s where people have been this last quarter and this year.”

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San Angelo Standard-Times

September 17, 2017

Staples bullish on Texas’ oil and gas future

Texas Oil & Gas Association President Todd Staples is making his way around the Lone Star State, spreading the good news about the oil and gas recovery, and he said San Angelo and neighboring counties are nicely poised to benefit for the foreseeable future. “As diversified as our economy is, oil and gas is really the cornerstone of the Texas economy,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “Even in a down year, oil and gas paid $9.4 billion in state and local taxes, and state royalties – that’s $26 million per day, funding our schools and paving our roads – and that’s a down year.”

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CNN

September 17, 2017

Sachs: Big Oil will have to pay up, like Big Tobacco

Here is a message to investors in the oil industry, whether pension and insurance funds, university endowments, hedge funds or other asset managers: Your investments are going to sour. The growing devastation caused by climate change, as seen this month in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean, are going to blow a hole in your fossil-fuel portfolio. Not only will the companies you own suffer as society begins to abandon fossil fuels in earnest, they will also be dragged through the courts here and abroad for their long-standing malfeasance and denial of what they have done to the world. Climate change deniers, mainly politicians in the pay of the oil industry, protest that there is no proof that destructive storms and floods are the result of human-induced global warming. Who can say that a Hurricane Harvey or Irma wouldn’t have occurred in the past?

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Oil Price

September 21, 2017

Taiwan Cuts Off Fossil Fuels To North Korea

Taiwan will no longer offer its fossil fuels to North Korea, the island announced on Tuesday in a bid to emerge as a responsible member of the international community. Taiwan also said it would immediately halt any remaining clothing and textile imports from North Korea, in line with recent economic sanctions against Pyongyang for its missile tests over Japan. Preexisting contracts in force before September 11th would continue to be honored until December 10th, a notice from the economics ministry said. The bans hope to “denounce North Korea’s recent successive nuclear tests and actions that jeopardize regional security,” the economics ministry said in a statement.

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Utilities Stories

KFOX

September 21, 2017

New El Paso Electric rate increase would be used to cover costs of new power stations

El Paso Electric customers could see an increase in their bills but not as much of an increase as the utility had asked for. The city of El Paso and El Paso Electric reached an agreement on a rate increase of about $5 in the summer and approximately $3.50 in the winter. Eddie Gutierrez, spokesperson with El Paso Electric, said the increase is to cover the $151 million it cost to bring two more power stations online at the new Montana Power Plant.

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Huffington Post (HuffPost)

September 21, 2017

Puerto Rico’s Power Outage Could Be A Death Sentence For Many

Puerto Rico is facing the possibility of months without power after Hurricane Maria slammed into the U.S. territory as a Category 4 storm Wednesday morning. The storm has passed, but the consequences of a compromised electrical grid, experts say, will be inconvenient at best, and deadly at worst. Hurricanes like Maria, which barreled into Puerto Rico packing 155-mph winds, generally knock out power when winds tear down power lines and when floodwaters compromise transformers, substations, buried power lines and power plants, often causing a ripple effect throughout the electrical grid. For the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, the island’s sole energy service provider, that ripple effect shut off power for 100 percent of its customers. With $9 billion in debt, PREPA may not be able to restore power to the island for up to six months, officials warned.

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Energy Voice

September 19, 2017

New poll finds public wary of nuclear and fracking sites

A survey, commissioned by the climate change organisation 10:10, and carried out by YouGov has found many would not like to live near a nuclear plant or fracking site. Asked whether they ‘would be happy/unhappy to live within 5 miles’ of a nuclear plant 62% of the public stated that they would be unhappy. Similarly 61% would be unhappy to live within 5 miles of a site on which fracking for shale was taking place. Conversely, the poll also found that the public would be happy to live near wind projects with 65% saying they would be happy to live within 5 miles of a wind farm while 69% would be happy to live within 5 miles of a community wind turbine scheme.

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NPR

September 18, 2017

A Week After Irma, Florida Families Still Living In The Dark

For the past nine days, Nancy Schneider has circled the date on her calendar, pinned up on the wall in her kitchen. She’s tracking how long she and her husband have been without power since Hurricane Irma hit Florida. Last Monday, two-thirds of the state — more than 6.5 million customers — were without power. Crews have worked aggressively since then to restore as many homes and businesses as possible but, more than a week after the storm came ashore, around 400,000 people are still without power. … “You don’t realize until you lose electricity that that basically runs your life, you want to make coffee in the morning. You can’t. No laundry, no hot showers,” Nancy says. “It’s like living in the 1700s.”

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Longview News Journal

September 19, 2017

New landfill plant turns trash to gas for heating

KILGORE — The Pine Hill Landfill takes in 1,100 tons of trash a day, and — thanks to a new renewable energy facility on site — food scraps, paper and other organic materials no longer will go to waste after they decompose into methane gas. The plant can generate enough energy from methane gas to heat 4,800 homes a year, according to Luke Morrow, owner of Morrow Renewables of Midland, which operates the plant at the landfill owned by Republic Services. However, the facility does not provide energy for the Longview area. The plant, which resembles a utility company substation, compresses methane gas, Morrow said. More than 100 extraction wells at the 240-acre landfill off Industrial Boulevard near Kilgore take the gas to the plant, which, in turn, connects the gas to an off-site pipeline that operates like an interstate highway.

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Phys Org

September 19, 2017

Accelerator company develops product to help wind turbines

Sharks swimming deep in the ocean, geckos climbing up trees and wind turbines towering over West Texas don’t have a lot in common. At least, not yet. But the startup Flow Raider, one of the 2017-18 Texas Tech Accelerator companies through the Texas Tech University Innovation Hub at Research Park, is developing a product to help increase the efficiency of wind turbines in West Texas and throughout the world – and they’re using sharks and geckos as their models. Humberto Bocanegra, Chief Executive Officer of Flow Raider and a postdoctoral scholar in mechanical engineering, said the startup is working on developing and testing a surface coating that helps control the flow around wind-turbine blades. This coating aims to increase efficiency and reduce maintenance costs for turbines as well as transport and military vehicles.

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Utility Dive

September 18, 2017

Solar panel prices fell 30% in the first quarter of 2017, NREL report says

Prices of utility-scale solar photovoltaic systems have fallen by about 30% over the past year, according to a new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The average price for a fixed tilt PV system has fallen to $1.03/watt-DC and to $1.11/watt-DC for a system with tracking, according to NREL. Most of price decline is attributable to the collapse of PV module prices as a result of a mismatch between supply and demand in China. Story continues below

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Bloomberg

September 21, 2017

Mercedes Plots Tesla Attack With $1 Billion U.S. Electric Push

Daimler AG plans to spend $1 billion to start production of Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles at its Alabama factory, setting the world’s largest luxury-car maker up to battle with battery-car specialist Tesla Inc. on its home turf. The German automaker will build its fifth battery plant globally and create more than 600 jobs in the region, the company said Thursday in a statement. The Alabama factory will assemble electric sport utility vehicles, taking on Tesla’s Model X and making Stuttgart-based Daimler the first European company to assemble plug-in autos in the U.S.

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Regulatory Stories

San Antonio Business Journal

September 19, 2017

San Antonio mayor to launch air quality pledge drive for businesses

As a critical federal deadline approaches, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg is turning to the Alamo City’s business community to help improve the region’s air quality. Under its stricter smog standards, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to list San Antonio on Oct. 1 as a so-called nonattainment city with respect to air quality. The listing would affect transportation projects and federal highway funding, and it would require new or expanding manufacturers to enact tougher air pollution controls.

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Midland Reporter Telegram

September 21, 2017

Comptroller warns of new efforts to list lizard

Permian Basin operators are being warned not to rest easy on their agreements to help preserve the dunes sagebrush lizard. Despite millions of dollars spent and millions of acres enrolled in the Texas Conservation Plan, a renewed effort to have the lizard listed under the Endangered Species Act is expected by the end of the year, according to the state comptroller. Glenn Hegar told members of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association that he expects the Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biodiversity to file either a joint petition or separate petitions this year. The issue could eventually culminate in a lawsuit, most likely filed in Washington, D.C., he said. That could impact not just those enrolled in the Texas Conservation Plan that his office oversees but more producers.

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Texas Tribune

September 21, 2017

Are any Texans in Congress ready to retire in 2018? We asked them.

In recent weeks, several Republicans in the U.S. House announced they would not return to Congress for another term. There’s a sense in the air that more retirements are coming, which leads to the question: Are any more Texans thinking about hanging it up? Two out of the 38 Texans in Congress made clear months ago they weren’t seeking re-election: U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Richardson, announced his retirement earlier this year, and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the El Paso Democrat is challenging U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. And another of those Texans, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, won’t face re-election again until 2020.

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Houston Chronicle

September 21, 2017

John Sharp, Texas’ new straight-talking recovery czar, charges ahead

Since he signed on three weeks ago to oversee Texas’ recovery from Hurricane Harvey, the worst storm to blast Texas coast in more than a century, and by most measures the most destructive in U.S. history, Sharp has crisscrossed the storm-blasted areas along the Texas coast. When Abbott announced Sharp’s appointment as the head of the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas on Sept. 6, he said his instructions were simple: “Rebuild Texas ahead of schedule, under budget and with a friendly smile.” In the weeks since, Sharp has juggled his A&M duties with the recovery, spending hours in briefings and updates and repeatedly touring the state with Abbott, including a Thursday trip to Rockport. He routinely gives out his private cell phone number to local officials with the instruction, “call me if you need anything,” and, perhaps not surprisingly, he has taken calls at all hours ever since.

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Politico

September 21, 2017

Administration officials meet to develop climate strategy

Trump administration officials huddled at the White House on Wednesday in a bid to chart a more cohesive energy and environmental policy strategy, including a game plan for communicating its position on climate change, according to three people familiar with the meeting. The meeting included more than a dozen deputy-level officials from the White House’s various policy councils, as well as representatives from federal agencies such as the EPA and the Energy Department.

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Associated Press

September 15, 2017

Environmentalists Get Win in US Coal-Climate Change Lawsuit

Handing a major victory to environmentalists, a court cast doubt Friday on a longstanding U.S. government argument that blocking federal coal leasing won’t affect climate change because the coal could simply be mined elsewhere. Environmentalists have been trying for years to block federal coal leases on climate-change grounds with limited success. The ruling by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will require the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to provide more data to support its argument that coal makes no net contribution to climate change after it’s burned in power plants. The BLM oversees leasing of vast Western tracts that supply much of the nation’s coal. “This is big. And we’re certainly going to be wielding this and using it to confront other mining approvals both in the Powder River Basin and beyond,” said Jeremy Nichols with WildEarth Guardians.

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Houston Chronicle

September 18, 2017

HC: Save the Environmental Protection Agency’s lab

If you were mayor, would you even think about closing a police station in the middle of the neighborhood with the city’s highest crime rate? That would make about as much sense as what the Environmental Protection Agency apparently has planned for its regional lab here in Houston. With good reason, the EPA has long maintained a state-of-the-art Environmental Services Laboratory on our city’s southwest side. The chemists and biologists working at the 41,000-square-foot facility serve a five-state region, devoting much of their time and energy on testing samples from Superfund sites. The nearest comparable lab is located in Ada, Oklahoma, which is about 400 miles away.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 21, 2017
Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 20, 2017

The booming Permian Basin could reach its zenith early if oil stays cheap

The West Texas drilling frenzy that sparked one of the the biggest oil boom in U.S. history could fizzle out in just four years if crude prices stay too low to spur innovations needed to overcome the region’s geological constraints. For months, oil has gushed from newly drilled wells and pumpjacks e-rected across the plains of the Permian Basin, a prolific shale play that has drawn billions of dollars of investment from major energy companies and speculators, and become the epicenter of the oil industry’s recovery. But the glory days in West Texas may not last as long as expected. The booming oil field could reach its zenith and begin a slow decline as early as 2021, much sooner than anticipated, a new analysis indicates. If today’s zealous oil drillers keep running full tilt in the Permian, they may pump too much crude to allow oil prices to rise much, which in turn would kill incentives to develop technologies to recover reserves that are today unreachable or uneconomical, according to the analysis by the energy consultancy Wood Mac-kenzie.

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The Hill

September 20, 2017

San Francisco, Oakland sue oil companies over climate change

San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., are suing five major oil companies, blaming them for the effects of climate change. The cities announced Wednesday they each filed a lawsuit in their respective county courts against Chevron Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., ExxonMobil Corp., Royal Dutch Shell and BP. The lawsuits by two of California’s largest cities add to an emerging legal strategy to try to hold individual fossil fuel companies responsible for rising sea levels, extreme weather and other effects of human-induced climate change.

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Vice

September 20, 2017

Trump could help these energy-fueled local economies bounce back

Cities and towns that depend on the energy business had a pretty ugly 2016, but their fortunes could be turning under Trump. New government data shows local economies relying on the energy industry suffered steep declines in output last year, as weakness in the price of oil, natural gas, and coal cut down on drilling and mining activity. Like Odessa, Texas, for instance. The key city near the heart of the West Texas shale oil fields known as the Permian Basin felt the steepest year-on-year drop in economic growth, with total economic output from the Odessa metro falling 13.3 percent. Caspar, Wyoming, at the epicenter of Wyoming’s important coal, petroleum, and natural gas industries, slid hard as well, seeing its gross domestic product drop 11.6 percent.

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Reuters

September 20, 2017

Energy contract lawsuits expected to jump in Harvey’s wake

Lawyers expect a spate of force majeure contract lawsuits after Hurricane Harvey tore through Southeast Texas and parts of Louisiana last month, paralyzing a fifth of U.S. fuel output and pushing some oil production offline. Hurricanes and other natural disasters can affect the energy industry’s ability to honor contracts related to oil and natural gas production, transport and oilfield services. Force majeure is a legal declaration that means the operator cannot fulfill a contract due to circumstances outside its control. Damage in Texas wrought by Harvey is estimated at around $180 billion, according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, with some of that in the oil-rich Eagle Ford shale region southwest of Houston.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 21, 2017

Oil dips on rising US crude inventories and production

Oil markets dipped on Thursday, weighed down by rising U.S. crude inventories and production as well as a stronger dollar, which potentially hampers fuel consumption in countries that use other currencies at home. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices,were at $56.13 a barrel at 0134 GMT, down 16 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $50.68 per barrel, down 1 cent from the last settlement. Traders said that a strengthening dollar had weighed on Brent while rising crude stocks and production in the United States had weighed on WTI.

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KUHF

September 20, 2017

Environmentalists Alarmed At Hydrocarbon Releases During Harvey

The state shut down 50 air quality monitors to protect the sensitive devices from Harvey’s fury, but the Houston Health Department says those are up and running again. Elena Kraft with the Environmental Defense Fund is critical of what she calls a lack of planning by state and federal agencies. “We recognize that the state removed some of the monitors to protect them from damage from the storm, but the result of that obviously is, you know, not having information available to advise the public how they might protect themselves from emission events.” The TCEQ says as floodwaters receded, they were out in the field with portable monitors, and were conducting aerial surveys for air pollution.

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Houston Chronicle

September 20, 2017

Hurricane Harvey delays parts of Chevron Phillips petrochemical expansion

Chevron Phillips has completed its new plastics plants, but a large portion of the $6 billion expansion in the Houston area is being delayed until next year after Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters created additional problems. The Woodlands-based Chevron Phillips Chemical, a joint venture of Chevron and Phillips 66 of Houston, said it just finished building its two new polyethylene plastics units southwest of Houston in Old Ocean by Phillips 66’s Sweeny complex. The company said it is initiating the startup process for the plastics units. The larger Baytown portion of the expansion project, which was originally expected to be finished by now, won’t be completed until next year, Chevron Phillips said. The project involves a massive ethane cracker – on a plot the size of 44 football fields – that will separate a component of natural gas called ethane, which will provide the feedstock for some 1.5 million metric tons a year of ethylene, a common building block of plastics.

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Business Day

September 14, 2017

Fracking rights holders can avoid legal snags by preparing well

The Petroleum Agency of SA (PetroSA) has indicated that the first exploration rights in contemplation of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) may be granted by the end of this month. These will initially only permit exploration for shale gas reserves and, if viable reserves are identified, production rights will need to be obtained before the reserves can be exploited. The production of shale gas could form an important element of SA’s future energy mix and create much-needed jobs and revenue for the fiscus. In our experience of exploration and fracking in other jurisdictions and other large infrastructure projects in SA, projects can be stalled by legal process.

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Oil & Gas 360

September 19, 2017

Eagle Ford Earns its Place as U.S.’s No. 2 Oil Basin

While it has been recently eclipsed by the Permian, the Eagle Ford in South Texas remains one of the most important shale basins in the world. According to the EIA, the basin will produce 1,280 MBOPD in September, making it the second-largest oil-producing basin in the U.S. Despite temporary interference from Hurricane Harvey there are currently 71 rigs active in the basin, making the Eagle Ford second in drilling activity as well. Just like any other area of Texas, these rigs require drilling permits, obtained from the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), to operate. So far this year, the RRC has issued a total of 2,318 permits in the Eagle Ford. The EIA lists 23 counties as part of the Eagle Ford, but current activity focuses on certain locations.

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Oil & Gas Investor

September 20, 2017

Mosman Oil And Gas Buys Welch Permian Basin Project

Mosman Oil and Gas Ltd. acquired the Welch Permian Basin Project in West Texas—doubling its oil production, the Australian-based company said Sept. 11. The Welch Project consists of 653 acres of HBP leases in Dawson County, Texas, with 10 producing, seven injector and 10 shut-in wells. The acquisition includes production equipment and facilities, according to the company release. The project is part of the larger Welch Oil Field, which was discovered in 1941, the release said. Mosman will acquire the oil and gas leases that comprise the project from Walsh Petroleum Inc., Granite Pacific LC and Cornell Energy LLC for $310,000, which the company said it will fund from existing cash reserves.

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Bloomberg

September 20, 2017

Two Big Words Show Why U.S. Oil May Finally Be Turning a Corner

Oil futures in New York have been stuck in glut mode, but that may be starting to change for the first time in years as backwardation, one of those big words used by traders, begins to replace contango. After prices collapsed in 2014, West Texas Intermediate gradually started selling at a discount to its longer-dated futures. That’s what contango means. This occurs when buyers are willing to pay more for future deliveries as a way to limit their storage costs. Meanwhile, those who have the ability to store crude gain an advantage by buying it cheaply, then selling it for later delivery at a profit. In the past few days, at least a portion of the futures curve has begun to show the opposite: backwardation. This pattern typifies a shortage, when traders want their oil as quickly as possible and will pay more for delivery that will arrive sooner.

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Houston Chronicle

September 20, 2017

Valero’s Port Arthur fire released an estimated 1 million pounds of emissions

Valero Energy’s refinery fire on Tuesday released nearly 1 million pounds of emissions into the air, mostly from the columns of smoke caused by the burning oil, the San Antonio company estimated. The fire, which lasted about three hours in the early afternoon, originated from an oil storage tank at the refining complex, but the cause remains under investigation. The stated pollutants released during the fire are self-reported estimates from Valero. The fire emitted about 640,000 pounds of particulate matter – the smoke, soot, dirt and dust that, once inhaled, can affect the heart and lungs and cause serious health effects.

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KWES

September 19, 2017

Petro Waste Environmental opens their second waste facility in West Texas

Solid waste like crushed rock and oil-based mud from drilling rigs need a place to go. That’s why Petro Waste Environmental now has their second waste facility in West Texas. With geological studies and testing, they finally got their permit approved by the Texas Railroad Commission. “The permitting, the design, the construction, this facility has been in the planning stages for about four years,” said Petro Waste Environmental CEO, George Wommack. In between Howard and Martin County, the 144-acre facility was created to cut down on mileage for drivers since their goal is to be within 30 miles from oil activity.

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CityLab

September 13, 2017

Bliss: Why Florida Ran Out of Gas

The weekend before Labor Day, as the degree of Irma’s threat became clearer, Florida gas suppliers and emergency managers joined to strategize. They knew there would be a run on gas, though it wasn’t clear yet which parts of the state would be evacuating. So fuel shipments that could be steered to Florida were diverted from all over. Barges that normally deliver from offline Gulf Coast refineries were rerouted to New York and Philadelphia to bring gas south. … But right now, no alternative is perfect. Tesla’s remote-controlled zaps to extend the range of certain cars made a lot of headlines, but it also spotlit the current limits of electric vehicles as escape pods: Without more robust charging infrastructure, EVs are risky bets for an evacuees. (And with power outages still widespread, no charge could be just as fatal as no gas.) High-speed rail is coming to South Florida, slowly, but not with the regional connections that would make it a viable escape route ahead a hurricane.

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Bloomberg

September 20, 2017

Oil Traders Empty Key Crude Storage Hub

Oil traders are emptying one of the world’s largest crude storage facilities, located near the southernmost tip of Africa, as the physical market tightens amid booming demand and OPEC production cuts. Total SA, Vitol Group and Mercuria Energy Group Ltd. are selling crude they hoarded in Saldanha Bay, South Africa, during the 2015-2016 glut when the market effectively paid traders to store oil, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named discussing private operations. Crude demand is now seasonally outstripping supply, tightening the physical market for some crude varieties to levels not seen in the last two years and encouraging traders to sell their stored oil.

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Wall St. Journal

September 20, 2017

Maersk to Sell Tankers Business for $1.17 Billion

A.P. Moeller-Maersk AMKBY -0.73% A/S on Wednesday said it would sell its tankers unit to its controlling shareholder for $1.17 billion, the latest move by the Danish shipping and energy conglomerate to break up its sprawling operations and focus on container shipping. The sale of Maersk Tankers A/S, one of the world’s largest operators of oil tankers, follows on the conglomerate’s decision a year ago to separate its transport and energy businesses. Under that plan, Maersk announced last month the sale of its Maersk Oil unit to France’s Total SA TOT 1.13% for $4.95 billion. It still has its Maersk Drilling division, which operates oil and gas rigs mainly in the North Sea, and Maersk Supply, a fleet of 44 support ships for offshore operations, to sell or list.

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Houston Chronicle

September 15, 2017

4 years later, cleanup nears end for big North Dakota spill

Cleanup is finally in sight four years after a pipeline break sent more than 20,000 barrels of oil oozing across a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota, state regulators said Friday. Excavation of the affected site is scheduled for completion by the end of the month, with the land ready for replanting next spring, North Dakota Health Department environmental scientist Bill Suess said. The massive spill from the Tesoro pipeline was discovered by a Tioga farmer in September 2013 and has been called one of the largest onshore spills in U.S. history, covering 13 acres of land — or about the size of 10 football fields.

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Oil Price

September 18, 2017

The Chinese Giant Taking Over Energy Markets

Last week’s announcement of the US$9-billion acquisition by Chinese CEFC of a more than 14-percent stake in Rosneft sent ripples across the oil industry and among commodity traders. The Chinese conglomerate, which started as a small oil trader, bought the stake from none other than Glencore, which acquired it at the end of last year in tandem with the Qatar Investment Authority. The deal, besides making Glencore’s lenders breathe a deep sigh of relief, considerably expanded the access of the Chinese company to Russian oil. And it’s not the last buy in Russia, it seems. Just a week after the Rosneft buy, Reuters reported that CEFC is preparing to take part in the initial public offering of En+, a metals and power company controlled by billionaire Oleg Deripaska, which focuses on aluminum and hydropower.

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Utilities Stories

Bloomberg

September 21, 2017

China’s Nuclear Power Appetite to Offset Western Decline

China plans to more than double its atomic power capacity in the next decade, bucking the trend of consolidation in western Europe and North America. The Asian nation’s expansion will contribute to a 6.6 percent increase in global nuclear capacity over the next decade, according to BMI Research. China is boosting its atomic industry to cut reliance on fossil fuels as well as build expertise to compete internationally for reactor contracts.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Gilmer Mirror

September 20, 2017

Republic Services Unveiled Northeast Texas Landfill – a Clean Fuel and Energy Source

Republic Services unveiled their latest landfill gas-to-energy facility at the Pinehill Landfill in Northeast Texas yesterday. The renewable energy facility is set to generate 404.7 million cubic feet of renewable natural gas per year, reducing carbon emissions equal to that of 19.8 million gallons of gasoline consumed. The Pinehill Landfill serves customers and communities across more than 40 counties and 62 cities throughout Northeast Texas.

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Bloomberg

September 20, 2017

Blame Henry Ford for Deadly Superbugs

In the late 1920s, America was overrun with grain, leaving farmers wondering what they would do with it all. A piece titled “Wanted: Machines to Eat Up Our Crop Surplus” appeared in the magazine Farm & Fireside in 1927, suggesting that perhaps the government could fund research into turning those grains into industrial products. [Henry] Ford liked the idea. He relied on petroleum both to build his cars and to power them. And the plan, if enacted, could create more demand for his farm equipment, the same gear that helped create the grain glut in the first place. He just didn’t want government driving this economic overhaul. He wanted to do it himself. Ford expanded his company’s agricultural laboratory and directly oversaw new efforts to turn plants into plastics and biofuels.

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Electrek

September 12, 2017

Weaver: Bifacial Solar Panels from LG, LONGi, ‘Panasonic’ and others. What exactly is bifacial and are they for you?

Bifacial solar panels are being marketed *almost* everywhere. Visiting each of the big players – LG, LONGi, Hanwha Q Cells, Yingli, BYD, Panasonic and others – gave me a bit of unique information from each manufacturer’s perspective. First off, LG has the best visual representation of bifacial solar panels in action. The basics of the presentation, shown in the two images side by side below, were this: have two solar panels, one bifacial and one not bifacial, in a similar lighting situation. Specifically, a lighting situation with a highly reflective surface surrounding the panels. You’ll note that on the left – the two solar panels show a different wattage – in the standard light. To prove that the difference in wattage comes from the backside – from reflected light – of the solar panel and not from a technical difference in the panel, you then cover the solar panel with a thick piece of cardboard. And the image on the right shows that this chunk of solar panel would generate five watts of electricity from that reflected light. And that is the fundamental value of a true bifacial solar panel – the ability to capture light reflected off of surfaces surrounding the product. In this case, in this near perfect setup, a 22% boost in total electricity created. Pretty cool.

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Science Daily

September 14, 2017

Hydrogen power moves a step closer

Physicists are developing methods of creating renewable fuel from water using quantum technology. Renewable hydrogen can already be produced by photoelectrolysis where solar power is used to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. But fundamental problems remain before this can be adopted commercially due to inefficiency. A new study demonstrates that the novel use of nanostructures could increase the maximum photovoltage generated in a photoelectrochemical cell, increasing the productivity of splitting water molecules.

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Clean Technica

September 13, 2017

GE Renewable Energy Unveils Largest Onshore Wind Turbine

A lot of attention is paid to offshore wind turbines, deservedly so, given their mammoth size and impressive generating capabilities. Offshore wind turbine size continues to increase, and this month saw news that the Walney Extension West offshore wind farm would be the first project in the world to use wind turbines surpassing 8 megawatts (MW) — MHI Vestas V164-8.0 MW wind turbines that have been optimized to generate at 8.25 MW. However, just as important — if not more so, considering their greater popularity and economic viability — onshore wind turbines have also been increasing in capacity, and GE Renewable Energy this week unveiled its newest and largest onshore wind turbine, a 4.8 MW turbine measuring in at 240 meters and with a rotor diameter of 158 meters, which on its own will be able to generate enough electricity for the equivalent of 5,000 European homes.

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CNBC

September 15, 2017

A vast ‘wind power hub’ could supply 70 to 100 million people with renewable energy

When it comes to wind energy Denmark is a major player, able to call on a wealth of expertise and experience. Only this week, for example, Denmark headquartered Dong Energy was awarded the contract to build the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Hornsea Project Two, off the coast of the U.K. More than one third of Danish electricity production comes from turbines, according to the Danish Energy Agency. Danish transmission system operator (TSO) Energinet owns, operates and develops the country’s transmission systems for electricity and natural gas. The country’s reliance on wind energy poses its own unique set of challenges.

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Regulatory Stories

Oil Price

September 20, 2017

Will The White House Prevent Rosneft From Buying Citgo?

Senators have pressed the Trump Administration to review the chances of Russia’s Rosneft acquiring Venezuela’s PDVSA and its U.S. business, Citgo. Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez believe a change in the ownership of Citgo’s assets would constitute a security risk, Reuters reported. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Republican and Democratic senators wrote that “Given Venezuela’s increasingly dire economic and humanitarian situation, we are seriously concerned with a possible acquisition by Rosneft of PDVSA and Citgo.” Mnuchin is the chair of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. The CFIUS is responsible for studying the national security implications of potential foreign acquisitions in the country.

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Houston Chronicle

September 20, 2017

Houston FEMA flood map missed 75 percent of flood damages, says new study

FEMA’s 100-year flood plain map doesn’t have the best reputation in Bayou City – just ask any Houstonian whose home was outside the flood risk zone yet still filled with water during one if the city’s many and recent flooding events. Still, a new study by Rice University and Texas A&M-Galveston suggests FEMA’s hazard mapping may be even less accurate than most people think. Researchers examined flood damage claims from several southeast Houston suburbs between 1999 to 2009 and found that FEMA’s flood predictive maps failed to show 75 percent of flood damage.

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Texas Tribune

September 20, 2017

Homeowners join lawsuit against Crosby chemical plant that burned after Hurricane Harvey

Eleven plaintiffs and a new defendant were added Wednesday to a lawsuit against Arkema Inc., an international chemical company whose plant near Houston spewed clouds of smoke from a series of chemical fires earlier this month after it was inundated by six feet of floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey. The updated lawsuit alleges that Arkema and the new defendant, Bureau Veritas — an air quality monitoring company that Arkema contracted to conduct testing in the vicinity of the plant — failed to properly advise first responders and neighbors about the dangers of fumes from the fires, which spewed black smoke high above the plant in Crosby.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 20, 2017

Arreaza, Martinez: Fix up the Gulf Coast — but not at the expense of safety

The Gulf Coast is an industrial powerhouse, home to nearly a quarter of U.S. oil refining capacity and half of the nation’s chemical manufacturing. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, dozens of these refineries and factories have been sidelined. Companies will move quickly to get their facilities up and running. Fair enough: An idle business means lost paychecks, lost profits and lost tax revenue. Consumers may face long wait times and higher prices for gasoline and other essential products. We all want our tanks full — and as little interruption as possible in the flow of consumer goods. But let’s not forget the impact on workers. Employers will want to move fast to ramp up production – but if they move too fast, workers will face unnecessary risks.

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San Antonio Express News

September 20, 2017

Abbott names San Antonian chairman of Texas Transportation Commission

San Antonio businessman J. Bruce Bugg Jr. will continue efforts to reduce congestion around the state’s biggest cities as the newly named chairman of the five-member Texas Transportation Commission, he said Wednesday. “I am honored and absolutely ecstatic and ready to go,” Bugg said. Bugg is chairman and chief executive officer of Argyle Investment Co. LLC and chairman of the board of the Bank of San Antonio, among other titles, according to Gov. Greg Abbott’s office. Abbott, who first appointed Bugg in 2015 to the powerful commission overseeing the Texas Department of Transportation, announced the leadership change Tuesday.

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San Antonio Express News

September 18, 2017

Construction underway on controversial rail project

DUNLAY — Proponents of a new rail spur under construction here tout its future promise as an economic development catalyst for Medina County. It’s already delivering dust clouds and heartache to residents nearby. “It scares us to death,” said Shirley Voigt, 71, noting that gravel-laden trains will pass 200 feet from her bedroom window, on a neighbor’s land across County Road 4643. “This is going to change our whole life.” Southwest Gulf Railroad’s estimated 9-mile track will initially have trains hauling rock from a Quihi-area quarry owned by Vulcan Materials, the railroad’s parent company, but trains also could carry freight for other entities because of the line’s status as a “common carrier.”

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New York Times

September 17, 2017

NYT: Using the E.P.A. to Prop Up Big Coal

The Trump administration is unflinching in its misbegotten campaign to protect the coal industry from what has become an obvious and inevitable decline. Eight months in, the administration has already killed, or is in the process of killing, rules that would prevent the dumping of coal mining wastes in streams, impose a temporary moratorium on new mine leases in the West, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants — one of President Barack Obama’s most important efforts to resist climate change. All of this to prop up an industry whose workers would be best served not by false promises of new mining jobs, but by aggressive programs to retrain them for a changing economy.

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Houston Chronicle

September 18, 2017

Trump’s air pollution pick goes before senate at critical moment

Expect some fierce questioning when President Donald Trump’s pick to head the EPA’s air pollution division gets his confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. A partner in the D.C. law firm Hunton Williams, Bill Wehrum is no stranger to EPA – he served in the agency under former President George W. Bush. With EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt expected to announce in the weeks ahead his plans on whether to replace the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan – which would dramatically cut carbon emissions from the nation’s power sector – Wehrum would be taking over as Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at a critical time.

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The Telegraph (UK)

September 18, 2017

Climate change not as threatening to planet as previously thought, new research suggests

Climate change poses less of an immediate threat to the planet than previously thought because scientists got their modelling wrong, a new study has found. New research by British scientists reveals the world is being polluted and warming up less quickly than 10-year-old forecasts predicted, giving countries more time to get a grip on their carbon output. An unexpected “revolution” in affordable renewable energy has also contributed to the more positive outlook. Experts now say there is a two-in-three chance of keeping global temperatures within 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, the ultimate goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 20, 2017
Lead Stories

Reuters

September 18, 2017

Exxon Beaumont refinery may restart most units this week – sources

ExxonMobil Corp may restart most of the production units at its 362,300 barrel per day (bpd) Beaumont refinery in Texas, by the end of this week, said sources familiar with plant operations on Sunday. Exxon spokeswoman Charlotte Huffaker said restart activities were progressing at the Beaumont refinery, which was shut down on Aug. 30 after Hurricane Harvey slammed Texas. The refinery’s two crude distillation units restarted on Friday, sources told Reuters. The refinery has also restarted its 40,000 bpd diesel hydrotreater. Exxon restarted the 65,000 bpd hydrocracking unit on Sunday, said energy industry intelligence service Genscape.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 19, 2017

Some question decision to keep Texas nuclear plant open during Harvey

Days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall, workers at the South Texas Project nuclear power plant ensured the backup generators had fuel in case the power went out. They obtained enough food and supplies to board the 250-person storm crew for three days. They cleared the site of any potential “missiles,” equipment that might be picked up by the wind and hurled at the two reactors. But they didn’t prepare for Harvey — which made a slow, drenching loop around the plant near Bay City — to keep them sequestered at the site for nine days. “We went from, ‘We’re going to be here for a couple days,’ to, ‘Guys, we need to start thinking like we’re going to be here for a week on an island,’” said Mike Schaefer, the plant’s general manager. “I remember saying, ‘Not only are we running a power plant, we’re running a hotel and a restaurant.’”

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Bloomberg

September 18, 2017

Fickling: The Next Big Renewable Fuel? Accountants

For all the advances made by engineers that cut the cost of solar modules and new wind generation by more than half in five years, the true heroes of the renewables revolution may be a group that’s rarely recognized: accountants.To see why, consider the headlong growth of corporate power-purchase agreements — contracts where major consumers strike deals with generators to buy a fixed quantity of electricity over a decade or so.From humble beginnings around 2008, when the likes of Alphabet Inc., Apple Inc. and Facebook Inc. starting taking out PPAs to power their vast data centers, these agreements grew by leaps and bounds. In the latest, between Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and Enel SpA last week, a wind farm in Oklahoma will supply half of the brewer’s U.S. electricity demand, sufficient to produce 20 billion beers a year.

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New York Times

September 17, 2017

The Rare, Potent Fuel Powering North Korea’s Weapons

When North Korea launched long-range missiles this summer, and again on Friday, demonstrating its ability to strike Guam and perhaps the United States mainland, it powered the weapons with a rare, potent rocket fuel that American intelligence agencies believe initially came from China and Russia. The United States government is scrambling to determine whether those two countries are still providing the ingredients for the highly volatile fuel and, if so, whether North Korea’s supply can be interrupted, either through sanctions or sabotage. Among those who study the issue, there is a growing belief that the United States should focus on the fuel, either to halt it, if possible, or to take advantage of its volatile properties to slow the North’s program.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 20, 2017

Oil rises after Iraq signals possible OPEC cut extension

Oil prices rose on Wednesday after Iraq’s oil minister said OPEC and other crude producers were considering extending or even deepening a supply cut to curb a global glut, while a report showed a smaller-than-expected increase in U.S. inventories. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 33 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $49.81 a barrel at 0419 GMT. Brent crude futures climbed 23 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $55.37. While options being considered by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other producers include an extension of cuts in output by months, it is premature to decide on what to do beyond March, when the agreement expires, Iraqi oil minister Jabar al-Luaibi told an energy conference in the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.

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San Antonio Express News

September 19, 2017

San Antonio’s Valero backs off deal to buy California terminals

San Antonio-based refiner Valero Energy Corp. announced Monday it would not buy two storage and distribution terminals owned by Houston-based Plains All American Pipeline in California. The move was made months after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed suit against Valero over the sale, saying it would “suffocate open competition in the area and raise gas prices for hardworking Californians.” Becerra said “it’s our responsibility to combat threats to our state’s thriving and competitive marketplace” in a news release Monday. In a statement posted to their websites, Valero and Plains All American said they had “mutually agreed” to terminate an agreement that would have allowed Valero’s subsidiary to buy the terminals.

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Rigzone

September 19, 2017

BP’s Thunder Horse Platform Shut Temporarily On Power Issue

BP Plc halted production at its Thunder Horse platform in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico on Monday following a power outage, a company spokesman confirmed on Tuesday. The benchmark for sour crude rallied to its strongest in more than two years on the disruption. BP evacuated its workforce of about 300 people from the facility after the power outage as a precaution, according to the statement.

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Houston Chronicle

September 19, 2017

Oryx building new 220-mile Permian pipeline

Oryx Midstream Services said it will build a 220-mile crude pipeline system in the Permian Basin that will run from New Mexico to Midland. Midland-based Oryx, which primarily is owned by Houston private equity firms, said the 400,000-barrel-a-day network will run through Carlsbad, New Mexico and into West Texas to crude oil delivery points in Crane and Midland. Oryx’s plans will add to a boom in pipeline projects competing to service all of the growing oil production from the Permian, which accounts for most of the nation’s oil growth.

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Forbes

September 14, 2017

Texas Frac Sand In Demand

Millions of pounds of sand are pumped down each shale well in the hydraulic fracturing process, and while Wisconsin Northern White is still dominant, it is now used in only two-thirds of US fracs. That’s a lot of displaced market share, sources told Mergermarket. Regional Texas sand mines have become an attraction as companies bank on “Permian headlines” and a diversity of sand types. Tens of new mines are starting up in Texas and surrounding states, with sand that varies in quality but is closer and logistically simpler to procure. Vista Sand, Preferred Sands, Unimin, Black Mountain, Hi-Crush Partners, US Silica and Alpine Silica are some private and public companies with Permian Basin mines slated to be producing by the first quarter of 2018.

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Dallas Morning News

September 19, 2017

Watch: Fire at Texas refinery sends black plume sky high

Officials in in the Southeast Texas city of Port Arthur are asking people who live near a refinery to shelter-in-place after a fire broke out there, sending black plumes of smoke into the air. Valero Energy Corp. spokeswoman Lillian Riojas told The Associated Press in an email Tuesday that the company’s response teams were on the scene. She says the company has also contacted local authorities and is cooperating with public agencies. She said that was all of the information she currently had.

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KBTX

September 19, 2017
Grimes County neighborhood fed up with flare

A Grimes County community is making a desperate plea for peace and quiet. The residents on and near Roese Road in Iola claim their serenity has been shattered by ETX Energy, an Oklahoma-based energy company. Nearly two years ago, the oil well that flares casinghead gas was added to a small piece of land right in the middle of the neighborhood. It’s approximately 600 feet from the nearest home, and homeowners say the well and flare can both be noisy and produce a bad smell. They also say the flare is bright at night, and they speculate black soot that sometimes covers vehicles and homes comes from the flare.

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Houston Chronicle

September 19, 2017

Fluor cutting nearly 275 Corpus Christi jobs on Jumbo plastics project

Irving-based energy engineering and construction firm Fluor said it’s terminating almost 275 employees working on the financially struggling and much delayed “Jumbo” plastics plant project in Corpus Christi. The $1 billion, pending M&G Jumbo plastics plant, owned by Italy’s Mossi & Ghisolfi Group, owes money to a lot of contractors. Fluor said it’s stopping its work at the site after it was informed that M&G’s engineering arm, Chemtex, also is ceasing its operations, according to a letter Fluor filed with the Texas Workforce Commission.

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Wall St. Journal

September 20, 2017

The North Sea Is Suddenly, Surprisingly, an Oil Hot Spot

For more than a decade, the North Sea’s once-booming oil sector was mired in decline. Against the odds, it has emerged as an unlikely bright spot in today’s stormy global energy industry. Investors have sunk more than $16 billion so far this year into European deals for assets mostly located in the North Sea, a flurry that far outstrips energy deal activity in all but American shale country and Canada’s oil sands, according to Edinburgh-based energy-consulting firm Wood Mackenzie. The biggest deal came last month, with Total SA’s TOT 0.41% $5 billion purchase of A.P. Moeller-Maersk ’s AMKBY 0.84% North Sea-focused oil-and-gas business. The deal was a sign major oil companies are still willing to invest significant amounts in the region, where confidence is reviving as oil prices stabilize and costs come down. Many are refocusing on relatively new areas. Meanwhile, private-equity funds are buying up aging assets and infrastructure, seeing opportunity in operations that have become more marginal for some of the bigger players.

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World Oil

September 19, 2017

BP supplies natural gas to Mexico under energy reform measures

BP Energía México, BP’s natural gas marketing and trading arm in Mexico, has started to deliver approximately 200,000 MMBtu a day of natural gas to industrial users, local distribution companies and independent power producers in eight states in Mexico, making BP one of the first private companies to supply natural gas to the domestic market under the country’s energy reform measures. The announcement comes after BP Energía México was awarded pipeline transportation rights at an auction hosted earlier this year by CENAGAS, Mexico’s national center for natural gas control. BP Energía México has also executed a firm transport agreement with CENAGAS in addition to agreements with other transporters and local distribution companies in order to offer bundled services for delivery of natural gas. Delivery has begun across eight states – Nuevo Leon, Coahuila, San Luis Potosi, Veracruz, Mexico State, Guanajuato, Tamaulipas and Queretaro.

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The Economist

September 14, 2017

Global LNG giants turn to poor countries for new markets

WHEN it comes to liquefied natural gas (LNG), the supermajors have supersized appetites. The likes of Royal Dutch Shell, ExxonMobil and BP make discoveries described as “elephants”; their cost overruns alone can run into the tens of billions of dollars; and projects take the best part of a decade to complete. For years, the industry has demanded fixed, long-term contracts from their customers to justify the size of these megaprojects. The producers also have pretty big problems. They are in the midst of a vast expansion in Australia and elsewhere just as the shale revolution and the start of American LNG exports has brought an unexpected burst of gas onto markets, clobbering prices for the foreseeable future and forcing producers into concessions. Demand in rich countries such as Japan and much of western Europe appears to be in long-term decline.

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Bloomberg

September 19, 2017

Trump Warned Saudis Off Military Move on Qatar

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates considered military action in the early stages of their ongoing dispute with Qatar before Donald Trump called leaders of both countries and warned them to back off, according to two people familiar with the U.S. president’s discussions. The Saudis and Emiratis were looking at ways to remove the Qatari regime, which they accused of sponsoring terrorism and cozying up to Iran, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions were confidential. Trump told Saudi and U.A.E. leaders that any military action would trigger a crisis across the Middle East that would only benefit Iran, one of the people said. More recently, the Trump administration has quietly sent high-level messages to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. to try to defuse the quarrel.

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Harvard Courant

September 14, 2017

Thorson: End Relief For Self-Inflicted Natural Disasters

For decades, I’ve been cringing as the leaders of our petroleum industry, based in Texas, argued that climate change wasn’t occurring, and that the potential intensification of storms was statistical fiction. Then came the wettest storm on record that dropped an astonishing 52 inches of rain in places. This storm was literally off the charts because the charts based on past flood statistics no longer apply. Things are different. The atmosphere holds more moisture because it’s warmer — because we’ve warmed it. Having the oil mogul Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and Rick Perry as secretary of energy reveals how little American voters have learned. … But in the future, I suggest we reserve federal disaster relief for truly natural disasters, not to those of our own making.

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Investors Business Daily

September 14, 2017

Weinstein: Two Cheers For America’s Energy Infrastructure

Yes, about a half-million gallons of gasoline leaked from a dozen storage tanks in Houston, but these spills were along the ship channel far away from the city’s fresh water supply. Keep in mind that there are more than 4,500 storage tanks in the Houston area. So 99.7% of Houston’s storage tanks didn’t rupture. By contrast, Hurricane Katrina littered the coast with tens of thousands of drums, storage tanks, and other containers holding oil, chemicals, and other hazardous materials. This didn’t happen with Harvey. … The untold story is that after Hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Ike the energy industry spent billions upgrading their facilities along the Gulf Coast so they could withstand future catastrophic storms. With huge investments in new chemical plants, refinery expansions, industrial facilities and export terminals currently underway in Texas and Louisiana, even more resources will be expended by industry and public entities to protect this infrastructure, so critical to America’s economic prosperity, from future natural disasters.

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Politico

September 19, 2017

Trump says U.S. prepared to take further action in Venezuela

President Donald Trump said Monday that the “growing crisis” in Venezuela was unacceptable and that the U.S. was ready to take further action to ensure democracy was restored in the Latin American nation. “The Venezuelan people are starving. … ” Trump said, speaking at a dinner with leaders from the region on the sideline of the U.N. General Assembly in New York. “The country is collapsing, their democratic institutions are being destroyed.” Trump called the situation “totally unacceptable.” The president laid blame at the feet of Venezuela’s leader, Nicolas Maduro, who he said was propelling the nation’s collapse and destroying its democratic pillars. He said the United States had to “take important steps to hold the regime accountable.”

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Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 19, 2017

What happens when the coal and nuclear plants close?

When future policy makers go back and study the U.S. energy industry in the 2010s, one of the defining trends will be the sudden decline of coal and nuclear plants. Whether this is the beginning of a great new era of American energy or a disaster in the making is the subject of much debate. And now add another voice to the mix, as the research firm IHS Markit warned in a report released Tuesday that the shift away from coal and nuclear is likely to leave the U.S. grid overly reliant on natural gas and renewable forms of energy and prone to more expensive and volatile electricity prices than we currently enjoy. .. The report is funded by the trade groups U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Edison Electric Institute and the Nuclear Energy Institute – groups that have a lot at stake in what the power grid becomes in the decades ahead.

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Bloomberg

September 15, 2017

India’s Biggest Electricity Producer Almost Triples Gas Use

NTPC Ltd., India’s biggest electricity producer, has boosted natural gas-fired generation as a drop in hydropower, nuclear and wind energy increases demand for thermal power, according to company officials with knowledge of the situation. Plant utilization at NTPC’s gas-fired stations has almost tripled to 60 percent in the past three to four days, said the officials, who asked not to be identified, citing company policy. That compares with an average plant utilization of about 24 percent for NTPC’s gas-fired stations in the three months ended June, when summer demand peaks. To meet the sudden increase in demand, NTPC is buying about 10 million cubic meters re-gasified liquefied natural gas daily from the state-run gas distributor, GAIL India Ltd., on a spot basis, the people said. GAIL imports the fuel as liquefied natural gas.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Bloomberg

September 19, 2017

Clean Energy Is Approaching a Tipping Point

The cost of renewables is plunging faster than forecasters anticipated just a few years ago as as technologies like gigantic wind turbines arrive on the market. That’s the conclusion of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, whose founder Michael Liebreich estimated that clean energy will reap 86 percent of the $10.2 trillion likely to be invested in power generation by 2040. In a presentation to the research group’s conference in London on Tuesday, Liebreich said technology that’s slashing the costs of wind and solar farms makes it inevitable that clean energy will become more economical than fossil fuels for utilities in many places.

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The Guardian

September 14, 2017

The entrepreneurs turning carbon dioxide into fuels

In an industrial greenhouse about 30km from Zurich, plump aubergines and juicy cherry tomatoes are ripening to perfection. Growing Mediterranean crops in Switzerland would traditionally be energy intensive but these vegetables are very nearly carbon-neutral. The greenhouse uses waste energy from a nearby refuse plant, and carbon dioxide from the world’s first commercial direct air capture plant. The facility, designed by Zurich-based start-up Climeworks, pumps the gas into greenhouses to boost the plants’ photosynthesis and increase their yield, it hopes, by up to 20%. Climeworks says it will extract around 900 tonnes of CO2 a year from the air. The company’s end game is not plumper tomatoes but something far more ambitious – proving that carbon dioxide can be recycled from the atmosphere and turned into something useful. If this installation is a success, Climeworks wants to sell its concentrated carbon dioxide to companies producing carbon-neutral hydrocarbon fuels.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 16, 2017

Self-driving boats: The next tech transportation race

Self-driving cars may not hit the road in earnest for many years — but autonomous boats could be just around the pier. Spurred in part by the car industry’s race to build driverless vehicles, marine innovators are building automated ferry boats for Amsterdam canals, cargo ships that can steer themselves through Norwegian fjords and remote-controlled ships to carry containers across the Atlantic and Pacific. The first such autonomous ships could be in operation within three years.

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Reuters

September 14, 2017

With high-performance cells, China takes aim at high-end solar market

China, blighted by pollution and long known for churning out cheap manufactured goods, is looking to dominate the high-end of a major growth market: solar power. Under a new program, China is pushing the industry to mass market high-performance solar cells so far used mainly in high-tech products like satellites. Making these cells more affordable will likely further boost a sector that has already disrupted global electricity generation. It will also put pressure on international solar cell makers such as Canadian Solar, REC Solar, Sharp and Sunpower which compete with Chinese leaders including LONGi Green Energy Technology, Trina Solar and JA Solar Holdings.

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North American Windpower

September 15, 2017

Survey: What’s Driving Corporate Renewables Purchases?

Apex Clean Energy and GreenBiz Group have released a new report highlighting the current drivers and barriers to the corporate and industrial procurement of renewable energy. The research, conducted in August, shows that while the continually improving economics of utility-scale wind and solar are helping convert corporate commitments into a decision to buy, companies are determining their own definition of value in the procurement process. Thus, according to the report, the cheapest option is not necessarily the best strategic fit. … More than 150 respondents from companies with annual revenues of greater than $250 million participated in the 2017 “State of Renewable Energy Procurement” survey. In addition, 12 in-depth, one-on-one interviews were conducted with executives from companies helping lead the maturation of the direct renewable energy procurement market.

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 16, 2017

Falkenberg: As support for Ike Dike grows, we still need stubborn boosters

It’s been a long, hard slog for Bill Merrell since he first proposed the concept of an “Ike Dike” nine years ago. At times, the Texas A&M oceanographer probably could have used his own dike of sorts to keep all the dismissiveness at bay. Merrell’s fight isn’t over just because political leaders in the weeks after Harvey are calling for action on his concept, but he says it’s heartening to finally see progress. His plan, a “coastal spine” composed of a system of floating gates, is intended to protect Galveston Bay and much of the Houston region from a killer wall of water known as a surge that could accompany a direct-hit monster storm. “The parade is forming,” the 74-year-old professor said in an interview last week as he sat in a maroon swivel chair in his office overlooking the Galveston channel.

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Associated Press

September 19, 2017

Nominee for EPA chemical safety post has deep industry ties

President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee chemical safety at the Environmental Protection Agency has for years accepted payments for criticizing studies that raised concerns about the safety of his clients’ products, according to a review of financial records and his published work by The Associated Press. Michael L. Dourson’s nomination as head of EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention was to be considered by a Senate committee Wednesday, but was postponed when the Senate adjourned early for the week. If confirmed, ethics experts said, Dourson’s past writings and the money paid to him and a nonprofit he founded could represent potential conflicts of interest. Past corporate clients of Dourson and of a research group he ran include Dow Chemical Co., Koch Industries Inc. and Chevron Corp.

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Dallas Morning News

September 19, 2017

Meet the Dallas urban planner behind Texas’ pursuit of the hyperloop

Flat geography. A booming population. And a business-friendly environment. Those are just three reasons why Dallas urban planner Steven Duong says Texas is an ideal place for the hyperloop, a futuristic mode of travel that would use levitating pods to shuttle people and goods across hundreds of miles in minutes. Duong is a senior urban designer for the Dallas office of AECOM, a Fortune 500 engineering, design and construction company. He led the Texas proposal that made it onto the short list of possible routes for Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles company that wants to have at least one operational route somewhere in the world by 2021. Now, the hyperloop company will explore other factors, such as economic conditions and customer demand.

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Texas Tribune

September 19, 2017

Railroad commissioner to chair: “This isn’t a dictatorship” (video)

In a livestreamed Tuesday meeting, Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton and the board’s chair, Christi Craddick, sparred over questions about the fate of the agency’s executive director, Kimberly Corley. Sitton accused Craddick of trying to oust Corely, who has been in her post since late 2015, without consulting the commission’s two other members. “This isn’t a dictatorship,” he told Craddick at one point.

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New York Times

September 15, 2017

O’Sullivan: How Trump Can Harness the U.S. Energy Boom

The new energy abundance in the United States has given President Trump a historic opportunity not just to expand the country’s economy at home, but also to expand its leadership globally. To maximize this opportunity, he should think about energy as more than a driver of economic growth, overcome the powerful political forces favoring isolationism and retrenchment, and rein in his tendency to alienate countries that should be energy allies of the United States. The embrace of new technologies to extract oil and natural gas at an unprecedented rate has transformed one of America’s enduring vulnerabilities into a strategic asset. Thanks largely to fracking — hydraulic fracturing of rock — the United States is now the largest producer of oil and gas combined in the world.

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Washington Post

September 15, 2017

Trump administration working toward renewed drilling in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

The Trump administration is quietly moving to allow energy exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the first time in more than 30 years, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post, with a draft rule that would lay the groundwork for drilling. Congress has sole authority to determine whether oil and gas drilling can take place within the refuge’s 19.6 million acres. But seismic studies represent a necessary first step, and Interior Department officials are modifying a 1980s regulation to permit them. The effort represents a twist in a political fight that has raged for decades. The remote and vast habitat, which serves as the main calving ground for one of North America’s last large caribou herds and a stop for migrating birds from six continents, has served as a rallying cry for environmentalists and some of Alaska’s native tribes.

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Wall St. Journal

September 17, 2017

Trump Administration to Brief Officials on Emissions Goals

President Donald Trump’s top economic adviser is expected to outline the administration’s proposals to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions while restating that its stance on the Paris climate accord has not changed, White House officials said, following signals over the weekend that the U.S. was exploring ways to remain in the 2015 pact. White House economic chief Gary Cohn’s planned breakfast discussion on energy and climate matters in New York follows a similar meeting led by Canada, China and the European Union in Montreal on Saturday, when U.S. officials broached revising Washington’s goals under the Paris accord to avoid pulling out of it, according to officials at the event.

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The Hill

September 17, 2017

Tillerson: Trump open to Paris climate deal ‘under the right conditions’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday suggested President Trump would be open to remaining in the Paris climate deal under the right conditions. “I think under the right conditions, the president said he’s open to finding those conditions where we can remain engaged with others on what we all agree is still a challenging issue,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Tillerson was asked about a report that the Trump administration is no longer looking to withdraw from the agreement, although Trump announced in June the U.S. would withdraw.

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Washington Post

September 19, 2017

The Energy 202: FERC is up and running again. That means Trump gets more of the pipelines he wants.

Leaders of blue states such as New York and California have positioned themselves as bulwarks against Trump administration efforts to roll back environmental regulations. Where the federal government steps away, these governors say, states will step in. After President Trump announced he would pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, for example, New York’s Democratic governor, Andrew Cuomo, recommitted his state to fulfilling its emissions-cutting share of the Paris deal after what Cuomo called “the White House’s reckless decision.” But governors like Cuomo are learning that state power has its limits.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 19, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

September 18, 2017

Far From the Texas Coast, Hurricane Harvey Hits Oil Refiners

Harvey knocked out almost one-quarter of U.S. refining capacity in late August, sending gasoline and diesel prices soaring. The storm hit a few weeks before most of the nation’s fuel makers were set to begin seasonal shutdowns. Demand usually slows at this time of year, so it’s a good time to make repairs and install new equipment at plants that typically run all day every day. But at least 13 refineries from Louisiana to Montana with a combined 3.27 million barrels a day have delayed maintenance for weeks or months, according to company statements and people familiar with the situations. Some are churning out more fuel to take advantage of strong margins, while others simply don’t have the personnel because workers were dispatched to help repair and restart storm-hit facilities along the Gulf of Mexico. … The largest U.S. refinery, owned by Motiva Enterprises LLC in Port Arthur, Texas, is said to have pushed back maintenance on a crude unit to April from September, while Exxon Mobil Corp. said it delayed work at three refineries to divert workers to Texas, where it’s trying to restart its Beaumont and Baytown refineries.

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Houston Chronicle

September 16, 2017

Private air quality monitoring detects high levels of pollution following Harvey

As Hurricane Harvey barreled into Houston, the state shut down 50 stationary air quality monitors that track pollution levels to protect the sensitive devices from the high winds and torrential rains that swamped the region. The timing, while perhaps unavoidable, couldn’t have been worse. Over the week – longer in some neighborhoods – that the air monitors were out of commission, record floods triggered spills from refineries, chemical plants, pipelines and storage tanks that released volatile chemicals into the air. The extent of exposure to these pollutants, some known to cause cancer, may never be known, but since the skies cleared and floods receded, a small corps of private air monitors have spread out into the neighborhoods near the spills and found that emissions likely reached dangerous levels – in some cases more dangerous than environmental regulators initially acknowledged. On Aug. 27, for example, Valero Energy said a collapsed roof at its East Houston refinery led to a small release of cancer-causing chemical benzene, a particularly dangerous and volatile component of oil and gasoline that evaporates quickly.

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San Antonio Express News

September 18, 2017

Kansas company sues former FourWinds CEO Bates

Legal troubles continue to dog Stan Bates, who next month is scheduled to stand trial with State Sen. Carlos Uresti on criminal fraud charges relating to a bankrupt oil field services company. Bates and his latest venture, Bates Energy Oil & Gas, are accused by a Kansas company of backing out of a deal to lease 170 rail cars to transport frac sand — used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to produce oil and gas. On May 18, the day after Bates and Uresti were arrested for their involvement in defunct frac sand company FourWinds Logistics, Bates informed Caldwell-Baker Co. of Gardner, Kansas that he was scrubbing the deal for the rail cars.

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Bloomberg

September 18, 2017

Little-Known Lender’s Stand Threatens a $29 Billion Solar Market

A little-known Wall Street lender with a background financing dump trucks and helicopters is bankrolling a trade case that’s threatening the $29 billion U.S. solar industry. SQN Capital Management typically finances and leases crucial, if prosaic, business equipment: think cement mixers, office furniture, honey-production machines, farm equipment. A $50 million loan to Suniva Inc. was one of its biggest ever, and when that loan went south with Suniva’s April bankruptcy filing, SQN joined the Georgia-based solar manufacturer’s improbable plan: ask President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on cheap imports from Asia. … The move required filing a complaint under a U.S. trade law that hasn’t been successfully invoked since George W. Bush was president. SQN extended Suniva a $4 million credit line, setting in motion a case that’s scheduled for a U.S. International Trade Commission decision Friday.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 19, 2017

Oil stable on lower Saudi exports, but rising US shale output caps market

Oil markets were stable on Tuesday, supported by a fall in Saudi Arabian crude exports but capped by an expected rise in U.S. shale output. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $50.00 per barrel at 0043 GMT, 9 cents, or 0.2 percent, above their last settlement. WTI has been loitering around $50 per barrel since late last week, supported by rising demand from the restart of many refineries knocked out by Hurricane Harvey, but prevented from breaking away from that level by rising U.S. crude output.

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Bloomberg

September 19, 2017

Hedge Funds Bet on Fuels Over Crude as Storm Trade Persists

The post-Harvey buzz over fuels is making U.S. crude look like the poor stepchild of hedge funds. Since the storm battered the heart of America’s refining industry last month, bets on rising gasoline and diesel prices have surged for three straight weeks to the most bullish in years. But when it comes to West Texas Intermediate crude, skepticism is prevailing. It all boils down to where the supply glut is. While U.S. fuel stockpiles have plummeted — with a record draw from gasoline storage tanks — oil inventories rose as crude-processing plants in Texas struggled to get back on their feet. That’s prevented WTI from closing above $50 a barrel even though last week was the best for the U.S. benchmark since July.

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Bloomberg

September 18, 2017

Big Oil Becomes Greener With Progress in Cutting Pollution

It’s no secret that oil majors are among the biggest corporate emitters of pollution. What may be surprising is that they’re reducing their greenhouse-gas footprints every year, actively participating in a trend that’s swept up most corporate behemoths. Sixty-two of the world’s 100 largest companies consistently cut their emissions on an annual basis between 2010 and 2015, with an overall 12 percent decline during that period, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance released ahead of its conference in London on Monday. The findings suggest the most polluting industries had started fighting climate change before President Donald Trump took office and signaled he’d back out of U.S. participation in the Paris accord on limiting fossil fuel emissions. Now, as European officials say the White House may water down its commitment to Paris instead of scrapping the deal, the BNEF report suggests industry is scaling back the emissions.

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Platts

September 15, 2017

Eagle Ford Shale’s big operators getting output back to pre-Harvey levels

Three weeks after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the lower Texas coast and caused widespread production shut-ins, although little actual damage, in the Eagle Ford Shale play, several big upstream operators say they are at or nearly at pre-storm levels. Devon Energy said Friday its production is at pre-storm levels in the South Texas play. The Oklahoma City-based company produced 63,000 b/d of oil equivalent in the second quarter, including 36,000 b/d of crude oil and 96,000 Mcf/d of natural gas. … According to one reported estimate by IHS Markit, at one point a third of the Eagle Ford’s 1.254 million b/d of August crude oil production and 4.835 Bcf/d of gas output — figures projected by Platts Analytics — was shut in. Platts now estimates September Eagle Ford production at 1.273 million b/d of oil and 4.896 Bcf/d of natural gas. On Thursday, SM Energy said its Eagle Ford production had also returned to pre-storm levels. The company produced 88,000 b/d of oil equivalent in the Eagle Ford in the second quarter.

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CNBC

September 18, 2017

US shale oil growth to slow in October as Harvey takes a toll, Department of Energy reports

Surging production from U.S. shale fields is set to moderate next month, the Department of Energy’s information arm forecast on Monday. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projected crude oil output from several shale oil- and gas-producing regions will grow by 79,000 barrels a day in October. That marked the first time in seven months EIA’s growth forecast came in below 100,000 barrels a day. Total production for October is set to reach 6.08 million barrels a day, according to EIA. Production from the Eagle Ford, a prolific oil-producing region in Texas, was revised down due in part to impacts from Hurricane Harvey. The storm forced some drillers to idle rigs last month as the devastating storm approached southeastern Texas.

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Forbes

September 13, 2017

O’Brien: Lawyers Return With Lawsuit Blaming Earthquakes In Oklahoma On Fracking

A lawsuit that blames the fracking industry for increased earthquake activity in Oklahoma is back. Class action attorneys who are targeting a group of natural gas companies will now ask a federal court to send the case back to the state court in which it was filed. It was because their previous case would have been heard in federal court that they dropped it more than a year ago. “By disposing of fracking wastewater deep into the earth, Defendants introduced contaminants into the natural environment that caused an adverse change to it in the form of unnatural seismic activity,” says the second complaint of Lisa Griggs and April Marler, filed in August in Logan County District Court.

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Platts

September 15, 2017

US Haynesville gas production hits 4-year high

Natural gas producers in the US Southeast are beginning to yield dividends from a bid to reverse declining production in one of the region’s seemingly forgotten shale plays. Recent data from the Haynesville of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas show production there at its highest since mid-2013. As output continues to rebound from a record low in August 2016, production from the Haynesville is already up by nearly 15%, Platts Analytics data shows. That spectacular turnaround comes amid a rapid expansion in drilling activity which has rivaled that of even the Utica or the Marcellus. In just 12 months, rig count in the Haynesville has more than tripled.

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Houston Chronicle

September 14, 2017

Harvey had minimal impact on depth of Houston Ship Channel

Mud and silt washed into the Houston Ship Channel during Hurricane Harvey did not make the waterway significantly shallower, a Coast Guard official said Thursday. The ship channel can usually accommodate vessels with draft of 45 feet. The portion of the ship channel just below Bayport is accepting vessels with a draft of 42 feet. The official said that is the most significant draft restriction throughout the ship channel. Galveston and Texas City don’t have draft restrictions, and dredging is occurring to restore other sections of the ship channel to typical operating depth.

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San Antonio Express News

September 18, 2017

Texas Power Brokers: Abraxas CEO Watson from football field to oil field

When San Antonio-based Abraxas Petroleum Corp. suspended work in all its oil fields at the height of the most recent bust, CEO Bob Watson admitted he was “kind of bored.” Oil was coming off of its $26-per-barrel low in early 2016, and the industry was reeling. It was the first time in years that Watson, who founded publicly traded Abraxas in 1977, didn’t have a drilling rig at work. Times have turned around for the oil business. Everyone is busier, Watson included, and oil is hovering around $50 per barrel. Last week, there were 936 drilling rigs at work in the U.S., up 430 from the same week in 2016, according to service company Baker Hughes.

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San Antonio Business Journal

September 18, 2017

Lone Star State tops the rankings for best business climate by a Texas-sized margin

Texas ranks No. 1 in the U.S. for best business climate, according to a new survey of corporate executives released today at the International Economic Development Council’s annual conference in Toronto. The survey, conducted every three years by the Development Counsellors International, tracks trends in economic development and for the first time this year also includes findings about how the current political climate is impacting business perceptions. It’s called the “Winning Strategies in Economic Development Marketing” survey.

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Houston Chronicle

September 15, 2017

BP among energy firms wrestling with fallout from Harvey

By the time the storm lifted, floodwaters nearly crested over the top of the turnstiles in the lobby of BP’s main office tower in Houston. Water filled the basement and brought down the electrical systems. Contract workers had to pile thousands of sandbags around the 949,000-square-foot building before they could begin pumping out the rushing water. Two weeks after one of the costliest storms in U.S. history moved out of the Houston area, BP executives don’t know the full extent of the damage. But they do know this: Their Westlake One office in Houston’s Energy Corridor won’t reopen until early 2018 and more than 2,000 of the British oil major’s 5,500 local employees will work from home as the company makes repairs.

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Upstream Online

September 18, 2017

Democratising the science of multiphase flow modelling

The PipeFractionalFlow programme includes a component called Leak Signatures that monitors pressure in the pipeline at different stations and compares those numbers with the expected, or predicted, pressure signature. “It’s not enough to find out you have a leak. You need to know approximately where your leak is occurring and how big the leak is,” Nagoo says. In one hilly-terrain wet gas pipeline case history, he says, the software was used to detect the location and change of magnitude of different leaks on a 24.5-inch diameter, 21.5-mile long Middle Eastern hydrocarbon dew point pipeline, sourced from the American Gas Association (AGA) Project PR-148-110. In simulating a high leak rate of 800 MMscfd and a low leak rate of 200 MMscfd, the programme determined the distinct leak pressure signatures that would occur at different locations in the pipeline.

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Raleigh News & Observer

September 16, 2017

Hurricanes increase demand for North Dakota oil

North Dakota Bakken sweet crude oil is seeing increased demand and is temporarily priced at a premium due to recent hurricanes that hit Texas and Florida. North Dakota Pipeline Authority director Justin Kringstad says refineries on the Gulf Coast are trying to make up for shortages of gasoline and diesel fuel. He says Bakken runs well through refineries to maximize the yield, and the price of Bakken oil should stay up “in the near term” before going back down.

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Utilities Stories

Bloomberg

September 18, 2017

Garbage From Irma Will Fuel Florida’s Power Grid

When it comes to garbage, geography is destiny. Look at Texas and Florida, recovering from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Homeowners and businesses not incapacitated by the storm have begun the arduous and emotional work of separating destroyed possessions and materials by type and placing them curbside. Cities have begun the intimidating logistics of picking it up and transporting it to its final destination. And what is that destination? Texas’s waste-disposal strategy takes advantage of the state’s vast land. Harris County alone, which includes Houston, has 14 active landfills. Florida, by contrast, is a peninsula with a longer coastline than any state other than Alaska, and much less room for trash. Many coastal Florida counties burn theirs, with waste incinerators particularly common around the state’s populous southern lip and up the Gulf Coast. It’s a two-fer. Combustion reduces the solid waste to ash, and the heat that’s produced runs steam generators. Much of the waste left in Irma’s path will burn, the energy released adding to local communities’ electricity.

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Midwest Energy News

September 18, 2017

Q&A: Going beyond decoupling to drive utility investments in energy efficiency

Clean energy advocates, utilities and policymakers frequently tout the benefits of energy efficiency and demand-side management. But driving utilities to invest in such programs at a meaningful scale is not easy in a marketplace where profits are still often largely driven by volume of sales. Doug Lewin is vice president of regulatory affairs and market development for CLEAResult, an Austin, Texas-based company that helps utilities nationwide design and implement these demand-side management programs. Lewin was also the founding executive director of the South-central Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource (SPEER), which was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as the regional energy efficiency organization for Texas and Oklahoma. Lewin also worked at the Texas legislature for five years on clean energy issues. Midwest Energy News talked with Lewin about how utilities and policymakers are dealing with the expanding frontier of energy efficiency and demand-side management, including in states like Illinois and Michigan, and Lewin’s recent paper on the issue.

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Phys Org

September 18, 2017

New approach boosts performance in thermoelectric materials

Thermoelectric materials are considered a key resource for the future – able to produce electricity from sources of heat that would otherwise go to waste, from power plants, vehicle tailpipes and elsewhere, without generating additional greenhouse gases. Although a number of materials with thermoelectric properties have been discovered, most produce too little power for practical applications. A team of researchers – from universities across the United States and China, as well as Oak Ridge National Laboratory – is reporting a new mechanism to boost performance through higher carrier mobility, increasing how quickly charge-carrying electrons can move across the material. The work, reported this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, focused on a recently discovered n-type magnesium-antimony material with a relatively high thermoelectric figure of merit, but lead author Zhifeng Ren said the concept could also apply to other materials.

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Utility Dive

September 14, 2017

Utilities see benefits in energy storage, even without mandates

The fact that California’s three investor-owned utilities were at the top of the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s recent rankings is not surprising, but the presence of utilities in Indiana and Ohio is notable. California has been a leader in energy storage, with a 2010 law that requires the state’s IOUs to procure 1.3 GW of storage capacity by 2020 and then a 2016 law requiring each IOU to procure another 166 MW of storage. There has been no similar legislative push in either Indiana or Ohio and yet Indianapolis Power & Light and Duke Energy Ohio were third and fifth, respectively, in SEPA’s rankings of utilities that connected the most energy storage to their systems in 2016. IPL installed 20 MW in 2016, and 16 MW were connected to Duke Energy Ohio last year.

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Miami New Times

September 14, 2017

Why Didn’t FPL Do More to Prepare for Irma?

Four days after Irma, millions of Floridians are still stuck without power in the sweltering summer heat. Those outages have now killed eight elderly people trapped in a Hollywood nursing home without air conditioning, due to circumstances that FPL was warned about at least two days before the tragedy. … But many Floridians wonder if the large number of residents without power and flubbed website are just the latest signs that the company has spent way too much on lobbying and government affairs and not nearly enough on hurricane-proofing the power grids it maintains in some of the most storm-prone areas of the world. FPL and its parent company, NextEra Energy, have for years heavily influenced state and local politics through donations, making billions in profits each year ($1.7 billion alone in 2016) thanks to favorable state laws that are sometimes literally written by the power company’s own lobbyists.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Green Biz

September 18, 2017

Anheuser-Busch, Kimberly-Clark amp up wind power commitments

For a gut check on the complexity — and the opportunity — for companies interested in buying renewable energy, ponder this: Brewer Anheuser-Busch evaluated 75 projects and held talks with 15 possible partners before signing its massive power purchase agreement disclosed last week for an Oklahoma wind farm owned by Enel Green Power. The deal will cover about 50 percent of the power used by Anheuser-Busch’s operations across North America, according to top executives from both companies. Meanwhile, personal care products company Kimberly-Clark has orchestrated arrangements with the developers of two projects, one in Oklahoma and one in Texas, that together represent about one-third of electricity used by its North American manufacturing operations for brands such as Kleenex and Huggies. The aggregate amount across the farms is 245 megawatts in capacity, or about 1 million megawatt-hours.

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Wall St. Journal

September 15, 2017

Solar Power Death Wish

Billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies haven’t made the U.S. solar industry competitive, and now two companies want to make it even less so. Suniva Inc., a bankrupt solar-panel maker, and German-owned SolarWorld Americas have petitioned the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to impose tariffs on foreign-made crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells. Solar cells in the U.S. sell for around 27 cents a watt. The petitioners want to add a new duty of 40 cents a watt. They also want a floor price for imported panels of 78 cents a watt versus the market price of 37 cents. In other words, they want the government to double the cost of the main component used in the U.S. solar industry. Solar electricity prices could rise by some 30% if the ITC says they’ve been injured by foreign competition—a decision is due by Sept. 22—and the Trump Administration goes along with the tariff request.

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Fast Company

September 13, 2017

During Irma’s Power Outages, Some Houses Kept The Lights On With Solar And Batteries

When Hurricane Irma blew out a transformer on his block in Orlando on the night of September 10, Andy Green–like most of the people on his street, and millions of people throughout Florida–lost power from the grid. But Green, who installed Tesla’s Powerwall home battery storage in early August, kept his lights on. “We didn’t have full power–we couldn’t have the whole house running–but we cut it down to the bare minimum, like air conditioning, refrigeration, internet, that sort of thing,” says Green. Though power is still out in parts of Orlando, electricity on his block came back from the grid 21 hours later. While it was off, Green’s Powerwall, connected to the solar panels on his roof, kept going. When the clouds parted the next day, the battery started recharging.

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The Conversation

September 13, 2017

How solar power can protect the US military from threats to the electric grid

As the U.S. military increases its use of drones in surveillance and combat overseas, the danger posed by a threat back at home grows. Many drone flights are piloted by soldiers located in the U.S., even when the drones are flying over Yemen or Iraq or Syria. Those pilots and their control systems depend on the American electricity grid – large, complex, interconnected and very vulnerable to attack. Without electricity from civilian power plants, the most advanced military in world history could be crippled. The U.S. Department of Energy has begged for new authority to defend against weaknesses in the grid in a nearly 500-page comprehensive study issued in January 2017 warning that it’s only a matter of time before the grid fails, due to disaster or attack.

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 15, 2017

Hurricanes show need to shore up nation’s energy systems, Perry says

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the damage reaped by hurricanes Harvey and Irma on power lines, pipelines and other components of the nation’s energy system necessitate greater investment in shoring up those assets against storms. “As round-the-clock efforts continue to help communities recover from the devastation of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the need to continue strengthening and improving our electricity delivery system to withstand and recover from disruptions has become even more compelling,” Perry said in a statement. Nearly 7 million customers in Florida and neighboring states lost power as did some 120,000 customers of the Houston utility CenterPoint.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 18, 2017

UT System regents commit up to $4.5M for a bid to run Los Alamos

The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Monday authorized spending up to $4.5 million to prepare a bid to operate Los Alamos National Laboratory, a key part of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex. The UT System board also elected Regent Sara Martinez Tucker to chair the board, which oversees 14 academic and health campuses. She succeeds Paul Foster, who has led the board through a sometimes-fractious four years. The spending vote was not a surprise, as the board encouraged its staff last month to explore development of a bid. The regents still would have to vote again before submitting a proposal to the federal government to operate Los Alamos, which is tucked into the mountains of northern New Mexico.

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KHOU

September 18, 2017

Harvey Recovery Czar Faces Limits To ‘Future-Proofing’ Texas

The man tasked with overseeing Texas’ Hurricane Harvey rebuilding efforts sees his job as “future-proofing” before the next disaster, but he isn’t empowered on his own to reshape flood-prone Houston or the state’s vulnerable coastline, which has been walloped by three major hurricanes since 2006. Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp will face the same political and bureaucratic challenges that have long stalled meaningful improvements in storm protections, and some doubt that even Harvey’s record flooding and huge price tag will bring about real change. … Sharp, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, follows a line of fix-it men charged with picking up the pieces following major storms in recent years, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

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Associated Press

September 18, 2017

Regulators Take Step to Ban Fracking Near Delaware River

A commission that oversees drinking water quality for 15 million people took an initial step Wednesday to permanently ban drilling and hydraulic fracturing near the Delaware River and its tributaries, drawing criticism from the natural gas industry as well as from environmental groups worried that regulators would still allow the disposal of toxic drilling wastewater inside the area. The Delaware River Basin Commission voted 3-1, with one abstention, to begin the lengthy process of enacting a formal ban on drilling and fracking, the technique that’s spurred a U.S. production boom in shale gas and oil. Besides other locales, the watershed supplies Philadelphia and half of New York City with drinking water. The resolution approved by the commission says that fracking “presents risks, vulnerabilities and impacts to surface and ground water resources across the country,” and directs the staff to draft regulations to ban it.

The article appeared in US News

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Newburgh Gazette (IL)

September 15, 2017

US EPA postpones power plant effluent guidelines

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators will reconsider portions of an Obama administration rule regulating coal ash, a byproduct of fossil fuel-fired power plants. In 2015 the Obama administration developed new limits on metals including lead, mercury, and arsenic in coal-fired plants’ wastewater, set to go into effect in 2018. But the former Oklahoma attorney general also has stated his concerns about the financial health of the coal industry and his desire to help coal companies recover from their long period of decline. This is especially relevant when considering the massive flood devastation by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and the numerous coal ash pits in both Florida and Texas.

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Bloomberg

September 17, 2017

Superpower India to Replace China as Growth Engine

India is poised to emerge as an economic superpower, driven in part by its young population, while China and the Asian Tigers age rapidly, according to Deloitte LLP. The number of people aged 65 and over in Asia will climb from 365 million today to more than half a billion in 2027, accounting for 60 percent of that age group globally by 2030, Deloitte said in a report Monday. In contrast, India will drive the third great wave of Asia’s growth – following Japan and China — with a potential workforce set to climb from 885 million to 1.08 billion people in the next 20 years and hold above that for half a century. “India will account for more than half of the increase in Asia’s workforce in the coming decade, but this isn’t just a story of more workers: these new workers will be much better trained and educated than the existing Indian workforce,’’ said Anis Chakravarty, economist at Deloitte India.

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 Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 18, 2017
Lead Stories

Wall St. Journal

September 18, 2017

Hurricanes Stir Up Profits for Refiners

U.S. fuel prices are poised to remain elevated for the rest of the year in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, costing consumers billions but providing a profit boost to some refining companies. Harvey knocked out 25% of the nation’s fuel-making capacity at the height of the storm’s flooding in Texas. More than 12% is still shut, with three plants idle and 11 struggling to resume operations. A week later, Irma compounded fuel shortages in the Southeast, as millions of people fled in a mass evacuation that emptied gasoline stations. A record amount of fuel was pumped out of storage tanks in the week ended Sept. 8, according to federal data, to keep East Coast gas pumps working. It was the largest one-week drawdown in U.S. gasoline stockpiles since 1990.

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Bloomberg

September 15, 2017

Forget Oil, Water Is New Ticket for Pipeline Growth in Texas

The torrent of dirty water coming out of almost every American oil well is the next big bet for a former fund manager for billionaire Paul Allen. Getting rid of wastewater from onshore wells has become an increasingly costly problem for oil producers as U.S. crude output surged in recent years, especially in the new shale fields from Texas to North Dakota. Drillers typically get about seven barrels of water for every one of oil, and some struggle to deal with the overflow that is mostly sent by truck to disposal sites miles away. David Capobianco, a former managing director for Allen’s Vulcan Capital, is trying to change that by building pipelines to get wastewater out. His newly formed WaterBridge Resources LLC aims to be a water-management company for oilfields. The firm is considering a public share listing within a year to 18 months, taking advantage of a U.S. shale boom that the government expects will boost crude production close to 10 million barrels a day next year.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 15, 2017

Hurricane Harvey’s pollution toll on air, water slowly comes into focus

Fifty-five refineries and petrochemical plants in the Houston, Corpus Christi and Beaumont areas collectively emitted 5.8 million pounds of benzene, ammonia and other pollutants to the air in connection with Hurricane Harvey, according to reports filed by the companies with state regulators. In addition, more than 560,000 gallons of crude oil, gasoline, saltwater and other contaminants spilled from wells, pipelines and storage tanks into coastal or inland waters, including the Colorado River southeast of Austin in Fayette County. Meanwhile, 19 public drinking water systems serving 14,000 people remain inoperable and 77 other systems have warned consumers to boil tap water before drinking it, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Thirty-one sewage treatment systems are inoperable, with some treatment plants needing to be rebuilt from the ground up.

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Texas Observer

September 14, 2017

‘Los Zetas Inc.’ Author on Why Mexico’s Drug War Isn’t About Drugs

In her compelling new book Los Zetas Inc., Correa-Cabrera follows the rise of the Zetas, Mexico’s first paramilitary cartel, and the government’s military response. Authorities responded to the Zetas by unleashing thousands of soldiers into the streets, which only spurred greater acts of violence. Correa-Cabrera, an associate professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University, spent seven years researching and conducting interviews for the book in some of the most dangerous regions of the country, including Tamaulipas and Veracruz. Correa-Cabrera looks at organized crime from an economic perspective and argues that the term “drug cartel” is outmoded: The Zetas and groups like them have morphed into transnational corporations with interests in everything from coal mining and the extraction of oil and gas to cornering the market on avocados. Los Zetas Inc. also asks: Who benefits from the chaos of the drug war?

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 18, 2017

Oil markets firm on rising refinery demand, falling US rig count

Oil prices dipped early on Monday but remained near multi-month highs reached late last week as the count of U.S. rigs drilling for new production fell and refineries continued to start up after having been knocked out by Hurricane Harvey. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $49.83 barrel at 0021 GMT, 6 cents below their last settlement, but still close to the more than three month high of over $50 per barrel briefly reached late last week. Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the United States, were at $55.58 a barrel, down 4 cents but still not far off the almost five-month high of $55.99 from late last week.

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Longview News Journal

September 15, 2017

Rig count dwindles again as oil holds close to 5-month highs

The number of U.S. rigs exploring for oil and natural gas fell again this week as oil prices continued to rally to near five-month highs. In its weekly report Friday, Baker Hughes Inc. said the combined total of rigs at work was down eight to 936. Though still up significantly from a year ago, the pace of increase slowed in the second quarter and have reversed in the third as concerns about oversupply weighed on prices. Baker Hughes data showed the oil rig count decreased by seven this week to 749, while the natural gas rig count fell by one to 186.

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Reuters

September 15, 2017

Oil and chemical spills from Hurricane Harvey big, but dwarfed by Katrina

More than 22,000 barrels of oil, refined fuels and chemicals spilled at sites across Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, along with millions of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of tons of other toxic substances, a Reuters review of company reports to the U.S. Coast Guard shows. The spills, clustered around the heart of the U.S. oil industry, together rank among the worst environmental mishaps in the country in years, but fall far short of the roughly 190,000 barrels spilled in Louisiana in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina – the last major storm to take dead aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast.

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Houston Chronicle

September 15, 2017

Valero says benzene plume may have come from other plants

A toxic plume of cancer-causing benzene detected last week in East Houston’s Manchester neighborhood next to a Valero Energy oil refinery may not have originated from Valero after all, the company contended Friday. Some of the chemical compounds detected by the city aren’t present in Valero’s failed storage tank, the company said, although benzene was in the tank. The different compounds though indicate the plume may have come from somewhere else, Valero argued. Valero’s response comes a day after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said San Antonio-based Valero “significantly underestimated” the amount of benzene and other volatile compounds leaked from its Houston refinery during Hurricane Harvey’s torrential rains.

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Houston Chronicle

September 15, 2017

Koch Industries opens new Texas-to-Mexico fuel export route

A Koch Industries subsidiary said it’s opened a new fuel export route from Corpus Christi to Mexico without involving Mexico’s national oil company. Koch Supply & Trading, which is part of the Koch brothers private business empire, said it is making the first waterborne delivery of motor vehicle fuel into Mexico by private parties since the Mexican petroleum industry was nationalized nearly 80 years ago. The primary new route goes from Koch’s Flint Hills Resources refining system in Corpus Christi through the Port of Veracruz to a newly revamped terminal owned and operated by Dutch-based Royal Vopak, which obtained the first regulatory approval for an independent party to store and handle petroleum liquids in Mexico. However, Koch also can deliver from other U.S. ports to Veracruz.

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Upstream Online

September 15, 2017

Increased capacity in the Permian pipeline

Using drilling and completion techniques honed over the past decade, operators are significantly increasing oil and gas production in the Permian basin. The increased volumes are challenging the area’s carrying capacity and spurring a minor infrastructure building boom. After nearly a century of exploration and production, the US Permian basin still holds technically recoverable reserves of 20 billion barrels of oil, 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of hydrocarbon gas liquids according to a 2016 report from the US Geological Survey. That is largely due to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology, which increased output from the basin before a levelling off in the face of lower oil prices in 2015.

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Wall St. Journal

September 16, 2017

Trump Administration Seeks to Avoid Withdrawal From Paris Climate Accord, International Climate Officials Say

Trump administration officials said Saturday the U.S. wouldn’t pull out of the Paris Agreement, offering to re-engage in the international deal to fight climate change, according to multiple officials at a global warming summit. The U.S. position on reviewing the terms of its participation in the landmark accord came during a meeting of more than 30 ministers led by Canada, China and the European Union in Montreal. In June, President Donald Trump said the U.S. would withdraw from the deal unless it could find more favorable terms. U.S. officials in Montreal, led by White House senior adviser Everett Eissenstat, broached revising U.S. climate-change goals, two participants said, signaling a compromise that would keep the U.S. at the table even if it meant weakening the international effort.

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Wall St. Journal

September 17, 2017

How Traders Are Making Money as Oil Prices Go Nowhere

A placid oil market is emboldening traders to adopt strategies that reap modest gains on small price moves, while risking big losses in the event of larger ones. U.S. oil futures have spent much of 2017 in a range around $50 a barrel—their least-volatile period in three years. The stalemate reflects expectations that crude will be supported by production cuts by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and limited by the capacity of nimble U.S. shale producers to boost output when prices rise. U.S. crude settled flat Friday at $49.89. Many traders are adapting by pursuing what is known on Wall Street as a mean-reverting strategy, generally one that wagers prices will fall when oil is above a certain level and rise when it declines below a threshold.

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Associated Press

September 17, 2017

Strengthening Hurricane Maria a threat to Irma-hit Caribbean

The islands of the eastern Caribbean prepared Sunday to face another potential disaster, with forecasters saying newly formed and likely to strengthen Hurricane Maria was headed for a hit on the Leeward Islands by Monday night. Hurricane or tropical storm warnings were posted for many of the islands, including those already coping with the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, such as St. Barts and Antigua and Barbuda. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Maria was expected to gain power and could be near major hurricane strength while crossing through the Leeward Islands late Monday on a path aiming toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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Bloomberg

September 15, 2017

Two Weeks After Harvey, Cheniere Runs More Gas Than Ever

Two weeks after Hurricane Harvey flooded the U.S. Gulf Coast, brought shipping to a halt and knocked out power to millions, the only company sending U.S. shale gas overseas is back in business. In fact, Cheniere Energy Inc.’s flagship Sabine Pass terminal in Louisiana is liquefying more natural gas for export than ever. Cheniere fully restored operations at the complex this past weekend. And a few days after that, the company brought in and liquefied a record 3.1 billion cubic feet of gas, said Doug Shanda, senior vice president of operations. With another expansion nearing completion, the Houston-based company expects to extend that record this winter, he said in a phone interview Thursday.

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Texas Observer

September 15, 2017

The Largest Harvey-Related Oil Spill Went Unknown for Weeks

On August 31, floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey triggered an oil spill at a Magellan Midstream Partners facility near the Houston suburb Galena Park. According to the Houston Chronicle, when workers first noticed gasoline leaking from two fuel tanks, they evacuated the area, called 911, and notified federal and state agencies of the spill. A statement by Magellan on September 1 states that “clean-up work and inspections continue at the partnership’s Galena Park marine facility, but a restart timetable is not yet available,” but makes no mention of the size of the leak. An initial estimate of the amount of the spill was 1,000 barrels of oil. It wasn’t until weeks later, on September 5, that Magellan reported that was oil spill amount actually totaled 11,000 barrels, or 460,000 gallons, making it the largest Harvey-related oil spill.

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Huffington Post (HuffPost)

September 12, 2017

Neill: What Would A Redesigned Houston Look Like?

Houston is a city based on a 19th century paradigm of unlimited growth in the name of consumption enabled by fossil fuels; its identity has been formed by oil, chemicals, port operations, and other manifestations of the industrial revolution. Houston has grown exponentially with limited planning, regulation, and foresight, reveling in its freedom, a wildcat mentality that has made its citizens wealthy and made lives better. But that paradigm is now bankrupt, in that the consequences of its application outweigh the benefits. Houston was not concerned with these consequences of culture—the emissions from its refineries, the leaks from its networked pipelines, the toxic waste from its manufacturing, the inadequacies of its water management and treatment systems—and the potential disaster should anything confront these conditions, such as a hurricane with record rainfall, storm surge, or any other natural climate phenomenon in a rapidly changing world. The question today is not so much explanation or blame, rather on what premises to rebuild. The evidence of the storm and flooding provides an outline for a different, perhaps preventative response, not to reconstruct the city as it was, but to redesign it in the face of what surely will be comparable events to come.

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Tulsa World

September 3, 2017

One of the nation’s oldest pipelines, Transco matters more than ever

The storm named Harvey put not just people but key pieces of the country’s energy infrastructure in harm’s way. The infrastructure impacted by the storm included a portion of Tulsa-based Williams Cos.’ key asset, the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line. Transco begins in Texas with facilities in Houston and Corpus Christi. Those facilities have historically been the starting point for imported natural gas’s journey north and east. It’s critical to millions of people thousands of miles away who rely on the gas for heating homes and generating power. Williams, like many other energy companies, has spent the past week worried about the safety of employees while focusing on keeping its Gulf operations working and safe, which is not only critical for its business but the country’s economy.

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Bloomberg

September 13, 2017

Fickling: OPEC’s Closing-Down Sale

Like a retailer whose mid-season sale shades into an end-of-season clearance, and then into pre- and post-Christmas discount drives, OPEC’s production cuts are becoming less an exception than the norm.The latest reductions were pushed through by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and several other producers last November. They’ll now be extended by at least three months from their planned end next March and possibly into the second half of 2018, people familiar with the matter told Javier Blas, Wael Mahdi and Grant Smith of Bloomberg News. It’s not hard to see why. A sharp recovery over the past three months has done little more than bring crude prices back to where they were when the cuts were first agreed upon. Curtailing output is meant to lift prices, not leave them standing still — but maybe another crack at starving the market will succeed.

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Wall St. Journal

September 10, 2017

Saudis Stress Commitment to Economic Change Despite Challenges

Saudi Arabia sought to reassure citizens and potential investors of its commitment to revamp the country’s oil-dependent economy after a series of setbacks that slowed the effort. The government has backtracked on some politically-sensitive moves in recent months, postponing an increase in fuel prices and reinstating some government employee perks. It is now redrafting part of the plan to allow more time for implementation. “It is important to adjust and adapt to unexpected situations,” Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture and Information said Saturday. “Such flexibility should not undermine the stability and predictability needed to allow the private sector to plan its new investments and expansions.”

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Bloomberg

September 17, 2017

Algeria to Lean on Central Bank to Plug Deficit Amid Oil Slump

Algeria’s prime minister laid out a sweeping plan to plug the budget deficit that would include direct borrowing from the central bank, as the OPEC member looks to compensate for lower oil revenue without tapping international debt markets. The five-year plan presented by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia aims to balance the budget by 2022, and reverse a deficit that ballooned with the plunge in global crude prices, which also cut foreign reserves by nearly half. “If we turn to external debt, as the IMF suggests, we will need to borrow $20 billion a year to repay the deficit and within four years we will be unable to repay the debt,” Ouyahia said. “This is what made the government look at non-traditional financing.”

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Utilities Stories

Daily Energy Insider

September 15, 2017

Hurricane Harvey caused transmission system outages, decreased electricity demand, EIA report says

At its peak, Hurricane Harvey forced outages of more than 10,000 megawatts of electrifying generating capacity in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) grid and distribution lines, according to recently released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The report noted that power plant outages were largely caused by rain or flooding affecting generator fuel supplies, outages of transmission infrastructure connecting generators to the grid, and personnel not being able to reach generating facilities. The storm also damaged hundreds of high-voltage transmission lines, including six 345 kilovolt lines. Most of the damaged transmission facilities were located along the Gulf Coast of Texas and within the city of Houston.

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Gilmer Mirror

September 14, 2017

Where Atmos, CenterPoint, Texas Natural Gas Rank in the J.D. Power 2017 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study

According to the J.D. Power 2017 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study that was just released, customer satisfaction has increased for the sixth consecutive year on a nationwide basis. … Perception of safety is key to customer satisfaction: Gas utility efforts to advocate for safety have a positive impact on customer satisfaction, with satisfaction 88 index points higher among customers who had a safety inspection conducted by their utility than among those who did not receive an inspection. Likewise, satisfaction among customers who say their gas utility was “very helpful” or “somewhat helpful” in preparing for a safety issue is 150 points higher than among those who say their utility was “not very helpful” or “not at all helpful.”

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RTO Insider

September 17, 2017

DOE Panel Hears Results of Academies’ Resilience Study

Even before its release last month, the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) grid study generated dozens of headlines due to expectations that its focus on “resilience” might provide a policy foundation for subsidizing financially struggling coal and nuclear generators. But a month earlier, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s DOE-funded report, “Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation’s Electricity System,” went virtually unnoticed. Last week, one of the leaders of the study briefed the department’s newly reconstituted Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC) on the report, which recommended ways to prepare for “large-area, long-duration” outages. “A lot of folks have as a primary responsibility worrying about reliability. Almost nobody really has primary responsibility for resilience,” Carnegie Mellon University engineering professor Granger Morgan, chair of the committee that prepared the report, told the EAC on the first day of a two-day meeting at the headquarters of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

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Fox News

September 16, 2017

Frustration mounts for Floridians still lacking power after Irma

Duke Energy’s unit in Florida has told its customers that it will be calling them Saturday to confirm whether electrical service has been restored in their area following Hurricane Irma. The company said on its website that it had already restored service to 96 percent of customers in Pinellas and Pasco counties, and planned to have power restored to all other customers in those counties by midnight Saturday. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the company missed a self-imposed Friday deadline for restoring power to all customers. That was frustrating for many of the company’s customers, the newspaper reported.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

New York Times

September 11, 2017

China’s Electric Car Push Lures Global Auto Giants, Despite Risks

Volkswagen, the German auto giant, is preparing for a swift expansion in its output of electric cars next year — and the biggest jump in production will be in China. General Motors is making China the hub of its electric car research and development. Renault-Nissan, the French and Japanese carmaker, and Ford Motor have hustled to set up joint electric-car ventures in China. Global automakers see the future of electric cars, and it looks Chinese. The biggest players are shifting crucial scientific and design work to China as the country invests heavily in car-charging stations and research and pushes automakers to embrace battery-powered vehicles. China underscored that ambition over the weekend, when it said it would eventually ban the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered cars at an unspecified date.

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Texas Monthly

September 15, 2017

Electric Vehicles Have an Energy Problem—Hydrogen May Be the Answer

Globally, during the past decade, there has been significant investment to improve performance and reduce the cost of batteries. At the 2017 meeting of the World Economic Forum, thirteen companies including automakers Toyota, Honda, BMW, Daimler, and Hyundai, as well as oil companies Shell and Total, promised to invest about $1.5 billion per year to help drive down the cost of hydrogen. Texas’s natural resources make it a natural fit for hydrogen energy and vehicles. Our natural gas resources are an economical feedstock for hydrogen production. Curtailed wind power in West Texas could power the production of hydrogen for use in vehicles and other applications. And miles of hydrogen pipeline already exist along the Texas coast, which would ease distribution.

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Atlanta Business Journal

September 15, 2017

UPS inks deal as first U.S. customer of new all-electric truck fleet

UPS is charging forward on its green path, into the realm of electric vehicles. The Atlanta-based package delivery company is the U.S.’s first commercial customer for Daimler AG’s new battery-powered FUSO eCanter, described as the world’s first series-produced all-electric light-duty truck. The United Parcel Service Inc. (NYSE: UPS) announcement came during a global launch event Thursday in New York City. Daimler, a German multinational automotive corporation, said UPS will deploy three of the eCanter trucks, while four New York-based nonprofits will use eight electric trucks, each of which has a range of about 62 miles. The trucks are expected to be delivered to customers starting this year in the US, Europe and Japan.

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WTOP (Washington DC)

September 13, 2017

How solar power can protect the US military from threats to the electric grid

As the U.S. military increases its use of drones in surveillance and combat overseas, the danger posed by a threat back at home grows. Many drone flights are piloted by soldiers located in the U.S., even when the drones are flying over Yemen or Iraq or Syria. Those pilots and their control systems depend on the American electricity grid – large, complex, interconnected and very vulnerable to attack. Without electricity from civilian power plants, the most advanced military in world history could be crippled. The U.S. Department of Energy has begged for new authority to defend against weaknesses in the grid in a nearly 500-page comprehensive study issued in January 2017 warning that it’s only a matter of time before the grid fails, due to disaster or attack. A new study by a team I led reveals the three ways American military bases’ electrical power sources are threatened, and shows how the U.S. military could take advantage of solar power to significantly improve national security.

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 15, 2017

EPA demands Valero records on Houston refinery emissions release

The enforcement division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is demanding Valero Energy’s records and maintenance history related to a storage tank roof failure after Hurricane Harvey that released cancer-causing benzene and other volatile compounds into the air. The EPA records request to Valero – a response is legally required – comes as the EPA said San Antonio-based Valero Energy “significantly underestimated” the amount of benzene and other compounds leaked during Harvey’s torrential rains. The letter shows the EPA is choosing to further investigate the accident near East Houston’s Manchester neighborhood. Valero initially reported the Aug. 27 leak from a partially collapsed roof of a storage tank released an estimated 6.7 pounds of benzene and more than 3,350 pounds of unspecified volatile compounds. The EPA now says Valero believes it significantly underestimated the volumes leaked near the Manchester neighborhood.

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Dallas Morning News

September 15, 2017

Rick Perry: Harvey showed need for emergency oil stockpile that Trump wants to slash

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Friday that the recent hurricanes that battered the U.S. are a “good example of why we need an SPR” — the Strategic Petroleum Reserve that was tapped for millions of barrels of oil in the storms’ aftermath. And the former Texas governor hinted that he may have doubts about a Trump administration proposal to slash that emergency stockpile in half. Perry said that President Donald Trump had asked “very, very good questions” about whether the reserve was properly structured and if its nearly 700 million barrels was the right amount. But the Texan also stressed that he “didn’t write that budget” that proposed halving the stockpile.

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Wired

September 15, 2017

Where do they put all that toxic hurricane debris?

Craft and other environmental advocates met with representatives of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality this week to talk about debris disposal. “It sounded like [the state] was relying on landfill operators to be vigilant,” Craft says. “The state does not do the best job of active surveillance. It’s nice to think that everyone is doing the right thing, but sometimes they don’t.” Case in point: Versailles, Louisiana. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana state environmental officials were so overwhelmed with construction debris that they opened up a new landfill next to the low-income Vietnamese community of Versailles.

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Reuters

September 15, 2017

U.S. majority backs military action vs. North Korea: Gallup poll

A majority of Americans support military action against North Korea if economic and diplomatic efforts fail, according to a Gallup poll released on Friday amid rising tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program and recent missile launches. The survey of 1,022 U.S. adults last week found that 58 percent said they would favor military action against North Korea if the United States cannot accomplish its goals by more peaceful means first. Such support, however, was largely split along political party lines. Among Republicans, 82 percent would back military action compared with 37 percent among Democrats. Among political independents, 56 backed such action.

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The Hill

September 15, 2017

Trump officials eying replacement for key Obama climate rule

The Trump administration is planning to pursue a less ambitious, more industry-friendly climate change rule for coal-fired power plants as it works to scrap the one written under former President Obama. Multiple sources familiar with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) plans say that as soon as next month, the EPA could put out a preliminary proposal for a rule to replace the Clean Power Plan. President Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and others in the administration have long been critics of the Obama climate rule and are skeptical that human-produced emissions are changing the climate.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 15, 2017
Lead Stories

Politico

September 15, 2017

How Man-made Earthquakes Could Cripple the U.S. Economy

Dubbed the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World,” Cushing is the nexus of 14 major pipelines, including Keystone, which alone has the potential to transport as much as 600,000 barrels of oil a day. The small Oklahoma town is also home to the world’s largest store of oil, which sits in hundreds of enormous tanks there. Prior to this recent spate of natural disasters, Cushing oil levels were already high. They’ve increased nearly a million barrels, to nearly 60 million barrels, since Harvey hit. This concentration of oil, about 15 percent of U.S. demand, is one reason the Department of Homeland Security has designated Cushing “critical infrastructure,” which it defines as assets that, “whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.” The biggest potential cause of that incapacitation? According to Homeland Security, it’s not terrorism or mechanical malfunction. It’s natural disaster.

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San Antonio Express News

September 14, 2017

Valero, Magellan announce an $820 million fuels terminal

San Antonio-based refiner Valero Energy Corp. announced Thursday it will make a $410 million investment in a fuels terminal on the Houston Ship Channel. The $820 million project will be jointly paid for by Valero and Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Magellan Midstream Partners. The project will be jointly owned by Valero and Magellan through a limited liability company. The terminal is expected to be complete in early 2020 and will include 5 million barrels of gasoline and other fuels storage, two marine docks and truck loading facilities. “Demand for refined products from the Gulf Coast continues to grow, and together, we are well-positioned to continue expanding our marine capabilities to meet this demand from both domestic and international markets,” said Magellan Chairman and CEO Michael Mears in a press release.

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Wall St. Journal

September 14, 2017

Valero Houston Plant Underestimated Harvey Benzene Leak

The chemical plant that released a cloud of a carcinogenic chemical amid Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath in Houston’s Manchester neighborhood in August emitted far more of the chemical than it had previously disclosed, environmental regulators said Thursday. The plant, Valero Energy Partners ’ Houston refinery, suffered a hurricane-related spill Aug. 27 from the damaged roof of a light crude storage tank, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded in an investigation. Valero initially reported to the state that because of the spill, seven pounds of the carcinogenic chemical benzene were released into the air. Subsequently, Valero “has informed the EPA that it believes it significantly underestimated the amount of [volatile organic chemicals] and benzene released in its original report to the State of Texas Environmental Electronic Reporting System,” a state official said in an emailed statement Thursday.

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Politico

September 14, 2017

Trump may replace Obama’s big climate rule — not just repeal it

The Trump administration is opening the door to offering its own replacement for former President Barack Obama’s landmark climate regulation — rather than just erasing it altogether. A mend-it-don’t-end-it approach on Obama’s 2015 rule could appease power companies that say the EPA needs to impose some kind of climate regulation — even if it’s much weaker — to avoid triggering courtroom challenges that would cloud the industry in years of uncertainty. But it would run afoul of demands from some conservative activists, who have pressured EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to reject the idea that climate change is a problem requiring federal action. … Myron Ebell, a climate skeptic from the Competitive Enterprise Institute who led Trump’s EPA transition team, has pushed for Pruitt to undo the agency’s 2009 determination — known as the “endangerment finding” — that climate change is a threat it’s obligated to regulate. But he said a replacement rule might be an “adequate stopgap.” He said that if the courts ultimately find that a coal-plant-focused rule isn’t enough to fulfill EPA’s legal obligation, then “in order to keep the president’s promise that we’re going to get rid of these economically destructive rules, the only alternative they will have is to reopen the endangerment finding.”

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 15, 2017

Oil prices holding gains as demand outlook brightens

A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Co. near Guthrie, Oklahoma. Nick Oxford | Reuters A pump jack operates at a well site leased by Devon Energy Production Co. near Guthrie, Oklahoma. Oil prices were lower on Friday but largely held gains that had prices flirting with multi-month highs, as the cleanup after hurricanes in the United States gathered pace and the outlook for demand took on a firmer tone. … U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 15 cents, or 0.3 percent,at $49.74 a barrel at 0012 GMT. It briefly broke above $50 to a four-month high on Thursday and finished 1.2 percent higher at $49.89, its highest close since July 31. Brent crude futures were down 20 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $55.27 a barrel. They gained 0.6 percent to settle at $55.47 the previous session, the highest close since April 13.

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Dallas Morning News

September 14, 2017

Irving rattled by second earthquake in less than a month

A 2.6 magnitude earthquake that shook North Texas on Thursday morning was the second earthquake in Irving in less than a month, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake’s epicenter was recorded at 11:45 a.m. off Luna Road, just south of Luna Vista Golf Course, according to data from Alexandros Savvaidis, a research scientist at the University of Texas’ Bureau of Economic Geology who operates TexNet, the state’s seismic network. North Texas’ most recent earthquake before Thursday, with a measured magnitude of 3.1, happened Aug. 25 in the same vicinity.

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Reuters

September 14, 2017

Venezuela state oil firm’s credit woes spread to U.S. unit Citgo

Washington’s recent sanctions against Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA have started to ensnare its U.S. unit, Citgo Petroleum, making it harder for the refiner to obtain the credit it needs to purchase crude, according to six traders and banking sources. Fewer oil providers are willing to sell cargoes to Citgo on open credit, instead requiring prepayment or bank letters of credit to supply its 749,000-barrel-per-day refining network, the sources said. Two sources at Canadian suppliers said their companies are no longer allowed to trade with Citgo directly, and have begun selling cargoes through third parties to avoid the credit risk. Citgo’s three U.S. refineries in Illinois, Texas and Louisiana account for about 4 percent of domestic fuel capacity, and are major suppliers of gasoline, diesel and jet fuel.

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Houston Chronicle

September 14, 2017

Magellan partners with Valero for Pasadena marine terminal near Houston

Magellan Midstream said it’s partnering with Valero Energy to expand and own its new Pasadena marine storage terminal along the Houston Ship Channel. Oklahoma-based Magellan and San Antonio’s Valero are two of the biggest energy players in the Houston area and both had issues with leaks or spills after Hurricane Harvey in the region. The $820 million Pasadena terminal mostly will store and handle fuel products like gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and more. The facility will be owned jointly by Magellan and Valero to initially include 5 million barrels of storage, truck-loading facilities and two ship docks.

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San Antonio Business Journal

September 12, 2017

Sentencings of Four Winds employees postponed as Uresti cases proceed

A federal judge has postponed the sentencings of three former employees of a defunct frac sand company linked to a criminal case involving Texas State Sen. Carlos Uresti. In a series of recent decisions, U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra postponed the sentencing of three former Four Winds employees — Shannon Smith, Eric Nelson and Laura Jacobs. Smith and Nelson were set to be sentenced on Monday while Jacobs was supposed to be sentenced later this month. Under Ezra’s orders, Jacobs will be sentenced in December, Smith will be sentenced in April and Nelson in June.

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San Antonio Express News

September 14, 2017

Uresti, Alamo City Comic Con square off

State Sen. Carlos Uresti and Alamo City Comic Con creator Alfredo “Apple” De La Fuente are squaring off in a super slugfest. Bam! Kapow! Lawsuits! Alamo City Comic Con, which hosts an annual comics and pop-culture event that attracts thousands to the Convention Center — including many clad in costumes of their favorite characters, such as Wonder Woman and Darth Vader — sued Uresti last month for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty relating to legal and consulting services he provided the company. The San Antonio Democrat fired back last week with his own lawsuit, alleging fraud and breach of contract against Comic Con and De La Fuente. The legal fireworks come as Uresti fends off criminal charges in two unrelated federal cases. In the first, Uresti is charged in an 11-count indictment involving a now-defunct oil field services company accused of defrauding investors. Uresti served as FourWinds Logistics’ legal counsel for a short time and recruited investors.

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Houston Chronicle

September 14, 2017

Energy firms wrestle with setbacks from Harvey

By the time the storm lifted, floodwaters nearly crested over the top of the turnstiles in the lobby of BP’s main office tower in Houston. Water filled the basement and brought down the electrical systems. Contract workers had to pile thousands of sandbags around the 949,000-square-foot building before they could begin pumping out the rushing water. Two weeks after one of the costliest storms in U.S. history moved out of the Houston area, BP executives don’t know the full extent of the damage. But they do know this: their Westlake One office in Houston’s Energy Corridor won’t reopen until early 2018 and more than 2,000 of the British oil major’s 5,500 local employees will work from home as the company makes repairs. “We just got back into the basement a few days ago,” said John Mingé, chairman and president of BP America. “There are still pockets with water.”

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Oil & Gas Investor

September 13, 2017

Chevron Sells Shard Of Permian Basin Monolith To Sabinal Energy

Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX) has agreed to sell 64,500 net acres in the Central Basin Platform and Northern Shelf of West Texas—about 5% of its total Permian basin holdings—to private-equity backed E&P Sabinal Energy LLC. Sabinal Energy, backed by the Kayne Private Energy Income Fund LP, said Sept. 12 it acquired the assets producing about 7,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in Hockley, Terry and Gaines counties, Texas. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but analysts estimated the acreage and production are worth roughly $400 million. Chevron has said it wants to sell up to 200,000 Permian acres—about 13% of its 1.5 million acres in the Midland and Delaware basins.

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San Antonio Express News

September 13, 2017

San Antonio pipeline company files to go public

San Antonio-based natural gas pipeline and storage company Howard Midstream Partners plans to go public with a $200 million initial public offering. Howard Midstream operates natural gas, natural gas liquids, and refined product midstream services in South Texas, Northeastern Pennsylvania and along the Texas Gulf Coast. It operates over 800 miles of natural gas and natural gas liquids pipelines. Most of them — 690 miles — are located in South Texas.

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Reuters

September 14, 2017

Shell Deer Park refinery production may resume by Friday – sources

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L) may begin resuming production at its 325,700-barrel-per-day (bpd) joint-venture Deer Park, Texas, refinery as early as Friday, sources familiar with plant operations said on Thursday. Shell plans to begin putting crude oil into the 270,000-bpd DU-2 crude distillation unit, the larger of two at the plant, as early as Friday, the sources said. The refinery was shut on Aug. 27 by Tropical Storm Harvey. A Shell spokesman wasn’t immediately available to comment. Other production units will come on-line after DU-2 successfully resumes production, according to the sources.

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Associated Press

September 14, 2017

Coast Guard: Most fuel spilled from tank farm unrecoverable

Less than 20 percent of a 461,000-gallon (1.7-million-liter) gasoline spill in Texas during Hurricane Harvey was recovered by the company responsible, while the rest evaporated or soaked into the ground, a U.S. Coast Guard official said Thursday. Only a minor amount of the spill appeared to have escaped past containment berms at the Magellan Midstream Partners storage tank farm in the Houston suburb of Galena Park, said Coast Guard Lt. Commander Jarod Toczko. It’s the largest spill reported to date from the storm that made landfall in Texas last month. The Oklahoma-based company reported recovering about 2,000 barrels, or 84,000 gallons (320,000 liters), of gasoline in the days after the Aug. 31 spill, Toczko said. It’s unknown how much of the fuel evaporated and how much seeped into the ground.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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Houston Chronicle

September 13, 2017

Anxiety rising over fate of Mexico’s energy reforms

After decades of banishment from Mexico’s oil and gas fields, American companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron are becoming a presence there again. But just four years after Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto invited foreign companies into his country to help modernize its struggling energy industries, the rise of populist politics in Mexico is driving concerns about the future of reforms that ended the national oil company’s monopoly and opened markets to competition. With the U.S. and Mexican governments renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, oil and gas companies, as well as the Pena Nieto administration, are pressing for protections in the treaty against any future efforts in Mexico to push out foreign oil companies.

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San Antonio Express News

September 14, 2017

Valero CEO calls last three weeks “pretty brutal” for Valero

The CEO of San Antonio-based refiner Valero Energy Corp. said Thursday that Hurricane Harvey caused “a pretty brutal three week period for us.” Joe Gorder said Harvey, which made landfall north of Corpus Christi on August 25, and moved up the Texas Gulf Coast to Houston and Beaumont-Port Arthur, affected operations at five of the company’s refineries, shutting down three and leading two to run at reduced rates. Gorder spoke at the first CEO Leadership Luncheon hosted by the Free Trade Alliance at Valero’s headquarters. Gorder commended the efforts of Valero’s employees who worked to protect the company’s refineries from storm related damage, including those that tried to and ultimately failed to prevent flooding at the Valero’s Port Arthur refinery.

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Houston Chronicle

September 5, 2017

Tomlinson: After Harvey, Houston needs petrochemicals more than ever

Imagine cleaning up after Harvey without plastic garbage cans, plastic bags, chlorine bleach or diesel fuel. How about rebuilding a house without insulated copper wire, wet-space drywall, paint or power tools. The explosions and fires at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby were a terrifying reminder of the dangerous chemicals and processes involved in making plastics and coatings. The flames jetting from the flare stacks along the Houston Ship Channel are menacing, and the black smoke billowing into the sky is ominous. Those facilities, though, make the building blocks for our homes, and without them, recovering from a hurricane would be impossible. Yet we take them for granted.

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KOSA

September 13, 2017

Halliburton hiring hundreds as oil prices stay low

The price of oil is struggling to reach $50 per barrel, but that’s not stopping oil companies across the basin from hiring hundreds of employees. Oil service company Halliburton says they’ve hired 100 employees each month from the beginning of the year until now. For the company, that’s a 35% increase in employees in the Permian Basin. “They’re taking their drilling budgets from elsewhere in the country and concentrating in the Permian Basin,” Financial expert Mickey Cargile said.

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Associated Press

September 14, 2017

Higher gas, housing costs lift U.S. consumer prices 0.4% in August

Higher gas and housing costs boosted U.S. consumer prices 0.4% in August, the most in seven months. The increase suggests inflation could be picking up, but the figures may have been distorted by Hurricane Harvey. Consumer prices climbed 1.9% last month compared with a year earlier, the Labor Department said Thursday, up from an annual gain of 1.7% in August and the second straight increase. Excluding volatile energy and food costs, prices rose 0.2% in August and 1.7% from a year earlier. The government said Harvey had a “very small effect” on its ability to gather data. But it would not say whether last month’s gas price increase resulted from the storm. Harvey disrupted oil refineries on the Gulf Coast and pushed up average gas prices nationwide, though the increase occurred at the end of the month. The government collects price data throughout the month.

This article appeared in USA Today

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San Angelo Standard-Times

September 12, 2017

San Angelo becomes new home to manufacturing corporation

Dragon PES Inc. announced Monday, Sept. 11, its acquisition of a 19-acre production tank manufacturing plant in San Angelo, bringing new manufacturing jobs to the area. The plant, previously owned by National Oilwell Varco, has sat empty for nearly two years, following NOV’s exit from San Angelo after oil prices dropped dramatically in late 2014. Michael Looney, economic development vice president for San Angelo’s Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber began working closely with the listing agent to fill that space and is excited to bring Dragon to the community. He said bringing in a fabrication company like Dragon will be more beneficial to the city’s economy than a drilling company would be.

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Fronteras

September 8, 2017

Mexico Fishermen Concerned About How Natural Gas Pipeline Will Impact Their Livelihood

On a fishing raft, just off a small port city in the Gulf of Mexico called Tuxpan, is Joel Franco Cruz.. He’s 70 years old. He says he’s been fishing his whole life, and he’s gonna keep on doing it until he can’t. His gear includes a rubber overall to guard himself from the mud. And his crew is his brother, his son and his grandson. Their raft is called The Friendly. Because we’re friendly with everybody, he says. He’s a lot less enthusiastic about the current construction of an underwater pipeline to transport natural gas from Texas to Mexico’s central gulf coast.

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Bloomberg

September 6, 2017

Ashworth: No Oil, No Credit History, No Problem

Tajikistan, the poorest state in central Asia, is trying for its first international bond deal. After a few false starts over the years, this time it might pull it off — showing emerging market investor caution is being thrown to the wind. Or in this case, water.The deal will finance construction of the world’s tallest dam and the largest hydroelectric power station in central Asia. That could lead to energy independence and overseas income from electricity exports to neighboring Pakistan and Afghanistan. Excellent news for the issuer.The country has said it wants to issue benchmark bonds maturing in 10 years. If the order book is sufficient for $1 billion of debt, the deal would almost certainly enter J.P. Morgan’s Emerging Market Bond Index. That would make it a must-buy for most emerging-focused funds.

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American Security News

September 11, 2017

Hurricane Harvey raises questions about Gulf Coast concentration of energy infrastructure

Hurricane Harvey could have been worse for energy refining and distribution, and would have been if it hit a decade ago, according to an activist with a veterans’ group that lobbies for increased energy independence. Retired U.S. Army Capt. James McCormick, program director of Vets4Energy, said fracking and shale energy has provided the U.S. with alternative sources, but more is needed to be done to beef up oil refining and pipeline infrastructure, he told American Security News. A Wall Street Journal article said the U.S. has 141 operable oil refineries today, 79 fewer than three decades ago, and noted that many of the facilities are concentrated on the Gulf Coast. One of the reasons for this concentration of refining capacity is because Texas and Louisiana are so welcoming to energy companies. “A decade ago, such a storm would have taken a much larger toll on our country’s energy supply,” McCormick said. “Hydraulic fracturing and shale energy have given us alternative choices as parts of Texas temporarily went offline.”

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Utilities Stories

Amarillo Globe News

September 12, 2017

Study shows Xcel Energy pricing is below state average

The price gap between Texas’ competitive and non-competitive energy areas is shrinking, but Xcel Energy rates remain lower than the statewide average. A Texas Coalition for Affordable Power study found energy prices have risen in single-provider areas over the last 10 years while dropping in the 85 percent of the state that is deregulated. Residential power is still about 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour more expensive in deregulated markets than in the Texas Panhandle, down from a 6.5 cents per kilowatt-hour difference in 2006. Deregulated areas comprise most of Texas outside of the Panhandle, South Plains and certain cities such as El Paso and Austin. They allow energy companies to vie for customers’ business in a free market overseen by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT.

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Platts

September 12, 2017

Natural gas supplies half of ERCOT demand in August; nuclear share rises

Natural-gas fired generation took up half of the fuel mix in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in August after topping 50% in July, an almost two-year high, with more nuclear generation in the stack due to fewer nuclear outages than in July, according to ERCOT’s monthly demand and energy report. Natural gas-fired generation supplied 50% of the total demand in August, after reaching 50.6% in July, compared with the year-ago level of 49.1%. Before July, the last time natural gas supplied half or more of ERCOT’s power was in August 2015, at 51.2%. Natural gas has topped in the fuel stack for six of the first eight months of the year, second to coal only in January and April, ERCOT said in the report, issued Monday.

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Daily Caller

September 13, 2017

Ukraine Just Got Its First Shipment Of US Coal

Ukraine received its first shipment of anthracite coal from the U.S. Wednesday, part of an $80 billion deal between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. This shipment carried 62,000 tonnes of the total 700,000 tonnes set to be delivered to Ukraine by the end of the year, the Financial Times reports. “As agreed with President Trump, first American coal has reached Ukraine. It is a significant contribution to our energy security and a vivid proof of mutually beneficial strategic cooperation between our two nations,” Poroshenko wrote in a Facebook post. “While it continues to steal Ukrainian coal from Ukrainian Donbas, Russia has lost yet another tool for its energy blackmailing.”

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Renewables Now

September 14, 2017

Shell closes buy of US power firm MP2

Shell Energy North America (SENA) has closed the acquisition of US retail electricity and power management services provider MP2 Energy LLC, the buyer said on Wednesday. MP2 provides consulting, development and installation services for renewable energy projects, mainly wind and solar, and supplies power in the states of Texas, Ohio, Illinois and Pennsylvania. It also offers power plant management and asset management solutions for the power market.

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Reuters

September 12, 2017

Citing cost drop, U.S. government shifts focus of solar funding

The cost of solar energy has hit a U.S. government target three years ahead of schedule, prompting the Energy Department to change the focus of its solar program to integrating higher levels of the renewable power technology with the power grid. The DOE’s SunShot Initiative, launched in 2011 by the administration of President Barack Obama, set a goal of reducing the price of utility-scale solar to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour by 2020. The cost at that time was about 28 cents per kwh. On Tuesday, DOE officials said its target has been met, largely due to a sharp drop in the cost of solar panels. Residential and commercial solar are about 90 percent of the way toward meeting their cost reduction targets.

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Inverse

September 12, 2017

How Drones Could Shape the Next Generation of Solar Power Cells

Sam Stranks and his team at the University of Cambridge hope they’re on the brink of a revolution in solar technology. For decades, silicon has been the most popular material used to make solar power cells, successfully moving solar from alternative energy into the mainstream. But it’s not a perfect material: It’s heavy and rigid, limiting its potential uses, not to mention it’s expensive to produce. That’s where Stranks hope a common mineral called perovskite can change the game for solar energy. “Perovskite has the potential to be a very low-cost replacement for silicon,” he tells Inverse. “You can do a lot more with these perovskites than you can do with silicon. It opens up a whole new range of applications.” Its flexibility and light weight mean perovskite could turn the solar roof market into one for solar tarps, but Stranks sets his sights higher — literally.

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Philadelphia Inquirer

September 5, 2017

Can this giant turbine turn the tide for ocean energy?

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick — The next great hope for renewable energy is moored to a dock in this Canadian port city. It resembles a beached Ferris wheel. Designed to capture the power of the legendary tides of the Bay of Fundy, the 52-foot-diameter Cape Sharp Tidal turbine endured the winter and spring on the seabed in Nova Scotia, generating electricity. Now in port for upgrades, the 1,100-ton machine looks as if it has survived a couple rounds with a powerful adversary. Its paint is slightly worn. Fierce Fundy currents ripped away the metal anodes attached to the machine’s rotating rim. But the turbine survived, which is an improvement over an earlier model’s performance. “This was the first machine that was able to generate power for that amount of time in that environment, so it was a resounding success,” said Christian Richard, director of Cape Sharp Tidal, a joint venture between Nova Scotia energy company Emera Inc. and the Irish turbine manufacturer OpenHydro.

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The Hill

September 8, 2017

Peacock: Eliminating renewable energy subsidies is key to increasing prosperity

Residential electricity prices have steadily increased for years, up more than 15 percent in the United States (not including Texas) since 2004. A newly released U.S. Department of Energy report on electricity markets and reliability makes it clear that renewable energy subsidies are contributing significantly to the increasing cost—and the decreasing reliability—of the national electric grid. Yet the report stops short of making the most obvious recommendations to address this challenge—eliminating the subsidies and forcing renewable energy generators to pay for the costs they impose on the grid because of their intermittency and unreliability. Unless the federal government and the states eliminates these policies, we will find ourselves suffering through energy poverty—a sharply reduced standard of living caused by high energy costs—in the future.

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 14, 2017

Abbott announces home repair plan as Turner names recovery czar

Former Shell Oil Co. president Marvin Odum, a Houston native, will lead the city’s recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Thursday. Turner said he wants Odum to push local leaders out of their comfort zones, not only coordinating with public officials and leaders from the business and nonprofit sectors, but also highlighting what steps the city must take before the next storm strikes. “I’m not looking for a report. We have a whole lot of reports,” Turner said. “What I’m asking Marvin to do is to push us forward, to be a part of the rebuilding process, to push us to do more at all levels, to push us to make this city more resilient.” Meanwhile, in Austin, Gov. Greg Abbott tapped Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush to head the state’s housing recovering from Harvey.

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Dallas Morning News

September 14, 2017

Could futuristic travel end up in Dallas? Hyperloop company is considering it

Dallas has one more mode of futuristic transportation to dream about, along with bullet trains and flying Uber cars. It’s made the short list for Hyperloop One, a Los Angeles-based company that wants to replace long flights and road trips with a quick ride through a low-pressure tube. The Texas route is one of 10 routes that the company is considering, according to a Thursday news release. It would cover about 640 miles and connect Dallas-Fort Worth to Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Laredo. Hyperloop One launched a contest in May 2016, asking individuals, universities, companies and governments to submit proposals for routes in their region. The company narrowed the field from hundreds of applicants to 10 teams.

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Texas Tribune

September 14, 2017

Independent Monitors Found Benzene Levels After Harvey Six Times Higher Than Guidelines

As a longtime resident of Manchester, Guadalupe Hernandez is used to the chemical smells that waft through his southeast Houston, Texas neighborhood, a low-income, predominantly Hispanic community near a Valero Energy refinery. But when Hurricane Harvey blew in the weekend of Aug. 26, the stench became noticeably stronger for about five hours, a scent like “glue or boiled eggs,” he said. The Environmental Protection Agency has assured the public they looked into complaints in the area a week after the storm hit, and spent several days taking air pollution measurements with a mobile laboratory. The agency didn’t release any specifics, but said concentrations of several toxic chemicals, including the carcinogen benzene, met Texas health guidelines. Now, environmental advocacy groups have shared their own, detailed data with ProPublica and the Texas Tribune, based on air sampling from the same Manchester streets over six days. It shows a more nuanced picture than the one given by the EPA: in numerous locations, benzene levels, though under the Texas threshold of 180 parts per billion, far exceeded California’s guidelines, which is 23 times more stringent and is well-respected by health advocates nationwide.

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Texas Tribune

September 15, 2017

Ahead of 2019 session, Speaker Joe Straus orders Texas House to research Harvey issues

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus ordered House committees Thursday to research a list of issues related to Hurricane Harvey so lawmakers could be prepared to tackle them during the next legislative session. The Legislature meets every two years for 140 days and isn’t scheduled to meet again until 2019. In the periods in between sessions, the House speaker and lieutenant governor typically direct committees of the House and Senate, respectively, to research a list of policy issues. “We know that this is not going to be a normal legislative interim,” Straus said in a statement. “Hurricane Harvey has devastated our state and upended the lives of millions of Texans.

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NASDAQ

September 14, 2017

Six companies buy oil from U.S. emergency crude reserve

Six companies bought 14 million barrels of oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a sale required by law to help fund medical research and the federal government, said the Department of Energy on Thursday. BP Oil Supply, Exxon Mobil Corp, Phillips 66, Shell Trading, Valero Marketing and Supply Company, and Macquarie Commodities Trading bought oil from the reserve, which is held in salt caverns on the Texas and Louisiana coasts.

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Washington Examiner

September 6, 2017

Hanna: The federal government’s myopic energy strategy is still picking winners and losers

While President Trump promotes a much-needed agenda of lower taxes and job creation, Congress must do its share by addressing a critical issue regarding tax incentives. In 2015, Congress decided to change course on tax incentives for promising energy technologies by picking winners (primarily solar businesses) while taking away incentives from other industries, including fuel cells powered by refined natural gas and hydrogen. This was a very short-sighted decision, as fuel cell technology could revolutionize the way American power is generated within a few years. The time has come for Congress to fix the practice of arbitrarily picking winners and losers between energy sectors such as solar at the expense of an even more promising energy future. Yet in December 2015, Congress passed legislation which extended investment tax credits for solar companies until 2024 while letting incentives for other technologies such as fuel cells lapse. This short-sighted policy decision has unfairly punished fuel cells and other energy technologies to the benefit of an industry that has been dominated by China and contributes a negligible amount to our national power grid.

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NextGov

September 14, 2017

Energy doles out $33 million to help grid withstand cyber and physical attacks

The Energy Department announced a roughly $33 million investment Tuesday in seven projects aimed at securing the electric grid against cyberattacks, physical attacks and weather disasters. The projects are designed both to make grid systems more secure against cyberattacks and to improve their ability to withstand a cyberattack, according to a department fact sheet. One project, the Grid Resilience and Intelligence Platform, or GRIP, uses artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to help grid systems recover more quickly from cyber and physical destruction.

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Bloomberg

September 15, 2017

North Korea Puts Guam in Range With Missile Launch Over Japan

North Korea’s second missile launch over Japan in as many months flew far enough to put the U.S. territory of Guam in range, a provocation that comes days after the United Nations approved harsher sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime. The intermediate-range missile fired from Pyongyang at 6:57 a.m. on Friday flew over the northern island of Hokkaido, reaching an altitude of 770 kilometers (478 miles) before landing in the Pacific Ocean. It traveled 3,700 kilometers — further than the 3,400 kilometers from Pyongyang to Guam, which North Korea has repeatedly threatened. “The range of this test was significant since North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile, although the payload the missile was carrying is not known,” David Wright, a co-director of the Union of Concerned Scientists, wrote in a blog post.

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Houston Chronicle

September 7, 2017

HC: Let Crosby be a lesson: Chemical plants need to reveal their inventories

Crosby is a community where people are accustomed to living around industrial plants, but now even these usually tolerant Texans are downright mad about the catastrophe caused by a chemical plant explosion that happened in the middle of the biggest natural disaster in their town’s history. Amid last week’s flooding, everybody living within a 1.5 mile radius of Crosby’s Arkema chemical plant was forced to evacuate just before at least two tons of volatile organic peroxides exploded and caught fire. The whole world watched on television as flames shot up from the floodwaters that inundated Crosby. That calamity was bad enough, but company officials ignited their own firestorm by cloaking their plant’s inventory in secrecy. And the blame for keeping the public in the dark is shared by our state’s top elected leader.

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Utility Dive

September 11, 2017

DOE grid study offers no panaceas to struggling nuclear and coal plants

Ignore all the sectarian sniping and prepackaged posturing so far. The DOE Staff Report on Electricity Markets and Reliability did something remarkable in an age of ideologized energy policy: It made modest observations about the difficulties in electric markets, and made modest suggestions about how things might be improved. The report identified no panaceas to save nuclear, coal and other high-fixed cost baseload plants under current market rules; nor did it pronounce the end of renewables and demand-side efficiency mandates. It provides a service, however, by showing that the nation’s energy policy goals contradict each other and, are, indeed, often at cross-purposes. The problems arise in energy regulatory policy that presumes to have consonant goals of affordability, reliability and sustainability, but in fact does creates problems. This issue occurs both in the organized markets and vertically integrated regions.

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Dallas Morning News

September 6, 2017

Loftis: Was Harvey caused by climate change? Maybe

A hurricane is a crowded canvas that still has blank spaces where we add our own personal pictures. We must paint them. We do it to reconcile our usually ordered lives with the killing chaos of a massive storm. When all seems filled with doom, we still find room for accounts of heroism amid loss and hope against despair. Humanity can’t just shrug and accept all destruction as inevitable if unfair — especially if we can find better answers. If there’s a way around it, we need to find it. It’s our way. We try to find solutions. A storm like Hurricane Harvey — and Harvey’s approaching sibling, Hurricane Irma — should get us thinking anew about controlling floods, the places where we live and work, keeping our coasts safe and how we respond when emergencies come. And climate change.

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Bloomberg

September 13, 2017

Flynn Omitted a Saudi Nuclear Project in Filing, Democrats Say

Two top House Democrats allege that retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn illegally omitted reporting a 2015 Middle East business trip and other foreign contacts on his security clearance forms. Flynn, President Donald Trump’s initial national security adviser, apparently failed to disclose private travel and meetings tied to a plan financed jointly by Russia and Saudi Arabia to build nuclear power plants across the region when he applied for government clearance, the lawmakers said. “It appears that General Flynn violated federal law by omitting this trip and these foreign contacts from his security clearance renewal application in 2016 and concealing them from security clearance investigators who interviewed him as part of the background check process,” Representatives Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Eliot Engel of New York wrote in a letter released Wednesday.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 14, 2017
Lead Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 13, 2017

Like Strait of Hormuz, Gulf Coast energy hub is now “too important to fail,” IEA says

Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma could cut U.S. oil demand up to 800,000 barrels a day in September, even as the Gulf Coast’s shuttered refineries bring petroleum product stockpiles in a large swath of the world closer to normal levels. In a monthly report released Wednesday, the International Energy Agency examined how the second-costliest U.S. storm impacted the global energy complex, arguing the effects of shutting down the Texas refining industry for several weeks could soon all but evaporate the world’s glut of gasoline and other fuels. The Paris-based agency noted fuel inventories in OECD counties are only 35 million barrels above the five-year average and said it believes the current constraints on fuel supplies in the United States could bring that figure below that level soon.

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Oil Price

September 10, 2017

The U.S. Oil Patch Has A Serious Cybersecurity Problem

Cybersecurity firm Symantec reports that dedicated hackers have been able to control operational software at American and European oil and gas companies, according to a new report by CNBC. The hackers’ tactics include a variant of malicious software we are all familiar with: phish-friendly emails with a malevolent true purpose. So far, companies in the United States, Turkey, and Switzerland have already been targeted by the email campaigns, Symantec said. Dragonfly is likely the main culprit behind these attacks. The report said a foreign government is hiring the hacker group’s services to target energy hotspots as part of underground geopolitical warfare. The attacks began in late 2015, but have become more frequent, especially during April of this year, Symantec researcher Eric Chien told an interviewer on Wednesday.

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Bloomberg

September 7, 2017

We’re Going to Need More Lithium

Starting about two years ago, fears of a lithium shortage almost tripled prices for the metal, to more than $20,000 a ton, in just 10 months. The cause was a spike in the market for electric vehicles, which were suddenly competing with laptops and smartphones for lithium ion batteries. Demand for the metal won’t slacken anytime soon—on the contrary, electric car production is expected to increase more than thirtyfold by 2030, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Rest assured, Earth has the lithium. The next dozen years will drain less than 1 percent of the reserves in the ground, BNEF says. But battery makers are going to need more mines to support their production, and they’ll have to build them much more quickly than anyone thought.

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Texas Tribune

September 13, 2017

Houston’s ‘flood czar’ says Harvey has brought the city to a decision point on flood control

When we caught up with Houston’s newly-appointed “flood czar” last year, he told us he had no money and no staff. That’s still largely the case, Stephen Costello told us in an interview on Tuesday at his Houston City Hall office. He now has one paid staff member. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s record floods, the city of Houston is poised to receive billions — maybe even tens of billions — of recovery dollars in the coming years that may cover significant improvements to the city’s woefully inadequate drainage system as well as other projects to reduce flooding. And Costello said on Tuesday that he expects to play a key role in deciding how that money will be spent.

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KUT

September 13, 2017

3 Ways Texas Could Safeguard Against Toxic Emissions During The Next Major Storm

A lot of the spilled fuel came from Magellan Midstream Partners storage tanks that were damaged in the storm near the Houston Ship Channel. Kara Cook-Schultz, director of the toxics program at the Texas Public Interest Research Group, says flood-proofing could be the most effective policy change going forward. “Oil and gasoline tanks are not required to be flood-proofed,” she said. She argues that if the state or federal government mandated flood-proofing for fuel storage tanks, it would be “a legal requirement that every company has to follow.” Cook-Schultz and others say flood-proofing might have been useful in the Arkema plant explosion, as well.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 14, 2017

Oil holds gains, buoyed by hopes for robust demand

Oil prices on Thursday held most of their gains of around 2 percent from the previous session, buoyed after the International Energy Agency raised its forecast for growth in global oil demand. London Brent crude for November delivery was down 11 cents at $55.05 a barrel by 0035 GMT, after settling Wednesday up 89 cents, or 1.6 percent. NYMEX crude for October delivery was down 4 cents at $49.26, after ending the last session up $1.07, or 2.2 percent.

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MarketWatch

September 13, 2017

EIA reports smaller-than-expected rise in U.S. crude supplies, output climbs

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration Wednesday showed that domestic crude supplies climbed by 5.9 million barrels for the week ended Sept. 8. That’s below the forecast for a rise of 10.1 million barrels by analysts surveyed by S&P Global Platts. The American Petroleum Institute had reported late Tuesday an increase of 6.2 million barrels, according to sources. But the EIA also reported that total domestic crude output rose by 572,000 barrels a day to 9.35 million barrels.

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Wall St. Journal

September 13, 2017

Global Oil Supply Edged Lower in August

Global oil supply fell in August for the first time in four months, a result of Hurricane Harvey, declining OPEC output and summer production maintenance, the International Energy Agency said Wednesday. In its closely watched monthly report, the IEA said oil supply had come down by 720,000 barrels a day last month from July, to 97.7 million barrels a day. However, that was still 1.2 million barrels a day more than during the same period a year prior. Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in the U.S. Gulf Coast late last month before being downgraded to a tropical storm, disrupted around 200,000 barrels a day of crude oil production in August, the report said. The agency expects that figure to rise to 300,000 barrels a day in September.

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Houston Chronicle

September 13, 2017

CenterPoint’s Enable Midstream buying Dallas company for $300M

CenterPoint Energy’s Enable Midstream joint venture said it’s buying a Dallas pipeline company, Align Midstream, for $300 million. Oklahoma City-based Enable is the pipeline and processing joint venture controlled by Houston’s CenterPoint and Oklahoma’s OGE Energy. Enable is buying Align from the Dallas private equity firm Tailwater Capital.

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NASDAQ

September 13, 2017

ConocoPhillips (COP) Restores Texas Production Post Harvey

Upstream player ConocoPhillips COP has fully recovered from the after effects of tropical storm Harvey and production from its Eagle Ford field has been restored to previous level of about 130 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBOED). Earlier the company had forecasted production for third quarter and full-year 2017 in the range of 1,170-1,210 MBOED and 1,340-1,370 MBOED, respectively. These projections, which exclude Libya and reflect expected impacts from the San Juan, Barnett and Panhandle dispositions, remain unaltered.

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Houston Chronicle

September 13, 2017

Galena Park gasoline spill dwarfed other Harvey leaks, but stayed out of public eye for days

Federal and state agencies took almost two weeks to publicly acknowledge the extent of the spill that had occurred in a storage tank complex operated by Oklahoma pipeline company Magellan Midstream Partners. Magellan employees notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Coast Guard, the Railroad Commission of Texas and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but the only public record were entries in databases available on the internet. Both the Railroad Commission and Commission on Environmental Quality said they were aware of the spill, but did not publicize it. The Railroad Commission said it did not include the Galena Park release on its list of spills attributed to Hurricane Harvey because it was within the jurisdiction of other agencies. The Galena Park spill was more than five times as big as all the other reported spills in Texas combined.

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Dallas Morning News

September 13, 2017

Dallas energy company sells for $300 million to OKC firm

A Dallas-based midstream company is being sold by its private equity owner for $300 million to an Oklahoma City firm. Tailwater Capital announced the sale of Dallas’ Align Midstream LLC on Tuesday. The buyer is Enable Midstream Partners LP, a pipeline and processing joint venture between CenterPoint Energy of Houston and OGE Energy of Oklahoma. Align operates primarily in East Texas and North Louisiana. Its assets include a natural gas processing plant in Panola, Texas, and 190 miles of pipelines across Rusk, Panola and Shelby counties in Texas and DeSoto Parish in Louisiana.

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Morningstar

September 13, 2017

Meats: All Roads Point to Crude Oversupply in 2018

Crude oil fundamentals look healthier than they’ve been for years, largely thanks to voluntary curtailments from OPEC and its partners. By giving up 1.8 million barrels a day, this group has engineered a supply shortage to realign global inventories with the long-term average before the cuts expire in March 2018. But the decline will be short-lived if the cartel restores full production after that, as we expect in our base case. The alternative–another extension–is risky for the cartel. It would encourage additional growth from rivals, like the United States, that are willing and able to fill the void. So even if full compliance can be assumed–hardly a foregone conclusion–then extending the cuts again only kicks the can down the road.

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Oil Price

September 13, 2017

The Most Bullish Oil Report This Year

Despite the huge uncertainties related to the two massive hurricanes that hit the U.S., the global oil market looks tighter than it has in a long time, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency. Global oil supply fell in August for the first time in four months, the IEA said, a result of a dip in OPEC’s oil production, combined with refinery maintenance and sizable outages from Hurricane Harvey. World oil supply fell by 720,000 barrels per day (bpd) in August compared to July, a significant decline that will aid in the market’s progress towards rebalancing. Multiple outages contributed to the decline in global output. Hurricane Harvey resulted in U.S. oil production falling by 200,000 bpd in August—outages that occurred mostly in the Eagle Ford shale and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. But OPEC also saw its collective output fall by 210,000 bpd in August, mainly from disruptions in Libya.

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San Antonio Express News

September 13, 2017

NuStar’s terminal in the Caribbean damaged by Irma

San Antonio-based pipeline and storage company NuStar Energy LP said Wednesday that its St. Eustatius terminal took damage from Hurricane Irma, which ripped through the Caribbean and devastated the neighboring island of Barbuda. NuStar spokesman Chris Cho said Wednesday that a number of tanks and other equipment sustained damage from Irma. “Despite the damage and major clean-up effort, we feel like we fared very well considering the significant power of the storm,” Cho said by email. He added that there were no spills and that all employees were safe and accounted for. The company does not yet have reopening date for the terminal.

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Wall St. Journal

September 12, 2017

Hurricanes Add to Problems for Oil Bulls

The havoc wreaked by major summer storms stands to deepen a global crude-supply glut that has depressed oil prices for more than three years. By paralyzing giant swaths of the southern U.S. ranging from Texas to South Carolina for days at a time, hurricanes Harvey and Irma will dent energy demand from consumers and refiners even as drilling continues and crude in storage is abundant. The effect, analysts say, will be to push millions more barrels of crude oil into oil caverns and floating tankers at a time when storage is already in heavy use. That will undermine efforts by producers such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to “rebalance” the market by cutting output.

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Dallas Morning News

September 8, 2017

Webber: How the Texas energy industry should move forward after Harvey

Over the course of a few days and several feet of rain thanks to Hurricane Harvey, we learned a lot about how our energy situation has changed in Texas. Because of the Shale Revolution, we’ve shifted from being the world’s largest importer of crude oil and refined products, such as gasoline, to being the world’s largest exporter of it. And recently we even started exporting crude oil after a four-decade pause, and we flipped from being an importer of liquefied natural gas to being an exporter of it. That means impacts have also shifted. When we were the world’s largest importer, global risk became a local problem. Our prices would spike here because of a storm or civil unrest elsewhere. But today it’s the other way around: Flooding in Texas affects energy supplies elsewhere.

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Brownsville Herald

September 9, 2017

LNG company says concerns are misplaced

Industrial Energy Consumers of America, a trade group representing U.S. manufacturers, says exporting too much domestically produced natural gas to countries that don’t have free-trade agreements with the United States will jeopardize this country’s supply of natural gas and cause prices to skyrocket. However, curtailing those exports runs counter to the stated intentions of the Trump administration to approve all non-FTA export applications and the wishes of companies planning to build liquefied natural gas export terminals at the Port of Brownsville. A spokesman for Rio Grande LNG, the largest of those companies, characterized IECA as a special interest group whose criticism is misplaced and ignores the overall economic benefits of increasing LNG exports.

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Energy Business Review

September 11, 2017

Santa Fe Midstream breaks ground on natural gas facility in Permian Basin

Santa Fe Midstream has broken ground on a natural gas facility in the San Andres formation in the Permian Basin in West Texas. The natural gas facility, which will come up near Denver City, will be used for natural gas gathering, treating and processing. Santa Fe says that the initial natural gas facilities will commence operations by the second quarter of next year. The Texas-based Santa Fe is also building a crude oil gathering system in the region. Its natural gas and crude oil midstream facilities will be built in the Texan counties of Yoakum, Cochran and Gaines along with Lea County in New Mexico.

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Bloomberg

September 13, 2017

Seadrill Files for Bankruptcy in Bid to Shrink Debt Burden

Seadrill Ltd., the offshore driller controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen, filed for bankruptcy protection after working out a deal with almost all its senior lenders to inject $1 billion of new money into the company. Under the proposal, lenders will extend the maturity on $5.7 billion in debt, with no amortization payments due until 2020. Should lower-ranking creditors join the proposal, $2.3 billion in unsecured bonds would be converted into a 15 percent stake in the company, Seadrill said in a statement. “The deal gives us a great liquidity cushion,” allowing Seadrill to survive the “mother of all downturns,” Chief Executive Officer Anton Dibowitz said by phone. The new capital is “underpinned” by top shareholder Hemen Holding Ltd. and more than 40 percent of bondholders support the plan along with 97 percent of Seadrill’s secured bank lenders, he said. Dibowitz expects more bondholders to sign up to the deal.

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CNBC

September 13, 2017

US shale oil and gas investors are on a ‘road to ruin,’ warns renowned short seller Jim Chanos

Jim Chanos’ Kynikos Associates is betting against a number of U.S. shale oil and gas stocks, saying Wall Street analysis of the sector is deeply flawed. Investors are taking for granted accounting methods that mask problems with the fundamental business model in the U.S. shale patch, Chanos warned during a speech Tuesday at CNBC’s and Institutional Investor’s Delivering Alpha conference. Their focus on certain metrics is causing them to overlook hidden threats that will leave drillers with skimpier returns than investors are anticipating, he said. “In our view, people have been looking at this industry through the rose-colored glasses of Wall Street. And this is the inherent problem with the North American shale business,” he said.

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Modesto Bee

September 13, 2017

Oil sanctions against Venezuela less likely after Harvey and Irma, sources say

The White House has now tabled, at least temporarily, any discussion of oil sanctions against Venezuela, due in part to worries that cutting fuel supplies would only hurt Americans struggling after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, according to two sources familiar with the planning. “The White House is eager to tighten the noose on Maduro, but not at the expense of American motorists,” said a former National Security Council official familiar with the planning. According to a senior administration official, Trump’s team wants see how the last round of sanctions affects Caracas. And before moving on oil sanctions, that official said Washington also would need to determine how such a punishment would hurt the U.S. oil industry and gasoline consumers, still reeling from Harvey and Irma.

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San Antonio Express News

September 8, 2017

Facebook, Twitter fuel Texas #gasshortage as social media fans fears

Last week’s run on gas in Texas was rooted in an old fashioned disruption in supply, exacerbated by modern technology as news of a #gasshortage spread like wildfire across Twitter and Facebook. What began as a relatively minor supply issue as the last remnants of Hurricane Harvey hung over Houston on Aug. 30, exploded into full-blown panic buying that helped propel national prices up by an average of 27 cents a gallon and left more than 91 percent of all gas stations in San Antonio empty within three days. … “San Antonio is tight on infrastructure any way,” said Alan Cerwick, a former Valero Energy Corp. executive and owner of VP Racing Fuels, a local company that makes 80 specialty fuels. Most of San Antonio, Austin and Waco get their fuel from refineries in Corpus Christi, he said. As stations ran out of fuel in the real world, word of the gas shortage spread like wildfire online and sent people in droves to buy gas. “A little bit of a supply shortage, with a lot of hoarding, makes for a big problem here in San Antonio. It will take a while to catch up,” Cerwick said.

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Oil Price

September 13, 2017

Unknown Oil & Gas Deal Just Changed The Global Energy Balance

One of the biggest energy stories this year has been Russia’s Rosneft buying India’s Essar Oil — giving the Russian company a firm grip on one of the world’s biggest emerging oil and gas markets. And this past week, that story got more complex. With Rosneft striking another big deal — drawing in another heavyweight energy nation. China. Rosneft announced Friday it is selling a significant chunk of its equity to Chinese investors. In this case, little-know exploration and production firm CEFC China Energy. Although few investors know CEFC, the company is bringing significant capital to the deal. With the firm agreeing to pay $9 billion to acquire a 14.16 percent stake in Rosneft.

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San Antonio Express News

September 7, 2017

Qatar giving $30 million to help Harvey victims in Texas

Qatar is donating $30 million to help people in Texas recover from Harvey, its ambassador said Thursday, as the Persian Gulf nation works to show it’s a constructive global player amid a diplomatic crisis with its neighbors. The contribution appears to be the largest from a foreign government to assist with the hurricane that devastated stretches of the Texas coast. It came the same day that the United Arab Emirates, one of Qatar’s opponents in the Persian Gulf dispute, announced its own $10 million to help Harvey victims. Both donations were announced as the leader of Kuwait, which has been mediating the Qatar crisis, was in Washington discussing the dispute with President Donald Trump and other American officials.

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Associated Press

September 8, 2017

In ‘Gasland’ community, new tests revive old drilling debate

The well water at Ken Morcom and Kim Grosso’s house is laced with so much explosive methane that a Pennsylvania environmental regulator who went there to collect samples this summer decided it would be safer to coast her SUV down the driveway. Morcom and Grosso want to leave but doubt they could sell a house with tainted water. So, a few weeks ago, they asked the gas driller they blame for polluting their well to buy them out. “I was hoping they’d fix it. But I’ve given up hope,” said Morcom, 49, who supports drilling but has become disillusioned with Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. “Just let us out of the box.” “The box” is the couple’s 8-acre spread in rural Dimock Township. But Morcom could have been talking about Dimock itself.

This article appeared on the ABC News website

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Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 13, 2017

Kury: Should we bury our power lines?

n terms of reliability, it is not correct to say that burying power lines protects them from storm damage. It simply shifts the risk of damage from one type of storm effect to another. Undergrounding power lines may make them more susceptible to damage from corrosive storm surge and flooding from rainfall or melting ice and snow. Areas with greater vulnerability to storm surge and flooding will confront systems that are less reliable (and at greater cost) as a result of undergrounding. It is true that undergrounding can mitigate damage from wind events such as flying debris, falling trees and limbs, and collected ice and snow. But alternatives, such as proper vegetation management practices, replacing wood poles with steel, concrete or composite ones, or reinforcing utility poles with guy wires, may be nearly as effective in mitigating storm damage and may cost less.

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The Energy Collective

September 11, 2017

News About What Went Wrong at VC Summer Gets Worse

If you can tear yourself away from the news about twin giant hurricanes leaving huge swaths of destruction and chaos in their wake in Texas and Florida, there is a man-made disaster taking place in South Carolina. It is the failure of one of the largest capital construction projects in the U.S. Every time another newspaper headline appears about what went wrong at the V C Summer project, the dark implications of what it all means for the future of the nuclear energy industry get all the more foreboding. What we have learned this week is that it appears that some, if not all, of the principals at both SCE&G and Santee Cooper knew and documented to greater or lesser degrees as long as three years ago that the project was a train wreck in the making that was racing towards a derailment of epic proportions. Now instead of looking forward to a triumph for completion of two massive nuclear reactors generating 2300 MW of CO2 emission free electricity, the nation will get endless political fallout, and lawsuits, which will dominate the the complex contractual debris, left behind like storm damage from a hurricane, for years to come.

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Bloomberg

September 14, 2017

Coal Seeks New Life as Carbon Fiber for Submarines

The 30-foot hull of an experimental mini-sub is helping to show how the U.S. may be able to redeploy the mountain of coal that power plants are no longer burning. Researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee used carbon fibers to build the submersible for the U.S. Navy with a 3-D printer, demonstrating the promise of new manufacturing techniques that are faster, cheaper and more flexible. But it also offers inspiration to scientists looking to turn America’s vast reserves of coal into advanced materials, including carbon fibers now made using petroleum-based polymers. The search for alternative uses has intensified as utilities switch to cleaner options for generating electricity, like natural gas, wind turbines and solar panels. While no one expects the research to revive all the coal-mining jobs that disappeared in recent years, experts say new sources of demand are emerging for the carbon-rich rock, from battery electrodes to car parts.

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Inside Sources

September 12, 2017

Hanger, Spitzer: States Have the Power to Keep Nuclear in the Mix

July 2017 saw two court rulings both significant and positive for the future of clean energy. Federal courts in New York and Illinois ruled that states have the authority to place an economic value on the zero-emission production of electricity. More important, these rulings establish a precedent for other states to achieve their own goals to use clean energy credits for sources of electricity that don’t emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The noteworthy outcome of the policies upheld by the two courts is that nuclear facilities will continue to operate in New York and Illinois. A paper we co-authored, “Nuclear Energy as Foundational to Low Carbon Future,” elaborates on why this result is so critical right now. The United States has made great progress in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Since 2005, our country diminished its carbon dioxide output by 14 percent. And there is a sweeping consensus on the need to continue this momentum. Twenty states have issued goals or mandates to reduce carbon emissions.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Interesting Engineering

September 6, 2017

Solar Power to Rival Nuclear Energy by the End of This Year

Between solar power and wind power both surpassing more traditional forms of energy, the future of renewable resources continues to look brighter. A recent report from Green Tech Media suggests that solar power could rival nuclear power as early as the end of this year. The GTM study combines data from the Nuclear Energy Institute as well as other information from global studies regarding solar power. The Nuclear Energy Institute reports 391.5 gigawatts of nuclear plants around the world. Some researchers think that number could be on a slight decline given total investment numbers. GTM research estimates that by the end of 2017, there will be close to 390 gigawatts of solar PV plants across the globe. GTM said that the figure could be even larger given China’s boom in solar energy. One major challenge, however, comes from the capacity difference between the two energy types.

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CNBC

September 11, 2017

Nearly 2.4 gigawatts of solar installed in the US during second quarter of 2017

The U.S. installed almost 2.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaics in the second quarter of 2017, an increase of 8 percent year-on-year, according to a new report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Breaking the figures down, a total of 2,387 megawatts (MW) were installed in the second quarter with total installed capacity in the U.S. hitting 47.1 GW, enough to power just over nine million homes. Looking forward, the U.S. Solar Market Insight report forecast that this year would see the solar industry add 12.4 GW of new capacity, down from GTM Research’s prior forecast of 12.6 GW.

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Eric Peters Autos

September 11, 2017

Peters: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em . . . Ban ‘Em

Since they can’t sell electric cars – not enough of them, anyhow – and not without subsidies so huge they amount to outright bribes – the solution appears to be to outlaw all cars except electric cars. This is no joke. There are IC engine No Go Zones in Germany and France. The Brits have just decreed a ban on the sale of internal combustion-engined vehicles period, beginning in 2040 – which sounds like a long time from now but isn’t – because car companies begin designing cars about ten years before they see the light of production and so this fatwa means the car companies are on notice that the current generation of cars they are selling is either the last or the second-to-last generation of cars they will be selling . . . at least insofar as they are powered by internal combustion.

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Digital Journal

September 11, 2017

New battery technologies getting venture investors charged up

For the past two decades, venture investors have embraced clean energy technologies. Now, with the search for better battery technologies, these same investors are turning to battery businesses. As more and more vehicles become electrified, the need for new energy storage solutions will continue to grow. And with the energy revolution adding larger amounts of renewable energy to the electrical grid, it doubles the need for reliable, cost effective energy storage batteries. According to data from cleantech investment and advisory services firm Mercom Capital, battery companies have raised $480 million in the first half of 2017. the major portion of that capital was raised by Texas-based Microvast Power Systems (MPS), a subsidiary of HUZHOU, China-based Microvast.

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San Antonio Express News

September 12, 2017

Electric cars dominate the buzz at Frankfurt auto show

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Carmakers at the Frankfurt auto show are unveiling the low-emissions vehicles and technology strategies they hope will let them profit from the sweeping changes expected to hit the auto industry in the next few years. Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz on Tuesday unveiled a compact electric vehicle under its EQ sub-brand that showcases its efforts to make connected, electric, shared and autonomous vehicles. The EQA has two electric motors that can give it different driving characteristics depending on which mode the driver chooses. The Stuttgart-based automaker also had the GLC F-Cell, a “pre-production” model of a battery-fuel cell hybrid SUV that can run on hydrogen and emits only water vapor.

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Regulatory Stories

Kallanish Energy

September 13, 2017

Texas drilling permits increase 70.4% in August

The Railroad Commission of Texas issued a total of 1,125 original drilling permits in August, Kallanish Energy reports. That compares to 660 permits in August 2016 — a 70.4% increase. The August 2017 total includes 987 permits to drill oil-gas wells, 14 to re-enter plugged bore wells and 124 for re-completions of existing well bores. The breakdown for those permits include 298 oil, 74 gas, 666 oil or gas, 64 injection, two service and 21 other. In August 2017, the agency processed 401 oil, 115 gas, 38 injection and three other completions. That compares to 545 oil, 223 gas, 46 injection and eight other completions in August 2016, it said.

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Houston Chronicle

September 13, 2017

Houston EPA lab set to close

Conservationists and labor union officials argued Wednesday that the potential closing of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional lab in Houston, which is expected to play a key role in Hurricane Harvey recovery, is among harmful impacts of the Trump administration’s drive to slice staff and mission in the agency. The EPA’s Region 6 Environmental Services Laboratory, which serves a five-state region, is scheduled for closing when the lease on its rented, 41,000 square-foot space in southwest Houston expires in 2020, officials of the American Federation of Government Employees said they were told. What happens after that, the EPA isn’t saying. The lab employs roughly 50 people, including chemists and biologists. Much of its work has been focused on testing samples from Superfund sites in the region.

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Politico

September 11, 2017

Is China leaping past us?

This August, China successfully tested the world’s first quantum satellite communication – relying on the physics of quantum entanglement to send and receive provably secure messages. While the United States faces a regulatory morass around the world-shaking potential of CRISPR gene editing technologies, China last year announced seven human trials to treat cancer and other ailments. As coal finds itself again at the center of the American energy policy debate, China’s photovoltaic capacity has surged. In just the first six months of 2017, China added new solar energy generation capacity equal to half of the United States’ entire installed solar base at the end of 2016. These largely overlooked “Sputnik Moments” have thus far failed to galvanize a U.S. response.

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Electrek

September 9, 2017

Tesla is under attack by same ‘merchants of doubt’ behind tobacco industry and climate change denial

Despite most automakers admitting that the future of the auto industry is electric, there are still several efforts to slow down the EV revolution. Whether by the automakers themselves who virtually all (except for Tesla) lobbied to block EPA’s new fuel consumption standard or with special interest groups launching media campaigns trying to discredit the technology or its proponents. As part of these continued attacks, Tesla is now the target of attacks by the same “merchants of doubt” behind tobacco industry lobbying and global warming deniers. We are talking about “The Heartland Institute”. The organization presents itself as a conservative and libertarian public policy think tank, but they are better known for being used by companies to push ideas based on profit rather than scientific facts, like when they took money from Philip Morris to question or deny the health risks of secondhand smoke or with some disgusting campaigns to deny climate change.

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Los Angeles Times

September 12, 2017

Driverless-car rules loosen: U.S. regulator stops demanding safety assessments

Go for it! In essence, that’s the Trump administration’s new directive on driverless-car development. Under that directive, automakers and technology companies will be asked to voluntarily submit safety assessments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, but they don’t have to do it. And states are being advised to use a light regulatory hand. At a driverless-car test track in Ann Arbor, Mich., outside Detroit, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao unveiled a document titled “Vision for Safety 2.0.” Her speech was strong on vision and light on regulation. She painted a near-future of greater safety, fewer deaths, higher productivity and more time spent with loved ones as robots increasingly take over the tasks of driving and commuters are freed for other activities. “More than 35,000 people perish every year in vehicle crashes,” she said — 94% of those through driver error. After years of decline, fatalities are growing, she said. “Automated driving systems hold the promise of significantly reducing these errors and saving tens of thousands of lives in the process.”

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Bloomberg

September 12, 2017

Obama’s Solar Goal Has Been Met, Trump’s Energy Department Brags

The Trump administration announced Tuesday that former President Barack Obama’s goal of slashing the cost of solar power has been achieved early, taking credit for milestone even though the new administration is skeptical of renewable power. “With the impressive decline in solar prices, it is time to address additional emerging challenges,” said Daniel Simmons, the Energy Department’s acting assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy. Simmons previously worked for the Washington-based Institute for Energy Research and has said that solar and wind “is more expensive and will increase the price of electricity.” The group called for the abolition of the office Simmons now heads. And President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal called for cutting solar energy funding within the Energy Department by 71 percent to $70 million.

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Washington Post

September 12, 2017

The Energy 202: Hurricanes Harvey and Irma renew calls to ax obscure shipping law

Passed in 1920, the Jones Act requires that all ships transporting goods between U.S. ports be owned and manned by U.S. citizens, and to be built within U.S. shores. Sponsored by then-Sen. Wesley Jones (R-Wash.) as a boon to shipbuilders and longshoremen in the port of Seattle, the law is lambasted today by free-trade proponents who regard it as a relic of the country’s protectionist past. Defenders of the law — which include unions and some national-security experts — say the Jones Act protects U.S. jobs and ensures the nation has the shipyards to build naval fleets if necessary. The debate over the arcane law also stresses the tendons holding together the two halves of Trump’s political thinking. With his “energy dominance” agenda of encouraging more fossil-fuel extraction in the United States, Trump has identified himself as an ally of the oil and gas industry, which wants to rein in the shipping law that it argues raises domestic fuel prices.

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The Hill

September 9, 2017

Henry: Trump stacks administration with climate change skeptics

President Trump has stacked his administration with officials who doubt the scientific consensus behind man-made climate change, underscoring a growing divide within the Republican party. Even as leading scientists, environmentalists and most Democrats accept research that shows climate change accelerating — and as some see it contributing to the two mammoth hurricanes that have threatened the United States this year — some in Trump’s administration have openly raised doubts. The rise of climate change skeptics has been most pronounced in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which helped lead then-President Obama’s efforts to regulate climate change-causing pollutants.

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Texas Energy Report September 13, 2017
Lead Stories

San Antonio Express News

September 12, 2017

FourWinds ‘might have been a Ponzi scheme,’ Uresti testifies

Facing criminal charges for his involvement in FourWinds Logistics, State Sen. Carlos Uresti testified Tuesday in a San Antonio bankruptcy court trial that the now-defunct oil field services company “might have been a Ponzi scheme.” The San Antonio Democrat said on the witness stand that he and his legal team conducted an investigation into FourWinds “because he wanted to get to the truth of the matter” following his indictment in May. “I was not aware until recently from our investigation, that it appears that it might have been a Ponzi scheme,” Uresti testified. … Uresti was subpoenaed to testify in the bankruptcy court trial, which centers on a dispute over roughly $2.5 million the Chapter 7 trustee is seeking to recover from a Dallas surgeon who invested with the frac-sand company.

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Texas Tribune

September 12, 2017

Post-Harvey, Houston officials hope Congress is up for funding Ike Dike

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner on Tuesday gave his strongest endorsement to date for constructing a physical coastal barrier to protect the region from deadly storm surge during hurricanes. Though such a barrier system would not have guarded against the unrelenting and unprecedented rain Hurricane Harvey dumped on the area, Turner — one of the region’s last leaders to endorse the “coastal spine” concept — said at a Tuesday news conference that he believes it is crucial. “We cannot talk about rebuilding” from Harvey “if we do not build the coastal spine,” he said.

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The Hill

September 12, 2017

Energy Department expands goals for solar power initiative

A Department of Energy effort to lower the cost of solar power has hit a key goal thee years early, officials said Tuesday. The agency is also set to expand the goals of its SunShot Initiative and pump new funding into reducing costs and expanding energy storage, the department announced. The price of electricity generated by utility-scale solar photovoltaic systems fell to $0.06 per kilowatt hour this year, achieving a 2020 goal of the SunShot program three years early. Prices for residential and commercial systems are 86 percent and 89 percent toward achieving their price goals, the Energy Department reported.

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Houston Chronicle

September 11, 2017

Harvey, Irma could boost oil glut by 43 million barrels

The nation’s oil stockpile could surge by tens of millions of barrels this month after Hurricane Harvey paralyzed the Gulf Coast refining complex, Goldman Sachs said Monday. The investment bank believes U.S. oil inventories could end the month 43 million barrels larger in the wake of Harvey and Hurricane Irma, which began pummeling Florida over the weekend. Domestic oil storage tanks are the world’s most visible collection points for the global oil glut that has kept crude prices low for more than three years, and an onrush of oil could send prices lower, analysts said. U.S. oil prices fell 23 cents to $47.25 a barrel on Monday morning.

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Windpower Engineering

September 1, 2017

Why the U.S. offshore wind market is going to be even bigger than you think

There is one subject that all commentators on the US offshore wind industry agree on: the sector is going to undergo rapid expansion over the next decade. What does provoke argument is the likely scale of this growth and the relative importance of the factors that are going to push it forwards or hold it back. In response, New Energy Update, in association with the 3rd Annual US Offshore Wind 2018 Conference, have put together this exclusive whitepaper analysis (below) about why the US offshore wind market will supersede growth Bloomberg New Energy Finance’ predictions of total installed capacity of 3 to 4 GW by 2030. Bloomberg New Energy Finance has forecast that the US will have a total installed capacity of between 3 GW and 4 GW by 2030, however, the predominant view of the speakers at the conference was that the actual increase may be twice that.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 13, 2017

Oil prices mixed as US stockpile rise takes shine off OPEC higher demand view

Oil prices were mixed on Wednesday, dampened by reports of rising U.S. crude stockpiles but retaining some of the gains made in the previous session after OPEC said it expected higher demand for its crude next year. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) was unchanged at $48.23 a barrel at around 0359 GMT after rising earlier in the day. The contract rose 0.3 percent on Tuesday. International benchmark Brent crude was down 13 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $54.14 a barrel, having settled up 0.8 percent in the previous session. The difference between Brent and WTI, known as the spread, rose by 11 cents to $5.41 in the favor of the global benchmark, as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma continued to impact demand for both crude and oil products in the U.S.

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MarketWatch

September 12, 2017

EIA lowers U.S. crude-oil production forecast

The U.S. Energy Information Administration lowered its forecasts for 2017 and 2018 U.S. crude-oil production, according to the agency’s monthly Short-term Energy Outlook report released Tuesday. The EIA forecast U.S. crude production at an average 9.25 million barrels per day in 2017, down 1% from the previous forecast. It sees 2018 output at 9.84 million barrels a day, down 0.7% from the previous forecast.

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Houston Chronicle

September 12, 2017

Bulk of gasoline spill in Galena Park never escaped into waterways, EPA says

The bulk of the 11,000 barrels of gasoline that leaked from storage tanks in Galena Park never escaped secondary containment booms into nearby waterways, federal officials said Tuesday. A small, unrecoverable amount of the gas blend stock spilled into Houston Ship Channel during Hurricane Harvey’s rampage late last month, the Environmental Protection Agency said Tuesday. But some 8,000 barrels that spilled within the facilities were recovered last week, and the U.S. Coast Guard did not observe a sheen in nearby waters.

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San Francisco Chronicle

September 12, 2017

S.F. employee pension fund under pressure to unload fossil fuel stocks

The San Francisco Employee Retirement System is facing mounting pressure to unload its roughly $470 million worth of investments in the fossil fuel industry, which would make it the first major pension fund in the nation to do so. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is expected to pass a resolution urging SFERS officials to consider selling all fossil fuel investments. It’s the second time since 2013 that city lawmakers have asked the governing board of San Francisco’s $23 billion employee pension plan to reconsider the fossil fuel companies. But after what critics say has been four years of procrastination, time may be running out for the board to make an independent decision on the issue. Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who authored the resolution, said if the board doesn’t address the issue soon, he’s prepared to put a ballot measure before voters next year that would compel the the fund to sell its fossil fuel stocks.

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Bloomberg

September 11, 2017

Hedge Funds Flip-Flop as Harvey Shakes Up the Crude Market

Harvey’s got hedge funds caught in a whirlwind. Just after the storm triggered the biggest rush to a more bearish stance on West Texas Intermediate crude since 2007, they flipped the switch and raised bets on a rebound as refiners in Texas whip plants back into shape. Short-sellers saw “an advantage to be gained from the impact on refineries, but when it turned out it was going to be very short-lived, they made their way to the exits,” Gene McGillian, a market research manager at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut, said by telephone. Harvey led fuel producers to shut down more than 20 percent of American refining capacity as it made landfall on Aug. 25, causing a sudden slump in crude demand and prices. But several refiners such as Valero Energy Corp., Citgo Petroleum Corp. and Marathon Petroleum Corp. got plants back on their feet in just a few days, stoking a post-Harvey rally. Some, like Phillips 66’s Sweeny and Exxon Mobil Corp.’s Beaumont, are taking a little longer.

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Oil Price

September 11, 2017

Goldman: Harvey, Irma Cause 900,000 Bpd Drop In Demand

In the wake of the hurricanes Harvey and Irma, oil demand is expected to drop by some 900,000 bpd this month, Goldman Sachs said on Monday. “Irma will have a negative impact on oil demand but not on oil production or processing,” Goldman analysts said in a note, as carried by Reuters. “Harvey’s negative impact on demand will remain larger, however, given the large concentration of energy-intensive petrochemical activity in its path,” the bank said. According to Goldman’s estimates, the combined effects of production disruption and demand drop from hurricanes Harvey and Irma alone will lift global oil inventories by 600,000 bpd in September.

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Washington Post

September 12, 2017

OPEC Production Falls as Efforts to Cut Output Start to Pay Off

OPEC crude oil production fell last month for the first time since April, in a boost to the cartel’s beleaguered efforts to reduce output and rein in the global supply glut. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ output declined by 0.24%, to 32.76 million barrels a day in August, down by 79,000 barrels from July. The decline was driven mainly by a precipitous drop in Libyan production, as well as reduced output in Gabon, Venezuela and Iraq, according to OPEC’s closely watched monthly market report. The report comes as Saudi Arabia—OPEC’s largest member and the world’s biggest crude exporter—has been debating whether to extend the cartel’s production cutting deal after it expires next year.

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Texas Public Radio

September 12, 2017

With Power Out, Many Florida Gas Stations Remain Closed

About 40 percent of gas stations remained closed in Florida, and the number was as high as 65 percent in some places, says Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at the crowdsourcing website Gasbuddy.com. A lot of stations ran out of fuel last week as millions of Floridians began to evacuate in anticipation of the storm and rushed to fill their tanks. Many of those who remained behind also bought gas just to be on the safe side. Although the storm is gone, many of those stations are still closed, says Tampa resident Matthew Kemp, who has been tracking fuel supplies on a smartphone app.

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American Journal of Transportation

September 12, 2017

EIA: Hurricane Harvey caused U.S. Gulf Coast refinery runs to drop, gasoline prices to rise

Hurricane Harvey caused substantial disruptions to crude oil and petroleum product supply chains and increased petroleum product prices. For the week ending September 1, 2017, gross inputs to refineries in the U.S. Gulf Coast fell by 3.2 million b/d, or 34%, from the previous week, the largest drop since Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008. Weekly refinery utilization in the region fell from 96% to 63%, while other areas of the country remained virtually unchanged. Just over half of all U.S. refinery capacity is located in the U.S. Gulf Coast (defined as Petroleum Administration for Defense District 3). Texas, where Harvey made landfall, represents 31% of all U.S. refinery capacity, based on data from January 2017. These refineries supply petroleum products to domestic markets on the Gulf Coast, East Coast, and Midwest, as well as to international markets. The Gulf Coast region is also a key storage area for crude oil and petroleum products. As of March 2017, 49% of total U.S. working crude oil storage capacity and more than 40% of working storage capacity for both motor gasoline and diesel fuel were located in the Gulf Coast region.

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Associated Press

September 11, 2017

Environmental groups, senator challenge $225M Exxon deal

New Jersey’s $225 million settlement with Exxon Mobil short-changed the public, four environmental organizations and a Democratic state senator told an appeals court Monday, adding they should be allowed to push for more cash. State Sen. Ray Lesniak and an attorney for the environmental groups continued their yearslong push to intervene in New Jersey’s settlement with the Texas petroleum company on Monday, arguing before a three-judge appeals court in Trenton that the trial judge was wrong to deny them the ability to intervene in the 2015 settlement. The state’s legal fight against Exxon goes back to 2004, when New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection brought a suit against Exxon over decades of pollution at two oil refineries in Bayonne and Linden. A months-long trial was about to result in trial Judge Michael Hogan’s decision when Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s administration and Exxon announced the settlement.

This article appeared in the Seattle Post Intelligencer

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NASDAQ

September 5, 2017

Will Oil Price Volatility Affect These Agriculture Stocks?

Oil price volatility impacts not only the economic health of a country but also influences the global economy. Over time, major oil-producing nations, especially the United States and the members of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have played key roles in striking a balance between global supply and demand for crude oil. Governmental policies regarding the use of alternative sources of energy, large scale use of electric vehicles and public transportation, sluggish global economic growth and oil trade policies are certain factors influencing oil demand.

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San Antonio Express News

September 12, 2017

Suppliers try to fill San Antonio with regular fuel, neglecting other grades

Most San Antonio gas stations now have fuel, but drivers aren’t traveling smooth roads yet — the supply disruptions linked to Hurricane Harvey continue to limit the types of gasoline for sale. Many pumps around the city are operating, but only with regular gasoline. Some stations still have homemade “sold out” paper signs covering the midgrade and premium options. It’s nothing personal, luxury-car drivers. Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for gas price tracker GasBuddy, said that because the majority of gasoline purchased by customers is lower-octane regular fuel, the midgrade and premium grades “are getting a little neglected.”

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Houston Chronicle

September 11, 2017

Saudi Arabia says it’s open to another OPEC cuts extension

Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih agreed with his Venezuelan, Kazakh and U.A.E. counterparts to keep all options open in their push to re-balance world oil markets, including the possible extension of output cuts beyond next March. Al-Falih agreed in separate talks with the ministers in the Kazakh capital Astana that steps taken by OPEC and other major crude producers such as Kazakhstan have contributed to better market stability, according to three emailed statements from the Saudi energy ministry. Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, both members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, agreed to consider prolonging production cuts “beyond the first quarter of 2018, if needed,” the Saudi ministry said in one of the statements.

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Rigzone

September 12, 2017

Shell Canada Shuts Some Gas Operations Due To Southern Alberta Wildfire

Shell Canada, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, is shutting some gas operations in its Waterton complex in southern Alberta as a precaution against an uncontrolled wildfire raging nearby, the company said on Tuesday. The Waterton complex includes natural gas wells and a processing plant and has production capacity of nearly 179 million cubic feet per day. So far the company has not shut its Waterton gas plant but is closely monitoring the situation, spokesman Cameron Yost said in a statement.

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Associated Press

September 12, 2017

A third of wells shut down at site of troubled gas facility

The largest gas storage facility in the West halted using a third of the wells pumping methane underground at high pressure just weeks after it resumed operations following a blowout that crippled it for nearly two years. Southern California Gas Co. said Monday it notified state regulators last month that 13 of 39 injection wells at Aliso Canyon were shut down after detecting a pressure buildup. State regulators and the company said there were no risks to public health or safety and no release of gas into the atmosphere. But the revelation raises questions about how such a problem could crop up so soon after SoCalGas upgraded equipment, passed rigorous tests and began operating under stricter rules at the aging facility.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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Utilities Stories

KFDA (Amarillo)

September 12, 2017

McClure: Our Perspective on Xcel Energy canceling the fuel surcharge

It’s good news and bad news in the local utility news this week. On Monday, Xcel Energy announced it was canceling its request to increase fuel charges to customers that allowed them to recover expenses for natural gas to fuel its generators, to keep area lights and air conditioners running. That increase would have cost the average Texas residential customer $1.50 more a month. However, Xcel has had some cost savings including natural gas prices decreasing almost 15% over the last four months, and this has helped balance the deficit.

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San Marcos Corridor News

September 12, 2017

Pedernales Electric Cooperative Sends 21 Employees To Restore Power In Florida

On Monday, Pedernales Electric Cooperative dispatched 21 employees to the City of Quincy, Fla., located near Tallahassee. PEC crews are traveling to assist Talquin Electric Cooperative with power recovery and rebuilding following the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma that made landfall in Florida early Saturday. In addition to service and construction crews, PEC sent staff from its safety and engineering departments, plus two unmanned aerial vehicles to help with damage assessments.

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Wall St. Journal

September 12, 2017

Herculean Task as Crews Race to Restore Power Cut by Irma

Block by block and city by city, utilities face one of the largest power restoration challenges in U.S. history as they bring back electricity to more than 15 million people affected by Hurricane Irma. Almost 60,000 utility workers from the U.S. and Canada are descending on Florida and other states hard hit by the storm, with more line crews and contractors expected soon, according to the Edison Electric Institute, an industry group. They are painstakingly repairing electrical substations, power poles, transmission lines and other parts of the grid knocked out by winds and floodwaters. The aim is to restore power to hospitals and other critical facilities first, then bring the lights back to most residents as quickly as possible. But utility and government officials acknowledge it will take days or even weeks for the herculean effort. Restoring full power after superstorm Sandy in 2012 took more than a month.

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Arkansas Business

September 12, 2017

Entergy, AECC, SWEPCO Send Crews to Hurricane Zone

When Hurricane Irma ripped into Florida on Sunday, cutting off electric power to more than 7 million people, Rob Roedel was rallying a rescue party, but he also found himself thinking about an ice storm. … On Monday, Roedel and Riddle were sending off the last convoy of about 145 linemen from Arkansas’ electric cooperatives, bound for Florida, South Carolina and Georgia, where electric cooperatives are dealing with the aftermath of Irma. As the co-op crews rushed expertise and equipment eastward, they joined about 100 people sent by Entergy Arkansas to help investor-owned utilities in Florida, only days after Entergy crews got back home from restoring electricity in regions of Texas ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. AECC and Entergy were just two divisions in an army of linemen from as far away as Wisconsin and California speeding toward the disaster zone. SWEPCO sent 233 employees and contractors out to assist Duke Energy Florida, which sent out a call for recovery help. Crews from SWEPCO’s five districts, including Fayetteville and Texarkana, departed today. Other crews returned safely Saturday after helping sister company AEP Texas recover from Harvey.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

3Ders

September 1, 2017

3D printing poised to explode in wind turbine industry

As the wind turbine industry picks up speed, one CEO is bracing himself for a bright future the likes of which we’ve never seen before. Imagine a wind turbine nacelle made of structural fabric—yes, fabric—or blades complete with metal mesh inserts. According to Philip Totaro of Totaro & Associates, the rapid advance of 3D printing technology means that such hybrid-material wind turbines are no longer the stuff of imagination. These energy savers with “sci-fi-level” performance could become reality in as soon as 2 years, he says. … The basic concept behind using hybrid materials is to allow for variable material density at strategic points of the blade: weight can be minimized while structural integrity is strengthened. Possible examples include using a high modulus glass or carbon for the turbine’s spar, webs, or root—points where loads are higher—while reserving a more conventional glass for the outboard. It could save untold costs, leverage existing infrastructure, and make use of new innovations all in one go.

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New York Times

September 12, 2017

Tesla Boosts Car Battery Power During Irma, Raising Questions of Control

Tesla drivers in Florida got an unexpected assist this weekend as they scrambled to evade Hurricane Irma. Owners of certain Model S sedans and Model X S.U.V.s noticed that the battery capacity of their electric cars had increased, giving them as much as 40 extra miles of range to outrun the deluge. Range anxiety — the fear that an electric vehicle will run out of charge before reaching its destination — can be magnified in emergency situations. Tesla confirmed that it had remotely enabled a free software upgrade for vehicles in the path of the storm, motivated by one customer who requested the change while making evacuation plans. The free upgrade will expire on Saturday.

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Green Tech Media

September 5, 2017

Leyden: 5 Ways to Take 100% Renewable Energy From Dream to Mainstream

At the Intersolar conference in San Francisco this year, I opened a presentation on new solar and storage business models by highlighting recent milestones for the industry: The United States now has an impressive 44.7 gigawatts of operating solar systems, solar became the No. 1 source of new electricity in 2016, and in April 2017, for the first time ever, solar energy generation out-produced nuclear. I invited the audience to pat themselves on the back. It’s good to stop and celebrate the progress we’ve made to date. We’ve come a long way. But, of course, we have a long way to go in the United States before the dream of 100 percent clean energy becomes a reality.

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Huffington Post (HuffPost)

September 8, 2017

Browne: The Future of Electrical Energy Storage Solutions – No Lithium Supremacy

Currently, there is great hype about the capabilities of lithium batteries. The main application where lithium excels is mobility, due to its good power density and relatively small size. Major companies such as Tesla, LG and BYD advocate this technology as the best and brightest solution for global electrical energy storage needs. Many believe that lithium will become the new oil and some countries, like China, are heavily subsidizing the industry in order to gain political leverage and market share. Lithium batteries, however, are not the magical one-solution-fits-all for energy storage requirements. Indeed, lithium has recently experienced a significant drop in price, and huge over-production capacities have been built up. Driving this downward trend are above all Tesla, which is building a “Giga Factory” in Nevada, and China, which actively plans to increase lithium battery manufacturing.

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Regulatory Stories

Texas Tribune

September 12, 2017

Craddick seeking another term on Railroad Commission

Christi Craddick, the chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, is running for re-election in 2018. “During my first term at the Railroad Commission, I oversaw a modernization of the agency and provided common sense regulatory oversight of a robust energy industry while carefully balancing our state’s economic and environmental concerns,” Craddick said in a news release. “I am respectfully asking the voters of Texas to re-elect me to a second term.” Craddick’s announcement means that every non-judicial statewide official in Texas — all of them Republicans — has plans to seek re-election next year. Until Tuesday, Craddick had not revealed whether she intended to run again.

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Houston Chronicle

September 8, 2017

Chemical risk database targeted by Congress

When floodwaters come up, seeping into industrial areas that turn out fuel or chemicals, public health officials look to a federal database known simply as IRIS. Short for Integrated Risk Information System, the EPA maintains the program both to assess the health risks of various chemical compounds and as a go-to encyclopedia for state agencies of their impacts on human populations. “These are the folks that are there when Corpus Christi, Texas has a question about an inadvertent contamination of their water supply,” Thomas Burke, a public health professor at Johns Hopkins University, testified to Congress Wednesday. “IRIS is an importation database that doesn’t just look at cancer and rats.”

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Texas Monthly

September 5, 2017

Climate Change Experts Weigh In on Why Houston Flooded During Hurricane Harvey

At this point, there’s been plenty of theorizing on why Houston flooded. The answers are fairly routine: Houston’s flatness, its lack of drainage, and the fact that the unzoned and over-developed metropolitan area contains too much pavement and too little land to soak up rain water. But for atmospheric scientists, there’s another, far more ominous explanation to consider. In a mere 48 hours, Harvey went from a middling tropical storm, with winds of 45 miles per hour, to a Category 4 hurricane, with winds of 130 miles per hour. When it hit land, it dumped close to 50 inches of rain on Texas, which makes it the biggest rain storm in U.S. history. “There are many explanations for Harvey’s rampage,” Dr. Andrew Dessler, a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M in College Station, said. “But human induced climate change definitely made the storm worse.”

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The Hill

September 8, 2017

EPA chief defends chemical rule delay after Texas plant explosions

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt on Friday defended his decision to delay a major chemical plant safety regulation. The EPA has faced criticism on the decision following multiple explosions last week at Arkema Inc.’s plant in Crosby, Texas, which flooded from Hurricane Harvey. The Risk Management Plan rule, written under the Obama administration and delayed by Pruitt, would not likely have prevented the incident, but it may have helped first responders to avoid injuring themselves by inhaling noxious fumes.

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The Hill

September 11, 2017

Trump riles Dems with pick for powerful EPA job

William Wehrum, an energy industry attorney and former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, has been tapped to fulfill one of the agency’s most consequential roles. President Trump formally nominated Wehrum Thursday to be the EPA’s assistant administrator for air and radiation, where he would oversee a massive portfolio concerned with air pollution, climate change, auto regulation and more. If confirmed by the Senate, Wehrum would become one of the most powerful people at the 15,000-person agency behind Administrator Scott Pruitt. He would be responsible for the bulk of a massive deregulatory push by the Trump administration that involves rolling back or potentially revising rules on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants, methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector, ozone pollution and mercury, among other rules. Most of the regulations were written by the Obama administration.

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Environmental Leader

September 5, 2017

State Attorney Generals Attack Trump’s EPA Over Clean Power Plan Advice

As promised, the left-leaning states are carrying through with their promises to bring about carbon reductions not just in their jurisdictions but also nationally. To that end, the attorney generals in such states as California, Illinois and New York have written EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt letters stating that his advice to states that wish to delay their implementation of the Clean Power Plan is both ill-advised and terribly conflicted. The Clean Power Plan, of course, is now caught up in the courts. And while Pruitt has told the states that they do not need to follow through on the implementation schedule during this time, the Democratic attorney generals say that the plan remains the “law of the land.” That is because is has not been overturned and because the Trump administration has offered no alternatives, all while the US Supreme Court has previously said that the so-called “endangerment finding” is lawful — the ruling that says CO2 is harmful to human health and the environment.

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Washington Post

September 11, 2017

Drenzer: Rex Tillerson has lost his primary reason for being the secretary of state

Last month, the hard-working staff here at PostEverything called on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to resign. So far, he has not taken my advice. This is hardly surprising, as the power of Spoiler Alerts is minuscule. What is surprising, however, is that Tillerson even wants the job at this point. Seriously, why does Tillerson want to be the secretary of state? We know that in early February he said he accepted the position because his wife told him to do it. We know that since then, he has been nostalgic about his days in the oil industry, and the opposite of that in his conversations about running the State Department.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 12, 2017
Lead Stories

Natural Gas Intelligence

September 11, 2017

Ethylene production crushed by Hurricane Harvey

As the Gulf Coast continues its recovery in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the depth of its effects continue to manifest. With Texas producing almost three-quarters of the U.S’s supply of ethylene—considered one of the world’s most important petrochemicals—it is becoming increasingly evident that Hurricane Harvey’s effects will be felt across the nation. Ethylene is a ubiquitous chemical, with its byproducts being used in the production of everything from diapers, car parts, garbage bags, and food packaging, textiles, and antifreeze.

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San Antonio Express News

September 11, 2017

Uresti to testify in FourWinds bankruptcy case

State Sen. Carlos Uresti, who will go on trial next month in a criminal fraud case over FourWinds Logistics, is expected to testify Tuesday in a bankruptcy court trial involving the now-defunct frac-sand company. Lawyers for FourWinds’ bankruptcy trustee said Monday they will call Uresti as a witness in a dispute over about $2.5 million the trustee is seeking to recover from a Dallas surgeon who invested with the company. FourWinds purported to buy and sell sand, which is used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to produce oil and gas. Chapter 7 trustee Randolph Osherow alleges FourWinds fraudulently transferred the money to Dr. David Zehr less than two months before the company filed for bankruptcy. FourWinds was either insolvent or became insolvent as a result of the transfer, Osherow says in a lawsuit. He wants U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Craig Gargotta to undo the transfer so the money will go to the bankruptcy estate.

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Houston Chronicle

September 10, 2017

Irma’s $200 billion threat — Hurricane may cause energy utility to be rebuilt ‘from the ground up’

Just over two weeks after Hurricane Harvey struck the heart of U.S. energy production in Texas, Irma is threatening another region with almost $200 billion worth of damage. … NextEra Energy Inc.’s Florida Power & Light utility warned Sunday that some customers may go without power for weeks and parts of its system may need to be rebuilt “from the ground up.” The company took offline one of two reactors at its Turkey Point nuclear plant south of Miami. Ports critical to supplying the state with gasoline and diesel were also closed, and energy companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp. and Kinder Morgan Inc., shut fuel terminals and pipelines. “Fuel deliveries in Florida are virtually nonexistent,” Mansfield Oil, a Georgia-based energy supplier, said in a report late Saturday. “Fuel markets will take time to fully recover, particularly if Irma damages fueling infrastructure.”

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

September 8, 2017

Greene: The truth and fiction of Hurricane Harvey’s environmental effects

Take for example the ridiculous story released by the Associated Press that the EPA and its state partner, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, were “not on the scene” to deal with the storm’s effects on Superfund sites (properties undergoing remedial work to recover from past environmental contamination) in the area flooded by the hurricane. That false reporting led to immediate trashing of the Trump administration as negligent, and evidence of how the EPA had been weakened since the last election. EPA Associate Administrator Liz Bowman set the record straight, saying all the Superfund properties in the affected area were being assessed by teams of experts on the ground working with state and local counterparts and declaring any reports to the contrary to be “yellow journalism.” TCEQ provided complete information on exactly what has been done to deal with each and every site and the measures taken to protect communities from any exposure to harm.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 12, 2017

Oil prices dip as traders assess US hurricane impact

Oil prices edged down in early Asian trading on Tuesday, as traders weighed up the dampening effect on demand of Hurricane Irma versus refinery restarts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey that should lead to more crude oil processing. International benchmark Brent crude was down 5 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $53.79 per barrel by 0247 GMT from the previous close. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude was down 4 cents, or 0.1 percent, at $48.03 a barrel. U.S. refineries, including the largest U.S. refinery Motiva Enterprises, have started to come back online. Motiva restarted production on Monday after being shut for about two weeks as Hurricane Harvey ripped through the U.S. Gulf coast.

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San Antonio Express News

September 11, 2017

Oil market in ‘bearish shock’ over Harvey, Irma, Goldman says

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will hit oil with a “bearish shock,” investment bank Goldman Sachs said in a report Monday. While Hurricane Irma continues to pinwheel across the Southeast, Harvey is the storm that appears to be the most damaging to the market for crude oil because of the refineries and petrochemical plants that were in its path, the report said. Post-storm recovery and rebuilding are expected to increase demand for oil in a few months — but in the short term, hurricane season is making for rocky times in the energy industry. Demand for crude oil and jet fuel are down in the aftermath of the storms. Gasoline prices have soared as drivers filled up their tanks, but crude oil prices have fallen because producers have had fewer places to sell their product. Refineries, which buy crude oil to produce gasoline and other products, had to shut down operations because of Harvey, and some in Port Arthur still have not been able to restart.

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CNBC

September 12, 2017

Shell restarting Deer Park, Texas, JV refinery: sources

Royal Dutch Shell Plc began restarting its 325,700 barrel per day (bpd) joint-venture Deer Park, Texas, refinery on Monday night, said sources familiar with plant operations. Shell was restarting the 270,000 bpd DU-2 crude distillation unit (CDU) on Monday night, the sources said. DU-2 is the larger of two CDUs at the refinery. Shell shut the Deer Park refinery on Aug. 27 because of heavy rains from Tropical Storm Harvey. A Shell spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Monday night. The company had said on Friday restart activities were beginning at the refinery.

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Houston Chronicle

September 11, 2017

Magellan gasoline leak is biggest known spill of Harvey aftermath

A gasoline tank leak by Magellan Midstream is the largest reported spill caused by Hurricane Harvey near Houston after Magellan revised the spill amount by more than 10 times the initial estimate. The Oklahoma-based pipeline business confirmed Monday it spilled nearly 11,000 barrels – more than 460,000 gallons – after initially estimating the Aug. 31 incident at 1,000 barrels. Magellan admitted “a small amount” of the fuel entered the Houston Ship Channel and more of the gasoline flowed into an adjacent ditch.

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Houston Chronicle

September 11, 2017

Gasoline prices falling, shortages ending

Gasoline prices are starting to fall after peaking late last week as temporary shortages caused by Hurricane Harvey begin to ease. Texas fueling stations are mostly replenished with gasoline now – although some pockets of outages remain in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, according the GasBuddy.com., a website that tracks gasoline prices and refining activity. The Houston average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline on Monday is $2.48, which is down from a high of $2.50 Thursday and Friday, but still well above the $2.10 a gallon average before Harvey approached the Texas coast. The national average slipped to $2.67 per gallon, down by nearly 1 cent, but up 35 cents from pre-Harvey levels.

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Financial Post

September 1, 2017

The world is running out of sand — and you’d be surprised how significant that is

China has devoured more sand in the past four years than the United States did throughout the 20th century. Dubai, a city built on a desert, had to import the sand used in the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, from Australia. In India, sand has become such a hot commodity that it has been taken over by “sand mafias” who illegally mine and sell it on the black market. The demand for sand is on the rise as urban development around the world soars and hydraulic fracturing technology becomes more popular in places such as the U.S. and Alberta. Though most people have never thought twice about the supply of the seemingly plentiful grains, a growing number of observers are ringing the alarm that the global supply of sand is slipping through our fingers.

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Midland Reporter Telegram

September 10, 2017

Ongoing research aims to help oil patch work smarter

Unconventional resource development has been ongoing for a number of years now, moving from the Barnett Shale near Fort Worth to the Eagle Ford in South Texas to the Permian Basin, Ingram said. “All that research, all those thought processes from the Eagle Ford and the Barnett are being brought to bear in the Permian Basin. There is tremendous innovation happening in the Permian. In the next few years, the Permian will become an exporter of technology and innovation,” he said. Drilling is one area he cited. “Not so much research as taking existing technology used in other industries and applying it,” he said, listing automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence as such technology that can help cut drilling costs.

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Fox News

September 11, 2017

Valero Reports Emissions During Re-Start of Texas Refinery

Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) reported a disruption and emissions over the weekend while re-starting its Port Arthur, Texas, refinery after Hurricane Harvey, but it said the start-up was able to continue. “Unit upset during startup activities following Hurricane Harvey,” the refinery said in a statement, adding the emissions of sulfur dioxide began Saturday evening and lasted about an hour. “Continued to follow startup procedures.”

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Law 360

September 6, 2017

Pipeline Co. Says 2nd Circ. Got NY Permit Ruling Wrong

Constitution Pipeline Co. LLC asked the Second Circuit to rehear its claims that the New York State Department of Environmental Protection overstepped its authority when it denied the company a water quality permit for its planned $683 million natural gas pipeline. Constitution said the Second Circuit panel was wrong to uphold NYSDEC’s denial, arguing that it conflicted with precedent and allowed a single state to usurp the authority reserved for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve pipeline routes. The panel’s mid-August opinion improperly placed the power to decide a pipeline’s route with New York, potentially setting up state vetoes for projects, in violation of the Natural Gas Act, the company said in its rehearing petition on Friday. The panel’s opinion said that NYSDEC’s denial wasn’t arbitrary because the company — despite repeated requests for information about water crossings and engineering information — refused to provide the state agency with the information it wanted. In addition, the Second Circuit said it did not have jurisdiction to hear the company’s argument that the department should have acted faster.

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Associated Press

September 11, 2017

Harvey’s flooding blamed in major gasoline spill in Texas

Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters triggered a spill of almost a half-million gallons of gasoline from two storage tanks along the Houston Ship Channel, marking the largest spill reported to date from a storm that slammed into the heart of Texas’ huge petrochemical industry. The spill measured 10,988 barrels, or more than 461,000 gallons, and occurred at a petroleum tank farm in Galena Park operated by Magellan Midstream Partners, according to the Oklahoma-based company and accident reports submitted to federal officials. Some of the spilled fuel flowed into a waterway adjacent to the ship channel, a heavily-industrialized area that’s lined with dozens of petrochemical facilities, the reports said.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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Wall St. Journal

September 11, 2017

An Undervalued New Player in the Energy Industry

If they gave out grades for corporate names, “ Baker Hughes, a GE Company BHGE 3.08% ” would get a D-minus. In terms of recent financial performance, neither of the parties to the merger completed two months ago deserved more than a gentleman’s C. But the company’s grade should go higher over the next few years as new management, a solid balance sheet and strong business lines combine to boost Baker Hughes BHGE 3.08% (we’ll drop the last part) ahead of its competitors. While the company is still exposed to energy prices, it expects $1.6 billion in annual deal synergies and cost savings by 2020, a boost its rivals won’t get. ––

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Natural Gas Intelligence

September 11, 2017

Halliburton Not Worried About Rig Count Plateau, Says CEO

Halliburton Co. CEO Jeff Miller said the company isn’t concerned about a onshore rig count plateau, viewing it as a sign that customers are trying to ferret out the best opportunities for production. Meanwhile, the largest oilfield services company in North America is navigating through $50/bbl oil, even as global oil production could decline by as much as 1 million b/d by 2021. Miller spoke last Wednesday at the Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference in New York. He said with the rig count in North America climbing back above 500 for the first time since the price trough, conversations have now turned to a rig count plateau, and what such a plateau could potentially mean to the oilfield services sector in 2018.

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Houston Chronicle

September 11, 2017

BP plans pipeline IPO by end of 2017

British oil and gas giant BP said Monday it plans to spin off its U.S. pipeline business through an initial public offering by the end of the year. BP said it will launch BP Midstream Partners through an IPO of up to $100 million that will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the “BPMP” ticker. The new business will have a Houston headquarters with additional offices in Chicago. The midstream business will primarily house BP’s Gulf Coast and Midwest assets, specifically its Gulf of Mexico pipelines, processing and storage capacity connecting its deepwater Gulf platforms to Louisiana, as well as its pipeline assets and more affiliated with its Whiting refinery in Indiana.

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Bloomberg

September 7, 2017

Denning: Russia and Saudi Arabia Keep Talking, But Who’s Listening?

Some important news today from Russia on the future of oil: Scientists there have reportedly discovered a new method of fracking that has boosted output from wells six-fold. Now, a word of caution on touted Russian oil breakthroughs: Some Russians claim their country invented fracking — a dubious assertion and one you would be well-advised not to raise in polite conversation if you happen to be in Kansas. Even so, as Thane Gustafson relates in his epic history of the Russian oil industry, “Wheel of Fortune”, the Soviet Union’s petroleum engineers did try something those Kansans never attempted; namely, trying to frack in the Arctic with nuclear explosives (go big or go home, amirite, comrades?) Unfortunately, rather than break apart the rocks and unleash a torrent of oil, this bold experiment merely fused them into a reservoir of … toxic glass.

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Utilities Stories

Washington Post

September 11, 2017

More than 12 million without power in Florida as Hurricane Irma’s effects linger

As Hurricane Irma dissipated into a tropical storm on Monday, Florida’s residents emerged to streets littered with debris and downed trees while nearly two-thirds of the state was left without electricity. The once-powerful storm left trailer homes sliced open like ripe melons, boats tossed upside down on roadways and centuries-old trees strewn across power lines. As it trailed off on Monday, Irma’s rains caused floodwaters to rise from Jacksonville, Fla., to Charleston, S.C., continuing to impact a massive area of the American southeast. But it could have been much worse. That was the grateful mantra on the lips of many on Monday, even as an estimated 12 million Floridians prepared for a dark night without air conditioning in the muggy post-storm swelter. Though there was significant property damage in the Florida Keys and in some parts of southwest Florida, officials said it was remarkable that so far they are investigating just a small number of fatalities that came as the storm made landfall. It was unclear how many were directly related to the storm.

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KFDA

September 11, 2017

Xcel Energy withdraws plan for surcharge on Texas customer bills

Xcel Energy has withdrawn their plan for a temporary fuel cost surcharge on Texas customer bills. The surcharge, originally planned to begin Oct. 1 and run through Sept. 30, 2018, would have added an extra $1.48 per month to a residential bill of 1,000 kilowatt-hours. Fuel charges collect the cost of coal and natural gas used in Xcel Energy plants and costs related to purchasing electric energy from other producers. The charges make up about one-third of a typical residential customer bill.

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Green Tech Media

September 7, 2017

SEPA Survey: 31 Utilities Deployed Their First Energy Storage Project in 2016

 Seventy-one utilities report having at least one energy storage installation deployed in their service territory at the end of 2016, according to a new survey by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). Within that group, 31 utilities said they deployed their first energy storage project last year. “Absolutely this is becoming more of a universal trend,” said Nick Esch, senior research associate at SEPA. “In California, there’s an incentive program driving the market; however, we’re now seeing utilities across the country starting to test out energy storage and the capabilities it can offer for enhanced grid operations.” According to 155 utility survey respondents, 207 megawatts/257 megawatt-hours of energy storage were added to the grid last year, across 829 systems.

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Los Angeles Times

September 11, 2017

Los Angeles Times: There’s no great answer for nuclear waste, but almost anything is better than perching it on the Pacific

One of the great failures in U.S. energy policy was that we’ve never figured out what to do with the lethally radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants. That’s why the owners of the decommissioned San Onofre nuclear plant have had little choice but to keep their spent fuel rods on site, bundled up in concrete bunkers at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, dangerously close to an earthquake fault and millions of people — and hope for the best until the federal government finds a good place to put the deadly waste. The feds don’t have one yet, but developments in court and in the marketplace could help move San Onofre’s waste somewhere considerably less risky. As part of a legal settlement earlier this month, Southern California Edison, which is the majority owner of the shuttered nuclear power plant, promised to make a good-faith effort to find a safer home for the 3.55 million pounds of nuclear waste at the plant. That’s a welcome shift for the company, which has been focused on moving its spent fuel rods into safer containers on-site.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Reuters

September 11, 2017

Volkswagen spends billions more on electric cars in search for mass market

Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) is stepping up its shift to electric cars and plans to invest more than 20 billion euros ($24 billion) in zero-emission vehicles by 2030 to challenge pioneer Tesla (TSLA.O) in creating a mass market. The world’s largest automaker by sales said on Monday it would roll out 80 new electric cars across its multi-brand group by 2025, up from a previous goal of 30, and wanted to offer an electric version of each of its 300 group models by 2030. The German company had previously said it would spend more than 10 billion euros by 2025 on a move to electric vehicles. Until it admitted two years ago to cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests, Volkswagen (VW) had been slow to embrace electric cars and self-driving technology.

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Bloomberg

September 8, 2017

BMW Revives Electric-Car Push With Plans for Low-Slung ‘i’ Sedan

BMW AG will add a low-slung electric sedan to its stalled “i” sub-brand, part of plans to accelerate the rollout of battery-powered cars to counter Tesla Inc. The four-door model, kept under wraps as BMW showed journalists around its Munich design headquarters on Thursday, is set to go on sale by 2021 and will slot in between the squat i3 city car and the sleek i8 plug-in sports car. BMW declined to specify its name. Overall, BMW plans to offer at least 12 fully electric vehicles by 2025, including battery-powered variants of mainstream models like the X3 SUV as well as the futuristic self-driving iNext. New technology is facilitating the revival of the “i” sub-brand, which hasn’t been assigned a new car since the i8 in 2014. BMW is predicting that next-generation batteries will allow driving ranges as far as 700 kilometers (435 miles).

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Green Tech Media

September 5, 2017

A Maturing Solar Market Ripens Toward String Inverters, but With Central Architecture

Until very recently, the vital ingredient to launch and grow a market for solar energy in the United States has been the same: government support. Few people know that better than Allan Gregg, CTO of inverter manufacturer Sungrow USA. “I’ve been doing this for 37 years, and for all of that time it has always been the belief that solar power can’t be competitive with conventionally generated power,” said Gregg. “It has required heavy state and federal subsidies just to survive.” That is no longer the case. It took 40 years for the U.S. to reach 1 million solar installations, a feat achieved in 2016, but that figure is expected to double by 2018. Solar projects are being built in places like Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Illinois, Minnesota and Kentucky.

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Live Mint

September 7, 2017

Poor quality Chinese solar modules flood Indian market

New Delhi: In what may impact solar power generation, poor quality Chinese solar modules— rejected by developers—are being sold in the domestic market at a discount, said several people aware of the industry practice. With their project deadlines approaching, some Indian developers have taken recourse to this route to meet cost pressures and timelines. Modules account for nearly 60% of a solar power project’s total cost. “These defects range from huge cracks (in solar panels) to low-efficiency equipment. The Chinese suppliers know that there is a pressing demand here and, hence, these tactics,” said a New Delhi-based chief executive of a firm, requesting anonymity, whose rejected modules were sold recently in India by its Chinese supplier.

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Regulatory Stories

Texas Tribune

September 11, 2017

Texas GOP leaders pushing for high-dollar, long-delayed flood infrastructure projects

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is calling for the construction of flood control infrastructure in the Houston area — things he said should have been built “decades and decades ago” — including a coastal barrier to protect the region from deadly storm surge. “We need more levees. We need more reservoirs. We need a coastal barrier,” Patrick said late last week during an interview with Fox News Radio. “These are expensive items and we’re working with [U.S. Sens. John] Cornyn and [Ted] Cruz and our congressional delegation to … get this right. We’ve had three now major floods in three years — nothing at this level but major floods.”

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Reuters

September 7, 2017

Venezuela’s Maduro says will shun U.S. dollar in favor of yuan, others

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday his cash-strapped country would seek to “free” itself from the U.S. dollar next week, using the weakest of two official foreign exchange regimes and a basket of currencies. Maduro was refering to Venezuela’s “DICOM” official exchange rate in which the dollar buys 3,345 bolivars, according to the central bank. At the strongest official rate, one dollar buys just 10 bolivars, but on the black market the dollar fetches 20,193 bolivars, a spread versus the official rate that economists say has fostered corruption. A thousand dollars of local currency bought when Maduro came to power in 2013 would now be worth $1.20.

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Texas Observer

September 7, 2017

Experts: Much of Harvey-Related Air Pollution was Preventable

Huge releases of hazardous air pollutants during Hurricane Harvey could’ve been prevented if companies had simply shut down their plants ahead of time or used more advanced emission controls, experts say. According to an Observer analysis, about 40 petrochemical companies along the Texas coast released 5.5 million pounds of pollution as a result of Harvey. Among the pollutants were carcinogens such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene as well as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and smog-forming nitrogen oxides. The excess emissions were mainly a result of facilities shutting down and restarting their operations in preparation for the hurricane and accidents such as the fire at the Arkema plant and a floating roof covering a tank caving in due to heavy rains at an ExxonMobil refinery. In many cases, the pollution releases were preventable, according to environmental experts who reviewed the Observer’s analysis.

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Dallas Morning News

September 6, 2017

O’Sullivan: Trump’s approach to Mexico could jeopardize America’s progress toward energy independence

Energy independence has long been America’s unrequited love. Every president since Richard Nixon has opined on the dangers of the country’s reliance on foreign energy and pledged with equal passion to deliver the United States from its evils. For decades, none succeeded. Yet, in the most unanticipated of ways, America finally seems close to clinching the seduction. Although energy independence in the sense of self-sufficiency continues to be a ways off, America has rapidly moved from a situation of energy duress to one of energy prowess. The most feasible and least costly form of energy dependence is the North American variety.

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Houston Chronicle

September 8, 2017

DHS waives Jones Act to address fuel shortages

The Department of Homeland Security has waived federal restriction on the use of foreign-owned ships in a move to address fuel shortages caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Under the Jones Act, foreign-owned ships are prohibited from delivering good between U.S. ports. But for the next seven days, DHS said, a waiver will be in effect “specifically tailored to transportation of refined products in hurricane-affected areas.” “This is a precautionary measure to ensure we have enough fuel to support lifesaving efforts, respond to the storm, and restore critical services and critical infrastructure operations in the wake of this potentially devastating storm,” said Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke.

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Bloomberg

September 11, 2017

UN Approves New North Korea Sanctions, Stopping Short of Oil Embargo

The United Nations Security Council approved new sanctions aimed at punishing North Korea for its latest missile and nuclear tests after the U.S. dropped key demands in order to win support from Russia and China. The 15-member Security Council passed the resolution unanimously Monday following a week of talks that began when Kim Jong Un’s regime tested its most powerful nuclear bomb. The resolution seeks to cut imports of refined petroleum products to 2 million barrels a year, ban textile exports and give countries the ability to freeze assets of cargo ships whose operators don’t agree to inspections on the high seas.

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Bloomberg

September 12, 2017

NTSB Staff to Say Tesla Autopilot Should Share Blame for 2016 Crash

Federal accident investigators are poised to find that Tesla Inc.’s auto-driving system should share blame for a fatal 2016 crash in which a Model S sedan drove itself into the side of a truck. The investigative staff of U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, in its first probe of the wave of autonomous driving systems being introduced by carmakers, has recommended that Tesla’s Autopilot system be declared a contributing factor in the crash because it allowed the driver to go for long periods without steering or apparently even looking at the road, according to a person briefed on the findings. The safety board’s findings and recommendations could have broad implications for how self-driving technology is phased in on vehicles and trucks, and it comes as Congress is debating legislation to spur autonomous vehicle systems. Tech and auto companies are pouring billions of dollars into a race to develop self-driving vehicles, which carmakers from Tesla to Volvo Cars say could be deployed in less than 10 years.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 11, 2017
Lead Stories

Associated Press

September 9, 2017

Tank failures in Harvey reveal vulnerabilities in storm

More than two dozen storage tanks holding crude oil, gasoline and other contaminants ruptured or otherwise failed when Harvey slammed into the Texas coast, spilling at least 145,000 gallons (548,868 liters) of fuel and spewing toxic pollutants into the air, according to an Associated Press analysis of pollution reports submitted to state and federal regulators. The tank failures follow years of warnings that the Houston area’s petrochemical industry was ill-prepared for a major storm, with about one-third of the 4,500 storage tanks along the Houston Ship Channel located in areas susceptible to flooding, according to researchers. More of the massive storage tanks could be put to the test in coming days as Hurricane Irma bears down on Florida. The tanks are prone to float and break during floods, and Harvey’s unprecedented rainfalls revealed a new vulnerability when the roofs of some storage tanks sank under the weight of so much water.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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Bloomberg

September 10, 2017

U.S. Solar Bracing for First Decline as Rooftop Demand Slumps

The U.S. is poised to experience its first annual decline in solar-panel installations, as a drop in rooftop demand slows growth in the world’s second-biggest market. Developers added a total of almost 2.4 gigawatts in the second quarter, putting the industry on pace to reach 12.4 gigawatts this year, according to a report Monday from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. That’s down about 17 percent from a record 2016, and the research company expects another decline in 2018. The solar industry is girding for a slowdown after a decade of double-digit expansion. Utilities are reaching state-mandated goals and rooftop suppliers are slowing growth in some of the largest markets, dragging down demand this year. And that’s before a trade complaint that may prompt President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on imported panels, a move that the industry warns would dramatically exacerbate the slump.

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Washington Post

September 5, 2017

A two-decade crusade by conservative charities fueled Trump’s exit from Paris climate accord

Myron Ebell stood in bright sunlight as President Trump stepped into the Rose Garden and spoke. “In order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens,” Trump said to rowdy applause, “the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord.” Ebell was hot, sunburned and very pleased. He was witnessing history that he had helped make. For nearly two decades, Ebell has led the Cooler Heads Coalition, an umbrella group of tax-exempt public charities and other nonprofit organizations in the vanguard of efforts to cast doubt on the gravity of climate change and thwart government efforts to address it.

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Science Alert

August 26, 2017

Scientists Have Created a Super-Thin Fabric That Harvests Energy From Our Movements

A twisted fibre made of gel-coated carbon nanotubes could be the very thing we need to steal energy from our surroundings that would otherwise go to waste. Threads of a material dubbed “twistron” have already shown incredible promise in the laboratory, but could one day be built into power harvesters that collect the energy equivalent of spare change from our bodies, furniture, or wider environment. “The easiest way to think of twistron harvesters is, you have a piece of yarn, you stretch it, and out comes electricity,” says Carter Haines from The University of Texas at Dallas, whose international team of researchers developed the technology. The concept of salvaging tiny amounts of energy from ambient heat, radio waves, or movement to power our pocket-sized electronic devices is by no means novel. It’s little wonder why we’re obsessed with the idea – our world buzzes with low level electromagnetic waves, friction, and temperature gradients that can be tapped into and used to shuffle around a few electrons. But for all of their variety, the hunt is still on to make a material that can harvest that energy, and is as robust, cheap, versatile, and efficient as possible.

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Houston Chronicle

September 7, 2017

Linbeck: Hurricane Harvey was not a catastrophe

Imagine the following scenario: A major metropolitan area with millions of people is hit with a natural disaster of unprecedented proportions. Everyone expects a catastrophe of biblical proportions. After the disaster passes, you learn the following: 99.5 percent of people are able to remain in their homes. 94 percent of homes suffered no damage. 0.0000075 percent of the population dies from the disaster, an increase in the annual death rate of about 0.1 percent. At any given point, more than 98 percent of Houstonians have electric power, and 92 percent of Houstonians never lose power.

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Oil & Gas Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 8, 2017

Harvey, Irma show value of Strategic Petroleum Reserve, energy experts say

The U.S. this year began the process of slowly selling a large chunk of its Strategic Petroleum Reserve through 2025. But after refinery outages and temporary fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and the potential for further disruptions as Irma approaches Florida, energy experts on Friday said the nation’s emergency reserves are proving to be valuable. It’s foolish to “mindlessly sell it off” as President Donald Trump has proposed in his budget, said Bob McNally, energy adviser for former President George W. Bush and a fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. Trump proposed selling nearly half of the remaining reserves over a decade to reduce the federal debt.

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CNBC

September 11, 2017

Oil edges up as Saudi discusses oil supply cut extension

Oil prices edged up on Monday after the Saudi oil minister discussed the possible extension of a pact to cut global oil supplies beyond March 2018 with his Venezuelan and Kazakh counterparts. The news of the talks on Sunday helped offset the downward pressure on oil prices amid worries that energy demand would be hit hard by Hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma knocked out power to more than 3 million homes and businesses in Florida on Sunday, but it has weakened to a Category 2 with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (177 kph). U.S. crude for October delivery was up 29 cents, or 0.6 percent, at $47.77, having tumbled 3.3 percent on Friday. London Brent crude for November delivery was up 23 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $54.01 a barrel by 0023 GMT, having settled down 1.3 percent.

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Reuters

September 8, 2017

U.S. oil drillers cut rigs for third week in four as recovery stalls: Baker Hughes

U.S. energy firms cut oil rigs for a third time in the past four weeks as a 14-month drilling recovery stalls with energy firms reducing spending plans in response to recent crude price declines. Drillers cut three oil rigs in the week to Sept. 8, bringing the total count down to 756, the least since June, General Electric Co’s Baker Hughes energy services firm said in its closely followed report on Friday. That compares with 414 active oil rigs during the same week a year ago. Drillers cut seven rigs in August, the first monthly reduction since May 2016.

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Reuters

September 8, 2017

Colonial to pump fuel through Port Arthur facility at reduced rates after Harvey

Colonial Pipeline Co, the biggest U.S. fuel system, said on Friday it expects the full restart of its crucial supply point at Port Arthur, Texas by the end of the month after Hurricane Harvey dumped heavy rains and caused flooding. In the meantime, Colonial is considering allowing shipments of fuel through the Port Arthur pumping facility at a reduced rate, starting September 15th. The Port Arthur region is home to Motiva Enterprises’ 603,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur refinery, the country’s biggest. Other refiners that operate in the area include Valero Energy Corp, which has a 335,000 bpd refinery, and Total SA, which has a 225,500 bpd plant.

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Reuters

September 8, 2017

The next oil major? Service firm Schlumberger’s big bet on production

The world’s largest oilfield services company, Schlumberger NV (SLB.N), is spending billions of dollars buying stakes in its customers’ oil and gas projects – investing in the same ventures it supplies with equipment and expertise. The new business model gives Schlumberger a say in drilling decisions, oilfield management and even on hiring other Schlumberger units for service contracts, the company has told investors. The expanded operational authority saves Schlumberger from bidding for each of the many jobs that typically require separate contracts on a large drilling project – effectively locking out the firm’s competitors.

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New York Times

September 8, 2017

Texas Energy Industry Recovering From Hurricane’s Disruption

Two weeks after Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast, the local oil industry is getting back on its feet even as another powerful storm bears down on Florida. The port of Houston and the state’s other major ports are almost back to normal operations, oil and gas production in South Texas is quickly ramping up, and eight of the 20 refineries that were totally or partly closed because of the storm are operating at normal levels. Eleven of the 12 other refineries that were affected are preparing to restart. The resumption of operations has moderated the pain at the gasoline pump. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $2.67 on Friday morning, unchanged from the day before, though it had risen 15 cents in the last week alone, according to the AAA motor club. Prices in Florida have also stabilized, with a state of emergency declaration there limiting price increases to prevent gouging. In any case, many stations there have run out of fuel, with motorists filling up as a precaution or as they evacuate to less vulnerable areas.

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Associated Press

September 8, 2017

Residents cough, rub eyes in Harvey pollution spike

Petrochemical corridor residents say air that is bad enough on normal days got worse as Harvey crashed into the nation’s fourth-largest city and then yielded the highest ozone pollution so far this year anywhere in Texas. The Houston metro area was ranked 12th in the nation for worst ozone pollution by The American Lung Association this year, although its air was better than the Los Angeles and New York regions. Plants owned by Shell, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil and other industry giants reported more than 1.5 million pounds (680 metric tons) of extraordinary emissions over eight days beginning Aug. 23 to the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality in Harris County, which encompasses Houston. That amounted to 61 percent of this year’s largely unpermitted emissions for the county and five times the amount released in the same period in 2016. Of the known carcinogens released during Harvey, more than 13 tons were benzene. Inhaling it can cause dizziness and even unconsciousness and long-term exposure can trigger leukemia.

This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle

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Midland Reporter Telegram

September 6, 2017

University Lands holding largest lease sale in history

Just as technology has altered how Permian Basin oil and gas operators operate, it also has altered how University Lands offers its acreage for oil and gas development. Bidding is already underway on what is the largest lease sale in University Lands history, approximately 400,000 acres being offered on EnergyNet.com, the online marketplace. Bidding ends at 10 a.m. Sept. 20. Aside from being offered online, University Lands has incorporated other changes to accommodate the trend toward horizontal drilling and longer laterals. “What we’re doing that’s a bit different is we’re putting together lots,” Mark Houser, chief executive officer, said in a phone interview. “We’ve put together about 95,000 acres in contiguous lots to promote horizontal drilling. Operators will have to bid on all the leases to get that lot.”

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Oil Price

September 10, 2017

Refiners Boost Output, But Irma Could Dent Demand

Texas continues to recover from Hurricane Harvey, and many of the disrupted refineries are ramping up production once again. But the ripple effects from the outages are still being felt, and some Midwestern refineries are benefitting from surging margins stemming from the havoc. Bakken Midwest refining margins more than doubled between August 23 and September 1, according to S&P Global Platts, jumping from $9 per barrel to temporarily over $20 per barrel, although they have since fallen back a bit. The margins are inflated because of gasoline shortages in certain parts of the country, the unfortunate consequence of the massive refinery outages along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Harvey. Refining margins were also helped along by the initial downward pressure that WTI exhibited as crude oil backed up without any place to go.

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Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

September 8, 2017

Texas refiners rely on support to restart

As Gulf Coast refiners restart their plants after Hurricane Harvey, they must step through a complex process that can take days to weeks to complete, even if they were largely unscathed by the storm’s flooding rains. All of them need the support of others — third-party suppliers, many of whom have been hit equally as badly by Harvey’s rage. Refiners require adequate supplies of crude oil as a feedstock, nitrogen to dry internal equipment, steam to heat things up and hydrogen to lower sulfur content in their fuel. They also depend on working pipelines, rail cars and terminals to transport their finished products to buyers. “Unless all those parts of the petroleum supply chain are operating, it’s challenging for refineries to restart,” said Susan Grissom, an analyst at American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, a refining industry group.

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Seeking Alpha

September 5, 2017

Dr. Rx: A Fresh Look At Oil Stocks

The thesis of this article is that US and much of the global economy may be strengthening more than anticipated, and therefore alpha may exist in left-behind cyclical sectors of the market, such as the oil and natural gas markets. Whether that alpha, if it occurs at all, would begin imminently or next year is not part of the thesis, but of course, if we are talking many years for this thesis to play out, there would be no point in expressing this point of view now. A broad ETF such as the Energy Select SPDR Fund (XLE) may provide alpha if oil and gas (oil being more important) merely begin beating expectations either in price and/or in volume, given how badly the fund has performed the past 5 years versus the S&P 500 (SPY). Price expectations are very restrained. With the front month, October, for West Texas Intermediate crude trading on Globex at $47.75 per barrel, the price is only around $52 for October 2022 delivery. All that has to happen to materially push oil stocks higher is for future months to increase much in price, and just a few years ago, October 2022 might have been in the $70s.

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Associated Press

September 10, 2017

Hurricane impacts talks between pipeline company, state

Hurricane Harvey has impacted the pace of negotiations between the company that built the Dakota Access oil pipeline and North Dakota regulators investigating potential violations of state rules during construction. Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak says attorney negotiations have continued but Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners also has been busy with hurricane response. ETP is based in Dallas but has facilities on the Gulf Coast. The company said it dedicated about 1,000 employees to a hurricane response team.

This article appeared in the Brownsville Herald

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Oil & Gas Financial Journal

September 6, 2017

Magellan Midstream to construct Delaware Basin pipeline

Magellan Midstream Partners LP will construct a new Delaware Basin pipeline originating in Wink, Texas to handle crude oil and condensate. Magellan will build an approximately 60-mile, 24-inch pipeline from Wink to Crane, Texas, which serves as an origin to its Longhorn pipeline. The new Wink pipeline will have an initial capacity of 250,000 barrels per day (/pd) with the ability to expand to more than 600,000 b/d if warranted by industry demand. The project also includes construction of a new terminal at Wink which will offer broad inbound and outbound pipeline access to parties that connect to the facility. Magellan currently expects the project to cost approximately $150 million and to be operational in mid-2019, subject to receipt of any necessary permits and regulatory approvals.

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Wall St. Journal

September 7, 2017

Diesel Gets a Boost After Hurricane Harvey

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey a tarnished fuel is getting a boost: diesel. The price of diesel futures has risen roughly 10% since Harvey tore into the U.S. Gulf Coast and shut down refineries and ports through which this fuel usually flows abroad. This has contributed to a shortfall of the fuel in Europe, a region with massive diesel appetites for passenger cars. Diesel’s image took a big knock two years ago when Germany’s Volkwagen AG VLKAY 0.06% admitted it had rigged millions of diesel cars to cheat environmental regulators, which ultimately revealed diesel engines as far bigger polluters than originally thought. That triggered a political backlash in Europe, but because the fleet of cars on the continent is largely diesel, demand has remained high.

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BOE Report

September 7, 2017

TransCanada may abandon Energy East pipe facing tougher review

TransCanada Corp will suspend the application for its Energy East pipeline for 30 days and may abandon the project, the company said on Thursday, weeks after Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) regulator announced a tougher review process. TransCanada will do a “careful review” of the new assessment process to gauge its effect on the costs, schedules and viability of the pipeline to the Atlantic coast, the company said in a statement. The NEB in August expanded the scope of Energy East’s review, saying it will consider the project’s indirect greenhouse gas contributions and will provide “more visibility” to the evaluation of risks associated with accidents such as oil spills.

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Utilities Stories

Forbes

September 6, 2017

Potts: Forecasting Electric Utility Returns

Last week, a law professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law, Heather Payne, released an article summarizing the results of her survey of more than one hundred electric utility rate cases. The article is critical reading for anyone who’s interested in regulated electric utilities (or invests in them). … Professor Payne’s survey analyzed 106 electric rate cases for investor owned utilities that occurred between 2002 and 2015. The utilities were broken into two groups: vertically integrated utilities and transmission and distribution (T&D) only utilities (like Oncor in Texas, which has recently been the subject of numerous failed buyout attempts). Professor Payne also compared the results of settled rate cases with those that were fully litigated. Here are some of her more interesting (and potentially useful) findings: The average rate case duration – from the initial filing to the final order – was between 9 and 11.4 months. Fully litigated rate cases took about 1-2 months longer than cases that were settled. 57% of all rate cases were settled, and 43% were fully litigated.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 10, 2017

Austin Energy crews head to Florida to repair outages from Irma

Just days after Austin Energy crews finished restoring power outages from Tropical Storm Harvey, a team of its employees set off for northeastern Florida to help tackle anticipated power losses expected from Hurricane Irma. The Category 4 storm made landfall in the Florida Keys, a string of islands along the southern tip of the state, Sunday morning. At around the same time, the crew of 31 Austin Energy employees and two city fleet services mechanics departed for Jacksonville, where the storm was expected to strike as a Category 2 overnight. The convoy of trucks will arrive Monday evening after a 1,000-mile trek.

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Dallas Morning News

September 10, 2017

Millions without power as Hurricane Irma pummels Florida

Hurricane Irma gave Florida a coast-to-coast pummeling with winds up to 130 mph Sunday, swamping homes and boats, knocking out power to millions and toppling massive construction cranes over the Miami skyline. The 400-mile-wide storm blew ashore in the morning in the mostly cleared-out Florida Keys, then began a slow march up the state’s west coast, its punishing winds extending clear across to Miami and West Palm Beach on the Atlantic side. … At least 3.3 million homes and businesses across the state lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone.

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The Street

September 9, 2017

Hurricane Irma Could Knock Out Puerto Rico’s Power for Six Months

Parts of Puerto Rico could be without power for half a year as a result of the effects of Hurricane Irma, the head of the island’s electric authority said. The country’s electric utility, called Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA, is in bankruptcy and its infrastructure lags dramatically behind most of the U.S. Ricardo Ramos, executive director of Puerto Rico’s Electric Energy Authority, or AEE, told radio station Notiuno 630 AM that some of the island could be without electricity for four to six months, while other parts could be back online much more quickly. Ramos told another station, Isla Radio 1320, that as of 2 p.m. ET more than 400,000 customers have already lost power and the municipalities of Vieques and Culebra are completely without electricity.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

The Guardian

September 8, 2017

Uber: London drivers must use hybrid or fully electric cars from 2020

Uber drivers will be banned from using vehicles that are not a hybrid or fully electric in London from 2020, as part of a plan to help tackle illegal levels of air pollution in the capital. While hybrids such as the Toyota Prius have become synonymous with the ride-hailing service, today just under half of its London UberX drivers have an electrified vehicle. The firm said that must rise to 100% by 2020. Diesel-powered cars on the app’s other services, such as UberXL for larger cars, will also be banned from 2020 in the capital. For other UK cities blighted by dirty air, where fewer UberX cars are electrified already, the 100% hybrid and electric deadline is 2022.

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Electrek

September 2, 2017

After Hurricane Harvey, long gas lines throughout Texas show one way EVs are better prepared for disasters

A common question to EV owners is “what if the power goes out?”, but it’s important to remember that gas stations also don’t work when the power is out, and we have myriad examples of natural (and manmade) disasters causing disruption in the gasoline supply chain. This complicated web of distribution works fine on a day-to-day basis, but when something goes wrong it can affect an entire region or even the whole nation (as Harvey is predicted to raise gas prices nationwide). The same is true of electricity, it too can be disrupted. But gasoline availability is dependent on both of these supply chains working properly, whereas electricity doesn’t need gasoline to function (very few locations generate electricity through burning oil). Further, electricity generation can be and is more decentralized than gasoline production, with a variety of power sources for generation and the possibility of creating your own electricity directly (e.g. through home solar panels).

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Wall St. Journal

September 6, 2017

Wind Power Wins Converts in Rural U.S.

BP PLC does big business harvesting energy in and around this farm town. But it isn’t oil and gas—it’s wind. Hundreds of wind turbines ring Fowler, their white towers rising for miles amid the golden-tipped cornfields and leafy soybean plants blanketing much of Benton County, pop. 8,650. More than half of the county’s 560 turbines are operated by BP, which has three wind farms here. Wind developers have made $17 million in payments to the county and have spent $33 million on roads, a boon for an economically struggling community that about a decade earlier considered hosting a waste dump to generate jobs and government revenue. “Turbines as far as you can see,” said Ryan Linzner, who manages the BP wind farms.

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Wall St. Journal

September 3, 2017

Nissan Hopes Drivers Will Turn to Its New Leaf

Nissan Motor Co. NSANY 0.15% was a path-breaker in electric vehicles for the mass market, but for nearly seven years the masses mostly ignored it. This week, Nissan hopes to inspire car buyers to turn to its new Leaf. On Tuesday in the U.S., the company will release a revised version of its Leaf all-electric car that will travel farther on a charge and add autonomous-driving features while keeping the relatively low price of the current model, which starts at $30,000. “We have high expectations for the new Leaf,” Nissan Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa told shareholders in June, describing it as the core of the company’s strategy to persuade average customers to adopt next-generation vehicles.

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Regulatory Stories

Newsweek

September 8, 2017

Reynolds: Don’t blame hurricanes Irma and Harvey on Climate Change

“ Harvey Is What Climate Change Looks Like : It’s time to open our eyes and prepare for the world that’s coming.” That August 28 Politico article by Slate weatherman Eric Holthaus was one of many trying too hard to blame the hurricane and/or flood on climate change. Such stories are typically infused with smug arrogance. Their authors claim to be wise and well informed, and anyone who dares to question their “settled science” must need to have their eyes pried open and their mouths shut. There will doubtless be similar “retroactive forecasting” tales about Irma, so recent story-telling about Harvey may provide a precautionary warning for the unwary. I am an economist, not a climatologist.* But blaming Harvey on climate change apparently demands much lower standards of logic and evidence than economists would dare describe as serious arguments.

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Bloomberg

September 6, 2017

The Climate Engineers Sucking CO2 From the Atmosphere—and Making Money Doing It

More than a decade into their friendship, Christoph Gebald and Jan Wurzbacher can’t decide which of them is the thinker and which is the doer. They met in 2003 during their first week as undergraduates at ETH Zurich, a Swiss technical university, where they studied engineering and quickly bonded over their shared loves for mountain climbing and beer. Also, “we were kind of would-be entrepreneurs from the beginning,” Gebald says. They’ve been egging each other on ever since, swapping big-idea and get-things-done roles. Climeworks, the company they started in Zurich in 2009, was inspired by Gebald’s master’s thesis, which applied an engineering perspective to the removal of carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere. In June, when the first of the duo’s carbon-collecting machines went online, they became the first people to make money by de-warming the planet, collecting CO2 directly from the air and selling it for use in greenhouses.

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Texas Tribune

September 8, 2017

In post-Harvey Houston, extent of water contamination largely unknown

Government officials and academic scientists say they’re still trying to get a handle on what exactly is percolating in the lingering floodwaters through which many Houstonians are still wading as they return to their homes to inspect damages and recover personal belongings. They already know it’s some mix of bacteria, viruses, metals and other potentially toxic pollutants leached from the myriad of refineries and chemical plants in the area, along with an untold number of submerged septic tanks and dozens of Superfund sites. But collecting enough samples to draw sweeping conclusions about how polluted the water is, and the impact to specific neighborhoods, could take a while — especially as government agencies grapple with staffing shortfalls. … Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Friday that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had completed site assessments at all 43 Superfund sites in areas affected by the storm. He said in a press release that two of those sites — the San Jacinto Waste Pits and the U.S. Oil Recovery — will require further assessment, which will take several days to complete.

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New York Times

September 9, 2017

More Than 40 Sites Released Hazardous Pollutants Because of Hurricane Harvey

Houston’s sprawling network of petrochemical plants and refineries released millions of pounds of pollutants in the days after Hurricane Harvey began barreling toward Texas. Even under normal operations, the hundreds of industrial facilities in the area can emit harmful chemicals. But from Aug. 23 to Aug. 30, 46 facilities in 13 counties reported an estimated 4.6 million pounds of airborne emissions that exceeded state limits, an analysis by the Environmental Defense Fund, Air Alliance Houston and Public Citizen shows. Federal and state regulators say their air monitoring shows no cause for alarm.

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Associated Press

September 10, 2017

AP Exclusive: Toxic sites in likely path of Irma

Dozens of personnel from the Environmental Protection Agency worked to secure some of the nation’s most contaminated toxic waste sites as Hurricane Irma bore down on Florida. The agency said its employees evacuated personnel, secured equipment and safeguarded hazardous materials in anticipation of storm surges and heavy rains. The Associated Press surveyed six of the 54 Superfund sites in Florida before Irma’s arrival, all around Miami in low-lying, flood-prone areas. There was no apparent work going on at the sites AP visited this past week. The EPA said that if there was no activity, a site should be considered secured but would be closely monitored. The sites were in various stages of federally directed, long-term cleanup efforts. At the Miami-Dade Emergency Operations Center on Saturday, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said the EPA workers he’s spoken with seem “generally positive” about the prospects for toxic sites remaining secure in the coming hurricane. But “they can’t guarantee it 100 percent,” he told AP.

This article appeared in the San Antonio Express News

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New York Times

September 9, 2017

NYT: President Trump’s War on Science

The news was hard to digest until one realized it was part of a much larger and increasingly disturbing pattern in the Trump administration. On Aug. 18, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine received an order from the Interior Department that it stop work on what seemed a useful and overdue study of the health risks of mountaintop-removal coal mining. The $1 million study had been requested by two West Virginia health agencies following multiple studies suggesting increased rates of birth defects, cancer and other health problems among people living near big surface coal-mining operations in Appalachia. The order to shut it down came just hours before the scientists were scheduled to meet with affected residents of Kentucky.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 8, 2017
Lead Stories

The Street

September 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma Set to Shut Down Major Florida Ports

Just as the U.S. oil refining industry works to recover from a massive, Hurricane Harvey-fueled shutdown, another potentially devastating storm is barreling toward the United States, and this one may temporarily shut in more U.S. fuel supplies. Hurricane Irma, now a Category 5 storm in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Puerto Rico, is on track to rip through the Bahamas, where the largest petroleum products storage terminal in the Western Hemisphere resides. Buckeye Partners LP’s Buckeye Bahamas Hub in Freeport, Grand Bahama Island, stores crude oil, diesel fuel, gasoline and other petroleum products with a whopping 26 million barrels of storage capacity. Houston-based BPL also operates domestic petroleum storage terminals near Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville, Fla., all of which stand to be affected by Irma, based on the National Weather Service’s early projections of the storm’s possible path.

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Wired

September 8, 2017

Hackers gain direct access to US power grid controls

IN AN ERA of hacker attacks on critical infrastructure, even a run-of-the-mill malware infection on an electric utility’s network is enough to raise alarm bells. But the latest collection of power grid penetrations went far deeper: Security firm Symantec is warning that a series of recent hacker attacks not only compromised energy companies in the US and Europe but also resulted in the intruders gaining hands-on access to power grid operations—enough control that they could have induced blackouts on American soil at will. Symantec on Wednesday revealed a new campaign of attacks by a group it is calling Dragonfly 2.0, which it says targeted dozens of energy companies in the spring and summer of this year. In more than 20 cases, Symantec says the hackers successfully gained access to the target companies’ networks. And at a handful of US power firms and at least one company in Turkey—none of which Symantec will name—their forensic analysis found that the hackers obtained what they call operational access: control of the interfaces power company engineers use to send actual commands to equipment like circuit breakers, giving them the ability to stop the flow of electricity into US homes and businesses.

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Houston Chronicle

September 7, 2017

First responders sue Arkema for $1 million following explosions at Crosby plant

Seven first responders injured after explosions at the troubled Arkema chemical plant in Crosby are now suing the company for at least $1 million in damages. On Thursday, barely a week after the first blast of decomposing chemicals rocked the small town, Houston lawyers Kimberley Spurlock and Misty Hataway-Cone launched a legal battle in Harris County court, accusing Arkema of gross negligence. Despite past flooding events and advance notice of the impending destruction of Hurricane Harvey, Arkema “ignored the foreseeable consequences of failing to prepare,” the suit claims, leaving trailers of volatile chemicals susceptible to explosion after flooding knocked out the electricity and ability to cool the heat-sensitive compounds.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 6, 2017

U.S. desire for North Korea oil cutoff puts China in a tight spot

What the Chinese call the Friendship Pipeline runs for 20 miles, crossing under the Yalu River and spanning the border between North Korea and China. For more than half a century, it has been both a symbol of the two nations’ alliance and a lifeline for the North’s economy. Now, in response to North Korea’s latest and most powerful nuclear test, the Trump administration is expected to press China to impose an oil embargo on the North, cutting off the flow of petroleum through the pipeline and on tankers, too. The United States has called for similar measures before, and Beijing has almost always refused. But no previous U.S. administration has pressed the case as an implicit choice between cutting off the fuel and potential military action.

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Oil Price

September 3, 2017

Did This Startup Solve The Carbon Capture Challenge?

When the Mississippi Public Service Commission earlier this year asked Southern Co. to pull the plug on its plan to turn the Kemper power plant into a clean-coal, carbon-capturing facility, the prospects of carbon capture and storage becoming a mainstream approach in power generation became a little bit gloomier. Luckily, Southern Co. is by far not the only one working on CCS. One startup in Texas is forging ahead, preparing for the first tests of its gas-fired, 50MW power plant that runs on natural gas and captures all the carbon dioxide the generation cycle produces to use it in that very cycle. In a story about the Net Power project, MIT Technology Review’s senior energy editor James Temple explains that the startup basically replaces the water that ordinary natural gas plants use to heat up to steam and power the turbines with carbon dioxide. Net Power’s generator uses supercritical carbon dioxide—a state of the compound that is achieved through high heat and pressure to make it acquire properties of both gas and liquid, and use it to power the turbines.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 8, 2017

Oil markets move little with industry in grip of Caribbean hurricanes

Oil prices were little changed on Friday as the international petroleum industry remains in the grip of Caribbean hurricanes which have pummeled the region for the last two weeks. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $49.16 barrel at 0154 GMT, 7 cents above their last settlement. Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the United States, were up 11 cents to $54.60 a barrel. “The oil market was little changed, as the recovery from Hurricane Harvey stalled at the same time that Hurricane Irma threatened to disrupt the sector in Florida,” ANZ bank said.

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Houston Chronicle

September 8, 2017

Oil inventories climb 4.6 million barrels after Hurricane Harvey

The amount of oil held in U.S. storage tanks rose by 4.6 million barrels last week after Hurricane Harvey added to the glut that has kept crude prices low for more than three years. That brought U.S. crude inventories up to 462.4 million barrels. Crude imports fell by 822,000 barrels per day to 7.1 million barrels per day. The nation’s stockpile of gasoline declined by 3.2 million barrels as U.S. buyers scrambled for fuel supplies and more than a dozen major refineries were knocked offline.

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Material Handling & Logistics

September 7, 2017

Supply Chain Impact of Hurricane Harvey Could Be Worse than Expected

The global supply chain impact of Hurricane Harvey could be unprecedented, widespread and realized, not only in the near term, but in weeks and months to come, according to Bindiya Vakil, CEO and founder, and Joe Carson, chief strategy officer, of Resilinc, a provider of supply chain risk and resiliency solutions. They warn that Hurricane Harvey’s disruptions will ripple through the supply chain and be realized at factories and facilities far away from the impacted area. “Let’s not kid ourselves—this is going to be a big supply chain disruption,” says Vakil. “Even if a supplier’s factory is not flooded, the infrastructure (power, water, transportation, etc.) needed to operate is not going to be there for weeks.”

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CNBC

September 7, 2017

Harvey has ‘paralyzed’ a critical part of US manufacturing supply chain

Many of the plastics and specialty chemicals that factories across the United States depend on are stuck on the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, threatening to create supply shortages and raise prices for U.S. manufacturers. The U.S. Gulf Coast is home to about 90 percent of the nation’s capacity to turn out base plastics, the building blocks for a wide range of consumer and industrial goods. Petrochemical plants that make the products and the rail companies that ship them are still restoring service after Harvey brought devastating flooding to southeast Texas. “The supply channel is paralyzed currently,” said Kathy Hall, executive editor at PetroChem Wire, an industry information service. “Plants are coming back, but we’re not seeing anything moving out of the area.”

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Houston Chronicle

September 6, 2017

Oil inventories climb 4.6 million barrels after Hurricane Harvey

The amount of oil held in U.S. storage tanks rose by 4.6 million barrels last week after Hurricane Harvey added to the glut that has kept crude prices low for more than three years. That brought U.S. crude inventories up to 462.4 million barrels. Crude imports fell by 822,000 barrels per day to 7.1 million barrels per day.

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Accuweather

September 7, 2017

Major Hurricane Irma likely to deliver destructive blow to Florida this weekend

“There will be massive damage in Florida. [It will be] the worst single hurricane to hit Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992,” Myers said. The current track of Irma will bring the most severe impacts to the eastern side of the state, including Miami, West Palm Beach, Melbourne, Daytona Beach and Jacksonville. Tropical-storm-force conditions could be felt as far west as Tampa and Key West. … Conditions will rapidly deteriorate across South Florida and could turn life-threatening late Saturday into Sunday. This is when rain and hurricane-force winds will quickly intensify.

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US News

September 7, 2017

Meth, Coke and Oil: A Drug Boom in the Texas Shale Patch

When Joe Forsythe returned to the West Texas oilfields last year after a stint in a drug rehab facility, he figured he had beaten his addiction to methamphetamine. The 32-year-old rig worker and equipment handler lasted about a year before relapsing. “It’s easy to get back into that mentality,” said Forsythe, of Midland, Texas, who said he no longer uses drugs after several stints in rehab since 2015. “I’d work 24 hours … I was just plagued with fatigue and needed something to improve my work ethic.” Forsythe’s experience and others like it reflect a painful flipside of the nation’s shale oil boom – a parallel increase in substance abuse, drug crime and related social ills.

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Phys Org

September 6, 2017

Study quantifies potential for water reuse in permian basin oil production

Hydraulic fracturing has once again made the Permian Basin that stretches across western Texas and New Mexico one of the richest oil fields in the world. But the improved reserves come with some serious water management issues. Drilling for oil uses water upfront, and brings up large volumes of water that needs to be managed. New research led by The University of Texas at Austin Bureau of Economic Geology highlights key differences in water use between conventional drill sites and sites that use hydraulic fracturing, which is rapidly expanding in the Permian. The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology on Sept. 6, found that recycling the water produced during operations at other hydraulic fracturing sites could help reduce potential problems associated with the technology. These include the need for large upfront water use, and potentially induced seismicity or earthquakes, triggered by injecting the water produced during operations back into the ground.

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Houston Chronicle

September 7, 2017

Harvey could add to oil glut, depress prices

The storm has passed and the floodwaters have receded, but Tropical Storm Harvey could still slow Houston’s economy. As the U.S. oil capital emerges from the worst storm in decades, its central industry will have to contend with a rush of crude that has been stranded for almost two weeks after more than a dozen major refineries, with almost a quarter of the nation’s refining capacity, shut down along the Gulf Coast. “It’s a pretty big bubble to burn off,” said Robert Sullivan, a managing director at the consultancy AlixPartners in New York. “They’re not going to be able to refine it away.”

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Reuters

September 7, 2017

For ConocoPhillips, Harvey a test of remote operations

ConocoPhillips is still shut out of its global headquarters nearly two weeks after Tropical Storm Harvey slammed into Houston, so Chief Executive Ryan Lance and thousands of employees are running the world’s largest independent oil and natural gas producer remotely. Lance, whose own Houston home was flooded by Harvey, has 2,800 employees in the region working at home or at smaller offices in Dallas or Bartlesville, Oklahoma, overseeing natural gas trading along with operations in the Texas Eagle Ford shale region and the Gulf of Mexico. Many were moved out of Harvey’s path before the storm. “You can run virtually for a long time if you’ve got the right systems and personnel,” Lance told Reuters on Wednesday.

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Houston Chronicle

September 8, 2017

As Hurricane Irma approaches, BP evacuates Gulf platform and drilling rig

As Hurricane Irma barrels toward Florida, offshore oil companies may have to evacuate some manned platforms and rigs in the Gulf of Mexico again. BP has begun evacuating non-essential personnel from its Thunder Horse platform and West Vela drilling rig in the Gulf, and may prepare to extract other crews and shut down some facilities. In South Carolina, the British oil company has begun preparing for Irma at the Cooper River petrochemical complex near Charleston.

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San Antonio Express News

September 6, 2017

Gas prices spikes nationally Harvey aftermath crimps supplies

U.S. gasoline prices spiked 27 cents over the last week, rising to an average of $2.65 a gallon as refinery and pipeline outages in the wake of Harvey keep pushing fuel costs higher, automobile club AAA said Tuesday. The storm, which landed Aug. 25 in Rockport as a Category 4 hurricane before dropping almost 52 inches of rain on Houston, created a distribution problem after knocking out more a fifth of U.S. refining capacity and shuttering some key pipelines. Prices are just 2 cents shy of a two-year peak hit in August 2015, AAA said. Online gas price tracker GasBuddy reported a similar jump, saying it’s the highest seven-day price spike since Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in August 2005.

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Journal of Petroleum Technology

September 1, 2017

Oil Production Growth Drives Increase in Texas Petro Index

Sizeable year-over-year improvements in rig count, drilling permits, and the value of Texas-produced crude oil and natural gas, along with renewed industry employment growth, have combined to help the Texas Petro Index (TPI) move upward in July. A composite index based on a comprehensive group of upstream economic indicators, the TPI stood at 176.9, 1.7% higher than it was in June and 14.9% higher than it was in July 2016. This marked the eighth consecutive monthly increase following a 24-month contraction that ended in November 2016. In a presentation discussing the new data, economist and TPI creator Karr Ingham said that oil supply levels have remained robust because domestic producers have become increasingly efficient at producing crude oil at lower costs, and that he saw few reasons for US oil production to decline because more producers can compete. Ingham said that Texas-based operations have been a key contributor to keeping production afloat.

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Reuters

September 7, 2017

Exxon CEO says making progress restarting refinery in Texas: CNBC

Exxon Mobil Corp is making good progress as it restarts operations at its Baytown, Texas refinery following Hurricane Harvey, Chief Executive Darren Woods told CNBC. The world’s largest publicly traded oil producer on Sunday restarted operations at the 560,500-barrel-per-day refinery – the nation’s second-largest. “It’s very difficult to predict exactly when all those units will be back up and we’ll be back on our full load. But we’re making good progress. We’re hoping to get some units started up later this week, and then it will be one unit after another,” Woods said.

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San Antonio Express News

September 3, 2017

Harvey reveals fragility of Texas energy

Karr Ingham, an Amarillo-based oil economist, expects crude oil prices to dip more and said Permian crude was being sold at a discount at the storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, too. “There’s no place for it to go,” Ingham said. “The Permian mostly goes to the coast. The same with the Eagle Ford, and the coast is not in a position to take it right now.” Natural gas pipeline shipments to Mexico dipped to a three-month low after the storm, according to Genscape, and caused price spikes in northern Mexico. European refiners were sending products to the U.S. and South America to fill the gap. Kloza said that Central and South American countries, which depend on refined products from Texas, will feel the pain from Harvey.

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US News

September 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma Worsens Latin America’s Fuel Supply Crunch

Monster Hurricane Irma has shut down oil terminals across the northern Caribbean, worsening a fuel supply crunch in Latin America which is struggling to meet demand since Hurricane Harvey disrupted shipments from the U.S. Gulf Coast last month. Latin America had been scrambling for almost two weeks to find oil cargoes because of Harvey, which caused massive flooding in Texas and Louisiana, shutting down ports, refineries and production platforms. Irma, which is being followed by two hurricanes in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, was affecting Caribbean refineries, terminals and storage facilities.

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The Independent

September 5, 2017

Debt, sanctions and disrepair: Venezuela’s oil sector in agony

After decades of being Venezuela’s cash cow, the state oil company PDVSA is a ragged shadow of its former self: overburdened, underfed, and in hock to Russian and Chinese creditors. The woes of the group, whose full name is Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., look set to worsen because of US sanctions imposed last month restricting its access to credit. Oil production keeps declining and much of what is exported goes to repay billions of dollars in loans. That puts the government of President Nicolas Maduro in a very tight spot.

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Dallas Morning News

September 3, 2017

Grigsby: Read this before you fume too much about Texans going nuts over gas shortage

Social media has handed down its latest “idiots in the Lone Star State” verdict: As weary but resilient southeast Texans cope with the biggest disaster in state history, folks in Dallas, Austin and San Antonio are losing their minds over gasoline. In fact, Texas drivers have created a run on resources because everyone ran out to fill up — fearing that when they really needed the gas it would all be gone. I’m not here to defend every person in line — no doubt a lot of folks showed up with extra gas cans but left their best behavior at home. But let’s be fair. Most people in those gas lines did not set out to mindlessly create a #gaspocalypse. As you fume over the drivers who are making this problem worse, recognize that there are a lot of justifiable reasons they are at the pump this weekend.

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Bloomberg

September 11, 2017

Fickling: How Renewables Can Save Natural Gas

Over the past decade, natural gas has somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.Methane demand has boomed, with consumption in 2016 running 631 million tons of oil equivalent higher than 10 years earlier — only a little behind the growth from oil, nuclear, solar and wind put together. At the same time, the industry is in a deep crisis. The market for liquefying and shipping gas will be oversupplied until 2024, according to McKinsey Energy Insights. All but a handful of projects worldwide would be losing money if they were dependent on current Asian benchmark prices of $5.908 per million British thermal units:

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Dallas Morning News

September 7, 2017

DMN: Psst, did you hear about the gasoline shortage that fizzled?

If we fear shortages of goods, then we overreact. We stand in long lines for day-after-Thanksgiving sales or elbow motorists for the last few drops of gasoline. It’s the reason tulip mania ignited the world’s first speculative bubble in the 1600s, Beanie Babies became a short-lived collectors’ craze in the 1990s and countless stock market and bank runs sizzled and fizzled during the past century. Consumerism and the fear of running out aren’t the same, but the speculative underpinnings certainly make them cousins and tell us a lot about what we value and why.

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Washington Post

September 7, 2017

The science behind the U.S.’s strange hurricane ‘drought’ — and its sudden end

With the destruction from Hurricane Harvey, now closely followed by the extraordinary intensity of Hurricane Irma as it wreaks havoc in the Caribbean and heads toward Florida, Americans can be forgiven for feeling like it’s 2005 all over again. That was the year of Katrina, Rita and Wilma — and it was preceded by 2004, when four strong hurricanes slammed into Florida. Most alarming was the enormous Ivan, which produced 90 foot high waves offshore before striking the Gulf Coast. Since 2005, though, we’ve experienced no major U.S. landfalls until Harvey this year. All of a sudden, it feels like we’re living in an Atlantic bowling alley once again. Or as NOAA hurricane scientist Eric Blake bluntly put it on Twitter: “2017 has that 2004/2005 feel ugh.”

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Utilities Stories

Utility Dive

September 7, 2017

Report: CPS Energy should cease investments in Texas coal plant

A report prepared for Sierra Club by Synapse Energy Economics recommends CPS Energy not make any major new investments on its Spruce coal units at Calaveras Power Station in San Antonio, Texas, as they are unlikely to pay off in the future. In particular, the report focuses on Spruce Unit 1 because CPS Energy may reportedly decide to install a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) to control NOx and reduce smog. But Synapse’s analysis shows CPS would be unlikely to recover that investment and the units may be uneconomic regardless of upgrades. The report calls on CPS to end all coal pollution from San Antonio sources and replace that power generation with clean energy. However, CPS officials did not comment at press time.

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Penn Energy

September 7, 2017

A quiet energy transition with global relevance is starting in the USA

A revolutionary path forward in the world’s energy transition, one that is unprecedented in the global power industry, is taking shape in the USA. In Texas, the city of Denton – with 128,000 inhabitants and an annual peak load of 350 MW – has developed a clever way to increase its reliance on renewable energy to 70% with wind power, and its utility business model is being replicated across the U.S. De-carbonization is now causing major changes in the electricity production arena as energy producers move away from centralized power generation towards a more distributed model, transitioning from burning coal to relying more and more on wind and solar. Our world has undergone a fundamental shift since the signing of the Kyoto protocol in 1997, an international treaty which commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The mindsets of people have shifted to prioritize environmental concerns through purchases of low emission cars and energy efficiency solutions, as have state governments like California, which set a mandate for utilities to reach 50% renewables by 2030.

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Houston Chronicle

September 8, 2017

A few thousand CenterPoint customers still don’t have power

A few thousand CenterPoint Energy customers remain without power nearly two weeks after Tropical Storm Harvey deluged Houston in four feet of water. The problem is a major distribution substation that is sitting in two feet of flood water. In order to get power back to a core of customers in west Houston, CenterPoint has had to route power from the damaged substation to a temporary one nearby. The project — which required 40 new distribution poles — is almost complete, with three out of four circuits up and sending power to homes.

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Southeast Energy News

September 6, 2017

Amid nuclear setbacks, Virginia utility pauses plans for new reactor

Dominion Energy has paused development activities on a fifth reactor at a Virginia nuclear power plant, according to a company spokesperson. The move comes amid ever-growing scrutiny now that construction on two reactors in South Carolina has stopped and plans for others in the region have been scrapped. Just this past spring, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued Dominion a combined construction and operating license for a new reactor to be located at its North Anna plant. Rules still require Dominion to secure a certificate of need from Virginia’s State Corporation Commission, but they could be overcome if the state legislature passes a bill allowing the utility to proceed without one.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

BBC

September 6, 2017

Nissan Leaf electric car goes further with one-pedal driving

Nissan has launched a longer-range version of its best-selling Leaf electric vehicle, as it fights growing competition in the electric car market. The new Leaf can travel about 50% further on a single charge than its predecessor, according to the firm. But it still falls short of the ranges offered by other recent electric cars from Tesla and General Motors. Other updates include a new one-pedal driving system, auto-parking tech and a more modern design.

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Inverse

September 6, 2017

MIT Researchers Propose an Ancient Technology to Store Clean Energy

A new proposal from MIT researchers looks at how firebricks, clay bricks used in ovens as far back as 3,000 years ago, could play a role in fueling a world that’s independent of carbon energy. What makes a firebrick — a brick made of refractory ceramic material — so ideal for this use is that they’re able to retain heat for long periods of time if properly insulated. The theoretical system these researchers created, called the Firebrick Resistance-heated Energy Storage (FIRES), would use the bricks as a repository for excess electric energy. Here’s how it works: Excess energy from wind farms, for instance, could be converted to heat, using electric resistance heaters, and then be transferred to adjoining insulated firebricks. Later, like the next morning, that heat could be used directly or turned back into electricity after it is fed into a generator. Essentially, firebricks are nature’s oldest batteries.

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Regulatory Stories

Houston Chronicle

September 7, 2017

Gov. Abbott: Special Harvey task force to examine toxic plants, landfills

A special task force of federal and state environmental specialists has been tasked with monitoring toxic chemical sites and landfills in Houston and other areas devastated by Hurricane Harvey, Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday. Acknowledging growing concerns in the Houston area about flooded chemical plants and toxic Superfund that were inundated and possibly damaged by the killer storm, he said the two primary regulatory agencies that oversee chemical issues — the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Commission on Environmental Quality — will coordinate post-storm inspections and cleanup in all devastated areas at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Austin.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 7, 2017

Lawmakers troubled by ‘minimal’ state resources for Harvey relief

Officials from two state agencies that help with disaster assistance told lawmakers Thursday there is little state money available for Hurricane Harvey recovery. The Department of Housing and Community Affairs has about $15 million available for Harvey recovery, executive director Tim Irvine told the House Urban Affairs Committee. The agency can spend $3.5 million on helping displaced Texans with “essentials of life,” including covering energy bills, and $11.5 million in U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds for home rental assistance for about 1,000 families.

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Texas Observer

September 7, 2017

Experts: Much of Harvey-Related Air Pollution was Preventable

Huge releases of hazardous air pollutants during Hurricane Harvey could’ve been prevented if companies had simply shut down their plants ahead of time or used more advanced emission controls, experts say. According to an Observer analysis, about 40 petrochemical companies along the Texas coast released 5.5 million pounds of pollution as a result of Harvey. Among the pollutants were carcinogens such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene as well as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds and smog-forming nitrogen oxides. The excess emissions were mainly a result of facilities shutting down and restarting their operations in preparation for the hurricane and accidents such as the fire at the Arkema plant and a floating roof covering a tank caving in due to heavy rains at an ExxonMobil refinery. In many cases, the pollution releases were preventable, according to environmental experts who reviewed the Observer’s analysis.

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Texas Tribune

September 7, 2017

In Harvey’s wake, critics see big money behind lax petrochemical reporting

Unlike any past storm — natural or man-made — Hurricane Harvey has exposed the fault lines between the politically powerful Texas petrochemical industry and the public’s right to know what dangers lie within their facilities. In Crosby, on the outskirts of Houston, French-owned Arkema refused to provide the public an inventory of the substances inside its chemical plant even as they were burning and causing mandatory evacuations. Along flood-stricken petrochemical row near the Houston ship channel, meanwhile, city officials detected a huge spike in cancer-causing benzene outside a refinery this week — while the state’s environmental protection agency temporarily suspended certain spill and emission reporting rules in Harvey’s wake.

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Houston Chronicle

September 7, 2017

Government ill-equipped to monitor industrial plants damaged by Hurricane Harvey

More than a dozen Texas chemical and refining plants reported damaged storage tanks, ruptured containment systems and malfunctioning pressure relief valves as a result of Hurricane Harvey, portending safety problems that might not become apparent for months or years, according to a Houston Chronicle review of regulatory filings. The filings are incomplete and represent only damage that produced excessive air pollution, a fraction of the impact on plants in southeast Texas that provide more than 40 percent of the nation’s petrochemical capacity and about 30 percent of its refining. At Shell’s Deer Park refinery, two tanks were damaged and oil ran into a surrounding berm. At BASF’s Beaumont pesticide plant, tanks overflowed and leaked unknown chemicals. At the Chevron Phillips Cedar Bayou plant, a cooling pump failed, causing overpressurized chemicals to be burned off in a flare.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 6, 2017

Dallas Fed: Region’s economy sustained momentum prior to Harvey

A rebound in retail sales and broad-based demand for a wide range of products and services helped sustain a growing regional economy prior to Hurricane Harvey’s arrival, according to a report Wednesday from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. However, some of the report’s weakest notes emerged from areas later hammered by the storm, which shut down key supply and transportation channels for most industries in the region. In its chapter of the Beige Book, an anecdotal survey of the economy compiled every six weeks by the Federal Reserve banks, the Dallas Fed said economic activity in its district “continued to expand at a moderate pace.”

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The Hill

September 7, 2017

Rick Perry went looking for a reason to bail out coal and came back empty

When Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered a study back in April to examine the “premature retirement” of “baseload” coal and nuclear plants, the writing seemed to be on the wall: presumably, the administration would use the study to claim that renewable energy is undermining the reliability of the grid, justify the rollback of incentives and environmental protections and then prop up coal. But now the report is out, and it does not provide much support for that conclusion. The study reveals some essential facts: Cheap natural gas is the primary force driving the retirement of coal and nuclear plants. Many coal plants are retiring because they’re neither efficient nor competitive. And the nation’s power grid has become more reliable as it has become more diverse with more renewables and natural gas.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 5, 2017

This is why Trump has the leverage over Mexico and Canada on NAFTA

Canada and Mexico would like nothing more than to sideline the United States and create a bilateral trade agreement that excludes their suddenly unreliable neighbor. But they can’t create a deal worth the trouble without access to America’s markets, senior officials of both governments concede. And that realization gives a significant advantage to President Donald Trump as he threatens to reopen the bedrock NAFTA partnership. “Even though it would be easy to reach a bilateral agreement because we have the NAFTA framework, it doesn’t amount to much without the United States,” said Jorge Guajardo, Mexico’s former ambassador to China who is familiar with the negotiations. “That is what made NAFTA powerful.”

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Reuters

September 2, 2017

House panel approves legislation to speed deployment of self-driving cars

An influential U.S. House committee on Thursday approved a revised bipartisan bill on a 54-0 vote that would speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles. The bill would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years. Automakers and technology companies believe chances are good Congress will approve legislation before year end. They have been pushing for regulations making it easier to deploy self-driving technology, while consumer groups have sought more safeguards.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 7, 2017
Lead Stories

Wall St. Journal

September 6, 2017

Sempra Energy Gets Bankruptcy Court Approval of $9.45 Billion Oncor Deal

Sempra Energy took a step forward Wednesday in its pursuit of Oncor, the electricity transmissions business that has had takeover offers from a series of suitors, including, most recently, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy. A bankruptcy judge signed off on Sempra’s proposed acquisition, which still needs approval from the Public Utility Commission of Texas. State regulators have squashed two earlier attempted buyouts of Oncor, one of the largest electricity transmissions businesses in the country. Oncor is owned largely by Energy Future Holdings Corp., a Dallas power company that has been operating under bankruptcy protection since 2014. On Wednesday, Judge Christopher Sontchi authorized Energy Future to agree to sell its 80% stake in Oncor to Sempra.

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Oil Price

September 4, 2017

A War With North Korea Could Send Oil Prices Skyrocketing

Talk is not enough to tip the region into a war—possibly even a nuclear war—but it serves to heighten the pressure, and decisions made under pressure are seldom the wisest. Analysts seem to be divided as to the most probable course the events would take. A recent analysis by SBS News’ Kelsey Munro looks into the two basic scenarios: accept a nuclear North Korea, or prevent it from becoming nuclear as soon as possible. Geopolitics experts seem to be split on which scenario is the more sensible one to follow. On the one hand, Munro notes, some researchers believe that accepting North Korea’s nuclear capability would prevent a war that would result in hundreds of thousands of casualties and disrupt the Asian economy. This would be a conventional war, since the chances of success for a tactical nuclear strike seem to be too slim to be comfortable with.

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Ogden (UT) Standard Examiner

September 5, 2017

Big Energy backs hydrogen power storage

The secret to switching the global energy system entirely to renewables may lay in the universe’s most abundant substance. Hydrogen has drawn backing from big energy companies from Royal Dutch Shell Plc to Uniper SE in addition to carmakers BMW AG and Audi AG. They’re supporting research into how the element can be used to store energy for weeks or even months beyond what lithium-ion batteries can manage. While industry’s investment in hydrogen is small at just $2.5 billion over the last decade, the work offers an answer to the elusive question of how electricity could be kept for use in the future.

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ABC News

September 4, 2017

AP defends itself after EPA attacks ‘misleading’ report on Superfund sites

The Associated Press is defending itself after the Environmental Protection Agency called its reporting on so-called Superfund sites in Texas into question over the weekend, criticizing one journalist for “reporting from the comfort of Washington.” Hurricane Harvey has damaged or flooded at least 13 sites identified by EPA as contaminated by possibly dangerous materials, raising concerns that the materials could spread and pose a danger to public health. Local and federal EPA officials have been on the ground working to test and help restore the water supply after the storm. But on Friday the AP reported that the EPA was “not on scene” at flooded “ultra-polluted Superfund sites,” according to its initial alert, prompting EPA to question the accuracy of the story and even attack one of the reporters by name. The AP story originally said reporters visited five Superfund sites. As of Monday, the AP said it has surveyed seven sites in and around Houston.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 7, 2017

Oil steady on rising US refining demand, but ample crude supplies weigh

Oil prices held steady on Thursday, supported by rising demand from the United States where Gulf Coast refineries are restarting in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. But ongoing high crude output, including from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), meant there were ample supplies to meet demand. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $49.12 barrel at 0146 GMT, 4 cents below their last settlement, but not far off more than three-week highs reached in the previous session. Brent crude futures, the benchmark for oil prices outside the United States, dipped 8 cents to $54.12 a barrel, though still not far from May highs reached the previous day.

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Platts

September 6, 2017

Industry prepares for Hurricane Irma as Texas refineries recover

Texas refiners and pipelines Wednesday were still in the process of returning operations from the impact of Hurricane Harvey and the US oil industry further east was preparing for Hurricane Irma. Most of the Texas refineries brought down ahead of Harvey were on their way back Wednesday, with Phillips 66 the latest to announce it had begun a restart Tuesday of its 247,000 b/d Sweeny plant. Roughly 977,800 b/d of refining capacity remains down, while another 2.75 million b/d of capacity is in the process of returning. Assuming the returning refineries are operating at 50% of capacity, the total downed capacity comes to roughly 2.35 million b/d, or 12.7% of US capacity.

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Bloomberg

September 6, 2017

Hurricane Irma Slams Puerto Rico as Parts of Miami Evacuate

After devastating a chain of small Caribbean islands, Irma was battering Puerto Rico on a path toward Florida that could turn the Category 5 hurricane into the most expensive storm in U.S. history. The National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast shows Irma hitting Florida by Sunday afternoon, a prospect that has roiled markets for everything from orange juice to insurance and natural gas. Hurricane watches may be issued for parts of the Florida Keys and the Florida peninsula as soon as Thursday. Miami-Dade County issued a mandatory evacuation order for coastal areas including downtown Miami and Miami Beach. Barclays Plc has estimated insured losses in a worst-case scenario from the storm at $130 billion.

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San Antonio Express News

September 6, 2017

San Antonio’s Valero to spend $180M on products pipeline and terminal from Houston

San Antonio-based refiner Valero Energy Corp. announced a new $180 million pipeline and terminal investment to connect Houston with a to-be-built terminal near Round Rock. A Valero subsidiary, V-Tex Logistics, has signed an agreement with Magellan Pipeline Company, a subsidiary of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Magellan Midstream Partners, to build a 135 mile, 16-inch refined products pipeline from Houston to Hearne, Texas. When the project is completed Magellan will own the pipeline through a joint investment with Valero, according to a Magellan news release.

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Oil Price

September 6, 2017

Hurricane Irma Could Destroy Oil Demand

Goldman raises the possibility that the comeback in shale production could be curtailed by the sustained outages at Gulf Coast refineries, a scenario that it says is underappreciated by market analysts. But taken altogether, Goldman says the impact of Harvey will be stronger on demand than it will for supply. In other words, in the first month after the storm, oil demand will fall by 600,000 bpd while supply will only be curtailed by 400,000 bpd. A net-bearish impact. Things could get a lot more complicated in the days ahead with a potentially catastrophic Category 5 hurricane barreling towards Puerto Rico, Cuba, South Florida and maybe the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane Irma had sustained wind speeds of 180 miles per hour on Tuesday, which appears to be one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic. At the time of this writing, the path is still uncertain, but a multitude of scenarios have the hurricane slamming directly into South Florida by the weekend.

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Houston Chronicle

September 6, 2017

Tropical Storm Katia forms in Gulf of Mexico

A new tropical storm has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and weather forecasts indicate that it will not threaten Texas. The National Weather Service (NWS) issued an advisory for Tropical Storm Katia, which has sustained winds of around 40 mph. There are currently no coastal watches or warnings in effect, NWS added.

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Wall St. Journal

September 6, 2017

As Houston Recovers From Harvey, Getting Fuel Flowing Again Is a Slow Process

Oil refineries here are starting to come back online as the epicenter of the U.S. energy industry begins to recover from Hurricane Harvey. But getting the fuel flowing again isn’t as easy as flipping a switch, and some key transport infrastructure remains down. When Harvey inundated the Texas coast last month, it closed about 25% of U.S. refining capacity. Six Gulf Coast refineries, accounting for 9% of U.S. refining capacity, remained closed as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Energy Department. Another five were in the process of restarting, and at least seven were running at reduced rates. Saudi Arabian Oil Co. said Tuesday it was in the initial phases of restarting its Motiva refinery, the country’s largest. But it said that the Port Arthur, Texas, facility, which can make 600,000 barrels of fuel a day, may be running at just 40% of capacity by the end of this weekend. And Exxon Mobil Corp. said over the weekend it was working toward restarting its Baytown refinery, the nation’s second-largest.

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Bloomberg

September 6, 2017

Gas Shortage Shifts From Texas to Florida

Truckers who hauled gasoline to Texas last week from Florida may run the same route in reverse next week as Hurricane Irma bears down on the Sunshine State. South Floridians are stocking up on supplies like gasoline and water while preparing to evacuate to the northern part of the state ahead of Irma, which is forecast to bring winds as high as 150 miles (240 kilometers) an hour to the state. As many as 600 stations in Florida metropolitan areas were without fuel Wednesday, according to GasBuddy.com, a retail price-tracking service. The rush for fuel in Florida may require supplies from as far away as Texas, which is still reeling from Hurricane Harvey. When that storm choked off major metropolitan areas like Dallas and San Antonio, surplus gallons in Florida was trucked about 1,000 miles west to the Lone Star State to ease the shortages ahead of a long holiday weekend.

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Houston Chronicle

September 5, 2017

Exxon Mobil on the road back after Harvey, CEO says

Exxon Mobil said it is in the early stages of restarting the nation’s second-largest oil refinery in Baytown, although its Beaumont refinery remains shut because of Harvey’s floodwaters. Hurricane Harvey knocked out more than 20 percent of the nation’s refining capacity, but even hard-hit areas like Baytown and Port Arthur are beginning to come back. “Our teams have been working around the clock to restore operations as quickly and safely as possible so we can supply fuels to our customers,” said Darren Woods, Exxon Mobil chairman and chief executive officer.

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Austin American-Statesman

September 6, 2017

Texas gas lines disappear as fears of shortage ebb

Long lines for gasoline in Austin and elsewhere in the state have dissipated for the most part along with the short-lived, social media-fueled frenzy over fears of a severe shortage. Motorists remain more likely than before Hurricane Harvey hit to encounter the occasional empty filling stations, and gas prices remain elevated, but “the run (on gas) has stopped,” said Cary Rabb, owner of the Round Rock-based Wag-A-Bag convenience store chain. “It’s the panic buying that has stopped — at some point, everybody has topped off,” Rabb said.

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Oil Price

September 3, 2017

How EIA Guestimates Keep Oil Prices Subdued

The monthly EIA oil production figures tend to be more accurate than the weekly estimates, although they are published on several months after the fact. The EIA just released the latest monthly oil production figures for June, for example. Meanwhile, the agency releases production figures on a weekly basis that are only a week old – the latest figures run up right through August. The weekly figures are more like guestimates though, less solid, but the best we can do in nearly real-time. It is not surprising that they are subsequently revised as time passes and the agency gets more accurate data. But the problem is that for several months now, the monthly and the weekly data have diverged by non-trivial amounts. The weekly figures have been much higher than what the monthly data reveal only later. And remember, it is the monthly data that tends to be more accurate.

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iNews (UK)

September 1, 2017

Landin: How a hurricane in Texas can raise fuel prices in Britain

Oil refineries process the raw material into the products with fuel our cars, such as unleaded petrol and diesel. America’s single largest concentration of oil refineries is along its Gulf Coast, accounting for 59 per cent of the US’s refining capacity. There are 47 refineries in Texas alone. This is nothing new: Texas became the dominant force in US oil production in 1940, following three decades known as the “gusher age”. The Houston area, now badly affected by Hurricane Harvey, was perhaps the greatest beneficiary of this boom. The advent of fracking and the the lifting of decades-old trade restrictions has led to a swelling in US exports. The flurry has been on such a scale that the US has had to increase imports by five per cent.

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Dallas Morning News

September 3, 2017

Southwest Airlines urges pilots to conserve fuel as Houston flights resume

Southwest Airlines Co. is urging crews to conserve jet fuel to contend with Gulf Coast pipelines shut down by Hurricane Harvey and mustering personnel to resume flights Saturday in flood-ravaged Houston. Since Aug. 24, a day before the record-breaking storm made landfall in Texas, the Dallas-based carrier has held sprawling, twice-daily emergency meetings. … Southwest has a sufficient near-term supply of jet kerosene. But the carrier is anxious about closed pipelines from Gulf Coast refineries and arranged for tanker trucks to carry fuel to Dallas. The airline also is reminding workers to conserve fuel. Crews typically are advised to taxi on one engine instead of two and to reduce the use of auxiliary power units for lights and climate control when parked. Kelly said he was “absolutely” concerned about fuel availability. Southwest gets about one-third of its jet kerosene from Gulf Coast refineries.

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Houston Chronicle

September 5, 2017

Crosby evacuees return venting ire aimed at Arkema

CROSBY – Weary residents in the 1.5-mile evacuation zone around a chemical plant started returning to their flood-ravaged homes early Monday, just hours after a controlled burn destroyed six final trailers of decomposing chemicals at the troubled Arkema facility. But even as the week-long ordeal came to a close, the French-owned company declined to disclose key details, including the full chemical inventory for the 18000 Crosby Eastgate site or how officials ignited the trailers. Meanwhile, some upset residents said they are considering suing the company for the ordeal, which kept them from returning to their waterlogged homes and businesses for several days. “It’s been a nightmare,” said Elda Garza, who lives with her special-needs son in a trailer near the plant.

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Oil & Gas Financial Journal

September 6, 2017

Magellan Midstream to expand Texas refined petroleum products pipeline system

Magellan Midstream Partners LP (NYSE: MMP) plans to expand its refined petroleum products pipeline system to handle incremental demand for transportation of gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel to central and north Texas markets. Supported by long-term customer commitments, Magellan plans to build an approximately 135-mile, 16-inch pipeline from its terminal in East Houston to Hearne, Texas. Magellan will own the newly-constructed pipeline from East Houston to Hearne via an undivided joint interest agreement with Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO). Magellan’s ownership interest in this new pipe will provide the ability to deliver additional product north to Temple, Waco, and Dallas as well as Magellan’s Midcontinent markets, including Little Rock, Arkansas. Magellan plans to reverse an existing pipeline which will connect to the new pipeline segment, providing Magellan an incremental 85,000 barrels per day of refined products capacity originating from the Houston area, for an increase of nearly 50% to service Magellan’s Texas, Midcontinent and Little Rock markets.

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Reuters

September 3, 2017

The IEA still sees no need to release oil stocks

The International Energy Agency (IEA) still sees no need for a coordinated international release of oil stocks after Hurricane Harvey disrupted a large chunk of U.S. refining and some production facilities, it said on Friday. The Paris-based agency, which coordinates energy policies of industrialized nations, said it was monitoring the situation in Texas and Louisiana to assess the hurricane’s impact on oil and gas markets and was in very close contact with U.S. authorities.

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Utilities Stories

Miami Herald

September 6, 2017

Two South Florida nuclear power plants lie in Irma’s path. Are they ready?

The last time a major hurricane hit the Turkey Point nuclear power plant, it caused $90 million in damages but left the nuclear reactors along southern Biscayne Bay unscathed. In anticipation of powerful Hurricane Irma, which projections on Wednesday showed headed straight for South Florida, Florida Power & Light’s two nuclear plants were finalizing staffing plans and cleaning up the grounds. But neither Turkey Point nor the St. Lucie plant further up the coast had made the call yet to shutting down the plants. Peter Robbins, spokesman for FPL, said shutting down a reactor is a gradual process, and the decision will be made “well in advance” of the storm making landfall.

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New York Times

August 30, 2017

The Power Plants That May Save a Park, and Aid a Country

VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, Democratic Republic of Congo — On the verdant savanna of Virunga National Park, a herd of elephants clustered near an umbrella-shaped acacia tree to seek shelter from the blazing morning sun. From a Cessna far above, the giant animals looked like brown-gray miniatures. Emmanuel de Merode, the director of Virunga National Park, piloted the plane. He wore a Virunga park ranger uniform and had his green beret tucked into the shoulder of his khaki shirt. Mr. de Merode flew over the dazzling 50-mile-long Lake Edward, then descended to a grassy airfield flanked by palm trees. On this day, the flight was his commute. “It’s the best job in the world,” he said. Mr. de Merode was visiting a small hydroelectric power plant — built more than four years ago with an investment from the European Union — that has lofty goals. It powers a soap factory, providing jobs and a market for local palm oil. It supplies electricity to homes, reducing the need to illegally chop down Virunga’s trees to make charcoal. Ideally, it will spark entrepreneurship among carpenters, tailors and others whose businesses struggle to exist without electricity.

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Energy-Storage News

August 29, 2017

Energy storage could have significant impact on US businesses’ energy costs ‘in nearly every state’

More than a quarter of US commercial and industrial (C&I) electricity users could potentially use energy storage to lower premium rates they are charged during periods of high demand, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has found. NREL has just undertaken what it described as the most exhaustive effort to date to evaluate utility rates across the US, surveying over 10,000 separate utility tariffs that are available to around two-thirds of American C&I users. In the States, those C&I users of power are commonly levied what are known as demand charges onto their bills. While private homes will pay only for the kilowatt-hours of energy consumed, demand charges mean that businesses are monitored for the amount of power drawn from the grid at specific times and during short time frames.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Observer

September 6, 2017

As an Electric Car, BMW’s i8 Is Already Out of Date

A few years ago, I got to attend the global launch for the BMW i3. It was in Amsterdam, so I was pretty stoned for the press conference. But I did take notes. “Today,” announced an arrogant car executive (as though there were any other kind), “we herald the dawn of a new age of electromobility!” Life experience has taught me to be wary of Germans proclaiming the dawn of a new age, but a subsequent test drive of the i3 did get me excited for the future. It zipped around corners and you could park it anywhere. I drove many miles without using the brake. “One-pedal driving,” BMW called this technique. Inside, it resembled the first-class lounge at the Stockholm Airport, or at least what I imagined that place would look like. A new age seemed possible. I was thrilled!

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CNBC

September 4, 2017

A world famous police force will fight crime with hydrogen-powered scooters

The U.K.’s Metropolitan Police Service has launched a trial to test hydrogen-powered scooters on the streets of London. In an announcement on Monday, the Met said that seven Suzuki Burgman Fuel Cell zero emission hydrogen scooters would be trialed as part of its “operational capability.” The trial is set to last for 18 months, with the hydrogen fuel cell scooters being used by Police Community Support Officers in the Roads and Transport Policing Command.

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Regulatory Stories

Texas Tribune

September 1, 2017

Hey, Texplainer: Can Texas lawmakers tap the Rainy Day Fund to help with Harvey relief?

Hey, Texplainer: Will Gov. Greg Abbott soon release some of the $10 billion Rainy Day Fund to help Texans affected by Harvey? The Rainy Day Fund is the state’s savings account. Formally called the Economic Stabilization Fund, it was created in the late 1980s to keep the volatile oil industry from playing havoc with the state budget process. A portion of taxes on oil and gas production are now sent directly to the fund. For more than a decade, the fund had less than $1 billion in it. Then an oil and gas drilling boom that began a decade ago quickly grew the fund’s balance.

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Houston Chronicle

September 4, 2017

Tomlinson: Time for Houston to plan for warmer water

Texas politicians love to brag about low taxes and low regulation, but getting by on the cheap comes at a cost. Experts predict that Hurricane Harvey could become the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. That distinction may actually hurt our recovery efforts more than it helps, because too many penny-pinchers will use the storm’s rarity as an excuse not to do the necessary. The frightening truth is that our climate is changing, and scientists have been warning us about storms like Harvey for over a decade. Engineers and environmentalists have prescribed precautions that would have mitigated the damage and saved thousands of homes, but our elected officials ignored them and many deny the scientific evidence of our fate.

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Dallas Morning News

September 5, 2017

Mexico’s low wage issue halts round of NAFTA talks

The second round of talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement has ended amid resistance to discussing Mexico’s low wages. Relatively few concrete proposals appear to have been made on issues like dispute-resolution mechanisms, seasonal farm tariffs and regional content rules during the talks in Mexico City. The United States wants to eliminate the current system of private arbitration panels, and tighten labor standards and local content rules in products like autos. But business groups want to keep wages out of the talks.

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San Antonio Express News

September 2, 2017

Harvey’s potential fiscal impact to the state ‘mind-boggling’

Top state lawmakers are bracing for the hit to Texas’ budget from Harvey, with public education a key concern due to pressures ranging from rebuilding and repair of facilities to displaced students to the prospect of decreased local property tax revenues in affected areas. With officials still focused on saving lives and ensuring people’s safety, the potential state budget impact hasn’t been quantified. The federal government is promising sustained help. In separate visits to the state, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said they would work with Congress on the costly proposition. But some are predicting a substantial effort will be needed by the state, which has a lean budget due to economic twists and previous decisions to cut taxes and dedicate big money to transportation.

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Daily Caller

September 2, 2017

Batasch: FEMA Shuts Down Rumors Alleging It Created Fuel Shortages In Texas

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had to release statements Thursday countering rumors circulating about its handling of widespread damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. These rumors included allegations that FEMA is blocking fuel supplies from getting to Texas, causing shortages. “There are rumors that the fuel shortages in Texas are due to either FEMA blocking sales or fuel being committed elsewhere,” FEMA said in a statement. “This is FALSE.”

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Morning Consult

August 23, 2017

California’s Cap-and-Trade Program Gets Boost From Sold-Out Auction

California’s cap-and-trade program received a positive jolt this week when current emissions allowances sold out for a second consecutive quarter for the first time since November 2015 and at a record-high price. Proponents have hailed the results of the auction — the first since last month’s extension of the program through 2030 — as proof of the emissions-trading market’s sustainability. … Texas, which generates the largest amount of wind power in the United States and is a leading state in renewable energy production, has three cap-and-trade programs offering credit for temporary emission reductions for nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides and other compounds that threaten public health in high concentrations. However, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality does not have a carbon trading program and does not regulate carbon emissions beyond the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, commission spokesman Andrew Keese said in a Tuesday interview.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 6, 2017
Lead Stories

Wall St. Journal

September 5, 2017

After Oil Refinery Is Damaged by Harvey, Benzene Is Detected in Houston Area

The city of Houston, the Environmental Protection Agency and an environmental advocacy group are investigating a potentially hazardous plume of a carcinogenic substance in one neighborhood after a nearby oil refiner reported its operations suffered hurricane-related damage. The city and the Environmental Defense Fund said extra air monitors they dispatched to Houston’s Manchester region on Monday detected the presence of benzene, a component of crude oil and gasoline. Two monitors detected significantly different levels of the carcinogen at different times of the day, and additional sampling is needed to determine the concentration, according to Loren Raun, chief environmental science officer for the Houston Health Department, and Elena Craft, a senior health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, which became involved in the probe after offering the city assistance.

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Dallas Morning News

September 5, 2017

DMN: In Crosby, the lessons of West go unheeded

Texas’ approach to chemical storage amounts to what you don’t know can’t hurt you. Unfortunately, this also amounts to trusting without verification, and that’s never a good policy. Immediately after Hurricane Harvey struck, Arkema plant officials held a press briefing to explain that rising temperatures at the flood-drenched Crosby plant 30 miles northeast of downtown Houston would make it impossible for the company to keep the chemicals stored there cool enough to avert explosions. Then a reporter asked the most telling question: what chemicals are in the plant and how much? Arkema chief executive officer Richard Rowe seemed taken back by the question and responded as if that answer didn’t matter.

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Denver Post

September 5, 2017

FEMA is almost out of money as hurricane threatens Florida, source says

With Texas still reeling from Hurricane Harvey and another storm barreling toward Florida, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to run out of money by Friday, according to a Senate aide, putting pressure on Congress to provide more funding this week. As of 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, which pays for the agency’s disaster response and recovery activity, had just $1.01 billion on hand. And of that, just $541 million was “immediately available” for response and recovery efforts related to Hurricane Harvey, according to a spokeswoman for FEMA who asked not to be identified by name. The $1.01 billion in the fund Tuesday morning is less than half of the $2.14 billion that was there at 9 a.m. last Thursday morning — a spending rate of $9.3 million every hour, or about $155,000 a minute.

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Utility Dive

September 5, 2017

Texas cooperative to build solar-plus-storage project in Liberia

The Bandera Electric Cooperative in Texas has won a contract to install a solar-plus-storage microgrid in Liberia. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) awarded the 70 kW project, in Totota in eastern Liberia, which calls for 220 solar panels and 90 kWh of lithium-ion batteries and a backup diesel generator. When completed, the facility will be owned by a local electric cooperative. Most of Totota’s 6,400 residents currently have access to electricity via lead acid batteries and rented generators.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 6, 2017

Oil markets dip storm Harvey fallout; Hurricane Irma heads into Caribbean

Oil prices slipped on Wednesday as crude demand remained subdued on the back of refinery closures following Hurricane Harvey which hit the U.S. Gulf coast 10 days ago. Market focus was also being drawn to Hurricane Irma, a record Category 5 storm, which is barreling towards important shipping lanes in the Caribbean. Although many refineries and pipelines which were knocked out by Harvey are now in the process of restarting, analysts say it will take some time before the U.S. petroleum industry is back to full crude processing capacity. As of Tuesday, about 3.8 million barrels of daily refining capacity, or about 20 percent, was shut, though a number of the refineries in that group were in the process of restarting.

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Houston Chronicle

September 5, 2017

After Harvey’s devastation, oil tanker traffic healthy in Gulf of Mexico

Samir Madani had never seen anything like the satellite images beaming to his monitor in Norway. Not long before the floodwaters sluiced through Houston homes and highways, almost all of the 166 tankers off the Texas coast fled in the same direction all at once, scurrying southeast into the depths of the Gulf of Mexico, leaving a vast blue void where, on a normal day, vessels would have carried fuel supplies and goods to the region’s ports. When storms threaten the Gulf Coast, tankers usually take shelter near the coastline. But Hurricane Harvey was strong enough to wash out soil and run tankers aground.

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Bloomberg

September 5, 2017

China Banks, Oil Giants at Risk From Trump’s Sanction Threat

President Donald Trump’s rhetoric about imposing widespread sanctions on China for propping up North Korea’s economy may put pressure on some of its banks and oil companies. Harsh critics of China’s support for its neighbor have argued that American efforts to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program must include tougher sanctions against Chinese state-owned companies. So far, the U.S. focused on small entities such as Bank of Dandong. But now the bigger players may be at risk after Trump threatened on Twitter to cut off trade with any country doing business with North Korea because of its latest nuclear test.

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The Street

September 1, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Has Exposed One Possibly Lethal Risk to Oil Industry

 The cluster of refineries dotted along the Gulf Coast is advantageous for transporting gasoline and other products to the East Coast, Mexico and South America, but experts are questioning their location in the aftermath of Harvey. As the number of refineries being shut down increases daily since Harvey started hitting the Gulf Coast and pounding several cities with torrential rainfall and halting access to the plants, relocating the refineries has been raised as a potential strategy to alleviate transportation and environmental issues and lower the risk of another major hurricane or storm causing serious damage. The refineries play a large role refining crude oil into gasoline, diesel and jet fuel among other products. While the Corpus Christi refineries produce 4.4% of the capacity in the U.S., the refineries in Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S., and Texas City together generate 12% of refining capacity.

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Houston Chronicle

September 5, 2017

Corpus Christi refining complex almost back to pre-Harvey operations

The oil refining complex in Corpus Christi is nearly back to its pre-Harvey operations more than 10 days after the Category 4 hurricane made its Texas landfall. Refinery shutdowns, gasoline price spikes and fuel shortage issues at gas stations remain widespread, but the southernmost hub of Texas’ refining operations is almost back to normal. Flint Hills Resources confirmed Tuesday its Corpus refinery is fully back online, just one day after Valero Energy said it had resumed its normal capacity to churn out gasoline and other fuels. Flint Hills is a subsidiary of Koch Industries.

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Houston Chronicle

September 5, 2017

Motiva refinery in Port Arthur begins to roar back after Harvey shutdown

Motiva’s Port Arthur refinery, the nation’s largest, is beginning to restart and should be partially operational at the beginning of next week, Motiva Enterprises said Tuesday. Hurricane Harvey knocked out more than 20 percent of the nation’s fuel production at oil refineries, causing price spikes and some fuel shortages. The last hit by Harvey, those in Beaumont and Port Arthur, could be the last to return, but some already are beginning the methodical restart processes. Saudi-Arabia-based Motiva said it hopes to have operations restored to 40 percent by Monday.

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Daily Caller

September 1, 2017

Oil Industry Mobilizes $23 Million For Hurricane Harvey Victims

Oil companies have mobilized supplies and tens of millions of dollars in charitable donations to help Gulf Coast residents recover from devastating flooding brought on by Hurricane Harvey. Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, a major refiner, pledged $1 million to Texans harmed by the storm. The company will give $500,000 to the United Way and $250,000 in matching donations for storm victims, according to a Thursday release. “Houston and southeast Texas are where we live and work and we are in this together,” the company’s CEO Mark Lashier said in a statement. “While Chevron Phillips Chemical is a global company – all our thoughts are with Texas this week.”

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World Oil

September 4, 2017

Harvey’s wrath lays bare Mexico’s U.S. natural gas addiction

Hurricane Harvey’s crushing blow to the U.S. energy industry reveals just how dependent Mexico has become on natural gas from its northern neighbor. The storm’s wrath forced cross-border gas pipelines in Texas to shut and prevented tankers from loading cargoes of the fuel. Mexican consumers, who are burning record amounts of gas from America’s prolific shale basins, had no choice but to cut back as imports dropped 16% in a single day after Harvey hit before recovering. After ending its state-owned energy monopoly four years ago, Mexico has supplemented dwindling domestic gas production with shipments from the U.S. As the two nations’ gas markets become more intertwined, however, supply disruptions in the U.S. — whether from natural disasters or policy changes like President Donald Trump’s threats to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement — can send Mexico scrambling to find alternatives for American supply.

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Dallas Morning News

September 3, 2017

Houston’s post-Harvey outlook: ‘If $26 oil doesn’t do us in, 52 inches of rain won’t either’

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he expects disaster relief needed for rebuilding to exceed $125 billion, topping Katrina. Federal spending to restore New Orleans post-Katrina has been estimated at $120 billion. Other economists are more conservative in their estimates. Risk-modeling company RMS puts the damage at $90 billion. Moody’s Analytics estimates the toll will be $86 billion to $108 billion. With Texas’ Gulf Coast serving as a global center for the oil, gas and chemical industries, the temporary shutdown of major refineries and pipelines was most immediately visible to consumers at the gas pump. After panic over shortages spread across Dallas-Fort Worth Thursday and into Friday, some North Texas gas stations raised prices above $3 a gallon.

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Midland Reporter Telegram

September 3, 2017

Gulf Coast woes could shut in Permian wells

As quickly as crude and natural gas has been flowing from Permian oil fields, the waters of Hurricane Harvey flowed even faster. The damage wrought by Harvey on the Gulf Coast’s refining and petrochemical complexes and pipeline hubs will be felt in West Texas and Southeast New Mexico. Worst-case scenario, Permian producers may have to shut in wells if storage fills and there is nowhere to put the oil, Sandy Fielden, director, oil and products research with Morningstar, said in a phone from his Austin office. “The longer pipelines stay shut, these constraints lock crude into the Permian Basin,” he said. “If congestion continues, it could be a problem.”

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Utilities Stories

NASDAQ

September 5, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Wreaks Havoc: 3 Utilities in Focus

In one of the most devastating tropical storms in 50 years — Hurricane Harvey — the city of Houston was the worst hit. The storm ravaged through the city causing widespread damage to properties as well as human lives. Catastrophic flooding further added to the woes. Among the 16 sectors in our Zacks Coverage Universe, Energy and Insurance sectors have lost the most. In addition, Utility sector also suffered since catastrophic flooding affected transmission lines in many regions of the state, forcing thousands to deal with power cuts.

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KFDM

September 5, 2017

Entergy substations headed to Southeast Texas

BEAUMONT — Mobile substations to re-energize Southeast Texas locations that can take power served by five damaged substations are underway, Entergy announced Tuesday in a news release. Some have already arrived and others are on the way. These substations include Amelia and Bevil substations in Beaumont, Vidor Substation in Vidor, Viway Substation in Rose City and McDonald Substation in Hardin County. Crews are using special reconfiguration to properly connect the mobile substations to the electrical grid, according to Entergy.

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Dallas Morning News

September 4, 2017

With its Fate Power Switch, city shops the deregulated electricity market for residents and outsiders

FATE — For the last 15 years, Texans have been told there’s cheaper electricity available because state legislators deregulated the market. But the choices are complex, and government officials haven’t been as helpful in leading individuals to the plug-in that works best for them. The Fate Power Switch is unique because city government is doing the shopping for them. About 1 in 6 households responded in March, when the city introduced the program. About a third of those accepted a service provider and rate secured through the Fate Power Switch.

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New York Daily News

September 2, 2017

Texas accepts Canada’s offer of supplies in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Canada has proven to be a true neighbor to the north, as Quebec has offered supplies and electrical technicians to help Texas in its time of need. Minister of International Relations Christine St-Pierre told CBC News she called Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos to express the concern all of Quebec felt for the Lone Star State’s struggles in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, as well as to offer blankets, hygienic products, beds and pillows. “It was a conversation about how devastating the situation is and we want to express our support to the people of Texas,” she said. Perhaps most importantly, St-Pierre told Pablos that Canada was willing to offer the help of Hydro-Quebec technicians to restore electricity throughout Texas.

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Forbes

September 1, 2017

Conca: Hurricane Harvey Makes The Case For Nuclear Power

Over a fifth of the country’s oil production has been shuttered. Natural gas futures hit a 2-year high as did gasoline prices at the pump. But the Texas nuclear power plants have been running smoothly. The two nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project plant near Houston were operating at full capacity despite wind gusts that peaked at 130 mph as the Hurricane made landfall. The plant implemented its severe weather protocols as planned and completed hurricane preparations ahead of Category 4 Hurricane Harvey striking the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25th. Anyone who knows anything about nuclear was not surprised. Nuclear is the only energy source immune to all extreme weather events – by design.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Scientific American

September 5, 2017

How States Will Hit 100 Percent Clean Energy

California Democratic leaders want their state to commit to a future of 100 percent renewable electricity, a goal approved so far by only one U.S. state—Hawaii. Top officials in both places hope their policies will serve as a model for others as the Trump administration rejects actions on climate change. California and Hawaii offer very different models for committing their power sectors to clean electricity. They differ on everything from mandate deadlines to what’s considered renewable. “For the country as a whole it shows the laboratory effect of having states take the lead on this issue,” said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the University of California, Berkeley, Center for Law, Energy & the Environment. “As Hawaii and California take the lead, it will provide examples of how it can be done for other states, both good and bad.”

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Regulatory Stories

Texas Tribune

September 4, 2017

Texas officials see long road from Harvey for state transportation network

 Alongside thousands of Texas homes and businesses impacted by Hurricane Harvey, floodwaters also damaged hundreds of roads and highways across the region. Prolonged flooding can wash out bridges, knock down traffic signals and signs and cause asphalt to buckle. Last week, the federal government directed $25 million to the Texas Department of Transportation to help the agency begin repairing the region’s vast transportation system. But that funding won’t last very long, said TxDOT Deputy Executive Director Marc Williams.

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Houston Chronicle

September 1, 2017

Harvey reveals corporate hubris regarding safety

Richard Rennard, the president of Arkema, shrugged his shoulders when asked what more his company could have done to prevent chemicals from burning at his plant in Crosby. He rattled off the systems his company employed to chill the organic peroxides: Grid power, back-up generators, nitrogen coolers and ultimately refrigerated trailers. On Thursday the refrigerator systems began shutting down and the peroxides began burning and blowing the lids off their containers. After the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan, every facility with dangerous materials should know to keep back-up generators above any potential flood line. Yet that precaution escaped Arkema.

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Courthouse News

September 6, 2017

Judge Won’t Let Texas and EPA Delay Air Cleanup Again

The Trump administration cannot put off a plan to curb air pollution from Texas power plants until 2019, a federal judge ruled, refusing to further delay a process that’s dragged on for nearly a decade. Touting a new spirit of “cooperative federalism” between the Environmental Protection Agency and Texas that was said to be lacking under former President Barack Obama, Texas and the EPA asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, in the District of Columbia, to give Texas until Dec. 31, 2018 to submit a plan. Berman Jackson declined. In her Aug. 31 ruling, she gave the EPA until Sept. 9 to submit a plan of its own.

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Dallas Morning News

September 5, 2017

Gov. Greg Abbott assures Texans that toxic waste sites slammed by Harvey so far appear to be safe

Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday sought to assure residents of hurricane-ravaged southeast Texas that toxic waste sites are being closely monitored. “As of this time, we are unaware of any damage or danger that has occurred,” he said, referring to “Superfund” sites tainted by dangerous chemicals. The Republican governor said federal officials have inspected 33 waste sites in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey and a subsequent tropical storm that caused widespread flooding. The federal Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator assured Abbott on Tuesday that no problems have been found, he said.

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Los Angeles Times

August 31, 2017

Harvey pounded the nation’s chemical epicenter. What’s in the foul-smelling floodwater left behind?

The pounding rains of Hurricane Harvey washed over the conduits, cooling towers, ethylene crackers and other esoteric equipment of the nation’s largest complex of chemical plants and petroleum refineries, leaving behind small lakes of brown, foul-smelling water whose contents are a mystery. Broken tanks, factory fires and ruptured pipes are thought to have released a cocktail of toxic chemicals into the waters. Explosions that released thick black smoke were reported at the Arkema Inc. chemical plant, where floods knocked out the electricity, leaving the facility outside Houston without refrigeration needed to protect volatile chemicals. Meanwhile, emissions into the air have soared as the petrochemical industry shut down and then started up chemical operations, a cycle that causes an uptick in releases. The potential health problems were magnified by overflowing sewers, inoperative treatment plants and the residues of animal waste, including carcasses.

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Houston Press

September 5, 2017

Still to Come From Harvey: Possible Contamination

As the rain from Hurricane Harvey continued to pour down, Jackie Young, executive director of the San Jacinto River Coalition, could not stop thinking about the San Jacinto Waste Pits perched on the lip of the San Jacinto River. The San Jacinto River Waste Pits — created in the 1960s when a paper mill signed a contract to dump industrial waste in a 20-acre lot along the bank of the San Jacinto — are like an enormous toxic jelly doughnut, packed full of dioxin, a known carcinogen. The waste pits have been classified as a Superfund site for decades, but that’s not the only reason Young and others in the area have been concerned as Harvey dumped more than one trillion gallons of water on Houston and caused unprecedented flooding that sent the San Jacinto and various other bayous, creeks and waterways out of their banks last week.

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New York Times

September 5, 2017

Crisis Is Over at Texas Plant, but Chemical Safety Flaws Remain

CROSBY, Tex. — Residents have returned to their homes here in the shadow of the Arkema chemical plant now that the fires at the plant are out and the immediate safety hazard has passed. The fires, a result of flooding in the wake of Hurricane Harvey that caused chemicals to become unstable, had little health impact beyond the 21 emergency workers who were treated for smoke exposure. The returning homeowners now face more common problems that follow a flood: crumbling plasterboard, ruined furnishings and, above all, mold. Still, the accident at the plant has exposed large flaws in regulation of chemical safety, risk disclosure and emergency planning.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips for September 5, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

September 1, 2017

Oil Firms That Cheered Regulatory Cuts Are Quaking on NAFTA

The Trump administration is easing environmental regulations and opening up territory for drilling as part of the president’s bid to unleash the “vast energy wealth” of the U.S. Yet Donald Trump’s push to rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement could have the opposite effect. As Nafta negotiations resume Friday, oil industry leaders are desperate to preserve the 23-year-old trade deal that drove a North American oil and gas renaissance and paved the way for $34 billion worth of energy exports to Canada and Mexico last year. “Any changes that disrupt energy trade across our North American borders, reduce investment protection or revert to high tariffs and trade barriers that preceded NAFTA could put at risk the tens of millions of jobs,” said the top oil and gas trade groups from the U.S., Canada and Mexico in a joint position paper released last month.

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Accuweather

September 4, 2017

Hurricane Irma to track toward US; Residents of East and Gulf coasts urged to prepare now

As Major Hurricane Irma churns across the northern Caribbean and towards the United States, residents along the Gulf and East coasts of the U.S. need to be on alert. Irma will blast the northern Caribbean with flooding rain, damaging winds and rough surf this week, bringing life-threatening conditions to the islands. A similar scenario could play out somewhere along the Gulf or East coasts this weekend or next week, depending on where Irma tracks. Residents are urged to prepare now. … A landfall in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas is all in the realm of possibilities. Irma could also head into the Gulf of Mexico.

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Texas Tribune

September 1, 2017

Crosby plant explosion highlights state efforts to block access to chemical information

Residents of Crosby woke Thursday morning to a 40-foot plume of black smoke darkening their sky. Don’t worry, said both government officials and personnel from Arkema, the owner of the plant emitting the fumes — there’s nothing toxic in your air. Locals had little choice but to take them at their word. That’s because in recent years, state leaders have made it increasingly difficult for communities to learn what, exactly, sits inside the chemical plants in their neighborhoods — and just how dangerous it might be. The implications of such efforts came into focus this week, after Hurricane Harvey battered, drowned and endangered such facilities along the Texas coast.

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Wall St. Journal

September 1, 2017

In Big Test of Wind Farm Durability, Texas Facility Quickly Restarts After Harvey

For the first time in the history of the burgeoning U.S. wind industry, a wind farm got hit by a hurricane—and it was back producing power within days. Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of more than 130 miles an hour a week ago Friday about 20 miles from the Papalote Creek Wind Farm near Corpus Christi, Texas. One section of the onshore wind farm was producing electricity on Thursday and the other was expected to be back online on Friday, according to its owner, German power company E.ON SE . “Papalote actually survived really well,” said Patrick Woodson, chairman of E.ON’s North American operations. The delay in restarting was mostly because the power lines were damaged, he said.

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Platts

September 4, 2017

Colonial Pipeline restarts pumping on distillates line from Houston [Gasoline Restart Possible Tuesday]

Colonial Pipeline, the largest US refined product pipeline, has resumed pumping of diesel and jet fuel shipments on its Line 2 from Houston, the company said Monday. “Line 2 has resumed operation from Pasadena and Houston,” the company said in a notice to shippers. Colonial shut down pumping from all Texas locations on its system in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. … Colonial is hoping to restart gasoline flows from Houston on Line 1 Tuesday.

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Oil & Gas Stories

CNBC

September 5, 2017

US crude prices rise on returning refineries, but gasoline slumps to pre-Harvey levels

An oil pump jack in the oil town of Gonzales, Texas. Getty Images An oil pump jack in the oil town of Gonzales, Texas. U.S. oil prices edged up on Tuesday as the gradual restart of Gulf of Mexico refineries following forced shutdowns due to Hurricane Harvey raised demand for crude, their most important feedstock. At the same time the return of many, though not all, U.S. refineries ended a spike in gasoline prices as initial fears of a serious supply crunch faded. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $47.40 barrel at 0038 GMT, 11 cents above their last settlement. Gasoline futures, by contrast, dropped 3.5 percent from their last close, to 1.69 per gallon, down from $2.17 a gallon on Aug. 31 and back to levels last seen before Hurricane Harvey hit the U.S. Gulf coast and its large refining industry.

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MarketWatch

September 1, 2017

Baker Hughes pegs U.S. oil-rig count as unchanged, but Hurricane Harvey clouds data

Baker Hughes BHGE, +1.18% on Friday reported that the number of active U.S. rigs drilling for oil was unchanged at 759 this week. The company, however, said it could not verify the change in rig counts across 47 counties in South Texas because of the impact of Hurricane Harvey. The total active U.S. rig count, which includes oil and natural-gas rigs, rose by 3 to 943, according to Baker Hughes.

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Houston Chronicle

September 3, 2017

7 Gulf Coast refineries begin weeks of reboot; 9 still offline

After Hurricane Harvey’s rampage across Texas, seven major refineries with more than 8 percent of the nation’s capacity to make gasoline have begun a reboot that could last days to weeks. More than a dozen major refineries had either shut down or throttled back fuel production after floodwaters sluiced through the vast network of oil facilities and infrastructure in the Gulf Coast. Nine facilities that turn 2.4 million barrels of crude a day into petroleum products remained completely closed, four operated at reduced rates, and one had reached full production, the Energy Department said in a status update issued early Sunday.

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Reuters

September 4, 2017

Ship traffic could resume Tuesday at Port Arthur, Texas -U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard on Monday allowed some barge traffic to enter Port Arthur, Texas, home of the country’s largest oil refinery, and is considering allowing ships to enter on Tuesday, a spokesman said.

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Platts

September 3, 2017

ExxonMobil says has flooding in part of Beaumont plant

ExxonMobil is dealing with post-Harvey flooding in part of its 362,300 b/d refinery in Beaumont, Texas, the company said. “Due to the rising level of the Neches River, we are experiencing flooding in the lower part of the refinery,” the company said in a statement late Saturday. “The chemical plant remains unaffected. We have deployed emergency response teams to provide additional environmental protections.” Beaumont has been shut since Harvey arrived on the Texas Gulf Coast. ExxonMobil on Friday said it was moving workers from unaffected refineries elsewhere in its system to Texas to help with restart operations at Beaumont and at the Baytown refining and chemical complex.

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New York Times

September 5, 2017

U.S. Urges Fuel Cutoff for North Korea, Saying It’s ‘Begging for War’

The Trump Administration, warning that North Korea is “begging for war,” is pressing China and other members of the United Nations Security Council to cut off all oil and other fuels to the country. The effort, which senior administration officials described as a last best chance to resolve the standoff with the North using sanctions rather than military means, came as South Korean officials said Monday that they had seen evidence that North Korea may be preparing another test, likely of an intercontinental ballistic missile. That test, which would be the nation’s third in a month, could be timed to mark the anniversary of the founding of North Korea by Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader. It is unclear where the test might be aimed, but Pentagon officials said they were examining options in case it was meant to demonstrate that the North could put a missile, with accuracy, off the coast of Guam, an American territory.

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Houston Chronicle

September 5, 2017

First Corpus Christi refinery back online amid Texas gasoline panic

Valero Energy on Labor Day brought online its Corpus Christi refinery, the first of the refineries shuttered from Hurricane Harvey to return to full operations. Several others are in the process of starting back up. The historic storm triggered an ongoing gasoline panic in Texas and beyond amid fuel shortages and price spikes. Dallas-area fuel prices are up almost 70 cents a gallon on average, while San Antonio is asking people to carpool or work from home until more fuel supplies arrive in the days ahead. Hurricane Harvey knocked out more than 20 percent of the nation’s refining capacity, and fuel distribution issues have kept many stations from maintaining their supplies in the short term.

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Houston Chronicle

September 2, 2017

Oil and gas workers reboard offshore rigs in Gulf of Mexico

Oil and gas operators are reboarding production platforms and drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico to assess damages from Hurricane Harvey, a sign that offshore oil and gas production is returning to normal after several companies evacuated workers. Personnel have returned to all five rigs evacuated during the storm, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The agency is inspecting offshore facilities and monitoring efforts to restart production operations. Production platforms are coming back online. On Saturday, about 6 percent remained evacuated, down from about 15 percent in the wake of the storm.

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Houston Chronicle

September 3, 2017

Exxon Mobil Beaumont refinery reports oil spill

Oil from the Exxon Mobil Beaumont refinery has spilled outside the facility onto a nearby county road, spokeswoman Ashley Alemayehu said. “We reported to the government not too long ago that we are monitoring a sheen on Gulf States Road,” she said. That road, owned by the county, runs between Exxon Mobil and Arkema facilities towards the Neches River. The lower part of the refinery is flooding, she said. “The levee for the refinery is at 10 feet,” and water has gone over it. The refinery is working to contain the spill and has “deployed emergency response teams to provide additional environmental protection.” The company has notified authorities.

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The Hill

September 2, 2017

National Weather Service warns against ‘fake forecasts’

A fake weather forecast is making its way around social media that shows Hurricane Irma tracking directly toward the Texas/Louisiana Gulf coast. The National Weather Service warned Friday that the storm warning is misleading. Among the users sharing the false forecast, a Buzzfeed reporter on Twitter pointed out a public Facebook post shared more than 36,000 times. “Everyone needs to pay attention to Hurricane Irma,” the post reads. “She’s predicted to come through Mexico, hit us and everything in between up to Houston. She’s already a Category 2 and hasn’t even got into warm water yet.”

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San Antonio Express News

September 3, 2017

Roughly 72 percent of San Antonio gas stations out of fuel as panic continues

According to information reported by area motorists through gas price tracker GasBuddy.com, about 500 fueling stations in and around San Antonio were out of gas early Saturday afternoon. Multiple corner and grocery stores, who had gas Saturday morning, continued to see lines of vehicles as locals sought fuel as the Labor Day weekend began. “We are out of gas, and will not have any until Tuesday,” is how Ashley Chapman, station manager at Hollywood Park Automotive, a North Side Shell filling station, was answering the phone Saturday Morning. Chapman said it has been a madhouse since Thursday afternoon.

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San Antonio Express News

September 2, 2017

Gasoline headed to Texas from neighboring states

Texas is shipping in gasoline from three neighboring states and reversing a pipeline carrying fuel to Oklahoma as a panicked run on gas stations in the wake of Tropical Storm Harvey has left hundreds of stations dry statewide. “The bottom line is that the state of Texas will have plenty of gasoline showing up at gasoline stations,” Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news briefing at the state operations center here Friday. “Don’t worry, we will not run out and we will be back into our normal pattern before you know it.” Abbott announced that refineries in Corpus Christi and Three Rivers are coming back online and said the state has been working “literally overnight, nonstop” to ensure adequate supply. Louisiana, Oklahoma and New Mexico have begun shipping gasoline into the Dallas-Fort Worth area and surrounding counties. In addition, a pipeline carrying gasoline from Texas to Oklahoma has been reversed, keeping the fuel instate. The Port of Corpus Christi is now open, with barges loaded with fuel arriving Friday and in the coming weeks.

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New York Times

September 3, 2017

Storm’s Impact on Oil Industry Is Felt at Gasoline Pumps

Every extra penny at the pump costs American consumers a total of $4 million daily, and the price spike after Harvey could last a month or more. Lower-income Americans who spend a large part of their income on gasoline fueling older, less efficient vehicles will be hit hardest. Fortunately for consumers, domestic inventories of gasoline and other fuels were near maximum capacity before the storm hit, keeping prices down somewhat, because of the frenzy of production in recent years. But the prices are increasing at a most inopportune time, just before the Labor Day weekend, one of the heaviest driving periods of the year. Even regions far from Texas are scrambling, and even competing, to compensate for lost refinery output.

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Washington Post

September 4, 2017

Chemical companies have already released 1 million pounds of extra air pollutants, thanks to Harvey

Oil refineries and chemical plants across the Texas Gulf coast released more than 1 million pounds of dangerous air pollutants in the week after Harvey struck, according to public regulatory filings aggregated by the Center for Biological Diversity. While attention has zeroed in on the crisis at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas, other facilities — oil refineries, chemical plants and shale drilling sites — have been reporting flaring, leaks and chemical discharges triggered by Harvey. Emissions have already exceeded permitted levels, after floating rooftops sank on oil storage tanks, chemical storage tanks overflowed with rainwater, and broken valves and shutdown procedures triggered flaring at refineries.

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Bloomberg

September 1, 2017

Valero Says Pipeline Blocking Its Efforts to Ship More Fuel After Harvey

The biggest independent refiner in the U.S. says the operator of the nation’s largest gasoline pipeline is blocking its efforts to supply more fuel to the East Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Two of Valero Energy Corp.’s Gulf Coast refineries kept operating throughout the storm, churning out gasoline. After the U.S. government waived fuel specifications, allowing refiners to ship winter-grade gasoline two weeks early to ease supply shortages while flooded refineries recover, Valero was ready to ship more fuel. The problem, according to a letter from Valero to Texas Governor Greg Abbott obtained by Bloomberg: Colonial Pipeline Co. won’t accept the extra barrels. “Valero is nearing containment and is having to hold the refineries at reduced rates or potentially even shutdown,” according to the letter. “Valero cannot get Colonial to take product.”

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Reuters

September 2, 2017

Occidental ships first crude cargo from Corpus Christi after Harvey

Oil producer Occidental Petroleum has loaded and shipped its first crude oil cargo from its Western Gulf Coast terminal since operations at the Port of Corpus Christi, Texas, were disrupted by Hurricane Harvey, the company said on Saturday. The company’s Ingleside Energy Center oil export terminal, with capacity to handle 300,000 barrels per day (bpd), has resumed activities and plans to continue alleviating congestion for crude producers in the U.S Permian basin, where Occidental operates large output facilities.

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Utilities Stories

Electric Light & Power

September 1, 2017

AEP Texas, CenterPoint, other utilities finally seeing daylight in Harvey restoration

Major utilities and electric cooperatives were making clear headway in restoring power to storm-ravaged Texas at the end of this destructive, deadly week. And they still have months of work ahead of them. AEP Texas has calculated that Hurricane Harvey knocked down 3,100 distribution poles and 300 transmission structures. Another 200 transmission structures were damaged, the utility reported. As of Friday morning, AEP Texas crews had restored power to more than 150,000 of their 220,000 estimated customers who lost it in the storm. The damage assessment is ongoing. “AEP Texas is using drones and helicopters to supply aerial photography in some areas,” the company said in a release. “Crews also are using cranes and other special equipment to support traditional restoration approaches.”

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KSDK

September 3, 2017

Power being cut in flooded west Houston area under evacuation order

Electric company workers started going door-to-door Sunday in a still-flooded area of west Houston under a mandatory evacuation order, warning that service would be shut off nine days after Tropical Storm Harvey ravaged the city. Crews with Center Point Energy checked homes in the zone that Mayor Sylvester Turner ordered evacuated where about 300 residents still remain. People in houses that have taken no water will not have their electricity cut off. Water releases from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs need to flush through the area after several feet of rain from Harvey filled them to capacity.

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San Antonio Express News

September 4, 2017

San Antonio’s CPS Energy crews humbled by destruction of Hurricane Harvey

CORPUS CHRISTI — Journeyman lineman Fred Green removed his hat and lowered his head as he led a room full of CPS Energy employees in prayer last week. “It’s not about the money or the accolades, it’s about serving people,” Green said as he prayed for safety over his “brothers and sisters.” CPS dispatched 53 workers Wednesday to some of the hardest-hit communities in South Texas after Hurricane Harvey’s slow destruction along the Texas coastline. Tens of thousands of people were just starting to pick up the pieces left behind from the storm and remained without power. The San Antonio-based public utility was answering a call from Ohio-based American Electric Power, which provides electricity to Victoria, Corpus Christi and Rockport.

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Houston Chronicle

September 4, 2017

Flooding at substation leaves 5,700 waiting for power

The final piece needed to restore power for thousands of Houstonians is sitting dead in 2 feet of water, a giant substation hidden by a dense forest in the outskirts of west Houston. But in the wake of a hurricane that deluged Houston in 51 inches of water, CenterPoint Energy has engineered a fix: A temporary mobile substation, sitting nearby on the trailers of semi truck, will be a backup for months while the company rebuilds. The fix will bring power back to around 5,700 customers, many of whom have been in the dark for more than week. Without it, those thousands could have been facing months without power. “They would be out until we got Memorial substation fixed or thought of something else,” said John Kellum, CenterPoint’s division vice president of high-voltage power delivery. “The mobile substation is the only option.”

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Waco Tribune

August 31, 2017

Prosper Waco hoping to help residents lower electric bills

Local residents wanting to lower their electric bills have an ally in Prosper Waco, which has launched a program called Waco Power Switch that will solicit bids from power providers. Prosper Waco has started recruiting for what it calls “group energy switching,” in which residents, regardless of income levels, agree to join in pursuing lower electric rates. “Providers participate in an auction to offer their lowest rate, and Waco customers can then choose to accept the winning rate if it saves them money,” according to a Prosper Waco press release. “If residents choose to accept the winning electricity offer, Waco Power Switch will help with the transitioning of electricity providers.”

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Regulatory Stories

Associated Press

September 3, 2017

Toxic waste sites flooded in Houston area

The Highlands Acid Pit site near Chandler’s home was filled in the 1950s with toxic sludge and sulfuric acid from oil and gas operations. Though 22,000 cubic yards of hazardous waste and soil were excavated from the acid pits in the 1980s, the site is still considered a potential threat to groundwater, and the EPA maintains monitoring wells there. When he was growing up in Highlands, Chandler, now 62, said he and his friends used to swim in the by-then abandoned pit. “My daddy talks about having bird dogs down there to run and the acid would eat the pads off their feet,” he recounted on Thursday. “We didn’t know any better.” The Associated Press surveyed seven Superfund sites in and around Houston during the flooding. All had been inundated with water, in some cases many feet deep.

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Washington Post

August 31, 2017

Chemical safety agency that Trump wants to eliminate begins investigation of Texas plant explosion

An unfolding crisis at a flooded chemical plant outside Houston on Thursday led to the prompt announcement of an investigation by a federal body that President Trump would eliminate. The administration’s proposed budget would wind down funding for the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, a small, independent federal agency tasked with investigating chemical accidents. But with that budget still only a proposal, the board announced an investigation of the fires at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby, Texas Thursday afternoon.

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Washington Post

September 4, 2017

EPA now requires political aide’s sign-off for agency awards, grant applications

The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of putting a political operative in charge of vetting the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually, assigning final funding decisions to a former Trump campaign aide with little environmental policy experience. In this role, John Konkus reviews every award the agency gives out, along with every grant solicitation before it is issued. According to both career and political employees, Konkus has told staff that he is on the lookout for “the double C-word” — climate change — and repeatedly has instructed grant officers to eliminate references to the subject in solicitations.

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Reuters

September 4, 2017

Evacuation Lifted Around Arkema’s Flooded Texas Chemical Plant

French chemical firm Arkema SA said an evacuation zone put in place amid fears that more flammable organic pesticides at its flooded plant in Crosby, Texas, would explode was lifted on Monday after the materials were ignited in a controlled burn. The plant, which makes organic peroxides for the production of plastic resins, polystyrene, paints and other products, was swamped by as much as 6 feet (1.83 m) of water due to Hurricane Harvey and had been without electricity since Aug. 27. Starting on Thursday, three of the nine trailers at the facility containing a total about 500,000 pounds of chemicals exploded and caught fire. The company had warned it expected a series of fires as temperatures in the trailers rose without functioning cooling systems.

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Texas Tribune

September 4, 2017

Wu: Texas needs to tap Rainy Day Fund for Hurricane Harvey relief

If there is a silver lining to the effects of Hurricane Harvey, it’s that we’ve rediscovered that the true strength of Texas is in the people who call our great state home. Our first responders and civil servants have done an amazing job saving lives and caring for evacuees. Everyday people risked their lives to rescue others and volunteered to care for the displaced. Our corporate partners and small businesses have stepped up to donate whatever they can to relieve the suffering. Donations are pouring in from around the state, the nation and the world. The response that is missing is from our own Legislature and governor. The historic level of damage and suffering caused by Harvey requires that we tap into our state’s Rainy Day Fund.

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Texas Energy Report NewsClips September 1, 2017
Lead Stories

Bloomberg

September 1, 2017

Harvey’s Made the World’s Most Important Chemical a Rare Commodity

Few Americans care about ethylene. Many have probably never heard of it. As it turns out, this colorless, flammable gas is arguably the most important petrochemical on the planet — and much of it comes from the hurricane-stricken Gulf Coast. Ethylene is one of the big reasons the damage wrought by Hurricane Harvey in the chemical communities along the Gulf is likely to ripple through U.S. manufacturing of essential items from milk jugs to mattresses. “Ethylene really is the major petrochemical that impacts the entire industry,” said Chirag Kothari, an analyst at consultant Nexant. Texas alone produces nearly three quarters of the country’s supply of one of the most basic chemical building blocks. Ethylene is the foundation for making plastics essential to U.S. consumer and industrial goods, feeding into car parts used by Detroit and diapers sold by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

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San Antonio Current

August 31, 2017

Second Federal Judge Rules Uresti’s Attorney Must Step Down

For the second time, a federal judge determined Senator Carlos Uresti’s lawyer, Mikal Watts, would be unable to represent him against federal fraud charges for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme, because Watts himself may have played a key role in Uresti’s alleged crime. Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra upheld U.S. Magistrate Judge Henry Bemporad’s original ruling, which Watts unsuccessfully tried to appeal. With Watts out out of the picture, Uresti will be required to use a public defender. In July, Bemporad ruled Watts was unfit to serve as Uresti’s lawyer because Watts had previously defended Denise Cantu (per Uresti’s referral at the time), who is one of the plaintiffs suing Uresti. Cantu was involved in a deadly car wreck in 2010, when an exploding car tire caused an accident that killed her 13-year-old daughter, 4-year-old son and two friends. She won her criminal case against Michelin and Walmart, and Uresti convinced her to invest $900,000 of her settlement money into FourWinds, a San Antonio oil-field services company that eventually went bankrupt in 2015.

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Washington Post

August 30, 2017

EPA extends a waiver on motor fuel contents to apply nationwide, not just to Texas

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Wednesday expanded the scope of an emergency waiver of Clean Air Act restrictions on motor fuel requirements, saying the waiver would apply not only to Texas but also to 11 states and the District of Columbia through Sept. 15. The move, prompted by Hurricane Harvey, effectively declares an early end to summer regulations designed to prevent a buildup of ozone pollution, which contributes to lung disease and asthma. The regulations require oil companies to use low-volatility gasoline during the summer months, to prevent gasoline from turning to vapor. However, making summertime-grade gasoline can cost oil refiners several cents a gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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International Business Times

August 31, 2017

Texas Republicans Helped Chemical Plant That Exploded Lobby Against Safety Rules

The French company that says its Houston-area chemical plant is spewing “noxious” smoke — and may explode — successfully pressed federal regulators to delay new regulations designed to improve safety procedures at chemical plants, according to federal records reviewed by International Business Times. The rules, which were set to go into effect this year, were halted by the Trump administration after a furious lobbying campaign by plant owner Arkema and its affiliated trade association, the American Chemistry Council, which represents a chemical industry that has poured tens of millions of dollars into federal elections. The effort to stop the chemical plant safety rules was backed by top Texas Republican lawmakers, who have received big campaign donations from chemical industry donors. Representatives from Arkema Americas and the American Chemistry Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Bloomberg

September 1, 2017

Harvey’s Floods Could Delay 10% of U.S. Fracking: Analyst

As much as 10 percent of U.S. fracking work could be delayed after Hurricane Harvey ripped through southeast Texas, soaking thousands of miles of dirt roads snaking through one of the nation’s busiest oilfields. More than half of the rigs running in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale are estimated to have suspended drilling because of the storm, Marshall Adkins, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates Inc., wrote Thursday in a note to clients. The muddy conditions left in Harvey’s wake will hinder the fracking sector that has consistently lagged speedier drilling crews.

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Austin American-Statesman

August 31, 2017

Schwartz: Information scarce on chemical plant blasts — just like Texas wanted

Even as their crippled plant in Crosby was on the verge of fire and explosion Thursday, officials with Arkema Inc. refused to release detailed information on their chemical stockpiles, which had already sparked an evacuation of surrounding houses. Specifically, the company refused to release its Tier II report, which provides details on the amount and type of chemicals held at the plant; and its risk management plan, which is on file at the Environmental Protection Agency’s federal reading room in Dallas and Department of Justice reading rooms in Houston and San Antonio, and detail what to expect in a worst case disaster scenario.

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Oil & Gas Stories

Wall St. Journal

August 31, 2017

U.S. to Block Potential Russian Move Into American Energy

The Trump administration is ready to block a Russian state-owned oil giant from gaining control of critical energy assets in the U.S. owned by Venezuela, senior American officials say, a move that likely would feed tensions between Washington and Moscow. Petróleos de Venezuela SA offered Russia’s PAO Rosneft nearly half of the shares of its U.S.-based subsidiary Citgo Petroleum Corp. as collateral for $1.5 billion in loans the Russian firm made in 2016 to help prop up cash-starved PdVSA and its owner, the Venezuelan government. The planned move comes after some U.S. lawmakers, worried the Russian oil company could gain a controlling interest in a company that represents roughly 5% of U.S. crude-oil refining capacity, urged the Trump administration in June to use powers granted under national security laws to prevent the deal from happening.

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Houston Chronicle

August 30, 2017

Exxon Mobil halts operations at Beaumont refinery

Exxon Mobil said Wednesday it is shutting down its large Beaumont refinery after Tropical Storm Harvey battered the area Tuesday night. Exxon Mobil, Motiva Enterprises and Total all are shutting down their refinery complexes in the Beaumont and Port Arthur region. About 20 percent of the nation’s refining capacity is now offline. The administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) William “Brock” Long, says federal resources are still in “life-saving, life-sustaining mode,” in response to the massive floods in Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath. (Aug. 30) Media: Associated Press Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Charlotte Huffaker said Harvey created operational issues that triggered the Beaumont shutdown. Exxon had already halted petrochemical activities at the Beaumont campus.

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CNBC

August 31, 2017

Largest US refinery Motiva may be shut up to two weeks: Report

Motiva Enterprises’ Port Arthur, Texas refinery, the nation’s largest, may be shut as long as two weeks for assessment of the plant and repair of any damage, sources familiar with plant operations said on Thursday. The 603,000 barrel per day (bpd) Port Arthur Refinery was shut on Wednesday due to flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey.

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San Antonio Express News

August 31, 2017

Texas gas stations start to run dry as drivers panic

Concern over shuttered refineries and disrupted pipelines erupted into a full-blown panic and run on gasoline across Texas cities that left more than 100 stations in San Antonio dry Thursday evening. Energy experts have had no worries — in theory — that Texas would run out of gasoline in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, but that didn’t matter on the ground at gas stations, where a run-on-the-bank scenario meant that many places actually did run out of fuel, at least temporarily. Lines stretched through parking lots and into streets, blocking traffic, and tempers flared along with rising gas prices. At several San Antonio gas stations, frustrated drivers got out of their cars to yell at each other. At one, a woman physically planted herself in front of a car to prevent it from cutting the line while another woman screamed at a car that had managed to sneak in.

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Ft. Worth Star-Telegram

August 31, 2017

Fill ’er up. Some DFW stations may run out of gas this Labor Day weekend

You may want to fill up your gas tank while you can. On the eve of the busy Labor Day holiday weekend, convenience store operators and other gasoline retailers said Wednesday there’s a strong chance they will run out of fuel at some locations this weekend because of supply disruptions caused by Hurricane Harvey. “I called my family members and told them to fill up their tanks,” said John Benda, who owns three Fuel City stores in Haltom City and Dallas and is building a fourth in Saginaw. “I have never seen it this tight, since 1980, even when we were rationing.”

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New Republic

August 31, 2017

Contractor hired to prepare site for proposed ethylene plant

The developer of a proposed ethylene cracker plant near Portland has awarded a pair of contracts to a Corpus Christi-based company for site preparation. That work, however, will be delayed while the selected firm assists with hurricane cleanup efforts in San Patricio County. Bay Ltd. was awarded the first two subcontracts for the proposed Gulf Coast Growth Ventures plastics manufacturing plant in San Patricio County, according to a prepared statement from the company on Monday. The facility would be jointly owned by The Exxon Mobil Corp. and Saudi Basic Industries Corp.

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Houston Chronicle

August 31, 2017

Lake Charles refineries mostly staying open

Beaumont-area refineries shut down Wednesday from Tropical Storm Harvey, but the Lake Charles refining complex on the other side of the Sabine River is largely maintaining its operations. Houston’s Phillips 66 and Venezuela-owned Citgo Petroleum said their Lake Charles refineries are still running, and Phillips 66 already is tapping into the release of some of the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to keep its crude supplies going while many of the pipelines from Texas are shuttered. Phillips 66 said it worked out an emergency exchange agreement with the U.S. Energy Department for the SPR oil.

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Financial Times

August 31, 2017

Harvey aftermath hits a third of US oil refineries

The havoc wrought by tropical storm Harvey began to spread well beyond the Houston area on Thursday as the damage to the US’s energy infrastructure sent the price of petrol sharply higher and forced Washington to step in to prevent fuel shortages. Almost a week after the storm first made landfall in Texas, almost a third of US oil refineries — many of which are clustered on the US Gulf Coast — have been affected by the storm and refineries still in operation in the region are struggling to import crude because of outages at port facilities. … “With Colonial shut and a quarter of Gulf coast refining capacity out, the south-east will need to get fuel from storage, other forms of transport from the Gulf like trucks and ships, and imports,” said Jason Bordoff, who was an adviser to former US president Barack Obama and is the director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy. European traders have scrambled to send more petrol to the Americas, with almost 45 tankers booked or under negotiations so far this week, according to Gibsons Shipbrokers in London, with five more added on Thursday.

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San Antonio Business Journal

August 30, 2017

Permit issued for first phase of MMEX Resources refinery

State regulators have issued a permit for the first phase of the first new refinery built in the U.S. in more than 40 years. After a nearly month of review, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has issued a permit to MMEX Resources Corp. (OTCPK: MMEX). The permit allows the company to build a crude distillation unit on the company’s land just northeast of Fort Stockton. The TCEQ permit allows the Austin-based company to build a unit that uses an atmospheric distillation process. Unlike a typical refinery that relies on cracking and hydrotreating to refine the petroleum into final products, an atmospheric distillation process uses heat and gravity to separate the petroleum products into rough cuts that require additional refining prior to being considered final products.

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Reuters

August 31, 2017

Latin America looks to Venezuelan fuel cargoes as Harvey swamps U.S.

After Hurricane Harvey roared into Texas, flooding oil refineries and crippling ports along U.S. Gulf Coast, Latin American countries scouring the globe for other sources of fuel are zeroing in on a flotilla waiting to unload off the coast of Venezuela. Almost no fuel tankers have sailed from Texas for Latin America in six days, according to Thomson Reuters vessel tracking data. Terminals and refineries shut by the storm are unlikely to fully recover for weeks. The United States is the world’s largest net exporter of refined petroleum products, shipping around 5.05 million barrels of fuel per day. Latin America received almost half of that, or 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd). Most of it loads from the U.S. Gulf Coast.

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New Republic

August 30, 2017

Harvey’s Hidden Side Effect

Everything is bigger in Texas, including the number of chemical plants, refineries, and other industrial facilities. So when one of the worst storms in American history hit the heart of Texas’ petrochemical industry, it also triggered one of the biggest mass shutdowns the area has even seen. At least 25 plants have either shut down or experienced production issues due to Hurricane Harvey’s unprecedented severe weather and flooding, according to industry publication ICIS. But those closures are not only disrupting markets; they’re also causing enormous releases of toxic pollutants that pose a threat to human health. Take Chevron Phillips Chemical plant in Sweeny, Texas. When it shut down due to Hurricane Harvey, it released into the atmosphere more than 100,000 pounds of carbon monoxide, 22,000 pounds of nitrogen oxide, 32,000 pounds of ethylene, and 11,000 pounds of propane, according to a report the company submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). A couple thousand pounds of 1,3-butadiene, benzene, and butane were released as well. All of these releases were far more than what was legally allowed.

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NPR

August 31, 2017

No fine for Range Resources in major drilling case, DEP quietly settles

More than two years after the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a record-breaking $8.9 million fine against driller Range Resources with tough talk about cracking down on faulty drilling operations, the department quietly settled the case this week without issuing any financial penalties. The fine was issued on May 11, 2015 after the DEP said the company continually failed to fix a gas well that polluted five residential wells, groundwater and a stream with methane in Lycoming County. Range appealed the case to the Environmental Hearing Board. Range Resources originally drilled the well in the winter of 2011, and fracked it in June of that year. The DEP issued a notice of violation in September 2013, citing a faulty cement job. Despite that notice, state regulators said the company did not fix the well.

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Farmington Daily Times

August 27, 2017

Fine: Hedging threat and Venezuela Oil

How can Saudi Arabia and OPEC behind them strike a second blow against shale oil producers in the Southwest? The first was the 2014-2017 price and market share war in which they raised production to put the higher cost Americans out of business. This was partially abandoned at Algiers in a reversal to opt for a higher price for crude oil from $26 to the high $40 range. The marketing tool is lowering their production by 1,800,000 barrels per day. The second blow is process. The Saudi Arabian Oil Ministry and its state company, Saudi Aramco, negotiated in London with Glencore (world’s largest trading combined with mining), banks and hedge funds to see if they could reduce the liquidity necessary for American oil and gas shale producers to hedge forward to obtain a higher price.

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Utilities Stories

Houston Chronicle

August 31, 2017

Electricity continues its comeback in Harvey country

Fewer than 40,000 CenterPoint Energy customers in the Houston area were still without power late Thursday — a fraction of the 800,000-plus who have been affected for some period of time since Hurricane Harvey first made landfall on the Gulf Coast a week earlier. More than half of those now without electricity live in areas where crews can’t get in because of flooding. The company did not provide an estimate for when service would be fully restored. … All told, roughly a third of CenterPoint’s 2.4 million customers lost their power during the past week, as compared to 2.1 million when Hurricane Ike hit Houston in 2008.

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TheNews.coop

August 31, 2017

US co-ops and credit unions rush to aid communities hit by Hurricane Harvey

As the storm hit Texas, San Patricio Electric Co-op suffered a near-total system outage, affecting more than 11,000 meters, while Victoria Electric Co-op lost power to more than 23,000 meters. It is estimated more than 55,000 co-op members lost power in Southeast and South Central Texas over the weekend. “We are starting to rebuild and restore our system slowly,” said Nina Campos, manager of human resources and communications at Victoria. She said the co-op had restored power to roughly 1,000 members, and called in 166 linemen from neighbouring co-ops to help speed up the repairs.

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Newburgh Gazette (NY)

September 1, 2017

Xcel Energy to retire 660MW coal-fired power units in Colorado

Finally, Morgan Stanley upped their price objective on shares of Xcel Energy from $45.00 to $46.00 and gave the stock an “equal weight” rating in a research report on Thursday, August 10th. The stock has “Buy” rating by Monness Crespi & Hardt on Thursday, July 30. Barclays Capital maintained it with “Overweight” rating and $43 target in Friday, March 18 report. In the most updated research from a number of analysts on Wall Street, the company gets 3 Buys and 0 Sell among 15 analysts. Bank of America downgraded the shares of VIPS in report on Monday, November 16 to “Neutral” rating.

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Vox

August 30, 2017

The US coal industry is going out, not with a whimper, but with a burst of rent-seeking

The US coal industry is dying — but not with any dignity. As the end approaches, its sense of aggrieved entitlement is increasingly naked, its demands for government handouts increasingly frantic. As dread builds, shame has left the building. The story of coal’s decline has been told many times now (see this post for more), but at root, it’s not complicated: The industry’s product is outmoded. Natural gas and wind power are cheaper than coal power in most places, and solar power is heading the same direction. What’s more, wind and solar (variable renewable energy, or VRE) and natural gas complement each other.

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Alternatives & Renewables Stories

Utility Dive

August 30, 2017

Policymaker support key to offshore wind prospects in US

Offshore wind is not yet easy to build in the United States. But the question is no longer if a boom will happen, industry stakeholders told Utility Dive, it is when and how it will happen, with policy follow-through a critical component along with improving economics and other factors. There were 111 operating offshore wind projects around the world at the end of 2016 and, though only one was in U.S. waters, the world’s biggest developers are setting up U.S. shops. Those projects represented 12,913 MW of installed capacity, with only 30 MW in the U.S., according to the just-released annual offshore wind market report from the Department of Energy (DOE). Yet the U.S. pipeline is starting to bulge.

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HPC Wire

August 30, 2017

Unlocking Wind’s Potential: Supercomputing’s Grand Challenge

A report released last week by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) — “Enabling the SMART Wind Power Plant of the Future Through Science-Based Innovation“– asserts that supercomputing-led scientific advances could cut the unsubsidized cost of wind energy in half by the year 2030. With science and computing driving plant-level innovations, wind could supply the United States with 20 percent of its energy needs by 2030 and nearly half of its total energy needs by 2050, according to the authors. Individual states, notable Iowa and South Dakota, already get more than 30 percent of their energy from wind, but nationwide wind supplies just 5.5 percent of national energy needs. Making wind cost-competitive with fossil fuels is key to boosting adoption of this abundant and secure energy source and that’s where supercomputing comes in. Resolving wind power plant performance has been deemed a computational “grand challenge” by the nation’s top energy officials.

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Reuters

August 31, 2017

House to vote on self-driving car legislation next week

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote Wednesday on a sweeping proposal to speed the deployment of self-driving cars without human controls and bar states from blocking autonomous vehicles, congressional aides said. The bill, which was passed unanimously by a House panel in July, would allow automakers to obtain exemptions to deploy up to 25,000 vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards in the first year, a cap that would rise to 100,000 vehicles annually over three years. Automakers and technology companies including General Motors Co and Alphabet Inc‘s’ self-driving unit Waymo have been pushing for new federal rules making it easier to deploy self-driving technology. Meanwhile, some consumer groups have sought additional safeguards.

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Yahoo! News

August 30, 2017

Researchers create a new fusion recipe that boosts energy output

Nuclear fusion is an attractive way to create energy. It generates hardly any waste, doesn’t pollute the planet and takes advantage of elements that we have plenty of. But fusion takes a lot of work and the energy payout isn’t yet at the level that makes it suitable for producing power. But researchers at MIT have developed a new fusion recipe that boosts energy production by ten-fold. Previously, the group was using a method that required two types of ions — deuterium and hydrogen — with deuterium making up around 95 percent of the mixture. With the ions contained in a fusion reactor called a tokamak, radio waves tuned to target only the less abundant hydrogen ions were used to heat them up

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Regulatory Stories

New York Times

August 31, 2017

A Sea of Health and Environmental Hazards in Houston’s Floodwaters

Officials in Houston are just beginning to grapple with the health and environmental risks that lurk in the waters dumped by Hurricane Harvey, a stew of toxic chemicals, sewage, debris and waste that still floods much of the city. Flooded sewers are stoking fears of cholera, typhoid and other infectious diseases. Runoff from the city’s sprawling petroleum and chemicals complex contains any number of hazardous compounds. Lead, arsenic and other toxic and carcinogenic elements may be leaching from some two dozen Superfund sites in the Houston area. Porfirio Villarreal, a spokesman for the Houston Health Department, said the hazards of the water enveloping the city were self-evident.

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Houston Chronicle

August 31, 2017

Officials: Likelihood of special legislative session grows as Harvey tab mushrooms

As unofficial damage estimates from Hurricane Harvey continued to grow, state officials acknowledged Thursday for the first time that another special legislative session could be necessary next year to address the state’s growing tab. “My personal assumption right now is that we will probably be back in Austin at work no later than January,” said Senate Republican Caucus Chair Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, echoing the sentiments of other House and Senate members. “The governor and the Legislative Budget Board have the ability to move around quite a bit of money in current appropriations, but it probably won’t be enough when all the bills come in. This storm is going to cost more than (hurricanes) Katrina and Sandy put together, and I’m thinking we’ll be breaking the $200 billion mark before this over.”

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Dallas Morning News

August 31, 2017

Energy chief Rick Perry taps emergency oil reserves to combat post-Harvey shortages

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has tapped the nation’s emergency oil stockpile in response to fuel shortages caused by Hurricane Harvey. The Energy Department announced on Thursday the decision to draw down half a million barrels of crude oil from a Strategic Petroleum Reserve site in Louisiana as part of an “emergency exchange” with Phillips 66 at the company’s refinery in Lake Charles, La. “The department will continue to provide assistance as deemed necessary, and will continue to review incoming requests for SPR crude oil,” Energy Department spokeswoman Jess Szymanski said in a written statement.

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Austin American-Statesman

August 31, 2017

Disaster reignites debate over Texas rainy day fund

Texas Department of Transportation workers from around the state descended on the coastal area, sleeping on cots and eating MREs while working overtime to reopen roads and fix sinkholes. The General Land Office’s Storm Team is helping to remove debris and clean up oil spills. About 12,000 members of the Texas National Guard have been activated. The Department of Criminal Justice evacuated 6,000 inmates from five state prisons along the Brazos River to facilities in South and East Texas. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s deadly march through Texas, state agencies have sprung into action. Although the price tag for the unbudgeted expenses of the response — and for the damage sustained by state offices and infrastructure — won’t be known for weeks or months, the disaster has reignited a debate from the legislative session about when to use the state’s $10.3 billion Economic Stabilization Fund, known as the rainy day fund.

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Houston Chronicle

August 31, 2017

New explosions expected at Crosby chemical plant

The first of nine failing freezer trailers filled with volatile chemicals exploded early Thursday at the problem-plagued Arkema plant in Crosby, sending a plume of black smoke into the community east of Houston and setting off a round-the-clock watch for inevitable explosions to come. The initial blast about 1 a.m. Thursday sent 15 Harris County sheriff’s deputies to the hospital after they inhaled fumes and got smoke in their eyes, but all were discharged by Thursday afternoon. Crosby officials had been bracing for days for explosions at the plant after six feet of floodwaters from Hurricane Harvey knocked out power and generators needed to keep the volatile organic peroxides — used in making plastics and rubber — stored at the facility cool. The chemicals explode if they get too warm, officials said.

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Houston Chronicle

August 31, 2017

Chemical plant explosion thrusts Arkema into spotlight

Arkema SA is not exactly a household name, but its products are found in everything from plastics in automotive parts to adhesives for baby diapers. The company also claims to be the third-largest producer of hydrogen peroxide in the world. But now it has a new distinction after Arkema reported two explosions and black smoke coming from its plant in Crosby, Texas early Thursday morning, raising serious health and safety concerns. Records show that the plant, located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston, was fined nearly $110,000 in February by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over 10 safety violations found during an inspection.

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Dallas Morning News

August 31, 2017

More than 500 complaints filed with Texas A.G. over Dallas gas prices

The Texas Attorney General’s Office has received more than 500 complaints about high fuel prices in Dallas as gas stations struggle to replenish fuel supplies, the agency said Thursday. Attorney General Ken Paxton warned gas stations against overcharging customers in the wake of Harvey. Some gas stations in Dallas have posted gas prices between $6 to $8 a gallon, according to complaints made to the attorney general’s consumer protection division. “Texas law protects consumers from fraud in Dallas and other parts of Texas outside of the governor’s declared disaster areas,” Marc Rylander, spokesman for the attorney general’s office, said in a statement Thursday.

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Bloomberg

August 29, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Challenges Response to Energy Facility Incidents

The National Response Center, operated by the U.S. Coast Guard, received more than 30 calls for spilled gasoline, crude oil, petroleum, and the release of contaminants from flare stacks in areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. According to the response center’s records, a caller reported natural gas leaking from a transmission pipeline on Aug. 26 in Ingleside, along the Texas coast. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is investigating. State and federal regulators have their hands full responding to these incidents and others at energy facilities during the monster storm. They not only will have to contend with the possibility of billions of dollars in infrastructure damage, but potential environmental damages as well.

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The Hill

September 1, 2017

Tillerson tries to find voice in Trump administration

After appearing sidelined for months, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has shown a more independent streak in recent weeks, asserting authority over an agency targeted for budget cuts by President Trump and suffering from low morale. Tillerson made headlines on Sunday by saying that Trump “speaks for himself” on values when asked to respond to the president’s defense of his controversial comments about both sides being to blame for violence in Charlottesville, Va., between neo-Nazis and other far-right groups and counterprotesters. He earlier had spoke of the need for greater diversity within the State Department and condemned racism and bigotry. Within the administration, Tillerson appears to be on the rise.

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Esquire

August 30, 2017

Pierce: We’re Nowhere Near Prepared for the Ecological Disaster That Harvey Is Becoming

Shuhab Khan, a geologist at the University of Houston, has documented that some areas of Houston are sinking at up to 2.2 inches per year, a rapid rate in geological terms. While some of the subsidence is caused by natural movements of salt deposits, Khan said that most is the result of pumping oil and water from under the city. So far, it appears some of the hardest-hit flooded areas, such as the Jersey Village neighborhood, are also the ones affected by subsidence, he said. In the 1930s, a new residential subdivision was built in the Brownwood neighborhood, which at the time was 10 feet above sea level. Forty years later, it was less than 2 feet above sea level, a subsidence blamed on ground water pumping along the Houston Ship Channel. The neighborhood was destroyed in Hurricane Alicia in 1983 and is now the Baytown Nature Center.

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The Hill

September 1, 2017

Sen: Whistleblowers in the Energy Department can resist Trump, Perry from the inside

The Department of Energy just issued a new study on alleged threats to the reliability of the electric grid. Maybe that sounds boring and arcane to you, but the backstory is actually quite gripping. It’s a tale of high-level government corruption, an Inquisition-like atmosphere for career government scientists, and a sinister agenda that appears to be going off the rails, thanks partly to brave whistleblowers. In short, it has all the ingredients of what in normal times would’ve been a classic Washington scandal. A bit of background: In April, Energy Secretary Rick Perry ordered his staff to perform a study on how “continued regulatory burdens, as well as mandates and tax and subsidy policies, are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants.”

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